Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
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05-07-2011, 11:45 PM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(01-07-2011 08:00 PM)Hunted By A Freak Wrote:  
(28-06-2011 07:55 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The authors of Christian literature about the resurrection just assume it happened, or they dissect the four gospel stories in minute detail and then attempt to reconcile them with each other (unsuccessfully), as if that proved they were true.
I'm currently writing a defense of the Gospels, but its weeks, if not months away from being finished. I would be interested in your opinion when it's finished.
(01-07-2011 05:49 AM)Lion of the Netherlands Wrote:  Thanks for your interesting oulook on the resurrection story, and thanks for reading my tread. I can't say I'm convinced that the resurrection story was a myth, buth I think it's certainly interesting to read about it, and see what others have to say about it, instead of just looking at what my own side says.
It's interesting to know that one of the leading authorities on the resurrection actually became a Christian because of the resurrections historical validity. His name is Gary Habermas and has written numerous books on just that one subject. There's a podcast entitled "Apologetics 315" were they interview him concerning the resurrection, you should check it out. He has built a construct solely on the agreed opinions of liberal scholars and still validates the resurrection. Awesome stuff. There's also a podcast called "Unbelievable?" and they have one or two interviews with him as well. Let me know if you can't find them and I'll send you a link, but there fairly easy to locate.

Dear HBAF, I'm not sure if you were addressing your comment about the gospels specifically to me, but I would be very happy to critique your writing. Difficult topic, isn't it! Regards, Mark
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06-07-2011, 01:50 AM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(01-07-2011 09:40 AM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  The Hitchens debates are pretty good, though I've not seen many where the christian side seems to have much to offer. For me apologetics just doesn't cut it. In some of them, the chrsitian/whatever side doesn't even get to defending their religion. Often they spend the whole time attempting to prove deism as it's easier to do. I've always seen the stories as just a book though, even if I can understand religious people well enough since I've lived around so many.

If you've not read elsewhere, I put the book down in the first chapter of Genesis. I have a lot of respect for life in general and when they claimed humans are over everything as god is over them I couldn't take it. I don't want a hierarchy, and I Have never felt it to be proven that there's anything extra special for humans. That's my little guard against most religions =p. That and the fact that almost the entire book is putting women down.

Since this forum is for The Thinking Atheist have you listened to Seth's podcasts? He is a very understanding and calm person. TTA 18: Apologist Acrobatics for instance will give you a better idea of how we find apologetics to sound. And TTA 16: Grief Without God really is a very inspiring hour. It took me a while before I checked out the podcasts, but they are a pretty easy going run towards different ideas. They also reference a lot of things you can look into. Something important Seth says in the apologist acrobatics one is that it would seem just disproving one story should make the whole bible questionable.

I know Mark's takes are kind of tough to digest, but do realize that the rapture Jesus talked about was one that people living around him would experience. He was one of those people spreading the end is near messages. Along with the inconsistencies in the stories it gets hard to look at. Remember this, every time you read a story from the bible think about what people who do the same thing today are considered. Don't accept it as just that was a different time, because this is the book of proof. Nowadays this kind of person ends up homeless and drunk, sometimes in a (psych ward). Christians laugh at people who are like this anymore. The mystical part of the bible seems to be that it happened long ago, but people often act similarly despite innovations. The attitudes remain in tact. You can find people to base a modern day Jesus off of. Many have found their answers by comparing biblical history to real history. If that is an interest of yours we have plenty of people here who can give you a lot of information to read through.

Have you become rather convinced the earth is not young yet? You came here while teetering on that question. I would actually suggest reading some Sumerian stories (the Sumerians being a civilization older than 6000 years =p) Their stories are often referenced in later religions, and I think you'll like the types of messages they were saying. Very fantastical stories, but it was a long long time ago. Sumeria is one group that was not so misogynistic, women were empowered in their religion. Most of the western religions put women down heavily. in their religion Incubi (incubus=male and succubus=female) were simply another life form much more powerful than themselves. They are not what people would call demons nowadays, because they can be good or bad as they see fit.

If you want to know what sort of life philosophy I look at since we've talked a lot I consider myself somewhat animistic. Animism is easiest to understand as a way that many small tribes see the world. If you're familiar with Native Americans or a large number of tribes throughout the world. A religion where one of the main ideas is that there is indeed something imperceptible (generally they use the word spirit) which exists in absolutely everything. In some animistic religions the spirits are bad, but I much prefer the religions where the spirits are all seeking harmony, and it is important for the human to maintain the balance. The Ainu (a group in japan prior to the Japanese) saw "gods" within the essence of everything, there was a bear god, and a snow god, and every bear for instance was a representative of the true spirit of bears.

Remember that all of these religions were considered very real during their times, in their cultures, and ask what makes them fake ones as opposed to christianity. The fact that many believe in it currently just states that it shares the same position these others used to share. I've found many more acceptable religions to choose from than the Abrahamic ones, which I just plain see as violent. I see it as violent by looking at the people who follow it. I see it as violent by reading it and not giving any part forgiveness for it's age. I've been called a demon before, because the bible says that men and women were created in gods image so since I'm not a man or a woman I must be a demon. Everything I find important almost, is discouraged within the book.

Even Jesus' message ends up being said more as listen to the church because they know, than saying question everything. The message of peace is a pretty agressive stance as he literally declares a revolution, which from those not sharing his ideas would be seen as a revolt. Even if Jesus never cast a stone, his messages convinced others to. And in his own book, he looks down on his disciples and many different sorts of people. he can't even sound nice in his own book. Which, by the way is the only book which discusses him. The best reference outside of the bible for pre-christianity Jesus information is the occasional use of the term Khristos which is just talking about a messiah. Many Jews took that title, there is no reason to attribute it to one specific one.

Sorry for the long post I just really want to be helpful in giving you a lot of information. To me it is most important to help those who are young. It's very hard to find answers as a young person when most look at you as a child, and with how hard my search for many answers was I take great pains in helping youths to find their answers a bit easier than I did. Hope this helps.

Thanks for all the information you gave me, and I'll look into the podcasts you mentioned. I'll also read about the Sumerian stories. If I run into things I don't understand, or if I've have any questions, I'll let you know.

(01-07-2011 08:00 PM)Hunted By A Freak Wrote:  
(28-06-2011 07:55 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The authors of Christian literature about the resurrection just assume it happened, or they dissect the four gospel stories in minute detail and then attempt to reconcile them with each other (unsuccessfully), as if that proved they were true.
I'm currently writing a defense of the Gospels, but its weeks, if not months away from being finished. I would be interested in your opinion when it's finished.
(01-07-2011 05:49 AM)Lion of the Netherlands Wrote:  Thanks for your interesting oulook on the resurrection story, and thanks for reading my tread. I can't say I'm convinced that the resurrection story was a myth, buth I think it's certainly interesting to read about it, and see what others have to say about it, instead of just looking at what my own side says.
It's interesting to know that one of the leading authorities on the resurrection actually became a Christian because of the resurrections historical validity. His name is Gary Habermas and has written numerous books on just that one subject. There's a podcast entitled "Apologetics 315" were they interview him concerning the resurrection, you should check it out. He has built a construct solely on the agreed opinions of liberal scholars and still validates the resurrection. Awesome stuff. There's also a podcast called "Unbelievable?" and they have one or two interviews with him as well. Let me know if you can't find them and I'll send you a link, but there fairly easy to locate.

Those podcasts you mentioned sound interesting, and I think it would be nice if you can send me a link to them.
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06-07-2011, 11:45 PM
 
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(06-07-2011 01:50 AM)Lion of the Netherlands Wrote:  Those podcasts you mentioned sound interesting, and I think it would be nice if you can send me a link to them.
I had these queued up yesterday but fell asleep before I could post them.

The following link should contain Gary Habermas interview were he discusses validating the resurrection through solely liberal scholarship.
http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2011/...-with.html

This next link contains the same interview, but is loaded with other relevant material concerning the resurrection, among others.
http://www.garyhabermas.com/audio/audio.html
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07-07-2011, 08:46 PM
 
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(05-07-2011 11:45 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Dear HBAF, I'm not sure if you were addressing your comment about the gospels specifically to me, but I would be very happy to critique your writing. Difficult topic, isn't it! Regards, Mark
That would be great. It'll probably end up being no more than 4 to 5 pages. I don't know what the number count is here, but it should all fit in one or two posts.

One thing I would find interesting is your (or anyone here) opinion of the Gospels. Who authored them, when were they written, are they Jewish or Gentile in origin, what was the primary motive for each...? That is if anyone here has already given some of these topics consideration, otherwise enjoy your summer and stay cool. Cool
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08-07-2011, 07:32 AM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(01-07-2011 05:49 AM)Lion of the Netherlands Wrote:  
(29-06-2011 05:57 PM)nontheocrat Wrote:  If anyone thinks it is unlikely to think that first century Christians would "embellish" the Jesus stories, all they need to do is listen to modern day Christians. I am repeatedly amazed at the intellectual dishonesty displayed by Christian apologists and ministers.

Do you mean by 'intellectual dishonesty' that Christian apologists and ministers use fallacy's, or do you mean something else by it?

Sorry I should have worded this better. I actually meant two differerent things by this statement.

First of all I was pointing to what I perceive as dishonesty of apologists like Lee Strobel who claims to have been a former atheist yet his books I've read are nothing but strawmen attacks that are obviously written by someone who has never seen things from an atheists viewpoint. This leads me to believe he is either lying about being an atheist, or knowingly making arguments he knows would never convince one.

Another example is the outright deception of crooks like Peter Popoff who was caught by James Randi having a mic in his ear while pretending to hear the voice if god. Look it up, you can see the whole story on the Internet.

I think my second point is that we have historical evidence of people making just as outrageous claims as the resurrection that the majority of Christians would not accept. For example, the claims of Joseph Smith who started Mormanism. More recently we have leaders like Jim Jones and the cult at Waco. These people all made claims as extraordinary as the biblical resurrection and were either lying or deceived. So the ressurrection could have easily been just as embellished as any of these people.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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09-07-2011, 06:56 AM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
(07-07-2011 08:46 PM)Hunted By A Freak Wrote:  
(05-07-2011 11:45 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Dear HBAF, I'm not sure if you were addressing your comment about the gospels specifically to me, but I would be very happy to critique your writing. Difficult topic, isn't it! Regards, Mark
That would be great. It'll probably end up being no more than 4 to 5 pages. I don't know what the number count is here, but it should all fit in one or two posts.

One thing I would find interesting is your (or anyone here) opinion of the Gospels. Who authored them, when were they written, are they Jewish or Gentile in origin, what was the primary motive for each...? That is if anyone here has already given some of these topics consideration, otherwise enjoy your summer and stay cool. Cool

We don’t know who wrote the gospels. The true identities of these authors are not recorded anywhere in church writings.

Each gospel was originally written by anonymous individuals and then heavily edited by numerous unknown others over subsequent years. It became impossible to genuinely accredit one person with the authorship. So all commentary on who might have originally written the gospels involves much guesswork.

It was a common practice at the time to attribute writings to well-known persons to lend them authority. For example many letters attributed to Paul were not actually written by him.

Matthew and John were two of the original disciples of Jesus. Luke was a physician who accompanied Paul on some of his missionary journeys. Mark was the son of a woman named Mary who had a house in Jerusalem and there may have been another Mark who was an acquaintance of the disciple Peter. None of these people, if they ever existed, were the authors of the gospels. The four names simply sounded authoritative and that is why they were attached to the Gospels.

The Catholic encyclopaedia states
“the canonical Gospels were regarded as of Apostolic authority…” as if that meant the canonical gospels were of Apostolic authority, and continues “…two of them being ascribed to the Apostles St. Matthew and St. John, respectively, and two to St. Mark and St. Luke, the respective companions of St. Peter and St. Paul.” The same encyclopaedia states elsewhere that these names were not traceable to the evangelists!

The first record of anybody clearly associating the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John with these books was Irenaeus in about 180 CE, 150 years after Jesus’ ministry. Luke was probably originally written some years before this time, because a character named Marcion is aware of an abbreviated version of Luke, although not called Luke, in the 140’s CE. (see http://www.marcion.info/). Some writings from early men of the church written prior to 180 CE record some of the teachings of Jesus that are similar to those recorded in the four gospels, but there is no evidence they were sourced from the gospels as we know them today.

The identities of, as well as some relevant facts about an author are the primary factors that give any historical document its legitimacy. Consider the example set by Josephus, the most important Jewish historian of all, who wrote in the same era. He related his own life, gave an account of his family, his childhood, and his education; he then told of his travels, some of what he did, and of the books he wrote, and the books themselves bore an announcement of his authorship; for instance:
"I, Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth an Hebrew, a priest also, and one who at first fought against the Romans myself, and was forced to be present at what was done afterwards, am the author of this work" ("Wars of the Jews," Preface, sec. I). We know exactly who the author was. To which of the Gospels is such an announcement prefixed? None. Every mark of authenticity is present in Josephus and absent in the Gospels.

We don’t know from where and when these authors sourced their information because they didn’t document these details either, and early church fathers and historians were unable or neglected to document it too. If this weren’t the Bible a historian would quickly lose interest in examining the gospels. The Gospels are a very important part of the Bible, so thousands of scholars over the last few centuries have spent countless hours discussing the relation between the gospels and the real Jesus. They often don’t agree about many of their conclusions because there simply just aren’t enough facts to work with, so they have to make educated guesses.

It is generally accepted today that the original version of Mark was the first gospel written because both Matthew and Luke copy Mark, sometimes word for word, and sometimes with editorial changes, exaggerations and additions. Of the 661 verses in Marks' Gospel, Matthew uses about 607 and Luke uses about 360.

Mark’s book was written mostly from a Jewish point-of-view, claiming that Jesus was the long awaited messiah of Jewish tradition. So the community who originally wrote Mark may have been Jewish, although that is by no means certain because there are many errors in Mark about Jewish customs and Palestinian geography. It is clear that gentile (non Jewish) authors have had a big hand in the product that ended up being labelled as Mark’s.

No modern scholar I have read thinks Matthew the author was a companion of Jesus. This gospel emphasised how Jesus fitted into Jewish history and fulfilled scripture's predictions. Some examples are when the author appealed to Old Testament texts for evidence of Jesus' Davidic descent (1:1-17) and the virgin birth (1:23) at Bethlehem (2:6). Matthew was primarily concerned with making Jesus attractive to the Jews; he had Jesus saying to the disciples
"Do not turn your steps to pagan territory…go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-6 NJB). Matthew's Greek is said to be a little "rough" and "Aramaic". The original gospel of Matthew probably originated from a Jewish community, although gentile editors and interpolators later added to the original writings, as there are also many anti Semitic statements and concepts in Matthew.

Most scholars don't think Luke the author was the physician and friend of Saint Paul. Even if he was, it did not qualify him to write about the life of Jesus, because Paul never met the living Jesus. Luke introduced his gospel by stating he wished to write an orderly account of Jesus' life.
"Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as those were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received". (Luke 1:1-5 NJB). This introduction disqualified him as a direct witness of Jesus. Luke wrote “eyewitnesses” handed down information to “us” but doesn’t say who either group was or what they were eyewitnesses to. He doesn’t say who Theophilus was. If Luke’s associates had been eyewitnesses of Jesus’ ministry he would and should have provided more details, so his introduction adds nothing to his credibility.

Luke was writing his gospel to clear up some issues from other accounts of Jesus' life. Which other accounts? He doesn’t say. They could include Mark's (we know he was familiar with Mark’s gospel) and/or Matthew's, yet he could be referring to any of the 200 or more written stories about Jesus we know were circulating at the time.
Luke’s Greek is said to be more cultivated and polished than Mark's and Matthew's, so he was probably a Gentile. He didn’t include Mark’s and Matthew’s most Judaic verses. For example his genealogy of Jesus went all the way back to Adam, the world's first man, who presumably was not a Jew, whereas Matthew's genealogy of Jesus was completely different and goes back to Abraham, the father of the Jews. Mark and Matthew named Jesus’ brothers, who all had very Jewish names, whereas Luke decided to not name them at all. He had a very pro gentile anti Jewish bias.

What about John? One of the authors of this gospel claimed he was, in fact, John the disciple, but this gospel was first written at least 100 years after Jesus died.
John’s Jesus was far less human, more exalted, and very much the Son of God. By the time John was first written, some Christian groups were starting to definitively separate from the parent Judaism. John’s gospel seems to have a Semitic origin as judged by its vocabulary and style. It was probably originally written by a Jew, but there was obviously more gentile input into John than in Mark and Matthew.

Hope this has interested you, Mark
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09-07-2011, 12:28 PM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
I hope I'm not overwhelming you Lion. I just want to make sure you have a good understanding. Hope you don't mind our new side conversation in this thread either =p we're a talkative bunch.

Something else you might like. Micheal Shermer is a well known atheist who runs Skeptic magazine. He got into christianity in his 20s and then changed his mind later on as he got into science. He's much less anti-religion than those such as Hitchens, his main view is that we don't need religion anymore and it is demonstrably false so there is no real reason to put so much effort into it. Here is a nice little debate from a christian radio broadcast discussing the possibility of miracles.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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15-07-2011, 09:00 AM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
I'm sorry for not replying in a while, and I'm going to give you an update about my situation. First I would like to tell you that I finished reading 'an atheists critique of the Bible' (the old testament, because I have to start with the new testament yet). I think BuddyChrist has done a great job in analyzing alot of verses from the old testament, because it's of great help in my situation to see things from the side of the atheists. Yesterday I had a conversation with my mother about a couple of things that are in the book of Exodus. The first one is that the last command in the ten commandments places women among the other possesions that a man has such as his house, his slaves and his cattle. I asked her how she thinks about this, because it clearly pictures women as the possesion of men. The second thing was that further into Exodus, Moses is on mount Sinai and is talking to God, when God tells him that the Israelites have made a statue of gold and are worshipping it. God is so angry, that he wants to wipe out all of them exept Moses, but when Moses talks to God, it appears that God is convinced by Moses not to do it. I asked myself, how can an omniscient God be convinced to change his plan by a human? The next thing I talked about was that in Exodus 32:26-29 where Moses asks the people who choose God's side to join him, and commands them to kill all the others who are in the camp(about 3000 people are killed). I asked myself how such an atrocity(and I know there are a lot more in the old testament) can be commanded by the (all)loving God I always learned about.
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15-07-2011, 12:03 PM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
This reply is the second part of my previous one. My mother said she has more questions than answers about the Bible, so I'm not the only one who has questions. Today I has a conversation with my father about about the things I mentioned in the previous reply, because I wanted to know how he thaught about those things. As it turned out, he doesn't have a problem with it, because God commanded it. He apparently thinks might makes right, because he is against killing in the name of Allah, or a certain ideology, but if God commands you to kill other people, it's justified. I told him we are done talking about morality and ethics, because I can't agree with him on those things if he thinks that way. He said that he doesn't judge me for asking questions, and that it's a good thing for me to do to talk with him about it. The problem I have, is that I'm only getting more questions from our conversations, because a lot of his answers aren't satisfying to me.
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15-07-2011, 12:17 PM
RE: Growing doubts about my Christian faith and the Bible.
Keep a strong heart, lion! It takes a lot of courage to admit that something you hold dear may have been wrong. I encourage you to keep asking questions and exploring, it's how we learn. It's people like you that help keep my faith in the human race, that even through indoctrination, people still retain the ability to question.

Good luck on your journey.

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