Short (but sweet) Facebook debate
I have a friend on Facebook who often spouts out random crap of advice from the Bible and I usually reply with a bit of dry reason, but on occassion his pastor will respond to me with some... interesting arguments. Here is an example:
Friend: I am not a debater I am a believer,If you don't believe I can't help you neither can't God help if u don't believe .. If u are truly curious to know why don't u come by this Sunday to my church. Trust me the truth shall send you free.
Me: Help me with what? Set me free from what?
Pastor: I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't, and die to find out there is. You too make your choice.
Me: How about living your life believing there is a god, then dying and finding out its the wrong god? Pascal's Wager does not work.
Pastor: There is only one God and many gods!
Me: Bullshit answer to a bullshit premise. Since the entire wager is based on not actually knowing whether any god (childish adherence to capitalisation withstanding) actually exists, there is no discernible difference in terms of likelihood that any exist over each other.
Pastor: May God have mercy on you Robert. You cannot kiss your elbow. Show me your mind! Repent or perish. The Word is simple, BELIEVE.
Me: Oh good, you have decided to give up even trying to make a rational response. Kiss my elbow? Why would I want to do that? Or should I just blame "God" for not designing me so I could kiss it? Although personally, I'd want to have a word with him first about making my body susceptible to cancer. That was rather unnecessary of him.
Pastor: Robert, you are the wise one, the rest of the world is foolish. Either you are a timewaster or you seriously looking for help or even better you could be a timewaster looking for help. Now your help will come only from above. As long as you... are looking to man to convince you, you are looking at the wrong source. A long time ago, a man was born who has changed for the better a lot in people's lives. He can help yours be changed too but it depends on you. His entrance into the world was so remarkable that God made the world mark time with reference to Him. Today's date is the 18th of January, 2011 years after the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mark this in your calendar. Now go and find out as much as you like about Jesus Christ. You do not have to agree with what people will tell you, the truth buzzer in your heart will buzz when you hear the truth (I hope it just buzzed now). As you find out about Jesus Christ, you will find more about the One true God and yourself. The Bible is a recommended starting point (it will also be the end). If you skip all the signs and wonders and miracles you will find that the Bible is historical, in fact no need to skip just ignore them for a start and concentrate on the History. Another highly recommded smaller read is "More than a carpenter" by Josh McDowell. I can give you a copy if you wish. Robert *Surname* is not your body, Robert *Surname* is a spirit that lives in your body. With God all things are possible, you can kiss your elbow. Always remember, I love you.
Me: Timewaster? Because I openly don't hold the same beliefs as you? And I'd rather not look for help from beings that don't even bother to show themselves in any reliable way.
Have the teachings of Jesus bettered people's lives? Sure, of course.... His words bring hope to many and help guide people through their lives. Does it mean that what he said about heaven and hell and "God" is true? No. It may be true, but not just because some guy said it is. And just to clarify, the existence of Jesus is not a fact. It may have been you or somebody else that I talked to before about this, but historical records outside of the Bible are quite unreliable on this point. In fact, "historical" records WITHIN the Bible can't agree on this guy.
For example, and I'm only bringing this up because you brought up the ridiculous point of God making "the world mark time with reference to Him", when was Jesus born? 2011 years ago? During the reign of Herod the King? (Matthew 2:1)(Luke 1:5) Since Herod died in 4BC, it had to have been before that, meaning he was born at least 2015 years ago. Or was it when Caesar Augustus decreed that the world should be taxed, during the time when Cyrenius was Governer of Syria? (Luke 2:1) But he wasn't Governer until 6CE, meaning Jesus was born 2007 years ago at most! So which is it? The only thing that we can determine from these accounts in the Bible, if we take it to be true, is that Jesus was definitely NOT born 2011 years ago. So, how historical is the Bible if it gives two contradicting accounts of when this guy was born?
(Did the little buzzer go off in your heart?)
I do not love you as I do not know you, but this does not mean that I don't like you. I hold no grudge against you for standing up for what you believe, I commend it. I just ask that you check your facts. If you wish to continue believing on faith alone, thats fine with me. But please stop imagining that just because you believe it that it must be true.
And finally, I really do not want to kiss my elbow.
Pastor: THANK YOU. IT DEPENDS ON YOU ROBERT!
Me: What depends on me? My salvation from a fate that has not been shown to be true? I'm shaking in my little space boots.