Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Atheists in jail

I used to run therapy groups with men who’d been in jail. I asked a guy in one of the groups, “From all your years of doing crime, what have you learned about how to stay out of jail?”

“Well, the first time I got arrested I learned to not use my own car. The second time I learned to not do a job with someone I don’t know very well. The third time I learned to wear gloves. The fourth time I learned to not be drunk. I fifth time I learned to not do it in the winter when they can follow footprints. The sixth time I learned to make sure the car had enough fuel.” There were three or four more things that he listed, but I can't remember what they were.

Can you guess the one thing that he’d never learned in regard to staying out of jail? That’s right. He’d never learned to NOT DO CRIME. The one thing that would have ensured that he never returned to prison never seemed to cross his mind. And it wasn’t for a lack of incentive. I mean, this guy hated prison. He cursed the police. He cursed the “Injustice system.” Life seemed terribly unfair to him. Even as he stuck a sawed-off shotgun into the face of a terrified teenage clerk at a 7-11, this guy saw HIMSELF as the victim. He seemed locked into a pattern of thinking that guaranteed future punishment and loss of freedom.

I find this to be the exact same type of thinking that is present in every single atheist on planet earth. Atheists are forever crying the blues over “burning in hell forever. It's not just. It's not fair!” In fact, the only thing that comes close to matching an atheist’s obsession with Creator God is h/her obsession with hell. The atheist curses the God s/he doesn’t believe in. The atheist curses Christianity, believing that it is causing all the world’s problems. Even though the atheist is guilty of killing Jesus, s/he sees h/herself as the victim. Since God demands justice for the torture and murder of His Son, the atheist whines and complains that God isn’t conforming to a normal concept of justice and fair play. Translation - I should be able to do what I want, when I want with no consequences. I suspect they've had this pattern of thinking since two-years-old.

Never, not once does an atheist consider the option of heaven. Never once does s/he think of leaving h/her life of crime. Never once does the atheist consider the option of saying, “I did wrong. I am wrong. I’m sorry.” Not once does an atheist see that hell need not be something that s/he experiences. God has provided, at the cost of His own life, a way of escaping eternity in hell, but the dumb criminal, I mean atheist, is blinded to the fact that s/he has options in life. Atheists know that the road they’re on leads straight to hell, but they seem unwilling to do what’s necessary to escape their fearful and inevitable end. It’s kind of pitiful.

25 comments:

Whateverman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whateverman said...

Hell doesn't exist. It's a fiction meant to scare people into behaving like the religious establishment wanted them to. Ergo, I don't complain about it...

I can easily admit when I'm wrong.

Can you?



EDIT: grammar corrected. Zomg I'm sorry I was wrong !!one11!

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Not once does an atheist see that hell need not happen.

I'd say this is the chief argument atheists make; that hell need not have happened. Since the atheist likewise recognizes his inability to either create or destroy hell, his objection to it lies in that the god who would create such a place did so needlessly -- and the atheist chooses not to follow such a god.

So your statement is true, "not once does an atheist see that hell need not happen" (emphasis mine), but instead many, many times does the atheist see this. It seems, instead, that the Christian is the one incapable of recognizing that hell need not exist, as he deludes himself into thinking a) that hell is necessary, and b) that he is deserving of such eternal torture. The former being untrue necessarily eliminates any truth to the latter -- rather than continue to allow hell to be populated, a truly benevolent god would never have created such a place.

So like Whateverman before me, I don't complain about hell, I instead complain about the Christian's insistence that such a place exists, and seek to show them why it cannot, or, if it does, why the being responsible for its existence is unworthy of any admiration whatsoever.

--
Stan

Froggie said...

"Never, not once does an atheist consider the option of heaven. Never once does s/he think of leaving h/her life of crime. Never once does the atheist consider the option of saying, “I did wrong. I am wrong. I’m sorry.” Not once does an atheist see that hell need not happen."

Ahem, The atheists I know are not suffering from anti social personality disorder as is the guy in the flawed analogy you present.

Anna Sethe said...

The same as many people don't have to go to jail to learn how to behave, atheists don't need to the threat of hell.
I've never experienced that atheists are morally inferior to Christians.

Makarios said...

And I've never said that atheists are morally inferior to Christians. Some if not many atheists are probably morally superior to Christians.

All I'm saying is that atheists never, ok, hardly ever talk about heaven. They only complain about hell. Well, I'm saying that if you don't like hell, you need not experience it. I'm also saying that pretending to know what God would or would not do won't make hell go away. If you are denying the existence of God, if you are denying that you will one day be accountable before God, then Jesus said that the road that you're on now cannot take you to any place other than hell. If, on the other hand you want to go to heaven, then Jesus says you need to turn around and go the opposite direction.

That's all that I'm saying - and the fact that it has nothing to do with how good a person you might think you are.

Froggie said...

"They (atheists) only complain about hell. Well,....."

I'm not seeing that at all.
Atheists may complain about Christians claiming there is a hell, but they also complain aout a myriad of other irrational belief systems.

From my experience it is n,ot good to generalize about atheists, or any other group for that matter.

Makarios said...

What's irrational about heaven and hell? Jesus taught a great deal about both of them.

Froggie said...

Makarios said...
What's irrational about heaven and hell? Jesus taught a great deal about both of them.

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

And this Jesus is one in the same God for which you have no empirical evidence?

Are you a "cradle" Christian?

I respectfully ask so that I may acertain your level of cultural conditioning.

Makarios said...

Well, respect is always nice. Thank you. I’ll try to do the same for you.

Um, I didn’t become a Christian until I was thirty years old. I knew of Jesus and God and all that. It's hard to live in North America and not hear of them. Nevertheless, I thought something similar to many atheists, i.e., the amount of pain and suffering in the world showed that God did not exist. Of course, once I began to think about it, all that the existence of pain and suffering shows is that if there is a God, He doesn’t do things the way we believe that we would do them if we were in charge. Clearly, His existence in no way depends on whether we like Him or not.

And then there is Jesus. I spent close to ten years of researching and questioning and challenging, all in an attempt to put to rest the stupid idea of God once and for all. Two things made that impossible. First, it was the empirical evidence of the universe. I’m doing a short post on this tomorrow so I won’t go into detail here, but I’m sure you’re aware that there aren’t ANY workable alternatives to Creator God as Cause. Second, there is the existence of Jesus and what took place during His time on earth. Those are the two main things that got me. This was especially true for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Since you value respect, I trust that you will humour me by allowing me to tell you the questions that I found needed, no DEMANDED an answer.

Yes I’m generalising, but I think I know your feelings regarding the Bible as proof of anything. That is why absolutely none of what you’re about to read has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. The following are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust), to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that a person be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, that person must lie to h/herself about what is factually and historically true.

The conclusion that I came to is that there is absolutely no sustainable reason for the following historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true. I'd like to know how you explain these facts of history. So what I wondered is -

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians?

If Jesus didn’t die on the cross, why would these historians and scholars write that He did? Why would they simply invent these stories? There was/is absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained by concocting this as a lie.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why do we have multiple, independent, extra Biblical sources attesting to the risen Jesus?
. Why do we have virtually unanimous modern historical scholarship agreeing that the disciples truly believed they saw Jesus alive after His death on the cross.

. Why would atheist historian and New Testament critic Gerd Ludemann say, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

. Why would atheist historian Paula Fredriksen say, “I don’t know what they saw, but as a historian I know they believed they saw Jesus.”

. Why would highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agree that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus."

Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make sense. Why would the enemies of Christianity affirm the historical facts regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus if the evidence isn’t accurate and compelling?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why would all the disciples, plus hundreds and hundreds of others believe that they saw Him alive?
. Why would they say that they spoke with Him?
. Why would they say that they ate with Him at various times and various places?
. If none of that is true, why would they be willing to die for making up the lie of seeing Jesus alive? There was absolutely nothing of earthly value to be gained, and everything to lose by concocting the supposed lies about Jesus life, death and resurrection. Remember these people didn’t believe someone else’s lie. Over the centuries many people have died for believing someone else’s lies. But if THESE people died for a lie, it was THEIR lie! They died for saying they saw Jesus alive again after His death. Liars simply do not make martyrs of themselves.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, their willingness to die for the “truth” doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Paul’s testimony about His encounter with Jesus and why do we have his radical transformation in character from a persecutor of the Church and a killer of Christians to the greatest missionary that the Christian Church has ever seen? Remember, Paul:
. Was a rabid sceptic when Jesus appeared to him.
. Was an enemy of the Church when Jesus appeared to him.
This is not like most conversions whereby the person reads or hears something that persuades h/her to change. Paul’s evidence for the risen Jesus was first hand and so convincing that he endured years of hardship, persecution and rejection for proclaiming the risen Lord, before finally being beheaded by Nero in 64AD. Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in Paul’s character doesn’t make any sense. He had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain, and everything to lose by concocting a story of meeting Jesus while on His way to persecute the Church.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
. Why in the world would Jesus’ brothers James and Jude go to their deaths proclaiming that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead?
. Why would they claim that they had seen Him?
. Why would they confess that Jesus is the Lord God, Messiah?
James’ and Jude’s conversions were a drastic change from thinking their Brother was insane and an embarrassment to the family.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this change in the beliefs of Jesus’ siblings doesn’t make any sense. They had absolutely nothing of earthly value to gain and everything to lose if what they said about Jesus appearing to them after His death was not true.

Remember, Both Paul and James were sceptics at the time that Jesus appeared to them. Why would they become His followers if His resurrection wasn't historical fact?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why was His tomb empty?
. Jesus’ enemies were the ones to confirm that the body was missing by proposing that the disciples stole it.
. The disciples didn’t have the power nor the inclination to steal His body. They were hiding behind locked doors.
. Jesus’ enemies had no reason to steal the body and every reason to keep it right where it was. They posted an armed guard, and sealed the tomb with the Governor’s seal to make sure that nothing happened to the body.
. The first proclamations of the empty tomb were made right there in Jerusalem where Jesus was murdered and buried. The tomb could have been easily checked out.
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, how is it that the tomb was empty with no sound explanation other than the resurrection?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do the ancient documents written by Jesus’ followers make the “mistake” of saying that women (who at the time were seen as lower than animals and not capable of telling the truth) were the ones who discovered the empty tomb and encountered the risen Lord. If it wasn’t true, if the disciples were trying to convince others of a lie, if the resurrection wasn’t historical fact, why would the writers invent the testimony of women to say that it was true?
If the resurrection isn’t historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that His followers would do that.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why did Josephus, Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria all non Christians and all historians write about Jesus’ brother James, his leadership in the Jerusalem Church and his martyrdom for proclaiming Jesus as risen Lord and Saviour?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. People don’t just destroy their careers and reputations by writing lies. They would only write these things if the evidence convinced them that it was accurate.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have an early oral tradition that dates from the first or second year after Jesus’ death attesting to the fact of Him rising from the dead.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense. There is no hint of legend or exaggeration in this oral tradition. And these people had their lives to lose by repeating it. Why would they do that if it wasn’t true?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the written works of the early Church with hymns, poetry and creeds, stemming from the early oral history telling about Jesus rise from the dead?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, we simply wouldn't have this.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the Christian Church? Paul told early Christians, “If Jesus did not rise from the dead, your faith is worthless.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact there wouldn’t be any Christianity. Yet here it is today, over 2 billion strong.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
How did Paul know what He knew about Jesus prior to any contact with the apostles and why would they accept Paul as one of their own based on what he was teaching about Jesus?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, and without Jesus appearing to Paul and teaching Paul about Himself, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have the four ancient biographies of Jesus, one of them by historian and physician Luke who got his information from eyewitnesses all affirming the resurrection of Jesus? Why would they tell Luke that these things happened if they weren’t true? They paid for that "lie" with their lives.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
Why do we have Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Polycarp and others, all saying that they had been taught by the apostles that Jesus had risen from the dead. And THEN, all of these men were themselves martyred based on the believability of what the disciples had told them. These were not ignorant, gullible men. Yet the evidence made sense to them.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, how could that happen?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead:
What would account for the disciple’s radical transformation from fearful and cowardly men who denied Jesus and who ran away from Him during His trial, to bold individuals who were so confident of the truth of what they saw and heard regarding His resurrection, that they were willing to undergo years of persecution as well as torture and death rather than change their story. Without the resurrection, this change in character doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why was it that Polycarp wrote of the endurance under torture of Paul, Ignatius, Zosimus, and Rufus for their belief in the risen Christ?
. Why was it that Ignatius also wrote of the suffering and death of the apostles?
. Why was it that Polycarp and Ignatius were both martyred?
. Why would they be willing to die in such a manner if the accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection weren’t accurate?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would we have confirming accounts of the disciples teaching and deaths in Roman public records called “Lives of the Caesars.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why would Origen write, “Jesus, who has both risen AND led His disciples to believe in His resurrection and so thoroughly persuaded them of its truth that they showed to all men by their suffering how they were able to laugh at life’s troubles beholding to life eternal and a resurrection clearly demonstrated to them in word and deed by this one Jesus.”
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that Origen would write that.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
Why do we have Eusebius, Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, Hegesibous, Josephus, Clement of Alexandria, all of these sources, Christian and non Christian alike affirming the disciples willingness to die for what they believed to be true.
Without the resurrection being historical fact, it doesn’t make any sense that these many and varied individuals would make this stuff up.

If the accounts of what the disciples taught weren’t true:
. Why is it that Luke writes that Jesus spent about 40 days with the disciples after He rose from the dead, and
. Why can it be further calculated that about 50-55 days after His death, Jesus’ followers started proclaiming His resurrection, and
. Why did Tacitus, an enemy of Christianity, write “Jesus’ execution by Pontius Pilot checked, for the moment, the Christian movement but it then broke out with force not only in Judea but even in Rome.”
. Why would these accounts, one from a follower of Jesus and one from a secular historian and enemy of Christianity be so similar unless they’re true?
Without the resurrection being historical fact, this doesn’t make any sense.

Absolutely none of what I’ve just written has anything to do with the Bible being inspired or infallible or any other trappings of religion. These are historical facts attested to by the vast majority of secular, atheist and Christian historical scholars. While there will always be those on the lunatic fringe who attempt to deny historical facts (eg. holocaust) to deny that there is extra Biblical factually accurate information regarding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus requires that you be either profoundly ignorant or a determined liar and most importantly, you must lie to yourself about what is factually and historically true. There is absolutely no sustainable reason for the above historical events to have occurred unless the essential facts of Jesus death and resurrection are true.

If Jesus did in fact supernaturally rise from the dead, then what He taught about being the Son of God and about the existence of Creator God must also be true. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus demands a verdict. With the evidence so overwhelmingly pointing to the fact of His resurrection, one can do three things:
. Submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour - Or
. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or
. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if God is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

Froggie said...

Rod,
I coomend you in your compassion for those kids you have adopted.
My oldest daughter adopted a boy basically out of a crack house in Philadelphia. He is very special to us, ow 12 years old.

You have managed not only to not answer my question, but you have thrown so much smoke that there is no way I will try to respond to you.

If you care to have a dialogue in the future, OK. You are the one that has the public blog.

It would take me hours to try to respond to your manifesto and I don't have the time for that.

I asked a simple question of you.

I expected an answer and a question in return. Stupid me!

Good luck.

Makarios said...

I thought that I did answer your questions. You asked, "Are you a "cradle" Christian?"

Perhaps I offended you in that since I wasn't sure what that meant, I should have asked? Was it upsetting for you that I guessed wrong? I honestly didn't know you were really sensitive about this stuff. I assumed your question meant, 'Was I a Christian from childhood' and I answered no. I wasn't a Christian until the age of thirty.

Then you asked, "And this Jesus is one in the same God for which you have no empirical evidence?"

This question I did understand, and I answerd no, this is the Jesus / God for which there is an abundance of empirical evidence. You might be thinking of Zeus or Thor. I've noticed that atheists get them mixed up quite a lot.

It's true. I did go beyond what you asked, and again, I see that you're offended when people don't strictly adhere to your agenda. But how can I possibly guess what your agenda is? That's why I proceeded to tell you what the evidence is. I can't help it if there is an awful lot of evidence. I can't help it if all that evidence comes from secular sources. I actually thought you'd be interested in hearing what other atheists and non believers have said on the matter. Don't you think that these are important questions to have answered?

Froggie said...

"If Jesus didn’t die on the cross:
Why would Josephus, Matthew, Tacitus, Mark, Lucian of Samosata, Dr. Luke, Mara Bar-Serapion, John, The Babylonion Talmud and John Dominic Crossan of the “Jesus Seminar” all attest that Jesus’ crucifixion is historical fact? And why would that be when all but Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are non Christians?"

The Josephus reference is an obvious later addition and no bible scholars agree about the other references.

Next, you are a liar, The Jesus seminar's reconstruction of the historical Jesus portrays him as an itinerant Hellenistic Jewish sage who did not die as a substitute for sinners nor rise from the dead, but preached a "social gospel" in startling parables and aphorisms.

Froggie said...

By the way, the gospels are not eyewitness accounts and were not even given their names until 330 AD.

If you care to look, in the first chapter of Luke he admits that the story came to him "down through the generations."

Anyway, considering your age and your level of delusion, I don't want to argue with you.

you wouldn't know what evidence was if it hit you in the ass.

Bye.

Anna Sethe said...

There is much more evidence about the existence of Charlemagne than of Jesus. And even in the former case I'm not entirely sure. But what I'm sure about is that he didn't do everything people said he'd done. Why would they lie, sometimes even die for these lies? Maybe because they believed in something bigger than themselves...

Makarios said...

Hmm, all this talk of respect and to then be called a liar. That's ok. I understand. You've got a lot riding on believing that the New Testament is a huge conspiracy.
==========
First of all, let me point out that contrary to what atheists seem to think, none of the New Testament writers were working for something like, “Bible Magazine” or whatever. What has been compiled into what is NOW the New Testament were at one time independent documents that had been circulating in the ancient Palestinian community. These were people who had taken an interest in the life of Jesus, either as a historian, like Dr. Luke, or as a follower like John and Paul and James and Jude.

I don't know what translation you're using Frog Man, but my NIV states, in Luke 1:1-4 "Many have understaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word [Jesus]. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemd good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus.

Your alluding to some naming in 330AD is a non issue as all of the New Testament was compiled by AD70 All of Paul’s writings were obviously completed prior to AD64 as that is when he was beheaded by Nero. Besides, if you want to play the numbers game them you must also be willing to throw into disbelieve all of the writings from that time. You would truly be in the minority for having done that.
============

“you wouldn't know what evidence was if it hit you in the ass.”

So what criteria do you use to judge the credibility of ancient texts? I hope it goes beyond, "Does it contradict my word-view?"
========

Now, to what you say are lies: I urge you to enjoy this “follow up” because I am not lying in anything that I wrote and I won’t be doing this again.

John Dominic Crossan - Co founder of the Jesus Seminar, in his book - “Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography” (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991), 145; see also 154, 196, 201 where he alluded to the same thing, i.e., (and this is a direct quote), “That he [Jesus] was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.”

Gerd Ludemann, “What Really Happened to Jesus? A Historical Approach to the Resurrection,”
John Bowden, trans. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1995), 80“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

Ludemann thinks that they all had simultaneous visions. As someone trained in the workings of the human mind I know enough about hallucinations and visions that this is unacceptable to me but if it works for you, that’s fine. All I’m asking is that you don’t brush aside hard evidence.

Paula Fredriksen - “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that’s what they saw. I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.” This is from an interview with Peter Jennings in his documentary “The Search for Jesus” (ABC) July, 2000.

Ah, I gave you too many examples to keep doing this. I've collected them in my reading over the years. Either you trust my sources, either you trust that I’m not lying or you don’t and obviously you don’t so, that’s fine.

“Maybe because they believed in something bigger than themselves...”

They certainly did. They endured years of hardship and eventual death. Peter even watched his wife's crucifixion just prior to his. All because, according to you, he made up a lie based on his belief in something bigger.

"considering your age and your level of delusion,"

What does being 58 years old have anything to do with anything?

Frog Man, I've given you hard evidence from secular sources for the existence of Jesus. Do you remember what you said? "And this Jesus is one in the same God for which you have no empirical evidence?"

I didn't even attempt to use Biblical sources because people like you seem to think that they are part of a conspiracy.

Now, it's up to you to do with the evidence what you will.
. Submit to Jesus as Lord and Saviour - Or
. Lie to yourself that none of this proves anything - Or
. Say to yourself, “I don’t care if God is real, I’m going to live my life, my way.”

Whateverman said...

Makarios wrote Frog Man, I've given you hard evidence from secular sources for the existence of Jesus. Do you remember what you said? "And this Jesus is one in the same God for which you have no empirical evidence?"

Hmmm...

Froggie and I don't necessarily agree on everything, so please don't take my criticism as being equivalent to his. I myself suspect that Jesus is/was a real historical figure. I think there may be evidence of this, though it's certainly not conclusive, IMHO.

Assuming he *did* exist, I still think there's very little evidence that suggests he was actually God or the Son of God, or divine in any way. Historical record suggests that much of the Bible was written by men, of whom there's even less evidence of existence or divinity.

IOW, there's a huge gap between "Jesus really existed" and "Jesus is who Christianity says he is". And in order for your ending comment (Chose this OR that OR that), we must first assume the Christianity couldn't possibly be referencing a book written by fallible men who were no more divinely inspired than you or I.

IOW: your choices ignore the possibility that you could be wrong, or that atheists could be right. You should probably have added

"OR conclude that the topic is moot, and go have a cup o' jo".

---

Atheists don't talk about heaven because they don't believe it exists; it's not a motivating factor for them. In any case, the lure of heaven is hugely overshadowed by the threat of Hell - and it's interesting to note that fundamentalist Christians spend much more time talking about Hell than they do Heaven. So it's no wonder that atheists are confronted by (and react to) it more often.

In short, I'm pretty sure you have just as much knowledge about the afterlife as atheists do, your condemnation notwithstanding

Makarios said...

"I think there may be evidence of this, though it's certainly not conclusive, IMHO.”

And I don’t mind people saying this as long as they are also willing to suggest that Caesar, or
Thucydides or Aristotle probably didn’t exist either, because we have more documentation and better documentation from a historical scholar’s perspective for Jesus than for any of these characters.

All I want is a balanced judgement, and I’m sure any serious atheist would want that as well.
==============

“Assuming he *did* exist, I still think there's very little evidence that suggests he was actually God or the Son of God, or divine in any way.”

I can understand that. And again as long as you can come up with satisfying answers to things like,
. Why was the tomb empty?
. Who would die for their own lie?
. How do we best account for the dramatic change in Jesus’ followers,
. How do we best account for the dramatic change in Paul
. How do we best account for the dramatic change in Jesus’ siblings?
. How do we best account for the post burial sightings by hundreds of people at different times in different circumstances in different locations?
. How do we best account for Jesus’ enemies corroborating things like, The empty tomb, Jesus’ resurrection sightings, and this account. "One day Jesus went to someone’s house and He was teaching all those who came to hear Him. When He was there, some guys from the village brought their friend who’d been crippled from birth. The whole community knew this guy. He wasn’t part of the “Jesus Hour.” They carried this guy to Jesus and laid the man before Him. Jesus looked at the man and said, “Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.” The religious teachers that were there took issue with Jesus saying this because as they well knew, only God can forgive someone’s sins and only God has the right to forgive someone’s sins. That’s because God is the main “victim” of our sins. It’s His laws that we’re breaking.

So Jesus asked the religious leaders (who by the way were just as sceptical of Jesus as you are), “So which is easier to do, tell someone that his sins are forgiven or to make him get up and walk? To show you that I have the authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He said to the paralytic, “Get up, and take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home.

A fraud would have only said, “Your sins are forgiven.” A fraud would have never said, “Pick up your mat and go home.” A fraud brings his own “paralytics” to his healing ceremonies. “Walk-ins” like this guy in the story don’t ever make it to the stage.
==========

IOW, there's a huge gap between "Jesus really existed" and "Jesus is who Christianity says he is".

Well, I think there is a huge gap between “Jesus as just a man” and “Jesus as who He said He was.”

You see, Jesus lived what He preached. We know from our own experience that, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, serve those who persecute you,” are nice sounding goals. But none of us can do that. Jesus did. He forgave those who tortured Him to death. If outlandish claims about being God were all that Jesus had to offer, I’d agree with you. I believe, and I’m not saying that you have to believe it also, but I believe that something totally other happened when Jesus was on earth.
===========

IOW: your choices ignore the possibility that you could be wrong, or that atheists could be right. You should probably have added "OR conclude that the topic is moot, and go have a cup o' jo".

Of course :-) Like I said, I spent ten years trying to prove that Jesus was just a man. I couldn’t do it because I couldn’t come up with such a conclusion that didn’t also require a prior commitment to your current world-view. If you can do it, that’s cool. But I couldn’t.
============

“Atheists don't talk about heaven because they don't believe it exists; it's not a motivating factor for them.”

Well that’s not quite correct. Atheists supposedly don’t believe in hell either but atheist blogs are filled to the brim about how awful it is, or at least how awful the God is (something else they don't believe in) who created hell.
==========

“In any case, the lure of heaven is hugely overshadowed by the threat of Hell - and it's interesting to note that fundamentalist Christians spend much more time talking about Hell than they do Heaven.”

I don’t believe that's true. There was a time in history when hell-fire was the topic of many a sermon. But you know what? I’ve been attending conservative Churches for almost thirty years and there are two things I’ve NEVER, not once heard preached about -
1) Hell, and
2) Homosexuality.

My whole point is that hell needn’t be something that you ever think about, much less worry about. God, at His own expense has provided a foolproof way of avoiding hell.

"In short, I'm pretty sure you have just as much knowledge about the afterlife as atheists do, your condemnation notwithstanding"

Yes, I’m quite sure that we have equal amounts of evidence; We both have the existence of the universe and we both have historically factual accounts of Jesus. But we react to the evidence in totally different ways.

I'm curious, what is the difference between condemnation and warning?

Whateverman said...

Yes, I’m quite sure that we have equal amounts of evidence; We both have the existence of the universe and we both have historically factual accounts of Jesus. But we react to the evidence in totally different ways.

That's not entirely true; Christians tend to view the Bible as evidence, whereas atheists do not. This leads very often to rapdily different views of what the "factual accounts" consist of.

You seem to point to gaps in our knowledge (about historical events) and claim them as evidence of the validity of your faith. I guess that's not an uncommon method of attaining "understanding", but before I believe in something, I want to see positive evidence.



I'm curious, what is the difference between condemnation and warning?

The former is usually accompanied by generalizations, over-simplifications and general condescension. The latter is usually accompanied by sincere concern. You wrote:

Since God demands justice for the torture and murder of His Son, the atheist whines and complains that God isn’t conforming to a normal concept of justice and fair play. Translation - I should be able to do what I want, when I want with no consequences. I suspect they've had this pattern of thinking since two-years-old.

It's quite obvious as to which of the two your post was meant to be...

Makarios said...

“That's not entirely true; Christians tend to view the Bible as evidence, whereas atheists do not. This leads very often to rapdily different views of what the "factual accounts" consist of.”

I agree. B I’ve tried to point out that I’m not using anything that might be called “Biblical evidence.” I have only used secular documentation, much of it from atheist historical scholars.

To include Biblical sources would cause too large a package of information. As you may have noticed, I already struggle with keeping my replies short. To keep it as short as possible, and as acceptable as possible to the atheist reader, I have only considered data that are so strongly attested historically that they are granted by nearly every scholar who studies the subject, even the strongly sceptacle ones.

Frog Man says that the scholars are divided on the material that I've presented. That is only technically correct. The vast majority agree on what I’ve given you. A few disagree. If he is comfortable in siding with the lunatic fringe, that’s fine. For myself, I’m going with the majority, especially because even the enemies of Christianity are in agreement with the historical validity of what I've presented. That's makes for a pretty strong argument, I think.

I have attempted to use the “lowest common denominator” of agreed-upon facts. This avoids the problem of what it seems like you might be trying to construct, and that is an argument against the inspiration of the Bible. I’m not making that case. What I’ve given you is a collection of historical facts that I think deserve to be answered. They need to be answered. For my own life, it felt like they demanded an answer and the result was that I became a follower of Jesus.

We are not told in the Bible that one must believe in its inspiration or inerrancy in order to have eternal life. We are told that belief in Jesus’ resurrection is essential in order to have eternal life.
==========

“You seem to point to gaps in our knowledge (about historical events) and claim them as evidence of the validity of your faith.”

I’m sorry. I don’t understand what you’re saying here. If you’re referring to Aristotle and Ceasar, I’m just saying that if you suggest that we don’t have enough documented evidence to believe in Jesus, then those guys have to be out as well because there is far less documented evidence for them than for Jesus. If I’m still wrong in what you were trying to say, please correct me.
===============
The latter is usually accompanied by sincere concern.

You're right. I have a huge problem with being snarky. I'm going to say I'm sorry, but I fear that it might sneek in again at some point. I will try for the respect that Frog Man alluded to at the beginning. So, could I try again? Let’s say there is a pond on my property. And let’s say that we’ve had a few really cold nights. While there is ice on the pond, it isn’t very thick. Along comes a guy and his little boy. They’re carrying skates and are heading toward my pond. I yell out to them that they shouldn’t even think of skating because the ice isn’t thick enough.

The guy tells me, “This is my life and I’m free to do what I want to do. And for what it’s worth, I happen to believe that the ice is thick enough. So quit trying to shove your beliefs down my throat!”

“Yes, I understand that it’s your life” I reply. “But I believe very strongly that the ice isn’t thick enough. You’ll fall through and drown.”

Now I ask you, if I continue to caution him, am I being insensitive to his beliefs? Am I being intolerant? Am I being condemning? Am I even displaying hatred toward him because I’m telling him that he’s wrong? Am I using terror and tales of horror in an abusive fashion? If I put a hand on his shoulder and try to stop him, am I being narrow minded? After all, he’s as certain that the ice is fine as I am certain that the ice is too thin.

Or, if I let him go and do what he believes is best, am I being this really cool open-minded free-thinker?

Which course of action means that I love the person more?

You see, I believe with all my heart that Jesus is trustworthy and what He teaches needs to be taken seriously; more seriously than anything else in the world. So what should I and other Christians do? We believe that if you don’t heed Jesus’ warning about hell, you are going to fall through the ice so to speak.

What would you do if you were in my place?

Whateverman said...

Before I try to respond to your questions & comments, I want to say thanks for being polite and making your case thoughtfully. I think reasoned debate is frightfully rare.

So - thanks.

I'll respond a bit later today (hopefully)

Makarios said...

Ya, thank you too. It's been refreshing. I do want you make one correction, ya friggen asshole. Oh wait, respect :-). Seriously, I want to correction something I said earlier when I agreed with you that another option was just to say, whateverman and go for an o.j.. Jesus might be many things but one thing that He isn't is "just kind of important." Either Jesus is the most important thing in the life of every single person on earth or He is a liar and a fraud of such grand porportion that He doesn't derserve anything but our complete and total rejection. If Jesus wasn't exactly who He said He was, then He wasn't even close to being a good moral teacher. If Jesus was God in flesh ("If you have seen Me you have seen the Father," "I you don't believe that I Am who I say that I Am you will die guilty as charged,") then He was one of the most vile individuals who has every walked this earth.

Whateverman said...

That dichotomy if based on your faith. Given that I reject certain aspects of that faith, I can't necessarily agree with the dichotomy.

Simply put, if Christians are mistaken about how they interpret the Bible, then another option gets added to the above dichotomy:

Jesus was misunderstood. This makes him neither the most important person nor the one most deserving of our scorn.

---

In regards to your post I said I'd respond to:

I first wont quibble with your facts. I've said before that Froggie and I don't necessarily agree; as such, I neither fully reject nor accept the things you've listed. For the sake of argument, I accept them provisionally.

---

In regards to my "gaps in knowledge" comment, you responded:

I’m just saying that if you suggest that we don’t have enough documented evidence to believe in Jesus, then those guys have to be out as well because there is far less documented evidence for them than for Jesus. If I’m still wrong in what you were trying to say, please correct me.

I disagree with your claim of evidence weighing more heavily with Jesus than Aristotle (for example). It's a fact that we actually have words written by the latter, in his own hand. We have his posessions, and we even have ideas of his that have both been proven to be factually true (chicken embryology, the shape of the Earth, etc).

With Jesus - all of our information is second hand.

BUT - more importantly, I think you were mistaken about what I was trying to say (regarding the knowledge gap). The list of questions represent unknowns; things which deserve answers. Although I believe you're right about that, you seem to assert that instead of having concrete answers, unanswerable questions must be explainable by the divine.

It's the "god of the Gaps" argument. These things may be convincing to you, but please note that 9/11 conspiracists do the same thing: they pose many questions which are difficult to answer. When answers aren't forthcoming, they conclude "conspiracy!".

I'm not saying you're wrong about your conclusions - to do so is to claim I can answer your questions. But it's telling (to me) that your method of inquiry and conclusion is similar to people who believe they can "prove" that ghosts / vampires exist, or that show aliens are abducting humans and performing experiements.

---

You wrote the following:

Now I ask you, if I continue to caution him, am I being insensitive to his beliefs? Am I being intolerant?

{...}

What would you do if you were in my place?


If I were in your place, I would not be so certain of the strength of the ice. You place great faith in your own ability to perceive reality, whereas I do no. My senses, emotions & thought processes have been shown (by me & to me) to be horribly fallible. On some fundamental level, I do not trust them.

I can exist in society, though. Being skeptical of myself is not to say I have trouble wondering whether the world is real or not. it's an open question, but I've found it much more pragmatic to make cautious assumptions and see where they lead.

Rather than continue describing what I'm sure you're able to predict (of my beliefs), I'll answer your question: I wouldn't demean the man. I'd warn him, but if he tells me I'm wrong, I'd wish him a pleasant & safe day, and then I'd leave.

Assuming you're right (about heaven and hell and the necessity of Jesus for salvation), there are so many people on this planet that you will never have the opportunity to save. Never. They will go to Hell regardless of your care for their safety.

It would be much more pragmatic to save those who are interested in being saved, than to castigate those who are not. You will actually save more people by being pragmatic than by being confrontational.

That's exactly what I'd do if I were you.

Makarios said...

“Jesus was misunderstood.”

Perhaps, but currently well over 2 billion people are in agreement with what He taught. Most others, rather than not understanding Jesus simply reject what He has to say, because they resent anyone placing demands upon their character and on the way they live their lives.
---

“With Jesus - all of our information is second hand.”

Because the stakes are so high, my guess is that if Jesus had written anything, it would be called a forgery.
============

Although I believe you're right about that, you seem to assert that instead of having concrete answers, unanswerable questions must be explainable by the divine.”

I don’t see it that way. I think that I’ve given very careful consideration to the alternatives. I’ve come to the conclusion that given all the other possibilities that have been put forward:

The disciples stole the body

Everyone had a group hallucination

Jesus didn’t really die on the cross etc.
the divine, in this case is the best conclusion. That’s a lot of corroboration, secular corroboration to be exact that I placed before you.

Of course, if you have a better explanation that no one else has thought of, I’d be glad to hear it. What I don’t find acceptable for anyone describing h/herself as logical and reasonable or intelligent, is to a priori reject a set of evidence simply because it does not agree with one’s world-view.
============

“I'm not saying you're wrong about your conclusions - to do so is to claim I can answer your questions. But it's telling (to me) that your method of inquiry and conclusion is similar to people who believe they can "prove" that ghosts / vampires exist, or that show aliens are abducting humans and performing experiements.”

I guess I’m just too dull to follow your thinking on this one.

---

“My senses, emotions & thought processes have been shown (by me & to me) to be horribly fallible. On some fundamental level, I do not trust them.”

But you seem quite willing to trust them when it comes to rejecting what Jesus has said about our eternity, and that without a great deal of investigation :-) Yikes! This is not something about which you just want to say, ho hum, whateverman.
=======

“but I've found it much more pragmatic to make cautious assumptions and see where they lead.”

Normally, that’s a pretty good approach. In the case of Jesus and what He taught however, time is running out. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow.
===========

“I'd warn him, but if he tells me I'm wrong, I'd wish him a pleasant & safe day, and then I'd leave.”

I think that I try to do that. I mean, if I never hear from you again, I’ll sleep just fine. On the other hand, when I turn it around and ask, “What would I want him to do if it was me heading for disaster . . .”
=============

“Assuming you're right (about heaven and hell and the necessity of Jesus for salvation), there are so many people on this planet that you will never have the opportunity to save. Never”.

Well, I’m only responsible to do what I can with and for those who come into contact with me. Such as yourself.
===========

“They will go to Hell regardless of your care for their safety.”

That’s only partly true. Jesus said that no one is without excuse. Just the existence of the universe should be enough to begin an exploration or a search for Creator God, according to Jesus. He also said we have the knowledge of objective right and wrong hardwired to our very being.

Deciding one way will take us toward an greater awareness of, or a deeper knowledge of God’s existence, while deciding another way will push us further into darkness and ignorance regarding God’s existence. We, all of us, regardless of where we live can either suppress the truth about God or we can be open-minded enough to consider all possibilities, again, this is according to Jesus.
============

“You will actually save more people by being pragmatic than by being confrontational.”

No doubt. Was this confrontational? I mean, how can people know what choice to make if they don’t have all the information? Would I be correct in guessing that you weren’t aware of the tremendous amount of extra Biblical information regarding the person of Jesus?

If this is the last that I hear from you - good luck.

Doubting Foo said...

"Never, not once does an atheist consider the option of heaven."

I do:
How could I be happy in Heaven?