A few questions

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
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Re: A few questions

#16

Post by zmorg » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:50 am

Hi,

I am sorry, it took me a while to get back to you. I have been pretty busy these last couple days, also I had to re-watch and re-read some stuff of the New Atheist movement to extract some of their arguments. Fist of all, let me say, I am still pretty surprised about people meeting and debating the existence of God (or at least their standpoint on the issue) in public. Also those debates sometimes even seem to be arranged in the way boxing matches are presented, which makes it even weirder (for me, at least). To clarify that, I am from Germany - we do not have any strong, right-wing conservative Christians here. Well, to be completely honest - we have some but they are neither strong, nor do they present their beliefs publicly here.

Ok, so now on to the more interesting stuff:
jlay wrote: Philosphers studying this (from a non-Christian perspective) go back to early Greek philosphers such as Aristotle and Plato. St. Thomas Aquinas' metaphysics are centuries old.
If you want to look at a text book style collection of all the evidence then I would highly recommend, Josh McDowell's, "Evidence that Demans a Verdict." Josh was a skeptic who was converted after studying the case.
If you want a more reader friendly version, then Lee strobel's "Case for ______" series is great. Another skeptic who was converted.
Thanks for the suggestions. I actually read one of Lee Strobel's books a few years ago, despite the bad German translation, I liked it, but still feel he made his arguments "against" Jesus a bit too easy to defuse. I am looking forward to getting into the basics of philosophy, so far I have been listening to some of the podcasts by Marianne Talbot, which I really enjoyed. If anyone is interested in the topic, have a look around here: http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/romp-th ... -beginners They're free to download.
Stu wrote: I would recommend a book by Anthony Flew called There is a God.
Written by Flew himself it describes his journey of "how the world's most notorious atheist changed his mind".

It details how Flew's commitment to always "follow the argument wherever it leads", lead him from atheism to God. If you are looking for a "neutral" assessment of the evidence at hand, well this is it.
Thanks, Stu. I already stumbled upon his name, the reviews of his book look promising, so I will go and have a look at it. Thank you for your suggestion.
SnowDrops wrote: Though Flew converted to Deism not Christianity he certainly is about as unbiased as anyone is. Also, since everyone is biased (including me and you), sometimes you just have to forget about who is speaking and simply listen to the arguments from both sides.
I think that he is being able to publicly change his mind about the whole issue makes him kind of trustworthy, I guess. Also when you say "he is certainly about as unbiased as anyone is" is that a figure of speech in the English language? I already encountered something similar some time ago, where someone said "that painting is a good as anything painted these days". I still don't know whether that was a compliment or an insult (?)
narnia4 wrote:And while Dawkins debating techniques and language and ad hominem attacks and insulting language aren't really debatable, you can't say the same about WLC. He's always a professional, if he acted in an immature, vindictive manner he could easily draw some well-deserved laughs by mocking inane, out of date arguments put forth by New Atheists.
You are right, I re-watched some of the debates. There were also quite a few, where he behaves very well. The one I saw about him first, he was in a more aggressive mode, so I made my assumption from that. Maybe I have done him unjustice with first my comment.
narnia4 wrote:But maybe you could be more specific and people here could help you out. Your questions don't really seem to be directed AT the issue, namely whether or not God exists. What arguments have these atheists put forth that bothers you? Or is it their mere presence and confidence that they must be right, which frankly often is the case? When you dissect their words and arguments, I personally don't see a lot that's special about them. But if you've just recently been exposed to them, their "Theists are SO stupid and misguided and they've been proven wrong so many times!" routine can be alarming if you go just by that.
You are right about that. I went back and looked at the arguments, they are really not that strong. Problem is, I am not a biologist, so I have big trouble understanding what either side says.

When examining arguments on both sides, I have to ask myself - what do I base my decision for following Jesus on? What is my belief about God based on? Do I just have to read the bible and accept what is in there and if I do that, which books do I take in, which do I leave out? I could also accept the jewish faith or become a muslim or a hindu- So there have to be some reasons for believing in Jesus and all the other people who claim to have been sent by God. Also it would be pretty nice to be able to communicate some "proof" or at least a reason for my belief to all my non-christian friends, because some of them are actually looking for answers, but are simply overwhelmed by all the offers on the "religious market". One of them said "So it is like a lottery, where you pick one god and hope that is the right one?" - and after thinking about that, he really has a point about that issue.
narnia4 wrote:Since you seem to put value in respect, keep in mind that I'm only addressing this specific, insulting group. Not putting every unbeliever into that group, only those who identify with that group.
I value respect, as I think there can be any real discussion without it. If I try to insult people to change their minds, I will actually never get them to believe me, even if I present the stronger arguments. I have recently been trying to improve my rhetoric skills and one of the first lessons one learns, is that your success is not just based on the arguments of your message, but also to a big part on the way you deliver it. Imagine two people presenting the same arguments, one just giving an exciting lecture, the other one telling you, that you are f*cking idiots, if you dont believe him. That kind of behaviour is actually making it impossible for quite a lot of people to even listen to what you have to say. I think the feeling of being forced to do sth already sparks resistance in human individuals - therefore in can not be the way to go. People have tried to forcefully "convert" poeple into different religions, I think it does not work that way. You can force people to behave a certain way, but you can never force them to believe sth against there will (manipulation is a different issue, I guess).

So to get back on the topic - as a Christian I am somewhat afraid, that especially the New Atheists are burning their bridges to even go back, the public humiliation for anyone to turn their back on atheism would probably be reason to stay on the path they chose for the rest of their lives.
Ivellious wrote: a) Well, no scientist can really explore the meaning of life scientifically, because it's not a scientific issue. It's an opinion almost, or an idea, or something even more abstract, and probably well beyond humankind's ability to understand. Philosophers have and still are attempting to answer it but we haven't made much progress over that time, so..

I'd also agree that a completely unbiased individual or set of individuals to mediate the evidence and come up with the answer is sadly not existent, or else we would already have all the answers.
I understand, what you mean. I do not know whether it is plainly a philosophical question. In my initial post, I did not mean somebody would be "completely unbiased" as that would not be possible, I guess, but that at least some people are humble & honest about their findings.
Ivellious wrote: b) That would obviously vary individual to individual. Everyone has their own beliefs and reasons for believing. I can see how an atheist might be disappointed to realize (in their mind) that a deity or higher power doesn't exist. But typically I would assume that deciding to be an atheist means one has accepted other reasons for living and so on, so I don't think it would bother most atheists.

I would say this though. Yes, in some ways the Christian God might be nice to have watching over us as the Bible describes. But I could also easily argue that having a number of other belief systems in place could be equally pleasing. That's kind of the point of religion, isn't it? To have a happy, promising, and safe belief system in place? Granted, the Christian God could also be described as cruel, a hypocrite, testy, angry, unfair, and numerous other unflattering terms. So could Zeus or Shiva or your ancestral spirits. So there's no reason to believe in God if only because he might be nice to have around.
I do not know, whether that is the point of religion. Also I more and more find that in using that term, we are putting things together in one box, that maybe do not belong together at all. At least not, if one of them is true and the others are not. Also about the different gods- I always thought the Christian God would be the nicest to have around, as he seems to be the one most interested in our well-being and on the other hand makes it the easiest for us to connect with him - I know that my opinion is debatable, but that is what I initially thought, when I wrote that post.

---

Ok, so now back to more questions, I know these are very broad, but maybe some of you find them easy to explain or point me into the right direction:

1. What evidence/arguments can I actually provide for my belief? Not necessarily scientific, but what arguments can I present to people interested in the Christan faith beyond "read the bible and make a personal decision" - which seems kind of bizarre to me and I can understand that people do not feel a strong urge to put a serious amount of time into something that is advertised that badly.
2. Maybe I have been too long a Christian, but I really don't get why people dislike the idea of the offer of Jesus so much. I guess most people think, they would have to let go of all the things they like (like sex, tv and shopping) and then live a boring sad life as some self-satisfied conservatives, where every now and then the church or their pastor tells them how they have to behave. Did not the conservative Christians create that ridiculous caricature of the the Christian faith themselves? I understand God as someone who is interested in setting me free from my absurd desires in order to become something beyond that.
3. Theology of hell: Is the popular image of eternal torture really what the bible tells us or rather something that became popular at some point in time?
4. Why is God so secretive about himself? Are there any reasons for him to behave that way? Would we not have free will of choosing our side for or against God, if his existence and position was well known?

thanks for your (past & future) contributions,
Sven

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Re: A few questions

#17

Post by Stu » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:45 am

If you're looking for healthy discussion surrounding these issues rather than the antagonistic kind, you might be interested in William Lane Craig's recent debate with Peter Millican here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4lKWiV8pkE

I haven't watched the whole thing myself, but I've heard that it is one of the better debates with strong arguments presented from both parties. Apparantly William Lane Craig comes out tops though ;)

It's audio-only, but I'm sure the video version will become available at some point as well.
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Re: A few questions

#18

Post by zmorg » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:27 am

Stu wrote:If you're looking for healthy discussion surrounding these issues rather than the antagonistic kind, you might be interested in William Lane Craig's recent debate with Peter Millican here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4lKWiV8pkE

I haven't watched the whole thing myself, but I've heard that it is one of the better debates with strong arguments presented from both parties. Apparantly William Lane Craig comes out tops though ;)

It's audio-only, but I'm sure the video version will become available at some point as well.
Thanks for the link- I do not care much for video, as long as the content is good. I will definitely listen to that!

Also I have no intentions of picking a fight over these points. It is rather that I have serious trouble grasping those issues and am looking for help possible solutions. Or is that a suspicious thing to say in these forums?

thanks,
Sven

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Re: A few questions

#19

Post by Stu » Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:48 am

zmorg wrote:
Stu wrote:If you're looking for healthy discussion surrounding these issues rather than the antagonistic kind, you might be interested in William Lane Craig's recent debate with Peter Millican here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4lKWiV8pkE

I haven't watched the whole thing myself, but I've heard that it is one of the better debates with strong arguments presented from both parties. Apparantly William Lane Craig comes out tops though ;)

It's audio-only, but I'm sure the video version will become available at some point as well.
Thanks for the link- I do not care much for video, as long as the content is good. I will definitely listen to that!

Also I have no intentions of picking a fight over these points. It is rather that I have serious trouble grasping those issues and am looking for help possible solutions. Or is that a suspicious thing to say in these forums?

thanks,
Sven
Nope not at all I wouldn't think :)
If you're looking for answers I'm pretty sure folks would be happy to assist where they can.
Enjoy the vid.
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Re: A few questions

#20

Post by Tiffany Dawn » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:40 pm

What is the age limit on this Forum??
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Re: A few questions

#21

Post by RickD » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:51 pm

Tiffany Dawn wrote:What is the age limit on this Forum??
120ish. Most people don't live much past that, nowadays. ;)
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Re: A few questions

#22

Post by RickD » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:53 pm

Just kidding, Tiffany.

From the board guidelines:
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John 5:24
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Kenny wrote:
"You don’t need faith, logic, reason, proof, or anything else to be atheist, all you need to do is reject what someone told you."



St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony

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Re: A few questions

#23

Post by PaulSacramento » Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:09 pm

1. What evidence/arguments can I actually provide for my belief? Not necessarily scientific, but what arguments can I present to people interested in the Christan faith beyond "read the bible and make a personal decision" - which seems kind of bizarre to me and I can understand that people do not feel a strong urge to put a serious amount of time into something that is advertised that badly.
Each one of us must find the words and actions that best describe what we believe and why.
2. Maybe I have been too long a Christian, but I really don't get why people dislike the idea of the offer of Jesus so much. I guess most people think, they would have to let go of all the things they like (like sex, tv and shopping) and then live a boring sad life as some self-satisfied conservatives, where every now and then the church or their pastor tells them how they have to behave. Did not the conservative Christians create that ridiculous caricature of the the Christian faith themselves? I understand God as someone who is interested in setting me free from my absurd desires in order to become something beyond that.
God is the God of the living, not the dead.
God lives and His Son Lives and as such, our faith lives !
God is a god of love, compassion, forgiveness and Grace and those that beeeive God to be that must try to embody those attributes as well.
3. Theology of hell: Is the popular image of eternal torture really what the bible tells us or rather something that became popular at some point in time?
Regardless of the various interpretations of Hell, almost all agree with CS Lewis when he said: Either we say to God, "thy will be done" or God says to us, "thy will be done".
4. Why is God so secretive about himself? Are there any reasons for him to behave that way? Would we not have free will of choosing our side for or against God, if his existence and position was well known?
I have often ponder that question.
In my humble view, base don how I know I am, I believe that IF God would come "crashing into our world" that the option of free choice would be negated to a very great extent, it is hard to dispute the Omnipotent One.
Jesus himself said to Thomas" You believe because you see, blessed are those that do not see and believe".
Believing because the HS has opened our eyes out of love and believing because we have no choice BUT to believe are NOT the same thing.
That said, we all will be faced with God when the time comes and then, well...then we shall see.

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Re: A few questions

#24

Post by Tiffany Dawn » Mon Dec 12, 2011 2:02 pm

RickD wrote:Just kidding, Tiffany.

From the board guidelines:
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The God and Science website is rated "family friendly" and for "all ages", so please keep your words clean. Some words considered inappropriate have been blocked, and attempts to get around a blocked word by inserting a space or character will not be tolerated.

That was funny Rick-Thanks
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Re: A few questions

#25

Post by SnowDrops » Thu Dec 15, 2011 6:26 am

Stu wrote:
SnowDrops wrote:
Ivellious wrote: That typically boils down to a "creation story/religious view vs. big bang theory/science" problem.
How is Biblical creation (or any creation theory for that matter) against the Big Bang theory? And how can anything be against science? Science is simply a method.
The way I see it, based on scripture, is that the Bible is compatible with the Big Bang and an old earth, but not with old plants or animals / dinosaurs.

I base this upon the first few sentences in the Bible:


1___.In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now
_____the earth was became formless and empty, darkness was over the
_____surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4God saw
_____that the light was good, and he separated the light from
_____the darkness. 5God called the light "day", and the darkness he
_____called "night". And there was evening, and there was morning -
_____the first day.


So the sentence "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" could well have taken place over millions or billions of years; but from "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light." onward, if we are to interpret the Bible as if it had been written for the average person to be able to read and understand, a day is a day.


Edit: Ok so it seems Exodus 20:11 nullifies my above theory, so ignore it :)
11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
It would seem that a Big Bang lasting billions of years is not compatible with the Bible.
You should research the main site a bit more... there are some articles about this. Basically what is usually translated as "day" can actually mean "age" or well... Let's say a very long period of time.
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Re: A few questions

#26

Post by Stu » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:50 am

SnowDrops wrote:You should research the main site a bit more... there are some articles about this. Basically what is usually translated as "day" can actually mean "age" or well... Let's say a very long period of time.
Yeah some interpret it that way. In fact I've been an OEC for quite some time, but I've recently delved into YEC and well there is a lot more going for it than I thought.
According to Exodus 20:8-11 and additional references in the Bible, it seems a day is a day.
Jesus also makes reference to the creation (heavens and the earth) taking place in 6 days.
8Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

So God is telling us that we must rest 1 day because he made the heavens and the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th.

I suppose God could've been speaking in terms of how he knew we would understand a "day", rather than resting a billion years if we are to interpret it as "a period of time".
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Re: A few questions

#27

Post by August » Thu Dec 15, 2011 8:55 am

How long is the 7th day?
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
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Re: A few questions

#28

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:10 am

Exodus 20 appeals to a pattern in Genesis. It establishes that the days of the week are 24 hours and when the sabbath is and why. As August refers to above, we're still in the 7th day of God's rest from creation, so that begs the question as to why a "day" or a "yom" of the 6 days before wouldn't be used in the context of an extended period of time, just as it is on the 7th. The appeal to the example in Genesis that takes place in Exodus isn't contextually making an overt statement as to the actual creation days.
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Re: A few questions

#29

Post by PaulSacramento » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:46 am

Pretty much any Hebrew scholar will tell you that the context of how a word is used is what dictates how to interpret it.
If the context demands a 24 hour period then it means that, if the context demands a "period of time" then that is what it means.
The issue with Genesis is that the context is vague.
IF it means a 24 hour period then it means that on the 7th day God rested and that rest lasted only 24 hours.
You don't find many jews believing in a literal 6 x 24 hour period for creation.
Although one can,perhaps, find a middle ground in the sense that, at a point in time, God acted upon the universe and in a 24 hour period he made THOSE changes specified at that point.
In other words, as a certain point in time God created Man as we know him to be -homosapien and that creative event took 24 hours to be completed.
It didn't happen exactly after the events of the "5th" day but at its given time.

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Re: A few questions

#30

Post by August » Thu Dec 15, 2011 10:52 am

Paul, that would approach the way that ANE people would have interpreted it. One has to consider not only the theological circumstances of the ANE, but also the cultural and wider sociological environment. When I have more time I will elaborate.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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