Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Trinity Lie. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Trinity Lie. Sort by date Show all posts

The Holy Trinity as Incoherent

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The Holy Trinity has had a problematic history, partly evidenced by point of fact that theologians still don't agree on how it works, and partly  seen from its ex post facto evolution, shoehorned into the scant evidence of the biblical texts. From Ignatius of Antioch onwards we see development of the idea in early church thinking, until it is codified at the Council of Nicaea in the 4th century CE. There will be more talk later on what was creedally set out.

Things We Wish Jesus Hadn’t Said

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Text of my presentation at e-Conference on Atheism

[Here is the script of my presentation on Saturday, 5 September 2020, with a few small additions. The video should be available soon. The event was sponsored by the Global Center for Religious Research.]

We pose this challenge to theists: please tell us where we can find reliable, verifiable data about God—and all theists must agree: Yes, that’s where to find it. This never happens because theists don’t agree. For example, they usually claim that scripture is a source of data about God…but whose scripture? We see no effort on the part of Christians to expand the Bible to include the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon. They refuse to acknowledge that these books qualify as scripture.

Naturally, Christians adore the gospels. But these documents themselves present major problems, just in trying to figure out what Jesus did and said. Rembrandt has given us a portrait of a friendly, amiably Jesus. So my apologies to Rembrandt for puncturing this image in what I’m about to say.

How Can We Decide Between Experts? Reviewing Mittelberg's "Confident Christianity" Part 10

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I'm reviewing Mark Mittelberg's book Confident Faith. [See the "Mark Mittelberg" tag below for others]. Mittelberg had argued we need authorities since we cannot be experts in everything. So the "question is not if we'll be under authority, but which authorities we'll trust and respond to?" (p. 66) When some red flags go up we need to consider second opinions and better authorities. Trust! That is a key point. Who ya gonna trust?

I'm talking about experts with regard to the truth and their level of competence. What are we to do when experts disagree? How can we non-experts choose between experts? Do we have to be experts to choose between experts? There is a whole lot of literature to sift through on these questions.

Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? My Debate Opener vs Abdu Murray

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The red headings represent PowerPoint slides. Here we go...
I’m very honored to be here and happy people actually showed up to listen to this debate. I have a lot of ground to cover so I must begin.

The Full Text of Robert G. Ingersoll's "A Thanksgiving Sermon"

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I used an excerpt of this sermon in Christianity Is Not Great: How Faith Fails.Here is the sermon. Full text below:

The Cannibal Dreams of the Puppet Minister

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Ronald William Brown had a dream .  He wasn’t content with just doing a Christian children’s TV puppet show, and warning about the evils of porn. 
He wasn’t satisfied by working with the puppet ministry of Gulf Coast Church of Largo, Florida for 15 years.  He wanted more than just picking kids up for church in a van.  He longed for something more fulfilling than living in a trailer park, and running his Puppets Plus business.  To fulfill his dream, Ronald Brown wanted to kidnap, sexually abuse, murder, and cannibalize a child - a boy from his church!  

The Illusive Search for Truth in the Biblical Foundations of Judaism and Christianity

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Christian apologists will find themselves relying of on faith, theological dogmas and outright denials as they attempt to deal with the following facts.

Plus (to further prove my case) I have then listed 295 sacred Jewish and Christian texts of which the bulk of these are Jewish works which were produced at the very time the Jesus myth was emerging. While the Jews could only present their God in terms of past events, Christianity quickly learned that miraculous present events won converts.

Some Mistakes of Moses, Continued

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Note from my friend Julian Haydon who sends me these posts every week: "This was written 133 years ago; for a public beginning to receive "explanations" for absurdities; but still when many, as now, believed every word in the bible true. Ingersoll relentlessly drives home the full implications of what they beleive -- but some of the learned doctors he quotes are in no way embarrassed."

Divine Knowledge--Or the Lack Thereof

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This is a brief excerpt from our book that is almost completed.  It relates to my past post on Yahweh, and how this anthropomorphized god is further illustrated to be quite ignorant.  
Epistemology is the study of knowledge, and epistemologically speaking, knowledge is gained by asking the following questions: What is it? How do we find knowledge? How do we know?

God is a consequentialist part 2 - the Old Testament inconsistencies

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So now having exposed in the last post how God values moral actions, let me look into internal evidence from the Bible which shows that God espouses a moral absolutist code, and yet proceeds to contradict that ruling somewhat hypocritically in his actions.

Let me recap. By seeing moral value in the greater good that supposedly (this is just an assertion from theists to explain away the Problem of Evil) comes about from a moral action, God is deriving the moral value of that action not from any intrinsic character, but from the context; from the consequences. For example, the suffering and death of Jesus is excused from the greater good this supposedly entails (the confusing notion of atonement) and the 2004 tsunami killing 230,000 people and millions of other organisms is explained as morally good in the consequences which this brings about. We do not know what these consequences are since God decides it is a good idea not to tell us, but suffice it to say that we must (as theists claim) understand that this is part of God’s greater plan, mysterious as it is. Since God is morally perfect, the plan must also be morally perfect. Thus any action or omission (inaction, or choice not to act) is defined as being morally perfect. Therefore, the tsunami was both designed tectonically by God in actualising the physics of this universe, and allowed to happen by God choosing not to intervene and stop it due to some greater good which we struggle to fathom. As a result, we are assured (by theistic experts with no small dollop of question begging) that here is a greater good, and subsequently, as I have surmised, the good of such an action or omission is derived by the consequences.

William Lane Craig: "No Amount of Evidence or Reasoning Could Convince Me I'm Wrong"

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Essentially this is what Bill Craig says in his regular Q&A (Question 244). Just think what the strongest objective evidence against the evangelical belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus would be, if found. It would be the bones of Jesus, that is, DNA evidence. Craig admits that if the bones of Jesus were found it would falsify his faith, but this is an utterly empty admission, pure rhetoric without any substance at all. For Craig claims that even in the face of this strong objective evidence he would still believe Jesus was bodily raised from the dead. Why? Because for him, the subjective "witness of the Holy Spirit is an intrinsic defeater-defeater for anyone who attends to it." He even predicts "we can be confident that no such discovery will ever be made because we have the self-authenticating witness of the Spirit that Jesus is risen." That is, "given the witness of the Spirit, no such evidence could be forthcoming." Who in their right mind would ever predict what evidence can be found based solely on a subjective experience?

Calvinism is Bullshit, and God Wanted Me to Say This.

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[Written by John W. Loftus] Okay, get ready for another round of verbal body slams and charges of ignorance, but it's time to revisit Calvinism. I hate that theology with a passion, but keep in mind I do not hate Calvinists themselves (kinda like, "love the sinner hate the sin").

Paul Tobin Responds to The Infidel Delusion (Part 2)

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Part 1 can be found here. Quote of the day from Paul Tobin below:
I shake my head in wonderment when I see the evangelical mind at work.

Eric On Believing Despite Not Being Able to Explain the Atonement

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I'm producing several posts called: "Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?" In a recent one I wrote: "17) That although there is no rational explanation for why Jesus had to die on the cross to atone for our sins, his death atoned for our sins." From this a discussion ensued between Eric, who is a Christian Ph.D. student, and me. It's interesting to see where discussions lead and I want to highlight this one out of the many other issues that were raised in the comments.

Flat Earth Assumptions of Biblical Authors--Edward T. Babinski VS. Dave Armstrong & J.P. Holding

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Dear Dave [Armstrong], Please note that I did not head this article, "Flat Earth Teachings of the Bible," but "Flat Earth Assumptions of Biblical Authors." I agree that the question of "Whether the Bible TEACHES the world is flat" is separate from the question of "What the ancient Hebrew writers of the Bible may have thought about the shape of the cosmos." One can accept all of the prima facia evidence that the ancient Hebrews believed and spoke in terms of a flat earth without necessarily having to believe that the Bible was written in order to "reveal to future mankind" the true shape of the earth. Therefore Evangelicals (like Seely and Walton, mentioned below) as well as Catholic biblical scholars can and will continue to employ the historical approach when it comes to discovering what the Hebrews mostly likely believed about the shape of the cosmos based on their writing in the Bible, and at the same time argue that the Bible might not have been written in order to provide accurate information as to the shape of the cosmos. So we probably agree there.

However, one point I wish to add to the above is that IF God allowed ancient naive flat-earth views of the cosmos (as well as views of a "six day creation" of the entire cosmos that revolved around "earth" evenings and morning) to exist in the minds of his ancient followers, what other ideas in the Bible might not also be the result of naiveté rather than truth?

What about the ancient view that animal sacrifices were necessary to appease god(s) for instance? Was that the result of naiveté or eternal truth? Or the idea that "the life was in the blood" instead of being primarily in the brain and nervous system? Might it not have been naiveté that inspired the ancient Hebrews to view the world in terms of "sympathetic magic," as in the case of their belief that by laying their hands on a goat and then driving the goat into the wilderness, their sins would thus be carried away? (Lev. 16:20-22) Or was it naiveté that inspired the Hebrews to use the SAME word to describe both mildew stains on walls, and leprosy sores on the human body, and in both cases employ a bird to which the priest claimed to transfer such stains and sores, and then let the bird go into the sky to try and make both of those unwanted things likewise go away? (Lev. 14:4-7,48-53) What other beliefs and practices in the Bible might not also be based on naiveté rather than truth? That is my question.

For instance, the Bible has much to say about the all-directing heart of man, his life-blood, and his soul-breath, i.e., the pounding heart, the whistling breath, and the sharp color of blood, together with its lack being a sign of death, attracted the attention of the ancients. While the organ known as "the brain," a silent unobtrusive organ, was overlooked (see here and here) and therefore not granted the meagerest mention or symbolic association in the Bible, unlike the heart, bowels and kidneys which are all granted symbolic "guiding" mentions. The brain was ignored even when animals were offered up to Yahweh who wanted their hearts, kidneys, bowels and blood, but not their brains. Yet today we know that it is the organ of "the brain" that is our chief directing organ and holds the "life" most precious to us, being the center of our conscious life. All of which goes to prove that the Bible is far from being an authoritative guide to science and/or the authors of the Bible dwelt more on appearances than on scientific facts.

Ancient Near Eastern accounts of creation depicted the heavens (usually curved) above a flat earth, as they appear to the naive eye even today. Even modern day observations by children produce similar results (The Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics conducted a study during the 1980s on the mental sophistication of children and discovered that almost one-half of children aged ten years and younger in the United States and other countries believe the earth is flat. And those who say it is round picture "round" as a giant pancake or a curved sky covering a flat ground. One in four thirteen-year olds also believes the earth is flat.) The blue appearance of the sky may have also prompted the ancients to think in terms of the color of vast waters, and thus be the basis for their belief that the cosmos arose out of primeval waters, and lay in the midst of those same waters with a firm firmament holding back "the waters above." (And the apostolic fathers right up to Martin Luther believed that was the case, based on words from the Bible.)

Which brings me to your recent reply to a brief online article of mine on flat earth verses in the Bible. (Please note that my most recent and comprehensive paper on the topic, Evolving Interpretations of the Bible's "Cosmological Teachings"--OR--Does the Bible "Teach Science?"")

Please note that our views that not THAT far apart since we both agree that the Bible does not appear to have been written to teach us about modern astronomy, cosmology, geology, or biology. In your case however, you appear to have gone so far as to try to argue (ala J. P. Holding) that the Biblical authors were supernaturally preserved from assuming a single erroneous thing regarding the SHAPE of the cosmos. (What about regarding it's CREATION too? Were the authors of the Bible also preserved from assuming or writing down even a single statement that might be erroneous concerning how creation happened? I don't suppose you're willing to agree with J. P. Holding in making a "six day creation" your fall back assumption, as he does, are you)?

In all kindness, and regardless of what you wrote concerning my views, much of what I wrote about the "flat earth assumptions" of the ancient Hebrews is far from being out of the ordinary in the world of biblical scholarship, so you cannot blame what I wrote on "atheism/agnosticism." Mainstream scholars, orthodox Catholics, and even Protestant Evangelicals, would agree with what I wrote, and find J. P. Holding's inventive explanations just as unconvincing as I do.

Also, here are some notes on the sources you employed in your attempted "refutation" of what is a mainstream theological view. You employed:

1) The Concordia Theological Monthy, produced by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a young-earth creationist inerrantist church that teaches "God...created heaven and earth...in the manner and in the space of time recorded in the Holy Scriptures...namely...in six days."

2) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, published in 1915. [But why cite only the single article in the above Encyclopedia when there are books that contain information galore on ancient views of the cosmos, even of the Near Eastern cosmos in particular? Have neither Holding nor yourself ever read or heard of such books?]

3) E. W. Maunder, who was not a theologian but an astronomer born in the mid-1800s.

4) James Orr, a theologian from the late 1800s who admitted even then that "I [Orr] do not enter into the question of how we are to interpret the third chapter of Genesis--whether as history or allegory or myth, or most probably of all, as old tradition clothed in oriental allegorical dress..." [James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World (1897), p. 185, see also p. 447]

5) Bernard Ramm's book, The Christian View of Science and Scripture, published in 1954.

However, you neglected to mention that after a couple decades Ramm was no longer a progressive creationist as he was when he wrote the book you cited above. In AFTER FUNDAMENTALISM [written in 1983], Ramm's new approach consisted of recognizing that "If the writers of Holy Scripture are truly children of their cultures, then they express themselves in the terms, concepts, and vocabulary of their culture." And he agreed with Barth in letting "the Genesis record stand as it is, a product of the prescientific world with its prescientific cosmologies."

Ramm even wrote in that same book, "Fundamentalists [inerrantists, et al] do not properly interact with modern learning and thus are condemned to the losing strategy of obscurantism... Evolution, modern geology, scientific anthropology, and biblical criticism are subjected to continuous castigation. The fundamentalist presses do not rest in turning out the literature of obscurantism. Sometimes they do try to make hay out of modern knowledge. Harry Rimmer and a number of others attempted to show that the Scriptures contain anticipations of modern science [and modern cosmology--E.T.B.]. But that solution no longer works. There is also much reliance on the discoveries of modern archeological research but that foundation is laid only by ignoring findings that seem to counter the biblical record."]

You also employed the following as an authority:

6) J. P. Holding, ex-prison librarian, self-styled web-pologist, who does not have a graduate degree in theology, has not pursued a seminary degree, and his self-styled study of the Bible's original languages has been shown to be deficient. What Holding specializes in is inventing imaginative denials of questions raised by far more informed biblical scholars than himself.

Holding's nemesis is Paul Seely a fellow Evangelical, but one who disagrees with Holding on this issue. Seely cites plenty of experts on the views that the ancients held of the cosmos. Seely knows more about Hebrew, has graduated from a conservative Christian Seminary, and cites biblical scholars galore in his impressive bibliographies that accompanied each of his three articles on the shape of the ancient Hebrew cosmos, all three of which were published in the Westminster Theological Review. See here, and here, and here, for online versions of all three paper, all well worth reading.

Seely recently had this to add concerning Holding's attempted rebuttals:

"Holding does not cite even one OT verse as evidence that God had revealed the sphericity of the earth to the Hebrews. Presumably he knows as well as I that there is no such verse in the OT which would stand up to close scrutiny. In fact, Holding's position that the word 'earth' in the OT is equivocal implies that the Hebrews did not have a revelation that the earth was spherical. He believes the Hebrews could read the word 'earth' in the OT and think flat while we can read the same word today and think spherical. He cannot, therefore, logically argue against the strong historical probability that the Hebrews believed the earth was flat because his own position agrees with that historical probability.

"Holding says I provided, '...an impressive and informative list proving that several early scientifically naïve societies thought either that the earth was flat and/or was surrounded by water on all sides, upon which the land floated.' This statement begins accurately, but then misrepresents both my original paper and a very important fact: It is not 'several' scientifically naïve societies (people who have no modern Western scientific knowledge) who thought the earth was flat, but virtually all of them, hundreds of them all across the world, in every part of the earth. It is such a universal belief that one scholar has called it 'the usual primitive conception.' In the light of this universality, it would be contrary to probability to think that the Hebrews, who were a scientifically naïve society, did not believe that the earth was flat.

"In addition, the most influential and dominant cultures in the Near East in OT times, namely the Mesopotamian and the Egyptian, believed the earth was flat. Since the forefathers of the Hebrews were Mesopotamians and their greatest leader, Moses, was trained in 'all the wisdom of the Egyptians,' it is historically probable that they inherited the belief that the earth was flat. Putting the universality of the belief in a flat earth together with the specific historical background of the Hebrews, one must conclude that it is historically probable that the Hebrews believed the earth was flat. From a historical point of view it is highly improbable that the Hebrews did NOT think the earth was flat. Consequently, there is a heavy burden of proof on anyone saying the Hebrews did not believe the earth was flat."

Seely's research, along with that of several other Evangelical scholars (like Gordon Wenham's commentary on Genesis 1-15), helped convince Dr. John Walton, a professor of O.T. at Wheaton College, that the ancient Hebrew writers of the Bible imagined the shape of the cosmos was flat. See Dr. Walton's NIV APPLICATION Commentary on Genesis (Zondervan, 2001). Keep in mind that Wheaton is an Evangelical Christian institution, Billy Graham's alma mater in fact. Walton's APPLICATION commentary is worth a read, because he agrees as I do with much mainstream scholarship in the area of the shape of the ancient biblical cosmos.

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FURTHER RESOURCES

Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (Eisenbrauns, 1998) "The strengths of this study are Horowitz's demonstrated familiarity with the available Sumerian and Assyrian texts relevant to the Mesopotamian perceptions of the physical structure of the universe and its constituent parts, and his meticulous and intelligent presentation of them in an attractive and accessible format. Indeed, it is a handsome book, of the high quality typical of Eisenbrauns. Advanced students and scholars whose interests lie in Mesopotamian cosmography and who wish to explore it further will find this work to be an indispensable resource."--Marilyn M. Schaub, Duquesne University in The Catholic Biblical Quarterly (61, 1999)

Famed Presbyterian inerrantist, B. B. Warfield, whose defense of Scriptural inerrancy and inspiration was published in the Princeton Review (1881), and republished since then (B. B. Warfield and Hodge, A. A., Inspiration. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), continues to be highly regarded among conservative Protestants, yet he wrote that an inspired writer of the Bible could "share the ordinary opinions of his day in certain matters lying outside the scope of his teachings, as, for example, with reference to the form of the earth, or its relation to the sun; and, it is not inconceivable that the form of his language when incidentally adverting to such matters, might occasionally play into the hands of such a presumption." [B. B. Warfield, "The Real Problem of Inspiration," in The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (Philadelphia, Presbyterian & Reformed, 1948) 166-67.]

Charles Hodge accepted the solidity of the sky in Scripture as a divine accommodation. [Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), 569-70.]

Famed Baptist theologian, Augustus Strong, wrote, "Inspiration might leave the Scripture writers in possession of the scientific ideas of their time, while yet they were empowered correctly to declare both ethical and religious truth." [Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology, vol. 1 (Philadelpha: Judson Press, c. 1907), 226.]

Gordon Wenham, GENESIS 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary (Waco: Word, 1987) takes the ancient Near Eastern context of Genesis seriously.

Dr. Conrad Hyers (retired Chair of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College),THE MEANING OF CREATION, and also an online article that deals with some of the topics raised in that book, "Genesis Knows Nothing of Scientific Creationism: Interpreting and Misinterpreting the Biblical Texts"

Dr. Stephen C. Meyers (Th.D. from Trinity Evangelical Seminary of Florida and co-founder of the Institute for Biblical and Scientific Studies) addresses how seriously the Bible's ancient Near Eastern context must be taken when discussing its creation stories and cosmology. His thesis in grad school was titled, "A Biblical Cosmology." See:
"Genesis One"
"The Bible and Science, Do They Agree?"

Article by a Jewish scholar: ”Biblical Views of Creation” by Frederick E. Greenspahn

Cheers,
Ed

The Irreverent Musings of Harry McCall (And Others)

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The Irreverent Musings of Harry McCall (former Christian seminarian, still a lover of Biblical studies, having been bitten by the "Bible bug")

The Bible is like a senile senior citizen, semi-coherent and out of touch with reality--but his loving children (believers), via their denials and creative ingenuity, lovingly take him by the arm and theologically help him to shuffle along.

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I'm sitting here at my keyboard thinking about my past life as an Evangelical Christian. How did I ever believe all the doctrines, and swallow the love mixed with strange fears, for decade after decade? I appear to have been victimized by a frighteningly overpowering (dare I saw psychotic) mix of something the Bible (and my church) called God's "love," mingled with that same God's "eternal hatred," and, I was also taught that I was the one to blame for this weird mix, I was the one "asking for it!"

As a Christian I heard John 3:16 run into the ground about how God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son to die for us. Even Jesus said we should call God "Father"--a loving father who forgives us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, gives us our daily bread, sends blessed rain on the farmer's fields of both the just and unjust, or who would leave 99 of his sheep to hunt for the single lost one. Of course this love only lasts till judgment day (or till we die, whichever comes first). Because on that day our loving Father morphs from a kindly Dr. Jekyll into a sadistic Mr. Hyde (or maybe more like “Sybil”—as in the academy award winning movie of the same name—whose mother loved her one moment only to beat and torture her the next).

Thus, the perennial question that young believers and non-Christians ask: If God is a God of love, why does He morph into someone who demands eternal punishment, as if to say, "Remember all that stuff I said before? 'Peace on earth goodwill toward men?' 'Blessed are the peacemakers?' 'Bless those who curse you?' 'Love your enemies?' ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs… It always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails… These three remain: faith, hope and love?’ Forget about it. You're dead now, and your rear end is mine!”

Of course a common modern reply is that “God does not send anyone to Hell. We send ourselves.” Yea, right! Just like Sybil MADE her psychotic mother punish, beat and torture her.

A god who slaughters families, not to mention cities, nations, and drowns the whole world, is acting in ways it's difficult for any human being with an ounce of compassion to not view as reacting questionably. This is a god who also blames the victims eternally, as a way to justify the horrific gore He puts them though.

One might picture it this way: After death the Christian comes into the presence of a God who quickly begins morphing into a sadistic vampire-like character. The Christian of course can’t hold up a cross, or use “holy water” to ward off God, instead, Christians must use the blood of Jesus to compel God to draw back from his angry wish to inflict eternal punishment (anger that God blames on the victim and that preachers insist we are asking for). God smells the aroma of Jesus’s blood and his irrational everlasting anger abates, so the Christian can get to live with this psychotic-like God forever. It's like the movie, “The Exorcist,” with the Christian driving back God's unquenchably angry desire for eternal vengeance by shouting: “The blood of Christ compels Thee!” God curses and screams, drawing back.

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Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans "Jesus is at the right hand of God interceding for us" in heaven. (Romans 8:34, NIV) While Romans 14:12 tells us that each person is going to have to step up and "give account of himself to God" even though God already knows all the thoughts of our hearts (Romans 8:28). (Not that "heart" is necessarily being used as a scientific term by Paul, though it also can't be denied that in Paul's day many did believe that "hearts" had "thoughts.")

But returning to the image or metaphor of "Jesus at the right hand of God interceding for us" in heaven. Not to be coy, but how exactly am I to imagine the need for incessant "intercession?" Didn't Jesus suffer, "become sin," say "it is finished," then die and rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven? But after he got to heaven he was assigned yet another job, which is to "intercede for us" to the Father--who apparently is still highly prone to yet more anger? Or forgetfulness?

Scene: Heaven

God: "That Christian down there is really starting to p*ss me off! I should let him slip into sin further, send him strong delusion that he might believe a lie, send in some lying spirits, and let Satan have his way with him--but save some for me to punish eternally."

Jesus: "Forgive him father. I died for him."

God: "Oh, yeah, I remember. O.K. But what about that other Christian right there who is..."

Jesus: "Forgive her father. I died for her."

God: "Oh, yeah, I remember. O.K."

And Jesus after 2,000 years and for the sixtrillionth time: "Forgive him father. I died for Him."

And God for the sixtrillionth time: "Oh, yeah, I remember. O.K."

Little wonder neither God nor Jesus has time to answer prayers since both now find themselves in a Catch-22 situation; one of eternal intercession:

"Blaugh, blaugh, blaugh: O.K."
"Blaugh, blaugh, blaugh: O.K."
F-O-R-E-V-E-R!

Maybe this is why churches must repeat prayers over and over again in liturgical rotation from Sunday to Sunday. In a similar fashion advanced Alzheimer's patients must also hold to a repetitious stablized environment.

Or maybe Jesus at some point will get tired of begging God to have mercy, and turn toward the earth, and shout, QUIT sinning you guys! I've interceded enough! Give me a break! I need some "down time!"

Of course the idea of Jesus continually interceding for us also reminded me of something that St. Ansalem (sp?) wrote, that Jesus's love was so great he was going to "remain on the cross" until the last sinner was finally sprung "out of hell." THAT kind of interceding makes sense if God truly "is love." Because God and time are the best teachers.

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I sometimes reflect on the way God/the Bible/a church/a theology blames its problems, difficulties and evils on humans. At the same time, we humans are never given any credit should we do something good. In short, if there is a problem, it's the fault of humans, but if a human being does something good, God alone gets the praise. People trained to view themselves in such an untterly "unworthy" manner will tend to assert the perfection of their particular religion's doctrines, and assert how utterly wrong everyone else is if they dare question the Bible or even their church's interpretation of the Bible. In effect, they learn never to trust themselves, and get sucked into trusting their church, and their church's particular doctrines and interpretations of its holy book, everyone else be damned.

Compare that with, say, a theology that teaches there is a spark of goodness already inside everyone, and people's "job" is to blow on that spark and brighten it further?

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We come to God/the Bible/a church/a theology wanting our inmost pains healed, be they loneliness, fears, or uncertainties; and to gain protection and gain certitude; only to be handed in exchange a much larger and complex set of problems we couuld ever have bargained for, called "theology." (That's what's called the old "bait-and-switch.") It's like the case of a trusting child who depends on the adult to protect them and comfort them, only to be abused because the adult has much more serious, older and deeper issues than the child in his care. "God" and "theology" are complex reflections of the history of human mental agony--an agony steeped in a questionable form of "love."

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The New Testament states that Jesus "became sin" [or was "treated as sin"] while on the cross. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Did Jesus become as hated as "sin" and/or "Satan" in God's eyes? Did God hate Himself? Did an infinite God wind up hating himself and released His full wrath on Himself, treating Himself as "sin," all because some of his finite creatures ate some forbidden fruit? Sounds a bit difficult to swallow.

Harry McCall (whose testimony appears in Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists)

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SOME MUSINGS OF OTHERS

I read in the Gospels that Jesus forgave the men who nailed him to the cross.

He even promised, “This day you shall be with me in paradise,” to a thief crucified next to him--a thief who addressed Jesus simply as a “man” rather than as “the son of God.”

Yet, today, this same Jesus cannot forgive my kindly old aunt and allow her to dwell in paradise, simply because her “beliefs” do not match Reverend So-and-So’s?

Arthur Silver

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They say that when god was in Jerusalem he forgave his murderers, but now he will not forgive an honest man for differing with him on the subject of the Trinity.

They say that God says to me, “Forgive your enemies.” I say, “I do;” but he says, “I will damn mine.” God should be consistent. If he wants me to forgive my enemies he should forgive his. I am asked to forgive enemies who can hurt me. God is only asked to forgive enemies who cannot hurt him. He certainly ought to be as generous as he asks us to be.

Robert Ingersoll

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When all has been considered, it seems to me to be the irresistible intuition that infinite punishment for finite sin would be unjust, and therefore wrong. We feel that even weak and erring Man would shrink from such an act. And we cannot conceive of God as acting on a lower standard of right and wrong.

Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), “Eternal Punishment,” Diversions and Digressions of Lewis Carroll

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It is strange to me that people can consign others to hell without a scruple. One only has to remember a toothache, not to wish it eternally on anyone.

Lucy Daugalis (daugalis@arcom.com.au)

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Given headaches, backaches, toothaches, strains, scrapes, breaks, cuts, rashes, burns, bruises, PMS, fatigue, hunger, odors, molds, colds, yeast, parasites, viruses, cancers, genetic defects, blindness, deafness, paralysis, mental illness, ugliness, ignorance, miscommunications, embarrassments, unrequited love, dashed hopes, boredom, hard labor, repetitious labor, accidents, old age, senility, fires, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and volcanoes, I can not see how anyone, after they are dead, deserves “eternal punishment” as well.

E.T.B.

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When I was a boy I heard tell of an old farmer in Vermont. He was dying. The minister was at his bedside--asked him if he was a Christian, if he was prepared to die. The old man answered that he had made no preparation, that he was not a Christian, that he had never done anything but work. The preacher said that he could give him no hope unless he had faith in Christ, and that if he had no faith his soul would certainly be lost.

The old man was not frightened. He was perfectly calm. In a weak and broken voice he said, “Mr. Preacher, I suppose you noticed my farm. My wife and I came here more than fifty years ago. We were just married. It was a forest then and the land was covered with stones. I cut down the trees, burned the logs, picked up the stones, and laid the walls. My wife spun and wove and worked every moment. We raised and educated our children--denied ourselves. During all these years my wife never had a good dress, or a decent bonnet. I never had a good suit of clothes. We lived on the plainest food. Our hands, our bodies are deformed by toil. We never had a vacation. We loved each other and the children. That is the only luxury we ever had. Now I am about to die and you ask me if I am prepared. Mr. Preacher, I have no fear of the future, no terror of any other world. There may be such a place as hell--but if there is, you never can make me believe that it’s any worse than old Vermont.”

Robert Ingersoll, “Why I Am An Agnostic”

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Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, “casting” billions of people into a “lake of fire whose smoke rises up forever,” because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being.

Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist [Edited by E.T.B.]

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Jesus loves you unconditionally, and if you do not believe it you will when you are in hell.

Source unknown

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According to Christianity eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love. That’s the message we’re brought up with, believe or die. “Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.”

Bill Hicks (comedian), Rant in E-minor, CD

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As a tot I was given the usual terrifying mixed message: a) God is love; and b) If you don’t believe how much he loves you, you will stand in the corner for eternity.

James Lileks, “God Has Call Waiting,” Notes of a Nervous Man

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Any religion that teaches there is only heaven or hell
is gonna be a haven for manic-depressives.

E.T.B.

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Do I believe in eternal punishment? Hell no. I always believed God could get his revenge in far less time.

Robert Ingersoll

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God recently remodeled hell. He replaced the flames of eternal damnation with a microwave. Now, instead of taking forever, His revenge is complete in seconds. The only hard part is hanging on while the plate rotates.

E.T.B.

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An idea, which has terrified millions, claims that some of us will go to a place called Hell, where we will suffer eternal torture. This does not scare me because, when I try to imagine a Mind behind this universe, I cannot conceive that Mind, usually called “God,” as totally mad. I mean, guys, compare that “God” with the worst monsters you can think of--Adolph Hitler, Joe Stalin, that sort of guy. None of them ever inflicted more than finite pain on their victims. Even de Sade, in his sado-masochistic fantasy novels, never devised an unlimited torture. The idea that the Mind of Creation (if such exists) wants to torture some of its critters for endless infinities of infinities seems too absurd to take seriously. Such a deranged Mind could not create a mud hut, much less the exquisitely mathematical universe around us.

If such a monster-God did exist, the sane attitude would consist of practicing the Buddhist virtue of compassion. Don’t give way to hatred: try to understand and forgive him. Maybe He will recover his wits some day.

Robert Anton Wilson, “Cheerful Reflections on Death and Dying,” Gnoware, February 1999

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Conservative Christian theologians teach that if you make the wrong choice and believe the wrong thing, you will be tortured for eternity in hell. That’s not a “choice,” it’s more like a man telling his girlfriend, do what you wish, but if you choose to leave me, I will track you down and blow your brains out. When a man says this we call him a psychopath.

William C. Easttom II [Edited by E.T.B]

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Some Christians argue that eternal hell should be viewed as “God’s great compliment.” But if hell is a “compliment,” what does God do when he wants to “insult” someone?

Others argue that hell is a “loving provision,” a place where non-Christian souls are safe from the pain they would feel if they were exposed to God’s presence. Such apologists for “a kinder, gentler hell” seem to have forgotten their own Bible where it says Jesus visited hell and preached to the souls there. So apparently God can “tone down” His presence at will, becoming “Jesus” who mingled with “sinners and wine-bibbers” in Judea and Galilee, as well as preached to “souls in hell.” If Catholics and Lutherans are right, God can even put His “presence” in communion wafers. And most people can eat even a consecrated communion wafer without it burning their tongues (unless the person happens to have a strong allergic reaction to wheat).

By the way, those Christians who are willing to question the notion of a firey retributive hell lit by God’s jealousy and anger, should also take their questioning to the next level and ask why “hell” needs to be any worse than this world? We have pain and sickness here, we suffer here, but there is also room for healing, growth and education, and speaking of education, what better teachers could there be than God and time?

E.T.B.

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Primates often have trouble imagining a universe not run by an angry alpha male.

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Any infinite Being who feels it is their duty to torture me for eternity, should switch to decaf.

E.T.B.

A Response to Dr. James White

2 comments
In my last post, I reflected on my Christian past after reading a comment by a Christian professor I had in seminary, Dr. James White. He responded here.

I wanted to address a few points he makes in his post.

Dr. White,

You wrote:

"Now, first, I truly wonder why anyone would wish to remain anonymous and yet be a contributor to a blog 'debunking' Christianity. . . But why the anonymity? Fear of family reprisal? Is he a 'secret' apostate? I suppose I could do some digging around, but I truly have no interest in investing time in such an effort. . . I would say to 'exbeliever' that I would think a great deal more of him if he were not hiding behind a non-descript moniker, first and foremost. . ."

I have a few reasons for wanting to remain anonymous on this site:

1) My mother and in-laws do not know about my "apostasy." While I try not to openly lie to them about my lack of faith, I do try to avoid conversations that reveal the depth of my rejection of the Christian faith. It's not that I am ashamed of my lack of faith, but rather that I know this would cause my mother and in-laws a lot of pain and heartache. I would rather let them know gradually over a period of years instead of allowing them to be pounded in the face with my apostasy after typing my name in a search engine.

2) I came from a very conservative Christian college and, for some reason, every time someone from there hears about me, they feel it their duty to confront me. This bothers my wife a great deal. She doesn't enjoy being gossip-ed about (oops, I mean "prayed for") and pitied by her former Christian friends. I remain anonymous for her sake as well.

3) I have very little time for blogging. When I do post, I rarely have the time to put a lot of research into my posting. I often write "on-the-fly." At the same time, however, I am pursuing a PhD in philosophy and have to publish more scholarly materials as part of my studies. I really don't want something I carelessly throw out on this blog to come back to haunt me when I'm in the middle of a professional academic discussion with someone else.

4) "Well, it's hard out here for a [atheist]!" (Oscar humor). As much as Christians enjoy decrying America's antipathy towards them, it's far more detrimental to profess atheism in this country than it is Christianity. There are certain high-profile positions unavailable to atheists (e.g. the presidency (which, by the way, I have absolutely NO aspirations)). I have an interest in academic administration and may, one day, be "up for" a high-profile position. I don't want my atheism to be a factor in the committee's decision (though, I would certainly be honest if I were asked about my position).

So, these are some of the reasons that I have chosen anonymity on this blog. If it is really important to you to know my identity, I don't mind emailing you privately. I trust your discretion. I can't see, however, why it would matter whether or not you know my name.

If it helps narrow your focus any, you rightly identified the class (L1311, "Christian Philosophy of Religion") and the location of the school is identified in your list. It was an intensive class (as I mentioned in my previous post--"During that (albeit, short) class. . ."). It was the week after you had laser surgery and you were having some problems with your eyes. I made a really stupid comment in the school parking lot about some of your debates that we were viewing in class, and you were stepping out of your car at the same time (I still cringe when I remember that; I really don't even know why I said it; I think I was just trying to make conversation with a classmate that I had nothing in common with; I said something like, "Time to go and watch some more stupid debates."). You joked with me about it in class, and I apologized for my comment. Maybe that helps, but if you want an email, let me know.

You wrote:

". . . secondly, I would say even asking if he "fooled" me demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the theology he should have gotten in the course of that class."

As I stated in my original post, it is not that big of a deal that I "fooled" you. You are right to point out that ". . . there could not be any logical connection between taking a class in a seminary setting and one's true spiritual state. . ." Reading your previous post in which you wrote, ". . . rarely do you find a high regard for fairness or accuracy in ["'former' Christians[']"] writings," simply made me reflect on your complementary statements about my work in your class.

My bigger point was not that I "fooled" you. I really don't think I fooled anyone. I believe that I was as much a Christian as anyone I ever met. My current belief, however, is that Christianity is a sham and that everyone who believes it is believing a lie.

The point of my post was to point out a "problem" for Christians. I would hardly present this as an argument, but rather just as a cause for reflection.

As much as the Reformed Christians who read this blog try to deny it, it certainly seems to be the case that Jesus and the early Christians felt that the Holy Spirit plays a vital role in the life of the church (this is something that I think you would agree with if I remember your book, The Forgotten Trinity, correctly). The Holy Spirit is said to indwell believers. The Spirit is supposed to guide the church into truth, right?

If not the Holy Spirit, then, at least, one would think a Christian believes that God gives some kind of guidance to the church other than the Bible. The Bible does not tell a church which minister to hire, but only which qualities a minister should have. If many ministers, who all share the same qualities, apply to a church, that church normally looks for God's guidance through prayer.

In another (childish) post (on another blog) about my last post, one of the brain-dead reformers made it sound as though the church receives absolutely no guidance from their god except through the Bible. I am willing to bet dimes to doughnuts, though, that his church prays for guidance before they ordain a new minister or hire a new pastor.

Even when I was a full cessationist, I respected the work of the Holy Spirit speaking through a local body of believers. While I was extremely skeptical of any one person who claimed to have "a word from God," I tended to put a lot of weight in the prayerful decisions made by a body of believers. While I didn't believe those decisions were infallible, I did believe that when a whole body of believers agree on something after prayerful consideration, that I should be very hesitant to doubt that decision.

In this light, then, the fact that many Christians believe I could never have been a "true" believer, causes a problem for those who believe (like I did) that God does give guidance to his church in prayer. They must reconcile this belief with their belief that I could not have been a "true" Christian.

The dilemma, then, only applies to those who believe (1) that a person cannot be a "true" believer and then leave the faith (1 John 2:19), and (2) that their god still gives the church guidance through prayer.

They must, then, not only doubt the validity of my former faith, but also all of the Christians and churches who truly believed that their god was confirming my testimony and ministry. My past should give any Christian who believes these two propositions cause for hesitation.

While it is certainly reasonable to believe that the Christian god can use a "pretender" to do his work in the church, it puts believers in a very uncomfortable position to think that their god could have intentionally deceived all those Christian churches who said their god confirmed their affirmation of me and my past ministry.

You wrote:

"'Exbeliever' goes on to present a bit of his 'Christian credentials,' as so many who leave the faith and then seek to defend their apostasy do . . ."

I see this complaint a lot in reference to this blog. Many Christian bloggers seem to have a real problem with our anecdotal descriptions of our apostasies. I have a couple of comments about this:

Christians often use their testimonies as part of the "proof" that their god exists. Recently, I read Paul Manata's fascinating testimony of coming to faith. While he did not (and most Christians do not) present the testimony as incontrovertible "proof" of the existence of god, it is still meant as some sort of verification. Though the Christian testimony is rarely presented as a formal argument ("My life has changed, therefore God exists"), it is often seen as a legitimate and effective means of evangelizing.

So, too, should the anecdotal posts on this blog be taken. I don't offer my Christian past as undeniable proof that the Christian god does not exist. I offer my "testimony," however, to counter those Christians who offer their testimonies as a proof of their god's existence.

All the bloggers, then, that continue to complain about the "testimonies" we post here can simply ignore them. There are some Christians who use testimonies exclusively as evidence of their Christian faith. Any atheist who seeks to "debunk" Christianity (though, I'm not really comfortable with that term), must answer those Christians who rely on testimony. Offering our testimonies is a direct challenge to those Christians.

Other Christians who are "offended" by anecdotal "evidence" can read and comment on some of my more substantive posts (that rarely get any comments from theists). Here, I wrote about my foundation for the laws of logic and morality (in answer to the myopic questioning of the presuppositionalists). Here, I wrote about the authorship of the Pentateuch. Here, I wrote about the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Though, as I stated above, I do not have the time to do the research required to convincingly discuss these issues, these posts are definitely not anecdotal.

The Christians who don't like atheist testimonies are free to ignore them, but they should realize that many Evangelicals do, in fact, put stock in testimonies, and that they are a powerful tool in both conversions and de-conversions. Instead of thinking our anecdotal posts are directed to every Christian, those who do not appreciate these posts should simply understand that these objections are not directed at them, but rather at those Christians who use testimonies as a primary means of evangelism.

I am kind of an "old school" atheist. I believe that the Christian has the primary responsibility to prove their assertion that a god exists. Presuppositionalism asks legitimate questions about the foundations of an atheists' reasoning, so I took the time to offer a possible solution. Having addressed that concern, I have turned to other, positive arguments for the existence of a god. As Christians give an account for the hope that is in them, I will consider those accounts and respond, in turn. Because most of the bloggers attracted to this site are unwilling to provide any evidence for their assertion that a god exists, I have taken it on myself to counter the traditional arguments for a god's existence. So far, I have only discussed cosmological arguments. In the future (if Christian bloggers continue to avoid giving any evidence for their assertion), I plan on discussing other traditional arguments for a god's existence.

Dr. White, thank you for taking the time to respond to me on your blog.