If you’ve followed this series at all, you know that answering these types of questions has been difficult. I have been constantly trying to show how God is satisfying the request without subjecting God to the person objecting. To do that, I have been forcing the skeptic to define what it is he/she is objecting. For the first two posts, that’s what was need. See for yourself (Answering Prayer & Showing Up).

But this post is different.

This theistic holdout isn’t based on a misused word or a human limitation. This is man calling God to show off, to quit hiding behind the veil and make himself known. Here is how A. Robinson submitted the request:

“I would hold out for a demonstration of some sort that would be clearly impossible for anyone but a God to perform…I would suggest that, say, 1000 stars that are visible to the naked eye be relocated within a few hours so that they form the message ‘I AM.’…”

Wow. Pretty bold request, but legitimate. By all accounts, this should be doable. But it certainly isn’t being done, is it? I mean, God certainly isn’t rearranging any stars and unless you believe seeing Jesus in a piece of toast to be divine revelation, I’d probably have to admit defeat. But I have a confession to make. God showing off is exactly what led me to start the series.

http://www.amazon.com/Stealing-God-Atheists-Need-Their/dp/1612917011I was reading a book called, “Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case”, by Frank Turek. The book isn’t just Frank’s opinion. He brings his experience debating well-known atheists and shares their view, in their words, and highlights the shortcomings of their position—it always comes down to foundation. What I mean is,

“atheists are using aspects of reality to argue against God that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true. In other words, when atheist give arguments for the atheistic worldview, they are stealing from a theistic worldview to make their case. In effect, they are stealing from God in order to argue against Him.”[i]

That’s when I realized that everything you could ever need to believe in God is here before you. This is the point I laid out in the first post—you prayer is being answered, “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (Jas 4:10). I dove further into this point in the next point when I wrote that although there are many arguments against God, God is more reasonable; “for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities…have been clearly seen.” (Rom 1:20).  And that thought will carry us through here, too.

There seem to be two pieces of Robinson’s view that we will address briefly.[ii]

Reorder the stars

Psalms 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Let’s think about this for a minute. If we assume the God of the Bible exists, we must then assume that the request of A. Robinson isn’t just “If God Would Show Off”; it’s far bigger and far more personal. Robinson is essentially saying, “You may be proud of the work you did in the sky, but I find it lacking. Undo the work of your hands and do it my way—spell you name.” From this perspective, I wouldn’t submit either. It’s rude. It’s arrogant. It’s selfish. It’s audacious. No offense, but if this is what you are demanding—you may need an ego check. #JustSayin

But the Bible doesn’t prove anything, you may retort. God can and should show off, you may still attest. Very well, but we don’t need to see it in the sky. In fact, seeing God at work is infinitely more impressive than a mere 1000 stars spelling a two-word sentence in three measly letters. Hmph!

Communicate a message

The second part of Robison’s request is an appeal to intelligence. Seeing the magnitude of the galaxies and stars and vastness of space may seem awe-inspiring, but awe is not God (in the mind of some). It’s certainly not intelligent—it’s a heap of rubble. Heck, why even study anything if their is no intelligence behind it? I mean, if there is intelligence behind the creation, if their is order, in depth study makes sense—let’s learn more! But if not, what could you possible hope to learn? Anything you do learn about X has no bearing on Y because they are products of their own random mutations. Or, to put it another way,

“While there is certainly evidence from science to support theism, the most important point…is not that science supports theism but that theism supports science. In other words, theism makes doing science possible. We wouldn’t be able to do science reliably if atheism were true.”[iii]

What is even more puzzling is that 1000 stars seems to be magnificent enough to get through to skeptics, but it’s really selling short the power of God. Humorously illustrated, asking the author of creation to move a few hundred stars is like asking Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry groceries to the car.

But I digress, here’s the problem.

Show me your name in the sky“I AM” is a simple message. It can be written at different angles, different spacing, or different font/font size. Indeed, some letters could be bold, or underlined, and a mix of upper/lower case and the phrase would still have impact. Communication is amazing that way, it requires very little, but can be amazingly complex. Think of all the things we can do by simply rearranging and repeating 26 letters of the English alphabet!

Now expand that even further and let me introduce you to DNA. Richard Dawkins, an atheist, and an evolutionary biologists admits “Some species of the unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1,000 Encyclopedia Britanicas.[iv] But the information in a DNA requires order, it requires specifics, and is very fragile. In contrast to the hasty positioning of a few thousand stars, DNA makes star placement look like my wall of kindergarten art. Even more impressive, our DNA isn’t some bio-complex wordsearch. I mean, DNA isn’t a heaping mess of information cells which have some useful bits nuzzled in a lot of waste–it’s all useful and it’s all ordered.

“It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.”[v]

DNA: If God wouldTurek expands this point when he writes, “The implication is clear: If a short message in English requires intelligence to compose, then so does a genetic message thousands of books long.” [vi]

Oh the irony; 1000 stars = God, 1000 Encyclopedias = random chance.

But it gets better! As recently as the last few years, scientists are discovering the complexity of DNA is getting more complicated–and not just in how it works. As it turns out, there are messages inside of messages. Dr. Georgia Purdom puts it like this,

It’s like discovering a coded message that means one thing when you read it in English, but if you pull out every third letter, it means something completely different in French.[vii]

This is the kind of intelligence beyond compare–the kind of thing only God could do. Hey Robinson, isn’t that the kind of thing you were looking for?

And just a quick note for those holding on to the “a lot can happen in billions of years” idea, let us remember:

“Mutation and natural selection can happen only to organisms that already have genetic information.”[viii]

Conclusion

To date I have not sought the Bible as an apologetic. Rather, I have offered biblical passages in support of its consistency within the conclusion. That is, the conclusion proves the Bible not the other way around. Today is different. I’m writing this on Easter; remembering the cost of the cross and the significance of the empty tomb.

As I consider this in contrast to my target audience, I can’t help but recall the danger we are all in:

  • Prov 14:1 “A fool says in his heart there is no God”
  • Isaiah 45:9 “Woe to the one who argues with his Maker—one clay pot among many. Does clay say to the one forming it, What are you making? Or does your work say, He has no hands? How absurd is the one who says to his father, ‘What are you fathering?’ or to his mother, ‘What are you giving birth to?’

This series started by stumbling across a group of atheist asking themselves the question, “What would it take for you do believe in God?”. Well, friends, the results are in. God is living and active (Heb 4:12) and he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7), but do not be deceived because God is not mocked (Gal 6:7a). There are some who will call my arguments strawmen and some who will assume I am preaching a God of the gaps. Neither could be further from the truth. These same people will assume science will eventually disprove God, but whether or not that is true has zero bearing on the evidence at hand. As J. Warner Wallace stated on the last ACL Podcast, “We’re not inserting a God of the gaps hypothesis on the basis of the weakness of naturalistic explanations. Instead, we’re doing the most reasonable inference based on what we know from our common experience.”

If you are struggling with accepting God, there are answers, justifications, and good solid reasons to believe. Prayer does work. God is showing himself. Indeed, God is showing off. The choice at this point is, will you believe or reject. Ultimately the choice is yours to choose, but do not make it blindly as if no evidence were ever presented. If God would… God has! Now what?

A personal note from me, the author

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series. For those of you who have contributed (willingly or inadvertently), thanks for your help. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. If anything I have offered is in contrast to your personal worldview, I would challenge your own worldview with the same scrutiny you would use to challenge mine. I’ve been where you are—I’ve rejected, denied, and ignored the stuff that required me to change in support of whimsical living; it’s a dead-end.

If anything I’ve said has inspired you to rethink or re-evaluate God in your life, let’s talk. He’s doing exactly as you ask, and he’s doing it abundantly more than you could ever imagine.

[i] Frank Turek, Stealing From God: Why atheists need God to make their case. NavPress. (2014). xvii-xvii.

[ii] I have edited this for space to be concise. If anyone has further questions, please leave comments below. I’d love to address these in more detail.

[iii] Turek, 145.

[iv] Richard Dawkins. The Blind Watchmaker. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1986), 116

[v] [v] Hubert P. Yockey, “Self Organization, Origin-of-Life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 91 (1981), 16.

[vi] Turek, 60.

[vii] Georgia Purdom. DNA’s Hidden Codes. “Answers Magazine” Apr 1, 2016. pp74-78.

[viii] Turek, 59.

124 COMMENTS

  1. Unfortunately for your fundamental premise, the work that you are holding up as evidence of God has alternative explanations that don’t require God.

    So they only serves evidence to someone how is presupposing the existence of God.

    • Thanks for reading I’m not sure presupposition is the problem. I suppose it could be true if you already have a presupposition to believe DNA can produce itself from nothing. But, my second in this series, If God Would: Show Me (link in the post) addressed this problem. Have you read that one?

      • I hadn’t. I’ll read it and address it there when I have time.

        That said, it’s not a question of DNA producing itself from nothing. It’s a question of DNA being produced by other means than directly by the hand of God. As were the precursors to DNA. And the precursors to that, and so on, and so on… all the way back to the Big Bang.

        At that point you get to a super-compressed mass, and that’s the first place you can legitimately say that science has no idea where it came from. Since that point, the total amount of matter and energy in the universe have remained constant, changing form but never created nor destroyed. So DNA was assembled out of other things, not created from nothing.

        • That’s a fair point. But it leaves open the question what did the assembling? The thing about DNA is that’s it’s not random, it has complexity within complexity and just enough redundancy to repair itself but not so much that it’s inhibiting. We’re not talking about a typewriter factory exploding to accidently create the library of congress–we’re clearly witnessing intelligence, the point of my post.

          • Certainly science has no solid answer for how DNA assembled, though there are plenty of ideas. Unless we can reproduce those things in the laboratory, or visit other planets that are at earlier stages of development, we can’t really be sure. But all that means is that we don’t know the answer. To jump to “therefore God did it” is not terribly compelling, and looks pretty much like you are presupposing the answer.

            As I’m sure you are aware, that is basically the “irreducible complexity” argument. That was the same argument people used against evolution with the eye and other things. Yet now we have a very plausible path of evolution of the eye with plenty of intermediate examples.

            If you rely on what science can’t fully explain as your evidence for God, you run the risk that those things will eventually be explained, your evidence diminishes rather than grows. This leads to the sort of anti-science denialism that frankly plagues our nation on all sorts of topics — vaccines, climate change, evolution, and homosexuality.

            Finally, you commented that DNA is not random, and said that requires intelligence. But in truth all it requires is a constant set of laws for the interactions and transformations of matter and energy. From there, whatever can assemble under those laws eventually will.

            I want to be clear that I don’t think any of what I’ve just said disproves the existence of God. But your proof isn’t convincing either.

          • “Unless we can reproduce those things in the laboratory, or visit other planets that are at earlier stages of development, we can’t really be sure. But all that means is that we don’t know the answer.”

            First, thanks for this reply. I liked it because it’s honest and appropriate. I’m replying to this point because there are some consistencies that I think should be ironed out. If we assume god exists and created DNA, then we have no guarantee we will ever be able to produce DNA in a lab. From this perspective, it would be foolish to wait around for something that may not even be possible. That is not to say, because we don’t know now it must be God, but is absolutely to say we need to be able to make a decision based entirely on what we know now and not what we might know in the future. Further, I think we know more than enough about DNA: complexity, purpose, irreducible complexity (addressed below), etc that point to intelligence and away from chance. To me, even if God isn’t the final conclusion (ie I am not an advocate to stop looking because we have a viable option), he needs to be the current conclusion.

            Second, the fact that we are looking elsewhere (other planets, earlier systems) alludes to the point we are expecting a result much like DNA. This, more than anything, dramatically emphasizes how purposeful DNA is. Additionally, I find it completely ironic that we look across a system we have predetermined to be random looking for similarities–seems counter productive, but that’s just me.

            Third, to your point that we really don’t know–we really CAN’T know. That is, if tomorrow an lab blew up containing only chemicals that would have been available at the start of life and in the perfect consistency and viola, life begins to exist, it doesn’t prove that’s how life happened originally; it only proves how it may have happened. Science does a great job of compiling possibilities and then scientists (even non scientists) compile the evidence and draw a likely concussion. So based solely on the evidence, random is the least likely in all the options because we see TONS of efficiency and purpose and things that need to be (what is the likely-hood a creature randomly develops feathers?). Which brings me to irreducible complexity (IC)…

            IC fails by recognizing how smaller features could be bigger features. We have good information about early uses of hands prior to opposable thumbs and such. What we don’t have is any IC in terms of chicken/egg problems that we see in DNA and cell function. Which came first, DNA which builds cells or cells which house DNA? Currently there are at least three of these types of circular building techniques that point to IC and therefore intelligence and design. So while I see IC in things like bacterial flagellum, I don’t think that’s the end of the argument.

            Hope this helps illustrate the point I was building to in the post. What do you think about the points I mention here?

          • According to the NT, God already made a moving star, one that obviously would go against everything we understand today about stars. If he even did that again it’d be amazing. But he does nothing. Outside of toast, as you said. Further, Christians such as yourself rely on the idea that we couldn’t do science the way we do if not for God, that these things we witness are the things only God could do. But there’s a fundamental problem with that argument. If you’re wrong, then that is exactly what is happening. We are doing science and things are occurring with no God. And saying that can’t happen (I don’t mean this to be rude but it) is like a grade school argument – “Uh huh cause I said so.” There’s absolutely zero actual proof in anything you wrote here. It’s all speculation and presuppositional apologetics as was said above. Yes, prayer does work. So does positive thinking. They all have the same odds. Nothing in life shows prayer beats the odds. And prayer never does anything miraculous like the bible stories. No resurrections, no curing blindness, and no lame walking.
            God is only showing himself and showing off if he actually exists, otherwise it’s just nature. I fought through a lot to retain my faith. I spent over thirty years in Christianity and I didn’t walk away for whimsical living. I walked away for lack of solid proof. And the bible (the only proof) is so fundamentally flawed and easily disproved that I regretfully walked away. Now, months later I look back and see my previous Christian walk as the real dead end. I don’t mean to come off like I’m fighting. It’s just so frustrating when people say they have proof. I’d love proof that a God exists. It’d mean I wouldn’t have to be an outcast in my own family because I don’t believe. But the proof isn’t there. The only thing science shows us is that a creator (could be anything, from a meteor from another galaxy to some intelligent alien species) is possible. But jumping from that to Yahweh is a leap not grounded in anything we have in history, geology, cosmology or other sciences.

          • Hi Charlie,

            Thanks for bringing some discussion points. I laughed at your point
            “And saying that can’t happen (I don’t mean this to be rude but it) is like a grade school argument – “Uh huh cause I said so.”
            In a sense, you’re right. But in other sense, it’s not. I hear a similar argument when discussing the Bible as the word of God. The argument is, you can’t say the Bible is the word of God just because the Bible says it’s the word of God. The logic sounds circular and therefore false, but sounds like and is are not the same. For instance, would it be circular to say I’m married because my marriage certificate says so? Or pointing to the Constitution as justification for the USA. At some point you hit the highest document from which authority comes (note: this is just an anology not my argument).
            So, when we get to science apart from God, it really is impossible apart from order. If everything (and I literally mean every thing) was random, completely dependent upon inside the box forces, there are things that would never begin to exist (like consciousness and reasoning abilities). Further, we certainly wouldn’t expect any sort of consistency.
            I hate to make this point because it almost always is refuted with some angry meme at its mention, but this is the point that the 2nd law of thermodynamics argues against evolution. Most people argue against entropy and decay and I’m not discussing that, but I am talking about the transition from order to disorder–chaos has never organized itself. Dumping a wheel-barrel full of bricks, for example, does not make a wall, let alone a man. So even though I don’t appeal to the 2nd law (because I know that it very selectively applies and even this point has some counter examples), I’m pointing out the necessity of order and structure which is impossible if completely based on randomness (which you would need if God did not exist).

            You mentioned prayer…did you read the first in this series (link in the post)?

            On a personal note: I am saddened to hear you are/feel like an outcast in your family. To me, the heart of God is love and one of the fundamental proofs that God exists is human value and worth. I just don’t see how that is possible if we are only a heap of chemical reactions. But we intrinsically know that it’s true–we long to be recognized, loved, cared for, and also care for others, love others, recognize others. I don’t think God needs to generationally repeat his power for all to see, I think he’s provided ample proof we just need to learn to understand love to understand why we know enough to know God.

            I hope you find here, and other places on ACL, to bounce off some of your ideas, be genuinely respected, and provide reasoned justification for Christianity rooted in history, geology, cosmology, and personal relationship.

          • Thank you so much for your genuine and respectful reply. I hear what you’re saying and it has validity. I don’t consider myself an agnostic as I don’t yet see reason to believe a god exists like the one of human myth. But the order out of chaos you speak of definitely allows me to be open to a creator of some intelligent kind. I am not a close minded fool as sadly, I think, many people revert to as a response to the forcefulness of American Christian political and apologetic maneuvering. I would be happy to see science bridge gaps between theism and non-theism if that is possible, but for me there is only seen within the universe the allowance for deism. And the biggest hurdle I had in holding onto my Christian faith was that the jump between what we see and the Bible being real was a gap too big. I could not and now know I can never make it across. Someone on WordPress had a discussion with me concerning some of this and found it odd that a person could ultimately leave the faith not due to science but the Bible itself. But that is my case. Not theology. But the fact that as I grappled with issues and did seek to quell them with great minds like Peter Enns, in the end it wasn’t enough and the Biblical Canon fell, then the historicity and finally everything else.
            Once again, I apologize if I came off too strong before. With ignorants like Mike Ritt writing “April Fools = Atheist Day” posts and the such, it is far too easy to get riled up while discussing with Christians. It’s something I need to grow in.

          • Wow! I’m always amazed at the “love” Christians feel they need share by offending those (for lack of a better term) outside the faith. Nothing says, “come see what we’re all about” quite like starting with an insult. #ChristianFails 🙁 You will not find that anger/hostility here, promise. Also, while I’m on it, your first post was not too strong.

            Can I ask, what part of the Bible was reconcilable?

            Even if we cannot offer a reconcilable answer, I wonder if we can find solidity in historical aspects by taking the Bible as a source and not authority. See, there are a lot of facts that we know today which are also found in the Bible. One of those things is it is (and feel free to correct me from your perspective) nearly universally accepted a man from Nazareth, named Jesus, existed. Once Jesus exists, we need to examine what he did (drew large crowds), why a poor boy from a small town grew crowds (he did things no one else did), and the list continues. And we can relate those things in terms of what we know now (Jews no longer offer sacrifices, keeping the Sabbath of thousands of Jews changed from Saturday to Sunday, etc.) and ask why any of this is possible. As we investigate what know against what we don’t, I think, the only conclusion is the resurrection of Jesus. P.S. I’m not asking you to accept all these things at face value. My point here is that we don’t necessarily get to Christianity because the Bible says so, but once we get Christianity the Bible has more to say.

            Honestly looking forward to your insight and learning/growing together. And happy Friday!

  2. Hi Charlie,

    You have addressed alot of points here. Do you mind if I just pick a few to get a better idea where our thoughts separate?
    First, I think it’s great you didn’t just sell out on the idea that 1 thing didn’t add up so it’s all out. I’ve seen that before and all that results is a skeptical skeptic, unsure if they themselves even exist. In a way it’s really sad. But in your case, you drew a reasoned conclusion using both secular and non secular scholars (at least that’s what I’m reading you saying). While I think this is great practice to keep us rooted, it can be dangerous as it begins to put us in the roll of all knowing. That is to say, if we take a little from here and a little from there, then we decide what fits or own worldview best. If everyone does that, no one will ever agree. In contrast, I think we can agree provided we try to stay objective. So with all that said,

    Can I ask ask your view on C. S. Lewis’s liar, lunatic, Lord question? Where do you see Jesus in those options?

    As for the Canon, what makes it unreliable? If I can show alternative views that confirm reliability without violating things we know to be true, are you willing to reconsider your position?

    Respectfully looking forward to learning together.

  3. Oh man, Roger, I’m bummed you asked about Lewis. I was hoping to avoide that one. I used to love the guy, have a few tattoos in his honor, but my answer is going to be insulting and I can’t really phrase it in a nice way. So please, I mean no offense, take this as me only answering and not trying to be mean.
    I think that we can’t know for fact that Jesus really said the things the Bible quotes him saying. There are too many instances where he is alone and words are put in his mouth. I do not believe the Bible is inerrant and that is indeed an entire other subject, but because of my belief in that case I don’t think there’s much to stand on with Jesus really being who he’s painted to be.
    To that end, I think that if his private words are taken out, then he could be painted as a pretty mischievous liar. But I still think (or want to think) that most likely Jesus was a lunatic rather than a liar. I know that is strong, but I think he was deluded rather than evil. Growing up in scripture, convinced of things not true. He reflects many I’ve seen as a Christian and as a cop – people deluded into thinking they are “the one” in this field or another. I’d rather him be a lunatic, as being a liar would make him an actual “bad person” rather than misunderstood, even if it was himself that misunderstood Jesus most.

    So to get personal… I was a covenant member of The Village Church. While there I had some great teachers go through canon, as well as virtually everything else. I was in their Institute (check it out, it’s like a Ph.D. Level course through apologetics of every inch of Christianity throughout history that pastors nationwide want to get into) and I had sit downs with men who personally worked with and argued with the likes of Peter Enns, Bart Erhman, and many others. When I was losing my grip on Christianity, I asked the Village men to give me books as well as personal meetings. I work from home and pretty much stopped working lol All I did was study. I spent at least 4 hours a day trying to prove the Bible valid and Christianity true. To be completely honest? There’s no way you’ll get me to change at this point. I actually really appreciate and respect your heart here, but I’m too far down the rabbit hole. I had the greatest minds in the Bible Belt helping me fight to retain my faith and it’s so far gone now.
    I wasn’t objective, as you are right in saying we should be. I was desperately trying to retain Jesus as lord. I was trying to fit my worldview through presuppositional apologetics, and that worldview was simply that Jesus is lord. I’m from NY so I loved Carl Lentz’s “only Jesus” banner. But I now finally see Jesus objectively and he isn’t lord anymore. For all that, I respect you in whatever you want to tell me because your are one of the few internet Christians who reflects the loving god they preach. But know that it falls not on deaf ears, but ears who have heard too much already and are assured of the falsity of the Bible.

    • Hi Charlie,

      I’m going to reiterate a thought I really need you to hear. Your beliefs are personal to you and therefore important to me. In that regard, as long as you’re being honest and candid, you can say anything you want. Honestly.

      I asked the Lewis question often because I think we can find historical legitimacy to rule out every answer except for Lord of all.

      Did I read this right, you’re a cop in NY? I hope so because I’m going to draw on similar experiences (10 years in fire /EMS).

      You see similar things play out in lunacy, as have I. But the one thing I don’t ever see is the following. Psychotic people, even the nice ones, rarely have anyone want to emulate them. They’re not teachers, they don’t gather crowds (save the ones going ape crazy on a roof naked lol) and they certainly don’t change the world. I agree many people have claimed to be a prodigy, a prophet, or a direct link to God but they also give no evidence.
      Here is my evidence for Jesus.
      *He was influential
      *He inspired change
      *If he didn’t say at least a significant amount of what was actually said, there is no reason to believe he would have been such a popular written subject (why would anyone invest in a poor Jewish boy with no physical appeal?)
      *the writings that are not him speaking, speak of direct physical encounters and include living references
      I have more but this makes a case, right?
      As for liar, I don’t think that’s possible because lying is selfishly motivated–always. What is to gain from getting yourself killed? When on trial, what kind of liar would stand behind his claims and accept the death penalty?

      I’ve said all that to say this about the bible, I think it’s inerrant but not because it says it’s inerrant. That is, I think there is more than enough to substantiate the big (easy) stuff to give the little (harder) stuff benefit. For instance, the words Jesus said alone. Just because he was alone doesn’t mean (1) the were transcribed as he spoke them or (2) he never said them again. On my resume, for example, is so original quote – “Of all my most cherished memories, none of them involve being comfortable.” When I said it for the first time, I was alone. But that doesn’t mean it’s false or i didn’t share it. In terms of Jesus’ words, we have 3 years of ministry recorded in about 3 hours of reading. No disrespect to the bible, but there is a lot missing. John confirmed that in his closing remarks — if everything Jesus ever did was recorded, there wouldn’t be enough space in the world to hold all the books needed.

      As to your training, a simple reminder that christianity is not entirely a head knowledge; I didn’t become a Christian because I knew enough facts ‘about’ God. Christianity, at the heart, is a relationship. With all the respect in the world to you and the Village, and the scholars and books you sought, the answer isn’t always more studying. At some point the answer is application.

      I’m writing this on my phone so please forgive any random autocorrect words that don’t seem to fit. Also, I hope this becomes a catalyst to work out questions on an application basis more than book knowledge.

      Tell me more about your issues with this historisity of the gospels. I find dating very compelling, I’d like to hear an alternative.

      Also, thank you for taking the time to engage. I often feel I learn more through the process. So, honestly, Thanks!

      • Thanks once again for being open. I was a cop, yup. Not in NY any more though. That’s cool you were fire/EMS! Lucky dog, you got to be the hero and I was the “pig” haha
        I hear what you’re saying, even if I don’t agree. I think the analogy falls a bit flat for me because if you don’t believe scripture to be inerrant then it doesn’t reason to be that Jesus really did say it alone only for his previous words to be told to whomever was writing his story (as is the case for your personal quote).
        It’s interesting, I suppose all of this really unraveled for me because of my view of inerrancy. I studied through the book The Four Views of Biblical Inerrancy. One of the guys involved gave it to me. It was through that book that I realized how different everything in life becomes depending on one’s view of inerrancy. You can be Ken Ham or Peter Enns or CS Lewis depending.
        I agree whole heartedly about application. It frustrates me a lot. The San Bernardino shooting happened the same day as a class and no one suggested we pray (I do add that the leader of the class hadn’t heard about it but many others had). I broke the ice and got the leader to pray but it was a short, “oh Lord come quickly,” and then back to “okay guys tonight’s lesson is…” and “how are your papers going…” and so forth. My wife wanted to quit that night. She said, “we could be doing a prayer group or feeding the poor but we’re memorizing bible verses? Seems ironic or hypocritical, no?” I agreed. We dropped out not long after that. But that is a whole other story.
        Roger, I was fasting, praying, and diligently seeking Yahweh. All the way up until the day, with tears in my eyes, I gave in to what I knew was reality – Yahweh didn’t exist. He never really had. I wasn’t just studying. And I think that might be just what sealed the deal. I’m sorry if this all seems sporadic but I suppose I’m putting things together in my mind as we converse here.
        I was crying out to Yahweh to show himself, to give me something, to make himself known in my life. It didn’t happen. And instead of leaving the faith to feel sorrowful or at a loss, I was overwhelmed (and still am quite often) by the feeling of freedom.
        It comes at the most random of times. Sitting with tea, watching the sunlight reflect off the floor or table. And suddenly a wave and the thought, “I’m free.”
        See, I think both of us “know” we are right even though it’s impossible for both of us to be. And both of us would be overjoyed by the other coming to know our truth. But I am free at the end of this to walk away saying “let him have his faith, as long as he doesn’t segregate or hurt another, it is of no business of mine.” But you are trapped. I mean this earnestly, not as insult. You are still as my wife was in that class, tears in her eyes. Everyone you know or love will be forever worried about until you die. Will they accept, are they truly chosen/did they really choose, and on and on. The true Christian can never say “eh, let him have his atheism and hell, no business of mine.” And so, it is not that I can sin (although that is a concept I no longer believe in), but it is that I am truly free in another way. That is why I find peace in atheism. I am free to love whom I wish, and to let go of whom I must. I am free to not worry. Because what happens to me is life. No longer the workings of a god trying to mold me or teach me or as I often feared in my youth – “get me.”
        There isn’t anything you can say or show me that will bring me back to that, not now that I see it for the mental torture it was. If there is a creator/god and he truly reveals himself to humanity, I won’t ignore it, I will deal with it on that very day. But that day has not come and I doubt it will.

        • * I just realized I hadn’t told you the story about my wife, but someone else on WordPress. I was referring above to when a pastor pretty much told her that her brother and sister were made for hell. Election theology. That was her moment in class, tears in her eyes.*

          • Chirstianity is hard. Not just because by definition it’s an unachievable standard, but also because we have a tendency to forget the standard applies to us (Christians), too.

            I am truly sorry for that moment in your wife’s life.

        • Charlie….I’m.

          I’m torn by your story. I want to celebrate with you. I want to head downtown, grab a drink, a toast the memories I can see you begin to cherish in the newness of the sunshine and fresh air. But I can’t do that AND recognize what that means (not to mention that violates some internet relationship rules, lol). As I write this, I want you to know 2 very important things to you. (1) My goal is not to get you to change your mind. While I hope you do, I don’t write this smugly from my desk in arrogance as if you took the *easy* road and this choice is just an effect of wrong thinking/wrong actions/wrong circumstances than simply need *fixed*. My goal here is just to be a trusted companion, a reflection of the Jesus I’ve come to know who never left my side in a testimony that would be better over coffee than in a public forum to be manipulated and twisted by random passer-by’s. My goal is to acknowledge your value in whatever decision you make–past, present, or future.
          (2) I feel you burden. Truly. Further, I’m thankful you have been willing to share your story with me. In that sense, I’m excited to see how our paths will convene for this time we share.

          With that said, I leave you with 2 questions:

          (1) Have you/would you read my second post in this series “If God Would: Show Me”? There is some points in there I think relate directly to your story I’d like your opinion on.

          (2) When you made that choice to leave to the faith, what did you do with the questions that (I’m sure you are aware of) point to God via extra-biblical evidences. I’m thinking mainly of C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”, Objective moral values, and theories of origin? These are just opinion questions, but I ask them because I think there is a need for a Creator that atheism (in general) refuses to acknowledge. Would you agree?

          • Regarding your point #2, what evidence do you see for objective moral values?

            Because it seems clear to me that moral values are subjective. Can you define a moral value that is truly universally recognized by all humans?

          • Sorry for the delay, got lost in my message folder. As this is a reply not a post, I’ll give you my proof but I won’t argue over alternatives views because the point of the post we’re commenting on is: while you can dismiss things like objective moral values, any alternative provided requires more faith.
            So, objective morality is best evidenced by recognizing the value of humanity. You can subjectively argue semantics and how value is applied, but because humans have value we are morally responsible to care for humanity (which is objectively moral).

          • Roger, sorry I’ve been so delayed in responding. I do want to answer as well as comment on Ed’s question and your answer…
            I’m not sure I see your point to Ed being valid. Your logic is circular. If humans mean something then they have value and then we should have morals because humans have value. But if you look at humans as another species, same as any other, we see he same objective morals at work. Species all over the map do the same thing you just described. They protect their own. They are partial to their own species. That isn’t really morals. It’s more instinct.
            Let me formulate my answer to your other questions and get back to you soon.

          • No problem on the delay, Chris (I respect the fact this isn’t the only thing you do *smile*). I’m not sure I follow your moral argument. Can you give me an example? I see examples of the animal kingdom eating their young, killing the same species for food and indimidation, and raping the females (the procreation efforts of ducks is brutal and disturbing to watch). Logan has a fascinating piece covering cruelty in animals which is opposite of your view (as I understand it): https://clearlens.org/2016/02/24/bad-arguments-against-christianity-cruelty-in-nature/

            In this way, instinct and morals are drastically different. Instinct is what we do, morals is what we ought to do–it involves thought, reflection, selflessness, and empathy. Animals, as near as I can tell, never come to their own morality. I do admit dogs can be trained, but this would never suppose to be first,rather a conditioning based on outside influence–humans domesticated dogs; another inference to God (in my mind at least). Thanks in advance for clarifying.

            And take you time, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from each other.

          • Okay, I hear you about the brutality of the animal kingdom, but you could say the same about humanity. There are mass amounts of humans who are brutal to each other. What I’m saying is that all you have to do is a YouTube search and you’ll see tons of animals being “kind” and “loving” and “caring” to other animals. Most of the time it’s protection within the same species, a parent to child protection, but other times it’s even between different animals. You can’t prove there is an actual moral code given by a god, only that every species in existence seems to act brutally at times and protective and “moral” at other times. There isn’t a consistency among anything that I see.
            Furthering that idea, I’ll delve into your CS Lewis questions specifically. One thing that we must admit is that between Lewis’ death (1963) and now, there has been a huge amount of progression in the fields of science, biology, cosmology, geology, and even biblical studies. Lewis constantly reinforced a few ideas. One was that you should never consider him a sound source of fact but of musing theology. He constantly deferred to the “real theologians.” Secondly he also was a big proponent of reading old books along with new books. He thought by doing so you could judge whether an old book was true or proven false by the years gone by since its publication. New books didn’t have such an advantage in his mind. I agree. We have seen physical findings disprove much of what we were only supposing a hundred years ago. I also think Lewis himself would see some of his own flaws. He’d be a genius in philosophizing new ideas in light of new evidence, but I doubt he would hold to much of the things that contemporary Christians hold to. He already viewed inerrancy in a way that scares the shit out of most evangelicals today. I’ve read plenty of pieces by mainstream big Christian names destroying the man’s theology. One of the men I studied under at the Village called Lewis a heretic. All that being said I look at Lewis don’t see the man I once held up in honor. I see a man great for his time, but lost to the discoveries of today. I reread Mere Christianity (for the sixth time) right before I became an atheist hoping it would help. It didn’t. I found reason against most of his argument as I read through. It has since been months and I would need you to bring a specific point for me to actually debate it, but ultimately I don’t see him as sound as I think you’re holding his arguments to be.
            Next up… do I think there is a need for a creator? No. I don’t think there is. I think there is a possibility but not a need. As I said, I think the species around us show that there is nothing really that special about humanity. We are only advanced. And to further hurt your argument (I’m sorry) I have to bring up hell again.
            Your idea that humans have intrinsic value is based on imago Dei is it not? But if we are so valuable how can Yahweh discard us so flippantly at the end of time? If we have value, why torture us for all eternity?
            Now in regards to hell even existing, I don’t believe it and for sound logical reasons that I’m surprised Lewis himself didn’t come to. Lewis says that at the end of time everyone will get what they wanted, to be with god or without him. Here’s the problem with that….
            You, like I used to, would probably say that Yahweh is the creator and sustainer of the cosmos correct? That means that nothing is at work without the spirit of Yahweh. But if hell is the absence of Yahweh, how does it continue to exist? To further damage poor Lewis is that his ideas do not account for millions of people. What of the thousands who were born between Jesus’ death and the spreading of the gospel – that only through Jesus can mankind be saved? They didn’t deny Jesus, they didn’t refuse him, they simply never heard of him. And so too is the case of billions alive today in various parts of the world. Now, please don’t give me the cop out that Jesus could appear to them in visions. Because visions would be most likely more convincing to indigenous, superstitious people than a white guy with a bible. So it does more damage to be a missionary than to let them be in their ignorance and wait for Jesus visions.
            See, I really have enjoyed conversing with you, Roger. But at the end, I can’t help but feel that as kind as you are, you are also the same as I once was; unwilling to realistically look at facts and theology that doesn’t support your Christian world view. I truly think that if you did so with a completely open mind you would find yourself where I am today. An atheist with an open mind to a creator but closed to it being Yahweh.

          • There is a lot here. I want to address each point but I also don’t want a bunch of rabbit holes to navigate. So if my answers seem brief, we can address them it is just my attempt at being concise:

            morality in the animal kingdom…
            I almost hate saying this in light of where this convo is going to end up, but C.S. Lewis has the best point of reference when we think of morality–we have to draw our conclusion based on what we know. We (individual man/woman) has the ability to reason, think about our actions, our consequences, make an informed decision even get advice from others going through these same processes. That is not what we see in the animal kingdom–we see animals acting like, well, animals. If a very nice, caring, loving bison mauls a Chinese tourist at Yellowstone National Park (a common YouTube find), we don’t hold the morality of bison on trial; we question the reasoning ability of the tourist–he should have known better. Morals, in this way, are not based on instinct, they fit the construct of a moral giver (Proverbs 15:12, Pr 12:15, Luke 14:31). I don’t offer Scripture as proof but as supporting documents (hope you are ok with that).

            “If we are valuable how can….”
            This is a common misconception (though I don’t think you meant it in the usual misconceived way). Rather than give the standard Christian response (two types of people: those who in this life say God, your will be done…), I want to simply remind you the difference between objective moral values and absolute moral values. Objective is true for everyone, absolute is true all the time. We are talking humanity held objectively to the same standard, not the same standard held absolutely throughout time.

            “If I’d open my mind”
            With much respect, it was an open mind that led me away from atheism.

            C.S. Lewis and those who haven’t heard of Jesus…
            It doesn’t take long in the faith to watch Christians attack Christians. We have an innate ability to make mountains out of mole hills. (True Story) I once interviewed to be a childs’ pastor and instead of discussing job requirements we spend an hour and a half discussing my doctrine of baptism while one elder broke down confessing he had to make peace with the fact his mom was in hell because she had the wrong denomination. It’s sad…truly sad. But the fortunate reality is God’s perfection is not a consequence of good Christians. I didn’t come to know the awesomeness of God because I only ran in crowds of awesome Christians. Here’s another Logan piece that talks about it in depth https://clearlens.org/2015/12/30/bad-arguments-against-christianity-christians-are-hypocrites/
            With that said, I’m sorry you can only see C.S.Lewis through his mistakes or his different opinion. That is no way distorts our need to love others in spite of themselves. A position I think you’d agree. But here’s the problem with that position: it’s only true if God exists. I have never met, talked to, or read about an atheist who can answer this problem: If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? — Jeffrey Dammer
            See the problem is atheists and materialist by absolute definition must be reductionist. The reduction of morals without objective (God-given) moral values is absolute anarchy; the morals of you and I are no better or worse than those of Dammer, Stalin, and Hitler, they’re just different. But not only is that dangerous, it’s wrong.

            Got a little long winded there, but I will leave you with this one opinionated question: What was the hardest part of your faith to give away and what was the reason you ultimately decided to give it up?

            Thanks, friend. I appreciate you.

          • Wow, it’s funny, I can’t even remember what we started talking about that got us here! But so it goes with theology/philosophy…. Well, I feel this all getting very heavy and want to reiterate my desire to not fall too hard with my words. But my answers will seem a bit brazen I’m sure.
            I must say that to begin with we are at fundamentally different stances. I don’t feel a need, burden, or obligation to my fellow man. I see purpose, but not need. What I need at my core is to survive. But in our progression as humans I believe we have realized the best way for us to survive as a species is to work together. From my atheist perspective, in regards to good/evil Hitler would not have a better or worse morality than myself, I agree. He would have a different one. And the reason why it is not the choice that should be made is because of the chaos his choices caused. War, pain, death of almost an entire people group who have culture and achievements benefitting mankind, destruction of earth, loss of finances, depletion of resources for quite a few country’s ability to continue on, and etc etc. To simply answer Dammers question… Because, where did you end up? See it isn’t that I find it objectively morally wrong for someone to murder. You’re right, without a god it is subjective. But it is my pet peeve that Christians find it impossible for a morality to be found outside of a god. State laws are not imposed because of a god, they are imposed for what is better for that community. And just because the majority of humans find rape, murder, molestation, eating or sacrificing babies, and the such to be a horrible way to achieve human greatness and continue in a civilized society does not immediately mean there is a god who instilled that within us as Lewis points to. It means that we have moved past where the animal kingdom is. We have taken what we do see there, a “base morality” if you will, and moved it ten steps forward. And we have done so in a way that only a species such as ours can. And please don’t misunderstand, I still see Lewis as a great mind! I just don’t think his arguments hold the previous weight anymore.

            I also think your idea that our morals without god are not truly good and will lead to chaos is not realistic. I’m sorry, but is it not the objective moral laws of Yahweh that condoned and gave parameters to rape? The objective morality of Yahweh said, take the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath and stone him. I as an atheist would never condone such atrocities. I would say, let him pick his sticks all day long, but if he begins to rape women with them, lock him away. Save her, lock him away. But Yahweh said stone her too. I hate with an absolute passion the objective morality of Yahweh and find it so disgusting that in finding he didn’t exist, I was overjoyed as to not have to continue turning a blind eye to the stacks of pages of his “good” morality.
            Let me clarify. I do not hate Yahweh. I am not angry at what I consider imaginary. What I hate is the morality that Christians are imposing upon our society. Countless people are hurt by that morality on a daily basis. It is Yahweh’s objective morality that hurts and segregates the LGBTQIA community on a daily basis across this globe.

            And so… I am struggling to remember what I had the most difficulty letting go of. I actually need to calm my nerves over such injustice in the name of a good morality. I’m sorry if I’m a bit emotional.

            The hardest part to give up was prayer. I had grown dependent upon airing everything out to the one I thought was in control, brining him praises or petitions. But I got over it fairly quickly. The reason why I gave it all up was because I clearly see logical reasons why the bible, old and new, are filled with fiction. There grew to be a point where there was nothing of depth that I could not break apart and destroy with pure logic, other historical findings, scientific advancements, geological discoveries. It isn’t one thing, Roger. I desperately wanted what I had devoted my entire life to to be true. I have faith based tattoos on my face. My face. I did not want to let go. But everything, literally everything but the bible… no, even the bible itself… everything around me screams the Jewish faith and the Christian faith springing from it to be false. I think you might even misunderstand my position. It wasn’t ever a choice, a moment I decided to be an atheist. If I had gotten my decision, I would have stayed blind and within the faith. I spent my life desiring absolute truth. When that took me through the temple of Christ and out the back door, I looked behind me and saw a crumbled mess. It was at that moment I accepted what I had already become, an atheist. I accepted the faith to be lies, but I never decided it.

            Before I go, I must ask what to do with all those not hearing of Jesus. You sidestepped that question a bit with talking about denominations but the question has nothing to do with denominations. It’s fine if you don’t want to answer, but please consider how utterly cruel a situation it actually is. No matter the denomination, Jesus himself said it is only through him that any enter into his father’s kingdom. There are billions who have already died who never heard of him. And according to Jesus they went to hell. He tricked people while on earth to not allow them to find the truth, he is quoted as saying so in the book of Mark. That is more of the morality I hate. Make a hell, trick people, send them there as punishment. Ugh, it pains me to think if that were reality how horrible a god Yahweh would be.

          • “desire to not fall too hard with my words…”
            Your fine, I’m enjoying our talks. Different perspectives help both of us. My hope is that my perspective is more compelling, though (being honest and funny). Let me briefly hit your points. My goal is to answer your objections and finish with direct questions to help stay focuses.
            “But it is my pet peeve that Christians find it impossible for a morality to be found outside of a god.”
            I can appreciate this. I hope you know I am not saying atheists cannot be moral without God. Rather, I am saying you have no reason to be moral. You can argue the golden rule, parental influence, or a host other sources of your subjective morals, but you can’t hold fault to anyone who doesn’t hold to those morals. John Lennox says it better than I can type it https://youtu.be/zpo2v9pWbGw?t=1m2s

            “hurts and segregation of LGBT…”
            Let me first say, “I think we as a Christian community have done a poor job of loving the world.” But let me also say, the rhetoric of those (generalization) hurt by the church (and even some who haven’t), has been just as pointed.

            To your question: what of those who have never met Jesus.
            To start—I cannot cover this in its entirety in a comment/reply post. This will be quick, but if you want it drawn out we can do that later (I will write a full post for those comments, just say the word).
            I can find no Biblical indication that Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Light, the Son of God, who said, “No one comes to the father but through me”, is either exclusive or non-loving. The entirety of the Bible is Jesus as the Light of the World—the way by which all is seen. I say that to the point, there is a significant difference between being unaware and rejecting. I liken it to speeding down the road. If I get pulled over for driving 50mph in a 45mph zone, I expect the officer to react differently to my plea, “There were no signs, I’m sorry, I did not know.” and the retort, “I knew the speed limit and didn’t care. I reject your authority to enforce this law.”. In both cases, the law was broken, but the police officer has the ability to apply grace (i.e. issue a warning) in both cases. But the attitude behind the crime is significant.
            It is easy to sit here, knowing the legalities of the Bible and say there are unreached people damned to Hell because they don’t know Jesus. But there is equal danger to know the Grace of God and say his love carries no punishment. In other words, we’re not dealing with inconsistencies, we’re dealing with bias, and to blame God (or even use this as an argument against God), is a severe misrepresentation of the Scripture as a whole.
            You brought up some points about morality that seemed to invoke a lot of emotion. Given your indepth studies, I can’t help wonder why you discuss rape and sticks (both clearly misrepresented in your position, by the way) while also invoking your own morality (even suggesting your own moral superiority) while at the same time refuting moral objectivity. What right do you claim that your way is better and if that is indeed what you are doing, are you not choosing to formulate an objective standard?

          • Roger, with all due respect you haven’t been answering my questions. Please don’t straw man me here. I pointed to the objective morality of Yahweh and his attitude towards homosexuality, not an interpretation by modern Christians. Yahweh is the stoner of abominations, not American Christians. Please don’t make this about the “flaws of certain Christians” and please address what I think is clearly the depravity of Yahweh’s disgusting objective morality.

            For the speed zone analogy to work then every human should receive grace after death. Jesus/Yahweh has never revealed himself with a blatant speed sign. It really is the case for every one of us that if he is real at death we would be getting caught by a surprise speed limit. But even if you argue that, which I know your apologetics would, you’re still ignoring Pauls letter stating the idea that Yahweh literally creates humans for hell. Don’t ignore Paul’s reasoning, especially if you think he was inspired by your god.

            Alas, I can’t help but feel that it isn’t me who has misjudged scripture. How do I approach this… Roger, are you really saying I’m misreading a plain story of Yahweh condemning someone breaking the sabbath to a stoning? Numbers 15:32-36 is crystal clear. A man breaks the sabbath and for that alone, Yahweh has all of his people line up and murder the man. How is that morally right?
            Second up, and this is only one of quite a few misogynistic OT passages…
            Deuteronomy 22. Verses 28-29, Yahweh makes it so a raped woman must spend her days with her rapist. In what civilized part of our society would this be considered good?
            Earlier in verses 22-23 Yahweh said clearly that a woman who doesn’t scream for help while being raped should be murdered. Now, as a cop I know for fact that most rapists in a large city who pull a woman into an ally will put a weapon up to her throat and tell her that if she screams she dies. But Yahweh must think that she should scream and risk being murdered there, because if she survives the rape, she’ll get murdered by her own people. Tell me, Roger, how is this morally superior?
            Please, please, please don’t bullshit me. Don’t avoid this sadistic stuff. It needs to be addressed if you truly believe Yahweh authored it, which you’ve said you do.

            I’m not Richard Dawkins, I’m not joking about the Bible for rib shots. I’m a former Christian well versed in exegesis. These verses are especially plain for a man if he says the Bible is inerant. They plainly paint an evil god. Yes, my morality is better. Because true morality is a construct defined by what is best for the most amount of people, the best for a species or community to flourish, not on whatever some outside being decides is fitting in his warped mind. My morality is better. Because my morality allows humans to live when they pick up sticks on a Saturday. My morality protects rape victims, not slaughter them. Anyone stoning a rape victim is a disgrace and depraved being. Tell me, honestly, how can that possibly be good? You were EMS yourself, I’m sure you care for people as much as I do, if not more. Don’t avoid this one, please. How can there EVER be good reason to stone a rape victim?

          • Charlie,
            I appreciate you. If I don’t answer your question it’s not purposeful; I’m not skirting the hard stuff. We have a lot to work through. I’m asking for your patience.
            When did we talk about the objective morality of God??? We have been talking about the objective morality of man, a standard of living that can only be given from an outside moral giver. For example, if I set the rules of my house as follows: 1) All homework is to be done before watching any TV, 2) Bed time is 930PM, and 3) No TV after 9PM. Then let’s say one of my kids has a birthday and I give him an extra 30 min of TV after the 9PM time. Is there anything wrong with this? Can any of the other kids who did not get extra TV call foul? No! They are my rules; it is my house. In the same way, we are not arguing God’s morality. If you’d like to get to God’s goodness we can do that, but I will ask that you consider the totality of God (to include the sacrificial nature at the cross) before casting judgment.
            Further– you hypocrite. I say that to be blunt not personal. In our last dialog you made the point you cannot make the claim Hitler had better/worse morals just different. Here we are, just two days later, and you are boldly and passionately asserting your morals are better. That’s a truth claim. In order to say that you must assume you know better than God. Charlie, if your passion against God (or his morality/goodness/sovereignty) is going to be so blinding, I’m not sure the problem is actually against God but against your pride. You cannot both claim your morals are better AND subjective morality exists.
            Further—do you understand Israel in the OT? Do you understand the laws? Picking and choosing verses without taking in context is bad business. Your verses are clear, but they represent only 1 piece and an incomplete piece at that. Here’s a list of reasons you draw an unfair view of God based on your ‘cherry picked’ verses, (1) You fail to recognize the higher standard of living God expected of the Israelites (like giving your child freedom until he violates freedom—not immoral just applicable for a different time), (2) You assume the laws in the Pentateuch are the only known laws in Israel at the time (the Mishna was available and referenced, though not entirely, other passages reference laws not in the first 5 books, (3) You fail to weigh all of Scripture against your view (the rape of David’s daughter certainly highlights different rules and practices of rape than the verses you use), (4) You are pleading for emotion basing what you know about rape today with the target audience, (5) you fail to recognize the trial process and the humanity of the people, and (6) you do not understand the context of rape. Rape, until 20 years ago, wasn’t even against the law in the US if people were married. In fact, women were considered property in most of the world, through most of history. As it turns out, the way women were treated by Israelite standards was FAR BETTER than anywhere else.
            Yes, your verses seem very clear, but they are still out of context—you are cherry picking negatives in support of your supposition.
            Have I been clear? I want to make sure I’m being blunt…Your subjective morals fail as an explanation against objective morality. Either objective moral values exist and you can (try to) claim foul in the OT, or objective moral values do not exist and the OT is just a different way to live and shouldn’t cause you any concern. But, as it does invoke emotion, I have to assume you feel there were wrongs and that means you deem some level of objective morality. Not to be snippy, but that does require a moral law giver (God). Atheism, at its core, rejects the foundation it stands on.
            I can appreciate the freeing feeling of atheism, but I can’t understand how it made sense of the big questions (where did life come from, what is the purpose/meaning of life). How do you reconcile those questions?

          • Sorry about that confusion, by objective morality of Yahweh I meant the morality you are speaking of, the objective morality of man given by Yahweh. That has been our entire discussion for a while now.

            And, you got me. My emotion did get the best of me and I need to clear things up.
            When I say my morality is better… I am not speaking of Charlie King’s morality personally. And I am not comparing human to human. I should have been clear that I am speaking of the system of human subjective morality vs the system of objective morality based on Yahweh that you present. I am simply using myself as a human example of such.

            I am not cherry picking. Saying that I am is yet another straw man. What I am doing is being a cop. I’m character building. I’m showing that if it is upon Yahweh/Jesus that Christians base their objective morals, it is far more dangerous than a subjective morality based upon, in one example, what’s best for the humans in America. You stated that morality based on our own deciding is dangerous. I’m showing how equally dangerous it is (and more likely with what you would call historical examples) if based on a god (and I’m only talking Christian god, not even the other religion plaguing the globe today). You want to bring up Jesus’ redemption and love but I am showing that that is only a part of who the Judeo Christian God is. It is the only part that most Christians want to “cherry pick.” I am showing his full character. Which, come on, is completely fair. If I only told you my good side you’d think Charlie King is perfect and perfectly loving too.

            Your bedtime analogy falls flat, I’m sorry. This isn’t Yahweh giving something good to someone, it’s him setting the bar of morality a little bit higher than one of the lowest points in human history. The proper analogy would be your kids beating each other senseless until you’re at the hospital every night and you decide, “kids, only beat each other if the other one does _______.” You are making extremely terrible excuses for him, Roger. And not real ones at that. Because Israel was better at their rape practices than surrounding nations, Yahweh is good? A god who speaks through burning bushes and donkeys, appears in smoke and fire, splits rivers, causes plagues, and visits as an angel type being presents the idea of imago Dei to his people. Then he only CURTAILS rape, the treatment of women, murder, and other jacked up ANE practices?

            I fail to see trial process? There is NO context to the sabbath/stick/stoning that will make any sort of sense beyond Yahweh being a jealous, vengeful dictator. I’ve read the entire OT, nothing is in there to make someone say, “oh, see that guy DID deserve that.” Unless that is, if a person thinks whatever Yahweh dictates, no matter how insane, must be good. They brought the guy to Moses for one reason, they didn’t know what to do with someone breaking the sabbath. Yahweh immediately answers, “of course” he has to be murdered. Wtf. What kind of court process is this? If Yahweh wanted a higher standard from the Israelites, then fucking impose it. Even show it. But he doesn’t, does he? Going back to your analogy. Would you beat your wife and tell your kids, “see THIS is the right moment for this kind of behavior, kids.” Or would you love your wife as an example? I think highly enough of you to answer for you; you’d love her and never lay a hand on her regardless of what she did.

            You bring up Jesus’ sacrificial atonement. Well, if Jesus knew he was going to come anyway, because his people would never get the law right, why not make law that excludes rape all together? Why do we have to search more books? Why, as I asked before, is it EVER okay to murder a rape victim? You aren’t being blunt. You can’t give an answer to this, can you? Not without actually condoning rape. You know this. And by knowing this, you prove that Yahweh was condoning rape.

            What you have also done is prove my overall point, Roger. What we see in the OT is not at all an all-knowing creator speaking to his people. We don’t see, even in Jesus (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/858323-exoneration-of-jesus-christ-if-christ-was-in-fact-god), a being who knows what’s to come and sets standards based on that. Instead we see what fits perfectly with my atheist world view. A progression of morality by tribal culture human beings. A progression into more and more civilized societies.

            Here it is: the Bible reads exactly how it should if there is no god and it is simply humans trying to make sense and made do with what they know and have.

            You ask what I do with the big questions? I look for answers. But when a book is riddled with horror that proves it nothing more than ancient philosophy that doesn’t stand up to anything we know today? I discard it as the relic it has proven itself to be and search elsewhere. What I don’t do is cling to an answer, even though I know it’s not the right one, just because a better one hasn’t presented itself. The average Christian’s fears are showing in your last question, Roger. People are afraid of death, so they hold onto what they know, deep down, is a lie. That isn’t faith, it’s delusion. I wrote a post about death. I’m not afraid to die. So maybe that’s why it’s easier for me to let go of the myth than it is for others.

            Although I appreciated our conversations, I don’t feel I can continue on. It’s too difficult with someone who supports the murder of rape victims. This is why I hate Christian morality. It is utterly dangerous and disgusting and always at some point, no matter the persons involved, arrives at this place. Both atheists and religionists have done great evils in history, but right now, Christianity is the most damaging thing to civilized society. The terror it presents within politics and societal values is almost worse than the terror threat we have from the constant literal bombings of another religion. And please, Roger, please don’t ever tell another person that they “don’t understand the context of rape.” That actually made me want to vomit. If you tell your gf/wife that, I can almost guarantee that you’ll see how disgusting you become in their eyes.

          • When is a long story. Why… Because I believed Christianity to be the true system of belief (i.e. Religion), god to be a real thing, and Yahweh/Jesus/Spirit to be that god. But I never liked identifying myself as a “Christian,” it was too modern and American. It put me into boxes in other people’s eyes that I didn’t want to be in. I was a Christian but I always identified myself as a believer in Yahweh as my savior through Jesus as my propitiation and the Bible as absolute truth.
            Honestly though, my previous beliefs have no bearing on everything I said about context of rape and the morality Yahweh presents in the OT. Or the many other issues I can now clearly point to.
            Roger, don’t stress it, maybe it’s just time we broke the convo off. No hard feelings, bro.

          • We can break it off, as much apologetics seems to be about convincing atheists they’re wrong, that’s never my goal. I try to show our perspective is reasonable and a coherent worldview. Sometimes that comes through more forceful than it needs to. Ultimately, if you do continue to dialog with me we don’t have to argue different perspectives. I really would like to know more about your perspective (though that does mean I’ll defend my position against yours – apologetics /defense – which I also would expect the same from you).
            So if you’re up for just learning from each other (though I’ll probably be doing more learning than you) will you tell me more about your perspective on Internet atheists; do you think they are helping advocate for a better world free of religion (just curious, no motive)?

            If not, just let me clarify I understand rape today I was making the case that words don’t carry the same context from 20 years ago, imagine the possible changes from 4000 years ago.

            With that, thanks for the discussion. I’ll be here if you ever just wanna talk. Blessings, friend.

  4. This article only works if one already has a belief in the Christian version of God. Even the author admits none of it is evidence when he notes that it’s all inferences based on common experience. We can say that for any religion.
    @atheisttrooper on Twitter/@atheiststormtrooper on Instagram.

    • Hi atheiststormtrooper!

      Love the avatar–genius. Thanks for reading my post! I’m a little confused why you think I presupposed God. This is a part 3 so I suppose I am drawing on some previous conclusions as I formulated this, but my intent was to show that evidence supports God, namely billions of biochemical machines which operate in unison, independently, and interdependently are required for life. Or in simple terms, DNA cannot exist apart from the cell and the cell cannot exist apart from DNA. But, supposing that evolutionary one did pre-exist the other and the extraordinary complexity we see today is natural happenstance, we still run into the problem I addressed in my 2nd piece (If God would: Show Me), that we still have no idea where the first anything came from. So, while you rightly argue my point this does not mandate the Christian God, assuming the Christian God is a far better, far more adequate response based on what we now. And, as much as I love neglecting the evidence altogether by saying science doesn’t know yet, this completely undermines the responsibility to answer the question now.
      So, if I the question was asked, what started the universe, I could answer God because of the evidence listed above. You, alternatively, could answer ‘I don’t know’, but in doing so you automatically and necessarily take a position of less intelligence by ignoring the evidence presented.
      All that to say, I do not presuppose God, but evidentially argue that God does fit the presupposition requiring an answer.

      Hope this helps clarify.

      • You assume that complicated organisms require an intelligent and sentient creator. You need to prove that before any of your other arguments can be valid. If you could prove an intelligent creator existed, how would you prove its your version and not Allah, Thor, Odin, etc…

        • You are skipping a couple steps, but I’m happy to address those, too.

          First, as we discussed above, it is not proof that God exists, it is argument that God is the best answer given what we currently know now. This is a scientific method. Take the Higgs-Bosson for example. Based on calculated data, it was determined that a ‘god particle’ must exist though we cannot see it–it was eventually found. Same premise here, based on what we see, I offer God as the best conclusion. Let’s continue science and re-evaluate as more information is available. Until such time as abiogenesis or alien life spewing living matter across galaxies is offered, God is the best (and in my opinion only) viable reason for any life at all let alone extremely complicated life as we have now.

          With that said, how do we get from intelligent creator to the Christian God is a fantastic question. That requires looking at the creation for a signature. As this is not the intent of this post (and since this particular topic is worthy of several posts itself) I offer a summary, not a critical review with an argumentative conclusion. So, to determine Christian God, one might look at historical evidences like the resurrection, prophetic texts, divine revelations, sacred texts, an internal signature like morality, and take all information cumulatively to draw a conclussion (does a society drawn to love point to a god of war or a god of peace, e.g.).

          Hope this helps clarify, and thanks for the engagement!

  5. So you’re saying there is no evidence for your version of God, it’s just your best guess based on the information you’ve seen. Got it. I can say the same thing about my cat. Check out my post on that on my WordPress account. Your “evidence” that its the Christian God starts off suspect. As I continue to mention, (and believers continue to ignore) you need to prove certain core events occurred before the rest of it means anything. Historical (which should really say “biblical”) accounts of the resurrection are meaningless because we know dead people can’t come back to life. We know virgins can’t give birth to children. Address those issues.

    • A lot of good points here. Quickly clarifying, historic verification is not limited to the bible, evidence is interpreted (always) so if the evidence I submit leads you to determine ‘your cat did it’ perhaps we should start by addressing limitations of felines prior to intellectual conversation, and we know virgins don’t give birth in the same way we know nothing does not produce something. Seems we are still at an impass. I submit life exists in complexity based on current scientific understanding. Using that same logic, I submit God as the most reasonable conclusion. What evidence do you offer that’s more reasoned and accounts for ALL life and complexity that we have now?

  6. As I understand it so far, your version of God is your best guess based on your personal observations and study. Seems meaningless, other than on a personal level for you, to say that. I can use that same logic with anything. Check my post on WordPress about my cat being God. You’re still working off assumptions as fact. Please address these core issues: Dead people returning to life days after they died; and virgin women giving birth. Any evidence outside of the bible that proves either of these events did or can occur? Also, if you claim your God is a God of peace, you might need to reread the OT again.

    • Ok. Before anything else…outstanding work on the cat piece. I say that sincerely recognizing the humor.
      Now, on with the argument.
      A ‘best guess’ is hardly the conclusion. You might call it a theory (and I use that with the same level of certainty that you would say the ‘theory’ of evolution, or the ‘theory’ of gravity). My theory fits many testable data such as, but not limited to, evidence of objective moral values, appearance of design, irreducible complexity, origin of life, mind /body differences, the ability to reason vs only react (which would be the case of we were only chemicals), and order in the universe allowing for science (vs everything being random and science is useless). Now, you have the right to reject some or all of these but in fairness you should be willing /able to offer a counter theory that fits ALL of these. For instance, if your cat created the world I would ask you to identify why your cat gives the appearance of youth (less than 15 years old) while the earth it created gives the appearance of maturity (greater than 15 years old). Assuming you would have rational, that same rational must fit each piece of the aforementioned evidence and significantly more in fact.

      As for your questions about the dead raising and virgins birthing, my worldview (that God exists and is all powerful) has no problem fitting those miracles into the equation. It’s further proof (though I’m not asking you to accept it) that my theory holds merit. Your worldview, on the contrary, instead of offering alternative options (an alien typewriter exploded in the earth’s atmosphere around the time of 300BC which was fortunate to land on papyrus in ink blots that reassemble language depicting a virgin birth which the locals 300 years later conspired to doctor all the manuscripts of their time to fit ancient prophesy so they could be made into movies 2000 years later perhaps–just spit ballin). But instead of offer a conclusion for why we have the evidence we do (prophetic writings, eye witness accounts, mass conversation within 1 generation, embarrassing testimony, and historical (extra-biblical) resources..you just say impossible and neglect the very thing (science) which you put all your trust. Fine. You can do that.

      But.

      If you are going to both reject the evidence AND refuse to provide an alternative theory, you necessarily forfeit your rights and ability to say my view is wrong because I developed a theory you didn’t like.

      Maybe your cat can fill in the blanks for you *wink*

      • Your “rules” are awesome. I’m under no obligation to provide an alternate theory just to question your’s. That’s equivalent to telling a cook you don’t like his soup but he won’t listen because you can’t produce a better soup. Also, what I am rejecting (again) isn’t evidence. Eyewitness testimony from a 2000+ year old book isn’t evidence. Historical verification of places and people mentioned in the bible isn’t evidence of the supernatural events. Read my other post about seeing a flying dragon.

        • That’s a horrible comparison (i don’t mean that as insulting just pointed towards the comparison). A better example is telling a cook he didn’t make your soup while enjoying all the nutrients and benefits the soup provides. And when someone asks where you got the soup you just say ‘I don’t know’. In this example, the theist is the guy willing to go to the kitchen and meet the chef while the atheist plays the lazy glutton who only cares for the soup and not the chef.

          Rejecting eye witness testimony is to reject all of science because science is the eye witness documentation of scientific principles. What good is science of no one sees it?

          As to your dragons, perhaps it would be more believable of your cat didn’t just tell you to write down names from the DC phone book, but your holy napkin was corroborated by other holy napkins written by some of the people on your list. Just a thought, but maybe you could also provide a holy piece of toilet paper predicting a dragon before the dragon appears. And maybe that dragon could stop down and show its power and draw crowds and tell the crowds to prepare because he was going to turn into a mouse but not to worry he would be dragon form again in 3 days. See what you’re not understanding is christianity isn’t just about filling in gaps. Rather, it offers the best explanation based on thousands of years of data, hundreds of generations of thinkers trying to understand how so much evidence could point to God (including personal relationship but I don’t want you getting ahead of me). And eventually the conclusion wasn’t “i found a way to answer all these questions without God.” No. The answer became “let’s just ignore the evidence and offer no conclusion”. A full on, wizard of Oz, cop out…pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

          Yup, my “rules” allow you to reject my conclusion, but the consequence means I get to call you lazy for refusing to think through all the evidence I offer by smugly sitting in a corner, doodling on a kerchief spouting “my cat made me do it”.
          Hmph

          • Hooray, personal slights! Well done. You keep saying I’m ignoring evidence yet you haven’t produced any. Science isn’t simply based on what someone sees with the naked eye. There are numerous instruments to monitor and record events that can’t be seen otherwise. Ask anyone in law enforcement (my field) about eyewitness accounts. They are the weakest points of evidence. I did offer a conclusion and an alternate cause. My cat. Prove me wrong. You can’t, because I’m using the same “evidence” you are to support my position.

          • Sure. I’ve seen him and experienced his holiness. So have others. I have the holy paper towels, written under his holy inspiration, that exclaim his glory and authority over the universe. The holy work references people and places that are known to exist, so clearly is accurate and factual in all things.

          • What? These are the same types of evidence you use to support that your version of God exists. Why are they valid for you and not me? I have eyewitnesses, an inerrant holy book that says my cat is God and contains references to people and places known to exist. My personal education and experience leads me to conclude that he is God. You can’t prove any of this isn’t true.

          • The sane types!? No at all…so far all you’ve produced are some digital words and an Internet graphic. I’m wondering if you know (1) What evidence is, (2) What evidence is offered by christianity, or (3) if you care about either. If the answer to 3 is ‘no’, then I politely thank you for your time and a few laughs, but I will not be responding if there is no interest in learning (on both sides)

          • I have photos of the cat’s holy paper towels here. I’m using the same type of evidence you are. I don’t see your issue, other than you know you can’t prove me wrong, which means my position is just as “valid” as your’s.

          • Of course! Myself and multiple others have seen him and experienced his glory. He wrote a holy work that is inerrant and references people and places known to exist. Why won’t you believe? Can you prove he doesn’t exist?

  7. Sorry for the duplicate comment. I thought the first didn’t post. I don’t know how all this started. I’m fine not having an answer right now. To say “therefore, God” is lazy. You don’t need to think about anything after that. My cat, being a supernatural being, is above normal cat standards. So that explains that one away. Can you prove my cat isn’t the creator of the universe?

  8. Hi Roger. I pulled this out of the very long thread since it’s a different topic. In reply to my query about objective morality, you wrote:

    “I’ll give you my proof but I won’t argue over alternatives views because the point of the post we’re commenting on is: while you can dismiss things like objective moral values, any alternative provided requires more faith.
    So, objective morality is best evidenced by recognizing the value of humanity. You can subjectively argue semantics and how value is applied, but because humans have value we are morally responsible to care for humanity (which is objectively moral).”

    Regarding the first part, I don’t see that at all. I see a clear tie between our evolutionary development as a species and our development of empathy and social concerns. You can see this clearly reflected elsewhere in the animal kingdom. So I don’t see a need for “more faith” in a relativist view of morality.

    Regarding the second part, that is seems so vague as to border on meaningless; but I’ll try to see if I understand you. You seem to be saying that all humans (and presumably anything else in the universe capable of moral judgements) would recognize that human life has value. That while there may be differences in the amount of value applied, the mere recognition of that value demonstrates objective morality. Is that correct?

    Would you say that value must be recognized as intrinsic or could it be purely utilitarian value, ie: the way we might value a rock or a tree because it is a resource we can utilize?

    • First, empathy is not the recognition of value. I can empathize with someone going through hard times but that doesn’t mean that I think the have worth. Also, value isn’t simply a thing we all have in common because we all survived the womb. If that were the case, or value would follow on an evolutionary scale (people hooked to ventilators, for example, would have less value). Rather, we see human value at the core of morality. But again, this isn’t a post on all the possible views of morality or human value. It’s the one (of many) that shows God is most likely in this set of data (but there are lots and lots of other data sets). In that way it’s not utilitarian, it’s endowed by a creator.

      • I think this is an important point. Universal moral values do seem like something that would strongly point toward design. However, I can see you are beset by someone making silly arguments about cats right now, so perhaps we can revisit the question after that has concluded. 🙂

        Have a great day!

        • My apologies if I gave you mistreatment — not my intent. If you’d like to continue, universal moral values are what gives value to the raped and the rapist. We show empathy and compassion to the raped but in the process we do not forgo value of the rapist…there is still a trial, punishment is payment of the crime not the person, and even during the punishment we still apply cruelty rules to their treatment…We still value their humanity. If we are merely chemical advancements of evolution, the rapist would have no value; we would simply kill those values that we don’t want to survive from our universal perspective and would end up in a hitleresk / nazi Germany perfecting the Aryan race (which we know is bad objectively).

          Does (solely) evolutionary process account for value of weaker/dumber/social outcast/etc etc persons who do not contribute to the general good of evolution? I don’t think so, and I definitely don’t think a reasoned argument for it is more reasoned than the case for God.

          Do you agree?

          If this is not the direction you were hoping for, I do thank you for your time and only meant respect in our dialog.

          • No problem. I didn’t feel mistreated, only that you were distracted. Thanks taking time for the thoughtful response.

            It seems we mean different things by “objective”. To me, an Objective Truth is one that is unchanging regardless of your point of view. “1 + 1 = 2” is a symbolic representation of an underlying Objective Truth. “Existence is the opposite of non-existence” is another. The force of gravity is yet another. These things form part of our objective reality. We filter them through our subjective perceptions, but regardless those things remain True.

            Value judgements, by contrast, are inherently subjective. Nazi Germany was not objectively bad. It was good for some people, and bad for a much larger number. Our collective view of it shifts with time and changing moral values, and our individual value judgements on it are widely varied even to this day. This is not intended to defend Nazi Germany, but rather to point out that the very concepts of “good” and “bad” are inherently subjective.

            As further evidence of this, consider our view of behavior in the animal kingdom. We may very well dislike the pain predators inflict on prey, but most humans don’t condemn them as inherently bad or wrong. We understand that it is bad for the prey, but good for the predator.

          • I definitely agree with you on the difference between objective and subjective. Where we differ, however, is how we determine which is which. That is, just because some people thought they were doing good has no bearing on whether they were. The same is true in view of historic lenses; I’m not concluding that any one point in history was more or less moral (which is a common objection for things like OT slavery). My point is only that a standard exists whether or not we follow it.
            The animal kingdom is a great comparison! Our ability to reason,think, and generally not ‘act like animals’ is another point that I would argue points to God. This is where I get my idea that God best explains the evidence. Because now you need evolution to explain morals (which I argued as simply a responsibility to treat people as valued) AND evolution needs to explain thought and reason (uniquely) away from other evolved critters. So it’s not that I don’t think evolution offers a response, but I don’t think it’s the best response of these 2 points. Further, I think evolution completely falls flat one we add the other things that need answered (origins, first cause, the evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. Etc).

            Did that better explain it?

          • “because some people thought they were doing good has no bearing on whether they were”

            Agreed wholeheartedly. So how do we determine that were or weren’t. Where is the Objective measure that is True from all points of view? Utilitarianism attempts this, but it seems to me that it’s just summing subjective viewpoints to try to arrive at a collective rather than Objective truth.

            Regarding the animal kingdom, the ability to reason is not unique to humans, nor is it universal engaged in humans. There is considerable scientific evidence to suggest that on an individual basis we usually act first, then invent the justifications for our actions afterwards. Similarly, anyone who has had a dog knows that they are capable of at least some moral judgements, such as knowing when they have done something wrong; and even exhibiting the self control to not do something they badly want to because they know it is bad.

            “now you need evolution to explain morals”

            No, quite the opposite. Evolution is established fact — yes, even macroevolution. The evidence for it is irrefutable and constantly growing, while no contradictory evidence has withstood scrutiny. So evolution is there, part of the observable reality. If morals can be explained in evolutionary terms that just shows that no alternative explanation is required. I say “if” because the evolution of morals is not, to the best of my knowledge, something that has the degree of scientific certainty that evolution overall does.

            “evolution needs to explain thought and reason (uniquely) away from other evolved critters”

            If by “uniquely” you mean that other animals don’t think or reason then we have a disagreement on a point of fact, or perhaps on the definition of thinking and reasoning. It seems relatively easy to establish that other animals besides humans exhibit various degrees of thinking and reasoning.

          • “How do we determine…”
            This is a great question. The hard fact is, if we only try through the lens of human understanding, it’s not possible. We need an objective moral law giver, we need an outside standard — we need God. (As a courtesy, I accept disagreement but I’m replying from my phone and likely won’t get to detailed reply on this topic tonight because I’d want to include people smarter and more researched than me if you want to discuss further).

            As an FYI, I have not refuted evolution. My main point of contention is that evolution isn’t in an of itself sufficient for the degree of complexity (both biomechanically in the cell and in terms of metaphysical examples outside the ‘self’).
            Ultimately I think we are going to gravitate to different conclusions. What I hope to show is that my particular worldview is not unreasoned, does not dismiss scientific findings, but offers a contrasting explanation for what we know. Is that fair?

          • I’ve never thought that viewpoints that accepted God were inherently unreasoned. And I’m glad you aren’t disputing evolution.

            “The hard fact is, if we only try [to determine objective morality] through the lens of human understanding, it’s not possible. We need an objective moral law giver, we need an outside standard — we need God.”

            I agree. And thus we are locked into circular reasoning — if you assume that God has provided that objective moral law, then you can compare things to it (as best you understand it through your understand of God’s laws). But without assuming God, there isn’t an identifiable objective moral law present in nature. This is distinct from something like “1 + 1 = 2”, which we find in the universe regardless of whether we assume God or not.

            Circular reasoning doesn’t mean something is wrong, of course, just that it can’t be verified independently. Some circular reasoning is inherent in any viewpoint. For instance, I believe that evidence is a superior mechanism to faith for understanding Truth. I have plenty of evidence of this…. but now I’m stuck, because that’s circular reasoning.

            Please, take your time and respond when it’s convenient for you. Enjoy your day in the meantime.

          • I really like your consideration of both sides here. The point that I think helps characterize morality outside of the circular reasoning is when we incorporate all aspects into the equation. I don’t mean to keep reiterating this point, but I think it’s the best argument for Christianity as an objective standard (i.e. not appealing to emotion or personal experience, though I think those are equally or more important inside the faith). That point is the culmination of all facts. So, if we start with origins (and I am only making this a summary) and we have 3, 10, 100, however many possibilities to include: aliens, god, gravity, energy fluctuation, etc, etc, etc. As science has not demonstrated any ability to “know” as of yet, it’s a personal guess based on what we (individually) feel is the most likely based on other scientific findings. From their we move to current life situation. We know we have the ability to think, reason, reflect, love, live, die, breathing, circulate blood, etc. etc. etc….What would get life from origins to here and we make another list: aliens influence, God, evolution, etc. Then we go from what is to what ought to be (including the study of philosphies and meta physics). These things are scientific, but they are not science as it often includes things not material. Using these studies we look at probabilities–if we are alien implants should our worldview be focused on, what if we are creations of God, what if we are nothing but a heap of chemical reactions? (etc….) This is where two things come together in my mind, and the point I’m hoping to see your perspective on. When all the things are presented to which we need to account for, the only piece that remains constant is God. Further, once we assume God, the objectivity of morals begins to manifest and we can tangibly test what was with what is and see if what ought appears…and it does! We can look back and say, “I see why killing special needs babies seemed like a good idea, but we now know that’s wrong; all humanity has value.”
            I could go on and on about how god fits every piece, but I think this makes my point–objective moral values don’t necessarily point to the start of the argument, but they do fit the conclusion and therefore add value to the argument in general. All that to say, circular? Yes, but not without reason.
            I think science has answers for every piece of the puzzle that fit reletively nicely into answer all the questions. But, I also feel like everytime you need a different process to explain something you start to lean away from ‘fortunate coincidence’ to ‘unlikely but necessary’. Eventaully there will just be too many coincidences to be believable (i.e. typewriter explosion producing the Library of Congress).
            Is that a better summary?

          • Please elaborate on why you’re comfortable saying, “I see why killing special needs babies seemed like a good idea …” If your claim is that God formed a universally morality, shouldn’t killing special needs babies have been wrong since the beginning? I’m just the ignorant, arrogant, incendiary guy here, so help me understand.

          • Good question, I don’t think I explained that well. Killing special needs babies was a real practice during the Nazi Germany rule. Hitler used Dawinian evolution as a motivator to generate a super race–the Aryan race. He did not value humanity, he valued the strongest/fittest, the ones nature would “select” so as to breed dominance. It failed.
            My point here was, if we subjectively apply our own reasoning/morality we will fail. We can look back and say, “I can see why you thought that” but then we must also grow and learn. If our subjective knowledge consistently discovers that the standards set by God work, and following the ordinances of the Bible promote social benefits, we begin to recognize the objective morality vs a unanimous consent to subjective ideas.

            Also, if you’d note, I did not call you ignorant, arrogant, or incendiary. The phrase (purposefully) was, you are coming across that way. Another way to say it, your words are brash.

            Does this clear it up, I can try to give more examples?

          • Got it. I think you’re misusing “Darwinian evolution”. It’s not about survival of the strongest/fittest. Evolution at its base is survival of the organism most adaptable to the environment and it passing those characteristics to its offspring while the less adaptable eventually die off. Maybe you meant that Hitler misused the concept. If God implants an objective morality in all of us, do you feel Hitler knew he was doing wrong and did it anyway or that be truly believed he was doing the right thing? Is God above or outside the objective morality he imposes on us? He’s certainly killed plenty of babies.

          • Your second point was right, Hitler believed darwinian evolution was survival of the fittest. Keep in mind, this is when the concept was still fairly new and molecular biology wasn’t even around yet.
            You are also missing the point about objectivity. Ed made great points about “1+1=2” whether we recognize it or not. Same is true of obj. moral values. Just because we don’t adhere to them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
            What would strike you, I believe, is finding those values comes as a result of not living the values. That is, I don’t think I truly understood the harm of stealing until I got caught stealing. And it wasn’t the punishment that hurt, it was the face of the one I stole from. The heart and the value of the person behind the object was more compelling than punishment (just 1 example).
            In that way, I think Hitler was blinded by power. I don’t think Hitler cared about anyone but himself–which is a danger in society accepting relative moral values. You lose the right to say my values are better than yours, you can only say my values are different than yours. When that happens, Hitlers views are justifiable. Objective morality isn’t just real, it’s necessary.

          • Are you saying you didn’t know stealing was bad until you did it and experienced the consequences? That would seem to support a subjective morality if it took you being punished by realizing your effect on the victim to realize stealing is wrong. Regardless of an objective or subjective morality, it’s still not proof of any God. This is one of those conversations believers use to redirect away from having to prove God exists in the first place. I think believing your morals are objective and better than others is more dangerous. That causes wars and other violence.

          • You’re injecting a poor bias of religion again. What is the difference between bad and wrong? Is all evil harmful or all harm evil? How do you decide? Is your way of deciding different than someone else’s? Is one better than another, how do you decide?
            at the core of this debate is the idea that we can reason our way to a unanimous conclusion. But that’s simply not possible without an objective standard. My point isn’t that an objective standard is subjectively adhered to, my point is that an object standard exists. But we can’t find it with inner reflection, it must be given from an outside source. As long as we pursue subjective standards, we will never be able to identify the objective standards set by God.
            I don’t write this to argue my ways are better than yours, I write this to say God’s ways are better than ours. My way thought stealing was ok–they had plenty, I had little. I was wrong, but I wasn’t going to find that out within my own ability to reason. The source needed to come from outside of me.
            To that, you are right, we all have subjective moral values. But, and this is a bit but, subjective morality can only please ourselves and therefore is inadequate for the design within us as a communal species. We enjoy others, we value others, and applying subjective reasoning will fail.

            I hope that clears it up, I’m really not trying to ruffle feathers, but give a case (an apologetic) for God. I’m not asking you to agree, I’m asking you to see beyond your own understanding. Respectfully.

          • You’re still, and always will be, operating from your assumption that God is real and everything you say feeds off of that. Again, still need to prove that before anything else you claim means anything. Are you saying there’s a universal objective moral code but we humans can operate under our own subjective morality? If subjective morality exists within the framework of an objective morality, it seems to me that any discussion about the existence and source of an objective morality is meaningless other than as an interesting conversation. Without God, would you still be stealing?

          • There is a law in a city near me that says “Power Wheels cars may not be driven on the street.” Let’s say I saw someone driving a Power Wheel down the street in this city; does that mean the law doesn’t exist? Operating differently that an objective standard doesn’t do anything to prove the alternative.

            Now, as for proving God (and to thankfully get back to the post we should be talking about here). The post points out that billions of organized, unified, necessary, and structured, independent geotides, genomes, proteins, and other components must be precise in order for life to exist as we know it. It paints this picture in a comparison (this is important). The premise of the paper is: If God would rearrange 1000 stars to make 2 words that would be a clear depiction of God. So my post focuses on the fact that there are details of life FAR more intricate and intelligent than 1000 stars. In the comparison, then, we must conclude that if 1000 stars = God, DNA must also (indeed far more) prove God’s existence.

          • I’m not arguing necessarily that an objective morality doesn’t exist, just that it doesn’t prove any God. Who said 1000 stars = God? And how would you prove that? There’s a great example of you stating an assumption as fact and basing all your conclusions on that. I could claim 1000 stars = Odin and it would carry just as much weight.

          • So that seems to be where our disconnect lies. If objective morality exists, it can only exist from an external source (God). Please note, this post did not start out as a proof of obj. morality, which is why a lot of this seem sporadic.
            First point, the person who said 1000 stars equals God is addressed in the post. This is the third in a series. Check out the link in the post “If God Would: Answer Prayer”, that was the first and describes the context of why’s and who’s.

            “1000 stars = Odin” Yes! This is a fantastic point. However, before we can get to which God exists, we must first establish “A” God exists. That’s the point here. It seems moot to me to start tackling which God with you as I don’t think you’ve come to the conclusion that any god exists yet. Am I off base with that assumption? The premise of these articles is to answer the question “What would it take for you to believe in God?” How would you answer that question?

          • You’re good at trying to turn conversations. I love that you say we must first establish a God exists. That’s exactly what I’ve been saying and you have yet to do so. You know what would convince me. Evidence.

          • You are great at spinning. Evidence is demonstrable, repeatable, observable and recordable. Provide evidence a dead man came back to life and I’m in. Again, as I keep repeating and you continue to ignore, if you can’t prove the core belief of the resurrection, everything that stems from it is moot.

          • “Evidence is demonstrable, repeatable, observable…”
            Using only these as evidence can you please prove to me yesterday? How would you demonstrate yesterday? Can you repeat it? Also, I’m going to want to observe it from today’s perspective not as an observer of yesterday (that means newspapers and television programs with yesterday’s date do not count–those can all be doctored). What about the number 63, how might I observe or repeat a number?
            These may sound silly, but the issue at hand is you are asking for physical evidence of a non-physical God (much like yesterday and the number 63 are non-physical).
            Also, I have not made any claim to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course dead people don’t rise from the dead! Of course, by that same logic, you might also say, “Show me how nothing produces something.” So, if you can’t prove the core of scientism or materialism or naturalism, everything from that is moot.
            Also, you’ll note that I do expect creation of life (from nothing) to be demonstrable, repeatable, observable and recordable…by your standards, not mine.

          • So Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? It’s a yes or no question. I like how you try to turn everything back on me.

            Me: “Show me evidence.”
            You: “I can’t but you can’t either for yesterday and a number. So I’m right because I say so based on my opinion.”

            That’s how I hear you.

          • This is how you should hear it:
            (You): Show me evidence that 2+2=4
            (Me): Over here are 2 apples, over there are 2 apples, if we count them all we have 4–proof
            (You): Hold on, prove it without counting, or using numbers

            You limit the evidence you allow and continue asking for more evidence. It’s frustrating on both ends. Wish I could help more.

          • So, just to recap…
            You cat is a god, your holy book is a handwritten napkin, you personally vouch for a flying dragon over the DC area, and all apples are invisible.
            Seems legit…why should I take you seriously?

          • Ha! You’re awesome. Why won’t you answer that question? Jesus rose from the dead. Yes or no? It’s a core, the core, belief in Christianity. The risen, living God. So did it really happen or not?

          • As fun as I think it would be to hang out and be friends, alas I am also a husband, father, full & part time employee…hesitation here is often just prioritizing elsewhere.

          • Nice dodge. You were able to address other points from the same comments readily enough. Anyway, I’d ask what evidence you have for the resurrection, but I’ll address some common answers and why they don’t work. You can add any I missed.

            Eyewitnesses. You can’t trust eyewitness accounts from a 2000+ year old book, particularly when those accounts are only noted in that one book. To say no one might have edited or added to the work in that centuries long period is at best naive.
            Empty tomb. Any explanation, however far fetched, that doesn’t include a supernatural element is more reasonable and credible than angels moving the stone away and a dead man come back to life. Maybe his followers bribed the guard and took the body away. No way to know, but more likely than magic.
            Did I miss anything?

          • “You can’t trust eye witnesses” This is a categorically weak argument (and my personal pet peeve). Let’s assume you’re married and you wife walks in and says, “Honey, I’m having an affair.” She is giving a personal testimony of the things she saw and did–do you believe her? You have nothing to go on except her eye witness testimony that it happened. This carries into every possible thing you could imagine. A Scientist says, “I’ve discovered an new rock.” The rock is in a lab 3,000 miles from you. You will never see this rock, or feel the rock, is it real? You assumption is based entirely on 1 eye witness account. Not applicable enough to the Bible, what if a diary is found with the inscription “John Wilkes Booth” on the inside. The diary contains events of what he did to prepare for the assassination of JFK. He did everything in secret and never told or showed anyone else–all this is 1 eye witness testimony. Do you believe it?
            This is the kind of stuff we have to substantiate the Bible–we have non-Christian writings (Thallus, Tacitus, Mara Bar-Serapion, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, and many, MANY more). Keep in mind these all are within 20-50 years of the time of Jesus. You will note: there is NO (zero, none, zip, nadda, nil) disagreement among scholars that a man, by the name of Jesus, existed 2000 years ago. If he existed, where might you suggest looking for the things he said and did? With those who never met him, or with those who followed him–the eye witnesses?
            As to the editing (adding/subtracting/changing) we have original documents. We aren’t just sitting back, reading our 1611 King James Bible and evaluating history through translation of translation–we are using the 21000 (thats tweny-one-THOUSAND) manuscripts to get an account of what was happening. In comparison, we have just a few hundred to support Plato AND Aristotle…combined. I’d say we aren’t just being whimsical in our research.
            The empty tomb….
            I absolutely agree with you here. IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN THE SUPERNATUTAL, any option regardless of possibility or liklihood is more reasonable. This is why I think it’s important to first establish God exists. Because if God exists, the supernatural option not only becomes possible, but becomes the MOST LIKELY to fit every piece of evidence we have (mass conversions, mass and simultaneous witnesses, non-Christ follower involvement, testimony of women, conversion of Saul of Tarsus, etc, etc, etc….). The evidence of supernatural resurrection is overwhelming if you allow it. If you do not allow it, you must constantly make excuses and dismiss what you don’t like to fit your own worldview.
            So….
            I’ve addressed your points, added a lot of other evidence and have reasoned those responses in comparison to other historic and well established figures. What more evidence would convince you?

          • I’ll start from the top. The “affair” is a bad example. Why would someone lie about that? Also, it’s not a supernatural event. If my wife said she is having an affair, I’d leave. If she said she could fly like Super Girl, I’d say “Cool. Show me.” A scientist discovering a new rock would not have one eyewitness. Before he could claim “new rock”, he’d have studied it with different devices to determine its composition. He would write a paper and submit it to a peer reviewed journal. Also, after all that, another scientist could say, “Hey, we found evidence it’s not what you think it is.” and the process would start over. Booth planning to kill JFK? Easy to immediately dismiss since their respective moments with assassination occurred about 100 years apart. The existence of Jesus is irrelevant. Does it prove the supernatural events? No more than my story about Mitt Romney riding a dragon proves the dragon is real. Plato and Aristotle didn’t claim to have supernatural powers; that’s the difference there and with this entire conversation. Unless you can claim you have all of the first written documents, then you can’t claim “original”, just the oldest examples. Your last part is awesome: You’ve used the supernatural elements as evidence to prove God exists, but here you’re saying we need to establish God exists first then we can accept the supernatural. Holy circle, Batman! And “the evidence … is overwhelming if you allow it.” That’s my favorite. The people that believe in alien visitors and Big Foot would say the same thing. When you say “allow”, I hear “suspend your reason and believe in magic”. Since you insist on calling what you have presented “evidence”, I will end this comment with this: Your evidence requires a suspension of reason and how we understand the physical world works and doesn’t meet any standard of proof.

          • Interesting. So as long as it fits your worldview the evidence is acceptable. You set limits and accuse me of suspending reason, when what you meant to say is I challenge you to look at your worldview and see if it holds merit. Sadly, it does not. You will ultimately appeal to science that says the universe is expanding as we go forward in time, and therefore agree that it must contract as you go backwards in time. Of course we know that contraction can only go to one point and will leave us at a moment billions of years ago…the beginning. A big boom (or bang) and viola! Existence! Exciting…if it met your standards. Unfortunately, you must suspend your materialistic worldview (the one that says nothing doesn’t produce something, dead people don’t rise, and the supernatural does not exist) in order for it to happen. I’m sure you can delay this by offering the multi-verse ad nausium, but you will always end up at a point when 1 nano-second earlier, nothing existed and 1 nano-second later everything existed. The universe is full of these moments when materialsim has 2 choices: deny materialism or ignore the evidence. I see you are electing ignorance. Wish I could have communicated better, but alas–I will not give up on you 🙂

          • These aren’t my standards of evidence. You claim your version of God meets and even supports scientific standards. This is clearly false since you can’t provide evidence for any supernatural biblical events that would satisfy scientific scrutiny. You keep repeating your nonsense likes it’s a mantra or chant that will somehow, on the 99th repetition, make me go, “Wow, now I see! You’re right!” Too funny. I never claimed “something came from nothing”. That’s what you apologists parrot around to make atheists sound like idiots. Whatever was there to create the start of the universe at that moment, we don’t know yet. You say “God” as a place filler. Not sure why. Are you uncomfortable with not knowing something? You’re communicating very clearly. You believe a donkey spoke like a human, a virgin gave birth to a child, two guys walked on water and a dead man came back to life after 3 days. Yet I’m the ignorant one. Hilarious.

          • In the book “The Devil’s Dillusion” by David Bolinski (Agnostic atheist) wrote this, “Has anyone ever provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine tuned to allowed for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything as long as it is not a religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify their claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ballpark. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”

            There is more to this world than observable, repeatable, and demonstrable data. You don’t have to jump right to God, but you do need to recognize that materialism is inadequate, naturalism is lacking, and scientism is insufficient to support a coherent worldview. That is not to say that science is wrong, but absolutely to say that science has limits. Science is a tool to help determine what is but cannot show what ought to be (this is a limitation). The information produced by science is then interpreted (another limitation). The tool can also only be applied to what is known (another limitation). Science is useful! BUT it is not the end-all of information. It is not the fear of the unknown which scares me, it is the recognition of scientific limitations which drives me to ask more questions and find more answers. Sorry, my friend, it appears the unknown is what scares you.

          • I’m scared? I’m not the one who needs an invisible being to explain away everything I don’t know. A few things wrong with the quote. Trying to prove something doesn’t exist is impossible. By that argument, everything you can conceive of is real. Can you prove invisible and discorporeal elephants aren’t standing behind you right now? Since you can’t, does that mean they exist? Has science explained how/why the universe is here: no, but it’s working on it. Religion just says “God did it” and that’s the end of questioning. Scientists not believing in religious thought: In reference to scientific works, of course not. Religion isn’t evidence based, regardless of your feelings on that. Morality is subjective. What is “good” is dependent on culture, laws, etc… What evil things has secularism for the sake of secularism done in the 20th century? Examples? Did secular minds campaign during the Crusades or conduct the Spanish Inquisition? Were secular terrorists flying the planes into the Twin Towers? Scientific rules need to be narrow to help define and conduct experiments. Too loose and your data is meaningless. You don’t need science or philosophy to show religion is irrational. Watch the news and see religious folk killing themselves and others in the name of their particular God. What more do you need to show irrationality? “Intellectual contempt” I’m assuming means atheists towards religious types. It’s a challenge not to assume some superiority in that capacity when speaking to someone who believes in a talking donkey. It’s not the limits of science that are at fault; it’s the non-existence of any measurable evidence in your argument. You shouldn’t blame science for not testing something and dismissing it because there simply isn’t anything to test. I need to check out the guy you’re quoting. He may identify as an atheist but he doesn’t sound like one.

          • Again, you seem to not be listening. As fun as it is regurgitating my words over (and over) again, I’m going to pass. So, very clearly, for the last time:

            I am not rejecting science. I like science and read a lot about it. I constantly question my faith against science and I don’t just insert God where science doesn’t fit.
            I don’t blame science for not testing what it doesn’t understand; I blame science for dismissing as impossible what it refuses to test. You might like this article on your incorporeal elephants: https://clearlens.org/2015/06/03/why-russells-teapot-fails/

            Should you find the time to acknowledge my point and move on to rational conversation, I would like to continue. Until such time, I do wish you the best.

          • You’re asking me to acknowledge fairy tale and myth as possible reality. Can’t do that without some form of evidence. Actual evidence, not “supernatural things happen because of God, God exists because supernatural things happen”. You reject science when you claim you believe donkeys talk and dead people come back to life. Science isn’t refusing to test; there isn’t anything to test. Science isn’t saying God is impossible; science says there’s nothing to test to prove or disprove its existence so it’s meaningless. I know you’re frustrated and done, but can you come up with an actual experiment that can be conducted under controlled conditions; observed, recorded, and able to be repeated by others, as evidence any God is real? If not, then the ties you’re suggesting exist between science and religion can’t exist.

          • I don’t suppose you understand the difference between consistent and conjuction as it relates to harmony?
            Science test natural. God is supernatural (outside of or beyond natural). In this way they are not and God are not contradictory they are harmonious and consistent. A great way to test this is by examining the number 63. Put it under a microscope, run tests, and give an analysis of a number. You can’t. It’s a concept. It exists outside of science. Yet it is very much harmonious with science. God, in the same way, is consistent and harmonious. That has nothing to do with donkeys, giant fishes, Virgin births, or dead people waking. That is, and always has been, my premise: science has limits.

          • You are a great dancer of words. All of that must sound pretty convincing to anyone who doesn’t want to think too much about it. You set up negative assumptions to make it sound like science is against God. It’s not. I never said God and science are contradictory. God could exist, we just can’t test it. Numbers are a concept and not physical. Fine. But we can observe them in use and do so on a daily basis. I’m separating God and the bible here. The bible contradicts science with its talking donkey. The concept of God doesn’t contradict science. How are you getting from “science has limits” to “therefore my version of God is real.”? I can replace the word “God” in your arguments with “Odin” or “Allah” or “cat” and it carries the same weight. Which is to say, it’s meaningless. If we can’t determine which religion is the correct one, it stands to reason that they’re all wrong. Not even Christians can all agree on what the same book tells them and say universally who is correct. Also, this has everything to do with the supernatural events in the bible, you just work hard to dance away from it and redirect the conversation. If you can’t prove those events occurred, you have nothing.

          • “desire to not fall too hard with my words…”
            Your fine, I’m enjoying our talks. Different perspectives help both of us. My hope is that my perspective is more compelling, though (being honest and funny). Let me briefly hit your points. My goal is to answer your objections and finish with direct questions to help stay focuses.
            “But it is my pet peeve that Christians find it impossible for a morality to be found outside of a god.”
            I can appreciate this. I hope you know I am not saying atheists cannot be moral without God. Rather, I am saying you have no reason to be moral. You can argue the golden rule, parental influence, or a host other sources of your subjective morals, but you can’t hold fault to anyone who doesn’t hold to those morals. John Lennox says it better than I can type it https://youtu.be/zpo2v9pWbGw?t=1m2s

            “hurts and segregation of LGBT…”
            Let me first say, “I think we as a Christian community have done a poor job of loving the world.” But let me also say, the rhetoric of those (generalization) hurt by the church (and even some who haven’t), has been just as pointed.

            To your question: what of those who have never met Jesus.
            To start—I cannot cover this in its entirety in a comment/reply post. This will be quick, but if you want it drawn out we can do that later (I will write a full post for those comments, just say the word).
            I can find no Biblical indication that Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Light, the Son of God, who said, “No one comes to the father but through me”, is either exclusive or non-loving. The entirety of the Bible is Jesus as the Light of the World—the way by which all is seen. I say that to the point, there is a significant difference between being unaware and rejecting. I liken it to speeding down the road. If I get pulled over for driving 50mph in a 45mph zone, I expect the officer to react differently to my plea, “There were no signs, I’m sorry, I did not know.” and the retort, “I knew the speed limit and didn’t care. I reject your authority to enforce this law.”. In both cases, the law was broken, but the police officer has the ability to apply grace (i.e. issue a warning) in both cases. But the attitude behind the crime is significant.
            It is easy to sit here, knowing the legalities of the Bible and say there are unreached people damned to Hell because they don’t know Jesus. But there is equal danger to know the Grace of God and say his love carries no punishment. In other words, we’re not dealing with inconsistencies, we’re dealing with bias, and to blame God (or even use this as an argument against God), is a severe misrepresentation of the Scripture as a whole.
            You brought up some points about morality that seemed to invoke a lot of emotion. Given your indepth studies, I can’t help wonder why you discuss rape and sticks (both clearly misrepresented in your position, by the way) while also invoking your own morality (even suggesting your own moral superiority) while at the same time refuting moral objectivity. What right do you claim that your way is better and if that is indeed what you are doing, are you not choosing to formulate an objective standard?

          • You said quite a bit about the unknowing person vs the rebellious person, but you never answered the question. Does a person who lives and dies never hearing about Jesus go to hell or not?

          • “However, before we can get to which God exists, we must first establish “A” God exists.”

            Interesting proposition, but I’m more at a place where I accept that it is possible that some sort of God could exist, but see a lot of evidence that the definition provided by Abrahamic religions isn’t plausible.

          • Hmm. That’s a new position for me. Typically when people reject the Christian God, specifically Jesus, it’s by denying the resurrection as not possible. But if a creator God is possible, certainly a resurrection is possible. Yes? Or did I take too big a leap?

          • You wrote “That’s a new position for me. Typically when people reject the Christian God, specifically Jesus, it’s by denying the resurrection as not possible.”

            I outlined my reasons to doubt Yahweh as a God or any kind of superior moral authority above in the “inconsistencies in the Bible” post.

            Since Jesus’s claims to Godhood are entirely based on being the son of Yahweh, his credibility as a deity is only as good as Yahweh’s.

          • That’s a very logical concussion. So that means addressing the resurrecting isn’t going to hold much merit for you without addressing the God of Abraham,Isaac and Jacob. If I remember correctly (lots of contents to scroll through — sorry!!) you don’t have a problem per se with a god of creation (deistic maybe) but the divine option stops there, correct?

            Can I ask a random question (I hope you see this fire what it is a not an entry into doubt)…
            If the bible were to be dubbed “man made” and full of errors like perspective bias, making poor connections, and even inserting details to help pieces fit, (1) would that make God more possible (in your mind) and (2) other than an argumentative way to discredit all the bible (which is not why I’m asking the question) would the human inconsistencies change the significance of God from an OT perspective. As an illustrative example – if it was human perception that thought God struck down a man for touching the arc of the covenant–the man ready just died of natural causes /God didn’t do it — do the details destroy God if the bigger events are still true?
            Or is it all irrelevant to you?

          • “you don’t have a problem per se with a god of creation (deistic maybe) but the divine option stops there, correct?”

            and

            “If the bible were to be dubbed “man made” and full of errors… would that make God more possible?… would the human inconsistencies change the significance of God from an OT perspective?… do the details destroy God if the bigger events are still true? Or is it all irrelevant to you?”

            That’s a great way to ask the question, because it forces me to really delve into what is relevant and why. Unfortunately I don’t have much time at the moment, so I’ll see if I can come up with a brief approximation that does some justice to the question.

            I see a difference between speculating on the possibility of something and accepting it as true enough to act upon it. The question of creation and creator, prime motivator, objective moral authority, etc, are good exercise for the mind, and may even help illuminate our own actions and motivations; but they really don’t have a lot of relevance in my day to day life. My sense of right and wrong has always been based on what harms or helps others; on fairness; and on a desire for personal freedom. This first was always heavily emphasized in my Catholic upbringing, and the later two seemed to be supported by the Golden Rule; and I didn’t lose those values when I lost my faith.

            In my daily life, the question of Biblical inerrancy is probably the most important; because some people who believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God then cherry pick parts that serve them and bludgeon others with it; and unwilling to budge in their positions because they see themselves as obeying God’s commandments.

            I really don’t have any interest in trying to convince someone not to believe; but I also don’t want be misunderstood or mischaracterized by people who don’t understand atheists. And, from time to time I find people who want to justify all sorts of horrible stuff based on their particular reading of the Bible. I tend to do that the least, because generally those folks immediately dismiss anything I have to say as soon as they find out I’m an atheist. In fact, I now have a new honorary title “Emissary of Evil”, given to me from some very sincere fellow on Facebook recently. Trying to keep that kind of craziness from getting any bigger a foothold in our society is really the most relevant thing to me; and I appreciate that many believers usual also step in with compassion and more positive teachings.

          • “the best argument for Christianity as an objective standard … is the culmination of all facts.”

            Whereas I see it almost exactly the opposite. I lost my faith as the facts starting piling up, and the more I did the more tremendous inconsistencies I find within the Biblical presentation of God and moral law. Science, on the other hand seems to keep discovering new things, sometimes things that shake up our previous understanding, and yet they all end up fitting together consistently and further supporting one another.

            I don’t think science is capable of disproving God, because science deals with the physical universe; and God could be entirely in the realm of either things we haven’t been able to observe or entirely metaphysical. For all we know, God could have tampered with evolution at points to direct certain outcomes, or set up the laws of the universe in the first place and kicked off the Big Bang, or created the RNA or DNA.

            “I could go on and on about how god fits every piece, but I think this makes my point–objective moral values don’t necessarily point to the start of the argument, but they do fit the conclusion and therefore add value to the argument in general”.

            I understand your point, and even agree to some extent. In a framework that contains God, objective moral values fit naturally and their (absence? poor application?) in the world is evidence of human imperfection and sin.

            So now we are at the point where I think we both agree that conceptually God is a possible explanation for some origin questions, and fits into a consistent logical framework. I am under the impression that we both also see other possible explanations that similarly fit into consistent logical frameworks. Where we depart on that point is our estimations of which framework is most likely True.

            Part of the reason for that is my consideration of the nature of God. It seems clear to me that the being presented in the Bible isn’t God. There are too many inconsistencies and flaws in that being’s character and morals.

            Like Charlie King, I felt a lot of freedom once I stopped thinking I had to follow someone else’s twisted moral code, and could truly follow my conscience. If we look at what is driving our moral evolution now, it really isn’t Christianity any longer, though of course there great positives that can be taken from the Bible, and many Christians are focusing on those things and setting aside the negatives. I’m fine with that; but it just doesn’t seem to me to be a compelling moral framework, compared to extracting those same positives and incorporating them into a more universal moral framework external to Christianity, along with the positives from other great religions.

          • Thanks for your transparency. One of the hardest parts of being a Christian apologist is overcoming all the inconsistencies in the faith. It’s ironic that we end up here today and my morning radio program aired this question for thought: Is it better to represent Christ as one who stands firm to their values or as one who loves people? The question specifically addressed baking cakes at LGBT weddings, but here’s my point: There was virtually no agreement.
            I say that to point out a problem that is used to dismiss/deny God–namely Christianity. Our inabilities to live up to or even represent the standard doesn’t change the standard. I think it was Gandhi who said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians”.
            I can definitely see how breaking free from moral rules, living by your conscience is freeing. In some ways I’m envious. But at the same time, I recognize how I set rules for my children that they don’t always understand (my 3 y/o would love to play with electrical outlets if I let him: Noooo lol). So it’s hard, but it’s rewarding.

            When you say the inconsistencies with the Bible, what do you mean? If I can help you work through those, would you reconsider your position? I’m always amazed that I found such consistency where others find only inconsistency, and vice versa. Science, to me, changes more than anything else–not all science, but certainly a lot of it. for example, I have 4 kids. For each kid, we were advise the best way for the kid to sleep (belly, back, side, back to belly). It was the same doctor just a different year in what science thought was best. Those changes lead me to have trust issues with the research (though I’m not saying I don’t believe it).

        • Thank you for making my point. This is absolutely silly. I can suggest my cat is the creator of the universe, using the same type of “evidence” presented by Mr. Browning to support his Christian version of God, and it can’t be disproven. If there is no testable evidence to support any God, arguments for or against, while maybe an interesting intellectual exercise, are moot.

          • “Thank you for making my point. This is absolutely silly. I can suggest my cat is the creator of the universe, using the same type of “evidence” presented by Mr. Browning”

            You misunderstand me. Assuming you really have a cat, it’s a physical being that exists in the world, and Mr. Browning could travel to your house and examine the cat. In our modern world, the existence or non-existence of your cat wouldn’t be long in dispute, nor would the abilities of your cat if it was demonstrated to exist. It’s just a bad comparison.

          • My cat is simply the physical manifestation of the cat deity. I’m simply taking all the “evidence” the religious types use and replacing the name of their God with “cat” and there’s no way for them to argue with me. Any reasonable argument against me is also a reasonable argument against them. Notice he hasn’t said why my cat God isn’t real, only that it isn’t. Do you at least see my point here?

          • Storm. Can I call you storm? Changing names is not all your doing. Your juxtaposing your cat as Jesus. Fine. Do as you will. But there are significant hurdles you are jumping to do such. First, the evidence used to support Jesus is 2000 years old. Therefore, the amount of scrutiny able to critique your view is significantly higher. Fire example, has we had Jesus’ DNA today, we could have tested his blood to see if it matched only the mother, maybe provided CNN coverage of the waking on water…all things I can ask your cat to show that it will fail. And the list goes on and on to include pedictive text (dead sea scrolls for example) and includes text from non biblical (non paper towel) sources.
            Nothing personal, but you come across as arrogant and ignorant. I trust you have more intelligent conversation to bring to the table than a clear depiction of a known fallacy you’re trying to use as alleged contradiction.
            Should you decide to drop the cat act, I’d love to learn more about you and offer insights into why I believe christianity does fit scientific scrutiny (beyond just a play on words). If not, it was a fun conversation while it lasted.

            Respectfully written.

          • Was the bible less relevant when it was 3 days old than when it was 2000 years old? Why would you ask my cat, or any other religion, for tests when this article is about not doing that to God? Double standard. Any religion can say “look at the sky and puppies, that proves our version of God.” I’ll take arrogant but far from ignorant. All you can throw back at me are personal slights. I asked my cat to walk on water for you. He said no, it’s all about faith. Sorry. Also, how does a dead man coming back to life meet scientific scrutiny and not fail?

          • “Do you at least see my point here?”

            I understand that you are trying to highlight the issue of quality of evidence. And extraordinary claims require extraordinary levels of proof. The problem is that if you make an extraordinary claim about your cat, we can reasonably expect you to provide very substantial proof.

            Honest religious folks, however, can’t reasonably be expected to do that. As Mr. Brown explained, we don’t have access to Jesus’ body or much of the other sorts of physical evidence one would expect for a more recent event. I think it’s fair to criticize that as insufficient evidence, but there are better ways to go about it.

            For example, consider other historical figures aside from Jesus. There is plenty of reason to believe that those people existed even if their only mention is in the Bible. After all, the existence of a human being isn’t particular extraordinary, that happens all the time. But as claims about those human beings go further out of the bounds of normal human behavior, those claims would need more verification to be accepted as beyond reasonable doubt.

            Bottom line is that I think that the way you went about this was incendiary and failed to recognize the differences in the level and expectations of proof for different things; and the possibilities of providing that proof.

          • What’s wrong with incendiary? Should I be concerned about someone’s feelings being hurt when they support a group that systematically discriminates against women and homosexuals? Should I be concerned about insulting someone who supports a religion that has caused atrocities in god’s name? Why are you holding me to a higher standard of proof than him?

          • “What’s wrong with incendiary?”

            It’s ineffective and leads people who might otherwise consider your arguments to dismiss them.

            “Should I be concerned about someone’s feelings being hurt when they support a group that systematically discriminates against women and homosexuals?”

            Yes. Any ethical system worth it’s salt doesn’t suddenly suspend its own rules of how to treat others because those people aren’t following the rules. Plus Christians don’t systematically discriminate against women and homosexuals. Some subgroups of Christians do, which is not the same.

            “Should I be concerned about insulting someone who supports a religion that has caused atrocities in god’s name?”

            Yes, if you want them, or others, to consider your arguments rather than dismiss them. If you are happy just scoring points and high fiving with the people already on your side, then that’s really up to your personal ethics; but then they get to use that same argument as justification for why atheists/gays/whatever are bad too.

            “Why are you holding me to a higher standard of proof than him?”

            I don’t think I am. I don’t believe his argument and reject yours. What I am saying is that if you refuse to provide further evidence about your cat, then it’s reasonable for me to dismiss you as a charlatan. But since he is unable to provide further evidence about Jesus, we can’t make that same dismiss. Further evidence is simply not available.

          • Why does being unable to provide evidence vs being able to change the standard by which we judge something? Using my silly cat example, suppose I claim my cat God told he he was ascending to cat heaven to rule from there and was no longer physically available to test. Do I now get a pass on having to prove my claims?

          • It doesn’t change the standard of evidence, as I’ve said repeatedly.

            Do you understand why a case where evidence can be provided but isn’t differs from a case where evidence cannot be provided?

          • Absolutely. But we’re not talking about a criminal investigation here. We’re talking about supernatural beings and events. Your previous comments seem to give him credibility simply because he can’t produce any evidence while you dismiss my cat God because the cat physically exists, as far as you know. If my cat God religion survived for 1000 years, well after the physical manifestation of the cat left the earth, would that make it more credible?

  9. Again, breaking this out into a separate thread:

    “When you say the inconsistencies with the Bible, what do you mean? If I can help you work through those, would you reconsider your position? I’m always amazed that I found such consistency where others find only inconsistency, and vice versa. Science, to me, changes more than anything else–not all science, but certainly a lot of it. for example, I have 4 kids. For each kid, we were advise the best way for the kid to sleep (belly, back, side, back to belly). It was the same doctor just a different year in what science thought was best. Those changes lead me to have trust issues with the research (though I’m not saying I don’t believe it).”

    I’m always open to reconsidering everything, given new information. I’ve been considering and arguing these points for a few decades with some really smart people, so don’t be too disappointed if you don’t come up with new information that they didn’t already think of.

    Some examples of inconsistencies in the Bible, at a high level:

    – Yahweh is portrayed more as jealous and manipulative in many places
    – Yahweh is at times deceitful
    – Yahweh commands and praises the commission of a variety of barbaric acts
    – Yahweh directly commits various acts of cruelty
    – Yahweh at times seems unaware of things that an omniscient being should know
    – Jesus, in establishing a new covenant, represents a significant departure in the attitudes and moral codes from Yahweh, in effect throwing out much of Yahweh’s law.
    – Jesus nevertheless leaves in place significant moral wrongs dictated by Yahweh.

    Taken together, and particularly in the context of other historical event, this reflects an evolution of human culture and ethics, rather than a perfect Objective moral authority.

    I’ll be happy to provide specific examples of these things if you disagree that any of them are fair representations of what is in the Bible.

    • This is a good list. I’m going to do 2 things with it. First, I’m going to pass it to fellow ACL writer and friend Gene G. He’s going through writing a series titled dismantling discrepancies. Not sure how fast he’ll get to each, but we’re always thankful to be able to address specific concerns.
      But second, I’m going to ignore them. haha–I wrote that to be funny. I’m not really going to ignore them, but I am going to focus on the parts that we can agree on instead of differences. Partly because trying to answer all these objections here isn’t really the scope, but also because I think it’s important to start where we see common ground. Then when we have differences (like above), it’s not just about two different ideas, it’s about two different decision making methods. Perhaps that will be the difference from past conversations. Plus, I get to learn more about what I believe, too–bonus.
      So, in order to find common ground, is it safe to say you believe Jesus existed, but was not the son of God or do you believe it’s all mythological?
      And in case I don’t/didn’t say it: I appreciate you taking the time to work through this with me.

      • That seems like a great approach. I look forward to hearing what Gene has to say.

        I think the evidence for Jesus’s existence as a person is reasonably compelling, and while I’ve read arguments that he didn’t actually exist as a person; they seem to overreach. There are plenty of explanations other than “he was invented from whole cloth” to cover the issues they raise.

        “I appreciate you taking the time to work through this with me.”

        The feeling is mutual. It’s always nice to talk to people who are able to talk openly about these sorts of issues without resorting condemnation or abuse. I took to heart the teaching of “do unto others as you would have them to do unto you” and it’s nice to see others do so as well. 🙂

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