Another 50 Bible “contradictions” answered

Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 51-60

51. A man may marry his brother’s widow [Deut 25:5]

A man may not marry his brother’s widow [Lev 20:21]
This is a clear case of reading a contradiction INTO the Bible — Lev 20:21 says nothing obvious about marrying widows.

52. Hatred to kindred enjoined

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:26]
Hatred to kindred condemned [Eph 6:2 / Eph 5:25,29]

I have seen this verse used numerous times from atheists in an attempt to show that Jesus was not a nice guy. But let’s see if this verse really supports that position. Many atheists interpret this verse literally. To them, it is clear that Jesus was instructing us to hate our families. But is it?

It is a fairly basic rule in hermeneutics that a particular teaching should be interpreted in the light of general teaching, that is, in light of its context. So, does this hate-message fit into the overall context of Jesus’ teaching? Not really.

Elsewhere, Jesus responds to an inquiry about attaining eternal life. He replied, ” honor your mother and father”. [Matt. 19:19]. In fact, on another occasion Jesus censured those theologians who argued that people who had vowed to give God a sum of money which they later discovered could have been used to help their parents in need were not free to divert the money from religious purposes to which it had been vowed. In His characteristic condemnation of human traditions, Jesus observed: “Thus you nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!” [Matt. 15:6-7]

Now, how can you hate your parents, yet also honor them? These seem to be exclusive sentiments.

On the cross, Jesus tells John to take His mother as his own. Was he telling John to hate her? Then why did John take Mary into his home?

An interesting thing happens if you put together some of these teachings. If we are to hate our family, why must we love our enemies? And by hating our families, they become our enemies, but then we are supposed to love them!

No, I find this literalistic interpretation of Luke 14:26 to be plagued with problems and taken out of context.

So what sense are we to make of this teaching? Perhaps Jesus is simply employing hyperbole to emphasize an important point. Let’s return to the immediate context of this verse. In Luke 14:27, He notes that a disciple must be willing to carry his cross. In verses 28-29, he teaches from the example of building a tower and that one should count the costs before beginning. In verses 31-32, he uses an example of a king going to war to illustrate the same point. Then in verse 33, he explains that we must be willing to give up everything to be His disciple. In verses he alludes to salt that loses its saltiness, which is thrown out. And finally, he sums it all up by saying “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” [vs. 35].

Now throughout this whole preaching, Jesus uses symbolic parables and hyperbole to drive His points home. And what is the point? I think it is rather clear, that commitment to Jesus is primary and always comes first. Thus, if you are willing to put others before Christ and unwilling to follow through with your commitment, you may as well never commit in the first place.

It is well known that in Jewish idiom, hate could also mean ‘love less’. In fact, I think the same message taught in Luke 14:26 is taught in Matthew 10:37.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me”.

In this case Jesus is speaking to his disciples, while in Luke He was addressing the crowds. But the same theme is present in both and His teaching to the disciples clearly explains the hyperbole in Luke.

I should also go back to that idiom. In the OT, the love-hate antithesis was used to distinguish between the intensity of one’s love, and not meant as a polarization of concepts. Perhaps the clearest example is in Gen 29:30-31:

“So Jacob went to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban another seven years. When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb”.

Thus, Leah’s being hated or not loved really meant that she was loved less. In fact, in the poetry of the ancient Near East numerous terms were paired together. In such instances the meaning of these terms is far more dependent upon their idiomatic usage rather than their literal meaning in isolation.

Given that Jesus often teaches using symbolic parables and hyperbole, given the context of Luke’s passage, along with the context of other teachings of Jesus which certainly contradict a literal reading of Luke’s verse, and the use of the love-hate comparison in Hebrew idiom, all added to Matthews account of the same theme, a consistent picture comes out that Jesus was teaching that we should love our families less than He. His use of hyperbole is an effective way of getting attention and emphasizing his point at the same time. Commitment to Jesus comes first. By the way, this is another subtle implicit expression of Jesus as God, as elsewhere, he reminds us that we are to love “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” [Matt 22:37].

Anyway, if Bob was to tell Sue that he loved her so much that “he’d walk a thousand miles without food and water just to be with her”, must Bob fulfill the literal sense of his statement for Sue to understand the depth of his love? If we insisted that hyperbole be taken literally, a very effective and deep method of communicating would be lost!

53. Intoxicating beverages recommended [Prov 31:6,7 / 1 Tim 5:23 / Ps 104:15]

Intoxicating beverages discountenanced [Prov 20:1 / Prov 23:31,32]

Is it ok to drink alcoholic beverages? Yup, but not in excess. And it’s not required.

(All things are lawful for me but I will not be brought under the power of any. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. 1 Cor 6:12 and 10:23).

Prov 20:1 says abusers of wine are not wise.

Prov 23:30 tells us that verses 31-32 are in the context of excessive drinking.

The Lord was accused of being a drinker; it can be inferred that He did not entirely abstain from wine – just from drunkenness. However, anyone who is weak in this matter would do well not to touch the stuff. (IMHO)

A great verse not quoted is Eph 4:18 (Compare with Acts 2:13-18). The point of wine in the Bible is a picture of our enjoyment of the Spirit. Well, atheists can’t be expected to understand that. Anyway, we should be crazy before God and sober before man. –MAW

54. It is our duty to obey our rulers, who are God’s ministers and punish evil doers only [Rom 13:1-3,6]

It is not our duty to obey rulers, who sometimes punish the good and receive unto themselves damnation therefore [Ex 1:17,20 / Dan 3:16,18 / Dan 6:9,7,10 / Acts 4:26,27 / Mark 12:38,39,40 / Luke 23:11,24,33,35]

Should we obey our rulers? Are they God’s ministers? Do they punish only evildoers? Do they sometimes punish the good as well? Will they receive damnation for their injustices?

This question has to be answered in parts.

(1) Should we obey our rulers?

Romans 13:1-3, 6 says we should be subject to, and not resist, the authorities over us. Note: it doesn’t say obey. We should obey if at all possible, unless such obedience is contrary to God, as in the extreme cases below.

Exod 1:17, 20 tells us that the midwives did not follow the pharoah’s command to kill the male babies of the Israelites and that God approved.

Dan 3:16 18 tell us that Daniel’s three friends disobeyed the king’s command to bow to the image. It also tells us that they were willing to submit to the consequences and that their attitude was not one of defiance but of respectful disobedience. Same as the midwives.

Dan 6:7, 9, 10 tells us Daniel was the same. He was submissive to the king and honored him, but was unable to obey this one particular command because it conflicted with His faithful worship of God. He also submitted to the penalty. All three are special cases where the authorities require something contrary to God. All three are not obedient but are still subject and do not resist.

Acts 4:26-27 does not deal with this question.

Mark 12:38-40 “Beware the scribes” is not a command not to respect them or do as they say. In another verse the Lord makes this more clear, telling us to do as they say but not as they do. The Lord had good reason to warn His disciples to beware the scribes, as they were part of the group that was plotting to kill Him. Anyway, that is not the point here.

Luke 23:11, 24, 33, 35 Here the Lord submitted to the cruel treatment of the earthly government. He was a good example for us all.

(2) Are they God’s ministers?

Romans tells us that they are. No verse tells us that they are not, although they do sometimes abuse their office after they have received it from God. That makes them not much different from King Saul or the sons of Eli. David and Samuel (respectively) were still subject to them and respected them as established by God.

(3) Do they punish only evildoers?

Romans 13:3 “For the rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you want to have no fear of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from him.”

This is a general principle, explaining that if we rob a bank or kill someone or dodge our taxes (the example in the context), we will have something to fear from the authorities, whereas if we don’t we won’t. If they oppress us unjustly, that is a matter not being dealt with in this verse.

(4) Do they get punished by God for their injustices?

Yes. God is not a regarder of persons. Every individual, regardless of status, will eventually face the judgment seat. –MAW

55. Women’s rights denied [Gen 3:16 / 1 Tim 2:12 / 1 Cor 14:34 / 1 Pet 3:6]

Women’s rights affirmed [Judg 4:4,14,15 / Judg 5:7 / Acts 2:18 / Acts 21:9]

Does the Bible affirm or deny women’s rights? (Hot topic.)

Gen 3:16 the curse on the woman (man got one too). The husband rules over the wife.

1 Tim 2:12 Woman not permitted to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.

1 Cor 14:34 Silent. Not permitted to speak in the assemblies but to be subject. Next verse explains: it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Pet 3:6 As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, so women should be subject to their own husbands.

Judg 4:4, 14-15 Deborah, a female, judged Israel. But note: The Bible purposely mentions her husband’s name. She does not choose to lead the people of Israel to battle but is told to do so. She goes obediently when told, but tells Barak that he will be shamed in that a woman will kill his enemy Sisera. (It is a shame for a woman to defeat the enemy.) It is also a shame to Barak that he cannot go to battle without a woman. As a prophetess, she speaks, but she purposely keeps herself in her proper position as a female by maintaining the safeguards of her husband’s headship and obedience to the authority of Barak. It is also a shame to Israel that there were no men who could judge them and so God was forced to use a female. (This does happen sometimes.)

Judg 5:7 Confirms the fact that there was no male to rule Israel properly and so God was forced to raise up Deborah.

Acts 2:18 Both men and women prophesy. Females prophesying is different from females teaching and exerting authority over men. Females can of course prophesy with their heads covered, signifying submission and acceptance of God’s ordination. Just as Deborah did.

Acts 21:9 A man had four virgin daughters who prophesied. Same as above. See also 1 Cor 14:24, 26, 31; 11:5.

1 Cor 11:3 shows us that the point here is to keep the proper order (v. 40) in the churches: God is the Head of Christ. He, Christ, was fully in submission to the Father in all things, even unto death. Likewise, men should be headed up by Christ and women by men, especially their own husbands. While on that topic:

Eph 5:25-31 “Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, cleansing her by the washing of the water in the word, that He might present the church to Himself glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that she should be holy and without blemish. In the same way the husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the church, because we are members of His Body. For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.”

1 Peter 3:7 says that the wives are weaker and are to be treasured as vessels unto honor by their husbands.

1 Cor 12:22-24 But much rather the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we consider to be less honorable, these we clothe with more abundant honor; and our uncomely members come to have more abundant comeliness, but our comely members have no need. But God has blended the body together, giving more abundant honor to the member that lacked.

2 Cor 12:9-10 And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly therefore I will rather boast in my weaknesses that the power of Christ might tabernacle over me. Therefore I am well pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses, on behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am powerful.

The brothers saw the vision on the mount of transfiguration, were appointed as disciples and later as apostles, and in the churches took on the responsibilities of being elders, deacons, teachers, and so on. But it was a group of sisters who supplied the funds for Jesus and His disciples to live for those three and a half years. It was a sister who willingly and without a second thought offered herself to be used by God to bring forth the Messiah, it was a sister who anointed the Lord Jesus with the costly nard which may have been her entire life savings and wiped His feet with her tears, sisters who first learned of His resurrection, and a sister who lingered at the tomb and was first to see Him in resurrection. The Lord does not discriminate against us sisters; rather, He is full of compassion for us in our weakness. Let us love and seek Him with our whole heart. –MAW

56. Obedience to masters enjoined [Col 3:22,23 / 1 Pet 2:18]

Obedience due to God only [Matt 4:10 / 1 Cor 7:23 / Matt 23:10]

Should masters be obeyed? Matthew 4:10 is referring to the service of worship, as the context makes clear. We are to worship only God. It is quoted from Deut. 6:13-14 which is also in the context of being forbidden to worship idols.

1 Cor 7:20-24 tells slaves to remain as slaves even if the opportunity arises to be liberated. Then verse 22 says that a slave is the Lord’s freedman and a freeman is the Lord’s slave. This is telling us that outwardly we may be a slave or free but in the Lord we are His slave and we are also free in Him. So although we are slaves to men outwardly, the one we hold in our heart as our true Master is the Lord. This is not a sanction of being rebellious to our masters but a reference to our heart. The context makes it clear that it is not saying that slaves should seek to be free or to rebel against their masters.

Matt 23:10. This verse was previously dealt with in question #30. It is not referring to whether or not we have earthly masters, but whether or not we address some believers as if they were superior with titles of honor like Father and Teacher (Uh, and Reverend and Pastor and Deacon). All believers are brothers. Context: verses 6-11. Yes, there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc. But we just don’t need to address them honorifically. And mustn’t. –MAW

57. There is an unpardonable sin

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” [Mark 3:29]
There is not unpardonable sin

“And from all the things from which you were not able to be justified by the law of Moses, in this One everyone who believes is justified.” [Acts 13:39]

Note that the critic is relying on a particular interpretation of Acts 13, as it doesn’t clearly say there is no unpardonable sin. It merely says that those who believe are justified. Now, Jesus’ teaching may be descriptive in essense – those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit are those who never believe. That is, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit may be a symptom of a heart which is in such rebellion that it never yeilds to the call of the Holy Spirit.

It is also possible that blaspheming the Spirit may simply be rejecting His call. Or at the very least, those who blaspheme the Spirit are ones who rebel against Him. Recall that the Spirit is sent to bring us into the Truth and convict us of sin. Those who would blaspheme the Spirit obviously rebel against Him, thus reject salvation. Thus, how could they be saved?

58. Man was created after the other animals [Gen 1:25,26,27]

Man was created before the other animals [Gen 2:18,19]

The first chapter of Genesis is a synopsis of creation. The second is more detailed and focuses on the creation of man (and was unlikely intended to be a separate creation account). The NIV translates Gen 2:19 as follows:

“Now that LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man…”

Simply put, the Garden could have initially been without animal life, and God simply brought the animals he had already created to Adam.

59. Seed time and harvest were never to cease [Gen 8:22]

Seed time and harvest did cease for seven years [Gen 41:54,56 / Gen 45:6]

Did seed time and harvest ever cease?

Gen 8:22 “shall never cease.”

Gen 41:54-56, 45:6 There was a famine over the whole earth for seven years. The seasons didn’t cease, just the fruitful yield thereof.

Seed time and harvest are another way of saying Spring and Fall, especially in the context of Genesis 8 which is speaking of the seasons. They were forced to cease during the flood, which was marked by heavy rainfall and not much variety. This was not what happpened in Egypt and the other countries during the famine in Genesis 41-45. –MAW

60. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart [Ex 4:21 / Ex 9:12]

Pharaoh hardened his own heart [Ex 8:15]

Who hardened Pharoah’s heart? Exod 4:21 and 9:12 God did. Exod 8:15 Pharoah did.

MaryAnna notes that they both did. I agree, as much has been written on this topic. But I would note that people often react very differently to God’s actions. For example, let’s imagine that God invoked some calamity on people as a judgment for their sin. Some people would respond and repent. Many would simply harden their heart and blame God. Thus, by bringing about this calamity, some might be saved, but God could be said that have indirectly hardened the hearts of others. Of course, sometimes you don’t need calamity. I’m sure many Christian’s can testify of varying evangelistic experiences. After months of witnessing, some become saved. But sometimes, those who come awful close to being saved back away and become more rebellious than ever, their hearts being more hardened that ever after being touched by the convicting hand of the Holy Spirit.

Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 61-70

61. All the cattle and horses in Egypt died [Ex 9:3,6]

All the horses of Egypt did not die [Ex 14:9]

The account in Ex 9:3 refers to the livestock in the field. If not all the Egyptian horses were in the fields, they wouldn’t all die, now would they?

62. Moses feared Pharaoh [Ex 2:14,15, 23; 4:19]

Moses did not fear Pharaoh [Heb 11:27]

Hebrews says “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.”

The accounts in Ex 2 and 4 describe events long before Moses led his people out of Egypt (besides, Ex 4 says nothing about Moses fearing Pharoah). This is obviously another contradiction which is read INTO the Bible.

63. There died of the plague twenty-four thousand [Num 25:9]

There died of the plague but twenty-three thousand [1 Cor 10:8]

According to Paul, 23,000 fell “in one day.” The account in Numbers simply states that 24,000 died of the plague. It is not contradictory that 23,000 should die in a day, and another 1000 die before or after.

64. John the Baptist was Elias

“And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah, who is to come.” [Matt 11:14]
John the Baptist was not Elias [John 1:21]

First, it should be pointed out some use this to show that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah, or at least the idea of reincarnation was held by some (also John 9:1 ff) –P. For a refutation see The Reincarnation Sensation

Note, in Matt. 11:14, not “He is” but “If you are willing to receive it, he is.” This indicates not a literal identity but a fulfillment of prophecy. This is referring to the prophecy in Mal. 4:5-6 “Behold, I will send unto you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of Jehovah. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

This prophecy has two fulfillments. First, before the Lord’s first coming, John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths. Luke 1:17. “And it is he who will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the prudence of the righteous, to prepare for the Lord a people made ready.”

The second fulfillment of this prophecy is before the second coming of the Lord. This has yet to happen, and at that time it will be Elijah, not one in the spirit and power of Elijah, who will actually come. This is confirmed by the Lord’s word in:

Matt 17:10-13 “And the disciples asked Him, saying, Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? And He answered and said, Elijah indeed is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah has already come; and they did not recognize him, but did with him the things they wished. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer by them. Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them concerning John the Baptist.”

Again the Lord is careful to point out that the literal Elijah has yet to come, but then to say “but I say to you.” This indicates that although Elijah is coming, it can also be said that he has come — referring to John the Baptist.

Elijah’s coming is also mentioned in Rev 11:3-4. He will be one of the two witnesses.

John 1:21 John B. said that he was not Elijah. That’s right. He wasn’t the actual person of Elijah. That would happen much much later….

So in a sense he was Elijah, and yet he wasn’t. Not a contradiction. –MAW

65. The father of Joseph, Mary’s husband was Jacob [Matt 1:16]

The father of Mary’s husband was Heli [Luke 3:23]

It is distinctly possible that Luke’s account traces Jesus’ lineage through Mary, and not Joseph. Some of the circumstantial evidence to support this is as follows:

(1) Luke’s birth narrative is through the eyes of Mary, while Matthew’s is through the eyes of Joseph. Thus, Luke could have received his material through Mary (or someone close), thus it is quite possible that he received her genealogy.

(2) Luke 3:23 reads, “Jesus…being supposedly the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, etc.” Luke certainly draws attention to the fact that Jesus was not truly Joseph’s son, so why would he then go to all the trouble in listing Joseph’s genealogy?

(3) After considering the Greek of Luke 3:23, Robert Gromacki believes it should be translated as follows:

“being the son (as was supposed of Joseph) of Heli, of Matthat, etc.”

Gromaki states: “Since women did not appear in direct genealogical listings, Joseph stood in Mary’s place, but Luke was careful to note that there was no physical connection between Joseph and either Jesus or Heli.”

(4) Luke’s genealogy also lists Adam as “the son of God.” This would indicate that one would have no grounds for insisting that the term “son” meant only the direct, biological offspring. Thus, one could think of Jesus as the “son of Heli.”

(5) The writings of Ignatius of Antioch (ca. 100 AD) indicate that the early church thought that Mary was a Davidic descent. For example, he writes:

“Under the Divine dispensation, Jesus Christ our God was conceived by Mary of the seed of David and of the spirit of God; He was born, and He submitted to baptism, so that by His Passion He might sanctify water.” — Ignatius to the Ephesians

“Christ was of David’s line. He was the son of Mary; He was verily and indeed born..” — Ignatius to the Trallians

Since Ignatius believed in the virgin birth, it clearly follows that he would believe that she was “of the seed of David.” Other apocryphal gospels and Justin Martyr (ca. 150 AD) also believed Mary to have been a descendent of David.

Objections to these claims are basically of two types:

A. The Jews did not typically trace genealogies through women.

Reply: This is true, but a virgin birth is not a typical birth. Thus standard practices would not be expected to hold.

B. There is no explicit mention that the genealogy is Mary’s.

Reply: This is true again, but the reason for this is probably due to point A. The genealogy would lose all appeal if it was explicitly cited as Mary’s. However, it does seem to be implied. Thus, one could discern this truth after they had converted and studied the text. This would account for the early church’s belief about Mary’s Davidic descent.

Whatever one makes of such reasoning, it is certainly possible that the above explanation might be true, thus a contradiction has not been proved.

66. The father of Salah was Arphaxad [Gen 11:12]

The father of Salah was Cainan [Luke 3:35,36]

To me, this looks like a legitimate contradiction, although I suppose it is possible that this is the same person known by different names. After all, it is not uncommon for Biblical personages to have more than one name.

67. There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David [Matt 1:17]

There were but thirteen generations from Abraham to David [Matt 1:2-6]
68. There were fourteen generations from the Babylonian captivity to Christ [Matt 1:17]

There were but thirteen generations from the Babylonian captivity to Christ [Matt 1:12-16]

I list these together and allow MaryAnna to reply….

I looked this up in my study Bible (Recovery Version) and found the following explanation:

(Matt. 1:17) “This genealogy is divided into three ages: (1) from Abraham until David, fourteen generations, the age before the establishing of the kingdom; (2) from David until the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations, the age of the kingdom; (3) from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, again fourteen generations, the age after the fall of the kingdom. According to history, there were actually forty-five generations. By deducting from these generations the three cursed generations [Matt 1:8; 1 Chron 3:11-12; 2 Kings 15:1, 13; 2 Chron. 21:5-6; 22:1-4; Exod 20:5] and the one improper generation [Matt 1:11; 1 Chron 3:15-16; 2 Kings 23:34-35], and then adding one by making David two generations (one, the age before the establishing of the kingdom, and the other, the age of the kingdom), the generations total forty-two, being divided into three ages of fourteen generations each.” –MAW

It’s simply a matter of how you count. In other words, you can count it as fourteen generations first by extending from Abraham to David; secondly, by extending from David to the deportation; and thirdly, by extending from Jechonias to Christ, inclusive in each case.

69. The infant Christ was taken into Egypt [Matt 2:14,15,19,21,23]

The infant Christ was not taken into Egypt [Luke 2:22, 39]

Luke does not say that the infant was not taken into Egypt as neither account is exhaustive (those who look for contradictions often overlook the fact that Biblical accounts are rarely exhaustive in their scope). We can easily harmonize the accounts as follows:

Journey of Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem; birth of the child; presentation in the Temple; return to Bethlehem; visit of the Magi; flight into Egypt; return to settle in Nazareth.

70. Christ was tempted in the wilderness [Mark 1:12,13]

Christ was not tempted in the wilderness [John 2:1,2]

Mark 1:12, 13 Jesus was tempted in the wilderness immediately after His baptism.

John 2:1, 2 The third day after John testifies for Jesus for the first time in the book of John, (not the first ever) Jesus is in Cana of Galilee turning water into wine. There is no mention of how much earlier Jesus was baptized. He was tempted in the wilderness before 1:29. Then He went back to see John, at which time John proclaims that Jesus is the Lamb of God, based on previously having seen the Spirit descend on Him in the form of a dove. (verses 32 to 34). –MAW

Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 71-80

71. Christ preached his first sermon on the mount [Matt 5:1,2]

Christ preached his first sermon on the plain [Luke 6:17,20]

Neither account says anything about this being his “first sermon.” As MaryAnna notes: Probably two different sermons with similar content. Matt. doesn’t say the sermon on the mount was His first sermon. Matt. doesn’t seem too concerned about the sequence of events. Matt 4:23 seems to indicate that before this the Lord already had done a lot of speaking. The one in Luke 6:17 was to the crowds, whereas the one in Matt 5 was addressed to the disciples privately. –MAW

Indeed. It is not at all uncommon for a preacher to preach similar sermons at different times and with different audiences, now is it?

72. John was in prison when Jesus went into Galilee [Mark 1:14]

John was not in prison when Jesus went into Galilee [John 1:43 / John 3:22-24]

The account in Mark does not indicate that this was the first time Jesus went into Galilee. It is quite possible that Jesus did earlier visit Galilee to baptize and mingle, and Mark alludes to a subsequent visit (after John’s imprisonment) when He began to preach the nearness of the kingdom.

73. Christ’s disciples were commanded to go forth with a staff and sandals [Mark 6:8,9]

Christ’s disciples were commanded to go forth with neither staves not sandals [Matt 10:9,10]

I view these as complementary accounts which get us closer to the full instructions of Jesus. In Mark, He tells his disciples to take nothing for their journey except a staff and sandals to wear. In Matthew, He instructs them not to acquire many things (including more sandals and staffs). In short, he is instructing them to take little, and not to accept the gifts of men in return for the healing and message that they bring with them.

74. A woman of Canaan besought Jesus [Matt 15:22]

It was a Greek woman who besought Him [Mark 7:26]
The nationality of the woman who besought Jesus.

Matt. 15:22 She was a Canaanite woman.

Mark 7:26 She was a Greek, Syro-phoenician by race. The Phoenicians were descendants of the Canaanites. So she was Greek in some way other than race. It could have been by religion, marriage, or something else. Anyway, these verses don’t contradict each other. The point is she was not an Israelite. –MAW

Also, “Greek” may have simply meant “Gentile”. According to Haley, she lived in a part of Canaan called “Syro-Phoenicia.”

75. Two blind men besought Jesus [Matt 20:30]

Only one blind man besought Him [Luke 18:35,38]

How many blind men were there?

Matt. 20:30 mentions two. Luke 18:35, 38 only mentions one. A certain one. Luke probably was acquainted with him and so mentions him specifically. He may have continued to follow the Lord and even been among the 120 later, whereas the other may not have. At any rate Luke doesn’t say that the blind man was alone, just that he was there and received his sight. — MAW I should point out that critic’s don’t like the type of replies that MaryAnna suggests, although I think her explanation is quite plausible. So allow to me reply to their complaints at this point. In another context, one critic decried a similar type of approach as described it as follows

Critic: “There was more there than….” This is used when one verse says “there was a” and another says “there was b”, so they decide there was “a” AND “b” — which is said nowhere.

My reply: Simply because it is “said nowhere” doesn’t mean it is not the case. That follows only if you assume exhaustively detailed and verbatim reports. In fact, we can induce that it was probably the case by putting the pieces together. This is a perfectly valid approach. Anyone who lives in this world ought to know that. If I go for a ride with my buddies Bob and Steve, and come home to tell my wife I was out with Bob (perhaps because I talked to him more, ie, he was on my mind) and later mention that Steve said something about getting a new job, have I contradicted myself? The contradiction exists ONLY if I said that ONLY Bob and I went for a drive. And it would certainly be reasonable for my wife to conclude that I must have went for a ride with both Bob and Steve.

In attempting to pooh-pooh this type of explanation which is commonly experienced, the critic is fallaciously engaged in black and white thinking. It’s like saying, “Hey, either you went for a ride with Bob or Steve, which is it?”. But why in the world can’t it be both?

Critic: This makes them happy, since it doesn’t say there WASN’T “a + b”.

My reply: I don’t know about happy, but this sounds like the crying of a spoiled child. If you are out to demonstrate a CONTRADICTION, this is exactly the type of thing you have to uncover. Just because the critic fails to shoulder HIS/HER burden is no reason for me to take their point seriously.

76. Christ was crucified at the third hour [Mark 15:25]

Christ was not crucified until the sixth hour [John 19:14,15]

At what hour was Jesus crucified?

Mark 15:25 says it was in the third hour, 9:00 a.m. John 19:14-15 says that in the sixth hour (different clock). He was still not crucified yet but was being judged before Pilate. This was at about 6 a.m.

So three hours later He had carried the cross up to Golgotha (with some help) and was crucified.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Acts use Hebrew time for their reckoning. John uses Roman time. Another example of this is in John 18:28 — early morning refers to the fourth Roman watch, which was 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. –MAW

77. The two thieves reviled Christ [Matt 27:44 / Mark 15:32]

Only one of the thieves reviled Christ [Luke 23:39,40]

Did both or only one of the thieves revile Jesus?

Matt. 27:44 and Mark 15:32 say they both did.

Luke 23:39-40 says that the one rebuked the other for his blasphemy.

Probably at first they both did and then one of them repented, and, while the other was still reviling, rebuked him and asked the Lord to remember him. So he was saved. Luke doesn’t say that the rebuking one had not at first been also reviling. It merely records a segment of the conversation. –MAW

(Once again, we see another “contradiction” which presumes exhaustive accounts –MB)

78. Satan entered into Judas while at supper [John 13:27]

Satan entered into him before the supper [Luke 22:3,4,7]

When did Satan enter Judas? John 13:27 Right after eating the morsel offered to him by Jesus. Luke 22:3,4,7 Satan also entered Judas before that. It could be he kept entering Judas. Just like the evil spirit that kept coming upon King Saul. –MAW

(Indeed, are we to believe that once Satan enters someone, he remains there for the rest of the natural life of a person??? –MB)

79. Judas committed suicide by hanging [Matt 27:5]

Judas did not hang himself, but died another way [Acts 1:18]

Matt 27:5 states that Judas “threw the pieces of silver….and he went away and hanged himself.”

Acts 1:18 states, “and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.”

It’s rather easy to reconcile these:

1. First, Judas tried to kill himself by hanging himself. And this is not always a successful way. Maybe he tried, and failed (as have many others who have tried to commit suicide by hanging). Then after some time, he threw himself off a cliff and fell upon some jagged rocks. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for people who commit suicide to have tried it before.

2. Judas could have tied a rope to a tree branch that extended over a cliff (after all, you have to get some space between your feet and the ground to hang yourself). In this situation, the rope/branch could have broke before or after death, and Judas plummeted to the ground and landed on some jagged rocks.

Certainly, these explanations are plausible, thus a contradiction has not been established. More from Frank Decenso below.

One of my favorites. My explanation for atheists and critics…

MAT 27:5-8 Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

First of all, notice that the text does not say that Judas died as a result of hanging. All it says is that he “went and hanged himself.” Luke however, in Acts, tells us that “and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.” This is a pretty clear indication (along with the other details given in Acts – Peter’s speech, the need to pick a new apostle, etc.) that at least after Judas’ fall, he was dead. So the whole concept that Matthew and Luke both recount Judas’ death is highly probable, but not clear cut. Therefore, if I were to take a radical exegetical approach here, I could invalidate your alleged contradiction that there are two different accounts of how Judas died.

Notice verse 5.”Then he…went and hanged himself.” Matthew does not say Judas died, does it? Should we assume he died as a result of the hanging?

What does Acts say? ACT 1:18 (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.

ACT 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’

Here we may have a graphic explanation of Judas’ death. Of course, maybe someone can find some medical source somewhere that discusses the possibility of one having their entrails gush out after being burst open in the middle, and still survive. 🙂

So, my line of reasoning to dispel the contradiction myth re: the “two” accounts of Judas’ death is this. Matthew doesn’t necessarily explain how Judas died; he does say Judas “hanged himself”, but he didn’t specifically say Judas died in the hanging incident. However, Acts seems to show us his graphic demise. Therefore, there is no contradiction between Matthew and Acts re: Judas’ death.

We do know from Matthew that he did hang himself and Acts probably records his death. It is possible and plausible that he fell from the hanging and hit some rocks, thereby bursting open. However, Matthew did not say Judas died as a result of the hanging, did he? Most scholars believe he probably did, but….

One atheist I debated along these lines said… the Greek word “apagchw” (ie: hang oneself) is translated as a successful hanging. I replied, No you can’t only conclude this, although…this was a highly probable outcome. But Matthew does not state death as being a result. The Greek word is APAGCHO. Matthew 27:5 is it’s only occurrence in the New Testament. In the LXX (the Greek translation of the OT used at the time of Jesus), it’s only used in 2 Samuel 17:23 : “Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb.” Notice that not only is it stated that Ahithophel “hanged himself” [Gr. LXX, APAGCHO], but it explicitly adds, “and died”. Here we have no doubt of the result. In Matthew, we are not explicitly told Judas died. Also, there is nothing in the Greek to suggest success or failure. It simply means “hang oneself”. –Frank

80. The potter’s field was purchased by Judas [Acts 1:18]

The potter’s field was purchased by the Chief Priests [Matt 27:6,7]

Perhaps here, the following maxim holds — “He who does a thing by another, does it himself.” That is, yes it was the chief priests who actually bought the field, but Judas had furnished the occasion for its purchase. Thus, the verse in Acts could be employing a figure of speech where we attribute to the man himself any act which he has directly or indirectly procured to be done. After all, we attribute the “Clinton health care plan” to Bill Clinton, when in reality, it is a plan devised by others associated with Bill Clinton.

Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 81-90

81. There was but one woman who came to the sepulchre
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” [John 20:1]

There were two women who came to the sepulchre

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the other tomb.” [Matt 28:1]
This is a case where a contradiction is read into the account. John does not report that ONLY Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. Failing to mention someone does not necessarily mean that no one else was present. In fact, had the critics read further, they would have seen that Mary was not alone:

“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him!” [Jn 20:2]

If Mary was alone, then who is WE? Clearly more than one person went with Mary. John just doesn’t mention them.

82. There were three women who came to the sepulchre [Mark 16:1]

There were more than three women who came to the sepulchre [Luke 24:10]

Again, the same reasoning applies. See my previous story about going for a ride in the car. 🙂

83. It was at sunrise when they came to the sepulchre

“Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb.” [Mark 16:2]
It was some time before sunrise when they came

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.” [John 20:1]

I see no contradiction. Mary could have left a little earlier than the others. Or they could have left while it was still dark and the sun began to rise while they were on their way. I’ve worked my share of nightshifts to know that one can leave the job while it is still dark, and get home after the sun has risen!

84. There were two angels seen by the women at the sepulchre, and they were standing up [Luke 24:4]

There was but one angel seen, and he was sitting down [Matt 28:2,5]

It is quite possible that much of the confusion about these trivial facts stems from the fact that many women went to the tomb that morning (Luke 24:10). It’s possible, at the very least, that a group of women came to the tomb, and saw that the stone had been rolled away. Some women went inside, but the more timid remained outside. Those inside saw the vision of the two angels, while those outside saw the angel on the stone.

Also, in response to the manner in which this supposed contradiction is presented, I would point out that a.) Matthew does not say there was “but one angel,” he simply focuses on the angel who moved the stone; b.) the Greek word in Luke rendered “stood near” also means, “to come near, to appear to.” In Luke 2:9 and Acts 12:7 it is translated as “came upon.” Thus, Luke may simply have said that angels suddenly appeared to them without reference to posture. Strictly speaking, one would be hard pressed to establish a contradiction in terms of numbers or posture even without my possible explanation.

85. There were two angels seen within the sepulchre [John 20:11,12]

There was but one angel seen within the sepulchre [Mark 16:5]

These are not the same incidents. John’s account is particular to Mary after she followed Peter and John back to the tomb, which was later than the account cited in Mark.

Now, I myself once stumbled upon a “better” contradiction. When Mary runs back, she is scared and thinks that the body has been stolen. Then she returns to the tomb and weeps. Now isn’t this odd given that she supposedly heard the angels say that “He is risen”? Why so much despair after that miraculous experience? It doesn’t seem to add up. Of course it is possible that she had not fully comprehended what occurred, as one has to be careful in expecting people to respond coherently. But I think the answer is more clear if we consider John’s account.

John notes that she went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him”. (John 20:1-2). Then Peter and John ran to the tomb only to find the empty burial wrappings. Mary must then have followed them, but when she got there, they had gone, so she stood there crying, worried that the body of Jesus had been stolen. Then two angels appeared to her, and then the risen Jesus did. In short, the reason she was in despair is probably because she didn’t go into the tomb with the other women. As they approached the tomb, they saw it open, and probably began to worry amongst themselves that grave robbers came and stole the body before they could anoint it. At this realization, Mary probably left the group and bolted back to tell the others.

86. Christ was to be three days and three nights in the grave [Matt 12:40]

Christ was but two days and two nights in the grave [Mark 15:25,42,44,45,46; 16:9]

According to Haley, Orientals reckon any part of a day as a whole day. Thus, one whole and two parts of a day, along with two nights, would be popularly styled as “three days and three nights.” Such usage is seen elsewhere in Scripture.

For more detail see Day of Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord

87. Holy Spirit bestowed at Pentecost [Acts 1:8,5]

Holy Spirit bestowed before Pentecost [John 20:22]

Two aspects of the Spirit. In John 20:22 He was breathed into the disciples. In Acts 1:5,8 He was poured out upon them.

That’s like in 1 Cor 12:13, which says that we were baptized in one Spirit and also given to drink one Spirit. One is inward and the other is upon us outwardly. –MAW

I agree. It’s certainly possible that in John, the disciples became indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and in Acts they became empowered by the Holy Spirit.

88. The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go into Galilee [Matt 28:10]

The disciples were commanded immediately after the resurrection to go tarry at Jerusalem [Luke 24:49]

According to Haley: “The command tarry ye in Jerusalem,” etc., means simply, “Make Jerusalem your head-quarters. Do not leave it to begin your work, until ye be endued,” etc. This injunction would not preclude a brief excursion to Galilee. Besides, the command may not have been given until after the visit to Galilee.”

Indeed, keep in mind that Jesus appeared to the disciples several times over a period of many days. The Gospel’s simple give us “snapshots” of some of these events and certainly Matthew’s account is a brief synopsis.

89. Jesus first appeared to the eleven disciples in a room at Jerusalem [Luke 24:33,36,37 / John 20:19]

Jesus first appeared to the eleven on a mountain in Galilee [Matt 28:16,17]

Matthew’s account does not say that this was Jesus’ first appearance. It is certainly possible that Matthew simply passes over the earlier appearances and focuses on the call to go into Galilee. In fact, notice how Matthew’s account is not exhaustive. In 28:16, he mentions that Jesus had indicated what mountain in Galilee the disciples were to go to, yet he does not mention this when he quotes Jesus in verse 10.

90. Christ ascended from Mount Olive [Acts 1:9,12]

Christ ascended from Bethany [Luke 24:50,51]

You know one is grasping when they cite the same author writing about the same thing as a contradiction. 🙂 Bethany is on the eastern slope of Mount Olivet. Anyone coming back from there and returning to Jerusalem would have to pass over the mountain, and thus return from Mount Olivet. You would think that someone who proposes a geographical contradiction would look at a map.

Answers to Biblical Contradictions, 91-100

91. Paul’s attendants heard the miraculous voice, and stood speechless [Acts 9:7]

Paul’s attendants heard not the voice and were prostrate [Acts 26:14]

Acts 26:14 And when they had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me…

Acts 9:7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

While we are at it, let’s add the other account…

Acts 22:9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

Obviously, according to the NIV translation, there is no contradiction, as you can hear a sound, but not the recognize it as the voice of one speaking. So is this translation justified? Sure. The original Greek makes a distinction between hearing a sound as a noise and hearing a voice as a thought-conveying message. Haley notes “The Greek “akouo”, like our word “hear”, has two distinct meanings, to perceive sound, and to understand”. This distinction makes sense also in light of the context. Recall the differing levels of perception. While the men heard an unintelligible sound and saw a light, Paul heard the voice and saw the person speaking. In fact, this type of distinction occurs in another place:

“Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again”. The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him” [John 12:28-29]. Here is a clear-cut example where a voice speaks, but is heard by some as an unintelligible sound.

As for the stance of Paul’s companions, Haley notes “the word rendered ‘stood’ also means to be fixed, to be rooted to the spot. Hence, the sense may be, not that they stood erect, but that they were rendered motionless, or fixed to the spot, by overpowering fear”. It is also entirely plausible that when they first saw the great light, they “hit the dirt”, then they could have got up off the ground and stood there motionless.

The problem with the skeptic’s approach is that it assumes these accounts are exhaustive, step by step, accounts where each detail is conveyed. They are not. It’s not as if the author of Acts is saying “this is how it happened” three separate times. The author does this once, and the other two times he relays Paul speaking about it in two different contexts. Now given that the author wasn’t on the road to Damascus, and given that Paul was speaking from memory, and given that none of these are meant to be some exhaustive, detailed, point by point description, it is indeed wise to fit them all together. Furthermore, the account in Acts 26 relays a speech that Paul gave to King Agrippa which was only a synopsis. Acts 26 simply relays the manner in which Paul chose to convey his points.

92. Abraham departed to go into Canaan [Gen 12:5]

Abraham went not knowing where [Heb 11:8]

In Gen 12:1 God simply says to leave “your country…to the land I will show you.” The teaching in Hebrews could simply mean that Abraham did not know where he was going in the sense of not knowing where this promised land was. Thus, he set out for Canaan. And it was once he was in Canaan that God showed him that this was the promised land (Gen 12:7).

Look at it this way. God appears to Bob and tells him to leave his home because He has a mission for Bob. So Bob packs up, and not knowing where/what the mission is, and stops at an old friends house for a few days. Then God appears to Bob and instructs him of a mission which involves his friend. Thus, in one sense Bob sets out to partake of a mission with his friend, but in another sense, he sets out to his friends house not knowing what/where the mission is.

93. Abraham had two sons [Gal 4:22]

Abraham had but one son [Heb 11:17]

Abram had one genuine son of his wife Sarah who could be the fulfillment of God’s promise regarding his seed. He had another son by the maidservant Hagar and several others later by a second wife, but in his heart Isaac was his only son. This is also why he cut off all the others from inheritance. Notice the wording of Heb. 11:17 indicates that even though he had other sons, yet to him it was as if he were offering up his only begotten to whom the promise was made. –MAW

Besides, does anyone really believe that the writer of Hebrews was unaware of some well-known teachings about Abraham or had not read Genesis? Also, the writer of Hebrews is obviously screening out stuff to focus on topics related to faith. Hagar’s son was not the product of faith, and thus not worthy of mention in this context.

94. Keturah was Abraham’s wife [Gen 25:1]

Keturah was Abraham’s concubine [1 Chron 1:32]

MaryAnna suggests that Keturah could have been Abraham’s concubine who at some point became his wife. The point behind both verses is not about Keturah, but about her children. The author of Genesis may have been less exact and referred to these children as those of Abraham’s wife (if Bob had a child with Jill before being married, then got married to Jill, we would refer to the child as being of Bob’s wife), while the author of 1 Chron (who is busy being exact in documenting genealogies) may have been more exact and noted that such children were born while Keturah was still the concubine of Abraham.

95. Abraham begat a son when he was a hundred years old, by the interposition of Providence [Gen 21:2 / Rom 4:19 / Heb 11:12]

Abraham begat six children more after he was a hundred years old without any interposition of providence [Gen 25:1,2]

The problem was not with Abraham’s infertility but with Sarah’s inability to conceive. This was remedied only once by divine intervention. Abraham had one son before and several after, not with Sarah, all without divine intervention.–MAW

I’d also add that there is no certain reason for believing the births described in Gen 25:1,2 came after the birth of Isaac. Abraham could have had these children with Keturah much earlier. Verses 1,2 could simply be saying that Keturah has reunited with Abraham after Sarah’s death, and they became married. Then it lists the children that they had had earlier on (perhaps while living in Ur).

96. Jacob bought a sepulchre from Hamor [Josh 24:32]

Abraham bought it of Hamor [Acts 7:16]

One possible explanation is that Abraham bought the field whereas Jacob went back and specifically bought the tomb. Compare with Gen 33:19 and Gen 23:10-20. Josh 24:32 and Acts 7:16 were based on those verses. –MAW

97. God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed forever [Gen 13:14,15,17; 17:8]

Abraham and his seed never received the promised land [Acts 7:5 / Heb 11:9,13]

Here is a partial answer. God gave the land to Abraham and his seed. We do see that the land was eventually possessed by the children of Israel (Abraham’s grandson). Yet, in Acts, God did not give Abraham (personally) an inheritance on the land. True. But Abraham died in faith, even though he had not obtained the title deed to the property to pass on to his children. But eventually his descendents did get the land.

To answer this even further (not for the benefit of any skeptics but just because I can’t resist pointing out that this point is much deeper than just who occupies the land) — we have to look at Galatians 3:14 which tells us what the real blessing of Abraham is. Then the seed of Abraham is identified in verse 16. Then compare with Hebrews 11:39-40 and 12:1-2. This is what Hebrews means when it says they did not receive the promises, according to the context.

Yes, of course the land was the literal land and the seed was the literal descendents of Abraham and yes they did get their inheritance and now they are also on it again (part of it). At the same time, Galatians and Hebrews are also true. –MAW

98. Goliath was slain by Elhanan [2 Sam 21:19] note: was changed in translation to be correct — original manuscript was incorrect.

The brother of Goliath was slain by Elhanan [1 Chron 20:5]

As conceded, the verse in 2 Sam was probably due to a copyist’s mistake.

99. Ahaziah began to reign in the twelfth year of Joram [2 Kings 8:25]

Ahaziah began to reign in the eleventh year of Joram [2 Kings 9:29]

Note that Ahaziah is the son of Joram. It’s possible that on account of Joram’s sickness [2 Chron 21:18,19] that Ahaziah became associated with him in the eleventh year of Joram’s rule, but then began to rule alone by the twelth year.

100. Michal had no child [2 Sam 6:23]

Michal had five children [2 Sam 21:8]

In this case, I’ll quote John Baskette’s reply previously posted.

What does 2 Sam. 21:8-9 say?

“But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell [all] seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first [days], in the beginning of barley harvest.”

This would appear to be a real contradiction except for the phrase “whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai.”

The phrasing tells you that these sons are not Michal’s in the normal sense of the term because she did not “bear” these children. I.E. these sons are adopted children.

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54 thoughts on “Another 50 Bible “contradictions” answered

  1. Atheists often search the scripture to prove their point. The beauty of the Bible is its inconsistency you can prove almost any point you wish.
    The vast multitude of interpretations testifies to the huge number of denominations. So I might as well muddy the waters with mine.
    Jesus was an all or nothing man. He put his whole heart and soul into how he lived.
    Nearly everyone on the planet are compromise people, who are governed by all sorts of forces in their lives.
    Many compromise types like to think of themselves as all or nothing types, it projects a better image.
    The mature and observant are not fooled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe the big question here is whether or not a person accepts the idea of authorial intention, and of course every time we write a letter, send a text message or even read a reply we’re secretly showing we believe in an author’s intentions, we too believe that we can get at the original meaning without anything interfering. In fact, I think your message actually completes itself in a very sharp fashion, as you first wrote “The beauty of the Bible is its inconsistency you can prove almost any point you wish.”, you then go on to answer these often alien interpretations: “Nearly everyone on the planet are compromise people, who are governed by all sorts of forces in their lives.”

      Now, in many cases (certainly not all) I would say differing interpretations arise precisely because we’re as you have put it “compromise people.” Moreover, we’re compromised people (by which I mean to say sinners). An example, maybe you’ve heard of the show ancient aliens (a peculiar detour I know), well people who are drawn to this idea, the idea that aliens had some part to play in human history, or that we in the past were too ignorant/primitive to do simple tasks like draw patterns in the dirt, they’re very interested in the book of Ezekiel. Do we compromise and support their clearly absurd interpretation, surely not.

      In my mind, this reinforces the earlier point about us being so badly compromised. The ancient astronaut theorists argue that Ezekiel, rather than having anything to do with God, had in actuality witnessed alien spaceships, and they argue this from the book of Ezekiel of all things, they claim sadly the Jewish people lacked the vocabulary to rightly explain their extraterrestrial encounter, for which they wrote of God and (in their minds) other ridiculous notions. Yet “Hebrew is one of the richest languages in history of the world”!

      It’s because we are so compromised that people believe they can rip and uncritically misuse texts so to gain some selfish aim of theirs, and in their minds the people they are clearly misleading are irrelevant (or perhaps they’re misled themselves). Lastly, if both you and I truly belong to a universe fashioned by God, and are blessed with minds able to understand its deep truths, then I think you would do yourself a disservice to write your views on Jesus are muddying the waters. I think we really can know something about this Jesus, so when you write “Jesus was an all or nothing man. He put his whole heart and soul into how he lived.” I find myself almost irresistibly nodding in agreement. Lewis in his extremely popular book Mere Christianity has a great deal to add to the discussion:

      “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

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      • Jesus was a Jew and he lived in a scientifically unenlightened age.
        He did not lose his Jewish faith he universalised and adjusted it.
        The Jews a tightly bonded tribe ( they still are) hated his universalisum. They believed they were God chosen tribe above all other humans. We still see this attitude in Christian circles today.
        Jesus taught mankind was one large tribe and God had no favorites.
        He taught we need to put aside our imagined differences love, and serve one another.
        He also believed in ultimate justice that could act beyond the grave.
        I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice.
        Justice beyond the grave is very important in religious matters ; it makes us able to bear our ills and misfortunes with a smile.

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      • Let me try and unpack a little of what we’re both writing, kaptonok. You wrote “I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me, the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice.” Are you not supposing the reality of such a thing called Justice when you write people can escape justice? It appears to me that you both believe and disbelieve in justice of some sort, yet if justice were merely defined as every person’s personal taste or preferred preference, it would then make no sense to say anybody escaped our subjective ideas of justice. If a person wrongs you, and they’re then put out of your reach by the grave, they didn’t really escape justice if justice is an illusion, rather they would have escaped your intended revenge. Nevertheless, if justice is not a feature of our universe, then whether or not anybody really extracted their measure of revenge wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Life on the leash would be just as pointless as life off of the leash, as the Christian apologist David Wood would say.

        There’s much more here I’d enjoy an explanation of, nevertheless due to time constraints I’m going to bypass a few observations and move into the subject I feel has the most legs to it, that being Jesus son of Joseph. You wrote like so: “He (meaning Jesus) did not lose his Jewish faith he universalised and adjusted it. The Jews a tightly bonded tribe (they still are) hated his universalisum.” You’re certainly onto something when you touch upon the universality of the Christian faith, however, Jesus wasn’t simply hated for teaching sympathetically towards Gentiles, Samaritans and the like, rather Jesus Christ had suffered hatred and crucifixion due to who He believed He was. Jesus wasn’t simply an overly friendly rabbi whose teachings centered around humanity getting along, so for you and I to write on universality while forgetting the very special claims Jesus made about Himself would be an error.

        For example, Jesus claimed to forgive sin, preform miracles and predicted His imminent death. Rudolf Bultmann, writing in 1926 recognized the very same: “There can be no doubt that Jesus did such deeds, which were, in his and his contemporaries’ understanding, miracles, that is, deeds that were the result of supernatural, divine causality. Doubtless he healed the sick and cast out demons.” Similarly John Piper, whose doctoral studies were done at the university of Munich, sheds light on the character and claims of Jesus: “Our first evidence of the resurrection, therefore, is that Jesus himself spoke of it. The breadth and nature of the sayings make it unlikely that a deluded church made these up. And the character of Jesus himself, revealed in these witnesses, has not been judged by most people to be a lunatic or a deceiver.”

        Lastly, Scholar P. J. Tomson wrote on the subject: “Although he apparently considered himself the heavenly ‘Son of Man’ and ‘the beloved son’ of God and cherished far-reaching Messianic ambitions, Jesus was equally reticent about these convictions. Even so, the fact that, after his death and resurrection, his disciples proclaimed him as the Messiah can be understood as a direct development from his own teachings.” Similarly the title “King of the Jews” which hung upon Jesus’ cross is historically verified, meaning we’re writing about a radical individual in the historic sense, someone who wouldn’t merely defy expectations, they’d change the world. Could this have been the work of a confused or deluded man, a madman, never, and surely no person could come away with such an idea having read the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps than Jesus merely fooled people into believing He was someone He wasn’t, yet that couldn’t be right in either my or your eyes, since we’re both convinced of Jesus’ passion and commitment, liars make for excellent cowards, whereas Jesus faced His death with bravery and full knowledge it was about to happen.

        So, was the man mad, bad or God? I’d be interested to get your take on that. In modern speak atheists have considered the question closed by their bringing to the table a forth option, legend. Meaning Lewis’ question of whether or not Jesus was liar, Lord or lunatic became liar, Lord, lunatic or legend. Yet such an idea is clearly without warrant, so much so that even the radical German skeptic Gert Lüdemann imagines Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as being penned within two years of the crucifixion event itself. Legends simply can’t undermine the historic core of an event within the lives of eyewitnesses, rather the fact that so much of the material points to only one outcome testifies to the strength of that report. Jesus’ question to Peter remains a question we too are faced with in the now: “Who do you say that I am?”

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      • Justice stems from the conscience of man. It is represented in the Bible in metaphor ‘ the tree of the knowlege of good and evil.
        A tiger cannot be evil nor a crocodile they have no consciences.
        The exact nature of the conscience will vary according to time and place.

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      • Meaning you reject the idea of objective morality, the properly basic belief or an intuition, like our intuitive sense of other minds besides our own. Therefore, if a certain group of disreputable people in today’s culture (pedophiles) are later ushered into power in tomorrow’s world, your consciousness would only feel an illusory pain, a false sting which yelled “This isn’t right!”, however, in your rational mind you would realize that there’s nothing truly evil about their behavior. So, in your mind, you’re comfortable to say raping defenseless children isn’t truly wrong, it’s simply wrong in your opinion?

        Moreover, why ignore the epistemological (meaning our ability to experience and know) fact of objective morality for the mere ontology (the source)? Since you wrote to me in an earlier message that it’s our wishful thinking, our desire to bear an uncaring universe with a song in our heart and smiles upon our faces that motivates humankind to imagine justice in the universe. Surely your notion is mistaken on two levels, firstly, it’s clearly our moral experience that motivates people to believe that justice, even ultimate justice, is an actual feature of our daily lives, it’s not that the believers in real goodness find themselves in a cruel and uncaring universe, for which they begin supposing morality, rather they simply suppose it regardless of whether or not they’re cursed as lepers or fruitful as bunnies, regardless of their happiness or cruelty we’re moral agents. Secondly, your idea, even if correct, wouldn’t show morality didn’t exist, allow me again a chance to unpack your material:

        “I don’t believe in ultimate justice for me the murderer who shoots himself escapes justice. The ultra rich man who indulges himself until he dies escapes justice. Justice beyond the grave is very important in religious matters ; it makes us able to bear our ills and misfortunes with a smile.”

        Surely in the above you’re trying above to show that the belief in objective moral values and duties is mistaken due to how it came about, which is commonly known as the genetic fallacy, meaning even if how a person came to hold a belief might be faulty, that doesn’t mean the belief itself is faulty. For example, imagine I had what I believed was a throwing die better than most other dice for gambling, and I believed my die was so much better than the norm because A. It often landed upon six, and B. An astrologist told me the stars had aligned in my favor! Now, you could mock my belief in astrology, and show that the science was an absurd sham, but that doesn’t mean my die isn’t better than others for the purpose of winning me money. In fact, it turns out it’s a loaded die, my reasoning was faulty, but the belief was true, my die really was better than the others at winning me money.

        So why deny the clear and present experiential evidence for the truth of objective moral values. Wouldn’t we rightly call cold-blooded murderers, rapists and child abusers who didn’t feel guilty for their crimes handicapped, having simply a malfunction of the mind or brain or wherever it is you might believe the conscious of humanity to abide. Louis Anthony, an atheist philosopher appears to agree: “Any argument for moral skepticism is going to be based upon premises which are less obvious than the reality of moral values and duties themselves.” Meaning to accept your moral skepticism couldn’t be justified or rational. Again, Lewis tackles our subject in an insightful fashion:

        “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to-whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.”

        Furthermore: “I have met people who exaggerate the differences, because they have not distinguished between difference of morality and differences of belief about facts. For example, one man said to me, ‘Three hundred years ago people in England were putting witches to death. Was that what you call the Rule of Human Nature or Right Conduct?’ But surely the reason we do not execute witches is that we do not believe there are such things. If we did — if we really thought that there were people going about who had sold themselves to the devil and received supernatural powers from him in return and were using these powers to kill their neighbors or drive them mad or bring bad weather — surely we would all agree that if anyone deserved the death penalty, then these filthy quislings did? There is no difference of moral principle here: the difference is simple about matter of fact. It may be a great advance in knowledge not to believe in witches: there is no moral advance in not executing them when you do not think they are there. You would not call a man humane for ceasing to set mousetraps if he did so because he believes there were no mice in the house.”

        Isn’t it possible (just possible) that your experiential data, data which I imagine can discern the difference between good and evil, is correct in a broad way? Yet if your moral experiences are correct in that broad fashion, then we’re capable of appealing to objective moral values, that objectivity can, nay, must be grounded in God, for anything other than God couldn’t possibly withstand the crushing weight of being the highest good (nor would they be worthy).

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      • Selfishness is admired by most western countries, we are encouraged to look after number one. Mrs Thatcher said there is no such thing as society in other words every man for himself. Have you not heard of the rat race or read about the bankers ? The purpose of socialism was to overcome unselfishness. The purpose of religion is the same. Due to survival of the fittest we push the weakest to the wall.
        Now that was fine when we fitted into nature which is red in tooth and claw, but now we have eaten of the tree we no longer fit.
        I’m not skeptical of morals all humans are aware only too well of them.
        The famous atheist Sam Harris suggested in his book ‘The Moral Landscape ‘ that we use well-being to judge our actions.
        It is similar to the golden rule do unto others as you would be done by.
        Crime and its punishment has changed tremendously and today the background and character of the defendant is taken into account.
        Some things that were formally crimes are no longer considered crimes.
        We are more enlightened now than ever before.

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      • To advance your world-view based upon sensationalist tabloid stories and newscasts isn’t well advised, in fact, merely to highlight a sector of failure in our banking world only goes to prove the vast majority of the banking world is holding to banking sector ethics (Yes! They do exist). In addition, it appears to be that you’re confusing healthy competition with selfishness, rather it’s competition that’s widely encouraged, whereas to be selfish is looked down upon in the real world (perhaps not in television land). Competitiveness (hence the race in rat “race”) has always been thoroughly well liked.

        Furthermore, Richard Dawkins’ best selling book The God Delusion would also undermine your notions of reality, at least it would if your views are as your last message shows (which I’m sure they aren’t). Dawkins on page 216 of his most popular work mentions the notion of reciprocal altruism, meaning a sort of parasitic nice guy gene or more likely behavior which leads people to behave in a certain way. Similarly a religious perspective would ordinarily disagree with you, meaning the most popular modes of thought disagree. Again from The God Delusion:

        “In general, as my late colleague W. D. Hamilton showed, animals tend to care for, defend, share resources with, warn of danger, or otherwise show altruism towards close kin because of the statistical likelihood that kin will share copies of the same genes. The other main type of altruism for which we have a wellworked-out Darwinian rationale is reciprocal altruism (‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’). This theory, first introduced to evolutionary biology by Robert Trivers and often expressed in the mathematical language of game theory, does not depend upon shared genes. Indeed, it works just as well, probably even better, between members of widely different species, when it is often called symbiosis. The principle is the basis of all trade and barter in humans too.”

        The Biblical perspective would also speak to the banking crisis you mentioned earlier, because it’s wholly in keeping with the Biblical model of human behavior to say a section of the population could and shall go wrong morally: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

        “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love,no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

        Not only did a faulty sector of our culture do wrong, they even approved of that wrong in their nearest co-workers, and who hasn’t also met such a person in their own life. It’s common to meet drunkards who’re offended if you aren’t a drinker too, or people who casually swear who aren’t happy if you aren’t also swearing. Meaning whether our attraction is for either an evolutionary or Christian interpretation of the universe, we’re held to a seemingly immovable moral law (whether real or illusory) imposing itself upon our kind.

        “The purpose of socialism was to overcome unselfishness. The purpose of religion is the same.”

        After even the faintest study into comparative religions you couldn’t possibly hold to such an idea, it’s painting with far too broad a brush. Religions are oftentimes a product of differing cultures or even some lone visionary, meaning their purposes would be each as different as the founder behind the religion. Merely grazing the sheer diversity of religions would evidence the deep divide in purposes, Satanism, Hinduism, Islam, Voodoo, church of the flying spaghetti monster! etc etc into the thousands. The notion that Religion with a capital R shares with socialism a sort of unifying super purpose couldn’t be more mistaken.

        Moreover you wrote: “Due to survival of the fittest we push the weakest to the wall. Now that was fine when we fitted into nature which is red in tooth and claw, but now we have eaten of the tree we no longer fit.
        I’m not skeptical of morals all humans are aware only too well of them.”

        The issue isn’t whether or not you or I feel particularly skeptical of the moral experience, rather we’re required to answer whether or not (objectively speaking) good and evil are featured within our universe, if not they’re merely a matter of personal taste. Epistemology and Ontology would again be our question hereafter. Meaning if we’re content to believe in the moral experience (we’re experiencing its effect after all!), there’s then the question of whether an ontological foundation exists outside of the human mind, which it wouldn’t if you’re an ontological naturalist.

        There’s however a sizeable section of our Western society (perhaps yourself included) who believe moral experience isn’t grounded in anything other than the subjective experience of each individual human (and perhaps certain advanced primates), rather they’re an accidental byproduct of us and our environment interacting with (nay, governed by) pre determined laws of physics. The implications of such a view as this not only eliminates the possibility of good and evil, but also first person perspective, freedom of the will and accountability for one’s life choices, therefore, at least under this model, they’re altogether illusory. Due to the wealth of philosophical, experiential or even scientific data which undermines such an idea as naturalism (which implies determinism) we’re in rejecting the notion entirely rational.

        “The famous atheist Sam Harris suggested in his book ‘The Moral Landscape‘ that we use well-being to judge our actions.”

        An academic elaboration upon the aim of Harris’ Moral Landscape would read as follows: “The purpose of Dr. Harris’ book The Moral Landscape is to explain the basis, on atheism, of the existence of objective moral values. He explicitly rejects the view that moral values are Platonic objects existing independent of the world. So his only recourse is to try to ground moral values in the natural world. But how can you do that, since nature in and of itself is just morally neutral.”

        The above however is merely an extension of your own musings, since you too pointed out animals like sharks aren’t guilty of rape when they forcibly mate, nor are monkeys thieves for taking fruit or shiny things that don’t belong to them. Thus far both yourself and a fundamentally Christian train of thought are in concert, by which I mean to write you’re reasoning from premise to conclusions in such a way that leaves no wiggle room for disagreeing.

        However, why observe an objective moral standard of moral rights and wrongs under such a mirky set of assumptions as those Sam Harris possesses, these being atheism, naturalism and of course the evolutionary model of our origins. As we read from a prominent critic of Harris there’s no reason to do so: “On the atheistic view human beings are just accidental byproducts of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called the planet Earth (red in tooth and claw as you rightly explained), and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On atheism it’s hard to see any reason to think that human well-being is objectively good, anymore than insect well-being or rat well-being or hyena well-being.”

        Darwin himself wasn’t ignorant of such implications as these: “If men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering.”

        That could very well happen if we rewind the film of evolution after all, for which there is no objective good under atheism. In closing: “If there is no God, then any reason for regarding the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens on this planet as objectively true seems to have been removed. Take God out of the picture, and all you seem to be left with is an ape-like creature on a speck of dust beset with delusions of moral grandeur.”

        In a recent interview a Dr. Coyne while interviewing Harris explained their views on this wise: “So I am a determinist. I basically believe, and I think you agree with me because I’ve read your book, that at any one point in time it is completely the configuration of molecules in the universe and in particular in your brain that mandates what you do and that you could not have done anything other than what you did. In other words you don’t have any choices. You think you do, and it looks like you do, but you don’t really. And so I am a determinist in that sense. So are people like Dan Dennett who nevertheless maintain there is free will. They do that by a semantic trick; by redefining what free will is. You know those tricks. They are call compatibilists. My view is that it is purely a semantic game. Those people do it largely because for what you said – the notion that we don’t have free will, that we are more or less wet robots, is frightening to people. It is as frightening as the idea that we are going to die. We have to accept death because we see it all around us, but it is harder for people to accept that your brains are reflecting more or less physics.”

        Would you be happy to say determinism, naturalism and atheism are an accurate interpretation of our human experience? Could it support a worthwhile concept of morality? It sounds very unlikely, not unless we play a word game with the word morality (Like how Dan does with freewill). If the idea of determinism is true however, we’re forced into metaphysical naturalism (or ontological naturalism), which I’m sure you’ll find as ridiculous as I do. In a debate featuring Alex Rosenberg the silliness of their naturalism was explained by way of his own book. If you believe in the things it appears you do, those being atheism, naturalism and determinism (a sort of Trinity of silliness,) then you’re also constraint to agree in writing to the following:

        There’s no thought.
        There’s no meaning to written sentences.
        There’s no true sentences (Yet surely this is either true or false!).
        You’re not morally praise worthy or blameworthy for your behavior, which would include nobody being blameworthy for: Slavery. Raping children. Sexism, racism, homophobia.
        We’re incapable of doing science.
        You have no free will.
        You do not plan to do anything.
        You do not endure for more than two moments at a time.
        You do not exist!

        I don’t agree with the above list, rather we’re both accountable for our behavior, there are true sentences, we’re both either morally blameworthy or praiseworthy depending on how we treat one another, moreover, you have the freewill to choose either to believe or disbelieve, love or hate, pray or plot, you and I are at liberty to do these things because atheism, determinism and naturalism aren’t accurate! And of course both you and I exist, wouldn’t you agree? (Surely to agree or disagree would prove the point!)

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      • I am not an atheist but an agnostic.
        I’m also an uneducated layman and I do my best to see what the experts in any particular subject have to say.
        Where there is consensus I accept the veiw expressed but I’m ready to change. Were does competitiveness become selfishness ? I expect you have a very different answer than mine.
        I was not too impressed with The God Delusion. Richard Dawkins is much better at explaining his own expert subject The Blind Watchmaker is superb.
        I have ideas about reality but no fixed notions ; there is no consensus on consciousness. I don’t need fixed ideas they hamper investigation.
        I do paint with a broad brush to keep my word count down.
        Good and evil are not features of the animal kingdom or the universe.
        Sam Harris was not trying to explain what he does not believe. He was making a suggestion of a useful yardstick for unbelievers, nothing more.
        As for free will and the illusion of self these are not consenual issues.
        Professor Penrose believes conciousness is quantum triggered and that no computer could ever be self- conscious.
        There is no accurate interpretation of human experience.

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      • “I’m also an uneducated layman and I do my best to see what the experts in any particular subject have to say.”

        I imagine, kaptonok, you’ve gone far further in your formal education than I (most people have), nor do I belong to any official church body, nevertheless, it’s because my affections were rightly turned to the Lord that my heart wanted to understand why both you and I are having the sorts of conversation we’re having. In the beginning (not a Bible reference!) Jesus wasn’t my personal Lord and Savior, so I’m in no way writing as a sort of elite person born into the one true religion. Rather I first had to be humbled by the weight of the evidence which went against my viewpoints, and it’s in that that my wants could be for time changed. Now, I’m typing much of the material here having finished the vast majority of my post (it’s a biggie), and in so doing I can write how I find (or found) many of its points to be compelling. Hopefully you too will find their structure and studious background of use. I’ve also reread your earlier messages to get a second handle of the overarching themes of our conversation.

        “Jesus taught mankind was one large tribe and God had no favorites.”

        In a fashion I agree, since in Genesis we find God wanting to bless the entire world through Abraham’s chosen child (Genesis 22:18). Nevertheless, there’s an outright divide in how God perceives certain people according to the teaching of Christ as found in the gospel of John:

        ‘Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

        The above isn’t to suppose that God has favorites in the sense of human worth, since in 2 Peter 3:9 it’s explained how God desires that none should persist, rather the Father hopes against hope all people could come to Him and have eternal life. However, the earlier quotation is evidence of a deep divide in affection between believers and those trapped in unbelief. The Pharisees (especially so), Sadducees and Essenes weren’t exactly unacquainted with their scriptures after all, so in what way did Christ mean they were sons of their father the devil?

        Christ taught: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Which would mean their deficiency in the eyes of God wasn’t necessarily with regards to their knowledge, Job after all, whose life pre-dated Moses, Christ and almost every other Biblical figure was favored by God due the quality of their character, not their knowledge of doctrines or covenants yet even begun, part of that good character had to have been their love and affection for their Creator. Thomas Nagel in their famous quote concerning religion and desire would clearly serve as the opposite end of the spectrum:

        “In speaking of the fear of religion, I don’t mean to refer to the entirely reasonable hostility toward certain established religions and religious institutions, in virtue of their objectionable moral doctrines, social policies, and political influence. Nor am I referring to the association of many religious beliefs with superstition and the acceptance of evident empirical falsehoods. I am talking about something much deeper–namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers.”

        “I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

        Thomas Nagel in the above could cause an interesting chicken or egg situation hereafter. Are atheists unmoved by what they perceive as weak arguments for the existence of God, due to which they’re found lacking affection for the Christian perspective, a perspective which features an omnipotent God who compromises our ability to indulge in all that we please free from judgment of our character and “ultimate justice.”?

        Or are we seeing the issue in reverse. Instead it’s that atheists find an omnipotent God who compromises our ability to indulge in all that we please free from judgment of our character and ultimate justice extremely unattractive, due to which arguments which lead to our believing in such an entity are thoroughly undermined. Surely it’s an insult to each others intelligence to assume as a default position that atheists suchlike Sam Harris, Huxley and Richard Dawkins are sober discoverers who by their atheism/agnostic flirtation are enlightening our societies. Whereas believers, as the story goes according to popular culture, are obsolete brutes, a hateful collective impediment of elderly and fanatical people informed merely through their paralytic fear of the unknown. Yet haven’t your messages done exactly that, that is to say, they’ve tried to analyze the motivations and intentions of religious people in an unsuccessful attempt at gaining justification to dismiss their position (the genetic fallacy).

        Alvin Plantinga on pages 70 and 71 of their Knowledge and Christian belief book explains how unique the idea of holding Christian belief truly is in light of James 2:12, which once over feeds into affective disorders and for what other reasons we decide what we do:

        “According to the model, the shape of the answer is given in the text just mentioned: the demons shudder. They believe these things, but hate them; and they hate God as well. Perhaps they also hope against hope that these things aren’t really so, or perhaps they believe them in a self-deceived way. They know of God’s power and know that they have no hope of winning any contest with him; nevertheless, they engage in just such a contest, perhaps in that familiar self-deceived condition of really knowing, in one sense, that they couldn’t possibly win, while at some other level nevertheless refusing to accept this truth, or hiding it from themselves. Or perhaps the problem here is not cognitive but affective: knowing that they couldn’t possibly win, they insist on fighting anyway, thinking of themselves as courageously Promethean, as heroically contending against nearly insuperable odds, a condition, they point out, in which God never finds himself, and hence a way in which they can think of themselves as his moral superior. The devils also know of God’s wonderful scheme for the salvation of human beings, but they find this scheme, with its mercy and long suffering, offensive and unworthy. No doubt they endorse Nietzsche’s notion that the promotion of Christian love (including the love displayed in the incarnation and atonement) is a strategy on the part of those who are contemptibly weak, whining, resentful, craven, cowardly, servile, duplicitous, and pusillanimous.”

        “The person with faith, however, not only believes central claims of the Christian faith; she also (paradigmatically) finds the whole scheme of salvation enormously attractive, delightful, moving, a source of amazed wonderment. She is deeply grateful to the Lord for his great goodness and responds to his sacrificial love with love of her own. The difference between believer and devil, therefore, lies at least partly in the area of affection: love and hate, attraction and revulsion, desire and detestation. In traditional categories, the difference lies in the orientation of the will.”

        Similarly in their epic poem Paradise Lost John Milton has Satan saying the famous quote “Better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Meaning a person would sooner be the captain of their own ship, even a sinking ship, than cling to the rock of salvation.

        “Where there is consensus I accept the view expressed but I’m ready to change.”

        Now, we’re into more of the gritty details where I imagine we can disagree on equal terms. The consensus insofar as North Koreans are concerned is that the United States of America is crumbling and therefore requires Korean aid money to repair their leaky roofs. Now, considering what such people are allowed to know, it’s both rational and in keeping with the scientific, religious and political consensus to believe in an America which instead of leading the world in a great many things is in a crumbling heap upon its knees. Similarly for you and I to casually drink down “the consensus” as if it were some infallible kool-aid wouldn’t be well advised, especially so if such a consensus went against a realm of moral values and duties immediately accessible in our lives. Furthermore, our earlier exchange on the subject of banking ethics (serendipitously) adds an explanation into how our society of scientists are equally uncritical when there’s money, attention and some measure of immortality to be gained, an example coming form the life of Charles Dawson:

        “Charles Dawson had made a name for himself by finding fossils in Sussex, and passing them on to Sir Arthur Smith Woodward at what is now the Natural History Museum, London. Dawson now claimed that at some point before 1910, a workman had handed him a dark-stained and thick piece of human skull. He said that recognizing that this might be part of an ancient human, he had continued to dig at the site and collected more pieces of skull.”

        “On 14 February 1912, he wrote to Woodward with news of exciting discoveries, and that summer Woodward joined him to excavate at Piltdown. They found more fragments of skull, and the bones and teeth of extinct British animals such as elephants, rhinos and beavers. They also found primitive stone tools, and a remarkable ape-like jaw.”

        “On the basis of these finds, Woodward constructed a skull that seemed to supply the missing link in the evolutionary path between humans and the apes. With a brain the same size as that of modern humans, and a very ape-like jaw, Piltdown Man was born.”

        “Then in 1915 Dawson claimed to have found another molar tooth, and some skull pieces, just two miles from the original Piltdown dig site. These looked similar to those of Piltdown Man, and the find was dubbed Piltdown Man II. With two family members and the backing of the Natural History Museum, Piltdown Man thus became generally accepted.”

        “He (Dr Kenneth Oakley) joined forces with Professor Joe Weiner and Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark from Oxford, to apply stringent tests to all the Piltdown remains. They realized that the human-like wear pattern on the teeth had been created by artificially filing down the teeth from an orang-utan jaw. The skull pieces were found to have come from an unusually thick-boned – but quite recent – human skull. It had simply been boiled and stained to match the color and antiquity of the Piltdown gravels.”

        “Although many of the mammal fossils were genuine, they had also been stained to match the skull and came from all over the world. It turned out that every single one of the 40 odd finds at Piltdown had been planted.”

        “On 21 November 1953 the news broke, and headline writers revelled in the Natural History Museum’s embarrassment: ‘Fossil Hoax Makes Monkeys Out Of Scientists!’ Weiner and Oakley quickly began an investigation to uncover the identity of the hoaxer. Who had had the access, the expertise and the motive to carry out such an outrageous forgery?”

        Fellow agnostic David Berlinski, in an interview available on YouTube explains in plain speak how the myth of scientists as objective, truth finding robots is as ridiculous as it sounds when properly challenged:

        “We are asking for a standard of behavior that would be wonderful to expect, but that no serious man actually does expect, 100 years of fraudulent drawings suggesting embryological affinities that don’t exist, that’s just what I would expect if biologists were struggling to maintain a position of power within a secular democratic society. Let’s be reasonable, we’re all sophisticated men and women here, the popular myth of science as a uniquely self critical institution and scientists as men who would rather be consumed at the stake rather than fudge their data, I mean, that’s okay for a PBS special, but that’s not the real world, that’s not what’s taking place, people fudge the data whenever they can get away with it (OSC: Even the great Einstein has his fudge factor!). And they’ll commit themselves to fraudulent drawings just so long as they’re convinced that nobody is looking over their shoulder, and it’s unrealistic, unsophisticated and unwise and to expect people to do anything other than that.”

        Now, the above, although in large about evolution, isn’t an attack upon evolution on my part, instead it’s merely an example of how our belief in various institutions (churches included) can run amok, obscuring truth in the life of an unwitting community.

        “I was not too impressed with The God Delusion.”

        Most definitely, considering its run away success and tremendous cultural influence I thought it only fair to give The God Delusion my thorough attention. Though imagine my surprise when I discovered this runaway success, one which I read many years after its original realize, wasn’t a thoughtful, well considered, heavily researched book examining the God concept, but rather a 400 page plus internet style rant which claimed religious people had brain illnesses, religious scientists were liars hiding their true atheism, and that he and his like minded dinner party guests have a riotous time mocking believers of various stripes. Who seriously bought into this book’s message?! Millions of atheists apparently. For what reason could geniuses in their particular field become shrieking fanatics when plainly faced with the truth claims of the Christian faith, and I write the Christian faith very consciously, mostly because page for page Dawkins’ ire is raised primarily against the Christian worldview. Though aren’t the tools of insult, caricature and outright fabrication employed when people are out of ideas, frustrated and confused by some far superior position, most reassuringly so.

        In fact, the entire enterprise of New Atheism appears in hindsight simply to have been about singling out, victimizing and humiliating believers in the Christian worldview. Although, that isn’t to say the infidel community would be satisfied by merely threatening Christians who dared contradict their atheism. Instead they’d have used intimidation and mockery upon anyone who might even be undecided, an example from Richard Dawkins’ blog:

        “I am more interested in the fence-sitters who haven’t really considered the question very long or very carefully. And I think that they are likely to be swayed by a display of naked contempt. Nobody likes to be laughed at. Nobody wants to be the butt of contempt.”

        The above to me is just an extraordinary things for a supposed enlightened person to write, since to suppose that your main interests are people ignorant of the subject simply says Dawkins is after low hanging fruit, the philosophically untrained and spiritually dull who can’t search out the numerous blunders which overwhelm his often hate filled ranting. Dawkins then goes on to say he believes naked contempt should be enough to convince the undecided people like yourself into becoming atheists. Meaning he desired atheists to either ridicule a Christian in front of you, for which you’d be so terrified you’d join the mob rather than risk being victimized next, or they’d remove the middleman and shame you directly in the hopes you’d then attack Christian believers to remove any suspicion from yourself. How filled with hatred and venom must a person be to imagine such a plane, moreover, Dawkins’ followers simply eat these tactics up. It comes as no surprise then that Alister McGrath in their excellent book The Dawkins Delusion utterly takes to task Dawkins’ The God Delusion:

        ‘Western atheism had waited patiently, believing that belief in God would simply die out. But now, a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out belief in God has rebounded and seems set to exercise still greater influence in both the public and private spheres. The God Delusion expresses this deep anxiety, partly reflecting an intense distaste for religion. Yet there is something deeper here, often overlooked in the heat of debate. The anxiety is that the coherence of atheism itself is at stake. Might the unexpected resurgence of religion persuade many that atheism itself is fatally flawed as a worldview? The God Delusion seems more designed to reassure atheists whose faith is faltering than to engage fairly or rigorously with religious believers and others seeking for truth. (One wonders if this is because the writer is himself an atheist whose faith is faltering.) Religious believers will be dismayed by its ritual stereotyping of religion and will find its manifest lack of fairness a significant disincentive to take its arguments and concerns seriously. Seekers after truth who would not consider themselves religious may also find themselves shocked by Dawkins’s aggressive rhetoric, his substitution of personal creedal statements for objective engagement with evidence, his hectoring and bullying tone toward “dyed-in the-wool faith-heads” and his utter determination to find nothing but fault with religion of any kind. It is this deep, unsettling anxiety about the future of atheism that explains the “high degree of dogmatism” and “aggressive rhetorical style” of this new secular fundamentalism. Fundamentalism arises when a worldview feels it is in danger, lashing out at its enemies when it fears its own future is threatened. The God Delusion is a work of theater rather than scholarship—a fierce, rhetorical assault on religion and passionate plea for it to be banished to the lunatic fringes of society, where it can do no harm.’

        The above material really ought to speak to your earlier assertion that believers merely contrive an idea of ultimate justice because they’re set against so cruel and perilously an environment. In reality, such a pointed accusation as the above isn’t a single edged sword, rather the blade cuts both ways (injuring atheists far more than believers who have long faced death for Christ).

        “I don’t need fixed ideas they hamper investigation.”

        You’re constraint to a fixed idea in the above assertion! Just turn the claim upon itself. You’re holding to the fixed idea that holding on to fixed ideas would hamper your investigative powers. Moreover, you’re applying a second, third and even a forth fixed idea, the second being that we’re in an orderly universe whereby you’re able to investigate some cosmic constants (thus gaining in knowledge), in addition, there’s an assumption in the above that you’re capable of discerning by way of the prison of your mind and senses the reality of things. And lastly, you’re assuming the reliability of the scientific method! That’s a philosophic assumption, primarily because you can’t use science to prove science, which would be reasoning in a circle. These are enormous assumptions on a person’s part. Moreover, when you write “We are more enlightened now than ever before.” you’re supposing we’re as a species involved in an advancement in knowledge, rather than having a plethora of unproven assumptions (the applicability of science and maths included), why not conclude life and the universe are simply absurd?

        Perhaps because both you and I really do find ourselves in a mysterious ordered universe, the like of which with its finely tuned constants, necessary first cause, moral dimension and agents to observe its progression, rather than pointing to a valueless accident banged to no purpose, testifies to its Creator’s hand.

        Simply unpacking your idea of no ultimate justice must send a shiver down any rational person’s spine (instinctively speaking). Moreover, your message about Jesus having flourished in an unscientific age speaks to the fact you’re keen to explain our universe through an “enlightened”, more modern fashion. Where however would a modern, scientific prediction on the fate of the universe lead humankind, and are such findings worthy of the finely ordered, material rich and life supporting set of parameters apparently inherent to our universe from the get go? Not exactly.

        “Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding, and everything in it is growing farther and farther apart. As it does so, it grows colder and colder, and its energy is used up. Eventually all the stars will burn out and all matter will collapse into dead stars and black holes. There will be no light at all; there will be no heat; there will be no life; only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the endless darkness and the cold recesses of space—a universe in ruins. So not only is the life of each individual person doomed; the entire human race is doomed. There is no escape. There is no hope.”

        “Look at it from another perspective: Scientists say that the universe originated in an explosion called the “Big Bang” about 13 billion years ago. Suppose the Big Bang had never occurred. Suppose the universe had never existed. What ultimate difference would it make? The universe is doomed to die anyway. In the end it makes no difference whether the universe ever existed or not. Therefore, it is without ultimate significance.”

        “The same is true of the human race. Mankind is a doomed race in a dying universe. Because the human race will eventually cease to exist, it makes no ultimate difference whether it ever did exist. Mankind is thus no more significant than a swarm of mosquitos or a barnyard of pigs, for their end is all the same. The same blind cosmic process that coughed them up in the first place will eventually swallow them all again.”

        “And the same is true of each individual person. The contributions of the scientist to the advance of human knowledge, the researches of the doctor to alleviate pain and suffering, the efforts of the diplomat to secure peace in the world, the sacrifices of good men everywhere to better the lot of the human race–all these come to nothing. This is the horror of modern man: because he ends in nothing, he is nothing.” (WLC’s The Absurdity of Life without God).

        Why are we here to no purpose, isn’t such a universe as this absurd. How can anyone, any scientist, who must surely value knowledge, believe that the universe, the only universe in which humanity abides, was from the very beginning to raise up existence only to snuff that same life out. The very notion goes against every experiment, selfless act and spoken word from the faintest whisper to terrible scream, nevertheless, if (and this is a big if) you deny ultimate justice and believe science is all that can answer your concerns, then this is eternity as decided by the scientific consensus, a dead universe populated by black holes expanding into eternity, where no eye sees, no ear hears and where the darkness doesn’t stare back because nobody is there.

        Still we’re here in the now, free to dread, weep and mourn our own annihilation, thus the threat of non-being shall be realized. However, someone who we both admire taught that the above wasn’t going to be the case, and they being upright, generous and kind gave us an assurance of the promises they made. Moreover, their teaching promises an entirely different future for you and I if only we allow Him into our lives. He promised every tear would be dried, every wrong righted, He promised not only would there be justice done, but justice would be seen to be done, which means every mouth arguing to confuse or justify an evil would be stopped. According to their teaching our universe is certainly in danger, even in danger of passing away, yet our lives are so precious to Him, and His hand so capable of protecting you that He promises you a future without darkness, because God would be the light of your life. How different from the future the natural sciences predict. Furthermore, this rabbi who we both admire didn’t cling to life as we accuse believers of doing, instead He touched the flesh of men and women diseased with contagious leprosy promising they’d be healed again. The rabbi then, historically speaking, predicted when and where the religious elite would murder Him, yet rather than avoid such a city they traveled there knowing full well the painful, humiliating death which eventually awaited.

        They were later in the week accused of a great many things, none of which appeared to be justified when examined thoroughly. Perhaps it was due to this that His accusers asked Him plainly, and they, knowing Him an honest and virtuous man, believed if the rabbi would merely answer how He had done before, He might again incriminate Himself in their eyes. The religious elite asked: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” To which the defendant replied “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” The rabbi believing so sacrilegious an idea made for the high priest to tear at his clothes, upon which they said: “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” Every member of the council then sentenced Jesus son of Joseph to death. Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And the guards took him and beat him.

        Couldn’t this Jesus have denied His identify before His accusers and lived, undoubtedly yes. He could have denied Himself and lived, or quoted Socrates saying: “The only true wisdom is knowing we know nothing!” Instead the rabbi, meek and mild, answered in such a way as He knew would in the eyes of His enemies merit death. Regardless, I’m going to share from the Roman historian Flavius Josephus hereafter, who in their The Wars of the Jews mentioned another Jesus who flourished and preached in and around 66AD, some 30 years after Jesus son of Joseph:

        Jesus ben Ananias was a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the First Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD, went around Jerusalem prophesying the city’s destruction.

        ‘But a further portent was even more alarming. Four years before the war, when the city was enjoying profound peace and prosperity, there came to the feast at which it is the custom of all Jews to erect tabernacles to God, one Jesus, son of Ananias, a rude peasant, who suddenly began to cry out, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the sanctuary, a voice against the bridegroom and the bride, a voice against all the people.” Day and night he went about all the alleys with this cry on his lips. Some of the leading citizens, incensed at these ill-omened words, arrested the fellow and severely chastised him. But he, without a word on his own behalf or for the private ear of those who smote him, only continued his cries as before. Thereupon, the magistrates, supposing, as was indeed the case, that the man was under some supernatural impulse, brought him before the Roman governor; there, although flayed to the bone with scourges, he neither sued for mercy nor shed a tear, but, merely introducing the most mournful of variations into his utterances, responded to each lashing with “Woe to Jerusalem!” When Albinus, the governor, asked him who and whence he was and why he uttered these cries, he answered him never a word, but unceasingly reiterated his dirge over the city, until Albinus pronounced him a maniac and let him go.’

        The procurator Albinus took him to be a madman and released him. He continued his prophecy for more than seven years until he was killed by a stone from a catapult during the Roman siege of Jerusalem during the war.

        So, for what reason would one irritant (the son of Ananias) be realized as merely a lunatic, whereas another preacher, the lowly son of a carpenter, suffered the “extreme penalty” (meaning crucifixion) according to the Roman senator and historian Tacitus?

        The only answer to the above could be that Jesus said certain things while on trial before the religious elite and Pontius Pilate, whereas Jesus the son of Ananias couldn’t rightly make claims of that nature. Still, what could Jesus have said which would offend Romans in addition to Jewish listeners? We find the answer for reading chapter 19 of the gospel of John:

        Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

        Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

        As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

        But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

        Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

        When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

        But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

        “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

        “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: jesus of nazareth, the king of the jews.

        Now, neither you nor I believe Jesus was a deceptive character of history, moreover to lie and get one’s own self crucified, given the context (given any context!) makes no sense unless you’re a lunatic. Now, Jesus ben Ananias was judged a lunatic by his contemporaries, not Jesus the Christ however. Meaning if we return again to C.S Lewis’ liar, Lord or lunatic question we’re right to dismiss two of the three, and having already done away with legend, there’s then only one reasonable viewpoint available with regards to the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ, that being that He was and is Lord.

        Moreover, we’re both interested in the subject of who Jesus truly is not because He was crucified (thousands of people have been), nor because they were an excellent moral teacher, instead we’re interested because rather than be by the grave transformed into a tourist attraction (Buddha’s bones), or site for pilgrimage (Muhammad’s grave), Jesus Christ returned just as He promised. To quote from The Book of Acts certainly evidences what early believers thought:

        “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

        “David said about him: I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

        “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.”

        The question from earlier in my estimation is still the pink elephant in the room, partly because you’ve yet to venture a reply. Who do we say that Jesus was?

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      • Might I respectfully suggest you see in me your old unredeemed self.
        It is perfectly possible to be a believing rejectionist . If this is your creation God I want no part of it.
        My standpoint is very different.
        I see no evidence in the world or the universe at large to suggest an intelligent loving creator.
        As for enlightening societies the only enlightening I can see is scientific advance. I see no moral improvement.
        I have no wish to dismiss the position of religious people ; I merely state my own position.
        You must not be surprized that scientists can love attention and

        money or that they can lie and cheat.
        Their worst fault at this time is gazing into space instead of tackling the two most urgent problems : climate and antibiotic resistance.
        I think Mr Dawkins has a very Christian background so he feels comfortable tearing down Christianity. Dawkins is afraid of the effect of fairy stories; he reminds me of Mr Gradgrind in Dickens Hard Times. He wanted nothing but facts.
        Belief in mainstream religions has been adjusted not died out. We have big – bang Christianity same sex marriage women ministers ect..
        Islam is in the process of adjustment. Perhaps the fixed ideas of religion are moving to accomodate the modern world.
        Your the one who keeps saying the universe has a moral dimension. I have yet to see it. I see it only in man.
        Our purpose is to make the world a better place in the here and now.
        I brought up my four children knowing they will grow old and die. Maybe even die before thier time.
        Why was I envolved in such a sensless task? You know the answer.

        Like

      • “I see no moral improvement.”

        So, is the above to say you find no moral improvement between Saudi Arabia, a nation whose government publicly cut people’s heads off, and Sweden, a nation of people who don’t? Most certainly you’ll experience something moral if you had to witness something so repugnant. However, you wouldn’t consider that experience anything other than your own personal preference. Similarly there’s no moral improvement between a nation committed to battling climate change when compared to an industrialist nation, the sort which might flatten and rape the earth of its natural resources to the point of extinction. There’s no moral dimension to such behaviors in your mind.

        “Our purpose is to make the world a better place in the here and now.”

        See, the above again is something a purely scientific interpretation of the universe/human experience doesn’t allow for. If you’re after “Just the facts ma’am” there’s no chance of us sneaking in purpose. Moreover by writing “a better place” you’re supposing a good, better, best approach. All of these ideas you’re betraying are simply intuitive, not scientific, they’re a part of what it means to be truly human, which is why I’m surprised to note you depart from this intuitive experience when the subject of morality appears. We simply can’t suppose a good, better, best approach because when we say something is “better” than some other thing, we’re in fact measuring them both by a third things. So when a person says such and such is better (morally) than such and such, what they’re doing is judging both men by an immutable third standard. Similarly when you wrote we two would draw the line differently between where competitiveness becomes something selfish, it’s not an issue in my mind for you to disagree with where my line stands, rather I’m convinced of an objective morality merely because you’ve drawn a line of your own! If you and I both stood in a field and espied what looked a white blob, I may due to my normally impeccable eyesight say that we’re both seeing a lone sheep (or an Ewe to be technical), yet you’ll disagree, instead saying it’s a ram. Now, regardless of whatever on earth we’re looking towards, we’re certainly looking towards something. We have fair reason to doubt if the prison of our senses isn’t wholly reliable we may both not be seeing what’s truly there, nevertheless there’s something there. Eyesight needn’t be universal, rather it tips us off that something is going on in between the process of image to eye to brain etc. Similarly, objective morality would mean there’s reality in a moral experience, not universality.

        Again revising your idea of a human purpose. There’s simply no purpose, nor meaning, nor value if we’re to accept the sort of purely scientific worldview you’ve thus far described. Meaning to write about “Our purpose” is utterly without sense. Instead according to the model you have outlined we would have purposes, meaning subjective, ephemeral, individually tailored purposes which for each new person we encountered could be totally opposed to the last person we came across. Dr. L. D. Rue in an address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991 explained as much. Chemicals, matter, objects, they simply are, for which to ascribe value or purpose to them is as sensible as me describing The Purpose (capital T capital P) of a rock.

        It would appear to me that your issues are much like Sam Harris’, you’re both faced with a value problem, which David Hume (in a fashion) touched upon with their is ought problem. You’re given a universe as it is, and it makes no sense for you or Harris to say it ought to be otherwise. To suppose purpose and imply value (as you have) if merely a product of your own personal tastes would simply be irrelevant to….let’s say…..the psychopath! Who would most certainly have their own purposes tailored to supplying themselves with various goals. Reviewers of Harris’ Moral Landscape book weren’t ignorant of the fact either:

        “Moral obligations or prohibitions arise in response to imperatives from a competent authority. For example, if a policeman tells you to pull over, then because of his authority, who he is, you are legally obligated to pull over. But if some random stranger tells you to pull over, you’re not legally obligated to do so. Now, in the absence of God, what authority is there to issue moral commands or prohibitions? There is none on atheism, and therefore there are no moral imperatives for us to obey. In the absence of God there just isn’t any sort of moral obligation or prohibition that characterizes our lives. In particular, we’re not morally obligated to promote the flourishing of conscious creatures. So this is/ought distinction seems to me to be one that’s fatal to Dr. Harris’s position and has been widely recognized as such by reviewers of The Moral Landscape.”

        Furthermore, you and I should remember how Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris took double D (Dan Dennett) to task over their sneaky redefinition of freedom of the will in an attempt to retain the words yet eject the meaning. Harris however has been far from a saint with regards to the redefinition of terms, as exposed during a debate he had with Christian philosopher William Lane Craig:

        ‘So how does Sam Harris propose to solve the Value Problem? The trick he proposes is simply to re-define what he means by “good” and “evil” in non-moral terms. He says, “We should define good as that which supports the well-being of conscious creatures.”‘

        ‘So, he says, “questions about values are really questions about the well-being of conscious creatures.” And therefore, he concludes, “it makes no sense to ask whether maximizing well-being is good.”

        ‘Why not? Because he’s redefined the word “good” to mean the well-being of conscious creatures. So to ask, “Why is maximizing creatures’ well-being good?” is on his definition the same as asking, “Why does maximizing creatures’ well-being maximize creatures’ well-being?” It’s just a tautology. It’s just talking in circles! So Dr. Harris has “solved” the Value Problem just by re-defining his terms. It’s nothing but wordplay.’

        Murky waters indeed! Nonetheless, if we’re to say there’s some section of the nation who have any desire to redefine the moral good into whatever maximizes a creatures’ well-being, why not simply coin themselves another clearly defined concept instead of attempting (unsuccessfully) to hijack the moral good? In addition, further into their debate came what was called “a knock-down argument” against Harris’ entire landscape:

        ‘But Dr. Harris has to defend an even more radical claim than that: Uh, he claims that the property of being good is identical with the property of creaturely flourishing. And he’s not offered any defense of this radical identity claim. In fact, I think we have a knock-down argument against it. Now bear with me here; this is a little technical. On the next-to-last page of his book, Dr. Harris makes the telling admission that if people like rapists, liars, and thieves could be just as happy as good people, then his “moral landscape” would no longer be a moral landscape.’

        ‘Rather, it would just be a continuum of well-being whose peaks are occupied by good and bad people, or evil people, alike. Now what’s interesting about this is that earlier in the book, Dr. Harris explained that about three million Americans are psychopathic. That is to say, they don’t care about the mental states of others.’

        ‘They enjoy inflicting pain on other people. But that implies that there’s a possible world, which we can conceive, in which the continuum of human well-being is not a moral landscape. The peaks of well-being could be occupied by evil people. But that entails that in the actual world, the continuum of well-being and the moral landscape are not identical either.’

        OSC: Imagine a universe populated by a mere 300 psychopathic persons/sadists, for example. This by Sam Harris’ own book would disturb and unseat his ideas.

        ‘For identity is a necessary relation. There is no possible world in which some entity A is not identical to A. So if there’s any possible world in which A is not identical to B, then it follows that A is not in fact identical to B.’

        ‘Now since it’s possible that human well-being and moral goodness are not identical, it follows necessarily that human well-being and goodness are not the same, as Dr. Harris has asserted in his book. Now it’s not often in philosophy that you get a knock-down argument against a position. But I think we’ve got one here. Uh, by granting that it’s possible that the continuum of well-being is not identical to the moral landscape, Dr. Harris’s view becomes logically incoherent.’

        So your good, better, best approach could again be employed by anybody. The rapist has a certain type of well-being they demand satisfied, the eugenicist, pedophile and of course the above mentioned psychopath (Who undermines Harris’ entire book). Therefore, the peaks of well-being can be occupied by totally contradicting people and behavior types. Meaning, when you wrote Harris was merely making a helpful suggestion, people could then ask “helpful to whom?!”

        Now, if we’re to be scientific peoples, a science which can only be interpreted by the tools of reason and logic, humanity are bound by that same reason to reject incoherent notions like those of Sam Harris as found in the Moral Landscape. In concluding their speech William Lane Craig quoted from Dr. Arthur Allen Leff, whose article in Duke Law Journal reads:

        All I can say is this: It looks as if we are all we have. . . . Only if ethics is something unspeakable by us [that is, something transcendent], could law be unnatural, and therefore unchallengeable. As things now stand, everything is up for grabs. Nevertheless:

        Napalming babies is bad.
        Starving the poor is wicked.
        Buying and selling each other is depraved.
        There is in the world such a thing as evil.
        (All together now:) Sez who?
        God help us.

        Similarly concerning your point about changes in religious ideas and observance, attitudes and people may change in that they compromise, you’ve written so yourself, however “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” hasn’t ever changed. That’s been the case before, during and after our greatest minds supposed a static eternal universe. It’s the science that has confirmed the Bible narrative. Likewise in the great Christian tradition Saint Augustine wrote how the days described in Genesis needn’t be taken as literal 24 hour days, in fact, their interpretation isn’t based in mere Hebrew, it’s supported by the very context as found in Genesis and even Job! (Our earliest Bible book).

        With regards to your upcoming point, it’s one which isn’t uncommon amid the self styled infidel community, although I have to write I’m surprised you yourself wouldn’t have exposed the wealth of faulty reasoning attached:

        “I see no evidence in the world or the universe at large to suggest an intelligent loving creator.”

        Now, an evidence or evidences don’t necessarily point towards anything without first being interpreted, so when you write “I” (meaning you) see no evidence for a creator God, you’re really saying one of two things.

        You’re either writing you have never happen upon some experiential, experimental or philosophic data which didn’t find a superior explanation in the naturalistic sciences. Yet to say that is your claim would mean discarding this highly effective rhetorical jab of “no evidence”, because it would be to admit there are other interpretations of the data which can point towards God, and unbelievers in general simply aren’t so sophisticated as to admit that. They (like most) are after red meat, their main desire isn’t to explain various features of our universe, rather it’s to feel as though they’ve already got an answer.

        Or, you’re meaning to say you’ll never accept an interpretation of the evidence which could suppose God or lead to a conclusion towards affirming God. Although this alternative is unworthy of thinking people, for which I doubt you’re meaning to write this.

        The reality of the situation is that evidence can point to several coherent conclusions based upon valid premises, and it’s the human mind which scrambles or conforms their evidence to some coherent system of ideas. So again, when someone asks for just the facts, they’ve already got all the facts everybody else has, especially so in public debate style conversation, for which people often try using these fallacies based upon how people came to their conclusions. Now, an example for evidence used in a conclusion pointing towards God would be the design argument as found in nature and the universe, about which even professor Dawkins wrote these are subjects for study “which look designed….but aren’t!”

        ‘In January 2004 Flew and Gary Habermas, his friend and philosophical adversary, took part in and conducted a dialogue on the resurrection at California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo. During a couple of telephone discussions shortly after that dialogue, Flew explained to Habermas that he was considering becoming a theist. While Flew did not change his position at that time, he concluded that certain philosophical and scientific considerations were causing him to do some serious rethinking.’

        British philosopher Anthony Flew formed the always popular No True Scotsman fallacy, in addition to the invisible gardener illustration. Both of which, despite Flew later becoming a believer, are in use today.

        ‘Flew stated that “the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries” and that “the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it”. He also answered in the affirmative to Habermas’s question, “So of the major theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, and ontological, the only really impressive ones that you take to be decisive are the scientific forms of teleology?”.’

        So the scientific forms of teleology convinced professor Flew, the Richard Dawkins of his day, that there truly was somebody watering those flowers and pruning roses after all! The argument and evidence from designed carried the day, and here’s a brief explanation of how it might read:

        “More specifically, the values of the various forces of nature appear to be fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life. The world is conditioned principally by the values of the fundamental constants a (the fine structure constant, or electromagnetic interaction), mn/me (proton to electron mass ratio, aG (gravitation), aw (the weak force), and as (the strong force). When one mentally assigns different values to these constants or forces, one discovers that in fact the number of observable universes, that is to say, universes capable of supporting intelligent life, is very small. Just a slight variation in any one of these values would render life impossible.”

        “For example, if as were increased as much as 1%, nuclear resonance levels would be so altered that almost all carbon would be burned into oxygen; an increase of 2% would preclude formation of protons out of quarks, preventing the existence of atoms. Furthermore, weakening as by as much as 5% would unbind deuteron, which is essential to stellar nucleosynthesis, leading to a universe composed only of hydrogen. It has been estimated that as must be within 0.8 and 1.2 its actual strength or all elements of atomic weight greater than four would not have formed. Or again, if aw had been appreciably stronger, then the Big Bang’s nuclear burning would have proceeded past helium to iron, making fusion-powered stars impossible. But if it had been much weaker, then we should have had a universe entirely of helium. Or again, if aG had been a little greater, all stars would have been red dwarfs, which are too cold to support life-bearing planets. If it had been a little smaller, the universe would have been composed exclusively of blue giants which burn too briefly for life to develop. According to Davies, changes in either aG or electromagnetism by only one part in 1040 would have spelled disaster for stars like the sun. Moreover, the fact that life can develop on a planet orbiting a star at the right distance depends on the close proximity of the spectral temperature of starlight to the molecular binding energy. Were it greatly to exceed this value, living organisms would be sterilized or destroyed; but were it far below this value, then the photochemical reactions necessary to life would proceed too slowly for life to exist. Or again, atmospheric composition, upon which life depends, is constrained by planetary mass. But planetary mass is the inevitable consequence of electromagnetic and gravitational interactions. And there simply is no physical theory which can explain the numerical values of a and mn/me that determine electromagnetic interaction.”

        “Moreover, life depends upon the operation of certain principles in the quantum realm. For example, the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which states that no more than one particle of a particular kind and spin is permitted in a single quantum state, plays a key role in nature. It guarantees the stability of matter and the size of atomic and molecular structures and creates the shell structure of atomic electrons. In a world not governed by this principle, only compact, superdense bodies could exist, providing little scope for complex structures or living organisms. Or again, quantization is also essential for the existence and stability of atomic systems. In quantum physics, the atom is not conceived on the model of a tiny solar system with each electron in its orbit around the nucleus. Such a model would be unstable because any orbit could be an arbitrary distance from the nucleus. But in quantum physics, there is only one orbital radius available to an electron, so that, for example, all hydrogen atoms are alike. As a consequence, atomic systems and matter are stable and therefore life-permitting.”

        Furthermore, before there’s the temptation to search after another interpretation of the above data, be the reply multi verse theory, some bounce model of the universe, whatever the multitude of alternative theories may happen to be, my argument isn’t that the above interpretation of the data is accurate, it’s that it’s viable. Which would mean your earlier attack against evidence for a creator God wouldn’t be accurate:

        “I see no evidence in the world or the universe at large to suggest an intelligent loving creator.”

        Surely it would be fanatical and intellectually dishonest if after having examined the above data a person continued to insist their wasn’t any evidence for a creator God. Now, if you and I can agree on the following statement, then there’s both evidence and argument for a creator God: There’s an interpretation of the scientific data, one of a great many interpretations, which could serve as a premise in an argument with a conclusion pointing towards a creator God. The statement itself appears fairly reasonable, and my aim modest, wouldn’t you agree?

        Nevertheless, when professor Dawkins wrote how the universe and certain complex structures in it appear designed, they were in fact being a scientist, they found complex and specified information which is independently verifiable, they could easily conclude then that this was the product of design (Be it man, God or alien). These findings were much unlike anything we find in reality, since when we leave a room for several hundred years we don’t return to find new carpeting and an expensive flat screen television mounted to the wall, instead we find the room in a dusty state of disrepair. Yet we expect this supposedly cruel and crumbling universe edging nearer and nearer into oblivion to be producing increasing intelligent life! Surprisingly however, it’s the second part of Dawkins’ statement which isn’t science, as they nonchalantly add “but aren’t” to the statement these complex structures appear designed. They mingled their philosophy of atheism with their science so casually most people hardly notice.

        “The mature and observant are not fooled.”

        An answer to the above would be an excellent test of maturity, simply due that the single thing we cannot say is that there’s no evidence for God when an arsenal of data can and is being interpreted by rational, intelligent men and women within the confines of a religious worldview. To disagree and insist there’s still no evidence for a creator God would surely be laughable when many of the greatest thinkers, thinkers who weren’t religious when they began their study, have concluded on the basis of the evidence that there is indeed a God.

        “Might I respectfully suggest you see in me your old unredeemed self.”

        We as men are party to our every private sin, we’re a constant companion and witness testifying against our every misdemeanor and major fault, whether that being that we were lustful, petty, deceitful, cowardly, quick to anger or worse. Which means for me to imagine you as my former self would be doing you a grand disservice!!! Instead, in my mind, a studied Christian mind if I may boast, you’re seen as wearing the image of someone far more valuable. We read in the book of Genesis:

        And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

        So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

        And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

        The supreme proof of God’s sovereignty and command over your own life, kaptonok, you have been fruitful and multiplied four times! 😛 But seriously, you’re in God’s image in that you’re a rational, moral person, so too are your dearest loved ones. Christ was once asked whether or not the Jewish people ought to pay taxes to Caesar, their hated enemy, with which the rabbi asked that a denarius be brought to them, showing He lived so modest a life as to lack even a simple coin, they then asked upon receiving the coin: “Whose image is this?” “Caesar’s.” Was their reply. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Caesar’s coins may bear his image, you and your children however were made in God’s likeness. He knew you as a friend and loved them as His own before any of us were born.

        Without God our love and care for one another doesn’t rise above speciesism, “a prejudice or bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.” With God however the sort of love we’ve inherited is eternal, and the design in our universe isn’t merely in appearance, it’s actual, moreover, meaning, value and purpose are restored to an absurd universe.

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      • l’m a bit slack but it serves me well sometimes. I see no global over all improvement. We all see reformed characters and those who go to the dogs. Most evangelical Christians would agree with me , some would say we are worse than ever. End times and all that.
        As I keep repeting man is moral he has a conscience so he uses words like better or worse and he sees purpose in his actions.
        There is no immutable standard for the agnostic. Even among Christians standards differ.
        My purpose is without sense to you because we see purpose differently.
        You see an over-arching universal purpose I do not.
        I don’t know about Sam Harris but I accept the universe as it is ; I have come to terms with it. Just as you have with your method of acceptance.
        You supplied the moral authority ; the law.
        Sam Harris’s well-being is just the golden rule restated.
        Robert Hare is the man to tell us about psychopaths he knows them very well and has released startling facts.
        There is no value problem is part of human make up.
        The rapist has no well- being he is ihunted down by the law. It is the law that keeps evil in check as admitted by St Paul: its our schoolmaster.
        Notice please I said I see no evidence you obviously do thats no problem. Im not saying to you, you must see no evidence.
        You are looking at fine- tuning in reverse.
        If I pull from a pack of cards a two of clubs then the six of diamonds I could say how remarkable my chance if doing that was 2500:1.
        If you could estimate the chance from say six thousand BC of me sitting here typing this it is staggeringly small. Yet here I am!
        Professor Brian Cox gave convincing evidence that intelligent life does not exist in our galaxy. We are very likely alone. Nonetheless we are here!
        In his book How the Mind Works Steven Pinker dares to suggest our minds may be limited and unable to unravel all truth.
        The mind was evolved by natural selection for survival not to solve problems that are unecessary for that purpose.
        Many scientists and Christians behave as if we have unlimited mental resource.

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      • Good morning, kaptonok! So, to return to your reply, in your last message you wrote: “I see no global over all improvement.” Though this is very different from your earlier assertion of “I see no moral improvement.” It’s the equivalent to a young girl telling her parents “I’m not pregnant…..also I’m a little bit pregnant.” There either is or isn’t a baby in there! Similarly there’s either moral improvement or there isn’t. In addition, your use of “I see” appears to have several less than explicit meanings attached.

        For example, how you’re applying “I see” or “I don’t see” in many of your replies appears to be used in an equivocating fashion, thus obscuring the matter of fact nature of the dialogue in relativism. Or the “It’s true for you but not for me” defense. Relativism however, like the ideas of Sam Harris, is self-referentially incoherent. Nevertheless, I’m next going to return to an argument you’ve most certainly misunderstood, and it’s apparent you’ve misunderstood it because after outlining the scientific evidence for God as found in the finely tuned constants of you universe, I wrote:

        “before there’s the temptation to search after another interpretation of the above data, be the reply multi verse theory, some bounce model of the universe, whatever the multitude of alternative theories may happen to be, my argument isn’t that the above interpretation of the data is accurate, it’s that it’s viable.”

        You then continued to dismiss the above and attack the concept of finely tuned constants as found throughout the universe! Yet your attack still doesn’t show the fine tuning of the universe by a creator God unviable. So, once over, I’m going to outline the argument in an altogether more formulaic style:

        (1) Data doesn’t say anything without first being interpreted.

        (2) Reasonable (not insane), sincere (not deceptive), highly intelligent unbelievers are being convinced by a viable interpretation of the data that a creator God exists (thus marshalling evidence for God).

        (3) Therefore there’s evidence for an argument with a conclusion leading towards God.

        (4) Therefore there’s both evidence and argument for God (regardless of what a person chooses to see or not to see).

        Which of the above four points would you disagree with and why?

        Returning again to your use of “I see” and “I don’t see”, because rather than “I see” meaning you see a sight to see, or to mean you’ve understood the material presented, “I see” when used by yourself appears to sometimes mean “I accept” or “I agree”, meaning when you wrote “I see no evidence for a creator God” what you meant wasn’t that there is no evidence for a creator God, just that you refuse to accept the evidence. Yet the language being used is sufficiently murky so to inadvertently mask your point, selfsame Sam Harris, Dan Dennett and Lawrence Krauss, who famously equivocated over the word nothing.

        “If I pull from a pack of cards a two of clubs then the six of diamonds I could say how remarkable my chance if doing that was 2500:1.”

        Now, by the above you’ve attacked whether or not the design argument yet remains a viable option, however, your example remains fundamentally flawed in several respects. Firstly, it’s apparent you’ve underestimated just how extraordinary (even impossible) the claim is that chance, chance which is merely a descriptive term, could serve as explanation enough for the apparent fine tuning of our universe. Rather, an accurate example would be you winning the lottery, not once, not twice, but an innumerable amount of times! On and on into eternity. When do both you and I draw the line, because there must be a moment in which our culture stops glibly saying “Well, somebody had to win!”

        Sir Fred Hoyle, famous for their beginnings in Cambridge and their theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, explained the situation simply like so: “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” Now, if Sir Fred Hoyle believed there was evidence for a creator God in the universe, whether or not others choose to see that same evidence says more about their openness to the facts than about the facts themselves. A further example of how unlikely your chance hypothesis is comes by way of William Dembski in their Design Inference book:

        Bill Craig: ‘Someone asked last week, “When does something become so improbable that it becomes impossible?” And I answered that question from memory by saying that William Dembski had set a probability bound of 10 to the 80th power (10 with eighty zeros thereafter), which is the number of subatomic particles in the universe. Checking Dembski’s book, The Design Inference, I see I had a memory lapse and therefore need to correct this. You don’t consider simply the number of particles in the universe; you also need to consider the number of seconds in the universe which he generously places at 10 to the 25th power. So you would consider those states of the universe all through its history. Then he multiplies this by 10 to the 45th power as the number of events, or reactions, that could take place per second. On this basis, he arrives at a probability bound which is one half times one out of 10 to the 150th power. Anything that falls beyond that probability bound, he says, is not different from impossibility. That would be the answer to that question about when does something become so improbable as to be impossible.’

        Their class continued: “That is a generally accepted figure – that there are around 10 to the
        80th power [subatomic particles in the universe]. That is obviously an approximation. The same with the number of seconds in the history of the universe. That is given by the age of the Big Bang. These are not really controversial figures” (Meaning the figures of William Dembski).

        A more clear description of the argument would read like so:

        1. The fine tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

        2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

        3. Therefore, it is due to design.

        You decided upon chance, which in reality causes nothing, an example being if you tripped while climbing a set of stairs “chance” wasn’t the cause of your falling over. Rather your foot hitting a wooden step and throwing you off balance was the actual cause. Once over, another accurate description of whether or not chance were involved would read as follows:

        “The correct analogy would be like this: imagine a lottery in which billions and billions of white ping pong balls were mixed together with a single black ball. You are told that a random drawing will be made, and if the ball is black, you will be allowed to live. But if the ball is white, then you will be shot. Notice that in this lottery, any particular ball that rolls down the chute is equally improbable. Nevertheless, it is overwhelmingly more probable that which ever ball rolls down the chute, it will be white rather than black. That is the analogy with the universe. Even though every particular ball is equally improbable, it is overwhelmingly more probable that it will be a white ball rather than a black ball.”

        “Similarly, out of all of the universes that might exist, any one is equally improbable; but it is overwhelmingly more probable that whichever one exists, it will be a life-prohibiting one rather than a life-permitting universe. So in the case of the lottery, if, to your shock, the black ball rolls down the chute and you are allowed to live, you ought to definitely think that it was rigged because it is overwhelmingly more probable that a white ball should have rolled down the chute. And if you still don’t see the point, then sharpen the analogy and imagine that the black ball had to be picked randomly five times in a row in order for you to live. That really would not affect the odds appreciably if the odds against choosing the black ball even one time were sufficiently great. But, nevertheless, I think everyone of us would see that if that happened five times in a row, you know that the lottery was rigged to let you live.”

        “In the correct analogy, we are not interested in why you got the particular ball that you did – any ball you get is equally and astronomically improbable. What we are interested in is why you got a life-permitting ball rather than a life-prohibiting ball. That is not addressed by saying, “Some ball had to exist or be picked, and any ball is equally improbable.” In exactly the same way, we are not interested in why this particular universe exists. What we are interested in is why a life-permitting universe exists. That question is not answered by saying that some universe has to exist and every universe is equally improbable. We still need to have an explanation for why a life-permitting universe exists.” (Transcript: The Existence of God part fifteen).

        Therefore, the science which so convinced professor Anthony Flew remains a viable option. Meaning not only can you and I find evidence from science to suppose God, but your earlier argument isn’t an appropriate critique.

        “There is no immutable standard for the agnostic.”

        That’s actually incorrect on two levels, firstly, an agnostic neither affirms nor rejects an immutable standard, meaning they don’t honestly know whether or not such a standard exists. They rather remain undecided. It’s atheism which leads to radical statements denying that there’s an immutable standard about which humanity should be concerned. Or perhaps your intention was merely to write: “In the opinion of an agnostic person there’s no positive affirmation of an immutable standard.” Although that’s just stating the obvious! That’s like me writing there’s no such thing as an underage sexual partner in the opinion of a member of NAMBLA (The North American Man/Boy Love Association).

        The above statement about what agnostic people believe, as if because they believed it it were somehow true outside of their private imagining, is exactly why no thinking person insists upon their relativism. A person may indeed believe there’s no round to the earth, nevertheless, that doesn’t mean our planet earth is flat in reality!

        “My purpose is without sense to you because we see purpose differently. You see an over-arching universal purpose I do not.”

        The issue here isn’t that your definition of purpose is misunderstood, rather it’s that it’s understood all too well! Your purpose, no longer “our purpose” as you originally believed, could if we’re being candid be absolutely anything. An ambition of yours could be so grand as being elected president or a prime minister, or plain in that you’d simply like to work an ordinary job, have children and live a familiar formula as many people have done before. Yet regardless of how you decide to expend an ever dwindling cache of existence, whether you lived as an Albert Einstein or an Elmer Fudd, none of your life experiences truly amount to anything.

        Dr. Rue in their The Noble Lie book highlighted how by his estimation, which is seemingly shared by yourself, our lives are truly without meaning, for which we must altogether invent meaning, a breakdown of their book hereafter:

        “Dr. L. D. Rue, confronted with the predicament of modern man, boldly advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of some “Noble Lie” into thinking that we and the universe still have value. Claiming that “The lesson of the past two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case,” Dr. Rue muses that the consequence of such a realization is that one’s quest for personal wholeness (or self-fulillment) and the quest for social coherence become independent from one another. This is because on the view of relativism the search for self-fulfillment becomes radically privatized: each person chooses his own set of values and meaning. If we are to avoid “the madhouse option,” where self-fulfillment is pursued regardless of social coherence, and “the totalitarian option,” where social coherence is imposed at the expense of personal wholeness, then we have no choice but to embrace some Noble Lie that will inspire us to live beyond selfish interests and so achieve social coherence. A Noble Lie “is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, [and] race.” It is a lie, because it tells us that the universe is infused with value (which is a great fiction), because it makes a claim to universal truth (when there is none), and because it tells me not to live for self-interest (which is evidently false). “But without such lies, we cannot live.”

        Yet even the title of their book lacks true sense to it, since where is nobility in a universe where everything is relative. There’s nothing noble about this lie, there’s nothing ignoble either, not under atheism, it just is what it is.

        “I don’t know about Sam Harris but I accept the universe as it is; I have come to terms with it.”

        Margaret Fuller once said “I accept the universe!” To which Mark Twain replied “I didn’t know anybody offered it to her.” 😛

        Surely, if you and Harris are wrong (big if indeed), you’ve accepted a sort of universe you want to accept, and rejected another sort of universe (maybe even the true universe) because of various reasons, some good others bad.

        “Sam Harris’s well-being is just the golden rule restated.”

        The above is a superficial way in which to view “Do unto others”, and here’s why I write that: An atheist (Sam Harris) couldn’t merely restate a moral position from history, not when the teaching in question was the product of an entire belief set which atheists don’t share. Jesus’ belief set begins with fundamentally different propositions than those of every professing atheist, by which I mean to write, Jesus possesses propositional knowledge, and it’s due to their belief set in addition to their knowledge of propositions that they arrive at such ideas as “Humanity is objectively of worth”, or “There’s a moral difference between murdering my neighbors and healing their illnesses.” It’s as a consequence of such beliefs as the above that Jesus teaches profound moral and spiritual truths with regards to human life.

        Sam Harris however, as you and I can plainly read for their Moral Landscape material, can only borrow from Jesus’ end conclusions without venturing further into the root cause of their teaching. For which Harris’ final draft became incoherent. Imagine this being done in another scenario:

        A tough talking intellectual named Samson Harrison says he’s going to reform our justice system, “I’m all about law and rules”, Harrison assures people. The final draft of their proposal for reform however isn’t everything that it appears, though they’ve got everything right there in black and white, judges, policemen, lawyers and jurists, yet they’ve each been stripped of their professional and authoritative positions within society. “Samson Harrison is all about law and rules”, Harrison’s critics begin by writing, “Marshal law and mob rule!” Samson Harrison, being the hard talking tough guy everybody knows him to be, found lawyers, judges, jurists and the like as altogether superfluous to the whole process of policing a nation. Romantic types who fancy a grander, more meaningful kinda justice system (Harrison imagines) are only fooling themselves that these things work. “Just think about it,” Harrison would write, “Capital punishment, prison suicides, miscarriages of justice, children born behind bars, they’re bad things, and my redefinition of the language helps move our culture away from these things. There ain’t no problem an old fashioned lynch mob can’t solve!”

        The fact of the matter is people may find fault in various methods and institutions, and their eyes may be fixed upon an inquisition or persecution of days bygone or even here in the now. Nevertheless, to redefine the moral good in non moral terms and then say it’s “objective” (as professor Sam Harris tried) isn’t sensible, it’s the equivalent to saying 2 + 2 = 4 without wanting to commit yourself to the truth of mathematics. Due to the above reasons and more Sam Harris isn’t able to reaffirm many of the teachings of Christ which people find so compelling, they’re beliefs which point down a road atheists say doesn’t exist. If for example I said I have a better image of Galway in Ireland in my mind than you do, you’d possibly agree, after all Galway is an actual place, and I having been there can have more or less knowledge of the actual city than you, but if instead I wrote I’ve walked further down the mountain ranges of Mordor you’d reply that’s absurd, Mordor isn’t an actual place! Moral issues are similar in kind, and if atheists like Harris believe they’re in essence a Mordor (that and not Galway) then nobody can have better or worse familiarity with the moral landscape.

        Ross Douthat, a writer for the New York Times, brought the above issue of our human nature to light in an interview with comedian and critic of religion Bill Maher. In which they concluded their conversation: “If you think people are generally good, and then here comes religion with its flying spaghetti monsters and magical unicorns, then yeah, you’ll think it’s making people kill each other. But if you think how I do, and I think it’s proven by empirical evidences, that people are generally pretty shitty without religion, then you’ll look instead to moments where religion lifts us up.” Surely the message of the past 100 years, one with no end of godless dictators all too happy to kill for non-religious ideas, is that yes, people generally are “shitty”, of course for you and I to suppose either a generally good or bad humanity means postulating that third thing, that immutable standard they can be in violation of.

        To casually ignore the foundation of a house yet assume the roof will hold up says everything there is to say. Yale historian Jeroslav Pelikan explains where the West and Europe have gone horribly wrong, that being we’ve tried to hold onto the end result of Jesus’ belief set while dismissing the set itself. We’re hoping to conform Jesus’ image into someone the modern world can cosy up to, a man who won’t say they’re doing the bad:

        “If it were possible, with some sort of super-magnet, to pull up out of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of Jesus’ name, how much would be left?” The answer being not a whole lot.

        “Professor Brian Cox gave convincing evidence that intelligent life does not exist in our galaxy. We are very likely alone.”

        To write “convincing evidence” is an interesting use of language, mostly due that you’ve thus far been unconvinced by many a point I’ve found thoroughly convincing. Could you outline the convincing evidence that ladies’ favorite Brian Cox convinced you by?

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      • Your well practiced and sharp due to much debate, I don’t often lock horns being a live and let live type.
        Correction : I meant no overall moral improvement.
        Thats not equivocating I can only say how I feel since I do not believe in apsolutes. You have laid your cards down for all to see.
        There are two ways of looking at tuned constants.
        We came into being because of tuned constants.
        The constants were tuned so we could come into being.
        You pick number two I chose number one.
        Its my card trick again. The chance of me sitting here is very small looked at from the distant past.
        There is no chance at all because I’m here.
        Your telling me what I meant by I see no evidence for a creator God.
        I meant exactly what I said.
        You are appealing to huge chances just as Richard Dawkins does over the creation of replicators.
        Chance can only be appealled to from the past not the present.
        I remember my father tuning the radio into Fred Hoyles talks he loved him.
        Everything can be considered to be fine tuned otherwise science could not exist.
        I suspect the idea that your or my life experiences amount to nothing worries you as it does so many people.
        ‘Fear not lest existance closing your account or mine should no the like no more.
        The eternal Saki from the bowl has poured millions of bubbles like us and will pour.
        The professors two main convincers were Fermis ‘ where are they all?’
        And SETI endless radio search.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Your well practiced and sharp due to much debate, I don’t often lock horns being a live and let live type.”

        In all candor, a live and let live person, outside of how they’re defined by popular culture, is like a gas leak, a killer of people who silently goes about their business without pity or care for anyone else. Perhaps an example would convince you too: For example, a live and let live person who doesn’t lock horns wouldn’t have fought to abolish slavery, rather it were the people who locked horns, the squeaky wheels or social gadfly who despite knowledge they’d offend, anger and become objects of hate themselves, who ended the human horror of us making slaves of one another. Similarly with you and I, I could be “loving life” right now as popular culture often tells me I ought to, living and letting you live in whatever fashioned we’re allowed to by law, moreover, culture tells me I should be consuming more often, having sex with whomever wherever I’m capable and not imposing my bigotry upon others for their vibrant, fulfilling lives.

        Love life. Drink coke. Be happy etc etc. If we’re content to stay our lives at these cookie cutter ideas and packaged sentiments then that’s where our lives are doomed to end (Live and let live included in that list). John Locke, who couldn’t be accused of leaving their mind to neglect, wrote this however: “We have been sent into the World by God’s order, and about his business, we are his Property, whose Workmanship we are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure.” Live and let live in the mouth of most (not everyone) is merely code for I promise not to make a fuss, for which we may again abuse, misled and violate each other until our pleasures have been satisfied, with which a person promptly expires and allows for another to continue their sad farce. The apostle Paul supposed the above:

        ‘I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.’

        Returning again to Locke’s often controversial viewpoints: ‘Although Locke was an advocate of tolerance, he urged the authorities not to tolerate atheism, because he thought the denial of God’s existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos (OSC: The Nobel lie agreed, hence our need for such a lie to avert the catastrophe). That excluded all atheistic varieties of philosophy and all attempts to deduce ethics and natural law from purely secular premises, for example, man’s “autonomy or dignity or human flourishing”. In Locke’s opinion the cosmological argument was valid and proved God’s existence.’

        Autonomy, dignity, human flourishing (already provided by Sam Harris), each and every one of the above doesn’t exist if atheism is accurate. So, when people insist upon a “Live and let live” style of ethics, through what belief set are they arriving at their conclusion?

        Neither agnostic people nor atheists can provide live and let live commands on account of their beliefs alone, meaning you yourself cannot intellectually suppose living and letting live as a worthwhile pursuit (objectively speaking), you may enjoy to live and let live on a private and personal level, others don’t however, they would rather commit suicide, or rape and slaughter people, and under atheism why shouldn’t you?! Instead both atheism and the agnostic would have to be wedded or parasitise another view so that they can affirm something other than their own skepticism.

        Notice how a Christian, by which I mean a person with more than a nominal affiliation with the faith, possesses a belief set reasoned from premise to conclusion whereby they could affirm intellectually the beliefs you’ve found so attractive! We return again to how this might look in practice:

        ‘Locke derived the fundamental concepts of his political theory from biblical texts, in particular from Genesis 1 and 2 (creation), the Decalogue (Exodus 20), the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), the teachings of Jesus (e.g. his doctrine of charity, Matthew 19:19), and the letters of Paul the Apostle.

        The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) puts a person’s life, his or her honorable reputation (i.e. honor and dignity), and property under God’s protection (OSC: Free from the hand of a tyrant therefore).

        Freedom is another major theme in the Old Testament. For instance, God’s actions in liberating the Israelites from Egyptian slavery in the Decalogue’s prologue (Exodus 20:2) were the precondition for the following commandments (OSC: The abolition of slavery being a thoroughly Christian enterprise testifies to its importance).

        Moreover, Locke derived basic human equality, including the equality of the sexes (“Adam and Eve”) from Genesis 1:26–28, the starting point of the theological doctrine of Imago Dei.

        To Locke, one of the consequences of the principle of equality was that all humans were created equally free and therefore governments needed the consent of the governed.

        Only when Locke had derived the fundamental aspects of his concept of man and ethics from the biblical texts – life, equality, private property, etc. –, did he examine as a philosopher which consequences they had in the above mentioned way.

        Following Locke, the American Declaration of Independence founded human rights on the biblical belief in creation: “All men are “created” equal, (…) they are endowed by their “Creator” with certain unalienable rights, (…) life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Locke’s doctrine that governments need the consent of the governed is also central to the Declaration of Independence.’

        To be an agnostic simply cannot provide the standards of human dignity and equality you and I feel need to be affirmed, which includes our shared observation of humanity being valuable in some sense. So to you I can only put this challenge, listen to the case for Christianity as defended by an able teacher, discover through careful dialogue, much like the dialogue we’re having now, if there are good reasons to believe in a God as found in the fine tuning of the universe. And if Christianity affirms human value better than its modern and ancient competitors, and if we two can be both intellectuals and spiritual, wouldn’t a culture of citizens like that be the most tolerant society with the most fulfilled people of any. Leo Tolstoy wrote in their The Kingdom of God is Within You how it’s by Jesus’ message that a person can justify the sort of world you and I are after:

        “The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.”

        “Thats not equivocating I can only say how I feel since I do not believe in apsolutes.”

        Are you absolutely sure about that, kaptonok? 😛

        “I remember my father tuning the radio into Fred Hoyles talks he loved him.”

        It brought a smile to my face to read you have such wonderful memories of your father, and having lost my own dad during childhood (7 years old) I can confess I’m disappointed to have never spoken to him and understood their ways as one man to another, instead I can only have a child’s recollection of who was a very complex and flawed character. Nevertheless, I’m listening to a few lectures by Sir Fred due to your reply, they’re excellent.

        “Everything can be considered to be fine tuned otherwise science could not exist.”

        Now, that’s a fascinating thought, isn’t it just. Here we are, reasoning in what we’re told is a universe without reason, discussing and respectfully arguing the value of our ideas in a supposed valueless universe, and we’re expected to believe that senseless matter gave rise to we human intellects who are discussing these things. Now, and I’m letting the above sink in myself, how ridiculous does our supposed enlightenment sound when described as it truly is in the above? When people threw off institutions and embraced their raw intellect what they did was throw out the baby with the bath water, believing wrongly they thought they could exile God to history without also losing their intellect, goodness and dignity. They rejected the belief set but kept the end conclusions.

        The vast wealth of gifts we lost was brought home to me in a lecture by oxford mathematician John Lennox, who to paraphrase said plainly “Scientists searched for laws in nature because they believed in a law giver.” Now, the late atheist Christopher Hitchens agreed, as he complimented religion as our first attempt at medicine, astronomy and even science, meaning again scientists sought law and order in the universe because they believed in a mind behind our orderly universe. Things like the applicability of mathematics to our universe stand as a horrid witness against anyone who would claim our universe without such order.

        You then went into supposing I fear my experience data being proven wrong or amounting to nothing, again whether or not that were true would have nothing to do with whether the viewpoints which arose from those same fears were themselves wrong (genetic fallacy), but surely there’s nothing to fear if you’ve already been humbled before, after all, I wasn’t always a Christian. That’s like asking a boxer whose record is thirty fights and twenty nine losses by knock out if he’s afraid of being punched in the face, of course he isn’t! Rather it’s the atheist or an obstinate agnostic who should surely be concerned if indeed the Christian perspective is accurate, and here’s why I write that’s the case:

        An atheist’s viewpoint if correct means their life is lived to its end with the loss of all things they found good and of value.

        An atheist’s viewpoint if incorrect means their life is lived to its end with the loss of all things they found good and of value.

        They’re involved in a losing battle either way if this argument from consequence is correct (which it most certainly is). Heads an atheist loses, tails an atheist loses.

        All people of unbelief risk this dilemma, just as I too risk myself if Islam or orthodox Judaism is true, for which we are bound to take these things seriously. Again returning to your above opinions about experience, because to deny our experiences, especially when we can muster no worthwhile defeater to an experience, appears to me desperate. Locke sharpened why to casual dismiss an intuitive experience could be fatally flawed:

        “Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from “experience”: in that, all our knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself.”

        To experience something, sight, touch, taste, they’re instruments whereby our universe can be understood. To reject an experience, for example the moral experience, because in our minds it is less obvious or real than the others would make us materialists, people who deny the actual existence of an immaterial aspect to existence (Angels, God, love, etc). Yet this implies atheism. So, if a person is to tell me to deny an experience of mine, they should surely have a powerful argument against my experience. A defeater.

        An example: You and I cannot prove that the universe wasn’t created a mere twenty minutes ago with all of our memories implanted and an appearance of age added for effect, so for what reason do we believe we have been here for several days discussing these subjects. Or why not suppose what scientists have called the B theory of time, in which time is already laid out as a line, and to people in 1872 1872 is indeed the present. Well we don’t suppose these alternative, though possible, precisely because we “experience” the dynamic and imposing realities of the transition of time. There’s yet no defeater to so powerful an experience as my feeling the transition of time. In fact, even reasoning from premises to conclusion would require this dynamic transition! So by Locke’s estimation they could pose to you a statement:

        “Raping and suffocating an eleven year old girl is morally wrong.”

        To which you would reply: “No, no it’s not morally wrong.”

        Still, Locke had already decided rape and murder being wrong due to their moral experience, an experience you yourself believe doesn’t point to anything outside of their own head, yet where’s your defeater to Locke’s moral experience. Where’s the finding or field of research more compelling than a person’s moral intuition, surely the gamble wouldn’t be to resurrect again evolution by natural selection.

        ‘Fear not lest existance closing your account or mine should no the like no more. The eternal Saki from the bowl has poured millions of bubbles like us and will pour. The professors two main convincers were Fermis ‘ where are they all?’ And SETI endless radio search.'”

        It’s interesting for you to bring SETI into our discussion, moreover this appears to be your field, whereas historical Jesus studies I imagine are at the opposite end of your knowledge range, for which I’ll remain here. Now, about the search for extra terrestrial intelligence, and having hold of a copy of Frank Turek’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be An Atheist, I read how they use the research project in an entertaining example from popular culture. Rewriting from page 138 hereafter:

        “In the movie contact, Jodie Foster plays a scientist who is part of the search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) research team. SETI, which is a real research team, has scientists who scan the universe for unmistakable signs of intelligent life. What constitutes an unmistakable sign of intelligent life? A message. That’s right, something like “Take out the garbage—Mom.”

        In the movie, Foster gets extremely excited when her antenna picks up radio waves that appear to have an intelligent pattern, “One, two, three, five, seven, eleven….those are primes!” She exclaims (Meaning prime numbers). “That can’t be natural phenomena!”

        Indeed, random radio waves can be produced, but those that contain a message always have an intelligent source. Prime numbers, from one to 101 in order constitute a message that only comes from an intelligent being.

        Foster is so confident that ET has been found, that she goes public with her discovery. Government and military officials then converge on her facility. “If this is such an intelligent source, then why don’t they just speak English?” one official asks with a hint of derision. “Because maths is the only universal language!” Foster fires back. Of course she’s right. In fact, alphabets, thus language itself, can be ultimately reduced to numbers (OSC: Anyone who’s studied an entry level computer maintenance course would be agreeing by this point). This is why the English alphabet is mathematically identical to the genetic alphabet of DNA and why the comparison of cell information to encyclopedias is a one-to-one rather than just an analogy.

        While Foster and her colleagues later discover a more complicated message embedded in the radio waves, they are absolutely certain that the prime numbers alone prove that the message came from intelligent life. Why are they so certain of this?

        Because repeated observation tells us that only intelligent being create messages and that natural laws never do. When we see a sequence of prime numbers, we realize that it requires an intelligent cause just like the messages “Take out the garbage—Mom” and “Mary loves Scott” do.

        Ironically, Contact was based on a novel by the late Carl Sagan, an ardent evolutionist who believed in spontaneous generation and who was instrumental in starting the real SETI program. The irony lies in the fact that Sagan was absolutely convinced that a simple string of prime numbers was enough proves the existence of an intelligent being, the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias in the first one-celled life does not. Moreover, it was Sagan who wrote this about the human brain:

        “The information content of the human brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among neurons—about a hundred trillion…If written out in English, say, that information would fill some 20 million volumes, as many as in the world’s largest libraries. The equivalent of 20 million books is inside the heads of every one of us. The brain is a very big place in a very small space… The neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy, the circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans”

        Could the above mean that in addition to the finely tuned constants of our universe and your own moral experience, believers have yet another reason to believe in a designer God?! It’s certainly possible. Returning again to your poem:

        “‘Tis but a tent where takes his one-day’s rest
        A Sultan to the realm of Death addrest;
        The Sultan rises, and the dark Ferrásh
        Strikes, and prepares it for another guest.”

        The above, though striking, appears to have to it a sort of defeated man’s nihilism, which of course we would become if indeed certain opinions, like those of yourself, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris truly took root and were consistently followed to their logical conclusion, meaning free from delusion or lies. Surely writers who indulge at length in defeat at the hands of their mother universe would quickly sound as little more than a brooding teen so over swaddled in angst they’re more interested in self indulgent pity than anything otherwise. Friedrich Nietzsche, who so elegantly wrote concerning himself, like the above couldn’t help turning to themselves and their kind:

        “Virtue is under certain circumstances merely an honorable form of stupidity: who could be ill-disposed toward it on that account? And this kind of virtue has not been outlived even today. A kind of sturdy peasant simplicity, which, however, is possible in all classes and can be encountered only with respect and a smile, believes even today that everything is in good hands, namely in the “hands of God”; and when it maintains this proportion with the same modest certainty as it would that two and two make four, we others certainly refrain from contradicting. Why disturb THIS pure foolishness? Why darken it with our worries about man, people, goal, future? And even if we wanted to do it, we could not. They project their own honorable stupidity and goodness into the heart of things (the old God, deus myops, still lives among them!); we others — we read something else into the heart of things: our own enigmatic nature, our contradictions, our deeper, more painful, more mistrustful wisdom.

        There’s a certain desire in the minds of people, one which, contrary to our other desires, wishes to be minuscule, to believe yourself a bubble, one of billions of billions of bubbles that will be soon washed away and covered over never to be judged or espied or known again. How comforting to know already everything is without value, so when they broke some promise, or abused a trust, nothing of what felt wrong then is in reality truly wrong. They’re free and at liberty to be whatever thing they imagine themselves to be, and their image not being that of a God’s they’re able to disgrace and shame insofar as that’ll work to their good pleasure. They owe you, I and themselves nothing because there’s nothing in the hereafter, meaning, your poem of “lest you fear existence closing your account or mine” ought to read fear! Fear for fear that you might live being the liar, vengeful and wicked one you’ve been. In reality, there’s nothing to fear if a person merely drifts off into sleep to be ignorant of everything forever. Whereas to wake, and dream no more, or even to be set against the only righteous man who you murdered, that’s terrifying.

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      • I do not think history shows fundamentalist Christians in the past were live and let live .
        Luther said Jews should be burnt without mercy, and you know all about the Catholic Protestant burnings and hangings.
        Now we have radical islam ; I need say no more.
        Religion freed from radicalism is much more live and let live. The Pope now embraces the Jewish believers.
        Turning a blind eye to injustice is not live and let live but allowing same sex marriage is.
        Do you really believe all men were created equal? Look around!
        Perhaps what you mean is all men are equal in the sight of God.
        What I can’t seem to get across to you is if things weren’t the way they are we would not be the way we are.
        The best summary is the old song ‘What will be will be’
        If water did not, unlike other substances , expand as it cooled from 4C to 0C ice would not float and life would not have been possible.
        I know nothing about historical Jesus studies but I keep reading about them. Christians and non- christians constantly argue about them.
        ‘When I was young did eagerly frequent,
        Doctor and saint, and heard great argument.
        About it and about but evermore came out by the same door as in I went.’
        At this moment we have King James onlyism who say we have gone astray due to too many interpretations. Some now say this group is a cult.
        I’m not keen on Carl Sagon he was a pantheist and loved size comparisons.

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      • Sorry had to lay pen down.
        Carl Sagan is telling us one minute we are a small blue dot then extolling the human mind.
        The human mind is the most complex thing we have ever encountered.
        We can blow up our ego or deflate it as we chose and to support what ever stance we wish to take. We can speak about the shortness of existance in one breath and talk about billionths of a second in the next breath.
        I was sadden to hear about your father I was fortunate to see mine die aged 82 in 1995.. Mother lived on for three years quite bright but saddened as you would expect.
        I always feel angry when I hear people say I have no regrets and would not have changed a thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “I do not think history shows fundamentalist Christians in the past were live and let live.”

        Again what history explains to you and I is much like our earlier conversation with regards to scientific evidence, a conversation which precluded on an argument I believe you’ve been convinced by, that being that data doesn’t say anything, rather experts in their field interpret data into what mostly partisan groups then name evidence. History isn’t different if you’re being especially selective about where your reading eyes wander. Similarly in their autobiography Surprised by Joy, Lewis wrote of their own fragile views as an atheist:

        “In reading Chesterton, as in reading MacDonald, I did not know what I was letting myself in for. A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere — “Bibles laid open, millions of surprises,” as Herbert says, “fine nets and stratagems.” God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.”

        Likewise the popular myth of savage “fundamentalists” and “Christians” throughout history imposing their bigoted intolerance upon a world yearning to flee the trap and embrace their gloriously enlightened selves is just as contrived and deserving of our contempt. Why contempt and not something softer would be because the above idea, one being that we ourselves are the gift history has been waiting for, and an imagined history in which our earlier cultures were a wealth of superstitious ne’er-do-wells who twirled their hair and slaughtered each other until a godless enlightened few came along, is in reality an invention of a set of people who imagined themselves as such. So, when a person takes what I find an uncritical look into history past, a past largely interpreted through the spectacles of our enlightenment, naturally they would come away believing absurdities with regards to Christianity and our ancestors. An example, are we to truly believe people in history past said to themselves they’re in “The Dark Ages”, certainly not, when we being a product of our secular “enlightening” refer to others as in dark, that says more about our character, an arrogant character, than it truly does about a period within history. Scholars try and no longer use the term due to how negatively it shows brilliant men.

        Regardless, two points of your above quotation stood out and especially prominent in comparison to the remainder, the first being your comment about history, which has already been covered. Though the second was your blaming “fundamentalist Christians” for a supposed history of violence, due to which I honestly asked myself “What does it mean to be a fundamentalist?”, well, “believing in and holding to fundamental features of an idea, narrative or set of commands!” was my answer. Although, in the back of my mind was a page or two I’d read on how people commonly use fundamentalist, it’s owing to this that I reopened Alvin Plantinga’s Knowledge and Christian belief, pages 55:

        ‘I fully realize the dreaded f-word will be trotted out to stigmatize any model of this kind (A/C model). Before responding, however, we must first look into the use of this term ‘fundamentalist’. On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, is it a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like ‘son of a bitch’ more exactly, ‘sonofabitch’, or, perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) ‘sumbitch’. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) In the mouths of certain liberal theologians, for example, it tends to denote anyone who accepts traditional Christianity, including Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Berth; in the mouth of devout secularists like Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett, on the other hand, it tends to denote anyone who believes there is such a person as God. The explanation is that the term has a certain indexical element: its cognitive content is given by the phrase “considerably to the right, theologically speaking, of me and my enlightened friends.” The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use) can be given by something like “Stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine.”

        “It is hard to take seriously the charge that the views I’m suggesting are fundamentalist; more exactly, it is hard to take it seriously as a charge. For the alleged charge means only that these views are rather more conservative than those of the objector, together with the expression of a certain distaste for the views or those who hold them. But how is that an objection to anything, and why should it warrant the contempt and contumely that goes with the term? An argument of some kind against those conservative views would be of interest, but merely pointing out that they differ from the objector’s (even with the addition of that abusive emotive force) is not.”

        So, when we write various things, and express notions like fundamentalists did X, Y and Z, there’s then the question of what we meant by a fundamentalist, or more importantly, what does it mean to be especially Christian in our fundamentalism. The KKK are considerably to the right of me, but surely they wouldn’t be called to the Christian right of me, rather they in terms of their Christianity are rather flippant and unconcerned. “Love thy neighbor” certainly doesn’t cost the right wing radical his sleep when there’s a funeral to protest or race war to be won.

        Was Jesus’ teaching of non-violent resistance to an enemy a fundamental of their belief set? If yes, then surely to be a follower of Jesus (or a Christian fundamentalist) a person has to adopt their material and lay down their arms (i.e, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword”). When a person who identifies as Christian refuses to do so, or after they’ve taken up their sword, and rather than beat it into a plowshare, beats their sword into their neighbor’s chest, an atheist may triumphantly crow that there’s a Christian who has murdered, however, what they can’t say, so instead it’s something that’s commonly implied, is that their Christian beliefs somehow contributed to their behavior. The above can only mean if ever we accuse “fundamentalist Christians” for various crimes, that’s yet another space saving device, and rather than writing “nominal Christians” (which would actually be more to our convenience), some mistakenly applied both the words fundamentalist and Christian in their attack against Christianity of every semblance.

        “Luther said Jews should be burnt without mercy, and you know all about the Catholic Protestant burnings and hangings.”

        Allow me to make your case for you, here’s more of Luther’s pointed advise, surely you and I can judge if it was their Christian notions which inspired their hatred:

        ‘First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools . . . Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed . . . Instead they might be lodged under a roof or a barn, like gypsies . . . Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews . . . Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping . . . Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an axe, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow . . .’

        Yet, opening a copy of my New Testament I read: “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” So, in what way is a man who hates other men doing his Christian duty, surely that’s impossible. Martin Luther’s motivation couldn’t have been their Christian beliefs, and with that in mind I’ve opened a copy of Dr. Michael Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus to page 3, which being written by an excellent Jewish scholar who specializes in Semitic languages contains both passion for Jewish suffering and intellect:

        ‘During the post-World War II Nuremberg trials for war criminals, Julius Streicher, one of Hitler’s top henchmen and publisher of the anti-Semitic Der Sturmer, was asked if there were any other publications in Germany that treated the Jewish question in an anti-Semitic way. Streicher put it well:

        “Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendant’ dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the Prosecution. In the book “The Jews and Their Lies,” Dr. Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent’s brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them. . .”

        ‘Luther wrote those dreadful words in 1543, but just twenty years earlier, he had struck a very different tone in his booklet That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew. In it he spoke scornfully of the terrible way the Catholic church had treated the Jews until that time.’

        “If the apostles, who were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles . . . We in turn ought to treat the Jews in a brotherly manner in order that we might convert some of them . . . We are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord.”

        ‘Twenty years later, now old and sick, disappointed with his lack of success in “converting” the Jews, watching some of his parishioners express an interest in Judaism, and, worst of all, being exposed to some shameful, vulgar anti-Jesus literature penned by some Jewish leaders in reaction to years of church-sponsored persecution, Luther lashed out with venom.’

        Now, there’s no justification for Luther’s bitter last years, moreover as the above explains these attacks were “church-sponsored”, but, were they endorsed by who we here in the West have built the church upon, meaning Jesus the Christ. Because if these acts are unchristlike, truly and unmistakably so, then there’s no use for people to write “fundamentalist Christian Martin Luther hated and fought against the Jews”, because not only is the portrait of Jesus that of a Jew, but even a pacifist. Luther avenged their hurt, whereas Jesus commanded in the Gospel of Matthew:

        “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Love for Enemies “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

        Where’s the sense in saying “The pacifist has a history of violence”?, or “History has shown us pacifists are not live and let live types.” There’s simply no sense to it when people understand Christianity. Something other than Christianity must motivate when a supposed Christian robs, slaughters and destroys, because as it’s written “the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.” We may say it’s not right to strip them of their status as a Christian for a discretion of theirs, perhaps so, but what we cannot do is pretend that violence or cruelty was motivated by their Christian belief set, they’d simply disobeyed its plain teachings about love and charity when they decided on being cruel or uncharitable. Although, in my heart I can already imagine an atheist complain:

        “You would say that!” They’d complain: “You would want to make Christians good by definition, as if you’re saying whenever they do something evil they’ve stopped being a Christian, as if there’s a Christian behavior, you however ignore your own Bible, and I can find some pretty reprehensible sayings there! The truth is, people like you have always stood in the way of progress, from slavery to gay rights you’re on the wrong side of history, history tells us so!”

        So, there’s the accusation, and just as I’ve quoted from Jewish believers in Jesus with regards to the persecution in Germany, I’m next quoting from African-American Thomas Sowell as found in Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ book, turning to pages 180, 181 and 182 hereafter:

        “In his book Race and Culture, African-American scholar Thomas Sowell points out that every major world culture until the modern period, without exception, has had slavery,” Carson explained. “While it could be tied to military conquests, usually slavery served an economic function. They didn’t have bankruptcy laws, so if you got yourself into terrible hock, you sold yourself and/or your family into slavery. As it was discharging a debt, slavery was also providing work. It wasn’t necessarily all bad; at least it was an option for survival.

        “Please understand me: I’m not trying to romanticize slavery in any way. However, in Roman times there were menial laborers who were slaves, and there were also others who were the equivalent of distinguished Ph.D.’s, who were teaching families. And there was no association of a particular race with slavery.

        “In American slavery, though, all blacks and only blacks were slaves. That was one of the peculiar horrors of it, and it generated an unfair sense of black inferiority that many of us continue to fight to this day. “Now let’s look at the Bible. In Jewish society, under the Law everyone was to be freed every Jubilee. In other words, there was a slavery liberation every seventh year. Whether or not things actually worked out that way, this was nevertheless what God said, and this was the framework in which Jesus was brought up. “But you have to keep your eye on Jesus’ mission. Essentially, he did not come to overturn the Roman economic system, which included slavery. He came to free men and women from their sins. And here’s my point: what his message does is transform people so they begin to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love their neighbor as themselves. Naturally, that has an impact on the idea of slavery.

        “Look at what the apostle Paul says in his letter to Philemon concerning a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul doesn’t say to overthrow slavery, because all that would do would be to get him executed. Instead he tells Philemon he’d better treat Onesimus as a brother in Christ, just as he would treat Paul himself. And then, to make matters perfectly clear, Paul emphasizes, ‘Remember, you owe your whole life to me because of the gospel.’

        “The overthrowing of slavery, then, is through the transformation of men and women by the gospel rather than through merely changing an economic system. We’ve all seen what can happen when you merely overthrow an economic system and impose a new order. The whole communist dream was to have a ‘revolutionary man’ followed by the ‘new man.’ Trouble is, they never found the ‘new man.’ They got rid of the oppressors of the peasants, but that didn’t mean the peasants were suddenly free—they were just under a new regime of darkness. In the final analysis, if you want lasting change, you’ve got to transform the hearts of human beings. And that was Jesus’ mission.

        “It’s also worth asking the question that Sowell poses: how did slavery stop? He points out that the driving impetus for the abolition of slavery was the evangelical awakening in England. Christians rammed abolition through Parliament in the beginning of the nineteenth century and then eventually used British gunboats to stop the slave trade across the Atlantic.

        “While there were about eleven million Africans who were shipped to America—and many didn’t make it—there were about thirteen million Africans shipped to become slaves in the Arab world. Again it was the British, prompted by people whose hearts had been changed by Christ, who sent their gunboats to the Persian Gulf to oppose this.”

        Carson’s response made sense not only historically but also in my own experience. For example, years ago I knew a businessman who was a rabid racist with a superior and condescending attitude toward anyone of another color. He hardly made any effort to conceal his contempt for African-Americans, letting his bigoted bile frequently spill out in crude jokes and caustic remarks. No amount of arguments could dissuade him from his disgusting opinions.

        Then he became a follower of Jesus. As I watched in amazement, his attitudes, his perspective, and his values changed over time as his heart was renewed by God. He came to realize that he could no longer harbor ill-will toward any person, since the Bible teaches that all people are made in the image of God. Today I can honestly say that he’s genuinely caring and accepting toward others, including those who are different from him. Legislation didn’t change him. Reasoning didn’t change him. Emotional appeals didn’t change him. He’ll tell you that God changed him from the inside out—decisively, completely, permanently. That’s one of many examples I’ve seen of the power of the gospel that Carson was talking about—the power to transform vengeful haters into humanitarians, hardhearted hoarders into softhearted givers, power-mongers into selfless servants, and people who exploit others—through slavery or some other form of oppression—into people who embrace all. This squares with what the apostle Paul said in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

        OSC: The above means that only within the confines of a culture defined and guarded by Christianity could people like William Wilberforce and others overturn a practice which pre-dated its parable of the good Samaritan, which again was an example of Jesus’ teachings which told humanity to erase the racial hatred it’s long harbored. Of course unbelief doesn’t rest solely on the accusation that Christians were the cause of slavery, rather there’s a whole web of faulty ideas, and as long as the other strings of that web (however false) remain intact, then there’s hope in a continued rejection of God. They’d fire back:

        “Okay, maybe societies all over the world employed slavery, and maybe believing Christians like William Wilberforce were prompted by their Bible to end its practice. Nonetheless, I’m still willing to believe Christians have always stood in the way of progress, and anything about you that appears moderate, reasonable, was because we dragged you kicking and clawing like a petulant child into modernity. Progress shouldn’t be stopped for your fairy tales!”

        Which leads into the word progress, a word which takes on a totally opposite nature in the minds of people today than does fundamentalist, it’s rather words like tolerant, consensual and inclusive which, regardless of how they’re being used, are praised merely because they’re being used, modern people totally lower their guard around such words. Let me give an example from history:

        The Temple of reason:

        ‘Temple de la Raison was, during the French Revolution, a temple for a new belief system created to replace Christianity: the Cult of Reason, which was based on the ideals of atheism and humanism. This “religion” was supposed to be universal and to spread the ideas of the revolution, summarized in its “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” motto, which was also inscribed on the Temples.

        The symbols of Christianity were covered up and they were replaced by the symbols of the Cult of Reason. In the Churches of Reason, there were specially created services that were meant to replace the Christian liturgy. For instance, at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, on November 10, 1793, a special ritual was held for the “Feast of Reason”: the nave had an improvised mountain on which stood a Greek temple dedicated to Philosophy and decorated with busts of philosophers. At the base of the mountain was located an altar dedicated to Reason, in front of which was located a torch of Truth. The ceremony included the crowd paying homage to an actress dressed in blue, white, red (the colours of the Republic), personificating Liberty.

        The largest ceremony of all was at the cathedral ofNotre Dame in Paris. The Christian altar was dismantled and an altar to Liberty was installed and the inscription “To Philosophy” was carved in stone over the cathedral’s doors. Festive girls in white Roman dress and tricolor sashes milled around a costumed Goddess of Reason who “impersonated Liberty”. To avoid statuary and idolatry, the Goddess figures were portrayed by living women, and in Paris the role was played by Momoro’s own wife Sophie, who is said to have dressed “provocatively” and, according to Thomas Carlyle, “made one of the best Goddesses of Reason; though her teeth were a little defective.”

        Many contemporary accounts reported the Festival of Reason as a “lurid”, “licentious” affair of scandalous “depravities”, although some scholars have disputed their veracity. These accounts, real or embellished, galvanized anti-revolutionary forces and even caused many dedicated Jacobins like Robespierre to publicly separate themselves from the radical faction. Robespierre particularly scorned the Cult and denounced the festivals as “ridiculous farces”.

        After Catholicism was banned in 1792, many of its churches were turned into Temples of Reason, including:

        (1) the Notre-Dame de Paris
        Cathedral (November 10, 1793)

        (2) Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris

        (3) Église Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis

        (4) the basilique Saint-Denis

        (5) the church of Les Invalides

        (6) the church of Thomas d’Aquino,

        (7) the Panthéon de Paris

        (8) the church Saint Pierre from Montmartre,

        (9) the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims

        (10) the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Troyes

        (11) the Notre Dame de Versailles Church

        (12) Église Saint-Pierre de Caen.’

        OSC: To clarify what the above point isn’t teaching, it’s not meant to show how atheism is naughty and to believe is nice, that wouldn’t be a particularly keen slip of insight. Rather, it’s meant as an illustration, firstly of how “progress”, that inviting word people use when they aren’t sure what else to say, however appealing, isn’t always right, people in the streets chanting “Change! Charge! Change!” Are only as inviting as a person is flippant about what causes they’re willing to fight for. We can certainly progress in an ascent or a descent, meaning our refusal to step back on progression that was plainly downward (no fault divorce for example) isn’t liberal! It’s not a liberal or open minded thing to do to refuse to admit our errors, rather it’s just bull headed. And secondly, the above example is meant to show how we as a people often work, not necessarily how a faith works, but the way in which large groups of people work (mob mentality). It’s a wealth of people who are volatile, quick to anger and vindictive, whereas a lone person in the cold light of day is a healer.

        “Do you really believe all men were created equal? Look around!
        Perhaps what you mean is all men are equal in the sight of God.”

        Exactly. Certain people are born princes or paupers or even in nations where to discuss openly like we are doing would result in a flogging, so to imagine a sort of indiscriminate equality would be patently false. I’m instead writing it’s only if you and myself are the result of an impartial, loving and just judge whose hand created us that our dignity and value are affirmed beyond any doubt. Remember again how the philosopher John Locke by a systematic symmetry of Bible material rightly affirmed equality between the sexes, human dignity and liberty of persons and property:

        Genesis 1 and 2 (creation). By which Locke could rightly believe in us having been made with an intended purpose and possessing intrinsic value.

        The Decalogue (Exodus 20). Through which Locke could say humanity didn’t merely possess some overall purpose, but also were bound by duties and an ethic which meant murderers, thieves and liars could break and be truly at fault for breaking.

        The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). A rule of such good the hearts of many men have echoed it in similar fashions, showing a shared want for goodness in the best of us.

        “Freedom is another major theme in the Old Testament. For instance, God’s actions in liberating the Israelites from Egyptian slavery in the Decalogue’s prologue (Exodus 20:2)”

        “Moreover, Locke derived basic human equality, including the equality of the sexes (“Adam and Eve”) from Genesis 1:26–28, the starting point of the theological doctrine of Imago Dei.”

        If humanity is to affirm so wonderful a world as the sort created by the values we read about in the above, then there’s only one way to do so, that way is found with Jesus.

        “What I can’t seem to get across to you is if things weren’t the way they are we would not be the way we are. The best summary is the old song ‘What will be will be’ If water did not, unlike other substances , expand as it cooled from 4C to 0C ice would not float and life would not have been possible.” You then continue: “if things weren’t the way they are we would not be the way we are”

        That’s merely true by definition, to disagree would be a grievous error on a person’s part, what you have done in the above is a tautology, and who would disagree with a tautology? It’s like you’ve written, “What will be will be” or “I am what I am”, and they’re just factually true statements. Although, I imagine that you imagine that the above is an objection to the argument for finely tuned constants in our universe. You’re in a roundabout way making a very sophisticated objection. The objection is that we’re observing a universe, a universe which is compatible with our very existence, and this shouldn’t surprise people like myself, because if the universe wasn’t compatible with mine and your existence, we wouldn’t be here to observe it being compatible! But is that truly a good argument? Not in my opinion, and here’s why in an illustration borrowed from John Leslie:

        Suppose you are dragged before a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. The command is given; “Ready, aim, fire!” You hear the deafening sound of the guns. And you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 marksmen missed! Now while it is true that you should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, nonetheless it is equally true that you should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive.

        Since the firing squad’s missing you altogether is extremely improbable, the surprise expressed is wholly appropriate, though you are not surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, since if you were dead you could not observe it. Similarly, while we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our existence, it is nevertheless true that we should be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence, in view of the enormous improbability, demonstrated repeatedly by Barrow and Tipler, that the universe should possess such features.

        Allow me strengthen two points hereafter, firstly, the fundamental (there’s that word again 😛 ) constants and quantities in our universe aren’t necessarily as they are, there’s no reason to suspect that they couldn’t and shouldn’t have been different. Moreover, to merely have 1 of these constants finely tuned in our favor is a miracle, but below we have eleven!

        (1) Speed of Light: c=299,792,458 m s-1

        (2) Gravitational Constant: G=6.673 x 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2

        (3) Planck’s Constant: 1.05457148 x 10-34 m2 kg s-2

        (4) Planck Mass-Energy: 1.2209 x 1022 MeV

        (5) Mass of Electron, Proton, Neutron: 0.511; 938.3; 939.6 MeV

        (6) Mass of Up, Down, Strange Quark: 2.4; 4.8; 104 MeV (Approx.)

        (7) Ratio of Electron to Proton Mass: (1836.15)-1

        (8) Gravitational Coupling Constant: 5.9 x 10-39

        (9) Cosmological Constant: (2.3 x 10-3 eV)

        (10) Hubble Constant: 71 km/s/Mpc (today)

        (11) Higgs Vacuum Expectation Value: 246.2 GeV

        Again to expand the argument: ‘Scientists have come to the shocking realization that each of these numbers have been carefully dialed to an astonishingly precise value – a value that falls within an exceedingly narrow, life-permitting range. If any one of these numbers were altered by even a hair’s breadth, no physical, interactive life of any kind could exist anywhere. There’d be no stars, no life, no planets, no chemistry . . . If the gravitational constant had been out of tune by just one of these infinitesimally small increments, the universe would either have expanded and thinned out so rapidly that no stars could form and life couldn’t exist, or it would have collapsed back on itself with the same result: no stars, no planets, no life (OSC: Scientists of every kind are aware of how remarkable the above is).

        “WHEREVER PHYSICISTS LOOK, THEY SEE EXAMPLES OF FINE-TUNING.” – Sir Martin Rees

        “THE REMARKABLE FACT IS THAT THE VALUES OF THESE NUMBERS SEEM TO HAVE BEEN VERY FINELY ADJUSTED TO MAKE POSSIBLE THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIFE.” – Stephen Hawking

        “IF ANYONE CLAIMS NOT TO BE SURPRISED BY THE SPECIAL FEATURES THE UNIVERSE HAS, HE IS HIDING HIS HEAD IN THE SAND. THESE SPECIAL FEATURES ARE SURPRISING AND UNLIKELY.” – David Deutsch

        I’d like to recommend something for you to view, if I may, simply on the off chance you haven’t watched it already. I recommend it because if your problem is an emotional one, then surely I have many clever quotes by which to convince you, but if your problems are of an intellectual kind (and I believe they are), then there are amazing, articulate voices out there that meet the arguments against fine tuning in a way you’ll enjoy. I’d recommend you watch the late Christopher Hitchens, who was such a witty and intelligent speaker for atheism, debate William Lane Craig, both of which I’ve already quoted. I have no doubt you’ll be able to follow their trains of thought.

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      • The term radical is often used to describe Christian or other religious fundamentalists .
        A person is not made fundamental by their beliefs but by the importance they attach to them.
        When all else including human compassion is laid aside for belief we have the radical or fundamentalist.
        Since knowledge is an ocean we are all selective even the most learned.
        Science is certainly not the gift history has been waiting for. Prof Hawkins has recently admitted progress has created our recent.problems.
        Likewise religion is not the gift Christains and other religious types would have us believe.
        We see Luthers fundamentalism in his actions.
        Progress depends on our interpretation.
        I expect we would both agree man has not progressed when it comes to character in general but enormous technical progress is evident.
        What always surprizes me about many scientists is their constant reverance at the beauty of creation( they genrally prefer nature).
        Richard Dawkins praises his blind purposeless watchmaker as if he were a conscious creator.
        Many have become Saganists going into rapture over hubble pictures.
        My Mother’s favorite hymn was All Things Bright and Beautiful she requested it at her burial service.
        How beautiful are the high alpen snows ; see how magnificently the avalanch sweeps away the houses and kills all the occupants.
        Im surprized that unbelievers can be so blind ; I forgive the error in believers.
        If the universe was completely random there would be no constants and no science.
        We must not be surprized the earth revolves around the sun. The miracle is repeted everywhere so its no miracle.
        I will watch the brilliant Mr Hitchens.
        He has a rasor toungue and a sharp mind but he is bent on proving religion is the most damaging force in history.

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      • “The term radical is often used to describe Christian or other religious fundamentalists.” They’re certainly not synonyms of one another, therefore we must suppose something which makes these two words distinct. You continue so to clarify nonetheless: “A person is not made fundamental by their beliefs but by the importance they attach to them.”

        I’m certain my love of my faith and desire to study, know the Lord, and do right by others (not because it’s a part of my imperfect will, but God’s) would cause many people in the UK to consider calling me radical, even dangerous.

        Similarly unseating your ideas, Mother Teresa wasn’t by anybody’s reckoning a moderate, they were a radical, even according to your above definition where radicalism/fundamentalism is measured by the importance a person has put upon their beliefs, they’re yet again to be defined as a fundamentalist or radical. Popes, nuns, priests and even myself would be considered radicalized (either by themselves or others). Yet, if to love, as these people do, is as radical as to hate, then there’s nothing a secular person can offer except apathy, an unjustifiable lessening of our passions for either healing or harming (the opposite of your above desires). In fact, by describing the late Christopher Hitchens “bent on” their mission against religion, they too would have best been described as a radical/fundamentalist. Meaning for a culture to believe themselves better or above radicalism merely is to say they’re warm, safe and content enough to feel dispassionate with regards to everything (even things possibly of value).

        “When all else including human compassion is laid aside for belief we have the radical or fundamentalist.”

        The above description couldn’t be accurate merely because a person can attach significant importance to human compassion in ways which popular opinion doesn’t concur with (even being radical regarding a compassionate belief set), meaning your definition of what it means to be radical/fundamental (i.e. attaching what’s deemed an unacceptable amount of importance to an idea) can be done by people whose abnormal belief is in a wholly compassion model (thus meaning compassion and radicalism needn’t be mutual exclusive). Radicalism is in reality the zeal with which an idea is embraced, the fashion whereby you originally defined fundamentalism, the ideas of radicals themselves can be either infused with human compassion (Christianity), or emptied of such things (scientism, naturalism, atheism.)

        To insist fundamentalists are dispossessed of “human compassionate” couldn’t be considered a serious position to affirm, not in an adult discussion. In fact, it’s that sort of rhetoric that you’d most likely hear and be dismayed at having heard if it were done by some hate preacher for atheism or communism. Jesus Himself unsettled your theory some 2000 years ago, being both what people would describe as radical (dedicating their everything to God), in addition to having a greater compassion towards humanity than both you and I combined.

        “What always surprizes me about many scientists is their constant reverance at the beauty of creation (they genrally prefer nature).
        Richard Dawkins praises his blind purposeless watchmaker as if he were a conscious creator. Many have become Saganists going into rapture over hubble pictures.”

        Astronomer Carl Sagan in many cases would even go so far as to write the word cosmos as “Cosmos”, thus he (though a man of science) believed it wholly appropriate to see the universe praised how an object of reverence might be praised by a pagan believer, or even how the stone worshiping Arabs in times before Muhammad’s military conquest behaved, merely on a far grander scale. Just imagine so strange a shared interest, Muhammad, a man who believed (according to the Islamic portrait) that to secure their good health they’d have to double dip a stray fly which landed upon their food, having some shared faculty which impelled themselves into believing (though not necessarily affirming) a certain something more to our universe of sticks and stones. This experience, or desire, in whatever form it’s expressed, is in reality the same sort of unfulfilled human need regardless of in which time it’s recorded. They, meaning Carl Sagan, in the way you imagined, had indeed found “God”, they’d identified the universe as their god surrogate, wouldn’t the above speak to a desire people (every people regardless of how “enlightened” they may believe themselves) has had since before humanity can properly remember. The discoveries at Göbekli Tepe, those being that faith, religion and worship preceded even agriculture, shouldn’t be to our surprise if indeed an answer to the universe’s carefully tuned constants is that they’re designed to unfold as they have.

        “My Mother’s favorite hymn was All Things Bright and Beautiful she requested it at her burial service.
        How beautiful are the high alpen snows; see how magnificently the avalanch sweeps away the houses and kills all the occupants.”

        You could say both that beauty in our universe and how earnestly it’s felt isn’t in dispute by anybody, nor is the appearance of design, rather the question is whether or not our ability to perceive those sorts of thing amount to anything other than a private delusion. Even consider All Things Bright and Beautiful, you yourself would know whose creative might is credited with having made everything of the material kind:

        “The tall trees in the greenwood,
        The meadows where we play,
        The rushes by the water,
        To gather every day.
        He gave us eyes to see them,
        And lips that we might tell
        How great is God Almighty,
        Who has made all things well.”

        Fine tuning, moral experience, design as betrayed in nature, they’re each compelling examples of why a person could come to believe in themselves having been created by God, even a God who loves and sustains. Yet, let’s imagine again the value problem, although with a twist, and this isn’t a famous argument in favor of God’s existence, it’s simply myself musing. People perceive value, not solely in each other, rather in our universe also, an often hostile universe if only at a superficial glance, nevertheless, humanity believes it’s their duty to defend, preserve and nurture the tall trees in the greenwood, or the meadows where we play, as if to say they’re of value, special somehow (as we too are imagined special in a certain fashion). Now, when the greatest minds science has produced collectively say the universe is set to self destruct (which is the consensus), and it’s came about only to return again to nothingness, believers in the ability of science to teach humanity everything blink, they then ignore the above consensus and continue shuffle deck chairs on the Titanic. Even rats they say possess the intellect and resources to abandon a sinking ship and save themselves, humanity however says there’s something still to be done, and we’re often bitterly angered by polluters, big businesses and special interests who rather than preserve a dying earth’s glory work towards quickening its destruction. Where’s the sense in being angry however, there’s none, much like how there’s no use in lamenting when a person drops their cup of water upon an unspoilt carpet in the Titanic, after all there will be plenty more water soon enough.

        Yet Carl Sagan, myself, you and your Mother (I gather) believe there’s something to this ship, not merely some false value being imagined and then projected onto it, but rather objective value regardless of what anybody believes to the contrary. If true, then that reverence, that awe or desire for atonement or at-one-ment, i.e. being “at one” with our universe or nature, isn’t altogether a mistake of mischievous superstition, rather it’s utterly natural, it’s built into our design plan. So, our question here is whether or not what comes in the box that we call man (women not excluded) is fit for purpose. Honest, thoughtful people, many who you knew most likely included, believed due to cognitive processes functioning as they do in most human beings, doing so so that they produced belief in a God. Meaning, humanity is either functioning as they ought to according to a design plan aimed at truth finding, with which humanity discovers, even in a most roundabout way, their heart overwhelmed by desire to be near or one with whatever it is that’s beyond the veil. Or how we are as a collective is deluded, truly deluded to so great an extent we’re unable to extract ourselves. Just consider how to “rebel” against the human condition, even who we are, is as ridiculous and as counter what we can accomplish as angrily commanding a duck to do something other than quack.

        The fact that you and I are here in the now means one thing for certain however, there’s something or someone that’s necessary, not the universe, because it came to be, it is contingent, and this certain unchanged Mystery has been here and will be here to stay forever, existing even before time, space, matter and energy (these were each created in the big bang after all), yet the above implies that Mystery as being something existing before time (timeless), spaceless, immaterial and immensely powerful, moreover, there’s even an argument to say this First Cause has freedom of choice, meaning that they’re a personal Being.

        “Im surprized that unbelievers can be so blind; I forgive the error in believers.”

        Carl Sagan however wasn’t making an “error” in that they’d followed the evidence in an unjustified way (perhaps unwise if belief in a God is wrong, not unwarranted), rather they’d gone by both data as found by the scientific process (interpreted by their mind), and immediate data discerned in their sense of reverence when confronted with the universe (or cosmos). Calvin in their commentaries explains like so:

        “There exists in the human minds and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of his Godhead, the memory of which he constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man being aware that there is a God, and that he is their Maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship him nor consecrate their lives to his service. Certainly, if there is any quarter where it may be supposed that God is unknown, the most likely for such an instance to exist is among the dullest tribes farthest removed from civilisation. But, as a heathen tells us, there is no nation so barbarous, no race so brutish, as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even those who, in other respects, seem to differ least from the lower animals, constantly retain some sense of religion; so thoroughly has this common conviction possessed the mind, so firmly is it stamped on the breasts of all men. Since, then, there never has been, from the very first, any quarter of the globe, any city, any household even, without religion, this amounts to a tacit confession, that a sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart. Nay, even idolatry is ample evidence of this fact. For we know how reluctant man is to lower himself, in order to set other creatures above him. Therefore, when he chooses to worship wood and stone rather than be thought to have no God, it is evident how very strong this impression of a Deity must be; since it is more difficult to obliterate it from the mind of man, than to break down the feelings of his nature,—these certainly being broken down, when, in opposition to his natural haughtiness, he spontaneously humbles himself before the meanest object as an act of reverence to God.”

        “If the universe was completely random there would be no constants and no science. We must not be surprized the earth revolves around the sun. The miracle is repeted everywhere so its no miracle.”

        The issues humankind faces with regards to tuned constants however is not that they appear miraculous (although miracles are by many modern people despised), rather it’s that they’re statistically miraculous! Remember again The Design Inference by William Dembski, it’s no better believing in the impossible than to believe cosmic tuning is a result of chance. Our universe is so replete with tuned constants that scientists have in many quarters been forced into adopting the wacky notions of the multiverse, an idea which doesn’t have many of the equations involved even put to paper.

        Now, the previous objection of yours isn’t exactly a scientific sort, rather it’s an interesting philosophical objection. You’re saying us as a species aren’t able to even discern the miraculous because miraculous kinds of a thing are everywhere, though wouldn’t the objection play into Saint Paul’s wily hands: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Or even Isaiah’s when they wrote: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe overtook the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Not merely the whole earth, the entire universe even!

        So, when you write “The miracle is everywhere so its no miracle.” surely you and I would do better to say God’s handiwork is everywhere, yet any act or creation of God’s isn’t to be reckoned a miracle merely because God’s power was involved, rather miracles are easily recognized precisely because there’s regularity in our universe, and it’s by that regularity (i.e. gravity, entropy) or the open possibility for something to be different (i.e. constants which needn’t be) that thinking men and women can truly say this is God making Himself known within our universe.

        “I will watch the brilliant Mr Hitchens. He has a rasor toungue and a sharp mind but he is bent on proving religion is the most damaging force in history.”

        I’m looking forward to your take on the exchange.

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      • I watched William Lane Craig and Christopher Hutchings and I was surprized.
        William Lane Craig was an enthusiastic fire brand; a man well versed in his subject and enjoying his calling. He must be a good preacher.
        Christopher Hutchings seem to be lacking enthusiasm like a conductor who thinks oh no not another Beethoven symphony; or a parishioner who has had a late saturday night wondering when the sermon will end.
        I think he has cast his die , written his books, and is trying to live up to expectations.
        It was deep stuff not for the muddle-headed or contented. I hope I’m in the latter catagory but not too certain. Last night I heard Steven Hawkins in the Reith lecture on Black Holes , another esoteric discorse hard for us simple lay clergy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I particularly enjoyed Christoper and Bill Craig’s “wahhabi baby” exchange during the question and answer session. Although I’d also agree in that Christoper’s overall zeal was lacking, especially so when they yielded their final statement and went directly to questions and answers. In my mind it’s for reasons like that that atheists were rather cutting with their criticism of him thereafter. Having espied a hardback copy of their God is Not Great book in a nearby store, one close to my work, I’m tempted to grab myself a copy to accompany my Stephen Law and Richard Dawkins material. Although, if there’s more you’d like to read of William Lane Craig’s arguments, their site http://www.reasonablefaith.org/ continues the sort of high scholarly arguments both you and myself are enjoying here. They’re actually doing an interesting collection of podcasts right now on The Theory of Everything! The tale of Stephen Hawkins and their struggle. It’s also interesting you mentioned Prof Hawkins’ material as being concerned with problems which arise from our progression, because that’s in part what the podcast unpacks. Dr Craig is actually so in love with their study of the universe (black holes, big bang cosmology etc etc) I’m surprised you two haven’t been acquainted sooner.

        Back to the debate however, you can imagine how watching the material would cause many atheists like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris to avoid so passionate and studied a believer as Dr Craig, though on the subject of Harris, who did debate Dr Craig directly, they complimented them in their opening debate speech, saying they were “the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists.”

        Having read Dawkins’ “reasons” (I write that with only a hint of derision 😛 ) for refusing to debate Dr Craig as Harris and Christoper did, I’m convinced it’s because their arguments are not on Dr Craig’s level. For Which Craig had to do a single person lecture where they reviewed the arguments of Richard Dawkins’ best selling The God Delusion. An empty chair where Dawkins was scheduled to sit remained a firm reminded that Richard, despite atheists appealing to him on mass by letters and emails, had refused to show up. Online the lecture is named “Is God a Delusion? The Debate That Never Was: William Lane Craig vs Richard Dawkins?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3HCthi2i_o)

        Isn’t the ongoing conversation so important though, and to have no part in it is to quit doing science, philosophy or even proper thought, when people do that there’s only pride.

        Although I’m also suspicious that it’s the oxford mathematician and my fellow Irishman John Lennox who truly stuck Dawkins (i.e. once bitten twice shy), and it’s due to their debate that Dawkins later thought to continue debating these sophisticated believers, they and not right wing “religious” thugs, was a mistake. Their debate here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IMRzrHxrLA)

        The Reith lecture on Black Holes is also an inviting prospect, for which I’m certainly going to listen to a little (if not the entire thing) on my commute today!

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      • I looked up the argument between William Craig and Richard Dawkins.
        It centres around divine command theory. In a nut-shell what ever God says must be loving and totally moral since He is perfect.
        Richard Dawkins saw acts in the old testament as Genocide and called William Craig a deplorable appologist.
        To me divine command theory sounds dangerous and is what drives radical thinking , although I prefer the term not thinking.
        I see to the thinking believer it is unavoidable due to the attributes of God.
        Juilian Jaynes believed from the evidence of history that up until about 3000 years ago man had a bicameral mind. We were zombies without self -consciousness.
        He suggested tribes needed to obey without question in order to gain supremacy. That could only be achieved with out moral brakes.
        His veiws are not widely accepted but his book on consciousness is a stunner. The hearing of voices around today he believed is a throwback to bicameralism.
        To me the most honest type of Christianity is young earth type.
        It is true to the Bible account but I understand it is difficult in this modern age.
        Just a word regarding experts. There are lots of experts in particular fields who think they have the right to enter any field with impunity.
        Philosophy is one field we are all forced into for we cannot survive with out a personel philosophy.
        Also we must be at liberty to comment on topics otherwise the experts have slammed the door shut and hung up a no entry sign.
        The essential difference between us is you do what your told is right I do what I feel is right. The chances are we will have much common ground.

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      • Let’s not be naïve with regards to why Richard Dawkins wouldn’t want to debate world-class competition in the form of Dr Craig, yet is happy to sling childish barbs back and forth on The Big Questions with intellectual vacant types while Nicky Campbell poses questions with secular a slant to them, it’s about how it’s commonly defined in headlines reading: “Richard Dawkins’s refusal to debate is cynical and anti-intellectualist”, or even “Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God.” Let’s examine how supposedly Dr Craig offended professor Richard Dawkins first by an article in which Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist from Worcester College, cited Craig’s “controversial” musings:

        “[If] God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of [the Canannite] children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.” The writer swiftly wrote in addition: “I am disinclined to defend the God of the Old Testament’s infanticide policy. But as a matter of logic, Craig is probably right: if an infinite good is made possible by a finite evil, then it might reasonably be said that that evil has been offset.”

        Would the above truly be reason enough to avoid debating an honest, law-abiding scholar whose mind and knowledge of his subject might very well eclipse that of his entire generation, most assuredly no. Moreover, Richard wrote himself “Do not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice” (whatever justice and evil mean to atheists who don’t believe they’re real), which would mean he’d committed himself by his own supposed standards to challenging so odious a malefactor as Dr William Lane Craig. Tim Ross, Religious Affairs Editor writing for the Telegraph, explained: “Prof Craig is a research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, in California, and the author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles on Christianity.” Furthermore: “He has debated with leading thinkers including Daniel Dennett, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and Sam Harris.” Perhaps it’s something to do with Dr Craig’s history and seasoned defense of their faith which bothered Richard more so than some vanishingly insignificant speck of writing in their vast array of scholarly articles, though in the interest of fairness, let’s examine everything Richard had to use to defend himself against his fellow atheists:

        1. That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine.

        2. This Christian ‘philosopher’ is an apologist for genocide.

        3. I’m not going to debate a Creationist.

        4. I’ve always said I’d debate a bishop, cardinal or higher.

        5. I’ve got other things to do, I’m busy (Said during a conference when fellow atheists again challenged professor Dawkins for “avoiding the other sides strongest arguments”).

        You’re most certainly laying your skepticism aside if you’ve been convinced by such a mess of “reasons” (excuses) as the above, let’s show how they’re internally incoherent point by laborious point:

        1. Dr Daniel Came wrote concerning whose “CV” would be enriched by debating the foremost defender of Christianity: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.” They continued: “I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

        2. “Genocide” in reality is synonymous with campaigns of “racial killing”, Genesis’ account of an Israelite victory over Canaanite people however wasn’t motivated by either racial tension nor about murderous desires, rather to dispossess land and disperse was their stated aim. Moreover, when considered, Canaanite culture, which thought it appropriate to sacrifice their babies by melting their bodies upon metallic instruments while muffling their screams of agony through drums beaten over and over again, ought to have been dispossessed and dispersed long ago!

        3. Richard’s defense of “I’m not going to debate a creationist” is equally ridiculous, since firstly, they’ve already debated Oxford Mathematician John Lennox, who believing in intelligent design would be defined “a creationist” in professor Dawkins’ material. Although if their charge be something else, something like Dr Craig is in the young earth creationist camp, they’d be mistaken again on that account, William Lane Craig has views in keeping with the majority of modern day scientists (i.e. that our universe and earth are billions of years old).

        4. “I’ve always said I’d debate a bishop, cardinal or higher.” Means Oxford Mathematician John Lennox has officially been ordained.

        5. Surely being “too busy” to debate an expert academic like Dr William Lane Craig must mean they’re also too busy to have pleasant chats about how awful religion is with Ted Haggard, Pastor Keenan or Factor presenter (caution!) Mr no spin zone himself Bill O’Reilly.

        Surely there’s no way in which thinking men and women could continue to take professor Dawkins seriously in his religious criticism after having properly taking into account their shambling mishmash of bumbling justifications. Let’s be real if we may, adults even, Richard Dawkins refused an invitation to debate an exceptional scholar and philosopher respected worldwide for exactly the same reason humanist and fellow atheist Polly Toynbee retreated after already accepting to debate Dr Craig:

        The President of the British Humanist Association has pulled out of debating renowned Christian philosopher William Lane Craig. Polly Toynbee, Guardian columnist and prominent critic of religion, readily agreed in April to debate Craig on the Existence of God but withdrew her involvement last week saying “I hadn’t realised the nature of Mr Lane Craig’s debating style, and having now looked at his previous performances, this is not my kind of forum”.

        So structured, carefully considered debate in which both parties marshal evidence for their various beliefs isn’t their kind of forum. Perhaps an outhouse in which her and Richard could simply punch people in their face would better suit their petty, belligerent styles of debate. It’s far from their ideals as found in The God Delusions’ revised ten commandments: “Treat your fellow human beings, your fellow living things, and the world in general with love, honesty, faithfulness and respect.” Love, honesty and faithfulness, rather than how the above people have actually behaved. An article concludes how New Atheism has commonly operated:

        “There is something cynical, ominously patronising, and anti-intellectualist in their modus operandi, with its implicit assumption that hurling insults is an effective way to influence people’s beliefs about religion. The presumption is that their largely non-academic readership doesn’t care about, or is incapable of, thinking things through; that passion prevails over reason.”

        You yourself explained very early on into our discussion how people like professor Dawkins are bothered by what they perceive as “fairy tales”, fairy tales and the dangerous superstitions which they inspire. Yet where’s their argument, or their evidence, or anything other than contempt flung towards people who aren’t in their camp, believers (how it’s been proven) have both arguments and evidence! There’s indeed fantasy or fairy tale, although it’s not of God, it’s about an outstanding young knight named Richard, “Richard the Dragon Slayer.” Yet, as people “in the know” know already, Richard hasn’t actually slain anything remotely resembling the Dragon kind, moreover, they refuse to even do so little as leave their austere fortress, wherein opinions to the contrary dare not penetrate. And rather than do as their name suggests (slay something) they choose instead to sneer out their closed window, mocking even the lay peasants who go about their business below. “Dyed in the wool faith heads” Sir Richard laughs to himself, believing someday that mockery could convince their feeble minds into realizing he’d been correct from the very beginning.

        “To me the most honest type of Christianity is young earth type. It is true to the Bible account but I understand it is difficult in this modern age.”

        As has already been made plain by both myself and others the facts of the earth’s age, or to specify, whether or not an old earth is taught by the book of Genesis, has been an open question since Saint Augustine in the A.D. 300’s (nearly 2000 years ago!). So, when you write “the most honest type of Christian” would believe in a young earth, you’re implying that’s how Genesis, or rather The Bible, ought to be read by sober eyes, rather it’s only in the face of modern science and Western advancement that people are no longer holding to ideas of the earth being young. Yet Augustine in their commentary concerning Genesis totally disproves your notions, there’s simply no getting around the facts of how Christians have been reading and understanding Genesis since long before your caricature was concocted. Now, let’s outline several arguments from within the Bible itself so to convince you there’s a far richer way in which to understand Genesis:

        1. There’s no time scale for how long Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden. Assuming the world was created on the 6th day, and God rested on the 7th, then they ate the apple on the 8th day is a silly assumption to make.

        2. In the Genesis creation account God orders that the trees and other various plants are to bring about their kind themselves. So God isn’t saying He will make a giant forest of redwood trees, rather after an initial special act of creation the Lord ordains that the world itself will begin it’s work. For the plant life to bring about more like it would take far more than a mere 6 days, it takes between 2 to 3 decades for a great oak tree to develop. Ancient farmers and the like were certainly aware of how laborious and time consuming crop growth was!

        3. Genesis 1:1 reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void.” which wouldn’t conform 1:1 to anything even resembling either an elderly or young earth, rather it’s people reading into their Bible, rather than learning from its teachings, who return with an idea of young ages for the earth.

        4. The Hebrew for day (Yom) actually possesses far broader a meaning than “Day” as found in our Bible in modern times. Having more of an “era” quality to its meaning, which again wouldn’t constrain Genesis to teaching young earth creationism.

        5. Upon the third “day”, despite there already being Light (See John chapter 1) our moon and sun are created, it’s hard to imagine narrowly defining a day as a day without establishing its day night cycle.

        6. In Job, which pre-dates Genesis, there’s mention of pre-creation beasts who are described as so awesome as being able to “drink up the sea”, surely there’s hyperbole to be read, though also an understanding of how we’re to understand time.

        7. The New Testament claims at one point that today is still God’s Sabbath of rest. So the seventh day upon which God “rested” from His creating is still technically in effect. The seventh and final day (Yom) has been worth thousands of years. So to go with the literal interpretation of day feels unskilled to me.

        See, it’s hard to take your point seriously having studied Genesis so heavily as I have. To simply reply “Well, my King James Bible says it’s days.” isn’t an appropriate reply when faced with such a preponderance of evidence (evidence from within the Bible!) which is teaching something contrary. By “the most honest type of Christianity” you’re in reality writing “the most naïve Christian”, or perhaps “the most simple Christian”, nonetheless, it’s far from a matter of honesty.

        “I see to the thinking believer it is unavoidable due to the attributes of God.”

        It’s not accurate to say “to believers” it’s an unavoidable consequence, as if it were exclusively true in their case though not so with regards to anybody else. Rather it’s true for anybody who has studied or even selectively browsed portions of our shared Judeo-Christian traditions, they’re constraint to an inescapable fact if indeed God as so defined exists. Nevertheless, you imagine the idea of divine command theory as being dangerous, although the idea itself would be tied up and inseparable from such notions as the reality of moral duties and value (foundations with which humanity understands the good). Certainly if you were to imagine a caricature of an omni-benevolent God, or even “an evil God” how many have imagined, then for people to follow after that idea would indeed be mistaken or as you believe dangerous. Nonetheless, there appears to me an even greater absurdity yet undiscovered in your above criticism of divine command theory. That being you’re concerned over God’s goodness functioning as some kind of justification to do violence towards one another, as if to say to even imagine some act being truly good or truly bad could cause unrest (though not causing good or evil because they aren’t actual).

        Firstly: There’s no such challenge to God as so defined by Christianity, because God according to Scripture both issues commands and provides duties to their creation by which they have prohibited any acts of violence which humanity might find attractive a prospect.

        Secondly: You’re employing dogged skepticism (people who suppose themselves skeptics often do) without first acid testing assumptions you’re happy to promote and hold based upon their utility. Let’s explore: in what way would obeying the commands of an omniscient, omnipotent and just judge (meaning God) end in humanity being harmed? “Well, if indeed they’re loving and impartial, protective and supremely good in everything they do or withhold themselves from doing, then in no significant way would humanity be harmed in obeying,” modern men could reply, “though that isn’t our objection!” they’d clarify: “Our objection is plainly to say people could abuse notions of divine authority so to do things which are inhumane. Divine command theory drives radical thought, although I prefer the term not thinking.” Jihad fighters whose sole aim is to blow themselves into pieces and be gifted an array of sex slaves by their omnipotent pimp daddy Allah would certainly confirm an objection if worded thus, nevertheless, you’re once again venturing into Samson Harrison style territory, by which is meant you’re zeroing in on an unattractive outgrowth, or some inevitability of people believing in divine authority and by that coming to the conclusion that that outgrowth is reason enough to reject divine command theory in its totality. It’s an incoherent conclusion to come to to undermine our sole foundation for objective moral values and duties because you’re morally offended by something that comes from immoral people perverting that foundation, akin to destroying our justice system because you’re disturbed by homosexual rape in prisons, prison suicides and miscarriages of justice.

        Without an accusatory desire in my posting, allow me to return your objection and dogged skepticism concerning divine commandments by highlighting your own personal views, views which are an outgrowth of our secular enlightenment:

        1. Fundamentalists have no compassion.
        2. People in history past were like zombies.
        3. No actions are morally praiseworthy or worthy of blame (accordingly points number four and five follow).
        4. Murder isn’t wrong.
        – Rape isn’t wrong.
        – To molest little children isn’t wrong.
        – Cannibalism isn’t wrong.
        – Racism, sexism and discrimination based upon age aren’t wrong.
        – Torturing babies to gain sexual pleasure isn’t wrong.
        – Polluters aren’t wrong.
        5. Saving life isn’t good.
        – Curing cancer isn’t good.
        – Protecting little children from sexual assault isn’t good.
        – Preserving our environment isn’t good.
        6. Humanity has no purpose (outside of subjective delusions).
        7. Humans are without value (outside of subjective delusions).
        8. There’s no such thing as justice (outside of subjective delusions).
        9. A person’s fate is unrelated to their moral conduct.

        Now, there’s no serious justification in my mind when you dismiss an objective source of authority (God and their morally righteous commands) while affirming everything you have in the above, you’re allowing your skepticism slip around one set of views and not the other. Your views as produced by secularism are simply more radical (and thus in your words more dangerous and unloving) ideas than my own, wouldn’t you agree. Obviously it need not be stated that you’re an open, generous and moral person, in my mind there’s no doubt of your goodness, and that’s precisely because you’re affirming Jesus’ “Love thy neighbor” material in your conduct, hence there’s love, you’re however intellectually paying lip service to the above ideas which are dangerous and nihilistic.

        Let’s imagine for a change of pace that you’d needed a babysitter once upon a time, and rather then know who you were hiring personally you could simply go by the above description of their views, would you for one second allow such a person as the above describes to be alone supervising your beloved children, or to share an empty space with your significant other, unlikely, heck you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would leave the above person alone with an unguarded cup of coffee! They simply sound monstrous, that’s not to say they’re morally despicable, that’s merely an outgrowth or high possibility based upon their world-view which intellectually supposes nothingness in terms of values and goodness. Richard Wurmbrand, who’d suffered torture for their faith by communist captors, explained how it’s the views you find unworthy of challenging which are truly dangerous:

        “The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The communist torturers often said, ‘There is no God, no Hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.’ I have heard one torturer even say, ‘I thank God, in whom I don’t believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.’ He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflicted on prisoners.”

        Does atheism or agnosticism have an answer to pain, evil even, when described in so potent an expression, they’re yet to show that they have. Instead allow me to explain their position in so charitably as I’m able:

        Modern man: Moral relativism as shown by modern science is most certainly true, meaning murderers, child rapists and even torturers would enjoy inflicting pain aren’t doing anything morally despicable, moreover we’re not doing anything morally right by halting their behavior. We enjoy life nevertheless, in addition we would like to maximize whatever pleasures we’re able to get while we’re able to get at them, be they sexual, substance wise, in entertainment or play, albeit within limits so to not offend anybody who might curtail our practices and prematurely end our pleasures. So, so that people can live and function together, gaining pleasure for an extended duration beyond that which they’d accomplish alone, there’s nothing to do about the situation than to impose ourselves upon murderers, child rapists and torturers, they’re impeding our happiness, pleasure and duration of existence.

        OSC: They’re aware that to repeatedly stab, gun down or suffocate people means you’re endangering lives or precluding life early. Murderers, rapists and torturers are simply disinterested in lives or pleasures besides their own, furthermore people as described believe human life of no great value (an idea you yourself, modern man, would concur about). They’re also aware of their own desires which say live and not die, their “to be or not to be” question has already been decided, and they have decided to struggle. Their desire to maximize pleasure is no different from your desires to watch something in the cinema, eat with friends or visit family, you’re both maxing various desires each without moral consequences or dimension according to your own view. In addition, to complain there’s harm involved in one behavior and not another has already been shown to be incoherent by Sam Harris’ Moral Landscape, there is indeed different functions firing during rape as there are during consensual love making, yet neither are moral or immoral.

        Modern man: Nevertheless, people who are rapists or murderers are to be locked away.

        OSC: Locked away not because they’ve done anything morally criminal, rather because their behavior isn’t conducive to your utilitarian purposes. They’re of low or no utility. Much like how Nazi war criminals would murder people with physical deformities or disabilities because they weren’t of utility with regards to Nazi purposes.

        Modern man: Exactly, although the parallel with so cruel a group as the Nazis isn’t something we’d prefer.

        OSC: So, despite your preferences or theirs, you’ve imprisoned persons due to their behavior changing one valueless, purposeless clump of matter into yet another form of valueless, purposeless clump of matter (an absurd procedure by definition).

        Revisiting again your idea of divine command theory being somehow dangerous, an explanation of why your criticism couldn’t truly be applied to God as found in Christianity is merited if we’re both to be of one mind on the subject. 1 John 4:8 would serve as an excellent example of how people are best to fathom God when in study of His commands: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Now, “God is love” is not to write “Love is god”, that would be making love into god and thus to worship an abstract love would be fit religious worship. Rather it’s to describe God, whose very essence is described by way of Scripture, as essentially loving. Let’s continue by way of an excellent commentary: We must beware of watering down “God is Love” into “God is loving,” or even “God of all beings is the most loving.” Love is not a mere attribute of God; like light, it is his very nature. As “God is Light” sums up the Being of God intellectually considered, so “God is Love” sums up the same on the moral side. Only when this strong meaning is given to the statement does St. John’s argument hold, that “he that loveth not knoweth not God.” A man who has no idea of any one of the attributes of God, as order, or beauty, or power, or justice, has an imperfect knowledge of God. But he who has no idea of love has no knowledge of God, for love is himself. God alone loves in the fullest and highest sense of the word; for he alone loves with perfect disinterestedness. It is love which alone can explain creation. Why should a Being perfectly blessed in himself create other beings, but to bestow a blessing upon them?”

        Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary would also supplement an accurate rendering of 1 John 4:8 “God is fundamentally and essentially LOVE: not merely is loving, for then John’s argument would not stand; for the conclusion from the premises then would be this, This man is not loving: God is loving; therefore he knoweth not God IN SO FAR AS God is loving; still he might know Him in His other attributes. But when we take love as God’s essence, the argument is sound: This man doth not love, and therefore knows not love: God is essentially love, therefore he knows not God.”

        OSC: To have once believed “God is Love” as an inseparable (though by no means imposing) part of our academic, political and popular culture isn’t to say people wouldn’t falter and debase themselves by way of sinful behavior, that too belongs in our Christian narrative after all, rather it’s an actual foundation whereby people can truly make known their moral grievances. Moreover, it’s also illustrative of how far humanity must have dropped in their thought due to their supposed enlightening. To have stubborn, even tired, humanism replacing so perfect an expression of love in many people’s minds isn’t anything other than dereliction of duty by both churches and Western governments. Your argument ironically does exactly the opposite to what you’d prefer, because it’s only by not knowing God, or not knowing Jesus, that so-called Christians can commit atrocities like taking up guard duty in Auschwitz or thinking to enslave their fellow man (fundamentally unchristian behaviors). Less Jesus, less divine command theory as understood in Christianity and less faith in an objective standard leads to pitiless peoples rather than more!

        In an earlier conversation with Alex Black, an atheist and blog writer who shares their viewpoint in light of their trans gender experiences, my explanation of our duties being supplied by an omni attributed God (and thus our goodness secured due God’s good nature) allowed scare wiggle room with which to disagree:

        “Well, the question isn’t is it (ending the lives of children) moral in a general way, rather the question should be like so: Is it moral for God to kill so to bring about good in the future. But that is to say God is held to some moral standard like you and I are, that couldn’t be right if our definition of God as the maximally great being is correct. Laws are for criminals, prisons for criminals, judges for supposed criminals to discover whether or not they’re in violation of the law, meaning God being morally impeccable wouldn’t violate such a law as one which was defined by their own nature, nay, it would be a logically impossibility for a God as so defined to do the immoral! Since the immoral is directly contrary to their character. Rather, and the distinction I next mention is highlighted in the ten commandments, to kill isn’t a moral sin, it’s to murder that’s a sinful behaviour. Rightly or wrongly even we have this distinction in our nations today, for example:”

        Or again in another, perhaps more reader friendly fashion, Dr Craig by way of their questions and answer page answered: “Different persons can have different moral duties. For example, our children, when they were little, were morally obligated to obey my wife; but I did not have such an obligation. A policeman has the right to pull you over if you are speeding down the highway; I have no such right. So why think that God has the same moral obligations as Herod (or any human being)? I don’t see any reason at all to think that He does.” Furthermore they continued: “Does that mean that God can just do anything? No, for God cannot act contrary to His own nature. God is essentially loving, fair, patient, consistent, and so forth. Therefore, if God takes the life of someone, say, an Egyptian child, we can be sure that God does so, not capriciously, but only with sufficient reason for doing so. In the case of the plagues upon Egypt, we can be sure that God had good reasons for so acting, e.g., redeeming Israel from slavery and, ultimately, the redemption of the entire world through Israel’s Messiah, Jesus.”

        Writing logically, an entity of the sort which would be omniscient, omnipotent etc etc, would routinely dislodge our often presumptive ideas of how they’re supposed to behave. Dr Craig concluded by way of: This implies that God may act in ways that can be shocking to us. C. S. Lewis once remarked, “What do people mean when they say that they’re not afraid of God because they know that He is good? Have they never even been to the dentist?” In the Chronicles of Narnia, Lewis epitomizes this truth when it is explained to the children that Aslan is not a tame lion—but he is good.

        You continued: “The essential difference between us is you do what your told is right I do what I feel is right.”

        To allow your feelings or experience to act as guide would mean they’d have already led you into affirming objective moral values and duties, which thus far you’re unlikely to do. Isn’t the above merely tribal, some sort of rallying cry of “them vs us”, in reality both myself and yourself are decision making based upon both our feelings and various things which have been told. An example of that being done comes by a reading of Knowledge and Christian belief by Alvin Plantinga, turning to page 113:

        “Perhaps you have always believed it deeply wrong for a counselor to use his position of trust to seduce a client. Perhaps you discover that others disagree; they think it more like a minor peccadillo, like running a red light when there’s no traffic. You think the matter over more fully, imaginatively re-create and rehearse such situations, become more aware of just what is involved in such a situation (the breach of trust, the injustice and unfairness, the nasty irony of a situation in which someone comes to a counselor seeking help but receives only hurt), and come to believe even more firmly that such an action is wrong. In this way, this belief could acquire more warrant for you by virtue of your learning and reflecting on the fact that some people do not see the matter your way.”

        So, with regards to the “us” (meaning you) in the “them vs us” statement, in reality, it’s beyond possible to imagine another “feeling” of yours being so great as to dislodge the feeling which in your heart of hearts says “raping little girls is wrong”, wouldn’t you agree, there’s no experience with which you’d overpower your distaste for grown men forcing themselves upon defenseless children (Much like the counselor example found above would convince). You may even forgive the desire or anger at such behavior if it were found in yourself, but not in others, then you would be sober, objective. So, by which method could you have came to the conclusion that these men, these rapists, aren’t doing anything morally wrong. Not through feelings, for there are few feelings so strong as the sort of natural revulsion I’ve described, meaning it could only be by thought, or more specifically, having thought of something you’ve been told by somebody else (the exact reverse of the situation you’ve described). Doesn’t the observation stand and appear undeniable, due to which you’re without fail doing “as you’re told”, albeit by another authority when compared to my own.

        Concluding you wrote: “you do what your (you’re) told is right”, meaning we’re different in that God commands my behavior (even an imagined God), whereas you by contrast imagine yourself to be an outlaw or free thought devotee, although there’s another way in which to interpret your understanding of things. Regardless, upon my bookshelf my eyes are able to make out Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian and even Stephen Law’s Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures (or should that be misadventures?) in Thinking, and in my hand a pristine copy of the late Christopher Hitchens’ international bestseller “God is not Great”, wouldn’t it be fair to write they’re each as a roaring lion seeking whom they might devour. Yet they’re in a sober minded person’s home utterly useless, ineffectual in their ways, they’re sound and fury signifying nothing. So, in what way does it make sense to write about me doing what I’m “told is right”, since atheist literature, of which I’m in possession of much, if saying anything, says to be an atheist “right”, and to be believing “wrong”. Yet here I am doing the exact opposite of what I am told to do. Believers are no more hungry to do as they’re told than anybody else, especially not myself having lived as an unbeliever in Christ Jesus, moreover, people of every sort are beset by various authority figures, each of which express their sway by do as you’re told commands.

        Herein lays an actual “them vs us” distinction, “them”, by which I’m meaning to say Christians, are being conformed nearer in likeness to the image of Christ, an authority deserving of their position and power, The Prince of Peace. Whereas atheists, agnostics and unbelievers even by your own beliefs are being merely conformed into their surroundings. Their authorities much like good and evil are useful fictions possessing no proper right to be obeyed, yet obey modern man shall. So, let’s pretend unbelievers, or even atheists who affirm our universe being without God are correct (one side of the coin). They’re then being conformed by an undeserving authority into whatever image is presently in vogue, and whether that image be produced by Nazi culture, pedophile culture or rape culture none are barred by non-belief from being a part. Obviously upon the coin’s opposite side unbelief is wrong and people are yet again being conformed to an undeserving (or even perverse and evil) image. Heads (they’re correct) and unbelievers are being conformed to an undeserving authority, or tails (they’re wrong) and unbelievers are being conformed to an undeserving authority (lose-lose situation).

        An interesting side note to add before making my reply, while reading anecdotes from Hitchens’ childhood in God is not Great I’ve noticed Dawkins was so kind as to lend his praise to the front cover! Now, thank God for humor and hindsight, because Dawkins wrote: “If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline.” Apparently Bill Craig and John Lennox (who out debated Hitchens by public vote) didn’t get the memo!

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      • We need to stand in anothers shoes to understand him.
        All these men you and I babble about have reputations and something to lose.
        I would debate with anyone including Isis and I would rather be crushed than make any excuses.
        Richard Dawkins is a middle aged Englishman product of his unbringing , sensative and over – estimates his ability.
        When I see a man point a gun at a rabbit I feel for the poor creature. Is it a mother with babies in the burrow? Well thats Richard’s take on these old testament children and it maybe wrong in your eyes but its understandable.
        The brash knock -around Christopher Hitchens is a totally different character , he has no time for pussyfooting around , straight in is his motto , go for the throat ; it made his reputation.
        Dr Craig is a clever subtle defender of his faith and he is determined to paper over any cracks in his philosophy it is his lifes work.
        Regarding simplistic young earth Christianity John Hartnett is hardly a simpleton ,highly qualified he defends the stance, declaring the big – bang to be Satans deception.
        I knew nothing of him until he replied to one of my posts.
        As an agnostic I have no answer to pain but I’m painfully aware of it. We must take our lead from the stoics it is the best I can do.
        Having no answer is better than fabricating an answer to suit me.
        I notice your mention of the King James and at this time there is a group called King James onlyism some have already denounced it as a cult.

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      • “Dr Craig is a clever subtle defender of his faith and he is determined to paper over any cracks in his philosophy it is his lifes work.”

        I read “cracks” to mean deficiencies, errors in material or a sort of logic breakdown on their part, some obvious mistake or potential weakness which is rather than being faced obscured or made hidden. Now, Bertrand Russell, who made many faulty arguments against Christianity, eventually came to believe there’s no good arguments for atheism (i.e no arguments so to disprove God). Due to which, and the vast tradition they left behind, many atheists are of the mind “you can’t prove” a negative, with which they’re absolved from arguing their denial of the divine. So, when you write there are “cracks” in some defense of the faith, my ears perk up as if in anticipation of an argument, reasons to write about cracks or deficiencies, perhaps you’d like to outline these insofar as you can find. Below is my rewriting from minutes 43 through to 45 of when Dawkins debated mathematician John Lennox, in which there’s what I’d consider an error in thought, or a crack as we’re writing:

        Lennox: “I get the impression you’re not taking history very seriously, otherwise you would interact with it. And I am trying to get to the basis of why that is so, because you regard what Jesus has done and who he is as petty. And I find the contrast between standing tall in a silent and cold universe as with no hope, believing that your moral sense is ultimately an illusion, and crying for justice which will go unanswered for the majority of people because death ends everything, with the contrast of enjoying a friendship, a personal friendship with God, and knowing that ultimate justice will be done is immense.”

        Dawkins: “Well of course it is!”

        Lennox: “But the basic question is is it true or not?”

        Dawkins: “And that is the basic question, it is completely irrelevant if it’s comforting or if it gives you hope or happiness, that has nothing to do with whether or not it’s true.”

        Lennox: “And that I agree with entirely.”

        Dawkins: “So we need to know whether it’s true.”

        Lennox: “Yes.”

        Dawkins: “Now, umm, now when you look at history, let’s let’s leave aside that maybe I I I have eluded to the possibility that some historians believe Jesus never exist, I take that back. Jesus existed.”

        OSC: Now, that’s a crack in somebody’s case, they hinted at the same ridiculous notion in their God Delusion book. Dawkins to Lennox then goes on to describe how although he’s misled millions of people in over thirty different languages with regards to proper history, it’s justified because Jesus (Jesus as described in the Gospel biographies) didn’t exist. Certainly a different point than when they implied “Jesus never existed.” Still they continued:

        Dawkins: “Jesus existed. However, if you’re going to say that Jesus was born of a virgin, that Jesus walked on water or that he turned water into wine, that is palpably anti-scientific. There is no evidence for it….and if there were you would be….well no there is not evidence for that, and no scientist would take the idea seriously.” OSC: Interesting to see Dawkins’ misuse of the words evidence in light of our conversation.

        Lennox: “I could make it worse for you.” The mathematician replied.

        Dawkins: “I know you can.” Dawkins replied with a playful smile breaking out.

        Lennox: “Because, Jesus actually claimed to be the Logos that created the whole universe, and if this is the Creator incarnate making water into wine and so on is really a triviality. The more fundamental thing is the fact that He claimed to be and gave evidence that He was God.”

        OSC: Now, Dawkins was incredibly ignorant when he misled millions of people by claiming historians were in doubt about Jesus, by which I don’t mean stupid, they’re clearly an intelligent man, rather ignorant of the subject. Or perhaps they were being deceptive, having already been aware of how historians have come to an overwhelming consensus on the issue of Jesus’ life, yet Dawkins’ due to pride and a desire to appeal to an ignorant popular culture simply concealed the fact. Ignorant or deceptive?

        Oxford theologian Alister McGrath, who plainly dismantled Dawkins’ massive 400+ page The God Delusions in a concise and excellent 100 or so page book titled The Dawkins’ Delusion, would write how Dawkins, rather than being a liar, was and is at present simply too ignorant to make a case against religion (about which I agree). By way of reply Dawkins’ employed their usual style, mockery: “Do you have to read up on leprechology before disbelieving in leprechauns?” They said in response to Alister’s criticisms.

        Therein lies the problem, in the above Dawkins’ is saying plainly “I’ve never bothered to study the case for God”, “Everything you read in which I pose as an authority on the subject of religion is showmanship and justificationless rhetoric.” Sound and fury signifying nothing. Just lay their beliefs out in a formula or isolated way:

        1. Scholar X says they have done no study of P.

        2. Scholar X says P is to be understood in light of L.

        Reasonable people couldn’t believe P being properly related to L based upon X’s supposition because scholar X already says in print they know nothing about either P or L! Dawkins’ categorizes a thing (Christianity) while admitting in the same sentence to being unable to properly categorize the thing he’s categorizing!

        So, professor Dawkins isn’t competent concerning religion, moreover he’s made an outrageous fortune by misleading and throwing red meat to others who aren’t competent with regards to religion. Similarly unbelievers like yourself can only reply that they’re “sensitive”, now, and forgive me if ever I sound callous, but Richard Dawkins publicly has ordered atheists to mock believers, to humiliate and shame his fellow human beings in front of others. By so doing the professor believes he and his fellow ignorant unbelievers can cause a climate of fear whereby “fence sitters” would be too terrified of reprisals to consider believing in anything other than what Dawkins has deemed appropriate. Are you not disgusted by such behavior as the above describes?

        To me it’s reaching to imagine this person as sensitive rather than simply cruel, spiteful and closed minded. That’s not to say they don’t have a sensitive side, undoubtedly they would, yet when they’re claiming believers to be mentally ill and attacking the moral character of a world renowned (and law-abiding) scholar like Dr Craig it’s less likely that their behavior is being motivated by their being middle aged or their status as an Englishman, I know many lovely Englishmen who can control their behavior around sensitive topics after all, rather their ways are more likely due to the fact they’re without arguments, warrant or evidence to support the ridiculous and often hateful things they’re writing, with which they lash out.

        Poor sensitive Mr Dawkins should probably find himself a more tranquil set of hobbies rather than bullying, mockery and debate dodging so that their feelings aren’t further wounded. Wouldn’t you agree?

        My hope nevertheless is that people need not expend more energy on Dawkins’ anti-Christian ramblings than is necessary to thoroughly refute them, which doesn’t take particularly long (about 100 pages for every 400 Dawkins writes). Their contribution to certain fields may indeed be of use in going forward, yet concerning religion they’re firing blanks.

        To begin again by an interest of mine which should be (I hope) dominating your follow up reply: So, when you write there are “cracks” in some defense of the faith, my ears perk up as if in anticipation of an argument, reasons to write about cracks or deficiencies, perhaps you’d like to outline these insofar as you can find?

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      • No I’m far to ignorant to engage in arguments with these brilliant men, I might as well argue with Stephen Hawkins over black holes.
        I have a smattering of Bible knowledge and no nothing of the Koran. My knowkedge of Christian history does not amount too much and Im no philosopher as Daniel Dennent. My biology is very limited so perhaps I should just roll over and believe the experts ; but which one ?
        I’m a pretty average layman with no great mental penitration but enough to recognise confusion. I know no Latin , Greek or Hebrew but then the greatest scholars disagree and you will know the number of denominations far better than I.
        As science has increased its sway they have multipied and used those bits of it they found useful.
        Strange is it not that religionists love the Crick Watson’s double helix and DNA finger printing but shun evolution.
        Now at the coal-face of science there is still disagreement and always will be.
        So religious philosophy changes with the times in the same way as science.
        So papering over the cracks is a tricky process of moving the goal-posts yet appearing not to move them.

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      • If we’re being plain and somewhat cutthroat, the only reason anybody talks about Islam is because people are blowing themselves up and beheading people in its name. Nobody would care otherwise, and there’s real reason for that. Islam, founded by a brutal rapist and pedophile who knew so little about the previous religions that they mistook Mary for Miriam and believed Mary was a part of the Trinity, has never been a viable option for people who wanted to know God. It’s simply a belief founded upon everything the West wishes Christianity had been founded upon, those things being bloodshed and violence. Whereas in reality Christianity, long before becoming Rome’s darling religion, was a figure of hate open to mass persecution between both its Jewish roots and Roman rulers.

        In addition, Latin, Greek and Hebrew are far from within my comfort zone, for which I hope people who feel less than confident around the subject take heart.

        Concerning denominations, there’s no Baptist who denies Jesus was born of a virgin, nor a Methodist who believes Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, meaning when people find the vast array of denominations as a turn off they should remind themselves that the issues they’re in debate over are merely in house disputes, that and nothing which undermines the core (Mere Christianity).

        Ravi Zacharias, a very witty Indian-born Christian apologist put it like so. They’d first explained a portion in the Gospel narrative where it’s said Christ set mud on the eyes of a blind man, after which they’d seen again. He followed up by saying in another Gospel Jesus did something similar, although the author of this material had omitted the detail of mud being involved. Zacharias to this said something along the lines of “Thank God that didn’t happen today….you’d have the Mudites and the anti-mudites arguing with each other!”

        We can’t be so involved with these cliques, these tribes, be they believing or unbelieving, that we’re unable to hear the voice of reason already inside of us.

        Let me briefly return with a story of my Friday, I’d returned to work having bought my copy of God is not Great, a Hindu gentleman I work with, one who doesn’t know my interest with faiths, noticed my newly purchased book and thought to comment. They asked me what the book was trying to say, adding that maybe it had a point. To my explanation I added a quote by former aviator in the U.S. Navy Frank Turek when they summarized the book, saying the book’s message was: “There is no God….and I hate Him.” We ended up in a discussion regarding religious commands, even Heaven, about which we both agreed being gifted 72 virgin by Allah would be an offer we couldn’t refuse, although in the quiet of my own home I’m beginning to believe an eternity of servicing over seventy women and their various demands (I would be their only husband after all) a sort of hell rather than Heaven. Perhaps I could haggle Allah down to just a few ladies. 😛

        My work friend asked why I would read a book while already knowing how it ends, and for what reason would I read from someone who disagreed with my Christianity (being white as I am it’s only natural he would assume my faith).

        I told him with a laugh “it’s not that I’m a masochist, I don’t enjoy reading books that insult me or my beliefs”, Yet I pointed out I’ve always wanted to know why people believe what they believe, and especially if there’s anything true behind it.

        That’s really the first step behind becoming a believer (a believer in anything) in our secular society, being able to ask oneself “could this be true?”

        Historically the early followers of Jesus, people who had lived and broken bread and spent their days in His company, died brutal deaths for claiming He wasn’t dead. To that people again quote or point towards Islam, “terrorists too have died for their religion” they’d say, and they’re right, even kamikaze pilots and Hindus have died for their various creeds, so where’s my point they’d ask.

        My point is this: Muslims who commit suicide are giving up their lives for an idea they got from somebody else, they’re slaying and being slain for something they’d heard from the mouth of another person. The followers of Jesus however were dying for the truth of somebody they had seen, having seen Him both alone and in groups, both being seen by friends and enemies, to people who already believed and people who didn’t believe, they then for having met Jesus died for the truth of what they had seen.

        An example which you may understand as I do, if you’ve got siblings it’ll instantly speak to you like it does me. How much would it take for you to believe a brother of yours was God? If you have none simply substitute a sister, cousin or someone you know thoroughly well. could you believe it, I personally don’t think I could.

        In the earliest material on the life of Jesus we read how not even their brothers believed in Him, and we know for a fact when religious movements begin it’s normally the family who are the first to believe, Joseph Smith had his witnesses to the golden plates document signed nearly exclusively by family members, and Mohammad for the first decade or so of his ministry had only his wife, slaves and family members being Muslim, only after they began violently robbing caravans did their numbers swell.

        So, what would it take for you to believe a close family member was God? James (the brother of Jesus) wouldn’t, or even couldn’t bring himself to believe the things his brother was saying. Mark goes so far as to write: “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

        Jesus was comparing people like King Solomon arrayed in gold to lilies in the field, saying not to be concerned by tomorrow and forgiving sins done to other people and not Himself, as if He were the one who the offense had been committed against, how preposterous James must have thought. The Gospel of John (7:5) adds in addition that of “His family” it was Jesus’ brothers who didn’t believe in His claims, I don’t blame them having brothers of my own.

        Yet later, even outside of the New Testament, we read by way of the historian Josephus that James the brother of Jesus was murdered for their belief in Him as the Messiah:

        “And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.”

        The above could be criticized, although it’s clearly authentic, for simply saying James was killed on the trumped up charge of being a “breaker of the law”, not for believing that their brother would come on the clouds of heaven with power and glory. Yet you and I have to go into the whole of the evidence, that and not merely be selective. In the letters of Paul there’s finally one last piece of data which can confirm the above situation being how I’ve described, and that’s an extremely early creedal formula found in Corinthians 15:

        “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance (OSC: Meaning this was something Paul had gotten, common knowledge during the lifetime of eyewitnesses): that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

        “He appeared to James”, a statement again agreed upon by the bulk of historians (by which they mean James at least believed he had seen his brother), and James died saying in some way shape or form “Jesus appeared to me”, they’d died to prove the truthfulness of their testimony. You can tell me, kaptonok, what happened here, not merely here, but with Paul who hated Christ, James, Peter, the brother of John, groups of men who knew Jesus all being murdered and all saying Jesus had returned. What was going on?

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      • Not cut- throat just realist. Islam has been going for many centuries but now it wants a slice of the Christian cake.
        Often religion masks its real intention with a cloak of universal love. An irresistable cloak under which is the dagger of greed.
        He must be a good man after all he is very religious; which marks him out from the lusty grabbing crowd of general humanity.
        In our more investigative and transparent times the veil has been broken we now know we can expect anything of anybody.
        There is no safe club anymore, police, doctors, professionals of all sorts have been tumbled from their pedistals.
        We all have some desire to know what makes people tick. In a way we are all investigators , I suppose it is connected to our indivudual soul- searching enquiries.
        I take your point completely know one in their right mind would believe any man was God.
        It creates a stumbling block for Christianity but a source of consolation for Christians.

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      • Good morning, kaptonok. To write “I take your point completely” with regards to James’ conversion experience would be an awesome breakthrough in our conversation, yet how you’ve followed up shows some serious misunderstanding on your part concerning my earlier argument as found in history. With which I’m going to outline my point in more plain an order:

        (1) James didn’t believe in Jesus.

        (2) James had an experience of Jesus Christ having returned even after they’d known their brother to have died the death of a common criminal.

        (3) James believed so thoroughly as a result of the above experience that they were prepared to go to an untimely and brutal death in order to prove their loyalty to Christ.

        (4) Unbelievers, believers, friends, enemies and even 500 people had various experiences in which Jesus appeared again as their risen Lord.

        (5) So overpowering was their encounter that those who have been most accurately recorded went to terrible deaths rather than renounce their belief in Jesus being their Lord and their God.

        (6) As opposed to people who are prepared to commit suicide for an idea or creed they’ve been taught, James, Paul, Peter and many others died brutal deaths for something they’d witnessed themselves.

        (7) The multiplicity, variety and scope with which different individuals experienced encounters with the risen Jesus lends weight to their experiences being true.

        Now, in your mind, my carefully ordered argument became: “You’d have to be mental in order to believe a man to be God.” (which would in so believing mean I considered myself mad). To interpret my point as me calling myself and other Christians not in their right mind couldn’t be getting my argument more wrong.

        Nonetheless, you’ve unwittingly pronounced an awful verdict upon Jesus Christ by having finally answered Lewis’ liar, Lord or lunatic trilemma, for if to even believe in Jesus as God means Christian believers either then or now “ain’t quite right”, how much more must have Jesus Himself suffered through delusions of madness! They believed their life an offering for sin, their word enough to heal the sick or cause the dumb to speak or deaf to hear again. Due to the above modern man, or rather men defined by their so-called enlightenment, are constraint to accuse Jesus of madness. Are the critics right however, there’s no reason to believe so if you and I are going by Jesus’ portrait as found in their Gospel biographies. Dr Gary R. Collins, writer of 45 psychology related books concluded the following about Jesus:

        “Psychologists don’t just look at what a person says. They’ll go much deeper than that. They’ll look at a person’s emotions, because disturbed individuals frequently show inappropriate depression, or they might be vehemently angry, or perhaps they’re plagued with anxiety. But look at Jesus: he never demonstrated inappropriate emotions. For instance, he cried at the death of his friend Lazarus-that’s natural for an emotionally healthy individual…”

        “Other deluded people will have misperceptions,” he added. “They think people are watching them or are trying to get them when they’re not. They’re out of contact with reality. They misperceive the actions of other people and accuse them of doing things they have no intention of ever doing. Again, we don’t see this in Jesus. He was obviously in contact with reality. He wasn’t paranoid, although he rightfully understood that there were some very real dangers around him.”

        “Or people with psychological difficulties may have thinking disorders they can’t carry on a logical conversation, they’ll jump to faulty conclusions (OSC: Not unlike the faulty conclusion you jumped to with regards to my argument from James’ conversion experience), they’re irrational. We don’t see this in Jesus. He spoke clearly, powerfully, and eloquently. He was brilliant and had absolutely amazing insights into human nature.”

        “Another sign of mental disturbances is unsuitable behavior, such as dressing oddly or being unable to relate socially to others. Jesus’ behavior was quite in line with what would be expected, and he had deep and abiding relationships with a wide variety of people from different walks of life.”

        “He was loving but didn’t let his compassion immobilize him; he didn’t have a bloated ego, even though he was often surrounded by adoring crowds; he maintained balance despite an often demanding lifestyle; he always knew what he was doing and where he was going; he cared deeply about people, including women and children, who weren’t seen as being important back then; he was able to accept people while not merely winking at their sin; he responded to individuals based on where they were at and what they uniquely needed.” His conclusion: “All in all, I just don’t see signs that Jesus was suffering from any known mental illness,” he concluded, adding with a smile, “He was much healthier than anyone else I know-including me!”

        Indubitably, Jesus’ portrait as found in their Gospel biographies betrays more perfect mental health than either Dr Collins, you or even myself! So, there’s no sense in writing such and such believer wasn’t sound with regards to their judgement, not when their Rabbi and who they believed God would make people today (even you and me) appear mentally deranged, even insofar that we’d seem to be away with the fairies when compared to their self-understanding.

        Christopher Hitchens too grappled (and failed) to render satisfactory an answer when tackling Lewis’ material in their God is not Great book, although they do succeed in calling the late great Lewis’ views “pathetic” (“so pathetic as to defy description”) and “crude” (page 120), apparently having to resort to playground insults wasn’t too pathetic or crude for Mr Hitchens. Unbelievers as already shown by Dawkins and now the late Hitchens have (or had) an ugly habit of throwing abuse into their ignorant ranting against religion.

        By my understanding, you’ve outlined, albeit done in hazy fashion, 3 objections to faith (meaning the Christian faith). In plain they’d read like so:

        1. Believers become believers or continue to sustain their belief because they’re afraid.

        2. Retrospective evidentialism.

        3. Religion and science are incompatible (heavily implied).

        The conclusion to each of the above points is normally to imply “God doesn’t exist”, or perhaps “Christianity is false.” Yet as you’ll have gather by now following none of the above (even if they were true) would be your ultimate conclusions, conclusions which prematurely shut the door on Christianity or the reality of God. Rather for a person to believe they’ve removed an omnipotent Creator by so faulty an array of arguments, which methinks you don’t yet believe, only goes to show they’d have believed anything just so long as the result of the argument (however weak) went against belief in God. Let’s examine each:

        1. Believers become believers or continue to sustain their belief because they’re afraid.

        Now, debate lingo quickly in use would have me calling the above “The genetic fallacy”, which merely means when people use such reasoning as the above they’re trying to discredit some belief based upon how people have arrived at said belief. My reply about loaded dice explained for what reason the objection has been discarded:

        For example, imagine I had what I believed was a throwing die better than most other dice for gambling, and I believed my die was so much better than the norm because A. It often landed upon six, and B. An astrologist told me the stars had aligned in my favor! Now, you could mock my belief in astrology, and show that the science was an absurd sham, but that doesn’t mean my die isn’t better than others for the purpose of winning me money. In fact, it turns out it’s a loaded die, my reasoning was faulty, but the belief was true, my die really was better than the others at winning me money.

        Actually, the tired line “believers believe because they’re afraid”, which you used with regards to ultimate justice, wouldn’t wrongly be categorized as yet another caricature, or strawman as people so enjoy to write. It’s not interacting with the immediate experience of God, nor moral arguments, nor anything believers often credit their beliefs to. Rather the criticism is avoiding powerful philosophical arguments in favor of faith so to do amateur psychology. An argument of the sort described above is in fact so faulty as to be turned upon its head anywhere anytime, an example: Upon my comings and goings these last few days an odd bus advert for Cadburys cream egg, which often has been advertised as quirky or comical, caught my interest. The ad read “Here for a good time, not a long time.” To which I said to myself “Well, there’s atheism for you!” Wouldn’t you agree? Huxley (Darwins’ bulldog) wasn’t so bashful as to make secret the above either, instead they’d plainly wrote they wanted nothing to do with a God who would curtail their sexual exploits. Christopher Hitchens also appeared to have been overly focused on God limiting “positions” bedroom wise. Here for a good time, not a long time.

        Notice how the conclusion “Therefore atheism isn’t correct” just doesn’t follow! Even if the above men were carnally minded or utter perverts in their private lives, none of that disproves atheism. Similarly your above objection doesn’t hold. In my case nevertheless, as it’s been painstakingly shown, arguments and evidences, even experience, had to have been employed to convince my heart and humble my stiff neck into believing. Lastly, a word by which I can sum up why Jesus won me over, gratitude. Gratitude that Christ though in safety would give Himself up to pain, humiliation and fear because they loved you and me, your mum and dad, everyone.

        2. Retrospective evidentialism.

        Named so by Christopher Hitchens in their debate about God and existence, in which they summarized: “In other words, everything can, in due time—if you have enough faith—be made to fit.” Yet, there’s no sign of the above actually happening. There’s certainly signs of Christian culture mistakenly reading into their Bible things which aren’t plainly to be found (i.e young earth, flat earth etc etc). To misread poetry, metaphor, hyperbole or parable sadly is an often inseparable aspect of who people are, one shared by both believers and unbelievers alike, nonetheless, historically speaking, sophisticated thinkers (as were the original Bible writers) gave more an insightful reading of Scripture. Moreover, by way of Scripture itself an accurate context or fashion whereby to read the material is provided. Big bang cosmology, an elderly earth, they’re by no Bible verse barred and by many promoted! So, who is to speak of retrospective evidentialism after having read Augustine or even their Bible?

        3. Religion and science are incompatible.

        Naturalism and Scientism are implied in many unbelieving assumptions concerning religion, likewise you too appears to believe in naturalism, which would explain your refusal to accept objective moral values and duties. The view however is not livable, for which you persistently act contrary to the notion by condemning wrongdoing and praising “the good.” Nature and science simply aren’t able provide an adequate explanation of our universe/the human experience. The folly of the worship of science, and as a consequence how religion and philosophy are her (science’s) natural companions, was shown brilliantly by professor Atkins in the below debate:

        DR. ATKINS: Well, you have to give intellect its opportunity. So you have to see whether science, in all its glory, can account for whatever religion has been trying to account for, and has so manifestly failed. Science has really emerged over the last 300 years, and has made extraordinary progress in the last 100 years.

        Moderator William F. Buckley Jr: But you say, ‘manifestly failed’ on . . . Manifestly is . . .

        DR. ATKINS: Well, yes, of course it’s manifestly failed. It says that there is an incomprehensible creator who made the world for reasons that we will never fathom, did it in a way that we will never know. That is nothing like an explanation. An explanation should be something that we humans, with our extraordinarily powerful minds, can comprehend. To say that you will never comprehend this explanation annihilates the fact that it is an explanation.

        Moderator William F. Buckley Jr: No, because as I understand – though I’ll let Dr. Craig speak for himself – the fact that we will never know does not mean that that which is not known can’t in fact exist.

        DR. CRAIG: Exactly! It just leaves you with agnosticism. That’s no proof that there is no such being.

        DR. ATKINS: Okay, but I think you can prove that there is no god.

        DR. CRAIG: Well what are your arguments for that?

        DR. ATKINS: It’s not a mathematical proof; you cannot possibly give a mathematical proof.

        DR. CRAIG: Give any kind of argument.

        DR. ATKINS: Okay, here’s an ‘any kind of argument.’ Everything that religion claims a god can do can be accounted for by science. So, that’s, if you like, the one branch of the argument. So that there is no need, there is no necessity, for a god because science can account for everything. On the other side of the argument is the reasons why people do believe in God. One can understand why people believe in God. It’s a sense of being alone. It’s a sense of bewilderment. It’s a sense of wishing for power over other people, which is the worst of the reasons. It’s simply a sense of bewilderment. It’s the sense of being alone. You know these feelings far better than I because you obviously believe in them. But taken together with a reason why people believe, desperate to believe, together with the fact that you don’t need, actually, a god, in a sense amounts to an argument against the existence of God.

        DR. CRAIG: Well I guess I don’t see that. I mean, why doesn’t that commit the genetic fallacy of trying to say that by explaining how a belief originates, you thereby show the belief to be false? Even if it were true that belief in the existence of God were the product of fear and anxiety and so forth, which I don’t for a minute admit, but even if it were, that’s simply a genetic fallacy to say that because that’s the way the belief originates, that therefore the belief is false.

        DR. ATKINS: But that’s only one half of the argument. I’m not saying that that alone is adequate, and I’m not saying that the fact that science can account for everything alone is also adequate, but taken together, the fact that science is omnipotent and the fact that I can understand why people like you desperately want to believe in God, that is an argument against the existence of God.

        DR. CRAIG: But two fallacious arguments put together don’t make a sound argument, right?

        DR. ATKINS: But two legs are support.

        DR. CRAIG: Yes, but the legs have to be sound.

        DR. ATKINS: But these are sound. I’m arguing both the sufficiency and the necessity.

        DR. CRAIG: The first argument only – if granted, which I don’t grant, I don’t grant the premises – but the first argument will only prove that it’s not necessary to believe in God in order to explain certain things. That doesn’t prove God doesn’t exist. The second argument commits a genetic fallacy of saying that because you can explain how people come to believe in God, therefore God doesn’t exist. Neither of those warrant the conclusion, Therefore God does not exist.

        DR. ATKINS: No, I did not say it was going to be a mathematical proof.

        DR. CRAIG: No, no, but it has to be valid.

        DR. ATKINS: But it is valid in the sense that there is no need for a god. Everything in the world can be understood without needing to invoke a god. You have to accept that that is one possible view to take about the world.

        DR. CRAIG: Sure, that’s possible, but . . .

        DR. ATKINS: Do you deny that science cannot account for everything?

        DR. CRAIG: Yes I do deny that science can account for everything.

        DR. ATKINS: So, what can’t it account for?

        DR. CRAIG: Well, had you brought that up in the debate I had a number of examples that I was going to give. I think there are a good number of things that cannot be scientifically proven, but that we’re all rational to accept.

        DR. ATKINS: Such as?

        DR. CRAIG: Let me list five.

        1. Logical and mathematical truths cannot be proven by science. Science presupposes logic and math, so that to try to prove them by science would be arguing in a circle.

        2. Metaphysical truths, like there are other minds other than my own or that the external world is real or that the past was not created five minutes ago with an appearance of age are rational beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven.

        3. Ethical beliefs about statements of value are not accessible by the scientific method. You can’t show by science whether the Nazi scientists in the camps did anything evil as opposed to the scientists in western democracies.

        4. Aesthetic judgments, number four, cannot be accessed by the scientific method because the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven.

        5. And finally, most remarkably, would be science itself. Science cannot be justified by the scientific method. Science is permeated with unprovable assumptions. For example, in the special theory of relativity, the whole theory hinges on the assumption that the speed of light is constant in a one-way direction between any two points A and B. But that strictly cannot be proven. We simply have to assume that in order to hold to the theory.

        DR. ATKINS: But you’re missing the whole point.

        Moderator William F. Buckley Jr: So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Dr. Atkins.

        If the arguments for faith all stand, and the arguments in favor of atheism all fall, then what Dawkins, Atkins and Christoper are (or were) a part of isn’t “Beethoven” as you described, it’s more like Benny Hill! (begin infamous Benny Hill chase music). They’re simply playing games to avoid the long arm of the law.

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      • Ultimate conclusions are more your ground or the late Christopher Hitchens ground than mine.
        They ring of a mind decided who has worked things out mine is rather foggy and I tend to grope rather than conclude.
        Its my experience of conclusionists that puts me off ; they often seem to come to different conclusions.
        Mind you its not nice sitting here on the fence but over the years I’ve got as comfortable as I can.
        Meanwhile the human race marches on , some would even call it progress others are less sure.
        Martin Rees thinks we have a 50:50 chance of surviving this century, and of course many believers would agree with him.
        ” No man knoweth the hour”
        When I was 13 Billy Graham was preaching in London and equipped with an aunt and mother we tripped off to hear him. Extrodinary he is still alive at 97!
        It was spectacular and huge hordes filed out having been converted.
        Naturally it was an emotional experience but my aunt and mother did not go forward as they considered themselves already christian.
        You misinterpret my motives; I have no wish to say believers are so because of fear. Like all our conclusions they are probably multifaceted.
        I know some enthusiastic scientists believe everything can be made to fit in time but I hold to no such certainty. Certainty is the realm of ardent atheists and christians I live in the backwaters of confusion.

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      • “I know some enthusiastic scientists believe everything can be made to fit in time but I hold to no such certainty. Certainty is the realm of ardent atheists and christians I live in the backwaters of confusion.”

        The theory of everything (TOE), which wouldn’t in reality be “of everything”, and as a consequence would be a rather small toe, even so small as to be called the little piggy who went wee wee wee all the way home. 😛 Robbers would yet be robbing and murderers murdering, so an often anticipated theory wouldn’t do humanity very much of anything outside of its stated goal. It’s only when people misunderstand just how much science can (or is even attempting to) explain that they convince themselves of having answers to questions which science, actual science, never supposed to ask or answer. The deplorable coverage of the Higgs boson would be an example of the above.

        “You misinterpret my motives; I have no wish to say believers are so because of fear. Like all our conclusions they are probably multifaceted.”

        Would the above be to say my challenges to both retrospective existentialism and naturalism were both accurately explained and criticized?

        Nonetheless, I’m pleased to read your mum and aunt believed so firmly as to visit events and express their faith openly, an act which in today’s London would be somewhat harder to do. Moreover, assuming you have a deal of seniority over me I’m assuming when you’d grown up the nation wasn’t so hostile to faith in God (most notably Christ). By comparison I was deprived of the sort of cherished religious education you must have received (receiving even if only in part), you could say you were gifted an inheritance by your mother, an inheritance you’re either going to claim or ignore, believing it of far less value than your family believed it being. They were good people surely, by which I mean your believing family must’ve been good people, which I gather from their interest in Billy Graham (who by all accounts has a kindly nature to them). So, would it be fair to say a total condemnation of faith, or that it’s “the religious” who have fought wars and murdered is an unjustified accusation? Methinks so. Instead, at least in the case for Christianity, people in popular culture use Faux Christians and faux Christianity to then destroy the real article. An example of the above won’t be long in coming.

        Furthermore, you being familiar with London means I can expand the dialogue ever so slightly. We now have not merely shared arguments and evidences to bounce around, but also an environment to comment upon. You like me should know the best of Britain, with its green hills and pleasant smiles, in addition to its darker side. “Diversity” leading to one race communities that then reject British values, gangs of Asian men grooming white girls (which authorities turned a blind eye to), food banks, in work benefits to sustain people who aren’t being paid an honest wage, gentrification, the marginalized of the poor and politics which revolve around threatening people at their pockets (because God forbid we had other values). Arguments have been replaced by quarreling, and sound reason replaced with sound bites or baby talk. The apostle Paul once wrote ‘When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.’ British people appear to have done the reverse, and to now make that plain opens up a person to the sort of tantrum only feral children can summon in their state.

        You’ll also be aware as I am that an ugly, sweeping secular state, the sort which reckons its own secularism exempt from serious scrutiny, has strangled open discussion, threatened private conscience and has destroyed an actual plurality of viewpoints in favor of an open air atheism which to question in most cases means risking your career, social status and security. To dismantle their nation, which beyond doubt or squabble is to be done both on paper and in character, means people in power had to (and are yet in the process of) destroying Christianity by legislative power. Once more I’m making a claim which is less than controversial, since for an elite few to transform England into something secular when it’s majority of people are (or were) in fact religious means forcing their religion to shrink. They’re aided in their crusade against everything Christian by perhaps most surprisingly the church of England (faux Christianity.) Quite a utopia they have made for themselves too, our universities are grooming the youth to become terrorists and we were (last I read) the abortion capital of Europe, slaying baby girls by their thousands and tens of thousands because we’re such good feminists.

        Wouldn’t you agree it’s ironic that unbelievers are first to cry “Leave us alone!” while they’re pounding upon the doors of every genuine church and destroying Christian countries brick by brick. Who is it that’s approaching and “shoving” their beliefs down the throat of who precisely. A culture of hysteria and false rage is of course employed to continue so ugly a process, to disagree with the slaying of the unborn means you must hate women, to contest same sex attraction must mean you hate the people involved, etc etc. Peter Hitchens, who finds the topic far more interesting than I, explained the situation like so:

        ‘Atheists (or secularism) adopts a mocking and high-handed tone of certainty, sneers at its Christian opponents, and states, or implies, that they must be stupid. This style of attack conforms to the irreverent spirit of the age and so is not very carefully examined. It is not widely recognized that secularism is a fundamentally political movement, which seeks to remove the remaining Christian restraints on power and the remaining traces of Christian moral law in the civil and criminal codes of the Western nations.’ They note further: ‘It employs the cause of “equality” among sexual orientations to accomplish this, allocating the privileges of heterosexual marriage to homosexual civil partnership (and by implication, unmarried heterosexual couples) and so making them cease to be privileges. It makes it impossible for Christian churches to operate adoption societies, despite their effectiveness in this task, because it is no longer lawful for them to “discriminate” against homosexual couples who wish to adopt. It harasses and persecutes government employees who do not wish, on religious grounds, to solemnize homosexual unions. It compels the keepers of guest houses to welcome homosexual couples beneath their roofs, regardless of any moral objections they may have. It even punishes hospital nurses for offering to pray for their patients. All of these things have taken place in Great Britain in recent years.’ Yet in black and white by jot, dash and exclamation point the above is England, “Christian” England. Would you call the above behavior Christian behavior, unlikely. The fact of “Christian” churches whose mission it is to destroy and erase Jesus’ word, a word He says shall never pass away, shows the critic to be foolish when they talk about “Christian” wars or “Christian” efforts to pillage and destroy, they’re simply refusing, for whatever reason, to identify what it means to truly be Christian. They began by writing:

        ‘I hope and pray that they (especially my brother) will one day choose differently, and would be pleased if the case I make here helped them to do so. But I think it important for my opponents in this debate to recognize that it is a choice. The great metaphor of the Light of the World, standing at the door and knocking for admission, remains as true as it always was. In Holman Hunt’s painting, there is no handle on Christ’s side of the door. There never has been. There never will be’ (The Rage against God page 119).

        Christopher Hitchens by contrast would often cause grand songs and dances about how the Catholic church was involved in several child sex abuse scandals, almost overjoyed that these children were so cruelly used, upon which they’d casually write “religion poisons everything”, as if to say abusing children sexually was something they had learnt in Numbers and Deuteronomy. You can I imagine how opportunistic (even cowardly) such behavior was, yet everyday people in England were fed by their media indoctrination a steady diet of so-called religious evil. Never mind that statistically speaking children are more likely to be abuse, either physically or sexually, by a doctor, teacher, social worker or (unsurprisingly) their own family, they deserved no coverage, not when there’s an opportunity to attack churches. And never mind that for the majority of priests involved, the object of their lusts were boys (boys and not girls), which would mean their desires had been homosexual in nature, our “unbiased” media needn’t let the facts get in their way. And never you mind (for a third time!) that to read Jesus’ teachings goes totally against such deplorable behavior:

        ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.’

        How many little ones stumbled and later rejected Jesus due to the priests who behaved so unchristlike in His name, many for sure. But “never mind the above!” cry the political and social elite, “just believe as you’re told. Believe religion an awful evil, its believers cruel, dangerous and stupid, and atheism fresh, original and the choice of those who won’t conform.” Who are they trying to kid? Or as T.S Eliot wrote: ‘Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.’ By which I mean everybody has heard the jokes, the mocking laughter, the tired memes: ‘Why won’t god heal amputees.’ (as if it were an honest question), ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.’, and most prolific ‘Religion causes wars.’ Not only have the barbs been heard to the point of nausea, they have been answered soundly in public debates, and all of the above while we mop up the last century’s rivers of blood spilt in the name of godless communism. How interesting that those mountains of skulls and burnt out buildings of worship should be so quickly forgotten (or ignored entirely). Not only has unbelief lost the formal argument (which has always been the case), they now have decisively lost the social argument from utility. When you rightly muse humanity may not last there’s no mistaking you’re on to something, yet it’s not going to happen in the form of climate change or any other modern fancy of ours, just as global cooling earlier didn’t destroy humanity as was predicted, rather man will do away with man, democide being our favorite method.

        The grim reality is utopianism, atheism, humanism, they have each failed and failed miserably, for which a person like yourself, one who is so open as to hear views which are contrary to their own, are in a sort of limbo. We want answers, but the people in power, people who have clearly failed, are our main source of information on religion (a thing they manifestly despise). No surprise then that people are confused, they’re rejecting the author of life who renders all things sensible in favor of belonging to an incoherent culture. Even a culture which steals, kills and destroys, in the end they’re making a choice, as are all people, they’re setting their affections on one thing and not upon another. ‘No one can serve two masters’ however. ‘Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.’

        Lewis in their Mere Christianity wrote how unwieldy or even precarious our incoherent “progress” had become: ‘We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We’re on the wrong road.’

        Rather than do an about-turn however modern man has decided instead to caricature and write himself a false history, with which their mistakes in the now are washed clean by comic comparisons to evil and barbaric societies which exist in no place save modern man’s twisted imagination. Atheism spends such an ungodly amount of time insulting belief in God because their views are already nonredeemable, with which they can only try and make faith appear an ugly alternative, yet throwing mud at my clothes, even mud that won’t stick, doesn’t make unbelief right! Similarly, isn’t it possible (just possible) that your own agnosticism is a product of atheism, or rather an aggressive secular culture? You’re attracted to many atheistic ideas, and if indeed you’re a naturalist, then atheism is implied, as to be a materialist/naturalist eliminates any possibility of the soul (thus ruling out God).

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      • Very little of what is discovered affects human behaviour its already set and up and running. It wants the latest techonolgy and all the benefits.
        If the ark were found on the top of Arrat it would not cause a blink.
        London has not changed its just as bad and just as good as it always has been, but the laws and governance have changed. Its harder to find Oliver Twist and Oscar Wilde is not in prison. Now they read books and watch television in prison. The looked up to in society are now looked at with suspicion for skeletons have been turned out of cupboards. Education has turned the tables and become a golden calf and everyone must go to university.
        The idea that some are cleverer than others has been been kicked into the dust. Anyone is capable of anything. Universities have become shopping centres and students suitable debtors to feed the banks.
        My father was the oldest of thirteen; two died the others became adults.
        He was first into the metal bath by the coal fire and the rest followed as the water collected dirt.
        Now on suite bathrooms are essential an huge cooking ranges for people who mainly eat out.

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      • “If the ark were found on the top of Arrat it would not cause a blink.”

        Agreed. Which would mean modern people as you and I understand them are simply incorrigible, they’re not merely wrong but obstinately wrong, they wouldn’t be receptive to being educated or having their dogmatic ideas changed by so great a find. They have “hardened their hearts” towards God, and how fitting.

        “The looked up to in society are now looked at with suspicion for skeletons have been turned out of cupboards. Education has turned the tables and become a golden calf and everyone must go to university.”

        Which would naturally make for an educated fool or two, people who have been afforded the supposed advantages of an elite education yet come away from their so-called experience having to install themselves into jobs which would normally go the unskilled lower classes (of which I grew up a part). Having been educated at what was once called the worst inner city schools in London I understand not being afforded (nor caring at one stage) to have such privileges lavished upon me. That sort of upbringing for being done right led me into realizing the value of everything and the price of nothing (to toy with the immortal Oscar Wilde quote), which simply meant not to be overly money minded. G.K. Chesterton really took to task the above ideas of skepticism, and that’s not to say you’re wrong, there are and were indeed skeletons, though the question now is what has our perverted fascination with finding skeletons done to us:

        ‘But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.’ (G.K. Chesterton,”Orthodoxy”, 1909)

        If anyone wants to be the above person, then they may as well ignore the things I write by the time my next full stop is reached, there’s nothing here to convince their kind or anyone so comfortably confused in their own shoes. To convert as an adult to Christianity, Biblical Christianity, isn’t for perfect people who are undisturbed by themselves or their behavior, it’s for people who recognize they’re broken and in need of healing. To want that change is the start of something more. Do you in any way want that?

        Within a 30 second walk of where I live I can point to a spot where an innocent man was gunned down, a case of mistaken identity, another walk in the opposite direction and I could show a person the site of where a fatal stabbing occurred, the young man’s photo presumably still there as a memorial, so, for people to say they aren’t in need of healing, or they are “good without God” shows me that they aren’t in touch with the gravity of the situation, they’re out of touch or walled off from the facts (though in no way the acts) of evil. They then decide to write scholarly epics on how morals aren’t really real while being unacquainted with what truly affirms such things. Nevertheless, as always your replies are a cause to celebrate, you’re wrestling with the issues, unlike most. So, in light of that I have a question for you, if the details surrounding the ministry of Jesus, His crucifixion, the empty tomb, Resurrection and post mortem appearances could be shown beyond any reasonable doubt to be accurate historically speaking, would you blink? Would you rethink your position in light of such powerful evidence, or would it simply be in your mind just another feather in the cap of “religious types” along with their First Cause and Fine tuning arguments?

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      • Those same persons would say you are obstinately right having dogmatic ideas.
        It is always a relief to find most ordinary men are just like me; and that skeletons are everywhere from crown to foot.
        The skeptic is moral he has no choice just like us all we are born that way. Contradiction us something you, and most of us don’t like to admit to, but we are immersed in it.
        GK Chesterson was a close friend of Hiliare Belloc and always reminds me of his brilliant poem ‘The Chief Defect of Henry King’.
        I don’t want to take credit of being among the few wrestling with the issues ; many multitudes are doing the same, and many have decided where they stand.
        I have not come to my present position any more easily than you have come to yours.
        In words far better and longer lasting than yours or mine Thomas Hardy desribes my position perfectly in his poem ‘The Oxen’.

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      • “Dogmatic” in popular culture is just for a person to say who they’re talking to isn’t listening, that’s not an actual definition, but it’s a popular use of the word, the person saying so and so is dogmatic is merely meaning to say “They aren’t listening to me, I have good arguments and reasons but they just aren’t receptive!” Well, consider our rewarding conversation here, is it fair to say your arguments have withstood my scrutiny (if not then they’re not good reasons and arguments), or have I being supposedly “dogmatic” laid down ideas which couldn’t be later overturned or dismissed your ideas without having first given them a fair hearing? Apparently no. My “dogmatism” in the eyes of many is merely that I might say “I believe in what I believe”, which is in reality so harmless and natural a thing to say it ought to belong upon the lips of any adult person. Of course I believe what I believe, and if people didn’t believe what they believed it would no longer be classed as a thing in which they believed.

        With regards to “The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy hereafter: A person can strive to trust though plagued by doubts, and hope or study so that they can boast at the least of loving the Lord with their mind, if not all their heart and spirit which they don’t yet feel capable of loving by. When you wrote, and I paraphrase: “I want nothing to do with your God”, that wasn’t meant to mean God as described by my messages wasn’t or couldn’t be a God of the sciences, rather the above would be to say you reject God even if they are indeed a God of the sciences. The stumbling block isn’t (at least not totally) an issue of the head but rather of heart and spirit (your affections). Would you not agree?

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      • It is a sure text I believe what I believe. The question we must ask is have your beliefs changed or are they static.
        I maintain that most Christians today do not believe what most Christians believed two hundred years ago. Progress alters belief; and that is why theology is necessary to keep the faith up to date.
        Most scientists do not believe what they did likewise.
        Now men of the book have a problem they dare not adapt the scripture so they employ two methods.
        Become young earth Christians or reinterpret the words.
        Most take the sensible path and reinterpret the words.
        That is what you might call a God of the sciences and Hugh Ross is a first class exponent of this version.
        He maintains that God in his wisdom made the DNA of man very near that of rats and pigs so we could use them for medical advances. I mention it as it may have some appeal for you.
        The latest esoteric revelation is that water has a memory and is therefor conscious. The sea contains the whole four billion years of earth history in its memory.
        We often hear the phrase in his heart of heart he believes it but his rational mind won’t accept it.
        This is what happens to many as they move from childhood to adulthood. I read it often on wordpress. The curse of logic that says in cannot be it defies logic.
        Some can overcome logic and divorce him on special occasions but others just cannot do it: the poor doubters like Thomas.

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      • The above would be the charge of retrospective evidentialism, or perhaps that Biblical material isn’t reliable based upon an ever shifting sea of human hermeneutics and the like, yet once more you and I have covered the accusation and found it to be misplaced, moreover, Bible commentators writing hundreds (even a millennia) of years ago have shown how various authorities read their Scripture, which would include common understandings. An attack of people shifting the goal posts is indeed destructive when found, however, it’s found in religions like Mormonism or Islam (which lacks any sort of coherent Messiah), another example would be Isaiah 53, which ended up being reinterpreted over 1000 years after being written so to make the suffering servant (who has striking resemblance to Jesus) into an elaborate metaphor for the nation of Israel’s suffering. Rabbis, even Jews who didn’t believe in Jesus, recognize the problem immediately and were as you’d imagine offended, so, in truth an objection which accuses people of shifting focus, or rewriting/reinterpreting altogether, is only valid when applied to certain men, it’s criticism rightly applied to some sets of society, not Biblical Christianity. Imagine yet a second dimension to the objection: Moses didn’t have to know Jesus would be born of a virgin, similarly David wouldn’t have to know about the incarnation, they would both be in the dark about various things in their own lives (with which they might read religious writing differently), and that’s no bad thing. I don’t believe knowing God to be triune would have helped an unformed nation of Israel while they’re being threatened upon every side by polytheistic enemies, especially so when we consider how they often intermarried and threw off God’s revelation (even abandoning monotheism because their neighbors weren’t doing so!). To believe in addition that God wasn’t a monastic single person God would have utterly unmade Israel, leading to every religion being Hindu in character (a kind of polytheism/pantheistic hybrid). Likewise Paul could possibly have mused over an early earth or flat earth or something even more absurd to humanity today, yet that never entered into their writings. The charge simply isn’t powerful.

        When people write or say “The Bible is God’s word” they mean one of two things, both of which appear to be true. Firstly, they’re saying the Bible writers quoted God accurately, meaning only to suppose that there is indeed a God and that they have chosen to communicate with their creation, therefore the Bible would be “The word of God” insofar that it contains the words of God. Secondly, people say the Bible is God’s word so to mean God superintended various people in several points in time so to ensure humanity hear Their teachings as intended by their Creator Himself. Now, if the above is how it is then people can understand one inspired piece of Scripture alongside yet another piece of inspired Scripture regardless of where in time and by whose hand they had been penned, merely due to the fact both pieces of writing have God in common as their shared superintendent. An entirely good God would ensure truthfulness and harmony in the whole if indeed they exist and have intended humanity to read both sets of material (that’s only to be expected), meaning whether or not humanity changed the fashion whereby they read Epistles, Parables, Poetry or Prophesy you and I would have without their interference God’s law and letter sealed upon our hearts and minds. You’re at liberty to read Genesis, Jeremiah, Matthew or Isaiah by simply your own natural light as philosophers used to say, with which you may bypass society through which so much distrust can emerge.

        In my opinion you have been hoodwinked by an invention of modern times, that being the supposed conflict between science and religion. So peculiar an idea when applied to Christianity may indeed be true for some religions, we’re met by many, not Biblical Christianity and ancient Judaism however. Rather, Big bang cosmology, DNA and an elderly earth (as shown already by several lines of argument) are in total harmony or even promoted by Bible writers, in fact, Genesis explained “In the Beginning”, which scientists for hundreds of years said couldn’t be correct, and Paul predicted time having begun! So for you to complain that people of faith later came to universally accept complexity in life, beginnings of our material universe and even time only says to me they’re not reading their Bible as often as they ought to. You can’t forget people once justified slavery from their Bible, now is that to say Bible writers and its message promotes slavery, well, no, Thomas Sowell, Exodus’ powerful anti-slavery narrative, the Quakers, Dr Martin Luther King and an innumerable collection of points all go to show people manhandled their Bible due to wanting to enslave man rather than be enslaved themselves to God. The main question should be are people able to read Bible books free and independently as they were originally written (free of state interference of course), because to say that they are would mean how culture demands we interpret the Bible needn’t enter into your thoughts, not when it’s plainly so out of sync with what’s between the pages. So, are the words of Isaiah (for example) some later addition not found in the original, and is the criticism right which Muslims so doggedly advance, that being that the Bible has been “corrupted.” You can be judge of that, since “the earliest extant Old Testament texts were those known as the Masoretic Text, dated from about A.D. 980”, meaning our earliest copy of Isaiah was well over a thousand years after the original had been written. To the above scholars assumed errors, both intentional and otherwise, must have crept their way into the book of Isaiah, and who could disagree, after so extended a duration anybody could have abused Scripture so to serve their evil ends. However, our discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls totally destroyed any such criticism:

        “The Isaiah scrolls found at Qumran closed that gap to within 500 years of the original manuscript (OSC: And nearly 1000 years before the earliest Masoretic Text above). Interestingly, when scholars compared the MT of Isaiah to the Isaiah scroll of Qumran, the correspondence was astounding. The texts from Qumran proved to be word-for-word identical to our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted primarily of obvious slips of the pen and spelling alterations (Archer, 1974, p. 25). Further, there were no major doctrinal differences between the accepted and Qumran texts (see Table 1 below). This forcibly demonstrated the accuracy with which scribes copied sacred texts, and bolstered our confidence in the Bible’s textual integrity (see Yamauchi, 1972, p. 130). The Dead Sea Scrolls have increased our confidence that faithful scribal transcription substantially has preserved the original content of Isaiah.”

        The Torah material was safeguarded, and the New Testament was even better preserved. Why? Because the people nearest to the event understood how important the above material was, and therefore took the utmost care, even sacrificing their own lives, to defend the truth of God’s word. The thing is Thomas was no longer a poor doubter, not after having experienced powerful evidence to the contrary, instead “My Lord and my God!” was their confession for humanity to come after him. Can we believe it?

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      • I’m not complaining I have no axe to grind ,my position is easy I see what I see. Your position is complex for you have a lot to defend and the defence is getting more difficult as time rolls by.
        I don’t even have to defend the shifting sands of science and I can make my comments if I wish.
        I am a prisoner to my humanity and moral judgement but thats common to us all while we live and breathe.
        I expect you have heard Donald Trump recite The Snake. He is brilliant at gauging the mood of the voters but I had to smile when he compared America to a soft-hearted woman.

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      • My position you could describe as being complex, yet would you expect the truth (even the truth only understood by people in part) to be any other way? Surely quarks, the atom and human eye aren’t simple even if for a moment people believe them to be. Similarly Christian belief is how the Gospel of John was once described, shallow enough for a child to paddle in, yet deep enough that an elephant could drown in it. People who wish to reject Christian life often choose to remain in the shallow end of the pool, they then make that Christianity the object of their ridicule. Was that the shallow belief of Paul or Jesus, surely no. And it’s a strange coincidence you should write that, as my oldest and nearest friend (who’s been far too lazy in their reading of Lewis) sent me a quote on the subject last night, one which presumably reached them. It relates very much to me and you here.

        “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”

        You’re asking complex questions or laying down complex criticisms, for which the answer sooner rather than later will be an adult’s answer, one properly complex and lacking nothing for the detail with which it interacts. In addition to the above, I’d have to write Christian teaching is by no means an easy thing, and anybody (or maybe any man) could see the same when Christ said: “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Now, that’s not a popular thing to say to a male audience, rather they could have taught how either Joseph Smith or Mohammad taught, making sex central to their doctrines of Heaven and promising an eternity rich in celestial sex, not forgetting to include the earthly delights of plural marriage of course. Yet Jesus even claims men and women won’t be given in marriage, rather they’ll be like the angels. Mark Twain, who was more religious than people dare to admit, was so shocked and disturbed by the things Christ said about Heaven as to write:

        “Of all the delights of this world man cares most for sexual intercourse. He will go any length for it-risk fortune, character, reputation, life itself. and what do you think he has done? He has left it out of his heaven!” They added: “Man has imagined a heaven, and has left entirely out of it the supremest of all his delights…sexual intercourse!…His heaven is like himself: strange, interesting, astonishing, grotesque. I give you my word, it has not a single feature in it that he actually values.”

        To which I can only write the Heaven of Islam is totally like man, filled with wine and virgins who are made virgins again and again solely for the sake of being enjoyed by the powerful Muslim warriors who fell in battle. The same warriors it’s written are allowed to take wives from “the people of the book” who are burning in Islam’s fantasy Hell, thus it’s an adulterer’s Heaven also. Mark Twain was only correct in their end comment, that being that there isn’t a single feature in Christ’s Heaven that man values (truly values). We instead want the wine and women. But, if Jesus is the bread that came down from Heaven, as He claims, then the things that people often value: money, status, health, comfort and safety (even sex) aren’t or shouldn’t be their prime concern.

        The quote I was going to post from Lewis to you, which admittedly matches my more pointed character (as opposed to the quote my friend sent earlier), reads like so:

        “Atheism is too simple. And I will tell you another view that is also too simple. It is the view I call Christianity-and-water, the view which simply says there is a good God in Heaven and everything is all right, leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption. Both these are boys ‘ philosophies. It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple. They look simple, but they are not. The table I am sitting at looks simple: but ask a scientist to tell you what it is really made of, all about the atoms and how the light waves rebound from them and hit my eye and what they do to the optic nerve and what it does to my brain–and, of course, you find that what we call ‘seeing a table’ lands you in mysteries and complications which you can hardly get to the end of. A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not, and the modern world usually is not, if you want to go on and ask what is really happening, then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple. Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made ‘religion’ simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your time. Notice, too, their idea of God ‘making religion simple’; as if ‘religion’ were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature. Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect.”

        That’s why insofar as I can read the Bible material is so extraordinary, and this is by no means an argument for why Christianity or Judaism is true, just an observation, the library which makes up the Old and New Testament is so simple (yet complex all at the same time) as to reach and comfort from the more plain to the most genius man, I don’t believe this was a happy coincidence, God cares for the stupid no less than the worldly wise, for which He would reach both with indiscriminate love.

        Concerning The Snake, which was well spoken by Trump and enjoyable to read, I’m going to add it hereafter simply for the sake of finding it again.

        On her way to work one morning
        Down the path along side the lake
        A tender hearted woman saw a poor half frozen snake
        His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew
        “Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”
        “Take me in oh tender woman
        Take me in, for heaven’s sake
        Take me in oh tender woman, ” sighed the snake

        She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk
        And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk
        Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived
        She found that pretty snake she’d taking in had been revived
        “Take me in, oh tender woman
        Take me in, for heaven’s sake
        Take me in oh tender woman, ” sighed the snake

        Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried
        “But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”
        Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight
        But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite
        “Take me in, oh tender woman
        Take me in, for heaven’s sake
        Take me in oh tender woman, ” sighed the snake

        “I saved you,” cried that woman
        “And you’ve bit me even, why?
        You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”
        “Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
        “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in
        “Take me in, oh tender woman
        Take me in, for heaven’s sake
        Take me in oh tender woman, ” sighed the snake.

        The above reminds me of the fable of the Scorpion and the frog, which (being terribly unread as I was), I’d first heard in the popular movie The Crying Game. In the story, which I can find no decent retelling of at a glace, the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across a river, the frog at this point yet having some sense to them asks “How do I know you won’t sting me while we’re crossing?” To which the scorpion uses the seemingly flawless logic of “If I did that I’d sink into the river and die too.” The frog being sensible (though not too bright) agrees, yet when they’re halfway through the river the scorpion does what scorpions do, they stung. The frog complains, asking why the scorpion would do something which would ultimately kill them both, the scorpion replies coldly and as a matter of fact “It’s just my nature.” Muslim speakers certainly love “logic” and “reason” insofar as it can get them, though for every other occasion screaming “Allah is great!” and cutting off the heads of random “infidels” is enough.

        Still, Muslims are just people who have been misled, they’re no more the scorpion than I or you (meaning it’s something in humanity which has gone wrong), we’ve both done things we know aren’t right or fallen short of our own standards, we’re each failures in the moral sense and would be skeptical of anybody who said otherwise. What Jesus offers you and I is an answer to those failures, a means by which people can be made right and have their lives changed. I write the above because it happened in my life, and I believe it can in the lives of others too.

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      • I had not considered that heaven may be rejected because it does not contain what is desirable. I have heard many argue that they do not want to spend eternity with the great and good forever singing praises. Others dread the thought of meeting those they have no afinity with who nonetheless have earned their place.
        Most things are complex when investigated that is the great bane of modern scientific inquiry. I suspect theology is no different to other subjects. It would make no sense to complain about complexity since it is inescapable. It would also make no sense to critisise something because it is difficult, or because an explanation is diffucult it must be wrong. Like most ordinary untalented folk I tend to call a spade a spade and let the experts immerse themselves in deep water.
        That is where we greatly differ you are a prober and like to get to the bottom of things.
        The origin of The Snake was Aesops fables 600BC. It was a farmer picking up a viper.
        It is interesting that Aesop uses animals to make his point yet here we see the unchangeable nature of the animal. Perhaps Donald Trump is saying bad men don’t change; which of course contradicts religion.
        I think he is saying keep bad men out at all costs.
        In the past animals were tried and found guilty and punished but now we know better.
        Of course the simple answer to an unacceptable heaven is to say we will be changed to adore it. To which the cynic replies then I would not be me.

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      • For an adult regretting the loss of their childhood to say they’re no longer themselves because they no longer feel an attraction to marbles, conkers or chewing gum simply doesn’t stand (wouldn’t you agree?). The idea that you’re no longer you because you’ve outgrown Pokemon cards doesn’t seem particularly sound, clearly you’re not as you were, but that’s no serious objection. Similarly if a person’s best objection to not entering into Heaven is that they’d no longer be an unrepentant sinner they’re grasping at straws. God says to come as you are, not to stay that way. The above is an ever present problem for people struggling with same sex attraction, since they’re being welcomed into church in love, yet that same love says their behavior isn’t to be encouraged (they’re being told they need a change). “How dare you?!” They fire angrily back. “This is who I am!” Of course, they’re no more their desire for someone of the same sex than I am my attraction to certain types of women, rather they’re simply wants. Wants are of course the sorts of thing we as people can work towards happily promoting, disinterestedly permitting or even prohibiting in our own lives and our society in which we’re to live.

        With regards to cynics once again, they’re the sort of unsympathetic characters who imagine people other than themselves as being slaves to self-interest, which in reality isn’t true, rather their idea is only a reflection on how selfishly they operate. What’s so disappointing about modern “skeptics” is that they’re so often cynics who in their own self-interest parade themselves as skeptics. They show no skepticism to the piltdown man hoax, fraudulent embryo drawings or bunk multiverse fantasies, and why not if they’re as they claim skeptics by nature or circumstances?

        “Perhaps Donald Trump is saying bad men don’t change; which of course contradicts religion.”

        The easy answer to the above is to shout “Islamophobia!” in the general direction of people who are acquainted with Islamic teachings (or even people who have seen the horrors of theoretic Muslim states). Or perhaps “racist”, although that claim is so criminally silly even the regressive left have abandoned it. Which would presumably make Islamic state, Al Qaeda and Boko haram victims of the deepest fear of Islam of everybody, because to interpret such beautiful words of peace as “If anybody leaves his Islamic religion, kill him” in a violent way could only mean they’re irrational and afraid of Islam as the true “religion of peace.”

        The problem is outside of the mainstream narrative, a narrative invented to pacify, Islam’s founder was a pedophile who raped women, murdered poets for writing against him and whose followers had an elderly woman torn in half by tying her legs to two camel. After their death by poisoning there was of course a massive apostasy of people from the religion, these people also had to be fought or murdered so to be put back in line, showing very few people actually wanted to be Muslim. These traditions never went away, the “house of submission” as they like to be called simply tired itself out by murdering, rape and plunder, and for awhile they’d rest. Now, would anybody want people like that in their country? Certainly a nominal “believer” would join your nation and do no harm, but what about their children, or their child’s children, which generation will discover the true face of Islam and try acting it out?

        Popular culture’s (or perhaps unpopular culture’s) answer to the above is religious relativism. “Oh yeah? Well what about the Crusades?!” Or perhaps: “Islam is relatively young compared to Christianity, so in another 1000 years it’ll have worked out just like Christianity here in the West!” Obviously these people know even less about Islam than they do about the history of the Christian faith. Time doesn’t transform a man who tortured people with fire for money into a peaceful figure, similarly the religion of Islam, it being a product of their twisted mind, wouldn’t become peaceful for the passage of time. All the modern world who boast of supporting women, children and gay rights has done is given a free pass to the worst abusers of women, children and the homosexual.

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      • I realise you believe a human can, and indeed will, exist without desire.
        The inner eternal soul is pure and only desires oneness with God.
        ‘Just as I am without one plea’ says the old hymn.
        ‘Transformed in the twinkling of an eye’
        This is the origin of your closed-circuit logic. It says if I believe this above all else then this must be the result.
        My problem,in your eyes, is I don’t believe this premise.
        Muslims have a much simpler but flawed belief that the fullfiling of human desire is an essential property of heaven.
        The big problem in this veiw is one mans desire is another mans suffering. They abolish this argument by the unanswerable statement With Allah all things are possible.
        These are noble attempts to fit the on earth situation into what you wish it should be and so many cling to them as saving grace.
        All that happens in this life takes second place since it prepares us fir the only important thing ; what is to come.
        Karma is a similar promise ; dont worry we will all get what we deserve there is a greater power, we cannot escape justice in the long run.

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      • It’s an error to say I believe people will someday exist without desires, that’s not only not my view, it’s also not Biblical, rather humanity would have their desires changed, meaning a repentant sinner by their own want for their nature to change would have their desires altered (not abolished). Right now people are attracted to certain things, desire isn’t wrong though (it’s Buddhism in which desires, all desires, are expected to be cast off for the sake of enlightenment), rather in the Christian Worldview, one more plausible than anything Buddhism supposes, it’s the sort of desire that needs overturning. Buddhists, not the Western sort but actual Buddhists, believe all desire leads into suffering, even desires that we here in the West would think admirable, like love of family or a desire to end world hunger.

        “the unanswerable statement” as you wrote it (and which I rather like the wording of), could indeed be that, although the often repeated saying by Muslims isn’t “through Allah all things are possible”, that’s actually a New Testament statement. Rather Muslims today simply say “Allah knows best”, that’s their answer to an unanswered criticism or objection. They simply ignore the issue and say without saying it that Allah is capricious, in other words, Allah is so omnipotent that they’re unrestrained by their attributes of mercy or goodness or anything else, they simply do things and humanity will have to chew on that. Now, if that isn’t the god of a violent warlord nothing is, they were simply how Mohammad got his way, they (meaning Mohammad) was capricious, as a result so too was their false idol. Just break down the Quran claim that the Jews didn’t crucify Jesus, and instead Allah made it appear to everybody in the age (i.e. Historians Tacitus, Josephus, the Apostles and all of the Jewish nation) that Jesus had been murdered by crucifixion, the above would mean Allah knowing the future (as they supposedly do) caused the event knowing full well it would lead to the biggest false teaching religion in the history of humankind! A religion even bigger than His true religion of Islam (and it being that way without killing apostates and threatening people no less). Would Allah cause the greatest false religion? Well, yes, yes in Islam, they do whatever they want without any semblance of explanation or sense to it. This is no god.

        The problem is when you write life takes second place to the afterlife, that idea has been proven mistaken by how firm believers in Jesus behave, as it’s the Christian world who built the hospitals (even having church quarters when they first began), universities and even the foundations of modern science. And why wouldn’t they be the builders of these grand institutions, since what they do carries significance going on into eternity! Every word spoken in anger, every murder or flippant comment, every time they call someone a fool, that doesn’t end at the end of their life, rather it has impact going on into forever. You can note the difference. Where an atheists says “I values this life because it’s all we’ve got!”, I can only reply “Who cares?”, nobody gives a hoot if they subjectively want to persist and value life at present. That’s not valuable outside of their own subjective preference, rather life on their worldview is objectively worthless! Meaningless, purposeless and valueless, although they may imagine all of these things in their private delusions. The afterlife to the atheists is worthless because it’s not real, and the present life is also worthless (whether they like it or not) as they’re expelled by a mindless universe only to be immediately snuffed out again, their life is lived to no purpose. Again it’s the believer who has an objectively meaningful, valuable and purposeful life in both the hereafter and at present, for which they behave as if life has meaning. When unbelievers behave as if their life is actually meaningful and valuable they’re buying product on a credit card which isn’t their own, they’re making a leap of faith into a believing person’s world and taking something which doesn’t belong to theirs.

        Furthermore, I’m also very interested to read you’ve written you trust what you can “see”, because if we’re not the product of an infinitely good God (i.e. A Being who would value truth and our ability to gather it) then we’re even unable to trust our eyes for seeing! Your eyes, ears, nose and sense of touch (even taste) could each be useful fictions depending on how they were formed. If for example evolution is the imagined method by which humanity developed their senses, they’re then the product of our shared need for survival and reproduction, that and nothing more. The idea that “truth” would be required for the process is just wishful thinking. In fact, many unbelievers who reckon we’re pre programmed by evolution to seek out agency (and thus God), would be the first to admit our heads are wired full of false ideas and experiences which merely exist to promote survival! Though the problem is worsened even more. You’re a prisoner trapped in the false frame of your perception, and being unable to escape your prison walls to confirm the truth of what you’re interpreting by the senses there’s no detailed truth available to you, certainly not anything worth parading as The Truth. Philosopher Immanuel Kant used the above rather well.

        Imagined an example: Humanity someday visit an alien planet, upon which they discover a race of beings born and having evolved without eyes (hence no eyesight). At what point would one alien turn to yet another and ask “So, what’s your favourite colour?” Never. They’d have no concept of the thing! And to explain colour to them would be like trying to teach sound to the deaf or calculus to the deranged. Not only are you unable to believe what you see due to your senses having formed in an untrustworthy way, your trust in the senses is also obliterated by our senses possibly lacking some vital function. You appear to see a woman being raped or child being snatched, you also experience a deep foreboding dread, the experience of something morally reprehensible having taken place. Yet you prioritize the experience of sight (being that it’s in your mind material) and not the experience of moral values (because it’s not). Yet, you must realize how absurd this prioritizing is if your senses are indeed the product of a mindless process like evolution. There is then no escape, now, to just let that sink in is a humbling experience, as to look at any point in the room you’re currently writing from, or to look at any object, means you’re seeing something which most likely is not as it truly is. It’s a world we can live in, though not the actual world.

        But God, a loving God who valued truth, they’d make our universe in such a way as to have regularity (check), sustainability of life (check), and even reliable senses by which you and I can marvel at Their creation! It’s God who can ensure our sight, hearing and various senses free from major error, they’re just and would want humanity to come to know (but more importantly trust) the saving grace of God.

        What I would say to a person who doubted their sight is go to an optician, or a certain sort of doctor, an expert insofar as our eyes are concerned, they’d be deferring to an expert rather than have to study the eye themselves. If however a person has a moral problem, or they recognize rape, child abuse, war and genocide as being morally problematic, who do you then defer them to? There’s only one name in my mind, Yeshua.

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      • Much as I have enjoyed our long discussion I feel we must agree to differ. I think we stand in opposite corners going over the same points.
        Its not surprising since adults have their own veiwpoints and often hard won ones won by the buffets of circumstance.
        Interestingly enough I can often tell by reading between the lines on wordpress just how flexible the writer may be.
        I have found after much searching a suitable Bible site maintained by experts. So much on the internet is using the Bible as a preaching tool.
        I have not too much time to investigate Bible history so ,as is my way with most tricky subjects I rely on the experts to help me.
        I suppose in life we must choose to be jack of all trades and master of none so as not to miss out by constant dedication.
        I expect you will haul me over the coals for wanting to make the most of life which you believe streches out to infinity.

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      • About flexibility, in my mind the other side (and I write this with a lot of humor) has to have some arguments before I’m going to be bent this way or that! 😛 People shouldn’t be “flexible” when the other side just isn’t providing anything by way of arguments. Remember the chemist Dr Atkins, “Two legs are supportive” they say, but the two legs have to actually be sound. You can’t hand me a busted tripod and tell me to put a £600 camera on top of it, it’s gonna fall over. To give in or be flexible when the other side has seemingly no arguments so to warrant that flexibility is absurd.

        And sure I’m going to give you the hot coal treatment, if I’m right you’re throwing away your life. If you’re right then there’s nothing to say in the case of any conversation, we’re equally doomed and equally expendable from man to moth or idiot to Einstein. No advantage one way or the other as the writer of Ecclesiastes explained:

        ‘I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I said to myself, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.’

        You want to “make the most” out of life in the now, but I’m writing to you without Jesus you’re not even doing that (that’s true by default if Christianity is true). You’re both losing out on forever and rejecting a more fulfilling life to be lived right now. Why I write to you makes total sense, because if we’re both covered in the blood of an innocent man (i.e. we’re sinners) then I want your sentence overturned just like mine was. That doesn’t mean a Christian is better than an unbeliever, it means they’re both in need of help. Similarly da’wah in Islam makes sense, Muslims want to do their good deed and get off of Allah’s naughty list and onto the nice one. What doesn’t make sense is why atheists or firm unbelievers are out there day in and day out wasting away their lone chance at life by arguing with people like me! (unless it’s entertaining in their minds or they have an uncontrollable compulsion). I hope of course they’re doing it because deep down (perhaps really deep down in some cases), they actually want to believe.

        I’m going to sign off on two last point, points you’re free to reply to or simply ignore, it’s your life after all my friend. By reading Zechariah 3:8 we find a prophetic vision, in which the Lord says “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows priests that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” The Branch is universally accepted as a name for the Messiah to come, that’s uncontroversial in both the Christian and ancient Jewish context. So, the priests are being linked into the arrival of Messiah, unlike the usual case of a king or the office of the king being directly talked about in reference. Yet the text climaxes in chapter 6 when God commands the prophet, saying: ‘Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.’

        I value experts in the same way you do, so let’s go to an explanation by Biblical scholar and expert in Hebrew Dr Micheal Brown, rather than relying purely on our English translation: ‘Do you see what is happening here? (1) The prophet is commanded to put a crown on the head of the High Priest, Joshua (kings are supposed to be crowned, not priests!); (2) the High Priest is then called the Branch, which was a symbolic name for the Messiah, who is a king; and (3) it is said of this High Priest that he will “sit and rule on his throne. And there shall be a priest on the throne.” A crowned priest sitting on a throne and ruling? How can this be? The text concludes by saying that “the counsel of peace shall be between them both” meaning between the priest and the king, both of which are represented by Joshua, the High Priest, the man symbolically called the branch, the personification of the Messianic Priest-King. Later Jewish traditions, preserved in the Dead sea Scrolls and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, recognized the importance of this priestly figure, speaking of two Messiahs, a royal Messiah from the line of David and a priestly Messiah from the line of Aaron. In contrast, traditional Jewish literature lost sight of the priestly Messiah, speaking only of the Messiah son of David (and, in some texts, of the Messiah son of Joseph). In reality, though, all of these traditions were missing something, since the Bible speaks of only one Messiah, a king from the line of David, but it makes clear that this Messiah was also to be a priest. So, David served as a prototype of the Priestly King, and Joshua served as a prototype of the royal Priest, and Jesus brought these duel images to fulfillment. But there’s more. In the Hebrew Scripture, this man Joshua (Yehoshuah in Hebrew), who embodied the image of the Messiah as priest and king, is normally referred to by the shorter form of his name: Yeshua! Yes, the man explicitly called the Branch, this High Priest who was crowned and sat on a throne, bringing royalty and priesthood together in one, this man who served as a prototype of the Messiah, was called Yeshua. How remarkable!’

        The book of Zechariah, written at the earliest in 480 B.C (over 400 years before Jesus was born), crowned the Messiah both priest and king, even going so far as to imply the name of the future Messianic king being Jesus. In fact, before Jesus’ birth the Torah confidently provides the Messiah’s name, place of birth, time of birth (amazingly), and the fashion in which they’ll be killed and buried. Again, if indeed God superintended the writers of the Torah, the above is exactly what you and I should expect.

        As always I wish my contemporaries luck in their studies and the best in their lives, but they have to know something, wishing them the absolute best means to wish Jesus into their lives.

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      • Thankyou for your best wishes and the time you have spent trying to convince me.
        I’m certainly not involved in any studies , browsings would describe my activities better.

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      • Hey again, kaptonok! I’m in the business of convincing people I suppose, and if I don’t leave a stone in a person’s shoe at the end of our chat, or have them thinking seriously about God by the end, regardless of how many “good” points I’ve made, I have most certainly failed. I do this not simply online, that often seems impossible, but mostly in person. Paul wrote it best when they, after first pointing out Christians don’t wage war as the world does, explained: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That aside, I hope you do more writing soon, would look forward to that.

        Recently I’ve been exchanging messages in the comments section with the unbelieving community over at Alex Black’s blog, give them a read if you’re ever able, it would be interesting for an outsider perspective.

        https://midoriskies.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/a-short-rant/

        https://midoriskies.wordpress.com/2016/03/06/dear-close-minded-atheist-hater/

        https://midoriskies.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/for-humans-tell-me-so/

        Since last we exchanged ideas there has been the events at Brussels, a continuing of the rise of Trump mania, and the usual EU humdrum rumbles on with a referendum penciled in for the English.

        I was meaning to ask, would you mind if I compiled our dialogue and made it into a full-blown article on the blog, as opposed to merely something tucked away in the comments section? I think dividing it into several parts and letting people read the exchange point by point, along with a few snappy pictures of the universe, comics, quotes and the relevant people we spoke about (i.e Sam Harris, Craig, Hitchens) could really help people in their coming to know Jesus.

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      • Go ahead compile as you please I never retain anything I write but I keep on answering a few suitable posts on wordpress.
        It’s good hear from you again and know you are still going strong.
        I will look at Alex Black’s blog and let you know.

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  2. In my experience, people who say they live without regret, or preach this sort of view to others, are themselves rather callous and flippant about not just their past mistakes, but their faults also. Still, to be immune to our own faults would leave no room for real growth, so I personally can’t pretend I’m that sort of man, nor can I aimlessly text message YOLO (You only live once) to my nearest and dearest when they’re having a tough time or are in a dilemma, it’s too easy an answer. In fact, I find my perspective, being as Christian as I can manage some days, is exactly why they approach me for help in the first place, they’re aware what I write may not be compromising, and they may even be ticked off for hearing it, still it’s a risk they’re willing to take to hear a type of view they don’t often hear.

    Concerning same sex marriage and it’s impact on the lives of people, as I appear to be writing an autobiographical post here (rather rare for me :P) Some of my close friends, family and acquaintances are the very sort of people I shouldn’t be befriending if modern culture is to be believed, they’re atheists, drug abusers and people who identify as same sex attracted, and as we know birds of a feather flock together, meaning my friends should all be like minded. Yet it’s only when I became a Christian that I and others began crossing paths and talking about these kinds of thing. It was my passion and want to be at least in passing an example of Christ’s love that made for these unlikely friendships to start up. In fact, the first thing a dear friend asked me after they’d heard I was a Christian is if I hated them now (due to their attraction to members of the same sex), which says a lot about the sort of example many so-called believers in Christ have shown!

    In truth however, it’s how Jesus sat, ate and conversed with people who were considered undesirable in their time (tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes) that truly struck me as wonderful. This man was going beyond culture and the fear of social stigma to change lives and show people God’s love, even a love they thought couldn’t reach them, had done just that. We had made God small by thinking He couldn’t save or love certain people.

    Nevertheless, the day’s far spent and I’m being requested all over the place! With any luck I can crack open the books tomorrow and add some satisfying answers to your very first message. Lastly, about your father, perhaps you could share more on the subject if you’re able.

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