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29-10-2014, 06:53 PM (This post was last modified: 18-06-2016 07:51 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
GWG's resource thread
Please don't make replies to this thread.

I am going to continue to post my various writings here.

Disclaimer: As the subjects of my writings and musings jump around depending on my area of focus that week, or perhaps specifics brought up during a debate, there is no rhyme or reason to the list of subjects. It would take too much work to completely edit the entire thing and reorganize, and redo the index page to match, just to have to do it again depending on what the next post is about. My apologies. I hope you find something here that helps you, and please feel free to use anything you like.

Index:

PAGE 1

Post #1: Index
Post #2: The development of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity
Post #3: The relationship between incarnation and atonement
Post #4: The impact of Emperor Constantine on the Nicene Council (updated 11Oct2015)
Post #5: Evolution, a summary of the book Why evolution is true by Coyne, J.
Post #6: Whales came from mammals
Post #7: Why do people doubt evolution?
Post #8: Morals
Post #9: Atheism is not a religion
Post #10: Jesus's timely return...or not

PAGE 2

Post# 11: Mormonism
Post# 12: Scientology
Post# 13: Faith, failed method of epistemology
Post# 14: First cause
Post# 15: Flavius Josephus
Post# 16: Hell isn't hot
Post# 17: Hitler was not an atheist
Post# 18: Islam -Sunni/Shia
Post# 19: Islam madness
Post# 20: Islam madness part 2

PAGE 3

Post# 21: Religion on a rapid decline
Post# 22: No Jesus
Post# 23: Ockham's razor
Post# 24: Pascal's Wager
Post# 25: Pat Robertson quotes..
Post# 26: Romulus
Post# 27: Shroud of Turin
Post# 28: Star light issue..
Post# 29: Story of jesus
Post# 30: Thermodynamics

PAGE 4

Post# 31: Watchmaker
Post# 32: Disliked atheists
Post# 33: No records of jesus
Post# 34: Biblical flat world
Post# 35: How long is a day in the bible?
Post# 36: The Great Global Flood myth
Post# 37: No one who ever wrote of jesus, actually knew him
Post# 38: Daniel
Post# 39: The odd silence about jesus (updated 10Oct2015 and 25Oct2015)
Post# 40: Easter "resurrection" myth challenge

PAGE 5

Post# 41: The top 10 verses that were not originally in the New Testament
Post# 42: Tacitus
Post# 43: Resurrection Fiction at its best
Post# 44: GWG's resource list
Post# 45: The TRUE Messiah!
Post# 46: Mythical Global Flood date IAW the Bible
Post# 47: To refute the popular Greenland Ice layer lost bomber argument
Post# 48: Shroud of Turin part 2
Post# 49: microevolution v. macroevolution
Post# 50: Countering-faith analogies

PAGE 6

Post# 51: Counter to posit: Need god for morals
Post# 52: The Evisceration of the Exodus
Post# 53: Problems with Mormonism's "first Vision"
Post# 54: Mormonism: The inconvenient problem of DNA counter-evidence
Post# 55: Joseph Smith's "Book of Abraham" lie
Post# 56: Understanding Biblical Terms Redefined by Mormons
Post# 57: Evolution: Out of Africa theory
Post# 58: Creation Myth types
Post# 59: Falsehood of Mormonism's Eternal Marriage concept
Post# 60: The systemic errancy problem of the scribes

PAGE 7

Post# 61: A reader’s brief review of Seth Andrews's book Sacred Cows
Post# 62: An interview with GWG by a Saint Leo University World Religions class student
Post# 63: Evidence of evolution right now
Post# 64: Radiometric Dating methods accuracy
Post# 65: The best fiction contains facts
Post# 66: More evidence for Bigfoot, than Jesus
Post# 67: Who is your daddy jesus?
Post# 68: Anonymously written gospels
Post# 69: Faith Virus
Post# 70: Tower of Babel Myth

PAGE 8

Post# 71: “Dr” Kent Hovind is a fraud

Link to thread where I did a deep dive into the mormon cult.
Discussion on the invalidity of Mormonism
http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/forum/...-Mormonism

more to follow...

Planned work: Moses myth

Flex

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 06:56 PM (This post was last modified: 02-05-2015 04:12 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
The development of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity
For a church to be considered a New Testament church it shall accept the biblical New Testament as its sole authority for all matters of faith. A “true” biblical church shall not accept any authority for its faith and daily practice, outside of the New Testament Scriptures. This does not discard the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures by any means. The church is not based on the biblical Old Testament because that is the record of God’s dealing with Israel. In the New Testament you will find a specific pattern and instructions from God concerning the church. The followers of the New Testament church model believe in the irrefutable word of God, that the Bible is complete as written, and it is, “… Given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

New Testament church parishioners believe that any hierarchy outside of the local church, is unsupported by Scripture. They think that Christ is the head, and that the New Testament Scriptures are the “true” churches only sole authority. I always find it amusing that with all the religions in the world, multiple versions of God or gods, and various holy books and ideologies of creation, that the believer of each religion thinks the believers of other religions are wrong, and that their own belief is the truth, the will and the way of the one “true” God. Even within Christianity, if every Christian who ever called another Christian, not a “true” Christian was removed from earth, there would be no Christians.

The Congregational style of a New Testament church is basically a biblical form of church government. Final authority in a New Testament church rests with the delegation. Each member has an equal democratic vote. They believe that the Bible, specifically the New Testament teaches that churches are to be governed by their own congregation following strict biblical guidelines.

In Trinitarian theology, the father gives everything he has, his very being, as a free gift to his son. Since the Son has everything that the father has, then they are in fact equal (Albl 139). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is closely associated with God’s gift of prophecy. For example, “the Lord took some of the spirit from Moses and gave it to the elders, and they were able to prophesy also (Num 11:25). In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit is closely associated with the creation of God’s son in human form. For example, Mary conceived Jesus not through ordinary human means, but “through the Holy Spirit” (Matt1:20). In essence, just as Jesus comes in the father’s name, so the Holy Spirit comes in Jesus’ name (Albl 150). I define the Holy Spirit as God’s breath, his very soul, that of which he can giveth away to create life itself.

The church understands such self-emptying on the part of God as simultaneously the fulfillment of human existence, whose transformative effects are extended in the church in the world through the work of the Holy Spirit (Mueller 44). As such, parishioners of the New Testament church believe that they can follow this example by sharing the Holy Spirit with others. This is “living through Christ” by spreading the good word, in line with strict interpretation of biblical reference.

In the New Testament, outside of the story of Christ in his teachings, is the insistent belief through Scripture that the end times or transition into the new world in the second coming of Christ to take his place as king of the world would occur at any moment. “That Christ would come soon is an expectation which appears even in the latter writings of the New Testament. It is present in almost every stratum” (Moule 141). A rationalist may posit that today things are going on exactly as they were before, and thus there will never be an end to the world. Believers in the New Testament think that the real mistake here is to make time the determining standard at all. A good analogy of this is that the Christian hope is not measured in terms of time, but in terms of the journey continuing to its completion; the incarnation. The question should not be when is the end of the world, but what can I do to be ready for it? (Moule 148).

Now let’s go back in time to the very formation, fabrication of the Christian faith, the Trinity concept and successful establishment of the Christian religion. We must begin with the immeasurable impact that Emperor Constantine had on the spread of Christianity, and successful suppression of incumbent Roman pagan beliefs. Legend has it that Emperor Constantine saw two stars cross in the sky, in which he took to be a sign from God that Christianity was the only true faith. While his conversion to Christianity in 312 was not truly the moment Christianity came to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, it definitely was one of the major contributing factors for its subsequent acceptance.

Emperor Constantine conducted a religious-based crusade against Licinius in a war to rescue Christians on the east from further persecution. In the years 312 to 313 Emperor Constantine began a systematic policy in which he gave honors, privileges and financial donations to the Christian church and their clergy. In 324, as the unchallenged controller of the East, he prohibited by Royal decree any cultic activities which until then fell under the traditional religions of the Roman Empire, and this is when the status of Christianity as the official religion of the state and its rulers was affirmed (Lieu 7).

Religious scholars concede that Emperor Constantine not only convened important council’s sessions, but also either presided over them, or appointed a Royal official to preside in his place. This reduced the very role of bishops and councils such as Nicaea and Tyre to utter insignificance by assimilating them to members of the Imperial consilium, whose advice was not binding on the Emperor. All decisions taken at the Nicene Council were made by Emperor Constantine alone, since he could completely disregard the advisory opinions of the bishops whom he had summoned to the Council (Lieu 8).

Some scholars contend that Emperor Constantine’s influence was minimal, and merely sat in on the councils out of personal interest. However, when we look at the Council of Nicaea of 359, we see that Emperor Constantine again took a prominent role of control in the theological debate. Once the foundation of Christianity as a predominant religion of the Empire had been successfully established, Emperor Constantine later relinquished some of his control and influence by putting a seal of approval on the rulings of bishops declared at councils. The governors of provinces were not even allowed to rescind what they had decided, for he said the priests of God were more trustworthy than any magistrate (Lieu 10).

We can trace back the very beginning of the entitlement mentality by church hierarchy to Emperor Constantine and his enabling policies. No matter what his crime, a bishop could only be deposed and exiled, not legally tortured and executed (Lieu 17). I am sure this was fundamental in developing the culture within the church of dealing with any indiscretions internally, and not invoking the authority of the legal system. This of course has led to much abuse throughout history. One has only to watch the news these days to see on a routine basis, some priest or other has been exposed for having performed a plethora of transgressions, hidden by the church by simply moving the clergy member to a new area. This mentality just exposes more people to being victimized.

On the basis of Christian faith and the Trinity concept; the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, the first Council of Nicaea in 325 called together by Emperor Constantine, worked to establish a settlement of the issue of the relationship between father and the son. The focus primarily was on defining Jesus Christ as a deity. Establishment of the Holy Spirit was largely unaddressed until after the father and son relationship was settled in 362. After Nicaea, some bishops continued to prefer a term which had been discussed and rejected by the Council: homoiousios, in the sense of the son ‘being of like substance’ with the father. There were other bishops who were antagonistic to the term homoiousios because it was not biblical (O’Collins 184). Seven years later, the Trinitarian terminology was officially adopted after first Council Constantinople.

In its letter to Pope Damascus, a post conciliar synod confessed ‘one divinity, power, or substance’ in ‘three most perfect hypostasesin’ (O’Collins 185). At the Trinitarian level, Constantinople I reaffirmed the Nicene Council confession of faith that the son was ’of one substance’ with the father, as well as teaching the divinity of the Holy Spirit (O’Collins 186). Thus, the official establishment of Christian doctrine regarding the Trinity of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit was initiated.

Works Cited:

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2009. Print.

The Catholic Study Bible: The New American Bible 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University press, Inc., 2011. Print.

Moule, C. F. D., The birth of the New Testament. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Print

Lieu, Samuel N. C., and Montserrat, Dominic, Constantine: History, Historiography, and Legend. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

O'Collins, Gerald, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 06:57 PM (This post was last modified: 04-06-2016 01:01 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
The relationship between incarnation and atonement
To contemplate the relationship between incarnation and atonement, with special emphasis on Anselm’s idea of satisfaction, we must first look at what incarnation and atonement mean to those of the Christian faith. Incarnation is continual in that our redemption depends on the reality that the eternal Son of God came to us as a man. If he did not come fully down, then we are not fully saved (Dawson 5-6). Since Jesus became what we are, accepting our very humanity and God crossed the gap between human and deity, and he overcame our sin and came to live on our behalf. He chose to leave a faithful life that was beyond our capacity, but required by the Father.

The very obedience of Jesus led him to die on the cross as a penalty for human sin. Not only did he die for us, but he gave us new life for salvation, and salvation depends on our continuing union with him. The Incarnation is a fundamental theological teaching of Christianity, based on its understanding of the New Testament. The Incarnation represents the Christian belief that Jesus, who is the second part of the triune, God, took on a human body and became both man and deity. This can be seen in the Bible in John 1:14: "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (Bible – King James Version – John). The Christians worldview is rooted in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the belief that Jesus is God and human in one person (Mueller 141).

Atonement is a theological theory that describes human being’s reconciliation with God. This atonement is the forgiveness of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This voluntary sacrifice by Jesus made possible the reconciliation between man and God. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” (Bible – King James Version – John 3:16). This Scripture verse highlights the source of atonement by the very provision of God’s love. It is the love of God the father that Paul has in view when he speaks of him who “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Bible – King James Version – Romans 8:32). Surely God could have saved man by other means then allowing his only son to die. Since God is all-powerful, other ways of forgiving sin were available to him. Some view the very necessity of his great self-sacrifice magnified his glory and enhanced the precise character of the salvation bestowed (Murray 12). Salvation requires not only the forgiveness of sin but also justification. Sin is the contradiction of God and he must react against it with holy wrath. The demonstration of Christ on the cross is the ultimate demonstration of the love of God. The very nature of the atonement requires that it contains obedience, sacrifice, propitiation, reconciliation and redemption.

Obedience is a compilation of motive, purpose, direction and intention, of which Christ was the epitome of obedience and discharge of God’s will in its increasing demands leading up to his inevitable sacrificial death. Sacrifice is the removal of sin liability via the transference of liability itself. Propitiation; to pacify, and Christ’s propitiation to God was to deal with the wrath so that those loved would no longer be the objects of wrath and God’s love would be eternal. Reconciliation is concerned with our alienation from God, and the inherent need to have that alienation removed. Redemption by Jesus’ blood, “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Bible – King James Version – revelations 5:9).

This atonement can be broken down into various theories, one of which is the satisfaction theory of atonement, developed by Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109). Anselm posited that the sin unbalanced the order of justice in the universe. Once a sin has been performed, something good must be done to restore the balance. For example, a sin is an incurrence of debt to God, the source of order, and that debt must be paid through true repentance (Albl 271). The work of Christ is to repair the breach human sin introduced into the relationship between humanity and God. Anselm argued in Cur Deus Homo that this work can be accomplished only by a God-man; one person equally divine and human. This doctrine of Christ is commonly called “Chalcedonian Christology” because it was created by the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE (Visser 213).

One cannot explain the incarnation by appeal to any supposed obligation on God’s part to respect the devil’s rights over humanity. Since the devil had no such rights, so it appears that God would not have been acting unjustly if he had just delivered human beings the power of the devil by fiat. What reason did God have to redeem mankind and the way he did, given that he was not under any obligation to do so? Anselm suggests that since we know God’s will is never irrational, we can be confident that God had some reason for doing what he did, even if we do not see or understand what the reason is (Visser 214).

Anselm believed he could prove, by unavoidable logical steps, that Christ was removed from the case, as if there had never existed anything to do with him, is it possible that without him mankind could have been saved (Anselm 261 – 262). The foundation of Christianity is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins (Bible – King James Version –1 Cor 15:3). In this way he fulfilled the old covenant sacrificial system, reconciled us to God, and changed our lives forever. This is the doctrine of the atonement (Mattison 1). At this point, the author makes a faith claim or commonly known as a knowledge claim, by positing “its reality is not in dispute”. I must interject here the whole subject is in dispute and has been the center of the debate for centuries. The author’s mere assertion in a knowledge claim that the atonement “reality” is not in dispute does not make it true. It does, however, assert that the atonement theory is an essential foundation of Christian religious belief. The author goes on to say, “we know that the atonement works, but how it works is not as clear.” Again, a knowledge claim is made; we have zero proof that the atonement works, at best it is a comforting theory for the faithful to cling as validation of their faith to themselves.

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Bible –King James Version – Matthew 20:28). The statement suggests that Jesus gave his life as an extreme expression of love for mankind. Iranaeus of Lyons argued that Jesus was paid as a ransom to the devil to free people’s souls. This view was known as the ransom or classic theory. The ransom theory was the dominant theological theory for centuries until dismantled by Anselm of Canterbury. He pointed out that this theory empowered the devil too much, and he posited that Jesus’s life was a ransom paid to God, not the devil. Anselm viewed sin as dishonorable conduct that went against God. Since God cannot ignore this conduct, a debt or “satisfaction” is required. Since mankind is unable to make the requisite level of satisfaction, God became human to do it on our behalf. Thus, Jesus was a payment to God, not the devil. But since Jesus was part of the triune God, did God merely appease himself?

The church leaders developed doctrine to reflect Jesus Christ’s fulfilling of God’s will through active obedience, vice his passive obedience through death. God requires mankind to obey and live a life of perpetual obedience (Mattison 1). This endless cycle of perpetual intellectual and spiritual slavery upon birth, where we continuously strive to bow and scrape in deference to our alleged creator’s self-centered will and ego, is hardly what a thinking person would presume a deity of such universe and life-creating power, would be so obsessed with. What kind of immature supreme being would create all of this, create life, destroy life, send part of his own “body” down in the form of a man through immaculate conception, so he can die on our behalf to satisfy God’s ego requirement for sacrifice. I don’t purport to understand the consciousness of this alleged magical creature, but it is hard to conceive such childish, disingenuous manipulation of life for the entertainment of itself. This dramatic, over thought, contrite, and anthropocentric theory must be the creation of man’s imagination. How could it be anything else?

In summary, this complex, dramatic Christian theological concept is obviously a fabrication of much thought and introspective philosophy. Perhaps they could have put all that time and effort into something more constructive. Creating a subservient, subjugative crutch for people with low mental resilience, apparent inability to use reason and logic to comprehend the world around them, and wild imaginations seem unnecessary. In my opinion, religion and faith block the believer’s ability to utilize appropriate epistemological methods to process and gain knowledge. As apparent by the fact that a 2014 study showed that one-fourth of America believes the sun revolves around the earth. This is the perfect example of how religious thought handicaps a person’s ability to learn.

Works Cited:

Mattison, Mark. “The Meaning of the Atonement.” Mark Mattison. 1987. Web. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/openhse/atonement.html

Anselm, Evans, G. R., The Major Works. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc, 1998. Print.

Visser, Sandra and Williams, Thomas, Anselm. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc, 2009. Print.

Murray, John, The Atonement. Evansville: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1976. Print.

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2009. Print.

The Catholic Study Bible: The New American Bible 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University press, Inc., 2011. Print.

Dawson, Gerrit S. Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation. New Jersey: P&R publishing, 2004. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:00 PM (This post was last modified: 30-10-2015 11:09 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
The impact of Emperor Constantine on the Nicene Council
First lets take it back to about 380 CE, after Emperor Constantine...and we will follow the yellow brick road to the impact of his influence.

Theodosius(347-395 CE) summoned the church council to Constantinople in 381 CE (second ecumenical council) in an effort to bring about unity of faith throughout the empire. He did believe in the Nicene Creed (325 CE) which was developed at the Council of Nicaea. On February 28, 380, Theodosius, without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities, issued an edict prescribing a creed that was to be binding on all subjects. Only persons who believed in the consubstantiality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were henceforth to be considered Catholic Christians. There is no doubt that the principle of religious intolerance was proclaimed in this edict.

Theodosius suppressed paganism and Arianism, and established the creed of the Council of Nicaea (325) as the universal norm for Christian orthodoxy and directed the convening of the second general council at Constantinople (381) to clarify the formula. Now you must go back BEFORE Theodosius to see who drafted and influenced the Council of Nicaea (325 CE) which was Emperor Constantine. Theodosius simply reinforced the work of the Council of Nicaea as binding....again. This was done to snuff out the second rising dispute between that arose about 379 CE between disciples of the Nicene Creed (according to which Jesus Christ is of the same substance as God the Father) and several other Christian groups in his part of the empire.

"Nicene Creed is a Christian statement of faith that is the only ecumenical creed because it is accepted as authoritative by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and major Protestant churches.

Until the early 20th century, it was universally assumed that the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (the more accurate term) was an enlarged version of the Creed of Nicaea, which was promulgated at the Council of Nicaea (325). It was further assumed that this enlargement had been carried out at the Council of Constantinople (381) with the object of bringing the Creed of Nicaea up to date in regard to heresies about the Incarnation and the Holy Spirit that had risen since the Council of Nicaea.

Additional discoveries of documents in the 20th century, however, indicated that the situation was more complex, and the actual development of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed has been the subject of scholarly dispute. Most likely it was issued by the Council of Constantinople even though this fact was first explicitly stated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. It was probably based on a baptismal creed already in existence, but it was an independent document and not an enlargement of the Creed of Nicaea" (Britannica).

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Nicene-Creed

Now here is where one has to apply a bit of logic and thought...note the words I underlined...faith...subject of scholary dispute....most likely. Yes, that made me pause as well. Jello solid it all is, and it takes a significant amount of digging into the sequential ecumenical councils as well as who influenced each one, who made decrees that affected the findings, and who potentially (Augustine was one) changed various writings to substantiate what they viewed was the "intent" of god's word etc. So it gets a bit murky. Now, lets take a peek at my claim that before Theodosius stirred the pot, Constantine had already set into motion the......should I say it...first causal...(hehe)... of the explosion of christianity in that region, and ultimately the world.

Any analysis of the impact of Emperor Constantine on the councils of Nicaea is bound to be one of controversy and debate. It is my position that Emperor Constantine had an inappropriately heavy and undue influence on the various councils that strived to answer various questions of Christianity. We must begin with the immeasurable impact that Emperor Constantine had on the spread of Christianity, and his successful suppression of incumbent Roman pagan beliefs. Legend has it that Emperor Constantine saw two stars cross in the sky, in which he took to be a sign from God that Christianity was the only true faith. Eusebius, in his written work Life of Constantine, claimed that Emperor Constantine had thought long and hard about which God to ask for help in the upcoming battles.

His decision rested on honoring his father’s God alone. He claimed that in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same symbol that he saw in the sky earlier in the day and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign, and to use it as a safeguard for all future engagements with enemies (Stewart 67). While his conversion to Christianity in 312 CE was not truly the moment Christianity came to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, it was one of the major contributing factors for its subsequent acceptance.

Emperor Constantine conducted a religious-based crusade against Licinius in a war to rescue Christians on the east from further persecution. In the years 312 CE to 313 CE, Emperor Constantine began a systematic policy in which he gave honors, privileges and financial donations to the Christian Church and their clergy. In 324 CE, as the unchallenged controller of the East, he prohibited by Royal decree any cultic activities that until then fell under the traditional religions of the Roman Empire, and this is when the status of Christianity as the official religion of the state and its rulers was affirmed (Lieu 7).

Constantine used his imperial power to protect and support the Christian church. He was a sincere if somewhat simple believer. He knew portions of the Old Testament and perhaps the basic outline of biblical history, and he could summarize the story of the Gospels. For Constantine, God was a providential Judge, who supports the righteous and destroys the wicked, and he believed that the church had to be unified if it was going to offer pleasing worship to God. Constantine expended an enormous amount of treasure on churches; it was used both on buildings and, with the emperor’s explicit encouragement, on establishing ministries of mercy to the poor, sick and the widows(Leithart 302).

Emperor Constantine also wanted to end the growing controversy between Arius, a priest in the Church of Alexandria, and his Bishop Alexander. Bishop Alexander became concerned when he noticed a growing number of clergy members accepting and encouraging Arius’s views that went against the accepted teachings of the Church in regards to the relationship between God and Jesus. Emperor Constantine called for the Council of Nicaea which was considered to be the first Ecumenical Council of the church because bishops from both the eastern and western parts of the world would attend.

Emperor Constantine attempted to give the Council of Nicaea an inspiring opening speech designed to bring the 300 bishops in attendance to a focused unity. He even reminded them that Christ had instructed them to forgive one another. “… As soon as I heard that intelligence that I had least expected to receive, I mean the news of your dissension, I judged it to be of no secondary importance, but with the earnest desire that a remedy for this evil also might be found through my means, I immediately sent to require your presence. And now I rejoice in beholding your assembly; but I feel that my desires will be most completely fulfilled when I can see you all united in one judgment, and that common spirit of peace and concord prevailing amongst you all, which becomes you, as consecrated to the service of God, to commend to others” (Stewart 73).

Arius and his followers were in the minority against their counterparts from the West. Both groups presented arguments from Scripture, essentially canceling each other out. Part of the problem was that the scriptural terms used in the debate (such as father and son) were too ambiguous. The Arians exploited this ambiguity, insisting that it is only logical that he father must exist prior to his son. The Orthodox countered that the Arians were taking the analogy too literally (Albl 154). Then the debate began on the specific terminology for the Creed that they were trying to promulgate. They needed to be able to define the son’s relationship with the father in a philosophically precise term.

In the end however, the two sides refused to come to a common agreement over the term Homoousios, which means “of the same substance,” meaning that God the father and the son are not just alike in some way, but that they actually share the same divinity. The Arians wanted to make a small change by adding a letter to make the word homoiousios, which means “of similar substance”. When it was time to finish business and sign the Creed, 17 bishops remained opposed. Emperor Constantine threatened to depose these bishops and send them into exile. Two of the 17 bishops stood their ground and were subsequently deposed and exiled for their efforts (Stewart 73).

How is it possible to affirm that Jesus is somehow God while avoiding the undesirable conclusion that there are two gods? If they adopt John’s language, namely that Jesus is the Logos become flesh, is this logos to be thought of as God properly speaking or some lesser divinity? How is it possible, if at all, for Christians to affirm that God “becomes” something when Christians also affirm that God is eternal and unchanging? These questions created conflict and confusion within the Christian movement as it spread across the Mediterranean world and increasingly interactive with Greco-Roman culture and thought. Such confusion ultimately led to the need for Christian theologians and bishops to provide a conceptual framework in which to speak properly and consistently about Jesus’ identity (Mueller 121).

Some religious scholars concede that Emperor Constantine not only convened important council’s sessions, but also either presided over them or appointed a Royal official to preside in his place. This reduced the very role of bishops and councils such as Nicaea and Tyre to utter insignificance by assimilating them to members of the Imperial consilium, whose advice was not binding on the Emperor. All decisions taken at the Nicene Council were made by Emperor Constantine alone since he could completely disregard the advisory opinions of the bishops whom he had summoned to the Council (Lieu 8).

Other religious scholars contend that Emperor Constantine’s influence was minimal and that he merely sat in on the councils out of personal interest. “He attended some of the councils and contributed to discussions but did not chair any council or determine the outcome” (Leithart 304). However, when we look at the Council of Nicaea of 359 CE, we see that Emperor Constantine again took a prominent role of control in the theological debate. Once the foundation of Christianity as a predominant religion of the Empire had been successfully established, Emperor Constantine later relinquished some of his control and influence by putting a seal of approval on the rulings of bishops declared at councils. The governors of provinces were not even allowed to rescind what they had decided, for he said the priests of God were more trustworthy than any magistrate (Lieu 10).

The first Council of Nicaea in 325 CE was called together by Emperor Constantine, and it worked to establish a settlement of the issue of the relationship between father and the son. The focus primarily was on defining Jesus Christ as a deity. Establishment of the Holy Spirit was largely unaddressed until after the father and son relationship was settled in 362 CE. After Nicaea, some bishops continued to prefer a term that had been discussed and rejected by the Council: homoiousios, in the sense of the son ‘being of like substance’ with the father. There were other bishops who were antagonistic to the term homoiousios because it was not biblical (O’Collins 184). Seven years later, the Trinitarian terminology was officially adopted after first Council Constantinople. Even Thomas Aquinas acknowledged that some words used in the churches official declarations are not biblical, but insisted that “the urgency of confuting heretics made it necessary to find new words to express the ancient faith about God” (Albl 155).

In its letter to Pope Damascus, a post-conciliar synod confessed ‘one divinity, power, or substance’ in ‘three most perfect hypostasesin’ (O’Collins 185). At the Trinitarian level, Constantinople I reaffirmed the Nicene Council confession of faith that the Son was ’of one substance’ with the father, as well as teaching the divinity of the Holy Spirit (O’Collins 186). Thus, the official establishment of Christian doctrine regarding the Trinity of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit was initiated. If It was not for the overbearing presence of Emperor Constantine upon the proceedings, to include the threat of deposing any opposing bishops to what he considered to be the way forward, Christianity would not be what it is today.

The councils findings were that God’s very self is encountered in Christ, not just a creature of elevated status, not a proxy. Jesus is the personal manifestation of God in the world according to the Christian tradition. A good analogy would be that God is like the sun, and Jesus is like the sunlight emanating from the sun. The same substance, the same source, and yet different in form and function.

If it was not for the overwhelming presence of Emperor Constantine at the various councils, deposing of bishops with differing views, issuing of decrees banishing all other forms of religion except Christianity, and his political, military, royal and financial support of Christianity, there is a good chance that the world’s dominant religion today could’ve been Mithraism. It is hard to conceive that Christianity would be the influential worldwide religion that is today if it were not for the impact of Emperor Constantine.

Works Cited:

Leithart, Peter J., Defending Constantine. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Print.

Lieu, Samuel N. C., and Montserrat, Dominic, Constantine: History, Historiography, and Legend. London: Routledge, 2002. Print.

O'Collins, Gerald, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2009. Print.

Stewart, Cynthia., The Catholic church: a brief popular history. Winona, Mn: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2008. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:11 PM (This post was last modified: 21-08-2015 07:43 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
Evolution
Abstract
This paper will provide a critique and personal reflection on the textbook "Why Evolution Is True". The author will reflect on the themes presented in the chapters of the book and provide personal introspective analysis of the content within. It will describe the author’s personal epistemological approach to the concept of evolution. It will include the author’s perspective based on philosophy, theology and sociological aspects of the subject as well as demonstrate the authors scientific understanding of evolution. The author will lastly offer a critical evaluation of the ideas presented in these chapters.

Keywords: evolution, sonic hedgehog gene, homologies, vestigial structures, fossil record, dating methods, transitional fossils


What is evolution?
This fascinating book by Dr. Jerry Coyne is an extremely important look at the evolution debate ongoing today in this nation. The book begins by discussing one of the many top court cases that determined that the scientific facts of evolution should be taught in public schools. It is important that as a society, and as intelligent educated moral human beings, we continue to fight the continuous attempts by members of various Christian faiths, who strive to force the courts to allow them to interject some form of intelligent design into the public school system. This is truly a tragedy and an outright attack on the minds of our youth, potentially undermining the future success of this country and its ability to compete globally in math and science fields.

It is literally impossible to endeavor to grow intellectually on science-based subjects, like evolution, if one has a personal belief that the earth was created by an omnipresent, life creating super gene 6 to 10,000 years ago. This view of the real world around us stunts the believer’s ability to acknowledge, accept and learn to evaluate empirical evidence using reason, logic and scientific falsification processes.

To summarize the theory of evolution, one only has to understand that life on earth has evolved gradually over a long period of time from an ancient, primitive self-replicating molecule which evolved over time, creating many diverse living organisms.

Most likely the most controversial part of the evolutionary theory is natural selection. This is due to design in nature by a natural mechanical process that does not require supernatural, creation stories to explain its existence. This is controversial because those that subscribe to fabricated fairytales and invalid delusional supernatural transcendental belief systems do not like when you muddy the water with facts, reason, logic and empirical evidence. These people posit intelligent design as the answer, which is a religious argument lacking empirical support and offers no tenable hypothesis.

Written in the rocks
The amazing world of fossils, how they have intrigued us for so many years. How do we have fossils? It requires that the remains of a living organism, plant or animal, die in a body of water, since the bottom and be covered by sediment to prevent their decay. When you consider these very specific requirements is very easy to understand why the fossil record for the last 17 million years is spotty and incomplete. Scientists hypothesize that less than 1% of all species have fossil evidence for us to analyze. Thankfully, we had more than enough fossils show us how evolution proceeded, and to show how major species split off from one another over time.

To the educated, intellectual and rational person, the fact that the fossil record does not give any evidence in support of intelligent design or creationism, which posits that all species appeared suddenly and remain unchanged is of no surprise. To me the biggest blow to creationism, besides the fact that the whole idea is fabricated and can be traced back to its inception, is a simple fact that scientifically we can disprove it in so many ways. The biggest being the fossil record does not reflect or support in any way all life appearing at one time on the earth. This of course is the least of creationist supporters worries as every angle of their belief system can be dismantled piece by piece.

For me the single biggest piece of evidence is transitional fossils such as Tiklaalik, or Archaeopteryx, which show major transitions from fish to amphibian and reptile to bird. This is of course very inconvenient to those who clutch a delusion in order to comprehend the real world around us. Delusion; A belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary. Which pretty much defines religion.

Remnants: vestiges, embryos, and bad design
This chapter discussed the result of adaptation in a species which produces a feature that has either lost its usefulness, or its purpose has been adopted for new uses is a vestigial. For example; wings of an ostrich, the human appendix which was very important to our ancestors who primarily ate vegetation but is of no use to us, and the human coccyx. These are all vestigial traits which only makes sense to consider evolution as the cause. Another oddity is atavisms; an anomaly which appears to be the reoccurrence of an ancient ancestral trait. A human baby born with a tail, or a horse born with extra toes. They differ from vestigial traits because they rarely occur, rather than be present in every individual.

I found these examples personally fascinating, how interesting that even today we can see the rare appearance of ancient traits and human and animal species. If we were created, by some anthropocentric, Abrahamic based version of a God for example, why would we have these ancestral traits which reflect our mutation as a species from another species over a very long period of time. If we were created from a handful of dirt, or so the fairytale goes, why would we have the remnants of a tail inside of our body, and a fishlike circulatory system? Why would we have gill arch structures in our embryonic structure during our early development stages? To me, yet again, this indicates that we are exactly what evolutionary scientist have proclaimed, a successful mutation of Homo sapiens species over a very long period of time. It is fascinating to understand that as one species evolves into another, the new specie has inherited the genetic developmental programming of its ancestor, and this is proven over and over in this book.

The ample evidence of bad design refutes, yet again, the ridiculous posit of an intelligent designer. If we were created, we would not have so many imperfections. These imperfections are the mark of evolution and are exactly what we would expect to happen. The Laryngeal nerve of mammals is a good example of this. Another nail in the coffin for the fairytale, fabricated, anthropocentric concept of a creator.

The geography of life
As I went through this chapter and reflected on the vast amount of biogeographic evidence for evolution, I felt sorry for those who cling to the creationism concept. It must require a consistent amount of self-discipline, or self-delusion, to completely ignore the plethora of superior evidence that strongly contradicts their belief system. If I hold up a rock and say that it is 4.5 billion years old, and validate that posit with ample scientific evidence by the utilization of various proven dating methods, and a creationist says it is 6,000 years old and holds up a fictional book as evidence to the contrary, this is not a countering argument worthy of discussion. I guess that is why it is called blind faith.

Whenever a creationist has been asked to offer a credible explanation on why different types of animals have similar forms in distinctly different places, their only answer is the GODDIDIT excuse. Unfortunately for creationists, convergent evolution explains this very well. Species that live in similar habitats will have experienced the same environmental stressors, and thus evolve with similar genetic adaptations. When we perform archaeological digs in one area we should find direct descendents of earlier species that lived in this area, to no surprise this is what we find. Yet again, another nail in the coffin of creationism.

Creationism would have to propose that there had occurred an endless number of successive creations and extinctions worldwide, and each set of newly created species were made to look like older ones that lived in the same area. This is about as plausible as the ridiculous Noah’s Ark story which was based on the epic of Gilgamesh myth. Perhaps it is time we discard the chicken bones, tea leaves and fairytales and accept the real, tangible, empirical evidence at hand.

The engine of evolution
Evolution by selection is really a combination of lawfulness and randomness. First you have a random process, the occurrence of mutations that generate genetic change, and then a lawful process… natural selection, that orders this mutation, keeping the good in this guarding the bad by survival of the fittest theory. I found it intriguing when I read that adaptation increases the fitness of the individual and not the species. As the theory of evolution predicts, we never see adaptations which benefit the species at the expense of the individual. That would be something we would expect if living organisms were designed and created by magical sky genie.

Humans are a long lived and slow reproducing species with generation times of about 20 years or more. It is therefore difficult to observe inter-generational genetic change. Consider that only two reproductive generations have passed since the discovery of the structure of DNA. Much of the genetic variation that we see in human populations today developed within the past 50,000 years, after the spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa and into other parts of the world.

If you truly wish to see selection in action, then you should look at species that have short generation times and that are adapting to a new environment. One of the most derisive creationists concepts is what I call the God of the gaps argument. Basically wherever there is a gap in the theory of evolution’s trail of evidence, they posit God as the cause. There is no reason to position intelligent design as the answer to questions or gaps, simply because science has not yet found the answer. Science is the antithesis of faith. Science is a process that contains multiple and redundant checks, balances, and safeguards against human bias and error.

Science has a built in corrective mechanism; hypothesis testing. Proponents of intelligent design, a ridiculous pseudoscience, do not bother to clutter their perspectives with inconvenient facts, they simply claim to know the truth, based on a fictional disproven fairytale of a book called the Bible. When you push them into a corner with reason, logic and evidence, they simply wave it aside and pointed at the Bible. This is not countering evidence, this is delusional belief in a transcendental reality which has no place in the discussion of science.

How sex drives evolution
Although I am fairly fluent in most concepts dealing with evolution and scientific principles, I did not know how big a part sex had in evolution. It makes total sense, and now that I know about it through this course I accept it explicitly, but it is fascinating to consider the major impact that sex drive, a mate selection had on the evolution of the world today.

To me the impact and major contributing factor of sex and evolution is the simplest concept. Pretty much in all species, the female picks their mate, or the strongest male dominates all the females for reproduction. Thus ensuring those strong genes and genetic traits are passed on to their offspring. It all comes down to males must compete for females. Female choice of a mate has driven the evolution of many sexual dimorphisms.

When we look at the impact of sex, for example why are there only two sexes and not three or four? This is a common countering argument from those who work so hard to discredit evolution. As usual it is due to their lack of knowledge and biology that leaves them down the road to misinformation. Natural selection would favor a state in which one sex makes a lot of small reproductive material (sperm or pollen), and the other makes fewer larger reproductive material such as eggs. This results in males competing for females, the males should be promiscuous and the females coy in their decision and choice of a mate.

The origin of species
Darwin’s book changed the world and many ways, and inspired intelligent, educated thinking scholars to continue his work since then. Darwin identified how and why a single species changes over time by natural selection, but he never explained how one species divides into two. If we didn’t have speciation, we would only have a single, evolved descendent of that very first species. Darwin was a brilliant man, and I often wonder what was going through his mind as he started down this path of discovery.

While I was fairly familiar with the theory of evolution, speciation and the substantial supporting fossil record, I really had no idea how in depth, brilliant and solid the evidence really is. When you consider how different species not only look different, but had developed genetic barriers that prevent them from interbreeding with other species, even though they all can be traced back to the same common species. It amazes me that someone can wave aside the absolute all inspiring tonnage of evidence that supports evolution, speciation and transitional mutations, all because they have a disproven, fictional book written by groups of superstitious, religious fanatics 2000 years ago based on the oral retelling of a myth passed down from one family to another.

What about us
This was probably my favorite chapter as it talked about human genetic heritage. The fact that DNA evidence proves that we are evolved apes that descended from other apes, and that are closes current ape relative is the chimpanzee, who can be traced back to an older species that the split off from our own several million years ago in Africa. I find it interesting that with the current religiosity numbers that reflect that in the United States 35% of the population is nonreligious, and the 65% remaining (though thankfully dwindling in numbers more each year) believe in some form of religion, mostly Christian, and understand DNA evidence when it comes to criminal investigations and trials. However, wave that aside, when it is inconvenient that DNA evidence proves that we are descended from apes.

I always find it funny how you can pick and choose what you want to belief from the same source. Even within their holy book, “that Scripture is merely a parable”, “that Scripture is fact”, and how do you figure out which is which? Either DNA evidence is a solid, provable prima facie, or not. I submit to you that DNA evidence is a solid, provable prima facie, and thus proves we are descended from apes.

Evolution redux
This chapter really brings it home, some of the more enlightened creationist understand and even accept portions of evolution, and they were even state they find evidence for evolution very convincing, but they still don’t believe it. Someday books like this would not have to be written from a position of defending facts because the majority of the population clings to superstitious belief in a delusion. It is time to put aside the chicken bones, tea leaves, tarot cards and fairytales, and exchange them for empirical evidence, reason, logic and substantiated scientific truth. The fact that, religious belief (declining globally at an ever increasing rate) still holds a majority, does not give it validity due to the argument of popularity.

We need to strive to spread the truth, facts, and evidence to educate ourselves and our children based on our understanding of the real world. We can allow our personal beliefs in a transcendental dimension to be something we teach at home and at church, if that is desired or deemed necessary by the individual. Religion has no place in school as it is not based in fact. The two really are different subjects; Science and fiction, fact and faith.


Work cited:

Coyne, J. (2009) Why evolution is true. London: Penguin Books Ltd.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:14 PM (This post was last modified: 30-10-2015 11:08 AM by goodwithoutgod.)
Whales came from mammals
Whales happen to have an excellent fossil record, courtesy of their aquatic habits and early fossilized bones. How they evolved has emerged within only the last 20 years. This is one of our best examples of an evolutionary transition, since we have a chronologically ordered series of fossils, perhaps a lineage of ancestors and descendents, showing their movement from land to water.

Whales like their relatives, the Dolphins and porpoises, are mammals. They are warm blooded, produce live young who may feed with milk, and have hair around their blowholes. Evidence from whale DNA, as well as vestigial traits like their rudimentary pelvis in hind legs, show that their ancestors lived on land. Whales almost certainly evolved from a series of the artiodactyls: the group of mammals that have an even number of toes, such as camels and pigs. Biologists now believe that the closest living relative of Whales is the hippopotamus. But whales have their own unique features that set them apart from their terrestrial relatives. These include the absence of rear legs, front limbs that are shaped like paddles, a flattened fluke-like tail, and blowhole, a short neck, simple conical teeth, special features of the ear that allow them to hear underwater, and robust projections on top of the vertebrae to anchor the strong swimming muscles of the tail. Thanks to an amazing series of fossils found in the Middle East, we can trace the evolution of each of these traits, except for the bonus tail which doesn’t fossilized, from a terrestrial to an aquatic form.

The sequence begins with a recently discovered fossil of a close relative of whales, a raccoon sized animal called Indohyus. Letting 48 million years ago it was an artiodactyl. It is closely related to whales because it has special features of the years in teeth seen only in modern whales and their aquatic ancestors. Although Indohyus appears slightly later than the largely aquatic ancestors of Whales, it is probably very close to the what the whale ancestor looked like. And it was at least partially aquatic.

We know this because it’s bones were denser than those of fully terrestrial mammals, which kept the creature from bobbing about in the water, and because the isotopes extracted from its teeth show that it absorbed a lot of oxygen from water. It probably waded in shallow streams or lakes to graze on vegetation. While Indohyus was not the ancestor of whales, it was most certainly its cousin. If we go back 4 million more years, to 52 million years ago, we see what might well be at ancestor. It is a fossil skull from a wolf sized creature called Pakicetus, which is a bit more will like than Indohyus, having simpler teeth and whale like ears. Pakicetus still look nothing like a modern whale, surgery had been around to see it, you wouldn’t have guessed it or its close relatives would give rise to a dramatic evolutionary radiation.

Then follows in rapid order, a series of fossils that become more and more aquatic with time. At 50 million years ago there is the remarkable Ambulocetus (walking whale), with an elongated skull and reduced but still robust limbs, limbs that still ended in hooves that reveal its ancestry. And probably spent most of his time in shallow water, and would have waddled awkwardly on land much like a seal.

Rodhocetus (47 million years ago) is even more aquatic. Its nostrils have moved somewhat backward, and has a more elongated skull. With stout extensions on the backbone to Anchor its tail muscles, it must have been a good swimmer, but was handicapped on land by small pelvis and hind limbs.

Finally at 40 million years ago, we find the fossils Basilosarus and Dorundon… Clearly fully aquatic mammals, with short necks and blowhole. School. They could not spent any time on land, for their pelvis and hind limbs were reduced and were unconnected to the rest of Skeleton.

So as you see, to the uneducated the posit that whales came from mammals may seem ridiculous, but knowledge and close examination of the transitional fossil record shows otherwise. (Coyne 2009, pp48-51)

Reference:
Coyne, J. (2009) Why evolution is true. London. Penguin books limited

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:15 PM (This post was last modified: 11-10-2015 07:22 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Why do people doubt evolution?
The first reason why many in the general public doubt the theory of evolution is due to belief in a supernatural causal effect. If for example, one subscribes to one of the anthropocentric Abrahamic faiths, say for example Christianity, and then points to the Bible as argument from authority to explain the real world around us, and from whence we came, this prevents the believer from accepting empirical evidence of a scientific nature to explain life. Since religious belief requires faith, and faith is the belief in something without evidence, faith is a failed methodology in which to comprehend the inner workings of the world around us.

If a belief is based on insufficient evidence; than any further conclusion drawn from the belief will at best be of questionable value. This cannot point one to the path of truth. As a tool, as an epistemology, as a method of reasoning, as a process for knowing the world, faith cannot adjudicate between competing claims. The ONLY way to figure out which claims about the world are likely true, and which are likely false, is through reason and evidence. There is no other way….yet.

“Science is the antithesis of faith. Science is a process that contains multiple and redundant checks, balances, and safeguards against human bias and error. Science has a built in corrective mechanism..hypothesis testing...that weeds out false claims. Claims that come about as a result of a scientific process are held as tentatively true by scientists..unlike claims of faith that are held as eternally true with zero evidence. Related to this, claims that come about as a result of a scientific process are falsifiable, that is, there is a way to show the claims are false. This is not the case with faith claims. For example, there's no way to falsify the claim that the Norse god Loki was able to assume other forms.

Scientists try to prove claims false (falsification), unlike faith leaders who unequivocally state their faith claims are true. If a scientist can demonstrate that a popular scientific claim is false, he or she can become famous, get tenure, publish books, earn more money and become respected by her or his peers. If a preacher states that the claims of his faith tradition are false, he's excommunicated, defrocked or otherwise forced to abandon his position”(Boghossian 2013)...the stifling of growth and enlightenment basically.

Science is a method for advancing our understanding. It is process we can use to bring us closer to the truth, and to weed out false claims. Science thus is the best way we've currently found to explain and understand how the universe works. This doesn’t set well with those who clutch supernatural, extraordinary, and unprovable theological faith claims, and that is a problem as it not only impacts their ability to understand and accept basic scientific principles, but it actually creates a barrier to moving on to better methods of epistemology. The reason creationism is not taught in public school is because it lacks any evidence. There is a good reason evolution is taught in public school, it is because it has evidence.

A second reason why many in the general public doubt the theory of evolution is due to lack of education and understanding of scientific methods. The problem comes with the word theory, those unfamiliar with scientific terms think that theory is something, “not quite right”, a speculation, a guess, and very likely wrong.

“According to the Oxford English dictionary, a scientific theory is “a statement of what are held to be the general laws, principles, or causes of something known or observed.” (Coyne 2009) in science, a theory is much more than just a speculation about how things are: it is a well thought out group of propositions meant to explain facts about the real world.”

I believe it is due to lack of understanding of the plethora of empirical and scientific evidence proving evolution that prevents some from accepting it.

References:

Boghossian, Peter. A manual for creating atheists. Durham, NC. Pitchstone Publishing. 2013. Print.

Coyne, J. (2009) Why evolution is true. London: Penguin Books Ltd.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:17 PM (This post was last modified: 02-05-2015 04:22 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Morals
Moral Theology is the study of how persons live in response to what God has done for them (Mueller 221).

Morality is concerned with human conduct but goes to a deeper level of personhood, such that our conduct is a reflection of who we are, a reflection of our character (Mueller 221).

Ethics can be defined as a discussion of the formation of human conduct… How responsible human beings capable of critical judgment should live using reflection on fundamental issues in description of concrete cases (Mueller 221).

Conscience is the voice of God written in our hearts, in accordance with the second Vatican Council. Natural law is considered one of the major sources of moral theology and answers the question: how do I know what is good or evil? Christians believe that natural law has been a factor in our decisions of what is morally right and wrong, good and evil (Mueller 222 – 227).

“This people who may personally and individually be moral and good people and have no intention of conflict and harm on others often share a Christian theory called the collective guilt “social sin.” (Mueller 257). The depths that theists go to fabricate the conception of sin knows no bounds, here you can be a good person yet you still have “social sin”. John Paul II said that social sins are “collective behavior of certain social groups, big or small, or even of whole nations or blocks of nations” (Mueller 258). Social sin becomes personal sin of individuals through complicity, indifference, or reluctance of those in a position to exert influence for change who do not do so (Mueller 258).

Catholic social teaching looks to gospel teaching to form the moral foundation the Catholic approach to questions of social justice. And assist the disciple in the ongoing task of reflecting on the challenge of Jesus in the sermon on the Mount and in discerning what it means in a consumer, technological, and globalized society to be poor in spirit and to embrace a sorrowing and the lowly (Mueller 260).


Secular morality is the aspect of philosophy that deals with morality outside of religious traditions. Modern examples include humanism, freethinking, and most versions of consequentialism. Additional philosophies with ancient roots include those such as skepticism and virtue ethics. Greg M. Epstein states that, "much of ancient Far Eastern thought is deeply concerned with human goodness without placing much if any stock in the importance of gods or spirits. Other philosophers have proposed various ideas about how to determine right and wrong actions. An example is Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative: "The idea that actions can only be considered moral if they could be imitated by anyone else and produce good results."

A variety of positions are apparent regarding the relationship between religion and morality. Some believe that religion is necessary as a guide to a moral life. This idea has been with us for nearly 2,000 years. There are various thoughts regarding how this idea has arisen. For example, Greg Epstein suggests that this idea is connected to a concerted effort by theists to question nonreligious ideas: "conservative authorities have, since ancient days, had a clever counter strategy against religious skepticism—convincing people that atheism is evil, and then accusing their enemies of being atheists.

Others eschew the idea that religion is required to provide a guide to right and wrong behavior. Interestingly the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics states that religion and morality "are to be defined differently and have no definitional connections with each other". Some believe that religions provide poor guides to moral behavior.

Popular atheist author and biologist Richard Dawkins, writing in The God Delusion, has stated that religious people have committed a wide variety of acts and held certain beliefs through history that are considered today to be morally repugnant. He has stated that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis held broadly Christian religious beliefs that inspired the Holocaust on account of antisemitic Christian doctrine, that Christians have traditionally imposed unfair restrictions on the legal and civil rights of women, and that Christians have condoned slavery of some form or description throughout most of Christianity's history. Dawkins insists that, since Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Bible have changed over the span of history so that what was formerly seen as permissible is now seen as impermissible, it is intellectually dishonest for them to believe theism provides an absolute moral foundation apart from secular intuition. In addition, he argued that since Christians and other religious groups do not acknowledge the binding authority of all parts of their holy texts (e.g., The books of Exodus and Leviticus state that those who work on the Sabbath and those caught performing acts of homosexuality, respectively, were to be put to death.), they are already capable of distinguishing "right" from "wrong." (Boghossian 248).

The well-known passage from Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, "If God is dead, all is permitted," suggests that non-believers would not hold moral lives without the possibility of punishment by a God. This is absurd as all one has to do is look at Denamrk or Sweden to see that these largely atheist areas enjoy being at the top tier of civilization. This is broken down in great detail in a book by Phil Zuckerman, "Society without god".

Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College in California, in his article, "Is Faith Good For Us" states the following: "A comparison of highly irreligious countries with highly religious countries, however, reveals a very different state of affairs. In reality, the most secular countries-those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics-are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations-wherein worship of God is in abundance-are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute."

A study by Gregory S. Paul, entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies: A First Look," was done and the study's conclusion was that there was an inverse relationship between religion and poor societal health rates. What that means is that the higher the level of religious belief in a country, the lower the level of societal health (more violent crimes, suicides, teen pregnancies, etc.).

So it seems that a plethora of evidence exists to show that not only do we not need religion in our lives to be good humans, but that having it in our lives can be counter-productive and unhealthy.

Works cited

Mueller, J.J., Theological Foundations: Concepts and Methods for Understanding the Christian Faith. Winona: Anselm Academic, Christian Brothers Publications, 2011. Print.

Boghossian, Peter. A Manual for Creating Atheists. Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013. Print.

Zuckerman, Phil. Society without god: What the least religious nations can tell us about contentment. New York: New York University Press, 2008. Print.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:19 PM (This post was last modified: 02-05-2015 04:22 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Atheism is not a religion
Atheism is not a religion, lets look at what religion is: A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence...an anthropological category. Many religions have narratives, symbols, and sacred histories that are intended to explain the meaning of life and/or to explain the origin of life or the Universe.

Many religions may have organized behaviors, clergy, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, holy places, and scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration of a deity, gods or goddesses, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religions may also contain mythology.

Now, with exception of public service, Atheism doesn't have any of that. Atheism also doesn't need to have faith, as faith is the firm belief in something without evidence. We have evidence of our position (evolution), it is the theist whose delusional belief in a transcendental reality is based solely on imagination and subjective philosophy...oh yeah, and a fictional disproven book.

Science is the antithesis of faith. Science is a process that contains multiple and redundant checks, balances, and safeguards against human bias and error. Science has a built in corrective mechanism..hypothesis testing...that weeds out false claims. Claims that come about as a result of a scientific process are held as tentatively true by scientists..unlike claims of faith that are held as eternally true with zero evidence. Related to this, claims that come about as a result of a scientific process are falsifiable, that is, there is a way to show the claims are false. This is not the case with faith claims. For example, there's no way to falisify the claim that the norse god Loki was able ot assume other forms.

Scientists try to prove claims false (falsification), unlike faith leaders who unequivocally state their faith claims are true. If a scientist can demonstrate that a popular scientific claim is false, he or she can become famous, get tenure, publish books, earn more money and become respected by her or his peers. If a preacher states that the claims of his faith tradition are false, he's excommunicated, defrocked or otherwise forced to abandon his position...the stifling of growth and enlightenment basically.

Science is a method for advancing our understanding. It is process we can use to bring us closer to the truth, and to weed out false claims. Science thus is the best way we've currently found to explain and understand how the universe works...unlike the religious leaders who base it on a superstitious disproven anthropocentric fictional book put together by agenda based allegorical writings based on fairy tales and passed down mythical stories and then sold to the masses as divine truth. Single handedly the greatest scam ever pulled on mankind.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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29-10-2014, 07:21 PM (This post was last modified: 02-05-2015 04:23 PM by goodwithoutgod.)
Jesus's timely return...or not
The Bible claims that Jesus made the following comment:

Matthew 16:28

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Jesus also advised against going to court over someone who steals something and also told people not to store up stocks or reserves for the future. Clearly, he thought the end was very near.

Likewise, Paul advised followers not to marry and that the end time was near. In this scripture he obviously believes that some of the people he is talking to will still be alive at the second coming.

I Thessalonians 4: 16-18

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

The obvious fact is that the second coming was not forthcoming at that time, or even close to being near. The 2000-year delay is a strong piece of evidence that Christianity is a failed religion.

The following quote from Stephen L. Harris, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Religious Studies at California State University- Sacramento, completes this point with a devastating argument. Remember that Jesus was a Jew who had no intention to deviate from the Hebrew scriptures:

“Jesus did not accomplish what Israel’s prophets said the Messiah was commissioned to do: He did not deliver the covenant people from their Gentile enemies, reassemble those scattered in the Diaspora, restore the Davidic kingdom, or establish universal peace (cf.Isa. 9:6–7; 11:7–12:16, etc.). Instead of freeing Jews from oppressors and thereby fulfilling God’s ancient promises—for land, nationhood, kingship, and blessing—Jesus died a “shameful” death, defeated by the very political powers the Messiah was prophesied to overcome. Indeed, the Hebrew prophets did not foresee that Israel’s savior would be executed as a common criminal by Gentiles, making Jesus’ crucifixion a “stumbling block” to scripturally literate Jews. (1 Cor.1:23)”

Jesus’ immediate followers, mostly his 12 disciples, probably did not immediately identify this failure, because after Jesus’ body was likely stolen and concealed, a rumor spread that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead. A sense of optimism overcame their grief about his execution and renewed some hope that he was a true messiah. If they had known then that there was to be no return in the near or long-term future, they likely would have abandoned any further activity. Despite this resurgence in their faith, they never agreed with Paul’s concept of Jesus as being divine. Anything written in the Bible to suggest that they did is probably a result of later editing by some of Paul’s followers. Such a belief would have been an exceptional departure from the Jewish faith.

"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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