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Monday, February 06, 2006

Can Christians Explain What the Bible Says?

Since Christians have said they presuppose the Bible, then they must be dealt with on another entirely different level. That is, they must be forced to look at what the Bible says, and forced to explain it. I don't think a person has to be a scholar to ask the questions in both of the following two websites. But a Christian should have sufficient answers to the cumulative cases that are being presented in them.

The first one is asking some interesting questions. The title question has to do with why God doesn't answer the prayers of amputees by healing them (i.e. growing new limbs). Remember, the problem of unanswered prayer is part and parcel of the whole problem of evil. Why does God allow people to suffer rather than to answer their prayers?

Why Won't God Heal Amputees?

I saw a couple of really great programs on PBS recently about slavery: Slavery and the Making of America,, narrated by Morgan Freeman, and African American Lives. So consider the following question in light of those two programs: Why Does God Love Slavery?

The second web site is....below.

Quest Web Site

I received a request from a person named Morné du Toit, of Cape Town, South Africa, to list his Quest web site. Here it is.

It's a very interesting web site book, and it looks like it took a great amount of work. This 418 page massive book is filled with some great quotes from skeptics, a massive amount of Bible "contradictions," several charts, and diagrams that can make a believer's head spin. It has essays by Richard Carrier, Farrell Till, James Lloyd, Michael Shermer, Jim Lippard, Frank S. Palmisano III, Emery Lee, Richard Dawkins, Gordon Stein, S. Acharya, Earl Doherty, the New York Times, and more.

You can download the whole book Here, and save it for future reference. And I highly recommend that you do. No matter who you are, you can learn something valuable about Debunking the Bible and Christianity from this site.

When I asked him who he is, he wrote:

I am just someone that has been a fanatical, evangelical christian for a long time, living with questions about my faith that could never be answered to my satisfaction. I over compensated by being very loud about my religion, trying to drown out the voice of reason inside me...

Then over a period of a view years I went through a process realizing that it is all a big lie. After I made a conscious decision not to believe in God, Jesus and the Bible any more, it took me about half a year to "stop looking over my shoulder", thinking God is going to get me ;-) No, it was not that bad, but I had to go through a major paradigm shift in my thought process to get my head straight.

I felt so bad with regards to the attitude I had when I was a Christian (judging others, proclaiming the ultimate truth, believing my God is going to send people to hell, turning my back on people who needed help but did not want to do things the way I believed God wanted them to do things etc. etc.) that I felt I had to do something, however small, to try and make up for what I did and what I was. I really felt embarrassed for who and what I was.

That was where "Quest" was born. I decided to put a book together that tries to touch on as many lies and deceits of the Christian doctrine as possible. Unfortunately I am an extremely analytical person, that is why my book reads more like an manual than a "story" book. But that's ok. It was my process of changing my life from the old to the new. The book was from the mechanical side of my brain and the cartoon strip from my creative side (have a look at the "Bible in color" cartoon on my site).

South Africa, my home country, like America has an very strong and loud Christian movement. Luckily our constitution shields us a little bit more from them that you guy's. But I still intend to stand up for the truth, or at least stand against the lie of the Christian dogma...
Well, that's me in a nutshell...
Cheers,

Sunday, February 05, 2006

What is the Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit?

Here I'm continuing this discussion.

Loftus:
But what if Plantinga was a Muslim and he defended Islam with the same epistemological grounding?


Walton:
Muslims and Christians don't have the same epistemological grounding. There's a reason why Plantinga's philosophy is described as "Reformed Epistemology." Also, Craig mentioned the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit. Last I read, Muslims don't believe in the Holy Spirit. Plantinga's and Craig's philosophy here is distinctly Christian.


This discussion seems centered around the idea of "personal" religious experience. People can believe that they had-or can claim to have had-some sort of "personal" experience with a supernatural being and can then say that because of that "personal" experience, they "know" that the supernatural being exists. Of course it goes without saying that when a person says that he or she had a "personal" experience with a supernatual being, this is never going to be enough, by itself, to convince any reasonable person that such a supernatural being actually exists. If a Muslim apologist says that he had a "personal" experience with Allah, this is not going to convince Bill Craig that Allah exists. Craig would certainly deny that this Muslim apologist had a "personal" experience with Allah. Craig would likely call it a delusion or would attribute it to demonic powers from his own Christian theology. So who cares about "personal" religious experience-apart from the person who has it? If "personal" religious experiences were to actually be considered reliable evidence for supernatural beings, then there is likely to be a multitude of supernatural beings out there since people claim all the time to have spoken to or to have otherwise had "personal" experiences with all sorts of supernatural beings. Does Frank Walton deny that these "personal" religious experiences are genuine? Does he believe that only Christian "personal" religious experiences are real?

I think it would be interesting to learn what, specifically, Bill Craig is referring to when he talks about personally experiencing God. Does he hear voices in his head, or does he see a bright light, or does he feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Does Craig described this "Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit" anywhere? ---Brooks

Loftus:
I haven't researched this to know. But I don't think a coherent understanding of this purported inner witness can be adequately described, since Christians who claim to have experienced this should've gained some knowledge as a result of it (i.e., some propositional beliefs about the divine being they experienced, and also, knowledge of what they as Christians should believe that confirms what they believe). Christians who claim to have had this experience must subsequently be able to explain why there are so many differing doctrinal beliefs among those Christians who claim to have had this same experience. These Christians must also distinguish their purportedly unique experience from the experience of people in all other non-Christian religions, or no religion at all. Either there is no content to this experience, in which case I seriously doubt it is a personal experience of some Divine Being at all (since we always know something about the person we have just met and what he wants us to do or believe), or, this witness is so muddled and weak as a religious experience that atheists can even deny they have even had one at all.

Christians are Fearful of Doubting

I think it’s quite possible that fear is the main motivation behind the Christian unwillingness to consider his or her faith to be wrong. I know by saying this I’m not actually offering any intellectual arguments against the Christian faith. What I’m doing is offering a psychological reason to explain why Christians cling so tenaciously to their faith.

Some Christians act like they have even been personally attacked when reasons are offered against their faith.

Here then, are three fears behind the Christian unwillingness to consider his or her faith to be wrong, in no particular order:

1) Fear of being wrong about something they have invested so much time and money trying to live it and to defend it. After all, if they are wrong, then they’re wasting their time and their money. If, however, they didn’t have this much invested in any other historical question, such as who was the greatest Football team ever, or who shot JFK, then they could dispassionately investigate their faith without being so afraid of being wrong.

2) Fear of Hell. Of course, the biggest fear of them all is the fear of hell, however conceived. “As the Church’s threat against all sinners and all its enemies, hell serves the holy purpose of cradle to grave intimidation.” [Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Putting Away Childish Things, “Hell”]. A Christian doesn’t even want to let doubt in the door lest it overtake him and consume him and eventually send him to hell.

3) Fear of the social consequences. The Christian is in a community of believers who share the same beliefs. They share life with believing friends. These friends help each other. Sometimes those who have been Christians for years don’t know of very many others to turn to in times of need, besides other Christians. So if they left the fold, whom could they turn to? They may believe that atheists cannot be trusted to be moral, so the only people they could turn to in need would be other Christians. Christians who are in the paid ministry, or have as their vocation a teaching or apologetic ministry, like I did at one time, are fearful of losing their whole livelihoods.

Christians could be skeptical of their faith, even if they only did so to see what it "feels" like, in a hypothetical sense. But I wonder how many of them will even attempt this. They just might be too scared to try. That's all they would have to do, too. For how one views the evidential arguments changes everything. It's all about control beliefs, assumptions, and perspectives. And the more a Christian dialogues with a skeptic the more he or she knows the objections to the Christian faith. At that point the only thing that needs to change is his or her perspective. That's it. How he or she views the evidential arguments makes all the difference in the world--it's all in the perspective. So consider this question one more time.

I just want to say that it’s better over here. There isn’t this fear where I am. I can dispassionately investigate the claims of religious truth without fear, or without guilt--which is another motivator for the Christian. Someone said once that "the truth will set you free." It did for me. I am free from the fear of questioning. I'm free from Christian guilt, and it wasn't until I had rejected Christianity that I realized how massive that guilt really was.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sam Harris' Atheist Manifesto

Atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith , is the Truth Dig Director Here. I have placed this as a sidebar link on my Blog. It begins with "An Atheist Manifesto."

After just two months it boasts of having over one million page loads, and a half a million unique visitors.

Today Sam wrote a piece to Answer his critics.

See also Sam's earlier essay There is no God and You Know it.

You can also read excepts and reviews of his book here, and then discuss things related to his book in his forum.

Is Christianity Internally Consistent?

Christians claim to want to check religious beliefs by internal consistency. Okay.

I find the Christian faith inconsistent, even though Christians don't see it this way. But this is what I think because I'm an outsider, just as Christians are outsiders to the other faiths they claim to check by the standard of internal consistency. I wasn't always an outsider to Christianity, though, and I eventually left it because I finally judged it as an insider to be an internally inconsistent faith.

I judge the Christian faith to be inconsistent on the following matters:

How there could there ever be a Trinity (3 in 1)? Can you explain this? Or can you explain how a Triune God just happened to causelessly exist without a beginning as a completely formed Being with all of the attributes Christians claim this Being has?

How can one man be 100% God and 100% man.

How there could ever be a Devil in the first place? If he truly is the most intelligent being and God allowed him to see his power, then the Devil was dumber than a box of rocks to rebel against God.

How does the death of Jesus actually atone for our sins?

What about the 4 billion people who die outside of Christ, and/or who never heard? They are not in rebellion against God. They are searching for answers like any of us. But they were just not born where they could hear or believe.

Hell, however conceived, is not compatible with the supposed crimes being committed, nor is it compatible with the loving father God pictured in the NT.

Why did God create the Yew plant (eat it and you die) or the Brown Recluse spider? There are a multitude of poisonous plants and creatures. White Snakeroot was one of the most common causes of death among early American settlers, who were seeking a home to worship God in freedom. Why create it in the first place? Why allow it to kill off his own people? Why did someone have to die before we learned it was poisonous?

Why didn't God make our immune systems stronger so that there wouldn't have been any pandemics? And one is just around the corner with the coming bird flu pandemic where National Geographic (October 2005)estimates anywhere from 180-360 million people will die. Why did God allow so many human deaths before he allowed someone to discover penicillin?

Why didn't God eliminate the whole predator/prey relationship among all of his creation--all of it? All of us could be made to be vegetarians and kept that way. Then God could merely reduce our mating cycles and sex urges to keep populations of creatures low enough so that there would be plenty of vegetation for all of us to eat.

There is so much more......Just enjoy your delusion that your view is the only one internally consistent while all other views are not. It's not that way at all, especially to outsiders. Claiming that it is so, is almost being completely ignorant. Why? Because whether we judge something as internally consistent is measured by the standards of the very worldview we are judging, and this is especially true if we're doing the judging of our own worldview.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Why Do Christians Presuppose the Bible is God's Word?

During my interview on the The Atheist Hour, Paul Manta said the reason he believes God has always existed is because, “A being who cannot lie told me he has always existed.” Pastor Gene claimed God created the whole known universe in six literal days with the appearance of age, because of a hyper-literal view of Genesis 1-3. Everything hinges on the Bible as God’s word, which is Pastor Gene’s first and foremost Christian presupposition. What God said is final, so he believes it no matter what.

Pastor Gene: “There are two different kinds of revelation, natural revelation, which we find in the world, and special revelation, which we find in the word of God. A basic rule of Biblical interpretation is that we should always interpret natural revelation through the grid of special revelation, that is the word of God. We don’t look at the world and then say this is truth, therefore we must conform the Scriptures to what we see. This view is a deadly mistake and would lead to atheism. I interpret science through the lens of the word of God, which presupposes the truth of Genesis 1-3. There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

This is a very good statement of presuppositional apologetics. No wonder he could host The Atheist Hour and never have any atheist cause any doubt within him. “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

Paul was getting at this, I think, when he said if we don’t presuppose something then we must rely on an infinite regress of evidences. I’m not sure how I need an infinite regress of evidences to believe I exist, or that I’m typing on my keyboard, or that I’m feeling like I need a drink right now, unless I'm looking for absolute certainty of these things, which is impossible. But I’ll let him try to show me why this is the case.

There are indeed ideas we must presuppose, and so there are also ideas we can rationally believe without any evidence. But to ask me to presuppose a whole collection of ancient writings by superstitious, pre-scientific people that were subsequently canonized by a powerful group of believers who won the arguments of their day, is simply way too much to presuppose.

But with such a presupposition as this, there doesn’t seem to be any straightforward way to show Christians they are wrong. If we point out problems in the Bible, apologists will explain them away, or claim God placed these problems in the Bible to confound people who never wanted to believe anyway.

We could point to the fact that most other people in the world grew up believing something else. According to John Hick, “it is evident that in some ninety-nine percent of the cases the religion which an individual professes and to which he or she adheres depends upon the accidents of birth. Someone born to Buddhist parents in Thailand is very likely to be a Buddhist, someone born to Muslim parents in Saudi Arabia to be a Muslim, someone born to Christian parents in Mexico to be a Christian, and so on.” [An Interpretation of Religion (p. 2)].

The apologist will simply respond that acknowledging this fact doesn’t make their faith wrong, and that’s technically true, but shouldn’t it at least cause a Christian to question why he believes in the first place? But it doesn’t seem to do this at all. The other faiths around the world are simply wrong, they’d say. So the only problem for the apologist is to figure out what to think about the unevangelized, and he might merely claim that God knows that all unevangelized people who go to hell would not have believed had they heard anyway, even though there are more than 4 billion people on the planet right now who fit it this category.

We could point to the sheer amount evil in this world, both moral and natural, and the apologist will say it is all man’s fault stemming from the sins of an original first pair of human beings—Adam & Eve. They believe in the Garden of Eden story despite all anthropological and geological evidence to the contrary, because the Bible says so. As far as evil goes, the apologist may say that everything will be made right for the believer in heaven, while hell’s doors are locked from the inside.

We could point to the lack of a miracle working God in today’s world as evidence that miracles didn’t occur among ancient superstitious people either, but the apologist will claim God has his reasons for not doing many, if any, miracles today, because Jesus is God’s final revelation.

We could point to the findings of astronomy, modern science, archaeology, psychology, historiography, anthropology, or what any other science says, and if it discredits something in the Bible, then we would get the same response from them: “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

When we ask them how they know the Bible is God’s word they may say they just presuppose its truth because the Bible is its own evidence, and since there is no higher evidence than the Bible it’s right to presuppose it as the truth. This whole procedure is circular, and I would say viciously so. There is no way any evidence can count against what the apologist defends. And should the apologist be tempted to doubt, the fear of Hell kicks him in the teeth, so he will not entertain it. Say it isn’t so!

So apologists need to tell us these two things. First, what evidence would count against your faith? Specify, specify, specify. What evidence, and what reasons would you accept as defeaters to your faith if we could produce them? Don’t demand that we produce something we cannot, because this is precisely my point, that you demand the impossible.

Secondly, and this is by far the most important question I could ask you, what reasons do you have for adopting this Christian presupposition in the first place, that the Bible is the Word of God? Spell them out for us. Since this is the crux of the issue for you, then why did you adopt that presuppositon in the first place? Since this presupposition answers every question of the skeptic, then this is the question you should have some very good reasons for prior to presupposing the Bible as the Word of God. So why?

Atonement: Why Was Jesus Punished?

In my book I argue that there is no coherent understanding of the atonement. Here are some questions for those who accept the penal substitutionary view:

In order for someone to be forgiven why must there be punishment at all? We know of victims who have forgiven their assailants even though they have never been punished, and we know of other victims who won't forgive their assailants even after they have been punished. To forgive someone doesn't mean that you must first punish the offender at all. Forgiveness doesn't really depend upon the remorse of the offender, either, although it does help quite a bit. At this point it's not up to the offender at all, but the victim who must find a way to forgive.

To forgive means bearing the suffering of what that person has done to you without retaliation. If I stole something from you, then forgiveness means bearing the loss without recompense. If I slandered you, forgiving means bearing the humiliation without retaliating. If the cross of Christ means someone got punished for my sins, then that's not offering forgiveness, that's punishing someone for what I did wrong.

If the cross was needed to pay the punishment for my sins, then how can God really be a forgiving God? Forgiveness doesn't require punishment. To put it bluntly, if I can't forgive you for striking me on the chin until I return the blow back to you, or to someone else, then that's not forgiveness, that's retaliation, or sweet revenge! Revenge is never an ethical motive for action, even if we are led to take revenge on others sometimes. John Hick: "A forgiveness that has to be bought by the bearing of a just punishment is not forgiveness, but merely and acknowledgment that the debt has been paid in full. (The Metaphor of God Incarnate, p. 127).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Loftus on the Atheist Hour

February 2nd - Thursday - I will be on pastor Gene Cook's show "The Atheist Hour," which is a Christian program.

This will take place at 11:30AM EST, 8:30AM (Pacific time). Here's the website where you can listen to the discussion, but I think it costs to subscribe.

By the way, there are a couple of known people named John Loftus out there, one is/was a reporter, and another is a foreign intelligence expert. I am neither. That's why I use my middle initial when blogging, John W. Loftus.

Lessing's Ugly Broad Ditch

Read and try to respond to German critic Gotthold Lessing's (1729-1781)argument regarding miracles and history:

“Miracles, which I see with my own eyes, and which I have opportunity to verify for myself, are one thing; miracles, of which I know only from history that others say they have seen them and verified them, are another.” “But…I live in the 18th century, in which miracles no longer happen. The problem is that reports of miracles are not miracles…[they] have to work through a medium which takes away all their force.” “Or is it invariably the case, that what I read in reputable historians is just as certain for me as what I myself experience?”

Lessing, just like G.W. Leibniz before him, distinguished between the contingent truths of history and the necessary truths of reason and wrote: Since “no historical truth can be demonstrated, then nothing can be demonstrated by means of historical truths.” That is, “the accidental truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason.”

He continued: “We all believe that an Alexander lived who in a short time conquered almost all Asia. But who, on the basis of this belief, would risk anything of great permanent worth, the loss of which would be irreparable? Who, in consequence of this belief, would forswear forever all knowledge that conflicted with this belief? Certainly not I. But it might still be possible that the story was founded on a mere poem of Choerilus just as the ten year siege of Troy depends on no better authority than Homer’s poetry.”

Someone might object that miracles like the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, are “more than historically certain,” because these things are told to us by “inspired historians who cannot make a mistake.” But Lessing counters that whether or not we have inspired historians is itself a historical claim, and only as certain as history allows. This, then, “is the ugly broad ditch which I cannot get across, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make the leap.” “Since the truth of these miracles has completely ceased to be demonstrable by miracles still happening now, since they are no more than reports of miracles, I deny that they should bind me in the least to a faith in the other teachings of Christ.” (“On the Proof of the Spirit and of Power,” [Lessing’s Theological Writings, (Stanford University Press, 1956, pp. 51-55)].

There Are No Christians!

A tongue-in-cheek letter to the Christian who denies there are Atheists:

You think you believe but you really don't. You see, your behavior itself tells on you. You don't live every waking hour of every day the way you would if you truly believed. I don't even have to know you, but if you're a man you probably peek at pornography on the web--say it isn't so? You don't give your money to Christian causes like you would if you truly believed. You don't pray enough. You don't read the Bible like you should, or evangelize as you should. You're not truly grateful for the purported sacrifice Jesus made for you that saved you from hell. Nor do you really care about the fate of unbelievers who are heading to hell. If you truly believed unbelievers will be eternally punished for their unbelief then your whole life would be radically different. So your behavior tells on you. You do not believe. Underneath all of the protestations to the contray you simply do not believe. You are in denial. You deny that you are an atheist.

You probably have someone in your life that rubs you wrong—a relative?—that you simply cannot forgive, and you may even dislike someone to the point where you may even hate them. Some Christians are even having extra-marital affairs right now, or they are pilfering from the church treasury, or beating their wives. Are you? You have guilt running through your veins for all of this and yet you claim that you stand forgiven in the eyes of God—is that not a contradiction?

You claim to believe you should or should not do this or that, and you even claim there is a Holy Spirit who only helps Christians, but you continue to behave as you actually believe, which is not much better than non-Christian neighbors you know.

If I believed there was a brick wall in front of me, I wouldn't walk into it. But your life is nothing but walking through your self proclaimed wall of beliefs. You daily walk through that wall because you really do not believe there is a wall where you claim it is!

So don't tell me I really believe. I do not. It's you who are in denial. You simply are going through the motions because of the social benefits of the people whom you respect and whom are your helpers through life. You need some father godlike figure in the sky so you can feel secure and comforted both here and in the afterlife, so you believe this father figure in your mind. But he just doesn't exist, and deep down you know this.

You claim I believe. I claim I do not. What do you think about my case? Do you really believe or not? I think my case is much stronger than yours.

--End of letter.

A Description of the Problem of Evil.

Victor Reppert offered a great description of the problem of evil Here:

The problem is as old as Socrates’ Euthyphro. If...."good” must mean approximately the same thing when we apply it to God as what it means when we apply it to human beings, then the fact of suffering provides a clear empirical refutation of the existence of a being who is both omnipotent and perfectly good. If on the other hand, we are prepared to give up the idea that “Good” in reference to God means anything like what it means when we refer to humans as good, then the problem of evil can be sidestepped, but any hope of a rational defense of Christianity goes by the boards. - Victor Reppert.

I've already commented on the Euthyphro dilemna Here.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Can Atheists Prove a Negative?

See Jeffrey Jay Lowder on Militant Agnosticism: Here.

Monday, January 30, 2006

$10,000 if you can Disprove this Proof of God!

There's some idiot Christian, named Troy, who writes in a muddled fashion but claims to have proved God exists in four easy steps. He had offered $10,000 to the first person to show him wrong, Here. [You will have to register and do a search for the 4 step proof for God offer].

So I thought to myself, why not give it a try and see what happens. I did so and I got banned off his website! I cannot even read what he said in response to what I had written! I go to that website and all I can read is this:

You have been banned for the following reason:
Petty arguments against 4 Step Proof

Date the ban will be lifted: Never


What a liar, but then I never really expected to get the money anyway. What a joke. Below, in part, is what I wrote (picking up at step 3):

Step 3 – To the question "Why can't God have a creator?" You say, “Because, by definition that no longer makes God uncreated." By definition, God IS and is uncreated (as proven in Step 1 and Step 2). You cannot make the argument that someone or something created God since then you would no longer be speaking about God, but perhaps a god or idol or something in your imagination.

My response:
This question and your reply are a mischaracterization of your opponent’s views, and this I can show very easily. They do not intend to ask whether or not God (who by definition is the creator) has a creator. They are simply asking you to explain how it is possible for a fully complete eternally existing Triune (3 in 1?) immaterial spiritual being who has all knowledge (because he never has learned anything), all power (but who doesn’t use it like we would if we saw a child suffering horribly), and who is present everywhere at the same time (even though if God acts in this universe, time is a function of bodily placement and velocity of movement) can exist? You never answered this question, and I dare say you cannot prove it either.

So, in order to prove God exists in 4 easy steps, you show the universe must have had a beginning, and then you move on to say that since it had a beginning, God must have created it. This in no way proves God created the universe unless you can sufficiently answer the real question atheists asked in step 3.

As far as we know there isn’t a satisfactory reasonable answer to why this universe exists. And I argue that the reason is because this universe happened by the strangeness of chance. When we look back on a chance happening, a fortuitous event, a lucky guess, or a lottery winner we cannot explain it if we were to seek a cause for it. If we sought a logical explanation for it happening we would not find one, precisely because a chance event cannot be figured out hindsight. So, if I were to judge between the possibility of your God existing for all eternity with the possibility of an uncaused existence of this universe, I would choose the uncaused existence of the universe. Chance can give rise to the perception of order, like we find in our universe. We have no such conception of a fully formed completely ordered thing or being that has always existed without a cause for its existence.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Step 4 – The atheist will say "ok, so a lesser god created, so why can't he have a creator, and a creator create that creator?" This is not possible either. Why? It is because this presupposes an eternity of the past of creating gods and things and materials in causal relationships, one following after the other.

My response:
But step 4 is a further mischaracterization of step 3. There is not an eternal regress of causes for either the universe or for God.

Here then our our choices: Either the universe popped into existence out of nothing, or there is such a God that has always existed and will forever exist withut change. Both answers seem impossible based upon the assumption that logic can figure it all out. But since chance events cannot be figured out, the universe probably popped into existence out of nothing.

You argue against the universe coming into existence out of nothing, but then you posit an equally "impossible" answer, that such a God as you believe exists, without showing how such a being can exist--the real atheist question. I could equally argue that since I have no conception of an eternally existing being, because everything I know has a beginning and an end to it, that therefore your God doesn't exist. And once eliminating this "impossibility" I could go on to posit the main alternative, that the universe popped into existence out of nothing, without attempting to show how this is possible, just as you did with regard to the possibility of your God's existence.

Far from proving that your God exists, we are at an impasse between "impossibilities." Surely if you agree that we are at an impasse, you will also have to say your case is not proved. But even if this didn’t happen as I think, you are far away from having proved that the God of the Bible exists. For in addition to your definition of God spoken of earlier, you also believe that this God revealed himself to us in the Bible, that he became incarnate in Jesus, and that he atoned for our sins. No one yet has made sense of the incarnation or in how Jesus’ death atoned for our sins, and you certainly didn’t even try.

Even if your argument leads one to consider believing in God (and that’s all it can possibly do, much less prove God exists), then you also have not proven that your specific God exists instead of the Jewish God of the O.T., or the Muslim God Allah.

Nice try Troy. But your argument fails as a proof.

Do I have to win this argument with you before you write me a check? I'm waiting for your response then.

Dr. Bill Craig, Frank Walton, and me.

Frank Walton criticized me for basically name-dropping,
Here.

I noticed Frank doesn't allow for any comments on his blog, like I have allowed him on mine. I'm not opposed to differing opinions. They help us to think and they make us grow. So I've decided to publish what he said and try to offer a response. I did eliminate one reference to Dr. Craig though, okay? :)

Some thoughts:

I'm not sure what he means when he says Carrier and Barker are trying to make a name off of Christians. Such a claim doesn't really make sense to me. They just want to debunk Christianity, like I do.

The accusation of name-dropping isn't so bad if that's the best charge he can make against me, now is it? And while he misaccuses me of some ad hominem argument, he should focus on the substance of what I put on my blog, even if I'm merely providing links to other arguments.

Take for example Richard Carrier's few paragraphs copied in my previous post, below. Frank, try dealing with that next time, okay?

I'll be updating my blog/links listings from time to time, depending on the content of those blogs. Don't be surprised if I delete yours if that's the best you can do. I want reasonable links and/or blogs, and it may take me a while to find the best ones--ones which don't resort to ridicule and contain a higher level of thinking. I'm looking for suggestions to make this blog a pretty damn good one.

Frank Walton:
What Loftus is saying in effect is this, "I know that Dr. Craig is one of the greatest modern Christian thinkers. I was even a student of his! But guess what, I'm not a Christian anymore. Which goes to show how unconvincing Dr. Craig is!"

Actually, what I'm saying is that the arguments just aren't there, period, no matter who the defender of Christianity happens to be. If it's true of Dr. Craig's arguments, then it should be true of most all other apologists, although, I know I'm just speaking for myself.

By telling you I was his former student I got your attention, didn't I? What's wrong with that? People usually want to know of our credentials. Isn't that something you'd like to know? If you were a former student of his, I'm sure we'd hear about it too.

In a way, I would like to pressure Bill into debating me. I had initially asked him if he would want to co-author a book as a dialogue between a professor and former student, but he declined, saying "that would give me no joy."

I will say this though, it took a major crisis in my life plus nearly six intense years of thinking and soul-searching to break free from the arguments I had once defended. The last two beliefs of mine I rejected were the resurrection of Jesus and then later the belief in God. These two beliefs of mine were so well ingrained within me, especially as the result of Dr. Craig's teaching and writing, that they were the last ones I rejected. For me, his arguments were very tough to break free of, but in the end, I did break free of them. Not because of rebellion against God or him, but just as the result of the logical educated process of thought.

Another thing. I like Bill very much. I recently told him that I have nothing personal against him, and that I was sorry if I am an embarrassment to him. But the arguments just were not there, period. I have to follow what I believe to be the truth. That's all I can do.

And since I don't believe in Christianity, I want to help others break free from it's narrow-minded, superstitious, guilt producing, and pre-scientific thinking.

Richard Carrier on "Why I am Not a Christian"

For those of you who look at my blog, I will post something thought provoking about Christianity once a day, on average.

If you haven't yet read why Richard Carrier is not a Christian, read this:

Why I am not a Christian

Consider this story he tells:

Back in my days as a flightdeck firefighter, when our ship's helicopter was on rescue missions, we had to stand around in our gear in case of a crash. There was usually very little to do, so we told stories. One I heard was about a rescue swimmer. She had to pull a family out of the water from a capsized boat, but by the time the chopper got there, it appeared everyone had drowned except the mother, who was for that reason shedding her life vest and trying to drown herself. The swimmer dove in to rescue her, but she kicked and screamed and yelled to let her die. She even gave the swimmer a whopping black eye. But the swimmer said to hell with that, I'm bringing you in! And she did, enduring her curses and blows all the way.

Later, it turned out that one of the victim's children, her daughter, had survived. She had drifted pretty far from the wreck, but the rescue team pulled her out, and the woman who had beaten the crap out of her rescuer apologized and thanked her for saving her against her will. Everyone in my group agreed the rescue swimmer had done the right thing, and we all would have done the same—because that is what a loving, caring being does. It follows that if God is a loving being, he will do no less for us. In the real world, kind people don't act like some stubborn, pouting God who abandons the drowning simply because they don't want to be helped. They act like this rescue swimmer. They act like us.

Prayer, Healing, and the God of the Gaps

Christians will assert that the “God of the gaps” epistemology doesn’t adequately describe their knowledge about God and his activity, since God is not just known in the gaps of our knowledge. But consider how science has filled in the gaps when it comes to prayer and healing.

When ancient people prayed for their “daily bread,” they did so because crops could sometimes fail in their local area, or a hunter may fail to bag a deer. Such disasters as these things could produce hunger, and possible starvation. Do Christians today have the same fervor when they pray for their “daily bread” as ancient Christians did? Many Christians in the industrialized West don't even pray before every meal, especially when they eat at a McDonald's. Many if not most all of the Christians in the industrialized West, take their food pretty much for granted.

When Christians are very sick, they will take a prescribed pill from the doctor and be confident they'll get better, even if they do pray. But in the ancient times when someone got very sick they could die. Christians in the ancient past had no choice but to depend almost completely upon God's help here. Are Christians saying they wrestle with God over sickness in prayer like the Christian people of old did? Or is their confidence more in the results of science and medicine, than in God? I know the answer. They just haven't admitted it yet.

As science helps Christians with their daily meals and with healing, they believe in prayer and in God’s help less and less, and they believe in science more and more. Say it isn’t so!