Pity the Poor Atheist Who Depends on Science

Pity the poor atheist who depends on science to justify his disbelief. It must seem like a faithless spouse who steals away to spend time with a former lover. Although science has declared its marriage to atheism (or agnosticism, if you prefer), at every turn it harkens back to Genesis 1.

Surely at the beginning of the last century the romance was still fresh and exciting. Darwinism was winning over even the theologians. Astronomy was looking deep into the night sky. Geology was speaking of millions of years rather than thousands. The universe was eternal and unchanging, and fewer and fewer people paid attention to the creation myth.

Then there was the discovery of the expanding universe and the resulting Big Bang theory. Suddenly there was evidence of an actual moment of creation to contend with. Today, most have forgotten that the first objectors to the theory were not the believers but the disbelievers. Every effort was made to refute the idea of creation (efforts that continue still), but to no avail. The heavens pour forth their witness to an incomprehensible moment of creation.

Ah, but how easily one can adapt. Science must still be separated from myth. Of course there had to be a beginning and of course it could be explained scientifically. Any resemblance to the great myth is mere coincidence and not to be taken seriously. Let there be light, indeed!

Later, it was realized that the Big Bang theory described a period that came to be called the Photon Epoch. From the first second of creation through the first 360,000 years of expansion, the early universe was dominated by photons. Surely it was provocative to realize that in the time it takes to say “Let there be light”, there was … light. Not only was there light, but it was a light that did not proceed from any object. No more could one point to the absurdity of light being formed before the sun and moon and stars were created. But once again, how could such an idea coming from an ancient group of nomadic goat-herders be anything but mere coincidence?

Then along comes string theory (M theory). This is very bad news indeed because it overturns the classic argument that nothing exists beyond that which we can directly experience. Now science is seriously proposing that there is more, much more, outside of our physical universe than there is inside it. In fact, it is proposing that an almost infinite number and variety of universes exist throughout a multi-dimensional reality that is completely beyond our examination. What is thought of as the natural world (our three-dimensional universe) is a mere subset of what can only be termed a super-natural (ten-dimensional) cosmos. Surely it is an interesting parallel to the Bible and its insistence that God exists in a place we can never reach and that our temporal existence is insignificant in comparison to the greater reality of the Almighty.  Still, the Bible can only be viewed as a relic of a pre-scientific world and of no relevance to an intelligent person.

Finally comes the most recent rendition of scientific explanation. Whereas the Big Bang theory focuses on the origins of energy and matter, a team of physicists from Australia are looking at the origins of space and time itself.  In explaining their findings, they could find no better analogy to use in describing how our familiar three dimensions and time emerged than that it crystallized out of a higher set of dimensions similar to a liquid. Therefore, as ice forms from water, so too did our universe form and separate from a greater body of something like water.  Such is how the scientists themselves describe it. As the Bible describes it, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters and God then separated the waters above (Heaven) from the waters below.

The late Carl Sagan mused that a reasonably competent God could have left clues in his holy writings that would be carried forward until such a time that men (presumably intelligent, educated men like himself) would recognize them as predicting their scientific discoveries and thereby come to believe. What he did not take into account was the stubborn heart of natural man who refuses to see what is plainly before him and prefers to suppress the truth. As Romans 1:19-20 says,” For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Yes, pity the poor atheist who depends on science to justify his disbelief. He is without excuse.

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33 thoughts on “Pity the Poor Atheist Who Depends on Science

  1. I pity the Christian who has to believe, without evidence, that women descended from a man’s rib, we all descended from dirt, a talking snake, and the universe is not much more than six thousand years old. Believing those things as absolute fact, one is really in no position to criticize anyone else’s belief, scientific or otherwise.

  2. It’s good to hear from you again, Syn. I’ve been dormant for some time, but hope to get back into the swing of things.

    Now you should know by now that I’ve thought through these things. Part of the solution is remembering that Genesis is written directly to pre-scientific man and had to be understandable to them. We also can understand the import of what it tells us as long as we bear that in mind. For instance, you mention our being made from dust. I don’t see any problem with that. Sagan used to talk about how we all are made from star dust since all the the elements from which the earth was made were generated inside of stars that exploded long ago. Ask yourself how you would describe the atoms and stuff our bodies are made of to someone who had no concept of microscopic.

    Actually, the entire story of the creation of Adam and Eve is a beautiful foretelling of the Second Adam, Jesus, and it sets the stage for everything that follows all the way through to Revelation. Just look at John 20. There you have a perfect man appearing in a garden with a woman made perfect by the wound in his side. I sympathize that our modern minds expect to read factoids when they encounter Genesis, but that’s not the way to understand it. Anyway, it’s a good subject and I’ll file it away for a future blog.

    And of course, the six thousand year old universe is a stumbling block for many. I’m actually preparing a multi-part blog on that and the six days of creation. So please stay tuned.

  3. Yes, me too, been busy, my kids’ soccer, work, the band. Hope you’re doing well David.

    The point of the “descended from dirt” thing is not related to having a problem with it (I have no problem with having been descended from anything, whatever is is what is). It’s that if someone believes as absolute fact that we descended from dirt, or women descended from a man’s rib, or a talking snake, or a man walking on water, without having any evidence, then there really is no grouds to stand on when attempting to discredit someone else who believes we descended from apes.

    If you can believe based on faith, with no evidence, then where is the credibility for criticizing any other belief, whether based on science or not?

    It’s hard for me to criticize science because science encourages doubt. It encourages critical thinking. It never claims absolute truth. And, you can take any scientific theory or leave it without threat. And in reality, pretty much everyone, religious or not, believes in science to some extent, have benefitted from science, has faith in it.

    There can be some proponents of science who might make wild claims, such as claiming certain scientific theories are absolute fact, but that has nothing to do with the concept of science itself. I think the mistake some people make, especially the religious, is believing they’re discrediting science when in fact they’re just discrediting an individual. It would be like me discrediting Christianity by pointing out Jim Jones or David Koresh or Pat Robertson. It’s misleading. It conditions religous people to knee-jerkingly react negatively to the word “science.”

    • Certainly I do not criticize science either. I love science, but I accept its limitations. It can tell us a great deal about the world in which we live, but it cannot speak to what lies outside that world.

      What I do criticize (and this is thrust of my essay) is anyone who says they are dismissing God ‘because of science’. If they think that, they are wrong and are indulging in self-delusion. I demonstrate this by using strict secular science (not a Christianized version of it) to show that science does not contradict the Bible (properly interpreted). Again, the deeper science goes, the more it sounds like Genesis 1. How is that even possible? There is no Norse myth or Grecian myth or Babylonian myth that comes anywhere close to what science describes.

      I agree that many Christians have a negative reaction to science because they think it’s saying something negative about the Bible. Believe me; I do my best to educate them as well.

      • Yes, science does not speak to what lies outside the physical world. People might, but science does not. Science does not have theories proving or disproving the existence of God, Allah, Zeus, Shiva, or Santa Claus.

        And one of the Gospels mentions that dead holy people came back to life and walked out of their graves (peculiarly, this astounding occurence is not mentioned in any of the other three Gospels while other less significant details are). Can we use science to support the notion that bodies that had been dead for days, months, or even years, can come back to life?

        And proving women descended from one man’s rib, or proving that a snake talked? I believe science, though not absolute, would theorize that those things did not happen.

        But I agree, you can’t fairly use science as the only basis for not believing in God, Zeus, or Shiva. Those require faith to believe in. For me it would be the lack of proof coupled with its contradicting morals.

        Just to be fair, it would seem just as much disillusioned to dismiss possibilities because they might contradict the Bible. Could you acknowledge the possibility that women did not descend from a man’s rib or that there never was a talking snake?

      • “Can we use science to support the notion that bodies that had been dead for days, months, or even years, can come back to life?”

        Actually, the answer is yes. I call your attention to my previous entry titled “And the Sea Shall Give Up Her Dead.”

        “And proving women descended from one man’s rib…?”

        A better translation of the Hebrew is “side” rather than “rib”. But more to the point is that you and I will probably see the first cloned human being sometime in our lifetime. I’m not saying that’s a good thing – just that it’s likely to happen. So are you saying that God should be incapable of doing something that man is capable of? That wouldn’t make sense.

        The more interesting question about the creation of the woman is why wasn’t she made from the dust? It was good enough for man and it was good enough for the beasts. But why was the woman created in this special way? There is an answer for that, and it lays the foundation for so much that follows.

        “…or proving that a snake talked?”

        As I recall, you’ve told me in the past that you call yourself a Satanist, yet you do not believe in an actual Satan. (Correct me if my memory is faulty.) Here’s the irony. Between the two of us, I’m the one who believes Satan is a real creature.

        Yes, I can see I’ll have to walk you through the garden and give you a glimpse of what all is there. Along the way, I’ll cover the talking serpent as well. I promise.

      • There is no evidence of cloning technology back then, as well as no evidence that the dead came back to life and walked out of their graves. From a scientific point of view, the theory would be that it didn’t happen. And again, the fact that such an extraordinary event such as that is only mentioned in one of the four Gospels leaves me suspicious (especially as other more orginary details are included).

        The burden of proof is on the side that postulates existence or occurence. That does not rule out the possibility that it did occur, but from a scientific point of view, the theory would be that it did not due to lack of evidence. It stands on equal footing with the belief that humans were created from Amun-Ra’s tears. No evidence, out of the realm of science, relies on faith.

        Same goes for a virgin birth, no evidence of the technology existing back then (these days it’s no problem) nor any evidence of a virgin birth, I could not in all honesty say I believe it as absolute truth. Since I don’t ultimately view faith as a virtue, I have no burning desire to force myself to believe it. If I did feel faith is a virtue, logically I could be virtuous from having faith in any religion (such as, let’s say, Wicca)..

        My use of the word “Satan” is purely metaphoric. You are correct, I do not believe in a literal Satan deity. Satan is used to represent our own individual inner natures, and that is what is worshipped. “Atheist with a style” I’ve been called. In the Bible, Satan is never said to have given a handbook on worshipping him. Satan, the meaning of which is “adversary”, is used symbolically as adversary to the sheep, opposer of the status quo.

        Again, talking snake, no evidence, nothing that indicates a snake has the vocal chords capable of human speech or the mental capacity. If it did happen, it’s out of the realm of science. We’re back to one having to rely on faith, no different than faith that we were created from the tears of Amun-Ra.

      • It goes without saying that God doesn’t need technology. If he created the world, he can certainly create a human being and he can do it any manner he chooses. You keep asking me if I ever consider ideas that challenge the Bible. Of course I do. Otherwise conversation is pointless. On the other hand, do you consider ideas that challenge your unbelief or do you simply dismiss them?

        You asked, “Can we use science to support the notion that bodies that had been dead for days, months, or even years, can come back to life?” I pointed out that the answer is yes. Shouldn’t that give you pause? Science is more than an episode of CSI. Science establishes a framework for evaluating possibilities. I argue against the close-minded response that science somehow negates belief in the God of the Bible. You repeatedly agree with me that science is misused in that way. Still you circle back and demand evidence. My point is, the Bible itself is that very evidence.

        There is absolutely no reason to expect that the Bible should stand up to the advance of science. Yet it does. The Bible said there was a moment of creation long before the Big Bang theory agreed. The Bible said that light was the first thing created long before science discovered it was true. The Bible says there is a realm that human beings cannot ascend to long before string theory attested that it was so. The Bible has said a great many things were possible, such as the resurrection of the dead, long before science established a framework from which I can point out that it is absolutely possible. You may not like it, but that is evidence as science defines evidence. At the very least, if the Bible was right when it said these things, then shouldn’t you consider the truth of whatever else it says? The story of Amun-Ra’s tears cannot make such a claim, can it?

        No, the key to your unbelief is your statement, “Since I don’t ultimately view faith as a virtue, I have no burning desire to force myself to believe it.” That also is predicted by the Bible. That is the natural state of fallen man, an unwillingness to do what God commands.” In our natural state, we reject the things of God. We rationalize them away. We deny them. We chase after other (false) gods. We do anything and everything but believe.

        Satan is not a deity. He is a creature as we are creatures and should not be thought of as more. He not interested in your worshiping him. He’s like the schoolyard bully who snatches away your toy. He doesn’t particularly want your toy; he just wants you not to have it. The Bible says he prowls around looking for someone to destroy. Don’t let the poetic style of Genesis get in the way of your understanding its truth. The issue is not whether the serpent had vocal-cords.

  4. Regarding consideration of ideas that challenge the Bible: Not consider, but recognize that there is a possibility that there was no virgin birth, that dead people did not walk out of their graves, that there was not a talking snake. In other words, have you dismissed them as not possible after considering them, or do you still claim them as absolute truth?

    I definitely consider ideas that challenge my unbelief. It’s evident in my mention in the previous post (2nd paragraph), “That does not rule out the possibility that it did occur” in regards to dead people walking out of their graves.

    The Bible is not evidence. It’s as much evidence as a Harry Potter book. It was written by humans and can’t reasonably ruled as evidence in and of itself. We have a book that says that a couple thousand years ago, dead people rose out of their grave and walked among the living. Anyone who reads it can believe it or not, for whatever reason.

    Me personally, I have to think about this, from many angles. First, I try to think of the liklihood of something like that happening when it did. I have found no evidence of the technology existing back then. Then I have to recognize the fact that only one of the four Gospels even mentions this incredible event. Next, I check to see if other historians of the time had written about it, or any community records indicate that this happened to some formerly deceased individuals. My conclusion? It didn’t happen.

    Again, that’s not to say that it wasn’t possible, that it absolutely did not happen. What I am saying is that, in light of the evidence, it doesn’t stand out from incredible claims made by any other religion. If I felt that faith is a virtue, I’m still not directed to Christianity because it requires faith to believe in any religion.

    Regarding creation of humans: There are many creation stories, from many religions and cultures. I’ve browsed through almost a hundred of them. That’s not science.

    Regarding the creation of light: Adam saw light from stars a million light years away? The only evidence I’ve seen presented resort to the supernatural (which is fine, but it’s definitely not science), subjectively fitting the explanation to the biased conclusion without any evidence. Again, it’s not to say that it did not happen in some supernatural way, but I see no evidence, it’s not science. If it were true, it’s beyond science. Beyond science is not science.

    Regarding the Bible and resurrection of the dead: Per the Egyptians, written about four thousand years before Christ, Isis resurrected Assur. Would that be considered science? I don’t consider it science any more than the Bible’s account of the dead rising. Written claims are not science, they are just hear-say. It’s not to say neither account occured, but it’s not science, there’s no study behind it.

    Regarding Satan as a deity: I apologize, I chose the loose usage, deity – a being natural, supernatural, or preternatural, not necessarily thought of as holy, divine, or sacred. I don’t think of him as a deity as I don’t even believe in his existence. It’s just semantics anyway. What objective term do you use to describe his being?

  5. “In our natural state, we reject the things of God. We rationalize them away. We deny them. We chase after other (false) gods. We do anything and everything but believe.”

    That natural state explains why I reject any god/goddess/deity. It’s not something directed just at Christianity. All religions can make the same statement you did, why humans do not believe their religion’s deity (or deities).

    • “That natural state explains why I reject any god/goddess/deity. It’s not something directed just at Christianity. All religions can make the same statement you did, why humans do not believe their religion’s deity (or deities).”

      I understand that your unbelief is not directed at Christianity alone. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that the fact that there are one hundred different creation stories does not, in and of itself, mean that every one of them is false. Truth is not statistical. It is entirely reasonable that ninety-nine be false and one be true.

      In fact, you have to recognize that science tells its own creation myth. We were created from nothing as a random event without reason, purpose or intent. The trouble science has is in explaining ‘nothing’. It can’t seem to get there. It always has to start from ‘something’ that already exists. And that ‘something’ has the power to create. It makes for a comforting story if you want reassurance that there is no supreme being you have to be responsible to.

      Victor Stenger writes off the problem with the ridiculous explanation that ‘nothing’ is a very unstable thing. What he intends to say is that ‘nothing’ is capable of breaking down into ‘something’. That’s an assault on logic if I’ve ever seen one. If ‘nothing’ is unstable and has the inherent ability to generate ‘something’, then it is not ‘nothing’. It is ‘something’ by definition. What he offers as an explanation explains nothing…no, I mean it doesn’t explain nothing…I mean, well, you know what I mean. No pun intended here.

      ”Then I have to recognize the fact that only one of the four Gospels even mentions this incredible event.”

      All four gospels deal with the resurrection of Jesus, don’t they? The resurrection of Jesus assures the resurrection of all: some to everlasting glory…some not. That the gospel writers each chose what they considered the most important to write is not unexpected. As John said at the end of his gospel, if they tried to write everything down, there wouldn’t be room.

      • >>>”However, I’m sure you’ll agree that the fact that there are one hundred different creation stories does not, in and of itself, mean that every one of them is false.”

        Yes, there is always the possibility that any of the creation stories could be true. Correct?

        >>>”The trouble science has is in explaining ‘nothing’. It can’t seem to get there. It always has to start from ‘something’ that already exists.”

        I think the trouble Christians have in proving God exists is in their biased use of that exact rule. You mention that ‘something’, God, has the power to create. If God is ‘something’, He must have started from something. If you put forth a theory but then create a biased exception pointing to your chosen deity, without any evidence, that’s still not science.

        So it still does not point me to Christianity. It isn’t even able to exclude polytheistic religions with multiple eternal deities.

        Stenger’s view I don’t think is that far off from yours, though in a different way. He claims something can come from nothing. You claim something, God, can have no creation.

        Another theory is that matter could have always existed. My conclusion though, they’re all theories, ultimately we don’t know.

        Regarding the Gospels’ account of the dead rising and walking amongst the living, writers will naturally and likely capture the most extraordinary events. The dead walking out of their graves, that would be an incredible miracle of God’s power. The fact that only one Gospel writer (who is anonymous) chose to include it does not itself ultimately indicate it did not happen, but it’s one of many suspicious factors in the whole picture.

      • Yes, on the surface of it, any of the creation accounts could logically be true. However, our intellectual honesty demands that we compare each myth to what we know about reality. We can easily dismiss the myth that says the earth rests on the back of a turtle and many of the others. I contend that the biblical account is the most difficult of all to dismiss. That is not to say it cannot be dismissed. You obviously do. However, the Bible describes you and your motivations in so doing. It provides for that reality.

        “I think the trouble Christians have in proving God exists is in their biased use of that exact rule.”

        There are two things wrong with that statement. First, Christians should not be in the business of “proving God exists.” I know many believe they should, but it is not biblical. As I’ve said before, if you can obtain faith in God through reason alone, what is the purpose of faith? Christians receive faith as a gift. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It is not that you first believe and then you develop faith. You believe because you receive faith (the ability to believe). The only thing Christians should be presenting is the gospel message. Applying it to individuals is the role of the Holy Spirit.

        The second thing wrong with that statement is the insinuation that only Christians are coming to the discussion in a biased way. Are you not also biased? Do you not evaluate everything I say on the basis of what you already believe? Do you not have “skin in the game”? After all, admitting I’m right would leave you in a precarious position, wouldn’t it? No, obviously everyone has bias and you cannot (or at least should not) judge the argument on the basis of it.

        Putting it on a more spiritual plain, you are focusing on the resurrection of physical bodies while ignoring the spiritual resurrection that occurs every day. How does a determined atheist such as you suddenly become a believer? Our churches are filled with them. One of my best friends marvels at the contrast of what he believes today against what he believed ten years ago. (He was every bit as stubborn as you.) It’s called being “born again”. The old man, who is dead in his sin, is born again of the spirit and made alive. The living man can see and understand things the dead man could not. I don’t mean to get all preachy here. I just want you to be forewarned that it could happen to you. As much as you scoff, you do not know (nor do I) whether you are a member of what the Bible calls the Elect or the Chosen. If you are, you will not have a choice when the time comes. I remember an interesting poem written a couple of hundred years ago by someone who felt the “Hounds of Heaven” were chasing him down.

        I know you’ll point out that many Christians become atheists. I would refer you to the parable of the sower and the seed. If they have not the root of the Holy Spirit, they will fall away.

        As to first causes, I merely point out that the idea that something can come from nothing is a violation of logic. So is the idea that you can have infinite regress with everything having a cause. On the other hand, there is nothing inherently illogical about something having the characteristic of “being” eternally and thus be the First Cause from which all else proceeds. I just reblogged an excellent post defending the First Cause argument from Bertrand Russell’s criticisms.

      • >>”Yes, on the surface of it, any of the creation accounts could logically be true”

        Well, not many Christians are honest enough to admit that. I’ve talked to many who have told me it’s simply not possible. I tell them that I don’t think it’s that simple.

        >>”However, our intellectual honesty demands that we compare each myth to what we know about reality. We can easily dismiss the myth that says the earth rests on the back of a turtle and many of the others.:

        Here, you seem to be using a method that you toss out when the question comes to whether it is more likely the Biblical account happened or not. I’m applying the same methodology, except that I do not exclude another possibility – that it did not happen. Virgin birth a couple thousand years ago, dead rising out of their graves to walk the Earth, it’s my intellectual honesty that has me more likely to believe they did not happen.

        Also, if God and many other deities are claimed to be supernatural, all-powerful, they are not restricted to what we know about reality so physical reality becomes less a relevant factor. That pretty much brings all the creation stories back to equal ground.

        >>”There are two things wrong with that statement. First, Christians should not be in the business of “proving God exists.” I know many believe they should, but it is not biblical.”

        Obviously a book that professes many things that can’t be proven will benefit from also professing that attempting to do so should not be encouraged. If questioned, the answer only leads to a circular reference right back to the book. It’s exactly as you’ve pointed out – faith. Any religion, it requires faith. The followers of Hinduism feel it is a gift when they are givenvisions or signs, when they are blessed with enlightenment, when they are show the Truth (with a capital ‘T’).

        As far as the Bible pointing out that some people will not adopt its religion, all relgiions, even pre-Christian religions, recognized there would be people who do not follow them. That’s nothing enlightening, that’s just a given. All religions have been aware of that (as well as non-believers who have suffered and died for not following).

        If I seem to be biased in any way, please point it out. I try to remain completely objective. I have already said that anything is possible, that I do not rule out any religion. I also do not rule out the possibility that they are all man-made. And keep in mind, I was a believer once, grade school spent at a Christian private school, attended church up through middle school and then again during college (Campus Life Ministries), attended retreats, one of which (while in middle school) I experienced what was described as “receiving the Holy Ghost” (tears and all). Obviously, I can’t say that it was (though I sincerely thought so at the time). I don’t think anyone can say for sure. Religions provide comfort. Why would I not want that? I can’t, though, take any religion up with insincere belief, just because I want them to be true.

        >>”How does a determined atheist such as you suddenly become a believer?”

        I think you have me mistaken for some of those atheists whose books you read. I am not determined. In fact, having been a past believer, I consider myself more determined to find myself in a position that I can honestly believe. You mention your churches are filled with believers (and so are Hindu temples). That’s expected. Some have been indoctrinated when they were young so it becomes ingrained in their psyche, they experience guilt and fear at the very thought of turning away even if their intellectual honesty tells them otherwise. Man fears the unknown and is more likely to adopt an answer simply to have an answer, to ease that fear. Fear of the afterlife, fear of not having an externally validated meaning of their life. It’s human nature. It’s why Man created all the religions, the at least 2500 different deities.

        >>”On the other hand, there is nothing inherently illogical about something having the characteristic of “being” eternally and thus be the First Cause from which all else proceeds.”

        Yes, and that’s the basis for the many deities humans have believed in. The Wiccan Goddess for instance. However, God, the Wiccan Goddes, the Hindu deities, and any of the other deities could have all been created by one true eternal creator before them. And wouldn’t it be possible that all matter is eternal, having always existed, always been there in one form or another?

      • [Apologies for the tardiness. Tax season hit with a vengeance this week]

        When I say ‘on the surface of it, any of the creation accounts could be true’, I mean on the surface of it. If you delve beneath the surface, you find that most can be eliminated as having no relation to the reality we know from science. I know that there can only be one truth and that both science and true religion must attest to that truth. When I first became a believer, I was still deeply suspicious of the Bible and so I tested it for reliability. What I found was that it was a reliable predictor of human behavior. It described the reality I observed. I had minored in psychology in school and nothing I learned came close to being as useful.

        Over the next ten or fifteen years I studied the Bible, not just reading it but studying it. I continued to test it and continued to find it reliable. The most amazing thing was the internal consistency of a compilation of sixty-six books written over a period of more than a thousand years by forty-some authors writing from different cultures and different languages, yet telling the same single story from beginning to end. The same triune God is present in Genesis 1 as is in Revelation 22 and everything in between. This is something unique among all the religions. (And uniqueness would have to be a characteristic of a single, true religion wouldn’t it?)

        I could go on. In every way I have looked at it, the Bible outshines every other book in existence. If there is a God, the Bible is his book. I know you will say other religions say the same about their writings, but can they substantiate their claim? Christianity can substantiate its claim. It is not circular reasoning.

        The objective of my own writing is to demonstrate that one does not have to make a choice between the Bible and science. Many Christians believe that they must, mostly because science has been used as an offensive weapon against the Bible. I argue against that. Many nonbelievers think science makes a mockery of the Bible. It does not. I argue against that as well.

        You ask me to point out your bias. It shows up when you are willing to contradict yourself to avoid any concession. You willingly admit that evidence cannot address the existence of God, yet you claim to rely on a lack of evidence to justify your unbelief. That is a contradiction.

        Sagan was asked what evidence he could imagine that would convince him God existed. He responded with the discovery of the Ten Commandments carved into the surface of the moon. Was that the best such a brilliant man could do? Would that be “evidence”? No way! Non-believers would take it as evidence of either a government conspiracy or ancient astronauts, but never for God. Evidence cannot answer the question of God because man is always capable of rationalizing away any bit of evidence he doesn’t like.

        Honestly, you use other religions as a smokescreen to obscure the issue. Hinduism doesn’t care whether you believe it or not. You don’t see Hindu missionaries going out into the rest of the world to spread their belief. Only Christianity cares what you believe because only Christianity cares about the jeopardy you are in.

  6. No rush David. It’s what’s nice about Internet communication, at our own leisure and schedules.

    When you say that most of the creation stories can be eliminated, you use science as the gage. But at the same time, when science is used to gage the likelihood of something in the Bible happening or not happening, you throw out science because God is beyond science, is not bound by science, basically anything is possible. If anything could be possible, beyond science, then fairly that should apply to any deity that anyone happens to believe in.

    I’ve studied the Bible many years, as you have, along with many other religions, but have come to a different conclusion. I leave my mind open, I welcome any view hoping for something in the least bit reasonable to convince me even just a little. Why wouldn’t I want to grab at something that speaks of an afterlife.

    Like life on another planet, some people are passionately convinced, and it’s an incredible thought, just really enchanting to think that we’re not alone out here. But, give me something to work with. I’ve found nothing.

    It might be as I believe you mentioned before, an epiphany from God that is required.

    Telling the same single story, that part is actually an issue for me. There are four Gospels, all of their authors anonymous. Only one of them mentions an extremely extraordinary event: Dead people rising out of their graves and walking amongst the living. The other three books will mention far-from-extraordinary details, but will leave this incredible one out. People having been dead for many days, months, even years, I don’t think we have the science to show that. So the fact that only one of the Gospels mentions such an event, along with the lack of an scientific evidence, I can’t be left without suspicion.

    When you mention that Christianity relies on no circular reference, the very existence of Christ, the very basis of the Christian religion, is one. I haven’t been shown anything that doesn’t refer back to the Bible itself.

    When you mention that one does not have to make a choice between the Bible and science, it’s the same issue other religions have to deal with. Honestly, no people of any religion should feel science is a mockery if they sincerely feel religious faith is a bigger virtue than science. If their deity is beyond science, why do they even use science at all to prove anything in their religous book? It almost make s a mockery of their faith. Using science to prove anything that God did is to assume that God is bound by our physical realities, by science. By taking on any bit of science, by giving it any weight, then throwing out any science that points in an anti-Biblical direction, just shows a hypocrisy.

    It’s like me saying, “Based on my religious text, my deity says it hailed on this particular day in this particular city, and I have scientific evidence to substantiate it.” Then turn around and say, “My deity also says that humans descended from raindrops. I have no scientific evidence to substantiate it, but it doesn’t matter, my deity is beyond physical reality, my deity is beyond science. Faith is more important.”

    >>”You willingly admit that evidence cannot address the existence of God, yet you claim to rely on a lack of evidence to justify your unbelief. That is a contradiction.”

    I think you have it wrong. I never felt that the lack of evidence ultimately rules out the existence of anything, any deity of any religion. That is the rationale for burden of proof. I think you’re mistaking my conclusion that God does not exist with me claiming there is no possibility that God exists. I make no such a claim. Any deity could possibly exist. No one has given me convincing evidence to believe in any of them, that’s the issue.

    I really know nothing of Sagan so you sort of lose me in that topic. Ten Commandments carved into the moon? I’m lost in that respect. A lot of Christians seem to discount the Old Testament anyway so I’m not sure what value the Ten Commandments hold to them anyways (unless they nit pick).

    More Christians at my doorstep? Actually, I get no one at my doorstep. I don’t believe I can make any conclusions based on how many followers of any particular belief are at my doorstep (unless you feel there is weight to that, because then I would have to say that based on my past experiences, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons have them all beat by many miles).

    • Syn, I just want to say how much I appreciate your willingness to discuss these things without rancor. It is most enjoyable.

      “When you say that most of the creation stories can be eliminated, you use science as the gauge.”

      Absolutely. Having faith does not mean being brain-dead. As I said, I believe there can be only one truth and that science and religion must attest to it together. Science may be limited to our physical world (whereas God is not), but it operates very well here. It has proven itself to be very useful. I approach science as a thought experiment. While we cannot scientifically observe a miracle, we can imagine what it would look like from such a viewpoint. For instance, changing water into wine. Most look at that from a macro point of view and can see nothing but magic. I look at it from the sub-atomic scale and see a clear path for it to happen, not as magic, but as a manifestation of God’s control over our world at the level where quantum mechanics operates. In other words, I believe (with good reason) that God created the so-called laws of nature in such a way that he can operate within them. God is not a law-breaker.

      “…when science is used to gauge the likelihood of something in the Bible happening or not happening, you throw out science because God is beyond science, is not bound by science, basically anything is possible.”

      Well, I’ve never said that, have I? Just the opposite. I uphold science. I simply insist that it be properly applied and that it not be used in an illogical way. For instance, you want to gauge the gospel accounts based on the likelihood of a virgin birth. It is not likely to be true, you say. Yet what science attests to is that our very existence is overwhelmingly unlikely. It is so unlikely that life should arise by accident that science must postulate a near infinite number of universes with differing parameters in order to justify the one we observe existing. That is the counter-argument to the Intelligent Design school of thought (to which I do not subscribe). If science says unlikely things can still happen by accident, then it follows that they can also happen by intent as long as there is a mechanism capable of manipulating reality. My goodness, if God can create the universe, he can certainly create a single sperm cell in the womb of a virgin.

      “Only one of them mentions an extremely extraordinary event: Dead people rising out of their graves and walking amongst the living.”

      The gospels are based on eyewitness testimony either by direct witnesses (Matthew, Mark and John) or by Luke, the physician, who interviewed many direct witnesses. Eyewitness testimony always varies. If all four gospels told exactly the same story, that would be a sign of collusion. To me, what you mention is not a problem. While it indicates extraordinary events occurred, it is not nearly as important an event as the tearing of the curtain in the temple, which is more widely reported. That was the sacred symbol of the separation between God and man because of sin; and with the crucifixion, it became obsolete.

      Sorry you don’t know Sagan. He was the first to put a pleasant face on atheism (although he only publicly admitted to being agnostic).

      I thought about the Mormons and the JWs after my post, so I’m not surprised you mentioned them. The difference is that they (mostly) witness out of duty. They are taught their own salvation is dependent on doing this work. That is not true for Christians. We (mostly) witness out of love and compassion.

      • >>”Syn, I just want to say how much I appreciate your willingness to discuss these things without rancor. It is most enjoyable.”

        Likewise! I find that on very open forums it’s difficult to see people’s objective points due to having to weed through so much emotional reactions and personal attacks.

        So basically, if I’m understanding it correctly, science is used as long as it does not appear to contradict the Bible. If it does (for instance, scientific evidence pointing to snakes not having the mental or physical ability to speak, or scientific evidence showing people are not likely to survive after being thrown in a hot furnace, let alone showing no signs of pain, casually conversing with a fourth person who materialized within the furnace, and coming out unscathed, including their clothing), then it falls back to God having the power to do anything He wishes (being as He is all-powerful) and is not bound by any physical rules.

        Which seems to be fine. Science isn’t a religion, there is no moral responsibility subscribe to all theories or to even study it at all, it is not a moral sin to throw out any theories one wishes, no one is going to Hell for dismissing it. In the case of the talking snake, a Christian would throw out the scientific theory that snakes are not mentally or physically capable of communicating via human verbal language. Their religious belief would override and the scientific theory is replaced with a theory that states that a snake did talk (because all things are possible through God).

        >>”If science says unlikely things can still happen by accident, then it follows that they can also happen by intent as long as there is a mechanism capable of manipulating reality. My goodness, if God can create the universe, he can certainly create a single sperm cell in the womb of a virgin.”

        But that’s where I believe science drops out of the equation. Someone can kick a basketball randomly, but it bounces off various things and incredibly swishes through a basketball hoop that the person didn’t even realize was there. No one was there to see it. I can say it was me, and I intended to do that. Science can’t touch my statement. It can say I, as a human, have the ability to kick a basketball. It can describe the baskeball’s property, force and bounce, angles and such. But without evidence that it was me, or of my intent, it’s just hear-say.

        And someone can easily write a book about how I intended to put it through the hoop. Someone else can write a book that says it was actually a girl who did it. Still someone else can write that there was more than one person involved, maybe somewhere between the bounces someone had to bounce it off their head. Science can recognize the possibility.

        But who did it, or the intent?

        Hear-say is a powerful thing if taken as gospel. It’s why many people are led. I can easily say I created the universe and everything in it. Science would theorize that I did not. Faith could very well say that I did. It could say that I am God incarnate. I would need no evidence (“Who are you to question me?”), just a nice elaborate hear-say.

        >>”If all four gospels told exactly the same story, that would be a sign of collusion.

        The other three consciously decided to leave out an extraordinary event so that it wouldn’t appear as collusion? Adulteration for the purpose of making it more believable. To me, it would seem wording passages verbatim would be avoided if that was a concern. If each is an independent account, they would all be worded differently.

        >>”We (mostly) witness out of love and compassion.”

        Yes, some because they are deathly afraid of Hell and desire a paradise. Witnessing is something God favors.

      • “In the case of the talking snake, a Christian would throw out the scientific theory that snakes are not mentally or physically capable of communicating via human verbal language. Their religious belief would override and the scientific theory is replaced with a theory that states that a snake did talk (because all things are possible through God).”

        Science is based on measuring and predicting. Science is perfectly correct in predicting that, in all likelihood, you will not find a talking snake. One doesn’t have to throw out that part of science to recognize the serpent in Eden was no ordinary snake. The Bible makes it clear that this was Satan, the deceiver, the liar, the trickster, the murderer. You’re talking about ignoring science and I’m talking about paying very close attention to it. It’s hardly the same thing.

        The first thing I ever read about quantum mechanics was in a book I picked up by accident. The author was explaining how weird the implications of QM were. He used the illustration of an old-fashioned cop complete with nightstick and Brooklyn accent popping into existence on one of the rings of Saturn. His point was that while such a thing was not likely to happen, it was scientifically possible for it to happen as a random event; and that, if it did happen, it would happen without breaking any of the so-called laws of physics. Now even though I was not a believer at that time (and I did not become a believer because of this), I was able to recognize the implication of this. If that was scientifically (if not statistically) possible as a random event, it was also perfectly possible as an intentional act of anyone with sufficient power and control at his disposal. Even though I wasn’t a Christian at that point (nowhere near), I understood that if there was a God who created the universe, and if he created it in such a way that he retained control of it at the level where QM operates, then yes, all things would be possible for him. I recognized that, without being a believer, simply based on the implications of science. You are capable of recognizing that as well.

        Our trouble is, we think of reality like we think of this rock that sits on my desk. It is hard and it is heavy. Unless I go out and pound it with a sledgehammer, it’s not going to change. Even if I do pound it, its basic nature is not going to change. It’ll just become a collection of smaller rocks. That’s our reality. It’s difficult to change. However, science describes to me something about reality that isn’t easy to see or grasp. That rock is 99.9999% empty space. And that .0001% that is actually something, is really only as tangible as all those cell phone conversations zipping through the room you’re sitting in. Go ahead and grab one. Obviously, you can’t. That is the base of our reality. It is real, but given power and control, it is malleable. It can be shaped. I do not ignore science. I use science to make my point.

        Every example you bring up would be child’s play for a creator who had retained control of his creation at the quantum level. Now as far as I know, the Bible is the only “holy book” that ever makes the point of representing its deity as pre-existing creation, as intentionally creating and intentionally retaining control of our reality. It has made that assertion for the past 3500 years. It makes that claim in a way that could be understood by the most primitive man, describing it in terms and ways he understood. It can also be understood by modern man with little effort. It is simple enough for a child to grasp the basics. It is deep enough for a person to spend a lifetime in study. It is not so easy to write a book like that.

  7. It’s off topic, but you mentioned Sagan and atheism/agnosticism. I’ve seen many definitions of those two labels. What it seems to me is that agnosticism is just an alternative label necessitated by the social pressures against atheists. It seems to be a way for softer atheists to distance themselves form the more outspoken dogmatic atheists. My use of the word atheism, in its purest sense, is simply a default position of disbelief via burden of proof. A true atheist isn’t committed to the position of non-belief, otherwise it could be argued that it is a religion, It is a scientific approach because it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the evidence just might not have been uncovered yet, or a certain system of thought might not have presented itself yet.

    • I’ve been taught that words have meanings and we can only communicate well when we are careful about the words we choose. The origin of the word atheist comes from anti-theist, one who against theism. That indicates an active denial of a supreme being. Agnostic comes from a Greek term that means “not known” or unknowable. Therefore I would have to say that the term atheist implies an active denial of God while agnostic expresses the idea that one cannot know one way or the other.

      At times, you come across as agnostic when you say, “who can know?” At other times your denials are more forceful. Overall, I think a more fitting term for you is skeptic, defined as “a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.” That seems to fit you the best.

      “…agnosticism is just an alternative label necessitated by the social pressures against atheists.”

      For practical purposes, I would not disagree. Historically, there has been a social stigma attached to being an atheist in the western world. This led people to either deny it, to put up a false front of belief, or to soften their stance as honest ignorance rather than strict denial. The only type of person who drives me to despair (admittedly an exaggeration) is someone who is indifferent to the idea of God. I’ve always believed the shrillest atheist is closer to conversion than a person who is indifferent.

      • But at its most basic modern meaning (and usage), someone who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings, it pretty much covers agnostics. An agnostic would be an atheist, though a specific one who recognizes that no one ultimately knows (whether religous or not). I make no distinction, anything can be an illusion, even what we perceive as physical reality.

        When we converse on topics, we need to agree on certain realities even if we do not have absolute knowledge. To reduce any debate down to an absolute level would be somewhat pointless, nothing would matter.

        I don’t think the origin of words are as important as their modern common usage. I’ve seen many English words that have been dissected into their original Greek or Latin meanings, but quite a few when taken literally seem to be way off from what we mean by them today.

        I agree, most anyone interested in human existence and ethics would have some interest in religion. Add to that those intrigued by world cultures. I would think those who lack the mental capacity to concept beyond the here-and-now, or those with no moral conscience, would likely be indifferent. There doesn’t seem to be many.

      • “I don’t think the origin of words are as important as their modern common usage.”

        I’d have to disagree. If you are concerned with nothing more than what people say today, then perhaps you can get away with that. But if you are concerned at all with what people said in the past, then you have to be more careful. If you want to explain something important to another person, you have to make sure you agree on the definitions of the words you use. Otherwise all types of misunderstandings can occur.

        This particularly comes into play with interpreting the Bible. Christianity is dedicated to understanding what the text in its original language meant. That means understanding something that was written as much as 3500 years ago. The scholarship that goes into textual criticism is absolutely amazing. One thing we can be certain of, both secular and believing scholars do not dispute what the words of the Bible intend to communicate. We know what the writer was saying when he wrote it. We also know that, at least for the last 2500 years, those words have been faithfully preserved and passed on with the greatest care imaginable.

        Words are important. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses come around, they want to show you their version of the Bible where John says, the Word was a god” whereas the real translation of the underlying Greek text is, “the Word was God.” Again, both secular and believing scholars agree that there is no justification for inserting the “a” into the verse. The JW bible does it to fit their particular theology and they teach it to their followers as the truth. Christians find that type of textual manipulation abhorrent.

        I am amused to find that if I call something sick today, I may be misunderstood as affirming its goodness. In fact, “sick” refers to an illness. In common usage, it may mean either something perverted or something excellent. In my generation’s usage, if I say my mug of coffee is cool, I could mean it is satisfying or I could mean it needs to go back in the microwave. It can be very confusing.

  8. >>”Science is based on measuring and predicting. Science is perfectly correct in predicting that, in all likelihood, you will not find a talking snake. One doesn’t have to throw out that part of science to recognize the serpent in Eden was no ordinary snake.”

    Yes! I don’t believe science is meant to address all possibilities, because anything is possible. Basically what you mentioned, it’s more an intelligent system to judge liklihood based on physical evidence. Since science does not claim ultimate truth and recognizes that theories can possibly change based on as-of-yet uncovered evidence, the possibilities are endless. But we don’t need science to tell us that there is the possibility of any deity existing, or any creation story being true (or none, possibly science and all religoins have it wrong). The field of science would be too broad. That’s what religions are for.

    For example, the possibility that you can determine if a wife is cheating on her husband by having a priest give her holy water to drink. If she’s an adulteress, her belly will swell and her thigh will rot. Science wouldn’t likely be able to provide any scientific evidence indicating the likelihood this is an effective method. And even if a scientist were to observe it in a lab, if it was a paranormal occurence, the scientist would still not be able to explain it scientifically. If it can’t be explained scientifically, it’s out of the realm of science. When science can determine the conncection, infidelity, holy water, belly inflamation, thigh rot, then we can call it science.

    >>”You’re talking about ignoring science and I’m talking about paying very close attention to it. It’s hardly the same thing.”

    No, not ignore science, rather be selective of it. In my example above, you would have to ignore science to believe it as literally true. If you go to science, you’re going to get a theory that says this is just a myth, you can’t use holy water to determine if a wife was cheating. The burden of proof would be on proving that you can. You would have to bypass science in order to believe it. Faith over science. It’s not to say that it isn’t possible, but you can’t go to science to tell you that priests were in fact able to do this.

    With QM, what it appears to me is that it just broadens the recognition of possibilities. But possibilities are endless, we already know that. I know nothing about QM to have recognized that. The possibility that taking a cyanide pill will not kill me but give me superpowers? It’s pretty useless for me to know that. I don’t normally consider it science to recognize the possibility. I wouldn’t likely take one if I wish to stay alive.

    >>”It is simple enough for a child to grasp the basics.”

    But my seven-year-old would tell you that slaying kids is not right. My 14-year-old daughter would tell you that it is sexist to command that specifically all women have to remain silent in church, or professing that it is a shame for women to teach.

    There are many things in the Bible that, if not presented with the preclusion of “this book is infallible”, a child would naturally have a negative judgment on. I was presented with that preclusion (not from my parents but from the Christian private school I attended). My kids were not, and they don’t seem to have any problem grasping the concepts of common ethics. They have a good sense of it.

    God sending out a bear to maul children to death for making fun of a bald man? Sure what they did was wrong, but they’re kids, and death by mauling? Punishing all humans for the sins of ancestors? Destroying an entire “evil” kingdom (I don’t know many evil babies)? Those things won’t usually fly unless the kids have been indoctrinated already. And these are kids who can sincerely believe in Santa.

    And the concept of a person taking the punishment for someone else’s wrongdoing? It might be an admirable quality in the person willing to do that, but to actually carry out the sentence represents no element of justness. In fact it is cruelty, undeserved cruelty. It would be like a judge saying, “Ok, before I can forgive you, before I can consider your debt paid, someone must suffer!” So someone innocent of the wrongdoing suffers. What was accomplished? Who did it satisfy, and why? There is a reason why our criminal justice system is not modeled that way.

    >>”Every example you bring up would be child’s play for a creator who had retained control of his creation at the quantum level.”

    It would be child’s play for any all-powerful deity. I understand what you’re saying, if there is an all-powerful God anything extraordinary would be child’s play. But still, there’s nothing that specifically points me to Christianity, over any other all-powerful deity. Because I have a very world-view of religion, and I’ve been interested in the many beliefs, I have a difficult time thinking in Christian-centric terms without having a convincing reason.

    • “I don’t believe science is meant to address all possibilities, because anything is possible.”

      Science does a good job of describing ordinary events that occur within our 3-dimensional physical universe. It can only speculate about anything beyond, although current scientific thought is accepting the notion that reality extends beyond what we can physically experience. That is not the same thing as saying anything is possible. We are still constrained by logic. We understand that some things cannot be. Infinite regress cannot be. Circular triangles do not exist. God cannot create a self-existent being. Not all things are possible.

      “In my example above, you would have to ignore science to believe it as literally true. If you go to science, you’re going to get a theory that says this is just a myth, you can’t use holy water to determine if a wife was cheating.”

      Not at all. The holy water, the grain offering, the dust from the floor of the tabernacle, none of these has any power to bring about the curse. Only God has that power. You are mistaking a courtroom for a doctor’s office.

      God has come to dwell among his people. Israel, under the Mosaic covenant, is a theocracy with God at its head, not a king. Part of the grace he offers is his judgment. He knows the truth. If they come before him in the formal setting of asking for a curse in the case of guilt, he will provide that judgment and justice. All the elements of the judicial setting are full of meaning, but they are totally inactive in any scientific way.

      “There are many things in the Bible that, if not presented with the preclusion of “this book is infallible”, a child would naturally have a negative judgment on.”

      Our negative judgment on the Bible is part of our fallen nature, which can only be overcome by the Spirit bringing about a rebirth. You think we start at the Bible being infallible. We do not. I did not. I started with an awareness of God’s presence in my life. In order to understand God, I tested the Bible and found it reliable. It took years of testing before I could feel justified to consider the Bible infallible. (Infallible simply means that the Bible accomplishes God’s intended purpose.)

      “God sending out a bear to maul children to death for making fun of a bald man? Sure what they did was wrong, but they’re kids, and death by mauling? Punishing all humans for the sins of ancestors? Destroying an entire “evil” kingdom (I don’t know many evil babies)?”

      Elisha at that moment was God’s chosen representative walking down a dusty road going about God’s business. In the Mosaic economy, if you mock God’s representative, you mock God himself. Not wise. For what it’s worth, the Bible doesn’t say they were killed, only “torn”.

      There is no doubt the message of the Bible, both OT and NT, is that there will be a day of judgment. The things you object to are vivid examples God gives us to reinforce that he will not hesitate to judge and punish. God always offers two choices, judgment or mercy, punishment or grace. On the day of judgment, only those whose sins have already been punished will receive mercy. Their sins have already been punished because God himself came to earth in the flesh to receive the just punishment for those sins. Having received just punishment, it would be unjust to punish those sins a second time. And God is never unjust.

      • >>”It can only speculate about anything beyond, although current scientific thought is accepting the notion that reality extends beyond what we can physically experience.”

        Yes, that I personally speculate just based on a sense, the awareness of human consciousness I guess. But since I don’t understand it, it’s only that, some sense that I can’t explain. It doesn’t point me in any specific direction really. It’s possible all animals feel it. Maybe even a rock feels it.

        >>”We understand that some things cannot be. Infinite regress cannot be. Circular triangles do not exist. God cannot create a self-existent being. Not all things are possible.”

        So then the saying, “With God, all things are possible,” is inaccurate. He isn’t absolutely all-powerful. He is restricted by rules.

        >>”Not at all. The holy water, the grain offering, the dust from the floor of the tabernacle, none of these has any power to bring about the curse. Only God has that power. You are mistaking a courtroom for a doctor’s office.”

        Not sure I’m understanding you here. Science is basically a body of theories that provide conclusions of liklihood based on scientific evidence. You’re saying that science actually concludes that it was likely holy water was used effectively to determine a woman’s infidelity by making her stomach swell and her thigh rot? I didn’t even think science was capable of pointing to the existence of any specific supernatural deity, let alone build a reasonable case connecting the holy water test to any specific deity. I still don’t see it. I am not even aware of scientists who are Christian who say that science concludes the liklihood of the holy water test.

        Then when you get to your third paragraph [“God has come to dwell among his people…”], you lose me even further because you completely step away from science and use explanations from the Bible (which is just hear-say).

        >>”You think we start at the Bible being infallible. We do not. I did not. I started with an awareness of God’s presence in my life. In order to understand God, I tested the Bible and found it reliable.”

        I was the opposite. I had no awareness of God until I started 1st grade (when I began attending the Christian private school). I believed the Bible to be infallible because that’s what I was told, and I sincerely believed it. Later on I thought I felt God’s presence, but that was only after the concept was placed in my mind. It wasn’t until I actually started studying the Bible more in depth and discussing it with others that I felt let down. Even when I just surface read parts that made me question, I refused to let go, figuring there had to be some rational explanation. Study of world religions revealed to me that the feeling of the presence of God was similar to what people of other religions felt about their deities.

        >>”Infallible simply means that the Bible accomplishes God’s intended purpose”

        I haven’t heard it described that way before. I’ve heard it described as morally infallible.

        Regarding Elisha, it does say something about his character since he was the one who ordered the curse As an emissary of God, out to spread God’s message, I don’t feel that sends a good message. They are children, and what they were making fun of was very superficial. It is a petty thing to order kids torn by a bear for. It indicates lack of compassion, lack of forgiveness, lack of turning the other cheek, not to mention insecurity.

        >>”Their sins have already been punished because God himself came to earth in the flesh to receive the just punishment for those sins.”

        I think we might have discussed this topic before. It never sit well with me. It’s like an innocent person willing to take the punishment for someone else’s wrongdoings. Sure, I can admire the innocent person willing to sacrifice, but I can’t admire a judge who would actually carry out such punishment and claim satisfaction. It’s like a judge who says, “This person committed a crime. Someone needs to suffer. I don’t care who it is, but I will only be satisfied if SOMEONE suffers, even someone totally innocent of this wrongdoing. Once someone suffers, even an innocent person, then I will forgive this criminal.” The logic just isn’t there.

      • “So then the saying, “With God, all things are possible,” is inaccurate. He isn’t absolutely all-powerful. He is restricted by rules.”

        He cannot do anything which is against his nature. He is the source of logic, therefore he cannot do something which is self-contradictory. Thus my example, he cannot create another uncreated being. That would be a self-contradictory idea.

        “You’re saying that science actually concludes that it was likely holy water was used effectively to determine a woman’s infidelity…”

        No. You’re approaching it from the superficial view that it is the holy water that exposes the infidelity. It has no power to do so, scientifically or otherwise. Perhaps I stated it badly. In order to resolve the issue of the wife’s guilt or innocence, the husband and wife go to the tabernacle before the perfect judge, the judge who already knows all the evidence. They go through a ritual, something like we do when we swear in witnesses in our courts today. That ritual holds no mystical power over the proceedings. The only thing that has power to bring the judgment of the curse is God himself. If she is guilty, God assigns the punishment in accordance with the law he has given. From the husband’s perspective, the ritual takes place and if his wife receives the curse, she was guilty. He she does not receive it, she was innocent.

        “I was the opposite. I had no awareness of God until I started 1st grade (when I began attending the Christian private school). I believed the Bible to be infallible because that’s what I was told, and I sincerely believed it. “

        I had a similar experience as a child. I woke up one day and could no longer believe in a grey-haired old man up in the clouds. As we mature, we need someone to help us develop a more mature view of who God is. In my church, like many, there was no one that seemed capable of doing that. I have heard it said that the child’s early religious experience can often act like a vaccination and inoculate the child against more serious faith later on. It shouldn’t be that way.

        “It’s like an innocent person willing to take the punishment for someone else’s wrongdoings. Sure, I can admire the innocent person willing to sacrifice, but I can’t admire a judge who would actually carry out such punishment and claim satisfaction. “

        Ah, but it is not a third party taking the punishment at the insistence of the judge. It is the judge himself who pronounces the sentence, steps down from his judgment seat and takes the punishment on himself for the benefit of the guilty party. “For God so loved the world…”

  9. >>”I’d have to disagree. If you are concerned with nothing more than what people say today, then perhaps you can get away with that. But if you are concerned at all with what people said in the past, then you have to be more careful.”

    Yes, context is relevant, time period of use is relevant. But unless I intuit that someone is speaking of text from a bygone era, I pretty much default to modern usage. Of course, best case scenario is if usage never changed and we all spoke the same language.

    So regarding the label “atheist”, I am thinking of modern context, and I assume its use covers any non-believer. You either believe or you don’t. Whether you recognize the possibility or not, you’re not a believer until you actually believe. In the case of an agnostic, the person is still a non-believer. There is either belief or lack of belief. Even if an agnostic says, “I don’t know,” or “I haven’t decide yet,” the person still lacks belief. It’s why I say that it seems logical to me that an agnostic is just a specific type of atheist. If I haven’t decided yet whether or not to have a cup of coffee, I still can’t say I had coffee until I actually choose to drink it. Or would you say an agnostic is in the area of being considered a believer?

    • “You either believe or you don’t. Whether you recognize the possibility or not, you’re not a believer until you actually believe.”

      No argument there. That is certainly the Christian perspective.

  10. By the way David, you got me interested in quantum mechanics. I just downloaded “Quantum Mechanics for the 99% (but not for Dummies)” onto my Kindle. I’m completely clueless of the premise of QM so I figure I’ll start there.

    • I’m not familiar with the title, but I’m sure it’ll give you the flavor of it. My first time through, I was blown away by the implications of the double-slit experiment, polarization of light, and the role of observer in the outcome as illustrated by Schrödinger’s cat. Although strange, there’s nothing mystical here (i.e., the world is just a dream). This is simply describing how our reality is put together. Good reading!

  11. >>”You’re approaching it from the superficial view that it is the holy water that exposes the infidelity. It has no power to do so, scientifically or otherwise. In order to resolve the issue of the wife’s guilt or innocence, the husband and wife go to the tabernacle before the perfect judge, the judge who already knows all the evidence.”

    But then that seems to remove it even further from science. You can shift the power of holy water to the power of God to judge, still that’s not science. There is no scientific evidence that points to any triggering of God’s judgment due to the ritual. The Bible says that is the method for determining a woman’s fidelity. I don’t know of anyone who has used it with positive results. If it can be shown that it does work, then at least there is something there to work with. It would specifically point to the Judeo-Christian Bible (there are no other religions that mention this ritual as far as I am aware).

    It’s possible Santa Claus existed, rode around on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeers. There is no violation of absolute logic in recognizing the possibility. But to find a present under the tree that said it’s from Santa, and have faith that it did come from Santa, just doesn’t seem like science to me. Maybe it is.

    Regarding God himself taking the punishment, that seems even more illogical. Not only is He not guilty, but He is punishing himself in order to satisfy Himself that someone suffers even if not the wrongdoer. He could just forgive out of love and a sense of the virtue of forgiveness. Humans do it all the time. Analogy time again: A criminal stands before a judge. The judge puts himself in jail for the wrongdoing of the criminal. The judge is satisfied that justice has been served. Still, I don’t see the logic.

    Isaiah 45:21, God states that He is a just God.

    • “There is no scientific evidence that points to any triggering of God’s judgment due to the ritual. The Bible says that is the method for determining a woman’s fidelity. I don’t know of anyone who has used it with positive results.”

      I have never contended there was any scientific evidence that God’s judgment is behind the ritual. Remember my limited purpose is to refute the idea that science prohibits the possibility of God. You agree science is unable to do that. Beyond that, I merely point out the consistent stance of the Bible, from beginning to end, is that God judges mankind.

      In this particular instance, God has condescended to judge whether the wife is guilty of adultery. He knows whether or not she is guilty without the ritual. God gives them a ritual because it is full of meaning. I haven’t studied it specifically, but I can point out something obvious about the dust from the floor of the tabernacle. For one thing, it is a reminder of our mortality. Adultery is a mortal issue; it is punishable by death. From dust we are created and to dust we will return (ultimately agreed to by science).

      The dust is taken from the floor of the tabernacle. The tabernacle is the appointed spot where man can come to meet with God under the Mosaic covenant. It is the only place. (This points forward to Christ being the fulfillment of the tabernacle, the only place we can safely approach God.)

      The thigh withers. In the OT, the thigh is closely associated with the seed, bringing forth images of the Fall, original sin, and even the promise of the future savior (the seed of the woman who will crush the head of Satan, defeating death and restoring eternal life).

      God works through this ritual because it teaches important things about our relationship to God. He will judge us. He will judge us with perfect knowledge of our guilt. Yet he has given us a way to deal with our guilt, but we must come onto his ground and do it according to the way he has designated in order to receive his mercy.

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