The Wrong Target

wm-Wrong TargetDavid Smalley, atheist blogger of “The Dogma Debate” has put up a list of the top ten reasons why he is an atheist (though there are actually eleven reasons listed). While these are of varied quality, It struck me as intelligent enough to warrant a response.

As such, I’ll start with the first:

“1. If we truly had one creator speaking to prophets, it would do so consistently, not contradictory as thousands of different religions have proven.”

This is the classic argument from many beliefs, and is an important question for people to ask, though it is hardly a reason to embrace atheism. In fact, this statement assumes that one creator founded different religions. That is to say, it is an argument against Unitarianism (and not a very good one, even then); it says nothing about religions which don’t claim that God founded every religion.

Really, that anyone would think that this is a good reason to accept atheism as true strikes me as very strange.

But, let’s help Smalley out a bit. Let’s change this to “God would have made sure that all religions were correct, and therefore the same as one another”. That would apply to Christianity.

Or, rather, it would apply to Christianity if there were any good reason to think it was true. The idea that God allows us our free will, and allows us to believe what we choose, has always been a key part of Christian belief. So, a version of God that would prevent people from believing other things wouldn’t be the free will respecting God of Christianity.

Thus, this argument doesn’t work, either.

The fundamental mistake here is assuming that different people won’t see things differently. Any experience with life will tell us that this happens in all areas; to insist that religion should be the one exception to this is to insist that humanity shouldn’t be a factor in religion. When it is connecting humanity to God that is the purpose of religion, this seems dubious at best.

But, if history is any indicator, someone will object in the comments section that this is no reason to select a particular religion out as true. This is true, but only by being beside the point. There are far too many answers to that tangent to list them here, but the main point is that wouldn’t defend atheism. For now, Smalley’s objection was based in the idea that theism inherently contradicts the existence of multiple religions, and this is an idea that no one has been able to support, let alone justify.

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136 responses to “The Wrong Target

  • tonyroberts64

    You contest Smalley’s presupposition well. Basically, it is a fallacy to assume God must necessarily force everyone to be right.

  • holly

    Really I think this is either an oversimplification, or a missing of another’s point.If you will allow my attempt to explain….
    If I wanted my child to know I loved them, know who I was, and then allow them to love me in return (not force them but allow them free will in the matter ;). ) I would not stay hidden, and allow them to be taught lies about me. See , to me….such would also be considered a move against free will…the NOT being clear about who he was…
    I Believe this one would land in my top ten list as well.

    • walttucker

      In reply to Holly – if God is merely a human being as you a mother are, then I would agree that it would be better that He not be hidden – yet, how should a pure spirit make itself known to humans? If it is true that no one can see God face to face and live, what kind of freewill opportunity would that be that He should appear before us to force us to believe only what He dictates and yet we die because of being in His presence?

      Also, no human can keep another human from being taught lies. It happens all the time, and sometimes it is our own mothers teaching them to us! So, if freewill is to be preserved, how should God manage to keep us from believing lies?

      As it is, God has appeared to mankind in the form of a man (so that we may not die) to show His love for us and to teach us how to think correctly about God! In what other religion has that historically happened? Even if an angel should appear to a man, how should we know what it says is true unless there is prophecy involved that only God can accomplish? It is funny that it is said that God should do such and such and when He does such and such in the only way a spiritual being can, in a way that no angel or man could pull off, it is denied as being myth!

      Debilis is correct that there is no good argument against God’s existence just because of there being mutliple religions that conflict. That is especially the case when the testimony of God interacting with mankind is rejected apriori and yet it is that kind of testimony that is being suggested should exist by the skeptic.

    • Debilis

      Yes, I think we agree that the hiddenness of God argument is a more serious challenge than the argument from multiple religions. That is why I referenced it in the post.

      I’ll actually agree that my comments were something of an oversimplification. I thought a summary was more appropriate to this medium than a full, scholarly treatment.

      But I essentially agree with Walt. The only thing that I’d add to that is that making a metaphysical being (such as God is) perfectly clear would indeed be a violation of free will. One can’t know everything about a mind (human or Godly) without being in relationship with that mind. That is what it is to “know” a person.

      That being the case, forcing knowledge on people in this way would be forcing a relationship on them. A good mother doesn’t demand that her children know everything about her. This seems rather obvious.

      But perhaps you simply meant that God would have made more obvious some things about him (such as existence), but I simply don’t know of any good argument that this would serve God’s purposes. If it does nothing to put us further in relationship with him, he’d have no reason to do it.

      I see the possibility that God might do this, but I don’t see any reason to think that this is what God would do–which is what the non-theist would have to show before this argument can go through.

  • holly

    I am not convinced that revealing something strips free will. (At least any more than NOT revealing something does. If I have asked , sought, and knocked…and not gotten an answer…. I am fully aware that I cannot use this as proof that such a being does not exist…as others experience claims are different from my own. However it certainly gives me reason to not have proof warranting belief. As to the many differing religious paths/ gods/ beliefs etc….I think that it lends weight to the “god created by man” idea. Would not truth stand out? Would not truth bearers be different from those who are not?
    For me (my list) , the many various religious paths is tied into two other points. Shouldn’t we see a visible difference in the lives of believers and non? Fruit of the spirit, answers to prayer and what not?
    Something I do not see….(a difference)

    • walttucker

      “Shouldn’t we see a visible difference in the lives of believers and non? Fruit of the spirit, answers to prayer and what not?
      Something I do not see….(a difference)”

      I agree, except for the third sentence! What I do agree there is that it is seen less than it would seem it ought to be seen. Not all who claim to follow a religion entirely adhere to that religion. Really, it seems that most of any religion do not really truly adhere to the religion – thus making it tough to make that judgment. In the Christian faith there is the aspect of having the Holy Spirit and of repentance (turning from self to Christ as influenced by the Spirit and the Bible). It is my observation that the Spirit is missing in most churches today (and not talking Pentecostalism as evidence) where they are self focussed clubs. Even in places where the Spirit is at work, we have to keep in mind people are in a process of being changed and at times fall into their human tendencies. No one is 100% transformed day one (at least while living on the earth). But I have seen many churches, visited many countries, and seen people of many religions. I truly see a difference! What I suspect, Holly, is that you are seeing Christians from the West that are worshipping materialism/consumerism rather than God and as a result, there is no real change for many, and a slow change for some.

      I used to think there ought to be more abrupt change among Christians. That was when I was new in the faith myself. But in maturity, I now see that was my naive thinking rather than the way God has chosen, and transformation is more like a caterpillar being transformed into a beautiful butterfly. There is a lot of struggle, a lot of falling down and getting back up, and some choose to not go through it or they are taught there is no struggle and then fail to allow the transformation to take place. Transformation happens to us, we can’t force it, but we must offer our lives to the Lord and be attentive to His Spirit and His revelation for it to occur.

      I’ve met “good” people of many religions. But the question is whether any of them truly love God. It is only a love for God that truly makes an inward transformation that produces the fruit you say should exist. This love comes from the Spirit of God. Obedience is important, but if it is for brownie points, or to earn God’s favor, it is as far from God as you can get. And most relgions, and even most Christians, still fall in that self-glorification camp, rather than the honoring and loving God camp that leads to change.

      • holly

        This passage is pretty clear to me that a visible difference should be seen, (or was expected by the author of the passage)
        Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: [i]immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

        (and there are many more)
        But upon meeting those of other faiths/religions and seeing they had the same…some devoted to loving your neighbor as yourself, and love of god, others not so devoted…
        I began to realize that each religion had a diversity of believers. And that the success rater of “living with the fruit of the spirit evident” seemed to be based more on personality than on religious belief.

        Consider how you put quote marks on the word…”good”….
        In order to cover the lack of difference one must redefine the terms….

        • walttucker

          I used to be suspect of the personallity contribution as being the greater factor as you say, Holly. But, I’ve met people who have had changes of personality that were dramatic and followed their conversion. Any life changing experience can have an effect, but falling in love with Jesus has an effect that is always dramatic (but few have that love!). Other religions can teach loving neighbor, but if they don’t have a love for God first (and not a fear of judgment as a motivator), then it is superficial. In many cases, it IS personality that is driving the boat – even among professed Christians (unfortunately). But, for the few who have a Spirit driven love for God above all others, that change cannot be denied and the fruit of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in Galatians, WILL be evident. By the way, I put “good” in quotes because there is a human definition and a biblical definition. The human definition falls short of God’s defintion. This is exhibited with the story about the rich young ruler that asks Jesus what good thing he must do to inherit eternal life.

  • Arkenaten

    Again…you begin by assuming your god is real. And once more, I ask you to demonstrate this claim.

    If you have any integrity step back think sensibly and realize you are merely acting in the same manner as those you ridicule.
    You claim what you believe is irrefutable truth.
    If this is the case then the evidence should stand for itself and I challenge you to demonstrate it.

    This is and always will be the crux. You can philosophize all you like, tear down objections to your hearts content, but until you demonstrate that the god you worship, notably the man god Yashu’a, is the divine entity you claim then I am afraid all you are doing is pissing in the wind and merely making yourself look rather silly and every post challenging atheism somewhat ridiculous.

    • Debilis

      You keep making this accusation, but I don’t remotely see how I’ve done this.

      What part of pointing out that Smalley’s arguing against Unitarianism alone assumes that God is real? If God weren’t real, would he not be arguing against Unitarianism?

      Nor have I claimed that what I believe is irrefutable truth. As I don’t believe that, it’s hard to imagine why you would think I’ve claimed it.

      In fact, this entire comment is simply an attack on me. It does nothing at all to show that what I was saying isn’t true.

      • Arkenaten

        Because you start with the assumption that your god is real.
        This is disingenuous.
        Imagine reading the story of Chicken Licken.

        Now, you and I both know this is a story. Yet, suppose a group of people arose that claimed it was true; that there really was a talking chick that believed the sky was going to fall on his head?
        Nuts, I agree, yet there are plenty of religions that come close to this level of stupidity dotted all around the world.

        So, in your world view, you posit a creator deity, which in effect is a human being, Yashu’a who you believe is the creator of the universe. You cannot deny this as otherwise you would not be a Christian.
        Everything you argue for or against is based on this belief; a belief that Yashu’a was a real live human being and a deity.

        For any argument you care to put forward’; for or against you first have to demonstrate the veracity of these claims.

        Until then, my friend…..you are merely whistling Dixie.

    • Debilis

      That is just another repetition of the accusation. There is nothing about my argument which requires that one start from the belief that God is real. If it could be shown, beyond all doubt, that no God exists, that wouldn’t change a thing about what I’ve written. Smalley’s argument would still be a bad one, even if is atheism happened to be correct.

      I was following your Chicken Licken example right up until “Everything you argue for or against is based on this belief”.

      Why?

      Believing in God may be the reason why I care that Smalley’s argument is a bad one, but that doesn’t remotely mean that one has to assume God’s existence to follow my reasoning. Specifically, you don’t.

      Really, I see a very tribalistic sort of thinking in this response where everything a Christian says is based entirely on the Bible, and everything an atheist says is based on whatever the main motto of current atheists happens to be right now (is it still reason?).

      This is horribly simplistic at best. Personally, I’m inclined to call it wildly false. I thought this argument was silly long before I was a Christian, and I still think Jerry Falwell is silly now that I am one.

      But that doesn’t seem to fit into this tidy narrative you’re painting, where everyone perfectly fits the stereotype.

      And, to that, I recommend that you interact with real people, and what they are actually saying, rather than insist that what we “really” mean is what you’ve decided about them beforehand.

      • Arkenaten

        You are not a deist. You are a christian. Your god is your man-god Yashu’a.
        Demonstrate the veracity of the claims for his divinity.
        Until you do so, your comments are meaningless.

    • Debilis

      Let me re-word this:

      “Prove that you are correct in your specific position on a tangent point, or else I can dismiss everything you say on this point without having any good reason to do so.”

      I expect that you think this is an unfair representation, but I can’t see any difference between this, and what you’ve written.

      I’ll get to the massive argument over Christianity eventually. But, until then, I’ll keep pointing out that my statements don’t require this, at all.

      In fact, you could call these comments step one in showing Christianity to be true. It’s a long argument, with lots of steps, but, if you can’t offer a reason why this step has a problem, we’re a tiny bit closer to seeing why Christianity is true.

      • Arkenaten

        Christianity is true. It is palpable and all around us.I have NEVER said it is not true.
        What it is BASED upon is false.
        You have a vested interest in protecting this belief, thus you will attempt to tear down any argument that in ANY way seems to threaten your worldview, by using convoluted logic and philosophy, in fact ANYTHING rather than loo at Christianity and ask a single pertinent question.
        You can reword til you run out of semantics.
        It matters little to me. The more you continue to justify your stand point the more silly it becomes.

        Demonstrate the veracity of your claims re: Your Christianity THEN it will be my greatest pleasure to have a meaningful discussion on any topic you like.

        Off you go…the floor s yours.

        Show me the irrefutable evidence that confirms your religious belief.

    • Debilis

      So, you agree that Christianity is true, but merely think its basis (presumably, you mean the Bible) is false?
      If so, I’m definitely confused. Why are you so convinced that my arguments are meaningless simply because I’m Christian? If it is true, why is my believing it a problem?

      But, from there, we just go into more demands that I prove Christianity. Apparently, we’ve stepped up from “show my position to be superior” to “prove irrefutably”.

      Am I allowed to dismiss everything you say until you prove your position irrefutably?

      Either way, I’m the only one offering an argument. This entire blog is a collection of the reasons why it is true (and it’s not finished). You’re simply rejecting the proof itself until you have the proof. That’s just silly.

      So, I’m doing the exact thing you demand. I’ve been doing it for a while. Please take note.

      • Arkenaten

        Christianity is true…by that I mean Christians are everywhere, like a damn plague, unfortunately, which is proof of Christianity. This does not mean what it stands for is true.
        What you believe in is demonstrably false, based on lies.
        So once more, show irrefutable evidence that what you believe is truth.
        Away you go….
        This can go on forever if you like. Why not simply offer up some proof? You scared of giving a succinct honest answer?
        Concerned that after all, you have been caught with your trousers around your ankles? That it is, after all, absolute bullshit?
        LOL…what a Silly Person you are.
        Come on, strap on a pair and show me what you’re made of.
        Demonstrate the infallible truth of Christianity. Have a go.

        • walttucker

          Sorry to jump in here. But the statement, “What you believe in is demonstrably false, based on lies,” caught my attention as being an odd thing to say while asking for demonstratable proof (in lieu of rational arguments), when there is no such demonstrably false proof! All I am aware of are arguments against Christianity based on worldview presuppositions and/or misunderstandings of the basic Christian faith, not any demonstrable proof that it is based on lies. (Also, I think Debilis adequately notes that he does not need to show the truth of Christianity to show how the argument from multiple religions is a bad argument on its own, regardless of the truth of Christianity.)

          So why ask one for some sort of absolute proof when one cannot produce any absolute proof in the negative? If you could, you wouldn’t be asking for proof of the positive – because it would not be necessary since the negative would suffice the settle the question! To be honest, I think the best you can say is that the Christian faith is unreasonable given certain evidences. And in turn, others can say that they believe it is reasonable based on certain evidences. Thus, it is how you look a the world that determines whether you believe it or not. If it were so obvious that Christianity is false, then I really doubt there would be so many believers in this day and age.

        • Arkenaten

          Christianity hinges on the resurrection. In fact, it stands or falls by it.
          Demonstrate its veracity to the satisfaction of a non christian.
          William Lane Craig is generally considered to be the top exponent of this and he has never convinced a non believer.
          If you think you can do a better job…go ahead.
          Do this and you will have earned my respect.
          Until then……

        • walttucker

          Dear Arkenaten, you said “Christianity is demonstrably false, based on lies.” Whether I have a better argument than William Lane Craig or not does not have anything to do with your statement unless you showed the resurrection to be demonstrably false and I then needed to show you are wrong. Of course, if it is demonstrably false, I’d be hard pressed to show you wrong in the face of the demonstrable fact. Just because Craig’s argument is insufficient for you, how does that make the resurrection demonstrably false? All that says is that you haven’t been convinced, not that it is false. I believe you are in the same boat in that you cannot prove the resurrection didn’t happen anymore than I can prove it did happen by any method other than an argument like Craig’s. Craig’s argument is not and never was meant to be proof. It was meant to be the best explanation of the facts – a concept used in history, and in some cases, science. You may not think the resurrection is the best explanation because you just can’t bring yourself to believe it is possible in any possible world. The problem is that a lot of speculation is necessary to reject the resurrection. That doesn’t mean the resurrection is true by default, but it means that it can’t be proved to be false either – at least with what is known today. Thing is, the resurrection explains a lot more than just the facts surrounding Jesus’ death. It is consistent with explaining he problem of evil and the behavior of humans. Evolution might explain the problem also, but it doesn’t explain the consistency of the development of the Biblical text. In any other religion, things change dramatically over the years as texts are generated. The most ancient Hindu texts differ dramatically from the more recent. Mohammed conflicts himself in the Quoran. Buddha didn’t have external revelation, but self-revelation and his philosophy is not consistent with reality. So, there is a difference with the Christian text and the resurrection is entirely consistent with its message. Beyond that, something seriously impacted the earliest disciples. What was it? Craig has the best explanation. Any alternative is speculative and leaves you no closer to the truth.

        • Arkenaten

          ” It was meant to be the best explanation of the facts ”–
          What facts? There are NO facts surrounding this issue you can draw upon. None.
          There is only scripture.

          You can only demonstrate the resurrection by clever argument based on the fallacious claims of the bible. Period.
          The earliest manuscripts of Mark do not contain any reference to the supposed resurrection and it is widely held among the vast majority of non-Christian biblical scholars that these verses were later Christian add ons. Even the Encyclopedia Brit. not known for its ‘left wing leanings’ states cautiously it is considered an open ended gospel.
          If a biblical scholar of Bart Ehrman’s standing flatly reject the resurrection based on evidence, then why on earth don’t you? He was a former christian and like everyone else, only has the bible to work.

          I reiterate only Christians who have no ability to rationalize defend this ridiculous narrative construct.

          Enough said.

        • walttucker

          “You can only demonstrate the resurrection by clever argument based on the fallacious claims of the bible.” You have yet to verify the claims are fallicious!

          ” vast majority of non-Christian biblical scholars that these verses were later Christian add ons.” Based on speculative assumptions!

          “If a biblical scholar of Bart Ehrman’s standing flatly reject the resurrection based on evidence,” He doesn’t! He rejects it based on naturalism and his own issues with the problem of evil. ” then why on earth don’t you?” Because I don’t have the hangups Prof Ehrman does. Besides, most of his work is speculative. I attended a debate he had on the resurrection once, and he had no substantial argument. He just flat out rejected it. I don’t think that is credible.

          “He was a former christian ” Evidently he was not. True believers do not turn from the faith. They might question it at times, but not turn from it.

          “I reiterate only Christians who have no ability to rationalize defend this ridiculous narrative construct.” Interesting accusation. Debilis appears to be quite rational. My background is in physics from MIT and I spent most of my time as an engineer of advanced systems, so I wouldn’t think I have no ability to ratiionalize.

        • Arkenaten

          And this is why your degree of fundamentalism is not only utterly stupid it is also insidious.

          You spend so much effort running down Ehrman – suggesting he was not a proper christian – you merely illustrate your own utter shallowness.
          This is bigotry of the highest order.
          Why not spend the time researching why Christians felt obliged to add those spurious verses at the end of Mark’s gospel? A point you neatly sidestepped I notice.
          I will not lower myself to debate with your ilk
          You have no integrity, sir.
          Peddle your nonsense somewhere else.

        • walttucker

          Arkenaten, sorry you think I have no integrity. People who know me think differently about that. Neverlthess, it is best you don’t lower yourself if you feel that way. But I would suggest that if you are interested in debate, that you might take a class on critical thinking (not that you might become a Christian, but that you would understand the nature of debate). Merely calling people names and trying to bully then into thinking they are idiots rather than offering a line of argument is not debate and is a bit immature.

          By the way, I did not run Prof Ehrman down in any slanderous way. I merely noted that his work is based on much speculation, which he can’t deny (he uses the word “probably” a lot, indicating the uncertainty in his claims), and that he was never a Christian, which he would probably squawk about, but which is true based on my “fundamentalist” understanding of the doctrine of eternal security.

          As far as answering your point about Christians adding an ending to Mark, it has nothing to do with your claim about Christianity being based on lies, which you have not given evidence for. Which is why I didn’t address it. But since you would rather discuss that, ok. What about the rest of the gospel? Is the part that was not added later a lie? Is not the rest of the gospel consistent with the ending? It is verse 9 to 20 that is considered added. There are two added endings, a long one and short one. It is certain there was an ending of some sort, but why it was missing in some manuscripts is unknown. (The Sinaiticus, one of the oldest manuscripts missing an ending, has a blank space where the ending would go, indicating the scribe knew there was an ending, but questioned whether it was authorative – showing the respect for the writings.) Some of what those endings say is suspect, like handling snakes. But the verses preceeding verse 9 strongly imply a resurrection. I hold to the dating of the three synoptic gospels as being prior to A.D. 65, where it is still the eyewitnesses, or acquantances of eyewitnesses, who wrote the gospels. The other two synoptic gospels give accounts of the resurrection in detail. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 notes that many of the eyewitnesses were still alive who witnessed the risen Jesus. Luke was a missionary companion of Paul and wrote about the resurrection in both his gospel and Acts. Colin Hemer gives a good historical argument for why the gospels predate A.D. 70, contrary to Ehrman’s dating which is based in part on the good Greek of the gospels, not taking into account the education of at least Luke, possibly Mark and Matthew, and that John may have used an amenuesis to write the Greek for him.

          Anyway, it looks that the information you are basing your accusation of “lies” on is suspect because it presumes an antisupernatural position and is speculative. Again, that that work is speculative, does not mean the gospels are true. But, there is not a strong basis on which to claim outright that they are lies when there is a good bit of evidence that they are real testimonies.

          Lastly, I don’t know why you have so much hatred, evident in the manner in which you “debate.” But if I may say so, Jesus Christ can you help you with that. Don’t hate Jesus because of actions of the church or of Christians who may have done you wrong or what some evil that may have happened in your life. This is a fallen world and no one is beyond making mistakes or beyond the attrocites of the world. But, if you put your faith in Jesus alone, you don’t have to go on through life hating the world.

    • paarsurrey

      Would you kindly define as to what you understand from the word “real” in your comments? Please

      I think you are a Humanist who are reasonable persons with many good arguments with them. Why don’t you come up with one good arguments from so many that the “one true God does not exist”?

      I think we all are ears to your good arguments in this connection.

      • Arkenaten

        You are a Muslim who believes your god authored the Quaran…and it is he actual words of a god.
        You also believe Mohammed went to heaven and back on a winged horse.
        You are a member of a religion that has a pedophile as its prophet. A prophet that, one of who’s last earthly acts of godliness was to instigate the invasion of Syria,
        Yes, I can see you are the perfect candidate to engage in a common sense discussion.

        What a Silly Person.

        • paarsurrey

          Quoting your words “You also believe Mohammed went to heaven and back on a winged horse.”

          It is not mentioned in Quran; so I won’t have to believe in it.

          I only defend things mentioned in Quran.

          If you think that the above is mentioned in Quran; please quote the verse with the context.

          Thanks for discussing.

        • Arkenaten

          So, are you saying Mohammed did NOT go to Heaven or get transported to Jerusalem on a winged horse ?

        • paarsurrey

          There is no mention of a winged horse going to heaven on whom Muhammad rode in Quran.

          If you think that it is mentioned in Quran; please quote the verse with the context verses.

        • kcchief1

          I’m not sure about going to heaven, but it is written that Mohammed did travel to Jerusalem on a winged horse which came from heaven.

          Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق‎ al-Burāq “lightning”) is a mythological steed, described as a creature from the heavens which transported the prophets. The most commonly told story is how in the 7th century, Al-Buraq carried the Islamic prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem and back during the Isra and Mi’raj or “Night Journey”, which is the title of one of the chapters (sura), Al-Isra, of the Quran.

        • paarsurrey

          We cannot base our belief on hearsay. I don’t think “(Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق‎ al-Burāq “lightning”) ” as you say is mentioned in Quran.

          Please quote the verse which mentions of this horse “Al-Burāq (Arabic: البُراق‎ al-Burāq “lightning”) ” of which you mention.

        • paarsurrey

          @kcchief1

          Please mention the address of your blog; I want to follow you.

          Thanks

        • kcchief1

          I don’t have an active blog at the moment. The information I looked up was from wikipedia about the winged horse.

        • paarsurrey

          It is OK if you don’t have an active blog. There is no mention of a winged horse in Quran. Did wikipedia quote the verse of Quran about this horse?

          Thanks for your prompt reply.

        • kcchief1

          I copied and pasted what they wrote here.

        • paarsurrey

          I appreciate it.

          Thanks

        • Arkenaten

          And please tell me how you KNOW the Quran is authored by your god?

  • paarsurrey

    Reblogged this on paarsurrey and commented:
    Paarsurrey says:

    All revealed religions in their origin are/were from one source of the one true God; that is the reason for so many similar teachings in them. The differences in religions reflect that when the message from the one true God got diluted due to corruption; the message was again revealed by Him on another truthful messenger prophet of the one true God.

    Thanks

    • john zande

      Would your mind change to know there was never a revelation to anyone at any time? I’m referring here specifically to the Old Testament.

      • paarsurrey

        Why should one restrict to Old Testament? Moses did receive revelation from the one true God.
        Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Socrates, Jesus, Muhammad and in our own times Mirza Ghulam Ahmad received revelation from the one true God.

        • john zande

          Care to explain then why all these gods have different names, attributes, personalities, messages, languages, moral codes, and varying degrees of authored powers. The Abrahamic god is omnipotent and omnipresent, but the Zoroastrian, Ahura Mazda, in not (it is stressed) omnipresent.

        • paarsurrey

          Different languages have to have different names of the one true God; it is very natural.
          All good names in whatever language are His names; they belong to the one true God.

        • john zande

          Sorry, that explanation doesn’t fly. You are alluding to a universal god, and a universal god should have one name recognised by all. By extension such a god should be able to state exactly what it wants to say and do so free of any and all ambiguity. Its word should be unencumbered by cultural idiosyncrasies and remain unmolested by divergences in language, calligraphy, obscure and dead lexicons, future dialects, exotic morphemes, or even illiteracy and deafness. Its word should contain no contradiction, no absurdity, no oversight or declarations that are in conflict with observed facts. Its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Such an entity should be instantly recognisable to all sentient creatures and its actions should exhibit no fault or favour, no bias, prejudice, second-thought or indeed, if omniscient, no mind-set at all.

      • paarsurrey

        How do you know that?Please give your evidence

        • john zande

          It is a claim bound-up in the proclamation of an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god. I didn’t make the claim; theists, like yourself, do.

        • paarsurrey

          But I did not make any such claim; you will admit; if others do, they are free to answer.

        • john zande

          Are you insane? 🙂

          You believe in the Abrahamic god. That god is said to be omni-everything. If you don’t believe in that particular god you’ll have to specifically outline which god you actually believe in… and describe its attributes to me.

          So, if its not the Abrahamic god, describe the god you believe in.

        • paarsurrey

          I believe in the one true God who always existed irrespective whether Abraham believed in Him. I don’t have to contest with Abraham; he was a truthful messenger prophet of the one true God.

          In fact time and space, “nothing” and “something”; are all caused by Him, the one true God.

          Please don’t define and limit my God; it is my choice to believe in Him as per the attributes mentioned in Quran.

          Please don’t lose patience; I think it is a good attribute of a Humanist.

          Isn’t it?

        • john zande

          “attributes mentioned in Quran…”

          so you believe in the Abrahamic god! There’s no two ways around this. You believe in THAT omni-everything god.

        • paarsurrey

          Prophets like Adam, Buddha, Krishna, Socrates, Moses and Jesus etc; all believed in one true God; Abraham was also one such messenger prophet among so many.

          Religion is a personal belief; please don’t attribute or define anything which I did not claim.

          I think a good Humanist should be careful about others beliefs.

        • john zande

          There you go again about Moses and Abraham…. Dude, they NEVER existed. They are fictional characters. You’re entire belief system is a sham.

        • paarsurrey

          Give your irrefutable evidence; please, like a good Humanist.

        • john zande

          I already have given you the consensus… evidently you didn’t read it.

          Now, you’re boring me.

        • paarsurrey

          I don’t think there is any consensus on it.

          I think at first you qualified it with the word “overwhelming”; just to add some weight.

          Now don’t be angry.

        • walttucker

          John, I couldn’t find where you explained that Moses and Abraham are fictional, or even where you explained the consensus. Was that in this blog, or elsewhere? Do note that there is a difference between there being a consensus among a minority of minimalist scholars, if that is whose consensus you are suggesting, and there being evidence that no such figures ever existed. When I studied Old Testament scholarship, I found that there was very little agreement or consensus on much of anything of those that claim the Torah was produced in the later kingdom years! Every theory possible has been offered. That doesn’t sound like much to hang one’s hat on.

        • john zande

          This is the consensus among archaeologists, Jewish rabbis, and serious biblical scholars. Even Christianity Today’s Kevin D. Miller admitted: “The fact is that not one shred of direct archaeological evidence has been found for Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob or the 400-plus years the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt. The same is true for their miraculous exodus from slavery.”
          The truth is it’s been known for well over 30 years that the patriarchs (Abraham, Jacob, Isaac) and Moses never existed, the Exodus never happened, there was no conquest of the Land of Israel, and there was never a 10th Century United Kingdom. Penned by Judean copywriters between the 7th and 5th Centuries BCE (nearly a millenium after its alleged origin) the Pentateuch is recognised today by even conservative Jewish rabbis to be nothing but a geopolitical work of fiction commissioned to justify a northern land grab after the fall of Mamlekhet Yisra’el (Kingdom of Israel) in 722 BCE.

          • “There is no archaeological evidence for any of it. This is something unexampled in history. They [Judah] wanted to seize control of the territories of the kingdom of Israel and annex them, because, they said, `These territories are actually ours and if you have a minute, we´ll tell you how that´s so.’ The goal was to create a myth saying that Judah is the center of the world, of the Israelite way of life, against the background of the reality of the later kingdom.” (Israel Finkelstein, professor of archaeology, Tel Aviv University)

          Those are the facts, they’ve been in the public domain for over thirty years, but as Prof. Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University observed: “we are witnessing a fascinating phenomenon in that all this is simply ignored by the public.”

          • “The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.” (Prof. Ze’ev Herzog)

          • “I think there is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Herzog represents a large group of Israeli scholars, and he stands squarely within the consensus. Twenty years ago even I wrote of the same matters and I was not an innovator. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.” (Professor Magen Broshi, Archaeologist at the Israel Museum)

          Here are a few more quotes from the unchallenged leaders in the field:

          • “It’s been decades since we’ve known… what’s the hold up?” Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University.
          • “The period of the patriarchs, exodus, conquest, or judges as devised by the writers of Scriptures never existed,” asserted Robert Coote, Senior Research Professor of Hebrew Exegesis at San Francisco’s Theological Seminary.
          • “The Genesis and Exodus accounts are a fiction,” noted the biblical scholar Niels Peter Lemche of the University of Copenhagen.
          • “The actual evidence concerning the Exodus resembles the evidence for the unicorn,” concluded Baruch Halpern, Professor of Jewish Studies of Pennsylvania State University.
          • “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories, we did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, we did not conquer the land. Those who take an interest have known these facts for years,” declared famed Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog of Tel Aviv University.
          • “Scholars have known these things for a long time, but we’ve broken the news very gently,” explained one of America’s preeminent archaeologists, Professor William Dever of the University of Arizona.

          If you doubt the world’s experts, the leaders of archaeological digs and heads of Israeli University departments, then I’d urge you to look at the Jewish rabbis who now openly admit to these facts. Specifically, read the Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary; the first authorised commentary on the Torah since 1936. Published in 2001 by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (in collaboration with the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Publication Society) the 1,559 page long Etz Hayim concludes with 41 essays written by prominent rabbis and scholars who admit the Pentateuch is little more than a self-serving myth rife with anachronisms and un-ignorable archaeological inconsistencies, and rather than triumphant conquest, Israel instead emerged slowly and relatively peacefully out of the general Canaanite population with monotheism only appearing in the post-Exilic period, 5th Century BCE.

          • “Defending a rabbi in the 21st century for saying the Exodus story isn’t factual is like defending him for saying the Earth isn’t flat. It’s neither new nor shocking to most of us that the Earth is round or that the Torah isn’t a history book dictated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai.” Rabbi Steven Leder of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

          • “The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis.” Rabbi David Wolpe

        • kcchief1

          john zande, “Specifically, read the Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary”

          john , I recently purchased this commentary and read the 41 essays in the back. They confirm what you have offered here in your comments.

        • john zande

          Thanks for that. I do hope no one thinks i’m just making this stuff up 😦

        • walttucker

          Thanks John. That was a better repy than I expected. I really do appreciate the level of detail your presented. If others would only learn from your example.

          But of course what kind of archeological evidence should you expect to find for a family of nomads from 4000 years ago? Yes there is not a shred of evidence other than the Torah itself – which can be suspect. But it is misleading to think there ought to be any! Also, for the exodus, there is evidence, if everyone could come to terms with dating issues. Granted it is circumstantial, like the abrubt, but large change of population that is supposedly in the wrong time. But at one time it was said that David never existed and that Pilate didn’t oversee Judea. Of course evidence has since been found. Of all the possible archaeological evidence, we only have a smidgen. So, not having that evidence, is not proof these characters are fictitious. Also, the late writing of the Torah is based on hundreds of different hypotheses. Which one should we believe since they are all whimisical theories that have nothing to really tie them down? J and E are considered to be different sources. Yet, David, in Psalm 19 uses E for creation, and J for the law/covenant relationship – the same for Gen 1 and 2 from two supposed different sources. That some Jewish Rabbis have bought into this is not much proof that these ancient guys didn’t exist. I’m aware of rabbis who have a different opinion. Your quotes are from minimalists and there are scholars who are not.

          Anyway, no need to reply. I know your sources (I’m a BAS subscriber). Thanks, but concensus of opinion is not the same as fact. I think you can correctly say there is no evidence that Abraham and Moses existed, but I don’t think it is honest for you to say they never existed when the evidence is not conclusive!

        • kcchief1

          You should be able to find a pot or something from 1 1/2 million people walking from Egypt to Canaan.

        • walttucker

          Entirely depends on where you are looking (for where they stayed the longest periods), what time frame you are looking for (most who reject the exodus apply the late rather than more appropriate early dating), and whether these people on the quick move would have much with them that would survive. Much archeological data is still yet unearthed.

        • kcchief1

          The dry climate they endured throughout most of their trip would have preserved many types of items for a very long time from simple leather items to pottery and metal weapons. I’m sure they would have carried with them an ample supply of all three. There have been great discoveries made in the Egyptian Desert from the time when the Exodus was to have ocurred . Not much luck with the Exodus folks however. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/science/07archeo.html?_r=0

        • walttucker

          I sizeable settlement discovered in 2005? Just goes to show not everything in that desert has been found yet. Besides, I think the Mt. Sinai is in Arabia in Midian (where Moses was), not the peninsula where Constantine’s mom decided it should be. And, there is not a lot of open archeology being done there! Also, I’m not entirely convinced yet that the Hyksos are not the Hebrews. There is plenty of evidence they were in Egypt and substantial. it seems people have preconceived ideas about what they are looking for and may be missing the clues that are there! Granted you can’t jump to conclusions, but we can’t stick our heads in the sand either and just write off a thousand years of history just because it doesn’t fit what we are looking for exactly.

        • kcchief1

          I’m not saying the Hyksos weren’t ancient Hebrews. Still using statistics based on the OT Exodus, we’re looking for over a million of them. That’s a lot of them to travel that distance without a trace.

          If you’re going to discount Constantine’s Mother, isn’t she the one who designated where Jesus was born, died and resurrected and built Churches in those places ?

          I have no preconceived ideas nor am I sticking my head in the sand. I am looking for the evidence wherever it leads me. A thousand years of stories does not constitute a thousand years of history. I am still willing to accept the Exodus if sufficient evidence supports it.

        • john zande

          You’re free to believe what you like, but you’re not entitled to your own facts. The consensus among serious scholars is overwhelming, and you know that. There was no exodus, the patriarchs are legendary stories, and there was no conquest. That said, I can certainly sympathise with your position. I mean it looks utterly terrible for Christians and Muslims whose central characters both make clear and specific claims to the existence of the fictional heroes of the Pentateuch. In Islam, Musa (Moses) is considered a prophet and is mentioned 136 times in the Qur’an, and Abraham (mentioned 69 times) is even described as the Middle Eastern gods best friend: (4:125) “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend.” For Christians Jesus is equally careless, naming Moses in Luke (3:8), John 5:45 (“If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me”) and twice in Matthew, including a face-to-face meeting detailed in 17:3-4: “While they watched, Jesus’ appearance was changed; his face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus.” Moses is in fact mentioned eighty-five times in the New Testament, and Abraham seventy-five times with Jesus specifically identifying him eighteen times in John 8 alone, including (8:39): Jesus said, “If you were really Abraham’s children, you would do the things Abraham did.”

          Now let’s be brutally honest here; such barefaced testimonies raise some enormously unpleasant credibility problems for both religions. It doesn’t, after all, speak too highly of a god-man’s authority, intelligence, competence, insight and judgment if he couldn’t distinguish the difference between inventive theological-geopolitical myth and actual historical fact. Indeed, if the claims of Yahwehists are to be taken seriously then there can be zero tolerance for even minor blunders in their god’s knowledge of earthly events, and yet here is a bungle so outrageous that it is the equivalent of a charismatic preacher three-hundred years from today proclaiming Batman existed.

        • walttucker

          “you’re not entitled to your own facts” Wow! You know you aren’t either! Opinion IS NOT facts! It can be based on what facts are known at a given time (which themselves are interpreted), but isn’t itself fact. That there is a concensus of some sorts only means that that opinion is in high agreement among a certain class of scholars. They could still be wrong, and probably are given other evidences for Hebrews being in Egypt. At one time there was consensus that there were no more science discoveries to be made. Turns out they were wrong.

          “There was no exodus, the patriarchs are legendary stories, and there was no conquest” Why can’t you see that that is not a fact? You can say it appears there were no patriarchs to the best of our knowledge, but you can’t say there absolutely weren’t any. You have no conclusive proof. It isn’t a groundless opinion, but is opinion nevertheless. There are serious scholars who do not reject the exodus. See “Ancient Israel in Egypt and the Exodus” from BAR. I’m not saying there aren’t difficulties, but that doesn’t mean that the whole thing if fictitious! Some say that the exodus may have just been a slower event. But it is hard to tell from a desert exodus. Other evidence is needed to support it – the entry into Palestine, and the Avaris community in Egypt. Some look for massive destruction in Palestine, but the Bible doesn’t even say there was. The Israelites were to only destroy certain cities, which they did and there is evidence for. While there are no exodus related artifacts in the desert (if one is not looking in Saudi Arabia), there is still plenty to point to an exodus given the early dating of 1450B.C. or so.

          ” It doesn’t, after all, speak too highly of a god-man’s authority, intelligence, competence, insight and judgment if he couldn’t distinguish the difference between inventive theological-geopolitical myth and actual historical fact. ” Unless he wasn’t wrong and the scholars become embarrased one day finding out they were the ones who were wrong. If there was no Moses and Abraham, then there is a high probability that there was no God-man either. As well, there is no reason for a rabbi to be a rabbi. What is he teaching if it is all fiction?

        • john zande

          Sure, all the worlds leading authorities on the matter could be wrong, but 75 years of excavations have only been heading in one direction: the total and complete debunking the entire OT. Nothing has been uncovered to corroborate any of it. So, given the tide is in one direction, and one direction only, I’m pretty secure in my assessment that i’m on the right side of history. I mean, seriously…. Jewish rabbi’s are even admitting the farce! So perhaps its just time for everyone to come clean, admit its all nonsense, and then we can all move on and make this planet a better place without all the silly supernatural gibberish.

        • walttucker

          John,

          “but 75 years of excavations have only been heading in one direction: the total and complete debunking the entire OT.”

          That just isn’t so! I think you are selectively looking at things only the way you want to look at them and not paying attention to all that has been going in the other direction. David was said to not exist. Now we know he did. There is evidence in Egypt for a presence of hebrews in Avaris. There is evidence of an invader in Palestine of a sizeable force but a slower conquest than some may have been looking for. That there is evidence lacking for the time between just means it hasn’t been found yet.

        • john zande

          Walt, no offense, you sound like quite a reasonable fellow, but all you’re doing is making excuses here; trying to shoehorn your beliefs into a picture that is becoming less and less accommodating. In fact, it’s already completely antagonistic to the story as presented. You’re just playing the god of the gaps game except with history. “Oh, this might be them…” “Oh, that could be them…” “Oh, we don’t know everything….”

          Now, sure, the Hyksos invasion could have picked up some Canaanites but nowhere is there any mention of northwestern-Semitic speaking Canaanites in Egypt other than in the form of paid mercenaries, the Habiru. I’ll accept that, but it doesn’t in any way back up the story as presented.

          Now, far from me to pretend I’m some expert, I’m not, so I’ll leave it to the famed Israeli archaeologist, Professor Ze’ev Herzog, to say it: (Deconstructing Jericho, 1999) “The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.”

          “Most people just don’t want to hear all this and are not comfortable with it,” explained Israel Finkelstein, Chairman of the Archaeological Department at Tel Aviv University, adding, “For scholars the matters are clear enough, and they know where there is, and is not, agreement, but they cannot compel the public to listen.”

  • holly

    This is the best explanation from an atheist/ point of view that I have seen. It is very well written, (if you are interested in truly understanding the opposing view point on this)

    http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/a-question-for-theists-4/

    • Debilis

      I did read the post; thank you for referencing it.
      I’ve heard the argument before, and I think I can say I understand the perspective. It’s been my own perspective in the past, but I’ll not get into why it no longer is.

      Rather I’ll say that I appreciate your comments.. They are clearly thoughtful.

      Best to you out there.

  • walttucker

    My response to Arkenaten was so narrow, that I thought I would make a new comment that is readable:

    Arkenaten, sorry you think I have no integrity. People who know me think differently about that. Neverlthess, it is best you don’t lower yourself if you feel that way. But I would suggest that if you are interested in debate, that you might take a class on critical thinking (not that you might become a Christian, but that you would understand the nature of debate). Merely calling people names and trying to bully then into thinking they are idiots rather than offering a line of argument is not debate and is a bit immature.

    By the way, I did not run Prof Ehrman down in any slanderous way. I merely noted that his work is based on much speculation, which he can’t deny (he uses the word “probably” a lot, indicating the uncertainty in his claims), and that he was never a Christian, which he would probably squawk about, but which is true based on my “fundamentalist” understanding of the doctrine of eternal security.

    As far as answering your point about Christians adding an ending to Mark, it has nothing to do with your claim about Christianity being based on lies, which you have not given evidence for. Which is why I didn’t address it. But since you would rather discuss that, ok. What about the rest of the gospel? Is the part that was not added later a lie? Is not the rest of the gospel consistent with the ending? It is verse 9 to 20 that is considered added. There are two added endings, a long one and short one. It is certain there was an ending of some sort, but why it was missing in some manuscripts is unknown. (The Sinaiticus, one of the oldest manuscripts missing an ending, has a blank space where the ending would go, indicating the scribe knew there was an ending, but questioned whether it was authorative – showing the respect for the writings.) Some of what those endings say is suspect, like handling snakes. But the verses preceeding verse 9 strongly imply a resurrection. I hold to the dating of the three synoptic gospels as being prior to A.D. 65, where it is still the eyewitnesses, or acquantances of eyewitnesses, who wrote the gospels. The other two synoptic gospels give accounts of the resurrection in detail. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15 notes that many of the eyewitnesses were still alive who witnessed the risen Jesus. Luke was a missionary companion of Paul and wrote about the resurrection in both his gospel and Acts. Colin Hemer gives a good historical argument for why the gospels predate A.D. 70, contrary to Ehrman’s dating which is based in part on the good Greek of the gospels, not taking into account the education of at least Luke, possibly Mark and Matthew, and that John may have used an amenuesis to write the Greek for him.

    Anyway, it looks that the information you are basing your accusation of “lies” on is suspect because it presumes an antisupernatural position and is speculative. Again, that that work is speculative, does not mean the gospels are true. But, there is not a strong basis on which to claim outright that they are lies when there is a good bit of evidence that they are real testimonies.

    Lastly, I don’t know why you have so much hatred, evident in the manner in which you “debate.” But if I may say so, Jesus Christ can you help you with that. Don’t hate Jesus because of actions of the church or of Christians who may have done you wrong or what some evil that may have happened in your life. This is a fallen world and no one is beyond making mistakes or beyond the attrocites of the world. But, if you put your faith in Jesus alone, you don’t have to go on through life hating the world.

    • Arkenaten

      LOL!
      Anyone who requires that much space to get their point across is obviously having serious issues with themselves or has a great sense of humour over the ridiculous nature of the subject.
      I would love to believe it was the former.

      That you think I haven’t considered most of the expert (objective)analysis on this subject (which, by its very nature, automatically excludes christian scholars) clearly demonstrates the arrogance that is the hallmark of the religiously inclined when trying to defend the indefensible.

      That you would consider Professor Ehrman was not a real Christian is absurd. And rude in the extreme.

      ”but which is true based on my “fundamentalist” understanding of the doctrine of eternal security.”
      Yes….your understanding…quite. Point noted. 🙂

      Oh, and I do not hate anything as this is a wasted and futile emotion and I certainly do not hate a figure that is a mere narrative construct.
      How daft would that be?
      Please, you don’t need to reply. The question was rhetorical.

      Maybe you should be a gentleman and write and apologize to Professor Ehrman?

      You are such a Silly Person.

  • Argus

    Interesting. I have to go out, and only got as far as your early paras. I’ll be back.

    Do you argue from logic, or from faith?

    • Debilis

      Of these choices, I’d say “logic”.
      If I could reword that, I’d phrase it “I apply logic to our basic observations of reality”.
      If you catch me claiming something is true because I “have faith”, feel free to correct me. But I can promise that I’ll never use that argument.

      Other than that, best to you out there.

  • kcchief1

    I certainly feel inferior entering this little discussion, but I would like to add that the Early Church Fathers including but not limited to Clement and Justin Martyr realized the stories portrayed in the NT about a miracle working dying rising savior were folklore in other and older cultures as well, When confronted with them, the best explanation they could give was that Satan knew the stories of Jesus before he came to earth and planted these stories in the minds of other cultures so when Jesus came, they would confuse everyone . Justin Martyr admitted the Jesus Stories he was telling was nothing new that the Greeks believed about the Sons of Zeus. This is a fact. Just read their works. There’s my 2 cents worth.

    • Debilis

      I definitely think this fact is worth noting.
      However, I would say that modern historical analysis has shown that, while some similarities exist, a common origin can be ruled out.

      In fact, the similarities I’ve encountered have always seemed either trivial or far too general to be of much interest.

      Other than that (and, really, most importantly), best to you out there.

      • kcchief1

        Debilis,”However, I would say that modern historical analysis has shown that, while some similarities exist, a common origin can be ruled out.”

        Where is your evidence for this statement ?

        When I was in Egypt I saw evidence of Baptism, Circumcision, The Trinity, The Cross, A creation Story with a tree, a man , a women, and a snake with 4 legs that were developed by the Ancient Egyptians. When reading the Egyptian Book of the Dead, I found numerous writings that can also be found in the OT. I saw footstools at the Cairo Museum from the thrones of Pharaohs with their enemies painted on them making their enemies a footstool under their feet.

        Where do you suppose the Birth of Jesus Date of December 25th came from ?

        And you think a common origin can be ruled out between religions ?

      • kcchief1

        BTW, I am a Deist not an Atheist. 🙂

    • Debilis

      We’d have to go through each set of comparisons, of course. Given what you’ve said here, I can’t address these with much specificity, but a rough response would be:

      1. Ritual washings are common to many cultures, yes, but this doesn’t mean common origin (nor has it been shown that the theological meaning of these washings are similar between cultures)

      2. The same statements would go for circumcision. Health practices often take on religious significance in human societies. To show common origin, we have to look at the particular details around them.

      3. I find myself very suspicious of the idea that the Egyptians invented the concept of the Trinity, as it runs counter to polytheism. To what myth are you referring here?

      4. Christianity makes no claim of inventing crucifixion. We would need evidence of a crucified god or heroic figure for this to be significant.

      5. The creation story you mention seems to have more in common. Though I’ve not encountered this one. Please let me know which story you are referencing.

      6. The concept of making enemies footstools is, likewise, a fairly obvious idea, and no theology hangs on that. It seems a superficial similarity.

      7. The Bible does not claim that Jesus was born on December the 25th. That date was set until the third century.

      8. In addition to similarities, we should also note the vast differences between these religions. Reading the actual myths always seems to dispel these kinds of comparisons.

      And, yes, I’m aware that you are a deist. I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.

      • kcchief1

        Thank you for your comments. You have addressed my claims exactly as I expected you to. You are a typical Christian Apologist. Minimizing my claims only means you have a set of preconceived ideas you have no intention of deviating from regardless of the evidence .

        When I was a Christian , I was very much like you. Now I am not.

        • walttucker

          kcchief1, Ronald Nash, in his book, “The Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought?,” makes the observation that this issue of copy cat religion has long been settled among biblical and classical studies scholars; yet, some scholars of history and philosphy have acted as if they know nothing about it being settled. What Debilis noted is correct. There are vast differences when it comes to the details, such that the similaries in most cases are superficial.

          You may well be aware of some of these similiarities, and there ARE some with regard to Egypt in the Old Testament, but one of the aims of Moses (and Egyptian name), as seen in his creation narrative, was to set up what God revealed to him in contrast to what the other nations believed. Notice that in the Genesis account of creation, there are no mythical characters at war with each other. It is a naturalistic account with the only supernatural aspect being God’s words. Consider that the physical laws of the universe resemble language -whether mathematical, or some verbage, it is a type of langauge. Also, in the Bible there are no half animal half human, no living dead, and none of the vegatative cycle mythology that exists in Egypt’s myths and across the globe. Much of what is said to be borrowed is used differently or is truly superficial in similarity. That is not a matter of preconceived ideas, but the plain fact of the matter.

        • kcchief1

          Thank you for your comments. Have you visited Egypt yourself ? I have. And you didn’t address any of the things I observed while I was there. I am sharing first hand observations. Not books written by Christian Scholars.

        • walttucker

          i haven’t been to Egypt, but other parts of the world. While it is not convenient for me to visit there right now, could you identify which myths in particular you are referring to? Evidently you saw something different than the myths that are well known from there. I promise you to investigate the particulars as best as I can remotely before giving comment.

        • kcchief1

          I am traveling today and tomorrow but will happily comment this weekend.

        • kcchief1

          Have you read any of these works ?

          1. Angus, S., The Mystery Religions and Christianity, (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York: 1925),
          2. Cumont, Franz, The Mysteries of Mithra, (The Open Court Publishing Co., Chicago: 1910).
          3. Cumont, Franz, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism, (The Open House Publishing Co., Chicago: 1911).
          4. Dill, Samuel, Roman Society From Nero To Marcus Aurelius, (Macmillan and Co., New York: 1905), pp. 585-626.
          5. Enslin Morton S., Christian Beginnings, (Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York: 1938), pp. 186-200.
          6. Frazer, J. E., Adonis, Attis, Osiris, (London, 1922), Vol. I.
          7. Fairbanks, Arthur, Greek Religion, (American Book Co, New York: 1910).
          8. Halliday, W. R., The Pagan Background of Early Christianity, (The University Press of Liverpool, London: N.D.), pp. 281-311.
          9. Hyde, Walter, W, Paganism To Christianity in the Roman Empire, (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia: 1946).
          10. Moore, George F., History of Religions, (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York: 1913), Vol. I, pp. 375-405.
          11. Nilsson, Martin P., Greek Popular Religion, (Columbia University Press, New York: 1940), pp. 42-64.
          12. Weigall Arthur, The Paganism in Our Christianity, (Hutchinson and Co. London: N.D.).
          13. Willoughby, Harold R., Pagan Regeneration, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago: 1929).

    • Debilis

      This seems a very strange response.

      Really, why should I change my view without evidence? I’ve offered clear problems with this, and it doesn’t seem reasonable for me to reject the long list of good reasons I’ve put up on this blog because of a paragraph of claims I read from someone I don’t know.

      That would seem very credulous, something materialists are always cautioning against.

      But, if you cite for me the actual myths you’ve encountered, I’ll be happy to look at them. I’ve read quite a few already (including the ever-popular Horus and Mithras myths), and enjoy learning new things.

      Simply accusing me of bias, then, when I haven’t been given any evidence is not valid argumentation. It is only reasonable of me to want to see your evidence.

      • kcchief1

        You are the pot calling the kettle black ! You didn’t give me one shred of evidence for your comments. I told you what I observed with my own eyes in Egypt.

        Look , I know you are wanting to defend your faith. I understand that. I did that for over 40 years until I could no longer do it. Not only did my travels to ancient sites around the world convince me that Christianity had to be questioned but reading well respected Scholars like Geza Vermes pushed me over the cliff. In case you are not familiar with Vermes work here is what wikipedia says about him, “. He was one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research, and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time.

        Here is what Vermes had to say about Jesus and Christianity.

        “Vermes described Jesus as a 1st-century Jewish holy man, a commonplace view in academia but novel to the public when Vermes began publishing. Contrary to certain other scholars (such as E. P. Sanders), Vermes concludes that Jesus did not reach out to non-Jews. For example, he attributes positive references to Samaritans in the gospels not to Jesus himself but to early Christian editing. He suggests that, properly understood, the historical Jesus is a figure that Jews should find familiar and attractive. This historical Jesus, however, is so different from the Christ of faith that Christians, says Vermes, may well want to rethink the fundamentals of their faith.”

        We can play the game and trade “Noted Scholars” who side with our beliefs or we can simply respect each other’s beliefs even though we don’t share them.

        I am not a Christian Basher. I was once one of you. Deep inside you know you have put aside your reasoning to accept alot of what the Bible has to say. I don’t have to do this anymore. I still have a strong belief in God. I thank him I am free of the religious dogma I was raised with .

        The best to you !

    • Debilis

      First and foremost, I completely agree with you that we should respect one another. By responding, I’d not meant to imply any disrespect–apologies if it seemed that way.

      Getting to the lesser issue of the point, I don’t doubt that you saw the things you saw, but I need more information than you gave me. My comments were intended to say that those things weren’t reasons for dismissing Christianity–not that you didn’t see them.

      So, if you’d like to discuss the particular points that Vermes or your own observations have left you with, I’d love to do so. I personally love to debate points, and think it can be done in a spirit of mutual respect.

      If, however, you simply meant to tell me of your personal view, and hadn’t really wanted to discuss it further, I’m happy to do that as well.

    • Debilis

      Whenever you’d like.
      I’m a big believer that real life is more important than blogging.

  • kcchief1

    I own and have read the 10 Volume Anti-Nicene Fathers. These were the Early Christian Apologists and it was their stories which in large part caused me to give up Christianity and become a Deist.

  • Argus

    Back again. There’s nothing new I can add to any religious discussion, but then there’s no point. The religiosi know that they are right (regardless of the name of their particular franchise, which—as they all are—is the only One True Unique Path To God); while the agnostic, heathen, or atheist equally knows that he/she is right.

    Logic and rationality carry no weight in either direction. Religion is entirely an emotive thing. The irrational won’t listen to reason and the others won’t open their hearts to **insert name of divinity of own choice here **. So it’s a pointless exercise all around.

    A case in point: someone above mentioned ‘Free Will’. According to Christians there can be no FW, because the divine being is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—which means that even before creation He/She/It knew everything that would ever happen (would, I said, not might) — so what FW does anyone have to change even an iota of it?
    But God gave us all Free Will …

    Faith, emotion—all is faith and emotion. The average person’s religion is more a matter of geography and predominant culture—conditioning—than anything else. No?

    • walttucker

      Argus, I disagree. What you’ve stated is the general consensus among non-believers and and is only correct in part.

      For some people, belief and non-belief is only a matter of faith, without logic or reason, and what they believe is influenced by where they were raised and taught rather than an objective analysis. But that isn’t everybody. As well, when you say “the irrational won’t listen to reason and the others won’t open the hearts,” you are saying without qualification that the non-believer is rational and the believer irrational. I know very rational believers – some very smart folks. I also know many avid atheists who are purely emotional – and while they claim believers have no rational ability, they aren’t very rational themselves. (See the type of statments by Arkenaten in my discussion with him above as an example – it was a rant and rave with nothing substantial to convince me I am irrational about my beliefs. By contrast, you provided an argument, even if I disagree with it.) I don’t know Debilis, but I’ve been reading this blog for a whiile and I see a good line of argument. He and even I could be wrong about things, but his logic is very good! Just that something is logical doesn’t mean it is true – that depends on the premises and on whether it is a deductive argument or other. But it can’t be said he is not logical!

      There is a common misconception about what faith is. It seems to be defined by atheists as belief absent of evidence or reason. That is not the biblical faith. Some might have that kind of faith, but it isn’t what people are called to. Rather, they are called to belief based on evidence and testimony, not because of what their parents believed, and from there, faith involves forward trust in God and the work of Lord Jesus to transform us into His likeness (at least in the biblical faith). Sure emotion can be involved, but emotion can mislead and faith based purely on emotion can be dangerous and often will not persist. Many come to faith through emotion and later leave the faith. In my understanding, they never understood the faith and accepted it for the right reasons and thus when times got hard or a skeptic gave them information they didn’t know, they left the faith.

      The real difference between a believer and non-believer is that they are viewing things from a different perspective, with a different colored lens, and thus see things differently. It is not about logic versus faith, but based upon the presuppositions and the selective evidence examined. Arkenaten mentioned that he pays attention to scholars, but not Christian ones. Doesn’t that seem to be selecting out the information that he processes? How could he ever expect to see the whole picture if he does look at ALL the evidence from ALL perspectives before giving a final assessment? It is bias from the git go. If he has not read any Christian scholars, then how can he say they are idiots? (Which he effectively says – making him smarter than some of the smartest people on the planet who are believers.)

      Lastly, it is not a Christian belief that people do not have freewill. It is a very limited group of what are called hyper-Calvinists that come to that conclusion (some others might, but it is not many). John Calvin never taught such a thing, but these hyper folks take what he taught and their view of God’s soveregnty, to the nth degree and conclude that we can’t have any freewill. Most Christians understand that it is freewill that allows for evil in the world. To say we don’t have freewill is to make God the author of evil and that just doesn’t fly with the portrayal of God’s holy character in the Bible.

      If the Christian faith is not logically consistent and rational, not the most reasonable of all of the religous and non-religious worldviews, then I would have given it up (or not adhered to it) a long time ago. Most people don’t spend all that much time sorting through the data to see how all the details fit together. For them, faith is not just trust looking forward, but trust in its truth at all. Granted, even when faith is on rational grounds, there is a degree of trust in the picture that is formed. It is difficult to say there is 100% proof of anything. But, one can come to a high degree of certainty. My background is physics. And you find theory built on theory such that in a lot of work today, interpretation of what experiments tell us rely upon the theory. While there is a good deal of certainty, there is still an element of faith that a mistake wasn’t made somewhere along the way. It is expected that new findings may help show a mistake was made and things can be rethought out. It can be the same with a religious worldview if one looks at it from every side of the question, not just their preferred one. Everything must fit together, or there is a problem. But, just as in science, you don’t throw out a good theory on one difficulty – you try ro resolve it before saying the theory is bad. Only reason can see that all that is known about the world and relgious thought fit together. Some parts are hard to explain, but those parts fit with the whole by reason, not by emotion, nor by blind faith. Then, for those who don’t have the time nor the where with all to study things, they may have to rely upon those that do. That is faith on their part. But, if the ones that study present good arguments, they have something to hang their hats on.

      There are many intellectual Christians and it does not do any good by any skeptics to claim those Christians don’t know what they are talking about, that they don’t know logic, or that they faith is only emotional. The same can be said about some who aren’t believers. Rather than mudslinging and character assassination, it is better to have dialogue. No one has exhaustive knowledge and truly knows everything there is to know such that they could not be wrong about what they think others think, nor about what they think.

      • Argus

        Perspective. I love the word. I regard my lack of beliefs in divinities as rational, and hold as irrational those who believe in God, gods, goddesses and associated sub-agents.

        Perhaps ‘rationality’ as a word should be qualified, or redefined; after which we may have to work on the rest of the language. That a person has a PhD in (say) rocket science doesn’t necessarily make him rational. Intelligent, educatable and educated yes; but a degree in any discipline is no guarantee of rational. There are many well educated men with PhDs who bang their heads against the ground five times a day whilst facing Mecca … to each his own. (Same God anyway, just a different franchise.)

        You are right when you say “that isn’t everybody”. But I feel safe in justifying my point with the word ‘majority’.

        If faith is to be justified on the grounds of evidence (“they are called to belief based on evidence and testimony, not because of what their parents believed”) then I see little non-geographical greater evidence for Christianity anywhere than likewise for any other religion—of which there are untold numbers.
        And here’s where it gets sticky, the testimony is a bit out of date, all the ‘witnesses’ are long dead and their words rewritings of rewritings going back many centuries; often contradictory.

        Oops—I’m up against the clock again, I’ll post this now and return later. Peace.

      • Argus

        I’m back. Apologies for being so piecemeal …

        “Most Christians understand that it is freewill that allows for evil in the world. To say we don’t have freewill is to make God the author of evil and that just doesn’t fly with the portrayal of God’s holy character in the Bible.”

        The very point I have often raised. I’m not interested in which Christian ‘authority’ said this, or did that—I have no interest in how many angels can, in fact, dance on the head of a pin (last count I believe was about 3 thousand); or at what time of the day Ussher arrived at by laborious calculations curled up with his Bible for the Creation of the world (physics—what would physics come up with, I wonder?).
        I generalise.
        Otherwise I’d spend the rest of my life ploughing through endless learned treatises (as in angel pin-dancers) and there are more productive ways to spend time. Trying to stop wars springs to mind …

        However, to save a lot of words here—please apply the oft-stated three defining qualities of God (omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence) to the paragraph I quoted above—? (Nothing new in this request, it’s been done before. You’ll note perhaps that I often state that there’s no such thing as a contradiction, only a false premise or two.)

        Your background is physics and I imagine that on any scale your intelligence would be possibly umpteen points greater than mine. But if you genuinely believe—with all your heart, soul, mind etc—that the Holy Bible of the Christians is literally true in all respects I’d say your intelligence is being used selectively.

        Why stop there? Why The Bible and not the Noble Koran? Why should Christians have the one-unique-sole-only pathway to the Godhead, rather than the Jews? Or Buddhists? Or Hindus (and do they ever have Gods~!)?

        If you were a Jewish nuclear physicist, would you feel any differently (obviously you would) and would you argue any differently? Or as a rational</em) Jew would you be obliged to argue for Christ?

        Other than Christian propaganda pounding it into us all for hundreds of years—what makes Christianity unique? Virgin birth? No, been done before … crucifixion and resurrection? No, been done before … Noah and the flood? No … been done before … feeling the Presence Of God? No, been done before; and millions of spiritualists feel presences all over the world every day.

    • Debilis

      I can certainly empathize with your frustration (believe me).

      Still, I don’t think this follows. You argue that no one can offer logic in this discussion, then attempt a logical argument against Christianity. If your argument is good, then your opening statement is false.

      And it is false anyway. Certainly, we all have our biases, but many argue for their beliefs (religious or secular) with real logic. To lean on stereotypes (even well founded ones) to say that all religious people are without logic is not good argumentation.

      I suppose I should reference your argument as well:
      Unsurprisingly, I disagree with it. I see no reason why knowing someone will chose something takes away their free will to chose it. Certainly, my knowing that my wife would rather have yellow flowers than red ones isn’t the same as forcing her to choose yellow flowers.

      Last, I don’t claim to know what the average persons’ faith is based on. You may well be right (I’ve not looked at enough studies). I’d only ask that two things be kept in mind here:
      1. This would apply equally well to the religious and non-religious alike, and
      2. The position of the average believer isn’t really important. We are trying to consider what is true.

      Regardless of which position we’re considering, we should look at something better than the average person’s take.

      • Argus

        My argument isn’t specifically with Christianity—it’s with all religions. I’m not familiar with all religions, but the few I have a vague notion of have enough in common to be lumped together.

        You are correct, we all have our biases. Mine is aimed squarely at the nice people (and their ilk) who tried desperately to make me one of them as a child and strapped and caned me when I exhibited signs of free will. If it were possible to go back as a grown man I would do so and reopen the discussion—and yes, blood would flow, I feel that strongly about it.

        I use stereotypes because labels are convenient. Possibly unfair and incorrect but it saves an awesome amount of spelling out of detail.

        You are obviously educated—are you experienced in the real world too? Of course I take the ‘average’ person, it’s the average person who makes up what we know as society. You cannot ignore the average person or his ‘take’ (as they are finding out right now in Egypt, Greece, Germany, Malta …

        You missed my point on Free Will entirely (you aren’t the first and won’t be the last). Probably the way I worded it, mea culpa, and I’ll see if I can put it better: they do NOT have Free Will—they have the illusion of Free Will. A huge difference …

        • Debilis

          If you were that badly treated (and I know many people are), then I can definitely understand why you’d have some major issues. Regardless of anything else, there is no excuse for that, and there is a great need for people to stand against it.

          Nor do I have an issue with referencing stereotypes in general–so long as it is kept in mind that they are simply stereotypes. If you say “most religious people have serious issues”, I’ll agree. All I want to claim is that there are exceptions to this–that there are good versions of religion as well as bad ones. I’ve definitely seen both.

          But, I really haven’t been talking about the average person because I’m not talking about whether or not religion is good for society. I was talking about whether or not it is true. I consider it clear that the average person on the street (whether religious or atheist) has a view that’s pretty easy to disprove. I’m trying to move on to other views.

          I’m sorry if my comment didn’t speak to your argument about free will, though. But, if I didn’t understand it before, I don’t any better now. I see that you are claiming that such people only have an illusion of free will, but I don’t see the argument for that.

        • Argus

          Given as gospel the three qualities of the Christian God; He is—

          a) omnipotent (can do anything)

          b) omnipresent (is everywhere at all times), and

          c) omniscient (He knows everything. Absolutely everything)

          Then in a nutshell—
          even before He created the creations—more than fifteen thousand millions or years ago (western science), or in the year 4004 BCe (a Christian bishop calculated this precise date by laboriously working back through the Bible) (Ussher).

          Oh hell, this isn’t going to be brief … press on:

          “the time and date of the creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC” —wiki

          … so even before He created, God knew that you were going to post your reply in those words above. No?

          Yes …

          So ten minutes before you posted, whilst you were choosing (whilst you thought you were choosing; but hadn’t yet … He already knew. He knew the exact words that you would use (note: not that you might use, but would use) and all you did, poor puppet, was use them exactly as He knew even before creation you would. All you had as you sat chewing the stub of your pencil was the illusion of choice.

          Are you going to choose at what time you go to bed tonight? Will it be a spontaneous decision, of are you as regular as clockwork in that regard? Will a speeding car smash into a pole outside and in the ensuing kerfuffle will your routine be disrupted? God knows, you do not. Your lack of certainty makes it seem as if you are making a Free Choice by using your very own Free Will, but truth is you are simply a gramophone needle tracking faithfully along in the groove on the record.

          You can only do that which God knows (and always did know) you will do.

          In any and every consideration of your life the entire universe is locked immovably into place by God’s omniscience—but our ignorance of it is what gives us the illusion of Free Will. And illusion it is: you do NOT have Free Will.

          If you could make a choice, spontaneously or otherwise, of any kind at all … then God doesn’t have omniscience.

          Dammit, I’ll have to post on this too …

        • walttucker

          Argus, there are books upon books discussing this issue of God’s knowledge and the existence of freewill. It is not an easy thing to resolve by people who live in a world with a created time dimension. It is normally thought that God can see everything from “above” time, just as one above a plane can see everything that a dot in a plane is limited to see from it’s perspective. The problem isn’t that God knows everything, given this idea, but that God also foreordains things. Since He can see all, He only has to foreordain that which is necessary to carry out His purposes. Not every detail requires His foreordaining. And even then, while it is hard to understand, God can influence a person He wants to do a specific thing while that person still operating within His freedom. The difference is that God will see to it that it will happen. Whereas most things go as they do without God controlling or forcing anything, yet seeing the future as well as the past, He knows exactly what is to happen from our perspective. In otherwords, what we are yet to do, has already happened from God’s perspective. There are other views, but I think that is the one that carries the most weight with philosophers and theologian who study this sort of thing.

        • Argus

          I imagine there are good livings (possibly funded by me as a taxpayer, dammit) to be made by nice folks who study these sort of things in great and learned detail. Good luck to them, I’m just an average Joe with an axe to grind (I see religions as contradictory parasitical outcrops of self-interest milking the gullible) and I don’t like religions.

          This may be hard to grasp—but even God with all His omnipotence is as rigidly locked in place by His own systems as we are. God, too, is incapable of a spontaneous act.

          If he dabbles—as you tell me He can, and does—then He’s admitting He made a mistake earlier. Not good.

          There is no future to see, and no past, there’s only an eternal ‘now’. God cannot look down upon time from a part outwith time, being omnipresent He is (has to be) part of time.

          On the day you were born your demise was/is out there, rigidly locked in time/place, waiting for you to get to to it.
          Which you will, and there’s no avoiding it.
          What makes it bearable for us is the illusion, we can live optimistically with our wishes but regardless the clock is still ticking. It’s only our ignorance (meaning simply ‘lack of knowledge’) of the future which allows the hope of a long healthy and fruitful life. If you knew that tomorrow you’d die because of a comet smashing into your quarters, what would you do?

          Would there be any point in running off to sea, or diving down the nearest coal mine? Hopping the next flight to Timbuktu? Many would, in their ignorance.

          Don’t forget: comet + you = inevitable.

          Physics aside and being simplistic I see the world as four dimensional. I like simple, simple is good … I dislike esoteric. Esoteric is for priesthoods.

          Free Will is an illusion. Happily for us, our ignorance makes the illusion perfect. Que sera, sera.

        • walttucker

          “(I see religions as contradictory parasitical outcrops of self-interest milking the gullible” And I agree, Argus, that many are, or are at least used that way by some! But I also know from my experience that such a view can blind a person from seeing where the good is. Silver with a lot of tarnish may not look good, but underneath, it is brilliant. (Also, I don’t think the works I’m talking about are taxpayer paid – that might be true in a country where the religion is tied to the state – but not in the U.S.)

          “God with all His omnipotence is as rigidly locked in place by His own systems as we are” In a sense you are right! God is locked in by His own character. Thus the idea that God can’t make a rock bigger than He can lift is a limit on His ability is sily because God can’t do anything that is not logically consistent. He is bound by His own nature. But even within that, there is a lot of potential for what He can do!

          “God cannot look down upon time from a part outwith time, being omnipresent He is (has to be) part of time.” Not exactly. If I have three dimensions and let’s say the world is one dimensional spatially and one dimensional temporally, but God exists “everywhere” in all three dimensions, then while He exists in the dimension of the plane, His experience are beyond that plane as well. Thus, He can know what is going on in the plane from an outside perspective, even if he is present in the plane as well. The idea of an “eternal now” is that it contains all of physical time. (Notice that I use physical time when talking about the time that we live within. There is a sense where God lives in time, but the time we live in is part of the creation itself, not based on the higher dimensional time that God exists within hat is uncreated and boundless.)

          ” If you knew that tomorrow you’d die because of a comet smashing into your quarters, what would you do?” If I knew it was inevitable, then I have no freedom of choice in that matter, but it doesn’t change that I would have thoughts about it that originate within me, even if influenced by the outside circumstances. It may be that we don’t know the future so that our choices are not as constrained as they would be if we did know it. You indeed would feel like you were in a prison with no freedom. I don’t know how freewill truly works, but I do know that no one can force me to do something I don’t want to do. They can put a gun to my head, but they can’t make me do something. My ability to choose to do it or not, is freewill. I don’t think God even makes us choose something, although He greatly influences us by our circumstances and by works of His Spirit. If He forced us by even directing our thoughts, then there would be no evil in the world. It is by our choice to do differently than God that evil exists.

          “Free Will is an illusion” Ironically, you can’t prove that to be true. The conclusion is based on an entirely mechanical view of nature. Turns out that nature is more complex than that (highly indeterminate at the lowest levels of interactions). I suspect that our minds are some kind of feedback loop with a noise element which does allow for internal self control and decision. One might say that even that is fundamentally deterministic, but regardless, based on the experiences, knowledge, and desires of a person, as well as their physical state, that person makes his own decisions. In other words, he is responsible for what he does. He himself can choose to do or not do something. There is a decision maker, who while given his desires, experience, and etc., is still making decisions of will that affect his own life that no one else is making for him. In other words, human beings are autonomous in the decision making, and thus have free will and the responsiblity that goes with it. That can still be thought of in deterministic terms, and God could know the future from it, but it doesn’t have to be that way and the indeterministic aspects of nature can make the future up for grabs when it really comes down to it.

        • Argus

          Replying further below—this ‘theme’ tends to skinnify replies until they are a bit like that famous bird that flew in ever decreasing circles …

        • paarsurrey

          @ walttrucker

          Quoting you words:

          “Thus the idea that God can’t make a rock bigger than He can lift is a limit on His ability is silly because God can’t do anything that is not logically consistent. He is bound by His own nature.”

          You have explained it nicely.

          Thanks

    • Debilis

      I’ve read the further explanation, and I completely agree that God knows everything people are going to do, down to the smallest detail.

      (Incidentally, I don’t believe God created the world in 4004 bc. I’m not a young Earth Creationist.)

      But none of this addresses my actual concern. Just because God knows something will happen doesn’t mean he’s forcing it to happen. Free will means that one isn’t being forced to decide certain things–it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know what you will freely decide. These are two totally separate concepts.

      • Argus

        Perhaps my tonight’s post may help clarify a bit. But whoever else may have said that God is forcing it to happen, it wasn’t me: even if He were totally impotent (as compared to the stated Omnipotent* ) my issue is that His foreknowledge of what will happen obviates all other alternatives—

        He cannot know what WILL happen, and it not happen, no? So what possible alternative can there be? I say again, it’s our ignorance of the future that provides the illusion of choice …

        * As an aside I hold that the one who has the ultimate power bears the ultimate responsibility.

      • paarsurrey

        You are very right there; I agree with you.

    • Debilis

      Okay, this is more clear (thank you for having patience about this).

      So, to respond to a better understanding of what you’re saying:
      Clearly, we’ll all eventually choose something. And, in theory, someone could know what that is in advance. But I don’t yet see how this means choice is an illusion.

      Really, aren’t we still choosing it? Unless there is something outside our personalities and reason forcing that choice (such as the laws of physics and chemistry applied to bran states), then I don’t see how we can say that choice is an illusion.

      Yes, the choice is known, but it is still a choice.

      • Argus

        In your own mind you are choosing. But have you made a choice, or are you simply ‘saying your lines’?

        Imagine an old gramophone record and a needle convinced that is freely following the path of its own choosing—but what choice, really, did or does it have?

        • Debilis

          Since we’re having essentially the same discussion elsewhere, it would be redundant, I think, to answer here.

          Instead, I’ll simply say that I hope all is well with you, and pick it up in the other thread.

  • Quran does not mention Muhammad riding a winged horse while going to heaven | paarsurrey

    […] There is going a discussion between me and Arkenaten on the topic < The wrong Target by Debilis > in the comments; one could view the blog at <https://fidedubitandum.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-wrong-target/&gt; […]

  • Argus

    for WALT—

    You said that no-one can force you to do something you don’t want to do. Wrong. Entirely wrong.

    No-one can force you to do something you are not going to do. Wee difference there.
    And no-one can force you to do what you are going to do to, and were going to do, since a thousand years before you were even born.

    I assume you are married, and had a (possibly even a first) wedding day. Why try to argue that on the day you were born that wedding day was in your future—and nothing you could ‘do’ could have changed it?
    That you were wed on that day has to be proof enough, surely? On your third birthday did you know what lay ahead, patiently waiting for you to get there?

    We could go esoteric here and divide the universe into multiverses that branch away every (dammit, I’ve forgotten the figure) little-bitth of a second (I think it was ten to the minus 27 but don’t quote me on that) in which all possibilities can be met in a different universe but I don’t buy it.

    If you still see Free Will and the possibility of creating change (that would have to surprise even God, then) I envy you your certainty …

    (Or was it ten to the minus 43?)

  • Argus

    On the day you were born … did God know your wedding day? And to whom you would be wed?

    Did He know a hundred years ago? A thousand? A billion? Ten billion?

    As you were growing up: was there anything at all you could have chosen to do that would have changed any of it?

    If you did try to exercise your Free Will and at the last minute pounce on the bride’s sister Sally and marry her instead of Betty May … do you really think that God didn’t know you were going to do that?

    • Debilis

      This feels a bit circular. You keep asking if God knew things, and I keep saying “yes”.

      So, yes. He knew all that.

      But I can’t make any sense out of the question “was there anything at all you could have chosen to do that would have changed any of it?”

      It was my choosing things that made it that way in the first place. God “knew” what I was going to choose because God is outside of time. I think God knew it all, down to the last detail.

      What I need isn’t more explanation that God knows everything in advance, but a reason to think that knowing what someone is going to choose is the same as forcing that person to choose it. That is where I don’t see the connection.

      Really, it is materialism which claims that we never really choose anything–that all we are is the product of deterministic forces that follow set laws. I know of no way to get from theism to determinism.

      • Argus

        You cannot change the inevitable. It really is that simple.

        Please understand that there is no force involved. If God knows as a fact that you are going to walk across a ravine on a tightrope, and you do—where is the force? A bit like sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn watching television, you can see that the lion is waiting around the corner for the traveller and you know what’s about to happen. So he carries blithely on in his ignorance—where’s the force? Have you forced him to get eaten?

        I am an uneducated man and know nothing of all the “isms” (which I regard as possibly good academic fun but often irrelevant to real life)(?) — I don’t see that anything or anyone has ‘determined’ our futures . That they are there I accept. That they are unalterably there likewise I must accept, because the future is the future qua the future—if it is going to happen, it is going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.

        And no, not semantics. Short of splitting into multiverses every zillionth of a second (effectively infinite re-creations of all that exists) I see no alternative. That we cannot see the future as it actually is out there provides the illusion of Free Will. No Gods, no force of any kind.

        You are going to do what you are going to do, and there is nothing else you can do but what you are going to do.

        Am I suggesting that we just roll over, stick all four paws up in the air and say “Take me, Fate, I’m yours?” No. We’ll only do that if—from the day we were born, or from a thousand million years ago, your choice—that is what we will be doing.

    • Debilis

      I agree that I can’t change the inevitable. This would be true by definition.

      But I’d like to look at this more carefully. What does it mean to say “You will decide X.”?

      It doesn’t mean that it is outside your power to decide not-X. It means that you’ll decide X. No one is forcing you. No one made it happen. When you make the decision, you really could have decided something else, you just didn’t.

      Look at the past, instead of the future. You can’t change it, but this doesn’t mean that people at that time couldn’t have changed it. It’s rather the same thing.

      In fact, the belief that you can’t decide anything (that free will is an illusion) breaks down into contradiction.

      It is saying “I believe that we never decide anything for ourselves, not because I had any real choice in the matter–not because I weighed the options and was free to choose the right one. Rather, I believe it simply because this is what I was fated to believe.”

      That is, belief in fatalism undermines any reason to trust the same logical faculties that one is using to argue for fatalism.

      That being the case, it cannot be rationally affirmed.

      • Argus

        “But I’d like to look at this more carefully. What does it mean to say “You will decide X.”?” …

        … you cannot decide.
        You can only reach the ‘decision’ that was patiently waiting for you to get to it—

        —when you got up that morning you didn’t know that later on you were going to change your mind and have the fish supper instead of the roast. Note: you were going to change your mind. Spontaneously? Hardly … but you think it is.

        If we could see the future—what would we be looking at? A single Future, or would we have to look at thousands of millions of billions of trillions of oodles-illions of ‘possible’ futures?

        Of which many so-called ‘possibles’ only the one would (only that one could) eventuate, namely the Future as it always was. Attaining it removes the doubts of lack-of-knowledge.

      • Argus

        “When you make the decision, you really could have decided something else, you just didn’t.”

        Yes and no. No, you couldn’t have because the decision you did make lay in your future, as a fact. And no, you didn’t because you simply couldn’t.

        Try looking at a single (past) day in your life.
        But look at it simultaneously from both ends. From reveille it is a blank slate, at lights-out it’s all history and known. Same day, nothing different.

        It requires a leap outside of our conditioning, I know. If it suddenly gels with you and you say “Aaaah, bugger it! No point in trying, I’m just gonna roll over and die!” Then that is exactly what always did lay in your future (your now, now that you’ve reached it) for as long as you’ve been alive. And before. It’s not something I recommend, put me in with Dylan Thomas in that regard.

        You and I do not know, do we? So we struggle on blindly making our own decisions—but God, with all His omniscience, knows exactly what we are going to do with our free choices. He always did, no?

        And if He knew/knows that you will or did choose course X as opposed to course Y or course Z … what actual choice do you have?

        Do not go gentle into that good night. 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light … —D. Thomas

      • Argus

        “It is saying “I believe that we never decide anything for ourselves, not because I had any real choice in the matter–not because I weighed the options and was free to choose the right one. Rather, I believe it simply because this is what I was fated to believe.””

        No. Go ahead entirely as normal, live your life, make all decisions you are going to.

        Alive, we must live, no? We live with the illusion as if it weren’t. It’s all we can do, and all we’ve ever done; we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Only God knows the Future (as it will be, as it is) and He isn’t telling …

        As a related aside and possibly in poor taste:

        I’ve often wondered (and asked) if to Muslims “everything that happens is the will of Allah” … then why do they get all upset when the Americans bomb another wedding, funeral, or house full of sleeping kids? Aren’t the Americans just a tool God is using? Didn’t Allah know millennia ago that the Americans were going to drone a bunch of innocents?

        Don’t answer, this may open a whole new can of worms. However I may just post it again tonight myself.

    • Debilis

      Okay greetings once again!

      First and foremost, thank you for the thoughtful response. I enjoy reading your posts:

      Forgive me if I’m sounding redundant, but I honestly don’t know how you’re getting to the idea that “you will decide X” means that “you cannot decide”.

      It doesn’t mean that “you can only reach the ‘decision’ that was patiently waiting for you to get to it”, it means that, if you change your mind, anything outside of time would “see” you change your mind. It doesn’t remotely mean that anything is making you change your mind.

      Yes, there is only one future, but all this means is that, when you decide, you will decide one thing (not multiple contradictory things). It doesn’t remotely mean that anything is making you decide this or that particular thing.

      “No, you couldn’t have because the decision you did make lay in your future, as a fact.” This is an old argument in philosophy, of course. But the pertinent issue here is that, to the end that this representation is true (many reject it) it is a fact about what you chose, not about some force controlling anyone.

      But I love the reference to the past here.
      Is the fact that we can’t change the past a reason to think that we didn’t make real choices when it was the present? It seems the same in the other direction.

      Mostly, however, I don’t think my argument about the contradictory nature of fatalism came across. Yes, I agree with you that, even if one accepts it, one will still go on living as if choices are real.

      My point was that the act of saying “fatalism is true” logically contradicts the act of saying “I can reason about facts”. It is a contradiction to affirm both of these things.

      Okay, that’s quite long enough.
      Best to you.

  • walttucker

    To kcchief1 (can’t reply for some reason):
    I read and have the first two. I have read others works by Fraser. This is all old stuff from before it was realized most of the similarities are superficial. Books I have read that are newer realize that and for a while the idea that there was an evolution of religion was dropped. However, it seems, because of lack of understanding of this fact (not reviewing previous scholar’s work – which is crazy), some scholars are migrating back to thinking that there was an evolution of religions. What we have evidence for is some sycretism in paganism and lots of decay and fragmentation of all world religions. But there is no evidence that monotheism evolved from pantheism rather than the other way around and the ideas in Christianity that are said to be borrowed are quite different with only superficial similiarites. There is a closer link in the Old Testament, but still, they are not simply borrowed and the same, but more parallel with opposing meanings.

  • walttucker

    To kcchief1 (couldn’t reply directly):

    I see his point. However, having attended SES for the first half of my seminary degree (when Dr. Geisler taught there), and SEBTS the later half, I see the problem, but also see the benefit to signing the covenants.

    SEBTS was rather liberal about 20 years ago when the current professors, who have signed the agreement, were students. There is nothing worse than having a professor who does not believe the Bible to be a professor at an evangelical seminary/college. That is not to say that you don’t hear the liberal side of things. I had an evangelical prof for Old Testament I and II. But, I assure you I know what is taught in the liberal and secular universities – the myth borrowing being a biggy! The difference is we get both sides of the story, not just the liberal side (the conservative scholarship is ignored in most liberal schools).

    There are plenty of places for a non-believing Bible scholar to teach. So, why should they hang out where they don’t agree with the requirements? For example, it would not make sense for Bart Ehrman to teach at SEBTS. Instead he teaches at UNC down the highway. At least one who signs up for his class knows what they are getting.

    By the way, except for the anguish Dr. Geisler put on Mike Licona, which seemed extreme to me for the issue, Mike is teaching and doing just fine. It isn’t that Mke or others can’t teach stuff that is opposed to Dr. Geisler’s idea of things, but that if you are going to be a member of the staff of SES, or a member of the Evangelical Philosphical Society, or some such, you ought to be adhering to the principles for the community that is there. Isn’t that what critical scholarship, despite some good work, has done by removing any discussion of even the remotist possibilty of a supernatural existence having any part in the production of the Bible? Shouldn’t the supernatural aspect ride on its own merits, not an apriori removal? Such has entirely distorted the facts about the Bible and mislead many. But since that is the case, there should be groups that look at things from the position that there is a supernatural influence on the Bible. (Especially since they believe there is. But let the facts prove them wrong – not biased rules of academia. Those biased rules result in other schools going the other way to make sure the case is made from the other direction.)

    This is the same about the myth aspect. If there is no supernatural influence, then the myth borrowing makes sense. But, since the myth borrowing theory ignores the superficial similarities, one is left to wonder how the Israelites deviated so far from the ideas expressed in the myths. Not that it couldn’t still be a natural product in some way. But, it doesn’t throw the supernatural influence out the window, either. As it is, there is no evidence that there was myth borrowing. It is inductively concluded because of elimination of a supernatural and superficial similarites.

    • kcchief1

      walttucker, “But, since the myth borrowing theory ignores the superficial similarities, one is left to wonder how the Israelites deviated so far from the ideas expressed in the myths.”

      Really ? When Moses went up to the top of the mountain and didn’t come back for 30 days the Israelites began worshipping a golden calf.

      The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts of Dynasties 5 and 6 (Pharaohs Unas, Teti, Pepy I, Merenre Antyemsaf, and Pepy II, ca. 2375-2184 BCE) These deceased Pharaohs were considered golden calves and were worshipped.

      Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac to the Bible God. Other religions did the same thing to their Gods.

      Doesn’t look like the Israelites deviated too much from these Myths.

      Christian Colleges who ask their professors to agree to a signing of covenants sounds like something many cultic leaders have done over the years. You might agree with it but it would scare me to death.

      It is in line with the History of the CHurch however. Galileo was placed under house arrest by the Church for breaking his covenant agreement. Instead he had to let his reason override his covenant and proclaim the earth did indeed revolve around the sun and not visa versa.

      Under Pope John Paul II the church finally had to admit they were wrong.

      Christianity has always had to “strong arm” their followers. They wouldn’t even let them read a bible for hundreds of years. All direction had to come from the church. NO free thinkers aloud.

      I am a Deist and do believe in a God / Creator but my God has no similarities to the Christian God or its myths.

      The best to you.

  • walttucker

    kcchief1,

    The golden calf story helps to show how much influence there was from Egypt on the popular religion of the masses, not on Moses’ teachings. Would you expect that story if they had not been in Egypt? Would you expect as much influence and borrowing of words (not same as borrowing myths) as there is from Egypt if they weren’t ever there?

    Also, it is true there are many myths of sacrificing children. The Israelites did it too when they turned back to other gods while in Palestine. Yet, which myth tells of a story where a father goes to sacrifice a son and says “God will provide,” and in the end there is a substitute sacrifice.?This is another example of showing how different the Abraham story is from the surrounding myths. Their whole character is different and in opposition to the surrounding myths.

    Indeed there is a history of “strong arming” and it is opposed to the idea of a priesthood of believers where each are guided by the Holy Spirit and directly accountable to God (a protestant view found in the Bible showing the Church is not the means of salvation, Christ is). But, there is also a history of people leading many astray who are in positions of authority, such as teachers. Even secular companies do not appreciate leadership in their company to oppose what they stand for. There is still much freedom within the view of inerrancy of Scripture. Yet, those opposed to that idea have gone off to do their own thing. Only a decade ago the Southern Baptist Convention split where many of the moderates and liberals left to form the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship because they didn’t appreciate the conservative point of view that so many in the denomination at the grass roots held. Does that make either side correct in their views? No. But they are free to do their scholarship as they see fit.

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