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Verifying The Bible


IAm_Lucifer
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As a follow up to the above, if you feel it is right and honorable to use your mind and to prove things, do you agree that we should be open to being wrong about certain ideas we had concluded without having done the "proving" yet? In other words, as we seek to prove something and find out that we can't, do you consider it honoring to God to not hold your preconcieved ideas above what the facts support, even if it meant everything we learned from our teachers has misinformation as its basis; even if it meant having to walk away from you church; even if it meant walking away from Christianity? Are you willing to go that far in your "testing all things"?

 

I ask that question because in the search for facts, you must be willing to go wherever it may go. If you start with the answer and will not allow for any answer, then you are not interested in truly "testing all things". You are only looking to support a preconcieved idea, and that does not lend itself to being honest about what you discover. Should we conclude a truth before, or after we have done the "testing"?

 

I'd really like to hear your honest answer to that difficult question.

 

Ok, I'm back. Sorry it took me so long. About the question, you are correct, it is a difficult one to answer.

 

Fortunately, I did not grow up in the faith I am in now so I am not as blinded as some may think. I grew up a polytheist, believing that the bible had been messed up and that God sent in someone else to "fix the problems". As a matter of fact. that is the common belief among, well, any other faith (or those who do not have faith at all). This, of course, leaves me cautious. I never just like to take the "majority rules" approach. I mean, how stupid are a bunch of people, really? You have an individual and that one person can be really smart. But you get a bunch of people together and just follow like cattle. I HATE that! I do not want to be a cow, I want to be a thinker. Which is why I didn't cut it as a Mormon.

 

As for my faith now, if I find out I have been fed a bunch of lies, I will drop it as completely as it lied to me. In other words: Only the flat out lies will I dump and, if it is all lies, I will dump it all. However, I also understand that not every question will be answered. After all, we are dealing with history here. No one can claim they have all the answers to something that happened thousands of years ago where most of the evidence has been washed away. I refuse to take an unbalanced approach by saying the Christian faith is a bunch of hogwash just because I do not get every answer I am looking for. Like I had stated before, I can trust God even if God does not give me every answer.

 

There are three categories that each event in the bible can fall under:

 

1. Evidence found proves it to be accurate.

2. Little or no evidence found to confirm one way or the other.

3. Evidence found to prove it to be inaccurate.

 

If #3 outweighs #1, based on actual findingsand not trying to just dismiss evidence showing it's validity, then I will be willing to consider that. However, if #1 outweighs #3, based on the same criteria, the same applies. And, the majority WILL rule to determine the truthfulness of those events that fall into category #2.

 

I hope that I was able to answer your question well enough. :grin:

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Fortunately, I did not grow up in the faith I am in now so I am not as blinded as some may think. I grew up a polytheist, believing that the bible had been messed up and that God sent in someone else to "fix the problems". As a matter of fact. that is the common belief among, well, any other faith (or those who do not have faith at all).

I'm not sure you meant that all other beliefs teach that God sent in someone else to "fix the problems" of the Bible? A few do, but not all. Something for you to consider if you haven't yet, is that the idea of problems needing fixing in the Bible really applies only to those who treat the book as some sort of direct revelation. The reality is that the majority of those who use the Bible in their faith don't approach it as a being in some condition of "perfection", but rather more about spiritual ideas coming through the writers of it, and hence being "inspired". There is a marked difference between that and "direct revelation" which is what the fundamentalist argues.

 

I bring this up because it's going to tie in later.

 

This, of course, leaves me cautious. I never just like to take the "majority rules" approach. I mean, how stupid are a bunch of people, really? You have an individual and that one person can be really smart. But you get a bunch of people together and just follow like cattle. I HATE that! I do not want to be a cow, I want to be a thinker. Which is why I didn't cut it as a Mormon.

I'm glad to hear this about you. I too am a thinker, and in my case it led me away from fundamentalist Christianity. In my assesment, the Mormon and the Baptist, the Jehovah's Witness and the Pentecostals are all the same. I just take one step further back from it and see it as different colors of the same painting. Personally, I see this all stemming from an idea of absolute truth, and in the fundamentalists appoach as seeing that come through direct revelation. The problem is with beliving in the idea of absolute truth. Then you have all these groups arguing who has the *real* truth, when in reality no one does, and everyone does.

 

This is what I have found in my process of thinking which led me from ultra-fundi, to moderate fundi, to moderate xian, to liberal xian, to agnostic, to atheist, to ?

 

As for my faith now, if I find out I have been fed a bunch of lies, I will drop it as completely as it lied to me. In other words: Only the flat out lies will I dump and, if it is all lies, I will dump it all.

First of all, I would be careful not to take the position that if something isn't what you've been told, that it's a "lie". Something can have many, many ways of looking at it that has value. I would advise approaching it saying, "something turns out to not be how I saw it, or believed it to be." At that point, it just becomes a question of what value is it now?

 

However, I also understand that not every question will be answered. After all, we are dealing with history here. No one can claim they have all the answers to something that happened thousands of years ago where most of the evidence has been washed away. I refuse to take an unbalanced approach by saying the Christian faith is a bunch of hogwash just because I do not get every answer I am looking for. Like I had stated before, I can trust God even if God does not give me every answer.

I won't push you to conclude the Bible is "hogwash", but I might press you to consider it from a different point of view. I will state that I do not accept it is a "direct revelation" from God. Everything I have ever heard presented in defense of it being an "infallible", direct revelation from God is typically so infused with religious bias, that when the apologist is presented with conflicting data, what ensues is this sad display of rationalization that violates a dispassionate and objective look at it in favor of supporting a faith-based conclusion. Intellectual dishonesty is one of the prime reasons I became disallusioned with fundamentalist Christianity.

 

Personally I find starting with data and coming to a conclusion much preferable over starting with a conclusion and looking for supporting data.

 

There are three categories that each event in the bible can fall under:

 

1. Evidence found proves it to be accurate.

2. Little or no evidence found to confirm one way or the other.

3. Evidence found to prove it to be inaccurate.

 

If #3 outweighs #1, based on actual findingsand not trying to just dismiss evidence showing it's validity, then I will be willing to consider that. However, if #1 outweighs #3, based on the same criteria, the same applies. And, the majority WILL rule to determine the truthfulness of those events that fall into category #2.

 

I hope that I was able to answer your question well enough. :grin:

These are pretty general categories, and I would only add that instead of a 1,2,3 choice, that its a sliding scale anywhere in between each of these points. You will rarely get absolute anything, but rather degrees of probability or improbability.

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There are three categories that each event in the bible can fall under:

 

1. Evidence found proves it to be accurate.

2. Little or no evidence found to confirm one way or the other.

3. Evidence found to prove it to be inaccurate.

 

If #3 outweighs #1, based on actual findingsand not trying to just dismiss evidence showing it's validity, then I will be willing to consider that. However, if #1 outweighs #3, based on the same criteria, the same applies. And, the majority WILL rule to determine the truthfulness of those events that fall into category #2.

 

I hope that I was able to answer your question well enough. :grin:

 

 

Antlerman already responded to your post so I will just touch on the last bit.

 

In your opinion, where does the evidence for the bible fall, 1, 2 or 3? I think number 2 is applicable, Little or no evidence found to confirm one way or the other. This automatically makes me not believe. Why would you believe something that has no evidence? It doesn’t make sense to me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am going to pick this up after the holidays. As you can see, from my lack of posts, I have been quite busy. However, I would like to leave one final note, before i take a break for the next couple weeks:

 

Though many dispute the validity of the bible, and I can see not all is proven, there is one thing no one can change my mind on. There is a God. The reason I say my mind cannot be changed is not because of answered prayers (which I have had) or miracles received (which I have also experienced). It is based on one experience. A visual one. The night my sister died, I saw the Angels that came down to pick her up and bring her home. With my own eyes, I saw this. So, no matter what anyone says, they cannot prove to me that God does not exist or that He does not have a personal connection with us. If He didn't have a connection with us, He would not have bothered to send two angels to bring her home.

 

Anyway, have a wonderful holiday and may your winter solstice be a pleasant one.

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I am going to pick this up after the holidays. As you can see, from my lack of posts, I have been quite busy. However, I would like to leave one final note, before i take a break for the next couple weeks:

 

Though many dispute the validity of the bible, and I can see not all is proven, there is one thing no one can change my mind on. There is a God. The reason I say my mind cannot be changed is not because of answered prayers (which I have had) or miracles received (which I have also experienced). It is based on one experience. A visual one. The night my sister died, I saw the Angels that came down to pick her up and bring her home. With my own eyes, I saw this. So, no matter what anyone says, they cannot prove to me that God does not exist or that He does not have a personal connection with us. If He didn't have a connection with us, He would not have bothered to send two angels to bring her home.

 

Anyway, have a wonderful holiday and may your winter solstice be a pleasant one.

I can understand that. If I saw that, I would be probably be convinced also. I just wouldn't connect it with Christianity. All is well.

 

You have a wonderful holiday season too Kat.

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The night my sister died, I saw the Angels that came down to pick her up and bring her home. With my own eyes, I saw this. So, no matter what anyone says, they cannot prove to me that God does not exist or that He does not have a personal connection with us. If He didn't have a connection with us, He would not have bothered to send two angels to bring her home.

Relating this back to my earlier question:

 

As a follow up to the above, if you feel it is right and honorable to use your mind and to prove things, do you agree that we should be open to being wrong about certain ideas we had concluded without having done the "proving" yet? In other words, as we seek to prove something and find out that we can't, do you consider it honoring to God to not hold your preconcieved ideas above what the facts support, even if it meant everything we learned from our teachers has misinformation as its basis; even if it meant having to walk away from you church; even if it meant walking away from Christianity? Are you willing to go that far in your "testing all things"?

In the same vein as the context above, would you also be willing to consider there are other explanations, or have you concluded that based on experience of an extraordinary phenomenon, that the interpretation you have is the one, single, only, and perfect interpretation? If so, I'd like to ask how this is any different from someone who "feels" the "truth" of their particular interpretation of a verse of scripture? To them this experience somehow confirms the validity of their interpretation. Many approach the Bible this way, or better stated, approach knowledge this way. But the problem with this is that no two people can agree on the "truth" of that thing, since no two individual’s emotions are identical. In this case, nothing is "tested" or "proved". "Truth" becomes a completely subjective thing that cannot be touched by a critical examination. Truth then is no longer "The Truth" (with capital T's), but "their truth" (with lower case t's).

 

So you know at the outset Kat, I too had a mystical, supernatural experience that was so overwhelming, and so convincing to me it sent me on a 20 year earnest quest for knowledge of God, which included my going through Bible College with plans to become a minister. I held to only one way of looking at what happened, which due to the impact it had on me emotionally I could scarcely entertain other ways of looking at it. That was a mistake on my part, and I have learned there are many ways of understanding something like this, without it "proving" a particular understanding of a religious belief. You are aware these sorts of phenomena occur all the time, to people of all beliefs and cultures, don't you?

 

So bottom line, are you willing to examine this experience too, or due to the intense personal nature of this is it off limits to you from the rule of "test all things"? I am always willing to look at all possibilities, including being mistaken in how I now understand that transcendent experience of what I saw as God back then. You know what? Because I understand it differently today, doesn't mean it has less value. What it means is that I was finally able to move beyond the limits that religion places on our understanding of ourselves and meaning in this world.

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Kat,

 

Many people have personal experiences that lead them to believe one thing or another. Like I said before, if you start with the premise that the bible is true, all your supernatural experiences will confirm your belief. When you saw these angels, how do you know they were Christian angels sending your sister to the Christian Heaven? I have had unexplainable supernatural experiences but I do not automatically attribute them to a particular religion. To this day they remain unexplainable because I cannot explain them through rational reasoning. I do not however conclude, "God did it". That is intellectually dishonest.

 

If personal experience concluded if a religion was true or not, then every religion would be true. I have had Muslim friends use exactly the same reasoning your using to try to convince me their religion was true. The fact is, your using this type of "evidence" because that is all you have. You want your particular religion to be true so all you have to offer is your personal experience. Do you know why? It is because your religion is not based on any truth what so ever. Plain and simple. If I am wrong please show me where.

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See, now this has always bothered me. Previous generations of christians didn't even believe you went to heaven directly after death. You were "as sleeping in the ground" until the day of judgement when all the souls would rise, etc. Check some old headstones (pre-1900) sometime. Think they're going to say "in heaven now" or "with god"? No. They say "here lies" or the such.

 

That's why I don't buy the near death experiences and "angel" sightings of this kind. It's not even biblical! Unless you're intimating that your sister was soooo saintly that she was carried bodily into heaven, cause right now, those are the only ones up there accordingly to christian theology.

 

Seriously though, am I way off here? That is what I was taught and I've never found anything in the bible to make me think people go directly to heaven/hell after dying. Anyone know where this belief comes from? Is there even a biblical backing for it?

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See, now this has always bothered me. Previous generations of christians didn't even believe you went to heaven directly after death. You were "as sleeping in the ground" until the day of judgement when all the souls would rise, etc. Check some old headstones (pre-1900) sometime. Think they're going to say "in heaven now" or "with god"? No. They say "here lies" or the such.

 

That's why I don't buy the near death experiences and "angel" sightings of this kind. It's not even biblical! Unless you're intimating that your sister was soooo saintly that she was carried bodily into heaven, cause right now, those are the only ones up there accordingly to christian theology.

 

Seriously though, am I way off here? That is what I was taught and I've never found anything in the bible to make me think people go directly to heaven/hell after dying. Anyone know where this belief comes from? Is there even a biblical backing for it?

 

Yes, you are correct, in fact this is exactly why the concept of resurrection is so important, and Greek philosophers didn't like Judaism or Christianity,

 

See, Greek philosophy held that our body was a prison our soul was trapped in, and death was our chance to escape. However, early Judaism didn't even have a concept of the afterlife, when someone died, they were just dead (they called it Sheol, but it was basically non-existence) In the Jewish way of looking at things God had breathed life into our bodies so our soul and flesh could not be separated.

 

This is why Paul believed the resurrection was so important, with no resurrection there could be no life after death, and when people died they would sleep until their body was brought back.

 

Incidentally, this is where the main difference between proto-orthodox Christianity and Gnostic Christianity came from, and is why the Gnostics didn't believe in a bodily resurrection.

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re: Kat's sight of the angels

 

So what is merely needed is for the angels to tell Kat they were Christian angels and no other for all of you to believe it right?

 

 

Ummmm... remember to ask next time Kat (however, considering angels come only at such events, hope not!).

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re: Kat's sight of the angels

 

So what is merely needed is for the angels to tell Kat they were Christian angels and no other for all of you to believe it right?

 

 

Ummmm... remember to ask next time Kat (however, considering angels come only at such events, hope not!).

 

Why do you suppose that Kat’s supernatural experiences are proof of God/Christianity but my supernatural experiences are not? It’s called bias, and when you have a firm belief in something you find “proof” for it where it does not necessarily exist.

 

I do see it as a stretch to conclude that these “Angels” were Christian Angels. Maybe that is what Kat wanted to see, I don’t know. My ex girlfriend saw the Virgin Mary sit on her bed but hey, I didn’t believe her either.

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re: Kat's sight of the angels

 

So what is merely needed is for the angels to tell Kat they were Christian angels and no other for all of you to believe it right?

No. If they spoke to her and said something that no other human on earth had ever said, heard, or even thought of, something that when you checked into it, it proved dead accurate and had no other possible reasonable explaination, then you would have my attention.

 

However, the Lord Krishna appears to Hindus, and may even choose to "speak" to them. But do you accept this speaking blue Hindu dieity as proof of anything? No? Then to answer your question, "no", if they even said they were "Christian" angels, it would be no more convincing to me than the Blue Krisna vision would be to you. We're on equal footing in our not putting confidence in "visions".

 

These are human psychological phenomena that always follow the imagery that is part of the cultural mythology of the person experiencing them. These are not "heavenly visistations".

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  • 4 weeks later...

*bump bump*

 

Kat, you still around? I was expecting you to return to this after the holidays. Perhaps you would like to take over where TrueGritLady jumped ship on me? She said that she acknowledged there was no proof for God, but still believed anyway. I asked her to then talk to me how that Christianity offers something to the world that is more than other religious systems or philosophies. She bailed out on explaining that, which I find rather curious since something like this should be a extreemly simple thing to do for someone who embraces this belief. :shrug:

 

Do you think you might want to take over that discussion, or do you wish to try to offer proof that supports the existence of a God? To me, I think the question of the systems value should be the first thing someone who believes would try to support. My basic premise is that it may offer many valuable things to people, but no more so than other belief systems or philosophies, and furthermore that it has such a long, deep history of negatives, that what good it offers might not be able overcome them. I would think that it's affect on the world should be vastly superior to all other belief systems, if in fact it was a God-delivered belief, as opposed to all other systems developed through our basic human desire for answers.

 

Here's the thread if you want to jump in: http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=14091

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Kat PMed me and explained why she wasn't posting. Hopefully Kat can return soon.

 

By the way, I love your signature

 

 

Science has proof without certainty, Creationism has certainty without proof

Oh ok. Thanks for letting me know.

 

Yes, I love that quote too. I read it the other night in a book on paleoanthropology I got for Christmas.

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