What Would It Take For Me To Give Up Belief In Jesus Christ?

Skeptics often ask, “Is there anything that could possibly cause you to give up your belief in Jesus Christ?”

It’s a good question and  a complicated one.

The good part is this: As Popper explained, knowledge should be falsifiable in principle. If you hold a belief that can’t be falsified under any imaginable circumstances, your belief might be disconnected from reality. If it wasn’t true, how would you know it wasn’t true? If you can’t answer that question, then maybe you don’t really know that it is true.

Should Christianity Be Falsifiable?

The complicated part is this. Falsifiability isn’t a magic key that opens the door to all knowledge. The axioms of logic are true but they’re not falsifiable, because the process of falsification depends on their being true. You can’t falsify logic without using logic. Mathematical facts like 2+2=4 aren’t falsifiable in principle either, because they’re just true.

Similarly if Christianity is true, then falsifiability isn’t predicted as part of its truth claims. If God is real, then God is real universally and comprehensively, and his creation will reflect his reality to that same degree. So his reality could hardly rest on being able to find some condition that would render him unreal. That isn’t slippery thinking; it’s essential to Christianity’s conception of God.

If it’s true that God is God and Jesus Christ is his Son, born of a virgin, crucified and resurrected, then it’s comprehensively true. God is the God of all reality. He created and has his imprint on everything. That includes all possible evidences, and even all the material a person could draw from to imagine God’s non-existence. Skeptics imagine they can imagine a world without God, but they are deceived; they’re using the materials God gave them to imagine he doesn’t exist. If Christianity is true, it’s unfalsifiable in principle.

So falsifiability is complicated, when judging whether Christianity is true. But I have an answer to the question, “what would it take for me to give up my belief?” anyway.

The Bones of Jesus?

It isn’t the answer I hear from a lot of other Christians: “I would give up my faith if someone showed me the bones of Jesus Christ, proving he never rose from the dead.” People who say that are probably sincere enough, but in actual practice it’s no better than a dodge. We all know that if someone showed us “the bones of Jesus Christ,” it would be easy to believe they were someone else’s bone’s instead.

No, for me the answer is this: I would give up my Christian belief if someone showed me a better explanation for reality. Christianity provides a better foundation than any other worldview for explaining at least 50 facts that need explaining.

The Comprehensive Foundation/Explanation For:

The human condition

  1. Rationality
  2. Consciousness
  3. Meaning
  4. Purpose
  5. Our moral sense
  6. Our person-ness: that we are distinct individuals with real personality amidst others like us in that sense
  7. The persistence of identity and self-ness in human beings
  8. Our sense that we were meant to be better than we are
  9. Our millennia of failure to improve ourselves
  10. Our empirically obvious need for help if we are going to get better
  11. Our awareness of a spiritual dimension to reality
  12. Our persistent sense that there is more to life than what we can see here

The world around us

  1. The real existence of goodness
  2. The real existence of beauty
  3. The real lack of goodness and beauty, i.e., the existence of evil
  4. The rationality of existence (for example, nature’s amenable to rational, scientific investigation)
  5. Unity within diversity

Complexity with purpose

  1. The universe’s fitness for complex life
  2. Earth’s fitness for complex life
  3. The origin of the first life
  4. The development of the species
  5. Earth’s unique fitness in space and time for scientific discovery

History

  1. The Bible’s existence as a unified library with a common theme spanning many, many generations
  2. The long existence of the Jewish people
  3. The early philosophical excellence of Judaic monotheism
  4. The uniqueness of the Genesis creation account with respect to all other creation accounts
  5. Archaeological discoveries confirming biblical data
  6. The perfect self-sacrificial goodness of Jesus Christ presented without flaw in four distinct narratives, unlike any other character in history or literature
  7. The set of broadly accepted historical facts surrounding the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection
  8. The quick onset (within 3 to 5 years maximum) of Christian teachings regarding Jesus’ resurrection
  9. The historical accuracy of writers such as Luke
  10. The conversion of Saul of Tarsus
  11. The wisdom of New Testament ethical teaching, in the Gospels and in Paul especially
  12. The countercultural value early Christians gave to women and children
  13. The successful rise of the Christian church despite strong opposition
  14. Christianity’s unique contribution to world’s understanding of compassion, human worth, and freedom
  15. Christianity’s resilience over time: despite millennia of intellectual and social attack, it stands strong and remains (on some measures if not all) the world’s fastest growing religion

Sociological and medical information

  1. The 99 factors/dimensions in which Christian teens showed healthier outcomes than non-believers (Christian Smith study)
  2. The much-lower divorce rate among Christians who attend church and pray together regularly
  3. The much-lower crime rate among Christians
  4. The multitude of other ways in which religious person exhibit better physical and mental health than nonbelievers
  5. The prevalence of credible, testable reports of miracles around the world
  6. The existence of credible, testable reports of the soul departing the body and returning again in near-death experiences

Personal experience

  1. The complete turnaround in my attitude toward life when I accepted Christ
  2. My sudden, massive increase in interest in the Bible at the same time
  3. The sense of freedom I’ve experienced in knowing there’s forgiveness for my sins
  4. My turn away from self-centered goals to other-centered goals
  5. The love I experience from God in prayer
  6. The love I experience from other Christians — a love that’s been tested in a wide variety of cross-cultural situations, including places where I’ve been interacting with people whose countries have been enemies of mine
  7. The miraculous prayer answers I’ve experienced

I could add more, but I think you get the picture!

If There Were a Better Explanation, I Would Give Up My Belief

I’m not saying that Christianity is the sole explanation for any of the above, but that it contributes strongly and positively to explaining all of them. I’m also not saying that none of these is explainable on any other worldview, but only Christianity covers them all. Every other worldview I’ve encountered fails on several of them, if not most of them.

If someone offered me a better explanation for all these things, I’d consider that a good reason to reject Christianity. I doubt that’s possible. I don’t think God intended it to be possible.

Image Credit(s): CC00 Public Domain.

Comments

  1. scbrownlhrm

    Being Itself isn’t falsifiable.

    But there’s always insanity. Of course, even that word requires being itself.

  2. Craig N

    Excellent post.
    And of course if someone presented an alternative view that provided *notably* better explanations for *some* of those points but not for others — well, it would have to be judged on a case-by-case basis. But that is not nearly as easy a job as most of the cultured despisers believe.

  3. Skep

    Tom, have you ever read Theism and Explanation by Gregory Dawes? If not, I highly recommend it.

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  5. scbrownlhrm

    Gregory Dawes (per Skep) has a book, “Galileo and the Conflict between Religion and Science” and the publisher review states:

    Quote:

    For more than 30 years, historians have rejected what they call the ‘warfare thesis’ – the idea that there is an inevitable conflict between religion and science – insisting that scientists and believers can live in harmony. This book disagrees. Taking as its starting point the most famous of all such conflicts, the Galileo affair, it argues that religious and scientific communities exhibit very different attitudes to knowledge. Scripturally based religions not only claim a source of knowledge distinct from human reason. They are also bound by tradition, insist upon the certainty of their beliefs, and are resistant to radical criticism in ways in which the sciences are not. If traditionally minded believers perceive a clash between what their faith tells them and the findings of modern science, they may well do what the Church authorities did in Galileo’s time. They may attempt to close down the science, insisting that the authority of God’s word trumps that of any ‘merely human’ knowledge. Those of us who value science must take care to ensure this does not happen.

    End quote.

    My, my. Such broad brushstrokes. How many fallacies are there? Should we count them? I guess that is what passes for “explanation” and “knowledge” these days.

    Falsifying the Christian *God* vis-à-vis “Being Itself” is something the Non-Theist needs to do within his own paradigm as his own being (reality) presses in. Given that neither physics nor cosmology suffice as ontology, they’ve got some work to do with this challenge.

  6. scbrownlhrm

    Falsify what?

    Quote:

    “This is arguably the besetting mistake of all naturalist thinking, as it happens, in practically every sphere. In this context, the assumption at work is that if one could only reduce one’s picture of the original physical conditions of reality to the barest imaginable elements — say, the “quantum foam” and a handful of laws like the law of gravity, which all looks rather nothing-ish (relatively speaking) — then one will have succeeded in getting as near to nothing as makes no difference. In fact, one will be starting no nearer to nonbeing than if one were to begin with an infinitely realized multiverse: the difference from non-being remains infinite in either case. All quantum states are states within an existing quantum system, and all the laws governing that system merely describe its regularities and constraints. Any quantum fluctuation therein that produces, say, a universe is a new state within that system, but not a sudden emergence of reality from nonbeing. Cosmology simply cannot become ontology. The only intellectually consistent course for the metaphysical naturalist is to say that physical reality “just is” and then to leave off there, accepting that this “just is” remains a truth entirely in excess of all physical properties and causes: the single ineradicable “super-natural” fact within which all natural facts are forever contained, but about which we ought not to let ourselves think too much.”

    End quote. (by D.B. Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss)

    Knowledge and falsifiability are not coterminous, as per http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-note-on-falsification.html

    It opens with:

    “Antony Flew’s famous 1950 article “Theology and Falsification” posed what came to be known as the “falsificationist challenge” to theology.  A claim is falsifiable when it is empirically testable — that is to say, when it makes predictions about what will be observed under such-and-such circumstances such that, if the predictions don’t pan out, the claim is thereby shown to be false.  The idea that a genuinely scientific claim must be falsifiable had already been given currency by Karl Popper.  Flew’s aim was to apply it to a critique of such theological claims as the thesis that God loves us.  No matter what sorts of evil and suffering occur in the world, the theologian does not give up the claim that God loves us.  But then, what, in that case, does the claim actually amount to?  And why should we accept the claim?  Flew’s challenge was to get the theologian to specify exactly what would have to happen in order for the theologian to give up the claim that God loves us, or the claim that God exists.

    Now, there are several problems with Flew’s challenge.  Some of them have to do with specifically theological matters, such as the analogical use of the term “good” when applied to God, the role that divine permission of evil plays in the realization of a greater good, and so forth.  Some of the problems have to do with the idea of falsification itself.  As Popper himself emphasized, it is simply an error to suppose that all rationally justifiable claims have to be empirically falsifiable.  Popper intended falsificationism merely as a theory about what makes a claim scientific, and not every rationally acceptable claim is or ought to be a scientific claim.  Hence not every rationally acceptable claim is or ought to be empirically falsifiable.

    For example, the thesis of…..”

  7. Skep

    scbrownlhrm said:
    My, my. Such broad brushstrokes. How many fallacies are there? Should we count them? I guess that is what passes for “explanation” and “knowledge” these days.

    Seeing as how you’re responding to a review of a different book than the one I recommended, I’m not sure what the relevance is here.

  8. scbrownlhrm

    Skep,

    Let’s unpack it.

    I intentionally listed the title of the book so as to bring the focus on, not books, but the approach of the author.

    Recall the link earlier to some of the fallacious uses of “falsifiability” (at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-note-on-falsification.html )

    A Christian (L.B.) stated the following in another place wrt Dawes:

    Causal monism means that only one kind of causation happens — like the laws of nature. To contrast, rationality could be another kind of causation.

    I think that one of the biggest problems the naturalist faces is this:

    (1) Physical laws are the only causal powers.

    (2) All beliefs are caused by physical laws.

    (3) Some beliefs are true, others false.

    (4) Physical laws cannot distinguish true from false beliefs.

    (5) Therefore, truth and falsity of belief is unknowable.

    This is a deflationary theory of truth; it obliterates the distinction between truth and falsehood. (Whether a given person believes more truth or more falsehood has nothing to do with agent causation, nothing to do with intentionality, and everything to do with Fortuna/Tyche.) The only solution I know of this is to add a different kind of causation to (1).

    Gregory Dawes does this:

    “3.4.1 Intentional and Causal Explanations

    A first objection rests on the very character of intentional explanations. It suggests that a theistic explanation could not be both intentional and causal, since these represent distinct and mutually exclusive forms of explanation. No intentional explanation is a causal explanation. But I believe this claim to be wrong, for reasons I shall outline later (Appendix 1.1). I have no argument with the idea, defended by Donald Davidson, that intentions are causes and that intentional explanations are also causal explanations.[76] There is one issue that needs to be clarified here. I have suggested that intentional explanations are not nomological (3.2.1). They do, if you like, depend on something resembling a law, namely the rationality principle. But they do not depend on law-like generalisations linking particular intentions and particular actions. Does this mean that they cannot be regarded as causal explanations? Only if you believe that the citing of causal laws is a necessary condition of a causal explanation. But I shall argue later that it is not (Appendix 3.3.1), that causal explanations do not necessarily involve causal laws.[77] If this is true, then there is no difficulty with the idea that an intentional explanation is also a causal explanation. (Theism and Explanation, 51)”

    Key here is the conjunction of the following three things:

    (a) intentional explanation
    (b) causal explanation: ¬(1)
    (c) not nomological: ¬(2)

    The result of this is that something/someone can discern truth from falsehood other than the equivalent of a monergistic God: (i) omnipresent; (ii) timeless; (iii) sole [moral responsibility-bearing] causal power. Such a God obliterates any sense of truth and falsehood, right and wrong; such a God always gets what it wants, what it wills. Such a God is more of a force or power than a person.

    End L.B.’s quote.

    Now, regarding Dawes, the review of his book at http://infidels.org/kiosk/article/a-review-of-gregory-dawes-itheism-and-explanationi-811.html is helpful.

    He leaves theism on the table as a valid option. But he seems to make all the same mistakes with respect to Feser’s link above. That is, he conflates the rational for the scientific, it seems. By “conflates” we could probably say “equates” or “fails to differentiate”, or so it seems from the review.

    Quote:

    In Theism and Explanation, Gregory Dawes tries to get to the bottom of some very important questions: Could a theistic explanation ever, even in principle, be a good explanation for anything? What would a successful theistic explanation look like? How strong could a theistic explanation be?

    The answer to the first question, “Could a theistic explanation be a good explanation (at least in principle)?” is answered in the affirmative. Dawes rejects the idea that methodological naturalism, as practiced by the sciences, must exclude theistic explanation. He draws on W.V. Quine’s definition of naturalism, which is basically the notion that whatever we refer to as part of reality must have some observable consequences that we can test.

    Dawes sees the common understanding of “methodological naturalism” as empty: it says that we can only account for the observable world in terms of physical things, but for what reason should this methodology be adopted? Natural explanations may have an excellent track record: they have always proven correct and they have systematically replaced practically every supernatural explanation that man has believed. Dawes admits that the great success of natural explanations counts strongly against a proposed theistic explanation, but still believes in the possibility of a successful theistic explanation.

    Dawes examines several ‘silver bullet’ objections to the possibility of a successful theistic explanation, but finds them all unsatisfying. If one agrees that there are no successful theistic explanations, not because there could never be such a thing, but because every proposed theistic explanation has failed, then Dawes’ position seems to be a much more damaging position to advocate with respect to the believers. “It is not that I refuse to entertain a supernatural explanation,” an atheist might say to a theist, “I simply disbelieve in God because every supernatural explanation ever proposed has wound up a spectacular failure. I gave Theism an honest chance, but it turned out it was empty.”

    If successful theistic explanations are at least possible, then how would we recognize it? By what criteria would we judge it? A successful theistic explanation must, at least, live up to the same standards as any other type of explanation. It must be assessed in competition with other explanations and shown to be the strongest by way of its simplicity, its explanatory power (how well it explains the facts), its explanatory scope (the number of facts it explains), and its degree of testability, among other things. Dawes also argues that a theistic explanation must answer the question: Why did God bring this state of affairs into existence?

    A proper explanation is one that shows that the evidence we have is more likely to exist if it is true. It follows that to postulate God as an explanation, you must show why the evidence we have is most probable under the assumption that God exists. Why did God make A rather than B? We must look to God’s properties (perfect goodness, perfect knowledge, etc.) and try to show that it follows from those properties that God is likely to make A rather than B.

    There are philosophers who object to the very idea that humans could predict the actions of a deity. After all, God is supposedly greater and grander than mere humans can comprehend. If we cannot even hope to predict what God might bring about, then theistic explanations are hopeless, and could never constitute a good explanation for anything by their very nature. Dawes agrees that we may not understand a hypothetical deity completely; we might not always predict the deity’s actions with 100% accuracy. But he finds this objection empty: “[F]rom the fact that our ability to make such judgements is limited, it does not follow that we have no ability at all.”

    I would add that those who subscribes to Judeo-Christian theology could not consistently advocate what we might call “theological skepticism” because the book of Genesis says that we are made in God’s image, and that surely entails that we are like God in some way, and ought to be able to understand his actions and desires, if only imperfectly.

    In the end, Dawes concludes that theistic explanations are bound to be weak explanations (in comparison to other, more scientific, types of explanation) for several reasons:

    1. They are difficult or impossible to test. Dawes reminds us that natural disasters are often “explained” as God’s punishment for a wicked people. But how exactly could we test this? Dawes does not see how. I think this could be tested: we could try to come up with some criteria that denote the wickedness of a city (or state, or nation) and then chart the number of natural disasters that happen to cities (or states, or nations) with varying scores. Perhaps the cities with the most sexual misconduct are hit more often with earthquakes and hurricanes than the more Puritan cities. That I know of no one has ever done a study such as this, so who knows what the results might be?

    2. Background knowledge. Our background knowledge should include the fact that theistic explanations have failed again and again over the course of history, and this will significantly lower our confidence that a theistic explanation is correct (After all, if a certain type of explanation has failed one hundred times in a row, no one would have much confidence that it would succeed the hundred-and-first time around). Some examples of failed theistic explanations:

    a. Lightning and Earthquakes were once attributed to the activities of the gods.[1]
          
    b. Newton attributed the orderliness of the solar system to God,[2] while we now know that the orderliness is explained by natural law.[3]
          
    c. Biological heredity was once thought to be supernatural until Watson and Crick described its completely material basis: DNA.[4]
          
    d. The seemingly purposeful complexity of life was once seen as evidence for God’s existence[5] until Charles Darwin showed that evolution by natural selection was a better explanation.

    3. Ontological Parsimony. Postulating a God means that not only are we postulating a new entity, but a completely new kind of entity: a supernatural being. This lack of parsimony relative to natural explanations counts strongly against a theistic explanation, although it does not completely rule out such an explanation.

    4. Lack of Informativeness. Theistic explanations appear to be very imprecise in comparison to physical explanations, which often make very precise predictions.
    Overall, Theism and Explanation is a very sound and sensible book. It refutes most (if not all) of the fallacious attempts to divorce the question of God’s existence from our observations about the world. It provides believers with a blueprint for formulating a logically sound argument-to-the-best-explanation for God’s existence, and instructs nonbelievers on how to recognize a good argument-to-the-best-explanation for God’s existence (should they come across one). It represents a clear and well-reasoned paradigm in which we can consider theistic explanations, and so I highly recommend it.

    End quote.

  9. scbrownlhrm

    Skep,

    Note this from the review: Newton attributed the orderliness of the solar system to God,[2] while we now know that the orderliness is explained by natural law.[3]
       
    Now, the word “explains” and the phrase “natural law” used in that way, together, reveals a complete lack of understanding (in the author of the review, not in Dawes). Describing observed patterns explains nothing.

    The reason I post all of this is that Dawes comes up often in Christian blogs and he is (also) liked by skeptics. It’s a mixed appeal.

    It’s good to offer the Christian a methodological approach to evaluate claims, but if scient*ism* is the end of the line for Dawes, then he really cannot distinguish the rational from the scientific.

    As far as his appeal to skeptics, well, it’s at least (for sure) to the sort of skeptics who think “natural law” is an “explanation”. That’s as uninformed as asserting that physics or cosmology are in fact ontology.

    Hence the challenge earlier: Falsify what??

    Falsifying the Christian *God* vis-à-vis “Being Itself” is something the Non-Theist needs to do within his own paradigm as his own being (reality) presses in. Given that neither physics nor cosmology suffice as ontology, they’ve got some work to do with this challenge.

  10. scbrownlhrm

    Skep,

    Another approach may help:

    Name one thing or fact which materialism (or Non-Theism, or etc.) in fact explains.

    PS: You can’t. And if you cannot *explain* then you cannot *falsify*. It (Non-Theism) will always land in a brute fact void of the self-explanatory and soaked through with what ends up as deflationary truth values.

    The problem with artificial layers like those of Non-Theistic language games, which is the only sort of map our Non-Theist friends can afford, goes something like this:

    “You want to endorse a form of naturalism according to which real explanations are possible at levels of physical reality higher than the level of the fundamental laws of nature, yet where these explanations rest on a bottom level of physical laws that have no explanation at all but are “brute facts.” But this view is, I maintain, incoherent. For if you endorse a regularity view of laws, then you will have no genuine explanations at all anywhere in the system. All of reality, and not just the level of fundamental physical laws, will amount to a “brute fact”……. You maintain in your most recent post that explanations legitimately can and indeed must ultimately trace to an unexplained “brute fact,” and that philosophers who think otherwise have failed to give a convincing account of what it would be for the deepest level of reality to be self-explanatory and thus other than such a “brute fact.” Unsurprisingly, I disagree on both counts. I would say that appeals to “brute facts” are incoherent, and that the nature of an ultimate self-explanatory principle can be made intelligible by reference to notions that are well understood and independently motivated.”

  11. Skep

    scbrownlhrm, I’m not sure what you think is going on here, but I recommended Dawes’ book to Tom because it deals with the same topics he wrote about in his original post, it’s well-written, and I think he would enjoy reading it. Not because I think it would serve as a counter-argument to his post. Quite the contrary – it would supplement and refine his views, for the most part.

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  13. scbrownlhrm

    On Dawes, explanation, and the rational:

    Those were brought into this thread as a move in merely differentiating the author’s (Dawes’) apparent approach to explanation with respect to other approaches. One of the things that is attractive about his approach is (borrowing from the quote of L.B. up-thread) that he recognizes (or at least seems to) the need for a causal break with a pure naturalism (causality / causation of “physics — full stop” forces an ultimately deflationary view of truth value). In Sean Carroll’s “The Big Picture” we see “physics — full stop” traversing semantics into the illusory. “Useful but untrue” ultimately ends all sentences. Dawes seems to go past the causal (physics-full-stop…… although even “causation” seems illusory there via Carroll) and into the intentional.

    Now, this business of causation and intentionality isn’t new, and it’s not clear if Dawes really does mean to “go further” and actually claim that irreducible intentionality outreaches physical causation. Interestingly, quantum indeterminism doesn’t help the naturalist here, and in fact removes even more stability from the naturalist’s ultimate/cosmic truth value. But that’s a different topic.

    So, the point of bringing these items to the surface is to challenge Dawes’ approach to the *explanatory* for if he does mean to go further than “Physics — Full Stop” then in fact the rational in fact does outreach and outweigh the scientific for the former necessarily precedes and gives life to the later. That is to say, the former qualifies as explanatory and provides ontic-closure as it carries us into the necessary and sufficient, whereas, the latter, being purely descriptive, never can (cosmology and physics never can sum to ontology).

    If that is where Dawes’ means to go, then his conclusions don’t line up with his premise, as per the quoted review of his book, for he wants to rest atop, not the irreducibly rational, but the ever-morphing descriptive.

  14. scbrownlhrm

    The irreducibly rational presses in:

    Tom said, “We all know that if someone showed us “the bones of Jesus Christ,” it would be easy to believe they were someone else’s bone’s instead. No, for me the answer is this: I would give up my Christian belief if someone showed me a better explanation for reality. Christianity provides a better foundation than any other worldview for explaining……..”

    E. Feser comments, “As most of my readers probably know, I was an atheist for about a decade — roughly the 1990s, give or take. Occasionally I am asked how I came to reject atheism. I briefly addressed this in The Last Superstition. A longer answer, which I offer here, requires an account of the atheism I came to reject….”

    It’s a bit long, but that “Road From (out of) Atheism” is described at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html

    Explanatory power matters. The oxymoron of “useful but not true” just won’t do. Any T.O.E. which is willing to trade away explanatory power merely to preserve emotive ties to cherished presuppositions never will, in the end, survive logic’s relentless demands for lucidity. The irreducibly rational presses in.

  15. Gary

    Wow. That’s a lot to address, but let me attempt to do so briefly.

    Your arguments in the first three categories are not arguments for Christianity, but arguments for generic Theism. Substitute Allah, Lord Krishna, etc. in place of the term “God” and Muslims and Hindus can make all the same claims you are.

    Let me address your “history” category:

    -Why does the Bible have a unified theme? Christians say it is because a divine Author is behind the individual books. Skeptics say that the reason there is a unified theme is because the men who compiled both the Hebrew Bible (the Christian OT) and the Christian New Testament intentionally selected works which agreed with their doctrinal positions and rejected those which did not. There is zero proof that a God hand picked the 66 books of the (Protestant) Christian Bible. These books were selected by men. Christians can point to Jesus confirming the inspiration of much of the OT, but neither Jesus nor any of the Eleven officially sanctioned even one book of NT. The Christian New Testament is a human compilation. Divine inspiration is simply an assumption.

    -the long existence of the Jewish people?

    So what. The Basques have been around much longer and have maintained their cultural identity for millennia while “oppressed” by other peoples.

    -the uniqueness of the Genesis Creation account?

    Most experts see the Hebrew Creation account as very similar to the creation stories of surrounding peoples in ancient Mesopotamia/the Levant.

    -“Archaeological discoveries confirming biblical data”

    I don’t know how you can use this claim when the overwhelming consensus opinion of experts is that the Exodus, Forty Years in the Sinai, and the Conquest of Canaan are fictional. There is no good evidence to support these claims, as per the majority of experts.

    -“The perfect self-sacrificial goodness of Jesus Christ presented without flaw in four distinct narratives, unlike any other character in history or literature”

    Many of the traits of Jesus are very similar to the traits of the Buddha…who lived many hundreds of years before Jesus.

    -“The set of broadly accepted historical facts surrounding the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection”

    Such as? The only “broadly” accepted fact about the Resurrection story might be the claim of an empty tomb and that some of the disciples believed that they had been visited by the dead Jesus. That’s it. There are many natural explanations for an empty tomb and many natural explanations why grieving family and friends would believe that their dearly departed had paid them a visit.

    -“The conversion of Saul of Tarsus”

    Odd conversions are not proof of the new religions validity, only that human beings are well known for making very odd life choices. There is a former orthodox Jewish rabbinical student living in Israel today who is now a radical Muslim cleric. Remember, at the time of Paul’s conversion, Christianity was still considered a sect of Judaism. I would consider a conversion from orthodox Judaism to radical Islam a much more surprising conversion.

    -“The quick onset (within 3 to 5 years maximum) of Christian teachings regarding Jesus’ resurrection”

    Rumors spread very quickly, especially among the superstitious, uneducated, lower classes.

    -“The successful rise of the Christian church despite strong opposition”

    Take out the word “Christian” from this sentence and replace it with “Mormon”, “Jehovah’s Witness”, “Shiite Islam”, etc. and the statement would still be true.

    -“Christianity’s resilience over time: despite millennia of intellectual and social attack, it stands strong and remains (on some measures if not all) the world’s fastest growing religion”

    The same could be said of Islam, which many experts believe will become the largest world religion with the next 100 years.

    Sociology and Medical:

    Wow. Where did you get this information?? My guess is that by “Christian” you are limiting your definition of that term to “born again, evangelical Christians”, because the entire western world is “Christian” yet many of these countries, including the United States, have very high crime rates.

    Let’s compare a Christian country like the United States to the non-Christian country, Japan. Japan has a much, much lower crime rate. A much, much lower murder rate. The Japanese as a people are on average healthier than the average American. Poverty is much lower in Japan than in the United States.

    However, let’s go with your use of a more restricted definition of “Christian”. Compare the morbidity (sickness) and mortality (death) rates of American evangelical Christians to that of the average Japanese and I will bet that you will find that the Japanese still come out ahead. And what about divorce? Some studies have evangelicals with a higher divorce rate than the American average. And why don’t you check with the insurance companies. If evangelical Christians have lower morbidity rates and lower mortality rates, insurance companies should see this in their statistics. They don’t. Christians have the same morbidity and mortality rates as everyone else in society. (Tells you something about the effectiveness of prayer, doesn’t it?)

    Then we come to the Big Daddy: Personal experience.

    I believe that this is the biggest reason why most conservative Christians just can’t fathom the possibility that their supernatural Christian belief system is false: Because their feelings and experiences tell them otherwise. Now, if only Christians had these experiences, that would be good evidence. But, devout Mormons, Muslims, and Hindus all describe these same intense feelings and remarkable “miracles” due to prayer to their gods.

    So you see, the evidence is NOT good, my Christian friends.

  16. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    At an airport gate again. Quick comment re Jesus and Buddha: http:// bit.ly/NoLegend. There’s no comparison.

    Your rumor theory is hasty, to put it charitably.

    You’re factually wrong on the commonly accepted facts surrounding the resurrection account.

    You say several times, “that’s no proof.” I don’t call it proof, so all that means is that you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. I’ll have to come back later when I have more time to clarify what it is instead of being proud, and why it matters.

  17. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    You’re perpetually conflating descriptive power for explanatory power.

    That’s why you mistakenly shove the word “proof” into the wrong places.

    You do it first on your end where there is none but where it is claimed, and then you switch gears and say there is a claim of such by the Christian where there is none.

    Be careful about what is and is not being claimed.

    Evidence is data, and descriptive. Whereas, convergence of data with explanatory power is where the action is.

    That’s why a City X without crime misses that larger picture.

  18. Gary

    No, SC. It’s called: common sense. And guess what, you don’t need a PhD in theology to have it. Your sesquipedalian arguments are nothing but smoke to cover the embarrassing fact that you believe that ghosts can impregnate virgins and that dead bodies can be reanimated to fly off into outer space.

    These are nonsensical claims, my friend. To believe them would require very, very extraordinary evidence, which Christians do not have.

    Stop the philosophical double talk and just use common sense to evaluate these claims. You wouldn’t put up with someone appealing to philosophy in an attempt to convince you that Martian spaceships really do abduct Midwestern milk cows so please stop using such nonsense to convince me of your far-fetched claims.

    Give me evidence. Real evidence. Not appeals to philosophical theories.

  19. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    “…you believe that ghosts can impregnate virgins and that dead bodies can be reanimated to fly off into outer space…”

    False.

    Apparently you believe people believe it. If you actually embraced facts then you’d not have such false beliefs.

    Try again.

    “.. Martian spaceships really do abduct Midwestern milk cows…”

    False.

    Apparently you believe people believe it. If you actually embraced facts then you’d not have such false beliefs.

    Try again.

    Regarding crime:

    First: Define it.

    Second: Mankind’s mindset upon the world stage morphs and fluxes and if you think [A] such is not related to reciprocity’s trajectory across centuries or [B] such is not related to a real (actual) ontological history of becoming then you are basing your own worldview (and your arguments here) upon fictions.

    Just like the fictions you listed above.

    You may want to educate yourself about on what the Christian means by the term *God*.

  20. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Regarding history: you reject historical fact. Both Jewish and non-Jewish and it’s demonstrable in your analysis of all things Christian.

    That’s why evidence and historicity aren’t relevant here.

    If you actually embraced facts then you’d spare yourself the false beliefs you’ve demonstrated here.

    Regarding any worldview, each has to be unpacked and if Naturaism claims to be ontology or if Islam claims God did X, then the process of evaluating those claims is straightforward: gather the facts and follow the evidence. That’s a very different process than your lazy and unthinking brushstrokes here which splash about all while claiming the untenable — that cosmology is ontology, is explanatory (and that all the experts say so).

  21. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gary, listen to yourself. Your comment #19 is dripping with contempt and authoritarian instructions.

    You say we have no common sense. If common sense is defined according to your worldview then you’re right: we don’t share your sense of the way reality is. It would be very much lacking in common sense for us to deny our own understanding of reality in order to align with yours.

    And for all the contempt you have also expressed toward philosophy, muttering more than once about sesquipedalianism, philosophy matters. It is an important part of the discussion. You say you want real evidence, but real evidence cannot really be evaluated in matters like these without bearing philosophical considerations in mind.

    But you are contemptuous toward us.

    You say we believe ghosts and impregnate virgins. We don’t. We believe God, the core of all reality, the creator of all the universe, the one all-powerful ground of being, has the power to do that and chose to cause a virgin to bear a child once.

    You say we believe dead bodies can be reanimated and fly off into outer space (we believe something like that happened once, and we have strong theory to support it as part of a coherent worldview.

    I am very much aware — and I mentioned it again at a philosophy conference just days ago — how strange our claims are to a 21st century Western mind. I am very much aware that we place enormous, even infinite importance on one Man, Jesus Christ, and that it would take someone who was way more than extraordinary to bear that much weight. I have studied the matter with that in mind. I am quite convinced that Jesus Christ is indeed that extraordinary.

    His virgin birth and his resurrection are part of a coherent picture of reality with him at the center, God in the flesh, come to reveal the nature and character of God to us, and show us how to be reconciled to God, from whom we are alienated.

    So I’m very well aware of how “far-fetched” our claim appears, and I have examined it deeply with that in mind.

    I doubt that you have. You dismiss it with contempt.

    You seem quite willing to treat someone like me with smug contempt, as a know-nothing no-common-sense rube. I can stand that. It doesn’t hurt me for you to have that opinion of me. But it might be hurting you to sweep our claims aside without giving them some thought. For I assure you I am not a rube. I am very well read. I have explored these issues upside-down, sideways, and backwards. I am eternally curious, and I am open to being shown I’m wrong. I think scbrownlhrm and BillT could say much the same.

    And I know that thinkers and scientists including Augustine, Aquinas, Pascal, Descartes, Newton, Kepler, Boyle, Brahe, Maxwell, Mendel, von Braun, Collins, and many others would be able to say the same. Do you regard them with contempt, too? Do you think they’re idiots for thinking God is, and that God acts in the world?

    So let’s start there, okay? I’m not going to ask you to accept my worldview. (Not to start with, anyway.) I’m only going to ask you to give up your smug, distant, and question-begging contempt toward people who have looked into these things with an intellectually responsible approach, and have come to different conclusions than you.

    Engage the issues with us. Learn. Discover how someone different from you reached the different conclusions we’ve reached. Open your mind!

  22. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Have you ever pushed Naturalism, Hinduism, Islam, and etc. to their respective logical termini?

    You place far to much emphasis on feelings and not nearly enough on reason and evidence in their respective interfaces with feelings.

    You also seem to equate the human garbage dumps of Rome within a mindset of the gods played and the people payed in a reality rendered unintelligible by the gods to the progression of knowledge within an intelligible reality of a radically different mindset.

    Trajectories across centuries.

    You’ve not demonstrated anything other than one large un-discerning brushstroke.

    Do you ever actually think things through?

  23. Gary

    Tom,

    Yes. I do come across too strongly at times. I apologize. I will attempt to be less “smug” in our conversations.

    You seem to suggest that I have not thoroughly investigated the Christian religion. I disagree. I am a former devout conservative Christian. I once had a conservative Christian blog. I have read many Christian articles and books, including NT Wright’s, “The Resurrection of the Son of God”, and “Making the Case for Christianity” among others. I have listened to debates and lectures by William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Craig Evans, and others.

    Yet it is never enough. Every time I discuss my deconversion from Christianity, conservative Christians tell me I need to read MORE books. They are never satisfied with what I read. I get the impression that they will NEVER be satisfied with the number of books by Christian scholars that I read until I reconvert to Christianity.

    Here is my perspective, Tom. If the Creator of the Universe has revealed himself (themselves, herself, itself, etc.) and has revealed his true religion, I don’t believe that he would require me to read a stack of books by human “scholars” to find him. The evidence should be simple and straightforward.

    Here is what the evidence does reveal, in my opinion: There may well be a Creator, but he (masculine singular pronoun for simplicity) is not interested in being “known”. He created the universe with a set of inviolable natural laws, which even he doesn’t not violate. He is indifferent (or impotent) to the suffering of living creatures, including humans. He caused the Big Bang…and then left the universe to itself.

    I don’t believe in miracles or supernatural events because the only claims of “miracles” today involve events which could simply be very rare, but natural events. You say that someone was healed of end-stage cancer after prayer to Jesus? Well, once in a great while people with end stage cancer do recover. Rare, but does happen. Show me a case where someone was decapitated and after prayer his head was reattached and he started speaking…THAT would be a miracle. Show me a car that levitates 100 feet off the ground. That would be a miracle. But such events do not happen. I believe that the evidence is overwhelming that the Creator’s natural laws are NEVER violated.

    This is one of the many reasons why I do not believe in your god, Yahweh. He claims to perform amazing miracles but never performs miracles that cannot be explained as rare, but natural events, or, his followers claim he did amazing feats IN THE PAST…when there where no television cameras or cell phone cameras…but refuses to do them now…and be photographed.

    There is good evidence for a Creator, but not for Yahweh.

    Now, as to accepting your alternative world view. I hope I can explain this without offending you, but I need do it with my analogy of Martian milk cow abductions: How would YOU react, Tom, to the following situation: Someone walks up to you on the street and tries to convince you that you must join his sect to fight against Martian milk cow abductions. If you don’t join, you might be the next abduction victim! He is very sincere.

    You of course think he is nuts, but to humor him, you ask him for evidence.

    He tells you that thirty years ago, a group of 20 people in the Mid-West reported seeing a large space ship descend over Farmer Brown’s farm; little green, antennaed beings walked down the space ship plank, beamed twelve of Farmer Browns milk cows into their oval shaped craft, and then sped off at the speed of light.

    He states that these twenty people signed legal affidavits of their eyewitness testimony, copies of which can be read online.

    He then pulls out an I phone and shows you the affidavits online.

    You suppress a snicker, but tell the man that this is not very good evidence. People have sincerely claimed to have “seen” strange things all throughout human history. He then replies, that to believe this claim one needs to study philosophy and read a stack of books by Martian scholars. Only THEN will one see the truth.

    “No.” you reply. “I just need good evidence, friend. And you don’t have it. Have a good day.”

    And that is how we who do not believe in the supernatural view YOUR Christian supernatural claims. One does not need to understand philosophy. One does not need to read a stack of books by Christian scholars. One needs good evidence. But you don’t have it. That is why you insist that non-believers study philosophy, read stacks of books by supernaturalist Christian experts, and accept as fact, without good evidence, that your ancient middle-eastern deity exists.

    Because your evidence is poor.

  24. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    How would YOU react, Tom, to the following situation: Someone walks up to you on the street and tries to convince you that you must join his sect to fight against Martian milk cow abductions. If you don’t join, you might be the next abduction victim! He is very sincere.

    Gary, it’s all about coherence with a worldview. Martian milk cow abductions would be impossible to fit in with any view of reality. The resurrection of Jesus Christ fits perfectly into the narrative of a loving God who seeks a personal relationship with his estranged creation.

    It’s also about all the things you know about Christianity but left out of your analogy. Multiple attestation by witnesses who have put their integrity on the line.

    Your standard for miracle claims is way too high. I personally know a person who was instantly healed of severe epilepsy during prayer. I know a pastor who was instantly healed of end-stage stomach cancer during prayer. This happened when he was expected to die within days. He ate a hearty meal that afternoon and has been well since then.

    We published an article at The Stream a couple weeks ago about bone regenerating at a miraculous pace inside an injured boy’s leg.

    I have experienced more than one extreme low-probability answer to prayer, given while I was praying (albeit not so low-probability as the other two examples I’ve mentioned). I have experienced more than one predictive word of guidance while praying — both of which predicted an outcome that were absolutely against all expectations, and both of which were realized at the proper time.

    I have a sister whose leg was amputated when she was 18 years old. She’s over 65 now. She has suffered multiple chronic illnesses, and she’s wheelchair-bound; she can no longer even use a prosthesis. She affirms strongly, “I fall more in love with Jesus every day.” You may not consider that a miracle but I consider a regenerated, joyful, patient heart like hers to be more amazing than a regenerated leg.

    Is there something more specific, Gary, that has disappointed you about God or your former life of faith? I’d be more than willing to listen to you about it.

  25. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    And here’s the short version: Christianity makes sense. It makes sense in all the ways I listed above. It doesn’t make sense viewed from an external, naturalistic perspective, but it isn’t supposed to.

    Meanwhile atheistic naturalism fails to make sense of much of reality, including especially human experience. There are naturalistic “explanations,” yes, but unlike Christian explanations they’re force-fit into what we know of human experience.

    I’ll have more to share on this when I have another chance to write again. Probably tomorrow, maybe this evening.

  26. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    On Naturalism, Islam, Hinduism, and so on you don’t seem able to collect and analyze data. You seem to just lump all of Naturalism’s baggage with Islam’s baggage and claims of “God did X” with Hinduism’s baggage and claims of this or that God and so on down the line.

    But not all those baggage-claims are equally weighted once we usher in reason and evidence.

    Even worse for you, you both [A] fail to interface with all available facts and [B] actually reject what are well established facts if they are inconvenient to your preferred narrative.

    We can add [C] with respect to scripture, for you don’t allow scripture to interpret scripture (and that’s on top of your rejecting of facts). But scripture interprets scripture.

    These are a few of the demonstrable places where you’re falling down.

    Scripture (and historical facts) tell us that Joshua did as God commanded and destroyed all life in Canaan and then interprets that “all life in Canaan” as a reality in which cities upon cities of Canaan remain alive and well and in the NT we find, still, Canaanites.

    Etc.

    It plays out all over again in multiple fulfilled prophecies regarding Egypt and…. and… and…

    If one follows Scripture and history one interprets far more precisely than if one follows your methodology of rejecting historical evidence and Scripture’s own definitions.

    That’s why evidence and history are irrelevant here — because you can’t break out of your pattern of self-reinforcement and rejection of inconvenient facts.

    It’s demonstrable.

    It’s like you’re afraid of new information, or afraid that you didn’t have it all correct.

    Or something.

    Ancient near eastern cultures outside of the Hebrew experience also employ such “linguistic stuff”. It’s easily available information.

    It’s pretty funny to watch folks tell us that “Culture-Z” did not “destroy all life” and then explain the obvious with respect to their writing and etc., and then — as if by magic — switch gears and pick up the writing of “Culture-Hebrew” and somehow turn off their brain and shake their fist, “ALL LIFE!? WOW!!”

    What is the motivation which drives that inability to think once one is interfacing with “da-bible”?

    Hate? Fear? Cognitive dissonance? Self-reinforcement?

    Probably some of each.

    You’ve been a good case study for this.

    Thank you for that.

    As for God making things obvious, you can’t miss choosing what to love. We’ve all interfaced with not-loving / loving others, we all awake immersed in Mankind’s perpetual striving towards reciprocity across the eons — always just out of reach.

    Man’s unending striving towards love’s reciprocity amalgamated with the whole of such being forever just out of Man’s reach. Nobody denies this because no one can and we all trade on it every day, either trading bits of it away for some lesser X or else trading away some other X for more of it, more of a greater felicity.

    “….Of course, what counts as regarding God as one’s ultimate end requires careful analysis. Someone might have a deficient conception of God and yet still essentially regard God as his ultimate good or end. One way to understand how this might go is, in my view, to think of the situation in terms of the doctrine of the transcendentals. God is Being Itself. But according to the doctrine of the transcendentals, being – which is one of the transcendentals – is convertible with all the others, such as goodness and truth. They are really all the same thing looked at from different points of view. Being Itself is thus Goodness Itself and Truth Itself. It seems conceivable, then, that someone might take goodness or truth (say) as his ultimate end, and thereby – depending, naturally, on exactly how he conceives of goodness and truth – be taking God as his ultimate end or good, even if he has some erroneous ideas about God and does not realize that what he is devoted to is essentially what classical theists like Aquinas call “God.” And of course, an uneducated person might wrongly think of God as an old man with a white beard, etc. but still know that God is cause of all things, that he is all good, that he offers salvation to those who sincerely repent, etc. By contrast, it seems quite ridiculous to suppose that someone obsessed with money or sex or political power (for example) is really somehow taking God as his ultimate end without realizing it.” (E. Feser)

    Intellectual assent to a set of truth claims is only half the story — the other half being that it is impossible to *not* interface with reality’s irreducible (Divine) vectors.

    But you reject immutable love and trade it away for what you know can only be a cosmically illusory version of love.

    The boy in Tibet who can’t read will not come upon “that” choice or option — because he can’t understand it. For him the immutable love of God will pour in through some other window and God will saturate that with both grace and truth as only He can.

    But you’re not that boy.

    Your window is different. And we find — here — that logic and love seem distasteful to you, while something else tastes better (you say) for where love is concerned you choose a bobble named Reductio Ad Absurdum and — in order to gain her — you trade away logic’s relentless lucidity amid love’s timeless reciprocity as such relates to those uncanny Trinitarian processions within *GOD*.

  27. Reconquista Initiative

    It could also be added that while Christianity could be falsifiable in principle, it would not be falsified in practice given that the evidence / arguments for it are so strong that they simply cannot be overcome. Let me give you an example of what I mean: eliminative materialism could, in principle, falsify the idea that I am conscious or that I have thoughts, beliefs, and desires, but my direct experience of being conscious, and of having thoughts, beliefs, and desires will always be stronger evidence for the truth of these things then the arguments for eliminative materialism would be for their denial. And so, even though eliminative materialism could, in theory, falsify my belief that I am conscious, it never would do so in practice given that the arguments for it would never outweigh the evidentiary value of my direct experience that I am conscious. And the same could be said in the case of theism: a direct experience of the divine could be so powerful that nothing could compare in evidentiary strength against it, even though in principle, the belief could be falsifiable.

  28. Gary

    Reconquista: You are confirming my previous point that personal feelings and experiences are the real evidence for many/most Christians. Until a believer realizes that the “miracles” he experiences are simply random, rare coincidences, and, the voice he believes that he hears or feels in his heart is simply HIMSELF talking to himself, you will NEVER accept the mountain of evidence against the reality of Yahweh/Jesus the Christ.

  29. Gary

    Tom, You said, “Martian milk cow abductions would be impossible to fit in with any view of reality.”
    Not true. There are thousands of people on earth who believe in extra-terrestrials. Do a google search and you can find their websites. You don’t consider alien abductions as realistic because it violates YOUR worldview. I find your conservative/moderate world view just as unrealistic as you view Martian milk cow abductions. If we allow for the supernatural (and extraterrestrials) anything, including the abduction of milk cows and ghost-impregnations, is possible.
    “Multiple attestation by witnesses who have put their integrity on the line.”
    Please provide one CONFIRMED eyewitness who states that he or she saw the resurrected BODY of Jesus. Seeing bright lights does not count (so Paul is out). By “confirmed” I mean that the majority of today’s scholars believe that the account in question is eyewitness testimony.
    “Your standard for miracle claims is way too high.”
    Maybe. But maybe your standard is too low. Why is it that if Jesus answers prayer for amazing cures he NEVER heals amputees (of major limbs)? Why does he never heal persons whose heads have been decapitated? Why does he never reassemble someone who has been blown into a thousand pieces by a bomb? See, if Jesus performed these miracles, even rarely, I could buy your claim of miracles. But Jesus NEVER performs these miracles. Jesus only seems to perform miracles for which a natural explanation, even though rare, is possible.

  30. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Not true. There are thousands of people on earth who believe in extra-terrestrials.

    Oh, please, now. Tell me how milk cow abductions make sense within a comprehensive coherent worldview!

    Please provide one CONFIRMED eyewitness who states that he or she saw the resurrected BODY of Jesus.

    James. Peter. John. Confirmed according to normal standards of historical investigation.

    As for miracle standards, let me ask you this. How many white swans must you observe in order to prove that the black swan you’re looking at is really white after all? How many non-miracles does it take to prove that a real miracle isn’t a real miracle? If I have experienced and observed multiple identifiable miracles, does the lack of miracle events somewhere else mean those weren’t miracles after all?

    This business of non-miracles is logically irrelevant to the question of actual miracles.

  31. Reconquista Initiative

    Gary said:

    “You are confirming my previous point that personal feelings and experiences are the real evidence for many/most Christians.”

    I never said that this was the case, for many Christians have never had a personal experience and yet are entirely rational in holding to Christianity as being true beyond a reasonable doubt.

    But my point still stands unrefuted, which is that a direct personal experience of God could be so powerful as to defeat, in practice, any argument against God, just as my personal direct experience of my own consciousness and thoughts and desires will always be more powerful evidence for them than any argument for eliminative materialism.

    And note as well that I am not saying that the experience is necessarily veridical. What I am saying is that I am rational to believe it, given my experience of it, even if it was false, just as I am rational to believe that I am conscious and have thoughts/desires even if, somehow, eliminative materialism turned out to be the truth about reality. This is in much the same way that I would be rational, as a juror, to find a man guilty of murder if there was a plethora of evidence against him even though, by chance, it turned out that he was actually innocent.

    Regards.
    http://www.reconquistainitiative.com

  32. Reconquista Initiative

    Gary,

    I wrote this earlier, but it disappeared, so here it is again.

    Take what you wrote earlier, but paraphrase it as follows:

    “You are confirming my previous point that personal feelings and experiences are the real evidence for many/most non-eliminative-materialists. Until a believer in folk psychology realizes that the “consciousness, thoughts, and beliefs” he experiences are simply illusions, and the desires that he believes that he has or feels in his heart are simply a materialist mirage, you will NEVER accept the mountain of evidence for the reality of eliminative-materialism.”

    Now the above argument parallels yours, but the above argument is ridiculous. And that should be a telling fact.

    Regards.
    http://www.reconquistainitiative.com

  33. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    First, the obvious: “Being Itself” isn’t falsifiable, and, granted, there’s always insanity. Of course, even that word requires, well, being itself.

    Second: Your logical leap from [A] “I am conscious and that’s really hard to refute” to [B] “You see, personal feelings and experiences are the real evidence for most Christians…” is (to say the least) sloppy logic. The word “most” is used on purpose because you’ve been overreaching throughout. If you care to fuss and retract then please do.

    Sloppy logic:

    Non-Christians and Atheists will tell you, Gary, that they exist, that they are conscious and fuss at you for telling them they don’t exist, or are unconscious. I know you find that hard to believe that Non-Christians, and you too, believe you are conscious, that you exist, and wouldn’t believe anyone who told you that you are unconscious, that you don’t exist.

    Let’s experiment:

    Trial run “A”,

    “Gary, right now as you are reading this, you are [A] not conscious and [B] your experience of being itself is not true – that is to say – you don’t exist.”

    Your reply:

    “I don’t exist? Well, maybe your right…..you know you may be on to something there. I may not exist.”

    Trial run “B”,

    “Gary, you exist. Your experience that you exist is telling you the truth. And, that’s really hard for you to refute.”

    Your reply:

    “HA! You see! Evidence that I am right! Personal feelings and experiences are the real evidence for most Christians…”

    Now, that’s an awesome argument for you and you’re welcome to it. Earlier I stated that all you’ve demonstrated so far is one large un-discerning brushstroke and we see it again here as you somehow find a way to connect two dots separated by miles and miles of definitions and presuppositions, many of which are not unique to Christianity.

    Once again you place far too much emphasis on feelings and not nearly enough on reason and evidence in their respective interfaces with feelings.

    You would do much better if you didn’t focus so much on feelings and focus more on reasoning things through. The trio of feelings, reason, and evidence is the way to go, Gary. Try it some time. You know, just like Joshua and the evidence of ancient near eastern linguistics in relation to your emotions and feelings about that topic. You’re (demonstrably) living by feelings expunged of all inconvenient evidence.

  34. scbrownlhrm

    Reconquista,

    Interesting points.

    One quibble:

    The term “evidence” does not exist if you don’t exist. In fact evidence in that analogy cannot exist. Being unconscious, or not existing, and so on, forces a total deflationary truth value across the proverbial board. Therefore, “even if somehow it turned out….” is a nonsense statement. Whereas, that same phrase, “even if it somehow it turned out….” in the juror analogy is *not* a nonsense statement.

  35. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Your observation that people believe different things is, well, astoundingly trivial. Is there more? Or are you done?

    You stated,

    “Tom, You said, “Martian milk cow abductions would be impossible to fit in with any view of reality.” Not true. There are thousands of people on earth who believe in extra-terrestrials. Do a google search and you can find their websites. You don’t consider alien abductions as realistic because it violates YOUR worldview.”

    False.

    You’re missing the obvious every time here as all you do is say, “But there are people who believe X and you don’t believe X!” and then you simply fail to investigate the evidence.

    Hint: This is not about claims, but, rather, this is about the duo of evidence in conjuncture with various claims. Further, you seem to think that alien life poses some sort of threat to Christianity’s landscape but you’ve not established that to be the case.

    Disagreement isn’t evidence in and of itself, rather, the arguments pro/con and the evidence each side presents is where the action is.

    Yet all you do is point to disagreement.

    So much for gravity then, eh?

    Any claim is fine to make. Each claim simply has to be unpacked and if, say, Gary tells us that Naturalism claims to be ontology or if Islam claims God did X, or of Bob tells us that he was abducted by aliens then the process of evaluating those claims is straightforward: gather the facts and follow the evidence.

    You seem to suppose that the only evidence for Christianity is in the four Gospels. “Eyewitnesses Full Stop!”

    But that’s false.

    You seem to suppose that the only evidence for Christianity is, “-Cause da-bible -tells me-so”.

    But that’s false.

    See? This comes back to Islam and Hinduism and Naturalism and so on, as each comes as a body of statements which do *not* (contrary to your silly premise) exist in a vacuum but are in fact immersed in the whole of reality.

    That is why all of this is a very different process than your lazy and un-discerning brushstrokes here which splash about all while claiming the untenable — that cosmology is ontology, is explanatory (and that all the experts say so), and that Joshua really did according to scripture and history kill all life in the land of child-sacrifices (Canaan). Now, those untenable claims of yours are not untenable because you claim them, but because there is rational evidence to the contrary.

    Islam or Hinduism or Space Aliens or Naturalism’s baggage, it’s all the same. It’s not about the reality of disagreement. It’s about the reality of evidence in conjuncture with said claims pro/con.

    We know lot’s of people believe lots of different things.

    Well, as unimpressive as that observation of yours is, do you have anything else?

    Or are you done?

  36. Gary

    “Oh, please, now. Tell me how milk cow abductions make sense within a comprehensive coherent worldview!”

    Your entire worldview is based on forbidden-fruit eating. You call that a “coherent” worldview???

  37. Gary

    —Please provide one CONFIRMED eyewitness who states that he or she saw the resurrected BODY of Jesus.

    “James. Peter. John. Confirmed according to normal standards of historical investigation.”

    Says who?

    Not the majority of experts in the field, my friend. You are welcome to appeal to minority expert opinion, but don’t pretend that these eyewitness claims are “confirmed”.

    ” If I have experienced and observed multiple identifiable miracles, does the lack of miracle events somewhere else mean those weren’t miracles after all? ”

    You claim to have experienced miracles, and many thousands of people all over the world claim that their dead relatives visit them, in the flesh, from time to time. People can claim all kinds of wild things, but if there is no evidence for such claims, there is no reason for the rest of us to believe these claims.

    Provide real EVIDENCE, Tom. Not appeals to warm fuzzy feelings, minority expert opinion, and rare coincidences that you confuse with “miracles”.

  38. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    [1] Swallowing plants into the digestive tract isn’t Scripture’s definition of the means/ends for eternal life. Hence your reference to fruit isn’t making any sense.

    [2] The authors you quote as to who wrote the Gospels also affirm that the content is eyewitness content.

    Thanks for quoting them. Why? Because the fact that it’s eyewitness content is more important than what year it was assembled.

    We get that you *want* to believe that it is the case that information cannot travel through time, even centuries, in oral and written format.

    But mountains of evidence affirmed by archaeology demonstrably discredit that premise. Your *only* premise these days it seems.

    Also, you’ve not refuted the evidence housed in Richard Bauckham (Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony).

  39. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Why do you keep appealing to eyewitness accounts of cows and stuff?

    It’s fine that people say stuff, but “eyewitness full stop” just doesn’t work.

    They need more.

    Hence you need more.

    Sorry to disappoint you.

  40. scbrownlhrm

    Objective truths about God?

    A primary objection here seems to be either that there are no objective truths about God or else, perhaps, it is the case that language and objective truth are somehow incompatible in any arena outside of a strict positivism/empiricism. Both of those end up inside of deflationary truth values and that becomes obvious as we look at propositional truth and the truth predicate relative to semantic ascent.

    On the question of whether or not there are objective truths about God, the first link opens with this:

    “That being so, however, it remains the case that there is no peculiarly Christian theory of truth. This is just as it should be, for if Christianity presented a distinctive definition and standards of truth, then its claim to be true would be circular or system-dependent and therefore trivial. But the Christian faith means to commend itself in the marketplace of ideas. The Christian faith claims to be true in the common, ordinary sense of that word and leaves the enunciation of a more careful definition to the philosophers. Thus, when philosophers formulate various theories of truth, such as the Correspondence Theory of Truth, the Coherence Theory of Truth, or the Existence Theory of Truth, none of these can be christened as *the* Christian Theory of Truth, and there have been Christian philosophers among the adherents of each one.

    For my part, I find some minimalist version of the Correspondence Theory to be most satisfactory…….”

    It concludes with the following:

    “In summary, it seems to me that while Christian theology does not propound a particular theory of truth, it is wholly compatible with the traditional notion of truth as correspondence. The Christian world view purports to describe reality as it is and therefore to be true. The challenges posed to theological truth by Verificationism, Mystical Anti-Realism, and Radical Pluralism are all ultimately self-defeating and incoherent……”

    Another odd but interesting and (somewhat) related issue has to do with necessary but dependent beings and the semantics involved there.

    As touched in the earlier links discussing objective truths about God, we find that, as always, the process is the same regardless of the claim. All claims are found under the singular umbrella of “knowledge” in this or that form. When we say that Gravity is X, we mean various things by that claim as “gravity” and “is” and “X” are all comprised of an epistemic landscape which is itself ultimately tied to an ontological interface somewhere. As the copied “Q & A” below discusses such is a process of fashioning a cumulative case whereby truth as correspondence explains the real world as we actually find it.

    Before going further, here’s the “Q & A” with W.L. Craig from the link asking if theistic arguments prove God:

    Quote:

    Question:

    “…….What is the relationship between the phenomena to be explained in theistic arguments, and the thing that does the explaining. None of the arguments prove God as such, but all serve to yield a key piece of the puzzle. But how do we know these arguments refer to the same explanation, and how can one offer the nonbeliever a single argument to show God exists, when there is always an ambiguity in what this word entails? What do you mean when you say that a certain argument leads to “God”?”

    Reply by Craig:

    You’re making a good point about all the theistic arguments….. though I think it shows, not a flaw, but simply the limits of each argument. Just as the moral argument doesn’t prove God to be omnipresent, neither does the cosmological argument show God to be morally good nor the teleological argument God to be omniscient or eternal. The explanatory ultimate in each case does not yield a full-orbed doctrine of God. What the moral argument gives us is a metaphysically necessary, personally embodied Good; that’s a rich enough concept to merit the name “God,” I think, but if you find that concept too thin theologically to be called “God”, then I’ll just stop with a metaphysically necessary, personally embodied Good. Similarly, the kalam cosmological argument gives us an uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and unimaginably powerful, personal Creator of the universe, a conception rich enough, I think, to deserve the label “God.” But if you protest that such a being hasn’t been shown to be good and therefore God, that’s fine—I’ll just content myself with the description of the explanatory ultimate reached by the argument.

    As I have said before, it would be a bizarre form of atheism, one not worth the name, which admitted that, say, a metaphysically necessary, personally embodied Good exists or that a transcendent, personal Creator of the universe exists. So in answer to your question, “What do you mean when you say that a certain argument leads to ‘God’?”, I mean that the argument implies the existence of a being that is most plausibly to be identified as God.

    What your question underlines is that the theistic arguments constitute a cumulative case, such as a lawyer presents in a court of law, in which independent lines of evidence reinforce one another to support the overall conclusion not implied by any single argument. This raises the question, “how do we know these arguments refer to the same explanation?” Though much could be said about this, I think that the simplest and wholly adequate answer to this question is Ockham’s Razor. We shouldn’t multiply causes beyond necessity. It’s more plausible to think that the Creator of the universe proved by the kalam cosmological argument is also the Designer of the universe proved by the teleological argument than to think that these are two beings. Similarly, it’s more plausible to think that the metaphysically necessary ground of the universe proved by the argument from contingency is also the metaphysically necessary, personally embodied Good proved by the moral argument than to think that these are two realities. One of the impressive virtues of theism is its explanatory scope: it unites so many diverse things under a single explanatory ultimate.

    You also ask, “how can one offer the nonbeliever a single argument to show God exists, when there is always an ambiguity in what this word entails?” This was the very question which burdened St. Anselm. He wanted to find a single argument which would prove that God exists in all His greatness. He had just about given up, when he discovered his ontological argument. This argument, if successful, proves the existence of a greatest conceivable being. I think that the ontological argument is a sound argument for God’s existence. But I don’t see it as a stand-alone argument; it, too, is part of the theist’s cumulative case, for the other theistic arguments provide reason to think that it is possible that the greatest conceivable being exists, which is the key premise of the ontological argument.

    End quote.

    That is a helpful phrase, “But I don’t see it as a stand-alone argument; it, too, is part of the theist’s cumulative case, for the other theistic arguments provide reason to think that it is…….

    This is the reason (well, it’s one of the reasons) that the Non-Theist’s appeal to “But different people belief different things!” is in fact a non sequitur – as such is forever missing the problem on the table: the duo of evidence and claims. Hence any move (by any of us) which starts with, “But there are people who believe X and you don’t believe X!” and then just goes silent fails because it fails to investigate the evidence. Truth as correspondence (etc.) is not about claims, but, rather, this is about the duo of evidence in conjuncture with various claims. “The mere fact of disagreement” is not evidence in and of itself, rather, the arguments pro/con and the evidence each side presents is where the action is.
    Any claim is fine to make. Each claim simply has to be unpacked and if, say, someone tells us that Naturalism (Cosmology / Physics, say) in fact can become and in fact *be* ontology, or that, say, Islam claims God did X, or that, say, of Billy-Bob tells us that he was abducted by aliens, and so on, the process of evaluating those claims is straightforward: gather the facts and follow the evidence.

    For the Non-Theist to merely go on blithely repeating his appeal to eyewitness accounts of cow-snatching by aliens (and stuff) is fine for
    It’s fine that people say stuff. But “eyewitness full stop” just doesn’t work.

    They need more. Hence the Non-Theist needs more (should that be his approach). Sorry to disappoint our Non-Theist friends if that is all you’ve brought to the table.

    This all comes back to Islam and Hinduism and Naturalism and so on, as each comes as a body of statements which do *not* (contrary to a few silly premises of our Non-Theist friends) exist in a vacuum but are in fact immersed in the whole of reality.

    Far too often all of this is a very different process than our Non-Theist friend’s somewhat lazy and always un-discerning brushstrokes which splash about all while claiming the untenable — that cosmology is ontology, is physics is explanatory (and that all the experts say so), or that, say, in the OT Joshua really did according to scripture and history “destroy all life” in the land of child-sacrifices (Canaan). Now, those untenable claims are not untenable because they are made by a Non-Theist, but because there is rational evidence to the contrary.

    Islam or Hinduism or Space Aliens or Naturalism’s baggage, it’s all the same. It’s not about the reality of disagreement. It’s about the reality of evidence in conjuncture with said claims pro/con. Such is the process of fashioning a cumulative case whereby truth as correspondence explains the real world as we actually find it.

    The irreducibly rational presses in:

    Tom said, “We all know that if someone showed us “the bones of Jesus Christ,” it would be easy to believe they were someone else’s bone’s instead. No, for me the answer is this: I would give up my Christian belief if someone showed me a better explanation for reality. Christianity provides a better foundation than any other worldview for explaining……..”

    E. Feser comments, “As most of my readers probably know, I was an atheist for about a decade — roughly the 1990s, give or take. Occasionally I am asked how I came to reject atheism. I briefly addressed this in The Last Superstition. A longer answer, which I offer here, requires an account of the atheism I came to reject….”

    It’s a bit long, but that “Road From (out of) Atheism” is described at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/road-from-atheism.html

    Explanatory power matters. The oxymoron of “useful but not true” just won’t do. Any T.O.E. which is willing to trade away explanatory power merely to preserve emotive ties to cherished presuppositions never will, in the end, survive logic’s relentless demands for lucidity. The irreducibly – or ontic – or non-illusory – rational presses in – and through.

  41. Gary

    Tom,

    Here is your worldview boiled down to the essentials:

    1. An eternal, perfect, all-possessing being decides, after billions of years of existence, that he wants to create something.

    Was he bored? Lonely?

    2. A perfect, all-possessing being decides that he needs/wants to create mini-versions of himself who have a choice to love him or reject him.

    Why does a perfect being need to be loved by inferior beings with a free will?

    3. He then places a Tree of Temptation smack dab in the middle of the garden home of humans. Why not off in the very corner of the garden? He then allows a snake to tempt the humans to eat of the tree of temptation. It is almost as if he WANTS the humans to fail.

    4. What is the sentence for the human’s forbidden fruit eating: Eternal suffering, in this life and the next. A punishment that does not fit the crime by any standard of justice.

    5. Then, thousands of years later, this all-powerful being sends himself to earth in the form of a human , to be brutally executed, to appease the righteous anger of…HIMSELF.

    Tom, this is NOT a coherent world view.

  42. Gary

    Reconquista: You can dress up your belief system with all kinds of complex philosophical and metaphysical formulations, but at it’s very essence, it is a belief system based on forbidden-fruit eating.

  43. Gary

    Reconquista said

    “…a direct personal experience of God could be so powerful as to defeat, in practice, any argument against God, just as my personal direct experience of my own consciousness and thoughts and desires will always be more powerful evidence for them than any argument for eliminative materialism.”

    IF you could prove that a god was responsible for your “direct experience” that would be one thing. Your problem is that you have zero proof that your god is behind these experiences. It is entirely possible that ALL your experiences were random chance.

  44. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gary, “zero proof ” is a weird way to say it. Proof either is or isn’t. We could have 99.5% probability without having proof, which entails 100%.

    Did you mean to say zero evidence? If so then you’d be obviously wrong. What did you mean?

  45. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gary, you can dress up a comment like this:

    Reconquista: You can dress up your belief system with all kinds of complex philosophical and metaphysical formulations, but at it’s very essence, it is a belief system based on forbidden-fruit eating.

    with all kinds of polysyllabic formulations, but its very essence it’s a thinly veiled insult with no other substance to it. It’s unproductive, it’s rude, and it’s factually wrong to boot.

    So, what’s your purpose here? To insult?

  46. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Was God bored or lonely? No. He created out of the overflow of his love and his glory. He wanted the humans to have the chance to succeed, which entails the possibility of failing. Christ came to satisfy God’s love and his justice (read Romans chapters 1 through 5). This is a coherent worldview. All you’ve done here has been to sneer at it. If you want to show it’s incoherent, you’ll need more than your facial expressions to do so.

  47. Gary

    Tom said, “He created out of the overflow of his love and his glory. He wanted the humans to have the chance to succeed, which entails the possibility of failing. Christ came to satisfy God’s love and his justice (read Romans chapters 1 through5).”

    Out of the overflow of his love?? Unless you are a universalist, Tom, most of your God’s creation is going to suffer eternal damnation in Hell. So in the big picture of things, we humans would have been much better off, as a whole, if we had never been created, IF your Christian worldview is true.

    Moderate and liberal Christians frequently want to prove the veracity of Christianity with appeals to complex philosophical and metaphysical formulations. Is this really necessary? I suggest that one can determine the probable veracity of Christianity fairly easily. Here it is:

    Christianity is based on two primary claims:

    1. The ancient Hebrew god Yahweh is the all-knowing, all powerful, perfect, good, Creator of the universe.
    2. The bodily resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in first century Palestine is historical fact.

    Prove either of these claims false and you have discredited the veracity of Christianity. In my many discussions with Christians, they will often attempt to prove one of these claims true by appealing to the other as evidence without ever giving any evidence for the second claim. This is poor logic. The Christian needs to prove both claims correct, independent of each other, to establish the veracity of the Christian religion. Christians cannot prove the existence of Yahweh by appealing to the Resurrection of Jesus if they have not first provided evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection without appealing to the existence of Yahweh. Without the existence of Yahweh, the resurrection of Jesus is very improbable. And without the Resurrection of Jesus, the probability of the existence of Yahweh comes down to proving the veracity of mostly vague, disputed, prophesy claims. The evidence for each of the two major claims of Christianity are very weak on their own.

    So which is more probable based on the available evidence:

    1. Yahweh exists and is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator
    2. Yahweh is the invention of an ancient superstitious people.

    Which is more probable based on the available evidence:

    1. Jesus of Nazareth really was resurrected from the dead, an event never heard of before or since.
    2. The claims of Jesus’ resurrection are based on visions, dreams, false sightings or other natural explanations for someone/someones believing they had seen a dead person alive again.

    If you ask Christians to provide evidence for the two principle claims of Christianity WITHOUT presupposing the other argument is true, I believe that you can easily show that the probability of Christianity being true is very, very low.

  48. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    This is poor logic. The Christian needs to prove both claims correct, independent of each other, to establish the veracity of the Christian religion.

    You mean we can’t use the resurrection as evidence for the existence of God?

    Really?

    This is silly. It’s poor logic, Gary.

    Christians cannot prove the existence of Yahweh by appealing to the Resurrection of Jesus if they have not first provided evidence for the historicity of the Resurrection without appealing to the existence of Yahweh.

    This is poor thinking, too.

    First, we have evidence for the resurrection.

    Second, you’re unclear on the difference between evidence and proof (see #18 and #45), so I don’t know what you mean by evidence, and I’m not sure you do either.

    Third, since the resurrection and the existence of God are both aspects of one unified view of reality, there’s no sense in requiring the truth of either one to be established without appealing to the truth of the other. It would be like requiring proof of the existence of railroad cars without appealing to the existence of railroad engines.

    Without the existence of Yahweh, the resurrection of Jesus is very improbable.

    No, actually it’s impossible. Do you understand that?

    And without the Resurrection of Jesus, the probability of the existence of Yahweh comes down to proving the veracity of mostly vague, disputed, prophesy claims.

    Haven’t you heard? There are lots more reasons to believe in YHWH than prophecy claims. The resurrection is one of them, but there are many others besides.

    If you ask Christians to provide evidence for the two principle claims of Christianity WITHOUT presupposing the other … is true…

    … then you’re making an irrational request.

    Gary, please re-consider your logic here, because you’re wrong.

  49. Gary

    I challenge you, Tom, to prove that the bodily Resurrection of Jesus is more probable than alternative naturalistic explanations for the early Christian resurrection belief WITHOUT assuming the existence of Yahweh. And, I challenge you to prove the existence of Yahweh without using the alleged Resurrection as proof of his existence. Prove one or the other…FIRST.

    I don’t understand why that concept is so hard for you to understand. You can’t claim that A is true because B is true if you haven’t first proven B to be true!

  50. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Gary, I don’t understand the concept because it is incoherent.

    The bodily resurrection of Jesus is impossible without the existence of YHWH, for one thing, and for another thing it’s stupid to request we prove that one side of a coin exists while refusing to assume it has another side.

    And if you don’t understand the logic there after my best attempt, both now and earlier, to explain it, then I have nothing further to offer you.

  51. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    You’ve not refuted the evidenc in Bauckham.

    Until you do we can sit on our hands.

    Also, given Naturalism the resurrection 2000 years ago wasn’t improbable but impossible, whereas, given “Being Itself” (God) the (bodily) resurrection 2000 years ago literally can’t be more or less probable than any other (physical) occurrence.

    This is about the tenth demonstration you’ve given us that you ignore reality when defining your premises.

  52. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Be careful when leaning heavily on probability, regularity, “laws of nature”, and, say, John Searle’s silicon chip “neurons” (carbon networks) and the in principle reach of the physical sciences.

    It turns out that none of them are friendly to non-theism.

  53. Reconquista Initiative

    Gary,

    You said:

    ”Reconquista: You can dress up your belief system with all kinds of complex philosophical and metaphysical formulations, but at it’s very essence, it is a belief system based on forbidden-fruit eating.”

    First off, that’s not an argument, so it is irrelevant and readily dismissible.

    Second, it is rather easy to be uncharitable towards a belief system when you want to be. For example, watch this: “Gary: You can dress up your belief system with all kinds of complex philosophical and metaphysical formulations, but at it’s very essence, it is a belief system based on the absurd notion of something coming from nothing, on the unevidenced idea that life can just come to be from non-life, and on the use of magical words like “emergence” which somehow apparently justify you believing that consciousness can come from mere matter-in-motion without any evidence that this is actually the case.”

    Third, far from your snide comment being detrimental to Christianity, it actually supports it, for at its essence Christianity is indeed about the fact that Man has sinned and is in need of redemption and is in search of justice. And when I look around the world, nothing could be more obvious than that man has sinned and seeks redemption. So, your snark aside, you actually remind us that Christianity’s main theme—that man has sinned and gropes for redemption and justice—is one of the most obvious facts of human existence, meaning that this points supports Christianity, it does not work against it.

    Regards.
    http://www.reconquistainitiative.com

  54. Reconquista Initiative

    Gary,

    You said:

    ” IF you could prove that a god was responsible for your “direct experience” that would be one thing. Your problem is that you have zero proof that your god is behind these experiences. It is entirely possible that ALL your experiences were random chance.”

    You don’t really seem to understand the argument. The argument was that even if the experience was not veridical, I would still be rational to believe it. After all, sometimes that which is rational to believe is different from that which is true. For example, in ancient Greece or Rome, it would have been quite rational to believe in Ptolemaic geo-centrism even though is it false.

    So, consider this example, imagine that I am a completely normal and sane person, with no history of mental illness, but one day, while alone, I happen to faintly hear someone yelling for help. The sound is quiet, but I definitely and distinctly hear it. As such, I quickly rush to my window and look outside but I don’t see anyone. I then decide to call 911 to report the matter. Now, in such a situation, I am not only perfectly rational to believe that I heard someone calling for help, and thus acting on that belief, but I am also perfectly rational to keep believing it. But here is the twist: No one was calling for help in this case. I was actually experiencing a freakish auditory hallucination in that particular instance. Nevertheless, I am still rational to believe that I actually heard someone calling for help even though no one truly did.

    Now, in the same way, if I was a sane person of sound mind who suddenly experienced something that could only be defined as omnipotence, omniscient, and omnipresence—especially if the experience was significant in terms of its timing—and if that experience was the most real thing that I had ever experienced (even more real than my own consciousness) then I would be entirely rational to believe that I had just experienced the presence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent force. And, given the power of the experience, I would be rational to continue believing this regardless of the arguments brought against it. And—and here is the key point—I would be rational to believe in it even if, by chance, it was just a mental hallucination, just as in the analogical example above.

    Regards.
    http://www.reconquistainitiative.com

  55. scbrownlhrm

    Reconquista,

    Where Gary is falling down is (as you point out) his attempt to embrace insanity as an escape from properly basic beliefs, without realizing that his own epistemic there is *itself* logically incoherent.

    Experience and properly basic beliefs press in there.

    But there is more.

    We have to be careful to account for the duo of reason and experience. Expunging either one just won’t do. Hence the Christian enjoys an intellectual luxury which the philosophical naturalist never will.

    The properly basic beliefs you referent make a good (valid) point:

    [1] “The Witness of the Spirit as an Intrinsic Defeater-Defeater” at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-witness-of-the-spirit-as-an-intrinsic-defeater-defeater

    [2] “Answering Critics of the Inner Witness of the Spirit” at http://www.reasonablefaith.org/answering-critics-of-the-inner-witness-of-the-spirit

    One quibble:

    Again, the properly basic beliefs you referent make a good (valid) point. Then: As Craig and Plantinga both demonstrate, that move does not place experience ahead of reason, but rather places reason ahead of experience. It is at “that juncture” where the metaphysical baggage of naturalism pretending to be ontology comes roaring in atop a wide array of reductiones ad absurdum (the plural of the proverbial reductio ad absurdum etc.).

    Physics-full-stop is observed in Sean Carroll’s cosmic or ultimate “useful but untrue” landing zone, and such forces a total deflationary truth value across the proverbial board.

    Therefore, to say “…even if somehow it turned out that naturalism were true….” is a nonsense statement for (given Non-Theism) the term “evidence” is itself entirely, or cosmically, or ultimately, deflationary in truth value.

    Whereas, that same phrase, “…even if it somehow it turned out that someone was NOT calling for help….” (or in the earlier “juror / court / evidence” analogy) is *not* a nonsense statement in those contexts.

    All meta-ontologies must speak their respective ontologese.

    However: “Ontologese is the language spoken by the fictionalist when he says that abstract object statements are untrue. But given a deflationary theory of reference, we need not go so far as the fictionalist in treating singular terms as devices of ontological commitment, even in Ontologese.” Craig, William Lane. God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism. Oxford University Press.

  56. scbrownlhrm

    Gary,

    Your inability to place reason ahead of experience and your rejection of historicity with respect to linguistics are two (out of many) moves by which you’re not allowing reason to shape your worldview and premises.

  57. scbrownlhrm

    A Beginners Guide to Understand and Answer Dr. Bart Ehrman:

    http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2016/08/18/a-beginners-guide-to-understand-and-answer-dr-bart-ehrman/

    A brief excerpt:

    Quote:

    Ehrman is a double-faced accuser; he knows that the New Testament is 99% established yet he attacks the veracity of the New Testament, “…there are really two Bart Ehrmans that are on display…the scholarly Bart Ehrman and the popular Bart Ehrman. The scholarly Bart Ehrman knows that the text of the New Testament has been established to 99% accuracy. That is to say, the original wording of the New Testament is now established to about 99%. So the degree of uncertainty of the text of the New Testament is only about 1%. There are about 138,000 Greek words in the New Testament. Of these, only about 1,400 are uncertain today. 99% are established with real certainty. Of that 1% that still remains uncertain, virtually uncertain, bad Bart deliberately misrepresents the situation to lay audiences to make them think that the New Testament is incredibly corrupted and uncertain. It is very interesting that when the bad Bart is pressed on this issue by someone he will come clean and admit this. For example, I heard Bart Ehrman interviewed on a radio show some time ago about Misquoting Jesus and the interviewer was talking to him about how uncertain the text of the New Testament is, all the thousands and thousands of variants that there are…and finally the interviewer said to him, “Dr. Ehrman, what do you think the text of the New Testament originally really said?” And Ehrman replied, “I don’t understand what you mean. What are you talking about?” And the interviewer said, “The text of the New Testament – it has been so corrupted as it has been copied. What do you think the original text actually said?” And Ehrman said, “Well, it says pretty much what we have today – what it says now.” And the interviewer was utterly confused. He said, “I thought it was all corrupted” and Ehrman said “We’ve been able to reestablish the text of the New Testament as textual scholars.” So he knows and when pressed admits that the text of the New Testament is 99% established.”

    Ehrman argues like a fundamentalist and is frequently guilty of the fallacy of the excluded middle, says Dr. Craig Evans, “The problem is that, in his popular books, Ehrman is frequently guilty of the logical fallacy of the excluded middle, the idea that there are only two options — either we have every word of the original text or we do not; either we have harmonious accounts of the teaching and activities of Jesus or we don’t. Bart Ehrman is arguing like a fundamentalist. It is an all-or-nothing approach. If the Bible is truly inspired (and therefore trustworthy), it must be free from discrepancies. But this is not how most seasoned scholars think, including evangelicals. Nor was it the way early Christians thought.”

    End quote.

  58. Pingback: Naturalistic Atheism Is An Extraordinarily Strange and Unlikely Worldview

  59. scbrownlhrm

    What would it take?

    Non-Theist:

    That what is possible for a believer is dictated by his/her surrounding. Seldom will a believer have the opportunity to look beyond the horizon of his/her upbringing. We could bring christians and muslims together and have them discuss the essential differences between their viewpoints. But what it would lead to is that they part. Each of them will carry his/her ‘faultless’ viewpoint back home. Where science can change its viewpoints, due to new information, critics and discussion, religion can not. A muslim can never believe that Jesus is God. A christian cannot never believe that it is otherwise (except for some groups that were not wipes out by the church).

    Reply:

    False. Should reason, logic, and evidence converge to present a T.O.E. that has a more robust explanatory power than the metaphysical landscape of Being Itself (and etc., Christianity, etc.), and which is free of metaphysical Naturalism’s arrays of this or that painful reductio ad absurdum then as a rational agent one would press forward into whatever corridors said landscape housed.

    The Christian is committed only to the degree of intellectual honesty it takes to compel one to truly believe a reductio ad absurdum. The philosophical naturalist insists the sky appears to be, not blue, but polka-doted purple, orange, and green (his eventual reductio etc.). And that’s fine. However, without evidence to compel the Christian to overcome the Christian’s belief, well the Christian’s doxastic experience retains logical lucidity and simultaneously demonstrates a greater explanatory power than Naturalism.

    Hint: Read up on doxastic experience and forget about your blithely uninformed group-think biases and straw-men. It’s far more productive.

    The ad hominem you present is not only unproductive but also it is expunged of reality. Why? Because converts into and out of Worldview X abound. Atheists, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and so on are populated by such converts both into and out of the proverbial Worldview X.

    Hint: Interfacing with reality is better than interfacing with your demonstrable fantasy.

    BTW: The semantic of “better than” is meant in a sense that is void of any ultimately or cosmically deflationary truth value.

  60. Post
    Author
  61. Roger

    I’ve just discovered this website and the many interesting articles and conversations. I’ll admit that I haven’t read through all the comments in regard to this particular article by Tom Gilson. I’m not sure which branch of Christianity this website represents. There are so many; but I’ll assume a Baptist evangelical perspective until I’m told otherwise. I like the title of this article, “What Would It Take for Me to Give Up Belief in Jesus Christ?” I really liked how Gary responded to the question in response #16. He really hit the nail on the head, and in my opinion sent the rest of you away whimpering. Like Gary, I have a long history in Christianity, so the wool isn’t so easily pulled over our eyes.

    In the late 17th century, John Bunyan wrote the allegorical novel “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It told the story of a young man, Christian, on his journey to the Celestial city, along with all the trials and temptations that he encountered on this life long journey. Of course, this was the story of every Christian’s life leading to heaven. In 1900, L. Frank Baum, also wrote a similar allegorical novel, entitled the “Wizard of Oz,” the story of Dorothy and her three friends, Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man. It was a story of these four companions traveling a yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City. They had to stay on this road, although they faced many trials and temptations, if they were to arrive at the Emerald City to have an audience with the great Wizard of Oz. It was Oz, who was able to grant these four their greatest wishes, to find her way home, to have a brain, to have courage, and to have a heart. When they finally arrive at the Emerald City and were waiting for an audience with the great Oz, Toto, Dorothy’s dog, pulls down the curtain surrounding the great throne, only to reveal that the great Oz was an imposter, in reality a small man with bells and whistles to make himself appear great and imposing. He had no power of his own to grant any kind of wish. But what the wizard knew was that each of these characters had the power and ability within themselves to bring about what they wished for. Of course the allegory of this story is the atheist’s perspective on Christianity or any other organized religion. The Gods of all religions, including Christianity, are made up and nothing but imposters. The wishes and needs that we desire will not be granted by an imposter God, but most often are within our own capacity to accomplish. That is how the atheist looks at Christianity, bells and whistles but no substance.

    Of course the atheist claims there is no evidence to support the reality of Christianity or any other religion. The creation account of the Bible, is the ancient and primitive account of what an early civilization considered to be the method by which their God brought about the universe, the world, and all of its inhabitants in a matter of just six days. And this is all considered to have happened only six to eight thousand years ago. Science has no interest in disproving the Bible’s creation account or any other religious creation account. By studying the empirical evidence, the scientific community has found that the earth is not only millions of years old, but probably billions, and that life on earth has developed through an evolutionary process. Are the findings for evolution conclusive? Far from it. Science may never come to an absolute and definitive view on origins. But nearly all the scientific community is in agreement that evolution is at the heart of the process. And science is increasingly adding to that basic premise with as time goes on. The atheist and those of other religions see our Biblical creation account, not only as mythical but as one of the evidences of an empty religion.

    One of the slogans for effective prayer within Christian circles is “pray as though it all depends on God, and act as though it all depends on you.” The allegorical message of “The Wizard of Oz” is that it does all depend on you, and without your own effort little will get accomplished. The great accomplishments of Christianity have been brought about through great human effort, the same as the accomplishments of those who are not Christian. This is another reason atheists see Christianity as little more than bells and whistles and lacking in substance.

    Of course, atheists also point to the resurrection of Christ as being more mythical than real. Christians claim that Christ was raised from death and ascended to God’s right hand where he rules in power and authority, much like Oz. But atheists ask where is the evidence of any kind of reign from God’s right hand, or is this just the bells and whistles of a religion with no substance? As to the return of Christ to earth, the apostle Paul expected it to happen in his life time. And throughout history countless predictions have been made, but nothing has come of them. Now nearly two thousand years later, we’re still waiting? The atheist and agnostic believe the curtain of Christianity has definitely been pulled down revealing an empty throne.

    As one who believes in a God, I believe the creation (our existing world and universe) is God’s revelation. It’s his self revelation. Organized religions, including Christianity, are simply primitive human attempts to understand and explain the God of creation. With the passing of time and the expanse of knowledge, it has become obvious how primitive the tenets of these religions are. Bells and whistles, but no substance. Thanks for the opportunity to express different opinions.

  62. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Your belief in God is reassuring and hopefully the self-reveling God you speak of reveals that self through nature, rather than that self being nature.

    The rest of the premises and claims you touched on were not recognizable to me as a long time Christian. Perhaps the religion you were addressing was some other religion from your past. That said, the writing is crisp.

  63. Roger

    Tom Gilson

    What would it take for me to give up belief in Jesus Christ? Christians talk of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came to earth from heaven to offer salvation to a lost and fallen humanity. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. By faith those destined for damnation are given the opportunity to appropriate a present and future acceptance by God. This sounds wonderful. This is one side of the coin. This is the side of the coin that most Christians glory in and seem to emphasize.

    But there is another side to this coin, that is much less attractive. Christians tend to overemphasize only the one face of the coin, the attractive side. It’s the side of the coin that gets emphasized in Christian evangelism. It’s this side of the coin that writers like yourself and other Christian websites seem to glory in. But if a realistic view of Christianity was presented to the world, a view revealing both sides of the coin, most people would run from the gospel. It’s this dark side of the coin that makes me question the Christian religion or to have doubts in regard to Jesus Christ and his so-called mission.

    This dark side of the coin involves the question and answer of what happens to those who don’t believe? The answer is that all unbelievers are sentenced by the God of the Bible to a destiny of eternal damnation. It’s important to understand the Biblical perspective on God’s damnation of all unbelievers. Christians seem to quickly point out that those destined for damnation are deserving of such condemnation by God as the consequence of their sin. After all, all have sinned and fall short of God’s standard of perfection and therefore are deserving of eternal damnation in hell. Therefore he is just in his condemnation. God is not just loving to those who believe, he is just in his condemnation of sinners, and everyone falls into this category of being sinners. This is the loving God that Christians speak so glowingly about.

    But there is more to this unattractive side of this coin. Realize that this coin is the two sided depiction of God’s character. I want you to consider this unattractive side of the coin. As a result of the fall of Adam and Eve, all people come into the world as sinners. Before taking their first breath, God’s declares everyone a sinner worthy of eternal damnation (being credited with Adam’s sin). But beyond that everyone comes into the world with a sinful nature, as the result of Adam’s fall into sin. Everyone (whether by God’s decretive will or his permissive will) comes into the world declared guilty of having failed God’s standard of perfection and also having a handicap (a fallen nature) that prevents them from obeying God in their lived out lives. This is the Bible’s description of all people from birth on, guilty sinners with a serious birth defect (handicap) that prevents them from living obedient lives to God. That is the Bible’s description of all people. And God condemns all such people to an eternal damnation, even though they couldn’t help but to fail God’s test. God condemns and damns handicapped people. This hardly sounds like justice to me.

    I want to demonstrate this ugly side of the coin with the life of the apostle Paul. Romans 7 speaks of Paul’s own experience apart from the influence of Christ, which also, according to the Bible, is everyone’s experience. Paul says apart from Christ, he was completely dominated by sin. Although he knew the right and good, he found himself in bondage to sin, unable to do the right thing he knew and believed. He declares himself one miserable person. Paul is describing the state of all people held in bondage to their sinful nature, the very nature that all people are born with. And even though, like Paul, they are incapacitated from being able to do good, God declares all such people worthy of eternal damnation. Like Paul, all such helpless people are condemned by God.

    But of course, Paul ends by saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Christians quote this verse as though everyone has this same opportunity as Paul, to turn to Christ for deliverance. But of course Paul isn’t saying that at all. He is thankful that God in Christ took hold of him and delivered him. All one needs to do is read of Paul’s own conversion experience on the road to Damascus to realize that Paul’s conversion was one by which he was overwhelmed and blinded by Christ, taken by force if you will. Paul’s conversion was not a matter of Paul’s choosing, but of God’s. Throughout Romans, as well as his other letters, Paul speaks of being chosen (even predestined) by God for salvation. God hasn’t done this for all people, but only the limited number of people chosen to be among the elect of God. Matthew 7 speaks of the narrow gate or door that leads to heaven and the few who find such gate in comparison to the wide gate that leads to destruction. God chooses the few and damns the many handicapped people whom he sends to hells. Paul is speaking to the “few” in his writings, not to the many other handicapped people who receive no assistance or salvation from God. Although many are called, few are chosen (Matt. 20).

    This sinful nature which incapacitates everyone according to the Bible (whether inherited from Adam or imputed by God) is something appointed to everyone prior to birth apart from any conscious decision by human beings. That God would sentence such people to eternal damnation is a poor reflection on a God that Christians call loving. Oh, but the loving God, is the side of the coin that Christians like to talk about, as though there is only one side to the coin. If more people were aware of the sinister face of God on the other side of the coin few would choose to belief in Christ. Christians often accuse other religions of hiding knowledge about their religion to outsiders. But Christians also have hidden knowledge about their God that they hide, not only from outsiders but insiders as well. The Christian God is a loving God to the few who are chosen for salvation, but to the rest of humanity he is a sinister God who condemns a handicapped humanity to eternal damnation. That’s enough to make me give up my belief in the Christian God.

  64. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    “God chooses the few”

    Not sure which God that referenced. It’s not the inarnate God of the Christian.

    Just FYI.

    Can’t blame you for rejecting Non-Christian X’s such as that and the many others you list.

    I’m glad you believe in Cosmic Fairness laced through with Cosmic Grace.

    Quite a religion you’ve got going there. Very Christian in fact.

    I’m sure it’s evidence based.

  65. BillT

    The answer is that all unbelievers are sentenced by the God of the Bible to a destiny of eternal damnation.

    Actually, all unbelievers choose a destiny of eternal damnation by rejecting the grace and mercy of the God of the Bible. What? Would you have God force those who choose not to embrace him and his offer of salvation to live with him for all of eternity?

    God hasn’t done this for all people, but only the limited number of people chosen to be among the elect of God.

    And again, you fail to account for the existence of free will in a universe with a sovereign God. They exist, side by side. It’s us who choose. And you are an example. You choose to reject God (“That’s enough to make me give up my belief in the Christian God.”) because you believe he isn’t fair and just. It’s you have made that decision as you plainly state.

  66. Roger

    scbrown

    I see you didn’t offer a rebuttal of the main point of my comment, mainly that God condemns all unbelievers to eternal damnation, even though they had no ability to do what is asked of them by God, to live sinless lives. By being credited with Adam’s sin, as well as a sinful nature, all people are handicapped from birth, making such a demand an impossibility. And yet God, unjustly condemns all such handicapped people to an eternity in hell. This is the dark side of the coin that you haven’t responded to. This is the dark side of your God that most Christians would rather ignore, apparently including you.

    Instead you pick a minor point to criticize, as though that is enough to dismiss my whole argument. You question the comment, “God chooses the few” as though this is hardly the truth. And yet Matthew 7:13 and 14 says, “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.” Or you might also note Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few are chosen.” In other words few are chosen for salvation. Read this verse in its context. These are the words of Jesus, whom you call the incarnate. When you consider the majority of earth’s population (throughout history) who have never heard a credible or valid presentation of the gospel to those who have heard and responded to the gospel, then the number of those (in the Christian scheme) who have or have had faith are few indeed. Those who have never heard the gospel are also part of the many who are damned by your God for eternal destruction.

  67. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Your main thesis is this:

    …mainly that God condemns all unbelievers to eternal damnation, even though they had no ability to do what is asked of them by God, to live sinless lives. By being credited with Adam’s sin, as well as a sinful nature, all people are handicapped from birth, making such a demand an impossibility. And yet God, unjustly condemns all such handicapped people to an eternity in hell….

    Not sure which God that referenced. It’s not the incarnate God of the Christian.

    Just FYI.

    Can’t blame you for rejecting Non-Christian X’s such as that and the many others you list.

    I’m glad you believe in Cosmic Fairness laced through with Cosmic Grace. I’m glad you’re affirming a T.O.E. which is top heavy with the Judgement of Forgive-For-They-Know-Not. Though you’ve offered no evidence to support that part of your T.O.E., the Christian (who actually knows the evidence) agrees with you.

    Quite a religion you’ve got going there. Very Christian-esc in fact.

    I’m sure it’s evidence based.

  68. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    I’m curious:

    Despite the fact that you claim you are not making claims, that you don’t have any evidence as such, you still seem to believe in Cosmic Fairness, or in Cosmic Justice laced through with Cosmic Grace, in a Cosmic System of ethics which is top-heavy with Forgive-For-They-Know-Not. Obviously Non-Theism of any kind (…which includes Buddhism…) cannot provide such ontic-ends, hence your claim, which you tell us isn’t a claim, that there is a God.

    Since you’ve no evidence, and since you’re not making claims (…you tell us…) then why do you have these “beliefs”?

    Without any evidence all you have is **your** definition of “religion”.

  69. Roger

    BillT

    Thanks, Bill, for your comment. A few things. First, you are wrong that all unbelievers choose a destiny of eternal damnation by rejecting the gospel. As pointed out to scbrown, most of the human race have never heard a valid or convincing offer of salvation in Christ. Most of the world’s population have never heard of Jesus, and even if they have (or had), it wasn’t a convincing presentation of the gospel that they heard. And if Christ is the only name under heaven by which one can be saved, most of the world is plain out of luck. They’re going to hell. For the rest, like myself, according to the Christian faith, I’m so handicapped, like the apostle Paul, that without the persuasion of the Holy Spirit, I am unable to respond to the gospel. You must remember Paul’s conversion. His wasn’t a willing choice, but rather God’s choice of him.

    As to free will, a blind man is free to walk on a high wire tight rope, but because of his handicap (sinful nature) he is unable to do that which he wants . He will instantly fail. Or a drug addict has free will to not use drugs, but because of his addiction is unable to resist the urge to use. Christians freely acknowledge that no one comes to Christ apart from the persuasion of the Holy Spirit. People, hearing the gospel, are free to respond to the general offer or call of the gospel, but are unable to because their sinful nature prevents them. Humans have a fallen nature, given before birth, by which they are bound by sin. Unless the Holy Spirit persuades a person of his/her need for salvation, the response (according to the Bible) will always be to reject the gospel. Read again Paul’s testimony in Romans 7. He didn’t come to Christ of his own free will but rather by God’s choosing and by the effectual persuasion of Christ’s Spirit. Read of his conversion for yourself in Acts 9.

  70. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    We’re all Automatons and God’s the Puppeteer?

    Not sure which God that referenced. It’s not the incarnate God of the Christian. Just FYI.

    I certainly don’t blame you for rejecting Non-Christian X’s such as that and the many others you list.

    But then you’ve no evidence, nor are you making any claims.

    That’s convenient for you. You remind me of the Non-Christian God you (rightly) reject. Why? Because it’s all a dance with no evidence and no claims, hence nothing is *real*. There’s just an appearance of participation, of dialogue.

    Funny, that.

  71. Roger

    scbrown

    I didn’t say I believed in cosmic fairness, or cosmic justice, or cosmic grace. I’ve merely been pointing out the inconsistencies of the Christian religion which in some form makes such claims but does so inconsistently. It’s the inconsistencies of the Christian religion that makes it so unbelievable. A just or fair God doesn’t condemn people who are incapable of living perfect lives. But apparently your God does this very thing. Go back and reread comment 65.

    You say you are not sure what God I am talking about, but it isn’t the incarnate God of Christianity. The God that Christians believe in is the Triune God, of whom Christ incarnate is just one member. So I am talking about your God.

  72. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    “….A just or fair God doesn’t condemn people who are incapable of living perfect lives…..”

    But you’ve already foisted that Non-Christian premise and claimed God ought not demand perfection from imperfection. Despite being informed that you’re agreeing with the Christian you’re here once again with the same Non-Christian X and presenting it as if it’s a Christian X.

    Of course those Non-Christian premises are inconsistent with Christianity’s metaphysic.

    You invent Non-Christian premises and then say, “See! Inconsistency!”

    The unfortunate part is that you actually believe your own fiction.

  73. Roger

    Answer this if you can according to Christian belief:
    1. Are all people credited by God with the sin of Adam?
    2. Do all people begin life with a sinful nature (inherited from the fall) that seriously inclines them toward sin?
    3. Do all people (universally) have the opportunity to hear the Christian gospel?
    4. Does God provide an alternate means of salvation for those who have not heard the gospel?
    5. What happens eternally to the many people never hearing the gospel and why?
    6. Is there salvation for those not hearing the gospel?
    7. If there is no alternate plan of salvation (other than Christ), then what would be the basis of God’s judgement on those never hearing the gospel?

    If you answer those questions the way the Bible does, then you know I’ve been talking about the Christian God, all along. Just as you don’t like the explanation of the Christian God that I have given, nor do I. That’s why I refuse to buy into Christianity. Christianity’s God is unjust and sinister. Why do you keep believing a false and inconsistent representation of God?

  74. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    If you answer those questions the way the Bible does, then you know I’ve been talking about the Christian God….

    Automatons and God the Puppet Master? I’m not sure which religion you are discussing other than your own evidence-free religion. Now, if you were to add some evidence to your beliefs then you’d have something *better* then religion. You’d have Evidence Based Faith. As for your (….yet again misguided…) list of questions/premises, well, it’s not complicated. See the com-box (….about 70-ish comments so far….) at the following:

    Paul’s Solution to the Problem of the Unevangelized is the Gospel” at http://www.str.org/node/42356#.WI8LKoWcFPY by Tim Barnett (….at http://www.str.org/ in January of 2017 blog posts etc….). It opens with questions about the un-evangelized and the under-evangelized and as the comments go on in the com-box it also discusses the question of [A] “disagreement” and why that is not a game-stopper with respect to Truth and [B] the question of why it is NOT better to “not preach” as that Non-Theistic premise is built atop a TRIO of three false premises. Those three false premises are [1] it is in fact possible for moral interfaces to “not-exist” in a world such as ours and [2] every-man will *not* know, hear, see, comprehend (etc.) at some ontological seam somewhere the Truth under review and [3] frail and mutable contingencies such as Time and Circumstance are just too much for the reach of *GOD*.

  75. scbrownlhrm

    Since our Non-Theist friends seem unaware of the fact that there are actual differences with respect to Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Non-Theism (…which includes Buddhism and etc….), Judaism, animal sacrifices, love’s self-sacrifice, and various paradigmatic claims as to [1] *Means* to various *Ends* that are [2] that which is “The Good” or “The Beautiful“, perhaps a brief review of the obvious:

    It’s always amazing how illogical so many assumptions end up being. For example: In all genres but one we are told that mutable and contingent X’s are the *means* by which other mutable and contingent X’s are ushered into the *ends* that *is* the permanence of The Good. But of course that is an absurdity unless “The Good” is forever illusory and mutable. No. That won’t do. The *means* to any coherent *ends* cannot be anything less than the All Sufficient Himself, the Immutable Himself, the Timeless Himself. In short, God is the only coherent means and should anything less pour out, well then we can drink of that cup of “anything less” ad infinitum and we will have progressed to nowhere at all.

    There is only one genre on planet Earth which has offered Mankind a coherent metaphysical wellspring of all ontological possibility. It is the genre wherein God Himself pours Himself out. Creation is not needed there, because in Trinity of course such timeless reciprocity amid love’s self-giving constitutes those Trinitarian processions which *are* themselves the metaphysical wellspring of all ontological possibility.

    So we come then to the complaint of the Non-Theist against the notion that only one ultimate path to truth subsumes all others. That illogical move of the Non-Theist to label love’s self-outpouring for the beloved as asinine is deeply troubling.

    The illogical move to equate [A] love’s timeless self-outpouring for the beloved to [B] animal sacrifice is equally troubling. That foists a false identity claim between those two, or else a conflation. That move is either uninformed or else dishonest

    We must ask our Non-Theist friends, “What is ‘The-Good’?

    What are Man’s means to get “there”? Do our Non-Theist friends really believe that the Means within Christianity to the Ends that are The Good are the *same* as in Judaism or Buddhism or Islam or Naturalism or Hinduism?

    It’s pretty simple: there’s Man. There’s our humanity and nature. There is (or is not) the Good. There’s the path from our nature to the Good. Everybody has that in their background information. Even our Non-Theist friends appeal to their own proverbial “explanatory terminus” here.

    If one wants to be complete in his analysis then he will have to tell us how his own Non-Theism finds something that is *not* eternally open-ended as such relates to the *goal* of the *good*. That’s important as it has direct ties to those same Means/Ends which we, here, *are* (…whether the Non-Theists know it or not…) discussing and defining.

    Moral Excellence within the contours of immutable love’s timeless reciprocity is at once our deepest desire – our final good – and yet forever just out of reach (…..well, but for *GOD* as such relates to the immutable love of the Necessary Being….). It is unfortunate that some think otherwise — that some do not hold that — in fact — love is the highest ethic. Not in an ultimately or cosmically illusory fashion, but ultimately, irreducibly, timelessly.

  76. Roger

    scbrown

    Thanks, sc, for putting me onto Tim Barnett’s article on the fate of the unevangelized. Of course the solution he presents, along with the apostle Paul, is that it is the Christian’s responsibility to reach the unevangelized with the gospel. If people aren’t being saved, it’s your fault and the church’s fault for taking such an indifferent and unconcerned attitude toward gospel mission to those both near and far. So as to the reason why people aren’t being saved, according to the Bible, he is right. He lays the blame at your feet.

    Barnett says, “Paul’s line of thinking is clear and straightforward. If no one is sent to these people, then there will be no one to preach the good news. If no one preaches to these people, then they will not hear the good news. If these people do not hear the good news, then they cannot believe. And if they do not believe, then they cannot be saved.”

    Barnett addresses the reason the unevangelized are not being saved. And if they are not being saved, then they are going to hell. The further question that Barnett does not address is, why are they going to hell. The answer, according to the Bible, is simple. They are sinners. And sinners, apart from Christ, all go to hell. Sinners don’t go to heaven because they are not evangelized (your fault). Sinners go to hell because they are sinners (their own fault).

    The point I’ve been making all along is that all people are sinners because, one, they are credited with Adam’s sin by God the moment they are born (Romans 5), and two they have been infused (or inherited) a sinful nature at birth apart from any conscious choice on their part (Romans 5). In other words they are counted sinners by God before they have taken a single breath and condemned by God to hell for something they didn’t even do themselves (Adam’s sin). And on top of that they have been given a sinful nature at birth by which they cannot help but to sin. And the standard for these unevangelized people is perfect holiness (Matt 5:48) which is absolutely impossible for anyone to accomplish. And yet God condemns all such people to an eternity in hell. And you call this justice? This doesn’t fit any definition of justice that I’ve ever heard. This definitely the dark side of God or the coin.

    Because the Bible is describing the Christian God, I suppose he can do anything he wants (just or unjust). But I’m glad that this is only a human invention (the Bible) and is not consistent with the justice or fairness that is natural to better side of human nature.

  77. Roger

    I’m a little surprised that Tom Gilson has not weighed in on this debate, seeing as the original comment (#65) was addressed to him. Either he is very busy (this happens) or he doesn’t have an answer of his own. I don’t think that either scbrown or BillT are doing especially well in this debate. They may get better though.

  78. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    I’d be happy to discuss my comments in the com-box which I pointed you to. Did you see another commentator mention the reference in Tim’s analysis which was in the context of their neighboring Jewish folks?

    Obviously not.

    How about some comments on the nature of truth as it relates to disagreement?

    Obviously not.

    More “appearances” of actual participation from you again here Roger. You’re just like the Non-Christian god you dislike.

  79. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    My apologies. I thought you actually wanted to discuss this with me. Since you obviously didn’t even read the com-box which I pointed you to you apparently had no intention of us working through this together. And since the premises you’ve just referenced are again Non-Christian premises it seems you really do believe your own fiction.

    My mistake.

    I’m curious, where did I go wrong in that com-box?

    Quote it please.

    Then explain where I got it all wrong.

    If you want to talk about these things, that is.

  80. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    In the com-box the fact that what Tim described and what I and others described are not contradictory was discussed. Yet your conclusions contradict both Tim and friends.

    Which means you’re entire analysis got it wrong given that your conclusions contradicted far too much content in that thread.

    Why do you continue to expunge so much of Scripture in your various approaches here? Even the side of the coin you talk about you get wrong.

    Aren’t you interested in what Christianity actually claims?

  81. scbrownlhrm

    Here’s a contradiction of Tim (made by Roger),

    “And the standard for these unevangelized people is perfect holiness (Matt 5:48Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) which is absolutely impossible for anyone to accomplish. And yet God condemns all such people to an eternity in hell.”

    Roger — if you’re reading — one never knows with you — you’ll have to try harder as you are obviously quite fond of one-verse exegeses. It’s not helpful to read s few comments and verses and leave out several other comments and verses. As your mistaken conclusions reveal.

  82. Roger

    scbrown

    I see you responded to my last comment with four of your own. It’s hard to know just what you are trying to say or what exactly you want me to respond to with so many separate responses from you. I did look at many of the comments in regard to Tim Barnett’s article. I find your comments are often difficult to understand in comparison to the others. But I get the gist of what is being said.

    I take it that you don’t like the idea that God would simply condemn all the unevangelized people of the world to hell. I don’t like it either. But to come to a position, that there is some kind of hope for the unevangelized, apart from responding to a gospel call, you have to go beyond Scripture (which I would do) to rationalize a way by which God would demonstrate an acceptance of (or even love) such people. But as I see it, you have to go beyond Scripture to make such a point. You have to rationalize a theory based on your own personal view of God. That’s what I do and in the process dismiss the Christian religion altogether. You seem to want to incorporate the Bible into your religion and call yourself a Christian. Maybe we’re no so far from each other after all.

    The Bible’s position, as I see it, is that all people apart from Christ are sinners. They sin against the law written on their heart. And seeing as they are sinners they deserve nothing from God. If God had not chosen some out of the ranks of sinners, he would be just to condemn the whole human race. That’s the point of “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory…”. There is none righteous, no not one who is worthy of God’s grace. And God being a just God, he condemns all who have not confessed his name. That is clearly the Bible’s position.

    Those of the Reformed or Presbyterian faith very openly take such a position. God chooses out of a lost and condemned humanity a chosen people. This is how God demonstrates his love for the world (not the world quantitatetively but qualitatively) by having chosen, even before a time, a people to call his own. God’s loving and redemptive purposes find fulfillment in the elect, not the rest of humanity. So God is not unjust in sentencing all sinners to hell, while at the same time he gracious in calling some sinners (the elect) to salvation. According to Romans 9, this is God’s right and we shouldn’t find fault with God for he can do as he pleases. That’s the Bible’s position as I see it. And I don’t like it either, same as you (I think).

    Again, my point, according to the book of Romans (chapt 5) is that all people come into the world with the charge of sin against them (Adam’s sin), as well as having a sinful nature (by which they can’t help but to sin) and are therefore condemned by God. They haven’t heard the gospel (most people), nor do they have any capacity to be anything but sinners, but yet are condemned by God. As I see it this is the Bible’s position (unless you want to manipulate the Bible to your own liking), which I think you are doing, even in your comments on the other website.

    I, like you, can come up a better idea of God than the Bible’s explanation. Because of this and other inconsistencies in the Bible, I choose to reject the Bible’s message of salvation. And if some day I stand before your God (which I very seriously doubt) I will simply say that I never heard a convincing argument for the Christian faith and should be counted along with the unevangelized of the world.

  83. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Perhaps you should actually comment on the content of the [essay + com-box] I referenced rather than on your own fantasies about possible worlds in which frail and mutable contingencies such as Time and Circumstance are just too much for the reach of *GOD* — especially given the fact that Scripture affirms that in fact His reach *does* out-perform those very contingencies.

  84. Roger

    scbrown

    Perhaps you should comment on the response that I have submitted. Each time you send a response you say little or nothing constructive to refute what I have suggested and you have yet to give a position that you take on the fate of the unbeliever or the unevangelized.

  85. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You’ve made claims about the content I referenced that are false.

    What? You just misrepresent and then ask to move on?

    Bold.

    While that would support your evasions it wouldn’t help unpack what Christianity actually states about God, Man, and reality.

    Isn’t that what you’re interested in?

  86. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    The fate of all men is discussed in the content you’ve yet to read. You know, in the comment I referenced about 5 comments ago. Where we find that your definitions which claim that frail contingencies like Time and Circumstance are not just too, too much for the feeble reach of “god” are demonstrably non-scriptural.

  87. BillT

    I don’t think that either scbrown or BillT are doing especially well in this debate. They may get better though.

    Well Roger, I’m glad to see your so pleased with yourself. However, I find you constantly avoid really addressing the points I’ve made. And, it’s become boring talking to someone as poorly informed as you are. I hope your self satisfaction keeps you warm at night.

  88. Roger

    scbrown

    I’m sorry, but I’m not going to jump from one website to another to interact with you. I read enough to get the idea you are a bit of a universalist. In Christ, all are saved, apart from hearing the gospel or responding to it. Seeing as I have a hard time understanding your circumventing language, I don’t know exactly what you are saying on that other website. If you want to interact on this website, do so, and do so plainly. What exactly are you saying about those who die without hearing the gospel? And yet answering that question is not a response to my original comment in 65.

  89. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    “…I read enough to get the idea you are a bit of a universalist…”

    What gave you that odd idea? Quotes in context please.

    What happens to the unevangelized and underevangelized was specifically discussed. I even used those two terms… the un/under-evangelized etc. All sides of the coin are there.

    Are those two terms the part that is tripping you up? Or is it something else?

    Please explain.

  90. Roger

    scbrown

    I began this string of comments by responding to Tom Gilson’s question, “What would it take for me to give up belief in Jesus Christ?” In answering that question, I explained the Bible’s teaching that God condemns all unbelievers to eternal damnation, even though they had no ability to do what is asked of them, to live sinless lives. By being credited with Adam’s sin, as well as a sinful nature, all people are handicapped from birth, making such a demand an impossibility.

    I pointed to several verses (Romans 5) that makes clear that all people are considered sinners by God, whether hearing the gospel or not, and all people commit sin because of the sinful nature inherited from Adam, by which they can’t help but to sin. According to the Bible (Romans 3) salvation is only appropriated to those having faith in Christ. Apart from such faith, all other are damned to hell because of their inherited sin and actual sins commited throughout their lives. That includes those hearing the gospel and those not hearing the gospel.

    You have yet to respond to this point, whether in support or non support, or to give reasons why or to give supporting Scripture. If you can’t do that, I guess you don’t have a case, or have any evidence for your view other than your opinion.

  91. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    I’m curious, what are your views about Scripture’s definitions on God, Man, reality’s fundamental nature, and the ethic of love as each relates to the un/under-evangelized?

    You mentioned #65 a few times. Is there more than that? Or are you done?

  92. Roger

    scbrown

    I get the feeling that you are hesitant to state your personal view (what you think is the Biblical view) of what happens to unbelievers at death on this website. Is it so difficult to state your view on this website, seeing as we are debating the issue here. I’m not involved at the other website. There must be some reason for your hesitancy.

  93. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Did you read the linked essay/com-box?

    Would you prefer I copy/paste the essay/com-box over there into this com-box?

    Do you see that done often?

    Do you ever see links to essays/com-boxes?

  94. Roger

    Tom Gilson

    Have you gone AWOL from your own website? It would have been interesting to get your take on the string of comments that begin at #65. Maybe you have given the reigns to scbrown for a period of time. But I imagine your take would be different from his.

  95. scbrownlhrm

    Roger as I recall Tom commented somewhere maybe a week ago about either preparing for a talk or giving a talk…. or something like that…. don’t recall the thread with the comment though.

  96. Roger

    scbrown

    Here we go again. I did go back to the other website and read some of your comments. They are longer than the original article and make much less sense. From what I can gather your Christian faith has little concern for what humanity has done and mostly about what God has done. God desired the salvation of the world (all of humanity) so sent his Son as a propitiation (appeasement of God’s wrath) for the sin of all. From what I can tell, the faith of people has nothing to do with God’s salvation. Are you saying that a person can sin as much as he wants, harbor hatred, lust, greed and envy in his heart and he is safe from God’s judgement if he/she hasn’t heard the gospel? You must be reading a different Bible than I know of. Is sin of no consequence in your Christian viewpoint. The heathen nations, enemies of Israel and Israel’s God were continually being condemned by God and were promised present, as well as eternal destruction Again in your view, salvation is God’s act and he desires the salvation of all, so all will be saved. That’s the short of it. Maybe you should read the opening chapters of Genesis to understand God’s disdain for sin. No need to copy and paste. It would be nice if you could state your opinion succinctly and clearly on this website. But I think that is asking too much of you.

    From what I can understand of your opinion, you put little stock in the historic creeds or the understanding of Scripture that went into those creeds. That’s not the Christianity you believe. For instance the Athanasian Creed says, “Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith. Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.” Or at the end of the creed it says, “This is the catholic faith: one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.” And of course the creeds speak of the final judgement. The Heidelberg Catechism explains the Bible’s position, as well as the historic Christian position on the ultimate destiny of unbelievers in this way, “
    Q. Does God permit
    such disobedience and rebellion
    to go unpunished?
    1. A. Certainly not.
    God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with
    as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge,
    God will punish them both now and in eternity,1 (Eph 5:6)
    having declared: Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey
    all the things written in the book of the law.

    According to the historic Christian faith that judgement would also include those who have not heard the gospel, as God is just as angry with the sin they are born with, as well as the sins they personally commit.

    So I’m assuming you are a follower of Karl Barth, who like you, is a universalist. I have been arguing from the beginning against the historic Christian faith, not your brand. As I see it from scanning Tom Gilson’s “Turning Points,” you probably disagree with his perspective on the final judgement, as well. That’s one of interesting things about the Christian religion, you can make it say just about anything you want, even by using Scripture to back your opinion. You realize, sc, you stand in the minority of Christian scholarship, when it comes to this topic of God’s judgement. At any rate, I don’t buy into a historic Christian religion or your brand either.

  97. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Roger, I’m doing 2 1/2 to 3 hours of foot, leg, and shoulder therapy each day this month and wishing I had time to live a normal life.

    I keep trying to find time to write and comment. Maybe it will come soon.

  98. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    “From what I can tell, the faith of people has nothing to do with God’s salvation.”

    False.

    “Is sin of no consequence in your Christian viewpoint…”

    No.

    “Again in your view, salvation is God’s act and he desires the salvation of all, so all will be saved. That’s the short of it.”

    Show me the quote to support that claim – did you really read anything or just skim?

    “Maybe you should read the opening chapters of Genesis to understand God’s disdain for sin.”

    God hates sin. We agree. I never said nor implied otherwise. Show me the quote to support that claim – did you really read anything or just skim?

    “You put little stock in the historic creeds or the understanding of Scripture that went into those creeds. That’s not the Christianity you believe.”

    False. Show me the quote to support that claim – did you really read anything or just skim?

    “….who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.”

    We agreed with each other there in case you forgot. Only God is All Sufficient. Man in isolation isn’t All Sufficient and I’m glad you agreed with that earlier – God alone is Perfection and He does not require perfection from us (…from imperfection…) but rather gives Himself, which is sufficient.

    I’m glad we agree. What about the un-evangelized and the under-evangelized. Show me what I said about those two terms and then show me where I contradicted Scripture.

    God hates sin you say? Again we agree.

    “So I’m assuming you are a follower of Karl Barth, who like you, is a universalist.”

    Again you’ll have to quote me to show me why you keep making that odd conclusion. Did you really read anything or just skim?

    “I have been arguing from the beginning against the historic Christian faith, not your brand.”

    I saw quotes of others from you and then I saw you saying I disagree. But I don’t recall agreeing or disagreeing with those quotes of other people in anything I wrote.

    You’re just making stuff up now.

    Note: I even wrote about hell. Did you even read what I wrote – or just skim?

    “As I see it from scanning Tom Gilson’s “Turning Points,” you probably disagree with his perspective on the final judgement, as well.”

    Show me the quote to support that claim – did you really read anything or just skim?

    In short: you clearly did not read anything I wrote but have simply mischaracterized and half-quoted me here.

    Do you know it’s dishonest to do so?

    Though, I’m quite glad we agree on some of those key issues.

  99. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Based on your reply there it’s *again* clear we agree that God is good.

    I’m glad we agree that Perfection (God) does not require perfection, or all sufficiency, from Imperfection (from Man). And I’m glad we agree that that would be impossible for us to do/be.

    That’s quite a Christian-esc belief you hold there.

    Do you have any evidence to support it? The Christian does, but I’m curious what your evidence is.

  100. Roger

    scbrown

    How much more easily it would have been for you to just simply and succinctly state what you believe. Instead you did a series of quotes from my comments and said, wrong, wrong, wrong. I have said over and over again that I don’t understand you philosophical speak so if I misrepresented you, it is likely that you didn’t make yourself clear. I did the best I could. From what I read in your reply to Tim Barnett’s article, you sound like a universalist, the idea that all will be saved, regardless of faith. I would really like to understand (in plain English) what you believe so that this conversation can proceed. Otherwise, it seems I’m shooting into the wind, as far as you are concerned. Your comments to me, as well as in response to Tim Barnett’s article are always in the form of a reply to what others believe. But you don’t state clearly what it is that you believe. Help me out so we can move on.

  101. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Perhaps it would help if you supply a quote and then take it from there. It’s now three times you’ve stated I’m a universalist and three times I’ve asked how you came to that odd conclusion and for quotes to support your justification for that assertion. Will there be a fourth?

  102. Roger

    scbrown

    I will not make that accusation again. I apologize. I don’t think my aversion is as much to what you believe (I really don’t know what you believe) as to what I might call historic Christianity, the Christianity of the church’s early creeds and confessions. So starting a fresh, I will go back to one of those early confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism. It’s a Reformed confession, but also had a lot of similarity to Lutheranism because of the context in which it was written in. That’s beside the point. It’s a confession that is still used today in many churches and so represents the historic Christian faith. To make this simple I’ll quote from the section addressing the Fall of humanity and humanity’s resulting condition. I’m quoting Q&A’s 10 and 11.
    Q & A 10
    1. Q. Does God permit
    such disobedience and rebellion
    to go unpunished?
    A. Certainly not.
    God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit. As a just judge, God will punish them both now and in eternity,1 having declared: Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.”2
    1 Ex. 34:7; Ps. 5:4-6; Nah. 1:2; Rom. 1:18; Eph. 5:6; Heb. 9:27
    2 Gal. 3:10; Deut. 27:26

    Q & A 11
    Q. But isn’t God also merciful?
    A. God is certainly merciful,1 but also just.2 God’s justice demands that sin, committed against his supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty — eternal punishment of body and soul.3
    1 Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 103:8-9
    2 Ex. 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30-31
    3 Matt. 25:35-46

    According to the historic Christian faith, the fall has so poisoned humanity that all people come into the world stained by Adam’s sin along with having a sinful nature by which they cannot help but to sin. According to this catechism, God is terribly angry with the sin we are born with as well as the sins we personally commit, so angry in fact, that he will punish such sinners with the “supreme penalty – eternal punishment of body and soul. The catechism will go on to say that God is not only just but also merciful, merciful to those who trust in Jesus Christ. As Q&A 20 of this catechism says,

    “Q. Are all people then saved through Christ just as they were lost through Adam?
    A. No. Only those are saved who through true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits.”

    My argument from the beginning has been that this original sin and sinful nature inherited from Adam makes humans incapable of not sinning. This sin and sinful nature is infused into all humans from before birth, it was not a conscious choice to be controlled by a sinful nature. So how can God be terribly angry and hold people accountable for something they couldn’t help? This is an injustice on God’s part and contributes to a dark side of God, or the flip side of a so called loving God (the God of the Bible).

    Question for you scbrown, do you agree with those questions and answers from the Heidelberg catechism? And secondly, if so, is it just for God to hold people responsible so something they couldn’t help but to do?

  103. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Which part again wasn’t addressed in the linked com-box? I ask because you’re repeating old ground, some of which you’ve gotten wrong and some fairly accurate but lots of which was looked at in my comments in the linked com-box. You didn’t address any of my comments except to agree with Christianity that God is good and does not require perfection from anyone as perfect obedience is impossible. But other than our agreement there you’ve not addressed my other comments so it’s not clear which comment of mine you’re addressing. Perhaps if you quote the part you’re asking about it would allow us to zero in on it.

    But, yes, God is good and does not require perfect obedience from us and He simply makes up the gap of our sin (etc.) by filling it with Himself.

    So we agree there.

  104. Roger

    scbrown

    I think I have to give up on this, at least with you. You say that I agree with you and Christianity that God is “good” and “does not require perfection” of anyone as perfection is impossible. False. I said that the God of Christianity is unjust (not good) because, apart from Christ, he does require perfect obedience of everyone, which is also unjust. So we do not agree.

  105. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You’re correct and that’s why the *Means* of God, of All Sufficiency (….which obviously cannot be less than God Himself…as in Christ), are given both for and to the whole world so that all that is impossible for us to do He does for us.

    Just like you said a good God would do.

    Your thesis is all very Christian-esc.

  106. Roger

    scbrown

    So if God in Christ is given both for and to the whole world so that all that is impossible for us to do, he does for us, how then is Christ’s accomplishment appropriated or applied to the whole world. If you’re not a universalist, who gets included and excluded from the application of what Christ has accomplished. Many (most) Christians will say that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient to cover the sin of the world but only is applied to those who have faith, or possibly to the elect or chosen of God. Can you help me here? Thanks

  107. Roger

    scbrown

    Would it be too much to simply answer the question asked, without suggesting to go to such and such a comment and look at the trio listed there? I don’t see how that trio answers the question of how Christ’s sacrifice gets applied to the intended recipients and who those recipients are that receive the benefit of Christ’s accomplished salvation. Are you going to answer the question or refer me to a previous answer?

  108. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    …..how Christ’s sacrifice gets applied to the intended recipients and who those recipients are that receive the benefit of Christ’s accomplished salvation….

    The trio and the three false premises which comprise it look at that (valid/important) question. It’s just that it is a high word count and it’s not necessary to “bulk-copy” that com-box into this thread. I mean, think about it…. blogs and all that…

  109. Roger

    Tom Gilson

    Once again, what would it take for me to give up my belief in Jesus Christ? I’ll come at your question from a different direction. As I see it, Christianity is a failed religion. It’s a religion in which the God of the Bible has been unable to accomplish his mission for his creation and for his chosen people, expressly to bring glory to him. As the Westminster Shorter catechism say, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” It’s this failure to glorify God that makes me realize that the God of Christianity (which includes Christ) is no better than the Gods of other religions, and in fact are falsehoods, like Christianity.

    According to the Bible, Christianity’s God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them including the animal kingdom and the human race. This all gets off to a wonderful start. Everyone (God and Adam) seem to glory in this wonderful thing that God has done. But no sooner than God has completed this wonderful thing, Satan, the demigod, God’s competition, steps onto the scene and challenges God’s great accomplishment. The demigod, Satan, disguised as a snake, approaches Adam and Eve and challenges God’s great accomplishment, offering them something even better, the knowledge of good and evil. They will be as God himself with such wonderful knowledge. And almost immediately Adam and Eve fall for Satan’s deception. Satan didn’t completely lie, for as this demigod suggested, their eyes were indeed opened to know both good and evil. (Side note – for an interesting take on the fall of Adam and Eve, watch the movie “Pleasantville” with Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon.) So right off the bat, it would seem as though Satan foiled God’s plan and purpose for a good creation. God’s first failure.

    But, as Christians will point out, the failure is not complete, for even as God promises that the seed of the woman will bruise the seed of Satan, so God will defeat the demigod in the future. This is apparently (according to Christians, not Jews) a reference to Christ’s first advent.

    In the meantime, God’s good creation no longer appears so good, even as God is sorry about his failed attempt to create a good humanity. At the tower of Babel humanity is glorying in itself, not God. The same is true in the time of Noah. So God comes up with an alternate plan, to show his greatness through a single nation which in turn will spread his glory in and among all nations. God’s chosen people will be such a bright light that all the world will bow before God. (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11) and proclaim his praise. But of course, we both know this didn’t work. When it came to the leadership of Israel as a nation, the Israelites didn’t even want God as their leader but wanted kings like their surrounding nations. In fact the leaders of other nations mocked Israel and its God. Israel, eventually got broken apart and dispersed and exiled from their chosen and promised land into the lands of their enemies. No praise for God there, but rather Satan continues to have prominence.

    But God promises, even in the midst of failure, that his special and chosen people will make a comeback. And indeed, a remnant does return to Jerusalem, but again even this remnant can’t make a go of it, showing the Bible God’s failure to be a light or to show forth his glory to the world. And all the while the world, including God’s chosen people, demonstrate the continuing victory of the demigod, Satan. More people are bowing before this demigod than are bowing before the God of the Bible. It’s kinda disheartening.

    But the God of the Bible is not finished. He will not be defeated by this demigod, Satan. So God (all of sudden a three person God) decides to come down to earth in the second person of God (Christ) in human form, now fully God and fully human. Certainly, such an astounding plan will cause the defeat of Satan. In fact, according to the Christian faith, this is the promised occasion when God would come back to finally defeat Satan, which was promised way back in the Garden of Eden. Did it work? Apparently not. For this very God-man met with defeat at the cross of Calvary. Once again the demigod, Satan, beats upon his chest in victory over the God of the Bible.

    But it’s not done is it? For even as those who had put so much hope in Jesus, come up with a new and further plan in which their God will indeed win the final victory over Satan. Unbeknown to most people at that time, some of the followers of Jesus claim that their Lord had indeed risen from the grave, as was supposedly witnessed by some of his followers. And after having appeared to these so called witnesses, Jesus rose in victory, visibly ascending back into heaven where he is presently seated at God’s right hand, where he rules in all power and authority. And it is from there on his heavenly throne that he will return to finally and completely defeat the demigod, Satan. Then God’s kingdom will be finally and perfectly established.

    But wait a minute. The Bible teaches, and Christians believe, that Christ has ascended to a heavenly reign over all of creation. Or is his present reign only over the church? Either way, there is no evidence of Satan being hindered from creating havoc on earth and even within the church. Paul’s several letters to the churches give little evidence of Christ’s present reign even in the church, and the seven letters to the churches in the book of Revelation demonstrate Satan’s present dominion. Things are continuing as they always have, with Satan in dominion. Where is this present reign of Christ? And wouldn’t a present reign be the proof that he did indeed rise up from the grave? If his ascension is certain, and his present reign is certain, where is the evidence of such ascension and reign. To the onlooking world there is nothing to give such evidence, which is indeed the evidence that he didn’t really rise from the grave. The world continues on as it always has. Again, Satan, the demigod, has his day in the sun.

    As I see it, even the Bible itself presents the evidence that God’s creation failed to produce the effect that God intended, even as his mission through the Jews and through Christianity has failed. You may feel that God is not finished yet, his victory will be swift and sure. But we are still waiting for this “soon” return of Christ to claim victory, even as the apostle Paul was waiting some two thousand years ago. Even as the Bible’s God has had little success so far, who is really to say that he will be successful in the future. Christianity’s God has a pretty dismal record of accomplished victories. That is another reason why I would easily give up belief in Jesus Christ.

  110. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    It’s a religion in which the God of the Bible has been unable to accomplish his mission for his creation…

    Huh? God was *unable* to create a moral paradigm in which love’s reciprocity (…the irreducible nature of the Triune God…) is the highest ethic, the paradigm’s terminal substratum?

    Right out of the gate you get your definitions off their factual trajectories. That’s not promising for where they land.

    Even worse, given the definition of *GOD* with respect to the Necessary and the Contingent, please name an X — any X — which even in principle *can* steal glory from *GOD*.

  111. Roger

    Just read the narrative of the Bible. Even the creation is a fallen creation, waiting for redemption. The Bible’s narrative depicts a failure by God to accomplish in humanity and creation what he intended.

  112. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    God created a moral paradigm in which love’s timeless reciprocity (…the irreducible nature of the Triune God…) is the highest ethic, the paradigm’s terminal substratum. Reality’s fundamental “rock-bottom” there cannot change by the volitional motions (…inside / outside of Eden…) of a contingent being (…Man…) within that reality.

    You are asserting that He did not create such a world and that assertion turns on the bizarre and even impossible premise that a fish in an ocean can change the fundamental nature of that ocean by its volitional motions within that ocean. But that’s absurd.

    You’ve not allowed Scripture, logic, and fact to inform your terms and definitions.

    Please explain how Man’s volitional motions within love’s reciprocity changes reality’s irreducible substratum. Is Man the metric?

  113. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You forgot something else too:

    Given the definition of *GOD* with respect to the Necessary and the Contingent, please name an X — any X — which even in principle *can* steal glory from *GOD*.

  114. Roger

    scbrown

    I’m not going to argue with you. Read the Old Testament’s historical account and God’s failure to attain glory from creation, from Abraham’s offspring, his chosen people-Israel which is demonstrated over and over again. Even Jesus pronounces Old Testament religion a failure. Then move into the New Testament, and again and again God’s nemesis, the demigod, Satan is at the helm and ends with him at the helm. The state of Christianity today, with so many very different denominations, shows what disarray Christianity is in today. Certainly, in the world, there is no evidence that Christ is on his throne. Just read the historical record in the Bible, as well as history’s record of the church since, and most Christian’s will acknowledge that Satan is on his throne. It looks like it’s going to be a story with a bad ending for Christians.

  115. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Even Jesus pronounces Old Testament religion a failure…

    The Old Testament and Christ both pronounce Sinai as that which is to be replaced by “The Good” and it is the fact of “The Good” which you are asserting does not exist right now, namely love’s timeless reciprocity (…the irreducible nature of the Triune God…), which in fact *is*, still, the highest ethic, which therefore still *is* God’s created paradigm and His Decree of *that* terminal substratum. If “The Good” cannot exist unless Man volitionally embrrace it then you are now talking about some peculiar Non-Christian religion in which [1] Man is God and [2] the necessary is beholden to the contingent.

    And so we arrive again at your logical absurdity:

    Reality’s fundamental “rock-bottom” can be changed (…you are telling us…) by the volitional motions (…whether inside or outside of Eden…) of a contingent being (…Man…) within that reality.

    You are asserting that God did create such a world and that Man’s volitional motions magically changed that world’s irreducible substratum.

    Think about how absurd that claim — your claim — is as it makes of Man the final metric.

    That assertion — your assertion — that God created an Ocean and that Man changed the fundamental nature of that Ocean again turns on the bizarre and even impossible premise that a fish in an ocean can change the fundamental nature of that ocean by its volitional motions within that ocean. But, again, not only is that absurd but it also contradicts both the OT and the NT as they each appeal to reality’s fundamental nature.

    The Living Water never has left, nor changed, just as the fabric of love’s timeless reciprocity which defines our world never has stopped existing.

    If it *were* to stop existing (…and you say it has…) then our created reality would by necessity also stop existing.

    Think about it.

  116. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You’re stopping at very superficial “layers” and not following through to a rational explanatory terminus. “Man does X so God failed” is just unthinking. You’ve got to justify that. What is God’s Decree? If God’s Decree is love’s irreducible reciprocity with respect to the Imago Dei well then — by necessity — at some ontological seam somewhere we will find Man at the door of love’s proposal. Just the same — again by necessity — what happens on the other side of that proposal — as in a volitional wedding — will it seems find at some ontological seam somewhere the mutable or corruptible putting on the immutable or incorruptible.

    You’ve got to take your superficial “layers” and rationally follow through to something fundamental, to something irreducible, to something akin to a Divine Decree.

    Until you do that (….I don’t see that you have…) the Christian is not rationally obligated to your definitions.

  117. Roger

    scbrown

    You have it quite wrong scbrown, man is not the competition of God or man is not trying to be God. It is the demigod Satan that is in competition with God from the beginning and has been winning from the start and is still winning if you follow the Christian historical record of history. The suggestion that God will be the victor in the end has no support from the Biblical historical record and clearly is not evident today in our world. To claim a future victory does not assure a future victory any more than the claim that Christ is presently on his throne in heaven assure that he actually is. There is no evidence to support such a reign. So if past history shows anything, it is that God has met his match. So man is not necessarily the victor but, up till this point in history, Satan is still beating his chest in victory over his competitor. There are lessons that we learn from history. You might want to say, “We can not trust the historical record as given in the Bible. It’s just a story.” But if the Bible is true, history does teach us lessons. Even Paul suggested that the church should learn from the failure of the Jews, or is that the failure of the Christian God?

  118. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You’re worse off than I thought. Unfortunately I have to actually point out the obvious here:

    Just replace “Man” in the previous few comments with “Satan”.

    It’s the same absurdities and Non-Christian set of definitions you are asserting.

    This is where you are stuck: A fish named Satan (…or Man…) swimming in that proverbial Ocean…..

    You are still in those superficial “layers” and not following through to something fundamental, something irreducible, to something akin to a Divine Decree.

  119. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Since we want to stay on one specific topic, the “Ocean” in the last comment is the same as the following from the comments which preceded it, only now it is a fish you’ve described as Satan:

    That assertion — your assertion — that God created an Ocean and that Satan changed the fundamental nature of that Ocean again turns on the bizarre and even impossible premise that a fish in an ocean can change the fundamental nature of that ocean by its volitional motions within that ocean. But, again, not only is that absurd but it also contradicts both the OT and the NT as they each appeal to reality’s fundamental nature.

    Therefore:

    You are still in those superficial “layers” and not following through to something fundamental, something irreducible, to something akin to a Divine Decree.

    Short version: The Decree of the Imago Dei in “Let Us create man in our image…” finds those irreducible Trinitarian processions amid love’s timeless reciprocity unavoidable such that they cannot be otherwise.

  120. Roger

    scbrown

    Once again, just read the record. Historical facts or history don’t lie, do they? A boxer gets pummeled to the ground and his opponent is declared the winner. But the pummeled boxer eventually jumps to his feet and says, I won. Such a declaration doesn’t make it so. Read the record before declaring me off track. I’m just acknowledging the historical record.

  121. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You mean Satan really did change the fundamental nature of the world which God first created and which God now through every nano-second maintains in existence?

    Explain how that fish did that to the Ocean.

    Is it a fish named Satan that is now through every nano-second is maintaining reality in existence?

    Or is some other fish in the Ocean?

    You really seam to no understanding of what the term “God” necessitates.

  122. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Typo: You really seam to have no understanding of what the term God necessitates.

    And:

    You also seem to presuppose that when God creates volitional beings it means their volitional motions actually do out-reach and out-travel God’s reach. Which is, again, an absurdity.

  123. Roger

    scbrown

    “You mean Satan really did change the fundamental nature of the world which God first created…”

    And

    “You also seem to presuppose that when God creates volitional beings it means their volitional motions actually out-reach and out-travel God’s reach”

    SC, what do you think the Fall of humanity did to the fundamental nature of the world (according to the Bible). It put the creation and humanity in opposition to God. The result is a fallen creation and humanity, changing the fundamental character of each.

  124. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    So The Good is no longer reality’s irreducible rock-bottom? The waves created by your fish changed the Ocean itself? But that cannot happen unless the Ocean is the end of reality.

    Are you saying the Ocean is where reality stops?

    If so then you are worshipping mutable and physical laws and not immutable laws which in fact supersede the former. Satan is now free of those immutable laws? And Man too?

    Seriously?

    See. That’s the problem when you stop short of something fundamental, something irreducible, something like, say, a Divine Decree.

    You irrationally assert that the Irreducible Decree which in fact defines our entire reality — all that Man can swim in from Privation’s pains to Eden to Heaven — changes if Man or Satan are found inside of Eden vs. outside of Eden. You are stuck in one “layer” rather than in *GOD* as the A and the Z.

  125. Roger

    scbrown

    Did not the Fall bring a fundamental change to creation and the human race? Every Christian source that I’ve read says it did. They must be wrong, according to the authority, scbrown.

    The Bible records repeated attempts by God to engender praise by his chosen people which always ends in failure. But this apparently means nothing to you. Do you really think the story is going to end well for the Christian God and for his chosen people? Or does the Bible’s historical record mean nothing to you? After all, isn’t the Bible the special revelation of God? Who needs the Bible when we have you.

  126. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Immutable laws are immutable because God alone decrees and grounds them. God can change His Decree but until and unless He does so then the laws and nature of X are immutable.

    God tells Man that death is found in Direction-X and in Direction-Z is Eternal Life. But “reality itself” can have neither “Direction” nor “X” nor “Z” nor any other contour but for the Decree of God.

    But you want us to believe that God’s Decree invented a world void of irreducibly volitional motions within love’s reciprocity, void of “Direction” with respect to love’s proposal, void of the possibility of “X”, void of the possibility of “Z”, and then Satan came along and “Re-Created” reality’s fundamental nature so that all those things now suddenly popped into existence. But if you are correct then why is it God Himself Who informs Man of “Direction” and “X” and “Z” and so on?

    You’re foisting a Non-Scriptural narrative AND you’re infusing it with all kinds of absurdities. You don’t need the Bible because you have your own fictions.

    So tell us, in your fiction is Satan free of reality’s immutable laws?

  127. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    In Scripture’s narrative, is love’s volitional reciprocity God’s Decree as to the topography of Reality? Or was that irreducible nature, that immutable law, non-existent until Satan came along and Re-Created everything?

    What about in your fiction? Is it the same or different? In your fiction is Man free of reality’s immutable laws? Is Satan? Is *reality*?

  128. Roger

    scbrown

    Now you are sounding more like a Calvinist. God is the primary mover or primary cause of all and human action is only secondary. That’s why Scripture can, at times, speak of secondary causation (human freedom) as though humans can chart their own destiny, and at other times speak of God’s predestination of all things (not even a hair can fall from the head apart from God’s will). It may feel to the senses and intellect that we are directing our own destiny, but the primary mover (God) is in complete control and directs everything to its appointed goal. So, as to our own feeling of freedom, the Scriptures call humans to make choices, but above our human freedom it is God who directs everything, even the Pharaoh who is out to destroy the Jews (Romans 11). He is but a pawn in the hands of God. And we are not in a position to question God, whether he has mercy on some or hardens the hearts of others, according to Paul. That’s primary causation and secondary causation. And in reality, according to the Calvinist, human freedom makes us feel in control and can be appealed to, but the reality is it doesn’t change anything even our own destiny which has been determined from before time. If anything, human freedom is the means by which accomplishes his goals. That’s what I was debating about with Tom Gilson in another article in which I didn’t understand what you were contributing.

    Even the sin and sinful nature that all humans come into the world with is given by God’s previous appointment (primary causation). And the result of such appointment by God is that all humans (other than those chosen by God) will come to their appointed end of damnation. Even though Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for all, it is only applied to the chosen. Even though God, in some sense (maybe for our limited human understanding), desires the salvation of all, but because of his justice, he will damn the majority. Because he so loves the world, he will save it qualitatively (not quantitatively), by saving the few.

    This is how the Calvinist makes sense of Scripture and the primary causation of God juxtaposed alongside of human freedom. It is primary causation, which you seem to think is unchangeable according to your above comments, and that trumps the historical record (the Bible) of God’s failure. I think I’m beginning to understand where you stand. On the one hand, Scripture in large part is the record of human activity, but beyond Scripture (which is God’s self revelation?) is what we can glean from reading between the lines of Scripture.

    Of course the Arminian perspective takes a completely different line of reasoning by giving the greatest weight to human freedom. Under such a perspective humanity can even cause God to change his mind and direction for individuals, as well as history.

    So as to Scripture (the obvious story line) God has failed in receiving his due glory from the time of creation on. Satan, the demigod, has trumped God in his own game and throughout history is receiving the glory and the dedication of humanity. But, according to your perspective, God has not really given up anything, because his glory is not dependent on human beings, the animal world, or creation, or even Satan. The war between God and Satan is simply superficial (or secondary), as is all talk of spiritual warfare.

    I’m glad I am beginning to understand you.

  129. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Once again right out of the gate you get it wrong.

    I described God’s Decree which [2] cannot be otherwise and [2] is Man’s irreducible volition within love’s reciprocity (…as in the context of self/other…).

    You took that and expunged the irreducible volition “part” and thereby came up with this:

    God is the primary mover or primary cause of all and human action is only secondary.

    You then prove that you mean that in only one sense which is that you leave Man void of God’s obvious Decree with respect to volition amid the “Direction” and “X” and “Z” alluded to earlier.

    That’s funny because earlier you made it Satan who was controlling the show and when that is shown to be incoherent you now just flip a switch and tell us what you attempted to assert much earlier and label Man as Puppets and God as the Puppet Master.

    You don’t seem able to make up your mind there as you demonstrably dance and hedge between Satan and God.

    If you’re only going to twist people’s words into obvious contradictions of what they say then of course you’re going to be all over the map like that.

  130. Roger

    scbrown

    No, I’m on the map. It’s you, who have made up your own map. I’m not claiming any of the above views. These are simply views that are held by a variety of Christians. It’s like the professional theologian, whether Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. He’ll come up with a theological system that is consistent with the basic principles of his theology. He’s the professional maze solver for his theological discipline. He has to make sure all the twists and turns of Scripture (the maze) fit into his theological position so that it eventually reaches the desired goal, having consistency within itself. (That’s why infant baptism doesn’t fit into a Baptist perspective, and so forth.) I think that is what you are trying to do, yourself, but haven’t got to the point of explaining your basic premises or the goal of your premises. Give it time, you’ll get there. All the others already have. The point is that there is no consistency in explaining the theological thrust of one discipline (for example the Pentecostal) with another denominational theological perspective (the Presbyterian or Orthodox). It’s a crap shoot as far as consistency and being able to explain the mysteries of Christianity. Your system is no better. You can’t even explain it.

    Even the necessity of a sacrifice (Christ’s) to appease God’s justice and anger against sin makes little sense. Justice requires that an individual be accountable and pay for one’s own sin. Our courts are an example. It wouldn’t be justice for you to pay for my sin, or for me to pay for yours. For God to say that I’ll (Christ) pay for your sin might be a nice gesture but it isn’t justice. If God is a forgiving God, he doesn’t have to require a payment anymore than I would have to require a payment from you for wrong doing. I can simply say, I forgive you. God could do the same. The idea of sacrifice goes back to the primitive Mesopotamian religions, of which Judaism is an offshoot with multiple gods and demigods at war with each other in some pseudo reality that impacts human reality. The sacrifices were an appeasement of the gods, but were never really thought through. The same with Christianity.

    Someday, I hope you get it together with other Christians or branches of Christianity, so that there is some consistency and even knowledge of what you believe. In the meantime, all this chaos and disagreement among Christians is the evidence that Christ is not presently on any throne or leading the church in all truth. And if one is to follow the premises or propositions of the Bible, then Satan is the one who stands in dominion. For you, sc, you need a different Bible to make sense of your perspective.

  131. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You’re not on the map. You’ve got Satan and Man free of reality’s immutable laws (…one of which happens to be God’s Decree of volition…among others…).

    Which is an impossibility.

  132. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    The map again: you also have Satan re-creating all of reality — reality’s fundamental nature — and out-reaching *GOD*, or out reaching “Being Itself“.

    Which are two more impossibilities.

    Quite a demonstration.

  133. Roger

    scbrown

    You have it wrong again. My only contention has always and only been that Christianity, including your perspective, has it wrong. Christianity has so many options and perspectives, even as to who Jesus Christ is, that it is totally inconsistent and irrelevant. It’s amazing that there is anything that coherently holds Christianity together, other than to say all branches and perspectives claim the Bible as their authority. I’ve not given any specific perspective or opinion other than to say Christianity doesn’t make sense. That’s been my contention. And that’s why I would give up belief in Jesus Christ.

  134. Post
    Author
    Tom Gilson

    Roger, you wanted me involved in this conversation. I’ve been watching some of it, and all I can say is that I’m not very interested in jumping in. Your statement, “Christianity has so many options and perspectives, even as to who Jesus Christ is, that it is totally inconsistent and irrelevant,” has been answered many times, yet you continue to repeat it.

    There is such a thing as historic orthodox Christianity. There are variations on it, but there is still historic orthodox Christianity. Historic orthodox Christianity contains a well-summarized and easily available set of beliefs that have been systematized in historic orthodox Christian creeds. Historic orthodox Christianity is the Christianity I seek to defend here. Historic orthodox Christianity includes belief in God as Creator, Jesus as God incarnate, who died and rose for us, in the Holy Spirit as God’s presence with us, in the Bible as the authoritative rule of faith and practice, in the church as God’s continuing vehicle for action upon the earth.

    There is such a thing as non-historic non-orthodox religion called Christianity. So what? Really. So what, Roger? Is it any surprise that a movement the size of Christianity has offshoots and variants? Is it any surprise that some of them depart from historic orthodox Christianity? Who on earth would consider that a mark against historic orthodox Christianity?

    I’ve repeated “historic orthodox Christianity” more than once, not because my fingers need to type but because you need to get that it’s what we’re talking about.

    If you’ll get that point I might be interested in re-engaging in this conversation. If you continue to point out that there are people who disagree with us, as if we needed to be told that like kindergarteners, and as if it made a difference to historic orthodox Christianity, then I will continue to consider this conversation too boring to bother with.

  135. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    You claimed that a mark against Christianity is the fact that Satan is running the show and thereby engaged in actions which the reality created by God never made possible.

    So Satan made it possible.

    By changing the fundamental nature of reality and freeing himself from reality’s immutable laws (…which God Decreed…).

    You’re retracting it now, and I commend you for that.

  136. Roger

    Tom Gilson

    Thanks, Tom, for your response, even if it is a johnny-come-lately one. You are coming into this conversation very late, after scbrown and I have carried on a long string of responses to each other. You criticize me for being overly repetitive, but scbrown has been just as repetitive, using the same responses he has used since the time I have first started dialoguing on this site. Often I don’t even know what he is actually saying, so some of my comments have been to try to get some clarity from him. I appreciate scbrown’s ongoing dialogue but it has been difficult understanding his deeply philosophical language. He has been doing better to try to accommodate me but I still have a difficult time understanding him.

    I have only addressed two recent comments specifically to you, Tom, (#65 – Jan. 28, and #113 – Feb.3) to which you have not responded to either. I was responding to the title of this article, “What Would It Take for Me to Give Up Belief in Jesus Christ.” From those two comments, scbrown picked up the slack and responded by taking the rebuttal in totally different directions than what was set out in my comment to you. I agree with you and also get tired of continually getting dragged back into old territory. I would be interested in your response to both of those comments addressed to you, but am getting tired also of getting dragged back into old territory. If you have any interest in responding to those two comments, I would love to hear your comment. The two comments addressed to you were not about the variety of Christian perspectives, but if you want to use that as an excuse for not responding, you are welcome to.

    I understand you are going through some serious physical difficulties and realize that can be a factor in fulfilling certain responsibilities. I seriously wish you well and hope for a speedy recovery, although I understand this is unlikely from your past history with this problem. Keep your spirits up and be encouraged. I imagine a lot of people are thinking of and praying for you. Wishing you well.

  137. scbrownlhrm

    Roger,

    Since you’re retracting:

    In Scripture’s narrative, we find volitional choice between man and God in love’s reciprocity, but is that God’s Decree as to the topography of Reality? Or was that irreducible nature, that immutable law, non-existent until Satan came along and Re-Created everything?

    Or are we all puppets of Satan who is running the show and doing actions which God’s Decreed immutable laws made impossible for Satan to do?

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