Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
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29-05-2013, 04:32 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2013 04:00 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(28-05-2013 01:05 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Obviously, I do not intend to respond to everything you wrote or else this discussion would become incredibly lengthy. Highlights from my perspective are below. Once again, I am not arguing so much as asking you to correct my reasoning if it is flawed. I quote you and then respond, as succinctly as I can.

For the record, I enjoy reading your evidence.

In this response, Point #10 is by far the most significant.

*** 1. "The Bible was written to profit certain groups; it contains little of true value, and its authors tried to appeal to the emotions and dreams of the masses to push a product."

The Bible was written by dozens of authors across many years and time periods. How can you ascribe a singular purpose to all of them? I can do it because I claim a single author speaking through various men. Obviously, you reject this claim as absurd. That is irrelevant for purposes of this particular logical contradiction. I can attribute a single purpose because I attribute a single author. The flaw in your argument is not present in mine unless you can tell me how you can reasonable assume dozens of different men writing in various time periods all had a singular purpose to deceive the populace.

I concede that if you meant only that the COMPLIATION of the Bible was to control others then this argument is irrelevant. However, that does not seem to be what you are claiming.

***2. "The assholes at the top of churches are also typically immoral. (We agree on this I think)"

Yes, we do.

***3. "Sorry Mojch, you lost me here! Could you humor me and reword this?"

Of course, sorry for the lack of clarity. It is a simple point really. In the study you cited, the following language appears [modified here for length, not content]...

"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator
and acceptance of evolution . . . cast[s] doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high
rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science."

I was simply asserting that this conclusion is only valid if one assumes that the "religiosity" rejects evolution. Since I believe the Church should accept evolution, this portion of the study isn't relevant to disproving my personal beliefs [although I admit it supports changing main stream Christian beliefs].

***4. "You are trying to suggest that the reason Christian societies score highly as dysfunctional is because they're arguing with other Christians or secularists."

I was trying to suggest that the dysfunction was a result of conflicting religious and secular views causing low levels of adherence to traditional Christian standards. This is what produces the dysfunction, not the religion itself. This is an important distinction.

***5. "...let's be rational and honest."

This is my goal in all of my communications. When I fail, it is inadvertent.

***5. "Christian societies have more unwanted teenage pregnancies, more abortions, more STD's, more homicides and lower life expectancies because, statistically speaking , they're not applying rational solutions to life's problems."

We agree on this. However, this is not because the Christian solutions are WRONG but because they are not REALISTIC. Thus, we need back-ups and the refusal to provide those backups is irresponsible. Once again though, this is not evidence that the ideas themselves are wrong.

***6. "Churches need to get over their aversion to sex, and should start teaching that it is a normal, natural healthy part of life. They should recognize they have a responsibility to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." & "If sex was discussed openly and honestly in churches, there would be a lot less child molestation going on, many less frigid relationships, and a whole lot less neurotic people around."

Totally agree. However, your response didn't address my actual question which was "Is there any actual Biblical support for not teaching kids about sexual hygiene?" The decision to do, and all the negative consequences that flow from it, rest with the Church and not the religion. These consequences are evidence that the Church is wrong, not that the religion is. This is an old argument because it is valid. You cannot refute the truth of a belief based on the results of an improper application of that belief.

***7. "They should admit that the Bible was written by authors trying to control people's behavior."

They do. They just claim that the ultimate author was God and that the reason for the control was to ensure the benefit of humanity. You disagree with the Church that God wrote the Bible but do you honestly believe the Church doesn't openly acknowledge that the Bible seeks to control behavior?

***8. "There's barely a paragraph from the bible one could give some credibility to without "interpreting" it and "putting it into context."

Of course there isn't! I was surprised to see you write this. NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context. Forget religion. Google "theories of legal interpretation" and look at how we evaluate arguably our most important secular writings. The most basic canons are that interpretation must occur in CONTEXT. Heck, the Constitution was written just a few hundred years ago and we can't even agree on the proper context to interpret that document. The Bible SHOULD have more interpretive trouble. This isn't evidence that it is flawed. It is evidence that it is a written document from a long time ago.

***9. "Let's just consider Jesus, who, by the way, had little or nothing to do with a once living flesh and blood character who may or may not have existed." vs. "Most Christians fail to appreciate this because Jesus’ teachings have been reinterpreted, glossed over, or ignored to make him sound attractive.
These positions contradict in my mind. Either Jesus was a living flesh and blood being who taught discernible lessons or else there is no way to know that his teachings have been "reinterpreted". How can you claim that we have no real evidence Jesus existed and then turn around and claim that the modern versions of his teachings are different from the originals? Either Jesus made teachings that can be reinterpreted and the existence of these teaching is evidence he existed OR he did not make such teachings and these non-existence interpretations could not be "reinterpreted".

***10. "Jesus berated anyone who didn’t buy his message..."

Although I concede that you can, by approaching these quotes with the express intention of making them seem "intolerant", paint Jesus this way, they are much more coherently interpreted to be messages of grace and mercy. Before rejecting this out of hand, let me explain why.

You CANNOT disprove the conclusion of a proposition by assuming its premises are different than they are and thus creating a contradiction. You must disprove it by assuming it premises are TRUE and showing that they lead to a contradiction. This is NOT my opinion. It is basic Philosophy 101 at the college level. See http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/vocab/validity.html for an NYU philosophy professor's explanation of this concept. Thus, in order for your argument, which challenges a conclusion, to make sense, you must presume that the premises of Christianity are true and THEN prove that Jesus was intolerant. This you have not, and I argue you cannot, do.

EXAMPLE: “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him” (John 3:33, NJB). Assuming Christianity is true, this is not a statement of intolerance, it is a statement of truth. In fact, it would have been IMMORAL for Jesus not to have said it because, IF IT IS TRUE, then not saying it would prevent us from saving ourselves. Most of the other quotes you mentioned are explained in this way.

Basically, you attempt to prove that the message of Jesus is intolerant by assuming, from the beginning, that the basic premises of the message are wrong. Then, you attempt to prove that this intolerance shows the argument is wrong. Unless I am mistaken, this is circular reasoning.

One final example to make my point...

Bob shouts: "Shoot all of the zombies"

Is this statement "intolerant" of zombies? Who knows? We have to interpret it in context.

Let's assume that I assert that when Bob said this, all the zombies were attacking a building full of puppies and orphans. Thus, I claim Bob's statement was not intolerant of zombies but necessary in the circumstances.

In this situation, would the following argument be acceptable?

1. The zombies were not attacking the puppies and orphans.

2. Therefore, Bob's statement to shoot all the zombies was unjustified.

3. Therefore, Bob is intolerant because he advocated a negative position against zombies without cause.

I think the answer is clearly no. Notice that the conclusion ASSUMES premise 1. If you remove premise 1 but attempt to keep the conclusion, then the entire argument becomes invalid because the conclusion states something that is unproven. If you remove premise 1 and remove the "without cause" language, you are left with calling Bob intolerant just because he advocated a negative position. For reasons I hope should be obvious, this is an absurd position. Thus, your argument is, as a matter of logic, circular, invalid, or absurd. I am mistaken please explain in clear logical form how your argument is different. I ask for specificity because, if I am correct, this entire section of your argument is irrelevant.

***11: "Jesus had an arrogant, fanatical belief in himself, and an ambition to be in charge."

Once again, this is a perfect argument UNLESS HE WAS CORRECT AND JUSTIFIED IN HIS BELIEF. Thus, this is circular. See above. I think you have many more arguments with this same flaw. Once again, can you actually demonstrate why I am wrong in a logically coherent form and not just with broad generalities?

***12: I do not have time to respond and explain each of these quotes. Suffice it to say that I can. If you doubt this, I ask you to pick ONE that you think is difficult to explain. Then, we can have a manageable discussion.

***13: " “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB)

See the study you cited above that proves that as material success increases, faith decreases. Your own study confirms that this statement is true.

***14: "Also...you're not really a devout Christian, are you? If you were, you wouldn't have to modify traditional Christian beliefs."

Forgive the forceful nature of this reply. I am going to take a certain tone here because I found this statement to be highly offensive.

My religious faith is the most important thing in my life. I attend church regularly, pray multiple times daily, consistently modify my actions to conform to my beliefs, give of my time and money to support the parts of the Christian message that I agree with (which is ALL the ones that are crucial to the heart of the belief system), and spend hours upon hours testing my faith against the best argument that others can provide.

I have explained what I believe below. Please point to a SINGLE argument I have made that contradicts any of the below. I am relatively certain that what I just wrote would be a pretty accurate summation of the basics of Christian belief.

I believe...

God created the Universe and everything within it. God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man. Mankind sinned and destroyed the perfect Universe created by God. God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins. At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man. He is part of ONE God, though he has a separate temporal existence in our world. He was crucified after living a perfect life. He died. He rose from the dead after the passage of three days. His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe, their free will taken away because sin is not possible in heaven, and given a place to live for eternity with God. Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Christ will spend eternity in Hell (although I WILL admit that my conception of Hell is VERY different from the mainstream view).

***15. "They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.)"

I would be included in "all". Please tell me one passage of the Bible that you believe I "ignore". Note that reconciling a contradiction is NOT ignoring it. The words mean fundamentally different things.

Also, please don't point to the OT and say, "You don't keep this old law anymore." Asserting that changing times have caused changing standards is NOT the same as ignoring the old law. I will defend the OT laws as valid IN THEIR HISTORICAL CONTEXT. They have NOT "passed away". Contrary to ignoring them, I view them as evidence that the Israelite society was MORE moral than its contemporaries. Many of the OT laws so often attacked can be justified on the very same reasoning you use to attack Christianity for not advocating birth control. For example, God knew that the Israelites, as fallible humans, would sometimes commit rape during war times. Thus, he gave a specific set of commands that were designed to MITIGATE the harsh consequences of this immoral act. Unlike most ancient people who would simply rape and murder captured women, if the Israelites followed the OT commands, they had to give such women very specific protections. Of course, this is not as good as simply stating DO NOT RAPE. However, if you take this position to attack the OT law, then you are taking a position inherently contradictory to your assertion that simply giving blanket prohibitions is immoral when the consequences can be mitigated through additional information.

Sincerely,

Mojch

Mojch, when you write

"NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context."

you are effectively saying that you, or those you go to church with, are inventing your own Christianity. This is what all Christians do. You pick and choose, edit and interpret, conceptualise, translate, revise, and at the end of the day, make up whatever suits you.

I''ll go through your beliefs and contrast them with mine. I use science to think. My beliefs are the product of research and analytical thought, not brainwashing (such as) repetition, intuition, prayer or faith.

"God created the Universe and everything within it."


Bullshit, because you have no evidence. Ancient Palestine, the place where belief in Yahweh was born, was only a smallish spot on the earth’s surface, an area roughly the size of Wales. The earth is only a tiny dot in an immense, in fact infinite, universe. When we gaze into the night sky, some of the stars are ten billion light years out, whereas God’s birthplace is not a blink of an eye away. The enormity of the difference in distance is almost incomprehensible.

The population of Palestine in King David’s day, c. 1000 BCE, was not more than a hundred thousand. There were perhaps fifty million people in the world. So only about 0.2 percent of the world’s people had even heard of Yahweh, and most of them thought of him as just one of many gods. There were hundreds of other gods, yet we rarely hear of them today. Yahweh is not one iota more real than all these already expired others.

“Yahweh” was invented about three thousand years ago, which is a one and a half millionth of the time our earth has been in existence (4 ½ billion years.)
To claim that this paltry, primitive people who have only recently appeared on a tiny part of our puny earth, could explain the existence of everything in the entire cosmos defies credibility. Anyone who imagines this has an arrogant, inflated opinion of humanity’s importance in the universe. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_LA47fuWc8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXEiKPxCSdA http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...8P1Y1a7-L4 - ! ).

The concept of any god, i.e. a supreme supernatural being who has an interest in us, has been around since people started wanting their questions answered. Where does rain come from? Rain meant water for drinking and that plants would grow. Sometimes it doesn't rain for weeks, why? Man didn't have the scientific skills, equipment, or knowledge to answer the questions, but needed to know. The rain god. When there was no rain, man tried to appease the god. He prayed, sang, beat drums, danced, and even made sacrifices. When the rain came, god had answered his pleas.

Gods were originally the product of puzzled people trying to comprehend things they didn’t understand, and hoping to control things they had no command over. God made sense...to people who didn't know any better. Replace rain with nearly anything; for example Yahweh was originally the “god of the armies,” the “lord of hosts,” who would help the Jews in battle. When the answer was unknown, or when ancient man needed help, he created a god to fill the gap. We don’t need the rain god now because we know how weather systems work. We don’t want a war god now because we know they’re useless.

If humankind had been left to itself, gods would have disappeared as people learned more about the world; replaced, first by common sense or intuitive explanations, and ultimately by scientific explanations. Unfortunately, a largish part of humanity wasn’t left to follow this natural development. Certain groups of people saw a business opportunity. They set out to keep others - at least the unsophisticated others - puzzled. They wrote holy books and called themselves priests or prophets or rabbis or Imams, and they invented or appropriated gods so that they could control people’s lives. They’re still with us today doing the same thing, and too many modern people still let them. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODetOE6cbbc )

We shouldn’t feign an understanding of the universe by believing in God. Faith, which ignores reason, is a travesty against our intellects. It’s anxiety about the unknown masquerading as certainty. To admit that there’s no god is to face up to facts. We don’t have answers to all of life’s questions, and that’s fine, because it’s the truth. As the decades go by, we’ll know more.

You wrote "God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man."

NO...your fictional god is an asshole, as any objective assessment of the bible must conclude.

“Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but also with regard to their mode of life.”
(Aristotle 384 BC – 322 BC)

The authors of scripture made out god got emotional. That’s problematic, because emotions are a product of perceptions. Consider a hypothetical omniscient him. He wouldn’t hear news, because nothing is hidden from him, nothing can be revealed to him, and he knows the future. We mere mortals experience anger and frustration when something is wrong. He can fix anything. We long for things we lack, but he lacks nothing. People pursue perfection, but he’s perfect, so needs nothing from anyone. He’s never lonely, and there’s nothing he needs to do. He must just exist in his own wonderful world.

Yet Yahweh got perturbed when people didn’t play by his rules, and was pleased when they did what they were told. How could a perfect, all-powerful Yahweh get happy, angry, sad, aggressive, or jealous? It’s impossible for him to experience these emotions unless he’s been pretending, playing a cruel joke on humanity. An emotional Yahweh makes no sense. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiEIc-U13pE).

Yahweh has Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP.) ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Münchausen_...e_by_proxy ). He’s a caregiver who deliberately exaggerates or fabricates problems (sins) in those under his care. He thereby gets attention. At times, he can assume the hero role by appearing to care for and 'save' the sinner.

The truth is obvious. Yahweh doesn’t exist. Men created God in their own likeness. “God” is an imaginary figure who has always been all about power. One of man’s main ambitions is to be powerful; to rule over others. “God” is nothing more than a sock puppet for a priest or some other religious raconteur. The concept of “God” was originally promoted for the benefit of the Jewish clerical caste; to buy priests prestige and wealth. In later times the Roman government and the priesthood maintained his existence for the same reason - to control the public. “God” kept commoners bowing to priests and kings, slaves in shackles, women submissive to men, and wayward adolescents obeying their superiors.

Things are much the same today, as Christians in governments, armies, churches, schools, and families are still using God to control others. Consider dying for one’s country, Sunday school, sermons from the pulpit, the confessional box, “gay rehabilitation” centers, and the pressure put on people to pay their tithes every Sunday.


to be continued....
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29-05-2013, 04:39 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2013 05:15 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(28-05-2013 01:05 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Obviously, I do not intend to respond to everything you wrote or else this discussion would become incredibly lengthy. Highlights from my perspective are below. Once again, I am not arguing so much as asking you to correct my reasoning if it is flawed. I quote you and then respond, as succinctly as I can.

For the record, I enjoy reading your evidence.

In this response, Point #10 is by far the most significant.

*** 1. "The Bible was written to profit certain groups; it contains little of true value, and its authors tried to appeal to the emotions and dreams of the masses to push a product."

The Bible was written by dozens of authors across many years and time periods. How can you ascribe a singular purpose to all of them? I can do it because I claim a single author speaking through various men. Obviously, you reject this claim as absurd. That is irrelevant for purposes of this particular logical contradiction. I can attribute a single purpose because I attribute a single author. The flaw in your argument is not present in mine unless you can tell me how you can reasonable assume dozens of different men writing in various time periods all had a singular purpose to deceive the populace.

I concede that if you meant only that the COMPLIATION of the Bible was to control others then this argument is irrelevant. However, that does not seem to be what you are claiming.

***2. "The assholes at the top of churches are also typically immoral. (We agree on this I think)"

Yes, we do.

***3. "Sorry Mojch, you lost me here! Could you humor me and reword this?"

Of course, sorry for the lack of clarity. It is a simple point really. In the study you cited, the following language appears [modified here for length, not content]...

"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator
and acceptance of evolution . . . cast[s] doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high
rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science."

I was simply asserting that this conclusion is only valid if one assumes that the "religiosity" rejects evolution. Since I believe the Church should accept evolution, this portion of the study isn't relevant to disproving my personal beliefs [although I admit it supports changing main stream Christian beliefs].

***4. "You are trying to suggest that the reason Christian societies score highly as dysfunctional is because they're arguing with other Christians or secularists."

I was trying to suggest that the dysfunction was a result of conflicting religious and secular views causing low levels of adherence to traditional Christian standards. This is what produces the dysfunction, not the religion itself. This is an important distinction.

***5. "...let's be rational and honest."

This is my goal in all of my communications. When I fail, it is inadvertent.

***5. "Christian societies have more unwanted teenage pregnancies, more abortions, more STD's, more homicides and lower life expectancies because, statistically speaking , they're not applying rational solutions to life's problems."

We agree on this. However, this is not because the Christian solutions are WRONG but because they are not REALISTIC. Thus, we need back-ups and the refusal to provide those backups is irresponsible. Once again though, this is not evidence that the ideas themselves are wrong.

***6. "Churches need to get over their aversion to sex, and should start teaching that it is a normal, natural healthy part of life. They should recognize they have a responsibility to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." & "If sex was discussed openly and honestly in churches, there would be a lot less child molestation going on, many less frigid relationships, and a whole lot less neurotic people around."

Totally agree. However, your response didn't address my actual question which was "Is there any actual Biblical support for not teaching kids about sexual hygiene?" The decision to do, and all the negative consequences that flow from it, rest with the Church and not the religion. These consequences are evidence that the Church is wrong, not that the religion is. This is an old argument because it is valid. You cannot refute the truth of a belief based on the results of an improper application of that belief.

***7. "They should admit that the Bible was written by authors trying to control people's behavior."

They do. They just claim that the ultimate author was God and that the reason for the control was to ensure the benefit of humanity. You disagree with the Church that God wrote the Bible but do you honestly believe the Church doesn't openly acknowledge that the Bible seeks to control behavior?

***8. "There's barely a paragraph from the bible one could give some credibility to without "interpreting" it and "putting it into context."

Of course there isn't! I was surprised to see you write this. NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context. Forget religion. Google "theories of legal interpretation" and look at how we evaluate arguably our most important secular writings. The most basic canons are that interpretation must occur in CONTEXT. Heck, the Constitution was written just a few hundred years ago and we can't even agree on the proper context to interpret that document. The Bible SHOULD have more interpretive trouble. This isn't evidence that it is flawed. It is evidence that it is a written document from a long time ago.

***9. "Let's just consider Jesus, who, by the way, had little or nothing to do with a once living flesh and blood character who may or may not have existed." vs. "Most Christians fail to appreciate this because Jesus’ teachings have been reinterpreted, glossed over, or ignored to make him sound attractive.
These positions contradict in my mind. Either Jesus was a living flesh and blood being who taught discernible lessons or else there is no way to know that his teachings have been "reinterpreted". How can you claim that we have no real evidence Jesus existed and then turn around and claim that the modern versions of his teachings are different from the originals? Either Jesus made teachings that can be reinterpreted and the existence of these teaching is evidence he existed OR he did not make such teachings and these non-existence interpretations could not be "reinterpreted".

***10. "Jesus berated anyone who didn’t buy his message..."

Although I concede that you can, by approaching these quotes with the express intention of making them seem "intolerant", paint Jesus this way, they are much more coherently interpreted to be messages of grace and mercy. Before rejecting this out of hand, let me explain why.

You CANNOT disprove the conclusion of a proposition by assuming its premises are different than they are and thus creating a contradiction. You must disprove it by assuming it premises are TRUE and showing that they lead to a contradiction. This is NOT my opinion. It is basic Philosophy 101 at the college level. See http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/vocab/validity.html for an NYU philosophy professor's explanation of this concept. Thus, in order for your argument, which challenges a conclusion, to make sense, you must presume that the premises of Christianity are true and THEN prove that Jesus was intolerant. This you have not, and I argue you cannot, do.

EXAMPLE: “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him” (John 3:33, NJB). Assuming Christianity is true, this is not a statement of intolerance, it is a statement of truth. In fact, it would have been IMMORAL for Jesus not to have said it because, IF IT IS TRUE, then not saying it would prevent us from saving ourselves. Most of the other quotes you mentioned are explained in this way.

Basically, you attempt to prove that the message of Jesus is intolerant by assuming, from the beginning, that the basic premises of the message are wrong. Then, you attempt to prove that this intolerance shows the argument is wrong. Unless I am mistaken, this is circular reasoning.

One final example to make my point...

Bob shouts: "Shoot all of the zombies"

Is this statement "intolerant" of zombies? Who knows? We have to interpret it in context.

Let's assume that I assert that when Bob said this, all the zombies were attacking a building full of puppies and orphans. Thus, I claim Bob's statement was not intolerant of zombies but necessary in the circumstances.

In this situation, would the following argument be acceptable?

1. The zombies were not attacking the puppies and orphans.

2. Therefore, Bob's statement to shoot all the zombies was unjustified.

3. Therefore, Bob is intolerant because he advocated a negative position against zombies without cause.

I think the answer is clearly no. Notice that the conclusion ASSUMES premise 1. If you remove premise 1 but attempt to keep the conclusion, then the entire argument becomes invalid because the conclusion states something that is unproven. If you remove premise 1 and remove the "without cause" language, you are left with calling Bob intolerant just because he advocated a negative position. For reasons I hope should be obvious, this is an absurd position. Thus, your argument is, as a matter of logic, circular, invalid, or absurd. I am mistaken please explain in clear logical form how your argument is different. I ask for specificity because, if I am correct, this entire section of your argument is irrelevant.

***11: "Jesus had an arrogant, fanatical belief in himself, and an ambition to be in charge."

Once again, this is a perfect argument UNLESS HE WAS CORRECT AND JUSTIFIED IN HIS BELIEF. Thus, this is circular. See above. I think you have many more arguments with this same flaw. Once again, can you actually demonstrate why I am wrong in a logically coherent form and not just with broad generalities?

***12: I do not have time to respond and explain each of these quotes. Suffice it to say that I can. If you doubt this, I ask you to pick ONE that you think is difficult to explain. Then, we can have a manageable discussion.

***13: " “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB)

See the study you cited above that proves that as material success increases, faith decreases. Your own study confirms that this statement is true.

***14: "Also...you're not really a devout Christian, are you? If you were, you wouldn't have to modify traditional Christian beliefs."

Forgive the forceful nature of this reply. I am going to take a certain tone here because I found this statement to be highly offensive.

My religious faith is the most important thing in my life. I attend church regularly, pray multiple times daily, consistently modify my actions to conform to my beliefs, give of my time and money to support the parts of the Christian message that I agree with (which is ALL the ones that are crucial to the heart of the belief system), and spend hours upon hours testing my faith against the best argument that others can provide.

I have explained what I believe below. Please point to a SINGLE argument I have made that contradicts any of the below. I am relatively certain that what I just wrote would be a pretty accurate summation of the basics of Christian belief.

I believe...

God created the Universe and everything within it. God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man. Mankind sinned and destroyed the perfect Universe created by God. God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins. At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man. He is part of ONE God, though he has a separate temporal existence in our world. He was crucified after living a perfect life. He died. He rose from the dead after the passage of three days. His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe, their free will taken away because sin is not possible in heaven, and given a place to live for eternity with God. Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Christ will spend eternity in Hell (although I WILL admit that my conception of Hell is VERY different from the mainstream view).

***15. "They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.)"

I would be included in "all". Please tell me one passage of the Bible that you believe I "ignore". Note that reconciling a contradiction is NOT ignoring it. The words mean fundamentally different things.

Also, please don't point to the OT and say, "You don't keep this old law anymore." Asserting that changing times have caused changing standards is NOT the same as ignoring the old law. I will defend the OT laws as valid IN THEIR HISTORICAL CONTEXT. They have NOT "passed away". Contrary to ignoring them, I view them as evidence that the Israelite society was MORE moral than its contemporaries. Many of the OT laws so often attacked can be justified on the very same reasoning you use to attack Christianity for not advocating birth control. For example, God knew that the Israelites, as fallible humans, would sometimes commit rape during war times. Thus, he gave a specific set of commands that were designed to MITIGATE the harsh consequences of this immoral act. Unlike most ancient people who would simply rape and murder captured women, if the Israelites followed the OT commands, they had to give such women very specific protections. Of course, this is not as good as simply stating DO NOT RAPE. However, if you take this position to attack the OT law, then you are taking a position inherently contradictory to your assertion that simply giving blanket prohibitions is immoral when the consequences can be mitigated through additional information.

Sincerely,

Mojch

RE "God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins."

NOPE. You've been sucked in; hook, line and sinker, by a nasty little weazel propagandist named Paul...

Paul’s Theology

“Paul created a theology of which none but the vaguest warrants can be found in the words of Christ…Through these interpretations Paul could neglect the actual life and sayings of Jesus, which he had not directly known…Paul replaced conduct with creed as the test of virtue. It was a tragic change.”
(Will Durant, http://www.willdurant.com/home.html)

“I draw a great distinction between the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus and the Letters of Paul. Paul’s letters are a graft on Christ’s teachings, Paul’s own gloss apart from Christ’s own experience.”
(Mahatma Gandhi)

Paul’s theology is strange, and very complex. (http://www.sullivan-county.com/id2/paul_theo.htm). Numerous scholars have discussed it at great length, yet often still disagreed about what Paul may have meant. It is, however, important to get the drift of his key ideas.

Paul contended that his Christ was divine and existed in heaven before taking on a human form and living on earth. How this Christ got to earth he doesn’t say, as he provides no birth story. He did, however, claim that Christ had a human father—
“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3–4, KJV)—which is inconsistent with his claim that Jesus was the son of God, because it’s impossible to have two fathers. Paul was frequently inconsistent.

He had an almost fanatical and rather morbid obsession with sin. He asserted everyone was born with the stain of original sin, inherited from their parents. (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?sea...sion=KJV). According to him, sin offended Yahweh, who would forgive it only when offered a blood sacrifice, a primitive idea that was a common belief among Jews of the time (although not among the Essenes.) Indeed, they slaughtered cattle and other animals on a titanic scale in the temple to tempt Yahweh into forgiving their sins.

Paul had a highly original and rather odd theory. He claimed that Christ had offered his life to God so that people would be pardoned for their sins. His Christ therefore became the equivalent of a slaughtered animal; a blood sacrifice. This notion is now known as the doctrine for the atonement of sin through the sacrificial death of Jesus. Paul claimed that Christ then rose from the dead, which in his mind proved God accepted Christ’s sacrifice on humanity’s behalf.

Paul asserted that Christ then went back up to heaven, but would be coming back soon to take all believers in this scheme up to heaven too. (1 Thess. 4; 16–18). Even those believers who had already died (at the time of his writing) would be raised from the dead to join the other believers in heaven. Hence all who had “faith in Christ,” would be “saved” and achieve “salvation.” He proposed that the primary purpose of existence was to get into heaven by becoming “one with Christ,” and thereby receive the “gift of eternal life.” (Romans 6;23). According to Paul, anyone who didn’t have faith in Christ couldn’t be saved. This rather contrived and complicated scheme became known as the doctrine of justification by faith. These are the core ideas of Paul’s theology, and of today’s Christianity.

Paul frequently took his readers and listeners on mental roller-coaster rides such as this, creating a complex web of ideas about God, Christ and man. He’d clearly spent countless hours cogitating over theological conundrums and come to many firmly held conclusions. He claimed to have no doubt that he spoke the truth, and that anyone who would listen needed to be told - and the sooner the better, because he claimed the end of the world was imminent. He made out he was on a mission to get as many people into heaven as possible, and that only he knew how to do it.

He attempted, perhaps deliberately, to cajole his readers into accepting his ideas using complicated reasoning that was often inconsistent and illogical, a fact admitted by many Pauline scholars ( http://affectionaltheology.blogspot.com/ ). He made very dubious interpretations of scripture. He used strange terminology that makes him even more difficult to understand (though that may in part be due to difficulties in translation.)
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29-05-2013, 04:45 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2013 04:10 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(28-05-2013 01:05 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Obviously, I do not intend to respond to everything you wrote or else this discussion would become incredibly lengthy. Highlights from my perspective are below. Once again, I am not arguing so much as asking you to correct my reasoning if it is flawed. I quote you and then respond, as succinctly as I can.

For the record, I enjoy reading your evidence.

In this response, Point #10 is by far the most significant.

*** 1. "The Bible was written to profit certain groups; it contains little of true value, and its authors tried to appeal to the emotions and dreams of the masses to push a product."

The Bible was written by dozens of authors across many years and time periods. How can you ascribe a singular purpose to all of them? I can do it because I claim a single author speaking through various men. Obviously, you reject this claim as absurd. That is irrelevant for purposes of this particular logical contradiction. I can attribute a single purpose because I attribute a single author. The flaw in your argument is not present in mine unless you can tell me how you can reasonable assume dozens of different men writing in various time periods all had a singular purpose to deceive the populace.

I concede that if you meant only that the COMPLIATION of the Bible was to control others then this argument is irrelevant. However, that does not seem to be what you are claiming.

***2. "The assholes at the top of churches are also typically immoral. (We agree on this I think)"

Yes, we do.

***3. "Sorry Mojch, you lost me here! Could you humor me and reword this?"

Of course, sorry for the lack of clarity. It is a simple point really. In the study you cited, the following language appears [modified here for length, not content]...

"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator
and acceptance of evolution . . . cast[s] doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high
rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science."

I was simply asserting that this conclusion is only valid if one assumes that the "religiosity" rejects evolution. Since I believe the Church should accept evolution, this portion of the study isn't relevant to disproving my personal beliefs [although I admit it supports changing main stream Christian beliefs].

***4. "You are trying to suggest that the reason Christian societies score highly as dysfunctional is because they're arguing with other Christians or secularists."

I was trying to suggest that the dysfunction was a result of conflicting religious and secular views causing low levels of adherence to traditional Christian standards. This is what produces the dysfunction, not the religion itself. This is an important distinction.

***5. "...let's be rational and honest."

This is my goal in all of my communications. When I fail, it is inadvertent.

***5. "Christian societies have more unwanted teenage pregnancies, more abortions, more STD's, more homicides and lower life expectancies because, statistically speaking , they're not applying rational solutions to life's problems."

We agree on this. However, this is not because the Christian solutions are WRONG but because they are not REALISTIC. Thus, we need back-ups and the refusal to provide those backups is irresponsible. Once again though, this is not evidence that the ideas themselves are wrong.

***6. "Churches need to get over their aversion to sex, and should start teaching that it is a normal, natural healthy part of life. They should recognize they have a responsibility to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." & "If sex was discussed openly and honestly in churches, there would be a lot less child molestation going on, many less frigid relationships, and a whole lot less neurotic people around."

Totally agree. However, your response didn't address my actual question which was "Is there any actual Biblical support for not teaching kids about sexual hygiene?" The decision to do, and all the negative consequences that flow from it, rest with the Church and not the religion. These consequences are evidence that the Church is wrong, not that the religion is. This is an old argument because it is valid. You cannot refute the truth of a belief based on the results of an improper application of that belief.

***7. "They should admit that the Bible was written by authors trying to control people's behavior."

They do. They just claim that the ultimate author was God and that the reason for the control was to ensure the benefit of humanity. You disagree with the Church that God wrote the Bible but do you honestly believe the Church doesn't openly acknowledge that the Bible seeks to control behavior?

***8. "There's barely a paragraph from the bible one could give some credibility to without "interpreting" it and "putting it into context."

Of course there isn't! I was surprised to see you write this. NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context. Forget religion. Google "theories of legal interpretation" and look at how we evaluate arguably our most important secular writings. The most basic canons are that interpretation must occur in CONTEXT. Heck, the Constitution was written just a few hundred years ago and we can't even agree on the proper context to interpret that document. The Bible SHOULD have more interpretive trouble. This isn't evidence that it is flawed. It is evidence that it is a written document from a long time ago.

***9. "Let's just consider Jesus, who, by the way, had little or nothing to do with a once living flesh and blood character who may or may not have existed." vs. "Most Christians fail to appreciate this because Jesus’ teachings have been reinterpreted, glossed over, or ignored to make him sound attractive.
These positions contradict in my mind. Either Jesus was a living flesh and blood being who taught discernible lessons or else there is no way to know that his teachings have been "reinterpreted". How can you claim that we have no real evidence Jesus existed and then turn around and claim that the modern versions of his teachings are different from the originals? Either Jesus made teachings that can be reinterpreted and the existence of these teaching is evidence he existed OR he did not make such teachings and these non-existence interpretations could not be "reinterpreted".

***10. "Jesus berated anyone who didn’t buy his message..."

Although I concede that you can, by approaching these quotes with the express intention of making them seem "intolerant", paint Jesus this way, they are much more coherently interpreted to be messages of grace and mercy. Before rejecting this out of hand, let me explain why.

You CANNOT disprove the conclusion of a proposition by assuming its premises are different than they are and thus creating a contradiction. You must disprove it by assuming it premises are TRUE and showing that they lead to a contradiction. This is NOT my opinion. It is basic Philosophy 101 at the college level. See http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/vocab/validity.html for an NYU philosophy professor's explanation of this concept. Thus, in order for your argument, which challenges a conclusion, to make sense, you must presume that the premises of Christianity are true and THEN prove that Jesus was intolerant. This you have not, and I argue you cannot, do.

EXAMPLE: “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him” (John 3:33, NJB). Assuming Christianity is true, this is not a statement of intolerance, it is a statement of truth. In fact, it would have been IMMORAL for Jesus not to have said it because, IF IT IS TRUE, then not saying it would prevent us from saving ourselves. Most of the other quotes you mentioned are explained in this way.

Basically, you attempt to prove that the message of Jesus is intolerant by assuming, from the beginning, that the basic premises of the message are wrong. Then, you attempt to prove that this intolerance shows the argument is wrong. Unless I am mistaken, this is circular reasoning.

One final example to make my point...

Bob shouts: "Shoot all of the zombies"

Is this statement "intolerant" of zombies? Who knows? We have to interpret it in context.

Let's assume that I assert that when Bob said this, all the zombies were attacking a building full of puppies and orphans. Thus, I claim Bob's statement was not intolerant of zombies but necessary in the circumstances.

In this situation, would the following argument be acceptable?

1. The zombies were not attacking the puppies and orphans.

2. Therefore, Bob's statement to shoot all the zombies was unjustified.

3. Therefore, Bob is intolerant because he advocated a negative position against zombies without cause.

I think the answer is clearly no. Notice that the conclusion ASSUMES premise 1. If you remove premise 1 but attempt to keep the conclusion, then the entire argument becomes invalid because the conclusion states something that is unproven. If you remove premise 1 and remove the "without cause" language, you are left with calling Bob intolerant just because he advocated a negative position. For reasons I hope should be obvious, this is an absurd position. Thus, your argument is, as a matter of logic, circular, invalid, or absurd. I am mistaken please explain in clear logical form how your argument is different. I ask for specificity because, if I am correct, this entire section of your argument is irrelevant.

***11: "Jesus had an arrogant, fanatical belief in himself, and an ambition to be in charge."

Once again, this is a perfect argument UNLESS HE WAS CORRECT AND JUSTIFIED IN HIS BELIEF. Thus, this is circular. See above. I think you have many more arguments with this same flaw. Once again, can you actually demonstrate why I am wrong in a logically coherent form and not just with broad generalities?

***12: I do not have time to respond and explain each of these quotes. Suffice it to say that I can. If you doubt this, I ask you to pick ONE that you think is difficult to explain. Then, we can have a manageable discussion.

***13: " “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB)

See the study you cited above that proves that as material success increases, faith decreases. Your own study confirms that this statement is true.

***14: "Also...you're not really a devout Christian, are you? If you were, you wouldn't have to modify traditional Christian beliefs."

Forgive the forceful nature of this reply. I am going to take a certain tone here because I found this statement to be highly offensive.

My religious faith is the most important thing in my life. I attend church regularly, pray multiple times daily, consistently modify my actions to conform to my beliefs, give of my time and money to support the parts of the Christian message that I agree with (which is ALL the ones that are crucial to the heart of the belief system), and spend hours upon hours testing my faith against the best argument that others can provide.

I have explained what I believe below. Please point to a SINGLE argument I have made that contradicts any of the below. I am relatively certain that what I just wrote would be a pretty accurate summation of the basics of Christian belief.

I believe...

God created the Universe and everything within it. God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man. Mankind sinned and destroyed the perfect Universe created by God. God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins. At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man. He is part of ONE God, though he has a separate temporal existence in our world. He was crucified after living a perfect life. He died. He rose from the dead after the passage of three days. His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe, their free will taken away because sin is not possible in heaven, and given a place to live for eternity with God. Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Christ will spend eternity in Hell (although I WILL admit that my conception of Hell is VERY different from the mainstream view).

***15. "They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.)"

I would be included in "all". Please tell me one passage of the Bible that you believe I "ignore". Note that reconciling a contradiction is NOT ignoring it. The words mean fundamentally different things.

Also, please don't point to the OT and say, "You don't keep this old law anymore." Asserting that changing times have caused changing standards is NOT the same as ignoring the old law. I will defend the OT laws as valid IN THEIR HISTORICAL CONTEXT. They have NOT "passed away". Contrary to ignoring them, I view them as evidence that the Israelite society was MORE moral than its contemporaries. Many of the OT laws so often attacked can be justified on the very same reasoning you use to attack Christianity for not advocating birth control. For example, God knew that the Israelites, as fallible humans, would sometimes commit rape during war times. Thus, he gave a specific set of commands that were designed to MITIGATE the harsh consequences of this immoral act. Unlike most ancient people who would simply rape and murder captured women, if the Israelites followed the OT commands, they had to give such women very specific protections. Of course, this is not as good as simply stating DO NOT RAPE. However, if you take this position to attack the OT law, then you are taking a position inherently contradictory to your assertion that simply giving blanket prohibitions is immoral when the consequences can be mitigated through additional information.

Sincerely,

Mojch

Re "At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man."

Sorry to burst your bubble, but this is also nonsense, this time from the fourth century...

It was only from the fourth century on that there was an obviously dominant, unified, institutionalized form of Christianity – Catholicism. The Catholic Church insinuated itself into the political establishment and insisted on the strict obedience of church leaders. Scores of other Christian cults still existed, but became less important after the Catholics oppressed them.

Catholic bishops met and decided what everyone should and shouldn’t believe. They adopted doctrines that condemned egalitarianism and the esoteric ideas of the Gnostics. These doctrines became known as creeds.

So it was only nearly three centuries after the death of Jesus that the “facts” about his life and his teachings were decided, and the confusion concerning the Christian dogma of the previous three hundred years was given some firm outline. A set of four tales about Jesus were said to be the true accounts of his life, and it was then touted that these had been told right from the start. In a series of councils over the next few hundred years, more dogma was thrashed out by opposing factions and then presented to the public as the truth.

In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine (reigned from 306–337 CE) reversed the government’s policy of hostility to Christianity in his Edict of Milan. Constantine was a highly superstitious man and a Mithraic (in 304 CE Mithras had been declared Protector of the Roman Empire). He probably respected all religious cults, and interestingly, saw no contradiction in championing both Mithraism and Christianity. He held the title “Pontifex Maximus,” high priest of the cult of the state, (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a104.htm) for himself. This title was to be later taken by the Popery.

His government embraced Christians as allies. In 320 CE he declared himself a Christian and fashioned himself as a priest-king who was the thirteenth apostle of Jesus. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/constant...ine.html). Christianity was given a colossal leg up by becoming the official religion of the empire. The new faith went to bed with the political masters of the Western world and the empire had a universal religion to unite most of its people. It was a marriage of convenience that suited both parties. It was due to this symbiotic connection that Christianity was established and given the means to flourish.

What made Constantine embrace Christianity? His mother was a Christian. The church was springing up strongly. It was wide reaching and well organized, as it had modeled its hierarchy on Roman (not Jewish!) principles. It had a clerical class, and a chain of command that was competent at controlling conflicts. The bishops had a level of legal autonomy allowing them to interpret law. The Christians accepted people from all parts of the empire. They respected Roman rule. All this was attractive to Constantine because he wanted stability. In the preceding decades civil wars and external enemies had challenged the Pax Romana. He was overseeing a massive, disparate empire, so the social cohesion made possible by a universal monotheism was appealing. He knew the people were easier to control if they all shared the same religion.

Power was bestowed upon the Christian hierarchy and it received economic favors from the government. The money that had previously gone to pagan priests now went to Christian bishops. Later in the fourth century all other pagan cults were suppressed or destroyed, although many of their traditions were absorbed into Christianity. Those foolhardy enough to hold onto their old beliefs were persecuted.

Wealthy people commonly left one third of their property to the church and the Christian clergy were exempt from paying some taxes. To be a bishop became a ticket to affluence, and an appointment as such was highly sought after. Bribery and tax evasion was common. Inevitably, it was the rich and well connected who became bishops, and many were lured from the army or navy. The Catholic Church became very wealthy and powerful.

As a consequence of Paul’s amorphous Christ concept, there was much contention as to whether Christ was a God, a spirit, a mortal man, or all three. Arius, a presbyter from Libya, gained followers around the empire by insisting
“there was a time when the Son was not,” in other words, the son was a creation of the Father. Others said the son was of the same substance as the Father. The argument spread, threatening to rip the church in two. Constantine disapproved of the conjecture and called the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to rectify the rift. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...ror.html). This was the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, and Constantine commanded it, which confirms how close church and state had become. It resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine; that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit were all of the same substance, a belief that became known as the Nicene Creed. Those who voted against it were banished. The following website seems to capture the atmosphere at the council. ( http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readin...AT/11.html ).

Prior to the Council of Nicaea, Jesus had most often been perceived as an intermediary between man and God; the council decided he actually was God. The core character of Christianity was created; Jesus the son of God. This Nicaean formula clearly wasn’t founded on Yeshua. It was nothing more than a contortionist creation invented to unify some of the opinions about Jesus.

Some websites claim that there were not only Christian commanders at this council, but leaders from many other cults, sects and religions too, including those of Apollo, Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus, Janus, Jupiter, Zeus, Osiris and Isis. (http://www.northernway.org/pagandna.html, http://www.examiner.com/article/1st-coun...part-014). The council contrived to coalesce these competing cults under one “catholic” church to be controlled by the Constantine government. The gods of these other cults were subjugated under the name of the new god, Jesus Christ. If this is true, it explains how “Jesus” blended the religious formulas of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Palestine into a single sect suitable for all. Forget Christmas; the Council of Nicea was the event that marked the true birth of Jesus Christ.

Any texts that contradicted what the ecclesiastics had chosen as canonical were labeled as subversive. Old copies of the gospels were recalled and scribes were co-opted to make new copies suitable for consumption throughout Christendom.

In 335 CE, a mere ten years later, all of a sudden Jesus wasn’t of the same substance as god any more. A second Council, also convened by Constantine, that of Tyre, reversed the conclusion of the first, and Arianism, the belief that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, became the brand new dogma. This decision lasted until Constantine's death in 337 CE, after which the empire was split into a Nicene West and an Arian East. There was no consensus about Jesus’ status for the next forty odd years.

In 381 CE, the emperor Theodosius convened an ecumenical council at Constantinople, resulting in the ratification of the first Nicene formula. The Roman world was at last given a definitive triune god—a gobbledygook spiel about three characters in one that is still promoted by churches today. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mII6-IyaT3o).

The uneducated citizens of the Empire, impressed with the promise of a heavenly paradise, and intimidated with violence if they weren’t, were easy pickings for the Catholic Church, although some of the braver rural people hung on to many of their pagan traditions.

The vastness of the Roman Empire allowed Christianity to spread throughout much of Europe. An infrastructure under the umbrella of one god and emperor was convenient. Before the Roman Empire declined in Europe, Christianity was firmly established in many of the key regions that would shape the history of the western world.

It’s obvious that the burgeoning power of Christianity had nothing to do with the inherent truth of the dogma and everything to do with politics and power.

to be continued...
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29-05-2013, 04:52 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2013 04:18 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(28-05-2013 01:05 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Obviously, I do not intend to respond to everything you wrote or else this discussion would become incredibly lengthy. Highlights from my perspective are below. Once again, I am not arguing so much as asking you to correct my reasoning if it is flawed. I quote you and then respond, as succinctly as I can.

For the record, I enjoy reading your evidence.

In this response, Point #10 is by far the most significant.

*** 1. "The Bible was written to profit certain groups; it contains little of true value, and its authors tried to appeal to the emotions and dreams of the masses to push a product."

The Bible was written by dozens of authors across many years and time periods. How can you ascribe a singular purpose to all of them? I can do it because I claim a single author speaking through various men. Obviously, you reject this claim as absurd. That is irrelevant for purposes of this particular logical contradiction. I can attribute a single purpose because I attribute a single author. The flaw in your argument is not present in mine unless you can tell me how you can reasonable assume dozens of different men writing in various time periods all had a singular purpose to deceive the populace.

I concede that if you meant only that the COMPLIATION of the Bible was to control others then this argument is irrelevant. However, that does not seem to be what you are claiming.

***2. "The assholes at the top of churches are also typically immoral. (We agree on this I think)"

Yes, we do.

***3. "Sorry Mojch, you lost me here! Could you humor me and reword this?"

Of course, sorry for the lack of clarity. It is a simple point really. In the study you cited, the following language appears [modified here for length, not content]...

"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator
and acceptance of evolution . . . cast[s] doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high
rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science."

I was simply asserting that this conclusion is only valid if one assumes that the "religiosity" rejects evolution. Since I believe the Church should accept evolution, this portion of the study isn't relevant to disproving my personal beliefs [although I admit it supports changing main stream Christian beliefs].

***4. "You are trying to suggest that the reason Christian societies score highly as dysfunctional is because they're arguing with other Christians or secularists."

I was trying to suggest that the dysfunction was a result of conflicting religious and secular views causing low levels of adherence to traditional Christian standards. This is what produces the dysfunction, not the religion itself. This is an important distinction.

***5. "...let's be rational and honest."

This is my goal in all of my communications. When I fail, it is inadvertent.

***5. "Christian societies have more unwanted teenage pregnancies, more abortions, more STD's, more homicides and lower life expectancies because, statistically speaking , they're not applying rational solutions to life's problems."

We agree on this. However, this is not because the Christian solutions are WRONG but because they are not REALISTIC. Thus, we need back-ups and the refusal to provide those backups is irresponsible. Once again though, this is not evidence that the ideas themselves are wrong.

***6. "Churches need to get over their aversion to sex, and should start teaching that it is a normal, natural healthy part of life. They should recognize they have a responsibility to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." & "If sex was discussed openly and honestly in churches, there would be a lot less child molestation going on, many less frigid relationships, and a whole lot less neurotic people around."

Totally agree. However, your response didn't address my actual question which was "Is there any actual Biblical support for not teaching kids about sexual hygiene?" The decision to do, and all the negative consequences that flow from it, rest with the Church and not the religion. These consequences are evidence that the Church is wrong, not that the religion is. This is an old argument because it is valid. You cannot refute the truth of a belief based on the results of an improper application of that belief.

***7. "They should admit that the Bible was written by authors trying to control people's behavior."

They do. They just claim that the ultimate author was God and that the reason for the control was to ensure the benefit of humanity. You disagree with the Church that God wrote the Bible but do you honestly believe the Church doesn't openly acknowledge that the Bible seeks to control behavior?

***8. "There's barely a paragraph from the bible one could give some credibility to without "interpreting" it and "putting it into context."

Of course there isn't! I was surprised to see you write this. NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context. Forget religion. Google "theories of legal interpretation" and look at how we evaluate arguably our most important secular writings. The most basic canons are that interpretation must occur in CONTEXT. Heck, the Constitution was written just a few hundred years ago and we can't even agree on the proper context to interpret that document. The Bible SHOULD have more interpretive trouble. This isn't evidence that it is flawed. It is evidence that it is a written document from a long time ago.

***9. "Let's just consider Jesus, who, by the way, had little or nothing to do with a once living flesh and blood character who may or may not have existed." vs. "Most Christians fail to appreciate this because Jesus’ teachings have been reinterpreted, glossed over, or ignored to make him sound attractive.
These positions contradict in my mind. Either Jesus was a living flesh and blood being who taught discernible lessons or else there is no way to know that his teachings have been "reinterpreted". How can you claim that we have no real evidence Jesus existed and then turn around and claim that the modern versions of his teachings are different from the originals? Either Jesus made teachings that can be reinterpreted and the existence of these teaching is evidence he existed OR he did not make such teachings and these non-existence interpretations could not be "reinterpreted".

***10. "Jesus berated anyone who didn’t buy his message..."

Although I concede that you can, by approaching these quotes with the express intention of making them seem "intolerant", paint Jesus this way, they are much more coherently interpreted to be messages of grace and mercy. Before rejecting this out of hand, let me explain why.

You CANNOT disprove the conclusion of a proposition by assuming its premises are different than they are and thus creating a contradiction. You must disprove it by assuming it premises are TRUE and showing that they lead to a contradiction. This is NOT my opinion. It is basic Philosophy 101 at the college level. See http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/vocab/validity.html for an NYU philosophy professor's explanation of this concept. Thus, in order for your argument, which challenges a conclusion, to make sense, you must presume that the premises of Christianity are true and THEN prove that Jesus was intolerant. This you have not, and I argue you cannot, do.

EXAMPLE: “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him” (John 3:33, NJB). Assuming Christianity is true, this is not a statement of intolerance, it is a statement of truth. In fact, it would have been IMMORAL for Jesus not to have said it because, IF IT IS TRUE, then not saying it would prevent us from saving ourselves. Most of the other quotes you mentioned are explained in this way.

Basically, you attempt to prove that the message of Jesus is intolerant by assuming, from the beginning, that the basic premises of the message are wrong. Then, you attempt to prove that this intolerance shows the argument is wrong. Unless I am mistaken, this is circular reasoning.

One final example to make my point...

Bob shouts: "Shoot all of the zombies"

Is this statement "intolerant" of zombies? Who knows? We have to interpret it in context.

Let's assume that I assert that when Bob said this, all the zombies were attacking a building full of puppies and orphans. Thus, I claim Bob's statement was not intolerant of zombies but necessary in the circumstances.

In this situation, would the following argument be acceptable?

1. The zombies were not attacking the puppies and orphans.

2. Therefore, Bob's statement to shoot all the zombies was unjustified.

3. Therefore, Bob is intolerant because he advocated a negative position against zombies without cause.

I think the answer is clearly no. Notice that the conclusion ASSUMES premise 1. If you remove premise 1 but attempt to keep the conclusion, then the entire argument becomes invalid because the conclusion states something that is unproven. If you remove premise 1 and remove the "without cause" language, you are left with calling Bob intolerant just because he advocated a negative position. For reasons I hope should be obvious, this is an absurd position. Thus, your argument is, as a matter of logic, circular, invalid, or absurd. I am mistaken please explain in clear logical form how your argument is different. I ask for specificity because, if I am correct, this entire section of your argument is irrelevant.

***11: "Jesus had an arrogant, fanatical belief in himself, and an ambition to be in charge."

Once again, this is a perfect argument UNLESS HE WAS CORRECT AND JUSTIFIED IN HIS BELIEF. Thus, this is circular. See above. I think you have many more arguments with this same flaw. Once again, can you actually demonstrate why I am wrong in a logically coherent form and not just with broad generalities?

***12: I do not have time to respond and explain each of these quotes. Suffice it to say that I can. If you doubt this, I ask you to pick ONE that you think is difficult to explain. Then, we can have a manageable discussion.

***13: " “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB)

See the study you cited above that proves that as material success increases, faith decreases. Your own study confirms that this statement is true.

***14: "Also...you're not really a devout Christian, are you? If you were, you wouldn't have to modify traditional Christian beliefs."

Forgive the forceful nature of this reply. I am going to take a certain tone here because I found this statement to be highly offensive.

My religious faith is the most important thing in my life. I attend church regularly, pray multiple times daily, consistently modify my actions to conform to my beliefs, give of my time and money to support the parts of the Christian message that I agree with (which is ALL the ones that are crucial to the heart of the belief system), and spend hours upon hours testing my faith against the best argument that others can provide.

I have explained what I believe below. Please point to a SINGLE argument I have made that contradicts any of the below. I am relatively certain that what I just wrote would be a pretty accurate summation of the basics of Christian belief.

I believe...

God created the Universe and everything within it. God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man. Mankind sinned and destroyed the perfect Universe created by God. God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins. At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man. He is part of ONE God, though he has a separate temporal existence in our world. He was crucified after living a perfect life. He died. He rose from the dead after the passage of three days. His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe, their free will taken away because sin is not possible in heaven, and given a place to live for eternity with God. Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Christ will spend eternity in Hell (although I WILL admit that my conception of Hell is VERY different from the mainstream view).

***15. "They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.)"

I would be included in "all". Please tell me one passage of the Bible that you believe I "ignore". Note that reconciling a contradiction is NOT ignoring it. The words mean fundamentally different things.

Also, please don't point to the OT and say, "You don't keep this old law anymore." Asserting that changing times have caused changing standards is NOT the same as ignoring the old law. I will defend the OT laws as valid IN THEIR HISTORICAL CONTEXT. They have NOT "passed away". Contrary to ignoring them, I view them as evidence that the Israelite society was MORE moral than its contemporaries. Many of the OT laws so often attacked can be justified on the very same reasoning you use to attack Christianity for not advocating birth control. For example, God knew that the Israelites, as fallible humans, would sometimes commit rape during war times. Thus, he gave a specific set of commands that were designed to MITIGATE the harsh consequences of this immoral act. Unlike most ancient people who would simply rape and murder captured women, if the Israelites followed the OT commands, they had to give such women very specific protections. Of course, this is not as good as simply stating DO NOT RAPE. However, if you take this position to attack the OT law, then you are taking a position inherently contradictory to your assertion that simply giving blanket prohibitions is immoral when the consequences can be mitigated through additional information.

Sincerely,

Mojch

RE "He rose from the dead after the passage of three days."

Ah...NO. Another myth. I'll prove why...

Jesus’ Resurrection

“If Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. And what is more serious, all who have died in Christ have perished. If our hope for Christ has been for this life only, we are the most unfortunate of all people.” (1 Cor. 15:17–19, NJB).

"If the resurrection of Jesus cannot be believed except by assenting to the fantastic descriptions included in the Gospels, then Christianity is doomed. For that view of the resurrection is not believable, and if that is all there is, then Christianity, which depends upon the truth and authenticity of Jesus' resurrection, also is not believable." (Bishop John Shelby Spong).

The Romans had crucified Jesus. The Gospel authors couldn’t have him just disappear after such a dreadful demise. The scriptwriters had to spruce up the story, because no one idolizes a loser. Jesus had to come back, just like a god was expected to. The Egyptian Osiris, the Greek Dionysus, the Persian Mithras, and many others had all risen from the dead. Resurrection is a timeless theme; if a character is charismatic enough, people like to imagine death has been defeated, even today. Consider Elvis Presley.

Christ’s resurrection was needed to prove his divinity. It’s the central tenet of the faith, the one most important belief upon which Christianity is based. Mark’s gospel, the first to be written, and the one that the others copied, should’ve made a big deal about this exceptional event. Yet the author only devotes the second half of his last chapter to it, as if it was tacked on like an afterthought. Mark has only twenty or so lines describing what many people presume was the premiere event in the history of the world.

The character and style of the last twelve verses in Mark (the resurrection story) are different from the rest of the Gospel. At 16:9 there’s an abrupt end to the narrative flow and the style loses its descriptive quality. Mary Magdalene is spoken of in 16:9 as if she hadn’t been mentioned before. What’s more, the whole resurrection story is absent from the two oldest Greek manuscripts, the oldest Latin manuscript, the oldest Syriac manuscript, and from about one hundred early Armenian manuscripts, as well as the two oldest Georgian manuscripts (written 897 CE and 913 CE). In many later texts that include verses 9–20, asterisks or obeli mark the verses as doubtful or spurious. Moreover, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Tertullian are completely unaware of the existence of a resurrection story in Mark. Eusebius and Jerome are, but they’re fourth century commentators, and they note that it’s absent from their earlier Greek transcripts.

The original author of Mark failed to mention that Jesus rose from the dead!

The resurrection ending (16:9–20) was added to the end of Mark by an unknown author sometime after the latter part of the second century, a fact admitted by most New Testament scholars in the past century! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_16).

A footnote in the Jerusalem Bible states,
“The ‘long ending’ of Mark, vv.9–20, is included in the canonically accepted body of inspired scripture. This does not necessarily imply Markan authorship which, indeed, is open to question.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia states,
“Catholics are not bound to hold these verses (16:9–20) were written by Saint Mark.” The arrogant authors are assuming they can tell Catholics what they can and can’t believe. They then make the following ridiculous claim as one of several possible explanations for the lack of a resurrection ending:
“If, then, Mark concluded with verse 8, it must have been because he died or was interrupted before he could write more.” Imagine Mark sitting at his desk, pen poised, just about to create history by writing the final twenty lines of his epic when—oops—he dies! A trail of ink meanders off the page.

The Catholic encyclopedia states:
“Whoever wrote the verses, they are inspired, and must be received as such by every Catholic.” They’re ordering their readers what to believe! To resort to special pleading demonstrates the weakness of their argument.

There was no resurrection. It had to be added to Mark’s gospel. It only became a popular belief in some circles in the early to mid second century, maybe when Paul’s letters became more widely circulated.

The same interpolator(s) also added lines into Mark in which Jesus predicts he will rise from the dead.

Most Church leaders who know about the interpolated ending don’t advertise it. They don’t want to compromise the faith of their flock, and that’s fraudulent.

The authors of the other Gospels included a resurrection. They each gave different reports of events after the death of Jesus, because they didn't have this part of Mark's chronicle to copy, so each made up their own. Matthew adds an earthquake and the corpses of holy men walking around Jerusalem. Jesus wasn’t the only Jew to rise from the dead! I wonder whether these walking corpses helped remove the rubble from the earthquake? Did they rejoin their relatives around the table? It might have been disturbing divvying up dinner to your dead half decayed dad!

The Catholic Encyclopedia writes this about the gospels:
“First of all, they commended themselves by their tone of simplicity and truthfulness, which stood in striking contrast with the trivial, absurd, or manifestly legendary character of many of those uncanonical productions.” I think they’re reading their canonical accounts with rose-colored glasses.

Luke and John have the risen Jesus appearing in Jerusalem, far more prestigious than Galilee, which was believed to be a backward badland, yet was where Mark has him appearing. There are numerous other inconsistencies. Christian apologists have tried to reconcile the four very different resurrection reports, with no success.

Jesus did have brothers, two of who, James and Jude, have probably written their own letters in the Bible. If one’s brother had risen from the dead, one would be elated and awestruck, but neither even mentions the fact.

Nor do we find any testimony to the resurrection in any of the Epistles of Peter or John, as they too were written long before the idea of the resurrection had taken root.

Paul believed in a resurrection, but this is how he got to know his risen Christ:
“Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me” (Gal. 1:15–16, NJB). He was writing at least twenty years after Jesus died, and gave no description of God’s son. His experience wasn’t a physical reappearance of a dead Jesus, but one that emerged from his own imagination that he thought was inspired by God.

There’s no first-century secular writer who mentioned Jesus, let alone a risen Jesus. If a resurrected Jesus had appeared to as many people as claimed, contemporary historians would have shouted it from the rooftops, yet there’s not a word about it.

There are many reasons why millions of people today are convinced Jesus rose from the dead, yet none of them are legitimate. They think eye-witnesses wrote the gospels. They think the gospels are factual biographies. They think Jesus’ disciples died for their Christian beliefs, yet there’s no good evidence for this. Some commentators dissect the four accounts of the resurrection to try to reconcile them with each other (unsuccessfully), as if that proved they were true. If a tale is told often enough, it takes on a life of its own, as can happen if a lot of other people believe too (argumentum ad numerum.)

The truth is the believers have been duped. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6PWFvzKl3I).

to be continued...
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29-05-2013, 05:47 AM (This post was last modified: 29-05-2013 07:10 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(28-05-2013 01:05 PM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark,

Obviously, I do not intend to respond to everything you wrote or else this discussion would become incredibly lengthy. Highlights from my perspective are below. Once again, I am not arguing so much as asking you to correct my reasoning if it is flawed. I quote you and then respond, as succinctly as I can.

For the record, I enjoy reading your evidence.

In this response, Point #10 is by far the most significant.

*** 1. "The Bible was written to profit certain groups; it contains little of true value, and its authors tried to appeal to the emotions and dreams of the masses to push a product."

The Bible was written by dozens of authors across many years and time periods. How can you ascribe a singular purpose to all of them? I can do it because I claim a single author speaking through various men. Obviously, you reject this claim as absurd. That is irrelevant for purposes of this particular logical contradiction. I can attribute a single purpose because I attribute a single author. The flaw in your argument is not present in mine unless you can tell me how you can reasonable assume dozens of different men writing in various time periods all had a singular purpose to deceive the populace.

I concede that if you meant only that the COMPLIATION of the Bible was to control others then this argument is irrelevant. However, that does not seem to be what you are claiming.

***2. "The assholes at the top of churches are also typically immoral. (We agree on this I think)"

Yes, we do.

***3. "Sorry Mojch, you lost me here! Could you humor me and reword this?"

Of course, sorry for the lack of clarity. It is a simple point really. In the study you cited, the following language appears [modified here for length, not content]...

"The absence of exceptions to the negative correlation between absolute belief in a creator
and acceptance of evolution . . . cast[s] doubt on the thesis that societies can combine high
rates of both religiosity and agreement with evolutionary science."

I was simply asserting that this conclusion is only valid if one assumes that the "religiosity" rejects evolution. Since I believe the Church should accept evolution, this portion of the study isn't relevant to disproving my personal beliefs [although I admit it supports changing main stream Christian beliefs].

***4. "You are trying to suggest that the reason Christian societies score highly as dysfunctional is because they're arguing with other Christians or secularists."

I was trying to suggest that the dysfunction was a result of conflicting religious and secular views causing low levels of adherence to traditional Christian standards. This is what produces the dysfunction, not the religion itself. This is an important distinction.

***5. "...let's be rational and honest."

This is my goal in all of my communications. When I fail, it is inadvertent.

***5. "Christian societies have more unwanted teenage pregnancies, more abortions, more STD's, more homicides and lower life expectancies because, statistically speaking , they're not applying rational solutions to life's problems."

We agree on this. However, this is not because the Christian solutions are WRONG but because they are not REALISTIC. Thus, we need back-ups and the refusal to provide those backups is irresponsible. Once again though, this is not evidence that the ideas themselves are wrong.

***6. "Churches need to get over their aversion to sex, and should start teaching that it is a normal, natural healthy part of life. They should recognize they have a responsibility to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." & "If sex was discussed openly and honestly in churches, there would be a lot less child molestation going on, many less frigid relationships, and a whole lot less neurotic people around."

Totally agree. However, your response didn't address my actual question which was "Is there any actual Biblical support for not teaching kids about sexual hygiene?" The decision to do, and all the negative consequences that flow from it, rest with the Church and not the religion. These consequences are evidence that the Church is wrong, not that the religion is. This is an old argument because it is valid. You cannot refute the truth of a belief based on the results of an improper application of that belief.

***7. "They should admit that the Bible was written by authors trying to control people's behavior."

They do. They just claim that the ultimate author was God and that the reason for the control was to ensure the benefit of humanity. You disagree with the Church that God wrote the Bible but do you honestly believe the Church doesn't openly acknowledge that the Bible seeks to control behavior?

***8. "There's barely a paragraph from the bible one could give some credibility to without "interpreting" it and "putting it into context."

Of course there isn't! I was surprised to see you write this. NO language can be given valid meaning without interpreting it and putting it into context. Forget religion. Google "theories of legal interpretation" and look at how we evaluate arguably our most important secular writings. The most basic canons are that interpretation must occur in CONTEXT. Heck, the Constitution was written just a few hundred years ago and we can't even agree on the proper context to interpret that document. The Bible SHOULD have more interpretive trouble. This isn't evidence that it is flawed. It is evidence that it is a written document from a long time ago.

***9. "Let's just consider Jesus, who, by the way, had little or nothing to do with a once living flesh and blood character who may or may not have existed." vs. "Most Christians fail to appreciate this because Jesus’ teachings have been reinterpreted, glossed over, or ignored to make him sound attractive.
These positions contradict in my mind. Either Jesus was a living flesh and blood being who taught discernible lessons or else there is no way to know that his teachings have been "reinterpreted". How can you claim that we have no real evidence Jesus existed and then turn around and claim that the modern versions of his teachings are different from the originals? Either Jesus made teachings that can be reinterpreted and the existence of these teaching is evidence he existed OR he did not make such teachings and these non-existence interpretations could not be "reinterpreted".

***10. "Jesus berated anyone who didn’t buy his message..."

Although I concede that you can, by approaching these quotes with the express intention of making them seem "intolerant", paint Jesus this way, they are much more coherently interpreted to be messages of grace and mercy. Before rejecting this out of hand, let me explain why.

You CANNOT disprove the conclusion of a proposition by assuming its premises are different than they are and thus creating a contradiction. You must disprove it by assuming it premises are TRUE and showing that they lead to a contradiction. This is NOT my opinion. It is basic Philosophy 101 at the college level. See http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/vocab/validity.html for an NYU philosophy professor's explanation of this concept. Thus, in order for your argument, which challenges a conclusion, to make sense, you must presume that the premises of Christianity are true and THEN prove that Jesus was intolerant. This you have not, and I argue you cannot, do.

EXAMPLE: “Anyone who believes in the Son has eternal life, but anyone who refuses to believe in the Son will never see life: the anger of God stays on him” (John 3:33, NJB). Assuming Christianity is true, this is not a statement of intolerance, it is a statement of truth. In fact, it would have been IMMORAL for Jesus not to have said it because, IF IT IS TRUE, then not saying it would prevent us from saving ourselves. Most of the other quotes you mentioned are explained in this way.

Basically, you attempt to prove that the message of Jesus is intolerant by assuming, from the beginning, that the basic premises of the message are wrong. Then, you attempt to prove that this intolerance shows the argument is wrong. Unless I am mistaken, this is circular reasoning.

One final example to make my point...

Bob shouts: "Shoot all of the zombies"

Is this statement "intolerant" of zombies? Who knows? We have to interpret it in context.

Let's assume that I assert that when Bob said this, all the zombies were attacking a building full of puppies and orphans. Thus, I claim Bob's statement was not intolerant of zombies but necessary in the circumstances.

In this situation, would the following argument be acceptable?

1. The zombies were not attacking the puppies and orphans.

2. Therefore, Bob's statement to shoot all the zombies was unjustified.

3. Therefore, Bob is intolerant because he advocated a negative position against zombies without cause.

I think the answer is clearly no. Notice that the conclusion ASSUMES premise 1. If you remove premise 1 but attempt to keep the conclusion, then the entire argument becomes invalid because the conclusion states something that is unproven. If you remove premise 1 and remove the "without cause" language, you are left with calling Bob intolerant just because he advocated a negative position. For reasons I hope should be obvious, this is an absurd position. Thus, your argument is, as a matter of logic, circular, invalid, or absurd. I am mistaken please explain in clear logical form how your argument is different. I ask for specificity because, if I am correct, this entire section of your argument is irrelevant.

***11: "Jesus had an arrogant, fanatical belief in himself, and an ambition to be in charge."

Once again, this is a perfect argument UNLESS HE WAS CORRECT AND JUSTIFIED IN HIS BELIEF. Thus, this is circular. See above. I think you have many more arguments with this same flaw. Once again, can you actually demonstrate why I am wrong in a logically coherent form and not just with broad generalities?

***12: I do not have time to respond and explain each of these quotes. Suffice it to say that I can. If you doubt this, I ask you to pick ONE that you think is difficult to explain. Then, we can have a manageable discussion.

***13: " “Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:24, NJB)

See the study you cited above that proves that as material success increases, faith decreases. Your own study confirms that this statement is true.

***14: "Also...you're not really a devout Christian, are you? If you were, you wouldn't have to modify traditional Christian beliefs."

Forgive the forceful nature of this reply. I am going to take a certain tone here because I found this statement to be highly offensive.

My religious faith is the most important thing in my life. I attend church regularly, pray multiple times daily, consistently modify my actions to conform to my beliefs, give of my time and money to support the parts of the Christian message that I agree with (which is ALL the ones that are crucial to the heart of the belief system), and spend hours upon hours testing my faith against the best argument that others can provide.

I have explained what I believe below. Please point to a SINGLE argument I have made that contradicts any of the below. I am relatively certain that what I just wrote would be a pretty accurate summation of the basics of Christian belief.

I believe...

God created the Universe and everything within it. God is an eternal, just, loving, personal, intelligent, coherent, and logical being who seeks a personal relationship with man. Mankind sinned and destroyed the perfect Universe created by God. God could not save mankind without modifying the current state of the Universe. Thus, Jesus Christ was sent to Earth. Jesus Christ is the living and eternal Son of the Most High God, sent to Earth to die for my sins. At the same time, he was both fully God and fully Man. He is part of ONE God, though he has a separate temporal existence in our world. He was crucified after living a perfect life. He died. He rose from the dead after the passage of three days. His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe, their free will taken away because sin is not possible in heaven, and given a place to live for eternity with God. Those who do not accept the sacrifice of Christ will spend eternity in Hell (although I WILL admit that my conception of Hell is VERY different from the mainstream view).

***15. "They therefore can’t justify ignoring parts of it, (which is what they all do.)"

I would be included in "all". Please tell me one passage of the Bible that you believe I "ignore". Note that reconciling a contradiction is NOT ignoring it. The words mean fundamentally different things.

Also, please don't point to the OT and say, "You don't keep this old law anymore." Asserting that changing times have caused changing standards is NOT the same as ignoring the old law. I will defend the OT laws as valid IN THEIR HISTORICAL CONTEXT. They have NOT "passed away". Contrary to ignoring them, I view them as evidence that the Israelite society was MORE moral than its contemporaries. Many of the OT laws so often attacked can be justified on the very same reasoning you use to attack Christianity for not advocating birth control. For example, God knew that the Israelites, as fallible humans, would sometimes commit rape during war times. Thus, he gave a specific set of commands that were designed to MITIGATE the harsh consequences of this immoral act. Unlike most ancient people who would simply rape and murder captured women, if the Israelites followed the OT commands, they had to give such women very specific protections. Of course, this is not as good as simply stating DO NOT RAPE. However, if you take this position to attack the OT law, then you are taking a position inherently contradictory to your assertion that simply giving blanket prohibitions is immoral when the consequences can be mitigated through additional information.

Sincerely,

Mojch

You wrote..."His death created sacrificial atonement which can be willingly accepted by any and all. Upon accepting that atonement, sins are forgiven begins to work in the life of the believer. Ultimately, those who believe will be removed from this Universe..."

Really? Are you sure the over-imaginative Paul didn't just make this up?

Christ’s Sacrificial Death

Paul invented the kooky concept that Christ was crucified to save souls from their sins. Why have plenty of people accepted this peculiar idea?

Having the son of God become human, and free the faithful from the guilt and consequences of their sins was an attractive story for a credulous congregation. It meant God was no longer a distant deity, but someone more like them, with whom they could identify. Christ became an ally, a great guy, and everyone’s best friend. He would personally shoulder your punishment, provided you believed in him. Do that, and Paul promised you a free pass to salvation.

Churches have since saturated people’s minds with this plan; today’s evangelical Christians, in particular, rarely question it. This is why they insist on believing in Jesus; so that sins can be forgiven and entry into heaven attained.

Yet the argument is irrational. Why would the son of God need to sacrifice himself to appease his father for the sins of the world? Is not sacrificing anyone a pointless, barbaric act that punishes a scapegoat? Why would faith in this sacrifice be a ticket for entry into heaven? Why would anyone agree with Paul’s delusions about sin? (http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/...atonement/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pla...zuxyq3ltls ).

Sin

Most people consider sin a deliberate act that results in harm, usually to another person. Yet Paul claimed sin can be something one’s born with, like a birth defect. (http://atheism.about.com/od/thebible/a/o...lsin.htm). This is a dim-witted idea, as a baby can’t deliberately cause harm, so can’t sin.

Paul is the only New Testament author to discuss this concept of “original sin,” as further articulated by Tertullian of Carthage (AD 150-225) and Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE). It’s a nasty notion. People are told they’re basically bad - because they were born. It makes them dislike themselves, which churches know is good for business.

If, for the sake of argument, we (modern, rational people) accept the assumption that our behavior can offend God, surely this God didn’t need Jesus’ death to forgive. He could be benevolent and simply say
“you’re genuinely sorry, so I forgive you.” Paul, however, didn’t believe in a benevolent God, but thought of God as a rigid character who demanded a sacrifice.

I think Paul misunderstood the real problem with immoral behavior (what he called sin.) The real sting of sin is that it harms our fellow humans, or sometimes the perpetrator himself. It should be the victim who does the forgiving, because he’s vindicated, maybe compensated, and the perpetrator usually promises not to repeat the offense. The guilty learn from their mistakes, and society benefits. Paul bypassed this reparative process by professing that sin was forgiven by having faith in Christ, an unrelated third party. In his scheme the perpetrator may not be genuinely repentant, the victim is uncompensated, so a repeat offense is very likely.

To pass on the responsibility of dealing with sin by having faith in Jesus is, in fact, deplorable. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA55jGyq2C8).

In turning Christ’s death into a sacrifice that saves souls, Paul sacrificed common sense. He promoted a shame-based, fear-based belief that degrades interpersonal relationships and compromises social harmony.

Salvation

Paul put forward the idea that life on earth was just a prologue, and, therefore, unimportant compared to the never-ending afterlife ( http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans 8&version=KJV ); so he taught people to daydream about achieving salvation. Yet it’s better to enjoy what life has to offer, and wish the same for our fellows, than to worry about a hypothetical afterlife!

If God exists, surely he has no interest in passing judgment on us, because he’s aware of why we do anything, because he’s all-knowing. Since God allegedly made every atom of us, our so-called “free will” is his creation too. He knows why, when and what we have done and will do. Why, then, would God pass judgment on us, his own creation? This didn’t occur to Paul, or to people today who try to promote this nonsense.

What’s more, Paul couldn’t prove God or heaven existed. He just assumed they were real. He borrowed “God” from traditional Judaism, and “heaven” from the Pharisees. These concepts allowed him to control people’s behavior by promising a reward he never had to deliver. Churches play the same game today.

Evangelical Christians are dismayed that their more down-to-earth friends haven’t accepted faith in Jesus, so aren’t going to be saved. They don’t realize that Paul just concocted this crazy concept.
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29-05-2013, 06:54 AM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
Dr. Mark:

First, thanks for debating so far. However, I just found out that I will be moving and transferring jobs over the next few weeks. Therefore, I do not think I will have time to continue our discussion for at least that time period. Per the rules of TBR, I announce my intention to suspend posting in this thread, at least until such time has passed.

I anticipate that I will be settled in about a month. Hopefully, I will be able to return at that time. I have found our discussions beneficial and I hope to continue learning from you. Though we may disagree, you are certainly a great voice for your side.

Best of luck getting your book published and in the future.

Sincerely,

Mojch
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29-05-2013, 07:26 AM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
(29-05-2013 06:54 AM)Mojch Wrote:  Dr. Mark:

First, thanks for debating so far. However, I just found out that I will be moving and transferring jobs over the next few weeks. Therefore, I do not think I will have time to continue our discussion for at least that time period. Per the rules of TBR, I announce my intention to suspend posting in this thread, at least until such time has passed.

I anticipate that I will be settled in about a month. Hopefully, I will be able to return at that time. I have found our discussions beneficial and I hope to continue learning from you. Though we may disagree, you are certainly a great voice for your side.

Best of luck getting your book published and in the future.

Sincerely,

Mojch

Oh, what a shame!

I hadn't even got out of first gear!

I look forward to your return. Don't do a Jesus by promising to come back, but never actually doing it now, will you! LOL, Mark
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13-07-2013, 08:23 PM
RE: Attack a Theist - Mark Fulton Challenge
Thread closed due to inactivity as per Mojch's post. Will be reopened at the request of the debaters.

Best and worst of Ferdinand .....
Best
Ferdinand: We don't really say 'theist' in Alabama. Here, you're either a Christian, or you're from Afghanistan and we fucking hate you.
Worst
Ferdinand: Everyone from British is so, like, fucking retarded.
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Thread Closed 

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Thumbs Down Childeye- I challenge you! Atothetheist 5 584 13-07-2013 08:20 PM
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  I challenge rbmead1960 to debate Phaedrus 6 747 13-07-2013 08:16 PM
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  Open "challenge" to any believers/converters Reltzik 40 1,838 15-05-2013 02:23 PM
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