Why everyone is religious…or rather, nobody.

Posted on February 12, 2016 By

In the course of day-to-day conversation, virtually everyone has heard someone make the statement, “I am not religious,” in order to convey a lack of affiliation with theistic belief systems such as Christianity. But one can only doubt Christianity from the vantage point of another belief system, because everyone needs a belief system in order to make sense of one’s experience. Therefore, one can only be “not religious” from the vantage point of a different religion (or belief system), whether or not one chooses to apply the term religion to one’s belief system.

Defining the term religion is very difficult

And, considering the difficulty of defining just what religion is, the meaning of a statement such as “I am not religious” is unclear. Dean Overman, a Templeton Scholar from Oxford University writes in A Case for the Divinity of Jesus:

Defining what one means by the term “religion” is not an easy task. Keith Ward, former Regius Professor of Divinity and head of the theology department at Oxford University, wrote a highly acclaimed five-volume series on comparative religions. In one of his recent books, The Case for Religion, he notes that defining the term “religion” is not a simple undertaking: “Many colleges in America and Europe have courses on ‘Religion.’ These courses usually start with a lecture entitled ‘What is Religion?’ After running through a few dozen definitions, the lecturer almost invariably concludes that nobody knows what religion is, or is even sure that there is such a thing. The course continues to be called courses on religion, however, because that sounds better than having a course entitled, “I do not know what I am talking about.”

There is no plausible benchmark for deciding when one can or cannot include a given set of beliefs as a religion.

For example, some may try to define religion as “belief systems which include the existence of God.” But this definition would exclude religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism (an ancient religion from India), and certain forms of Satanism, etc. Atheists and agnostics can only portray themselves as “not religious” by first defining religion as belief systems which are theistic. But atheism and agnosticism fit many of the diverse definitions of religion present in religious scholarship.

Everyone has a belief system, whether or not the word religion is applied

And everyone (whether Christian, Hindu, atheist, or agnostic, etc.) has a set of beliefs, or an interpretive framework. This is the case whether or not one chooses to apply the term religion to one’s belief system. K.A. Smith comments in Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church:

“We all – whether naturalists, atheists, Buddhists, or Christians – see the world through the grid of an interpretive framework – and ultimately this interpretive framework is religious in nature, even if not allied with a particular institutional religion.”

Even the most hardened atheist needs an interpretive lens, through which to view the world, which is comprised of a set of beliefs. For example, atheism cites unintelligent natural processes of evolution working upon inanimate matter to explain the origin of conscious, intelligent, and personal beings such as ourselves. 

Atheism is superstitious, not theism

Outspoken atheists are often fond on portraying theistic interpretive frameworks such as Christianity as superstitious or “woo-woo,” but it is not difficult to see why atheism is clearly the more superstitious worldview: Citing a non-conscious cause for consciousness, an unintelligent cause for intelligence, an impersonal cause for personhood, or a non-rational cause for reason, (etc.) is impossible to philosophically justify because, as Edwar Feser puts it The Last Superstition, “a cause cannot give to its effect what it does not have to give.” Feser skillfully elaborates:

…the cause of a fire might itself be on fire, as when a torch is used to start a brushfire, or it may instead have the power to produce fire, as a cigarette lighter has even when it is not being used.

The traditional way of making this distinction is to say that a cause has the feature that it generates in the effect “formally” in the first sort of case (e.g. when both the cause and the effect are on fire) and “eminently” in the second sort of case (e.g. when the cause is not itself on fire, but has an inherent power to produce fire). If a cause didn’t contain all the features of its effect either formally or eminently, there would be no way to account for how the effect came about in just the way it did. Again, a cause cannot give to its effect what it does not have to give.

Material things such as atoms and rocks do not contain (either formally or eminently) many of the features we as humans possess…such as consciousness, intelligence, personhood, reason, morality, love, etc. Keith Ward, a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, makes the same point as Feser in his book Doubting Dawkins: Why There Almost Certainly is a God.

“…there is force in the classical philosophical axiom that, for a truly explanatory cause to be intelligible, it must contain its effects potentially in itself. As the classical philosophers put it, the cause must contain more reality than its effects.”

The implication of this philosophical axiom cited by Feser and Ward is that the cause of conscious, intelligent, and personal (etc.) beings such as ourselves must necessarily have the effects of consciousness, intelligence and personhood contained potentially in itself. A cigarette lighter contains the effect of fire potentially in itself (even when not being used), but inanimate material things such as atoms and rocks do not contain the effects of consciousness, intelligence, or personhood potentially in themselves. This is why the only logical option is to cite a conscious, personal, and intelligent cause (read: God) for conscious, personal, and intelligent agents such as ourselves. 

Did mind produce matter, or did matter produce mind?

Which came first, intelligent mind (read: God’s mind), or matter? Did God’s mind produce matter, or did intelligent mind only first emerge after human brains evolved as a result of unintelligent processes working on mindless matter? Keith Ward continues:

“Is intelligent mind an ultimate and irreducible feature of reality? Indeed, is it the ultimate nature of reality? Or is mind and consciousness an unforeseen and unintended product of basically material processes of evolution?”

“If you look at the history of philosophy, it soon becomes clear that almost all the great classical philosophers took the first of these views. Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel—they all argued that the ultimate reality, often hidden under the appearances of the material world or time and space, is mind or spirit.”

Although it is a mind-bending concept for many people who live in a society with a deeply entrenched tradition of materialism (the philosophical view that matter comes first, and that consciousness is the eventual product of mindless material processes of evolution), it is important to note that modern physics has verified what the classical philosophers long ago concluded: Conscious mind (read: God’s mind) comes first, and matter is a product of conscious mind. As Max Planck, the Nobel Prize winning physicist who founded quantum physics, put it:

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

Planck also said,

“Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”

Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson, who is among the most distinguished of living scientists, echoes Planck’s above comments:

“Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe is also weird, with its laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.”

Considering how mind-bending and strange the concept of conscious mind preceding (and producing) matter must seem to the average person raised in a society with deeply seated materialistic assumptions, readers are encouraged to read my essay titled God Is Real…Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism, Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry’s essay The Mental Universe, and University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp’s book Mindful Universe for a more thorough exploration of this topic.


175 comments


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    I’ll give a few examples of God being sexist towards women. Please check out these verses. Ecclesiastes 22:3, Corinthians 14:34-35, exodus 21:7. The latter saying you should sell your own daughter. God killed 42 children for insulting a bald prophet and killed the Egyptian first borns. How can I think that God is a good God after all these evil? Lets be reasonable people. I’m not posting these arguments to insult but to question how you think God is a good God after all that.


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      Jeff says:

      I so love when “so called” educated people pipe up with all these tragedies told in the Bible.

      1st- that’s a pretty slippery slope to be asking justification of deeds from the Most High, “Creator Of All Things”! Not to mention very egotistical thinking you could even be close to having the intellect capable of understanding God’s reason for such deed’s!

      2nd- every soul that has ever been born of “WOMAN” was given a choice to be born of woman or not. This had to happen to separate God’s follower’s from others. As far as I can see seems pretty beneficial to me.

      I have a third and a fourth as well, just getting really bored with the whole typing thing.


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        ColinA says:

        Jeff wrote
        “I have a third and a fourth as well, just getting really bored with the whole typing thing.”
        Thank God, I was beginning to think you actually had something personal and meaningful to contribute!
        And the gem to top all gems:- ” Not to mention very egotistical thinking you could even be close to having the intellect capable of understanding God’s reason for such deed’s!” WOW! Here were we wondering if YOU didnt have direct access to the very mind of God, as you questioned ad nauseum, his every thought and motive. Reminds me of my 4 yr old demanding to know why he wasnt allowed ice cream for dinner.

        As for miracles, I’m the last child in a family of 10. If that doesnt make me so blest to be alive, lets consider a purely evolutionary origin. Forget that we live in an incredibly fine-tuned universe, the breaking of any law or a minuscule change in any of the physical constants would mean no universe, no life. For my highly individual set of 43 chromosomes to be realised, all my 20,000 ancestors would have to have mated on a certain night when one out of billions of sperm found one individual egg. So the chance of ME being born instead of some other guy is both astronomically and incomprehensibly small. Do I think then my life has been created for a purpose–ABSOLUTELY! Do I think I can in some small way, make a difference in this world for the better- you BET !! What are you betting on Jeff -Pascal’s wager or your own?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      David Robertson’s replies to your points in The Dawkins Letters:

      “…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.”

      How are biblical events taken out of context so as to accuse God of such things as allowing sexism, slavery, killing, etc.? Paul Copan answers in Is God A Moral Monster?

      Despite the North’s victory, the Emancipation Proclamation that preceded it (January 1, 1863), and the attempt at Reconstruction in the South, many whites did not change their mind-set in regard to blacks. As a nation, we’ve found that proclamations and civil rights legislations may be law, but such legalities don’t eradicate racial prejudice from human minds. A good deal of time was required to make significant headway in the pursuit of racial justice. Let’s switch gears. Imagine a Western nation or representatives from the West who think it best to export democracy to, say, Saudi Arabia. Think of the obstacles to overcome! A radical change of mind-set would be required, and simply changing laws wouldn’t alter the thinking in Saudi Arabia. In fact, you could probably imagine large-scale cultural opposition to such changes. When we journey back over the millennia into the ancient Near East, we enter a world that is foreign to us in many ways. Life in the ancient Near East wouldn’t just be alien to us—with all of its strange ways and assumptions. We would also see a culture whose social structures were badly damaged by the fall. Within this context, God raised up a covenant nation and gave the people laws to live by; he helped to create a culture for them. In doing so, he adapted his ideals to a people whose attitudes and actions were influenced by deeply flawed structures.

      As we’ll see with regard to servitude, punishments, and other structures, a range of regulations and statutes in Israel reveals a God who accommodates. Yet contrary to the common Neo-atheists’ caricatures, these laws weren’t the permanent, divine ideal for all persons everywhere. God informed his people that a new, enduring covenant would be necessary (Jer. 31; Ezek. 36). By the Old Testament’s own admission, the Mosaic law was inferior and future looking. Does that mean that God’s ideals turn up only in the New Testament? No, the ideals are established at the very beginning (Gen. 1–2). The Old Testament makes clear that all humans are God’s image-bearers; they have dignity, worth, and moral responsibility. …Certain prohibitions in the law of Moses against theft, adultery, murder, and idolatry have enduring relevance. Yet when we look at God’s dealings with fallen humans in the ancient Near East, these ideals were ignored and even deeply distorted.

      As the biblical scholar N. T. Wright affirms, “The Torah [law of Moses at Sinai] is given for a specific period of time, and is then set aside—not because it was a bad thing now happily abolished, but because it was a good thing whose purpose had now been accomplished.”3 This is the message of the New Testament book of Hebrews: the old Mosaic law and other Old Testament institutions and figures like Moses and Joshua were prefiguring “shadows” that would give way to “substance” and completion. Or as Paul put it in Galatians 3:24, the law was a “tutor” for Israel to prepare the way for Christ…incremental Steps toward the Ideal. How then did God address the patriarchal structures, primogeniture (rights of the firstborn), polygamy, warfare, servitude/slavery, and a number of other fallen social arrangements that were permitted because of the hardness of human hearts? He met Israel partway.

      As Jesus stated it in Matthew 19:8, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.” We could apply this passage to many problematic structures within the ancient Near Eastern context: “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted servitude and patriarchy and warfare and the like, but from the beginning it has not been this way.” They were not ideal and universal. After God invited all Israelites—male and female, young and old—to be a nation of priests to God, he gave them a simple covenant code (Exod. 20:22– 23:19). Following on the heels of this legislation, Israel rebelled against God in the golden calf incident (Exod. 32). High priests would also have their own rebellion by participating in deviant, idolatrous worship (Lev. 10). As a result of Israel’s turning from God, he gave them more stringent laws (Jer. 7; cf. Gal. 3:19). In the New Testament, Paul assumes that God had been putting up with inferior, less-than-ideal societal structures and human disobedience: • Acts 17:30: Previously, God “overlooked the times of ignorance” and is “now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” • Romans 3:25: God has now “demonstrate[d] His righteousness” in Christ, though “in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.” Like two sides of the same coin, we have human hard-heartedness and divine forbearance. God put up with many aspects of human fallenness and adjusted accordingly.


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    Allegedly Tyler says:

    I have a question regarding Christianity and the way I perceive it being taught. Forgive the seemingly incoherent place in which this post finds itself, as I’ve been reading all the essays, etc…

    If God is the ultimate “good,” as reported by Christians, how can “Numbers 31” be rationalized? And to follow that, is it not a humanization to assume the structure responsible for the emergence of intelligent life, would then demand those same intelligent beings be obedient to a version of itself preached by beings already emerged? Isn’t that circular logic? The natural laws do not demand obedience as there is no other option. <– God. And is it this demand of blind obedience to [a] "god", taught by pundits as fundamental, not responsible for "Numbers 31", which flies in the face of anything that could be considered objectively as good? And if these presumptions are in fact the case, does that lead to the conclusion that either a, God is not good, or b, the Christian god is not good, or c, the Christian god is not God? Shouldn't anyone in touch with the superior moral intellect that the Christian god is purported to be, immediately find issue with the claims preached by Moses in order to steal land, gold, and women, in a petty act of vengeance?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Allegedly Tyler,

      That is a perfectly reasonable question. I think that this post answers it well (click on the preceding link).

      I also think that William Lane Craig’s commentary on this topic is excellent. Click here.

      Scott


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Mr. Youngren, I apologize for commenting here but my comment didn’t have a reply button. What about the golden rule? The reason that we should be fair to other people, and to all sentient beings, is because we relate to them as fellow living beings. This is known as the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. It is common to atheists, agnostics and theists alike. It requires no belief in gods. Isn’t it possible that we can make things right with critical thinking as the example I gave with the primitive tribe by showing them their ways are wrong and our ways of science and thinking is right


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      You are correct, one does not need to believe in God to be what society refers to as a “good person.” But there does need to be a God for there to be such a thing as good. I delve into this topic in Why Do I Have to Believe in God to Be Good?

      Once again, atheism insists that nothing exists except the natural world consisting of various arrangements of atoms and molecules which are completely specified by their physical and chemical properties. Nowhere among these properties will you find a property called “good” or “bad.” You cannot locate any good or bad under a microscope or isolate some good or bad in a test tube.

      Therefore, science, which exists to examine the natural/material world, must necessarily be mute with regards to morality. Oxford University mathematician John C. Lennox notes in Gunning for God:

      “Albert Einstein, in a discussion on science and religion in Berlin in 1930, said that our sense of beauty and our religious instinct are: ‘tributary forms in helping the reasoning faculty towards its highest achievements. You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn round and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.’ According to Einstein, therefore, science cannot form a base for morality: ‘Every attempt to reduce ethics to scientific formula must fail.’ Richard Feynman, also a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, shared Einstein’s view: ‘Even the greatest forces and abilities don’t seem to carry any clear instructions on how to use them. As an example, the great accumulation of understanding as to how the physical world behaves only convinces one that this behavior has a kind of meaninglessness about it. The sciences do not directly teach good or bad.’ Elsewhere he states: ‘Ethical values lie outside the scientific realm.’”

      And atheism insists that there is no purpose or meaning in the universe.

      Lennox continues by citing Jacques Monod in Chance and Necessity:

      “One of the great problems of philosophy is the relationship between the realm of knowledge and realm of values. Knowledge is what ‘is’ and values are what ‘ought’ to be. I would say that all traditional philosophies up to and including communism have tried to derive the ‘ought’ from the ‘is’. This is impossible. If it is true that there is no purpose in the universe, that man is a pure accident, you cannot derive any ought from is.”

      It is very revealing that outspoken atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens (etc.) have committed themselves to the purpose of convincing people that there is no purpose in the universe. As the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead put it, “Those who devote themselves to the purpose of proving that there is no purpose constitute an interesting subject for study.”


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, you write there can’t be good without a God. After all, atheists are just borrowing the word evil from theists and absolute morals don’t exist in materialism and as even another person named Jeff (not me) commented on a previous comment I made months ago. Jeff writes writes “1st- that’s a pretty slippery slope to be asking justification of deeds from the Most High, “Creator Of All Things”! Not to mention very egotistical thinking you could even be close to having the intellect capable of understanding God’s reason for such deed’s!”

        His remark clearly remarks John N Clayton’s report on his lesson 11 of his intermediate course which reads “Who is egotistical enough be believe that they can look at every possible moral decision that comes along, and know ahead of time what the results of that moral decision will be”. This also reflects in David Robertson’s letters remarks which read “It would be foolish to deny that there are major difficulties within the Bible. There are parts of it that make me feel distinctly uncomfortable and that I struggle with. But who am I to sit in judgement upon the Bible? Not long after becoming a Christian there were parts in the Bible that greatly disturbed me. I read a book which purported to deal with most of those difficulties; however it did not help much. But I made a decision that it was stupid and arrogant of me as a young Christian to think that I alone could understand the Bible and attempt to sit in judgement upon it. It was not that it was wrong to question but rather that I had to be patient, humble and thoughtful”.

        These viewpoints that I have given describe the limits of human reasoning. Nevertheless, how can one with a logic mind think the God of the old testament is a good God. I’ll give one example which is horrific that I don’t know what else to compare to? Samson killed 30 men when they lost a riddle because he wanted their clothes but why did God’s spirit inspire him to do a sinful act like that? These are 30 innocent men that were murdered by Samson with the spirit of God guiding him. How can anyone seriously think that this God is the one that Jesus Christ kept talking about. This is something that I know Jesus Christ would never teach or do. Mr. Youngren, how can you see God as a good and loving God after what he helped Samson do.

        This is the reason that Gnosticism evolved after all. That’s what they believed: the OT God was ‘mean’ and the NT God was ‘loving’. The next logical step in the progression is the conclusion that therefore, the OT God and the NT God are distinct from each other and are, somehow, in opposition to each other.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Jeff,

          I need to call you out ONCE AGAIN for another Red Herring Logical Fallacy (also known as the “wild goose chase” or “smoke screen” logical fallacy). You have ONCE AGAIN chosen to change the subject (as a diversionary tactic) when it becomes apparent that your stance cannot withstand logical scrutiny. We were discussing the basis for which there could exist such things as good or bad, if atheism is true. You have tried to change the subject by again introducing alleged Bible difficulties (Sampson, David Robertson), in an attempt to divert attention from your failure to establish a rational basis for moral judgements assuming that atheism is true.

          You brought up the Golden Rule of treating others as you wish to be treated, and you said that this can be applied whether one believes in God or not. Here, you are arguing for a moral absolute. And yet, you admit that there are no absolute morals if atheistic materialism is true (you write, “absolute morals don’t exist in materialism”). Further, you are making a moral judgement when you accuse God of being bad.

          As I mentioned before, a judge is not just if he allows the guilty to go unpunished. If someone were to rape your mother and slit her throat, he would deserve to be punished. A judge who allows such a person to go free would be an unjust judge. Letting the guilty go unpunished is not only unjust, but unloving. The 30 men that Sampson killed were Philistines, who God had judged bad for worshipping other Gods and for frequently attacking God’s people (the Israelites). You inaccurately characterize Samson’s killing of these men as a retribution for merely failing to solve a riddle.

          As the judge of good and evil, God is able to make such judgements. But, if atheism is true, the only agents available to make moral judgements are human beings. And, if this is the case, then which humans get to make moral judgements? Why would you or I be more qualified to make moral judgements than, say, the Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan? Because we are more moral than the Nazis or Klu Klux Klan? Says who? Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism:

          “Truthfully, on the logic which follows necessarily from the nihilistic paradox of atheism, if the Nazis had conquered the world, then everything we recognize historically as humanity’s greatest shame would be at once transformed into our greatest triumph. There would be no disputing the marvelous splendor of the Holocaust or the great glory of the many prodigious massacres carried out on behalf of the Aryan descendants to Mother Earth. These immortal goods would be true for all, and therefore true in fact. As [the famous atheist biologist Richard] Dawkins himself said; there is no good and there is no evil, ‘DNA just is and we dance to its music.’ The same holds for the universe at large.”

          Jeff, were the Nazis good, bad, or neither? Which is it? If they were bad, then by what objective moral standard can we judge them as bad? If they were good (or neither good or bad), then how can you judge God as bad for judging the Philistines? C.S. Lewis explains the need for a higher moral standard (and therefore, higher moral authority) by which one could judge humans such as the Nazis as objectively wrong, rather than merely wrong according to the subjective preferences of certain groups of people:

          “Now what do we mean when we call one of them the Good Power and the other the Bad Power? ….If ‘being good’ meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right.”

          “But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God.”

          Without God, there would be no third power by which to judge the Nazis as wrong, and the allied powers right for opposing the Nazis. The defeat of the Nazis would merely be the triumph of one subjective human opinion over another, a case of might-makes-right. God can choose to judge the Philistines as bad, much as I imagine he judged the Nazis as bad.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Mr. Youngren, I’ve just completed your essay “there’s nothing random about evolution”. I’m still trying to understand the case and its even scientists like Neil degrasse Tyson have trouble understanding. If God is responsible for all of this, then why are their problems like earthquakes and genetic diseases like cancer and the many ways that universe want to kill us like with the asteroids, black holes etc. I want to ask in your worldview, how do you see God as a ‘loving God’ with all the ‘craziness’ that can destroy us at any moment. I’m still trying to understand this.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      Tyson says that God, if he exists, cannot be good because of all the ways that the universe wants to kill us. But this position is rejected by virtually all theist and non-theist philosophers because it would be impossible for a non-theist to prove that God does not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing natural evil (hurricanes, diseases, etc.). In other words, there is no way for a non-theist to prove that God is not planning a greater good by allowing such disasters. What morally sufficient reason could God potentially have for allowing disasters and diseases? As humans with limited minds, we can only speculate, and we can never understand fully what God is up to. But recall the morally sufficient reason which I cited earlier from William Dembski’s book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

      “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

      Atheism is grounded in the naturalist view, which says that all that exists is the natural word of material things…a world comprised of nothing but bundles of atoms and molecules that are completely specified by their physical and chemical properties. Nowhere among these properties will you find a property called “good” or “bad.” There is no such thing as a good or bad rock, or a good or bad bird. The natural world is valueless.

      On the atheist/naturalist view, then, what meaning is there to speak of good or bad with respect to natural disasters and diseases? When you say that a natural disaster is bad, you are saying that such things ought not happen. But this presupposes a way things ought to be. And if there is a way things ought to be, that means that there is some sort of design, or a plan for the universe and for the earth which these bad things either are or are not fulfilling. You can’t have a design without a designer, or a plan without a planner. When a naturalist claims that natural disasters or diseases are bad, that they ought not be, he/she is implicitly assuming a standard established by the designer, by which these things can be judged good or bad.

      The world’s most famous atheist, the biologist Richard Dawkins, eloquently expressed how there is no room for good or bad in the atheist worldview, in his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life:

      “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

      So, I have to ask you Jeff, how can you judge a natural disaster or disease as bad, assuming that atheism is true?


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        Gerry De naro says:

        Scott,
        It’s amazing how two sides can look at the same information and draw completely different conclusions. I’ve already mentioned this but for those 3rd party readers I’ll state it again. The atheist assertion “that God, if he exists, cannot be good because of all the ways that the universe wants to kill us” is quite wrong for several reasons
        1) it is often used to deny fine-tuning and design but the weather on Pluto, Pandora or man’s inability to exist on a star have nothing to do with the fact that the universe exists and is capable of creating stars, planets and 112 elements, 28 of which are necessary for life. As Einstein said we should expect an incomprehensible lawless, lifeless chaos if naturalism (mindless processes) is true, not a “MIRACULOUS” one..
        2) So who lies awake at night, worrying if they would survive on the moon or in an artic blizzard, or expecting an earthquake or tsunami?
        3) on naturalism. earthquakes create mountains and ecosystems necessary for life in the 1st place.
        4) those who choose to build a metre above high tide or on a fault line can hardly blame God when the inevitable happens.
        5) the fact that the earth is on a knife edge and has some 300 parameters necessary to support life, are in favour of an all loving God, not the reverse. This amazing planet is something special and we are the recipients of its beauty and biodiversity.

        “In order for life to exist ANYWHERE in the universe, the force of gravity must be 1×10 to the 40th power times weaker than the force of electromagnetism. It’s essential that the force of gravity be incredibly weak compared to the other three forces of physics.”
        He goes on to conclude “The laws of physics are balanced on a razor’s edge for life to occur. Break just one law or change one constant-no universe, no life” Prof. Robin Collins.


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          Jeff Mwangi says:

          Mr. Youngren, the thing is that when human beings started becoming aware of their surroundings, they realized that co-operation was the only way to survive. Anything that goes against this so called ‘herd-mentality’ was against our ways of surviving. If a human being goes against the ‘herd-mentality’, then you are not ‘moral’. I think morality is like a evolved mechanism that helps us survive and anything that goes against it should be ‘cast out’. Its basically a herd mentality. Human beings create their own purposes and meaning in life.

          However, grounding morality in evolution does bring difficulties. I read a book called peace child by Don Richardson where a primitive tribe flourished by betraying each other. Now the atheists might argue that this is wrong because modern science has helped us survive and find more cures to diseases so this primitive tribe ‘ways of morality’ is wrong because it goes against our ‘herd-mentality’. This herd-mentality is really difficult to understand especially since different cultures endorse things like polygamy, slavery, raiding of cattle etc. I think our herd-mentality is better because we offer more ways to survive than others. Perhaps morality is only better if one group’s ways makes more people survive longer than the others group’s ways.


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            Gerry Denaro says:

            Yet another “wild goose chase” have we Jeff, totally irrelevant to the latest topic “….. there are many ways that the universe wants to kill us”? So now we back to the ‘herd mentality’ version of morality which has been asked and answered more than once. Do you have an intelligible comeback for my point-by-point rebuttal of the above deGrasse assertion or do u just like seeing your name in print by regurgitating the same questions?.As I said before, if you are unwilling (I suspect unable) to challenge our responses to the previous question, it is pointless continuing! Perhaps I might have more success discussing the relevance of string theory to ex nihilo creation with my 10 yr old grandson?


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            Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

            Jeff,

            The same problem exists when you cite evolution as the cause of morals. If atheism is true, then all that exists is the natural world consisting of various bundles of atoms and molecules. But bundles of matter do not have goals or purposes, and survival is a goal or purpose…not a property which can be ascribed to inanimate matter. I discuss this topic in greater detail in Atheism and the Curious Case of the Universal Acid. Physicist Amit Goswami comments on this topic:

            “The Darwinian theory of evolution is based on natural selection: Nature selects those organisms that are fittest to survive. In the materialist view, an organism is just a bundle of molecules that are completely specified by their physical and chemical properties. Nowhere among these properties will you find a property called survivability. No piece of inanimate matter has ever attempted to survive or in any way tried to maintain its integrity under any circumstances. But living bodies do exhibit a property called survivability. Now the paradox. A Darwinist would say that the survivability of the living form comes from evolutionary adaptation via natural selection. But natural selection itself depends on survival of the fittest.

            See the circularity of the argument? Survival depends on evolution, but evolution depends on survival! A paradox is a sure-fire sign that the basic assumptions of the paradigm are incomplete or inconsistent; they need a reexamination.”

            Philosopher William Lane Craig explains why materialism/naturalism cannot account for morality:

            “…if there isn’t any God to issue commandments to us, then why think that we have any moral duties? On the atheistic view, human being don’t seem to have any moral obligations to one another. For example, in the animal kingdom, if lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra but it doesn’t murder the zebra. If a great white shark copulates forcibly with a female, it forcibly copulates with the female, but it doesn’t rape the female, for there is no moral dimension to these actions. None of these things is prohibited or commanded; they are neither forbidden nor obligatory. So if God doesn’t exist, why think that we have any moral obligations? Who or what imposes such prohibitions or obligations upon us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why moral duties would be anything more than the illusory by-products of social and parental conditioning.”

            “So, admittedly, certain actions like incest and rape have become taboo in the course of human evolution, but on atheism that does absolutely nothing to show that such actions are really wrong. Activity that looks like rape and incest goes on all the time in the animal kingdom. So the rapist who chooses to flout the herd morality is really on atheism doing nothing more than acting unfashionably; he is like the man who violates the social conventions by belching loudly at the dinner table. If there isn’t any moral law giver then there isn’t any moral law that imposes itself upon us.”

            Scott


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              Gerry Denaro says:

              Speaking of morality as merely a byproduct of socio-biological evolution, I just listened to an interesting YT video “James White discusses a flood of pro-homosexual books”. Perhaps you might like to draft an essay on the controversial topic of “marriage equality”. My thoughts (drafted sometime back), go along these lines:

              Perusal of the 26 million google hits show the “gay” agenda is rarely about love and commitment but more about instant sexual gratification. Let’s be honest here. Just look at the websites of those looking for a quick “fix”. I just read some some script writer thinks movies like Starwars should have a compulsory ‘homo’ scene just to appease the vocal minority. Do we really want to take your kids or grandkids knowing such scenes are present in these mainstream movies? Secondly,
              In an ideal society, every child deserves a mother and a father and has a right to know their biological parents. Just as every adult on a natural level, instinctively wants to contribute to the gene pool and future of mankind. Would a child be satisfied with two dads and not be desperate to know their natural mother and vice-versa? Whatabout the internet blog of THREE lesbians in a marriage with one pregnant with a baby girl? Whose to say polygamy, incest and bestiality are morally wrong?

              Let’s just forget what religion says for a moment, it is nature that has SPOKEN telling us that promiscuity in ANY form is dangerous and often deadly -30+million dying from AIDS is proof enough. In my opinion, the whole “marriage equality” debate is just a charade for all kinds of sexual deviates to formally legitimize and parade their dubious lifestyle in public. ‘Gay’ rights have little if ANYTHING to do with love and long term commitment and merely re-iterates the endless urge for constant sexual gratification and public approval. One cannot legislate what individuals do in the privacy of their own homes but we dont want it pushed in our faces either!

              Interestingly there was a “gay’ games recently in the US where Muslim cabbies refused to ferry competitors. James White, said little news of this event was mentioned in the press. Imagine if Christian drivers were the ones involved? Christianity would seem to be the last great prejudice of the western world -sadly! What I found offensive recently when passing two females, was not their crewcuts, tattoos, weight problem and body piercing, it was the T-shirts that said “normal people scare me.” Hetero-phobia would seem to be alive and well!

              No, we don’t hate “fags”, but like many normal people we dont want it in our lounge rooms for our kids to see through sitcoms and movies parading endless such encounters that have nothing to add to the plot. At the moment it’s a trickle but likely to become a flood when most countries make such “marriages” lawful.

              Let’s cut to the chaste and be brutally honest, in what I thought was a watchable TV series called “Mr Robot”, there is nothing more abhorrent to see two naked males humping each other. Go online and google gay websites. Posters openly brag about sexual conquests, not in the 10s but the 100s. My major concern with the (notso) gay rights debate, is what will be next on the agenda? If morality is merely defined by what is fashionable in some culture at some point in history, who’s to say incest, bestiality, underage sex, euthanasia, fetal experimentation etc wont be next on the hit list of a vocal minority. On whose authority can we say that three people cant marry, or for that matter two brothers or sisters?

              Why are certain sexual perversions still criminal acts why others have been de-criminalized? How is society adversely affected by a 40 year old guy who has sex with a consenting 14-15yr old boy or girl. Isnt it a valid courtroom defense to claim that one’s sexual orientation merely comes down to one’s genetic makeup? Decadence brought down the Roman empire. If morality is merely what serves the greater good of society, who will condemn the philosopher Peter Singer, who when asked, said “I see no reason why children cant be bred as organ donors”? Is this the slippery slope where mankind is headed?


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                Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                Gerry,

                Regarding the topic of morality being the product of evolution, have you read my essay titled Why Do I Have to Believe in God to Be Good? In this essay, I demonstrate how the belief that morals are a product of evolution is self-refuting. An excerpt:

                …and this is exactly what atheism claims: Humankind is a purely purposeless accident that resulted from mindless natural processes. One must ask, How can moral values (good and bad) result from mindless natural processes?

                Maybe they evolved, atheists have objected. Christian apologist William Lane Craig (whom atheists have constructed entire websites in trying to rebut) responds to this objection in On Guard:

                “…The objection is self-defeating. Given the truth of naturalism [the philosophical system upon which atheism rests], all our beliefs, not just our moral beliefs, are the result of evolution and social conditioning. Thus, the evolutionary account leads to skepticism about knowledge in general. But this is self-defeating because then we should be skeptical of the evolutionary account itself, since it, too, is the product of evolution and social conditioning! The objection therefore undermines itself.”

                Evolution selects for survival value, not for truth. So the next time someone says to you, “Human moral beliefs did not come from God, but evolved to provide survival value,” you can simply respond, “Your beliefs about the evolution of morals must have also evolved to provide survival value, and not truth. Therefore, your belief that morals evolved contains no objective truth.”

                Philosopher Mikael Stenmark makes the same point in his book Scientism: Science, Ethics and Religion:

                “The argument [by certain atheist biologists] is that ethical norms or beliefs cannot be objective because they are merely the product of evolution. They are rather an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends and nothing else. But from the biological perspective science also is nothing else than a product of evolution. Thus, science cannot be objective, but is an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends and nothing else. But then there is no reason for us to believe that the objectivity of morality is an illusion because these biologists’ claim is merely the product of evolution. In fact, if their theory is true (that our behavior is firmly under the control of genes and that we function better if we believe in the objectivity of morality), then it would be very unlikely that these biologists would be able to discover that the objectivity of morality is an illusion. So if these scientific expansionists are right, they are probably wrong.”


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                Gerry Denaro says:

                A further thought on the homosexual agenda. A common claim is that such behavior doesn’t harm anyone, so are homosexuals being discriminated against? Apparently ‘yes’ if one looks at the stats 2% of U.S. population is gay yet it accounts for 61% of HIV infection. In other studies “‘the incidence of domestic violence among gay men is nearly double that in the heterosexual population. American Journal of Public Health, ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/97/6/1126)

                “Statistics on health and well-being show homosexuals represent around 1-2% of the population. But they are far more likely to take illicit drugs, engage in risky behavior, suffer mental health problems and have lower life expectancy. Robert S. Hogg et al., “Modeling the Impact of HIV Disease on Mortality in Gay and Bisexual Men,” http://quac.org.au/sites/default/files/LGBT_Health_Fact_File.pdf

                “Context determines meaning (an article by Matt Slick)
                https://carm.org/homosexual-behavior-doesnt-harm-anyone
                In defining words, context determines the meaning. Likewise, the context of homosexual acts is equally important. The pro-homosexual community wants to separate the act from the deleterious effects. It is like saying that the behavior of jumping doesn’t harm anyone. Well, that depends. Jumping in your living room shouldn’t harm you, but jumping near the edge of a cliff can. Behaviors always have contexts, and homosexual activity is in the context of 1) a redefinition of sexual morals, and 2) its accompanying promiscuity. When you redefine sexual morals in a far more loose manner, consequences follow–such as an increase in promiscuity and disease.”
                A further Question is, should society as a whole be responsible for behavior that comes with a significant health premium in what some claim, is an equality issue?


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    The Christian apologist John N Clayton is a former atheist. Anyone who reads his website on intelligent design is fascinating and he does know how to argue. Nevertheless, Christians looking for answers in his website will be clearly disappointed, especially when it comes to miracles and near death experiences which are seen as some of the biggest ‘proofs’ of Christianity. Here’s an excerpt from his essay ‘apologetic problems with miracles’. I want readers to pay attention to the words in capital letters as they’re the ones I’m trying to bring about my point against the existence of miracles or NDES or any evidence for the existence of God. Here’s the excerpt below from Dr. Clayton’s essay.

    There is never any problem in asking God for anything as long as our heart is right and our motives are pure in what we ask. Attempting to force God to satisfy our selfish wants and desires is very wrong. MOST CLAIMS OF MIRACLES THAT WE HEAR ABOUT IN TODAY’S WORLD ARE NOT MIRACLES AT ALL, AND MAKING THE CLAIM THEY ARE CAUSES GREAT DAMAGE. ONE KIND OF DAMAGE IS THE CHRISTIAN WHO HAS THE SAME PROBLEM AND DOES NOT GET THE CLAIMED MIRACLE THAT SOMEONE ELSE GOT. ALL OF THE THEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS IN THE WORLD WILL NOT REMOVE THE HURT OF TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHY GOD GAVE SOMEONE ELSE AN ANSWER THAT WAS NOT GIVEN TO ME. WE SHOULD NEVER VIEW A CHRONIC ILLNESS OR A DEATH AS A REFUSAL OF GOD TO CARE ABOUT US OR ANSWER OUR PRAYERS.

    The other kind of damage is what atheists can do with this when it becomes clear that what happened was not a special miraculous act of God. In the February 2007 issue of Reader’s Digest, there is a humorous article by Art Buchwald. Mr. Buchwald tells how he became a “poster boy” for Hospice. Buchwald was dying of kidney failure, was on dialysis, and decided to end his life by taking himself off of dialysis. He gets everything ready including planning his funeral and his family is told death is imminent by the Hospice nurses. Buchwald then tells us (page 202), “Against all odds, my kidneys started working again and could function without dialysis. It was a mystery to my doctors. My friends decided it was a miracle.”

    I had an atheist friend who was dying of colon cancer. He had entered the hospital to “be made comfortable.” This 200-pound man was down to about 75 pounds and was being fed intravenously when he awoke one morning feeling better than he had in quite a while. He managed to get the nurses to bring him some food and felt even better. By the end of the day he was eating like a horse and feeling stronger by the minute. A WEEK LATER HE LEFT THE HOSPITAL AND CONTINUED BEING AN ACTIVE ATHEIST FOR MANY YEARS AFTER HIS HOSPITAL STAY WITH NO SIGN OF THE CANCER HE WAS DYING WITH. WAS THIS A MIRACLE? MY ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION IS IN THE NEGATIVE. CANCER IS A MYSTERIOUS DISEASE, AND SOMETIMES THINGS JUST HAPPEN WITH IT THAT DEFY HUMAN EXPLANATION. MANY OF HIS RELIGIOUS FRIENDS TOLD HIM GOD WAS GIVING HIM ONE LAST CHANCE TO AVOID HELL, BUT IF THAT WAS THE CASE IT DID NOT WORK.

    The next paragraph from his essay begins with “Making wild and untestable claims about miracles is a destructive activity”.

    From Mr. Youngren’s essay “the reality of miracles”, he’s main point is he’s trying to bring is that there miracles happening today. Now any third party reader clearly knows that Christianity is built upon miracles. If the miracles today can’t be ‘miracles’ then surely the people of back then were either liars or didn’t understand science, even Dr. Clayton clearly says in his report “MAKING WILD AND UNTESTABLE CLAIMS”. Now if miracles don’t happen today, the question still remains ‘why did God all over sudden stop with the miracles or stop communicating to humans today?’ The excerpt below is from Dr. Clayton’s essay on near death experience.

    ‘We understand very little about how the human brain works or what chemicals can do to it. If out-of-body experiences were a spiritual or physical reality, there should be some common thread of experience! THE FACT THAT PEOPLE HAVE A COMMON EXPERIENCE CAN BE DUE TO A COMMON ANESTHETIC. Many people who have had diethyl ether as an anesthetic have the experience of falling and many see a bright light. There may even be similar responses of the brain to stimulus and/or similar secretions of natural materials.

    DEATH IS THE SEPARATION OF THE SPIRITUAL PART OF MAN FROM THE PHYSICAL BODY. UNTIL THE LORD ACCOMPLISHES THAT SEPARATION, DEATH DOES NOT OCCUR. IT IS NOT RELATED TO THE HEART, THE BRAIN, OR THE NERVOUS SYSTEM.

    Clearly that last excerpt destroys all the near death experience claims made by Howard Storm, Eben Alexander etc. Whether seeing past relatives or whatever a person experiences is just the mind playing tricks on us or perhaps demons are messing with the person. This clearly shows that there’s no evidence of the afterlife so we would all be better off solving life’s problems than wishing for things to get better in the afterlife.

    If Dr. Clayton can think science can explain everything about the brain then why shouldn’t scientists figure everything about the universe and life without involving God? If it does happen then it will be a big blow to any religion. Now, Dr. Clayton believes that the miracles from back then were for that purpose. This just looks at least to me like a game of broken telephone played for generations There’s no way to test this claims just like there’s no way to test whether the Christian achieving peace because of a relationship with God or the Hindu achieving inner peace through the many gods they believe in. It’s almost impossible to work the truth out. I would like to end with the note that perhaps its theism that’s superstitious and not atheism. The links are down below to anyone who wants to read the essays:

    http://www.doesgodexist.org/SepOct07/ApologeticProblemswithMiracles.html
    http://www.doesgodexist.org/MarApr97/NearDeathExperienceOfPhyllisClayton.html


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      THE COUNTER IS NOW ON THREE (3) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE IGNORED MY QUESTION ABOUT WHY MATTER FOLLOWS NATURAL LAWS AND MY QUESTION ABOUT HOW RANDOMNESS CAN BE VERIFIED.

      Sorry again for using all caps, Jeff, but it is necessary for me to illustrate to third-party readers how you are clearly trying to avoid these questions…because they cannot be coherently answered from the vantage point of your atheist worldview. Once again, Gerry and I have very patiently responded to a few dozen of your objections to Christianity. The truth of atheism cannot be established by merely raising objections to Christianity. Atheism is not a default position, and requires logical arguments…much as with absolutely any other truth claim.

      Jeff, what are your SPECIFIC arguments against miracles? Anecdotal stories about people who healed from illness and remained atheist?! You are committing the logical fallacy of anecdotal argument. This logical fallacy occurs when one uses a personal experience or isolated examples instead of a sound argument or compelling evidence. An example of this logical fallacy:

      “Smoking is not dangerous. I had a grandfather who smoked 2 packs a day, for 75 years, and yet lived to be 90 years old.”

      Craig Keener spends several chapters of his book Miracles detailing how the experience of miracles is absolutely pervasive throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and has been a major source of church growth in these areas. For example, he notes:

      “…Reports from some members of the official China Christian Council suggested that roughly ‘half of the new conversions of the last twenty years have been caused by faith healing experiences’ of the convert or someone close to them. Speaking more broadly of Christians in China in general, one researcher cites less conservative estimates; ‘according to some surveys, 90% of new believers cite healing as a reason for their conversion.’”

      Keener further notes that,

      “Often these [Christian converts] are people reared in entirely different religious traditions, for whom changing their faith tradition is socially costly, sometimes even leading to ostracism or persecution.”

      “…Western scholar of global Christianity Philip Jenkins notes that in general Christianity in the Global South is quite interested in ‘the immediate workings of the supernatural, through prophecy, visions, ecstatic utterances, and healing.’ Such an approach, closer to the early Christian worldview than modern Western culture is, appeals to many traditional non-­Western cultures.”

      “…[These cultures] have simply never embraced the Western, mechanistic, naturalistic Enlightenment worldview that rejects the supernatural.”

      Keener notes that, “None of the ancient sources respond to Jesus’ miracles by trying to deny them.” Even ancient sources HOSTILE towards Christianity, such as the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus and the ancient Roman historian Celsus, do not attempt to deny Jesus’ miracles. Celsus, for example, rather than denying Jesus’ miracles, accused him of sorcery. Celsus wrote:

      “It was by means of sorcery that He [Jesus] was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed… Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves… These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers… It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of power…”

      Keener again:

      “Likewise, Life magazine reported: on March 1, 1950, all fifteen members of a church choir arrived late for choir rehearsal scheduled at 7: 15 p.m., all for distinct reasons (e.g., one’s car failed to start). That church building exploded at 7: 25 p.m., and their lateness prevented any lives from being lost.”

      Next, you write in all caps: “THE FACT THAT PEOPLE HAVE A COMMON EXPERIENCE CAN BE DUE TO A COMMON ANESTHETIC.”

      But the astute reader (with or without expertise in the fields of brain science or psychology) will immediately recognize why this explanation is inadequate to explain frequent encounters with a “personal God:” Hallucinations amongst various people share commonalities in terms of their perceptual alterations but not in terms of the content of the experience.

      For example, if one were to administer a hallucinogenic drug such as LSD to a large number of people, it would not be surprising if most or all of the subjects reported similar symptoms. These might include visual hallucinations, a feeling of euphoria, a feeling of separation from one’s body, etc… Further, it would not be surprising if the content of one of the subjects’ hallucinations included meeting a purple leprechaun named Bobo who led him on a journey to Never-Never land.

      One would certainly not expect, however, for multiple subjects to report a similar encounter with a similar purple leprechaun. The experiential content of hallucinations are unique to each individual. And entering into a “loving relationship” with a “personal God” speaks of the content of a vast number of NDE experiences and can therefore not be classified as hallucination.

      An entire field of research has sprung up to analyze this phenomenon. Researchers from the fields of medicine and psychology have come together to form the International Association of Near- Death Studies (IANDS, website iands.org) and the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF, website: nderf.org).

      In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field. Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

      “NDErs often believe that they have survived because God willed it and had a divine purpose in bringing them back…They have experienced the love of God and been changed by it (Grosso 1981). Many have come face-to-face with a personal God with whom they continue to maintain a loving relationship.”

      “…for most the result appears to be a spiritual awakening. The NDE often brings with it a spiritual certainty and intense desire to conform one’s life to divine will. The new relationship with what is often a personal God becomes central to the NDErs’ lives.”

      In part because of the sheer volume of NDE accounts, it has become a phenomenon that is difficult to ignore. And, as Patrick Glynn notes in his book God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, it seems that you either didn’t read those articles but I’ll post the links below so that you check the links out. Before you continue counting on my supposed ignoring of your questions which I answered with a Neil degrasse Tyson quote and a brief explanation on a previous comment. Anyway, just because matter behaves the way it’s supposed to be doesn’t account for a God existing. This clearly falls into a god of the gaps. You state that God did it but a scientist like Stephen Hawking looks at it and see a complete natural explanation. In time, science will continue to discover the more mysteries of our universe.
        I can use that argument and say the same thing about miracles. The Christian apologist John N Clayton from his does God exist clearly states that claiming there are miracles is a destructive activity. It seems that you have ignored my question, I shall ask again “Why does God answer the prayers and give a miracle to a devoted Christian and deny the other devoted Christian the same answer?” It seems to me that either miracles served the purpose of Jesus Christ and there’s no point of there being anymore miracles or if miracles still happen, I wonder why God answers the prayers of others and refuse to answer some people’s prayers.
        An analogy to this is when a parent buys a present for the one child and refuses to give the same present to his other child. The parent only answer is “I don’t owe you an explanation”. No outside party’s explanations will remove the hurt that the parent did not buy them a present. Even the amount of explanation from the best theologian will remove a Christian’s hurt on why God gave a miracle to another person but not him or her. This is unfair and it’s the same thing about God. Any third party reader will clearly see that this is unfair and will see that this is not a loving parent. I’ll equate this parent to God because he’s done that with this supposed miracles over the decades.
        The fact that God performs miracles or NDEs to some people and not others makes me wonder how loving he is.
        You accuse me of some anecdotal argument. Accuse me all you want but the fact still remains that the argument of miracles can be crushed when science is brought in as Stephen Hawking and the other atheist scientists have pointed out. They fall into the God of the gaps argument Why not we put these miracles to the test and see if they’re really miracles. I’ll start believing in miracles the say I see an amputee regrows his limb.
        Mr. Youngren, even if you point out the fallacies of relying on science, you still have to answer on why God performs miracles or NDE to a devoted Christian and ignore the other one’s prayer? Simply why does God allow others to live and others to die?


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Jeff,

          No, this does not fall into God of the Gaps. Rather, you commit naturalism-of-the-gaps reasoning when you try to cite unknown natural causes for natural laws. Nature did not cause itself just as you did not cause yourself.

          Citing a natural mechanism behind a natural phenomenon is NOT equivalent to explaining the ultimate source for that phenomenon. This is the same old category error that I called you out on a few months ago. The following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse different levels of causation:

          “The universe does not result from God, but rather, from natural processes.”

          “Automobiles do not result from people, but rather, from manufacturing processes.”

          Oxford University mathematician John Lennox provides excellent commentary on this logical fallacy as it relates to your atheist reasoning in God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?:

          “…In some quarters the very success of science has also led to the idea that, because we can understand the mechanisms of the universe without bringing in God, we can safely conclude that there was no God who designed and created the universe in the first place. However, such reasoning involves a common logical fallacy, which we can illustrate as follows. Take a Ford motor car. It is conceivable that someone from a remote part of the world, who was seeing one for the first time and who knew nothing about modern engineering, might imagine that there is a god (Mr. Ford) inside the engine, making it go. He might further imagine that when the engine ran sweetly it was because Mr. Ford inside the engine liked him, and when it refused to go it was because Mr. Ford did not like him. Of course, if he were subsequently to study engineering and take the engine to pieces, he would discover that there is no Mr. Ford inside it. Neither would it take much intelligence for him to see that he did not need to introduce Mr. Ford as an explanation for its working. His grasp of the impersonal principles of internal combustion would be altogether enough to explain how the engine works.”

          “So far, so good. But if he then decided that his understanding of the principles of how the engine works made it impossible to believe in the existence of a Mr. Ford who designed the engine in the first place, this would be patently false – in philosophical terminology he would be committing a category mistake. Had there never been a Mr. Ford to design the mechanisms, none would exist for him to understand. It is likewise a category mistake to suppose that our understanding of the impersonal principles according to which the universe works makes it either unnecessary or impossible to believe in the existence of a personal Creator who designed, made, and upholds the universe. In other words, we should not confuse the mechanisms by which the universe works either with its cause or its upholder.”

          “The basic issue here is that those of a scientistic [not to be confused with “scientific”] turn of mind like [prominent atheists] Atkins and Dawkins fail to distinguish between mechanism and agency. In philosophical terms they make a very elementary category mistake when they argue that, because we understand a mechanism that accounts for a particular phenomenon, there is no agent that designed the mechanism. When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the universal law of gravitation he did not say, ‘I have discovered a mechanism that accounts for planetary motion, therefore there is no agent God who designed it.’ Quite the opposite: precisely because he understood how it worked, he was moved to increased admiration for the God who had designed it that way.”

          Bold declarations from atheists that “science explains things without the need for God” amount to a category error. Bo Jinn writes in Illogical Atheism:

          “In no way does it logically follow that something was not designed and built from the mere fact alone that that something could be understood scientifically. The law of gravity and Newton’s Laws of motion are to God and the universe what binary strings and electronics are to Alan Turing and the computer processor. Function and agency account for two entirely different explanations as to how and why something exists. Aristotle explained this over two thousand years ago… Aristotle stated that everything in the universe could be understood in terms of:

          A formal cause, a material cause, an efficient cause and a final cause.

          Science accounts for only two of those causes; the formal and the material. If we were to apply Aristotle’s theory to the Harrier jump jet in the allegory above:

          -The Harrier’s material causes are the components from which it was constructed.

          -Its formal causes are the laws of mechanics, aerodynamics and internal combustion.

          -Its efficient causes are Ralph Hooper, Sir Sydney Camm and Sir Stanley Hooker [the designers of the jet].

          -Its final cause is to be flown in dogfights.

          Only the first of those categories of causes were open to the scientists in the story. Only the first two of those categories are open to science in the study of the universe.”

          Science, in short, does not even address efficient and final causes in regards to such issues as the origin of the universe or the origin of life. Natural laws and manufacturing processes are proposed formal causes. Atheist reasoning commits a category error when it confuses different levels of causation. Further, atheist reasoning suffers an explanatory failure when it disregards the need for explaining all levels of causation.

          Albert Einstein marveled at the existence of physical/natural laws, and the exquisite order (rather than the chaos that we should a priori expect) which lies therein. He wrote (as also cited in The God of the Gaps: Why God and Science Are Not Competing Explanations):

          “…a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way. The kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

          Please note how Einstein says that this miracle is reinforced (rather than diminished) as our knowledge expands.

          JEFF: WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE “HIGH DEGREE OF ORDERING” WHICH EINSTEIN MARVELED AT? You cannot cite natural causes for natural laws just as a person cannot cite himself as the cause of himself.

          Why does God perform miracles for some people and not for others? This is something only God understands. To suggest that a human can fathom the mind of God is ridiculous. One can safely assume that an infinite intelligence has reasons which we humans cannot understand.


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Youngren, the issue is that you’re pointing everything to God. There’s a reason that scientists don’t just accept the God did it reasoning. The website common sense atheism explains everything why the issue of putting everything to the God did it is a bad idea. “The problem with offering “God did it” as an explanation is that such an explanation has low plausibility, is not testable, has poor consistency with background knowledge, comes from a tradition (supernaturalism) with extreme explanatory failure, lacks simplicity, offers no predictive novelty, and has poor explanatory scope. It fails to provide almost everything philosophers and scientists look for in a successful explanation. That is why “God did it” is generally a horrible explanation, not because it leaves the explanation itself (God) unexplained.”

            Science just increases our understanding of the universe. The atheist philosopher Gregory Dawes said “Richard Dawkins, for instance, writes that to explain the machinery of life “by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing.” Why? Because it “leaves unexplained the origin of the designer.”
            …[Dawkins’ idea is] that religious explanations are unacceptable because they leave unexplained the existence of their explanations (God). Dawkins apparently assumes that every successful explanation should also explain its own explanations. But this is an unreasonable demand. Many of our most successful explanations raise new puzzles and present us with new questions to be answered.”

            Science so far helps in our understanding of the universe. The God did it explanation is an answer that cannot be tested and that’s why that answer doesn’t satisfy scientists and philosophers. The reason that the details of the Standard model of particle physics are accepted as good explanations for quantum phenomena is because these explanations are plausible, they are extremely testable, they have strong consistency with background knowledge, they come from a tradition (natural science) with great explanatory success, they are relatively simple, they offer much predictive novelty, and they have strong explanatory scope. It doesn’t matter that we have no explanation whatsoever for the explanations themselves.

            You answer that only God understands why he performs miracles for some people and not others. This shows that even you don’t understand as any other Christian apologist. Now that analogy I gave about the parent giving a present to one child and ignoring the others fits into the character of God. God is perhaps selfish not to even answer why he does this. It would be more satisfying if he tells why he does this than just be silent and leaving people to hurt.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Jeff,

              Jeff, I have to call you out when you write, “The God did it explanation is an answer that cannot be tested and that’s why that answer doesn’t satisfy scientists and philosophers.” You would have to exempt a majority of the most important contributors to modern science in order to argue that the God explanation doesn’t satisfy scientists, as I demonstrate in Quotes About God to Consider…If You Think Science Leads to Atheism

              This would include such figures as Robert Boyle (the founder of modern chemistry), Louis Pasteur (the founder of microbiology and immunology), Isaac Newton (the founder of classical physics), Max Planck (the founder of quantum physics), Charles Darwin (the founder of evolutionary biology), Werner Heisenberg (the founder of quantum mechanics), Werner Von Braun (the founder of space science), James Clerk Maxwell (the founder of electromagnetic theory), Sir Joseph Thompson (the founder of atomic physics), Allan Sandage (one of the founders of modern astronomy), Albert Einstein, etc., etc. Here are a couple Einstein quotes from the above mentioned post:

              “The more I study science, the more I believe in God.”

              –Albert Einstein

              (The Wall Street Journal, Dec 24, 1997, article by Jim Holt, “Science Resurrects God.”)

              “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.”

              –Albert Einstein

              (From E. Salaman, “A Talk With Einstein,” The Listener 54 (1955), pp. 370-371, quoted in Jammer, p. 123).

              How could any cause for the origin of the universe be “testable?” The universe (including time, space, matter, and energy) began at the cosmological event known as the Big Bang. Since nothing can cause itself, the cause of the universe must necessarily be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and energyless.

              How could one test a proposed timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and energyless cause in a scientific experiment? With a chemistry experiment involving a bunsen burner and test tubes? With a biology experiment involving a microscope and petri dish? You just keep committing the same old category error which absolutely permeates atheist thought. God is a proposed efficient cause (from Aristotle’s four causes which I cited in my previous comment)…much as the designers of cars or aircraft are the efficient causes of these manufactured items.

              Jeff, what timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and energyless cause do you propose for the origin of the universe from nothingness? I am VERY EXTREMELY CURIOUS to hear your reply.

              Further, Jeff, this is now the fourth (4th) time I have asked you to explain how you rectify the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis with the fact that randomness can never be verified. The renowned mathematician Gregory Chaitin from his paper Randomness and Mathematical Proof:

              “Although randomness can be precisely defined and can even be measured, a given number cannot be proved to be random. This enigma establishes a limit to what is possible in mathematics.”

              HOW COULD ONE “TEST” THE RANDOM MUTATION EVOLUTIONARY HYPOTHESIS IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO WAY TO VERIFY THAT A PATTERN IS RANDOM? THE COUNTER IS ON FOUR (4) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION. THE COUNTER IS ALSO ON FOUR (4) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE ASKED YOU TO EXPLAIN WHY MATTER FOLLOWS NATURAL LAWS SUCH AS THE LAWS OF PHYSICS AND THERMODYNAMICS. ABSOLUTELY NO THIRD PARTY VIEWERS OF THIS DISCUSSION WILL FAIL TO NOTE HOW YOU ARE AVOIDING THESE QUESTIONS!

              In order to characterize my arguments as God-of-the-gaps, or “God did it” explanations based upon gaps in our current knowledge, you would need to ignore many of the arguments I have presented at this website, and which I have presented to you in previous comments.

              As the geneticist Francis Collins, the leader of the Human Genome Project and currently the director of the National Institutes of Health in the United States put it:

              “There are good reasons to believe in God, including the existence of mathematical principles and order in creation. They are positive reasons, based on knowledge, rather than default assumptions based on a temporary lack of knowledge.”

              Here are a couple such SPECIFIC reasons, based upon knowledge, rather than temporary lack of knowledge. Please furnish your SPECIFIC rebuttals to the following scientific arguments for God. Trying to ignore them or change the subject by presenting more objections to Christianity will not fool any third party viewers of this discussion:

              1) DNA, the language of life, is a language in the most literal (not metaphorical) sense, as I discuss in There’s Nothing Random About Evolution and How Atheism Relies on Special Pleading. And information science tells us that language, by necessity, is always the product of a conscious and intelligent mind…absolutely no exceptions. Information scientist Henry Quastler puts it succinctly: “The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” In his book Evolution 2.0, Perry Marshall explains the scientific reasons why DNA is a language in the most literal sense. This is not some “loosey-goosey analogy,” as he puts it:

              Rutgers University professor Sungchul Ji’s excellent paper The Linguistics of DNA: Words, Sentences, Grammar, Phonetics, and Semantics starts off, “Biologic systems and processes cannot be fully accounted for in terms of the principles and laws of physics and chemistry alone, but they require in addition the principles of semiotics— the science of symbols and signs, including linguistics.”

              Ji identifies 13 characteristics of human language. DNA shares 10 of them. Cells edit DNA. They also communicate with each other and literally speak a language he called “cellese,” described as “a self-organizing system of molecules, some of which encode, act as signs for, or trigger, gene-directed cell processes.”

              This comparison between cell language and human language is not a loosey-goosey analogy; it’s formal and literal. Human language and cell language both employ multilayered symbols. Dr. Ji explains this similarity in his paper: “Bacterial chemical conversations also include assignment of contextual meaning to words and sentences (semantic) and conduction of dialogue (pragmatic)— the fundamental aspects of linguistic communication.” This is true of genetic material. Signals between cells do this as well.

              The Nobel Prize winning Harvard University biologist George Wald, although certainly not an ideological ally of theism, was forced by the weight of the evidence to admit the following in his address to the Quantum Biology Symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe:

              “It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.”

              2) The anthropic fine tuning argument, as presented in my posts titled Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?) and OK…I Want Numbers: What is the Probability that the Universe is the Result of Chance? A list of some of the many anthropic constants appears at this post. Click on the preceding link.

              So compelling, in fact, has become the case for the universe as the product of a conscious creator that astrophysicist Hugh Ross, a former post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology observes (in his book The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God) that:

              “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join ‘The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”

              For those not familiar with “the Big Bang,” this cosmological event, now almost unanimously regarded as fact in the scientific community, constituted the beginning of the universe about 14 or 15 billion years ago, and bears eerie similarity to the biblical account of the universe’s creation. As Arno Penzias, the 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics, stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978:

              “The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”

              Similarly, the astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Robert Jastrow, writes:

              “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment of time, in a flash of light and energy.”


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, I apologize for writing the comment here but I replied to a wrong comment before. Sir, perhaps you’ll still continue to count but as for now, scientists don’t know why matter moves that way. What is wrong with the answer ‘I don’t know’ instead of pointing everything to God? You keep counting but the answer will still be “we don’t know”. Just give science enough time to figure this out.

                Since we’re discussing on whether science leads to God but in your case is the God of Christianity. If you think that Genesis is in agreement with science. I’m about to dispute that. Now when it comes to Genesis 1:6 which reads ‘And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.”’ Now the ancient Israelites took this to be a firm interpretation.

                An excerpt from this essay reads “One of those issue concerns the second day of creation (Genesis 1:6-8), where God made the “expanse” or the “firmament.” The Hebrew word for this is raqia (pronounced ra-KEE-ah). Biblical scholars understand the raqia to be a solid dome-like structure. It separates the water into two parts, so that there is water above the raqia and water below it (v. 7). The waters above are kept at bay so the world can become inhabitable. On the third day (vv. 9-10), the water below the raqia is “gathered to one place” to form the sea and allow the dry land to appear.

                Even the author confirm that biblical interpretation for a non-raqia is a problem because the translation for a raqia is a solid structure. Now the author claims that Genesis and science are not friends neither enemies. He claims in this excerpt ‘It is important to remember that God always speaks in ways that people can actually understand. In the ancient world, people held certain views about the world around them. Those views are also reflected in Genesis. If we keep this in mind, much of the conflict can subside’.

                However, that leaves us with a problem. If the story of Atlas holding the earth is a ‘parable’, then perhaps we can assume that their gods was also speaking to the Greeks in ways they would have understood. What Am I trying to say basically? I’m trying to say that if all creation story is in conflict with modern science then clearly we can’t discern the true religion which gives atheists a good reason to assume that there’s no God. It clearly shows how modern scholars are just forcing an interpretation of Genesis so as to work with modern science. It clearly is backfiring on them.

                If the foundation of Christianity in Genesis conflicts with science, then this clearly proves Christopher Hitchens claim that these ancient people were just trying to understand a world without science. If science can’t find all the answers then be sure that religion won’t any better. Even Francis Collins sees Genesis as Hebrew poetry which makes it more difficult to discern the true religion.

                If any third reader is interested in looking at why the raqia is in conflict with modern science then please check out this link.

                http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-that%E2%80%99s-not-the-point


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  You write, “What is wrong with the answer ‘I don’t know’ instead of pointing everything to God?” The problem with the answer ‘I don’t know’ is that we DO KNOW much that clearly points to the existence of God. You have very conveniently (and predictably) chosen to ignore the two logical arguments for God which I presented in my previous comment, and you have also repeatedly failed to present a logical argument for atheism. Once again, the truth of atheism cannot be established by merely citing a slew of objections to Christianity which you have copied and pasted from atheist websites. All truth claims require logical arguments to support them…this includes atheism.

                  As I said before, Gerry and I have very patiently responded to a few dozen of your objections to Christianity. The wild goose chase is over, and not it is time for you to provide a logical defense for atheism. All truth claims (including atheism) require logical arguments to support them.

                  By ignoring my arguments for God, and then posing more objections to Christianity in order to divert attention from your failure to respond, you continue to commit the Red Herring Logical Fallacy which I called you out on so many times in the past. Click here to read about the Red Herring Logical Fallacy. A copy and paste:

                  Description: Attempting to redirect the argument to another issue that to which the person doing the redirecting can better respond. While it is similar to the avoiding the issue fallacy, the red herring is a deliberate diversion of attention with the intention of trying to abandon the original argument.

                  Logical Form:

                  Argument A is presented by person 1.
                  Person 2 introduces argument B.
                  Argument A is abandoned.

                  Some examples:

                  In government, to avoid discussing a delicate topic – “I understand you want to know what happened at the embassy. What is really important is to talk about whether the government has enough cash flow to stay open through the month.”

                  In politics, to defend one’s voting past – “While you may have concerns about my votes about the environment, I can assure you that I am an open minded individual. What we should really discuss is my record on votes that expanded educational opportunities for all children.”

                  Read more at http://examples.yourdictionary.com/red-herring-examples.html#3ZP76VZUGHVcpz2l.99

                  Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism:

                  It is not enough to simply say “It was not God” in response to the question “Where did everything come from?” The atheist [or agnostic] must substitute another hypothesis in God’s place in order to justify his rejection of God, and furthermore he must provide evidence for that hypothesis.

                  We have a set of facts, in which the corpse of victim ‘A’ was found at the scene of the crime. We have a prosecutor and the accused. The prosecutor’s job is to bring evidence to support the hypothesis that the accused killed victim ‘A’. Ask yourself; is it enough for the counsel for the defence to simply express skepticism toward all the evidence presented by the case for the prosecution? Obviously not. Assuming the suspect values his liberty, he might either provide an alternative explanation for how the victim was killed, or else demonstrate by way of an alibi that he couldn’t have possibly been the killer. Either way, abstinence from engaging the case isn’t going to get our suspect very far. Not only that, but the accused must provide his own evidence in support of his explanation. If the plaintiff can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the best explanation of the facts is the hypothesis that the accused murdered the victim, then the guilty verdict is produced.

                  So, I will ask you point blank, Jeff: WHAT IS YOUR EXPLANATION FOR THE EXISTENCE OF THE UNIVERSE? As I mentioned, the universe (including time, space, matter, and energy) originated at the Big Bang. Since nothing can cause itself, the cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and energyless.

                  You write, “Just give science enough time to figure this out.

                  Jinn responds to this:

                  Whatever the explanation for the universe is, it simply cannot logically be scientific. Because as soon as it becomes scientific, it becomes a part of the universe; and therefore ceases to be an explanation. We can understand this in the form of the following argument for the limits of science:

                  Premise 1: The explanation for something ‘A’ cannot be ‘A’ itself. In other words; the statement “if ‘A’, then ‘A’” is a circular argument and not logically valid.

                  Premise 2: Therefore, explanation for the universe cannot be the universe itself. One cannot say; “the universe is an explanation for the universe.”

                  Premise 3: Science is concerned only with the universe.

                  Conclusion: Therefore, science cannot explain the existence of the universe …Therefore, any recourse to scientific argumentation for or against the existence of God, or any claim to the effect that “science disproves God” is to indulge in the exercise of an epistemic category mistake. It would be like trying to find out the color of a physical object by tasting it. It is just not going to work.

                  Please note that neither theism nor atheism are scientific stances. Rather, they are ontological stances. Science can assist us with reaching ontological conclusions, but the truth of neither theism not atheism can be demonstrated in a laboratory with an experiment. I asked you in a previous comment by what scientific means you would demonstrate the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis in light of the fact that randomness is something which is impossible to mathematically demonstrate. With a chemistry experiment involving a bunsen burner and test tubes? With a biology experiment involving a microscope and a petri dish?

                  Oxford University mathematician John Lennox notes another reason why science points to the ontological conclusion that the universe is the result of an intelligence, in his book God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

                  “How does one scientifically recognize a message emanating from an intelligent source, and distinguish it from the random background noise that emanates from the cosmos? Clearly the only way this can be done is to compare the signals received with the patterns specified in advance that are deemed to be clear and reliable indicators of intelligence — like a long sequence of prime numbers — and then to make a design inference. In SETI [sponsored by NASA] the recognition of intelligent agency is regarded as lying within the legitimate scope of natural science. The astronomer Carl Sagan thought that a single message from space would be enough to convince us that there were intelligences in the universe other than our own.”

                  “Writing on paper (or paint on a Rembrandt canvas) exhibits what philosopher Del Ratzsch calls counterflow — phenomena that nature, unaided by agent activity, could not produce. It is because we know that, even in principle, physics and chemistry cannot give an explanation of the counterflow exhibited by the writing, that we reject a purely naturalistic explanation, and we postulate an author. But it needs to be said that postulating an intelligent agent to explain writing is not falling into an ‘author-of-the-gaps’ syndrome; rather it is our knowledge of the nature of the ‘gap’ that demands we postulate an author.”

                  My point in providing the above citations is this: If the complexity and organizational specificity contained in a long set of prime numbers and in the writing on a piece of paper are deemed, scientifically, to be the result of intelligent activity, then by what reasoning can we assume that the complexity and organizational specificity contained in a complex DNA sequence is not the result of intelligent activity? Only by purely ideological (as opposed to logical) reasoning.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Youngren, when the bible offers a solid dome (raqia) as an one of its creation. You’ll understand why atheists reject Christianity because if one thing is wrong then who knows what else is wrong. When the Bible says by taking out a rib during a man’s sleep and a woman was born, you understand why skeptics doubt the bible comes from God. So far, your arguments only points to a deistic God. You can refer to my previous comment on why the bible endorses a solid dome. I even doubt that you looked at the link, the author isn’t an atheist as you claim. If a Christian endorses a solid dome as written by the founder of Genesis, then you understand why I’m skeptical of Christianity and the evidence is there when you read Genesis.


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                    Gerry Denaro says:

                    Scott,

                    You are certainly more charitable than I. I try to be respectful in all my reasoning with what can only be described as the intellectually challenged God-deniers, but this particular individual really tries my patience. Close-minded deniers cannot hope to look at the evidence impartially because they have already decided there is no Creator, no supernatural dimension to reality, and certainly not a loving God who wants a relationship with us. This presupposition spills over into an ignorance of what constitutes a logical argument which is often exceeded by their arrogance of what they would do if they were God. (The latter is of course is the most pernicious sin that’s hangs on the head of all mankind). They pontificate about perceived morality in past cultures with all the evangelical zeal they despise in fundamentalists. Without attempting any rebuttal of our explanations this individual just repeats the same comments, cut and pasting large slabs of text from unreferenced sites that he embraces without question.

                    An honest sceptic would listen to counter arguments and be capable of an intelligent response. in my dealings, what masquerades as a comment is often laced with half truths, quote mining, emotional diatribes, insults, and even profanities. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to respond to every verbose slab of texts or every schoolboy question so I’ll just pick some of the usual objections raised here. NDE’s and paranormal phenomena must be denied a priori. For the record, near death experiences are not POST death experiences. Sceptics like Jeff whose every waking moment is taunted by the God he doesn’t believe in needs to look for answers within. As Sartre said “that God does not exist I cannot deny. That my whole being cries out for God I cannot resist.” I guess that explains why atheists cannot live both happily and consistently within a materialistic worldview, that offers no meaning, no hope and no escape.
                    .
                    He wrote, “The problem with offering “God did it” as an explanation is that such an explanation has low plausibility,’ What absolute rubbish!! God’s existence is made more obvious with every new scientific discovery. See below. Notwithstanding, “There are many questions that science cannot answer nor any advancement of science will ever answer…” says Nobel Laureate, Sir Peter Medawar. It is to philosophy, intuitive literature and religion that we must turn to , for these answers. How did mindless matter create all the ABSTRACT laws of science and then itself out of nothing? What natural evidence/argument can be offered to support such metaphysical hypotheses? NONE!vWhy should matter follow such immaterial concepts? Perhaps the latter don’t exist at all. They are just fabricated notions of our brain chemistry.

                    His prejudice and ignorance of what the latest scientific findings reveal, is patently obvious. In looking at the evidence one must be careful when we say that something should “make sense” because that can be a person-specific matter. NOTE, some concepts may not make sense to us because we haven’t studied enough or because we have a psychological prejudice. An acknowledgement of the latter and a spirit of humility in questioning, would give both skeptics and believers more credibility in such search for truth.

                    Jeff has been told to respond to the litany of citations from eminent scientists in Scott’s article “if you think science leads to atheism”. but his silence has been deafening!! I have referred to these citations in my debates but I would have to suspect deniers are incapable of, let alone give anything like a coherent response! Jeff drops names like Dawkins, Hawking &Tyson implying what exactly? That they have believable naturalistic theories for the birth and origin of the physical realm? Then re-iterate them by citing their arguments or provide supporting evidence? Telling someone to go listen to some website is LAZY and NOT a substitute for an argument.
                    What really is pathetic is when these same scientists draft multiverse hypotheses without any empirical data and then ask us to prove them wrong. Speaking of name dropping, DOES JEFF EVEN KNOW WHAT HAWKING WROTE ? Let me enlighten you – Hawking has declared in his latest best seller, that “Philosophy is dead” Then he makes a philosophical statement claiming “Because of a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing”.WHAT!! No wonder Einstein lamented that “scientists make poor philosophers.” Moreover, read the NY Times review of Krauss’ book “A Universe from Nothing.” Such are the realms of fantasy atheists resort to when the evidence (creation) is against them. Call it “science of the gaps by imagination”.

                    How many times must it be said, the finitude of time, the impossibility of a past eternal universe [or multi-verses], the impossibility of an infinite regress of past physical events or states and ex nihilo creation are insurmountable atheist dilemmas. They are not questions that scientists can say “we don’t know now but we’re working on it”. Only theism has the necessary framework to explain philosophical questions like WHY there is something rather than nothing. For those observers who would like to read the claims and criticisms of these scientists, See
                    Oxford Prof. John Lennox – GOD, The Universe & Stephen Hawking
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVEC5XZPdJw Zacharias & Lennox Respond To Stephen Hawking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dfO1S4whU4
                    The Poetry of Science: Richard Dawkins and Neil deGrasse Tyson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RExQFZzHXQ
                    How the Universe came from Nothing , Dawkins and Krauss discuss https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eY1pDkP9Qxk
                    Exposing Neil deGrasse Tyson on God, William Lane Craig, PhD
                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lwrBRv-Vho
                    Neil deGrasse Tyson “responds” to William Lane Craig https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1Hsd3DIUk4

                    In The God Delusion, Dawkins states his major theme p158, if the universe is designed then we need to know the nature of the Designer to claim it is designed. This is so stupid that philosopher Michael Ruse concludes “Dawkins makes me embarrassed to call myself an atheist” One doesn’t have to know the nature nor origin of an intelligible signal from deep space to conclude it is intelligible and came from an intelligent source. Moreover, only a cynic would conclude that metaphysical truths (abstract logic, math and universal laws) are merely the invention of human brains. Then this sad individual contradicts himself by claiming “It doesn’t matter that we have no explanation whatsoever for the explanations themselves”. That is exactly what the “who designed the Designer” argument is implying. You don’t need an explanation of the explanation.

                    As for miracles: Atheism by definition, must deny everything supernatural and therefore psychic and paranormal phenomena, miracles like design, fine-tuning and a rationally intelligent cause for a rationally intelligible universe. As Einstein said we should expect a priori, an incomprehensible, lawless lifeless chaos.

                    I actually believe God answers all genuine prayers. It depends what you mean by ‘answers”. St Paul says the way of the cross (suffering) is foolishness to the unbeliever.” Indeed it is! I might pray for a lottery win but then I wouldn’t have gone to night school and had a successful professional career. I might now pray for relief from arthritis but God knows that self-knowledge and wisdom not material wealth, are the rewards of those who embrace their misfortune. Now my belated efforts in the gym are beginning to pay health dividends. The grief for those who carry their earthly ‘cross’ is but a minor inconvenience compared to what God has in mind for us. ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him’. I Cor 2:9
                    Pax vobiscum


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Mr Youngren, Regarding your articles of life after death. There’s this belief that people will be ‘asleep’ in their deaths and rise from the grave after Christ’s second coming. Now doesn’t this remove the concept of souls? This removes the soul if people are just going to be asleep. I think the story of people being asleep can be seen in the story of Lazarus since he didn’t describe of him being in a ‘temporary heaven’ or heaven for that matter. He didn’t describe what he saw in when he was dead? Could it be that there are no souls or is it that Christianity borrowed he concept of souls from other religions and the consequence of this belief is that people go to heaven or hell immediately after death?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      Gerry and I have responded to a few dozen of your objections to Christianity. As I have pointed out, the truth of atheism cannot be established merely by presenting a variety of objections to Christianity.

      Now it is time for you to present a logical defense for atheism. Please respond to my question about how you can rectify the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis with the following facts:

      1. There is no possible procedure to verify that a pattern is random, although there IS a procedure for verifying that a pattern is non-random. The random mutation evolutionary hypothesis can never be verified, and therefore stands in opposition to the scientific method itself.

      2. Recent science has shown that mutations in living things are directed, rather than random. An example of this is the directed process known as transposition, the discovery of which won Barbara McClintock the Nobel Prize in Biology. Transposition amounts to a cut/copy/paste of genetic information in a cell.

      And, if atheism is true, please also explain why it is that material things follow natural laws such as the laws of physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics.

      In the theistic model, it is immediately obvious why matter follows natural laws: The same mind that creates matter (God’s mind) also directs it. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, put it:

      “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.”

      Or, as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it:

      “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

      Or, as the knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

      “There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”
      (italics added)

      What answer does the atheistic model provide to the question of how an inanimate thing can be compelled to follow a law? Only various versions of “matter follows laws because it just does.” But “it just does” is not an explanation. Rather, it is a failure to explain.

      And, if you prefer to use a term other than “law,” such as “regularity,” that is fine. Please explain why matter behaves in such regular and consistent ways…whatever term you prefer to explain the phenomenon. Why isn’t there just chaos?


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, I’ll just be brief with your questions. The response Neil degrasse Tyson gave the best answer when questioned about a loving God. He says “Every account of a higher power that I’ve seen described, of all religions that I’ve seen, include many statements with regard to the benevolence of that power. When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, I find it hard to reconcile that with statements of beneficence.”

        Clearly the universe isn’t fine tuned for humans to live in. I’ll give an analogy of the honey badger finding a hole. When the honey badger finds a hole, it finds a way to fit itself into the hole not that the hole was made for it. And Neil degrasse Tyson clearly shows why the universe happened by chance and not by God. I can dive into the problem of evil but that’ll make this comment longer. There’s no life after death and even Christians believe that their loved ones are in heaven not knowing they are just ‘asleep’ in their graves until Christ comes again so I even wonder ‘how the soul getting out the body experience’ is. Who knows when will that be?


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          Jeff wrote “The response Neil deGrasse Tyson gave the :best” answer when questioned about a loving God.” Jeff, did you read my detailed response on August 16, 2016 at 12:54 am? Did u view Tyson’s claims and the rebuttal’s by WL Craig? Would u like to comment in any shape or form? Or are u just going to ignore every response to your nauseous repetitions?
          For the record, Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist. As far as biology, philosophy, theology and his taste in Italian cuisine, he has no more credibility than any informed individual. And then you hang on his every word about the nature of God as if they are sacrosanct ! Go view the links to his opinions and the rebuttals provided. Then come back with an appraisal of his “best” arguments and articulate WHY they are more plausible than their opposites. Unless youre prepared to do exactly that, please drop your obsession and move on!!


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          “I’ll just be brief with your questions.” Yes we understand that you have been very brief to the point of completely ignoring the answers given to your myriad of questions. So now without any attempt to respond to or debate our arguments you want us to move on to another of your third party quotes? Did u visit the YT video I recommended on the “..Big Questions.” ? Obviously not!

          If you are serious about a search for meaning and truth, i suggest doing your own homework with an open and inquiring mind. To the silly statement “When I look at the universe and all the ways the universe wants to kill us, ….”, it has already been asked and answered. Go back and read the answers already given. The “weather” in deep space or on planet Pandora is totally irrelevant to the fine-tuning and design argument but hey why should I go there, AGAIN?
          Tyson is a great scientist who makes a lot of philosophical assertions which should be critically examined. Recall the Hawking absurdity that “science has replaced philosophy in the quest for knowledge.” All such claims should include a philosophical response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lwrBRv-Vho Any intelligent truth seeker should be able to judge for themselves fact from fiction.


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Denaro and Mr. Youngren. since God likes forming new covenants, one wonders whether he ever sticks to one thing. GotQuestions.org puts it this way, “God is an eternal and infinite Being (Psalm 90:2). As a result, all sin requires an eternal punishment….Our sin is eternally before Him and must be eternally punished in order to satisfy His holy justice.”

            So it seems to me the fact that what is considered a sin can and has changed to negate this idea.
            Back in the old testament, God lays down the Laws of Leviticus, but then later forms a new covenant using Jesus, such that we’re no longer beholden to them. But the thing is, if God is outside time, then whether the act was done now or 1000 years ago shouldn’t matter to him. But since what is a sin has changed, that argument doesn’t seem to hold as well, since clearly God is no longer offended by some actions, though presumably any of those sinners from back then are still in hell. (Of course I’ve made the assumption you don’t follow those laws).


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              As I said before, merely listing your objections to Christianity does not logically establish atheism as accurate. Gerry and I have patiently responded to a few dozen of your objections to Christianity. The wild goose chase is over, and now it is time for you to provide a logical defense for atheism. A copy and paste of the questions I asked before, but which you conveniently ignored:

              Please respond to my question about how you can rectify the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis with the following facts:

              1. There is no possible procedure to verify that a pattern is random, although there IS a procedure for verifying that a pattern is non-random. The random mutation evolutionary hypothesis can never be verified, and therefore stands in opposition to the scientific method itself. The renowned mathematician Gregory Chaitin writes in his paper Randomness and Mathematical Proof:

              “Although randomness can be precisely defined and can even be measured, a given number cannot be proved to be random. This enigma establishes a limit to what is possible in mathematics.”

              2. Recent science has shown that mutations in living things are directed, rather than random. An example of this is the directed process known as transposition, the discovery of which won Barbara McClintock the Nobel Prize in Biology. Transposition amounts to a cut/copy/paste of genetic information in a cell.

              And, if atheism is true, please also explain why it is that material things follow natural laws such as the laws of physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics.

              In the theistic model, it is immediately obvious why matter follows natural laws: The same mind that creates matter (God’s mind) also directs it. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, put it:

              “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.”

              Or, as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it:

              “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

              Or, as the knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

              “There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”
              (italics added)

              What answer does the atheistic model provide to the question of how an inanimate thing can be compelled to follow a law? Only various versions of “matter follows laws because it just does.” But “it just does” is not an explanation. Rather, it is a failure to explain.

              And, if you prefer to use a term other than “law,” such as “regularity,” that is fine. Please explain why matter behaves in such regular and consistent ways…whatever term you prefer to explain the phenomenon. Why isn’t there just chaos?

              Jeff, from my experience with debating atheists, I can confidently predict that you will try to avoid this question by ignoring it, posing other non-related objections to Christianity, or by using rhetorical language.

              Due to this tendency among atheists, I have found it necessary to use a counter to keep track of the number of times an atheist avoids a question which cannot be coherently from the framework of his worldview. Forgive me for using all caps, but I need to call attention your failure to respond so that third-party viewers do not miss it:

              THE COUNTER IS NOW ON TWO (2) FOR THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU HAVE IGNORED MY QUESTION ABOUT WHY MATTER FOLLOWS NATURAL LAWS AND MY ABOVE QUESTION ABOUT RANDOMNESS.


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                Gerry Denaro says:

                Scott
                It is painfully obvious by now that Jeff is not an atheist. His objections are not scientific nor intellectual but merely emotional and moral.
                His obsession with the OT God is just a clever ploy by many deniers to avoid the necessity to face their own sinful nature.
                As I have already said the covenants of the OT have been super ceded by a New cCovenant Jesus gave us that few want to acknowledge, let alone live by.


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Gerry,

                  Yes, you are correct. Most atheists object to God for emotional and psychological reasons…NOT for logical reasons. Their “logic” is really just a ploy to conceal the true motives behind their atheism. One of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the current day is the New York University Professor of Philosophy Thomas Nagel. He writes:

                  “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that… My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind.”

                  I also recommend a YouTube audio titled The Psychology of Atheism by psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz.

                  The English novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley is equally commendable for admitting to the psychological motives behind his atheism (and nihilism). Huxley wrote:

                  “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem of pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Mr. youngren, have you ever visited the debunking Christianity website. Here’s the link. http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.co.ke/ . Now this website offers some of the best arguments against religion. The author claims to have read almost all the christian apologist books over the past 40 years. Now the question is (which I’ve already read your article), if the evidence for God is so strong, why are there still atheists? If the author claims to have read many books for the past 40 years then why is he still an atheist? You yourself give quotes from so many books you’ve read. The author rejects main basis is that he rejects everything due to lack of objective evidence. In fact, he gives so many reasons as to why its the cultural revolution that got rid of slavery and not religion? It does seem that Christians just cherry pick verses and ignore the ‘evil’ ones.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      Great question. I wrote an essay about this titled If the Evidence for God is So Strong, Why Are So Many Smart People Unconvinced?

      The most common reason that people refuse to believe in God (as I mention in the essay) is the need to have moral autonomy. Put another way, many people are atheists because they are repulsed by the idea of having to answer to a higher power for their actions. One of the most prominent atheist philosophers of the current day is the New York University Professor of Philosophy Thomas Nagel. He writes:

      “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that… My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time. One of the tendencies it supports is the ludicrous overuse of evolutionary biology to explain everything about life, including everything about the human mind.”

      I also recommend a YouTube audio titled The Psychology of Atheism by psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz.

      The English novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley is equally commendable for admitting to the psychological motives behind his atheism (and nihilism). Huxley wrote:

      “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem of pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system, and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

      Lastly, Jeff, regarding your comment about getting “rid of religion.” As I mention in Why Everyone Is Religious…or Rather, Nobody, there is no plausible benchmark by which one can label one set of beliefs as “religion” and another set of beliefs as “irreligious.” It is certainly true that our culture has such benchmarks, but there are no logical benchmarks. Dean Overman, a Templeton Scholar from Oxford University writes in A Case for the Divinity of Jesus:

      Defining what one means by the term “religion” is not an easy task. Keith Ward, former Regius Professor of Divinity and head of the theology department at Oxford University, wrote a highly acclaimed five-volume series on comparative religions. In one of his recent books, The Case for Religion, he notes that defining the term “religion” is not a simple undertaking: “Many colleges in America and Europe have courses on ‘Religion.’ These courses usually start with a lecture entitled ‘What is Religion?’ After running through a few dozen definitions, the lecturer almost invariably concludes that nobody knows what religion is, or is even sure that there is such a thing. The course continues to be called courses on religion, however, because that sounds better than having a course entitled, “I do not know what I am talking about.”

      Since there is no logical means by which to distinguish between belief systems which are “religious” and those which are not, a statement such as:

      “We must get rid of religion because religion is bad…”

      Is every bit as incoherent and absurd as the statement:

      “We must get rid of politics because politics are bad.”


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        What’s your view on the debunking Christianity website because the author is a former Christian turned atheist. He doesn’t seem to mind answering to a higher power but he just wants to expose the lies of Christianity. He just wants to be shown objective evidence that Christianity or any other religion is the right religion. I’m still trying to understand how someone can read so many Christian apologist books and still not open to the idea of God. I’m ready to change my mind given the evidence.

        Allow me to go off topic, I’ve read your article on second law of thermodynamics. It made me think about the idea of random evolution or as professor Dawkins puts it ‘given time, a monkey producing the idea of shakespeare’ but don’t you think that maybe the reason atheists don’t want to believe in the existence of God is because they believe that a loving God should not allow diseases such as cancer. Let’s face it. Genetics can mess with us and bring some other diseases you’ve probably heard about. . How can there be genetic diseases if God played a part in creation?


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          My goodness! Scott and I have exhibited an enormous amount of patience providing a multitude of answers . To avoid reinventing the wheel, Scott has referred readers to appropriate essays on this website. They address nearly all the questions raised in this thread, but what has been Jeff’s only comeback? Merely to ignore the answers, just more cuts and pastes of ‘evidence” from unreferenced websites. No matter what argument or answer put before him, do we hear a comment, rebuttal or a counter argument? No!

          I don’t like to be uncharitable preferring to give people the benefit of the doubt. But Jeff, your ignorance of logical argumentation is only exceeded by your blind faith in the sites you quote from. One can only conclude that your total reluctance to respond to, let alone challenge the answers, suggest you are best, intellectually naïve, and a closeminded cynic at worst. Calling your opponent to check out points raised by a third party websites, rather than draft your own arguments, is plain lazy doing little for your honesty and credibility.
          As I have cited already, existential philosophers like Sartre use a circular fallacy to conclude “if God exists I am not free, Since I am free God does not exist.” Scott’s observation that many sceptics base their atheism on lifestyle (moral) choices rather than science and intellectual ability, is obvious.

          The following is my answer for those who ask “Why should we believe in theism rather than deism and in particular the God of Christianity?”
          Firstly, there are few if any natural arguments to explain the finitude of the past and hence creation ex nihilo and thus the need for a Creator. Atheists prefer to regress to the oft’ get-out-of jail response “we have no burden of proof.” . They cleverly attack God’s nature and religions to support their a priori denial and disbelief of God. Sound familiar? As to monotheism, there are essentially 4 reasons why we should trust the Christian concept of God
          1) When you look at the earthly life of Jesus and the way he treated everyone who met him, one cannot be utterly inspired by his selflessness, wisdom, compassion and integrity. Trying to live upto that standard is however, a whole new ball game for those who try to follow Him. 2) all our teachings on ethics over the past millennia are footnotes to the Sermon on the mount. One cannot but help grapple with the ethical brilliance of Jesus’ insight into human relationships. 3) at the moment of his excruciating death, instead of cursing his persecutors, he prayed to the Father to forgive them. 4) most importantly 3 days after his death he fulfilled OT prophesy that he would rise from the dead and appeared to about 500 witnesses. and lastly, 5) According to prof’ Graham Clark ANU, “I know of no professor of ancient history that has the slight doubt as to the historicity of Jesus.”
          The relevance of the OT Laws.
          Did Jesus trust the O.T? Absolutely, but what about the 613 laws that are set out in books like Leviticus? .
          We have to read the OT in its historical context and literary genre. These laws were written by Moses for a theocracy of that age and culture. In Acts however, gentiles were living under Roman occupation and the vast majority of these laws were irrelevant to 1st century Palestine. In Hebrews we read these laws were replaced by a New Commandment that embraced what a Christian life must entail.. They were told to put their trust in Christ.

          So whatabout the old law of capital punishment for a wayward son? Recall the culture in the age of Leviticus some 1400yrs before Jesus. There were no police, no standing army to meat out justice to the rapist, the thief or the murderer. It had to be enforced by the leaders of that theocracy themselves. That such laws existed is one thing, but what examples are cited in Scripture when such laws were actually broken and thus enforced?

          The claim to be “moral”.
          Nevertheless can anyone be a genuine moral person? Personally I believe I have not broken the laws of my country but this can lead me and others to a false position of self-righteousness, Have I any claim to go to heaven however? No! Although I have never raped, I have lusted, although I have never murdered, I have hated. Although I have never robbed a bank I have been greedy and so on. So no, according to the teachings of Jesus I have a real sin problem, but who hasn’t?; So we are not the great person we often think we are. That is why we are ALL in need of God’s grace and forgiveness, through the reconciliation of Christ’s death on a cross


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Denaro, Its not that I am afraid of answering to a higher power. Its just objective evidence is needed to verify which is the real God. Consider this, when a Buddhist prays, they are enlightened. When a Christian prays, they are touched by the holy spirit. For the Buddhist, he believes his achieved inner peace and for the Christian, he’s felt the presence of God. Nobody can verify that the Buddhist is right and the Christian is wrong and vice versa. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. The major objective of these atheist website is that there’s no way to verify that.

            Even interpretation of verses in the bible is a problem for Christians. One Christian says this and the other one understands it a different view. At the end of the day, nobody can say that one Christian is right and the other one is wrong. For science, scientists can test what’s right and wrong but religion doesn’t have that benefit. At the end of the day, the bible just confuses people. That also goes for the other religion on earth.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Jeff,

              Another great question. I wrote an essay titled Which God Is Real?, which addresses this question. Please read and respond.

              Also, I note the remarkable similarity between the biblical and scientific accounts of creation in my essay, Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?). An excerpt:

              So compelling, in fact, has become the case for the universe as the product of a conscious creator that astrophysicist Hugh Ross, a former post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology observes (in his book The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God) that:

              “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join ‘The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”

              For those not familiar with “the Big Bang,” this cosmological event, now almost unanimously regarded as fact in the scientific community, constituted the beginning of the universe about 14 or 15 billion years ago, and bears eerie similarity to the biblical account of the universe’s creation. As Arno Penzias, the 1978 Nobel Prize recipient in physics, stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978:

              “The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”

              Similarly, the astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Robert Jastrow, writes:

              “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment of time, in a flash of light and energy.”

              Please note that Buddhism is a non-theistic belief system. Therefore, we are back to the question of whether there is a God or not when it comes to the question of whether Christianity or Buddhism is the correct beliefs system.

              Regarding your comment that “scientists can test what is right and wrong,” this is not the full story, and is very deceptive and misleading.

              I delve into this topic in my essay The Mythology of Atheism. An excerpt:

              Atheism is frequently promoted as a “scientific” belief system, but atheists would be well advised to abandon this line of propaganda in light of the fact that what constitutes science is in a constant state of flux. Biologist Lynn Margulis, winner of the U.S. Presidential Medal for Science, put it best in her book What Is Life?:

              “…Science is asymptotic. [“asymptote” is derived from a Greek word meaning “not falling together.”] It never arrives at but only approaches the tantalizing goal of final knowledge. Astrology gives way to astronomy; alchemy evolves into chemistry. The science of one age becomes the mythology of the next.”

              Those with a short-sighted view of the history of science are prone to overlook the fact that alchemy (which believed that metals such as lead could be turned into gold) and astrology were once considered scientifically respectable. In fact, as Margulis alludes to above, the scientific consensus of one age usually becomes the myth or superstition of the next age. Elite physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin cite examples of this trend among scientific theories in their book The Matter Myth:

              “A classic example concerns the ‘luminiferous ether.’ When James Clerk Maxwell showed that light is an electromagnetic wave, it seemed obvious that this wave had to have a medium of some sort through which to propagate. After all, other known waves travel through something. Sound waves, for example, travel through the air; water waves travel across the surface of lakes and oceans. Because light, which Maxwell discovered is a form of electromagnetic wave, can reach us from the Sun and stars, across seemingly empty space, it was proposed that space is actually filled with an intangible substance, the ether, in which these waves could travel.

              So sure were physicists of the existence of the ether that ambitious experiments were mounted to measure the speed with which the Earth moves through it. Alas, the experiments showed conclusively that the ether does not exist.

              …For nineteenth-century physicists, however, the ether was still very real.”

              A short-sighted view of the history of science would cause one, for example, to overlook the fact that bloodletting was a scientifically respected practice for almost 2,000 years.

              Atheist mythology suggests that, as scientific knowledge grows, the need for theistic belief diminishes. However, in his pivotal work on the history, philosophy, and sociology of science titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn points out how the history of science makes it difficult to justify the characterization of science as “an ever growing stockpile [of] knowledge” (or a “process of accretion”). In part, this is because most scientific theories (or models) which were accepted by the scientific communities of the past are now perceived as pseudo-science or myth.

              Kuhn cites the examples of Aristotelian dynamics (which was superseded by Newtonian physics), phlogistic chemistry (which said that a fire-like element called phlogiston is contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion), and caloric thermodynamics (which said that heat is really a self-repellent fluid called caloric that flows from hotter bodies to colder bodies). (Click here for many more examples). If these theories were regarded as “science” in their day, but as “error” and “superstition” today, then why should we not assume that the scientific theories of today will become the error and superstition of tomorrow? Kuhn writes:

              “…Historians confront growing difficulties in distinguishing the ‘scientific’ component of past observation and belief from what their predecessors had readily labeled ‘error’ and ‘superstition.’ The more carefully they study, say, Aristotelian dynamics, phlogistic chemistry, or caloric thermodynamics, the more certain they feel that those once current views of nature were, as a whole, neither less scientific nor more the product of human idiosyncrasy than those current today. If these out-of-date beliefs are to be called myths, then myths can be produced by the same sorts of methods and held for the same sorts of reasons that now lead to scientific knowledge. If, on the other hand, they are to be called science, then science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today. Given these alternatives, the historian must choose the latter. Out-of-date theories are not in principle unscientific because they have been discarded. That choice, however, makes it difficult to see scientific development as a process of accretion.”


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, perhaps using a non-theistic religion wasn’t a good idea but the bold claim that Christianity could be true just because a Hindu scripture got it right doesn’t make it right. Many people have achieved this so called ‘inner peace’ without Christianity and there’s no way to verify this. There’s no way to test this. This ‘inner peace’ has so many names in many religion. Back in the Old Testament, God would command his people to kill the false prophets so I still don’t know why there are still other religions if God wanted to know the true religion to show itself.

                Another problem is trying to reconcile the creation story in the Bible and evolution. Now according to the Bible, Adam should have existed around 10,000 years. I doubt the first man on earth showed up 10,000 years ago. I wonder how Christians try to reconcile the creation story with science. Now the Wikipedia article confirms my thoughts on why religion tries to reconcile their creation myths with science. It’s not shocking that religion try to reconcile their creation myths with science. I studied other religion creation myths and I’ll use Islam as an example.

                Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia article: Islamic views on evolution. ‘The creation of mankind is mentioned several times in the Quran. For instance, it says “It is He who has created you out of clay” (Surah 6:2), “It was He who brought you into being from the earth…” (11:61), “We first created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then from a clinging clot, then a lump of flesh, both shaped and unshaped, so that We might manifest to you [Our power]” (22:5), “He originated the creation of man from clay, then He made his progeny from an extract of a humble fluid” (32:7-8) and, a verse used by many Islamic scholars to support evolution, “…and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?”(21:30), which is believed by evolutionary Muslims to refer to humans evolving in the oceans millions of years ago, as suggested by modern evolution’.
                Conflict between religions is not the only problem. There’s no evidence that there was a great flood or any remaining of the ark. There’s also no evidence that Moses freed the Israelites from Egypt. I think this were just stories that were made up. And if there’s no evidence of this stories, can we seriously think that the Bible is the truth or the word of God.
                It’s not easy to discern which religion is true. Can we blame atheists when they say that there’s no God? I think religion has failed to show the true God.


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  A big problem here is that you keep referring to belief systems such as Christianity and Islam as “religions,” but to atheism as an apparent “non-religion.” As with most atheists, you are trying to assume that atheism occupies neutral ground between competing “religious” views, and should therefore be the default position. If various “religions” can be rejected based upon objections that atheists can raise (the reasoning goes), then atheism must be assumed because it is the default position. But this is a compete non-sequitur (Latin for “does not follow).

                  You have ignored what I said about how it is impossible to establish a logical benchmark by which one belief system (or “explanatory framework”) can be termed a religion, whereas another belief system is “non-religious.” That citation again:

                  Dean Overman, a Templeton Scholar from Oxford University writes in A Case for the Divinity of Jesus:

                  Defining what one means by the term “religion” is not an easy task. Keith Ward, former Regius Professor of Divinity and head of the theology department at Oxford University, wrote a highly acclaimed five-volume series on comparative religions. In one of his recent books, The Case for Religion, he notes that defining the term “religion” is not a simple undertaking: “Many colleges in America and Europe have courses on ‘Religion.’ These courses usually start with a lecture entitled ‘What is Religion?’ After running through a few dozen definitions, the lecturer almost invariably concludes that nobody knows what religion is, or is even sure that there is such a thing. The course continues to be called courses on religion, however, because that sounds better than having a course entitled, “I do not know what I am talking about.”

                  The problem with atheism is that it is no more of less of a “religion” than Christianity and Islam. Atheism also makes a POSITIVE SET OF CLAIMS which are dubious at best. For example, you cite Darwinian evolution. Stripped of the atheistic philosophical add-ons of randomness and purposelessness, “evolution” only means change over time. Virtually no Christian denies that life forms change over time, and therefore a Christian disputing evolution is really only disputing these atheistic philosophical add-ons…not evolution (or change over time) itself.

                  But the randomness and purposelessness of evolution are two claims which do not past the smell test. It is possible to prove that a pattern is non-random, but there is no mathematical procedure for proving that a pattern is random. Atheists can only assume that genes mutate randomly…because their worldview demands it. But the random mutation hypothesis can never be verified, and therefore it stands in opposition to the scientific method itself. To this end, the renowned mathematician Gregory Chaitin writes in his paper Randomness and Mathematical Proof:

                  “Although randomness can be precisely defined and can even be measured, a given number cannot be proved to be random. This enigma establishes a limit to what is possible in mathematics.”

                  I must call attention to a final nail in the coffin for the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis: It is flat-out mathematically impossible…in addition to being wrong and unscientific. The vast majority of mutations are harmful, and an organism cannot evolve from random mutations with such a state of affairs. Cambridge University physicist and mathematician Fred Hoyle, despite being atheist, admits in his book Mathematics of Evolution:

                  “The reason why most mutations must be bad is of course that random changes made to any complex structure lead to many more downward steps in the operating efficiency of the structure than to upward steps. How the occasional lucky improvement is to lead to positive evolution is a puzzle that has disturbed many mathematicians.”

                  Most people intuitively know that unintelligent and random processes do the exact opposite of organize and create, and therefore do not need the assurance of elite physicists and mathematicians. This includes atheistic biologists such as Richard Dawkins, who writes in his book The Blind Watchmaker:

                  “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

                  You write, “According to the Bible, Adam should have existed around 10,000 years. I doubt the first man on earth showed up 10,000 years ago.” Jeff, this one of your worst straw-man arguments yet. Please point out to me where in the Bible that is says that Adam existed around 10,000 years. Did you make this up or did you find this at an atheist website?

                  Why should we accept Christianity as the true religion? William Lane Craig writes:

                  Christianity furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish. Science is not something that is natural to mankind. As science writer Loren Eiseley has emphasized, science is “an invented cultural institution” which requires a “unique soil” in order to flourish. Although glimmerings of science appeared among the ancient Greeks and Chinese, modern science is the child of European civilization. Why is this so? It is due to the unique contribution of the Christian faith to Western culture. As Eiseley states, “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.” In contrast to pantheistic or animistic religions, Christianity does not view the world as divine or as indwelt by spirits, but rather as the natural product of a transcendent Creator who designed and brought it into being. Thus, the world is a rational place which is open to exploration and discovery.

                  Furthermore, the whole scientific enterprise is based on certain assumptions which cannot be proved scientifically, but which are guaranteed by the Christian world view; for example: the laws of logic, the orderly nature of the external world, the reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world, and the objectivity of the moral values used in science. I want to emphasize that science could not even exist without these assumptions, and yet these assumptions cannot be proved scientifically. They are philosophical assumptions which, interestingly, are part and parcel of a Christian world view. Thus, religion is relevant to science in that it can furnish a conceptual framework in which science can exist. More than that, the Christian religion historically did furnish the conceptual framework in which modern science was born and nurtured.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr Youngren, if randomness is not what brought up the living things and God had something to do with it, then why do genetic diseases show up or our bodies fail us at times such as in the case for cancer. The reason atheists say bring about the idea of randomness is because they can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God and genetic diseases or cancer.

                    It seems that you have ignored my argumens for Noah’s ark and Moses freeing the Israelites. I shall copy paste it here. “There’s no evidence that there was a great flood or any remaining of the ark. There’s also no evidence that Moses freed the Israelites from Egypt. I think this were just stories that were made up. And if there’s no evidence of this stories, can we seriously think that the Bible is the truth or the word of God”.

                    I don’t know how science works with Christianity because I remember that it was the Catholic church that prosecuted Galileo for his scientific findings. How did the Catholic church be that arrogant?


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Jeff,

                      You did not respond to my point about how atheism is a belief system that makes a positive set of claims, and is not a default position. Therefore, merely introducing objections to Christianity cannot establish atheism as accurate. Rather, the positive set of claims made by atheism need to be examined as closely as any other truth claims.

                      Regarding this topic, you also did not respond to my point about how randomness can never be verified, and therefore, the random mutation evolutionary hypothesis (promoted by atheists) stands in opposition to the scientific method itself.

                      This, yet again, demonstrates how you are committing the Red Herring Fallacy by trying to create a smoke screen of objections (or a wild goose chase), in order to avoid the great difficulty of defending your stance logically.

                      So, if it is not random, how does change over time (the definition of evolution stripped of its atheistic philosophical add-ons) really happen?

                      Perry Marshall answers in Evolution 2.0:

                      “Remember the fruit fly experiments? [Nobel Prize-winning biologist Barbara] McClintock’s experiments were similar. She too used organisms damaged by radiation. She discovered that radiation broke chromosomes and triggered editing systems in real time. Cells would reconstruct the damaged chromosome with another section of radiation-broken genetic material.”

                      “…Barbara McClintock had discovered that plants possess the ability to recognize that data has been corrupted. Then they repair it with newly activated genome elements, and in the process of repairing the data, the plants can develop new features!”

                      Random mutation and natural selection is not what drives evolution (as Darwinism insists). Rather, directed processes drive evolution. The directed process mentioned above is known as transposition, and amounts to a cut/copy/paste of genetic information within a cell. The discovery of transposition won Barbara McClintock the Nobel Prize in biology, and her face on a U.S. postage stamp.

                      And despite the fact that no legitimate biologist denies transposition, Marshall notes, it is noticeably absent from popular presentations of evolution, such as in books by atheistic evolution promoters Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne. Scientists with an atheistic agenda do not wish to call attention to directed evolutionary processes such as transposition.

                      Physicist Amit Goswami echoes Marshall’s point about the directed (as opposed to random and mindless) nature of evolution in his book Creative Evolution: A Physicist’s Resolution Between Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Atheistic scientists argue in favor of upward causation, in which elementary particles make atoms, which make molecules, which make living cells, which make the brain, which produces consciousness. According to the upward causation model, then, everything begins with elementary particles, and winds up with consciousness (in human brains), as a result of mindless and random processes working over millions of years. But, as Goswami points out, downward causation (in which a consciousness comes first) is the actual state of affairs:

                      “The new evidence suggests that certain bacteria, when threatened with mass starvation, accelerate their own mutation rate to evolve to a new species that can survive on the available food (Cairns, Overbaugh, and Miller 1988). This behavior is called directed mutation. Critics of directed mutation point out that under starvation perhaps the mutation rate of all the genes is enhanced, not just the one needed for survival. But even so, the question remains: What enhances the mutation rates? The correct explanation is to see this phenomenon as direct evidence in favor of downward causation (Goswami and Todd 1997) and the causal efficacy of organisms, as also propounded by organismic biologists.”

                      You mention the idea that atheists cannot reconcile the idea of a loving God with genetic diseases and cancer. But this just brings us right back to where we were several comments ago. A copy and paste of my previous comment:

                      It stands to reason that a creation not “permitted to be itself” isn’t really a creation. Perhaps an apt metaphor for a creation not permitted to be itself would be a child playing with dolls. The dolls can think or do nothing outside of what the child wills, and therefore do not have any reality outside of the child’s mind…except as inanimate objects. Further, God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (genetic diseases, cancer, earthquakes, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

                      “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

                      The claim that the church persecuted Galileo is a persistent atheist myth which has no basis in reality. Tom Gilson describes what REALLY happened between Galileo and the church in True Reason:

                      Scientists before Copernicus and Galileo did not think of the center of the universe as the place of honor and privilege. Aristotle viewed the earth as a “cosmic sump” where air, water, fire, and matter mixed to cause decay and death. In the Divine Comedy, Dante placed Satan’s throne at the center of Earth. Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and other scientists saw the heliocentric model of the universe as exalting the status of Earth rather than denigrating it.

                      Galileo’s problem was not simply that he challenged the authority of the Church. The issue was far more complex. Galileo also upset secular professors whose careers were dedicated to the older cosmology. Prior to the 16th century, most educated people (regardless of religious persuasion) accepted the primary cosmological model of the ancient Greeks, who believed Earth sat stationary while the sun revolved around it. When Galileo offered scientific evidence against this model, he “rattled the cages” of both the Church and academia.

                      Galileo made three costly mistakes in his diplomacy (or lack thereof) that led to his reproof. First, he broke his promise not to teach that Copernicanism was true. Given that the evidence for heliocentrism was inconclusive at the time, Galileo agreed not to teach its truth. But he went back on his word with the release of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.

                      Second, Galileo openly mocked the pope in this same book through a fictitious dialogue between two people— himself and the pope. This was especially odd since Pope Urban VIII was both a friend and supporter. Galileo named the pope Simplicio, which means “simpleton” or “buffoon.” Galileo’s character was articulate and elegant as he responded to the foolish and simplistic remarks of Simplicio. Needless to say, the pope was not amused.

                      Third, Galileo spoke authoritatively on the meaning of Scripture, which was clearly outside his area of expertise. He spoke with authority on issues that he was simply not qualified to address. Thus, his opponents criticized him not only on scientific grounds, but also because of his theological views and the arrogance with which he presented them.

                      Galileo was neither executed nor persecuted by the Church for his diplomatic blunders. After his trial before the Inquisition, he was placed under the care of the archbishop of Siena, who housed him in his beautiful palace for five months. Galileo was then released to his home in Florence where he received a Church pension for the rest of his life. He was able to continue his scientific research in areas unrelated to heliocentrism.

                      What can we conclude about the Galileo incident? The popular claim that the Church persecuted Galileo for advancing science is a caricature. As Dinesh D’Souza points out in What’s So Great About Christianity, the Galileo episode is a blip on the radar of an otherwise harmonious relationship between scientists and the Church. “Indeed,” says D’Souza, “there is no other example in history of the Catholic Church condemning a scientific theory.” This myth persists because it’s consistently presented as fact in textbooks, history programs, and, most recently, in the writings of the New Atheists. It’s time to put it to rest.

                      There is plenty of evidence for both the biblical flood (click here to read an article from the Smithsonian) and the biblical exodus (click here).


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Scott
                      I totally agree. What I find so frustrating when I debate sceptics / atheists on YT, is I will provide answers to their claims or questions only to have the same repeated a few comments later. It’s one thing not to understand or provide a counter argument, it’s as if they have never read past the first line. I don’t think they really expect or even want an answer. It’s as if the sceptic is very careful to avoid any evidence contrary to his worldview.

                      One strategy I use for any question or argument, is to throw the onus back on the denier : The question or premise for those genuinely seeking the truth, is the necessity to to ask ‘what evidence should we expect if the hypothesis is true and what evidence should we expect if it’s false? When I cite evidence from fine-tuning and design, all I get is “that argument has been debunked”. When I ask how so, I get mocked, slandered or worse. So I suggest what evidence we DO find to support the God premise, by quoting scientists like Einstein, who said we should expect a priori, an incomprehensible, lawless, lifeless chaos not the miracle we do find. He was referring to the incredible precision (the laws of science, pre-conditions of the BB, the physical constants etc) that set this finite universe on its present course. Without a creative intelliGENT mind behind the universe there is no grounds to explain why the universe is rationally intelligIBLE and life supporting, nor the origin or existence of an abstract set of highly complex laws defined by the exquisite language of advanced mathematics.
                      The onus is on the denier to explain how naturalism can account for metaphysical truths and thus how blind forces, mindless processes and chance could have produced EVERYthing from nothing. I ask how such mindless activities could produce the beauty and biodiversity of life we do see?

                      . For anyone who claims to be open to the evidence, there is a YT video entitled “God, Science & the Big Questions_ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpJm-qX3rW0 . Many of the most difficult objections raised by atheists to God and religion are discussed at length. WATCH IT JEFF and if you a committed to an intellectual position at least attempt a meaningful response!


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    If the cosmological argument is correct that a universe can’t from nothing. Then why would God want to create the universe? What was his intention? I mean he didn’t have to create such a universe with so much chaos and evil. God didn’t need to create anything. Why did God have to create a universe in the first place when he didn’t need to. Some of the reasons I’ve heard Christians say was that he wanted to have a relationship with humans which clearly confirms the atheist insults of God getting bored or he was lonely or whatever it is they think? When Christians say God created for his glory, that sounds egotistical and considering the kind of evil this world has to offer clearly makes human beings just for entertainment purposes. This entertainment purpose is clearly confirmed in the book of Job when God made a bet with Satan. So when something bad happens, it could be that God is just having a bet with Satan. I see why atheists go for quantum mechanics or other alternatives because if the universe is ruled by this God who clearly created a universe for no good reason then we are in serious trouble.


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      Gerry Denaro says:

      ” why would God want to create the universe?”
      Back to the mind of God and trying to psychoanalyse Him, are we, Mr wangi? Three questions might help:
      1) why do you think our parents created us?
      2) what do u think their reasons were for teaching us right from wrong, especially when as 2 yr old, we threw tantrums b/c they wouldnt let us eat sweets before dinner?.
      3) Do u think a 2 yr old knows better than his parents?
      Given that you have rarely if ever tried to give a cogent response and seem to ignore questions put to you, I wont be surprised if u cant or wont respond to the above?


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Denaro, You can’t compare human beings to God. Of course human beings want to produce children just like any other other animal in the animal kingdom. Its just a evolutionary byproduct. As for God, he didn’t need to, he didn’t have to. Why would God want to create a universe with such chaos and evil? It seems that you ignored that question? You didn’t respond to my previous comment even the one regarding where God decided to entertain himself with a bet with Satan at Job’s expense. You also ignored when I asked you that perhaps God could be making a bet with our lives when something doesn’t goes wrong. Perhaps its just God making a bet with the devil at the human being’s expense. There’s simply no reason as to why God would want to create the universe? A being that powerful didn’t need to create a universe just to be glorified.


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          Jeff wrote;
          “Mr. Denaro, You can’t compare human beings to God.” My goodness dear fellow, listen to yourself !!! You have attempted to psychoanalyse God with your very limited mind, ad nauseum in this thread.

          “Its just a evolutionary byproduct.”
          So are you saying that “survival of the gene pool’ is the primordal reason for humans having children??

          ” As for God, he didn’t need to, he didn’t have to”
          So glad you can apply your brain chemistry to analyse why God created us. Of course giving reasons why and how u arrived at such conclusions is obviously not required??

          “Why would God want to create a universe with such chaos and evil?
          Actually NO Jeff the universe is neither chaotic or evil. According to Einstein we should expect an incomprehensible, a priori, a lawless lifeless chaos not the “miracle” we do find.. I suggest u read Scott’s article “if you think science leads to atheism.” According to Dawkins “there is no design, no EVIL, no good just blind pitiless indifference.” So tell us on whose authority do u decide what happens on a small speck of dust in a vast universe to be ‘evil’? Is it an individual’s moral relativism, a culturally-arrived at standards, a powerful political party (like Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia) or some transcendent moral Law Giver?

          “Perhaps its just God making a bet with the devil at the human being’s expense. (2) There’s simply no reason as to why God would want to create the universe. A being that powerful didn’t need to create a universe just to be glorified.”
          Sorry I have no idea how you arrived at the idea of a capricious, spiteful God, ergo that such a banal question needs or deserves an answer. 2) I thought we DO have a created universe, one that is finite in the past, predictable, powerful and rationally intelligible. Maybe you have a purely naturalistic explanation?
          “Why create human life”? Probably for the same reason I “created” five children “in my image” to love and share the great meaning, hope and destiny of what this earthly life has to offer. Some people choose not to have children but those who do, could hardly be called selfish, conceited or in need of adoration. Perhaps you should read the commandment given to us by Jesus that supersedes all others. If youre in any way a genuine truth seeker, just show you have read it and how it applies in your life.


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Denaro, you ask me how did I arrive at such a ‘a capricious, spiteful God, ergo that such a banal question needs or deserves an answer’. Read the book of job. How a malevolent God made a bet at somebody’s expense. God with all his omniscience asks the devil where he has been and already knows he’ll win the bet so what’s the point of making the bet in the first place. I can’t remember the verse but I’m pretty sure you won’t remind me but I remember where the a master allowed his concubine or a lady to be raped. Now an omniscient God knew that this would happen or such horrific stories would enter in his holy book. Why do I question God’s intention of creating the universe? Its because I see that there was no point of creating the universe. If you still feel that I shouldn’t ‘psychoanalyse’ God, then why did God create the universe? What was the point then? Perhaps answering that can help me understand as to ‘why we are here’ and perhaps lead me back to theism.

            Perhaps Professor Dawkins sees the universe as“there is no design, no EVIL, no good just blind pitiless indifference.” Well yes, the universe just came about through random numbers. I don’t even know why humans see themselves as special but no we’re not. We just fitted into the universe. The universe wasn’t made for us. Why do I say that? There so many ways this universe can kill us right now so I don’t know how God’s love fits there.


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              Gerry Denaro says:

              Mr mwangi wrote:
              “God with all his omniscience asks the devil where he has been and already knows he’ll win the bet so what’s the point of making the bet in the first place.”
              I notice u never quote anything of what Jesus says, jeff? Why is that, perhaps because the websites you gravitate to for “ammunition” cannot find fault in him? You have been told there are numerous literary forms to consider when interpreting Scripture. I have explained many of the false conclusions atheists have like to cite: the ‘sacrifice ‘ of Abraham’s son and the stoning of women.
              There have been no comment, no concession and no acknowledgement by u of these explanations. I wonder if you are at all interested in the truth? As someone said there is no converting the nonconvertible god-denier or as Scott put it “a person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still.”
              Unlike some, I dont claim to be an qualified Biblical scholar but can I suggest AGAIN u cannot be an atheist on the basis of your own limited perception of God’s nature. Can u at least acknowledge that fact, or am I wasting my time?
              As to the book of Job, at least do some research YOURSELF from reliable websites, as to what Job is trying to tell us, if anything in the 21st century
              1) No the devil does NOT win the bet. The book of Job is so utterly powerful b/c Job has little, if no expectation of life after death. Yet he remains committed to a virtuous life despite his frustrations and lamentations. This story of Job is an example of how to praise God even when there seems to be no reason to do so. It also demonstrates that there are things that happen that we may not understand, Job got some things wrong and comes to some faulty conclusions as all this is happening to him but he keeps his faith in God. Is there a message for YOU in here somewhere?
              2) I hope u dont believe we are merely God’s puppets. A God who knows the future, (the outcome of our lifestyle choices) doesnt imply that He wills or orchestrates them. Can we anticipate what might happen to a child who gets on drugs and jumps in a car or joins a ‘gang’ of thugs?
              3) Your obsession is just another form of the renowned problem of evil. How can God be loving and kind in light of all the suffering that exists in the world? My question to you is why should God create a perfect world with no suffering, no death and thus where there is no FREEWILL? Does God owe you a perfect life OR does he know that the road to wisdom is necessarily thwart with potholes, accidents, suffering and failure?

              4) You ask why would a good loving God grant Satan’s request? My response is why should God NOT allow Satan to test Job’s loyalty in the face of hardship? I am trying to point out the false premise in the question. I believe my answers do just that. Granted instead of using the word “request” I think “appeal” would have been a better choice of words. Regardless the outcome is the same, it is clear that there is no bet, bargain, deal, etc nor a win for Satan. That is a different question based on the fact that the scripture tells us that God does grant appeals. Let me add “the way of the Cross[suffering] is anathema to the unbeliever”.Could it be a parable designed to emphasis that faith and endurance will be rewarded? So where to now for you? The appeal of Kane, or the Gerasene Demoniac, perhaps?. If you would like to ask a question on that topic There are satisfying answers. Trying doing some basic homework, first, eh?


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Denaro, perhaps all the evil that’s been happening all this time is because God has been simply making a bet with Satan. How sure of you that the holocaust wasn’t a bet with Satan? Then let me ask you this. When evil happens. Is God testing us to see if human beings will still trust him? If so, then yes, I do think we’re just pawns in some messed up game?

                As for freewill, it seems that God didn’t care about Jonah’s freewill when he refused to go and preach to a city that God wanted to destroy because of its people’s sinful nature. God didn’t care about the freewill of Lot’s wife when she looked back at her burning city and immediately turned to a pillar of salt.

                As for the interpretation of the bible, it seems that its culture that has been used to get rid of evil such as sexism and slavery. I wonder how a woman can preach to the church and how she overlooks the verse that states that women should be silent in church. It’s hypocritical that Christians prohibit things such as slavery, sexism yet it widely practiced in biblical times. It’s hypocritical that Christians can’t allow homosexuals to marry yet can’t stop the lady from speaking since scripture tells her to be silent or why they are in the front line trying to abolish slavery. Clearly its cultural evolution responsible for this and not God. If cultural evolution isn’t responsible then I wonder where God comes in.

                This website so far has only been able to convince me of their being a Deistic God but not the Christian God.


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                  Gerry Denaro says:

                  If your atheism and personal lifestyle choices are supported by a fallacious need to believe in a universe that is chaotic and a god who condones, or is the source of evil, then we clearly WASTE our time providing logical counter argumentation.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Denaro, if that’s how you want to view it then its fine. You keep accusing me of avoiding answers but even you have not responded to my comments.


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Denaro, you write “You ask why would a good loving God grant Satan’s request? My response is why should God NOT allow Satan to test Job’s loyalty in the face of hardship”? Now I ask you this, does that mean that God could be making ANOTHER bet with Satan when considering evil such as the holocaust, a child’s death or any other evil thing. You seem to have ignored this point in my previous comment.

                As for the problem of freewill, there many stories where God didn’t care about people’s freewill. When Lot’s wife turned back to look at the destroyed city of Sodom, God punished at her at that moment by turning her to a pillar of salt. God didn’t care about her freewill then, did he?

                As for the interpretation of the bible, it seems that there many things that we have interpreted differently. Not because of the work of God but because of the work of culture. When a woman can now preach to the congregation on the church, then I wonder how she interpret the verse that tells her that a woman should be silent in church. Slavery used to be allowed in the bible but now its an abomination. Even the 10 commandments couldn’t state that slavery is wrong. The same bible used to condemn homosexuality but because of culture, even Christians have come to support it. An excerpt from the link explains “The closest I’ve ever seen to a clear, consistent standard like this from a Traditionalist Christian is a book by William Webb entitled Slaves, Women, & Homosexuals. Mr. Webb realizes this is a problem for the Traditional View, and his book (published in 2001) is an attempt to fix this problem — to give us a clear, consistent standard to explain why the church has changed its mind on slavery and (to some degree) on women but shouldn’t change its mind on homosexuality. When someone pointed me to this book recently, I thought, “At last! Someone on their side has recognized this problem and is trying to fix it!”. https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

                https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

                That link has clearly confirmed that its culture but not the bible that has come to change a human being’s thinking. If we did live like in the biblical times. Women would not preach to the church as they do today. They would be silent as commanded by Paul. Every time I hear a Christian telling me that the bible is not sexist, all I have to do is just pick a verse not only from the old testament but from the new testament to show what it tells women.

                Even if all of Mr. Youngren’s arguments in this website are correct. They are clearly pointing to a deistic God but not the God of the bible.


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  Regarding such things as sexism and slavery being allowed in the Bible, we have been here before, but you very conveniently chose to not specifically respond. This, again, illustrates how you are trying to win an argument by engaging in the Wild Goose Chase logical fallacy (also known as the Red Herring logical fallacy, click on the preceding link). If you ignore the below argument by Paul Copan, instead of providing a SPECIFIC reply, you will just be again advertising to everyone that you are trying to win the debate by changing the subject when you cannot furnish a coherent reply. Your habit of abruptly changing the subject when you cannot coherently respond is the very essence of the Wild Goose Chase logical fallacy.

                  Paul Copan comments in Is God A Moral Monster?:

                  “Despite the North’s victory, the Emancipation Proclamation that preceded it (January 1, 1863), and the attempt at Reconstruction in the South, many whites did not change their mind-set in regard to blacks. As a nation, we’ve found that proclamations and civil rights legislations may be law, but such legalities don’t eradicate racial prejudice from human minds. A good deal of time was required to make significant headway in the pursuit of racial justice.”

                  “Let’s switch gears. Imagine a Western nation or representatives from the West who think it best to export democracy to, say, Saudi Arabia. Think of the obstacles to overcome! A radical change of mind-set would be required, and simply changing laws wouldn’t alter the thinking in Saudi Arabia. In fact, you could probably imagine large-scale cultural opposition to such changes. When we journey back over the millennia into the ancient Near East, we enter a world that is foreign to us in many ways. Life in the ancient Near East wouldn’t just be alien to us—with all of its strange ways and assumptions. We would also see a culture whose social structures were badly damaged by the fall. Within this context, God raised up a covenant nation and gave the people laws to live by; he helped to create a culture for them. In doing so, he adapted his ideals to a people whose attitudes and actions were influenced by deeply flawed structures.”

                  “As we’ll see with regard to servitude, punishments, and other structures, a range of regulations and statutes in Israel reveals a God who accommodates. Yet contrary to the common Neo-atheists’ caricatures, these laws weren’t the permanent, divine ideal for all persons everywhere. God informed his people that a new, enduring covenant would be necessary (Jer. 31; Ezek. 36). By the Old Testament’s own admission, the Mosaic law was inferior and future looking. Does that mean that God’s ideals turn up only in the New Testament? No, the ideals are established at the very beginning (Gen. 1–2). The Old Testament makes clear that all humans are God’s image-bearers; they have dignity, worth, and moral responsibility. …Certain prohibitions in the law of Moses against theft, adultery, murder, and idolatry have enduring relevance. Yet when we look at God’s dealings with fallen humans in the ancient Near East, these ideals were ignored and even deeply distorted.”

                  As the biblical scholar N. T. Wright affirms, “The Torah [law of Moses at Sinai] is given for a specific period of time, and is then set aside—not because it was a bad thing now happily abolished, but because it was a good thing whose purpose had now been accomplished.”3 This is the message of the New Testament book of Hebrews: the old Mosaic law and other Old Testament institutions and figures like Moses and Joshua were prefiguring “shadows” that would give way to “substance” and completion. Or as Paul put it in Galatians 3:24, the law was a “tutor” for Israel to prepare the way for Christ…incremental Steps toward the Ideal. How then did God address the patriarchal structures, primogeniture (rights of the firstborn), polygamy, warfare, servitude/slavery, and a number of other fallen social arrangements that were permitted because of the hardness of human hearts? He met Israel partway.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    I think the story of Genesis shows that bible isn’t from God. The story of Genesis is nothing but a myth. When you read the book of Genesis, there’s something not right there. Genesis 1 and 2 reads are even contradicting. I think anyone who reads the bible can see that. One wonders whether the author(s) knew what they were writing or who knows what they wanted to do. Here’s an example of contradictions.

    This is genesis 1

    In the first creation story, humans are created after the other animals.

    And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:25-27
    This is genesis 2

    In the second story, humans were created before the other animals.

    And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. Genesis 2:18-19

    The Book of Genesis begins with two contradictory creation accounts (1:1-2:3 and 2:4-3:24). In the first, God created humans (male and female) after he finished making all of the other animals. In the second, God made one man (“Adam”) and then created all of the animals in order to find a helpmeet for Adam. God brought all of the animals to Adam, but none of them appealed to him. So God made a woman from one of Adam’s ribs to serve his helpmeet. Now which is telling the truth. I think this contradiction that the bible was clearly written by people who didn’t know science.

    Theologians argue today that God could have meant that this be a metaphor. Now if this is a metaphor then what else in the bible is a metaphor? Before evolution, everyone thought the universe and earth was created in six days but ever since evolution came to play, many Christians have interpreted Genesis very differently. I even hear arguments that 6 days to God is not the same as 6 days to man but we’re left to interpret it ourselves. Theologians normally say that there’s no conflict between science and religion but let me show why there’s a conflict.

    Science says that the sun came before the earth but Genesis says that the earth before the sun. Science says dry land before water or sea but Genesis reads sea before dry land. Science says that stars before the earth but Genesis reads earth before stars. Science says dinosaurs before the birds but Genesis reads the birds were created first. That contradicts science a lot. Now anyone reading this clearly sees that Genesis is the one which is wrong.

    Scientists don’t believe in the story of Adam and Eve because our genome descends from a multitude of different ancestors who lived at various times ranging from 100,000 to about 4 million years ago. Our genome testifies to literally hundreds of human beings who lived at different times. This is a result of the fact that different parts of our DNA were inherited differently based on the vagaries of reproduction and the random division of genes at when sperm and eggs are formed.” There’s also no empirical evidence to show that Adam and Eve existed or even that the Israelites travelled the desert for forty years. No archeological evidence for that. The bible was written at a time when human didn’t have an idea of how things worked. And even as Christopher Hitchens says that even the dumbest person has an idea of how science works compared to the people of the biblical times.

    Forgive me for moving out of topic due to my work schedule, I’ll have to comment it here. There’s something that just doesn’t work with God’s forgiveness. Now suppose an atheist has spent most of his time participating in charities and helping people and he dies. Now suppose that Stalin asked for God’s forgiveness and accepted Jesus Christ as lord and savior. Forgive me for saying this but this is why God’s judgement is primitive. God is willing to overlook Stalin’s killings and destruction of families and overlook the atheist’s good work on earth like helping families and send him to hell. Looking at this assumption. This is why I feel like God is such an unjust being. Even reading the book of Job. God literally allows Satan to destroy him over a bet. I think if anyone reads the book of Job and wonder why bad things happen to good people? Maybe God is just having another bet at your expense with satan!


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      You are again trying to use quantity of argument again to substitute for lack of quality. And, again, you are committing what is known as the “wild goose chase” logical fallacy. This logical fallacy occurs when you rapidly change the subject whenever you cannot sustain a coherent argument. You did not find it convenient to respond to my replies to your questions about Joseph Stalin’s crimes (and our human sin), and so you abruptly changed the subject. There have been many instances in which you have abruptly changed the subject in order to maintain a wild goose chase, which you hope will protect you from having to present a logically coherent argument.

      I think it is readily apparent that your objections to Christianity are not logically based objections. Rather, they are based upon your need for moral autonomy. In other words, you are not comfortable with the concept of having to answer to a higher power for your actions, and so you throw our a litany of unrelated objections to the existence of God.

      Regarding your alleged contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2, Archer Gleason writes:

      Genesis 2 does not present a creation account at all but presupposes the completion of God’s work of creation as set forth in chapter 1. The first three verses of Genesis 2 simply carry the narrative of chapter 1 to its final and logical conclusion, using the same vocabulary and style as employed in the previous chapter. It sets forth the completion of the whole primal work of creation and the special sanctity conferred on the seventh day as a symbol and memorial of God’s creative work. Verse 4 then sums up the whole sequence that has just been surveyed by saying, “These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made heaven and earth.”

      As we examine the remainder of Genesis 2, we find that it concerns itself with a description of the ideal setting that God prepared for Adam and Eve to begin their life in, walking in loving fellowship with Him as responsive and obedient children. Verses 5– 6 describe the original condition of the “earth,” or “land,” in the general region of the Garden of Eden before it had sprouted verdure under the special watering system the Lord used for its development. Verse 7 introduces Adam as a newly fashioned occupant for whom Eden was prepared. Verse 8 records how he was placed there to observe and enjoy the beauty and richness of his surroundings. Verses 9– 14 describe the various kinds of trees and the lush vegetation sustained by the abundant waters of the rivers that flowed out of Eden to the lower regions beyond its borders. Verse 15 indicates the absorbing activity that Adam had assigned to him as keeper and warden of this great natural preserve. From the survey of the first fifteen verses of chapter 2, it becomes quite apparent that this was never intended to be a general creation narrative.

      Search all the cosmogonies of the ancient civilizations of the Near East, and you will never find among them a single creation account that omits all mention of the formation of sun, moon, and stars or ocean or seas— none of which are referred to in Genesis 2. It is therefore quite obvious that Genesis 1 is the only creation account to be found in the Hebrew Scripture and that it is already presupposed as the background of Genesis 2. Even the animals are not referred to until Adam is assigned the task of examining them carefully, one by one, in order to decide on an appropriate name for each species or bird and beast that was brought before him (vv. 18– 20).

      No, the Bible does not say that the Earth came before the sun. Click here to read an article about this subject. An excerpt:

      Skeptics have long ridiculed the science of biblical creation over this point. How could there be light bathing the earth before the sun was created? Obviously the Bible must be in error. But as always, this apparent error drives us to look more closely at the relevant data, both scientific and biblical.

      Actually there are many sources of light, not just the sun. There are also many types of light, not just visible light. Short-wave light includes ultraviolet light, X-rays, and others. Long-wave light includes infrared light, radio waves, etc. Light is produced by friction, by fire, by numerous chemical reactions, as well as the nuclear reactions of atomic fission and fusion, which is what we think is occurring in the sun. God had at His fingertips many options to accomplish His purposes. Light does not automatically require the sun.

      Furthermore, we have important data given by the Hebrew words used in the creation account. When God created “light” in verse 3, the word used connotes the presence of light only, while the word used for “lights” on Day Four is best translated “light bearers,” or permanent light sources. Their purpose was not only to give light, but to serve as timekeepers for man once he was created. According to the best stellar creation theory now available, light from stars created anywhere in the universe on Day Four would reach earth in two earth days, and would be useful to Adam on Day Six. (For more information, see Dr. Russell Humphrey’s cosmology articles on http://www.icr.org.)

      Jeff, once again, you are trying to create a smoke screen by throwing out a large number of objections to the Bible. I have answered a couple above. In order to save time and demonstrate that you are not trying to use quantity of arguments to substitute for quality, why don’t you tell me what your top two strongest objections are…and I will answer them.

      Scott


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Youngren, Its not even about answering to a higher power. Its recognizing how unfair God’s judgement is. You accuse me for ignoring your comment but you never responded to my point about a moral atheist who helps people but doesn’t believe in the existence of God compared to Stalin who if he asked for forgiveness from God and accepts Christ as lord and savior goes to heaven. Where’s the fairness in that?

        I shall present my objectives as to why science disproves the bible. The verse 2 Samuel 22:16. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

        The verse is Jonah 2:6. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God.

        The passage from Jonah mentions only mountains, but in a wider context, Jonah is at the bottom of the sea at this point. However, is this science? It would certainly be difficult to produce a topological map with the technology available 2000-3000 years ago. Realistically, there are only two choices for predicting the appearance of the ocean floor; it’s either flat or mountainous. Getting it right from a 50/50 chance is hardly impressive, particularly as common sense can inform this opinion quite easily.

        The ocean floor is the least explored area in the world. It is often said that we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean, and the abyssal plain at the bottom of it. It is tremendously difficult to access to view and practically every deep excursion discovers something new. Real science is constantly being used to add to the knowledge known about the ocean floor. If the Bible had any real foreknowledge to predict for us, this would be an ideal subject for it to contribute to. Does it explain ocean floor chemistry or list any species we haven’t observed yet? No

        Even though the bible describes the earth ‘free float’ in space. I doubt whether they meant the earth is held by sun’s gravitational force. There’s nowhere in the bible that talks about the sun’s gravitational force. However, while fairly accurate, this is contradicted by Psalm 104:5 “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” and is open to some wild interpretations – it’s hardly the Bible accurately describing Kepler’s laws. This passage, taken as literally as possible, describes that there is nothing under the Earth, hardly compatible with the above which states that the Earth is definitely a sphere. Translations also differ, the New King James Version as well as many others states that he “hangs the world on nothing” (as if to say, that there isn’t a hook to hang it on). As it’s clear, even to ancient peoples that the Earth (as a disk or sphere) is not a giant hanging basket, it doesn’t particularly say much.
        Job also goes on to say in the same set of verses that “He covers the face of the full moon, spreading his clouds over it” but we don’t see clouds on the moon. At least those peddling Scientific Bible based woo have the option of cherry picking what can and can’t be shoehorned into looking like reality. In fact, the entire chapter seems to be more like a bad trip.
        Finally, the passage in the Bible was spoken by Job. When the Lord arrived to deliver his soliloquy, the Lord declared that he laid the foundation of the earth, implying that the Earth is not freely-floating.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          I did not respond to your point about a “moral atheist?!” Jeff, as I said before, ALL of us are sinful in God’s eyes and NONE of us are moral. As I discussed before, there is no such thing as a moral person in God’s eyes. All of us have committed murder in God’s eyes because we have murder in our hearts. All of us are liars in God’s eyes because we have all lied…etc, etc.

          Regarding your criticisms of the Bible: Both of the verses you have selected were intended to be poetic in nature. If you Google 2 Samuel 22:16, for example, you will note that it was written by David as a Psalm (a form of poetry) of praise, and was meant to be taken allegorically, not literally. Click here to see what I mean.

          William Shakespeare wrote, “The sun itself sees not till heaven clears.” Is Shakespeare here being unscientific because he is claiming that the sun can see? Of course not, because the above line is from a sonnet, which is another form of poetry.

          As I said before, the Bible uses a variety of genres…some of which are intended literally, and some of which are not.

          Scott


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            Gerry Denaro says:

            Scott,
            Our young friend Jeff seems to gravitate between his personal dislike for God’s nature and the Bible, as if his version of the “knowledge of good and evil” is greater than his Creator. Neither of these basic objections/strategies while common, are any justification for embracing atheism. There has not been one genuine attempt at a rebuttal of the explanations given him, he just moves on to his next objection, “yeh but what about the moral atheist, the woman caught in adultery, a just God, Stalin etc etc …” I find it quite disingenuous if not dishonest for a sceptic to cut and paste great slabs of texts from atheist websites without referencing them or worse, pretending they are his own. I had the same problem with Chinese English students “writing| essays plagiarized from English websites.
            As for the Bible, Galileo said it was “not written to teach us how the heaven’s go, but how to go to heaven.” In fact it is quite pathetic when atheists pretend to be expert Biblical scholars without any understanding of literary genre or attempt to get an exegesis of the text. The Bible is not ‘a’ book but in fact, a collection of 66 books. It was written by many holy men over a period of 1500 years, reflecting on their relationship with God as they grew in wisdom and understanding of that relationship. Much of the O.T is culturally bound and must be understood in the light of the New Testament. I might add that Revelation did not cease when the last Book of the Bible was written. God continues to reveal Himself through Creation and man’s incessant search for existential meaning. Far from denying God, His existence is made more certain with each new scientific discovery. The hypothetical theories invented by cosmologists like Hawking and Krauss to explain ex nihilo creation are quite extraordinary . If anyone is interested in a fanciful explanation for ex nihilo CREATION read The NY Times review of Krauss’s new book “A Universe from Nothing”. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html?_r=1&amp;


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Gerry,

              Exactly. Jeff is committing what is known as the Red Herring logical Fallacy (also known as wild goose chase or smoke screen). Click here to read an excellent post about the Red Herring logical fallacy. A copy and paste:

              A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

              Topic A is under discussion.
              Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
              Topic A is abandoned.

              This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

              A copy and paste from Wikipedia about the origin of the term Red Herring Fallacy:

              …modern linguistic research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert hounds from chasing a hare, and was never an actual practice of hunters. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy and literary device.

              I make it a point to always call an atheist out when they commit the Red Herring Fallacy by changing the subject in order to “divert the hounds” from finding the truth.

              Scott


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, It seems you didn’t respond to my point so I’ll just copy paste it here. ‘ I don’t know about other atheists, agnostics and other skeptics view the sins and forgiveness of human beings. I’ll just speak for myself. I understand that God can’t let anyone get away with the ‘sins’ of humans just like a court of law can’t let you get away with a crime that you have committed no matter what other good work you have done. Nevertheless, how can a mass murderer like Stalin go to heaven supposing he asked for forgiveness from God and accepted Christ as lord and savior? Considering how unfair that the ‘moral atheist’ didn’t cause enough harm to families like Stalin did and yet he has to go to hell when a madman like Stalin gets to enjoy heaven for that’. I think that my afterlife will consist of the repercussions of any good works I have done that survive after my death.

                I also pointed out the problem regarding how Christians interpret the bible according to their own views ‘Then if the bible is poetic, what else on the bible could be poetic. Why do theologians interpret the verses in their own way and not the same way? Also, why shouldn’t the other holy books of the other religion be treated as ‘poetic’ as the same way as the bible’.


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  You suggest that their is a “problem regarding how Christians interpret the bible according to their own views ‘Then if the bible is poetic, what else on the bible could be poetic?” But this is not a matter of interpretation. Rather, it is a matter of context. You cited 2 Samuel 22:16, which was written in the context of David expressing praise to God.

                  You seem to be insisting that David should be constrained to using scientific language to express praise to God, rather than poetic language. If you are suggesting this, then your reasoning is very very strange. This would be the very essence of what it means to take something out of context.

                  The Bible uses a variety of genres, some of which are literal, and some of which are allegorical. The genre used depends in part on the context. If, for example, someone is expressing praise to God, we should not expect him/her to use literal language. Rather, we should expect him/her to use poetic language…such as William Shakespeare used in his sonnets to express the emotion of love, etc.

                  Tim Keller provides an excellent commentary on this point in this brief video (please watch). As Keller discusses, in most cases, the genre is easy to discern, but there are a few places in the Bible where the genre is not easy to discern (literal, poetic, allegorical, etc.)

                  Regarding your comments about Stalin being forgiven and going to heaven: Jeff, forgiveness for sins is a free gift which God gives us as a result of him paying the price for our sins on the cross. But in order to receive a gift, a person must accept it.

                  An atheist who refuses to accept God’s free gift of forgiveness cannot be forgiven for his lies, murderousness, theft (etc.) because he/she has refused the gift which God has offered him/her.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    If that’s the case then why can’t God perform a miracle to confirm his there. All these random miracles is why people are skeptics because they can’t be tested. God himself revealed himself back in the olden days but now that video cameras exist, he’s nowhere to be seen. This miracles could be fabricated like the book ‘the boy who came back from heaven’. The author confirmed he made made it up. If you don’t believe me, check this link out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boy_Who_Came_Back_from_Heaven.

                    God would make it easier for everyone if he just revealed himself. Even buddhists claim to have inner peace and Christians think this is the presence of God. There’s no way to verify this. It’ll just make it easier if God revealed himself and confirmed which religion is right.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      So Jeff,
                      I take it we have moved on from your false and highly absurd “moral atheist” /Stalin dilemma? What exactly is a moral person anyway? Is youre purely hypothetical person the same as the rest of us who believe we all have a moral compass, or an innate sense of conscience? Can ANYone really claim to be “moral” in the sense that they have never lied, cheated on, cursed, wished harm, lusted after, used drugs, gambled irresponsibly, etc etc? Just because we havent killed 20 million in the Gulag doesnt mean we dont struggle on a daily basis with our sinful nature.
                      Yes, there will be no justice if atheism is true. The 100 million killed by godless ideologies of the 20th century and those who still mourn them will never get retribution or find peace in this life.
                      . Have you ever bothered to google a Scriptural passage from those who should know or do you just troll atheist websites for ammunition? But you see God has promised those who love him and seek forgiveness, will have an eternity of joy and happiness.
                      ” Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those who love him.” “1 Corinthians 2:9 – KJV.


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Youngren, I don’t know about other atheists, agnostics and other skeptics view the sins and forgiveness of human beings. I’ll just speak for myself. I understand that God can’t let anyone get away with the ‘sins’ of humans just like a court of law can’t let you get away with a crime that you have committed no matter what other good work you have done. Nevertheless, how can a mass murderer like Stalin go to heaven supposing he asked for forgiveness from God and accepted Christ as lord and savior? Considering how unfair that the ‘moral atheist’ didn’t cause enough harm to families like Stalin did and yet he has to go to hell when a madman like Stalin gets to enjoy heaven for that.

            Then if the bible is poetic, what else on the bible could be poetic. Why do theologians interpret the verses in their own way and not the same way? Also, why shouldn’t the other holy books of the other religion be treated as ‘poetic’ as the same way as the bible.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Anyone is free to answer this. I want to ask anyone if they think God is really a loving God. First, he punished humanity with the sins of Adam and Eve. Even the women were punished with childbirth. In fact the website got questions has specifically stated that we did inherit Adam’s sins which I find absurd. http://www.gotquestions.org/inherit-sin.html. I want to ask this. Which loving God seriously punishes a whole generation of humans just because of an ancestor’s mistake. Its madness. If that’s the case, then I blame God for all the childbirth deaths around the world. Is God seriously a forgiving God? He could have forgiven Adam and Eve.

    Another problem I find in God’s forgiveness is his willingness to forgive mad men like Stalin. May I be forgiven for saying this but God’s form of justice is rather primitive. Only two choices: heaven and hell. Also God is willing to forgive mad men like Stalin. Now suppose Stalin asked God for forgiveness and accepted Jesus as lord and savior before he died. Wouldn’t he be forgiven and be in heaven singing with the angels. TO HELL WITH THE FACT THAT HE KILLED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That’s why God’s form of justice is rather primitive. Would you share bread with a man who permanently damaged people. I wonder the conversation between Stalin and his victims in heaven. Must be some odd conversation.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      The problem is that we are ALL guilty of sin. Let me give you an example from my own life: After September 11, 2001, I developed hatred in my heart for radical Muslims. I never killed any Muslims (and I certainly do not intend to), but I had murder in my heart since I had murderous thoughts towards radical Muslims.

      God showed me that, spiritually speaking, I was in the same boat as the radical Muslims who carry out terrorist attacks…even thought I have not and never will carry out a terrorist attack.

      Having hatred in your heart means having hatred in your heart, whether you act on it or not.

      And I am betting that the vast majority of people who have ever lived also have had murder in their hearts at some point in time…since they would probably have killed someone if they knew for 100% certain that they would get away with it. It is our heart condition that defiles us in God’s eyes.

      Stalin was only different from you and I because he had the right set of circumstances such that his powerful position enabled him to get away with murder in a way that he knew he could get away with it.

      And that is part of the problem with being human: We are really good at seeing the evil in other people, but we often fail to see our own evil.

      Can you honestly say that you would not have killed a lot of people if your circumstances were such that you knew with a high degree of certainty that you would get away with it? I’ll bet not.

      We may not be as evil as such men as Stalin and Hitler, but we ALL have evil in our hearts, and we therefore ALL need God’s redemption to free us from sin.

      Have you ever lied? Yes, you have…and therefore, you are a liar (and so am I). Have you ever stolen something? Yes, I’ll bet you have…and therefore you are a thief (and so am I).

      When a criminal commits a crime, justice is not done unless a penalty is paid for the crime. Would a judge be a just judge if he let criminals off the hook for their crimes? No, he would be an unjust judge.

      So God would not be just unless he insists on a penalty being paid for sins that you, I, and Stalin have committed. But God loves us so much that he decided to pay our penalty for us by sacrificing himself on the cross.


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        I understand what your trying to tell me Mr. Youngren but let me ask you this. Why God can’t give justice to the millions of people killed by Stalin. Don’t you think the millions deserve justice for what Stalin did even if Stalin asked for God’s forgiveness?


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Jeff,

          If God gave us the justice we deserve (including Stalin’s victims), we would all be in a lot of trouble.

          As I have demonstrated, we are all murderers in God’s eyes because we have all committed murder in our hearts. What is in our heart is what counts to God, because God knows that, unless we have been transformed from the inside by him, we would all commit murder (many murders) faster than greased lightning if our circumstances were such that we did not fear punishment.

          Again, Stalin was only different from you and I in that he had the power and set of circumstances such that he did not have to fear being punished by anyone.

          And, to cite another example, we are all thieves in God’s eyes because God knows that we would all steal faster than greased lightning if we did not fear getting caught. Have you ever downloaded music off the internet without paying for it? I’ll bet that you have, and that would make you a thief. You did not fear getting caught, and so you stole someone’s intellectual property. Yes, I have also downloaded music off the internet without paying for it, so that makes me a thief too (but my Christian faith prohibits me from doing this now).

          Would it be any different if you or I knew a way to steal a billion dollars in such a way that we did not fear getting caught? Of course not. Our sinful nature is such that we would steal a billion dollars even faster than we download music off the internet without paying for it…if we did not fear getting caught. That is why we need God to redeem us from our sin.

          If someone raped your mother and slit her throat, he would deserve to be punished, wouldn’t he? A judge who let a rapist and murderer off the hook would be an unjust judge. That is why there needs to be a place called hell.

          As I said earlier, human sin (Stalin’s sin, your sin, my sin, and everyone else’s sin) is the reason that there is so much suffering and misery in this world. God could just remove our sin without our consent, but in doing so, he would be removing our free will. A world without free will would be a world without love.

          If God removed our sin without our consent, and the world was just sunshine and lollipops as a result, then we would just be God’s robots. How could God love a robot? God must allow the world to experience the full weight of our sin so that we understand what we need to be redeemed from.

          God promises to administer perfect justice in the end. But to escape from the justice that you and I (and everyone else) deserve, we can accept the free gift that God has given to us by accepting Jesus as our savior. God sacrificed himself on the cross to pay the debt of punishment that is owed as a result of our sin.

          Scott


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          young jeffrey,
          Take a step back and think outside your minuscule world for a second. The fall of man was preceded by the fall of the angels. Ask yourself the question, “Why God doesnt grant mercy to the millions of angels lead astray by Satan”? Your continual “analysis of his motives” for not bringing Stalin (also include Mao, Lenin, Hitler, Poll Pot, Edi Amin, Ghadaffi, Saddam, Sadat etc) to justice, is compelling evidence you DO believe in God, but you apparently dont like what you see?
          What you fail to realise is this earthy existence is but a microcosm in the eternity of an afterlife. Would you rather suffer for an instant compared to an eternity with God or not exist at all? If your birth is an accident and your death is an accident then the only thing that can happen in between is another accident until you become worm fertilizer. Like every human being you and I search for purpose but according to the great atheist existential philosophers they lament that life can have no real purpose.
          You like bringing up all sorts of moralistic scenarios to challenge God and human suffering then consider this one. I believe in the human Jesus who in his 33 years, like you and I, struggled with God’s plan for him. I know some will say He was merely acting out a role that he new in advance every detail of his earthly existence. But that would make him God’s puppet which I dont accept. I also have come to believe based on Parables like the Good Shepherd and the prodigal Son that his mercy and forgiveness is eternal. That is, God will wait as long as it takes for us to realise his infinite love, mercy and patience, for the least of us to repent, and yes, even after death.
          Call it purgatory if you will, so here is my scenario. The Prodigal “Son” actually epitomizes Satan himself and all the angels who rebelled and followed him. A great thinker once said. ‘the gates of hell are locked from the inside.” for those who freely choose to remain there. So what if God decided to give each of these “rebels’ a second chance and grant them an earthly trial? The sin of Adam is but a metaphor for the “legions of fallen angels” who by God’s mercy and grace are now trying to atone for their ‘original’ sin and SUFFERING in that pursuit. Would this scenario satisfy your need for justice for was it a rhetorical question?


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Denaro, I couldn’t help but notice this sentence you’ve written ‘That is, God will wait as long as it takes for us to realize his infinite love, mercy and patience, for the least of us to repent, and yes, even after death’. That’s doesn’t make sense because after death, we either go to hell or heaven. If you don’t accept Jesus Christ as lord and savior, then your sent to hell. Help me understand by what you mean that God’s mercy awaits us even after death despite I going to hell for not believing.


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    nubwaxer says:

    your religion has no objective scientific evidence of dog and in fact it is a philosophy that is more like a mental disorder that demands suppression of reason in favor of beliefs in the irrational.
    supposedly jesus heard voices others did not and saw apparitions others did not. today those would be signs of schizophrenia.


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      Gerry Denaro says:

      I’m a little curious, NubW. What do you really fear the most? That your meaningless existence will end without a whimper, merely as future worm fodder or – the fact that some of your lifestyle choices may have more consequences than their immediate effect? Let’s cut to the chase and confront a few salient facts. Yes, there are some religious believers who are dumb but there is no wisdom, no legacy, no purpose, no agenda, no hope and no future in the vain pursuit of atheism. As celebrated philosopher Bertrand Russell said “Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair can the soul’s habitation be safely built.” Bertrand Russell (from A Free Man’s Worship, 1903)
      Ah yes, I hear u say, “I give my life all the meaning I want.” How so? Why does the thought of God haunt your every waking moment? Clearly, the bitter young atheists who litter youtube with their insults and diatribes have vested interest in rejecting God. The abundant use of emotional rhetoric and lack of argumentation prove the issue is not intellectual, nor science related, but MORAL: A strong clue indicating that a dissenter is arguing form an untenable position is when character, rather than the content is challenged. As Bertrand Russell pointed out “ad hominem is the last ditch defence of the losing side.” On the other hand if you want to discuss the evidence for God in a civil manner, we’d be only too happy to do so.
      One last thought: Arguing to the non existence of God from your perception of religion is like arguing to the non existence of electrons because of flawed atomic orbital models. Like God we infer their existence from what we do know, not from what we don’t know.


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Gerry. Should one believe that our existence is meaningless just because there’s no God. Of course not.You know that this is your only life here on earth so make every second count. One cannot just start believing in the afterlife just because the grass looks greener on the other side. There’s even an article on NDE in wikipedia where someone converted to the bahai faith because they saw Abdulahi. Here’s what the article reads ‘Three have associated their experiences with their decision to join the Bahá’í Faith: Reinee Pasarow, Ricky Bradshaw, and Marie Watson. Pasarow’s published her story as early as 1981.[147] At least one extended talk was video taped and is available online in a couple places.[148] There are also extended partial transcripts.[149] Bradshaw’s experience has been reviewed in several books.[150][151][152] Watson, author of Two Paths in 1897,[153] says she suffered a car accident in 1890 in Washington DC and reported having a vision and met a guide.[154] She converted to the religion in 1901 and identified the guide as `Abdu’l-Bahá.’.

        And I am expected to believe that NDEs are real when even this story is clashing with other NDEs. I even asked you about this in an earlier comment and you chose to ignore it or perhaps God was playing mind tricks on them or the devil did some something to them.

        Let me go out of topic. Its been said that the law of Moses which is in the bible to stone adulterers but in the old testament, they are forgiven. So if someone chooses to stone them. Haven’t they done what they have been told to do in the bible. If one decided to follow the law of Moses. Haven’t they followed the bible. So God should be rejoicing. Shouldn’t he? I’m confused. If both rules are applicable to the same equation, then what would be wrong with that? There verses that Christians would wish to go away like the 42 boys being mauled. I doubt whether Jesus would have done that but it was just a different way of solving the equation. Wasn’t it Mr. Gerry?


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          Kerry P says:

          Jeff wrote “Nobody would be willing to worship Jesus as a deity.”
          [actually 3 billion apparently do, but why let that fact spoil your cynicism?]
          “It seems that even Fourth and Fifth centuries reveals that the divinity of Jesus was still being hotly debating in the church even 400 years after its inception” [Citation reference, please? Only a hypocrite would challenge history written one generation after the event but accept without question a debate which happened 1600 yrs ago. Selective commentary like that just shows the typical bias expected of militant atheists].

          you wrote, “Its been said that the law of Moses which is in the bible to stone adulterers…” [Unlike some sceptics I don’t claim to be a qualified Biblical scholar but I seem to recall the Gospels mentioning the woman caught in adultery and Jesus challenging the law of Moses as it was about to be enforced by male hypocrites, who were about to cast the first stone.] Sound familiar?
          NDE Don’t u have dreams Jeff? The existence of a spirit world/psychics/ paranormal activities would obviously be atheist killer eh?
          I’m somewhat curious of self-proclaimed atheists who waste whatever time they have left of their dubious lifestyle desperately trying to disprove a “fairytale”. Will the grass look greener when you soon find out your more than worm food?


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Jeff,

          You suggest that life can have meaning without God, but this is not true. An excerpt from my essay titled Why Do We Even Exist, What’s the Point? is here relevant:

          In order to be coherent, a worldview must reasonably explain the various aspects of reality which we experience. Aspects of reality which a given worldview fails to account for must be considered as evidence against that worldview. Atheism is grounded in the materialist worldview, which says that all of reality can be explained in terms of inanimate matter.

          But a key problem for atheism is that inanimate matter doesn’t have meaning or purpose. Natural phenomena like rocks and thunderstorms aren’t about anything, and don’t mean anything, and therefore, materialism cannot account for meaning or purpose. The belief that life is intrinsically meaningless and purposeless (known as nihilism) is a necessary implication of atheism. This point was frequently proclaimed by Friedrich Nietzsche, arguably the most influential atheist philosopher of all time, such as when he wrote:

          “Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead.”

          Similarly, the atheist physicist Stephen Weinberg notes:

          “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems pointless.”

          Atheist biologist Francis Crick, famous as the co-discoverer of DNA, remarks in The Astonishing Hypothesis how human life has no purpose because humans are nothing but bundles of inanimate matter:

          “The Astonishing Hypothesis is that ‘You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.”

          Please note how Crick places the word you in quotation marks in order to highlight his belief that human persons do not really exist in any meaningful sense because humans are really nothing more than complex bundles of matter. The existence of personhood is another aspect of reality which atheism cannot coherently explain, and must therefore count as further evidence against atheism. It would be absurd to ascribe personhood to a bundle of matter, or a “vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules,” in Crick’s words. How can a bundle of inanimate matter amount to a person?

          Regarding NDEs, in his book Evidence for the Afterlife, NDE researcher Jeffrey Long, M.D. cites several common threads from the thousands of NDEs he as studied. One such common thread is, “reunion with deceased loved ones, God, angels, Jesus.”

          What do we make of NDEs in which a person encountered Abdu’l Baha? Even scientific models (every one of them) have anomalies which do not fit the model. But such anomalies do not cause scientists to abandon the model. For example, when Newtonian physics could not explain subatomic phenomena, scientists did not just abandon Newtonian physics. Rather, they hung on to it until quantum physics came along and explained the phenomena which Newtonian physics was not able to explain.

          And when multiple witnesses are interviewed during a murder trial, for example, if a minority of witnesses have an entirely different testimony than the majority of the witnesses, the anomalous testimony from the minority witnesses tends to be rejected.

          I find it particularly interesting that there are many examples in which persons who have been hard-core Muslims their entire lives meet Jesus during their NDE. If you need proof, just go to YouTube and type “Muslim meets Jesus NDE” in the search box. Numerous examples will come up. Conversely, if you type, “Christian meets Mohammad NDE” in the search box, you will not get any results.


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            Gerry Denaro says:

            Scott,
            Who was it who said you can lead an atheist to truth, but you cant make him think?
            I find it extremely frustrating when you answer a question and include a reference to a video or website only to have the same question repeated, albeit rhetorically and dare I say dishonestly. Clearly some atheists are very particular about avoiding information contrary to their worldview .
            The meaningless of a materialistic worldview
            The idea of a godless life without meaning is clearly demonstrated in a video I recommended a month or so ago by Tim Keller “The Reason for living” . In it, he discusses the writings of the most celebrated atheist philosophers of the past 200years: namely Russell, Neitzsche, Camus, Tolstoy and others. Man only gains total freedom at the price of utter meaninglessness. WATCH THE VIDEO, Jeff!!
            Their lamentations are repeated by contemporary atheist Sam Harris says: “We seek pleasant sights, and sounds, and tastes, and sensations, and attitudes. We satisfy our intellectual curiosities, and our desire for friendship and romance. but our pleasures are, by their very nature, fleeting. We can do nothing more than merely reiterate them as often as we are able. If we enjoy some great professional success, our feelings of accomplishment remain vivid and intoxicating for about AN HOUR.” This is all a purely self indulgent, materialistic life has to offer. But what then?
            .
            NDE/psychic phenomena
            The proposition that atheism demands that the spirit world doesnt exist, is clearly demonstrated in their total rejection of such phenomena. Among the msny charlatans it only takes ONE individual to shatter that proposition. e.g. there is a YT video of an interview between Lisa Williams and a skeptical if not cynical TV reporter. Lisa relates the time the reporter visited her father’s grave and a number of butterflies surrounded her. The reporter was reduced to tears when she realized that she had told no one of such an experience.
            The utter poverty of a godless worldview is obvious from the fact that the search for transcendence has been the most dominant issue in all human history.Theologian Rob Barron “Our paradoxical world is filled with deep joys & sadness. But nothing in this life gives us the joy we ultimately seek because nothing in our material world finally satisfies us. Surprisingly, it is the best times in life that awaken in us, this aching need of longing & searching but this beauty is but an anticipation of the truly beautiful. No matter how much we know, we want to know more, no matter how much we love, we want greater love. It is only in the God who is love, that the deepest longings of the human heart can possibly be realised.”


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            And to add to my point on the 1st July. I did research on muslim meets Jesus and I got a video where a christian met muhammad and he converted. I would like to see your response to my earlier comment and this one I’ve made. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wuFFX3M0oY


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Jeff,

              You are confusing and conflating dreams with NDEs. These are not the same thing. Who do you think you are fooling? Jeff, that is really weak…you are really clutching at straws here.

              The causes of dreams, as we know, are psychological in nature. Everyone has different dreams. One person may have a dream of a pink elephant taking them for a ride, another person may have a dream of flying like a bird.

              However, NDE research reveals common threads among NDEs that clearly distinguish them from dreams experienced by people without an NDE experience. Some of these common threads (as detailed by NDE researcher Jeffrey Long, MD) are listed at the bottom of my essay titled Has Anyone Met God and Returned to Tell About It?

              A copy and paste:

              1) Lucid death: NDErs report highly lucid experiences while clinically unconscious or clinically dead. Such experiences often include witnessing an emergency room crew working on one’s own body after the heart has stopped and brain activity has ceased. Many conscious experiences have also been reported while an individual was under carefully monitored general anesthesia, which is intended to bring about loss of consciousness.

              2) Out of body: Long states that “approximately half of all NDEs have an OBE (out-of-body experience) that involves seeing or hearing earthly events. Usually the point of consciousness rises above the body.”

              3) Blind sight: Long recounts that, “in 1998 Kenneth Ring, PhD, and Sharon Cooper, MA, published a landmark article in the Journal of Near-Death Studies about blind people who have vividly visual near-death experiences….An especially interesting subgroup in this study was made up of case reports from individuals who were born totally blind and had NDEs with the typical elements, including detailed visual content.” Click on the links listed at the bottom of the above mentioned essay for some video testimonials from persons born blind.

              4) Life review: Commonly reported is the phenomenon in which everything significant from the NDEr’s life is reviewed. This includes experiencing the emotional impact that one’s actions had upon others, from the perspective of the other person. The review is sometimes in a three-dimensional panoramic view.

              5) Reunion with deceased loved ones and with God, angels, Jesus: The title says it all. .

              6) Very young children report NDEs: A common retort from NDE skeptics is that NDEs are the result of the dying brain bringing to mind the results of years of religious and cultural conditioning. But, as Long reminds us, “most five-year-olds have not yet started elementary school, where cultural influences are accelerated…very young children are practically a blank slate when it comes to the subject of death.” Nevertheless, these very young children (under 5) often report the same encounters with deceased loved ones, God, angels, and Jesus cited above. In fact, children under five “have had every NDE element that older children and adults have had,” according to Long.


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Mr. Youngren, you want me to believe that people see Jesus and become Christians but you don’t want me to believe that someone can see Muhammad and not become a Muslim. That is just as ignorant as believing that Jesus ascended to heaven and dismissing that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse. In fact that what you say that Jesus was in the Hindu scripture in your article ‘which God is real’ forgot to mention that also Muhammad was prophesied by the Hindu scripture. I wish turning to God of Christianity was that easy but using reason and logic. Clearly it isn’t. You can take a look at this link and see what I’m talking about? http://www.cyberistan.org/islamic/prophhs.html

                Please allow me to go off topic. You wrote in one of your article that ‘No God means no justice’. Now here comes something that strikes me as odd. Suppose Stalin before he died, accepted Jesus as his lord and savior and regretted everything he’s ever done. Won’t he be in heaven singing in the choir since he’s sins are forgiven. Has God forgotten the countless people he’s killed. Will those people who have been killed ever get justice? Clearly not. God’s sense of justice is rather primitive that it only limits him to two choices. Heaven or hell.

                Forgive me for going out of topic again, but you ignored my comment in the 1st July. So I’ll just copy and paste it here. These are the reasons I’m skeptical of the Gospel.

                1. While the gospels weren’t written until a full generation after the time of Jesus, the letters of Paul attest to the resurrection as well, and they were written earlier.

                2. There were 500 witnesses to the risen Jesus! The passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is refered doesn’t establish what he thinks it establishes at all, because Paul is merely repeating what he was told by someone else, and we don’t even know if that someone else was supposed to be one of those 500 people in the first place. Keller seems a bit overly impressed by all of this:
                Paul’s letter was to a church, and therefore it was a public document, written to be read aloud. Paul was inviting anyone who doubted that Jesus had appeared to people after his death to go and talk to the eyewitnesses if they wished.
                Just how often does Keller think people on the other side of the Mediterranean made trips to Jerusalem? And if they did travel the nearly 1,800 miles by land (or 800 by sea), how exactly would they track down any of those 500 witnesses now that more than 20 years had come and gone since that time? In short, this doesn’t count as 500 points, it only counts as one point, if even that. It’s not even an eyewitness’s account. It’s a second-, third-, or even fourth-hand retelling of a story that claims there were eyewitnesses. Can people really not understand this difference? I’m kind of baffled. Even if you say there’s no such thing as a group hallucination. I wonder how Paul tracked down 500 witnesses.

                3. Women were the first to see the resurrected Jesus and nobody would have made up that story.
                Well, that’s not exactly the only possible explanation, and this isn’t exactly a court of law, either. But in that particular culture and time, women’s lower social status actually made them more likely to be the ones given the responsibility of handling burial rituals, wrapping bodies and unwrapping them again to reapply burial spices and so forth. It’s quite normal and expected that if there had been a burial and a subsequent removal of the body of Jesus, women should have been the first to discover that he was missing.
                And I should probably add here that I think this is exactly what happened. I don’t personally subscribe to the mythicist position which suggests that Jesus never even existed. To my mind, it is more likely that there was a guy named Jesus who did in fact get executed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that his body was removed at some point, leading to a whole host of theories and legends which eventually grew into post-crucifixion sightings of a resurrected Jesus.
                The earliest version of the earliest gospel (Mark 16:1-8) ends with two women carrying burial spices to an empty tomb only to flee the scene “trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” The oldest manuscripts we have of this gospel end with two confused women and no resurrection appearances. Which means at bare minimum we can surmise that the stories of later appearances by Jesus must have grown up later on, and in time were even added to the end of the text of Mark’s gospel in order to corroborate the legends that grew up between the different versions of the story.

                4. People in that time would have never believed in an individual bodily resurrection because it wouldn’t have fit their worldview.
                Tell that to Elijah after he prayed for a boy who died and he rose from the dead (1 kings 17)

                5. Nobody would be willing to worship Jesus as a deity.
                It seems that even Fourth and Fifth centuries reveals that the divinity of Jesus was still being hotly debating in the church even 400 years after its inception. That’s not to say that the worship of Jesus didn’t start as early as the first century, but it does mean that the church’s understanding of the divinity of Jesus wasn’t exactly a fully developed thing right off the bat.

                6. The early disciples would have never sacrificed their lives if the resurrection didn’t really happen. Honestly, I don’t see how anyone in post 9/11 society can overlook the very real possibility that a dozen or more zealous young men would be willing to sacrifice their lives for a religious belief. Zealotry is no proof that the things you believe are actually true. It only means that you sincerely believe them to be true.

                7. And to mention on top of that, there even contradictions. An example of the bible contradictions is in the 22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus withdrew from the disciples prayed and returned to find them fast asleep. I wonder who could have seen him praying if Luke was asleep. How did Luke know that? There’s another passage that could prove that Christianity is not what it seems to be. There’s a verse in Matthew 24:34 which reads ‘Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’. Now even the great CS Lewis admitted that Christ had made a mistake with his human nature. But I think anyone reading this that an all knowing God should not be capable of making such a mistake because its not in his nature and he would cease to be all knowing. Now I hope you don’t ignore that verse from Matthew 24:34. and try to explain how an all knowing God can make such a mistake.

                Honestly, the fact that Jesus who was God or was the son of God can perform miracles but could not write the gospels themselves makes me wonder whether he was God or that he is who he used to say he was.


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  In my essay titled Which God is Real?, I provide SPECIFIC references in the Hindu scriptures which refer pretty unmistakably to Jesus. Please cite the SPECIFIC references in the Hindu scriptures which you feel refer to Mohammad. It is important to note that merely Googling “references to Mohammad in Hindu scriptures” and then providing a link that comes up does not constitute an argument for your stance.

                  I think it is pretty obvious that you did not even watch that video which you linked to in your previous comment (about a Christian who allegedly met Mohammad in a dream). You linked to that video in response to the NDE arguments for Jesus, but you didn’t even notice that the person in the video did not even claim to have had an NDE…merely a dream. Please pay attention to the crucial distinction between providing a logical argument for your stance, on one hand, and merely Googling for links that might support your stance (without even really reading or viewing them), on the other hand.

                  In light of your failure to reference the SPECIFIC Hindu scriptures which you feel refer to Mohammad, why should anyone believe that you have even read the post to which you have provided a link? I challenge you to cite the SPECIFIC citations from Hindu scripture which you feel refer to Mohammad.

                  Jeff, you have provided a large list of objections to the veracity of the Gospel. In order to prevent this chain from getting too long and out of control, please pick what you feel is your #1 strongest objection to the Gospel, and we will discuss it first.

                  Once again, you are trying to create a smoke screen by throwing out a large litany of objections, without providing substantial support for any of them. You cannot merely use quantity of objections to compensate for the lack of quality and substance in your arguments.

                  Scott


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Scott, I apologize for typing my comment here but I didn’t have a choice. There was no reply button. I shall copy paste my argument against the gospel since you said you have time limits.

                    There were 500 witnesses to the risen Jesus! The passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is refered doesn’t establish what he thinks it establishes at all, because Paul is merely repeating what he was told by someone else, and we don’t even know if that someone else was supposed to be one of those 500 people in the first place. Keller seems a bit overly impressed by all of this:
                    Paul’s letter was to a church, and therefore it was a public document, written to be read aloud. Paul was inviting anyone who doubted that Jesus had appeared to people after his death to go and talk to the eyewitnesses if they wished.
                    Just how often do theologians think people on the other side of the Mediterranean made trips to Jerusalem? And if they did travel the nearly 1,800 miles by land (or 800 by sea), how exactly would they track down any of those 500 witnesses now that more than 20 years had come and gone since that time? In short, this doesn’t count as 500 points, it only counts as one point, if even that. It’s not even an eyewitness’s account. It’s a second-, third-, or even fourth-hand retelling of a story that claims there were eyewitnesses. Can people really not understand this difference? I’m kind of baffled. Even if you say there’s no such thing as a group hallucination. I wonder how Paul tracked down 500 witnesses.

                    I think I’ve just summarized my argument.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Mr. Youngren, I assume you didn’t read the link I provided but here’s s small part from the article.The Sanskrit text and translation of Verse 5 of Bhavishya Puran, Prati Sarg Parv III: 3, 3 are given below. (The boxed area in the Sanskrit text identifies the word Mahamad or Mohammad). I shall let you decide on that.

                    I shall copy paste what I feel are like my strongest points of why I’m skeptical of the gospel.

                    There were 500 witnesses to the risen Jesus! The passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is refered doesn’t establish what he thinks it establishes at all, because Paul is merely repeating what he was told by someone else, and we don’t even know if that someone else was supposed to be one of those 500 people in the first place. Keller seems a bit overly impressed by all of this:
                    Paul’s letter was to a church, and therefore it was a public document, written to be read aloud. Paul was inviting anyone who doubted that Jesus had appeared to people after his death to go and talk to the eyewitnesses if they wished.
                    Just how often does Keller think people on the other side of the Mediterranean made trips to Jerusalem? And if they did travel the nearly 1,800 miles by land (or 800 by sea), how exactly would they track down any of those 500 witnesses now that more than 20 years had come and gone since that time? In short, this doesn’t count as 500 points, it only counts as one point, if even that. It’s not even an eyewitness’s account. It’s a second-, third-, or even fourth-hand retelling of a story that claims there were eyewitnesses. Can people really not understand this difference? I’m kind of baffled. Even if you say there’s no such thing as a group hallucination. I wonder how Paul tracked down 500 witnesses.

                    The early disciples would have never sacrificed their lives if the resurrection didn’t really happen. Honestly, I don’t see how anyone in post 9/11 society can overlook the very real possibility that a dozen or more zealous young men would be willing to sacrifice their lives for a religious belief. Zealotry is no proof that the things you believe are actually true. It only means that you sincerely believe them to be true.

                    . And to mention on top of that, there even contradictions. An example of the bible contradictions is in the 22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus withdrew from the disciples prayed and returned to find them fast asleep. I wonder who could have seen him praying if Luke was asleep. How did Luke know that? There’s another passage that could prove that Christianity is not what it seems to be. There’s a verse in Matthew 24:34 which reads ‘Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’. Now even the great CS Lewis admitted that Christ had made a mistake with his human nature. But I think anyone reading this that an all knowing God should not be capable of making such a mistake because its not in his nature and he would cease to be all knowing. Now I hope you don’t ignore that verse from Matthew 24:34. and try to explain how an all knowing God can make such a mistake.

                    Honestly, the fact that Jesus who was God or was the son of God can perform miracles but could not write the gospels themselves makes me wonder whether he was God or that he is who he used to say he was.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      For those who want to read the full article to what our sceptical friend Jeff says is “his” best argument (but wont cite the reference), you will find it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2016/06/20/seven-bad-reasons. An internet response from Neil Carter.
                      You will note the cut and paste quotes refer to someone called Keller, actually Tim Keller who has written on a book on the resurrection. Anyone with a ounce of intelligence and honesty would try to construct a rebuttal himself using referenced quotes from Carter article to support it.
                      As I’ve already said anyone who approaches the afterlife/Resurrection debate from a fundamental rejection of God’s existence will never admit to even the possibility of miracles.
                      Unlike the spread of Islam by force, the disciples had nothing to gain by lying and starting a new religion. They faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyr’s deaths. They could never have sustained such a charade with unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie. The disciples were not fools and Paul was a cool-headed intellectual of the first rank. There would have been many opportunities over three to four decades of ministry to reconsider and renounce a lie.” “If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on autosuggestion or self-deception—without a fundamental faith experience—then this would be a much greater miracle than the resurrection itself.”


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                      Colin Adkin says:

                      Jeff
                      You do realise that not everyone who believes God exists, are Sunday church goers? ” As for your Gospel “commentary”, some wrote, “there is a huge difference between dying for a lie knowing it to be a lie and dying for a lie believing it to be true”. You wrote or should we say cut and pasted from some site you wont identify, the following:
                      “An example of the bible contradictions is in the 22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus withdrew from the disciples prayed and returned to find them fast asleep. I wonder who could have seen him praying if Luke was asleep. How did Luke know that?”
                      Really is that supposed to be a serious question, and what is it supposed to prove anyway? I can think of a few more serious comments about Scripture that I cant explain before this silly one. As an analogy, last night I fell asleep watching a TV show. Don’t you think I was capable of asking my wife what happened the morning after?
                      The number of ridiculously assertions coming from the mouth of a closeminded cynic would seem to know no bounds. Would any reasonable person not expect Jesus to discuss important life experiences with those closest to him, after the event?.
                      BTW, as I understand it, Christians believe Jesus was both FULLY human and fully God. What does that imply? I have read informed commentary on Marks’ gospel. Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge as he discerned God’s plan for him as instanced by questions like “Who do you say I am?” and “Father why have you deserted me?” Any other scenario would imply that his whole life and death experience was a charade with the human Jesus merely God’s puppet.

                      Your analogy of the 911 terrorists being compared with the first disciples who were martyred for their beliefs defies comprehension. Unlike Islam the first Christians didn’t set out to spread the Good News by oppression and violence. The terrorists who killed 1000s of innocents in 911 were obviously indoctrinated by some radical cleric to “hate these western infidels”. Many would-be suicide bombers see their death as a way of glorifying an otherwise meaningless life. Some commentators suggest there is a text where these poor deluded souls are even promised 72 virgins in the afterlife .My understanding is that the 911 leader, Mohamed Atta failed to assimilate and so hated his western culture, democracy, freedom and economic successes. I wont expect answers but how does one naïve person’s obsession with a few dubious religious verses, out of many he neither understands nor believes a word of, in any way lead atheism, aka there is no god? Can I suggest there is far more to your rejection of Christianity than you know or want to admit.


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Jeff,

                      Because the word “Mohammad” appears in the Hindu scriptures, this means that the Hindu scriptures were foretelling the prophet Mohammad? Is that really your argument, or am I missing something? That is a very very big stretch, and I hope you are not actually arguing that. You cite the verse number, but why don’t you copy and paste the actual verse so that we can examine it? Please recall that Mohammad is an extremely common name in parts of the world.

                      A copy and paste of some pretty clear references to Jesus in the Hindu scriptures:

                      “The Supreme Creator took a perfect human body (Nishkalanka Purusha) and offered it up as a self-sacrifice (Brihad Aranyak Upanishad 1:2:8).”

                      “If you want to be delivered from the sin, which you commit through eyes, mouth, ears and mind, bloodshed is necessary. Without shedding the blood, there is no remission for sin. That must be the blood of the Holy one. God is our creator. He is our King. When we were perishing, He came to save us by offering even his own body on our behalf.” (Tandya Mahabrahmana 4.15).

                      “The redemption is through shedding of blood only and that blood has to be through the sacrifice of God himself.” (Taittiriya Aranyaka, verse 3).

                      “This [sacrifice] is the only way for the redemption and liberation of mankind. Those who meditate and attain this man, believe in heart and chant with the lips, get liberated in this world itself and there is no other way for salvation too.” (Yajur-Veda 31:18)

                      “The Purusha was above sin, and only in knowing him does one attain immortality.” (Chandogyopanishad 1:6:6-7)

                      “After giving Himself as the supreme sacrifice, this Purush resurrected himself.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3.9.28.4-5; Kathopanishad 3: 15).

                      “The purpose of this sacrifice is to provide the only way to Heaven and the only way to escape from Hell.” (Rig-Veda 9:113:7-11; 4:5:5; 7:104:3).

                      “His hands and legs are to be bound to a yoopa [a wooden pole] causing blood shed.” (Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3.9.28; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6).

                      “The sacrificial victim is to be crowned with a crown made of thorny vines.” (Rig-Veda 10:90:7, Brihadaranyakaopanishad 3:9:28).

                      “Before death he should be given a drink of somarasa [sour wine made of an herb called somalatha].” (Yajur-Veda 31).

                      “None of His bones must be broken.” (Yajur-Veda 31:; Aitareya Brahmana 2:6)

                      Please note that all of these references have parallel references in the Bible. For example, John 19:36 speaks about how none of Jesus’ bones were broken, and this satisfied a prophecy made in the book of Isaiah.

                      Jeff, you still have referenced several objections to the gospel. Because both I and the readers of these comments have time limitations, I am asking you to present what you feel is your #1 strongest objection to the gospel. That way, we can examine each objection carefully and individually. This will also keep the comment chains from getting too long and out of control.

                      Is it an alleged bible contradiction? If so, which alleged contradiction? Is it the point about the disciples not being willing to sacrifice their lives?

                      Just please give me what you feel is your #1 strongest objection so that we can discuss it first and keep the comment thread from getting too long and out of control. You cannot use quantity of argument to compensate for the lack of quality of argument.


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Scott, If Jesus Christ is really what the bible claim he is. Then why does every scholar not agree upon the resurrection. Even the bible itself has contradictions. It seems that there are bible verses that are not even included in the modern translation. I shall provide the link for you to go read it yourself.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bible_verses_not_included_in_modern_translations

            It seems the Islamic religion was right when they teach that the bible has been tampered by human beings and the fact that there are bible verses not included in modern translation tells the truth of this claim.

            An example of the bible contradictions is in the 22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus withdrew from the disciples prayed and returned to find them fast asleep. I wonder who could have seen him praying if Luke was asleep. How did Luke know that? There’s another passage that could prove that Christianity is not what it seems to be. There’s a verse in Matthew 24:34 which reads ‘Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled’. Now even the great CS Lewis admitted that Christ had made a mistake with his human nature. But I think anyone reading this that an all knowing God should not be capable of making such a mistake because its not in his nature and he would cease to be all knowing. Now I hope you don’t ignore that verse from Matthew 24:34. and try to explain how an all knowing God can make such a mistake.

            Now one of the most important reasons that the bible is there is because of an eyewitness account. The more I research this subject, the more I find myself thinking that the Gospels are not what they seem. Like if I study the trinity. Nowhere in the bible does Jesus say he’s a part of the trinity. Another thing I odd was Jesus praying to himself if he was God. By saying Jesus is the son of God or was God is contradicting.

            Again when it comes to the resurrection. If the resurrection of Jesus really happened, we wouldn’t be still debating its historicity today. The present-day evidence for the other claims of the Christian faith would be overwhelming, and all around us. They would leave little room for doubt. Let me explain why I am skeptical of the gospels or the deity of Jesus Christ.

            1. While the gospels weren’t written until a full generation after the time of Jesus, the letters of Paul attest to the resurrection as well, and they were written earlier.

            2. ZOMG there were 500 witnesses to the risen Jesus! Okay, so Keller never used the word “zomg,” but I feel entitled to poke fun after having heard this thrown out as many times as I have over the years. The passage in 1 Corinthians 15 is refered doesn’t establish what he thinks it establishes at all, because Paul is merely repeating what he was told by someone else, and we don’t even know if that someone else was supposed to be one of those 500 people in the first place. Keller seems a bit overly impressed by all of this:
            Paul’s letter was to a church, and therefore it was a public document, written to be read aloud. Paul was inviting anyone who doubted that Jesus had appeared to people after his death to go and talk to the eyewitnesses if they wished.
            Just how often does Keller think people on the other side of the Mediterranean made trips to Jerusalem? And if they did travel the nearly 1,800 miles by land (or 800 by sea), how exactly would they track down any of those 500 witnesses now that more than 20 years had come and gone since that time? In short, this doesn’t count as 500 points, it only counts as one point, if even that. It’s not even an eyewitness’s account. It’s a second-, third-, or even fourth-hand retelling of a story that claims there were eyewitnesses. Can people really not understand this difference? I’m kind of baffled. Even if you say there’s no such thing as a group hallucination. I wonder how Paul tracked down 500 witnesses.

            3. Women were the first to see the resurrected Jesus and nobody would have made up that story.
            Well, that’s not exactly the only possible explanation, and this isn’t exactly a court of law, either. But in that particular culture and time, women’s lower social status actually made them more likely to be the ones given the responsibility of handling burial rituals, wrapping bodies and unwrapping them again to reapply burial spices and so forth. It’s quite normal and expected that if there had been a burial and a subsequent removal of the body of Jesus, women should have been the first to discover that he was missing.
            And I should probably add here that I think this is exactly what happened. I don’t personally subscribe to the mythicist position which suggests that Jesus never even existed. To my mind, it is more likely that there was a guy named Jesus who did in fact get executed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that his body was removed at some point, leading to a whole host of theories and legends which eventually grew into post-crucifixion sightings of a resurrected Jesus.
            The earliest version of the earliest gospel (Mark 16:1-8) ends with two women carrying burial spices to an empty tomb only to flee the scene “trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were afraid.” The oldest manuscripts we have of this gospel end with two confused women and no resurrection appearances. Which means at bare minimum we can surmise that the stories of later appearances by Jesus must have grown up later on, and in time were even added to the end of the text of Mark’s gospel in order to corroborate the legends that grew up between the different versions of the story.

            4. People in that time would have never believed in an individual bodily resurrection because it wouldn’t have fit their worldview.
            Tell that to Elijah after he prayed for a boy who died and he rose from the dead (1 kings 17)

            5. Nobody would be willing to worship Jesus as a deity.
            It seems that even Fourth and Fifth centuries reveals that the divinity of Jesus was still being hotly debating in the church even 400 years after its inception. That’s not to say that the worship of Jesus didn’t start as early as the first century, but it does mean that the church’s understanding of the divinity of Jesus wasn’t exactly a fully developed thing right off the bat.

            6. The early disciples would have never sacrificed their lives if the resurrection didn’t really happen. Honestly, I don’t see how anyone in post 9/11 society can overlook the very real possibility that a dozen or more zealous young men would be willing to sacrifice their lives for a religious belief. Zealotry is no proof that the things you believe are actually true. It only means that you sincerely believe them to be true.

            Honestly, the fact that Jesus who was God or was the son of God can perform miracles but could not write the gospels themselves makes me wonder whether he was God or that he is who he used to say he was.


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              Gerry De naro says:

              Mr {sic} Jeff
              You obviously have no idea what a logically constructed argument entails nor what atheism actually entails. Cutting great slabs of text from sites like infidels.org related to one religion(when you claim there are many) is quite disingenuous, and frankly without referencing your sources, dishonest.
              Just for the record each of those points and more have been addressed in a series of videos I recommended e.g. “Give Answer – #2414 – Who Is Jesus Christ”. Obvious you cant handle the truth, can you?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Nubwaxer,

      I am going to copy and paste my reply to another atheists (Sherms) in order to save time:

      Wow, that is a lot of angry rhetoric, and posturing in order to create an appearance of occupying intellectual high ground!!

      In regards to specific logical arguments for the existence of God, I present the introductory posts featured below. Please read and respond at your leisure, and try to limit your responses to logically constructed, fact-based rebuttals (as opposed to angry rhetorical outbursts and posing/posturing in order to present an image of intellectual superiority). Third party readers of these comments are not stupid…they can discern between a logically constructed argument, on one hand, and rhetoric/posturing, on the other hand. It does not take an Einstein to perceive that rhetoric and posturing are crutches which one uses to prop up a stance that cannot stand up on its own with logic. Therefore, it would be in your best interests to limit your responses to calm and collected, logically constructed rebuttals…and refrain from rhetoric and posturing.

      In How Atheism Relies on Special Pleading and Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God, I discuss the reasons why it is very clear that life is the product of an intelligence. Among these reasons is the fact that DNA is a language in the most literal sense (this is no metaphor). Information science tells us that languages can only be created by conscious agents…in part because symbolic representation is by necessity a mental construct. Even the world’s most famous atheist biologist (Richard Dawkins) admits that DNA is a language. In his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, Dawkins writes:

      “…The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”

      Elsewhere, Dawkins writes:

      “What has happened is that genetics has become a branch of information technology. The genetic code is truly digital, in exactly the same sense as computer codes. This is not some vague analogy, it is the literal truth.”

      It is likely that Dawkins understands that life was created by an intelligent agent, which is why he presents the theory that aliens brought life to Earth in their spaceship in an interview (click here to view). There are many other prominent atheist scientists who adopt the aliens-brought-life-to-Earth-in-their-spaceship explanation for the origin of life, in order to rectify what they know about science with their atheist beliefs. This would include Francis Crick (famous as the co-discoverer of DNA), the Cambridge University physicist/mathematician Fred Hoyle, the British chemist Leslie Orgel, etc., etc…

      To understand why modern physics leads to God, please read my posts God Is Real…Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism and There’s Nothing Random About Evolution.

      Again, try to limit your replies to cool-headed logic, and avoid rhetoric and posturing. The use of rhetoric and posturing is a “tell” that you are angry because you know that your argument cannot stand on its own with reasoning…much as a nervous tick made by a poker player is a “tell” that he is holding a weak hand and is bluffing.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    I don’t know what’s going on but I was unable to reply to you because the icon that reads “Reply ” has not been displayed. If this happens again. What do I do? This reply is for you Mr. Scott Youngren from our conversation on the 4th of June

    OK then Mr. Scott. Let us discuss on the topic of morality. I don’t think our morality comes from God. Our morals are based on what our parents taught me from their own life experience as well as my own. I don’t think of God as the source of morality. I shall copy paste this from one of our earlier talks.

    “And the funny thing is that its that some of the stories are truly unbelievable. There’s a simple explanation for this, which is that the Bible was written by human beings at a time when stealing a person’s livestock was a crime punishable by death, but raping a young girl was easily remedied by following it up with a marriage proposal. If the girl married someone other than her rapist however, and was found to not be a virgin, she would be executed. There is nothing remotely moral about any of this. The Abrahamic tribes who wrote the Old Testament simply came up with a set of laws that favored those already in power, and then claimed those laws were dictated by god and that questioning them was punishable by death’.
    In this small paragraph, any sane person reading those stories in the bible will clearly see that the Abrahamic God is clearly a monster as said by Richard Dawkins. How can such a verse which I’ve explained in the paragraph be any good. Even if we are supposed to look for a deeper meaning. There is no good coming out of such a verse or a story of the Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac. Any sane person would persecute Abraham for child abuse. I wonder how family dinner was with Isaac and Abraham at the same dinner table. And the funny thing is that these stories were written by ignorant men devoid of any morals because clearly.If a girl marries the rapist, what is that on any serious note. Tell me please. What does that mean? My morals tell me that this rapist must go to prison. Tell me Mr. Scott. What was God trying to endorse here because a good God would never allow such madness in the bible?”

    Tell me Mr. Scott. No sane God can ever ask a father to sacrifice their son. No sane God can allow a girl who’s been raped to marry their rapist. Any sane person who tries such madness will be sent to prison and the father will be sent to a mental asylum. I ask you this. What God would allow such madness. If our morality comes from such a God, then clearly we need to think twice because God killed a lot of many people. I can name a few. The 42 boys mauled by bears, the Egyptian infants and the animals and king Herod who apparently was killed because he didn’t thank God. Don’t say that this stories. I’ve had these replies before and I’m not amused because I’ve heard it before. “It never happened”. Here’s the reply you gave me which is not amusing “…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.”

    Have you ever read the story of the city that Moses invaded. I can’t clearly remember the verse but one of the things Moses said was keep the women who are virgins to yourselves. Does that sound like a moral God to you?

    Let me tell you this Mr. Scott. If God almighty exists and from the stories from the bible, then murder isn’t wrong since God has committed a lot of killings in the bible.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      You write, ” I don’t think our morality comes from God. Our morals are based on what our parents taught me from their own life experience as well as my own.”

      Please note that I did not ask you from where you learned morals. Rather, I asked you what the source of morality is. Your answer is transparently evasive, because you did not answer the question which I asked you.

      Atheism insists that all that exists is the natural/material world, but the natural/material world is valueless….there is no such thing as a good or bad tree, or a good or bad squirrel, etc. Philosopher William Lane Craig explains why materialism/naturalism cannot account for morality:

      “…if there isn’t any God to issue commandments to us, then why think that we have any moral duties? On the atheistic view, human being don’t seem to have any moral obligations to one another. For example, in the animal kingdom, if lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra but it doesn’t murder the zebra. If a great white shark copulates forcibly with a female, it forcibly copulates with the female, but it doesn’t rape the female, for there is no moral dimension to these actions. None of these things is prohibited or commanded; they are neither forbidden nor obligatory. So if God doesn’t exist, why think that we have any moral obligations? Who or what imposes such prohibitions or obligations upon us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why moral duties would be anything more than the illusory by-products of social and parental conditioning.

      So, admittedly, certain actions like incest and rape have become taboo in the course of human evolution, but on atheism that does absolutely nothing to show that such actions are really wrong. Activity that looks like rape and incest goes on all the time in the animal kingdom. So the rapist who chooses to flout the herd morality is really on atheism doing nothing more than acting unfashionably; he is like the man who violates the social conventions by belching loudly at the dinner table. If there isn’t any moral law giver then there isn’t any moral law that imposes itself upon us.”

      Please also note that the Nazis considered it morally right to commit genocide in order to cleanse the Earth of groups of people which their life experience taught them were “undesirables.” The life experience of the Klu Klux Klan taught them that it is morally right to oppress minority groups which they consider “inferior.”

      Do you consider the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan to be morally wrong in an objective sense, or merely wrong by the standard or our own subjective (culturally situated) morals? Put another way, by which THIRD standard can we judge racism and genocide to be morally wrong? Why is our moral standard which says that racism and genocide are WRONG any more objectively true than the moral standard of the Nazis, which said that racism and genocide are RIGHT?

      If you consider them wrong in an objective sense, then what is the source of objective morality? A group of people? If so, which group of people?

      That excerpt from my essay again:

      If the Nazis had conquered the world, then the Nazis would be the judges of right and wrong. Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism:

      “Truthfully, on the logic which follows necessarily from the nihilistic paradox of atheism, if the Nazis had conquered the world, then everything we recognize historically as humanity’s greatest shame would be at once transformed into our greatest triumph. There would be no disputing the marvelous splendor of the Holocaust or the great glory of the many prodigious massacres carried out on behalf of the Aryan descendants to Mother Earth. These immortal goods would be true for all, and therefore true in fact. As [the famous atheist biologist Richard] Dawkins himself said; there is no good and there is no evil, ‘DNA just is and we dance to its music.’ The same holds for the universe at large.”

      Without an objective moral standard by which to judge the Nazis, we could only say that the Nazis went against our subjective moral standards in committing the Holocaust. By atheist logic, the Holocaust would merely be out of tune with the cultural preferences of non-Nazi cultures, as opposed to objectively morally wrong. This would be roughly comparable to a person who fails to adapt to local culture when visiting a foreign country. C.S. Lewis explains the need for a higher moral standard (and therefore, higher moral authority) by which one could judge humans such as the Nazis as objectively wrong, rather than merely wrong according to the subjective preferences of certain groups of people:

      “Now what do we mean when we call one of them the Good Power and the other the Bad Power? ….If ‘being good’ meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right.”

      “But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God.”

      Without God, there would be no third power by which to judge the Nazis as wrong, and the allied powers right for opposing the Nazis. The defeat of the Nazis would merely be the triumph of one subjective human opinion over another, a case of might-makes-right. Saying that racism and genocide are morally wrong would be nothing more than a subjective preference on par with “chocolate tastes better than vanilla.”

      Jeff, you again mention the cultural atmosphere present during the time when the Old Testament was written (stealing livestock was punishable by death, raping a girl was remedied by a marriage proposal, etc). I am not sure about the accuracy of these cultural artifacts, but, more importantly, you are confusing the cultural atmosphere of the day (on one hand) with what God actually desires (on the other hand). An excerpt from my previous comment which you have conveniently ignored:

      David Robertson writes in The Dawkins Letters:

      “…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.”

      How are biblical events taken out of context so as to accuse God of such things as allowing slavery, killing, etc? God must allow us to be free agents who choose to either obey or disobey the moral law which he has established. If we could not make moral choices, then we would just be God’s puppets. But how could God love puppets? A world devoid of free will would be a world devoid of love. Paul Copan answers in Is God A Moral Monster?

      “Despite the North’s victory, the Emancipation Proclamation that preceded it (January 1, 1863), and the attempt at Reconstruction in the South, many whites did not change their mind-set in regard to blacks. As a nation, we’ve found that proclamations and civil rights legislations may be law, but such legalities don’t eradicate racial prejudice from human minds. A good deal of time was required to make significant headway in the pursuit of racial justice.”

      “Let’s switch gears. Imagine a Western nation or representatives from the West who think it best to export democracy to, say, Saudi Arabia. Think of the obstacles to overcome! A radical change of mind-set would be required, and simply changing laws wouldn’t alter the thinking in Saudi Arabia. In fact, you could probably imagine large-scale cultural opposition to such changes. When we journey back over the millennia into the ancient Near East, we enter a world that is foreign to us in many ways. Life in the ancient Near East wouldn’t just be alien to us—with all of its strange ways and assumptions. We would also see a culture whose social structures were badly damaged by the fall. Within this context, God raised up a covenant nation and gave the people laws to live by; he helped to create a culture for them. In doing so, he adapted his ideals to a people whose attitudes and actions were influenced by deeply flawed structures.”

      “As we’ll see with regard to servitude, punishments, and other structures, a range of regulations and statutes in Israel reveals a God who accommodates. Yet contrary to the common Neo-atheists’ caricatures, these laws weren’t the permanent, divine ideal for all persons everywhere. God informed his people that a new, enduring covenant would be necessary (Jer. 31; Ezek. 36). By the Old Testament’s own admission, the Mosaic law was inferior and future looking. Does that mean that God’s ideals turn up only in the New Testament? No, the ideals are established at the very beginning (Gen. 1–2). The Old Testament makes clear that all humans are God’s image-bearers; they have dignity, worth, and moral responsibility. …Certain prohibitions in the law of Moses against theft, adultery, murder, and idolatry have enduring relevance. Yet when we look at God’s dealings with fallen humans in the ancient Near East, these ideals were ignored and even deeply distorted.”

      As the biblical scholar N. T. Wright affirms, “The Torah [law of Moses at Sinai] is given for a specific period of time, and is then set aside—not because it was a bad thing now happily abolished, but because it was a good thing whose purpose had now been accomplished.”3 This is the message of the New Testament book of Hebrews: the old Mosaic law and other Old Testament institutions and figures like Moses and Joshua were prefiguring “shadows” that would give way to “substance” and completion. Or as Paul put it in Galatians 3:24, the law was a “tutor” for Israel to prepare the way for Christ…incremental Steps toward the Ideal. How then did God address the patriarchal structures, primogeniture (rights of the firstborn), polygamy, warfare, servitude/slavery, and a number of other fallen social arrangements that were permitted because of the hardness of human hearts? He met Israel partway.

      Jeff, please also note that God did not allow Abraham to actually kill Isaac. Rather, he stopped him from killing Isaac at the last moment because he was testing Abraham’s faith. You left out this crucially important detail in order to try to score rhetorical points.

      God chose to give us life, and he can choose to take it away. If God is the judge of morals, then it is perfectly understandable that he is able to issue moral judgements. Regarding King Herod, he allowed the people to worship him in place of God…and God judged him for this. Herod was an extremely evil ruler (on par with the Nazis). Imagine if there was no one to judge Herod morally wrong, and no one to judge the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan morally wrong.


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        Mr. Scott. You write ‘God chose to give us life and he can choose to take it away’. Doesn’t that make God a bully. What if he decided to kill Isaac just to test his faith? Would you still use the excuse that ‘God chose to take it away’. Let’s not forget that the Egyptian infants were helplessly killed by the angel of death. Are you also gonna tell me that God decided to take it away since he’s the creator. That is just being a bully. How is that moral if I may ask?

        And I did not ignore your point. I asked you that by saying that by saying that those stories didn’t happen or it reflects the culture of the time. Isn’t that another way of denying the truth that God is a monster.

        You also asked me where my morals come from? Then let me correct myself. Morality evolved due to evolution. Human beings realized that through co-operation is how they will survive. Even elephants have these morals. Did you know elephants mourn the dead which is similar to human nature. Buffaloes even call for ‘help’ when caught by a predator. Some animals reflect human culture. And clearly this shows that our morals evolved. Like I said, if our morals come from God and as you say ‘God chose to give us life, and he can choose to take it away’ then murder isn’t wrong since he can take it away as any other killer in this world.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Jeff,

          No, God’s decision to take life away does not make him a bully. William Lane Craig comments on this subject in the context of God’s commanding the Israelites to kill the Canaanites:

          I think that a good start at this problem is to enunciate our ethical theory that underlies our moral judgements. According to the version of divine command ethics which I’ve defended, our moral duties are constituted by the commands of a holy and loving God. Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfill. He is certainly not subject to the same moral obligations and prohibitions that we are.

          For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses. We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.” Human authorities arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God. God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative.

          What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him.

          So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

          On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.

          All right; but isn’t such a command contrary to God’s nature? Well, let’s look at the case more closely. It is perhaps significant that the story of Yahweh’s destruction of Sodom–along with his solemn assurances to Abraham that were there as many as ten righteous persons in Sodom, the city would not have been destroyed–forms part of the background to the conquest of Canaan and Yahweh’s command to destroy the cities there. The implication is that the Canaanites are not righteous people but have come under God’s judgement.

          In fact, prior to Israel’s bondage in Egypt, God tells Abraham,

          “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. . . . And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites [one of the Canaanite clans] is not yet complete” (Gen. 15. 13, 16).

          Think of it! God stays His judgement of the Canaanite clans 400 years because their wickedness had not reached the point of intolerability! This is the long-suffering God we know in the Hebrew Scriptures. He even allows his own chosen people to languish in slavery for four centuries before determining that the Canaanite peoples are ripe for judgement and calling His people forth from Egypt.

          By the time of their destruction, Canaanite culture was, in fact, debauched and cruel, embracing such practices as ritual prostitution and even child sacrifice. The Canaanites are to be destroyed “that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut. 20.18). God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.

          (click here to read the full comment by William Lane Craig)

          Jeff, you write, “morality evolved due to evolution.” Do you not perceive the tautological nature of this statement? A tautology is a statement that says the same thing twice. Further, did we not (allegedly) evolve from the same common ancestors as members of such groups as the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan? If morals evolved, then why do the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan have different morals then us?

          Lastly, as I have pointed out before, citing evolution as an alternative to God is a category error because it confuses different levels of causation. The following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse different levels of causation:

          “Morals are not caused by God, but rather, by evolutionary processes.”

          “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr. Scott. You write ‘For example, I have no right to take an innocent life. For me to do so would be murder. But God has no such prohibition. He can give and take life as He chooses. We all recognize this when we accuse some authority who presumes to take life as “playing God.” Human authorities arrogate to themselves rights which belong only to God. God is under no obligation whatsoever to extend my life for another second. If He wanted to strike me dead right now, that’s His prerogative’

            The fact that you write God has no such prohibition. Isn’t that analogy the same as when a parent tells their child not to smoke but they smoke themselves because they are under no such prohibition. What’s the point of God making up rules if he won’t even follow them himself. That makes God one of the most hypocritical characters I’ve ever seen.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Jeff,

              It is important to understand that God is not whimsical. He does not take life away merely because he feels like it. You have failed to respond to the point I made about God taking the lives of the Canaanites for morally sufficient reasons (their culture was so debauched that it involved such things as child sacrifice and ritual prostitution).

              This is not hypocritical because humans do not have the knowledge or moral authority necessary to know when it is appropriate to end a life. This is why we accuse a person of “playing God” when they think that they have the knowledge and moral authority necessary to judge when it is appropriate to take a life.


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                I didn’t fail to respond to your point Mr. Scott but I feel I just didn’t know how to respond on the case considering the canaanites. Their culture does go against the ‘moral rule’ However, isn’t objective morality actually subjective morality?

                Here’s the link to bring about my point. http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=9570

                Its an atheist website but I think it brings out my point

                what is it you mean by ‘objective’, then I don’t think many of us have an intuition that morality is objective in THAT sense. I suspect those of us who believe in objective morality have intuitions about a more robust sense of objective moral realism that does not ground moral value in the attitudes or nature of particular persons. (Such theories of robust objective morality are offered by ethical non-naturalism, Cornell realism, and so on.) This even includes many Biblical authors, who seem to assume robust objective moral realism rather than divine command theory (see Ps. 34:9, which seems to non-tautologically predicate goodness of Yahweh; Ps. 58:2, which questions the goodness of the gods; Ex. 33:14; Gen. 18:25; Ezek. 20:25; and many others).

                I think this brings out the bible errors talks we were discussing Mr. Scott. It’s like the way the old testament talks about stoning adulterers and Jesus Christ forgave the adulterer. I find it difficult to predict the goodness of God. What would God do? Would he forgive or simply let humans stone the woman?


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  Remember what I mentioned about “red-herring” arguments. A red-herring fallacy is committed when one tries to create a diversionary discussion in order to deflect attention away from the weakness of one’s argument.

                  Veering off into a semantic discussion about the definitions of “objective” and “subjective” is a diversionary tactic, and therefore a red-herring logical fallacy (or “smoke screen”).

                  The definitions of these terms are completely irrelevant to the topic of what is the source for moral values such as “rape is wrong,” and “genocide is wrong,” and “torturing babies for fun is wrong.”

                  You can define objective and subjective however you wish, but please explain what the source of moral values is. Previously, you said that you think the source of morality is evolution. I responded by asking you if you thought that the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan evolved from the same common ancestors as you and I did. You did not respond, because, I suspect, you cannot coherently respond.

                  Further, I pointed out that the material world is valueless: There is no such thing as a good or bad rock, or a good or bad bird, etc…

                  Did morals come from the material world or not? If not, where do they come from? Evolutionary processes? This is like saying that cars come from manufacturing processes….why, yes, cars do come from manufacturing processes, but this does not address all levels of causation. As I mentioned before, but you failed to respond to, the following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse different levels of causation:

                  “Morals do not come from God, but rather, from evolutionary processes.”

                  “Cars do not come from people, but rather, from manufacturing processes.”

                  A copy and paste from a previous comment I made:

                  C.S. Lewis explains the need for a higher moral standard (and therefore, higher moral authority) by which one could judge humans such as the Nazis as objectively wrong, rather than merely wrong according to the subjective preferences of certain groups of people:

                  “Now what do we mean when we call one of them the Good Power and the other the Bad Power? ….If ‘being good’ meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right.”

                  “But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God.”

                  Without God, there would be no third power by which to judge the Nazis as wrong, and the allied powers right for opposing the Nazis. The defeat of the Nazis would merely be the triumph of one subjective human opinion over another, a case of might-makes-right. Saying that racism and genocide are morally wrong would be nothing more than a preference on par with “chocolate tastes better than vanilla.”

                  Jeff, by what THIRD STANDARD are you appealing to when you judge the Nazis as wrong, and those who opposed Nazi genocide as right?

                  PLEASE ANSWER THE ABOVE QUESTION SINCE IT IS OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE.

                  Forgive me for using all caps, but sometimes I need to place particular emphasis on a question or point because it is of crucial importance.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Anyone is free to answer this. It falls on the topic of evil and suffering. I asked Mr. Gerry why does God have to create a blueprint in people’s lives that includes loss of loved ones, life threatening disease, death. The thing is that I find the concept of freewill odd. God already knew the crimes that person was going to commit. He knew the victim was going to suffer. Its true that humans can learn from suffering but we do not choose to suffer. I see this as pointless. So why do I blame God for life’s misfortunes. Because when he was sitting in his golden throne, he chose for us our destinies. He already knows who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell so its already been destined for us.

                    Mr. Gerry even accuses me for hating God with his earlier comment which reads ‘Then in a subsequent comment, you’re now claiming “Believe it or not, I have a good life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” So which is it, you hate God because you’ve suffered or u don’t need Him, because you have a good life”’. You can go ahead and say ‘questions disguise for cry’ or whatever that makes you sleep at night. I can’t hate a being that doesn’t exist. However, if he ends up existing then I blame him for every human’s misfortunes.

                    I do not deny that miracles exist. Nevertheless, God should provide everyone miracles. If lets say person A is injured and doctors say they won’t live. Then a miracle occurs and they survive. Person B who’s on the other side of the planet has died in a similar accident. Person’s A family will be celebrating and person B’s family will be grieving and say ‘it’s all part of God’s plan’. What kind of plan is that? God shows favoritism to one person and not the other. That to me is the most evil thing a powerful being like that can do to anyone. It’s like we’re in a film as actors and God is the filmmaker.

                    Even if miracles happen, I still say that we should not thank God, let’s thank the doctors instead because they tried their best and God just sits their watching in the emergency room and deciding who to let live and who to let die. God doesn’t seem to care for the grieving family and its all part of his ‘master plan’.

                    God had nothing to do with it. God can turn lotz’s wife into salt just for looking back but does nothing when a deranged gunman goes anywhere he wants and starts shooting innocent people.

                    Person B was special to their family too. If God’s gonna be with them for eternity. Then why can’t God perform a miracle and let him or her be with their family for a few more years. It seems God is playing favoritism to person A.

                    Whomever answers this, I would ask you to tackle the scenario you’ve given.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    There was no reply button so I’ll just reply here. I don’ think our morals can come from a being who created a universe for his unknown reasons. God already knows who’s going to hell before he even created the universe so clearly he’s not omnibevolent. Before the universe was created, God already had a blueprint for my life which involves multiple surgeries, the death of a child, life threatening diseases. I always hear its all part of God’s plan. Then God must be some sort of sadist. He already knew I was going to be an atheist and still went ahead to create the universe and knows I’ll end up in hell.


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Jeff,

                      If you are angry at God because of suffering which you are experiencing, I can definitely empathize with you. I have experienced long periods of extreme suffering. This suffering was mostly related to the fact that I am a child abuse victim…but I won’t get into the grim details. For many years, I was an agnostic because I was so angry with God.

                      What I learned, however, is that God uses suffering to grow us spiritually. As Victor Frankl, the famed Swiss neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, put it, “What is to give light must endure burning.”

                      Please read my essay titled If God is Real, Why is There Suffering?

                      The suffering which you may be experiencing now was intended by God for a much higher good. A pertinent excerpt from the above mentioned essay:

                      Lee Strobel points this out in his book The Case for Faith using excerpts from his interview with Villanova University and Boston College Professor of Philosophy Peter Kreft:

                      “’How can a mere finite human be sure that infinite wisdom would not tolerate certain short-range evils in order for more long-range goods that we couldn’t foresee?’ he [Kreft] asked.” “’Okay, then, imagine a bear in a trap and a hunter who, out of sympathy, wants to liberate him. He tries to win the bear’s confidence, but he can’t do it, so he has to shoot the bear full of drugs. The bear, however, thinks this is an attack and that the hunter is trying to kill him. He doesn’t realize that this is being done out of compassion.’”

                      “’Then, in order to get the bear out of the trap, the hunter has to push him further into the trap to release the tension on the spring. If the bear were semiconscious at that point, he would be even more convinced that the hunter was his enemy who was out to cause him suffering and pain. But the bear would be wrong. He reaches this incorrect conclusion because he’s not a human being.’”

                      “Kreft let the illustration soak in for a moment. ‘Now,’ he concluded, ‘how can anyone be certain that’s not an analogy between us and God? I believe God does the same to us sometimes, and we can’t comprehend why he does it any more than the bear can understand the motivations of the hunter. As the bear could have trusted the hunter, so we can trust God.’”

                      Kreft goes on:

                      “Dentists, athletic trainers, teachers, parents—they all know that sometimes to be good is not to be kind. Certainly there are times when God allows suffering and deprives us the lesser good of pleasure in order to help us toward the greater good of moral and spiritual education. Even the ancient Greeks believed the gods taught wisdom through suffering. Aeschylus wrote: ‘Day by day, hour by hour / Pain drips upon the heart / As, against our will, and even in our own despite / Comes Wisdom from the awful grace of God.’”

                      None of this is intended to diminish the reality of pain, evil, and suffering in this world. Rather, it is to say that a person making statements such as “because there is so much evil and suffering, there can be no God,” is approaching the subject from an unrealistically inflated concept of human knowledge and understanding.

                      Scott


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      HI Scott,
                      I too clicked on “reply” and it took me here. Earlier in this thread, I wrote “Evolution no more disproves the existence of a Creator/designer of this universe than the discovery of gravity did for Newton and Einstein”.
                      The same applies to those misguided, if not dishonest individuals who blame God for their hardships, failures and suffering. Then conclude he doesnt exist. Really this is such a non-sequitur it defies belief. How many times must I say to JEFF, you can NOT keep saying youre an atheist, denying God’s existence because u contracted a disease, lost a child, a spouse, a job etc. Then in a subsequent comment, youre now claiming “Believe it or not, I have a good life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.” So which is it, you hate God because you’ve suffered or u dont need Him, because you have a good life”.

                      Unlike some, I dont pretend to have infinite access to divine knowledge. What I do believe is, God can “know” the result of OUR lifestyle choices without constantly interfering in it. Just as I can predict the outcome of what my own adult children choose to do. Should I meddle all the time in their affairs or just hope they will learn for themselves -the hard way?

                      Mr [sic] Jeff, your logic or lack there of, rarely ceases to amaze! I bet you still believe
                      1) there was no OT prophesy intended, God was capricious and callous for asking Abraham to sacrifice his son?
                      2) God orchestrates every minute detail of our lives denying our freedom, freewill and happiness? You have said as much many times. (the silly alternative is that our minds are just the unlikely product of blind forces and our brain chemistry)
                      3) you cant understand why God created an imperfect universe with suffering and death. (Perhaps you’d prefer a perfect world with no suffering no freewill and no death What would that make you a puppet or a robot?)
                      4) Judging by the endless quotes, you must be an avid troll of atheist websites, believing everything you read there without further research? I bet you think “for GOOD people to fly planes into buildings it takes religion” a la SJ Gould?
                      5) You think that if a successful secular country like Sweden has a lower crime rate, then atheism must be true? (Do u honestly think people can lead good Christian lives one day and lie, cheat, steal, and rape on another? Then of course rich people dont need religion while theyre young healthy and rich, right?. One day you’ll find out there are no atheists in an ICU)
                      6) “you think that atheists or other non religious skeptics can’t have morals without God.” (Rubbish! This just proves you have a closed mind and have paid no attention to anything Scott or I have said. Of course theists can be moral. we are ALL created in God’s image, gifted with intelligence, freewill and a CONSCIENCE !! But in Dawkins’ atheistic world of “pitiless indifference, there is no purpose, no good, no EVIL.” Morality is just a convenient byproduct of socio-biological evolution. So why do u pontificate over the lack of morality in some cultures. Let me suggest that destitution and poverty can bring out the best and worst in all of us, hence the reason for the moral extremes in poorer countries)

                      On a similar topic, the concept of convicts finding God in prison is an interesting one. The cynical atheist will say “prisons are full of convicts who were and still claim to be religious”. My response would be many depressed and demoralized inmates with no hope or future often turn BACK to God having seen the error of their ways. As an analogy, if I said 90% of convicts take up basketball in prison having played it at school. Would that imply that those young Americans involved in basketball at school, will likely commit a crime and end up in prison? Now substitute religion for basketball.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    This is the common theist argument. You want to me to admit that there’s a God. Let me tell you that humans when they started being aware of their surroundings. They decided that co-operation was the only way that ensured human beings will survive. Anyone who violated this was seen as a threat to their survival. So how did human moral exist. It seems its a trait that other animals have such as the way elephants mourn when their own dies which is also a human trait. It seems culture has also had an impact on morality. I don’t exactly know where humans got their morals from but just saying ‘God did it’ is just a way of blocking us from thinking.

                    How can our morals come from God when Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter stands in stark contrast to the Binding of Isaac in the Book of Genesis, in which Abraham was about to perform a divinely-ordered sacrifice of his son, when an angel of God directly intervened and stopped the sacrifice. If God allows this. Then clearly we are in trouble.


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Jeff,

                      Whether or not an argument is common is of no relevance. What is relevant is whether or not an argument is correct.

                      You just keep ignoring my arguments (because you cannot respond to them), so I will just copy and paste the parts of my argument which you continue to ignore:

                      Atheism insists that all that exists is the natural/material world, but the natural/material world is valueless….there is no such thing as a good or bad tree, or a good or bad squirrel, etc. Philosopher William Lane Craig explains why materialism/naturalism cannot account for morality:

                      “…if there isn’t any God to issue commandments to us, then why think that we have any moral duties? On the atheistic view, human being don’t seem to have any moral obligations to one another. For example, in the animal kingdom, if lion kills a zebra, it kills the zebra but it doesn’t murder the zebra. If a great white shark copulates forcibly with a female, it forcibly copulates with the female, but it doesn’t rape the female, for there is no moral dimension to these actions. None of these things is prohibited or commanded; they are neither forbidden nor obligatory. So if God doesn’t exist, why think that we have any moral obligations? Who or what imposes such prohibitions or obligations upon us? Where do they come from? It is hard to see why moral duties would be anything more than the illusory by-products of social and parental conditioning.

                      So, admittedly, certain actions like incest and rape have become taboo in the course of human evolution, but on atheism that does absolutely nothing to show that such actions are really wrong. Activity that looks like rape and incest goes on all the time in the animal kingdom. So the rapist who chooses to flout the herd morality is really on atheism doing nothing more than acting unfashionably; he is like the man who violates the social conventions by belching loudly at the dinner table. If there isn’t any moral law giver then there isn’t any moral law that imposes itself upon us.”

                      Please also note that the Nazis considered it morally right to commit genocide in order to cleanse the Earth of groups of people which their life experience taught them were “undesirables.”

                      Do you consider the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan to be morally wrong or not, Jeff? YOU SEEM TO BE TRYING TO AVOID ANSWERING THIS QUESTION!!!

                      Is committing genocide just a morally neutral act which the Nazis performed in order to enhance their survivability? Is lynching African Americans a morally neutral act which the Klu Klux Klan performed in order to enhance their survivability? Why would genocide and lynching enhance the survivability of some groups, but not others, Jeff? Did we not evolve (allegedly) from the same common ancestors, and therefore evolve the same survival adaptations?

                      Your stance on morality is thoroughly incoherent, Jeff, and all intelligent third party viewers of this discussion can clearly see this.

                      By which THIRD standard can we judge racism and genocide to be morally wrong? Why is our moral standard which says that racism and genocide are WRONG any more objectively true than the moral standard of the Nazis, which said that racism and genocide are RIGHT?

                      You suggest that I am “just saying ‘God did it'” and that this “is just a way of blocking us from thinking.” And yet, at this website, I give a multitude of other reasons why God is the best explanation. For example, DNA is a code in the most literal (not metaphorical sense) and we know from information science that only intelligent agents can produce code, as I discuss in How Atheism Relies on Special Pleading and Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God.

                      You totally misrepresent the story of Jephthah’s “sacrifice” of his daughter, as this post demonstrates. An excerpt:

                      it is affirmed that Jephthah kept his daughter in sacred celibacy for the rest of her life; that what she and her female companions bewailed was not the prospect of coming sacrifice but her virginity. “She knew no man.” So the phrase “he did with her according to his vow” is made to signify the exclusion of his daughter as a kind of Old Testament nun, surrendered to live a secluded life in the service of the Tabernacle &–;a vestal virgin. Thus the shuddering thought of a terrible human sacrifice is softened down in this way—

                      It was not a human sacrifice in the gross sense of the word, not a slaughter of an unwilling victim, but the offering of a devoted heart, to free, as she supposed, her father and her country from a terrible obligation…. The heroism of the father and daughter are to be admired and loved in the midst of the fierce superstition round which it plays like a sunbeam on a stormy sea.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Scott,
                      When someone refuses to respond to the answers given, I really think you are wasting your time trying to educate someone whose mind is totally clouded if not obsessed by dishonest and fallacious interpretations of a Scripture they don’t believe a word of.
                      Jesus said we should be ever alert to false prophets (wolves) who come in sheep’s clothing. Infidels.org and similar websites are typical sources of such dishonest and malicious information that caters to the young and the gullible.

                      Let me say a genuine, openminded truth-seeker is entitled to be a skeptic, without becoming a cynic. The latter however, typically rejoices in, and is consumed by arguments that support his own worldview while refusing to listen to any counter-explanation. As Pascal said, “people almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Sadly, this strategy speaks volumes for the naïve, closeminded, selfish individuals who for lifestyle choices more than intellectual honesty, want to deny objective morality.

                      Abraham’s call to sacrifice has nothing whatsoever to do with the cynical view of a whimsical or callous Creator. To keeping saying that the “sacrifice of Isaac is child abuse” does NOTHING for his honesty and credibility. I clearly explained this Biblical story was actually a profound and prophetic message about the eventual coming of the messiah and His Son’s sacrifice for all mankind. I would even go sofar as to say it validates the authenticity of the O.T and its primordial importance for the Christian faith and thus mankind..
                      For anyone who wants to fully understand why FULFILLED prophesy supports the exclusivity of Judeo-Christianity, I strongly urge you to read the following exegesis of the text: http://www.gotquestions.org/Abraham-Isaac.html and
                      http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/why-did-god-tell-abraham-kill-his-son-isaac
                      The Old Testament story of Abraham is the foundation of the New Testament teaching of the atonement, the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the sin of mankind. Jesus said, many centuries later, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).. The parallels are numerous :

                      ISAAC JESUS
                      OT N.T
                      Genesis Gospels
                      Only begotten Son Gen. 22:2 John 3:16

                      Offered on a mountain, hill
                      Gen. 22:2 Matt. 21:10

                      Took donkey to place of sacrifice
                      Gen. 22:3 Matt. 21:2-11

                      Two men went with him
                      Gen. 22:3 Mark 15:27; Luke 23:33

                      Three day journey. Jesus: three days in the grave
                      Gen. 22:4 Luke 24:13-21

                      Son carried wood on his back up hill
                      Gen. 22:6 John 19:17

                      God will provide for Himself the lamb
                      Gen. 22:8 John 1:29

                      Son was offered on the wood
                      Gen. 22:9 Luke 23:33

                      Ram in thicket of thorns, crown of thorns
                      Gen. 22:13 John 19:2

                      The seed will be multiplied
                      Gen. 22:17 John 1:12;
                      Isaiah 53:10

                      Abraham went down. Son didn’t.
                      Isaac is “not mentioned”
                      Gen. 22:19 Luke 23:46

                      Servant, gets bride for son Gen. 24:1-4
                      Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 21:2, 9; 22:17

                      The bride was a beautiful virgin
                      Gen. 24:16 2 Cor. 11:2

                      Servant offered ten gifts to bride
                      Gen. 22:10 Rom. 6:23; 12; 1 Cor. 12


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Gerry,

                      I fully agree that there are many people who are just not interested in the truth. As the saying goes, “A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”

                      However, I feel that there is significant value in debating people who have no interest in arriving at the truth. Third-party viewers of such discussions with an open mind can perceive the weakness of the atheist stance.

                      For example, all intelligent third party viewers of my discussion with Jeff can clearly see that his atheist worldview cannot explain the existence of morals such as “genocide is wrong”. He claims that morals evolved, and yet he cannot explain why such groups as the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan have different moral standards than we do…even though they allegedly evolved from the same common ancestors as we did. As I asked Jeff, didn’t we (allegedly) evolve the same survival adaptations as Nazis and Klu Klux Klan members?

                      If morals evolved to enhance survivability, then why do some groups have an entirely different set of moral standards? Neither Jeff, nor any other atheist can explain this. There is great value in allowing impartial third-party viewers to witness an atheist’s inability to explain such things.

                      Scott


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Scott
                      I think as respondents to Jeff’s questions we are listening to a disguised cry for help. As I’ve said no one can deny God’s existence by a primitive attempt to psychoanalyse Him. It’s like a 2 yr old resenting a parent’s moral teachings. Having read Jeff’s recent post detailing his sad life history, his cries remind me of Job’s lamentations, particular chap 19 and 20. What makes Job’s story so powerful is that for him there was no expectation of an afterlife, just darkness and death Job 20
                      Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, 7 he will perish forever, like his own dung;

                      and

                      “Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.
                      8 He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness.
                      9 He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head.
                      10 He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree.
                      11 His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies.
                      12 His troops advance in force; they build a siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent.
                      Question for the a righteous sufferer is, can we still remain faithful in spite of the many injustices that befall us? We should not mistake Job’s terrible discouragement, his lashing out at God, for disbelief. God’s existence is not in question. Job knows that somewhere in the universe God must be alive. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him,” Job cries out in despairing belief (Job 13:15). Still trusting in God as his Advocate, Job insists, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).


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                Kerry Parker says:

                Jeff,
                I don’t pretend to know everything, especially why we have something (a universe) instead of nothing nor your obsession why there is gratuitous evil in the world. Far from it, I struggle with many aspects of life and the arguments for and against god. What I can say is, my version of atheism seems at odds with yours. Most atheists honestly or not, claim that it is merely a disbelief in a deity, apparently because there is insufficient or no evidence. I therefore question, the obvious anger, bitterness, the profane language, the emotion and diatribes leveled at god and religion. Is it merely because “good people fly planes into buildings?” I dont think such individuals do so other than someone’s promise that it will glorify an otherwise meaningless life. There is something going on here that suggests their motives, their highly emotional rhetoric are not intellectually based.

                In a YT video give me an answer #0713, the young fellow asks your type of question “someone gets cancer. God either caused it or he didn’t.” But is this a false dichotomy and thus a third or fourth option that he neither ‘caused’ it nor ‘intervened’? As an all knowing god, perhaps he did both? The god that I want to believe in, set this universe in motion imbuing nature with all the scientific laws that biologist Ken Miller said, “makes life not only possible but inevitable.” Maybe god can KNOW what will happen without actually orchestrating every little event. As a loving parent I can predict what could happen if my kids get into bad relationships, drugs, fast cars, dangerous professions, but should I intervene? I know I made a lot of dubious decisions that have shaped me and made me a wiser person.
                Someone also said the path to self-knowledge and wisdom is necessarily strewn with failures, loss, and bad decisions. Have you ever met a successful person who has reached the age of 60 without experiencing pain, sorrow or failure? The book of Job is so utterly powerful because when life has not been fair, all he had to look forward to is the grave and darkness (chap 17/18).

                Yes, I can understand that sickness and death are utterly devastating for those who think this all too brief, often meaningless existence is all there is. Perhaps that might explain why true believers live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives than those who deny god
                .
                Might I suggest first looking at all the evidence for god as the creator of this finite universe, then ask yourself what kind of god would want to share its beauty, power and predictability with a mind such as ours? Is it fair when CS Lewis says “Christianity if false , is of no importance, if true is of infinite importance. But what it cant be, is somewhat important”?

                While I may not be a Sunday church goer, one cannot deny what Einstein said in an interview.
                When asked about a clipping from a magazine article (the Saturday Evening Post) reporting Einstein’s comments on Christianity taken down by Viereck, Einstein carefully read the clipping and replied, “That is what I believe.”. “To what extent are you influenced by Christianity?”
                “As a child, I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.”
                “Have you read Emil Ludwig’s book on Jesus?
                “Emil Ludwig’s Jesus,” replied Einstein, “is shallow. Jesus is too colossal for the pen of phrasemongers, however artful. No man can dispose of Christianity with a bon mot.”
                He says, “Unquestionably. No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus.”
                good luck my friend or is it god’s speed?


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                  Jeff Mwangi says:

                  Then I wonder how you can read the gospels of Jesus, describe it in such a way I’ve never heard an atheist say and how you can still be an atheist. I wonder then if you see so much evidence for God then I wonder why you are still an atheist. I know Einstein’s problem of not accepting religion was because the evil and because of morality as he once said that we are a sorry lot if we are moral because we fear punishment. You also did not respond to Scott on the idea of a personal God.

                  My struggle is reading the old testament and try to see how God is a good loving God. I think theologians just say that it never happened in order to not accept that God is really a monster. There verses in the Quran that say unbelievers should be killed. Then let me also treat this verses the same way that they never happened the same way I should treat the old testament.


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                    Gerry Denaro says:

                    Jeff Can u please go back and read ALL of the comments on this blog. many of your latest questions have ALREADY been asked and answered. I clearly stated “I could never claim to be an atheist”. I also said not everyone who believes in a god is a Sunday witness to such a belief.
                    Yes I struggle with the nature of god but only because I acknowledge my human intellectual limitations. I humbly suggest you cannot claim to be atheist simply because you don’t like the god u think is articulated in one ancient scripture. Many atheists do but it is being dishonest.


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                      Jeff Mwangi says:

                      Your not getting me Mr. Gerry. I’m simply asking that if those stories in the bible are just a metaphor or never really happened. Then shouldn’t I also treat the Quran’s ‘bad’ verses the same way as the bible’s old testament. Mr. Scott said this in the below paragraph.

                      ‘David Robertson’s replies to your points in The Dawkins Letters:

                      “…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.’

                      Shouldn’t I also treat other holy books ‘bad’ verses the same way Mr. Scott is telling me to look at the old testament stories?


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Sorry I thought you were directing those comments at me. For God’s sake if not your own, please READ the article with the following link
                      “There is Too Much Evil and Suffering For God to Exist?”
                      http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/evilandsuffering.html


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Well Mr. Gerry, I couldn’t reply to you since there was no reply button but I’ll answer you here. It seems that you have ‘apparently’ figured out my life. I’ll copy and paste it here what you wrote on the 20th June.

                    ‘Scott
                    I think as respondents to Jeff’s questions we are listening to a disguised cry for help. As I’ve said no one can deny God’s existence by a primitive attempt to psychoanalyse Him. Having read Jeff’s recent post detailing his sad life history, his cries remind me of Job’s lamentations, particular chap 19 and 20. What makes Job’s story so powerful is that for him there was no expectation of an afterlife, just darkness and death Job 20’.

                    Yes, keep telling yourself that. Believe it or not, your not the first theist to tell me that. Believe it or not, I have a good life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Your attempt to show me as kid crying for help is just ridiculous or in whatever way you put it. If you think that atheists or other non religious skeptics can’t have morals without God. Think again. Look at countries like Norway, Sweden, Germany which are some of the wealthiest and healthiest countries in the world. Go tell them all the things you keep telling me about the so called cry for help and they’ll laugh at you. Look at a country like the United States (one of the most religious countries), I read in the news mass shootings have occurred almost every year. Look at Africa, its one of the most religious continents yet their threats like AIDS, crime, poverty, terrorism, wars etc. Countries like these could use morals like the least religious countries I’ve mentioned above. If non religious countries can enjoy such a good lifestyle than the most. Then I wonder where God comes in this Mr. Gerry. I would really like to hear how you respond to this.

                    And one last thing Mr. Gerry. Allow me to go out of topic. When I asked why God created such a blueprint. I just think its sadistic for a being that powerful to create a blueprint for each human being. That blueprint could include suffering, a loved dying and many other bad things. I think if God decided how his creation will suffer before he decided to create he universe. Then to me, that is sadistic. It was already planned from the beginning hence no freewill.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    I have read the article on suffering by Mr. Scott Youngren. However, I feel like it did not answer the question regarding God’s omniscient and all loving.

    An argument for the existence of the Abrahamic God is that he gives us the choice of doing good or bad, inflicting pain upon others or giving pleasure, and it is based upon these decisions that decides whether pain exists or not. Therefore, any pain that exists is because of humans and their sinful actions (the definition of which has not yet been agreed upon) and not God, who is kind as he gave us the free will to choose.

    However, we do not choose to suffer.

    We do not cause genetic mutations leading to cancer and hereditary illness which inevitably lead to our painful deaths
    We do not choose to be physically damaged by other humans
    We do not choose to be negatively affected by catastrophes
    We do not choose to be punished emotionally for other human actions, e.g. a spouse’s infidelity affects both partners but was not the choice of the one being cheated on.
    There are endless examples where pain is caused irrespective of human decisions. How could any loving being say that a child who contracts the flu and dies painfully is that child’s fault?

    Tied in with this point is that as shown in the story of Adam & Eve, humans are ‘naturally’ inclined to ‘sin’. Adam bit the apple using his own free will and so Adam (and all other humans) needed to be punished.
    However, it was God, as our divine creator, who created humans. Including their nature. He made Adam in a way that he would bite the apple. An analogy to this is building a robot programmed to kill someone and then punishing the robot when he does so. We knew the robot was going to do it, we made him to do it. It was our fault that the person the robot killed died. Just like it is God’s fault for making us in a way he knew would end up in sin and suffering.

    Therefore, God is either not malevolent because he knew we would suffer, not omniscient because he didn’t know we would end up suffering or not omnipotent because he couldn’t make us in any other way to stop us from suffering. He cannot be all three.

    Another way of putting this is if he could do anything and knew everything, since he created our very nature, he must have wanted us to suffer – making him not all loving. Or, he may not have had the power to make us in any better way, making him not all powerful. Finally, he may not have known that we would end up suffering, making him not all knowing.

    Either way, the way in which the Abrahamic God is defined cannot logically exist and thus the Abrahamic God cannot exist.


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      Gerry Denaro says:

      If it wasn’t so tragic it would be laughable listening to the irrational, emotional diatribes of a young obsessed God denier. Jeff, u obvious hate the version of god created in your own mind and then with ‘profound’ logic u deny his existence. Or perhaps it is the websites u cut and paste arguments from without ever questioning their reasoning, logic and authenticity?

      “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” ― Blaise Pascal
      Which mind is more likely to value truth statements, the one evolved from animals, designed for survival, or the mind created from an infinitely greater mind where truth is a primordial moral virtue? Which mind denies the truth about God and seeks to live in unbounded freedom that tragically offers no meaning, hope or escape? .

      In my country 43% of youths grow up in a household estranged from or without their biological father. In relevant studies, many expressed hatred of God because they saw Him as their own failed father figure. What’s your excuse, then? For those open minded readers interested in such studies, google “The Psychology of Atheism”.
      I can understand how someone with a superficial understanding can hate the Judeo God of the O.T. I’d be interested to know on what moral grounds you reject the God of Christianity? Then again u still have apparently another 999 versions of god to deny, before u can claim atheism is true!! oh BTW, as I keep saying, u still have God as Creator which i’m sure you know is the only plausible explanation for why there is something rather than nothing.
      Biblical Exegesis
      . If you EVER did ANY Biblical study, the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, is merely a prophetic foretelling of the coming of the Son to die for your sins. God had no intentions of wanting Abraham to actually sacrifice his son. Did u even read the story or a commentary on the text?
      I’m quite surprised you haven’t resorted to the Flying Spaghetti Monster/unicorn strawman yet. It goes like this
      Topic A is under discussion. (God’s existence)
      Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (the possible existence of some entity for which everyone knows is a fairytale)
      Topic A is dismissed being associated with the knockdown strawman (topic B)

      As for the Genesis story of the “Fall of mankind”, allow me to give my own modern day comparison. AIDS we are told began in Africa; some suggest because a virus was passed between animal and man (the how, is up for debate). As a result of one person’s sin and subsequent promiscuous behaviour this virus began to spread throughout his community and then worldwide. At last count 30+ million have died from HIV, including many innocent victims, so who should the innocent blame, some unnatural human act, God’s law, nature’s law, evolution or just bad luck? . The whole idea of human suffering is intolerable if death is all there is. All we can look forward to is becoming worm fodder But it can only make sense if we believe in the promise of an infinitely greater existence. Which side will ultimately get to find out if they’re right, the answer is fairly obvious.


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        First of all. Mr. Gerry. I cut and paste points that I’ve read and I feel like they bring my point. And second, to me, the flying spaghetti monsters and unicorns sound childish. However I don’t blame atheists for using them. Why should I take your God seriously and not take the Hindus, Muslims or any other religion that worships a deity. If I am even to accept there’s a God. The question is which God should I worship?


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          Yes, Mr Jeff, I take it you cut and paste points from atheists websites, sadly it seems without ever checking their authenticity and accuracy or reading and denying counter arguments. Have u ever considered the obvious obsession militant atheists have with the judeo-Christian God and therefore which is the only conception of God makes sense? Who would ever find the need to deny Islam, an intolerant ideology enforced and proselyted, seemingly by invasion and violence?
          BTW, as for your Dawkins’ quotes: most of his colleagues think he’s a philosophical dunderhead. Obviously u didn’t read the main theme in his “God Delusion”? Prof’ Michael Ruse did and concludes in a YT video “Dawkins makes me embarrassed to call myself an atheist.” If u really want to embrace atheism no one or nothing will convince u otherwise. Let me conclude by saying, if I believed there was no God, no afterlife, no spirituality, the very last thing I would be doing, is wasting whatever time I have left of this meaningless, nanocosmic existence trying to prove it to myself. As Sam Harris said all we can do is re-iterate all those small pleasures while we still can (on the way to oblivion)


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Mr Gerry, Isn’t that the point of seeing the truth about life. That there’s nothing waiting for us after death. Let me touch a little on morality. Its mostly assumed that atheists are not as moral as the religious. Tell me something. What do you think of the soldier who puts his own life during a war and seeing that there’s no afterlife? Those atheist soldiers that fight in wars. I think its the most brave thing I have ever seen. Their fall is not in vain but such a thing makes me admire such bravery than the religious soldiers who wait to go to heaven. Even the story of NDEs are just ‘stories’. There’s no evidence. Ever heard of the drug ketamine. It can be used to produce the effects of NDEs. Its clear that there’s no afterlife. As you say, its better we enjoy this meaningless nanocosmic existence we all have.


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              Gerry Denaro says:

              Without meaning to be condescending I have had all sorts of atheists target me over the past seven years as an apologist, from the belligerent militants, the profane and insulting, the bitter and angry, to the genuine truth seekers and the well meaning sceptic. Rarely however, have I ever had someone comeback with a facts-based, point-by-point rebuttal. E.g. when challenged, no one has ever tried to defend a materialistic worldview in which mindless matter is the only game in town. The typical strategy is to claim “atheism is nothing more than a non belief in a deity” and thus “has no burden of proof”.
              I don’t believe anything that follows will convince a hardcore God denier but I can only pray that in the fullness of time when the above skeptics have experienced a lifetime of joys and suffering they will find the truth they so desperately try to deny. All of your questions have so far been answered in detail without any attempt by you to acknowledge them or rebut them. All u say is, “yeh but what about……”

              One has to wonder whether you have the intellectual ability to understand these arguments or provide any kind of coherent response. Even if God was a “moral monster” that hardly denies He exists. Do you understand why someone trying to argue to God’s non-existence from his own flawed understanding of God’s nature is as silly as a 2 year thinking he knows better than his parents? It commits a major category error. Moreover, the God hater who ignores the kind of a God Jesus reveals to us in his many parables, is being shamefully dishonest. Such a person is not basing his rejection of God on the evidence but on what he finds attractive. Who was it who said “if God is dead, all things are permitted.”?

              As I said studies have shown many youth associate God with their own failed father figure and want to kill Him for it. Is this a factor in your life? Here are some more questions back at you that u will probably avoid answering:
              Morality
              Of course atheists can be moral! If there is a Moral Law Giver who created us ALL in his image, would it not be reasonable to expect non believers to be moral agents too? Don’t we ALL have a innate sense of conscience where lying, stealing, cheating, being racist, violent, unfaithful cynical are intrinsically wrong? Scott gave an extensive explanation why human morality evolved according to what is merely fashionable in some culture is purely subjective. Again no response from you.

              Moreover, your scenario about a soldier seems childish at best. You said:
              “What do you think of the soldier who puts [sic] his own life during a war and seeing that there’s no afterlife? Those atheist soldiers that fight in wars. I think its the most brave thing I have ever seen.”.
              I can only guess what you’re trying to insinuate here?? .Do you really think anyone who dies for an unjust cause is being ‘brave’, a martyr or just plain stupid? What do you think of the oft’ quoted “there are no atheists in foxholes”? When you’re lying belly up in an ICU unit like I was, are you going to be cursing God for your obesity or lifestyle choices, or asking Him for forgiveness? I get the feeling that statements like “it makes me admire such bravery than the religious soldiers who wait to go to heaven” is not only terrible grammar, it’s plain silly and shows your naivety and lack of common sense. No soldier goes into battle without fearing death or thinks, “oh well, I’ll get to go to heaven if I die.” As Jesus said there is no greater act than a person who lays down his life for his friends”.

              NDE’s
              Are not just stories! Did you go to any of the links like the one about the neurosurgeon and atheist Dr Eben Alexander, who while in a coma described a beautiful woman he “met”? His biological parents came forward when they saw him on TV. The woman he described turned out to be a deceased sibling he never knew existed. The common thread in all these NDE stories from children to adults confirms their validity.
              Biblical inerrantcy and plagiarization
              I clearly explained that cosmology has proven the Biblical creation story of an ultimate beginning for all time, space and matter. The Gilgamesh and Egyptian fables are clearly ridiculous. And well you know it. There is no Biblical claim that the earth is flat or 6000yrs old. As I said we are still in the 7th day of creation. There is also ample archaeological evidence for many of the Bible stories
              http://www.christiananswers.net/archaeology/home.html
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_archaeology

              To say that the “sacrifice” of Isaac was child abuse does NOTHING for your honesty and credibility. Particularly after I went to great lengths to explain it was a prophetic message from God about the eventual coming of the messiah and His Son’s sacrifice for all mankind.
              “Why should I take your God seriously” Just look at the only God u are so obsessed with, and anyone can see which God is haunting your every waking moment.
              “disease was divine punishment” No dear boy, as Jesus pointed out in the story of the man born blind.

              Evil
              As I clearly indicated it is the atheist in a purposeless amoral world, who has to explain the existence of evil beyond Darwinian necessity. You quoted peter Singer who u will be pleased to know is an atheist philosopher. If the survival of the species is an instinctive trait for all life then his claim “I see nothing wrong with breeding children as organ donors” should be admired not condemned, right? The same applies to the Nazis who wanted to rid the world of the aged, demented, the sick, and the genetically impure. ““The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing the survival of the fittest.’ Adoft Hitler.

              Natural evil
              You say you cant believe in God because we “don’t choose to be victims of disease, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis etc. Really my young friend, this is just plain silly. We live in a fragile world on a knife edge, if not it couldnt support life. Earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are necessary for mountains to rise and rivers to form eco-systems and weather patterns. As an observation, who would choose to build on a fault line or on the ocean’s edge then blame God when a cyclone washes you into the sea? On whose authority do u demand to live in a perfect world where there is no free will, no suffering or death? What are the REAL REASONS why u need to deny God.

              Miracles
              “just by reading the so called miracles is enough to make someone an atheist” WHAT !! I suspect u have no idea what a circular fallacy is. So I will explain it again. Hitchens declared “there is no evidence for God so all religious claims including miracles are delusional. These fools even believe in the Resurrection, miracle cures and life after death. How stupid and dangerous is that? This is akin to child abuse.Therefore God almost certainly doesn’t exist. I rest my case!”

              I take my responsibility to be always ready to give answers for the hope within me..” 1 Peter 3:15, but there is only so much time available and so far I am willing to go for one seemingly lost soul among countless others. In the blink of cosmic time you will soon find out what ultimate reality is. This will be my last response to you Mr Mwangi.
              Take care, while there’s still time, dear fellow!
              Pax vobiscum


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                https://www.samharris.org/blog/item/this-must-be-heaven

                There’s the link to sam harris article on Eben Alexander’s NDE where he completely destroys NDEs. I am very aware of Eben Alexander. However, his doctors claim that he truly wasn’t dead. I shall post a small paragraph on wikipedia.

                In a 2013 investigation of Alexander’s story and medical background, Esquire magazine reported that before the publication of Proof of Heaven, Alexander had been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions, and had been the subject of several malpractice lawsuits, including at least two involving the alteration of medical records to cover up a medical error.[13][14] The magazine also found what it claimed were discrepancies with regard to Alexander’s version of events in the book. Among the discrepancies, according to an account of the Esquire article in Forbes, was that “Alexander writes that he slipped into the coma as a result of severe bacterial meningitis and had no higher brain activity, while a doctor who cared for him says the coma was medically induced and the patient was conscious, though hallucinating”.

                I shall also post on people who after experiencing an NDE converted to the Bahai faith. Here’s the description from wikipedia. Let me hear your response on this since your good at accusing me of being quiet or perhaps you’ll accuse me of copy pasting to try and avoid an explanation.

                Three have associated their experiences with their decision to join the Bahá’í Faith: Reinee Pasarow, Ricky Bradshaw, and Marie Watson. Pasarow’s published her story as early as 1981.[147] At least one extended talk was video taped and is available online in a couple places.[148] There are also extended partial transcripts.[149] Bradshaw’s experience has been reviewed in several books.[150][151][152] Watson, author of Two Paths in 1897,[153] says she suffered a car accident in 1890 in Washington DC and reported having a vision and met a guide.[154] She converted to the religion in 1901 and identified the guide as `Abdu’l-Bahá.

                You seriously expect me to believe that Colton Burpo of seeing Jesus riding in a rainbow unicorn or Mr. Alexander seeing heaven and expect me to not believe this people saw `Abdu’l-Bahá.

                One wonders how God can perform such miracles but could not stop the many religions from spreading or even emerging that also claimed to perform miracles. I’m sure an omnipotent being could have had more tricks up his sleeve if he was even to convince the pharaoh of his power but nope, God decides to kill the Egyptian infants as it seemed to be the only option and you tell me to seriously believe that our morality comes from God. However, more on that later as I want to stay on topic. The question still remains, if I accept miracles exist, which religion is telling the truth.


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                  Kerry Parker says:

                  Hi all, if I could just add my two pennies here!
                  Really young fellow, my assessment of the God question doesnt rise or FALL on
                  1) anything Dawkins says, nor on Hitchens’, Harris’, or Dennetts’ writings
                  2) nor does it rise or fall according to my personal expectations of what one god should say or not say, do or not do.
                  3) I dont reject sight unseen, or pretend to know whether paranormal activity is possible, and thus on the reality or otherwise of someone’s dreams or halluinations (NDE’s) It only takes one genuine phenomena to prove the spirit world exists. Lisa Williams videos seem compelling if not incredible and could only be refuted if she is a fraud.
                  4) I dont deny miracles because I havent personally seen one, anymore than I deny alien existence is refuted by a mistaken UFO sighting.
                  5) I dont deny God may exist because of what seems bad or flawed religion on one speck of dust in a vast universe.
                  6) no one expects you to believe anything without compelling evidence but the evidence for deism at least, is seemingly overwhelming as Scott’s numerous citations from eminent scientists suggests.Whether god is personal is still for me a dilemma. My search for ultimate meaning and the existence of free will and a conscience however, are confronting for anyone who believes without evidence, that the natural world all there is or ever was.
                  Good Luck.
                  7) So I do take it seriously, when someone like Einstein says “the more I study science the more I believe in God” and when as he says “we should expect a priori a chaotic universe” instead of a rationally comprehensible one.
                  8) I believe like PCW Davies “the appearance of Design is overwhelming” and in the assertion by Hilbert that there are no infinites in the material world. This is why I could never be an atheist.
                  9) yes you are not the only dishonest sceptic to claim there are 1000 religions while clearly being obsessed by just one, nor to deny god based on flawed human nature.
                  10).what I do know is this morally bankrupt world would be far better off embracing Christian values more than any other religion.
                  11) There are numerous questions asked and answers given by Scott and Gerry which you have ignored. Not least is the origin of your high moral grand standing and ridicule of just one ancient culture while ignoring the genocide committed by recent godless ideologies. I agree you seem like a 2yr old throwing a temper tantrum against a parent who knows far better than you
                  12) when you come clean and admit to what really motivates your obvious obsession, I might take you seriously.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Ms. Kerry. I know when I’m beaten. I’ve read your comment on the 10th June. I guess I won’t be using the argument that religion causes violence however, if I come across a good point., it doesn’t mean I won’t point it out.

                    You say that your personal dilemma is the idea of a personal God. I don’t knw about you but for me it is because of some points pointed out by many atheists.
                    Some of them the ideas that make me wonder if God exists are:-
                    1. If God is omniscient, he already knows who’s going to heaven and hell hence I question omnibevolent or omniscient.
                    2. God knew that there was gonna be evil since he’s omniscient but he still created the world with evil. Here’s the verse to support my claim (I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD do all these things.” (Isaiah 45:7).
                    3. What’s the point of God creating the universe and filling a speck of dust with humans? There was no point of God creating the universe. What was God doing before he created the universe? Did God know he was going to create the universe.

                    This are some of the reasons I came across when analyzing Christianity and made me realize that God cannot exist because before the universe was created. What were God’s intentions?


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                    Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                    Kerry,

                    I would like to chime into this discussion with regards to your question of whether God can be a personal God (as opposed to impersonal God, as with deism).

                    This question brings us back to the classical philosophical axiom I cite in this essay, which says that a cause cannot give to its effect what it does not have to give. In order to produce the effect of personhood, the cause of personal agents such as ourselves must contain the effect of personhood potentially in itself…much as a cigarette lighter contains the effect of fire potentially in itself, even when it is not being used. A copy and paste of the relevant excerpts:

                    …as Edwar Feser puts it The Last Superstition, “a cause cannot give to its effect what it does not have to give.” Feser skillfully elaborates:

                    …the cause of a fire might itself be on fire, as when a torch is used to start a brushfire, or it may instead have the power to produce fire, as a cigarette lighter has even when it is not being used.

                    The traditional way of making this distinction is to say that a cause has the feature that it generates in the effect “formally” in the first sort of case (e.g. when both the cause and the effect are on fire) and “eminently” in the second sort of case (e.g. when the cause is not itself on fire, but has an inherent power to produce fire). If a cause didn’t contain all the features of its effect either formally or eminently, there would be no way to account for how the effect came about in just the way it did. Again, a cause cannot give to its effect what it does not have to give.

                    Material things such as atoms and rocks do not contain (either formally or eminently) many of the features we as humans possess…such as consciousness, intelligence, personhood, reason, morality, love, etc. Keith Ward, a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, makes the same point as Feser in his book Doubting Dawkins: Why There Almost Certainly is a God.

                    “…there is force in the classical philosophical axiom that, for a truly explanatory cause to be intelligible, it must contain its effects potentially in itself. As the classical philosophers put it, the cause must contain more reality than its effects.”

                    The implication of this philosophical axiom cited by Feser and Ward is that the cause of conscious, intelligent, and personal (etc.) beings such as ourselves must necessarily have the effects of consciousness, intelligence and personhood contained potentially in itself. A cigarette lighter contains the effect of fire potentially in itself (even when not being used), but inanimate material things such as atoms and rocks do not contain the effects of consciousness, intelligence, or personhood potentially in themselves. This is why the only logical option is to cite a conscious, personal, and intelligent cause (read: God) for conscious, personal, and intelligent agents such as ourselves.

                    Please also read William Lane Craig’s comments about this subject matter by clicking here. Some excerpts:

                    Personal God – the need for agent causation

                    The cause of the universe must be an ultramundane being which transcends space and time and is therefore either an unembodied mind or an abstract object; it cannot be the latter; hence, it must be the former, which is to say that this being is personal.

                    In the case of the kalam cosmological argument, the very same reasoning holds with respect to the cause of the origin of the universe. Moreover, there is an additional argument for the personhood of the first cause which I didn’t mention in the article that arises from the peculiarity of a temporal effect’s arising from an eternal cause. As I explain in Reasonable Faith,

                    We’ve concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause . . . . Now this is exceedingly odd. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this be? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn’t the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the production of the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent along with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect?

                    . . . There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present. For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could freely will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. By “choose” one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning. By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist. So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: through the free will of a personal Creator.

                    Personal God – why God must be personal

                    In the case of the moral argument, the concept of God involved in the argument is that of a personal being, since moral values, if they exist, reside in persons, not in inanimate things, and since only a personal being can be a source of moral duty by issuing commands to us. This is the failing of Plato’s impersonal form of the Good. Justice, for example, is not itself just, being merely an abstract object, nor can it issue imperatives requiring us to be just. Christian theologians like Augustine advanced Plato’s ethical theory by identifying Plato’s Good with God himself.

                    Finally, the ontological argument requires God, as the maximally great being, to be personal, not only because personhood is entailed by the properties that make up maximal excellence such as omniscience, omnipotence, and moral perfection, but also because being personal is itself a great-making property, which a maximally great being cannot lack.

                    Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/personal-god#ixzz4B02fQEmY

                    Scott


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Tell me Ms. Kerry. Then what does your assessment on the God question fall on then?

                    You ask me what motivates me. Because religion is nothing but lies. I read a story of a mother who threw her child out to the streets because she came out as an atheist. Even if you insist that atheism also leads to genocides like the communist countries in the past but its for their own selfish desires but for religion its for the name of God. Here’s the link to that story.
                    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2013/11/13-year-old-in-arkansas-kicked-out-of-her-home-by-her-christian-parents/

                    How do you think I came across Dawkins and the rest of other atheists after reading what this girl’s parents did..You may quote that the bible wants us to question but clearly I see not everybody reads that. I don’t deny the communists did murder. However, there were not motivated by any external force.

                    What also else motivates me. I tend to question God’s omnibevolent and omnipotent? Did God know evil he was gonna create a world with evil hence I question his love. I’m pretty sure that before the universe was created. God already knows who’s going to hell hence I question he’s onmibevelolent. There are so many reasons I can tell you but as for short is because I see religion creates zealots. I would like to ask you to mention which of Mr. scott’s and Mr. Gerry’s points I’ve ignored then I’ll get back to you on that. You still haven’t answered my question on how the people on the Bahai faith saw `Abdu’l-Bahá as their guide but converted to the Bahai faith and not Christian. Perhaps the world will be a better place if we embrace the Bahai fath’s values.


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                      Kerry Parker says:

                      Jeff wrote
                      “I read a story of a mother who threw her child out to the streets because she came out as an atheist. ”

                      I took the time to read this “story” and the comments. From which I make the following candid observations
                      1. the story was posted on an “atheist channel”. (alarm bells) The “Freethinkers” group are notorious for condescending videos on YT that pretend to be coming from a Christian source. Their motivation is hardly subtle, as theyre intent on creating demeaning, insulting vid’s to make the religious look callous stupid and anything but christian.
                      2. the story is clearly hearsay posted by some guy without any names to verify its accuracy or truthfulness “My father sent this to me last night….” Did he REALLY? Why?
                      3, “throwing onto the street” would be deemed child abuse and likely a criminal offense in most US states. I wonder if a cynic merely read the law for that state and saw the chance for another dishonest fairytale.
                      4. even if the minor was into drugs or other such unsocial behaviour there are many other options to a loving parent in a western society.
                      5. Many christian communities have care and concern groups to support parents and kids in such circumstances
                      6. The story teller who makes the claim ‘I told my daughter that the mom is really showing the girl how most Christians really act.” is showing her atheist bias which suggest the whole story is just a fabrication
                      7. it really shows the pathetic depths and strategies some dishonest atheists go to justify their hatred of religion.
                      8. that gullible young fools troll atheists websites embracing such stories without question, is rather pathetic.
                      9. that these same fools would fallaciously justify their denial of God on such nonsense, is despicable.
                      10. truth obviously takes a holiday when a “bunch of selfish genes” doesnt want to face the evil in their his own life .
                      Just read the tone of the comments: “F**k off. You are a disgrace to the badge. This is abuse. God damn, the f**king system does not care about children’s rights. lemme guess, you are a religicrite.” I rest my case!


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                      Kerry Parker says:

                      “Then what does your assessment on the God question fall on then?”
                      Indeed!! I’m quite happy to surrcumb to your superior knowledge and allow you to define what atheism means in your particular case.

                      BTW, I know a work friend who was ostracized by her parents because she became a born again christian. What do u think such trivial stories prove?


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Recall that back in February
                      “I recommend(ed) a YT video I made entitled “Atheist Fallacy No.3 Atheism is NOT a Religion” In it I discuss the Ninian Smart criteria that identifies the ‘new’ atheism as yet another religion, albeit a godless one. It’s tenets (and manifesto) are vehemently defended in the halls of academia against competing worldviews, as well as in all forms of media https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53COQ5fd2r8

                      Further to that video I would like to offer the following comments:
                      Allow me to suggest there are only two fundamental questions for the self declared septic: a) what facet of your life do you value the most, that if you lost it, would almost mean you’d lose the very will to live? b) how do you define your version of atheism?

                      I would like to assert that these questions cant be answered truthfully, or at least accurately, because of our inability to know our deepest desires.
                      Let’s not forget the search for meaning and transcendence have been the most dominant issues in all human history. Much to the annoyance of atheist websites and those who posted comments at me, I declared that no one can claim to be an atheist since we all worship at the altar of something. The abject poverty of a materialistic worldview means we all have a ‘god’ that if we lose it, would devastate us. The ultimate consequence is loss of identity, self worth, hope and meaning.

                      When God is taken out of the picture, man replaces his Creator with ego, career, self-image, power, fame, family, spouse, a political cause and numerous other pursuits, some of dubious value. Secularist and author David Foster-Wallace says “there is no such thing as an atheist. Everyone builds their life and their worldview by worshiping something” that will ultimately be doomed.

                      Moreover, St Augustine said “sin is disordered love”. As sinners we place these false idols before God to the point God is denied altogether. When we love our career more than family, there will almost always be a breakdown in our lives that affect our career. Such material pursuits will inevitably break one’s heart because no earthly pursuit or possession can bare the freight of one’s deepest longings.

                      ‘The Denial of Death’ by Earnest Becker who is an agnostic/atheist, recognizes that if there is no God in your life, you will find something else to turn into a god. He says, “modern secular people still like to feel their lives have a higher purpose. Many take the love option to fill the void, to elevate a love object to the point of idolatry but it nearly always fails. Such a failure can be so devastating as to wipe out our reason for being. Honoring a good thing is noble, turning it into an ultimate obsession can be soul destroying.
                      Sartre expresses this void when he laments “that God does not exist I cannot deny. That my whole being cries out for God I cannot resist.” How many celebrities when their fame and fortune start waning, turn to drugs? Theologian Rob Barron concludes “Our paradoxical world is filled with deep joys & sadness. But nothing in this life gives us the joy we ultimately seek because nothing in our material world finally satisfies us. Surprisingly, it is the best times in life that awaken in us, this aching need of longing & searching but this beauty is but an anticipation of the truly beautiful. No matter how much we know, we want to know more, no matter how much we love, we want greater love. It is only in the God who is love, that the deepest longings of the human heart can possibly be realized.”

                      Based on 7 years of internet dialogue I strongly suspect that no matter how convincing and logical an argument is, the hard-nosed denier cannot and will not consider its worth. No one who has an a priori rejection of God will ever consider a fact contrary to his worldview. Most honest atheists like Albert Camus will say we dont believe in a god one can know. So much for the young ‘atheist’ who arrogantly psychoanalyses God to the point that he hates Him., all the while claiming he doesnt exist.


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                    Gerry Denaro says:

                    thanks guys
                    I think my role as an apologist and defender of the faith, is to challenge the unbeliever by setting the bar as low as possible. I like to present a wealth of evidence for the existence of god as creator of this awe-inspiring universe and then challenge them to the idea that given our many attributes, as sentient moral beings, that God must be personal.
                    A superficial understanding of some verses of the OT might suggest inconsistencies & contradictions. But it is fallacious and I believe dishonest to conclude there is no God. I dont believer anyone however who reads the N.T can deny that the life and teachings of Jesus are an inspiration for those seeking meaning hope and destiny. Openminded truth seekers like one respondent cannot help but see God as the only possible explanation for why anything exists instead of nothing. But those who start with some personal need to deny an existential source for all reality will never admit to even the possibility of God. Particularly when emotional diatribes, insults and abhorrence for religion cloud their judgment. As most celebrated atheists lament we cannot live both happily and consistently without a purely materialistic worldview sadly.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      Jeff, the existence of evil and suffering poses an INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEM FOR ATHEISM, as I discuss in my essay titled Atheism’s Problem of Evil.

      An excerpt:

      Evil can only exist as a deviation from good, much as crookedness can only exist as a deviation from straightness. But what is the source of goodness, and who or what determines just what good is? C.S. Lewis points how the need for a source of goodness poses a problem for atheism:

      “My argument against God [when I was an atheist] was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

      On atheism, there is no objective standard of good or evil, because atheism declares that the natural world is all that exists, and the natural world is valueless: There is no such thing as a good or bad bird, or a good or bad tree, etc. Therefore, one cannot use the study of the natural world (science) to determine right and wrong. As Albert Einstein put it:

      “You are right in speaking of the moral foundations of science, but you cannot turn around and speak of the scientific foundations of morality.”

      Here, Einstein is reflecting the age-old philosophical problem of how an ought can be derived from an is. Science can tell us what there is (in the natural world), but science cannot tell us how we ought to behave.

      A necessary implication of atheism is nihilism, which is defined as “the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.” With no God to determine moral values, we are left with a meaningless and valueless natural world, in which humans are the only agents available to make moral judgements. But, if humans are the judges of right and wrong, we are left with the question of which humans get to be the judges. If the Nazis had conquered the world, then the Nazis would be the judges of right and wrong. Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism:

      “Truthfully, on the logic which follows necessarily from the nihilistic paradox of atheism, if the Nazis had conquered the world, then everything we recognize historically as humanity’s greatest shame would be at once transformed into our greatest triumph. There would be no disputing the marvelous splendor of the Holocaust or the great glory of the many prodigious massacres carried out on behalf of the Aryan descendants to Mother Earth. These immortal goods would be true for all, and therefore true in fact. As [the famous atheist biologist Richard] Dawkins himself said; there is no good and there is no evil, ‘DNA just is and we dance to its music.’ The same holds for the universe at large.”

      Without an objective moral standard by which to judge the Nazis, we could only say that the Nazis went against our subjective moral standards in committing the Holocaust. By atheist logic, the Holocaust would merely be out of tune with the cultural preferences of non-Nazi cultures, as opposed to objectively morally wrong. This would be roughly comparable to a person who fails to adapt to local culture when visiting a foreign country. C.S. Lewis explains the need for a higher moral standard (and therefore, higher moral authority) by which one could judge humans such as the Nazis as objectively wrong, rather than merely wrong according to the subjective preferences of certain groups of people:

      “Now what do we mean when we call one of them the Good Power and the other the Bad Power? ….If ‘being good’ meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right.”

      “But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God.”

      Without God, there would be no third power by which to judge the Nazis as wrong, and the allied powers right for opposing the Nazis. The defeat of the Nazis would merely be the triumph of one subjective human opinion over another, a case of might-makes-right.

      So I have to ask you, Jeff…by what standard are you judging the Nazis to have been WRONG for committing the holocaust? By what objective moral standard would you judge a person who tortures babies for pleasure to be WRONG? What is the source of objective moral standards?

      I don’t think you really read my essay titled If God is Real, Why is There Suffering. A copy and paste of the sections which address your objection about “pain caused irrespective of human decisions” appears below. The point is that all pain is the result of the human decision to rebel from God because we must experience the full brunt of our decision to rebel from God in order to understand the gravity of our mistake. As William Dembski puts it, “To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God.” That pertinent excerpt:

      “’But wait a minute,’ I hear you say, ‘there may be some moral worth in allowing human beings freedom, but what’s the point in doing the same for tectonic plates [thus allowing earthquakes]’?…I do not believe that God directly wills either the act of a murderer or the incidence of cancer. I believe God allows both to happen in a creation that has been given the gift of being itself…[these] are the inescapable cost of a creation allowed to be other than God, released from tight divine control and permitted to be itself.”

      It stands to reason that a creation not “permitted to be itself” isn’t really a creation. Perhaps an apt metaphor for a creation not permitted to be itself would be a child playing with dolls. The dolls can think or do nothing outside of what the child wills, and therefore do not have any reality outside of the child’s mind…except as inanimate objects. Further, God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as earthquakes and tsunamis, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

      “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        It is good that your still around Mr. Scott Youngren. You haven’t written an article in a long time. Your articles are well constructed and very well written. However, I want to ask you this. In your article ‘doesn’t religion cause evil’ you said that atheist worldview is that of the human are nothing but survival machines. That’s true scientifically speaking but I myself have never heard an atheist say that he will kill in the name of atheism. It is just those with selfish desires that want to cause harm to others. Religion kills in the name of God. There s many crimes that God has committed. himself flooded the whole earth to destroy evil, killed the Israelites for questioning him. killed infants just because the pharaoh refused to listen to him. Even Moses was brought in front of the pharaoh to perform miracles and the pharaoh wasn’t convinced. I wonder whether God was warming up on his tricks. Perhaps he had more of his sleeve if the pharaoh never gave up. I think that just by reading the bible and seeing the evil and the so called miracles is enough to make someone an atheist.Even the youtube atheist hermant merta even says that by reading the bible, you obviously become an atheist. Even NDEs are just dreams or speaking in tongues are perhaps happening all in one’s head. I’ve never heard a buddhist talk about seeing their past lives when their dead. I think the reason theologians say that these old testament stories never happened is a way to avoid the truth that God really is a monster.


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          It is pointless trying to counsel someone who cant respond to or challenge the answers already given to what is essentially schoolboy rhetoric . All youre doing is regurgitating the same mindless questions with a few trivial variations. Did you not visit any of the links we gave you or understand the points I raised e.g. about 100 million recent deaths b/c of godless ideologies and dictators? Remember Lenin who said “atheism is a necessary component of our program.” Do u think he had to say “I kill in the name of atheism” to conclude he was above man’s law, let alone be held accountable to an ultimate authority?

          As I said Jeff, anyone can claim they kill in the name of God, a religion, the devil, Kim Jong il or an Iman, does that meant they have them as a scapegoat?

          And WORST of all, basing your obvious rejection of God and thus atheism on a very naive, limited understanding of His nature, or on the actions of flawed human beings or on bad religion is a complete non sequitur and category error. Don’t worry though, you’re not alone. It is a clever ploy by those who dont want to face the evil in their own life to pontificate about evil in other cultures or individuals, then conclude God doesnt exist. Since you seem intent on embracing atheism you should at least be able to defend a materialistic worldview in which morality is merely illusory, doing no more than what is fashionable in come culture at some point in history.
          If you want to gain some credibility can I humbly suggest you discuss the evidence for creation and thus a Creator, then whether that Creator is personal. To base one’s atheism on the failure of God to prevent evil like the holocaust, is quite naive and ignorant of what it means to be a free moral agent living in world lacking meaning, hope or destiny..


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            OK then. There’s a reason everyone is embracing atheism. Please respond to every point I give. Here is my explanation.
            Why do most modern scholars reject a reading of the Bible as history much less as literal fact?

            1. In an age of science and technology, too much of the Bible is simply unbelievable to today’s mind and turns people away from the underlying messages. From a scientific standpoint, many of the “facts” in the Bible are simply wrong. One of many examples: according to Genesis, the universe is just over 6000 years old. According to physics, the Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago.

            2. Many of the stories are also scientifically impossible, like the tale of Joshua stopping the sun moving across the sky. This story assumes (as was the thinking then) that the earth was flat and was at the center of the universe. We simply know this to be false. Second, for the sun to stop would mean that the earth would have to cease rotating on its axis — an event which would destroy the planet.

            3. For many of the miracle stories, natural explanations exist. The authors of these stories lived in an age when people believed that solar eclipses were divine omens, disease was divine punishment, and mental illness was caused by demon possession. In the case of Jesus, healing was an important part of his ministry. However, today we can find faith healers in Haiti who practice voodoo and in tribal Africa who practice witchcraft. Many of these modern-day faith healers have patients who are actually healed by these practices. Doctors call this the placebo effect, an effect so powerful that drugs must undergo double blind experiments.

            4. Some of the mythological stories in the Bible are not original, but were borrowed from other traditions. The Epic of Gilgamesh — a Sumerian poem detailing the creation of the universe that predates the writings of Genesis by many centuries — contains a flood story whose plot points are almost identical to the story of Noah.

            And the funny thing is that its that some of the stories are truly unbelievable. There’s a simple explanation for this, which is that the Bible was written by human beings at a time when stealing a person’s livestock was a crime punishable by death, but raping a young girl was easily remedied by following it up with a marriage proposal. If the girl married someone other than her rapist however, and was found to not be a virgin, she would be executed. There is nothing remotely moral about any of this. The Abrahamic tribes who wrote the Old Testament simply came up with a set of laws that favored those already in power, and then claimed those laws were dictated by god and that questioning them was punishable by death.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

              Jeff,

              You need to be very careful to distinguish between what the Bible actually says, on one hand, and interpretations of the Bible provided by some people, on the other hand. A perfect example of a failure to make this crucial distinction is your comment that, “according to Genesis, the universe is just over 6000 years old.” Absolutely nowhere in Genesis (or anywhere else in the Bible) does it say that the universe is 6000 years old. I strongly suspect that this is something that you are parroting back from what you read at an atheist forum. If I am wrong, then you should be able to cite the Bible verse where it says this. But you can’t because the Bible simply does not say this. Period. End of story.

              Rather than originating from the Bible, the idea that the universe is 6000 years old comes from James Ussher, a 17th century Archbishop of Armagh (Church of Ireland). Very few modern Christians believe the Earth is this young…although there are some. But then, there are many atheists who believe weird things too. For example, many highly prominent atheists have suggested that the origin of life from non-living matter can be explained as the result of aliens bringing it to Earth in their spaceship. Click here to watch a video of the worlds most famous atheist (the biologist Richard Dawkins) endorsing this theory in a video.

              You write, “many of the [Bible] stories are also scientifically impossible.” Another crucially important distinction that you are failing to make is the distinction between your understanding of reality, on one hand, and reality in its totality, on the other hand. Cultural and other experiential limitations often compromise our understanding of reality. Regarding this point, Craig Keener writes in his book Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts:

              Some scholars develop a story, long bantered about as an illustration for competing epistemologies, about a king of Siam. Hearing from Dutch visitors about riding horses on top of rivers that became so cold that they became hard like stone, this ruler “knew that the men were liars.” The king’s inference was a logical one based on the reality with which he was familiar; it was his expectation of a rigid uniformity in the human experience of nature that proved inaccurate. Defenders of anomalous events thus offer the king as a warning to those who, like [atheist philosopher] David Hume, would rule out extra-normal phenomena based on their own limited experiences.

              Siam, as you know, is a tropical location that does not experience frozen rivers. Jeff, when you rule out Bible stories as being “unscientific,” you are doing so based upon your own map of reality which is culturally and experientially limited in the same way as the king of Siam.

              Furthermore, the Bible uses a variety of genres, some of which are literal, and some of which are allegorical. Tim Keller provides an excellent commentary on this point in this brief video (please watch). As Keller discusses, in most cases, the genre is easy to discern, but there are a few places in the Bible where the genre is not easy to discern (literal, poetic, allegorical, etc.)

              Next, you write, “For many of the miracle stories, natural explanations exist.” This calls attention to a persistent category error which absolutely permeates atheist thought. The following two statements commit the same category error because they confuse different levels of causation:

              “Natural phenomena are not caused by God, but rather by natural processes.”

              “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather by manufacturing processes.”

              The crucial point, Jeff, is that the explanation which explains causation at the deepest level is the most satisfactory explanation. And this calls attention to a fatal explanatory failure of atheism: Atheistic explanations of science are materialistic in nature, and materialistic explanations fail to explain certain levels of causation. An excerpt from my essay titled Why Trying to Explain Away God With Science is an ERROR:

              ….bold declarations from atheists that “science explains things without the need for God” amount to a category error. Bo Jinn writes in Illogical Atheism:

              “In no way does it logically follow that something was not designed and built from the mere fact alone that that something could be understood scientifically. The law of gravity and Newton’s Laws of motion are to God and the universe what binary strings and electronics are to Alan Turing and the computer processor. Function and agency account for two entirely different explanations as to how and why something exists. Aristotle explained this over two thousand years ago… Aristotle stated that everything in the universe could be understood in terms of:

              A formal cause, a material cause, an efficient cause and a final cause.

              Science accounts for only two of those causes; the formal and the material. If we were to apply Aristotle’s theory to the Harrier jump jet in the allegory above:

              -The Harrier’s material causes are the components from which it was constructed.

              -Its formal causes are the laws of mechanics, aerodynamics and internal combustion.

              -Its efficient causes are Ralph Hooper, Sir Sydney Camm and Sir Stanley Hooker [the designers of the jet].

              -Its final cause is to be flown in dogfights.

              Only the first of those categories of causes were open to the scientists in the story. Only the first two of those categories are open to science in the study of the universe.”

              Science, in short, does not even address efficient and final causes in regards to such issues as the origin of the universe or the origin of life.

              Therefore, a statement such as:

              “Living things were not caused by God, but rather, by a process of evolution,”

              is every bit as much of a category error as the statement,

              “Aircraft are not caused by human agency, but rather, by a manufacturing process.”

              God and human agency are proposed efficient causes. Evolution and manufacturing processes are proposed formal causes. Atheist reasoning commits a category error when it confuses different levels of causation. Further, atheist reasoning suffers an explanatory failure when it disregards the need for explaining all levels of causation.

              Science describes natural phenomena in terms of laws, but it does not explain where those laws came from, who (or what) enforces those laws, or why the universe has laws in the first place (rather than just chaos). Scientific description, in other words, ends at the level of natural/physical laws. So how does theism explain the above mentioned phenomena? The answer is simple. As I put it in I Believe In Science, Why Do I Need Religion?:

              Such laws are the result of a lawgiver (God). Moreover, theism asserts that matter is nothing more than a manifestation of consciousness (God’s consciousness), which is the view most compatible with modern physics, as I demonstrate in God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism.

              Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, summarized the theistic explanation of why matter follows physical laws succinctly when he said:

              “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.” [the word “notional” italicized by me]

              Or as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it:

              “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

              Albert Einstein marveled at the existence of physical/natural laws, and the exquisite order (rather than the chaos that we should a priori expect) which lies therein. He wrote (as also cited in The God of the Gaps: Why God and Science Are Not Competing Explanations):

              “…a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way. The kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

              Lastly, Jeff, you write:

              “Some of the mythological stories in the Bible are not original, but were borrowed from other traditions. The Epic of Gilgamesh — a Sumerian poem detailing the creation of the universe that predates the writings of Genesis by many centuries — contains a flood story whose plot points are almost identical to the story of Noah.”

              No, the similarities between the two flood accounts are only superficial, as this post discusses.

              Scott


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Thank you for answering Mr. Scott While I feel you have explained my points. It seems you ignored my last point. I shall cut and paste it.
                ‘And the funny thing is that its that some of the stories are truly unbelievable. There’s a simple explanation for this, which is that the Bible was written by human beings at a time when stealing a person’s livestock was a crime punishable by death, but raping a young girl was easily remedied by following it up with a marriage proposal. If the girl married someone other than her rapist however, and was found to not be a virgin, she would be executed. There is nothing remotely moral about any of this. The Abrahamic tribes who wrote the Old Testament simply came up with a set of laws that favored those already in power, and then claimed those laws were dictated by god and that questioning them was punishable by death’.
                In this small paragraph, any sane person reading those stories in the bible will clearly see that the Abrahamic God is clearly a monster as said by Richard Dawkins. How can such a verse which I’ve explained in the paragraph be any good. Even if we are supposed to look for a deeper meaning. There is no good coming out of such a verse or a story of the Abraham attempting to sacrifice Isaac. Any sane person would persecute Abraham for child abuse. I wonder how family dinner was with Isaac and Abraham at the same dinner table. And the funny thing is that these stories were written by ignorant men devoid of any morals because clearly.If a girl marries the rapist, what is that on any serious note. Tell me please. What does that mean? My morals tell me that this rapist must go to prison. Tell me Mr. Scott. What was God trying to endorse here because a good God would never allow such madness in the bible?


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  Thanks again for your comments. Most Christians (as far as I know) regard the Bible as the product of divine/human collaboration. Put another way, God spoke through the authors of the Bible, but the Bible reflects the cultures and personalities of the people through whom God spoke. I don’t think that there are many Christians who think that the Bible was beamed down from heaven (like those transporter beams on Star Trek).

                  And, yes, you are absolutely correct that many aspects of ancient Near-Eastern culture are abominable to us moderns. Regarding this point, David Robertson writes in The Dawkins Letters:

                  “…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.”

                  How are biblical events taken out of context so as to accuse God of such things as allowing slavery, killing, etc? Paul Copan answers in Is God A Moral Monster?

                  “Despite the North’s victory, the Emancipation Proclamation that preceded it (January 1, 1863), and the attempt at Reconstruction in the South, many whites did not change their mind-set in regard to blacks. As a nation, we’ve found that proclamations and civil rights legislations may be law, but such legalities don’t eradicate racial prejudice from human minds. A good deal of time was required to make significant headway in the pursuit of racial justice.”

                  “Let’s switch gears. Imagine a Western nation or representatives from the West who think it best to export democracy to, say, Saudi Arabia. Think of the obstacles to overcome! A radical change of mind-set would be required, and simply changing laws wouldn’t alter the thinking in Saudi Arabia. In fact, you could probably imagine large-scale cultural opposition to such changes. When we journey back over the millennia into the ancient Near East, we enter a world that is foreign to us in many ways. Life in the ancient Near East wouldn’t just be alien to us—with all of its strange ways and assumptions. We would also see a culture whose social structures were badly damaged by the fall. Within this context, God raised up a covenant nation and gave the people laws to live by; he helped to create a culture for them. In doing so, he adapted his ideals to a people whose attitudes and actions were influenced by deeply flawed structures.”

                  “As we’ll see with regard to servitude, punishments, and other structures, a range of regulations and statutes in Israel reveals a God who accommodates. Yet contrary to the common Neo-atheists’ caricatures, these laws weren’t the permanent, divine ideal for all persons everywhere. God informed his people that a new, enduring covenant would be necessary (Jer. 31; Ezek. 36). By the Old Testament’s own admission, the Mosaic law was inferior and future looking. Does that mean that God’s ideals turn up only in the New Testament? No, the ideals are established at the very beginning (Gen. 1–2). The Old Testament makes clear that all humans are God’s image-bearers; they have dignity, worth, and moral responsibility. …Certain prohibitions in the law of Moses against theft, adultery, murder, and idolatry have enduring relevance. Yet when we look at God’s dealings with fallen humans in the ancient Near East, these ideals were ignored and even deeply distorted.”

                  As the biblical scholar N. T. Wright affirms, “The Torah [law of Moses at Sinai] is given for a specific period of time, and is then set aside—not because it was a bad thing now happily abolished, but because it was a good thing whose purpose had now been accomplished.”3 This is the message of the New Testament book of Hebrews: the old Mosaic law and other Old Testament institutions and figures like Moses and Joshua were prefiguring “shadows” that would give way to “substance” and completion. Or as Paul put it in Galatians 3:24, the law was a “tutor” for Israel to prepare the way for Christ…incremental Steps toward the Ideal. How then did God address the patriarchal structures, primogeniture (rights of the firstborn), polygamy, warfare, servitude/slavery, and a number of other fallen social arrangements that were permitted because of the hardness of human hearts? He met Israel partway.

                  Regarding Paul Copan’s above comments, how can moral progress exist in the absence of a moral ideal toward which to progress? And if God is not the source of this moral ideal toward which we try to progress (when, for example, we fight against racism and sexism), then what is the source?

                  I delve into this topic in my essay titled No God Means No Justice. An excerpt:

                  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men evolved equal, that they are endowed by some other people with certain inalienable Rights…”

                  Imagine if Thomas Jefferson had chosen to put these words in the Declaration of Independence instead of his actual words, which reference our Creator as the source of equality and inalienable rights. There are some very big problems with grounding equality and human rights in anything other than in a transcendent source (read: God). First off, if we really have inalienable rights as humans, and these rights were merely endowed by other people, we are left with the question of how other people can endow inalienable rights. After all, what constitutes human rights to one society may not constitute human rights to another society. And which people are the people who endow these rights? The Nazis and Communists, to cite a couple examples, certainly didn’t endow us with these rights. As Frank Turek and Norman Geisler point out in I Dont’ Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist:

                  If the Moral Law doesn’t exist, then there’s no moral difference between the behavior of Mother Teresa and that of Hitler. Likewise, statements like “Murder is evil,” “Racism is wrong,” or “You shouldn’t abuse children” have no objective meaning. They’re just someone’s opinion, on a par with “chocolate tastes better than vanilla.” In fact, without the Moral Law, simple value-laden terms such as “good,” “bad,” “better,” and “worse” would have no objective meaning when used in a moral sense. But we know they do have meaning. For example, when we say “society is getting better” or “society is getting worse,” we are comparing society to some moral standard beyond ourselves. That standard is the Moral Law that’s written on our hearts.

                  And the concept of progress, in terms of social justice, makes no sense if there is no Moral Law which transcends the opinions about justice held by various people. In order for such a thing as progress to occur, their must be a moral ideal toward which to progress. But who or what provides this moral ideal toward which to progress? The moral standards of one particular group of people? Which group of people? By whose standard does ridding our society of racism, for example, constitute progress? Certainly not by the moral standards of the Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan. C.S. Lewis (as cited by Turek and Geisler) notes the need for a moral standard which exists above and beyond subjective human opinions about morality:

                  “The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others. Or put it this way. If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Nazis less true, there must be something—some Real Morality—for them to be true about.”

                  Indeed, if there is no Moral Law which transcends subjective human opinions about morality, then changes in morality would be nothing more than changes in moral fashions. A return to institutionalized slavery would be akin to a “retro chic” trend in clothing…such as when 1960’s era suits worn on the hit TV show Mad Men became popular again.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    One of the main teachings of Islam is that the bible is corrupt because it has been changed for hundreds so God gave the holy Quran to the prophet Muhammad as the final revelation. You wrote “Most Christians (as far as I know) regard the Bible as the product of divine/human collaboration. Put another way, God spoke through the authors of the Bible, but the Bible reflects the cultures and personalities of the people through whom God spoke. I don’t think that there are many Christians who think that the Bible was beamed down from heaven (like those transporter beams on Star Trek)”. Since the bible was written by people. That means even they make mistakes so the Bible isn’t as perfect as Christians think it is since one of the main teachings of Christianity is that humans are sinful so how can sinful humans write the bible and call it perfect. Have you ever read Genesis? There’s contradiction. In genesis 1: 25–27. Humans are created after the animals. In genesis 2: 18-19. humans were created before the animals. Are you able to see now that the bible is contradicting itself. If the stories here are contradicting, then should I believe the rest of the bible. Please try to respond to this.

                    You also write ““…you need to learn the basic principles of reading the Bible. You must always read it in context – that includes historical, literary, theological and biblical context. To read out of context is to misread. Then you must recognize that much of the Bible is descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, it is telling us what went on rather than what should have happened.” . That’s what atheists are trying to say that people interpret the bible in a different way because they want to ignore the fact that the bible is full of great evil. It’s like that excuse God works in mysterious ways. I feel like you haven’t responded to this point.

                    I never delved into the topic of morality so I’m trying to understand how the question of morality came into this particular discussion in the first place. However, please let’s talk about morality later as we continue with the discussion.


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                      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                      Jeff,

                      I have to call you out on the evasive and diversionary nature of your comment. You suggest that you never delved into the topic of morality, and yet, in your previous comment, you wrote, “Any sane person reading those stories in the bible will clearly see that the Abrahamic God is clearly a monster as said by Richard Dawkins.”

                      Accusing God of being a monster is a moral judgement…you are the one who introduced the topic of morality. So I will just again ask you the same question which you have tried to evade by creating a diversionary argument about the accuracy of the Bible: WHO OR WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF THE MORAL IDEAL TOWARD WHICH WE TRY TO PROGRESS WHEN WE SPEAK OF MORAL PROGRESS???

                      If humans are the agents who determine that ridding our society of such things as slavery, sexism, and racism constitutes moral progress, then which humans get to determine what constitutes progress? Why do you or I have more authority in determining what constitutes moral progress than, say, the Nazis or the Klu Klux Klan? Because you or I are more moral than the Nazis and Klu Klux Klan? Says who? You or I?

                      Please note that a statement such as, “The Nazis and Klu Klux Klan do not get to determine what constitutes morality because they are immoral people” is entirely circular, and therefore incoherent.

                      I hate to pour salt on a wound, but I am just going to keep brining this point up until you either produce some sort of response to this question, or admit that you cannot coherently answer from the vantage point of your atheist worldview.
                      Atheism can never provide a coherent answer to the question of the source of morality. This is a FATAL explanatory failure for atheism, which illuminates the fact that atheism is FALSE. Please read my essays titled Atheism’s Problem of Evil and No God Means No Justice to explore this topic in more depth.

                      Your comments about alleged errors in the Bible commit a logical fallacy known as the “Red Herring Fallacy.” The term Red Herring Fallacy may have originated from the practice of using a strong smelling fish (a herring) to divert hounds from the correct scent trail when fox hunting, and is also known as “smoke screen” or “wild goose chase”. The following is an excerpt from this Nizkor Project article about the Red Herring Fallacy:

                      Description of Red Herring:

                      A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

                      Topic A is under discussion.
                      Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
                      Topic A is abandoned.
                      This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim.

                      Jeff, you started by making moral accusations against the God of the Bible (you called him a “monster”), and I responded by asking you what the source of moral good is. In order to evade this question which you cannot coherently answer from the vantage point of your atheist worldview, you tried to create a diversion (“smoke screen” or “wild goose chase”) by changing the subject to alleged Bible errors.

                      This evasive nature of your reasoning only calls attention to the ideological and psychological (as opposed to logical) basis for your atheist views. Logical arguments consist of logic, not of evasive attempts at diversion. I don’t think that any intelligent third-party viewer of this discussion is going to fail to notice this.

                      I am very willing to engage in a discussion of alleged Bible errors with you if you will first concede that your atheist worldview cannot coherently explain the source of moral good. But every time that you try to create a new diversionary argument, I will just keep brining you back on topic.

                      My experience in debating atheists has taught me to not allow them to deceive (create a “smoke screen”) by trying to use the “shotgun effect” of introducing a large variety of unrelated arguments.


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Anyone is free to answer this question. If atheism is superstitious. Then let’s all assume that there’s a God. What made God so active in those days which human beings had not understood the sciences. There’s even a story of Elijah raising the Sunnamite’s son (2 Kings 4 :18-37) from the dead. Then I ask this. Why was God so active back in the day and not today? Why were miracles so common back in the day and not today which are quite rare? There’s no evidence to testify that those miracles are true. It seems miracles were common before video cameras existed.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Jeff,

      I am very glad that you asked that question since I wrote an essay about the topic of miracles titled The Reality of Miracles.

      God is VERY VERY active today, but the bias against the supernatural which is so strong in our society prevents many of us from seeing it. If fact, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE claim to have witnessed miracles.

      The above mentioned essay responds to the objections against miracles posed by the atheist philosopher David Hume, since his objections are by far the most often cited and influential. Below is an excerpt from the essay (but please click on the above link and read the entire essay):

      Hume famously attacked the credibility of those who claim to have experienced a miracle:

      “There is not to be found, in all history, any miracle attested by a sufficient number of men, of such unquestioned good sense, education, and learning, as to secure us against all delusion in themselves.”

      How does Hume determine if an individual is of “good sense, education, and learning, as to secure us against all delusion in themselves”? The answer reveals not only the circularity of Hume’s logic, but also his appalling ethnocentric bias. Hume writes:

      “They [miracles] are observed chiefly to abound among ignorant and barbarous nations; or if a civilized people has ever given admission to any of them, that people will be found to have received them from ignorant and barbarous ancestors.”

      According to Hume, only “ignorant and barbarous” cultures believe in miracles. How does one determine if a culture is ignorant and barbarous? Such a culture believes in miracles. (This is circular reasoning in its purest sense).

      Craig Keener responds by pointing out that one must declare a majority of the world’s population to be “ignorant and barbarous” in order to declare that only “ignorant and barbarous” peoples believe in supernatural intervention. Keener uses the term “Majority World” to refer to cultures outside of the modern west…Latin America, Africa, and Asia:

      “…Today, however, abundant claims of miracles, particularly from the Majority World, challenge Hume’s skepticism about the existence of many credible eyewitnesses. Hume demanded ‘a sufficient number’ of witnesses of unquestioned integrity and intelligence who would have much to lose by testifying falsely. In today’s academic climate, many who testify to miracles have much to lose even by testifying truly; but I shall first respond to Hume’s quantitative demand. In contrast to the environment assumed by Hume, today hundreds of millions of people claim to have witnessed miracles.” (italics are mine)

      Keener spends several chapters detailing how the experience of miracles is absolutely pervasive throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa, and has been a major source of church growth in these areas. For example, he notes:

      “…Reports from some members of the official China Christian Council suggested that roughly ‘half of the new conversions of the last twenty years have been caused by faith healing experiences’ of the convert or someone close to them. Speaking more broadly of Christians in China in general, one researcher cites less conservative estimates; ‘according to some surveys, 90% of new believers cite healing as a reason for their conversion.’”

      Keener further notes that,

      “Often these [Christian converts] are people reared in entirely different religious traditions, for whom changing their faith tradition is socially costly, sometimes even leading to ostracism or persecution.”

      “…Western scholar of global Christianity Philip Jenkins notes that in general Christianity in the Global South is quite interested in ‘the immediate workings of the supernatural, through prophecy, visions, ecstatic utterances, and healing.’ Such an approach, closer to the early Christian worldview than modern Western culture is, appeals to many traditional non-­Western cultures.”

      “…[These cultures] have simply never embraced the Western, mechanistic, naturalistic Enlightenment worldview that rejects the supernatural.”

      Why, then, does western culture (and much of modern western academia) differ so vehemently with the majority of the world’s population, when it comes to the topic of miracles? Disbelief in miracles first requires that one subscribe to a theory (or philosophy) that denies the existence of God. This deeply rooted western philosophical tradition, known as naturalism or materialism, says that, since nothing exists except for the “natural world” of material objects interacting with one another in a mindless and mechanical fashion, belief in God (and miracles) is an airy­-fairy superstition.

      As philosophers Stuart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro put it in their book Naturalism, “The conflict between naturalism and theism is not a matter of different scientific theories of events within the cosmos, but of conflicting overall philosophies of the cosmos itself.”

      Renowned physicists Paul Davies and John Gribbin explain how materialism/naturalism took such a strong hold on the modern western worldview, and therefore persists despite being incompatible with modern physics, in their book The Matter Myth:

      “…At the time of the publication of the Principia [Isaac Newton’s landmark work] the most sophisticated machines were clocks, and Newton’s image of the working of nature as an elaborate clockwork struck a deep chord.”

      “…It is hard to overstate the impact that these physical images have had in shaping our world view. The doctrine that the physical universe consists of inert matter locked into a sort of gigantic deterministic clockwork has penetrated all branches of human inquiry. Materialism dominates biology, for example. Living organisms are regarded as nothing more than complicated collections of particles, each being blindly pulled and pushed by its neighbors.”

      The insidious influence of materialism/naturalism on the western mind causes a prevalent misperception that science objectively describes observable material objects which are out there, whereas religion deals with unobservable and airy-­fairy concepts such as God and miracles. Despite the fact that modern western culture categorizes belief in God as “religious,” and belief in naturalism/materialism as “scientific,” there exists no objective rational means for establishing why the materialist/naturalist philosophy of the cosmos itself (in the words of Goetz and Taliaferro) should be categorized as “scientific,” whereas theism is not.


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        Gerry Denaro says:

        According to Hume, only “ignorant and barbarous” cultures believe in miracles”. This insidious and fallacious strategy is very widespread in YT debates where angry atheists resort to diatribes, insults and even profanities in an attempt to ridicule their opponents and of course the nature of God himself. As I’ve stated, a strong clue indicating that a disbeliever is arguing form an untenable position is when one’s character, rather than the evidence under debate is attacked. Bertrand Russell pointed out “ad hominem is the last ditch defence of the losing side.”
        Speaking of miracles let’s recall what Einstein said about a universe we should expect a priori, to be a lawless, lifeless chaos: ““You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility as a miracle, or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a CHAOTIC world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different…..”

        No one’s faith or disbelief should rise or fall on the presence or absence of modern day miracles. Nevertheless, i personally had a NDE several years ago when I was lying belly up in an ICU after a heart attack. Now some will dismiss it as merely a dream, but a former teacher and mentor “came” to me and led me to a place of incredible peace and beauty that left an indelible impression that has inspired me ever since.
        I did an online search for such experiences and found many incredible stories like neurosurgeon Eben Alexander who was a sceptic until he had an NDE himself. While supposedly brain dead, he ‘met’ a deceased sibling he never knew he had, until his biological parents came forward. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCRwuJoQAZg
        Eben has since written a book and appeared on Oprah http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/dr-eben-alexander-shares-what-god-looks-like-video
        and a sceptic’s interview with the same surgeon
        http://www.skeptiko.com/154-neurosurgeon-dr-eben-alexander-near-death-experience/

        Another YT video I really like is the actor Jim Caviezel and his Inspirational video on the life changing experience of playing the lead role in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion.” He relates to being struck by lighting on the cross and the visual experience for those around him.
        Can I just say after several years of debating some really militant atheists that discussing the evidence for God and relating life experiences like these, will rarely convince, let alone challenge, the un-convincible, closeminded God denier.
        regards
        GD


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          This thread and the unending parade of questions remind me of a novel by Rebecca Goldstein in which she claims to refute three dozen “arguments” for God’s existence. Her rebuttals, however, are straw men of her own construction, bearing only passing resemblance to the classical arguments for God. Her criticisms are easily defeated, making a critique a nice exercise for beginners in apologetics. Just how sad such posturing is, becomes evident by a look at her rebuttals. Goldstein first misrepresents them and then presents lame refutations of them
          Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/36-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god#ixzz4A8We2DBk For a critique See http://www.reasonablefaith.org/36-arguments-for-the-existence-of-god

          Many of these questions and objections that atheists cite (often rhetorically) are asked and answered at several websites e.g. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/popular-articles/existence-and-nature-of-god#ixzz4A8R9dRfG 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: Goldstein on the Cosmological Argument

          Other objections can be read on this form
          Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/popular-articles/existence-and-nature-of-god#ixzz4A8QvnMLY

          Now for THE PROBLEM OF EVIL Atheists like Dawkins like to claim there is “no good, NO EVIL, just a world of blind, pitiless indifference”. Then to justify his rejection of God, he embarks on a highly emotional rant citing a few verses from one Scripture he doesn’t belief a word of. The end result is the caricature of a god he describes as a despicable, evil monster. So much for circular reasoning!
          The existence of evil is certainly a problem for both theists and atheists. But there are numerous examples of how this dilemma might be answered at least to the satisfaction of those with an open mind. Here are a few sites for anyone who takes the time to go looking:
          What is the Origin of Evil? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qalM0zN5ehU

          Ravi Zacharias – The Mystery of Evil and the Miracle of Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsIPrasmvAQ

          Cosmic Conflict: The Origin of Evil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqLIndMA9Ks

          Does Evil Disprove God (1 of 2) – Dr. Alvin Plantinga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_sk0AjJDkk
          My past experience of debating atheists however, leaves me with the perception many skim over and even ignore theists’ arguments. The blatant use of diatribes, insults often with emotional “language” suggest there is a lot more than merely “a lack of evidence for a God” who obviously taunts their every waking moment.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

          Gerry,

          Yes, I am very familiar with NDEs. I have never had one myself, but the NDE testimony of the former atheist college professor (turned Christian pastor) Howard Storm was God’s first inroad to my heart when I was a hardened agnostic, several years ago. When I watched Storm’s fascinating testimony, my heart knew that he is telling the truth. You can click here to watch his testimony. I very highly recommend it.

          In case you haven’t already seen them, I have written two essays about NDEs:

          Has Anyone Ever Met God and Returned to Tell About It?

          Why Death is Not the End

          An excerpt from the first of these above essays:

          An entire field of research has sprung up to analyze this phenomenon. Researchers from the fields of medicine and psychology have come together to form the International Association of Near- Death Studies (IANDS, website iands.org) and the Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF, website: nderf.org).

          In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field. Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

          “NDErs often believe that they have survived because God willed it and had a divine purpose in bringing them back…They have experienced the love of God and been changed by it (Grosso 1981). Many have come face-to-face with a personal God with whom they continue to maintain a loving relationship.”

          “…for most the result appears to be a spiritual awakening. The NDE often brings with it a spiritual certainty and intense desire to conform one’s life to divine will. The new relationship with what is often a personal God becomes central to the NDErs’ lives.”

          In part because of the sheer volume of NDE accounts, it has become a phenomenon that is difficult to ignore. And, as Patrick Glynn notes in his book God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”

          Gerry, you are correct regarding the Ad Hominem logical fallacy made by many atheists. When an atheist makes an angry Ad Hominem attack, I like to point out that they have effectively withdrawn from rational discourse. Such a withdrawal from rational discourse (into angry rhetoric) amounts to a tacit acknowledgement that their stance cannot withstand logical scrutiny.

          Put another way, an angry attack made by an atheist is a “tell” that they are angry because they realize that their argument has fallen apart…much as a nervous tick made by a poker player is a “tell” that he is holding a weak hand and is bluffing.

          I have actually learned to very much appreciate it when atheists resort to such transparent withdrawals from rational discourse. This is because such behavior serves as an advertisement to all intelligent third party viewers that the atheist is angry because he knows that his argument has collapsed.

          Thanks much for that Bertrand Russell quote regarding this point!

          Scott


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        Gerry Denaro says:

        Hi Scott,
        The problem with God’s existence for most deniers is that atheism is not an intellectual or scientific question but a moral one. I recommend a number of videos by Dr Tim Keller in which he cites several celebrated atheists like Camus, Russell, Nietzsche, Sartre, Tolstoy and Voltaire. It’s called a “Reason for Living” in which these giants of atheism all essentially say the same thing- live without God gives us ultimate freedom but at the price of utter meaninglessness.
        As Sartre lamented “that God does not exist I cannot deny. That my whole being cries out for God I cannot resist.” But then using circular reasoning he concludes, “if God exists I am not free, since I am free therefore God does not exist.”
        I see at least two fundamental flaws in the way many atheists approach the God question.
        1) an a priori rejection of God before any evidence is discussed. Hitchens was famous for assuming what he was trying to prove. “God cannot exist, therefore all religious claims are false. Looks these fools even believe in miracles like the resurrection and life after death. How delusional is that. I rest my case.” In his book “Religion poisons everything.” and in debates with Bill Craig and others.
        2) It is quite disingenuous of skeptics whose atheism is merely rooted in their own personal conceptualization of a god they don’t like. They invent a deity no one believes in and wonder why we don’t thank them for it. Ravi Zacharias says “it is not that there isn’t sufficient evidence but a wilful neglect of such evidence.”
        If one is going to assume there is no God any evidence will either be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. “Science was supposed to bury God” according to Sam Harris but with the acknowledgement of a finite beginning for space/time, many atheist are inventing all kinds of fanciful theories to deny an ultimate cause. e.g Hawking and krauss
        A third point is that most atheists claim ‘we have no burden of proof, since it is merely a non belief. This is a rather clever ploy to exempt them from defending a purely (untenable) materialistic worldview where mindless matter is the only game in town. Some of the consequences of which are:

        *If atheism is true it matters not whether you die hugging or mugging, a Ghandi or a Goring, for morality is doing no more than what is fashionable in some culture, at some point in history.
        *If atheism is true then we’re just a “a bunch of selfish genes” whose morality is merely a convenient byproduct of socio-biological evolution.
        *Atheists who refuse to face their own sinfulness, preferring to pontificate about evil in past cultures with all the evangelical zeal of believers, are complete hypocrites.

        *’Disbelievers assume whatever they want, not on the basis of proof but on what they find attractive” Blasé Pascal


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          Jeff Mwangi says:

          Anyone is free to answer this. The thing is in atheism. Everyone believes to be treated equally. That’s not the case with theism. If miracles occur, then why can’t every person be experiencing a miracle? Like that miracle baby article from the train crush is one of them. People were so busy thanking God for the baby that they forgot that God didn’t save the other pedestrians. Where were their miracles? In the book your god is too small by the atheist republic, they asked what God did in the readers lives. Unless there’s a testimony that God teleported you from the seat when the plane was crashing. What has God done in my life. The answer is nothing. God hasn’t done anything in my life. He still wants to thank him for winning a tournament yet he ignores the prayers for the starving children around the world.


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            Gerry Denaro says:

            So now we have moved on from a hidden God, to one who performs miracles randomly? One might conclude that according to your personal expectations, the failure of God to perform miracles in selected people’s lives, is apparently prima facie evidence to reject Him and even his existence?? A similar argument that caused a former Christian to embrace atheism was the Holocaust. Cant you see how such a path to atheism is thwart with incoherent and inconsistent assumptions?
            Just once in your continuous parade of (rhetorical) questions, you might like to give a response to the answers given. Not providing any feedback indicates you have not listened, not understood or not capable of contributing to the dialogue. The quote I gave “it’s not that there isnt sufficient evidence; it’s the willful neglect of such evidence”, seems appropriate in much of the exchange I have with God deniers.
            Did you visit any of the links we gave you, regarding miracles, God being “uncaring”, “selective” or “sexist” ? Care to comment? Perhaps a read of the Book of Job might explain your frustrations


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              Gerry Denaro says:

              Jeff wrote
              “The thing is in atheism. Everyone believes to be treated equally” My goodness such an ipse dixit claim leaves me dumbfounded!! Perhaps you weren’t around in the 20th century to tell Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pott, Hitler, Edi Amin, Ghadiffi, Sadat, Kim Jong Un,Saddam etc etc which resulted in the genocide of 100+ million –
              Lenin “atheism is a necessary component of our program”
              Hilter – over one of the gas ovens in Auschwitz, “I want to raise a generation of young people devoid of conscience, imperious, relentless and cruel.” and his neo-darwinian solution .“The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing the survival of the fittest. Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature It is more even than religion; it is the will to create mankind anew.”

              The essence of Christianity is we are neither male nor female, Jew nor gentile, we are all one (equal) in Christ Jesus”. Such a tenet would seem to be abhorrent to the male ego and its lust for power and domination in an ever increasing world of moral and spiritual bankruptcy..


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                Then if God is not unfair then why didn’t he save the Jews from the holocaust like when he saved the Israelites from the Pharaoh. I hope you won’t reason that the holocaust was a way to give the Jews the opportunity to be brave and noble as said by Richard Swinburne.


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                  Gerry Denaro says:

                  Really young jeff, obviously you’re no more an atheist than I am. You just don’t believe God loves you, perhaps because you don’t know or love yourself (yet?)..


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                  Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

                  Jeff,

                  Another great question. I wrote an essay which references the holocaust titled If God is Real, Why is There Suffering?. Please read the entire essay, but below is a copied and pasted excerpt:

                  Gregory Boyd explores this topic in his book Is God to Blame? Boyd labels the pervasive viewpoint that God is responsible for everything that happens in this world “the blueprint worldview” and calls attention to the philosophical and theological flaws this viewpoint contains:

                  “Scripture confirms human and angelic freedom and that this is how God’s creation became the war zone that it presently is…Of course he (God) could have created a world where we have to do his will, but it would be a creation devoid of love.”

                  In other words, if the world were such that we had to do God’s will, it would be nothing more than a puppet show God was putting on for himself. And how could God love a puppet? God created us to be independent free agents that he can love and be in relationship with. Relationships can only occur between free agents, not between a free agent on one hand and a puppet on the other. And in order for us to be free agents, we must be able to choose between good and evil. Sadly, we all too often choose evil. Former Cambridge University Professor of Mathematical Physics John Polkinghorne makes a similar point in his book Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity:

                  “Does a world with cancer and concentration camps really look like the creation of a powerful and loving God? I think this is the difficulty that, more than any other, holds people back from belief in God…How, though, can one have a world in which humans are free to choose without some of these choices being for ill rather than for good? We are moral beings, with all the possibilities for immorality that this implies, not perfectly programmed automata…Philosophers call this insight ‘the free will defense,’ meaning that the possibility of moral evil is the price that must be paid for the greater good of human freedom.”

                  He continues:

                  “’But wait a minute,’ I hear you say, ‘there may be some moral worth in allowing human beings freedom, but what’s the point in doing the same for tectonic plates [thus allowing earthquakes]’?…I do not believe that God directly wills either the act of a murderer or the incidence of cancer. I believe God allows both to happen in a creation that has been given the gift of being itself…[these] are the inescapable cost of a creation allowed to be other than God, released from tight divine control and permitted to be itself.”

                  It stands to reason that a creation not “permitted to be itself” isn’t really a creation. Perhaps an apt metaphor for a creation not permitted to be itself would be a child playing with dolls. The dolls can think or do nothing outside of what the child wills, and therefore do not have any reality outside of the child’s mind…except as inanimate objects. Further, God has a very good reason in allowing “natural evil” (such as earthquakes and tsunamis, etc.). William Dembski explains in The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God In An Evil World:

                  “Humanity, in becoming captive to evil, gave its consent. Humans are complicit in the evil from which God is striving to deliver us. For redemption effectively to deliver humanity from evil therefore requires us to be clear as to precisely what we have consented to in rebelling against God and embracing evil. To achieve this clarity, humanity must experience the full brunt of the evil that we have set in motion, and this requires that the creation itself fully manifest the consequences of humanity’s rebellion against God. This does not mean that the creation has to become as corrupt as it could possibly be. But it does mean that the creation must not conceal or soft-sell the gravity of sin. …In answer, then, to why a benevolent God would allow natural evil to afflict an otherwise innocent nature in response to human moral evil, we can say that it is to manifest the full consequences of human sin so that when Christ redeems us, we may clearly understand what we have been redeemed from. Without this clarity about the evil we have set in motion, we will always be in danger of reverting back to it because we do not see its gravity.”

                  All of this is not to say that God plays no role in guiding worldly events or that he never intervenes in earthly affairs. Rather, it is to say that much of the time he must step back and allow us to experience the consequences of our decision to embrace evil so that we can understand what we need to be redeemed from. By allowing natural evil, God is thus responding somewhat like the parents of a 12 year-old who, upon catching the child smoking a cigarette, force him to go into the closet and finish the entire pack so that he can grasp the consequences of his choice. And if one will stop to think, people often don’t give God a fair shake. We humans are very adept at taking credit for all that is good in the world and blaming God for much of what is bad: How could God allow the holocaust? Isn’t it wonderful that we found a cure for polio? Why did God allow those children to starve? Isn’t it great that we successfully (and very narrowly) avoided total nuclear annihilation several times during the Cold War?


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                    Kerry Parker says:

                    Howdy all
                    As an agnostic still on the search for meaning and truth, I have studied the arguments from both sides of the God debate. Can I suggest however, many atheists(the hardcore variety) seem to come from two self-defeating, opposing views. They suggest there are 1000 different gods they don’t believe in, which would be true if there are 1000 religions that still pay homage to such gods. As we grow in “wisdom and knowledge”, arent we supposed to assign failed theories to the scrap heap of history?
                    I don’t think one’s personal bias towards the nature, wisdom or personality of God should deny his existence anymore than someone who says “We should only believe what science can actually prove”. The other strategy when it comes to the rejection of God, centers almost exclusively around the biblical O.T god. They want to ridicule god on some relativistic moral high ground. Funny that one seems to deny the Muslim idea of God or the other 999 (we don’t believe in)? I agree with the proposition if you want to disbelief in god as a creator you have to address the present scientific evidence that points to design, fine-tuning and an ultimate beginning to space/time.
                    It is rather easy to find fault in the god of the O.T by citing the inconsistencies in a few selected verses, but not many sceptics apparently want to challenge the Jesus of the N.T.The only exception I have often observed, is from those who proudly proclaim the Jesus story is fabricated, citing similar fables in ancient times. Someone suggested there is a basic principle human nature at play : some may die for a lie believing it to be true, but who would die for a lie knowing that it was blatantly false? If the disciples did in fact die for the truth of of their experiences, the following argument seems valid:
                    “The disciples had nothing to gain by lying and starting a new religion. They faced hardship, ridicule, hostility, and martyr’s deaths. They could never have sustained such a charade with unwavering motivation if they knew what they were preaching was a lie. The disciples were not fools and Paul was a cool-headed intellectual of the first rank. There would have been many opportunities over three to four decades of ministry to reconsider and renounce a lie.” “If the defeated and depressed group of disciples overnight could change into a victorious movement of faith, based only on autosuggestion or self-deception—without a fundamental faith experience—then this would be a much greater miracle than the resurrection itself.”

                    The following YT videos might help your readers who are genuinely seeking answers to life’s most important questions. They are entitled “Give Me an Answer” – e.g the problem of god, natural and moral evil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Afb-KT094Js
                    Hope this hepls.


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                    Gerry Denaro says:

                    Scott
                    The existence of evil is probably the only argument in the atheists’ arsenal to deny a personal God, but I think your explanation is one of the best I’ve read. I think however, their assertions fails on at least two counts. As I’ve already said, it is quite disingenuous of skeptics to deny God as Creator because their perceptions of God as a Moral law Giver’s don’t conform to their own dubious moral expectations. Afterall, morality if it exists at all in an amoral universe, is no more than a convenient byproduct of socio-biological evolution. One could rightly ask, on whose authority could a denier claim anything they say is authoritative? So whose standard do we judge what is moral or just, in some culture at some point in history?
                    Can I suggest that evil in an amoral world is more of a problem for atheism than for theism. When one looks at the animal kingdom a lion who kills his a prey for food is not murdering for the thrill of it, nor is the killing of a rival’s offspring. All such behavior is by stinct for the survival of their gene pool and species.
                    Deep down I think even a hardcore denier acknowledges the existence of a ubiquitous moral conscience, that says fraud, theft, dishonesty, infidelity, gratuitous violence, rape and murder are intrinsically evil. But if evil exists than there must be a transcendent moral code that reaches to the very core of what it means to be truly human. The transcript of the Nuremberg trials make compelling reading for anyone who thinks every nation has a right to its own determination.
                    In my experience of such discussions, I find it quite disingenuous for disbelievers to cite past atrocities committed in the “name of religion” when they conveniently forget the 100million killed by godless ideologies in modern times. This they often do with all the evangelical zeal they despise in believers. Such a clever ploy exempts them from facing their own failures and shortcomings much like religious extremists’ do when they claim God, the devil or some mufti told them to do it. As an analogy, imagine a band of thugs who conspired to murder or maim in the name of the UN. Should we then turnaround and blame the UN for such atrocities?
                    My final point for anyone who has listened to such debates, is suffering is integral to the Christian worldview, we call it the Way of The Cross. The first thing we need to remember when we are going through a trial is that there is Someone who knows what suffering is. He has suffered more than any human being in history. It is somewhat ironical for we who value material successes and happiness that self-knowledge and wisdom are often, if not only discovered through loss or tragedy.
                    Lastly, let’s not forget “For our afflictions are but momentary while producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17 and
                    1 Peter 5:10
                    And after you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore you, secure you, strengthen you, and establish you.


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    An impressive response Mr. Scott. However, let me ask you this. What does a child gain when they get cancer despite being told that God created him perfectly. One can even perform evil and just ask for forgiveness and accept Jesus Christ and they’ll be forgiven. That even removes justice. And as Peter Singer puts it “The evidence of our own eyes makes it more plausible to believe that the world was not created by any god at all. If, however, we insist on believing in divine creation, we are forced to admit that the god who made the world cannot be all-powerful and all good. He must be either evil or a bungler.” I’m sorry but I cannot see how a good God can allow such suffering and since he’s omniscient then he knew before the universe began what will happen to everyone. It’s like God predestined our disaster and even he already knows who’s going to hell. I can’t even see the idea of an omniscient God allowing evil. This could mean he planned it from the beginning which makes me question whether he’s all loving as Christians put him or make him to be.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Really Jeff, you are being quite disingenuous in claiming answers to your numerous questions are “impressive,……but”. Then without any attempt to rebut or discuss those responses, you just move on to another longwinded spiel of questions. I gave you a number of responses why suffering is an integral to our human existence, without any attempt by you to respond.
                      I strongly suspect you have merely cut and pasted your questions from sceptics’ websites without bothering to understand them or do your own research. I find it somewhat frustrating when atheists refuse to engage in my responses then aimlessly shift the goalposts to an unrelated topic. I find it pointless in continuing with this exchange when you have clear not understood (is English your 1st language?) or are incapable of a coherent facts-based, point-by-point rebuttal.
                      Take care

                      Most hardcore atheists try to argue to God’s nonexistence by starting with religion or the nature of God that they create in their own minds. They ignore the abundance of evidence I have already detailed and show by way of emotional diatribes that there reasons are not intellectual or science, related but moral. Recall the Sartre quotes.

                      So can I humbly ask whether you have looked at the evidence and reject God as creator (deism) or just regret that your lifestyle choices may have more consequences than their immediate effect – thus a personal God and Moral Law Giver?


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    Jeff Mwangi says:

    Your an intelligent man Mr. Scott Youngren. I wish there were more people like you who could reason. However I felt your response did not answer my question. Why is God sexist towards women? I’ll give you the same bible verses I said earlier. Ecclesiastes 22:3, Corinthians 14:34-35, exodus 21:7. However, I wish to ask you that after reading these verses, I wish to ask you. How did God create man and woman equal if these verses are in the bible which is the word of God.


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      Gerry Denaro says:

      Hi Jeff
      If I could just add to Scott’s responses on your important questions of Biblical interpretation
      1) when I came to study King Lear and in particular, verses there in, I needed a Companion.to gain any real understanding of the text. I think the same applies to the Bible, particularly the citing of individual O.T verses and their relevance for us today.
      2) the Bible is a collection of not one, but 66 books written over 1500yrs in every possible literary genre. One doesnt go to a library and pick up a novel from the poetry section expecting it to be history, science or mythology
      3) unlike the Koran, we say the Bible is inspired, not written or dictated by God. As such it articulates God’s revelation to a chosen people as they grew over a long period in wisdom and understanding..
      4) Moreover, God’s revelation did not cease with the last book of the N.T. It continues today as we seek to discern His plan for us in a troubled world (where a war is being waged on Christianity from many sources)..
      5) As to sexism: in my lifetime I have seen many changes with respect to the role of women in the church that we couldnt have imagined 50 years ago. Regarding Corinthians 14:34-35, I believe that it was more a cultural Jewish custom rather than commanded by God for all eternity.
      6) Any OT practice, rule or ritual should be understand or interpreted with respect to what Jesus said, recall e.g. “….you have read an eye for an eye, but I say to you…..”
      7)thus we have the ‘law’ that surely supersedes all others: … John 13:34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other.Just as …..”
      8) many women have rightly been critical of the Church, but few if any, can find fault in what Jesus said and did in company of the courageous women who followed him. Compare Deut 22:22 with John 8:4
      9) I might add the Christian church has gone to the dogs at least 5 times in history but through the work of the Holy Spirit, it is always the dog that has died.
      10) it sometimes troubles me when i hear a non-believer (not that I think you are one) quote a few verses of Scripture with all the evangelical zeal that they despise in believers. They think that if they can find fault in a text they dont believe a word of, they have disproved God’s existence. As Blase Pascal said “some people believe whatever they want, not on the basis of evidence but what they find attractive.”
      Let me conclude by saying the God that I believe in, is the one Jesus so beautifully articulates in parables like The Prodigal Son and The Good Shepherd. The Christian God could hardly be described as a moral monster or even a misogynist
      Pax vobiscum


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        Jeff Mwangi says:

        I wish to say Mr. Gerry that I never thought of the bible as inspired rather than dictated. However, let me ask this. How can the universe be so fine tuned when it has so many ways it can kill us. Examples are black holes, asteroids etc. How can we live in a universe that can kill us in any second and say that God is all loving. Isn’t it that humanity and all animals just fitted into the universe. It’s like a badger finding a hole and saying “its like this hole was made for me” when its actually the badger that was able to fit itself into the hole.


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          Gerry Denaro says:

          Hi again Jeff,
          As a consequence of the explanations I gave, can I assume you have moved on from the need to explain the verses that could be associated with sexism in chiefly the O.T.? As to the concepts of fine-tuning and design, can I suggest you read Scott’s article entitled “If you think science leads to atheism” There you will find a litany of the most eminent scientists including many Nobel laureates who will shatter any illusion that the universe is a product of mindless processes, blind forces and infinite luck.

          Yes there are a lot of conditions not only in the universe but on earth, that will kill us. The design & fine-tuning arguments however, are NOT about the hostility of the universe to support life nor are they about the weather on Pandora )or earth). They concern the probability of all the pre-conditions of the BB, the physical constants & the abstract laws of science needed to create galaxies stars planets and 112 elements. As Einstein observed and Penrose has calculated, a chaotic lawless universe is infinitely more probable than one which is rationally intelligible, law-abiding and life-permitting

          You apparently have listened to or read a number of arguments to deny the evidence for a creator. One such example is the claim “Most scientists are atheists”. Unlike the very selective study done by an all atheist NAS board 15yrs ago, the LATEST study according to a survey of members of the American Assn. for the Advancement of Science, was conducted by the Pew Research Center in May and June 2011. A majority of scientists (51%) say they believe in God or a higher power, while 41% say they do not. Moreover in 2007 Elaine Ecklund, and Christopher Scheitle questioned 2,198 faculty members in the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology, sociology, economics, political science, and psychology from 21 elite U.S. research universities.(unlike the NAS survey) more than 75% of professors contacted actually completed the survey. Only 31.2% expressed atheism & only 15% thought that science and religion were in conflict. About half expressed some form of religious affiliation. Sir Lawrence Bragg, Nobel Prize in physics: “Science and religion are apposed , just as the fingers and thumb are apposed, so that between them we may grasp everything.
          Take care (God does)


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            Jeff Mwangi says:

            Hi again Mr. Gerry. I have not moved from the bible as being sexist. You said that “I believe that it was more a cultural Jewish custom rather than commanded by God for all eternity”. Then tell me this. Why is it there in the new testament (Corinthians 14:34-35)? It states that women should keep quiet. It seems sexism is also in the new testament. Isn’t it?


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              Gerry Denaro says:

              Dear Jeff,
              I’m not sure whether you took the time to digest what i wrote about “sexism” being culturally based. Moreover, one only has to look at the life of Jesus who took great pains to associate with women and to to embarrass the Jewish hierarchy about their treatment of women.
              Might I add faith and religion are not static entities, we grow in wisdom and knowledge as we discern Scripture and the will of God for the times we live in. Recall that Jesus gave us a New Commandment which transcends race, religion and Creed that for many, even today, is a bridge too far.
              Can I just make the observation that you seem to flip from one common observation (complaint?) to another. Can I assume that the explanation I gave for design and fine-tuning was to your satisfaction?
              As I dont know where you’re coming from, can I humbly ask your present belief or disbelief regarding God, as distinct from religion? I find it somewhat disingenuous of some atheists who rightly or wrongly spend great amounts of energy trying to find fault in a Scripture they dont believe a word of, when it is a separate category from God. The failure of some religions to articulate the true nature of God is not surprising but it has no bearing on whether God as Creator and moral Law Giver exists.
              Can I anticipate what might also be troubling you? Atheists (especially the YT variety, often ask somewhat rhetorically and smugly:
              Who created God?
              We’re all born atheists !
              I’m just an atheist to one more God than you
              Why should I believe in your God?
              Jesus never existed not least rose from the dead.
              The whole idea of religion is just wishful thinking.
              Christianity has been responsible for killing millions over past 2000 years
              etc etc

              I could add another dozen or so that involve diatribes, vitriol and endless profanities that seem to be the domain of the angry young sceptics who wastes endless hours trying to prove (to themselves) they “have nothing to prove”. Apparently they not only deny God’s existence but hate Him. Can I humbly suggest googling a study on ‘The Psychology of Atheism’, it may just set you free!
              God bless


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                Jeff Mwangi says:

                I apologize from moving from one topic to another. Myself, I don’t know if there’s a God. Right now, I’m an agnostic. My belief in God ceased when an atheist friend in college asked me why should I believe in the resurrection and no believe that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse. I saw myself being arrogant with my belief so I gave up on the idea of God and Christianity. I have read numerous atheists books from the new atheists till philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Peter Singer and Michael Ruse. I have also studied theologians like William Lane Craig to John Lennox. While I admire their intelligence on this subject, I’m still somehow unconvinced.


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                  Gerry Denaro says:

                  Jeff, Thanks for your candor. It always helps to know where a doubter is coming from and what he is seeking. Can I suggest you start with a Deistic idea of God as creator and examine the evidence which might support such a conclusion. I often hear atheists start with some dubious (and fallacious) ideas about religion as an argument for God’s non-existence which is a simple category mistake. Many people rightly or wrongly, believe in a personal God without feeling the need to express their beliefs in Sunday worship. I would suggest however, that Christianity has no depth excpet in the context of community and fellowship.
                  As I have already suggested read Scott’s article “if you think science leads to atheism”. Once you examine all the evidence and the conclusions of eminent scientists then we can move on to why that Creator God must be personal.
                  Please permit me to cut and paste some of the ideas I have researched that cannot be explained by naturalism: –

                  a) the incomprehensible precision of some 30+ parameters that modern physicists like Davies, Turner, Sandage, Schawlow, Hewish, Collins, Kistiakowsky, Milne, Penzias, Hoyle, Penrose, Born, Dirac and numerous other Nobel Laureates have identified that set this finite universe on its present course,
                  b) the extraordinary narrow values for the independent physical constants of nature
                  c) the uncanny applicability of abstract mathematics to the natural world, that make this universe “rationally intelligible” rather than a lawless lifeless chaos.
                  d) the origin and existence of the immaterial & immutable laws of science
                  e) how matter universally follows the same abstract laws
                  f) The finitude of the past and what cosmologists have acknowledged as the beginning of all time, matter and space (what we call ex nihilo creation).

                  My argument for f) goes like this (again a cut and paste)
                  An argument from the FINITUDE of [past] time as an argument for Creation and thus for a Creator: Premises:
                  1) Nothing causes itself to exist because it is nothing and does not exist. .
                  2) What does not exist, cannot cause the existence of something else, since it does not exist.
                  3) If some material ‘state” exists now then it demands that matter/energy have either a) existed eternally in some form OR b) was created ex nihilo
                  4) A temporal series of physical events is a collection formed by successive synthesis/addition of such events or states
                  5) A collection of such events formed by successive addition cannot become an actual infinite
                  6) Thus, a temporal series of finite events can never become an actual infinite (note 3)
                  7) There are no examples of an actual infinite in nature, neither time, space nor matter. (Hilbert note 1)
                  8) All physical events or states exist in, or occur in the dimension of time i.e are temporal events
                  9) An infinite past for the physical realm would imply an infinite regress of such temporal events – a logical impossibility..
                  10) Everything that comes into existence has a cause
                  Conclusions
                  i) An absolute beginning for all time/space and matter logically follows from the evidence at hand and is the consensus of all modern day cosmologists..
                  ii) The FINITUDE of the past and the limitations for a temporal series of past physical states demands ex nihilo creation, including any regress to multi-verse theory(s) (there are nine such theories at last count)
                  iii) Since matter cannot create itself, then its cause must transcend/ exist beyond matter (be immaterial or META-physical)
                  iv) Only immaterial and non-contingent realities exist atemporally or eternally.
                  v) It logically follows that a finite, awe-inspiring, rationally intelligible, abstract law-abiding universe must be the product of non-contingent, atemporal, rationally intelligent, immaterial mind. And that reality we call, God.

                  Hilbert1 “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea…”
                  multiverse 2 This is a case of what is most plausible, assent to the incoherence of an infinite regress, and a basic understanding of the entropy associate with thermodynamics seems to underpin a significant failure of any of the nine hypothetical multi-universe theories, no matter how you construct your model. The entire multi-universe scenario is without evidential data. It is an appeal to an incomprehensible small possibility, simply to avoid an ultimate cause.

                  actual/potential infinite3 Imagine yourself standing at the surface of an infinitely deep hole. If there was a protruding ladder with an infinite number of rungs that represent every past or future event or time interval, could you ever descend to the bottom of such a hole? Likewise could we ever reach the surface from such a hole or ascend to an infinite height (future)? The impossibility of transiting an infinite series of finite physical events is prime facie proof for an absolute beginning for all time, space and matter. Hence conclusions iii) to v).


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                    Jeff Mwangi says:

                    Hello Gerry. I appreciate your questions but there are questions to your response. These are some of the questions that made me refrain from my belief in God. Atheists even common sense atheist websites often ask “what was God doing before the creation of the universe” and sometimes joke that God was feeling lonely then decided to create a speck and fill it with life in such a big universe. I’ll list some of the questions that made me cease in my belief in God?
                    1. What was God doing before the big bang?
                    2. Why did God create the universe?
                    Some of the reasons I have being given by my friend is that God wanted to show his power which I term as egotistical provided the chaos and evil this world has.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Jeff wrote ” I appreciate your questions ‘
                      I’m glad, jeff so would you kindly tell us what website you downloaded the recent longwinded spiel detailing plagiarizing in the Bible, Islam etc. I wish i had the time to answer the endless parade of questions stemming from these sites. Given that previous questions have been asked and answered I wonder if you have really thought about them. I have long been convinced that i have no hope of converting the closeminded un-convertible God denier who cant or wont acknowledge what is truly bothering him.

                      Let me just say, I will always support your freewill in choosing to be an atheist. I will tolerate you and respect you, but a lifetime of looking at the abject poverty and meaningless of a godless worldview could never convince be of its worth or validity (e.g remember the YT video “The reason for living” I recommended? Did you even watch it?).

                      From numerous exchanges with atheists, might I suggest that an honest person wishing to enter the God debate should be very careful about the information he/she avoids reading. Moreover, one should be very discerning when accepting unsupported and un-referenced claims without acknowledging one’s own limitations and without indepth personal study of those claims. It is quite disingenuous for skeptics whose unwillingness to address the arguments or ignorance of the subject, makes them resort to ad hominem and worse. Those whose atheism is merely based on their own subjective dislike of God’s nature or personality are naive at best and dishonest at worst. Especially those who avoid the science that supports creation and the fact that the pursuit of meaning and transcendence have been the most dominant issue in all human history.
                      If our minds evolved by unguided processes, we are just complex bio-molecular machines, subject to the laws of physics and chemistry which implies we don’t have free will, we don’t reason, we merely react. Therefore we shouldnt trust any of our thought processes, particularly that atheism is true. Darwin himself doubted that a mind evolved from animals would be capable of knowing or valuing truth. He concludes “with me the horrid doubt always arises, whether the convictions of man’s mind which has been developed from the mind of lower animals are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind”.
                      Why then should we trust in our ability to reason if they’ve resulted from unguided processes? After all to what extent does honesty offer the selfish gene, survival value? Those who make ipse dixit, false or misleading assertions, who ridicule their opponent and/or only have a token idea of what honesty is, have no credibility or place in formal debates. I only wish I had the time to respond to every one of the numerous comments I get on a daily basis from deniers who sanctimoniously proclaim “we have no burden of proof”, “just prove your skydaddy is real” etc etc!

                      A typical example is the oft’ quoted, dishonest claim that the Bible was plagiarized from other cultures. The chief being the Babylonians and their Gilgamesh creation myth. The latter proposes that the god Marduk slays the goddess Tiamat and creates the universe from her scattered bones. Likewise, the Egyptian myth had their god supposedly creating everything from spit and semen. How do those myths begin to compare with the Bible which declares all time, matter and space had an absolute beginning in the finite past, a fact confirmed by modern day science?
                      “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” ― Blase Pascal, De l’art de persuader
                      I pray that is not you, dear fellow.


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                      Gerry Denaro says:

                      Really Jeff,
                      I find it quite disingenuous of skeptics whose atheism is merely rooted in a personal conceptualization of God they don’t like. Your failure to respond to the answers and suggestions I gave to your previous queries, suggests you are either not listening, don’t understand or have a closed mind. I have already said, that before you discuss the nature of God and then religion, you need to examine the scientific and philosophical evidence for Creation and thus a creative mind behind this finite awe-inspiring universe (deism) . Then we can discuss why that Mind must be personal (Theism).
                      Your latest questions, are allegedly attributed to “common sense atheist websites” (infidels.org?) They remind me of the trivial quips, similar to the oft’ quoted schoolboy rhetoric “who created god”, I get from the intellectually challenged God deniers. These sorts of questions related to the Mind of God come from those who not only don’t believe in God, they apparently hate Him. As an analogy an atheist trying to understand the mind of God is as absurd as a horse trying to understand what it’s like to be human. A strong clue indicating that a disbeliever is arguing form an untenable position is when God’s character, rather than the evidence under debate is attacked. As Bertrand Russell pointed out “ad hominem is the last ditch defense of the losing side.”
                      I wish you God’s speed in the search for meaning and truth !


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    Courtney says:

    Scientists at MIT (who i can’t name, offhand), years ago, made the building blocks of life but hadn’t put them together yet. I don’t know if they since had, but I suppose it would be a big news item.

    Scientists at Harvard proved the existence of evolution. That doesn’t prove or disprove God, but it strengthens the case against him.


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      Gerard Denaro says:

      Evolution no more disproves the existence of a Creator/designer of this universe than the discovery of gravity did for Newton and Einstein. If your talking about a deistic God then one as the insurmountable problem of the finitude of the past as well as the origin and existence of the laws of science themselves, which are the foundation of evolution.
      From a theistic view “God creating man from the dust of the earth” is perfectly compatible with abiogenesis and evolution.
      The how of that process is for science to articulate not Scripture. “The more I study science the more I believe in God”. Albert Einstein. Want more citations? Google “if you think science leads to atheism”


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Courtney,

      The truth or untruth of evolution is absolutely irrelevant to the question of God’s existence. This is very much contrary to what common wisdom would have one believe, but it is not at all difficult to understand. As I have pointed out to several other commenters, the following two statements commit the same category error, because they confuse different levels of causation:

      “Life was not caused by God, but rather, by natural processes of evolution.”

      “Automobiles are not caused by people, but rather, by manufacturing processes.”

      To suggest that making the building blocks of life serves to do away with the need for God in explaining life is like suggesting that making the building blocks for a car serves to do away with the need for people in explaining the origin of cars.

      Further, as I discuss in There’s Nothing Random About Evolution, there is, in truth, no conflict between Darwinian evolution and belief in God. Rather, the true conflict is between atheistic philosophical add-ons to Darwinian evolution, and belief in God. Specifically, I am referring to the atheistic philosophical add-ons of randomness and purposelessness. Stripped of these atheistic philosophical add-ons, evolution merely means change over time. The question is whether this change over time is accomplished by random and purposeless processes, or intelligent and directed processes.

      And modern science conclusively shows that evolution is NOT random and purposeless. Rather, it is directed. A directed process can only be accomplished by an intelligent agent. One such directed process of evolution which I discuss in the above mentioned essay is called transposition, and amounts to a cut/copy/paste of genetic information in the cell. Despite the fact that no legitimate biologist denies transposition, it is noticeably absent from the accounts of evolution produced by atheist science popularizers such as Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne.


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    Gerry De naro says:

    Hi Scott,
    I recommend a YT video I made “Atheist Fallacy No.3 Atheism is NOT a Religion” In it I discuss the Ninian Smart criteria that identifies the ‘new’ atheism as yet another religion, albeit a godless one. It’s tenets are vehemently defended in the halls of academia against competing worldviews, as well as in all forms of media
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53COQ5fd2r8

    The usual comments from atheists who abhor the idea that their obsession is “religiously’ oriented go like this;
    “Atheism is not a belief system nor is it a religion. While there are some religions that are atheistic (certain sects of Buddhism, for example), that does not mean that atheism is a religion. Two commonly used retorts to the nonsense that atheism is a religion are: 1) If atheism is a religion then bald is a hair color, and 2) If atheism is a religion then health is a disease. A new one introduced in 2012 by Bill Maher is, “If atheism is a religion, then abstinence is a sexual position.”


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 44 ) says:

      Gerry,

      Thanks much for the great resource! On that topic, Bo Jinn comments in Illogical Atheism:

      The Humanist Manifestos were three official sets of atheist credos, drafted and signed separately over the course of exactly seven decades.   The first manifesto (HM-I) was drafted and signed by a number of high-profile atheists back in 1933, the second (HM-II) was signed in 1973 and HM-III in 2003.   Each manifesto, taken together, enunciate all of the commonly accepted atheistic creeds and dogmas of what had fittingly been designated by the atheist and humanist John J. Dunphy as “a Religion for the New Age”. And I quote Mr. Dunphy on the aim which these atheist manifestos set out to achieve:

      “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call “divinity” in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level— preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new— the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved. Then perhaps we will be able to say with Tom Paine that “the world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.” It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous struggle replete with much sorrow and many tears, but humanism will emerge triumphant. It must if the family of humankind is to survive.”

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