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TinMan last won the day on June 22

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About TinMan

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    South Korea (just living here temporarily)
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    Academics; knowledge; golf.
  • More About Me
    Became Christian ever since I went to Iraq in 2003 (fear of death and possible subsequent assignment to hell). It has only been recently (past year) where I started to question the validity of my worldview. I am on the slippery slope. I cannot seem to figure out where I fit in. I know I cannot go back to fundamentalism, it was just too crazy and nothing but a bad experience.
    ***Update*** I have definitely moved from "Christian Agnostic" to Agnostic/Atheist.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. That is a good talking point. What exactly about Jesus makes it more plausible in the minds of believers than all of the other religions out there? First thing that comes to mind is that Christianity is so ingrained in western culture that it becomes an assumed fact from an early age.
  2. You have a point, I suppose that is a tactic. I always feel compelled to defend my position of disbelief. I am sure part of it is that I start to question whether or not I can completely dismiss their claims and I want to give an answer more for my sake than theirs. Plus it keeps me sharp on my anti-apologetics. Usually whenever I start to have doubts about leaving the faith, it is because I have not been reading up on my critical material and I start to forget some of my reasons for leaving. Whenever I get back into it, such as providing my follow up post, I immediately start to remember how many times I found something absurd about the faith and the doubts for leaving fade away.
  3. @MOHO I can see why you might interpret my posts as some kind of underhanded apologetic move, but that is not the point I was after. If I had returned to Christianity, I would have stated as such. For all intents and purposes, I am an atheist. I share ideas and arguments in this thread because if I have these videos and articles coming across my social media feed from family and friends, so does everyone else who has either deconverted, or is in the process, and I want to hear what others have to say about it. I have had other members reach out to me because they are struggling with the fact they fear they may be wrong for leaving the faith and they are going to pay a steep price for it. I want everyone to have a good response when evangelist and apologist throw out these arguments because they can cause a lot of doubt for those who decided religion does not match reality. Arguments made by those in the faith are rarely ever based upon empirical evidence, but philosophy, ad hoc arguments, and "biblical" responses that are not easily investigated, nor falsifiable. This is where the fear factor comes into play. Take for example number 10 on old boys list of Satan's plan to destroy you. If an apologist/evangelist were to tell any one of us that God is now letting Satan run our lives and we are living under a delusion, then pulls out some Bible verses to support that claim, what is really the best way to 1) respond, 2) not cause the ex-christian to do a tailspin of self-doubt? These were the arguments I used to make to non-believers and former believers, so they still make me pause at times and make me wonder if I am completely missing something, or if there is a way to systematically think about Christianity that would place it into the realm of reason. As of right now, I have not found that to be true, but I am humble enough to admit I am limited in knowledge and I know I have not considered every single variable. My response to this preacher would first of all tell him his list is an afterthought of a lot of assumptions. Where I would first bind him would be my flat our rejection of this notion of Satan as defined by Christians. I find that Bible character a complete piece of nonsense. Matter of fact, the preacher unknowingly admits that Satan is an agent of God, much as we see him in the Old Testament. To provide context of what I mean, your standard Christian is going to say God is all powerful, all knowing, and the rest of the typical maximums. Holding them to that standard, I then say if that were true, then Satan is unable to operate without the explicit or implicit permission of God. What they want to be true is somehow God is not responsible for any of the atrocities we see playing out on a daily basis and somehow Satan is to blame. Well, if God is a maximum being, then Satan merely exists within the domain of all things controlled by God. This is normally where I see people start to short circuit. In their mind, they were somehow able to separate the two beings into this cosmic bad and good, but separated them from the rest of their theology. My second point would be 2 Timothy in general. Critical scholars agree 2 Timothy is a forgery, as is the rest of the pastoral epistles. Bart Ehrman and Dr. Robert Price have a few good books discussing the issues with the pastoral epistles. Where I caution skeptics is that they should do their homework before making this kind of argument, otherwise the believer will end up dismissing everything you say. Ultimately one could insist the believer demonstrate why they believe the Bible, or any particular letter in the Bible is inspired by a God, but normally you will not get that, so I like to introduce some doubt by countering why the Bible can be called into question.
  4. I saw this post one of my relatives shared. While the author does not explicitly make the claim, he basically summarizes the reasons people leave Christianity.
  5. @florduh "Things that occur after real death can find no working brain to record the memories." Good observation, I did not even consider that aspect. I suppose old boy saying he was dead for 38 minutes is likely not the case. I am not a medical expert so I cannot really weigh in on that, but it does make more sense he was having a lucid experience while still alive in some regard.
  6. Bed time! I am just getting things started for the day here in Korea. Regarding your response, all valid points. When I say I am convinced, I should clarify that to mean I think the testimonial has a persuasive factor, not that I buy it hook, line, and sinker. It is more of me wondering why these people are making this claim, coupled with a few testimonies/stories that are from former atheists, in that, they claim they were atheists (really nones, nominal Christians) or from a different religious background, and then they had this experience that made them believe in the Christian God. I am just not sure how to account for that. Not saying it is true, but wondering what is happening where this became a thing for them.
  7. Testimonials from people claiming they were given a divine tour of hell always make me second guess myself. Here is an example of what I am talking about here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1430916623729289&id=100004328940031&sfnsn=mo&s=1428043706&w=y I know I broached this topic before, but this video will help elucidate what makes me pause and consider what I am hearing. What I find most compelling about these anecdotal pieces of evidence is the sheer conviction of the person speaking. Personally, I am not inclined to believe the guy is lying about this story, i.e., he invented it from whole cloth and he knows it. He strikes me as being genuinely convinced it occurred. I found this to be true for other testimonials from evangelicals who stated they were sent to hell and Jesus brought them back to warn us, etc. The testimonial is persuading because of the confidence of the speaker; at least I find it convincing. What I also find odd is that the primary source of these stories is from the evangelical/apologetic camp. If you do a quick Goggle search on NDEs or visits to hell during NDE, you do not really see anything from Judaism, Islam, or the eastern religions. What you will find is a lot of stories about people from other religions meeting Jesus during an NDE. I am not really sure what to make of that one. It could be my search is corrupted since I am pinging a US IP address. I wish there was a way to investigate these claims. Something about Christianity that bothers me is that I cannot for sure put it to bed. There is always a niggling doubt that some how, some way, there is something true about it. That in of itself brings about a slew of questions: What about it is true? How can we know what is true, etc.? I say this because even if I found these testimonies convincing enough to go back to Christianity, I still could not tell anyone what Christianity really is. There are too many dissenting views on orthodoxy and orthopraxy to have any real confidence I have "the truth." Really it is a matter of believing "just in case." I guarantee all of the individuals who claimed to have went to hell and visited Jesus do not agree on doctrine. So if they really did visit hell, what was the point? If the visit was to bring us back some truth to hold onto, why do they not agree on what that truth is? They essentially agree on the basics, believe in God/Jesus, then repent of your sins; great, but the gospels portray a belief system much more complicated than that. If there is some cosmic being who really does expect us to believe and do certain things, you would think it would make this apparent. What is the purpose of diving hiding if you want something from the human race? Speaking to humans through visions, then having them write and edit an ancient book, followed by providing anecdotal evidence does nothing to help us in the 21st century determine any idea what this God may want. One other point I wanted to mention, ever notice the theme of these stories is just about avoiding punishment? My favorite is how they tell you how terrible hell is, just to be followed up by "God loves you." I find that laughable. Anyone who loved me would not create a torture chamber for me to hang out in eternally. That is an absurd notion...."God loves you while you are alive on planet earth, but if you do not happen to pass the theology exam and happen to sift out some hidden reality before you die, then you are going to be tortured forever." How can these two thoughts even exists in someone's mind at the same time?
  8. This is the translation of Ezekiel 20:25-26 from the Revised Standard Version: 25 Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life; 26 and I defiled them through their very gifts in making them offer by fire all their first-born, that I might horrify them; I did it that they might know that I am the Lord. I am inclined to think this is closer to the actual translation than the one offered by the Names of God Bible. The Message Bible also translates it similar to the Names of God Bible and I think both are making an attempt to domesticate the passage. Ezekiel 20, verse 25 and 26 do not make a lot of sense together by the alternate translation. How would Yahweh "allowing" them to sacrifice their firstborn as gifts be tied to God terrifying them so they know he is Yahweh? The translation offered by the majority of translations, which is similar to the RSV makes more sense from the reading. To answer your question, I need to take a running start at it because the background information provides context for what I am saying. In general, Christians will state God is a loving God. Not only that, but God loves us unconditionally and only wants what is best for us. JW.org states that God's love is a factor in everything he does. Generally speaking, we are dealing with a claim that one of the defining attributes or characteristics of the Jewish/Christian God is love. On top of this, they worship the Bible with this veneration as if it is a book with nothing but the highest ethical standards, the utmost compassion for life, a moral dictate for what is good and decent, and it contains God's laws which are always good and life giving. My response to this is that I find that difficult to believe, based upon passages within the Bible, and Ezekiel 20:25-26 is one of the first ones I go to. I had some JW's show up to my house and of course they wanted to hand me some flyers and go through their normal pitch. Usually they ask if you are a believer of some sort and somewhere in there they are going to make a claim about God's character. This is usually where I ask them how they know that. Of course they are going to say, "it's in the Bible." I then will ask them if they also know that the Bible claims God gave commandments to Israel to sacrifice children to him. After that statement, the look they give me is the same, they absolutely cannot believe it. I tell them to look it up, right now. There was one JW who wanted to argue that the passage could not possibly mean what it says. He went through and started to pull out verses to the contrary, such as: Jeremiah 19:4-5 Revised Standard Version (RSV) 4 Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by burning incense in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Ba′al to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Ba′al, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind; I am not disputing what Jeremiah 19:4-5, and other passages like it say. I then raise a point, it seems we have a contradiction. I then say, Exodus 22:29-30 could also be substantiating evidence ancient Hebrews were sacrificing first-born sons to Yahweh, as if they thought they were under commandment to do so: Exodus 22:29-30 Revised Standard Version (RSV) 29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. “The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me." --Give it to me does not sound like a redemption ritual (see below). My main point to them is this, I think a convincing argument can be made that the author of Ezekiel believed, or knew, child sacrifice was occurring in ancient Israel and he wrote Ezekiel 20:25-26 trying to provide an explanation why that was happening. I am not saying I think a God ordered child sacrifice. What I am saying is that this is good evidence the Bible is not a book inspired by a God, especially the kind of God they are telling me the Bible can support. I showed this to my father and he was flabbergasted it was in there. Most of the time I show Ezekiel 20:25-26 and Exodus 22:29 to people, I can tell they never put it together. If they have read the Bible (rarely is that the occasion), it is as if they glossed over these troubling passages, or they read it with their denominational goggles on and dismissed the literal meaning of the passage because: "That cannot possibly mean what it says." Now an argument could be made that Exodus 13 precedes Exodus 22 and actually Exodus 22 means a redemption: Numbers 18:15-17 Revised Standard Version (RSV) 15 "Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the Lord, shall be yours; nevertheless the first-born of man you shall redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts you shall redeem. 16 And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. 17 But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shall burn their fat as an offering by fire, a pleasing odor to the Lord;" --notice in Exodus 22, child, oxen, and sheep are lumped together. Here, cows and sheep are lumped together again. Only thing missing in Exodus 13 is the child It makes me wonder what the author of Ezekiel was contemplating whenever he wrote Ezekiel 20:25-26. Just because Exodus 13 comes before Exodus 22, does not necessarily mean it was originally that way. There were reformations in ancient Judaism just as we see reformations taking place in religion now. Child sacrifice may have been an early practice of Hebrews and eventually a reformation did away with the practice and the practice of redemption, or Pidyon Haben, was instituted to do away with the ritual. I am more inclined to think this was the case, but I am not expert, and this is not my original idea. I got this from Dr. Robert Price and I thought he made a fairly good argument. Especially when he discussed that in ancient times, sacrificing your firstlings was a sign to that you were not holding back, and by doing so, God would open the womb so to speak (I am fairly certain this was common practice in the region). This ritual was supposed to guarantee more offspring in the future. Those who were stingy with their sacrifice could not expect God to show them such favor.
  9. When I point out Ezekiel 20 25-26 to people, you should see the backpedaling that occurs. All of a sudden, the Bible cannot mean what it literally says. They cannot believe their God would command such things. But yet, there it is, plain as day.
  10. If there is anything I have learned in my 38 years of being on this planet, it is that there is a lot I do not know. There are many pressing issues that face humanity that I am ill equipped to answer or to figure out a solution. One example would be climate change. I have heard arguments on both sides: those that state it is a real, scientifically backed issue, and those who say it is just an agenda being peddled to coax people out of their money. I am more inclined to think this is not a giant hoax to get rich, especially when so many scientific organizations back it, but at the end of the day, I cannot know for sure. I am not a scientist in general, let alone a scientist who specializes in paleoclimatology. I mention all this because it always reminds me of a real hangup I had with the Christian faith, and that was why I could never get God to weigh in on issues that I found to be completely out of my ability to know, understand, or do something about. Going back to climate change, if the Christian God is everything Christians say he is, then he not only knows what the issue is, but he has knowledge of how to fix it. That being said, if people like me are in position to not really understand the issue, or know how to work towards a solution, but really beseech God for an answer, why the silence? I think it is a humble request (especially recognizing your own limitations) and is nothing more than what Solomon asked for. And if God found that request from Solomon to be remarkable, would the same metric not be applied here? This is especially true when I was a practicing Christian. I would constantly be in conflict about what the right answer was for such a wide array of topics, starting with theology. I spent years reading, researching, and asking questions of clergy because I really wanted to know what I was supposed to believe, and what I was supposed to do. I came to a point where I realized I was not equipped to make any real judgements on what a collection of writings from 2000 years ago was supposed to be telling me, especially when 30000 different denominations cannot agree on it. Realizing my inability to draw any real conclusions with a high degree of certainty, I would fall on my knees and beg God to reveal himself to give me an hour of his time to tell me what was orthodoxy and orthopraxy. In the midst of this dilemma, I was faced with many more on a daily basis. What should I do about that homeless person begging for money at the intersection? Does he really need money, a meal, or something more to really make an impact in their life. I am limited in my knowledge of what that person really needs, or any person I may run across. I would ask Jesus for true knowledge of what would have the most beneficial impact in that persons life. Naturally, nothing was provided. Questions kept burning: What is the best way to tackle world hunger? How can I personally make an impact that effects real change, not just throwing money at it so I feel better about my first world condition? What should I do about various social issues? What should I do day to day to please Jesus and have a meaningful impact? I was attracted to Christianity because I thought it was going to provide answers to my burning problems. I was promised it was going to provide the solution for not going to hell. I could count on God as a loving father to guide and direct my life. I was told God wanted the best for me, and so on and so forth. Initially it was all pretty easy to get down, but when you get into it, I mean really get into it, you start to realize there are way more questions than answers. Nothing you were told at the beginning really holds true anymore, it was a bait and switch to get you to convert. My conclusion was that if God would not honor my simple request for knowledge and understanding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, if he was not even willing to put in a fraction of the effort I was, then the Bible is definitely not true on multiple occasions regarding God's character; and that God either does not care, or is not there. If God does not care, then why should I, and if he is not there, then it is a mute point.
  11. No doubt there are people out there who can memorize large swaths of information and pass it on to others, but how frequently do we run across people like that? This particular argument is a favorite of JP Holding. He states that people in ancient times focused on memorizing information since most could not read or write. I have seen arguments from anthropologists stating that was not the case, and to say so is an oversimplification of what really happened. Let's be frank, every society is different. The way they think about things are different, the way they remember things are different, etc. I would also add, how many years of oral tradition are we working with here regarding the gospels? On top of that, is the argument advocating that everyone who heard the whole entire book of Matthew memorized it over night? It's easy to make a broad statement and throw in some really unusual circumstances that make it seem plausible, but I want to hear the details of how they think this process really worked. People in the first century thought a lot differently about the world than we do. These guys were not rationalist. Who knows how they would have viewed the stories in the gospels from a holistic perspective. Not only that, but most of the early Christians were uneducated peasants. Not masters of memorization. Consider this, are you telling me that the beatitudes was passed down word for word since it left the lips of Jesus and accurately recorded in the gopels 40 years after the fact? I have trouble choking that down. Why are there facts that conflict with each other in different gospels? So in reality, if the gospels are supposed to be oral tradition, do they not demonstrate that oral tradition did not work. How many angels were in the empty tomb? Apparently too many for oral tradition to get systematically correct. What is Jesus' true genealogy? Oral tradition could not keep track of that one. Did Jesus clear the temple at the beginning of his ministry or the end? Oral tradition did not help us again. Weird how oral tradition (Matthew) states a bunch of dead people nonchalantly got out of their grave and went to go see their friends in Jerusalem, but no historian took notice of that doozy. So what are advocates of oral tradition reliability even trying to say? The gospels' disagreements tell us it plainly it did not work. Because if it did, then there would be one truth, one story, capturing what happened historically.
  12. I back track the free will argument even more. I would not let Plantinga get away with his argument because I find the principle baseless. God easily could have created beings with free will that did not invole delving into the evil spectrum. Picture a spectrum where on one end we have pure, unadulterated evil, and the other end, moral perfection. If God resides at the far right of moral perfection, then he could have created beings who could never cross the threshold into evil/sin, however you want to define it. Free will would be defined as the ability to freely choose from options that would fall into God approved. A common response would be that God did not choose that option because then people would not "freely" choose him and be more like robots. I tell them to go back to the Bible and show me where YHWH doesn't want robots. All of the commands are commands to obey and fit a stereotype that God deems fitting. Nowhere do you pick up any theme that YHWH wants individuals, he demands drones. Anyone arguing differently is reading from a different book. Matter of fact, isn't the NT theme to "be like Christ"? Where exactly are we getting this idea God is looking for a variety in personalities? That is just some BS philosophers and apologists use to avoid a tight spot. Would it not be better if they just admitted their God is not kind, or loving, or caring (in any way we understand), and quite frankly just demands us to conform or he is going to kick us in the teeth? The truth is the truth and it stands on its own. If Christianity happened to be true regardless of how we felt about it, then fine, it is true and what we are going to do about it is up to the individual. What I absolutely abhor is how pastors, apologists, and philosophers (like Ravi Zacharias) obfuscate the reality of their religion, the God they serve, ignore the blantent facts about our reality which we can investigate, and pull a bait and switch about their real doctrine.
  13. I have never heard someone argue that. I always understood it to be the second level of a structure....bizarre interpretation.
  14. @Geezer Do you have some resources to look at regarding the mythist theory of Paul? I have seen different stuff on Jesus from Richard Carrier, David Fitzgerald, and Robert Price, but I have not seen anyone make a good argument that Paul was made from whole cloth. Mythicism in general is confusing to me, in that, I don't understand the motivation of why someone would sit down and undertake such a task. I do understand it from a Midrash point of view, but some of the stories in the gospels don't appear to be Midrash.
  15. If you look in Genesis, Chapter Two I think (Chapter Two is a more robust creation account than Chapter One), it actually reads as if Adam and Eve had to eat from the tree of life to stay alive. It was the reason they were booted out, God was afraid they would live forever with their new found knowledge.
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