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Another religions





stinky321
any1 of you believing in any other religions then islam catholic or christian?
If, then what kind of. I mean some old religions and such
Soulfire
Catholic is Christian, just so you know.
Shewolf
Is not 2000 years old enough for you? Just wondering...
OtakuBoi
There's always the good ole' Flying Spagetti Monster to believe in...

http://www.venganza.org/

It's a joke, but it was created to prove a point, the fact that Catholisism and their beliefs of intelligent design are just as crazy as believing in a flying invisible mass of spagetti :X

This actually made CNN news a while back ;D

Just thought I'd share that Wink
Soulfire
OtakuBoi wrote:
There's always the good ole' Flying Spagetti Monster to believe in...

http://www.venganza.org/

It's a joke, but it was created to prove a point, the fact that Catholisism and their beliefs of intelligent design are just as crazy as believing in a flying invisible mass of spagetti :X

This actually made CNN news a while back ;D

Just thought I'd share that Wink

But at least it is plausible, at least there is evidence, at least we have the Bible. If you don't believe me, do some searches on the internet.

The bible makes reference to such things as gravity, innumerable stars (the people of that time counted around 3000 stars), and dinosaurs... long before the modern findings.
OtakuBoi
Yes, but according to different historians and researches, the bible hasn't remained unchanged... As it's converted from language to language, things get thrown in, books get added, things altered...
nam_siddharth
Soulfire wrote:
The bible makes reference to such things as gravity, innumerable stars (the people of that time counted around 3000 stars), and dinosaurs... long before the modern findings.


Oldest Aryan text "Rig Veda" written 2500 yrs. before birth of christ also make reference of those things. It does not prove that what "Rig Veda" say is all true.

But it proves that these things were far earlier known than birth of christ. Christ must have studied eastern books.
stinky321
Any ancient religions? I mean there were many religions like the egyptians but just wondering if any more....
Michael Wilson
Soul fire,

I must have missed the bit on dinosaurs. Were they on day 5 or 6?

Michael
Soulfire
Michael Wilson wrote:
Soul fire,

I must have missed the bit on dinosaurs. Were they on day 5 or 6?

Michael

Read Genesis and Job.

OtakuBoi wrote:
Yes, but according to different historians and researches, the bible hasn't remained unchanged... As it's converted from language to language, things get thrown in, books get added, things altered...

Yes, but people think different things. It is a sin to mistranslate scripture, I'm sure people who were followers of God would not modify it. And according to yet more historians and reasearchers, it has remained virtually unchanged.
OtakuBoi
ok, another issue I have...

The bible was written by Jesus's followers right? And they were mere mortals that sin just as we do...

They could have written anything they wanted in those books, couldn't they? It could have been corrupted at the root :X
Marston
OtakuBoi wrote:
ok, another issue I have...

The bible was written by Jesus's followers right? And they were mere mortals that sin just as we do...

They could have written anything they wanted in those books, couldn't they? It could have been corrupted at the root :X
I think the whole Christian religion got owned. Smile

Soulfire wrote:
But at least it is plausible, at least there is evidence, at least we have the Bible. If you don't believe me, do some searches on the internet.
How the hell is the Bible plausible? There's no evidence - has anyone found Jesus' skeleton?

No.

Has anyone ever found the garden of Eden?

No.

There's no evidence that anything in the Bible actually occoured.
BruceTheDauber
Marston wrote:
How the hell is the Bible plausible? There's no evidence - has anyone found Jesus' skeleton?


Sure there is. Jesus got fossilised. That's why people say they "stand on the rock of Jesus Christ". He got fossilised and turned into rock.

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There's no evidence that anything in the Bible actually occoured.


Some things in the OT happened pretty much the way they were written, some things happened, but they're exaggerated or distorted, and some things are just pure made up fiction. Most of the NT is pure fiction.
OtakuBoi
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Sure there is. Jesus got fossilised. That's why people say they "stand on the rock of Jesus Christ". He got fossilised and turned into rock.


wait wait.. I thought Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, hung around for a while, then rose into the air and went back to heaven...?
BruceTheDauber
OtakuBoi wrote:
I thought Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, hung around for a while, then rose into the air and went back to heaven...?


If he went up to heaven, he must have come back down again. Otherwise, how could people stand on "Christ the solid rock"? He must have got fossilised, because apart from seeing the Medusa with your naked eyes, I don't know any other way for a person to turn into rock, and I think the head of Medusa was destroyed before Jesus was born, so he couldn't have seen her.
aegir
i am a pagan. the old european religion before christianity. thousands years older than that.
livilou
BruceTheDauber wrote:
OtakuBoi wrote:
I thought Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, hung around for a while, then rose into the air and went back to heaven...?


If he went up to heaven, he must have come back down again. Otherwise, how could people stand on "Christ the solid rock"? He must have got fossilised, because apart from seeing the Medusa with your naked eyes, I don't know any other way for a person to turn into rock, and I think the head of Medusa was destroyed before Jesus was born, so he couldn't have seen her.


Okay, I'm going to get serious here and explain what "Jesus the Solid Rock" is all about.

It refers to the fact that Jesus should be our foundation. His example should be the foundation in the way we live our life.

Have you ever built a house? If a house is built on a weak foundation, it won't stand. If you build a house on a strong, stable foundation, it will. That's what we mean when we say we are standing on the Solid Rock.
aegir
livilou wrote:

It refers to the fact that Jesus should be our foundation. His example should be the foundation in the way we live our life.


Why should be Jesus our foundation? There is no reason for that. His (if he ever existed) philosophy is bad. I do not like it. I prefer different foundations.
Soulfire
OtakuBoi wrote:
ok, another issue I have...

The bible was written by Jesus's followers right? And they were mere mortals that sin just as we do...

They could have written anything they wanted in those books, couldn't they? It could have been corrupted at the root :X

Nope, they couldn't have, because they were under the influence of God at the time of writing them. It's similar to speaking in tongues.

And as to the "Nothing ever came true" that's pretty naive to say. There are three prophecies about Babylon, Israel, and Egypt that stand out to me. Take a look below:

Three Prophecies - Three Destinies
- Babylon, that great power in the Middle East, was to lose its empire and its magnificent capital city was to become a site of desolate ruins, shunned by man and beast. And so it came to pass.

- Egypt , also a great empire , was to remain a recognisable kingdom. The Egyptians were to continue to inhabit their own land. But they would be constantly dominated by other powers, remaining "a lowly kingdom". And so they have been.

- The fate of Israel was not to be like either of these. Scattered from their own land into other countries, and suffering severe persecutions and constant contempt, they were to return to the very land from which they were scattered, and to establish themselves there once again.

Let us note carefully the following facts:
1) The prophecies concerning these nations were uttered about 2500 years ago.
2) Their truth has been demonstrated in history right up to the present day.
3) The three cases quoted concern three different powers with three entirely different fates. One was to disappear into oblivion; the second was to remain, but be subject to other nations; the third was to be destroyed, its people expelled and scattered all over the earth, and yet eventually to be restored in the original land.
4) These are not "political forecasts" of clever political observers, but accurate predictions.

Certainly no man could've predicted those.

OtakuBoi wrote:
wait wait.. I thought Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, hung around for a while, then rose into the air and went back to heaven...?
It's not wise to mock Jesus, regardless of your belief (or lack of) in him.
BruceTheDauber
Soulfire,

The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows. And there are NO prophecies in the Bible that ever came true. What's Jesus gonna do if someone mocks him, eh? Spin in his grave? I hope you don't expect that if you use this place to preach Christian nonsense, everyone will listen politely and make no comment, because it won't be like that.
Soulfire
BruceTheDauber wrote:
Soulfire,

The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows. And there are NO prophecies in the Bible that ever came true. What's Jesus gonna do if someone mocks him, eh? Spin in his grave? I hope you don't expect that if you use this place to preach Christian nonsense, everyone will listen politely and make no comment, because it won't be like that.

What gives you the authority to determine who has written the Bible, and if you actually read the Bible, you would see the prophecies that have come true. Don't be ignorant, just because you don't believe in it does not mean it isn't happening or doesn't exist. Why are you so harsh? If this is what atheism is, no wonder our world is in terrible disarray.

Who ever said I was preaching? I am putting forth evidence and displaying my beliefs, in the same way (but much more respectfully) that you are displaying your clear and deep-rooted hatred for either me, or Christianity. So who are you upset with? Me? God? Why exactly are you so miserable and mad?

What did I ever do to you?

And I'm sorry you feel this way. Religion isn't meant to be a hostile thing.

God bless,
Soulfire
BruceTheDauber
Soulfire wrote:
What gives you the authority to determine who has written the Bible


Common sense.

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and if you actually read the Bible, you would see the prophecies that have come true.


I have read enough of the Bible to know that it is boring rubbish written by ignorant, hateful bronze age peasants. There are no prophecies in the Bible that I know of that make a clear and unambiguous prediction about something that later came true, and were definitely written before the event that was supposedly predicted. For instance, the prediction that Babylon would fall was written long after the fall of Babylon, as far as anyone knows, since the earliest text of "Isaiah" dates from the first century BC.

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Don't be ignorant, just because you don't believe in it does not mean it isn't happening or doesn't exist. Why are you so harsh? If this is what atheism is, no wonder our world is in terrible disarray.


Devoutly religious people are major contributors to the disarray of the world today.

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Who ever said I was preaching?


I did. You write with a preachy tone, and assert as fact things that are (at the very least) highly doubtful.

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I am putting forth evidence and displaying my beliefs, in the same way (but much more respectfully) that you are displaying your clear and deep-rooted hatred for either me, or Christianity. So who are you upset with? Me? God? Why exactly are you so miserable and mad?


Very funny. You are asserting things as evidence that are not evidence at all ("they were under the influence of God" -- is that evidence?) and accusing people of naivety, lack of wisdom, and in the above quote, hatred.

I don't hate you. I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

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And I'm sorry you feel this way. Religion isn't meant to be a hostile thing.


Religion isn't meant to be a hostile thing, generally, but unfortunately, it very often is a hostile thing, and in the case of the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) that tendency to hostility is built in. It comes as part of the package. Which is why, since the foundation of those religions, they have been embroiled almost constantly in religious wars and persecutions in varying degrees of violence.
Soulfire
BruceTheDauber wrote:
Common sense.
No, not really thinking so. Common sense tells me there is something more, and tells me that the Bible is truth.

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I have read enough of the Bible to know that it is boring rubbish written by ignorant, hateful bronze age peasants. There are no prophecies in the Bible that I know of that make a clear and unambiguous prediction about something that later came true, and were definitely written before the event that was supposedly predicted. For instance, the prediction that Babylon would fall was written long after the fall of Babylon, as far as anyone knows, since the earliest text of "Isaiah" dates from the first century BC.

You know that for fact eh? I highly doubt it, but I can't change your opinion. How do you know it was written after the fall of Babylon. And what about Egypt and Israel? Both of those prophecies were fulfilled as well.

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Devoutly religious people are major contributors to the disarray of the world today.

Not Christians, and "devoutly religious" is a pretty broad area. I am devoutly religious, and don't contribute at all to the disarray of the world today. The disarray of the world today is due to lack of faith in God, and people taking their own paths, and it has become a huge pig pen of slop and nothingness. There's nothing in this world for me.

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I did. You write with a preachy tone, and assert as fact things that are (at the very least) highly doubtful.

And you just know my tone over the internet? I find that unlikely. They are fact according to me (and billions of other people), and even the "facts" that you would accept because of the findings of science are often disputed, just as we could be disputing the facts that you say are non-existent.

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Very funny. You are asserting things as evidence that are not evidence at all ("they were under the influence of God" -- is that evidence?) and accusing people of naivety, lack of wisdom, and in the above quote, hatred.

I don't hate you. I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

I've seen people under the influence of God, and witnessed first-hand the power of God. Your words could've been more polite, to put it lightly, if you were simply trying to accuse me of "naivety, lack of wisdom, and hatred." Turns out I'm not any of the three.

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Religion isn't meant to be a hostile thing, generally, but unfortunately, it very often is a hostile thing, and in the case of the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) that tendency to hostility is built in. It comes as part of the package. Which is why, since the foundation of those religions, they have been embroiled almost constantly in religious wars and persecutions in varying degrees of violence.

Nobody needs religion, but we all need God and Jesus. Sure there are examples of Christian violence, but those people are fighting under a false banner of Christianity. And I'm sure you can find many more examples of violence from non-religious people/groups.

Christianity and Judiasm have mended some bridges, and (radical) Islam refuses to respect the "proclaimation of peace" that Christianity and Judiasm would like to place forth.

To each his own. Accept God, or reject God, both decisions have consequences, and everyone has to face those consequences.
Indi
BruceTheDauber wrote:
Soulfire wrote:
What gives you the authority to determine who has written the Bible


Common sense.

Common sense is actually not common.

It is an article of faith to believe in the bible and its divine inspiration, but it also takes a kind of faith to insist that it was written by bronze age peasants. The truth is that we don't know who wrote what parts of the bible, or how they were inspired, so it is a leap of faith both to say it was written by people who lived and travelled with God incarnate and to say it was written by ignorant mystics.

Fact is, whoever wrote many of the books of the bible - assuming each book had a single inspired author and is not an interpolation of many authors and ideas - was a freaking genius. You can come to this conclusion by either considering the revolutionary aspect of the ideas at the time they were written, or by considering how the depth and the intelligence of many of the concepts presented is valid even today. The richness of the allegory and the literary style are striking. Personally, I find many of the parables extremely morally and philosophically complex - some of them even more so than standard Christian interpretation normally accepts (my favourite example of this is the parable of the prodigal son - the standard interpretation of that parable leaves off the most fascinating and complex part of the parable, in my opinion).


Does that mean the bible was written (indirectly) by God? Not necessarily, maybe just really smart bronze age peasants. But hey, it's possible, and there's certainly no proof either way. The default logical position is to assume the most parsimonious theory that fits the evidence, starting with a complete null assumption, but logical does not equal true. Applying rigid logic is necessary for the scientific process, but not for determining truth. It is quite possible to arrive at the truth by other means, including faith.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
There are no prophecies in the Bible that I know of that make a clear and unambiguous prediction about something that later came true, and were definitely written before the event that was supposedly predicted. For instance, the prediction that Babylon would fall was written long after the fall of Babylon, as far as anyone knows, since the earliest text of "Isaiah" dates from the first century BC.

There is a problem with your logic.

For a moment, assume the bible was divinely inspired and the prophesies presented are correct. Now, imagine you're God, and you want to prophesy - for example - 9/11 in the bible. You have two options. You can say to your scribe, "on September 11th, 2001 in New York City in America, two planes piloted by Islamic extremists will slam into the World Trade Center", or you can say "at the dawn of the third age, the twin icons of progress will be struck down by arrows of the followers of the false prophet".

Now, the second one is vague. Very vague. It could be interpreted many different ways. So the first one is better, right?

Maybe not. First, consider the practical problems. The dating system was not in use then - although it could have been specified by an old dating system. Ancient Hebrew and Greek had no words for "planes", "America" or even "Islam". There would also have been no way to unambiguously describe "New York City" (although, I suppose you could have said "big apple"), "America" or "the World Trade Center".

And that's just the practical problems. Now consider the philosophical problems. If the prediction was clear enough that it could be pre-interpreted, then why couldn't the event be stopped? Foreknowlege of an event affects the event, unless you believe in absolute determinism, which contradicts the bible's assertion of human free will.

Further, if the event was clearly predicted and it happened, did it happen because it was going to happen anyway, or because it was predicted and someone acted out the prediction just to make the bible more true? If the prediction was clear, the bible could be accused of causing the disaster.

So you see? There is no way to make a clear prediction. The best you can do is to make a vague reference that can be interpreted after the fact. Thus the vagueness and the interpretive nature of the prophecies in the bible (or anywhere), are an inevitable consequence of the fact that they are prophecies.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Devoutly religious people are major contributors to the disarray of the world today.

Personally, I would have blamed immoral politicians and the ignorant, malleable "us vs. them" mob-mentality of most of the world. But to each their own.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

As I said before, common sense is not common. That is, it is not shared amongst everyone. You are guided by your flavour of common sense, Soulfire by his or hers, and me by mine. To assert yours is the one true "common" sense and everyone else should conform to it is just as ignorant and bigoted as to assert that your religion is the one true religion and all others should conform to it.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Religion isn't meant to be a hostile thing, generally, but unfortunately, it very often is a hostile thing, and in the case of the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) that tendency to hostility is built in. It comes as part of the package. Which is why, since the foundation of those religions, they have been embroiled almost constantly in religious wars and persecutions in varying degrees of violence.

You are right, religion has been the source of much strife in the past. I don't particularly believe the "no true Scotsman" argument that Soulfire presents (that only "false" Christians spread hate and violence), but to each his or her own.

The thing is, we're all working to fix that now, we're all trying to (as Soulfire put it) mend the bridges. I believe that the problem isn't religion itself, but the improper exercise and application of religious beliefs, cause by ignorance and parochialism. There is room in virtually all religions for people who believe in other religions - all that is required is a more tolerant interpretation to become widespread. And that is the trend, so why act now to eliminate religion while it's trying to mend itself?

There is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We haven't yet come to the point where religion is so fundamentally flawed an idea that it should be abolished completely. Yes, it needs work, but what doesn't? And certainly, all of the major religions are trying to grow and adapt to the new global age. I say give them the chance.
BruceTheDauber
Indi wrote:

It is an article of faith to believe in the bible and its divine inspiration, but it also takes a kind of faith to insist that it was written by bronze age peasants.


Be serious. If something is written on a piece of papyrus or tree-bark, carbon-dated to a couple of thousand years ago, and stored in a terracotta vase in a cave somewhere in the Middle East, it doesn't take a leap of faith to conclude that it was written two thousand or so years ago by someone in the Middle East. On the other hand, the claim that anything (new or old) was written by divine inspiration always takes a huge leap of faith. Especially if what is written only reflects the knowledge that people had at the time of writing, and contains nothing clearly miraculous. For instance, God presumably knew about germs, antibiotics, analgesics, and immunosuppressants thousands of years ago, but human beings didn't. Why didn't God tell his "inspired" writers to write about those things, so that many people could be saved from unnecessary illness and pain, instead of letting them labour for centuries under the illusion that illness is caused by demons? God presumably knew about plate tectonics, so why didn't he explain this to his "inspired" writers, instead of letting people go on believing that earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions were expressions of God's wrath? He failed to correct misbeliefs that any reasonable God would wish to correct, and said nothing that a primitive bronze age peasant wouldn't know.

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The truth is that we don't know who wrote what parts of the bible, or how they were inspired, so it is a leap of faith both to say it was written by people who lived and travelled with God incarnate and to say it was written by ignorant mystics.


We don't know the exact people who wrote the Bible, but we do know roughly when and where they lived, and what kind of science and technology they had at that time. They were pretty ignorant compared to modern people, and the Bible reflects that ignorance.

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Fact is, whoever wrote many of the books of the bible - assuming each book had a single inspired author and is not an interpolation of many authors and ideas - was a freaking genius.


That's a massive assumption that you're making, which goes contrary to the evidence accepted by most Bible scholars. Serious Bible scholars all seem to agree that many of the books of the Bible had multiple authors, and were cobbled together by editors long after they were originally written. As for the idea that the books are works of genius, I beg to differ. They are mostly boring rubbish, badly written and poorly edited. The best story, in dramatic terms, is the Gospel, and that's not really great literature. The rest of the stories vary from mediocre to dire. Made into Holywood movies, most of those stories would flop. Compared to the mythology of Ancient Greece or India, Bible mythology is boring and lacks vividness and drama, and most of its heroes are unattractive.

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You can come to this conclusion by either considering the revolutionary aspect of the ideas at the time they were written, or by considering how the depth and the intelligence of many of the concepts presented is valid even today.


No, there is no great intelligence in the Bible. If you read Plato or Confucius, and then read any part of the Bible, it is a huge come-down -- a definite move from wisdom to relative stupidity.

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The richness of the allegory and the literary style are striking.


Long, tedious lists of lineages. Long, even more tedious lists of silly rules. Long, tedious explanations explanations of why this king was good, and was therefore rewarded with great wealth, or that king was bad, and was therefore punished with defeat in war. Blood-thirsty and nasty stories that valorize hatred and intolerance. Tedious praises to a non-existent deity. More tedious praises to corrupt and violent chieftains. Long hateful passages of invective against foreign kings and neighbouring people. Long passages describing apparently mushroom-induced hallucinations. The Bible is mostly boring, and, as literature, not very good. I can't speak of the literary style, because I've only ever read it in translation, but I can speak of the structure and content, and I'm not impressed.

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Personally, I find many of the parables extremely morally and philosophically complex - some of them even more so than standard Christian interpretation normally accepts (my favourite example of this is the parable of the prodigal son - the standard interpretation of that parable leaves off the most fascinating and complex part of the parable, in my opinion).


The parables are, for the most part, shallow, and hateful and banal, and suggest that Jesus was not a very nice man.


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Does that mean the bible was written (indirectly) by God? Not necessarily, maybe just really smart bronze age peasants.


Smart compared to who? Their Babylonian, Phoenician, Greek, and Egyptian neighbours? The more remote, but also very smart Persians, Indians and Chinese? I think not.

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But hey, it's possible, and there's certainly no proof either way.


It is possible that the Bible, or the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, or any purportedly religious book was divinely inspired -- it's just hugely improbable, and takes a leap of faith to believe. I prefer not to take leaps of faith if I don't have to.


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For a moment, assume the bible was divinely inspired and the prophesies presented are correct. Now, imagine you're God, and you want to prophesy - for example - 9/11 in the bible. You have two options. You can say to your scribe, "on September 11th, 2001 in New York City in America, two planes piloted by Islamic extremists will slam into the World Trade Center", or you can say "at the dawn of the third age, the twin icons of progress will be struck down by arrows of the followers of the false prophet".

Now, the second one is vague. Very vague. It could be interpreted many different ways. So the first one is better, right?

Maybe not. First, consider the practical problems. The dating system was not in use then - although it could have been specified by an old dating system. Ancient Hebrew and Greek had no words for "planes", "America" or even "Islam". There would also have been no way to unambiguously describe "New York City" (although, I suppose you could have said "big apple"), "America" or "the World Trade Center".


None of those supposed practical problems is real. It would be easy to say something like "In X years from today, a large metal object weighing X talents will fly into a tower X cubits high, on an island X furlongs west and north of here".

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And that's just the practical problems. Now consider the philosophical problems. If the prediction was clear enough that it could be pre-interpreted, then why couldn't the event be stopped? Foreknowlege of an event affects the event, unless you believe in absolute determinism, which contradicts the bible's assertion of human free will.


That's irrelevant. God could easily choose to predict events that human beings would be unable to stop. For instance, he could have predicted the Indian ocean tsunami, or the eruption of Krakatoa, or an event in the sky, such as a distant supernova, or the arrival of a meteorite at a particular place or time. There are no such predicitions in the Bible that have been verified. If there were even one such, it would be good evidence that there was something special about the Bible and it ought to be taken seriously. The failure of the Bible to contain any such mechanism of verification indicates strongly that it's claim to be divinely inspired is humbug of the same kind to which similar claims regarding all "prophecies" and "oracles" and "seers" apparently belong.

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If the prediction was clear, the bible could be accused of causing the disaster.


That woudl be silly. God is the supposed cause of all natural disasters whether they're predicted or not. Predicting one would only save lives. However, if predicting disasters still somehow puts God in a bad light, why not predict a good thing? Why not predict, e.g., that huge underground water resources will be discovered in Ethiopia, ending famine in that region forever?

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So you see? There is no way to make a clear prediction. The best you can do is to make a vague reference that can be interpreted after the fact.


So, you see, that whole thing about verifiable prophecy not being possible is nonsense.



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BruceTheDauber wrote:
Devoutly religious people are major contributors to the disarray of the world today.

Personally, I would have blamed immoral politicians and the ignorant, malleable "us vs. them" mob-mentality of most of the world. But to each their own.


The "us v. them" mentality is built into the core of Abrahamic religion. According to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the world is divided into "us" (believers) and "them" (unbelievers, or the heathen), and according to scripture, it is okay to enslave unbelievers or wage war against them even to the extent of attempting to wipe them out. Other religions, in general, are not like that. Hindus and Buddhists don't care what deities their neighbours worship. To followers of Abrahamic religions, any dissent or "false belief", or, worst of all, "apostasy" is a great affront, potentially meriting punishment by death, and believers are encouraged to destroy their neighbours' "idols". Such ideas are not conducive to peace and harmony in the world.

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The thing is, we're all working to fix that now, we're all trying to (as Soulfire put it) mend the bridges. I believe that the problem isn't religion itself, but the improper exercise and application of religious beliefs, cause by ignorance and parochialism. There is room in virtually all religions for people who believe in other religions - all that is required is a more tolerant interpretation to become widespread. And that is the trend, so why act now to eliminate religion while it's trying to mend itself?


There is no "proper" application of religious belief, since religion is nothing more or less than organized superstition. The best that can be achieved is that religions learn humility, and stop trying to impose themselves on everyone around, but a spread of tolerant interpretations cannot be guaranteed to be perfect. Some religions (such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are inherently intolerant, as messages preaching intolerance are part of their founding texts. I'm not interested in acting to eliminate religion. I'm perfectly happy to tolerate religious practice as a harmless quirk, but when religious people start their envangelizing and jihadizing nonsense (which is arrogant and rude at the very least, and potentially much worse than that), I will fight back.

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There is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We haven't yet come to the point where religion is so fundamentally flawed an idea that it should be abolished completely.


There is no baby in the bathwater. Religion has no intrinsic value. I don't mind if it continues as a personal quirk of those who choose to follow it, but it doesn't get any respect from me, because it doesn't deserve any.


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And certainly, all of the major religions are trying to grow and adapt to the new global age. I say give them the chance.


They will all die out eventually. They are clearly wrong, and as education spreads, so religious belief will weaken until it no longer exists in any significant form.
Indi
BruceTheDauber wrote:
Indi wrote:

It is an article of faith to believe in the bible and its divine inspiration, but it also takes a kind of faith to insist that it was written by bronze age peasants.


Be serious. If something is written on a piece of papyrus or tree-bark, carbon-dated to a couple of thousand years ago, and stored in a terracotta vase in a cave somewhere in the Middle East, it doesn't take a leap of faith to conclude that it was written two thousand or so years ago by someone in the Middle East.

I didn't say it took a leap of faith to believe it was written thousands of years ago by someone in the middle east. I said it took a leap of faith to believe it was written by bronze age peasants.

There is a world of difference. Even people who tout the divine inspiration of the bible say it was written by people thousands of years ago in the middle east. The extra step they take is by saying it was divinely inspired. Your extra step is saying it was not divinely inspired and was the fabrication of the writers alone - or at best a collection of sayings of the time. Maybe that was the case, maybe it wasn't. To assert it was is a declaration of faith that it was the case, because you have no proof.

Anytime you claim a positive (assuming you want to work using the laws of logic), you have to provide proof. The person who claims the text was divinely inspired should provide proof of that claim or admit that it is a leap of faith. The person who claims the text was written by ignorant bronze age peasants similarly has to provide proof of that claim, or admit that it is a leap of faith. How do you know it wasn't written by bronze age nobility? Or copper age peasants with slight alterations made over time to account for history (such as in the book of Daniel)? You don't. No one does. So believing it was written by bronze age peasants requires faith.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
For instance, God presumably knew about germs, antibiotics, analgesics, and immunosuppressants thousands of years ago, but human beings didn't. Why didn't God tell his "inspired" writers to write about those things, so that many people could be saved from unnecessary illness and pain, instead of letting them labour for centuries under the illusion that illness is caused by demons? God presumably knew about plate tectonics, so why didn't he explain this to his "inspired" writers, instead of letting people go on believing that earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions were expressions of God's wrath? He failed to correct misbeliefs that any reasonable God would wish to correct, and said nothing that a primitive bronze age peasant wouldn't know.

You're being disingenious here, and I hope it's not deliberate. Again, assume the bible was divinely inspired by a living god. The bible (and the torah and quran) all have specific purposes. They are not science texts, they are designed to describe the character and philosophy of some god or another, and the expected behaviours and beliefs of people who wish to please that god. Further, they are designed to make that belief plausible and accessible across as wide a span of time as possible.

Let's say you're God, and you're writing the bible thousands of years ago. What benefit would there be to putting foreknowledge in there that is currently unaccessible to contemporary readers? None at all. Either it will go completely over the heads of the people of the time, or it will be dismissed as gibberish. Either way, the writings would have been a hard sell back in those days if it was too far obtuse, completely contradictory to the current worldview, or just plain nonsense. And frankly, the point of the bible is to sell God. Adding coded information that won't be understood for thousands of years doesn't help anyone for thousands of years. On the other hand, using the current worldview makes the bible accessible to contemporary readers, and future readers can always refer back to the old worldview to understand the theology - you can look back but not ahead.

Another problem with your argument is the extreme arrogance it demonstrates. You argue because the bible doesn't demonstrate understanding of current scientific knowledge, it is lacking. The logical response is why do you think it should demonstrate current scientific knowledge? Plate tectonics was only conceived in the early 1900's. Talking about plates moving around would have baffled 1900 years (at least, assuming we're talking about the New Testament - possibly close to 4000 years if we're talking about the old) of people. For what gains? To convince you and other people now? What, you don't think the billions of people that lived before Alfred Wegener deserve proof too? (And, ultimately, it would have been irrelevant to the theology. If God exists, God damn well does cause the earth to move, and volcanoes to erupt, directly or indirectly.)

And I have to take it a step further and stress the now part. We believe plate tectonics is the correct theory today. We didn't before the early 1900's, and it's possible that a new and better theory could be defined tomorrow. Then what? The reference to plate tectonics would now be an anachronism, invalidating its evidence as divine inspiration. You are operating on an implicit assumption that what you know today is truth. That is unjustified arrogance.

Let me give you two practical examples. First, imagine we were having this conversation 1000 years ago over a pint of mead in some tavern. You would be insisting the bible was not written by God because it did not describe the four humours: black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm. Or the four elements of mater: fire, water, earth and air. Everyone (in that day) knew that to be the way of the world. The fact that God never mentioned any of it is evidence that he didn't know about any of it. Surely you can see what's wrong with this scenario. If God had described the four humours, it may have convinced them then, but we would be laughing at the ignorance of it now. Now, imagine that we were having this conversation 1000 years in the future. You would be similarly claiming that the fact that the bible doesn't mention anything about subspace or Dyson spheres or wormhole travel or the protoculture matrix. And therein lies the rub. Maybe the bible does contain coded information about future technologies - but we are just currently too ignorant to recognize them.

Assuming that the bible should confirm your current worldview is both arrogant and ignorant. It is arrogant because it implies that you somehow rate of higher importance than the billions who came before you with previous worldviews. It is ignorant because it assumes that your worldview is truth and will not one day be supplanted by a new one. The only logical way to stay current across all generations of human knowledge is to use the lowest common denominator - current knowledge at the time of writing - because future generations, while they may have more evolved worldviews, will always understand the old ones.

Furthermore, as I hinted at above, none of it is essentially untrue. Viruses and bacteria could conceivably have been referred to as little demons in ancient Greek or Hebrew. There was certainly no contemporary term for them. And not everyone who comes into contact with a virus or bacteria gets sick. Sometimes their immune system protects them, sometimes it doesn't. Maybe angels and demons really are manipulating quantum probabilities on a level we can't yet detect or understand to determine what infects whom and what doesn't. It requires faith to believe that, but it also requires faith to assert it's not true.

And of course, if God exists, he most certainly does cause earthquakes and volcanoes.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
We don't know the exact people who wrote the Bible, but we do know roughly when and where they lived, and what kind of science and technology they had at that time. They were pretty ignorant compared to modern people, and the Bible reflects that ignorance.

If you don't know the exact people who wrote the bible, and you can only roughly place the time and date of their writing, how can you assert with such conviction that it was bronze age peasants and not call it faith?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
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Fact is, whoever wrote many of the books of the bible - assuming each book had a single inspired author and is not an interpolation of many authors and ideas - was a freaking genius.


That's a massive assumption that you're making, which goes contrary to the evidence accepted by most Bible scholars. Serious Bible scholars all seem to agree that many of the books of the Bible had multiple authors, and were cobbled together by editors long after they were originally written.

*shrug* Makes no real difference to the conclusion. If it was multiple authors, then there were lots of little geniuses. And certainly the people who selected the items for inclusion made very interesting and clever selections.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
As for the idea that the books are works of genius, I beg to differ. They are mostly boring rubbish, badly written and poorly edited. The best story, in dramatic terms, is the Gospel, and that's not really great literature. The rest of the stories vary from mediocre to dire. Made into Holywood movies, most of those stories would flop. Compared to the mythology of Ancient Greece or India, Bible mythology is boring and lacks vividness and drama, and most of its heroes are unattractive.

The problem is that your view of the bible is narrow, and dictated by your contemporary environment, which was heavily influenced by Hellenic philosophy, which also influenced the bible. The writings and philosophies of other cultures strike you as fascinating because they're novel. To someone who grew up in Chinese or Indian culture, the philosophy of the bible would be foreign and novel, and this fascinating by virtue of it's novelty. And of course to say that the literary aspect of the bible is lacking in comparison to current literary standards is absurd, given that current literature has been so heavily influenced by the bible, and has obviously evolved in complexity over thousands of years.

But *shrug* just because you're not impressed that doesn't mean that it's not good reading. I don't believe any of it is divine - or even true - but I think it's got some amazingly complex philosophy in there, and interesting allegory. (I personally find the parts that try to resolve the inevitable contradictions fascinating.)

Actually, the Jesus story is widely believed to be based on ancient Greek myth, and Hellenistic philosophy. In particular, the cult of Mithras is believed to have heavily influenced Christianity.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
It is possible that the Bible, or the Koran, or the Book of Mormon, or any purportedly religious book was divinely inspired -- it's just hugely improbable, and takes a leap of faith to believe. I prefer not to take leaps of faith if I don't have to.

*shrug* To each his own. But that's your personal choice, not a "common sense" position to take. You admit as much yourself, but your usage of the phrase "I prefer". Suggesting that people who have chosen another way to think is ignorant is bigoted, and ignorant in itself.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
None of those supposed practical problems is real. It would be easy to say something like "In X years from today, a large metal object weighing X talents will fly into a tower X cubits high, on an island X furlongs west and north of here".

And what would that accomplish? To convince you that the bible is true? What about the billions that came before? They not worth it in your opinion?

And what if it was written like that and happened? Was it in spite of the warning or because of it? By predicting the event, did the writing cause it (in which case, the prediction's value as evidence of God is null and void)?

Further, you're demonstrating arrogance again. Why would you assume that God would be interested in prophesying anything of relevance to you today? He prophesied stuff in ancient times for the purpose of establishing the religion. Mission accomplished. Now, what, he has to do a miracle a week to keep people's interest up?

Events of interest to you are probably of little consequence in God's master plan. It may be that your idea earth-shaking events, like the world wars, and natural events like the recent tsumani and so on are of no real interest to God. His motives for prophecies may be solely for the purpose of establishing his theology (in which case, there's been no need for a prophesized event for thousands of years), and signalling the end times (in which case, it can be argued that it isn't quite around the corner yet).

BruceTheDauber wrote:
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If the prediction was clear, the bible could be accused of causing the disaster.


That woudl be silly. God is the supposed cause of all natural disasters whether they're predicted or not.

I didn't say God, I said the bible. If someone read of an event in the bible, then caused it, it would invalidate that prediction being evidence of God. Even if the bible were written by ignorant bronze age peasants, such a thing could conceivably happen given a sufficiently zealous person. If someone read the bible, and caused the disaster, it wasn't a prediction, it was a blueprint. In such a case, the bible and Christianity could arguably be called a source of evil, which is kind of contrary to its stated purpose.

As for predicting natural disasters... to what end? The bible has been around for two thousand years. What natural disasters have occured in that time that are so integral to the master plan that they warrant a prediction? Predicting one a thousand years ago would have no relevance today. Predicting one today would have no relevance a thousand years ago.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
However, if predicting disasters still somehow puts God in a bad light, why not predict a good thing? Why not predict, e.g., that huge underground water resources will be discovered in Ethiopia, ending famine in that region forever?

Same argument. To what end? Predicting an event a thousand years ago would have no relevance today. Predicting one today would have no relevance a thousand years ago.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
So, you see, that whole thing about verifiable prophecy not being possible is nonsense.

Useful verifiable prophecy of natural events could be possible. It would still be impossible to predict any human-influenced event without contention. But what would be the point? Which events to predict? Which ones are relevant, if any?

To save lives? Why would God care? It's our souls he's interested in saving.

To convince more unbelievers? A line has to be drawn somewhere. God can only do so much to convince doubters. Even after verifiable miracles, there would still be doubters (random chance and all that). Should God then try to convince them? Or should the line be drawn there? And if there, why not before? Who are you to decide where God should draw that line?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
The "us v. them" mentality is built into the core of Abrahamic religion.

"Us vs. them" is built into the core of the human psyche. Hinduism may not include it, but Indians sure have a problem with Pakistanis and Blacks (among others). It is hardly unique to Abrahamic religions.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
There is no "proper" application of religious belief, since religion is nothing more or less than organized superstition. The best that can be achieved is that religions learn humility, and stop trying to impose themselves on everyone around, but a spread of tolerant interpretations cannot be guaranteed to be perfect. Some religions (such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity) are inherently intolerant, as messages preaching intolerance are part of their founding texts. I'm not interested in acting to eliminate religion. I'm perfectly happy to tolerate religious practice as a harmless quirk, but when religious people start their envangelizing and jihadizing nonsense (which is arrogant and rude at the very least, and potentially much worse than that), I will fight back.

It has no intrinsic value, it's clearly wrong, it will be stamped out by education, etc. etc. These are your words. Now who is proselytizing? Tolerance is a two way street. You demand religion be tolerant of your beliefs, but you don't seem willing to do the same for religion.

If any religion is inherently intolerant, they will have to change. It's that simple. They're working on it. Perhaps the tolerant thing to do would be to stop calling them stupid and misguided and let them find a way to make religion work in the new age. That, of course, assumes you are interested in being tolerant.
BruceTheDauber
Indi wrote:
I didn't say it took a leap of faith to believe it was written thousands of years ago by someone in the middle east. I said it took a leap of faith to believe it was written by bronze age peasants.


Scholarly opinion has it that a lot of the stories in the Bible date back to the Bronze Age, and were passed down orally until they were eventually written down a few hundred years later, at the end of the Iron Age. There are good reasons to believe this. It does not take a "leap of faith", but simply an open-minded consideration of the evidence. Even if we take it that the Bible was entirely written by members of a priestly caste at the end of the Iron Age, it was still written by people who were a lot more ignorant than we are today, and who grew up in a peasant society.


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Your extra step is saying it was not divinely inspired and was the fabrication of the writers alone - or at best a collection of sayings of the time. Maybe that was the case, maybe it wasn't. To assert it was is a declaration of faith that it was the case, because you have no proof.


When there is zero evidence that X is the case, saying that X is not the case does not entail a "leap of faith". Saying that the Bible is not inspired by God does not entail a leap of faith because there is zero evidence (beyond the bald assertions of believers) that God did inspire the Bible.

There is no equal amount of "faith" in the two propositions (a) "God inspired the Bible", and (b) "God did not inspire the Bible". One requires you to accept something highly improbable for which there is zero evidence, while the other merely involves the very reasonable (based on probability) assumption that "zero evidence for X means that X is not the case".

Exactly the same applies to this very post. If I claimed that this post I am writing now is inspired by God, you could choose to believe me, or to disbelieve me. To believe me, you'd have to take a leap of faith, because it would involve believing something improbable for which there is zero evidence (beyond my mere assertion of its truth), whereas to disbelieve me would not involve a leap of faith, because you'd simply be going along with what seemed probable given the evidence available to you.


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You're being disingenious here, and I hope it's not deliberate.


I am not being disingenuous, and your claim that I am is unreasonable.

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Again, assume the bible was divinely inspired by a living god. The bible (and the torah and quran) all have specific purposes.


According to Christians, the purpose of the Bible is to reveal God's will to people, and to guide them to the right faith and action. If the Bible fails to convince people that it describes God's will, then it fails in its purpose. Therefore, the Bible ought to do what it can to convince people of its divine source. One sure way to do this would be for the Bible to contain verifiable assertions that no human being, at the time of its being written down, could know. These could include statements about future events (such as the times and places of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, the arrival of meteorites, distant supernovae, and so on), or statements of facts about nature that were unknown to the people given the task of writing the text down (such as descriptions of hitherto unknown species, mathematical formulae, surprising scientific facts, and so on).

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They are not science texts, they are designed to describe the character and philosophy of some god or another, and the expected behaviours and beliefs of people who wish to please that god. Further, they are designed to make that belief plausible and accessible across as wide a span of time as possible.


Exactly. As such, they should confirm their bona fides. Failure to confirm their bona fides means they will fail to make themselves plausible and accessible across as wide a span of time as possible. It becomes very hard for many people to believe the Bible when what it says about the world conforms to primitive ideas that have been overturned by science. Therefore, the Bible, if it wishes to remain convincing throughout time, should describe the world in a way that will never be overturned by science.

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Let's say you're God, and you're writing the bible thousands of years ago. What benefit would there be to putting foreknowledge in there that is currently unaccessible to contemporary readers? None at all.


There would be huge benefit. First of all, there's stuff they need to know for their own good, which they don't know, and which I can tell them. For instance, I can tell them how to avoid disease, by explaining how it is carried by germs, or I can tell them to relocate their city in order to avoid some approaching natural disaster. Second, by telling them things they don't know, I prove my bona fides, and convince people who are reasonably skeptical.

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Either it will go completely over the heads of the people of the time, or it will be dismissed as gibberish.


That's silly. You're talking pure, unadulterated nonsense. School science books today are addressed to people who don't know any science. If you told a child some nonsensical story about how the earth rests on the back of a giant tortoise, and the sun is a disk that flies above it, they can accept the idea, and if you told them that it is a spheroid that orbits the sun, they can accept that idea, too. The same applies to the people of the ancient Levant.

Let me remind you that Greek and Indian philosophers (apparently without divine inspiration) thought up the idea of atoms in the 5th and 6th centuries BC, before most of the Bible was written down. The Greeks also figured out that the world was a spherical or spheroidal, and even measured its approximate size. Now, if ancient people in Greece could understand such ideas, God could certainly have explained such ideas to ancient people in the nearby Levant.

But no. The Bible is full of rubbish about how the Earth rests on pillars, with water underneath it, and has corners, and how the sky is a dome with a layer of water, and the stars are in that dome above the water.

Why did God talk bollocks like that to his prophets? To deliberately mislead them? To ensure that in future, people with more knowledge about how the world really is would tend to regard the Bible with skepticism?

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Either way, the writings would have been a hard sell back in those days if it was too far obtuse, completely contradictory to the current worldview, or just plain nonsense.


It was a hard sell anyway. The only reason it prevailed was because of the threats of death and other dire horrors hanging over all apostates and unbelievers.

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And frankly, the point of the bible is to sell God.


Exactly. And failing to put verifiable prophecies or accurate but hitherto unknown facts in the Bible means that it fails to sell God as well as it could.

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Adding coded information that won't be understood for thousands of years


The information would be understood immediately. If God had explained how to make and use penicillin, for instance, it would not take thousands of years for people to figure out the explanation, or to benefit from it. Peasants in the Arab desert used penicillin to heal wounds before modern medical science worked out what it was.

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Another problem with your argument is the extreme arrogance it demonstrates. You argue because the bible doesn't demonstrate understanding of current scientific knowledge, it is lacking. The logical response is why do you think it should demonstrate current scientific knowledge? Plate tectonics was only conceived in the early 1900's. Talking about plates moving around would have baffled 1900 years (at least, assuming we're talking about the New Testament - possibly close to 4000 years if we're talking about the old) of people.


Again, you are talking nonsense. Plate tectonics could be explained to the people of any historical period, because it can be described without any reference to prior science. The way it is explained to children today would be good enough to enable a person from 500 BC to understand it. If it appeared in the Bible, people would accept it as fact. If it later came to be confirmed by empirical observation, that would strengthen people's faith in the Bible.

Instead, we have the opposite effect. Every major scientific discovery in geology, astronomy, biology seems to conflict with the Bible, and in previous times, the Church tried to suppress scientific discoveries for that reason, while today, millions of people think the Bible is nonsense, precisely because it conflicts with science.

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For what gains? To convince you and other people now? What, you don't think the billions of people that lived before Alfred Wegener deserve proof too?


Well, if it convinced people now, that would be a bonus. More people have lived in the 20th and 21st centuries than lived in the entire period from when the Bible was first written up to the 19th century.

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(And, ultimately, it would have been irrelevant to the theology. If God exists, God damn well does cause the earth to move, and volcanoes to erupt, directly or indirectly.)


It is relevant to the credibility of the Bible. If the Bible cannot show that it is special in some way that other texts claiming divine or supernatural inspiration are not, then it does not deserve to be taken seriously as a divine text.

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And I have to take it a step further and stress the now part. We believe plate tectonics is the correct theory today. We didn't before the early 1900's, and it's possible that a new and better theory could be defined tomorrow. Then what?


You are missing the point completely. Whatever description God uses in the Bible, it ought to be one that cannot be torn down or made to look dubious by science, ever. If it happens that plate tectonics is correct, then God ought to describe the world in a fashion conformant with plate tectonics. If plate tectonics is wrong, and is destined in future to be replaced by theory X, then God ought to describe the world in conformance with theory X. If his description of the world conflicts with what people have believed hitherto, he should also describe, or at least give useful hints to, means of verifying that his description of the world is correct. I say "ought" on the assumption that God's purpose in writing the Bible includes convincing as many people as possible that the Bible is a true message from him.

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Let me give you two practical examples. First, imagine we were having this conversation 1000 years ago over a pint of mead in some tavern. You would be insisting the bible was not written by God because it did not describe the four humours: black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm. Or the four elements of mater: fire, water, earth and air.


That would have been a lot more than 100 years ago (those ideas date back to the 5th century BC, before most of the Bible was written, and lasted until the Renaissance), but never mind. The argument you are making shows that you have missed the point. The Bible should describe the world in a fashion that is correct and verifiable, if it wants to be convincing to all ages as the infallible word of God.

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If God had described the four humours, it may have convinced them then, but we would be laughing at the ignorance of it now.


Exactly. If God describes the world in accordance with any incorrect theory of the world, then he undermines his credibility as soon as that description of the world is found to be incorrect. The Bible describes the world in accordance with incorrect, primitive ideas, and so undermines its own credibility. There is no reason for God to do such a thing, unless he wants not to be believed.

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Now, imagine that we were having this conversation 1000 years in the future. You would be similarly claiming that the fact that the bible doesn't mention anything about subspace or Dyson spheres or wormhole travel or the protoculture matrix. And therein lies the rub. Maybe the bible does contain coded information about future technologies - but we are just currently too ignorant to recognize them.


Throughout history, the Bible has not been demonstrated to contain any knowledge unavailable to the people who wrote the Bible in the first place, either hidden in code, or stated plainly. It does not contain any materials science, biology, physics, astronomy, or anything else that people in the ancient near east did not know. There's no reason that to believe that it contains any hidden science that people will discover centuries from now. You are just piling one leap of faith on top of another, if you say that it does, or even that it is likely to.

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Assuming that the bible should confirm your current worldview is both arrogant and ignorant.


That's not what I assume, so you're not calling me arrogant or ignorant. You have simply missed the point. To be convincing, the Bible should be true in all details, and never verifiably false. It should also contain verifiable facts about the world that were not independently knowable at the time to the people who wrote it. It should also anticipate and explain future important discoveries that would tend to undermine its credibility. It fails on all those points. It contains assertions that are verifiably false (e.g., descriptions of the world as resting on pillars and having corners). It fails to anticipate and explain the discovery of fossils, or the fact that geology and astronomy suggest that the world is billions of years old. Any future discoveries we might make that might tend to undermine the Bible should also be anticipated and explained. There's no sign of that, so far. It does not make any verified predictions that its human authors could not have guessed at. It totally fails to prove its bona fides.

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It is arrogant because it implies that you somehow rate of higher importance than the billions who came before you with previous worldviews.


Sheer statistics indicate that the billions who are alive now are more important, by weight of numbers, than the few million who were alive at the time the Bible was written. If the purpose of the Bible is to convince as many people as possible, it should prioritise today's people, rather than the people of primitive times, when the population was a thousandth of what it is now.

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It is ignorant because it assumes that your worldview is truth and will not one day be supplanted by a new one.


Wrong, nonsense, and missing the point.

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The only logical way to stay current across all generations of human knowledge is to use the lowest common denominator - current knowledge at the time of writing - because future generations, while they may have more evolved worldviews, will always understand the old ones.


Absolutely wrong. The only way to stay current across all generations of human knowledge is to use the lowest common denominator - EMPIRICALLY VERIFIABLE TRUTH.


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Furthermore, as I hinted at above, none of it is essentially untrue. Viruses and bacteria could conceivably have been referred to as little demons in ancient Greek or Hebrew.


Again, you are talking pure nonsense. Viruses and bacteria are tiny, unintelligent organisms that merely eat, reproduce and die. They are not demons, because demons are invisible, intelligent beings, that have purpose and know what they're doing.

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There was certainly no contemporary term for them.


There was no term for them when they were discovered and first described, yet the description was understood. How come? Because there doesn't need to be a pre-existing term for a phenomenon that is new to experience for us to understand a description of the thing. All that needs to be said is that viruses and bacteria are tiny creatures, much smaller than insects, that live and breed in, and feed off, substances like spittle, excreta, rotting matter, etc., and when they enter the body of a human being, animal, or plant, they can cause disease. All that is easily translatable into any ancient language known, and does not refer to any concepts a person from ancient times could not understand. Not only that, but there are low-tech ways of verifying the account, by cultivating some germs in jars, and feeding infected material to animals, and observing that those fed infected material sicken, while those fed uninfected material remain healthy.

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And not everyone who comes into contact with a virus or bacteria gets sick. Sometimes their immune system protects them, sometimes it doesn't. Maybe angels and demons really are manipulating quantum probabilities on a level we can't yet detect or understand to determine what infects whom and what doesn't. It requires faith to believe that, but it also requires faith to assert it's not true.


Again, you are talking nonsense.

First, you are again misusing the phrase "leap of faith". To believe in your angels and demons requires a leap of faith, because there is no evidence for them. To believe the angels and demons don't exist does not require a leap of faith; rather, it requires a simple inductive step: observation reveals no evidence for them, therefore they don't exist. If I rummage in my pockets for thirty seconds, and find no change there, concluding that there is no change in my pockets does not involve a leap of faith; it involves simple induction.

Second, God could choose to explain the factors affect the likelihood of our sickening in response to exposure to pathogens (genetics, nutritional health, the amount of pathogen, random chance, etc., or perhaps even angels and demons) if he wished. If he did not, it would not matter. Merely by explaining the existence and nature of germs, he would have proved that he is privy to verifiable knowledge that was hitherto unknown by humanity, and thereby proved that the Bible deserves to be taken seriously. His failure to explain germs casts doubt on the credibility of the Bible as a divine text. Why not tell people about them, since it would save a lot of suffering, as well as confirming the inspired nature of the text? Neither you, nor anyone ever, has come up with a credible reason why.


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And of course, if God exists, he most certainly does cause earthquakes and volcanoes.


Irrelevant, and not necessarily true (it is quite possible that God exits, but does not micromanage the world's geology).


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If you don't know the exact people who wrote the bible, and you can only roughly place the time and date of their writing, how can you assert with such conviction that it was bronze age peasants and not call it faith?


Because several Bible stories date from the Bronze Age (up to about 1200 BC in the Near East), and because the area where the Bible was written was a peasant society right up to a couple of centuries BC.

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If it was multiple authors, then there were lots of little geniuses.


Lots of little geniuses who wrote bad stories badly, and produced ZERO scientific achievements. You have a very low standard for calling someone a genius.

The only ancient book from the culture that produced the Bible that contains any scientific curiosity is the Book of Enoch, and of course, it is not part of the Bible.

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And certainly the people who selected the items for inclusion made very interesting and clever selections.


No, they didn't. Most of the Bible consists of tedious stuff that nobody except religious fanatics bothers to read, because it is neither clever nor interesting. Most of the rest is dull historical stuff (somewhat unreliable, of course), that is of interest mainly to archaeologist. Out of the entire bulk of the Bible, maybe 10% at maximum contains stories that are at all interesting as such, or verse that seems at all poetic. And I'm not talking about great stories or verse, just stories and verse that are even moderately interesting. Nor is there any intelligent philosophising to speak of.

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The problem is that your view of the bible is narrow, and dictated by your contemporary environment, which was heavily influenced by Hellenic philosophy, which also influenced the bible. The writings and philosophies of other cultures strike you as fascinating because they're novel. To someone who grew up in Chinese or Indian culture, the philosophy of the bible would be foreign and novel, and this fascinating by virtue of it's novelty.


Is that so? Well, if that were the case, I would find Plato to be less intelligent and interesting than the Bible, being as it is more Hellenic, and therefore less exotic. The Bible is a deeply stupid book compared to, say, Plato's work, or Aristotle's. Nobody studies the Bible for philosophical insights, except totally ignorant individuals who have never read anything else of significance.

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And of course to say that the literary aspect of the bible is lacking in comparison to current literary standards is absurd, given that current literature has been so heavily influenced by the bible, and has obviously evolved in complexity over thousands of years.


But I compared the Bible with other ancient texts. Compared to Ovid, the storytelling in the Bible is utter shite. Read Ovid or Homer or Euripides, and tell me that's not good storytelling. Read anything in the Bible. Only a liar would say the Bible matches up to their standard.


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Actually, the Jesus story is widely believed to be based on ancient Greek myth, and Hellenistic philosophy. In particular, the cult of Mithras is believed to have heavily influenced Christianity.


Yes, that's probably why the Gospel is a more interesting narrative than the other stories in the Bible. It was influenced by Hellenic culture, and the Hellenes were streets ahead of the ancient Jews in philosophy and literature.

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BruceTheDauber wrote:
None of those supposed practical problems is real. It would be easy to say something like "In X years from today, a large metal object weighing X talents will fly into a tower X cubits high, on an island X furlongs west and north of here".

And what would that accomplish? To convince you that the bible is true? What about the billions that came before? They not worth it in your opinion?


Yes, it would convince people that the Bible is true, as for the people who cam before, other predicitons would convince them that the Bible is true. God could include one prediction in the Bible for every few generations. A list of the dates of major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions from 500 BC to 2000 AD would be sufficient (if the predicted events actually happened at the specified times) to convince everyone from that date to this that the Bible is the true word of God. It would save a lot of lives, too. Would that be too difficult for God to do? No. Why didn't he do it, then?

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And what if it was written like that and happened? Was it in spite of the warning or because of it? By predicting the event, did the writing cause it (in which case, the prediction's value as evidence of God is null and void)?


You have reverted to talking nonsense. It is 100% irrelevant what the implications of such a prediction coming true are for questions like predestination, free will, and so on. The only point of relevance is that it would in fact have been possible (contrary to your claim) for the Bible to contain clear, precise and verifiable predictions about the distant future. The Bible does not contain any such predictions, and you cannot fall back on the excuse that it would be impossible to make such predictions, because I have proved that that excuse is invalid.

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Further, you're demonstrating arrogance again. Why would you assume that God would be interested in prophesying anything of relevance to you today?


I am not demonstrating arrogance, but you are demonstrating silliness. God is presumably interested in all human souls equally. That's certainly what conventional Christianity claims. Bearing that in mind, he should be interested in convincing the people of all historical periods, and all nations, that the Bible is his true word. One good way to do this is to provide predictions that can be verified in every age, by the people of every nation. Therefore, he his interest is served if he gives predictions that people can verify today, as well as predictions that the people of 1000 AD, 500 AD and 1 AD and 500 BC can verify. His (presumed) purpose is undermined if the people of any age are unable to verify the bona fides of his supposedly true word, the Bible.

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He prophesied stuff in ancient times for the purpose of establishing the religion. Mission accomplished. Now, what, he has to do a miracle a week to keep people's interest up?


There is no evidence that he ever prophesied anything that was ever verified, beyond the bald, unsupported assertions made by believers. There is not one single unambiguously verified prophesy in the Bible. Not one. There are lots of fraudulent prophecies in the world, issued by "seers" and "oracles" of various kinds. They avoid being caught out by being vague, or by lying that they said something before it happened, when in fact they didn't. If the Bible does the same thing, the most reasonable assumption is that the Bible is fraudulent just like all the other seers and oracles.

If he did a miracle a week, would it be any skin off his nose? He's supposedly omnipotent, so it wouldn't tire him out. Why not do it, if it will save souls? It he's too busy, or just too goddamned lazy to do a miracle a week, one really spectacular miracle every couple of decades would be more than enough.

If he appeared in the sky once a century, making himself visible to thousands of people at once, there would scarcely be a single person on Earth who didn't believe in him. Would that be too difficult for him?

How about if he created a copy of the Bible etched in platinum, or in some metal alloy so far unknown to human science, and buried it underground,
inside a dinosaur fossil, and gave someone a vision so they could go and find it? That would be trivially easy for an omnipotent being to do, but it would be so convincing, the whole world would convert to Christianity within a week of the day its discovery was reported on the news.

The absence of any such miraculous confirmation of God or the Bible suggests very strongly that the Bible's claim to be the true word of God is fraudulent. Perhaps the God of the Bible doesn't exist, or he doesn't really want people to believe in him or follow him. One way or another, the basic claim of Christianity that the Bible is God's true and infallible word, addressed to the whole world for all time is, because of the lack of miraculous confirmation, extremely implausible.

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Events of interest to you are probably of little consequence in God's master plan. It may be that your idea earth-shaking events, like the world wars, and natural events like the recent tsumani and so on are of no real interest to God.


If God has no interest in events that cause millions of violent or unexpected deaths, and cause many others to change or lose their religion, then he is not the God that Christians say he is, and the Bible is a fraud. But predicting such events is in any case nothing to do with whether those events are of interest to him, but merely a way of providing corroboration of the Bible's claim to be divinely inspired.

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His motives for prophecies may be solely for the purpose of establishing his theology (in which case, there's been no need for a prophesized event for thousands of years), and signalling the end times (in which case, it can be argued that it isn't quite around the corner yet).


The fact that 70% of the world's population has not been converted to Christianity suggests that God has failed to establish his theology. There is definitely a need for more convincing corroboration, if the Bible is true.


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If someone read of an event in the bible, then caused it, it would invalidate that prediction being evidence of God.


That would not apply to events that human beings are unable to control, such as earthquakes, meteorites, celestial events, and so on.

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As for predicting natural disasters... to what end?


To the end of establishing the Bible's bona fides, so people are inclined to believe it, rather than doubt it.

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The bible has been around for two thousand years. What natural disasters have occured in that time that are so integral to the master plan that they warrant a prediction?


It is totally irrelevant whether the natural events figure in God's plan (whatever the hell that might be). All that matters is that the events are predicted and can be verified. Every verified prediction of an event beyond human control confirms the supernatural origin of the Bible, by providing external corroboration.

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Predicting one a thousand years ago would have no relevance today. Predicting one today would have no relevance a thousand years ago.


That fact is of absolutely no consequence. If there were a hundred predictions in the Bible, one for each 20 year period from 1 AD to the present decade, then the crossing off of each confirmed prediction would establish for each generation of humanity that the Bible was indeed true and did indeed contain knowledge that was supernatural in origin.

In other words, a series of unambiguous verifiable prophecies of events beyond human control or prediciton provides an infallible means of confirming that the Bible is supernatural, and the absence of ANY such predicitons justifies the suspicion that the Bible is a fraud.


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To what end? Predicting an event a thousand years ago would have no relevance today. Predicting one today would have no relevance a thousand years ago.


You are repeating yourself. You were wrong the first time, and you are wrong each time you repeat yourself.

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Which events to predict? Which ones are relevant, if any?


It does not matter what events are predicted, as long as they can be verified. The events could be huge or tiny, important to humanity or trivial. All that matters is that it should not be possible to explain the successful prediction of the events by human action.

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To save lives? Why would God care? It's our souls he's interested in saving.


Unsaved lives are worth saving, in order to provide a chance of their souls being saved, so God has a good reason to care about saving lives, as a matter of fact (though that's just an aside).

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To convince more unbelievers? A line has to be drawn somewhere. God can only do so much to convince doubters. Even after verifiable miracles, there would still be doubters (random chance and all that).


Yes, to convince unbelievers. And, no, there is no reason why a line should be drawn anywhere. According to mainstream Christian theology, God is omnipotent and omni-benevolent. That means he loves everyone, and wants everyone to hear his message and believe, and every soul matters to him. He could achieve that easily by producing some impressive miracles. Even if the miracles I have suggested so far would not convince 100.000% per cent of people, they would convince 99.999+%, and that would be a huge improvement on the 30% or so that currently call themselves Christian. There's no reason why the Christian God would not perform a miracle, if it meant saving so many souls. To say otherwise would be blasphemous in Christian terms, since it would be a denial of the tenet that God is omni-benevolent.

So, why has it not happened? The obvious answer is that mainstream Christianity, at least, is wrong, and claims that is represents divine truth are either error or fraud. Another answer is that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, but God doesn't actually want everyone to receive the message. It's not likely, but it is possible (if we ignore the numerous other reasons that exist for not believing the Bible). The most likely answer, though, is the that Bible is not supernaturally inspired, but is of human origin and is at least partly fraudulent, and that all religion based on it is wrong.

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Should God then try to convince them? Or should the line be drawn there? And if there, why not before? Who are you to decide where God should draw that line?


God has stated that he does not draw a line. It is generally understood from the Bible (Acts, Chapter 10), that he loves everyone, and wants to save everyone, and wants everyone to hear his message. That being so, who are you to suggest that God must draw a line?

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"Us vs. them" is built into the core of the human psyche. Hinduism may not include it, but Indians sure have a problem with Pakistanis and Blacks (among others). It is hardly unique to Abrahamic religions.


"Us vs. them" is not unique to Abrahamic religions, but since "us vs. them" is built into the core of those religions, there will be "us vs. them" as long as those religions continue to exist.

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It has no intrinsic value, it's clearly wrong, it will be stamped out by education, etc. etc. These are your words. Now who is proselytizing?


I'm not proselytizing. I'm responding to someone else's attempt at proselytizing. I did not start the discussion off. A religious person did.

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Tolerance is a two way street. You demand religion be tolerant of your beliefs, but you don't seem willing to do the same for religion.


I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private. If they preach those superstitions in public, as if what they believe is fact rather than fantasy, I feel it is entirely within my rights to reply accordingly.

Yes, tolerance is a two-way street, and eople who prozelytize religion in public are expressing a lack of respect for people who are not religious. In return, they should expect that people like me will express our lack of respect for religion. It is arrogant for a religious person to assume they can talk their nonsense in public, and never get any comeback.

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If any religion is inherently intolerant, they will have to change. It's that simple.


If it is inherently intolerant, it can't change. Christianity, Judaism and Islam cannot become tolerant without ceasing to be Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Every time a Christian, Jew or Muslim preaches tolerance, a fundamentalist will remind them of the passages in the Bible and Koran that dictate intolerance.


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That, of course, assumes you are interested in being tolerant.


I am tolerant; I am just not very respectful, that's all. I'm not interested in killing people or oppressing them, or silencing them, or preventing them from performing their religious rituals and prayers in the privacy of their homes and chapels. In return, I expect their tolerance of my irreligion. Let them not bother me with their silly stories of deities, or threaten me with fantasy demons and hells. If they do, I will tell them precisely how stupid I think they are.
BruceTheDauber
This is pretty funny, by the way:

http://www.boredtodeath.co.uk/pic224.php
livilou
aegir wrote:
livilou wrote:

It refers to the fact that Jesus should be our foundation. His example should be the foundation in the way we live our life.


Why should be Jesus our foundation? There is no reason for that. His (if he ever existed) philosophy is bad. I do not like it. I prefer different foundations.


If that is your choice, then go with it. I'll stick with the one that works for me.

While I don't understand how you can think that His philosophy is bad when He preached love and tolerance, that is your opinion and you have a right to it just as I have the right to my opinion.
Indi
BruceTheDauber wrote:
When there is zero evidence that X is the case, saying that X is not the case does not entail a "leap of faith". Saying that the Bible is not inspired by God does not entail a leap of faith because there is zero evidence (beyond the bald assertions of believers) that God did inspire the Bible.

There is no equal amount of "faith" in the two propositions (a) "God inspired the Bible", and (b) "God did not inspire the Bible". One requires you to accept something highly improbable for which there is zero evidence, while the other merely involves the very reasonable (based on probability) assumption that "zero evidence for X means that X is not the case".

Exactly the same applies to this very post. If I claimed that this post I am writing now is inspired by God, you could choose to believe me, or to disbelieve me. To believe me, you'd have to take a leap of faith, because it would involve believing something improbable for which there is zero evidence (beyond my mere assertion of its truth), whereas to disbelieve me would not involve a leap of faith, because you'd simply be going along with what seemed probable given the evidence available to you.

You're applying rational logic correctly, but in the wrong place. The problem is that you're missing the most important word. You're saying "if there is no evidence of X, X is not true". You repeat that statement in various forms, or imply it, all through your writings. The problem is, you're wrong.

The correct formulation is "if there is no evidence of X, it is usually most logical to assume X is not true". There was no evidence of Pluto before the early 1900's. What, you think it didn't exist before then? Of course not. But it would have been logical to assume there was no additional planet. Logic is fine in debate, but we live in the real world here. Just because something cannot be proven to be true does not mean it is not.

Also, if there is no evidence of X it is not wrong to assume X is still true anyway. It's just not usually the most parsimonious assumption. Take the case of the ether. They didn't have any evidence for it (because it probably doesn't exist), but it was the most parsimonious assumption to explain other observations, until Michelson and Morely came along and tried to find evidence for it and discovered there was a much bigger problem than had been previously thought.

The moment you take the jump from "assuming" something to "believing" something, you're using faith. If you look at the evidence and say the bible seems to have been written by bronze age peasants, you're not making many leaps of faith. If you stand on a soapbox and call Christians ignorant because the bible was written by bronze age peasants, you are taking a leap of faith.

It's the difference between agnosticsm and atheism. "We have no evidence of God" is not the same as "there is no God". I say there is no evidence the bible was divinely inspired, but that doesn't mean it's not true. You say the bible was conceived of and written by bronze age peasants. You're making a leap of faith. I'm not.

Your justification - when you admit that you are making a leap of faith - for this is that it is a "bigger" leap of faith to believe in God than to believe the bible was written by bronze age peasants. But who decides the "size" of a leap of faith? It's personal judgement, and much of scientific debate over competing theories revolves around arguing which leap of faith is "larger". And anyway, the size of the leap of faith is irrelevant. It only takes a single, tiny leap of faith to introduce the possibility of the entire theory being wrong.

I can't prove your post wasn't written by God. I can't prove it was written by you. Maybe someone else wrote it. The most parsimonious assumption is that you wrote it. But even believing that requires several leaps of faith. I have faith that you are the only one with access to your Frihost account. And so on.

So here's where it stands. You can claim there is no evidence of divine inspiration, without having to provide any proof, and without making any leaps of faith. But the moment you claim that there was no divine inspiration, you are making a leap of faith. Do you dispute that? Do you think there is no doubt at all that the bible was written by bronze age peasants? Not even the tiniest little bit? No other alternative is even remotely possible? Of course that's not the case. The assumption that bronze age peasants wrote the bible may be the most parsimonious assumption, but that doesn't make it absolute, indisputable truth.

You're free to stand in a public forum and proclaim whatever beliefs you want (provided you're not advocating harm on anyone else). But you are being ignorant and bigoted when you say that your beliefs are better than others, and people who do not conform to your beliefs are stupid. Surely you don't deny that?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
According to Christians, the purpose of the Bible is to reveal God's will to people, and to guide them to the right faith and action. If the Bible fails to convince people that it describes God's will, then it fails in its purpose.

Christians who make that claim are blaspheming (anyone claiming to know the purpose of any of God's actions is blaspheming). Given that they're committing one of the most heinous sins in their religion, I wouldn't trust their authority on God's purpose with regards to the bible or anything.

As for you, for someone who doesn't believe in God, you seem pretty damn sure you know what his motives and intentions are.

Personally, if God exists, I wouldn't bother trying to speculate on why he included X and not Y in the bible. He is probably in possession of information that we are not, and faculties of reason well beyond ours, so speculation is probably pointless. But hell, it's worth a shot anyway, I guess.

You keep on the fact that God didn't predict natural disasters, but as I've said, God is apparently interested in our souls, not our bodies. If you die, so what? If you have the faith, you're going to heaven. If you had the opportunity and you opted against, you're going to hell. If you never had a chance to learn about God, you're going to Purgatory or whatever. What is to be gained by predicting the event in advance? Remember, according to the logic of God, if you're dying, it's your time anyway. If it wasn't your time, he could have warned you via a vision, and there have been claims that this has been the case. To predict a natural disaster that he had at first caused for the purpose of "saving" people that he had originally scheduled to die, that would be rather schizophrenic of God.

So what about the other argument, prediction in order to convice people the bible is true? From what I understand, God wants you to trust his teachings and his word. If the philosophy and the word of God isn't good enough for you, maybe that signals to him that you're just not the kind of soul he's looking for. As for the omnibenevolence claim, that's just crap - I've never accepted that claim. "God is love" doesn't mean that he is only love. Claiming God is omnibenevolent is another example of blasphemy - a rather large one too, because now you're not only claiming you know why God does what he does, you're claiming you know why he does everything he does. Plus the concept of omnibenevolence is just nonsense it and of itself.

At any rate, the lack of predictions of natural disasters is not evidence that God doesn't exist, it's a lack of evidence that he does.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
There would be huge benefit. First of all, there's stuff they need to know for their own good, which they don't know, and which I can tell them. For instance, I can tell them how to avoid disease, by explaining how it is carried by germs, or I can tell them to relocate their city in order to avoid some approaching natural disaster. Second, by telling them things they don't know, I prove my bona fides, and convince people who are reasonably skeptical.

You're still hung up on the idea that God would care about saving our Earthly existence.

As for the second point, as I said, maybe to God that skepticism isn't reasonable. You gonna dictate to the almighty what should be reasonable skepticism and what shouldn't be?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
That's silly. You're talking pure, unadulterated nonsense. School science books today are addressed to people who don't know any science. If you told a child some nonsensical story about how the earth rests on the back of a giant tortoise, and the sun is a disk that flies above it, they can accept the idea, and if you told them that it is a spheroid that orbits the sun, they can accept that idea, too. The same applies to the people of the ancient Levant.

You're being disingenious again. There is a world of difference between someone who doesn't know, and someone who "knows" the wrong thing. Convincing a child is completely different from attempting to reach an adult with preconceived notions of the world.

If the current worldview held that the world was on the back of a turtle, then your religious text claimed - without any evidence - that it was not, what do you think would happen? You don't seriously think that that religion could be widely "sold" if it was so ridiculously contrary to contemporary rational thought, do you?

Assuming that religion survived its first few centuries, then maybe in time evidence would be discovered that supported the religion's claims. But what about all the souls that were not reached in the meantime? If you were concerned about reaching as many people as possible, you should - at the least - try not to contradict the current worldview. Once the religion is established, it will take care of itself.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Instead, we have the opposite effect. Every major scientific discovery in geology, astronomy, biology seems to conflict with the Bible, and in previous times, the Church tried to suppress scientific discoveries for that reason, while today, millions of people think the Bible is nonsense, precisely because it conflicts with science.

That is not the fault of the bible, that is the fault of the church.

You're going in circles. First the bible should contain science - even if it doesn't match the science of the current time. Then when the bible does contain "science" it causes persecution. Let's assume for a moment that the Copernical solar system is absolute truth, and the bible discussed it. Then the church would have been torturing people for professing anything but that science, even in the decades before it was discovered rationally. And this situation is better how?

Again, the best solution is to keep science out of the bible. That people are interpreting it as a science text is a problem with the people, not the bible. The bible never claimed the Earth was at the center of the universe. It never claimed plate tectonics was false. It doesn't even claim that the Earth is flat or on pillars, despite what you seem to think. Yes, it uses that worldview for its allegory, but it doesn't claim it as true.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Well, if it convinced people now, that would be a bonus. More people have lived in the 20th and 21st centuries than lived in the entire period from when the Bible was first written up to the 19th century.

So you do believe that we're more important than the 2000 years of humanity before us (and after the creation of Christianity). To which the logical response is: well if the people of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries don't warrant biblical verification of their worldviews, why do the 20th and 21st? Why not assume that we're also unimportant and that the bible will support a worldview we can't yet conceive of that will come generations after, in the 23rd or 24th centuries, when there might be hundreds of billions of humans? If you believe we're more important than the last 2000 years of people, why can't we be less important than the next 2000 years of people?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Absolutely wrong. The only way to stay current across all generations of human knowledge is to use the lowest common denominator - EMPIRICALLY VERIFIABLE TRUTH.

So you believe in absolutism, hm? Well, it still doesn't work. No one could have empirically verified plate tectonics in Jesus's time, or any time for hundreds and hundreds of years. Same with viruses.

Sure, they could have (and did) show that the Earth was round, but that doesn't contradict the bible. The bible does not say "the Earth is flat", it merely uses that assumption in its allegories. If it had said "the Earth is round", that would have been a hard sell for hundreds of years. The safest bet is to say nothing on the matter - and lo, thus nothing was said.

I can't beleive you seriously think that the bible's passing mention of the corners of the Earth implies a serious declaration that that is the way things actually are. I use the phrase "the corners of the Earth" all the time. It's metaphor. It's allegory. I don't really believe the Earth has corners, you know.

Heck, the only mention of the Earth's corners that I know of is by Paul in one of his letters. The people he was writing to probably had that worldview. Paul was trying to sell (or at least explain) the idea of Christianity - what would be the point in stopping to try and educate on geography? He put his arguments in terms the people receiving the letter could understand. You imply this is a deliberate deceit on Paul's part. It's nothing of the sort.

Anyway, why would God even care about talking about physical science in the bible? If you figure we're only going to be spending a couple of decades here on Earth, then eternity in heaven or hell, he'd probably be more interested in describing the latter, wouldn't he? And we can observe and discover Earth ourselves, whereas our only source of info for heaven and hell would be the bible. (And, as I mentioned above, maybe he didn't consider anyone who required that level of convincing worth it.) Maybe he just didn't think it there was a point. You think you know what God would think?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Again, you are talking pure nonsense. Viruses and bacteria are tiny, unintelligent organisms that merely eat, reproduce and die. They are not demons, because demons are invisible, intelligent beings, that have purpose and know what they're doing.

For someone who claims to find Indian theology and Ovid so fascinating, you sure seem to have a hard time with the concept of allegory.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
The only ancient book from the culture that produced the Bible that contains any scientific curiosity is the Book of Enoch, and of course, it is not part of the Bible.

Ok, think on that for a second. The book of Enoch (I'm not sure which of the three you mean, but I assume the first) contains something of scientific validity. So why wasn't it included in the Old Testament by everyone? Surely they would have wanted something that was verifiable in there, right? It was even mentioned in Jude's epistle, which would seem to confirm to me that it was known and at least considered for canonization. (I know the new testament far better than the old.) I'd bet it was rejected because its claims were so far out there according to the current worldviews that it was just considered nonsense. If that's the case, it only confirms what I've been saying - that predictive science does not strengthen the bible, but rather made it weaker when it mattered most, the early days of the church.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Unsaved lives are worth saving, in order to provide a chance of their souls being saved, so God has a good reason to care about saving lives, as a matter of fact (though that's just an aside).

If you assume God knows everything, including the future, and everything happens according to his will, and that he does want to give everyone every chance to repent or whatever, then no, there would be no chance of their souls being saved had they not died. Otherwise they would not have died when they did. Either God is omnipotent or he's not. Make up your mind.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Yes, to convince unbelievers. And, no, there is no reason why a line should be drawn anywhere. According to mainstream Christian theology, God is omnipotent and omni-benevolent.

Mainstream Christianity is not fact, and it's not even necessarily in accordance with God's instruction. First, claiming omnibenevolence is blasphemous, because it is claiming that you know God's motives for everything. Second, it's just illogical nonsense that doesn't stand up to even a minute of rational thought.

Third, why do you assume that God doesn't care about how or why you believe in him, as long as you believe? Maybe quality matters more than quantity. Maybe if you require empirical proof, you're not what God is looking for in a believer. Maybe, to God, his word in the bible should be enough for you.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
"Us vs. them" is not unique to Abrahamic religions, but since "us vs. them" is built into the core of those religions, there will be "us vs. them" as long as those religions continue to exist.

Nonsense. Every Abrahamic religion already accepts and rejects parts of the old testament (which is common amongst them) and its extensions (the new testament and the quran). If they can do that, then they can choose to reject or reinterpret those passages that preach hate and intolerance. Many Christians and Muslims today already live by that philosophy. As I said, the religion can adapt.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I'm not proselytizing. I'm responding to someone else's attempt at proselytizing. I did not start the discussion off. A religious person did.

And you responded to them improperly, and I responded to that. I'm not even a religious person, but I thought your response was so ignorant and condescending that I had to speak up.

It's not wrong to say that "your beliefs have no proof to back them up". It is not wrong to say that "the logical conclusion is that there is no God".

It is wrong to say:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows.
And:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

Neither of those comments are discussion. They are hate speech.

Whether or not you realize it, you and I believe much of the same things. I am not a Christian. I don't believe in God or the inerrancy of the Bible. But I believe in being a responsible atheist, and not turning my beliefs into clubs to beat on other religions with.

But there is a huge gap between you and I. I say "I don't believe in God", you say "I believe there is no God", and the two assertions are far from identical. Mine is a statement of disbelief, yours is a statement of belief in the negative. Because it's a statement of belief, it requires faith. That you think your faith is somehow superior to Soulfire's is where I have a problem. And, as is often the case, what you accuse others of is the very crime you are guilt of yourself, thinking yourself and your ideas superior.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private. If they preach those superstitions in public, as if what they believe is fact rather than fantasy, I feel it is entirely within my rights to reply accordingly.

So essentially you're ok with running people with differing worldviews off the streets and into hiding because they contradict with yours, hm? This sounds very familiar. Smells like fascism, actually.

Soulfire may be in the wrong for not adding a qualifer to his claims, that is, not mentioning that what he is saying is only his belief, justified by a leap of faith. But aren't you guilty of the same thing? Where was your "in my opinion" on the quote: "The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows.". Nope, I don't see it.

Hey, here's a neat example of what I consider brilliant theology from the bible that you denigrate as dull and stupid. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." You may think that advice is too stupid for someone like you, but I think it would behoove you to learn from it.

And finally, one last contradiction for the road:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I am tolerant; I am just not very respectful, that's all. I'm not interested in killing people or oppressing them, or silencing them, or preventing them from performing their religious rituals and prayers in the privacy of their homes and chapels.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private.
BruceTheDauber
Indi wrote:
The moment you take the jump from "assuming" something to "believing" something, you're using faith. If you look at the evidence and say the bible seems to have been written by bronze age peasants, you're not making many leaps of faith. If you stand on a soapbox and call Christians ignorant because the bible was written by bronze age peasants, you are taking a leap of faith.


Your logic is badly broken. You fail to appreciate the magnitude of difference between (a) adopting the belief, based on a probabilistic inductive inference that there is no X, when you have looked for evidence of X and not found any, and (b) assuming that X is true, even though looking for X has yielded no evidence of X. The second entails a leap of faith, while the first does not. The key word is leap. Inductive inferences will sometimes turn out wrong, but it is wrong in general to believe what is contrary to what induction suggests, and right in general to assume that inductive inferences will turn out right. Believing what is contrary to induction entails a LEAP of faith. Believing true what induction indicates is probably true involves a mere inductive STEP, not a LEAP.

To believe the Bible is inspired by God, you have to take a LEAP of faith. To believe it is of merely human authorship entails nothing more than an inductive STEP.

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It's the difference between agnosticsm and atheism. "We have no evidence of God" is not the same as "there is no God".


Not necessarily. There are good reasons for believing that God does not exist that do not involve any inductive steps, let alone leaps of faith. Epicurus proved by pure deductive reasoning that a God like that of conventional Christian theology cannot exist, about a hundred years before Jesus is presumed to have lived.

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But who decides the "size" of a leap of faith? It's personal judgement, and much of scientific debate over competing theories revolves around arguing which leap of faith is "larger".


There is a science known as probability, upon which all other science is founded. It supplies sound mathematical rules for deciding what inductive steps are better founded relative to others. So, "who decides" is mathematics.

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And anyway, the size of the leap of faith is irrelevant. It only takes a single, tiny leap of faith to introduce the possibility of the entire theory being wrong.


Irrelevant. No rational being could survive in this world that relied on deduction alone. We must use induction, but there is a profound difference between relying on cautious induction, and relying on leaps of faith. The one is essential to survival, the other will get you killed, if you use it as your guide to ordinary life.

And talk of "tiny leaps" is nonsense. Bigness is essential to the concept of a "leap". A leap is a big, radical, or abrupt jump, by definition. It's the opposite of a "step", which is small and gradual by comparison.

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The assumption that bronze age peasants wrote the bible may be the most parsimonious assumption, but that doesn't make it absolute, indisputable truth.


Indeed, no, it doesn't make it absolute, indisputable truth. The Bible might have been written by pixies. It might have been written by Charles Dickens. It might not exist at all, and our memories of ever having seen copies of it might be hallucinations. However, it is the assumption that best fits the facts. All the alternatives are so unlikely, they are not worth considering.

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You're free to stand in a public forum and proclaim whatever beliefs you want (provided you're not advocating harm on anyone else). But you are being ignorant and bigoted when you say that your beliefs are better than others, and people who do not conform to your beliefs are stupid. Surely you don't deny that?


I absolutely deny it. Some beliefs are more reasonable than others. If I believe the Bible was written by ancient Canaanite farmers in their spare time, and you believe the Bible was written by George Bush, my beliefs are better than yours, because they're more reasonable, and less stupid. Someone who adheres to lots of stupid beliefs is a stupid person, and it is not bigoted to acknowledge that fact. On the contrary, it is bigoted to deny the existence of stupidity.

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Christians who make that claim are blaspheming (anyone claiming to know the purpose of any of God's actions is blaspheming).


That's not an opinion that most Christians agree with. You state it as fact, as if you were privy to some incontrovertible authority on the matter, but I'm pretty sure you aren't. There is no precise definition of blasphemy anywhere in the Bible, and there is no complete agreement among either the "Church Fathers" or modern theologians. So, basically, you're talking out of your arse. Unless you're divinely inspired, of course.

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You keep on the fact that God didn't predict natural disasters, but as I've said, God is apparently interested in our souls, not our bodies.


This is totally irrelevant, and you are still missing the point. The point of predicting natural events is to prove that the person making the prediction has access to supernatural (or at least superhuman) knowledge. Any saving of lives is incidental.

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If you die, so what? If you have the faith, you're going to heaven. If you had the opportunity and you opted against, you're going to hell.


You're missing something: An "unsaved" life that is miraculously saved is an extra opportunity for a soul to be saved.

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Remember, according to the logic of God, if you're dying, it's your time anyway.


That's just some people's the opinion. It's not built into Christianity or Judaism.

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So what about the other argument, prediction in order to convice people the bible is true? From what I understand, God wants you to trust his teachings and his word.


Yes, that is the cop-out excuse invented by frauds to explain how come there's no proof that the Bible is true or indeed that God exists. It is not what the Bible itself implies. The Bible makes it absolutely clear (in Deuteronomy 18) that prophets are supposed to make predictions about the future, and if the predictions they make do not come to pass, they are false prophets. This promise is repeated in Ezekiel, and various other places. In Samuel 3, the Bible says that whatever prophets say should be infallible. If they make errors, they are not true prophets of God. This similar but not identical point is also repeated several times in the Bible.

So, the Bible says that believers should not be blindly trusting, but should only believe prophets who make statements about the future that do actually come to pass, and who are absolutely, consistently, infallible.

If the Bible itself fails that test, then people reading it are entitled to doubt its divine inspiration, according to the very rules the Bible sets up.

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If the philosophy and the word of God isn't good enough for you, maybe that signals to him that you're just not the kind of soul he's looking for.


Possible, possible. However, if the Bible speaks true, he wants people who are wary of false prophets. It's not consistent for him to reject people who follow the his own advice to be wary of false prophets. Perhaps it is only people who don't believe the Bible is God's infallible word who have passed God's test, while the rest have been too gullible, and will suffer the unhappy fate that God has reserved for those who believe false prophets.

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As for the omnibenevolence claim, that's just crap - I've never accepted that claim. "God is love" doesn't mean that he is only love. Claiming God is omnibenevolent is another example of blasphemy - a rather large one too, because now you're not only claiming you know why God does what he does, you're claiming you know why he does everything he does. Plus the concept of omnibenevolence is just nonsense it and of itself.


You are once again arrogantly asserting one particular theology as if it were incontrovertible truth, whereas it conflicts with mainstream Christianity. It is rather cheeky that you call other people arrogant, bearing that fact in mind.

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At any rate, the lack of predictions of natural disasters is not evidence that God doesn't exist, it's a lack of evidence that he does.


It is not an argument about whether God exists or not. It is an argument about whether the Bible can be relied upon as being God's word. There are entirely separate arguments that address the question of God's existence, and the balance of them comes down very strongly against. Perhaps you are familiar with the book The Miracle of Theism, by J. L. Mackie, which discusses many of those arguments. If not, I recommend it.

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You're still hung up on the idea that God would care about saving our Earthly existence.


No, as usual you are missing the point. The Bible does very clearly indicate that God cares about the Earthly welfare of his followers: he repeatedly provides his faithful followers with Earthly rewards, and punishes those who disappoint him with Earthly suffering. Many statements attributed to God in the Bible make it clear that he does want people (his followers, at least) to live long, healthy, prosperous and reproductively fertile lives. However, all that is incidental. Saving lives has positive consequences for spreading faith, and if that is God's primary purpose regarding human beings (as Christians customarily assert, with Biblical support), then saving lives is what a rational God would do.

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As for the second point, as I said, maybe to God that skepticism isn't reasonable. You gonna dictate to the almighty what should be reasonable skepticism and what shouldn't be?


As I have pointed out, reasonable skepticism is demanded by God, according to the Bible, when God warns people on numerous occasions to beware of false prophets.

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If the current worldview held that the world was on the back of a turtle, then your religious text claimed - without any evidence - that it was not, what do you think would happen? You don't seriously think that that religion could be widely "sold" if it was so ridiculously contrary to contemporary rational thought, do you?


You seem to be forgetting that Judaism was ridiculously contrary to contemporary rational thought when it was founded. The Caananites believed in lots of Gods. The prophets and priests of Judaism told them that none of the Gods except Yhwh were real, and despite some resistance, the people fell in line completely after a while. Monotheism was a quite radical departure from henotheism, especially as Yhwh wasn't actually the boss of the Gods of the ancient pantheon. If people could accept that, they could accept that the Earth was a sphere that orbited the Sun. After all, the priest says it is so, therefore it must be so, and anyway, there is evidence to make such statements convincing. Good empirical evidence trumps everything, as a rule.

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Assuming that religion survived its first few centuries, then maybe in time evidence would be discovered that supported the religion's claims. But what about all the souls that were not reached in the meantime? If you were concerned about reaching as many people as possible, you should - at the least - try not to contradict the current worldview. Once the religion is established, it will take care of itself.


Absolute rubbish. Religions have succeeded more than once that radically rejected prevailing views. Not only that, but look at science: by the use of empirical evidence, it has completely overturned people's beliefs about the most basic things on multiple occasions, and history indicates that it generally takes less than a single human lifetime for such a revolution to feed through the entire culture, if the evidence sustaining it is compelling, even if what is overturned is something as fundamental as causality.

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BruceTheDauber wrote:
Instead, we have the opposite effect. Every major scientific discovery in geology, astronomy, biology seems to conflict with the Bible, and in previous times, the Church tried to suppress scientific discoveries for that reason, while today, millions of people think the Bible is nonsense, precisely because it conflicts with science.

That is not the fault of the bible, that is the fault of the church.


It is the fault of the Bible. Anyone who seeks to defend the authority of the Bible, it must come into conflict with science, because what the Bible says quite unambiguously conflicts with science. Hence the fundamentalist insanity of Creationism, and the Catholic Church's backing of Intelligent Design. The alternative is liberal theology, which essentially abandons any claim that the Bible possesses significant authority. Modern liberal theologians are barely distinguishable from atheists.

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You're going in circles. First the bible should contain science - even if it doesn't match the science of the current time. Then when the bible does contain "science" it causes persecution.


That has absolutely nothing to do with anything I said. You obviously weren't reading properly. The Bible, to be authoritative, should make statements that are verifiably true, and never make statements that are verifiably false. If it does so, it will almost always (and perhaps always) be entirely consistent with science.

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Let's assume for a moment that the Copernical solar system is absolute truth, and the bible discussed it. Then the church would have been torturing people for professing anything but that science, even in the decades before it was discovered rationally. And this situation is better how?


It wouldn't need to torture anyone, since only ignorant peasants would believe that the Earth was flat, and such individuals would not feel any need to preach it, and if they did, they would not be taken seriously. All educated people would see that the empirical evidence and the Bible were mutually confirming, so there would be no heretics to torture.

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Again, the best solution is to keep science out of the bible.


The best solution is for the Bible to do what it promises, namely, to contain clear and verifiable prophesies that actually come true, and contain no statements that turn out to be false. Otherwise, anyone reading it is absolutely right to doubt that it is the divine word.

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That people are interpreting it as a science text is a problem with the people, not the bible.


No, it is not. It is a problem with the Bible. The Bible itself says that any prophet that is fallible is a false prophet. Anyone reading the Bible who discovers statements that turn out to be false, whether they're about the flatness of the Earth or anything else, is absolutely right to proclaim the Bible false.

[qoute]The bible never claimed the Earth was at the center of the universe. It never claimed plate tectonics was false. It doesn't even claim that the Earth is flat or on pillars, despite what you seem to think.[/quote]

1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”

Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”

Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”

Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”

Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”

Other passages in the Bible inform us that the Moon, Sun and stars are smaller than the Earth, so that, for instance, stars can fall to Earth without destroying it.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is absolutely clear: the Earth is flat, and the heavenly bodies which move in the dome of the sky are smaller than the Earth.

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Yes, it uses that worldview for its allegory, but it doesn't claim it as true.


Here you are employing the standard bullshit cop-out that is to claim that something was meant metaphorically when it is very clear from the text that it was meant literally ("I/he/she didn't really mean what I/he/she said"). Even if these things really were meant metaphorically despite seeming very definitely to be meant literally, that means the Bible is fallible, because it is unintentionally misleading. Most of the statements in the Bible that speak of the Earth as flat are not written in such a way as to indicate that their use is intended to be understood as merely metaphorical, but rather strongly indicate that the author believes it to be literally true that the Earth is flat. Since true prophecy is supposed to contain no false statements, that's a problem for the Bible.

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So you do believe that we're more important than the 2000 years of humanity before us (and after the creation of Christianity).


We are not more important as individuals. The difference is purely one of numbers. There are more of us. If all individuals are of equal importance, then the people of the most recent hundred years are collectively more important than the people of the previous two millennia, by sheer force of numbers.

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To which the logical response is: well if the people of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries don't warrant biblical verification of their worldviews, why do the 20th and 21st?


Nobody at all is entitled to the confirmation of their world view by the Bible. The Bible, if it is the true word of God, is obliged (according to its own promises) to tell only the infallible truth, and nothing false. Therefore, if modern science is wrong, the Bible should not say that modern science to is right. However, there are far better reasons to believe that modern science is right, than that the Bible is, about such things touched upon by the Bible as the size, shape and age of the Earth. On these matters, the people of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries would accept what the Bible said if it were consistent with today's science, especially if it indicated how the relevant facts could be verified. The people of those times were quite open minded about most things relating to science. The most important things they believed about the world that modern science rejects as wrong, were the result of their accepting the authority of ancient sources including, but not limited to, the Bible (others being Aristotle and Hipocrates). If the Bible had said that those things were wrong, they wouldn't have the world view of which you speak.

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Why not assume that we're also unimportant and that the bible will support a worldview we can't yet conceive of that will come generations after, in the 23rd or 24th centuries, when there might be hundreds of billions of humans?


Because the Bible promises it is true prophesy, and that true prophesy makes predictions that come true, and is always infallibly reliable, and is verifiable. It doesn't have to "support our world view". It just has to prove its bona fides by being verifiable and 100% reliable. If it makes statements that turn out to be false, then -- by its own standards -- it is false prophesy.


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So you believe in absolutism, hm? Well, it still doesn't work. No one could have empirically verified plate tectonics in Jesus's time, or any time for hundreds and hundreds of years. Same with viruses.


Yes, they could. The Bible could have stated that certain countries would gradually sink into the sea, because of the movements of the Earth's plates. It could have told a prophet "make a mark on a rock at such-and-such a place" where the sea leaves a high-tide mark. Then visit that same rock every year for the next fifty years, and mark the rock where the high-tide mark is. The mark will rise gradually, because the land on which the rock stands is sinking below the sea." It would be a perfect sign that the Bible is true, that it is in possession of special knowledge, and that its description of the nature of the world is correct. It could also state that earthquakes will occur frequently in certain areas, and rarely or never in other areas, and explain fault lines, and even direct people to go and make measurements of the Jordan River-Dead Sea Rift, so they can observe how the land changes when there's an earthquake -- again, knowledge that the people of that time did not possess, and therefore proof that the Bible has access to special knowledge, at the same time as being empirical evidence to support the idea that the surface of the Earth consists of moving plates.


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If it had said "the Earth is round", that would have been a hard sell for hundreds of years.


It would not. It is very easy to demonstrate that the Earth is round. That's why it didn't take the Greeks hundreds of years of debate to work it out.

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Anyway, why would God even care about talking about physical science in the bible?


To keep his promise that the Bible (being his prophecy) will be verifiable and 100% reliable, and never, ever, false in any statement.

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If you figure we're only going to be spending a couple of decades here on Earth, then eternity in heaven or hell, he'd probably be more interested in describing the latter, wouldn't he?

And we can observe and discover Earth ourselves, whereas our only source of info for heaven and hell would be the bible.


Wrong. The Bible spends very little time on describing heaven and hell, and Jesus states very clearly that there is no point in trying to imagine the afterlife in detail. On the other hand, making verifiable statements about the Earth would help to fulfill God's promise to provide prophesy that is verifiable as well as absolutely accurate.

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(And, as I mentioned above, maybe he didn't consider anyone who required that level of convincing worth it.) Maybe he just didn't think it there was a point. You think you know what God would think?


God "didn't consider" something? How stupid do you think God is? He's supposed to be omniscient. That means he has, in effect, considered everything.

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For someone who claims to find Indian theology and Ovid so fascinating, you sure seem to have a hard time with the concept of allegory.


Ovid is fiction. The Bible is supposed to be 100% true and verifiable prophesy.

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I'd bet was rejected because its claims were so far out there according to the current worldviews that it was just considered nonsense.


The Book of Enoch (1 Enoch, if you prefer) was accepted and popular for a long time before it was rejected, first by the Sanhedrin in AD 90, and much later by a Christian council. Far from being too much "out there" according to the world view of people at the time for people to accept it, it actually shaped that world view, to the extent that many things described in Enoch are part of Jewish and Christian lore today (e.g., the fallen angels).

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If that's the case, it only confirms what I've been saying - that predictive science does not strengthen the bible, but rather made it weaker when it mattered most, the early days of the church.


If it were true, it might have confirmed what you're saying, but in fact it is not true. You just invented a speculative hypothesis ("I'd bet...") that would be convenient if it turned out to be true, and then assumed it to be true, and then used it in an argument to confirm something for which you have no other confirmation. Brilliant deduction, Sherlock!

In short, you're talking bullshit again.

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If you assume God knows everything, including the future, and everything happens according to his will, and that he does want to give everyone every chance to repent or whatever, then no, there would be no chance of their souls being saved had they not died. Otherwise they would not have died when they did. Either God is omnipotent or he's not. Make up your mind.


That's an amusing argument, roughly along Calvinist lines. It describes one (quasi-) plausible conception of God. It is not the only possibility. Remember "free will"? If free will exists as some claim it does, God could have organized things so that there's no set time of death for people, and no predestination of whether particular individuals will be saved or not, but those things can depend on what they do with the knowledge available to them. It's no less plausible than your wholly deterimined world.

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Mainstream Christianity is not fact


You are very funny. When I say someone's religion is false, you say I'm being arrogant. But you say someone's religion is false, and feel not the slightest qualm. Nothing like consistency, eh?

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First, claiming omnibenevolence is blasphemous, because it is claiming that you know God's motives for everything. Second, it's just illogical nonsense that doesn't stand up to even a minute of rational thought.


Don't you ever accuse me of arrogance again, you arrogant fool. No authority qualifies you to say that something like that is blasphemous. Omnibenevolence does stand up to logic, if omnipotence is qualified. It is only illogical if omnipotence is not qualified.

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Third, why do you assume that God doesn't care about how or why you believe in him, as long as you believe?


I don't assume that God cares or doesn't care about anything. I don't believe God exists at all. Any speculation about God's nature is essentially idle, as far as I'm concerned. However, since the Bible clearly states that people should be wary of false prophets, and should look for confirmation through two kinds of evidence (predictions that come true, and absolute reliability), it is clear that if the Bible is the true word of God, God does not ask for blindly gullible believers, but instead for cautious ones.

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Maybe quality matters more than quantity. Maybe if you require empirical proof, you're not what God is looking for in a believer. Maybe, to God, his word in the bible should be enough for you.


That is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the Bible says. The Bible instructs people explicitly to look for empirical confirmation, to be sure that prophets are not false.


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Every Abrahamic religion already accepts and rejects parts of the old testament (which is common amongst them) and its extensions (the new testament and the quran). If they can do that, then they can choose to reject or reinterpret those passages that preach hate and intolerance.


They can't, because those passages are fundamental, which is why fundamentalists are consistent in their lack of tolerance. To be a Christian, you have to believe that Christ is the only way to God, and that all alternatives should be rejected. You also have to believe that it is necessary to proselytize Christianity. If you reject those things, there's really nothing left of Christianity for you to believe.

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Many Christians and Muslims today already live by that philosophy. As I said, the religion can adapt.


It's nothing other than a step towards the death of those religions. In Europe and North America, where the "tolerant" versions of Christianity are dominant, Christianity is being quietly replaced by a vaguely pagan version of theosophy.

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I thought your response was so ignorant and condescending that I had to speak up.


You are not entitled to speak, as your posts on the subject contain a lot of arrogant nonsense.

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It is wrong to say:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows.
And:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

Neither of those comments are discussion. They are hate speech.


It is not "hate speech" to tell someone that you think that what they profess to believe is silly. If someone said they believed London was the capital of France, would it be hate speech to say that you thought they were misguided, and that their belief was silly?

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Whether or not you realize it, you and I believe much of the same things. I am not a Christian. I don't believe in God or the inerrancy of the Bible. But I believe in being a responsible atheist, and not turning my beliefs into clubs to beat on other religions with.


Good for you.

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But there is a huge gap between you and I. I say "I don't believe in God", you say "I believe there is no God", and the two assertions are far from identical. Mine is a statement of disbelief, yours is a statement of belief in the negative.


The difference is entirely trivial. If you'd said "I don't know whether God exists or not", that would be significantly different from "I believe there is no God", but the difference between "I don't believe in God", and "I believe there is not God" is of no practical weight at all. To pretend it has any weight is to split hairs.

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Because it's a statement of belief, it requires faith. That you think your faith is somehow superior to Soulfire's is where I have a problem. And, as is often the case, what you accuse others of is the very crime you are guilt of yourself, thinking yourself and your ideas superior.


My belief is better than Soulfire's because it is better warranted than Soulfire's.

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BruceTheDauber wrote:
I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private. If they preach those superstitions in public, as if what they believe is fact rather than fantasy, I feel it is entirely within my rights to reply accordingly.

So essentially you're ok with running people with differing worldviews off the streets and into hiding because they contradict with yours, hm? This sounds very familiar. Smells like fascism, actually.


No, silly, I do not propose or threaten to run anyone off any streets, I merely say that if they make assertions that I find unsupportable, I am likely to argue with them, and tell them why I think they're wrong, rather than meekly accept what they say, or pretend to respect their self-proclaimed "wisdom".

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Soulfire may be in the wrong for not adding a qualifer to his claims, that is, not mentioning that what he is saying is only his belief, justified by a leap of faith. But aren't you guilty of the same thing? Where was your "in my opinion" on the quote: "The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows.". Nope, I don't see it.


Qualifiers like "in my opinion" have no semantic weight. They are merely decorative flourishes, which -- granted -- soften the the emotional force of a statement, but they do not in any way change the denotational meaning. Making a big deal about their absence is silly, because it is an obvious fact that all assertions are the opinions of the persons making the assertions, so explicit qualifications along the lines of "in my opinion" are strictly redundant. Accusing someone of being a fascist because they don't qualify a statement with "in my opinion" is a lot worse than silly. It is the very pinnacle of intolerance and unreasonableness. You are really not in a good position to grandstand about tolerance and fascism.


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Hey, here's a neat example of what I consider brilliant theology from the bible that you denigrate as dull and stupid. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." You may think that advice is too stupid for someone like you, but I think it would behoove you to learn from it.


That particular quote is not stupid, but it's just one line from a very big book. There are many big, stupid books that contain a few lines that are not stupid, so one line does not prove that the Bible as a whole deserves respect or admiration. And, anyway, it's not theology.

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And finally, one last contradiction for the road:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I am tolerant; I am just not very respectful, that's all. I'm not interested in killing people or oppressing them, or silencing them, or preventing them from performing their religious rituals and prayers in the privacy of their homes and chapels.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private.


Very funny. After your hair-splitting earlier, you fail to see the gulf of difference between saying "I will argue with people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously", and "I will silence people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously".

You are selectively subtle in your sensitivity to semantic nuance.
BruceTheDauber
That was too long. I've wasted far too much time on this discussion. No more.
Indi
BruceTheDauber wrote:
Believing true what induction indicates is probably true involves a mere inductive STEP, not a LEAP.

*eyeroll* So one minute you're mocking me because I'm saying you are working off of a leap of faith, albeit a "tiny" one, and the next you're saying you're fully well aware that you're taking a "step" of faith (as if a "step" and a "tiny leap" aren't functionally the same).

As I said, if you are so sure that what you believe is true, you're using faith. Step, leap, skip, hop, trip, whatever, it's faith. And you cannot call someone else's ______ (fill in your own mode of motion) of faith idiotic while making a ______ of faith of your own without making a hypocrite of yourself.

Furthermore, this whole "leap/step" thing of yours is nonsense. A leap of faith is believing in something that cannot be proven. You can't prove God doesn't exist (it's impossible), so you're making a leap of faith to believe that he doesn't exist. It's as simple as that.

It's not the same thing as taking the next step in a progression of logic. Believing anything to be absolutely true is not logical in and of itself. The correct thing to do would to say you're assuming God doesn't exist, although the possibility still exists. Asserting he does not exist is an illogical leap of faith.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
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Christians who make that claim are blaspheming (anyone claiming to know the purpose of any of God's actions is blaspheming).


That's not an opinion that most Christians agree with. You state it as fact, as if you were privy to some incontrovertible authority on the matter, but I'm pretty sure you aren't. There is no precise definition of blasphemy anywhere in the Bible, and there is no complete agreement among either the "Church Fathers" or modern theologians. So, basically, you're talking out of your arse. Unless you're divinely inspired, of course.

The authority behind that statement is the bible. There are several definitions of blasphemy, although, of course, what exactly constitutes a blasphemous statement most of the time is a matter of context and interpretation, because motive is a factor.

Nevertheless, it says in Deuteronomy that you should not add to the word of God. The bible does not say God is omnibenevolent, it says "God is love." Omnibenevolence implies that God is not anything else but love, but that is not stated (some justify that assumption by quoting that "God is perfect", but that implies that perfection requires the existence of nothing but love, something neither the bible nor logic states). By asserting omnibenevolence, you are putting weight on the word of the bible that the bible didn't put there itself. Thus, it's blasphemy.

But here's the difference between you and I. I make that statement and qualify it as my opinion (we'll get to that as a minute), and if you disagree, that's fine by me. If you want to debate it, I'll debate it, but I won't browbeat you for believing it, or call you stupid. Going by your behaviour so far, you, on the other hand, would assert such a thing as fact, just because evidence seems to point to it, irrespective of any amibiguity present. You would then call anyone who disagreed stupid and tell them they should go take their beliefs to be hidden, spoken of only in private. You don't see a problem with that?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Possible, possible. However, if the Bible speaks true, he wants people who are wary of false prophets. It's not consistent for him to reject people who follow the his own advice to be wary of false prophets. Perhaps it is only people who don't believe the Bible is God's infallible word who have passed God's test, while the rest have been too gullible, and will suffer the unhappy fate that God has reserved for those who believe false prophets.

Whoa whoa whoa. Hang on there. You have a major misconception about prophecy and the bible.

There are multiple definitions for the word "prophet". One is the one you are using: a fortune-teller or soothsayer. Another is a person who speaks by divine inspiration. That is the kind of prophet talked about in the bible when it speaks of the prophets. In fact, the bible says that just because someone predicts the future (which would make them a prophet by your definition), that doesn't mean they are a prophet (by the bible's definition).

Biblical prophets were people who God granted divine revelations and wisdom to. Any "signs or wonders" the prophets perform or predict are evidence of that prophet's validity as a mouthpiece of God. In fact, in order to be a prophet, by the biblical definition, they have to preach God's word and not advocate any changes to what has already been prophesied, and give signs that come to pass. They can add and clarify, but they can't say that some previous prophet was wrong. The signs they give can be predictions or miracles.

So the warning to be wary of "false prophets" has nothing to do with demanding evidence of God. In fact, if a prophet made predictions that all came true in his lifetime (after he made them, of course), then he would be vindicated as a prophet (assuming he didn't violate the other theological requirements for prophecy). They have nothing else to prove to you.

At any rate your argument is circular. If you don't believe in God, then any instruction of his to beware of false prophets should mean nothing to you. If you do believe in God and accept the warning to beware of false prophets, then you, at the very least, believe one of the prophets who gave the warning about false prophets. So you can't be an unbeliever and justify that disbelief by bible writings.

(Funny enough, the parable I mentioned earlier - the parable of the prodigal son - when taken in its entirety does support your theory that God loves those who question more than those who never do. But of course, that's just dull and stupid nonsense to you.)

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
As for the omnibenevolence claim, that's just crap - I've never accepted that claim. "God is love" doesn't mean that he is only love. Claiming God is omnibenevolent is another example of blasphemy - a rather large one too, because now you're not only claiming you know why God does what he does, you're claiming you know why he does everything he does. Plus the concept of omnibenevolence is just nonsense it and of itself.


You are once again arrogantly asserting one particular theology as if it were incontrovertible truth, whereas it conflicts with mainstream Christianity. It is rather cheeky that you call other people arrogant, bearing that fact in mind.

*eyeroll* Oh, gee, guess you got me. Except, you know, for the fact that I explicity acknowledged that this was only my interpretation of someone else's beliefs in the first sentence of the block you just quoted right above all of what you just said. After stating that I did not accept the claim, I proceeded to explain why. Asserting as incontravertible truth? Please. -_- So, you fail.

You know, there's a saying I like to use: the musician hears music everywhere, the painter sees images. Basically, who you are colours your view of the world. If you are a liar, you would tend to believe everyone else is a liar, too. Career magicians would tend to be the greatest skeptics of all, because their lives revolve around taking advantage of credulity, and so on.

I find it interesting that you seem to think that the only valid interpretations of the Judaistic religions are the fundamentalist interpretations. You reject all consideration of the bible as allegory, which suggests you think the only valid interpretation of the bible is a literalist interpretation. Even where reality and compassion disagree, you say, the bible should still be interpreted strictly and rigidly as a factual declaration, with no concessions made to interpretation and/or allegory. "To hell with everything else," your view of how religion "should be" goes, "we know the bible is right."

Despite the fact that you seem to think that literal extremism in defiance of compassion or reality is the only correct way to view religion, I don't imagine you would consider yourself to be an extremist in your own beliefs. According to the dictates of logical deduction, the logical thing to assume given the available evidence is that God does not exist and the bible is just fiction. Fine. But taking that as literal fact, instead of just a guideline to reason, and using it as a blunt instrument to attack other beliefs regardless of compassion and/or the reality that your beliefs rely on faith just like the beliefs of religious people seems to me to be a bit extremist. Don't you? No, you probably don't. I mean, to hell with everything else, you know your logical interpretation is right. Right?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
It is the fault of the Bible. Anyone who seeks to defend the authority of the Bible, it must come into conflict with science, because what the Bible says quite unambiguously conflicts with science. Hence the fundamentalist insanity of Creationism, and the Catholic Church's backing of Intelligent Design. The alternative is liberal theology, which essentially abandons any claim that the Bible possesses significant authority. Modern liberal theologians are barely distinguishable from atheists.

No, they must not come into conflict with science, because they can accept that much of what was written was allegory to make God's teachings more accessible, and not bald-faced scientific fact. Literalism is not the only way to interpret the bible.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
1 Chronicles 16:30: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable.”

Psalm 93:1: “Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm ...”

Psalm 96:10: “He has fixed the earth firm, immovable ...”

Psalm 104:5: “Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken.”

Isaiah 45:18: “...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast...”

Other passages in the Bible inform us that the Moon, Sun and stars are smaller than the Earth, so that, for instance, stars can fall to Earth without destroying it.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is absolutely clear: the Earth is flat, and the heavenly bodies which move in the dome of the sky are smaller than the Earth.

As I said, the bible uses this worldview as the basis for its allegory, by which it describes the idea of a god apparently beyond human understanding to us. For example, it probably puts God above us because - allegorically - placing something above something else implies superiority. It probably describes God as "fixing" the earth (not the Earth - be more careful) immobile as a way of impressing upon the reader that God has created things to be safely predictable, constant, and run by immutable law, or "unshakable". "The ground you stand on is firm" is an allegorical way to say that what you believe is definite, solid and true.

If you want to interpret those verses as literally saying the ground is fixed solid to some foundation underneath, go nuts. But don't be so arrogant as to state that that is the only interpretation.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Most of the statements in the Bible that speak of the Earth as flat are not written in such a way as to indicate that their use is intended to be understood as merely metaphorical, but rather strongly indicate that the author believes it to be literally true that the Earth is flat.

The author probably did believe it was flat. God didn't reveal everything to his prophets, just the parts of the plan and his teachings that they needed to know to get his message across. He probably felt no obligation to contradict their worldview.

That you demand empirical proof of God is hardly reason enough for God to put stuff into his book that is irrelevant to his teachings. The Earth is round, the Earth is flat - what difference does that make to God's lessons? You require verification? Pfft. Like God answers to you. Sure, empirical evidence would make the bible more believable, but the lack thereof does not prove it false.

Besides, you're still labouring under the arrogant assumption that you know what is true, or at the least that truth (and observation) is absolute across all time. What if the earth (and/or the Earth) really is fixed, immobile and whatnot, to some sublayer of reality that we have not hypothesized yet? What if a thousand years from now, people are laughing at the idea that we believed that all position and time was relative to the observer, and to them the idea of a fixed and anchored Earth makes perfect sense?

Whether you want to admit it or not, you are demanding confirmation of your worldview, and the absolutism that you seem to think exists does not.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
We are not more important as individuals. The difference is purely one of numbers. There are more of us. If all individuals are of equal importance, then the people of the most recent hundred years are collectively more important than the people of the previous two millennia, by sheer force of numbers.

So now you think God should use statistics to save souls, hm? You sure know a lot about the way God should run the universe.

Besides, what if in the next century or the century after there are so many humans spread across so many worlds that the people of today pale in comparison? You are still demanding that God confirms your current worldview, whether you recognize that or not.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Wrong. The Bible spends very little time on describing heaven and hell, and Jesus states very clearly that there is no point in trying to imagine the afterlife in detail. On the other hand, making verifiable statements about the Earth would help to fulfill God's promise to provide prophesy that is verifiable as well as absolutely accurate.

Yes, the bible spends very little time describing heaven or hell proper, but it devotes a good chunk of its writings on how to get to either place. That is, by and large, one of the stated purposes of the bible. Assuming the purpose of the bible is to relay God's message to us, describe God to us, and describe how we can please him, then it does what it set out to do. Why would it need to do anything more?

Requiring the bible to include science is like requiring a text on etiquette to include a treatise on quantum mechanics. The text has a purpose, and it follows that purpose. It doesn't need science for that purpose, so calling it incomplete for the lack of science is ludicrous. Would it be nice if the bible contained verifiable foreknowledge? Sure. Is it required? No. You're not satisfied without it? Then maybe nothing would have satisfied you. God said he can't save everyone. Maybe you are just one of the ones who aren't worth the extra effort in his eyes?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
(And, as I mentioned above, maybe he didn't consider anyone who required that level of convincing worth it.) Maybe he just didn't think it there was a point. You think you know what God would think?


God "didn't consider" something? How stupid do you think God is? He's supposed to be omniscient. That means he has, in effect, considered everything.

Your comprehension skills are lacking.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
That's an amusing argument, roughly along Calvinist lines. It describes one (quasi-) plausible conception of God. It is not the only possibility. Remember "free will"? If free will exists as some claim it does, God could have organized things so that there's no set time of death for people, and no predestination of whether particular individuals will be saved or not, but those things can depend on what they do with the knowledge available to them. It's no less plausible than your wholly deterimined world.

No, except the bible says God knows everything in advance. Does that contradict with the idea of free will? Not necessarily, not if you're imaginative enough. But it does mean that if and when you die, it was "your time", according to God, and he would know in advance whether or not you were/would be saved at that time.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
Mainstream Christianity is not fact


You are very funny. When I say someone's religion is false, you say I'm being arrogant. But you say someone's religion is false, and feel not the slightest qualm. Nothing like consistency, eh?

I have never called anyone's religion false. You are putting words in my mouth. When I say Christianity is not fact, I don't mean that it is not true, I mean that it requires faith to believe. The same is true for your beliefs. And mine. There is a huge difference between fact and truth.

The difference between you and I is that I say all beliefs hinge on faith, including my own. You, on the other hand, claim that Christianity is not only not fact, it is not true, while your beliefs are.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Don't you ever accuse me of arrogance again, you arrogant fool. No authority qualifies you to say that something like that is blasphemous. Omnibenevolence does stand up to logic, if omnipotence is qualified. It is only illogical if omnipotence is not qualified.

Please stop name calling.

Omnibenevolence logically fails even under the umbrella of omnipotence. If you want to discuss that - civilly - I would be happy to. But I would ask that you learn how to behave among adults first.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
Many Christians and Muslims today already live by that philosophy. As I said, the religion can adapt.


It's nothing other than a step towards the death of those religions. In Europe and North America, where the "tolerant" versions of Christianity are dominant, Christianity is being quietly replaced by a vaguely pagan version of theosophy.

Everything requires interpretation. To claim that only your interpretation is correct is ignorant and bigoted, and certainly a potential for friction between your sect and others. Some interpretations are more hostile to other beliefs than others, and those most certainly are problematic in this age. Evolution towards more tolerant beliefs is hardly the "death" of these religions.

Besides, Christianty began as a pagan religion. Why would returning to its roots constitute the death of it?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
I thought your response was so ignorant and condescending that I had to speak up.


You are not entitled to speak, as your posts on the subject contain a lot of arrogant nonsense.

It seems to be a common thread throughout your writings that others do not have a right to speak beliefs that disagree with yours, or beliefs that you have deemed inferior by your own personal metric. You don't see this as a problem?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:
It is wrong to say:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
The Bible was written by ignorant, nasty, bronze-age peasants, and it shows.
And:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I just think you follow a silly primitive religion and you are sadly misguided. It does annoy me a bit that people with ideas as silly as yours actually think themselves superior to those who allow themselves to be guided by common sense.

Neither of those comments are discussion. They are hate speech.


It is not "hate speech" to tell someone that you think that what they profess to believe is silly. If someone said they believed London was the capital of France, would it be hate speech to say that you thought they were misguided, and that their belief was silly?

It is not hate speech to disagree. That's why contrary opinion should be allowed, despite your assertions.

It is hate speech to insult and denigrate people, to state that they are inferior to you, and to suggest that they should not be allowed to continue to exist - all of which you have done throughout the course of this discussion.

If you don't know what hate speech is, I suggest you look it up.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
The difference is entirely trivial. If you'd said "I don't know whether God exists or not", that would be significantly different from "I believe there is no God", but the difference between "I don't believe in God", and "I believe there is not God" is of no practical weight at all. To pretend it has any weight is to split hairs.

It is most certainly not hair-splitting, or trivial. Consider the same logic applied to religious beliefs. "I believe my religion is true" is not the same as "I believe all other religions are false". The first is an acknowledgement that your belief in your religion is faith, and does not rule out the possibility that other religions with differing beliefs may be true. The second asserts that other religions are false, and thus inferior. The first statement is a declaration of faith. The second is hate speech.

"I don't believe in God" is the same as saying "I don't know whether God exists or not". One must "know" God exists in order to believe in him. One must "know" God doesn't exist in order to believe he doesn't. It doesn't rule out the possibility of God's existence or non-existence. I just said I don't believe in him, not that I do not accept as possible that he may exist. Maybe he does exist, maybe he doesn't. The possibility is open, I don't know what the truth is, I choose not to believe.

"I believe there is no God" closes all doors. It is a statement that your beliefs do not have room for the possibility of a God.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
My belief is better than Soulfire's because it is better warranted than Soulfire's.

I just wanted to quote this. I think it highlights and punctuates your beliefs rather nicely.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Qualifiers like "in my opinion" have no semantic weight. They are merely decorative flourishes, which -- granted -- soften the the emotional force of a statement, but they do not in any way change the denotational meaning. Making a big deal about their absence is silly, because it is an obvious fact that all assertions are the opinions of the persons making the assertions, so explicit qualifications along the lines of "in my opinion" are strictly redundant. Accusing someone of being a fascist because they don't qualify a statement with "in my opinion" is a lot worse than silly. It is the very pinnacle of intolerance and unreasonableness. You are really not in a good position to grandstand about tolerance and fascism.

Qualifiers like "in my opinion" are crucial components of any discourse. They probably have more semantic "weight" than the argument itself. And you're right, normally I would not make a big deal about their absence, because I would assume them.

However, you have explicitly stated that your claims are not beliefs, and not opinions, but rather truth - or at the very least, the only acceptible conclusion given the facts and that any contrary beliefs or opinions are silly, and the people who speak them stupid.

You misinterpreted my comment. Missing the "in my opinion" in a statement is not fascist. Ruling it out entirely while denigrating others and their beliefs is.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Quote:

And finally, one last contradiction for the road:
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I am tolerant; I am just not very respectful, that's all. I'm not interested in killing people or oppressing them, or silencing them, or preventing them from performing their religious rituals and prayers in the privacy of their homes and chapels.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private.


Very funny. After your hair-splitting earlier, you fail to see the gulf of difference between saying "I will argue with people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously", and "I will silence people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously".

You are selectively subtle in your sensitivity to semantic nuance.

Am I? Then explain the subtlety of your semantics to me. I see the difference between "I will argue with people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously", and "I will silence people who make silly pronouncements and expect me to take them seriously" quite clearly, thank you. But that's not what you said.

Explain how it is possible that you do not wish to silence people who believe things you think are not true ("I'm not interested in... silencing them"), while at the same time stating that they should not express those opinions publicly ("I tolerate people having silly superstitions if they keep them private"). What semantic nuance am I missing here?

BruceTheDauber wrote:
That was too long. I've wasted far too much time on this discussion. No more.

Riiight.

You know what I think the worst kind of coward is? The kind that attacks an enemy then attempts to hide behind that enemy's better nature to avoid a counterattack. The "right" thing for me to do is to accept your request to end this and stay silent. I ain't that good.

I am under no illusions that you have learned humility, or respect from this discussion. And I do not expect that you would consider any advice I have to give. Nevertheless, I would suggest that in future discussions, you learn civility, and stop the silly name-calling.
BruceTheDauber
Quote:
You know what I think the worst kind of coward is? The kind that attacks an enemy then attempts to hide behind that enemy's better nature to avoid a counterattack. The "right" thing for me to do is to accept your request to end this and stay silent. I ain't that good.


I wasn't pleading with you to post no more. You can witter on for as long as you like. I was expressing my own intention to post no more on this topic, as I have wasted too much time on it already. Well, I've broken my promise to myself, so I'll just say one short thing:

I don't agree with you that an inductive step is a leap of faith, even a tiny one. The difference is this: it is justified by induction, while a leap of faith is not. Induction gives you good reason to believe something is probably true. So does deduction. A leap of faith is what you make when you choose to believe something despite having no rational justification for believing it is true, or even likely to be true. Many philosophically inclined people are apt to think that induction is less soundly based than induction, but they're wrong. Deduction is grounded in nothing more solid than induction. Leaps of faith are grounded in neither induction nor deduction.

I will not argue with you about Christianity or the Bible, because the topics are not sufficiently interesting to me to warrant any further waste of time on them. So the rest of your points can be sure of standing unchallenged by me.
Indi
BruceTheDauber wrote:
I don't agree with you that an inductive step is a leap of faith, even a tiny one. The difference is this: it is justified by induction, while a leap of faith is not. Induction gives you good reason to believe something is probably true. So does deduction. A leap of faith is what you make when you choose to believe something despite having no rational justification for believing it is true, or even likely to be true. Many philosophically inclined people are apt to think that induction is less soundly based than induction, but they're wrong. Deduction is grounded in nothing more solid than induction. Leaps of faith are grounded in neither induction nor deduction.

A logical step (inductive, deductive, whatever, doesn't really matter how the step was made as long as its logical) is not a leap of faith, but you are not making an logical step when you state that God does not exist.

When considering whether or not God exists, the logical place to start is the null assumption - that he does not. It is the most parsimonious assumption you can possibly make, so it is the perfect starting point. You can never prove God doesn't exist, so you have to test to see if he does. After not finding evidence of God for enough time over enough tests, you can state with confidence that the evidence suggests that God does not exist. That is a logical step (by induction, as a matter of fact).

But there is a world of difference between "the evidence suggests that God does not exist" and "God does not exist". The first statement implicitly acknowledges the possibility that God may exist, even though all available evidence suggests otherwise.

Basically, it comes down to this. To say "God doesn't exist" and to completely rule out any possibility that he might (and to call anyone that does stupid) is not a logical step. You have to be open to the possibility that you may not have all the evidence - because it is impossible to have all the evidence - or that you may be wrong, or you are just being irrational. Belief in something without rational thinking is faith. Ergo, to say "God doesn't exist" without any acceptance that you may be wrong is a statement of faith (dogmatic faith to boot).

But don't take my word for it. Read up on weak atheism (my position, that there is no evidence for God, but he may exist regardless) vs. strong atheism (your position, that it is a fact that God does not exist). (I have simplified the definitions of strong and weak atheism, but the gist is still there. In actuality, a strong atheist would probably scoff at your attitude that your beliefs are "better" than others.)

So, here's the punchline. Either you have to admit the possibility that God could exist, not that he does exist, just that he could possibly exist (in which case, you certainly owe everyone you called stupid an apology), or you are implicitly stating either that you possess infinite knowledge (so you can know everything and thus know there is no god anywhere) or that you are making a leap of faith (by believing in something that has not - and cannot - be proven).
BruceTheDauber
Indi wrote:
A logical step (inductive, deductive, whatever, doesn't really matter how the step was made as long as its logical) is not a leap of faith, but you are not making an logical step when you state that God does not exist.


I believe you are talking nonsense, not just nonsense, but arrant, silly nonsense, but I really can't be bothered to argue with you any more. Please feel free to argue with yourself.

Meanwhile, I will make the "leap of faith" that unicorns don't exist, James Bond isn't real, and there isn't a billion dollar note sitting in my back pocket that I haven't found yet. None of those beliefs is justified by reason, of course. They're all leaps of faith.

Gurrhhhh.
mike1reynolds
Indi wrote:
When considering whether or not God exists, the logical place to start is the null assumption - that he does not. It is the most parsimonious assumption you can possibly make, so it is the perfect starting point. You can never prove God doesn't exist, so you have to test to see if he does. After not finding evidence of God for enough time over enough tests, you can state with confidence that the evidence suggests that God does not exist. That is a logical step (by induction, as a matter of fact).

But there is a world of difference between "the evidence suggests that God does not exist" and "God does not exist". The first statement implicitly acknowledges the possibility that God may exist, even though all available evidence suggests otherwise.

You are extremely intelligent! This is a perfect expression of logic. It is just like the Halting Problem in computer science and mathematics. In the 50's they tried to come up with an infinite loop detector for compilers, an algorithm to determine whether an arbitrary program would ever stop or not. No matter how hard they tried it would always fail on some programs. Finally it was mathematically proven that it is impossible to do. Mathematically, the only way you can possibly know if a program will halt is to run it and simply wait for it to halt. So at any given moment if a program is still running, all that you can say about it is that it hasn’t halted yet. It is mathematically proven that there is not a more efficient way to determine if any arbitrary program will halt.

Everyone who works with computers experiences this in a certain respect. If your computer stops responding it is because a program has gotten out of control, is hogging resources and refuses to halt. But you don’t immediately reboot, you wait awhile. Eventually you’ve waited long enough and you conclude it is in an infinite loop and isn’t going to halt. You can never be 100% certain that the computer has crashed for all time, it is mathematically impossible, but you eventually decide that the odds are high enough that a wait and see attitude isn’t worth it.

This is an exact analogy to your perfect logic here, except that rebooting doesn’t restart the process. Rebooting is the no answer, and a halt (computer responding) is a yes answer. Just as you said, you can never be 100% certain that God doesn’t exist, but eventually you get discouraged with waiting for the evidence and conclude that it is pretty darn unlikely. Or, you have a mystical experience that proves to you that God exists.

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Indi wrote:
A logical step (inductive, deductive, whatever, doesn't really matter how the step was made as long as its logical) is not a leap of faith, but you are not making an logical step when you state that God does not exist.


I believe you are talking nonsense, not just nonsense, but arrant, silly nonsense, but I really can't be bothered to argue with you any more. Please feel free to argue with yourself.

Don’t let this guy get you down, he is a completely anal…

BruceTheDauber wrote:
Meanwhile, I will make the "leap of faith" that unicorns don't exist, James Bond isn't real, and there isn't a billion dollar note sitting in my back pocket that I haven't found yet.

...moron…

BruceTheDauber wrote:
None of those beliefs is justified by reason, of course. They're all leaps of faith.


…and a religiously fanatical atheist who has no concept what-so-ever of logic.

BruceTheDauber wrote:

Gurrhhhh.

There is nothing more aggravating than someone who loves to play word games and head games and can’t grasp even the simplest statement of logic.

You might be interested in checking out our ridiculous “debate” (if you can call arguing with a mental masturbator a debate) on the Buddhism thread. It is absurd in the extreme.
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