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Another Religious thingy

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Trevor
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since 08-12-99
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Canada


0 posted 02-04-2000 02:01 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Now I know religion can usually start a heated debate but it also can often be interesting and informing....so here goes.

Now I was watching Politically Incorrect w/ Bill Maher the other night and it was on religion and it seemed that quite a few times during their discussions that the pro-christian side would quote the bible. Incidently the opposition would come back with a quote from the bible that conflicted with the other side's quote. Which one would be right? Which biblical rules superceeds others? One point raised was that often a person heavily involved in religion will use quotes from a religious text to back up arguements then denounce other quotes saying that they aren't literal or that times have changed and they know that part of their text is false. Now if something like the bible is truly the word of God or a god then shouldn't it really be followed in the strictest sense? How can one pick and choose from a book that they claim is written by God? But if you can't pick and choose then there are a lot of contridictions. Stone to death a wife that has been unfaithful yet thou shalt not kill...etc. Now my big question here is, should a person involved in a religion strictly adhere to their scripture and if they don't believe entirely should they adopt another form of belief? And if there are such contridictions in most religious text, should they be deemed more as moral and social philosophies of the times written by men instead of the absolute word of God? Now this isn't an attack on anyone's religious beliefs nor beliefs in general (to be honest everyone can believe in Santa Claus for all I care), I'm just curious as to how religious people justify believing partially in something while stating their devout practise of worshipping. How can someone claim that they know God so well that they are able to say which text was written by Him and which parts are written by man? I mean it does say somewhere in some text that we can not possibly understand God therefore we should not question Him, and if you question any words in the bible isn't that really questioning Him? If He does exist and does work in mysterious ways then how can someone possibly know what is correct and what isn't? Anyways, those are my questions, they're only to inspire thought on a subject and not animosity between anyone here, so keep the golves up please. Anyways, just thought I air out this cluttered mind of mine, thanks and take care,
Trevor
jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


1 posted 02-04-2000 08:58 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Trevour:

How can I resist this?  Actually you raise some valid points.  

"It seemed that quite a few times during their discussions that the pro-christian side would quote the bible."

Most conservative Christians believe the Bible to be authoritative.  The upside to that is that there is some sort of objective standard for conduct and thought.  The downside to this is that Christians often fall into a pattern of circular reasoning.

"Incidently the opposition would come back with a quote from the bible that conflicted with the other side's quote."

This is not uncommon.

"Which one would be right?"

In America, the one with the biggest following.  In truth, the one who considered the context (historical and grammatical), author's purpose and plan, type of literature, etc. of the text that he or she just "slung".

"Which biblical rules superceeds others?"

This is a complicated question, as short as it is.  Some of the "rules" you mention were civil laws that served as the "Constitution" for the budding theonomy of Israel.  The penalty for adultery, for example, according to the Mosaic Law is stoning for both offenders.  Does this mean we should stone adulterors today?  No, I don't think so.  Is adultery still wrong even though the offenders are allowed to live?  Of course.  Other rules have specific historical contexts.  Women being directed to avoid wearing make-up, for example, in the Paul's Epistles was so that they would not be mistaken for temple prostitutes.  Does this mean women should avoid wearing make-up now?  No.  Does this mean women who are not prostitutes should avoid wearing a G-string and halter top on Hollywood Blvd. at night?  I think so.  

"One point raised was that often a person heavily involved in religion will use quotes from a religious text to back up arguements then denounce other quotes saying that they aren't literal or that times have changed and they know that part of their text is false."

Sometimes these "denouncers" are right and sometimes they are wrong.  In order to know which, oftentimes, we are forced to do some indepth study in the subject (that is what I do, anyway).  But most of the time the Bible-verse slingers (especially on evening talk shows ... geeze) are making things much more complicated than they have to be.

"Now if something like the bible is truly the word of God or a god then shouldn't it really be followed in the strictest sense?"

Yes, so long as you understand what you are being directed to follow.  Context is a most important consideration in understanding the Bible (and any religious text for that matter).  One must also consider that the various books of the Bible were written by dozens of authors over a span of 2000+ years in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  Think of all the colloquialisms and variations of meaning in speech that have occurred during your lifetime an imagine the number that would have occurred across a span of time reaching from the Bronze Age to the height of the Roman Empire.  So understanding the Bible, therefore, requires that a serious student become a historian, a linguist, on top of becoming a theologian.

"Stone to death a wife that has been unfaithful yet thou shalt not kill."

The Hebrew word for "kill" is better translated "murder".  Adultery was a capital crime in Hebrew/Jewish culture during that time period that required death by stoning of BOTH offenders.  The woman you vaguely reference is probably the "woman caught in adultery" who was about to be stoned when Jesus stopped the execution, wrote something in the sand, picked up a stone and said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."  The mob then disbursed without putting up a fight.  Although there are differing opinions on the matter, I like to think that Jesus wrote the name of the MALE offender in the sand.  

"Now my big question here is, should a person involved in a religion strictly adhere to their scripture and if they don't believe entirely should they adopt another form of belief?"

I did exactly as you suggest.  I was embroiled in Pentacostalism (holy rollers, speaking in tongues etc.) and actually completed my undergraduate work in Biblical Studies in preparation to be a Pentacostal minister.  During that time I observed that (1) my particular denomination failed to interpret key Biblical texts properly (sloppy hermeneutics, failure to consider context, grammatical meaning, etc.) and (2) would justify these contradictions by implying that spiritual experiences supercede the written text (certainly not a Biblical concept).  So I left the Pentacostal church and began looking for a denomination that seemed more concerned with the Biblical text than with numbers of adherents or the "spiritual experiences" of the masses (brought on, more often than not by pep-rally type worship sessions and endless repetition of emotion-packed, shallow music).

"And if there are such contridictions in most religious text, should they be deemed more as moral and social philosophies of the times written by men instead of the absolute word of God?"

Before anyone should make such a suggestion I think it is important to weigh the merits of each religious text.  Is there evidence of God's interaction with man in history that falls in line with the Biblical claims?  Is the text historically accurate? There are many other questions in addition to these that I think should be answered before we dismiss ANY faith as a moral philosophy.

"How can someone claim that they know God so well that they are able to say which text was written by Him and which parts are written by man?"

I would never presume to say that I know God well.  I only know Him as well as I understand what I believe is revealed of Him in the Bible.  Granted, my learning curve isn't as steep as it used to be but I do learn something new weekly if not daily.

"I mean it does say somewhere in some text that we can not possibly understand God therefore we should not question Him, and if you question any words in the bible isn't that really questioning Him?"

Don't confuse trying to understand God with trying to understand the Biblical text.  Granted, we only gain a very limited understanding of God from the Biblical text but I think that much of it is written in a way that can be understood and interpreted.  As to questioning the text ... three words: CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT.  We have to question the text in order to understand it. If the Bible is the Word of God, doesn't it follow that it is worthy of more than just a casual glance and knee-jerk interpretation?

"If He does exist and does work in mysterious ways then how can someone possibly know what is correct and what isn't?"

By understanding the appropriate text in context I think most moral crises are solvable.  That is not to say there are not areas in which the Biblical text is silent.  In those cases I suppose it's best to do what you think is best.

"Anyways, those are my questions, they're only to inspire thought on a subject and not animosity between anyone here, so keep the golves up please."

I know you mean no animosity.  It's about time someone got things rolling in here.  

"Anyways, just thought I air out this cluttered mind of mine, thanks and take care,
Trevor"

Thank YOU.

Jim


Brad
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Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


2 posted 02-09-2000 12:10 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Wow, a tremendously worded response Jim. Now, I know there's going to be someone out there who looks at this thread and is going to say that the three moderators (or amigos?) of CA are in the middle of a back slapping session (or even worse) but I couldn't agree more with much of what Jim said. I say the same thing myself all the time: Context, context, context. But, in the end, even context will never get you to the one 'right' answer, I just thinks it give us the best guess. What is left out is the context of the interpreter and that is always changing while any historical-social context is never completely describable. Language is an inherently interpretable thing (indeed, it has to be in order for it to work) and this will always cause problems. I think that when if comes to religion (or the more general spiritualism), one must indeed see a certain transcendance in the words themselve. You have to 'feel' it is right.  This doesn't do much good for those of us interested in a logical debate (unless both people assume the possibility of this transcendance or have experienced it first hand) but it's the only way to get to 'one' answer to a question.  All in all, it's up to each individual to make his or her own choices regarding this and as I've said before, it is not all that absurd to believe in God anymore than it is to believe in energy popping out from the very vacuum of space (quantum mechanics predicts this -- something from nothing, so to speak).

Brad
White Wolf
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3 posted 02-09-2000 04:32 AM       View Profile for White Wolf   Email White Wolf   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for White Wolf

A polite religous discussion?  I didn't think they exsisted.  You people have proved to me that they do.  I may not agree with all that you people have said, but I know what I believe.  I believe that the Bible or any religous text is subject to interpretation.  God knew this when he had the bible written.  I don't think it is a matter of context.  I think it is more a matter of how the spirit interprets what was read.  Which is why I can read a passage several different times and come up with different meanings as they apply to my life at that time.  But thins is just what I believe and I have no problem with the way others believe.  Who knows, they may be right and I may be wrong or I may be right and them wrong or may be by some "mysterious" way that God works in we both may be right.  But that is not for me to deside or even judge.  Only God and the persons spirit knows if what they believe is right for them.  Anyway I think I have written enough for now on this subject.  I don't have all the answers, nor do I want to know them(people tend to come to you all the time asking in they think you do).  For now, I take my leave.

Scorched Dragon


 If dying is the process of living life to its end.
Then what is living?


jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


4 posted 02-09-2000 06:26 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Wow, I evoked a "wow" from Brad!  

Brad:

I agree that "feeling" what you interpret is right is important for practical reasons but I would argue that it is subordinate to the other rules of interpretation.  More often than not there IS one meaning or purpose the inspired author had in mind when the text was written.  I think a good rule of thumb is to not stray far from that author's original meaning inspite of our feelings ... a big pill to swallow for someone as egotistical as myself.  

Scorched Dragon:

Polite debate is the only productive debate, wouldn't you agree?    I don't have much of a problem with asking the question, "What does a passage of Scripture mean to me."  But, by necessity I think, Biblical interpretation is less concerned with "What the passage means to me" (subjective) than with "What the passage means" (objective).  Is faith important?  Yes, very much so.  But faith is stabilized by fact (speaking as one who has come to terms with this both academicly and by personal experience). I start having a problem (and Trevor starts getting confused while watching "Politically Incorrect") when people take the "What does the passage mean TO ME" (subjective) approach and try to apply it with a broad stroke of the brush to everyone (objective).

P.S.  I was wondering when others might touch this one.  Thanks guys.


 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther

Trevor
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since 08-12-99
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Canada


5 posted 02-11-2000 08:04 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello,
sorry to all for taking such a long time to respond to the thread I started,

JIM:
"Most conservative Christians believe the Bible to be authoritative."

Yes, it often seems those types of Christians worship a book more than a God.

"Does this mean women who are not prostitutes should avoid wearing a G-string and halter top on Hollywood Blvd. at night?  I think so."

AWWW!!! Do they have to?    

"Does this mean we should stone adulterors today?  No, I don't think so.  Is adultery still wrong even though the offenders are allowed to live?  Of course.  Other rules have specific historical contexts."

I agree with you. I think interpretation of non-fiction (or supposedly non-fiction    ) writing, religions or philosophy must be compared to both historical facts and current society to see if they should still be applied currently as the context stands or used as a history lesson or revamped. Perhaps the bible could use another re-write....what do you say we do it    

"Context is a most important consideration in understanding the Bible (and any religious text for that matter).  One must also consider that the various books of the Bible were written by dozens of authors over a span of 2000+ years in ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.  Think of all the colloquialisms and variations of meaning in speech that have occurred during your lifetime an imagine the number that would have occurred across a span of time reaching from the Bronze Age to the height of the Roman Empire."

Excellent point Jim. I think I might have finally met a person with strong religious convictions that I actually respect     For all of those who just read that and are getting their panties in a bunch, please don't, I'm only kidding, I could never respect Jim    

"The woman you vaguely reference is probably the "woman caught in adultery" who was about to be stoned when Jesus stopped the execution, wrote something in the sand, picked up a stone and said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

No it wasn't part of a story but rather a whole lot of maxims or sorts, I wish I could remember which part of the bible it came from....sorry I can't be more specific, but on top of that they also talked of stoning a lot of other people....boy they sure liked their stonings back then     Kinda funny that back then they like stoning but not being stoned and in today's society it seems being stoned is more popular than stoning....boy times sure have changed:    

"So I left the Pentacostal church and began looking for a denomination that seemed more concerned with the Biblical text than with numbers of adherents or the "spiritual experiences" of the masses (brought on, more often than not by pep-rally type worship sessions and endless repetition of emotion-packed, shallow music)."

and you picked Trevorism, I'm flattered     Actually I'm curious as to what denomination you choose instead of Pentalcostal? or did you just leave it more of an open Christianity belief with no "real" label for it?

"Before anyone should make such a suggestion I think it is important to weigh the merits of each religious text."

But as a philosophy it might be easier for people to realize that it is open to interpretation while still preserving strong moral and ethical lessons. The merits of the bible in my opinion lie not within whether or not there is a God but rather how useful or what can be gained from such writings because I don't believe the bible proves if there is a God or not. If it did I don't think we'd be having this discussion.

"Is there evidence of God's interaction with man in history that falls in line with the Biblical claims?"

In my opinion I would have to say no. If find the bible to be a lot of heresay without any physical evidence to back it up. Sure I can believe that a man named Jesus lived and that he had disciples, etc. but their is no real evidence linking him as the Son of God nor that God did all the things that the bible says. Now considering history has repeatedly shown that not only in Christianity but other religions as well there has been less than holy people with large followings. And what about the other religions as well, how does their claim effect the validity of the Christian bible. Which God is the right God? Is a god that is half elephant and half woman (Goresh??? can't remember the name) not as valid a story about a God no one sees, lives in a magical kingdom, and has winged angels flying around? I guess if there is a god it could appear to different cultures in different ways in order to more "fit" their ways but if there were a God wouldn't it be humans making the compromise and not the supreme being? But then again the interpretation aurguement could come into play.

"Is the text historically accurate?"

I think most open minded people can agree that there is probably some accurate historical facts in the bible however I wouldn't call the bible a historically accurate text unless you are reffering strictly to the time frame in which it was written, the context when applied to that time frame and not the whole of events described. Science has physically shown evidence disproving a lot of events in the bible....or at least I believe the evil men in their white smocks milk-shaking the test tubes that are incubating our predecessors    

"There are many other questions in addition to these that I think should be answered before we dismiss ANY faith as a moral philosophy."

Many philosophies don't differ much from the bible's of religions. Most have some mysticism to them and the moral and ethical teachings are virtually the same. That is why I draw a strong similarity from both. It seems once the word religion is added to teachings it becomes a thing of truth rather than an idea or a suggestion. Everyone begins to scream that they have the key to a door that isn't even locked....and none of them even know where the door is. What the hell does that mean....first beer is on me if anyone can explain to me what I just said, cause I don't have a clue???    

"I would never presume to say that I know God well."

I spoke with him the other day, said he didn't know much about you either....he also said he was considering changing his religious beliefs to Trevorism.     What does God believe in? Does he ever wonder who created him?

"We have to question the text in order to understand it. If the Bible is the Word of God, doesn't it follow that it is worthy of more than just a casual glance and knee-jerk interpretation?"

Good point Jim.

"(and Trevor starts getting confused while watching "Politically Incorrect")"

Naw, I was confused a long time before I ever saw that    
I should've been more specific with what part of religion I was addressing with my vague labelling of a religious group. My original post is a general blanketing statement not towards Christians as a whole, or any religion for that matter but towards the more conservative and close minded side of religions, like the pannel I watched on Bill Maher. I know there is a more liberal side to religions, though they're usually not heard over the shouts of the opposition, the opposition being people with similar beliefs, and in no way was I trying to pidgeon hole that side into the generalization I used. Just wanted you to know that I wasn't trying to place all religious beliefs into that framework.

Now all this has gotten me thinking about the act of prayer. Now if God does have some sort of grand scheme wouldn't prayer be a useless thing? I mean if "when you're time is up then you're time is up" is true then what is the relevancy of some of the reasons people pray. If someone is dying and you prayed to God for them to live, will they pull through, why do some live and some die who are prayed for? Did some just pray harder than others? To me a lot of prayer, other than perhaps thank-you praying, seems irrelevant. In fact it almost seems like an act of begging, that if you beg God hard enough he will grant you a wish, which gives me an impression that according to them God is pretty egotistical....which I don't believe he would be, if in fact God exists. Just thought I'd add a little more food for thought, BTW, I gotta agree with Brad, excellent response, probably the best response on such a subject that I've yet to hear and that didn't make me want to scream and break out the Ole "Walmart" special you sent me     Thanks for your comments Jim.

PS, I was wondering about your thoughts on claims by some religions that if you don't believe in their religion you will go to a hell of some sort???

BRAD:
"But, in the end, even context will never get you to the one 'right' answer, I just thinks it give us the best guess."

I agree, the only way one can really know they are correct about something is if they were a part of it....even then it can sometimes still only be an interpretation of events or an opinion.

"I think that when if comes to religion (or the more general spiritualism), one must indeed see a certain transcendance in the words themselve. You have to 'feel' it is right."

I'm gonna have to side with Jim because whether or not you feel something is right doesn't necessarily make it right. I agree with the fact that the "feel" of something might be right but it is impossible to know if you are right or are truly justified in your beliefs unless you have evidence to back up the feeling. In religion it might be even more important to base decisions and beliefs on fact rather than rely on instinct because of the possible consequences of a wrong choice. I think it's more important to know why you feel something is right than to just feel right.

"All in all, it's up to each individual to make his or her own choices regarding this and as I've said before, it is not all that absurd to believe in God anymore than it is to believe in energy popping out from the very vacuum of space (quantum mechanics predicts this -- something from nothing, so to speak)."

I'll give an A-MEN to that statement broth'a     Thanks for your comments Brad.
BTW, I thought I told you to hire a "dummy" for the Inquisitor spot?, not someone who could actually question what we say!    

SCORCHED:
I'm gonna have to side with Jim and his comments though not about the faith part. I think faith when applied to religion is more of a growth hinderance than anything else. Faith is the blind belief in something that can not be proved or has yet to be proven and if one has faith in a certain system of beliefs then they are thereby omitting the necessity for factual information....unless of course you're talking about having faith that you may one day obtain the factual evidence needed to make the right decision...but that could be considered more as hope than faith. To me it is as foolish to believe in something that is not proven as it is to disbelieve something that has. But then again I could be aurguing symantics with Jim, his faith might mean "hope" whereas my faith is more of a unproven "feeling" and my hope is "wishing for". However, if his definition of faith and hope are the same as mine then I find it a contridiction to say that facts and faith are both important. For me, I believe it is one or the other. You can't have faith if you consider factual information the key to knowing. Faith only keeps someone on the same path and is not a tool for the collection of information but rather is an additive to the determination to stay on the same path already started on regardless of one's current factual information. Now that doesn't turn out to be a bad thing if the path chosen ends up being the right one. But it might cause some people to miss "truths" because faith tends to "blind" a lot of people. Anyways thanks for your comments, I'm sure all of you can shoot a lot of large holes through my responses, so fire away, I look forward to all of your comments, take care everyone,
Trevor



[This message has been edited by Trevor (edited 02-11-2000).]
jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


6 posted 02-11-2000 09:27 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hello,

"Perhaps the bible could use another re-write....what do you say we do it."

Okay, but only if we can define the difference between free-verse and real poetry.      

"Excellent point Jim. I think I might have finally met a person with strong religious convictions that I actually respect."    

Thanks, Trevor.  I've been forced to think these things out carefully.  About 7 years ago I had to choose between disallusionment and agnosticism or Christian theism.  The problem I see with most Christians is their tendency to (1) want to be told what to believe and (2) exhibit a certain disinterest in knowing exactly what it is their particular tradition believes and why it believes in tht way.  But, for crying out loud, if you are hinging your eternal well being on something, why wouldn't you want to know everything you could possibly know about your particular faith?  Geeze!

"boy they sure liked their stonings back then"    

Stones were cheap and easy to find back then.  

"Actually I'm curious as to what denomination you choose instead of Pentalcostal? or did you just leave it more of an open Christianity belief with no "real" label for it?"

I was looking for "straight talk" and attention to sound Biblical interpretation and found the writings of Martin Luther (the German Reformer).  There was, I think, more sound interpretive attention given to the Biblical texts during the Reformation period than, perhaps, in any other period of time in history.  Just my opinion, of course.

To answer your question, I gradually moved toward a conservative Lutheran denomination called the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  To me, their belief system is very close to being in line with the historical, Biblical Christianity.

"But as a philosophy it might be easier for people to realize that it is open to interpretation while still preserving strong moral and ethical lessons."

I think without a moral starting point (Divine commands, the Ten Commandments, etc.), moral and ethical lessons lose their conviction.

"The merits of the bible in my opinion lie not within whether or not there is a God but rather how useful or what can be gained from such writings because I don't believe the bible proves if there is a God or not."

I don't think it is so important that something be practical as it is that something is right.  You are right the the Bible, by itself, does little to prove God's existence.  How much more circular can you get than saying "The Bible says God exists; The Bible is the Word of God; Therefore, God exists."  But the Bible is a brick in the wall of circumstancial evidence (actually, it is a rather large portion of that wall) and circumstancial evidence is strengthened by other circumstancial evidence.  If you want me to elaborate on this I will but it could prove to be lengthy.

"'Is there evidence of God's interaction with man in history that falls in line with the Biblical claims?'"

"In my opinion I would have to say no."

No offense intended, Trevor, but if you can say that with honesty then I think you haven't researched the subject adequately.  Just type "Biblical Archeology" in your web browser once and see how much information is online.  And that is just the tiniest sampling of what is out ther. There is also an excellent book by a German named Werner Keller called "The Bible as History". It takes a pointed look at the historical claims of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) and charts it along and against historical records of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and countless other peoples, unearthed by archeologists (Christian AND non-Christian).  I think much of it is very objective because Keller does not fabricate information where there appears to be no comparison in history.

"If find the bible to be a lot of heresay without any physical evidence to back it up."

There is more to the rules of evidence than physical evidence, Trevor.  The Biblical text itself is a collection of eyewitness accounts gathered by those who were closest to Jesus and Jesus' disciples.  Eyewitness testimony, if you will.  I hate to be pushing books in here but an excellent (and sadly under-read text) was written by one of the foremost minds in American history on the laws of Evidence and one of the founders of Harvard Law School.  He was challenged by his students to apply the rules of evidence and cross examination to the writers of the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) in order to try to "break down their testimony", exposing deception.  His book is called, "Testimony of the Evangelists" by Simon Greenleaf and costs under $10.00 (American).  If you are really serious about researching this subject then I suggest you check either Keller's or Greenleaf's book.

"Sure I can believe that a man named Jesus lived and that he had disciples, etc. but their is no real evidence linking him as the Son of God nor that God did all the things that the bible says."

No real evidence?  Really?

"Now considering history has repeatedly shown that not only in Christianity but other religions as well there has been less than holy people with large followings."

History has shown that people ALL tend to be less than holy people and more concerned about self than others.  Thanks for making my point against theoretical Socialism for me, btw.  

"And what about the other religions as well, how does their claim effect the validity of the Christian bible. Which God is the right God?"

I would give those religions the same measure of scrutiny as I would Christianity inorder to determine if their belief systems had merit or if they are merely myth and superstition.

"Science has physically shown evidence disproving a lot of events in the bible...."

Like what?  Science is not about demonstrating historical truth.  Science, by definition, deals with the repeatability of an experiment in a controlled environment.  Demonstrating historical truth involves synthesis or legal/historical reasoning, not analysis/Scientific method.  You can no more demonstrate "scientifically" that Napolean was at Waterloo than you can any other historical event.  But many of the Biblical claims stand to the same historical scrutiny as the claims that Napolean was at Waterloo.

"Many philosophies don't differ much from the bible's of religions."

That is probably because they are influenced by Christianity at some level or another.

"It seems once the word religion is added to teachings it becomes a thing of truth rather than an idea or a suggestion."

And it is our job to decide for ourselves whether the things are truth or merely an idea or suggestion.  Takes very many hours in digging into research.

"I spoke with him the other day, said he didn't know much about you either...."

LOL. I suppose that is possible.  

"he also said he was considering changing his religious beliefs to Trevorism."

Yeah.  He told me He liked the idea of chainmail but He didn't want to have to sit next to Brad unless Brad stopped eating kimchi.
    
"Now all this has gotten me thinking about the act of prayer. Now if God does have some sort of grand scheme wouldn't prayer be a useless thing?"

Now you are getting into questions that require a bit more background.  I don't really have the time to address them right now but if you are interested I can give it a shot another time.

"If someone is dying and you prayed to God for them to live, will they pull through, why do some live and some die who are prayed for? Did some just pray harder than others?"

Like I said, I don't presume to know God well and I don't pretend to understand why He does what He does, why some pull through and why others don't.  The Bible is clear that prayer is important, though, and I, personally, am willing to except that I don't have the answers here.  Kinda goes back to one of your original questions, "Doesn't the Bible say somewhere that we can't understand God?"

"To me a lot of prayer, other than perhaps thank-you praying, seems irrelevant."

Some surely is, undoubtedly.

"In fact it almost seems like an act of begging, that if you beg God hard enough he will grant you a wish..."

Good point.  Those who practice prayer in this way need to spend more time rightly interpreting the Biblical texts on the subject.  

"PS, I was wondering about your thoughts on claims by some religions that if you don't believe in their religion you will go to a hell of some sort???"

Not touching that one with a ten foot pole right now, Trevor.  

"To me it is as foolish to believe in something that is not proven as it is to disbelieve something that has."

Much of science is based on theory ... all of it on probability.  Isn't there some measure of "faith" in believing the truth-claims of science?

There is always a certain degree of things we just don't know.  This is not to say that these are things we just CAN'T know.  Sometimes there are things about God that just can't be understood but other times I thing people just don't care to take the time to gather the facts that are available.  This is why so many who take such a mammoth blind leap often end up falling into doubt.  Whenever possible, I want my step of faith to be a minimal step founded on enough fact for me to feel comfortable. But that is just me.

"You can't have faith if you consider factual information the key to knowing."

I disagree.  There are (1) things I know, (2) things I can know but don't yet, and (3) things I cannot know.  The more of the first I retain the better, the more of the second I appropriate, the better.  The less of the third I have to rely on, the better.  But however small the third is there will always be a third category.  If I had to know EVERYTHING to a 100% degree of certainty, I would never risk driving to work in the morning or decide to have a child or do anything else that has a certain degree of risk.  Study in religion minimizes risk of making a mistake.

"Faith only keeps someone on the same path and is not a tool for the collection of information but rather is an additive to the determination to stay on the same path already started on regardless of one's current factual information."

For some people that is true.  But my "faith" is directed by the facts I believe support my religious beliefs.  I choose the uncertain paths of faith based on what I have learned and try to minimize speculation.  

Thanks for replying to you post Trevor.  As usual, very thought provoking.



 Jim

"If I rest, I rust." - Martin Luther

Trevor
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since 08-12-99
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7 posted 02-14-2000 04:13 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hey Jim,

""Perhaps the bible could use another re-write....what do you say we do it."

Okay, but only if we can define the difference between free-verse and real poetry."

Sure "real poetry" is the phrase archiac poets use to justify writing in compulsive rhyming patterns and "free verse" is the phrase used by lazy poets who can't be bothered learning anything useful about poetry

" "boy they sure liked their stonings back then"    

Stones were cheap and easy to find back then"


So were the reasons to have a stoning  

"I think without a moral starting point (Divine commands, the Ten Commandments, etc.), moral and ethical lessons lose their conviction."

Yes nothing like fear of eternal damnation to help keep people in line The only problem I see with having such a starting point is that it might not be true. Moses might have heard voices atop the mountain but was it God's voice or his own? Is the ten commandments moral teachings of Moses based upon how he thought people should be or was it really God. Either way the lessons are excellent but if God did not speak than the truth is... it is really only a philosophy of a man that Christians follow rather than a religious passage. If this came to light as being so, shouldn't the truth of the matter be told and it converted into a philosophy?

"But the Bible is a brick in the wall of circumstancial evidence (actually, it is a rather large portion of that wall) and circumstancial evidence is strengthened by other circumstancial evidence.  If you want me to elaborate on this I will but it could prove to be lengthy."

I'd really like it if you had the time to elaborate on the circumstancial evidence. If you got time to write it, I have the time to read it.

"No offense intended, Trevor, but if you can say that with honesty then I think you haven't researched the subject adequately.  Just type "Biblical Archeology" in your web browser once and see how much information is online.  And that is just the tiniest sampling of what is out ther. There is also an excellent book by a German named Werner Keller called "The Bible as History". It takes a pointed look at the historical claims of the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) and charts it along and against historical records of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and countless other peoples, unearthed by archeologists (Christian AND non-Christian).  I think much of it is very objective because Keller does not fabricate information where there appears to be no comparison in history."

Well it doesn't prove whether or not there is a God but whether or not certain historical figures were ficticious or fact. Finding the cross that may or may not be the one Jesus was crucified on does not prove there is a God. Finding Jesus's shroud, does not prove there is a God. Finding the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments does not prove there is a God. All that evidence only proves that there is a possibility that these people existed and that certain events might have taken place. Sure I can believe there was a man called Jesus, sure I can believe he had a large following of people, but then again so does the band "U2" , sure I can believe that Jesus died because of religious persecution but that still doesn't prove there is a God or that these people were divine instruments of God or that Jesus was the Son of God.


""If find the bible to be a lot of heresay without any physical evidence to back it up."

I'd also like to add that when I said this I was speaking more in terms of the "mystical" side of the bible....ie, There is no proof that Jesus turned water to wine or Moses parted the Red sea.

"The Biblical text itself is a collection of eyewitness accounts gathered by those who were closest to Jesus and Jesus' disciples."

Getting friends to lie is not a difficult thing especially if they are part of the lie. Now lets say the bible is a hoax, that Jesus was no better than a minister or priest, yet through saying he was the Son of God he recieved a good lifestyle, fame, power, etc. and so did those closest to him. Now these men were part of the scam, do you think they'd just openly admit that they were lying the whole time? or keep playing it as if that was the truth...they'd lose everything and get stoned Look at the T.V. evangelists and their followings, I'm sure one of them could get a thousand people to tell you that he has performed miracles and is a close personal friend of God...meanwhile he takes old pensioner's money and buys a mansion....cause well God wanted him too Ohhhhhh, I know you hate those guys, but I think I hate them more cause my grandmother was one of those pensioners.

"Eyewitness testimony, if you will.  I hate to be pushing books in here but an excellent (and sadly under-read text) was written by one of the foremost minds in American history on the laws of Evidence and one of the founders of Harvard Law School.  He was challenged by his students to apply the rules of evidence and cross examination to the writers of the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) in order to try to "break down their testimony", exposing deception.  His book is called, "Testimony of the Evangelists" by Simon Greenleaf and costs under $10.00 (American).  If you are really serious about researching this subject then I suggest you check either Keller's or Greenleaf's book."

Where the eyewitness testimony breaks down would be, number (1), the very words of the disciples may not have actually been written by their own hand, not many were educated back then in the art of writing or reading, (2) over the years the revisions and translations has altered the bible soooo much that no longer is it the eyewitnesses testimonies but interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of an eyewitness account. Maybe I should have been a lawyer? Didn't ya ever play the telephone game as a child?

""Sure I can believe that a man named Jesus lived and that he had disciples, etc. but their is no real evidence linking him as the Son of God nor that God did all the things that the bible says."

No real evidence?  Really?"

Saying you're the son of God, getting a large following, roaming the country side, leaving a trace that you did exist and then getting nailed to a cross doesn't provide any real evidence that says, "there is a God, or that he was the son of God."

"History has shown that people ALL tend to be less than holy people and more concerned about self than others.  Thanks for making my point against theoretical Socialism for me, btw"

Yes but if the self's needs are to serve the needs of others it would ensure that one could remain selfish while still helping others. BTW Are you still trying to justify chopping down all our trees and killing wildlife by destroying their homes?      

"I would give those religions the same measure of scrutiny as I would Christianity inorder to determine if their belief systems had merit or if they are merely myth and superstition."

One problem, of the large list, I have with the bible is that it does not incoperate the rest of the world. Why would God only focus on the Middle East area? Why is there no mention that God or His disciples were in Japan for a spell? Why didn't God visit the Native people of NA? What about the Incas?

""Science has physically shown evidence disproving a lot of events in the bible...."

Like what?  Science is not about demonstrating historical truth.  Science, by definition, deals with the repeatability of an experiment in a controlled environment.  Demonstrating historical truth involves synthesis or legal/historical reasoning, not analysis/Scientific method.  You can no more demonstrate "scientifically" that Napolean was at Waterloo than you can any other historical event.  But many of the Biblical claims stand to the same historical scrutiny as the claims that Napolean was at Waterloo."

For starters, I think the discovery of human remains from over 30000 years ago kinda throws the Adam and Eve thing for a loop. What about the dinosaur thing too? In the bible it goes from creation of the world, etc. straight to the creation of paradise and Adam and Eve....how come there was no mention of dinosaurs or cavemen? We also know that it is impossible for a man to raise his arms and part a sea. I don't think comparing the Bible's "mystical" events to the battle of Waterloo is a good analogy. Sure you can't prove that Napoleon was at Waterloo but I think I'd rather trust "eyewitness" accounts of 200 years ago rather than eyewitness accounts of 2000 years ago. Finding large amounts of evidence of war proves there was a war. Finding a cross does not prove there is a God or was a Jesus. Finding a fish doesn't prove that it was once a loaf of bread. Finding a corpse doesn't prove that it was raised from the dead. And even finding Jesus's body wouldn't prove that he was the Son of God nor that God even exists...well at least not in my opinion.

"That is probably because they are influenced by Christianity at some level or another"

What about the philosophies older than Christianity? Following the same line of thinking couldn't it be possible that these philosophies influenced Christianity? Also don't forget there were many gods before there ever was God. It seems to me that it is quite possible that the creation came about through a centralization of religions and gods. Someone saw that having hundreds of gods didn't make much sense so they worked on a possible religion that tried to incoperate all religious beliefs into a singular form. When Cristianity came about they still thought the sun god pushed it up every morning and that a solar eclipse was a warning that the end of the world was coming. I don't have much faith in a religion that was written by people who years before were believing that the reason volcanos erupted was because they angered one god or another. The mysticism behind religions created back then (and even today) are sooo far fetched that I have trouble swallowing anything they say. Am I really supposed to believe that moses turned his staff into a snake? Am I supposed to believe that God told Moses to kill his son as a test? What kind of God is that? Don't test me but I'll test you? Am I supposed to believe that God flooded the earth and only one family and some animals survived it...the whole world too??? That is why I approach religions as a philosophy rather than a religion. Suggestions and teachings based on logic rather than superstition rather than answers.

"Yeah.  He told me He liked the idea of chainmail but He didn't want to have to sit next to Brad unless Brad stopped eating kimchi."

He also said that he wanted the High Inqisitor job....I told him He'd have to fight with you to the death....he backed down and said He'd rather just be one of my sheep and that he would wear the Ewok suit.

""Now all this has gotten me thinking about the act of prayer. Now if God does have some sort of grand scheme wouldn't prayer be a useless thing?"

Now you are getting into questions that require a bit more background.  I don't really have the time to address them right now but if you are interested I can give it a shot another time."

Ya if you have the time please. I'd like to discuss it more with you.


""PS, I was wondering about your thoughts on claims by some religions that if you don't believe in their religion you will go to a hell of some sort???"

Not touching that one with a ten foot pole right now, Trevor."

Awwww, come on Jim, ya gotta have an opinion on that. I and I'm sure most here, don't and won't outcast you for your religious beliefs if they are different. The Hell subject is a major issue within religion, especially Christianity....it's their best marketing ploy Now everyone here respects ya and you always present yourself intelligently so if you do have the time could ya address that. Now it's not some sort of set up or anything like that, I'm honestly just curious as to your thoughts on the subject. I really enjoy reading your opinions and the way you usually present yourself.

"Much of science is based on theory ... all of it on probability.  Isn't there some measure of "faith" in believing the truth-claims of science?"

Definetly...just look at quantum physics....might as well believe in Star Wars as non-fiction

"There is always a certain degree of things we just don't know.  This is not to say that these are things we just CAN'T know.  Sometimes there are things about God that just can't be understood but other times I thing people just don't care to take the time to gather the facts that are available.  This is why so many who take such a mammoth blind leap often end up falling into doubt.  Whenever possible, I want my step of faith to be a minimal step founded on enough fact for me to feel comfortable. But that is just me."

Well said and that can apply to science as well. Now a big similarity I find in religion and science is that they can both sorta proves realistic things, religions can prove that some historical people did exist and science can prove that the atom exists. The thing that they both can't prove is where did it come from? Science says the "Big Bang" and religion says "Creation by God". Now for me personally, I'm not a religious person but I will say I believe in the possibility of a god/s but I don't think it/she/he is anything close to what we are thinking. I don't believe in the hocus pocus of religions nor a god granting wishes.

"I disagree.  There are (1) things I know, (2) things I can know but don't yet, and (3) things I cannot know.  The more of the first I retain the better, the more of the second I appropriate, the better.  The less of the third I have to rely on, the better.  But however small the third is there will always be a third category.  If I had to know EVERYTHING to a 100% degree of certainty, I would never risk driving to work in the morning or decide to have a child or do anything else that has a certain degree of risk.  Study in religion minimizes risk of making a mistake."

Well put Jim! I have to agree with you totally. I guess I should re-word that statement to, you can't JUST have faith and believe that believe that factual information is the key to knowing.


Once again my friend, a very interesting discussion, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on this subject, take care,
Trevor

Rosalind Palafox
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8 posted 02-15-2000 06:13 PM       Edit/Delete Message     View IP for Rosalind Palafox

wow!you all do type a lot!

 "Love knows hidden paths."-German proverb
&dispose
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since 01-30-2000
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9 posted 02-15-2000 08:41 PM       View Profile for &dispose   Email &dispose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for &dispose

It is even admitted by Bible scholars that the Bible has many apparent contradictions throughout its pages.  However, it requires a deeper understanding of the scripture around it, time periods, political/economical, ect. states to truly understand what is meant.  (Granted clarity could have been/was lost in the translations and change of culture over 2000 years).

I will try to sum this up with one example:

I read in your post that the 10 commandments say "Thou shall not kill" and yet an unfaithful wife could be stoned to death.  Remeber back then there was very little (if any) tolerance for anyone who committed things we now know to be commonplace.  The Bible gives governments the power to decide if someone lives or dies, and since there were very harsh laws against breaking the codes of marriage, many courts ruled death for the unfaithful wife.
Also, since God's opinion on marriage is clearly defined, the stoning of an unfaithful wife preserves God's commandments on marriage.

Killing is wrong without reason, and in the Bible, on God and the government have any reason to kill another person.  And this is only if a law is broken.

 It was once said:
"If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, its yours forever, if it doesn't, it was never meant to be."

What if its dumb?

- &dispose

jbouder
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since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


10 posted 02-15-2000 10:37 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Trevor:

I’ve had mixed emotions about getting back to this subject.  First, you ask a tremendous number of questions but I don’t have a problem with that.  What I fear is that I lack the ability to adequately communicate proposed answers to those questions and that I am able to do it in such as way that is concise and that does the subject justice.  You ask difficult questions that have good answers but I have found that many of those answers fill books and I don’t have time to write a several hundred-page apologetic of the Christian faith.  I will try to answer the questions as best I can but if you are serious about knowing whether or not what I say is true then you are going to have to do additional digging on your own.  I will be happy to provide you with the sources that have been helpful to me (and I will definitely let you know which sources are not worth you time … a luxury I didn’t have, by the way).  

I will focus most of my answer on the historicity of the miraculous event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I don’t know if I have the time to try to answer all of your questions but I think the Resurrection, demonstrated as a historically viable event, demonstrates that (1) there is a God, (2) that Jesus is the Son of God, and (3) that Christianity, as a religious faith, is founded and grounded on fact.

First of all, you raised several objections regarding the authenticity or accuracy of the Bible.  There are three major tests applied by historians to determine the authenticity of ancient manuscripts: (1) the internal test, (2) the external test, and (3) the historical/autobiographical test.

The internal test concerns itself with the internal consistency of the ancient document.  Are there internal historical contradictions?  A scholar I mentioned earlier, Professor Simon Greenleaf, an expert in the field of legal evidence, applied the laws of evidence and techniques of cross-examination to the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in order to try to break down their testimony that, among other things, Jesus rose from the dead.  Greenleaf came to the conclusion that the testimony  of the four Gospel writers would be admissible as true in any reputable court of law.

I wrote:  "The Biblical text itself is a collection of eyewitness accounts gathered by those who were closest to Jesus and Jesus' disciples."

You wrote:  “Getting friends to lie is not a difficult thing especially if they are part of the lie. Now lets say the bible is a hoax, that Jesus was no better than a minister or priest, yet through saying he was the Son of God he received a good lifestyle, fame, power, etc. and so did those closest to him.  Now these men were part of the scam, do you think they'd just openly admit that they were lying the whole time or keep playing it as if that was the truth...they'd lose everything and get stoned.”

This was one of the questions that Simon Greenleaf addressed.  Sure, if the disciples of Jesus ended up becoming famous and powerful that would have been a blight on their testimony.  I agree with you that it is not difficult to get a friend to lie.  What is difficult to do is to get that friend to DIE for that lie.  With the exception of two of Jesus’ original twelve disciples, all of the original twelve were martyred for their faith.  Many were crucified (Peter, according to tradition, was crucified upside down because he did not believe himself to be worthy of dying in the same manner Jesus died).  Others were stabbed with swords, killed by arrows, and beheaded.  Of the two that were not martyred, Judas Ischariot (the betrayer) committed suicide after Jesus’ crucifixion and only John died a natural death, but only after being tortured in burning oil, beaten, thrown from a tower and exiled.  Pretty loyal friends, I’d say, if they were willing to die for the sake of preserving a lie of a dead man.

Conspiracies don’t hold up well, Trevor, particularly when death is on the line.  In the case of Jesus’ disciples you had 12 (including the late addition, Paul of Tarsus) men of various degrees of education and sophistication, willing to die.  You might be able to argue that one or two conspirators would be willing to die out of loyalty but not twelve.  Look how fast the Watergate watershed burst open and death wasn’t even a threat to “all the President’s men”.

These men “played” along until they were killed.  End of story.  They, at the very least, believed that Jesus rose from the dead.

The external test compares the content of historical texts with that other ancient texts written in parallel historical times.  Time and again the Bible has been proven to be a reliable historical document after being subjected to this text.  Detractors are often forced to rewrite their history books when a culture such as that of the Hittites or the Eblites are uncovered by archaeologists after only being mentioned in the Bible prior to those archaeological discoveries.

You wrote:   “Well it doesn't prove whether or not there is a God but whether or not certain historical figures were fictitious or fact.”

This is very true.  But what it does demonstrate is that the Bible is more than merely a collection of myths and its content deserves to be considered seriously.  Sure, the Bible cannot prove to us there is a God that the Sea of Reads parted when Moses beckoned it to do so, allowing the Israelites to cross.  Sure it cannot prove that the Israelites subsisted on manna and quail while wandering in the wilderness.  But what history and archaeology do demonstrate is that these things did, in fact, happen, whether by some distant earthquake that caused the Sea to “miraculously” recede or that migratory quail happened to regularly cross over the part of the Sinai, as part of their route, that the Hebrews wandered thousands of years ago.  Even if there are naturalistic explanations for these events, it is clear that the Jewish people have survived as a culture throughout history as a result of remarkable “coincidences”.   How many Assyrians do you know?  How many Medes or Babylonians?  But as I will try to demonstrate later, the most significant historical demonstration of God’s existence, in my opinion, is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The historical/autobiographical test calculates the number of copies of the original documents (we have no original Biblical documents) and their chronological proximity to the original.  There are in excess of 26,000 texts or fragments of texts of the Bible (compared to Homer’s “Iliad, 643 texts).  These texts are compared and the earliest texts are generally given the greatest authority in determining what is most authentic.  What has been demonstrated when this test has been applied to the Biblical text is that the Bible’s content has maintained consistency throughout the centuries.  The earliest fragment we have is of the Gospel of John and was written within 10-20 years of the original.

Many criticized the Old Testament texts, saying that the Christian church had altered their content throughout the centuries.  Then the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.   Many of the scrolls were dated prior to Jesus’ life and a nearly complete Old Testament was gathered by archaeologists, including a complete scroll of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah date circa 100 BC (many of the later chapters in Isaiah were criticized as being Christian forgeries because of the Messianic prophesies … that is, prophesies about the Messiah or the Christ … many of which have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ and others are apocalyptic in nature).  So as far as ancient documents go, the Bible scores straight A’s  in its historical reliability.

“Look at the TV evangelists and their followings, I'm sure one of them could get a thousand people to tell you that he has performed miracles and is a close personal friend of God...meanwhile he takes old pensioner's money and buys a mansion...cause well God wanted him too Ohhhhhh, I know you hate those guys, but I think I hate them more cause my grandmother was one of those pensioners.”

These guys are idiots, Trevor.  Oops, I think I just judged them harshly.    Actually, most of these TV evangelists that I am familiar with get caught up in themselves and end up making a mockery of the Christian church.  I am sincerely sorry that your grandmother was victimized by one of these predators.

“Where the eyewitness testimony breaks down would be, number (1), the very words of the disciples may not have actually been written by their own hand, not many were educated back then in the art of writing or reading, (2) over the years the revisions and translations has altered the bible soooo much that no longer is it the eyewitnesses testimonies but interpretations of interpretations of interpretations of an eyewitness account. Maybe I should have been a lawyer? Didn't ya ever play the telephone game as a child?”

I addressed most of these statements above.  Historical criticism (this is objective, verifiable research, mind you) supports the authorship of the vast majority of Biblical texts.  Those texts that are questionable do not contain any material that would lend itself as contradictory to historical Christian practice.  Also, Christian scholars throughout the years have been aware of many of the questionable texts and have steered clear of basing any doctrine or practice on these questionable texts alone.

“Saying you're the son of God, getting a large following, roaming the country side, leaving a trace that you did exist and then getting nailed to a cross doesn't provide any real evidence that says, ‘there is a God’, or that he was the son of God."

Jesus’ resurrection is a good indication that what he said about Himself is true, especially pertaining to His relationship with the Father and His divinity.  There have been several objections offered to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

One was that the disciples simply went to the wrong tomb and made the mistake of thinking Jesus’ tomb was an empty tomb.  This theory breaks down (1) because Jesus was reputedly buried in the tomb of a high ranking member of the Jewish government (Joseph of Arimethea) and that his tomb would be well known and (2) that once all the whooping and wailing started taking place over the supposed “resurrection”, all the Jews would have had to do to demonstrate the disciples’ error is produce the body of Christ.  They either did not or could not.  Probably could not.  Another related theory is that the empty tomb is a legend.  This breaks down because of an inadequate amount of time (according to historians) for a legend to germinate.  Still another theory is the mass hallucination theory.  There are several examples within the Gospel accounts that refute this theory; one of the most notable being “doubting” Thomas’ insistence in touching the resurrected Christ.  I, personally, think Thomas got a bum rap.  His “doubt” provided eyewitness testimony that Jesus was indeed physically alive.  This does not even take into account that hallucinations are, from a psychological standpoint, very private events and that such events are usually a result, in part, of expectation.  The disciples most certainly were not expecting a resurrection when they cowered in hiding after Jesus’ crucifixion. There are said to have been over 500 witnesses of the risen Jesus Christ.  I think the evidence here speaks for itself.  Jesus was placed in a tomb and physically came out of it.

Another theory is that the disciples stole the body while the guards where sleeping.   This is unlikely for several reasons.  First, considering the weight and size of the stone that covered the tomb’s entrance, the guards would have had to be deaf.  The typical stone in such tomb weighed 1-1/2 to 2 tons, by the way.  This is well documented and I encourage you to look up the information yourself.

Another theory is that Jesus was never dead to begin with.  In order for this to be true, Jesus would have had to have swooned after being beaten and nailed to a cross, been mistaken for being dead, buried, sealed in a tomb, been revived by the cool air in the tomb, moved the 2000-4000 lb. Stone from the front of the tomb his self, sneaked past the guards, and presented himself to his disciples as a picture of health.  Now THAT takes faith.

The only rational explanation that remains is that a supernatural event occurred that resuscitated Jesus from death, giving credibility, in my thinking, to His claims before his crucifixion, particularly in regards to the purpose of His death as being a vicarious sacrifice for the moral shortfalls of every other man who ever walked and who was ever to walk on this earth.  The Resurrection is the one Biblical event that compels me to continue believing that Christianity’s claims are true in spite of all of the historical abuses of the church throughout history and of the church today.  I saw enough abuses in the Pentecostal church to last me the rest of my life but all that is trivial because I am convinced by the facts that Christianity is concerned with the historically demonstrable event of the Resurrection.

Some circumstantial evidence: (1) the cowardly disciples who suddenly had a change of heart and all (except Judas) suffered sever persecution and physical discomfort throughout their lives and most were put to death for their faith; (2) Saul of Tarsus, a highly educated and zealous Jew, on his way to Damascus to get permission to persecute Christians, had a sudden change of heart, assumed the name Paul, and would become the most influential Apostle of Jesus Christ in history, traveling throughout the known Roman world and writing most of the New Testament letters (epistles); (3) the Christian institutions of Baptism, Communion, and Sunday worship all are circumstantial evidence of the Resurrection of Jesus, considering the early date of their observances and their prominence throughout church history.

And this is just a smattering of what is available, Trevor.  

“One problem, of the large list, I have with the bible is that it does not incorporate the rest of the world. Why would God only focus on the Middle East area? Why is there no mention that God or His disciples were in Japan for a spell? Why didn't God visit the Native people of NA? What about the Incas? “

The Bible has two major themes that run throughout:  (1) the sinfulness of man, and (2) the promise of God to redeem man.  Nobody, including myself, deserves God’s mercy.  We have all done things wrong in our lifetimes and, if anything, we deserve judgement for our failure to live up to perfect standards.  The Bible demonstrates that God was to use the Jews as the people from which would come the Messiah or Christ who would reconcile man to God.  This sounds odd to you, I’m sure, but I’m sure you’ve never thought of the Resurrection in the way you are thinking of it now before reading this either.  My question for God would not be “Why not the Native Americans? Or why not the Incas?”  My question would be “Why bother with any of us?”  Why not just destroy all of our violent, lustful cultures and be done with it?  Why send your Son to be humiliated and murdered on a cross for the sake of the rest of mankind?  That is what doesn’t make sense to me.

“For starters, I think the discovery of human remains from over 30000 years ago kinda throws the Adam and Eve thing for a loop. What about the dinosaur thing too? In the bible it goes from creation of the world, etc. straight to the creation of paradise and Adam and Eve.... How come there was no mention of dinosaurs or cavemen?”

Again, the Bible is concerned with man’s sinfulness and God’s plan of redemption.  The dinosaurs just didn’t factor into this equation, I suspect, so God didn’t see fit to mention them.  God didn’t mention atoms or electricity either.  There are many debates going on right now over Creationism and Evolution.  I, honestly, do not know enough about either to provide you with a compelling defense.  Sorry.

“Finding a cross does not prove there is a God or a Jesus. Finding a fish doesn't prove that it was once a loaf of bread. Finding a corpse doesn't prove that it was raised from the dead. And even finding Jesus' body wouldn't prove that he was neither the Son of God nor that God even exists...well at least not in my opinion.”

Again, what is interesting is a body was never produced and Christ’s closest followers (the very ones accused by both the Jews and the Romans of stealing the body) were willing and did, in fact, suffer and die to protect their little “conspiracy”.  The Resurrection, I think, gives great credibility to the Christian truth-claims.

“What about the philosophies older than Christianity? Following the same line of thinking couldn't it be possible that these philosophies influenced Christianity?”

This is very true (and also why I am such a fan of Martin Luther).  Luther recognized the Platonic and Aristotelian influences in the Roman Catholic Church and sought to reform Christian thinking to its Biblical roots.

“Also don't forget there were many gods before there ever was God.”

This is actually a hotly debated topic in scholarly circles (Christian and non-Christian).  It seems, from what I can gather that there is at least as much evidence for a monotheistic religion degrading to polytheistic religion as there is visa-versa.  Very dry reading but, still, it is out there.

“Am I really supposed to believe that Moses turned his staff into a snake?”

I don’t know.  Do you think you should believe that, somehow, thousands upon thousands of previously enslaved Jews were able to escape their servitude to Pharaoh without having to fight?  There are so many coincidences involved in the escape of the Jews from Egypt that, even if the mysticism is largely fabricated, the sheer number of coincidences making their escape and survival possible for the following 40 years was miraculous.

“Am I supposed to believe that God told Moses to kill his son as a test?”

No, I would never expect you to believe that.  Now Abraham’s son, Isaac, that is another story.  

“What kind of God is that? Don't test me but I'll test you?”

This test was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice.  The story ends with God providing a substitute for Abraham’s son and Isaac going on to begin the familial line that would beget Jesus.  It is worth noting that, if Jesus is God’s Son, God was willing and able to follow through with something that He didn’t ask Abraham to complete.  What kind of God is that?  I think it is the kind of God that give mankind what he doesn’t deserve … mercy.

“Am I supposed to believe that God flooded the earth and only one family and some animals survived it...the whole world too?”

There is historical and archaeological evidence of an unprecedented flood that took place in the Middle East in ancient days.  There is also evidence of Noah’s sons and their descendents settling in the regions Moses says they settled.  Beyond that, I cannot offer you many more answers at this time.  I’m still learning too.

“That is why I approach religions as a philosophy rather than a religion. Suggestions and teachings based on logic rather than superstition rather than answers.”

This is understandable.  I would feel the same way if it were not for the compelling nature of Jesus’ Resurrection as a historical claim.  This takes Christianity out of the realm of myth and superstition and into the realm of divine intervention in history, time and space.  I told you that I would be an agnostic of I wasn’t convinced and I am certain that I am a more skeptical person than you are.  God told me so.  

“[God] also said that he wanted the High Inquisitor job....I told him He'd have to fight with you to the death....he backed down and said He'd rather just be one of my sheep and that he would wear the Ewok suit.”

Yeah, I’m currently ahead of Him on a best out of five and He doesn’t want to risk going double or nothing yet.

"Now all this has gotten me thinking about the act of prayer. Now if God does have some sort of grand scheme wouldn't prayer be a useless thing?"

I’m going to have to come back to this one some other time.

“Awwww, come on Jim, ya gotta have an opinion on that. I and I'm sure most here, don't and won't outcast you for your religious beliefs if they are different. The Hell subject is a major issue within religion, especially Christianity...it's their best marketing ploy Now everyone here respects ya and you always present yourself intelligently so if you do have the time could ya address that. Now it's not some sort of set up or anything like that, I'm honestly just curious as to your thoughts on the subject. I really enjoy reading your opinions and the way you usually present yourself.”

I’m gonna have to come back to this one too.  My eyes are starting to cross.

“Well said and that can apply to science as well. Now a big similarity I find in religion and science is that they can both sorta proves realistic things, religions can prove that some historical people did exist and science can prove that the atom exists. The thing that they both can’t prove is where did it comes from? Science says the "Big Bang" and religion says "Creation by God". Now for me personally, I'm not a religious person but I will say I believe in the possibility of a god/s but I don't think it/she/he is anything close to what we are thinking. I don't believe in the hocus pocus of neither religions nor a god granting wishes.”

I may be in the minority here but I really don’t think it matters so much whether there was a “Big Bang” or a “Sudden Creation”.  Something does not come from nothing unless there is Something or Someone who transcends the Something that comes into being (are you dizzy yet?).  In other words, something HAD to cause the “Big Bang” and I think, if the “Big Bang” is true, that that “something” had to be an uncaused cause, a/k/a God.

Sorry I didn’t have the time to address all of your questions (you sure do ask a lot of them).  Anyway, enjoying the discussion.  Haven’t had chances to share any of this with anyone in a long time.  Would you believe that most Christians are completely UN-interested in this stuff?  The very stuff that lends credibility to their faith!  Oh, well.  I guess I’ll just have to hang out with my heathen friends all the more often.  

Later.

Jim  
Trevor
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since 08-12-99
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11 posted 02-17-2000 09:27 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello Jim,

I've sent you a box of bandages to help cover those bleeding finger tips .

I'm gonna summerize so far with what has been said.


(1) That due to text and archeaological(sp?) evidence there is a strong possiblity that the historical figures within the bible did in fact exist.

(2)Jim believes in Hocus Pocus and mythology to be non-ficticious ...sorry, couldn't resist man

(3)That you do believe some of the "mystic" events took place due to "eyewitness" text, whereas I say it was an exaggeration....a poetic licensing by the scribes...wow a poet embelishing the truth...couldn't happen  

(4)That because "Big Bang" only offers a an explanation to the creation of the universe and not a creation of itself, we both feel that their had to be a conscious effort to give such an event energy...aka a god/gods/God.

(5)Jim doesn't like to answer a lot of questions but Trevor likes to ask a lot of questions  

(6)Trevor is not the only one who writes long winded responses

Now somewhere in your replies (couldn't find where) you briefly touched on Homer, and I think that is an excellent comparison to draw. Up until the 20th century most of the character's found in Homer's writing was figured to be ficticious, until archeaological evidence brought to light the possiblity that some of the characters did in fact exist. Now for me, it seems the times indicate that there was a certain embelishment in story telling back then and perhaps that carried over into the bible. For example, perhaps Moses didn't part a sea, but poetically it sounded better to say that he did and instead he had arranged safe passage via a ship and when the romans tried to follow they were sunk? Maybe when it is said that Jesus turned water to wine and bread to fish that it was in fact him using his own funds to purchase fish and wine for all the people there to watch him speak? The immaculate conception...of course they'd say something like this, how could the son of a god be born like the rest of us heathens , it would have made no sense for the story if he was concieved the old fashion way. Also its important to remeber that the bible is written by the very same people who want you to believe in it and therefor it surely must lean in favour of that side. For example, the followers who were persecuted after Jesus's death, whether it was a "hoax" or not these people still probably would have been hunted down and killed. Now it just might be possible that those who recorded these events would have put a favourable slant to what happened, ie. That NONE who died ever renounced their faith even though they were probably beaten and tortured and tried to be made to renounce Jesus etc. If I was writing a story I and wanted it to be a good one for that time, I don't think I would put in that when Jesus died, the scam became transparent and all of them scattered to the wind and were hunted down, caught and put to death for a religious "hoax". I'm not saying that is the truth but rather suggesting another plausible idea of what might have occured. Now obviously the disciples couldn't write about the events of their own death and its questionable how many of the disciples could actually read or write to begin with, so there had to be other scibes who recorded the events with their own personal "penache"....perhaps a few Homer'esk type of writers. Now it has been awhile since I've read the bible....probably around 15yrs so if my facts are a little off please excuse...ie, the Abraham thingy

In regards to the body of Jesus never being found. Now isn't it possible that the Romans moved the body and destroyed it themselves to help crush the religious movement and ended up "burning" themselves because the disciples invented a resurrection story? Or isn't it possible that perhaps the guards were bribed by Jesus' followers so they could get the body thereby giving the disciples a validation with their resurrection story? Also if I was in charge of the disciples in a time where mythology and superstitions were a large part in the belief systems I would also write that Jesus rose from the dead to strike fear in my enemies and confidence in my followers even if such events did not take place. Also isn't it possible that those who scribed the event exagerated with the numbers that were present for the resurrection or that the person said to be Jesus was actually an imposter used to help strengthen the convictions religion's followers...the Roman's destroy Jesus' body....the disciples in retaliation "invent" a resurrection? And isn't it possible that no one did witness a resurrection because there was no resurrection but rather it was said there was in order to keep the faith and anyone denying these events took place were seen as faithless people only trying to stop this religion. For example if the Romans disputed the resurrection it would only add strength to Jesus' followers. The more people disputed such a claim, the stronger the following got. Also the Romans weren't the most loved people in that area so anything that went against Roman beliefs might be a more popular stance to take., ie. If the enemy denies it, then it must be true type of mentality.

Quick question....and please forgive me for not coming better researched and prepared for this discussion but if I was to wait until I researched everything thorough enough to speak about it then I fear I'd go speechless most years , there's too much information out there to not cut corners here and there at least once and awhile, now for the question....Did the Romans document their version of these events? Has there been text discovered to be written by Roman scribes describing that era?


"“Look at the TV evangelists and their followings, I'm sure one of them could get a thousand people to tell you that he has performed miracles and is a close personal friend of God...meanwhile he takes old pensioner's money and buys a mansion...cause well God wanted him too Ohhhhhh, I know you hate those guys, but I think I hate them more cause my grandmother was one of those pensioners.”

These guys are idiots, Trevor.  Oops, I think I just judged them harshly.    Actually, most of these TV evangelists that I am familiar with get caught up in themselves and end up making a mockery of the Christian church.  I am sincerely sorry that your grandmother was victimized by one of these predators."

Yep, they is purty stupid peoples However it shows how easy people can be manipulated into believing false truths and how easy a person can gain a large following. Many people have been conned into the "bleeding cross" scam or the "speaking in tongues" and "laying of hands" stuff and would swear on their life that these things were the "real deal", now if such things could occur in modern times wouldn't it be fathomable to say that it could have happened back then? It isn't hard to get people to believe in something if they are already in want of such a belief and also still possible to get skeptics to believe in such things as well.


There are too many similarities between the way most ancient non-ficticious characters were presented by the "Homers" of those times and the way Jesus' story is told for me to believe in the "supernatural" parts of the bible.

"And this is just a smattering of what is available, Trevor."

LIES, ALL LIES!!!!....quick Jim come with me, you must be re-educated J/K....though it is my best rebuttal to date

"Nobody, including myself, deserves God’s mercy."

Then why are we worshipping Him? Now if there is a god/gods/God and it created me, then I must mean something to him, there must be an importance to my creation....or human creation in whole? Now if this is true than we are equals with God. He needs us as much as we need Him. A God is not a God without worshippers and I think often it is God who doesn't deserve our leniency....learning through suffering when He could have skipped all that and just gave us the knowledge, wisdom, compassion, etc. to begin with. That's the problem with saying that we have to go through this to learn because we wouldn't appreciate it or gain wisdom without it and then say God can do anything.....except of course make us the way we will eventually be or the way he wants us???? If he wanted divine beings up in heaven with Him then why didn't he just make divine beings up in heaven?....then when you ask questions like this religious people always fall back on the old "God is not to be understood", loophole and the unanswered is suddenly answered in vagueness.

"We have all done things wrong in our lifetimes and, if anything, we deserve judgement for our failure to live up to perfect standards."

And who gets to judge Him? Shouldn't he take some of the blame...I mean He did create us....shouldn't he be faulted for failure to produce the perfect human?

"The Bible demonstrates that God was to use the Jews as the people from which would come the Messiah or Christ who would reconcile man to God."

So God in his infinite wisdom sent out His Son to be executed and for his followers to be executed solely for the purpose to reconcile Him with man, instead of saying a simple "I'm still around so please behave" Himself. How does God having His own Son killed take away the sins of man thereby letting humans once again enter heaven? If your neighbor offended you would you kill your son and then say to the guy, "There were even now."? Or was that just God's way of apoligizing for creating us...as in "Opppps, sorry everyone...maybe this wasn't such a good idea." Sounds like an odd story, God sends down his son to the sinful humans so that the humans can sin again by killing his son thereby reconciling God and man.


"Again, the Bible is concerned with man’s sinfulness and God’s plan of redemption."

Who's sinning? If God created man the way we are then shouldn't He except some of the blame for us sinning. He shouldn't have made killers if he didn't want killing and he shouldn't have given me a package until I am married if he didn't want me to use it . He also should have visited the whole world if he made it so you had to believe or go to hell....that would mean for centuries and centuries, everyone but the Christians were sent to hell for not knowing something they were never shown....that's kinda a raw deal in my books.....pretty unfair....yet something along those lines are in the bible. And if there is one lie in the bible, isn't it possible that there are many lies in the bible?b If the bible is really correct then I will say that I don't want to go to a heaven where a God would send soooo many innocent people to hell for doing nothing wrong....not a very nice God in my opinion, condemning people for not knowing the unknowable. It's like me killing babies because they don't know how to talk because they haven't been shown yet.

"Also don't forget there were many gods before there ever was God.”

This is actually a hotly debated topic in scholarly circles (Christian and non-Christian).  It seems, from what I can gather that there is at least as much evidence for a monotheistic religion degrading to polytheistic religion as there is visa-versa.  Very dry reading but, still, it is out there."

I think you are right with this one. More than likely it would seem logical that religion started with a god then as explanations were needed for the unknown, new gods were created, then perhaps as the myths were dispelled gods became singular again for there wasn't a need for so many of them anymore....which makes sense because really there is only one a couple of big unanswered questions left....where did we come from? how did we get here? and where are we going?

"“Am I really supposed to believe that Moses turned his staff into a snake?”

I don’t know.  Do you think you should believe that, somehow, thousands upon thousands of previously enslaved Jews were able to escape their servitude to Pharaoh without having to fight?  There are so many coincidences involved in the escape of the Jews from Egypt that, even if the mysticism is largely fabricated, the sheer number of coincidences making their escape and survival possible for the following 40 years was miraculous."

Still sounds more plausible then a staff turning into a snake. In fact I'd believe that they walked the whole way on their hands before I believed that a staff turned into a snake

"This test was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice.  The story ends with God providing a substitute for Abraham’s son and Isaac going on to begin the familial line that would beget Jesus.  It is worth noting that, if Jesus is God’s Son, God was willing and able to follow through with something that He didn’t ask Abraham to complete.  What kind of God is that?  I think it is the kind of God that gives mankind what he doesn’t deserve … mercy."

I still don't get how anyone killing their son makes sins go away....kinda sounds like an ancient sacrafice, much in the same way the Incas and Mayans used to sacrafice people for better crops. I don't see how God killing his son equates to him giving us mercy....why'd he bother with the whole thing....if all of this was pre-planned and he knew what was going to happen to Jesus, why didn't he just save a day or two and open up the gates of heaven? Now since the majority of the world is not Christian and only recently did the world became global, wouldn't it be safe to say that according to the bible the majority of people are still going to hell right now for the simple reason that God did all this stuff but forgot to tell the majority about it? Shouldn't God have also reconciled with the people of other lands?

"There is historical and archaeological evidence of an unprecedented flood that took place in the Middle East in ancient days.  There is also evidence of Noah’s sons and their descendents settling in the regions Moses says they settled.  Beyond that, I cannot offer you many more answers at this time.  I’m still learning too."

A large flood I can believe, I can even believe that it killed a lot of people but to say that it flooded the entire world, killing everyone but a couple of non-sinners and a boat builder is a little too much for me too believe. The world would have not only had an unprecedented growth rate but Moses would have had to drop couples off on each continent while he was sailing around.


"Yeah, I’m currently ahead of Him on a best out of five and He doesn’t want to risk going double or nothing yet."

Yeah and the guy came to me crying....could you take it a bit easy on him please...I mean he is your creator and all

Anyways Jim, I want to continue this discussion and address more of the issues but right now I have to get to work so it will have to wait till later today or tonight, my apoligies for not being able to complete my response in full. Take care,
Trevor




samsonheart
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since 12-20-1999
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12 posted 02-17-2000 01:29 PM       View Profile for samsonheart   Email samsonheart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for samsonheart

Trevor,
Hi there, I'm pretty new here at Passions and I was lucky I guess to stumble on this discussion going on between you and Jim.  I just felt compelled to offer my humble two cents.  I don't have the time to get real lengthy but I was intrigued by your questions, and believe me, you're not alone in skepticism.  But a great book for you read if you get the chance is "The Case For Christ", written by Lee Strobel, a former athiest and reporter for the Chicago Tribune I believe.  He takes all these questions to scholars and experts in their respective fields in search of the truth of the claims of Jesus, the historical reliablility of the bible and the resurrection.  It really is an unbiased, straightforward book and I urge you to read it with an open-mind.  I'm a college student in Southeast Missouri, and I have a bunch of calculus homework to do, I wish I had more time to get involved in your discussions.  But I would like to add--

In regards to the body of Jesus never being found. Now isn't it possible that the Romans moved the body and destroyed it themselves to help crush the religious movement and ended up "burning" themselves because the disciples invented a resurrection story?

The Romans were aware of the prophesies and claims of a resurrected Christ while Jesus was still alive, the last thing that Caesar wanted was a missing body to support that. The Romans had no incentive to remove the body because at the time of Jesus' death, the religious movement was all but crushed.  The disciples, even though they had been close to Jesus and heard his promises of being raised to life, were devastated and dispersed.  They basically went into hiding.
Jim made a very good point, these disciples, who were scared and in hiding, afraid of being found a follower of Jesus, suddenly became bold enough to shout the news from rooftops and die for their beliefs.
Gotta go, sorry I couldn't expand any further, I really have enjoyed reading your discussions.  Take care.
Paul
Trevor
Senior Member
since 08-12-99
Posts 744
Canada


13 posted 02-18-2000 03:56 PM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello everyone,

"The Romans were aware of the prophesies and claims of a resurrected Christ while Jesus was still alive, the last thing that Caesar wanted was a missing body to support that. The Romans had no incentive to remove the body because at the time of Jesus' death, the religious movement was all but crushed.  The disciples, even though they had been close to Jesus and heard his promises of being raised to life, were devastated and dispersed.  They basically went into hiding."

Yes but if the Romans were aware of the prophecy of resurrection wouldn't they have then destroyed the body for sure. I mean if I thought a body of my enemy was going to come back to life then I would definetly chop, boil and burn the remains until not even ashe remained. Now during this time in history, superstition and "mythological" belief systems were the norm', so perhaps the Romans did take the body and destroy it in hopes of preventing a resurrection. Also I think it would not be very hard to get a rumor mill started back then. You could probably tell a few people that hundreds witnessed Jesus resurrecting from the dead and in weeks the whole country side would be informed about the thousand people who saw jesus rise form the dead. Orson Welles once got an entire nation to believe that Martians were attacking earth in the 20th century. Jimmy Swaggart or one of those T.V. evangelist guys got his followers to believe that God would strike him dead if he didn't raise 10 million dollars....and those poor souls gave him the money. It's not very hard to get large groups of people to believe in lies and even base their lives upon such lies. I forget the name of the cult, but it happened a few years ago where the leader made the men get castrated in preparation of the "mother ship" and then all of them ate poisoned apple sauce while wearing purple Nikes and robes. They died for their beliefs, as twisted as those beliefs were. Many a religion and/or cult member has died for their convictions. Christianity isn't the only religion that has had its fair share of martyrs. So if someone dying for their convictions makes a religion more valid than I guess we can assume that all religions are/were the truth.

BTW, quick question thrown out to anyone who is reading this....Has the Catholic Church ever formally apoligized for the Crusades, etc.?

Jim:

Sorry again about not being able to finish my train of thought in my last response. I didn't have much left to say and now I have even less because I forgot where I was going with my thoughts

I'd like to now address the whole Christian "We can not understand God and God can do anything" response to a lot of questions. Now I know this is the part that requires the infussion of faith to hold together this belief system. Some points of that leap of faith being:
(1) God really can do anything.
(2) God's wisdom is so beyond our intellect that we will never understand Him until we are with Him in heaven.
(3)Everything happens for a purpose.
(4)We should not test God.

Let's look at number 3 first. God gave man free will yet put us in a set design with a set fate. When someone is born it is by God's will, when someone dies it is by God's grand design, when someone wins money it's because God let it happen....correct if I'm wrong, like I've mentioned before my biblical studies are pretty dusty but this is vaguely what I remember from church and bible class. Now it makes absolutely no sense to say we have free will yet our paths are already determined by God's design. We can do what we want but it doesn't make a difference?
Let's look at number 4. Do not "test" God. Now what would be the purpose of prayer if we weren't allowed to test God. Each prayer that is other than thanks is a test...a beg if you will for God to provide a miracle and show us he is there watching over us. When you are praying for someone to live through an operation you are really asking for divine intervention thereby testing God's existence....and what good is it to have a god/s/God if you can't get help form it? What good is a father that doesn't look out for all his sons, all that he created?

Now 1 and 2 I'll do together. Since you can not understand what God does nor why he does it I guess you won't understand that I am the second Son of God. I was born of immaculate conception and brought down to earth in order to clear up some fallacies within the bible. Please don't question this nor test God on this but if you want I will give you 500 signatures that will show that I really did rise from the dead after being excecuted by Hari-Krishnas for my beliefs. I can perform miracles but if you ask me to show one to you I will not. God told me to tell everyone that their belief systems are wrong and that they shouldn't listen so much to books but rather explore their spirituality unaided by text which promotes "magic" events as an equation to divinity. He also said he doesn't ever visit earth because he left all the things needed for man to survive and that if they don't its everyones fault and not His. Brad and Ryan are two of my disciples who have wandered the internet spreading the word of Trevorism, the religion started by the second Son of God....and Jim my friend, that's how easy it is to create a religion. If I told you I've seen angels you'd think me mad, but it's okay to believe in angels....you just can't believe you've seen one. It's okay to believe that God can speak to people but if you say God has spoken to you then you are crazy. I remember I once told a lady that I was an angel sent down from heaven and she flipped, saying she could barely read my post..etc. So I continued to explain my "earthly" mission to her and said that it's not right for her to believe in angels and then not when an angel arrived...or something to that effect, I can't remember the entire conversation, but anyways, it seemed I almost had her convinced and I believe I could have if I had persisted with my responses but eventually I fessed up and told her I was just trying to make a point....and the point of that ramble was to say that you can get almost anyone who is desperate enough in finding an answer to believe in just about anything. That's why early religions are so far fetched to us now, because back then they had to come up with some sort of reasoning for their existence so they grabbed at just about anything initially offered.
Well I guess my time is up on this rant, thanks for responding and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this interesting discussion, take care,
Trevor
  
White Wolf
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since 09-18-99
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14 posted 02-20-2000 12:13 AM       View Profile for White Wolf   Email White Wolf   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for White Wolf

Here is my problem that the "facts" you all are talking about require that they themselves are proved by facts and that those facts are proven by other facts, you see the pattern.  Where does it all start?  With that said facts are all subject to interpretation.  One who has words(force   ) as his ally can make any fact into what he wants to, to prove his own interpretations.  Next I have to say is that faith, firm belief in something for which there is no proof, is not based in fact.  Never has been and never will be.  So not believing in God or believing there is a God based on no facts to support it is simply put no faith in God or no faith there is a God.  Well my point has been made, I think.  So I will go for now.

SD


 If dying is the process of living life to its end.
Then what is living?

Jannel
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since 01-18-2000
Posts 498
Muncie, IN, USA


15 posted 02-27-2000 11:57 PM       View Profile for Jannel   Email Jannel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jannel

Not getting in on this whole "was Jesus real thing" That's too much for me to think about this late at night. However, i would like to offer an answer to the first question posed about why the Bible is often so self-conflicting. I am personally not sure what I believe anymore, but here is some information that I have thought about, which made sense to me.
#1 In the Old Testament, those who sinned had to atone for their sins by making sacrifices, etc. The whole clean/unclean thing is included in this. Jesus was meant to be the ultimate atonement, hence one reason he is known as the Lamb of God. The idea that Jesus pays for our sins explains a few of the inconsistencies.
#2 We have only part of the Bible. Catholics even have more than protestants. It's been estimated (please don't make me quote a source- I only remember that it seemed credible) that there were over one hundred gospels of Jesus's life. Take out any five books of the Bible at random. Say, Ezra, Ruth, John, Numbers, and I Corinthians. They were the first 5 I could think of that aren't all major books. Look at how much changes just without these books. If we're missing hundreds of parts, or even ten, we don't necessarily have the whole story. So the inconsistencies could also stem from this.
Also, on a side note, we have added a lot of propagandistic ideas from the middle ages. And these haven't necessarily all gone away. Did you know that they found the crown of thorns? And brought back a piece of the cross during the Crusades? Um, yeah... One thousand years + later, no means of preservation whatsoever. How long does wood take to deteriorate??? Think of all the other things that were added or emphasized for convenience's sake. Just a few thoughts. Happy soul-searching!
Jannel
jbouder
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Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


16 posted 02-28-2000 09:16 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Hello again guys:

Scorched Dragon,

"Here is my problem that the 'facts' you all are talking about require that they themselves are proved by facts and that those facts are proven by other facts, you see the pattern.  Where does it all start?  With that said facts are all subject to interpretation."

What you are arguing against here is historical-legal reasoning.  Sure, the facts are subject to interpretation but, given enough evidence, an interpretation is possible beyond a reasonable doubt (at least that is what they taught me in law school).  You can choose to doubt if you want to but I think you are doubting in spite of the evidence that is accessible to anyone.  We convict felons today on less evidence than we have for proving the reasonability of many of the Christian truth claims.

"One who has words(force) as his ally can make any fact into what he wants to, to prove his own interpretations."

The easily swayed and simple minded can easily be swayed by a clever speaker.  But the tough minded are not so easily convinced by clever words and, with a little study and discipline, it is easy enough to detect when someone is taking liberties with his/her interpretation of the facts (a la Johny Cochran -- O.J. Simpson lawyer -- the jury was duped but were you, or Trevor, or Brad convinced by him?).

"Next I have to say is that faith, firm belief in something for which there is no proof, is not based in fact.  Never has been and never will be."

Try not to take offense to what I am about to say.  Some Christian "facts": FACT #1 - Jesus was prophesied in the OT as the Messiah, FACT #2 - Jesus was born in Israel about 2000 years ago, FACT #3 - Jesus ministered in Israel during the late 20's/early 30's A.D., FACT #4 - Jesus was arrested, stood trial, suffered torture and was put to death by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor of Jerusalem, FACT #5 - Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death and was seen by his disciples and approximately 500 other eye-witnesses in the 40 days before his alleged ascention.  There us an abundance of direct and circumstancial evidence inside and outside of the biblical texts that supports these "FACTS".  How can you continue to say that faith is not founded on fact?  Do we throw the facts away or minimize their importance because they are "less spiritual" than blind belief?  If Christianity is not based on facts then on what is it based?  It is certainly not based on subjective whimsy and personal experience.  I have a terribly small amount of faith, SD, and if it was not for the "FACTS" as I understand them I would, quite simply, not believe any of this stuff.  I don't want any part of the doubt that accompanies a blind leap of faith.

If faith is firm belief in something that has no proof, what do you call firm belief in something that has considerable proof?  Whatever you decide to call it, THAT is what I think I have and that is what I would prefer to have over any unverifiable truth. Actually, faith has always included intellectual assent to certain facts.  There were those who denied the importance and the value of the material facts: they were called Gnostics and there are scores of examples of opposition to their teachings in the apostolic writings and in the writings of the early church fathers.

Jannel,

"#2 We have only part of the Bible. Catholics even have more than protestants."

Actually, Catholics include several books written during the 400 years between the OT and NT as part of the Canon of Scripture.  These books are known as the OT Apocrypha and were "canonized" in the Middle Ages.  The books were circulating during the time of the early church but are never referenced as being authoritative either in the writings or Jesus or of his Apostles.  THe Jews, also, do not consider the OT Apocrypha to be part of their Scripture (The Law, The Histories, the Poetry, and the Prophets -- shoot, I think I', missing one).  This is part of the reason they were not included as part of the Holy Scriptures when the early church councils were deciding on which books to include in the Canon.  The Apocrypha has significant historical value to Protestants, Jews and the non-religious even though Protestants and Jews do not consider the apocryphal books to be equal to Scripture.

"It's been estimated (please don't make me quote a source- I only remember that it seemed credible) that there were over one hundred gospels of Jesus's life."

This is actually very unlikely.  This sounds more like the modern assertions of New Age mystics (like that lady in Montana living in the bunkers) than of those of reputable historians and archeologists.  

"If we're missing hundreds of parts, or even ten, we don't necessarily have the whole story. So the inconsistencies could also stem from this."

This paints the picture of a terribly inept God who can't even keep His Word in this world.  Who would want to follow a God like this?  I wouldn't.   I think history and archeology tell us enough about the New Testament writings to discount any suggestion that "hundreds" of books are missing.  This, I think, is just bad history and, without considerable evidence to back such claims, I would suggest that you ignore these "revelations".

Trevor, I haven't forgotten you questions.  Perhaps you should start a new thread on the prayer thing.

Later.

Jim
Jannel
Member
since 01-18-2000
Posts 498
Muncie, IN, USA


17 posted 02-28-2000 06:24 PM       View Profile for Jannel   Email Jannel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jannel

Jim
Still, it is impossible to think that a man as important as Jesus was to so many people had only four books written about his life.
I'm not saying that there's not enough there  about his life, if you have the faith
to believe it. But there are holes. Thirty three years into four books, most of which recount the same occurences has to be missing something. This doesn't mean God doesn't care. Look how much information HAS survived 2000 years. But I would never say we have it all.
Jannel
 
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