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Atheists & Agnostics: Why Don't You Believe The Bible?


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#21 rico

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 08:50 AM

rico, You can know it's God talking if it agrees with His word (the Bible). Jesus said, "I am the truth." So if it disagrees with His word, then it is not true, because Jesus can't deny Himself and remain the truth.

TeeJay

What about translation errors, such as Cobra and Cockatrice?; (probably was a snake? ) looked at Strong's Concordance quote's on the web. I am still struggling with how to look up greek and Hebrew, perhaps I'll start a new thread, unless someone hasn't already posted good resources.

#22 Ron

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 11:06 AM


name='Ron' timestamp='1338079298' post='84090']
No Teejay, your logic is flawed. Also, I provided a simplistic explanation that proved how your logic is in fact flawed; so unless, of course, you are going to attempt to say that multiple eyewitness testimony in a court case is somehow circular reasoning (if this is what you are attempting to say), then please provide how it is so. If not, then accept that your reasoning is flawed. When you have done either of the above, then (and only then) we can further discuss your attempt at elucidation.



Ron, we are not in a court case, listening to live witnesses.



First – Your logic fails once again, because we don’t have to be in a court case to listen to and validify eyewitness testimony.

Second – We don’t have to be listening to live eyewitnesses for a testimony to be valid. According to this logic all historical testimony (including yesterday) is invalid. So your logic is fallacious once again.


Question: How do you know that the testamony of the multiple witnesses is true?



First – This begs the question: “How do you know it isn’t? And since you don’t, there are various ways to gauge the validity of said testimony. Such as - Is there more than one person’s testimony to support said statements; or Are there any contemporaneous counter arguments to refute said testimonies? (etc…)

Second – What evidence do you have (other than mere opinion) to refute said testimonies. If you have none, then they retain their validity.


name='Ron' timestamp='1338079298' post='84090']
Further, if you are going to attempt to equate the Koran, and the book of Mormon to the Bible (specifically the new Testament) in the cases of multiple irrefutable first hand eye witnesses, it is incumbent upon you to provide how this is so as well.



Ron, now you label the testamony of the witnesses as "irrefutable." We are 2,000 years or more removed from these testamonies. What makes them irrefutable? Two plus two is a self-evident truth that is irrefutable--irrefragable even. The only proof you have is recorded incidents in Scripture. How do we know their testamony is true? Because the Bible is true? And if so, then the Mormon can claim the same--because the Book of Mormon says so.



First – No one has yet refuted these eyewitnesses with anything other than mere opinion. So they retain their validity.

Second – You are incorrect, we not only have the recorded incidents in Scripture, but we have the recorded incidents of the early church fathers as well. Many of these early Church fathers were the students of the very apostles. We also have historical corroboration from secular sources as well.

Third – No, the Book of Mormon cannot make the same claim, because the Book of Mormon has no “multitude of first-hand eyewitnesses”. Therefore your logic fails once again.


name='Ron' timestamp='1338079298' post='84090']
Let me further state that I am warning you that misrepresentation and equivocation (amongst other things) are both violations of this forum.



Ron, at the outset, I said I would play Satan Advocate to make it interesting. Now you are warning me of "misrepresentation." Perhaps we had better end this?

TeeJay



TeeJay, even when you “play the devil’s advocate”, you STILL must adhere to the Forum rules; so YES I did warn you of misinterpretation. Now, it seems, I must further warn you of arguing with forum moderating.

TeeJay, if you were actually “playing the devil’s advocate” you would still be forced into either being honest and admitting where your ere, OR you would have simply quit when you first found out you were arguing illogically. But you did neither; instead you misrepresented historical evidences, and equivocated on facts in order to cover for your lack of rationale in the argument. But, one thing you did do was to provide further lack of refutation of the historical Biblical account and its veracity.

#23 Teejay

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 07:52 PM

[quote] name='Ron' timestamp='1337911814' post='84067']
First – There are a multitude of reliable first-hand eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, miracles, death, burial, resurrection, continued ministry and ascension of Jesus.

Second – Jesus proves that the New Testament is true and reliable.

Third – Jesus referred to the Old Testament as true and reliable by referencing it numerous times.

Fourth – There have been reliable first-hand eyewitnesses (throughout recorded history and up until this very day) to the fact that the words of Jesus and that of the Bible are true, reliable, and actionable.

Conclusion – The Bible is true AND reliable.

Ron
[/quote]

Ron,

You are the one that is circular. First you are arguing for Jesus (dieity I presume) and you use "first-hand eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, miracles death, burial and resurrection....." Why, I must ask, are they true witnesses? Because the Bible records their testamony? If so, you are using the Bible to prove the Bible.

How does Jesus prove the NT is true and relaible? To prove this, you must use the Bible to prove Jesus and Jesus to prove the Bible.

I would like you to explain your fourth conclusion. Where are these present day witnesses?

It's a fact that there is no such thing as an historical certainty. Historic certainty means that every conceivable piece of evidence is present. This is impossible because the moment an event is past, we have lost the eye-witness ability to see it. Now today we have cameras and they help (as in Rodney King), but there is an element gone, so all historic certainty by definition is relative. All one can hope for is psychological certainty, where exposure to the relevant facts of history that are available produces a reaction psychologically, and that reaction is impossible not to have.

Your conclusion that the Bible is true and reliable is concluded from reading the Bible. It's circular and there is no getting around or behind this. Now you did not address my argument that to reach an Ultimate Standard (the Bible is mine) circular reasoning is unavoidable. But I can also show that there is an ultimate proof that the Bible is true and that the Bible proves itself. If the Bible did not prove itself, no truth could ever be reached. To reach truth, there must be a standard by which all truth is measured. There is a way to do this, but you must first admit that to reach an Ultimate Standard, circular reasoning is unavoidable. For example:


Any true presupposition must use itself as part of its own proof. Some degree of circular reasoning is involved, but it can't be a simple "vicious" circle. It must go beyond its own plane. Consider the proof that there are laws of logic:

1. If there were no laws of logic, we could not make an argument.


2. We can make an argument.


Therefore, there must be laws of logic.


This argument is valid. It is a modus tollens syllogism (denying the consequent). And the premises are true. So this is a good argument; yet it is subtly circular. We have assumed in this proof that there are laws of logic, modus tollens, is a law of logic and we have used it as part of the proof that there are laws of logic. In this case we had no choice, for in order to get anywhere in an argument we must presuppose that there are laws of logic. What makes this a good argument is that any possible rebuttal would also have to use laws of logic. Thus, any attempted rebuttal would be self-refuting.


Any evidence presented will be viewed and interpreted through one's worldview. A worldview is unavoidable; a rational worldview is not. The argument you've presented above is not an ultimate proof that the Bible is true. Why? Because an atheist will interpret any Biblical evidence you present through his worldview. So, you must show him that his worldview is irrational, illogical, and arbitrary. There is evidence for the validity of God and His word that the atheist can't avoid using to argue against God and His word--self refuting.

Before we go any further, I must know which hat you are wearing, moderator's or my opponent. I don't think I have done anything to cause you to threaten me as you have. Unless you retract your threat, I must discontinue our dialogue.

TeeJay


#24 Teejay

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 07:14 AM

Ron, one mor thing to consider. If you use "recorded incidents of the early church, early church fathers, secular witnesses," you are using a lesser standard to prove your Ultimate Standard (the Bible). If the Bible is your Ultimate Standard (as it is mine), then it must prove itself. If it is proven by any other standard, then it is not ultimate.

TeeJay

#25 Ron

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 04:15 PM


name='Ron' timestamp='1337911814' post='84067']
First – There are a multitude of reliable first-hand eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, miracles, death, burial, resurrection, continued ministry and ascension of Jesus.

Second – Jesus proves that the New Testament is true and reliable.

Third – Jesus referred to the Old Testament as true and reliable by referencing it numerous times.

Fourth – There have been reliable first-hand eyewitnesses (throughout recorded history and up until this very day) to the fact that the words of Jesus and that of the Bible are true, reliable, and actionable.

Conclusion – The Bible is true AND reliable.

Ron



Ron,

You are the one that is circular. First you are arguing for Jesus (dieity I presume) and you use "first-hand eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, miracles death, burial and resurrection....." Why, I must ask, are they true witnesses? Because the Bible records their testamony? If so, you are using the Bible to prove the Bible.



Once again TeeJay… It is NOT circuitous if it is supported by multitudinous eyewitness testimony. It is NOT circuitous if these first-hand eyewitness corroborated the facts that they witnessed.

It would be circular reasoning if I simply “presupposed” the deity of Jesus (and therefore the truth of the Bible based upon that presupposition. But that is not then case. This caused me to wonder what ulterior motive you may have for attempting your re-definition of circular reasoning (or ‘a priori’).



How does Jesus prove the NT is true and relaible? To prove this, you must use the Bible to prove Jesus and Jesus to prove the Bible.


Jesus proved His deity by His works, miracles and ministry as eye-witnessed and transcribed by said eyewitnesses. This is ‘a posteriori’ NOT ‘a priori’; therefore your circular argument fails.

Drawn FROM THAT the deity of Jesus proves that the Bible is true. This is ‘a posteriori’ NOT ‘a priori’; therefore your circular argument fails.

Nowhere does the Bible “prove Jesus” (nor did I ever make so silly a proposition), but Jesus does prove the Bible. Now, if you can prove that Jesus didn’t do what HE said he did, you would have a case; but you haven’t, therefore you don’t.



I would like you to explain your fourth conclusion. Where are these present day witnesses?


I myself am a present day eyewitness, on many counts. I have a sister who was miraculously healed (amongst many other personal evidences), and I have personal knowledge of other as well.


It's a fact that there is no such thing as an historical certainty.



Really? That statement alone can be destroyed by the following:

Premise 1 – Yesterday is history

Premise 2 – I can most certainly prove a multitude of historical facts from yesterday.

Conclusion – There is, in fact, such a thing as “Historical Certainty”!





Historic certainty means that every conceivable piece of evidence is present.


It absolutely does not… Historic certainty means that everything CLAIMED can be proven (as in by the historical first-hand eyewitnesses). You are placing an overtly burdensome definition on history (mainly, it seems, because you cannot back up your assertions); and you won’t get away with it here.

Further, you are doing far less than you should be. Instead of disproving the historical evidence, you are attempting to convolute it with equivocated language.

#26 Ron

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:47 AM


This is impossible because the moment an event is past, we have lost the eye-witness ability to see it.



Nothing could be further from the truth, but it isn’t surprising that you are using the fallacious “historical relativists” tactic of denying history. We have many ways to capture the facts from history:

Memory

Written language
Paintings
Pictures/photographs
Video

ALL of which are viable evidences that can easily validate and verify historical claims.


Now today we have cameras and they help (as in Rodney King), but there is an element gone, so all historic certainty by definition is relative. All one can hope for is psychological certainty, where exposure to the relevant facts of history that are available produces a reaction psychologically, and that reaction is impossible not to have.



Once again, pictures can be photo-shopped, taken out of perspective, out of context (etc…). Only those evidences that can be verified and validated, can be held as evidentiary; much like only those historical statements that can be verified and validated, can be held as evidentiary (see “multitudinous” first hand eyewitnesses). Therefore you attempted “psychological certainty” fails epically.


Your conclusion that the Bible is true and reliable is concluded from reading the Bible.


That would be incorrect one again TeeJay, as I fully explained that my conclusion is based upon the validated historical evidentiary statements of the multitude of first-hand eyewitnesses.

Your argument continues to fail because it is analogous to saying that a court case can be deem as circuitous because the multiple eyewitness testimonials are being used to claim that the outcome is correct!

To state your fallacious accusation in this case is:

Your conclusion that the Court case outcome is true and reliable is concluded from reading the transcript of the court case.

Your argument is not only blatantly misleading, but it is equivocation on terms to do so (conversation by definition), AND blatantly misrepresenting the facts.


It's circular and there is no getting around or behind this.


The only circular reasoning here, are your circuitous meanderings whilst attempting to wriggle out of your misrepresentations, and equivocations.


Now you did not address my argument that to reach an Ultimate Standard (the Bible is mine) circular reasoning is unavoidable.


Actually I addressed it, by pulling it apart at its base. And, until YOU provide that the base of your argument is valid (which you have not) the balance of your argument fails! It’s analogous to building your house on the foundation of sand; it fails at the first slam of truth against its sandy foundation.


But I can also show that there is an ultimate proof that the Bible is true and that the Bible proves itself. If the Bible did not prove itself, no truth could ever be reached. To reach truth, there must be a standard by which all truth is measured. There is a way to do this, but you must first admit that to reach an Ultimate Standard, circular reasoning is unavoidable. For example:


Any true presupposition must use itself as part of its own proof. Some degree of circular reasoning is involved, but it can't be a simple "vicious" circle. It must go beyond its own plane. Consider the proof that there are laws of logic:

1. If there were no laws of logic, we could not make an argument.


2. We can make an argument.


Therefore, there must be laws of logic.

This argument is valid. It is a modus tollens syllogism (denying the consequent). And the premises are true. So this is a good argument; yet it is subtly circular. We have assumed in this proof that there are laws of logic, modus tollens, is a law of logic and we have used it as part of the proof that there are laws of logic. In this case we had no choice, for in order to get anywhere in an argument we must presuppose that there are laws of logic. What makes this a good argument is that any possible rebuttal would also have to use laws of logic. Thus, any attempted rebuttal would be self-refuting.



The problem here, Teejay, is that you are basing your entire argument on Presuppositional apologetics (which I personally like and use). The problem with many presuppositional apologists is that they make the exact same mistake as you do above. Your presuppositional apologetics is based solely in a fideistic nature (worldview) sans any other foundational evidences and facts. In other words, you proceed on blind faith!

Yes, “There MUST be laws of logic”! BUT, logic is NOT all there is. The Laws of logic are self-evident! But they were deemed self-evident ONLY after being proven empirical over and over (induction). Therefore logic REQUIRES empiricism for validity. Does this mean that the laws of logic did not exist prior to man’s discovering them? Of course not! God created the laws of logic for man to use (i.e. for man’s sake). God doesn’t need them, man does! But, in order for man to realize the laws of logic, man MUST use them to make manifest (physically) that which the laws of logic govern!

The fideistic nature of Presuppositional apologetics does NOT stand alone! Just as the materialistic nature of anything cannot stand alone without the metaphysical nature (logic, mathematics etc…) to guide them!

Presuppositional apologetics CANNOT stand without Classical apologetics, or Historical apologetics (etc…), just as Classical apologetics, or Historical apologetics (etc…) cannot stand without logic!

Now, as to your attempted explanation of the laws of logic; it is easily defeated by providing the ‘a posteriori’ nature of the syllogism:


First – Man has observed the laws of logic in nature.
Second – Man can make arguments using these laws of logic in nature he has observed in nature.

Conclusion: There must be laws of logic.

As you see, I used ABSOLUTELY NO presupposition in the above logic. Therefore your attempt fails again.


Any evidence presented will be viewed and interpreted through one's worldview. A worldview is unavoidable; a rational worldview is not. The argument you've presented above is not an ultimate proof that the Bible is true. Why? Because an atheist will interpret any Biblical evidence you present through his worldview. So, you must show him that his worldview is irrational, illogical, and arbitrary. There is evidence for the validity of God and His word that the atheist can't avoid using to argue against God and His word--self refuting.


ALL evidence is filtered through one’s worldview. But that in no way refutes the fact that we can come to conclusions ‘a posteriori’! We can ABSOLUTELY follow the evidence to the conclusion! Further, it doesn’t matter if the atheist disagrees with the factual conclusions of the evidence, but they MUST hide from said truth by breaking the rules (like you have done over and over here) to do so.


Before we go any further, I must know which hat you are wearing, moderator's or my opponent. I don't think I have done anything to cause you to threaten me as you have. Unless you retract your threat, I must discontinue our dialogue.

TeeJay




Firstly – If you are breaking the forum rules, I am wearing the ADMINISTRATORS hat. When you are not, I AM NOT…

Ergo, don’t break the rules, and we can converse openly and honestly. Break the rules, and you prove that you cannot converse openly and honestly.

Secondly – I have provided in numerous posts where you have broken the forum rules. I do not threaten, I WARN! If you don’t head the warnings, you won’t be discontinuing our dialogue, you will be discontinued. On the other hand, if you adhere to the forum rules, you are free to continue any conversation at this forum. I would suggest that you re-read the forum rules prior to continuing.

Thirdly – Don’t assume that you can tell me that I have no ADMINISTRATIVE authority in the forums. It is my JOB to insure that the forum rules are adhered to at all times.

#27 Ron

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 05:59 AM


Ron, one mor thing to consider. If you use "recorded incidents of the early church, early church fathers, secular witnesses," you are using a lesser standard to prove your Ultimate Standard (the Bible). If the Bible is your Ultimate Standard (as it is mine), then it must prove itself. If it is proven by any other standard, then it is not ultimate.

TeeJay



That would be incorrect Teejay, what the additional witnesses provide is supporting evidence (amongst other things) for the original eye-witnesses.

For example:

The entire New Testament (sans eleven verses) is preserved verbatim in the writings of the early church fathers AND secular sources. What this means is that almost the entire New Testament is corroborated within the first century and a half, which means that all the arguments that the New Testament has been changed over the centuries is invalid.

There are many other reasons that these additional witnesses are validated. But YOUR biggest problem is that you are using circular reasoning to attempt to call Biblical support circular reasoning; therefore your entire argument is self-defeating.

#28 JayShel

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 02:55 PM

Ron,

You are the one that is circular. First you are arguing for Jesus (dieity I presume) and you use "first-hand eyewitnesses to the life, ministry, miracles death, burial and resurrection....." Why, I must ask, are they true witnesses? Because the Bible records their testamony? If so, you are using the Bible to prove the Bible.


Historically, the Bible has existed and been preserved as separate writings. Just reading through the Bible it is clear that multiple people wrote the various books. You cannot honestly claim that one book of the Bible confirming details of another book in the Bible as circuitous, since there were completely different people witnessing and writing down the works and revelation of God.

In order to discredit an eyewitness testimony such that the Bible offers, there must be a good reason, such as reliable evidence to the contrary, both in a court case, and when examining historical reports. There is no such evidence against the Biblical eyewitness accounts. Secular history also confirms that Jesus existed, and that Christians were dying to spread His message of salvation, among other specific details about the Christian movement. You cannot arbitrarily throw away confirming historical evidence and say that your positions is logical.

Since you have already thrown out the historical evidence supporting the strength of the Bible in revealing the character and works of God throughout human history, you are left with no solid argument. This is when an atheist would swoop in and tell you, "Why rely on the Bible for truth at all? Its just blind faith" Jesus is the rock of our salvation, spiritually, and HISTORICALLY. Without Jesus revealing this to us and his work being cemented in history by eyewitnesses, in this age of overcritical analysis of the facts, there would be no way to know who God is, and what He wants from us. It really would be blind faith. Without this vital historical evidence, the best we could be are agnostics who believe in God.


To further address claims that the Bible has been tampered with, I will post an excerpt from a recently published ICR article that I read just yesterday on JEDP skepticism:

JEDP skeptics claim that Moses’ five books were fraudulently fabricated by authors and editors who sanitized pagan creation myths, rituals, and folklore as late as the postexilic Persian period (500s to 400s B.C.). Available copies of the Mosaic books (transmitted by Masoretic scribes) were transmitted in Aramaic (Ktav Ashuri or “square”) script, learned in Babylon. It was only after the Babylonian captivity that the deported and later-born Jews used the Aramaic alphabet script—not the more ancient Hebrew alphabet (Ktav Ivri). So, JEDP skeptics argued that the Hebrew text itself was composed and/or edited during the postexilic period.5

But in contriving this blasphemous authenticity challenge, the skeptics forgot that Samaritans retained and copied the five books of Moses in the ancient preexilic Hebrew script (Ktav Ivri)—centuries before the mutually hateful split between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritans’ copy of the books of Moses never bore the later Aramaic (Ktav Ashuri) script. Since the Samaritans themselves were deported in 722 B.C. by Assyrians, their copies of Moses’ books antedate both the Babylonian and Persian periods. The Nablus (or Abisha) Roll copy of the Samaritan Pentateuch, cherished today in Samaria, is written in a form of Ktav Ivri script, thus antedating the postexilic Jewish influence of Ezra and Nehemiah, who returned to Israel during the Persian period (with their Ktav Ashuri Hebrew text).5

In other words, JEDP advocates try to date the Hebrew Pentateuch’s text (what the Samaritan Pentateuch is copied from) to be centuries older than the ancient Samaritan copies made from it—an impossible case of an effect preceding its own cause!

http://www.icr.org/article/6778/


You can also read historical proof rebutting the claim that the Bible was formed, edited, or conformed to a person or group's presuppositions or motives during the Council of Nicea in this thread: http://www.evolution...ea&fromsearch=1

I must emphasize, Jesus is called the rock of our salvation, the Chief Cornerstone, for a VERY good reason.

#29 gilbo12345

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 04:40 PM

Ron, we are not in a court case, listening to live witnesses. Question: How do you know that the testamony of the multiple witnesses is true? [/color]



Ron, now you label the testamony of the witnesses as "irrefutable." We are 2,000 years or more removed from these testamonies. What makes them irrefutable? Two plus two is a self-evident truth that is irrefutable--irrefragable even. The only proof you have is recorded incidents in Scripture. How do we know their testamony is true? Because the Bible is true? And if so, then the Mormon can claim the same--because the Book of Mormon says so.



Ron, at the outset, I said I would play Satan Advocate to make it interesting. Now you are warning me of "misrepresentation." Perhaps we had better end this?

TeeJay

Ron, now you label the testamony of the witnesses as "irrefutable." We are 2,000 years or more removed from these testamonies. What makes them irrefutable? Two plus two is a self-evident truth that is irrefutable--irrefragable even. The only proof you have is recorded incidents in Scripture. How do we know their testamony is true? Because the Bible is true? And if so, then the Mormon can claim the same--because the Book of Mormon says so.
[color=#000000]

This is why I'm the agnostic part of "theistic agnostic", I try to give equal fairness to all the books, (except for the blatantly false ones, the Morman book has been "revised" many times etc), and in doing so I am not sure which is true since they all claim to be true.

#30 aelyn

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 04:42 AM

Hi usafjay. I originally wasn't going to answer your question because I don't think I'm in the best position to do so (there are atheists out there who actually have read the Bible cover to cover several times, many of them because they used to be fundamentalist Christians themselves; I am not one of those people), but given no other atheist responded and you seem genuinely curious I'll give it a go.

Why don't you believe the bible?

I don't "believe in" books. I believe things I read in books, if they make sense and they're consistent with things I read in other books and experienced for myself, but I don't take any book to be absolutely true. Even with the books where I happen to believe everything they say (like say, "Adventures among Ants" that's on my shelf right now), I know my beliefs might change as I learn more and then I won't believe everything in that book anymore.
I have no reason to make an exception for the Bible.

Have you read it?

Bits and pieces over the years, mostly Genesis because that's usually where I start when I decide to read the Bible. I also know about a lot of its content that I haven't read directly, mostly thanks to a religious grandmother and a few years of Sunday school, and I have come across quite a few sections of it quoted in various places.

Do you know its history? (i.e. written over a 1500 year time span)

I know a number of things about its history, including the "written over a very long time", but that seems like a low bar to clear so I'm not sure what standard of "know its history" you're looking for here.

What was the purpose of the men who wrote the bible?

I don't know, I expect since there were several authors over many centuries that they had different purposes. Chronicling their people's oral history and laws, imparting their sincerely held beliefs, making political statements, teaching and spreading their religion, giving instructions to other churches, etc.

Do you acknowledge or deny the fact that there are 100s of 1000s of prophecies in the bible, many which have come to true with great accuracy?

I have heard that claim. Every time I heard it it turned out that the prophecies that came true came true in the Bible, which isn't very significant. The people who wrote the later parts of the Bible knew about the earlier parts and that's a massive confounding factor.
And the last time I asked for actual examples of fulfilled Biblical prophecies those that were shown to me were mostly the kind of vague prophecy and kinda-matching fulfilment that aren't very convincing to me in the first place.

I suppose I could go on and on with questions, but I guess this will do for a start. Look forward to seeing your responses. :)

Hope I don't disappoint too badly :P

#31 JayShel

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 08:04 PM

TeeJay,

I guess I misunderstood your reasoning and possibly misrepresented your position, so please disregard my previous response and allow me to respond to your statements as a whole once again:

To oversimplify my argument by a lot; secular historical sources prove NT eyewitnesses, their motives, and accuracy in recording history. Archaeology confirms NT and OT locations and anthropological details. Secular sources and NT provide record of Jesus’ existence, details of his ministry/ teachings, and impact on the apostles and the early church. NT records Jesus as teaching that He is God, and proving such thorough miracles. In the records of the NT, Jesus confirms OT as history (along with archaeology). Natural evidence confirms some OT and NT truths. Human experiences confirm some OT and NT truths. This is how I logically establish that the Bible is the world of God. I apply the same logic to other holy books, examine the history, sources, motives and truth claims, and find them lacking. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see any circular reasoning here.

#32 Teejay

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 09:17 AM

[quote] name='aelyn' timestamp='1338637355' post='84176']
Hi usafjay. I originally wasn't going to answer your question because I don't think I'm in the best position to do so (there are atheists out there who actually have read the Bible cover to cover several times, many of them because they used to be fundamentalist Christians themselves; I am not one of those people), but given no other atheist responded and you seem genuinely curious I'll give it a go.[/quote]

Aelyn,

You are an atheist--the only qualification needed. I'm sure usafjay will get around to responding to your post. He's probably busy. But until he does, I would like to respond. Aelyn, you are in the best position to answer--you are an atheist.


[quote]I don't "believe in" books. I believe things I read in books, if they make sense and they're consistent with things I read in other books and experienced for myself, but I don't take any book to be absolutely true. Even with the books where I happen to believe everything they say (like say, "Adventures among Ants" that's on my shelf right now), I know my beliefs might change as I learn more and then I won't believe everything in that book anymore.[/quote]

I'm glad that you do not believe everything you "read in books." Too many people do that. Rather you believe things you read in books "if they make sense." Aelyn, have you ever asked yourself why you have the ability to use logic and rational thought to reason and know if something makes sense? No other animal on planet Earth has this ability. A computer can correctly add two plus two is four, but it does not know its answer is true.

Reasoning and rational thought are not physical, not part of the physical universe, so in your worldview--where only matter exists--how can you know "if something makes sense"? Now you do use logic and can reason rationally, but when you do this, you are being inconsistent with your worldview. Only the Bible gives a rational reason as to why you can do this. Apart from the Bible, the laws of logic can't be justified or accounted for. If we use a logical argument to argue for laws of logic, then we are reasoning in a circle. To justify logic, one must seek justification outside of logic itself.

I once had an opponent on ToL who argued that the Law of Non-contradiction was not absolute. But then he used this law to argue that his position was absolute. Atheists are faced with a similar conundrum. They live in a physical worldview (where only matter exists) yet they use the immaterial laws of logic and rational thought to argue that only matter exists. If their worldview were true, they could know nothing.

[quote]I have no reason to make an exception for the Bible.[/quote]

After a more careful reading of your opening post, I must ask: Do you believe truth exists?

[quote]Bits and pieces over the years, mostly Genesis because that's usually where I start when I decide to read the Bible. I also know about a lot of its content that I haven't read directly, mostly thanks to a religious grandmother and a few years of Sunday school, and I have come across quite a few sections of it quoted in various places.[/quote]

Has your grandmother passed? If so, can you imagine her not existing?

Is it possible for the Bible to be true?

I can give you a big picture of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. For many people, the Bible is confusing. I think this is because they dig in to the details without the puzzle picture on the box. The picture on the box (the big picture) enables us to more easily put the pieces together. But if you have the worldview that the Bible is false before you examine the evidence, then no amount of evidence will convince you.

[quote]I know a number of things about its history, including the "written over a very long time", but that seems like a low bar to clear so I'm not sure what standard of "know its history" you're looking for here.[/quote]

In this thread, I have been arguing that the Bible is man's Ultimate Standard--the Standard by which everything else is proved. If we use history to prove the Bible, then history is our standard (a lesser standard by the way). But if we read the Bible, and then we encounter reality that agrees with the Bible, then the Bible is our proof and not the other way around.

According to your opening post, you believe “what you experience for yourself.” So if what you experience matches what you read in a book, then you can believe the book right? But does the book prove the evidence or does the evidence prove the book? I submit that the Bible is an Ultimate Standard that proves itself. For argument sake, I will take just one area that should lead you to believe that the Bible has some truth.

And to further prove my point, let’s compare the historicity of the Bible, which was written by about 40 men over a 1500 year period in several languages on a few continents, with the Book of Mormon written by Joseph Smith in 1830. Though the Bible tells of ancient events, historians and archeologists have independently verified the existence of over 100 people in the Bible such as Kings David, Jeroboam, Jehoiachin, Ahab, Omri, Jehu, and Jotham to the Assyrian Kings Shalmaneser, Pul, and Tigathpileser etc. Although most people have never heard of these people, historians and archeologists have found evidence of their existence apart from the Bible. Most archeologists are atheists whose Holy Grail is disproving the Bible. Yet, I find it ironic that archeologists in the Middle East carry a Bible to guide their search for lost ancient cities. For these atheist archeologists, the Bible is their Ultimate Standard. Many cities mentioned in the Bible have been unearthed by these people using the Bible. Additionally, the written history in the Bible has been proven by parallel writings of ancient Roman and Greek historians.
How many unique characters mentioned in the Book of Mormon have been subsequently identified by archeologists and historians in North and South America? Zero! None! Not one! The Mormon Church claims that native peoples in the Americas are descendants of native Jews who crossed over the Atlantic Ocean in 600 B.C. Of all the cities that the Book of Mormon says that these Jews built, not one has been found by archeologists.

Every coin mentioned in the Bible has been unearthed, and, for the right sum of money, you can have your own Biblical coin collection. Guess how many coins mentioned in the Book of Mormon have been found? Zero! None! Not one!

Why did God give His inspired word, the Bible, as a history book? Why not give it as a theological discourse? He gave it as history book so that men would have a foundation upon which to judge the spiritual message of the Bible. A pure spiritual message is more difficult to evaluate if it exists in a vacuum. For example Mormons believe and teach, “As we are, God once was. And as God is we may become.” Conclusion: Any good Mormon can become God, because God once was a man just like us and He attained Godhood. So the Mormon Church does not teach one God, but a multitude of Gods. Each Mormon can become his own Jehovah with his own flock worshiping him. The God of the Bible was once like us, a sinful man. But being a good Mormon he became god and that’s why we worship him. Blasphemy!
Now compare that wildly polytheistic teaching to the monotheism of the Bible where there is only one Triune God and all worship should go to Him alone. Since the Jewish Bible has a tremendous amount of historical material, there is so much corroboration for it written into the history of the world—sediments from the Flood, rise and fall of empires, wars, executions. God has given us a foundation to evaluate His spiritual message. If the history is true, then perhaps the story is true. If the history has absolutely no foundation in fact and is a lie and the product of Joseph Smith’s fertile imagination, then why should we have any faith in its spiritual message?

In the Book of Job, God chastises Job: "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades [seven stars] or loose the belt of Orion?" (Job 38:31). Now God said this to Job long before it could be verified by our modern astronomers. Now if one has a predisposition that the Bile is false, he can come up with all sorts of rescuing devices: "The Bible was rewritten after we found out that this was true." "The Bible has been translated so many time, etc." But a little research on their part would reveal that the OT was translated into Greek about three hundred years before Jesus Christ came to Israel. It's called the Septuagint and we have it today for anyone to look at. Recently I took a Bible tour to Greece. My tour guide was a Christian (not Greek Orthodox). He could read ancient Greek and he read to us from the Septuagint. Jesus and Paul used it as well.

[quote]I don't know, I expect since there were several authors over many centuries that they had different purposes. Chronicling their people's oral history and laws, imparting their sincerely held beliefs, making political statements, teaching and spreading their religion, giving instructions to other churches, etc.[/quote]

I will postpone answering you here until I hear from you. I can give you a big picture outline that will help you IF YOU WANT ME TO.


[quote]I have heard that claim. Every time I heard it it turned out that the prophecies that came true came true in the Bible, which isn't very significant. The people who wrote the later parts of the Bible knew about the earlier parts and that's a massive confounding factor.
And the last time I asked for actual examples of fulfilled Biblical prophecies those that were shown to me were mostly the kind of vague prophecy and kinda-matching fulfilment that aren't very convincing to me in the first place.[/quote]

Aelyn, you are proof positive for my argument--the argument that all evidence will be interpreted through one's worldview. I'm sure usafjay meant well, but Jesus did not fulfill "hundreds of thousands" of prophesies. I think (I will have to research it) it was a little over 300. But the OT can't be made sense of unless Jesus Christ is inserted into it. Jesus Christ is woven in the history, the symbolic laws, the stories. These jewels of wisdom are not in plain sight. They must be searched for and are revealed for "those with ears to hear and eyes to see." For those who care not and dismiss them out of hand, they will remain hidden.

For example, for thousands of years Israel kept seven feasts commanded by God. They had no idea why they were keeping them, but all of them pointed to Jesus Christ. Bullinger (I believe) proved with a sun's eclipse (mentioned in the Bible) and the high priests schedule in the temple (instituted by Joshua) that Jesus Christ was born on the Feast of Tabernacles. To celebrate the Feast of Passover, the Jews had to buy their lamb in preparation for Passover on a certain day. When every Jew is Israel was buying their Passover lamb, the high priest of Israel was buying Jesus Christ (the True Passover Lamb) from Judas. When every Jew in Israel was killing their Passover lamb to celebrate this feast, Jesus was being killed on the Cross. When every Jew in Israel was celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Jesus lay in the tomb. As unleavened bread does not decay (no yeast), so too Jesus Christ (the True Bread from heaven) did not see corruption. His body did not decay. After three days, every Jew is Israel was celebrating the Feast of First Fruits. On that day, Jesus rose from the dead. This is symbolic and shows us that we who believe in Him can be resurrected to eternal life as well. Then Israel went into their Feast of Weeks which culminated 50 days later on the day of Pentecost, Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit. Now of the seven feasts, Jesus fulfilled five of these feasts with His own substance. Two feasts remain unfilled, the Feast of Trumpets and the Feast of Atonement. Had Israel accepted their risen Messiah, Jesus would have fulfilled these as well.

Now I don't expect you to become a Christian because of the evidence I just presented. You will interpret through your worldview and most likely reject it. But what I want you to understand is that you have to use your God-given attributes promised in the Bible to reject the Bible.

You must believe in and use laws of logic which have no justification for existence within your present worldview. You have to believe that your senses are reliable. You have to believe in the uniformity of nature, that the physical laws will function tomorrow as they have today. If you have no reason to believe in the existence of these things, then your belief in them is simply arbitrary and inconsistent with your present worldview. So for us to know anything, we must first accept God’s word as our Ultimate Standard. God verified this in His word. God says we can’t know anything apart from the Biblical God (Prov. 1:7). And, “All wisdom and knowledge is hidden in God” (Col. 2:3).

[quote]Hope I don't disappoint too badly [/quote]

Aelyn, I am always disappointed when I see a young person like you rejecting your Creator God and choosing to live apart from Him for eternity. I would much rather fellowship with you forever with our Creator God. I pray that you will give God and His word a little more thought. Hopefully you will do this before you get long in the tooth like me.

TeeJay

#33 aelyn

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 11:55 AM

Aelyn,

You are an atheist--the only qualification needed. I'm sure usafjay will get around to responding to your post. He's probably busy. But until he does, I would like to respond. Aelyn, you are in the best position to answer--you are an atheist.

Hello Teejay ^^

We already had this conversation. I'll answer some of your questions and see if we can break new ground, but if I start feeling like it's too much of a repeat of our last conversation I'll bow out if that's okay with you.

After a more careful reading of your opening post, I must ask: Do you believe truth exists?

Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.

Has your grandmother passed?

How sensitive of you.

If so, can you imagine her not existing?

She's got Alzheimer's so I try not to think about it. My other grandmother has passed however, and I can imagine her not existing fine. Kind of depends on what one means by "existing" I guess. She existed as a living, thinking person and now she doesn't, but the effects she had on the world still exist, and if you look at "existence" in a non-temporal, block-Universe way then she always exists. (her existence just doesn't overlap with mine very much... :( )

Is it possible for the Bible to be true?

I'm not completely sure what you mean by that. If you mean "is it possible for a book such as the Bible to be true", then I'd say absolutely. If you mean "considering all you know about the world and all you know about the Bible's contents, do you consider the likelihood of the Bible being true to be non-negligible ?" then I'd say "no". If by the Bible being true we mean "everything written in the Bible is true" at least.

EDIT : I cut out a quote/response here that really didn't bring anything.

According to your opening post, you believe “what you experience for yourself.” So if what you experience matches what you read in a book, then you can believe the book right? But does the book prove the evidence or does the evidence prove the book?

Neither. They're both different pieces of evidence. If they agree, i.e. they both imply the same conception of the world, then that conception is strengthened. If they disagree, then a conception of the world that accounts for that disagreement is strengthened.

I submit that the Bible is an Ultimate Standard that proves itself. For argument sake, I will take just one area that should lead you to believe that the Bible has some truth.

That's one of the points where I recall going round and round fruitlessly. You are absolutely right that logic can't prove itself (... although I'm not sure about Bayesian logic, it might be able to validate itself on its own terms, I hope Jaynes addresses that in his book which I haven't finished reading). The problem is you think the Bible is somehow an exception to this, that calling it an "Ultimate Standard" is different from calling it an "assumption" and makes you immune to circular logic. It really doesn't.

What if I were to call Logic the "Ultimate Standard" ?

And to further prove my point, let’s compare the historicity of the Bible, which was written by about 40 men over a 1500 year period in several languages on a few continents, with the Book of Mormon written by Joseph Smith in 1830.

Why ? I don't believe in the Book of Mormon either. And I don't doubt a lot of the Bible is historically accurate. Even the Illiad is historically accurate sometimes.

Though the Bible tells of ancient events, historians and archeologists have independently verified the existence of over 100 people in the Bible such as Kings David, Jeroboam, Jehoiachin, Ahab, Omri, Jehu, and Jotham to the Assyrian Kings Shalmaneser, Pul, and Tigathpileser etc. Although most people have never heard of these people, historians and archeologists have found evidence of their existence apart from the Bible. Most archeologists are atheists whose Holy Grail is disproving the Bible. Yet, I find it ironic that archeologists in the Middle East carry a Bible to guide their search for lost ancient cities. For these atheist archeologists, the Bible is their Ultimate Standard. Many cities mentioned in the Bible have been unearthed by these people using the Bible. Additionally, the written history in the Bible has been proven by parallel writings of ancient Roman and Greek historians.
How many unique characters mentioned in the Book of Mormon have been subsequently identified by archeologists and historians in North and South America? Zero! None! Not one! The Mormon Church claims that native peoples in the Americas are descendants of native Jews who crossed over the Atlantic Ocean in 600 B.C. Of all the cities that the Book of Mormon says that these Jews built, not one has been found by archeologists.

Well, yeah. The Bible was written by people who actually lived in the Middle East over a few thousand years. The Book of Mormon was written by a guy in 1830. What would Joseph Smith know about Jews in 600 B.C. ? If archeologists had confirmed it, now that would have been astonishing. (although not "Mormonism must be true"-astonishing - if archeologists could find evidence of Jews crossing the Atlantic in 600 B.C., so could Joseph Smith)

In the Book of Job, God chastises Job: "Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades [seven stars] or loose the belt of Orion?" (Job 38:31). Now God said this to Job long before it could be verified by our modern astronomers.


You don't need a telescope to count 7 stars in the Pleiades. A clear, completely dark sky and excellent eyesight does wonders. Not something many of us can experience nowadays, sadly.

Actually, look them up on Wikipedia. There are a number of stars with a range of brightnesses so different people might classify them differently, but what I see are five very bright stars I recognize as those I usually see, and if I want to add the stars of secondary brightness I end up with nine. If I added fainter stars I'd have even more. But I don't see an obvious way of partitioning those stars that makes me come up with seven.

And how about here :
http://en.wikipedia...._and_literature
Tons of completely unrelated mythologies think there are 7 stars in the Pleiades.

And for that matter, where in the Bible does it say there are 7 stars in the Pleiades ? None of the English translations of that verse I saw brought them up, and it seems the Hebrew version calls them "Kimah", with no number. The Wikipedia page I linked says that according to the Talmud it has about 100 stars, which actually sounds more perceptive than 7 in my book, but I figure if it said "7 stars" in the original Hebrew the writers of the Talmud would have noticed.
The Greeks did call the Pleiades the 7 sisters. But that was Greek mythology.

As often a small comment ended up as four paragraphs and a Wikipedia binge, I really have to stop this -_-

I will postpone answering you here until I hear from you. I can give you a big picture outline that will help you IF YOU WANT ME TO.

Well... Your first response was already extremely long, and most of it I can't say much about because it relies on assumptions I just don't share. The same would probably be true of this big picture outline so I feel it would be wasting both your time and mine to ask you to give it. Were you to write something on the subject I would read with interest but you wouldn't get much in the way of response.

But the OT can't be made sense of unless Jesus Christ is inserted into it. Jesus Christ is woven in the history, the symbolic laws, the stories. These jewels of wisdom are not in plain sight. They must be searched for and are revealed for "those with ears to hear and eyes to see." For those who care not and dismiss them out of hand, they will remain hidden.

Dunno, Jewish theologians seem to think they manage to make sense of the OT, and the examples you presented are similarities between the OT and the NT - I see no sense of directionality there. It could just as well be the OT that's woven into the story of Jesus's life.

Now I don't expect you to become a Christian because of the evidence I just presented. You will interpret through your worldview and most likely reject it.

But that's the thing though, even if I didn't reject the evidence you just presented (and I don't actually. I don't know enough on the subject to summarily reject what you said without looking it up, and I don't care enough to look it up right now), you have given me no reason to become a Christian. You have demonstrated that the Bible is more historically accurate than the Book of Mormon is, and that the New Testament echoes the Old Testament. You haven't demonstrated that the Bible is true, let alone that it is the ultimate truth.

You must believe in and use laws of logic which have no justification for existence within your present worldview. You have to believe that your senses are reliable. You have to believe in the uniformity of nature, that the physical laws will function tomorrow as they have today. If you have no reason to believe in the existence of these things, then your belief in them is simply arbitrary and inconsistent with your present worldview.

I do have reason to believe in the existence of those things : I have observed them all my life. It's not absolute proof that they exist, but following the balance of the evidence is fine by me.

#34 Teejay

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:40 PM

JS,


Posted 06 June 2012 - 10:04 PM
TeeJay,

I guess I misunderstood your reasoning and possibly misrepresented your position, so please disregard my previous response and allow me to respond to your statements as a whole once again:


No problem. I believe Ron misunderstood my position as well? Perhaps I was not being as clear as I should.

To oversimplify my argument by a lot; secular historical sources prove NT eyewitnesses, their motives, and accuracy in recording history. Archaeology confirms NT and OT locations and anthropological details. Secular sources and NT provide record of Jesus’ existence, details of his ministry/ teachings, and impact on the apostles and the early church. NT records Jesus as teaching that He is God, and proving such thorough miracles. In the records of the NT, Jesus confirms OT as history (along with archaeology). Natural evidence confirms some OT and NT truths. Human experiences confirm some OT and NT truths. This is how I logically establish that the Bible is the world of God. I apply the same logic to other holy books, examine the history, sources, motives and truth claims, and find them lacking. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see any circular reasoning here.


At the outset, I said that I would “play” Satan’s advocate to make it interesting. If you go over to ToL and present your NT eyewitnesses, they will ask: “Why is the testimony of these witnesses true?” And you will answer: “Because they’re recorded in the Bible.” And they will come back: “Why is the Bible true?” And you will answer: “Because of the witnesses.” And you will attempt to provide additional evidence: “Jesus walked on water.” Atheist: “How do you know this is true?” Christian: “Because it’s recorded in the Bible.” Atheist: “How do you know the Bible is true?” Christian: “Because it’s God’s word.” Atheist: How do you know it is God’s word?” Theist: “Because the Bible says it is.”

Over the years I have found that scientific and historical evidence, by itself, can’t possibly resolve the debate over origins. These evidences can be useful in debates where everyone involved agrees on how the evidence should be interpreted. You and I, as Christians, will interpret evidence through the same worldview. As you and I agree on the same rules of interpretation, we will draw the same conclusions when exposed to the same evidence. Now we may disagree over a trivial matter that matters not, but for the most part we will agree.

I’m so glad that you used the term “confirm” when referring to archaeological evidence for the historicity of the Bible. When I argue that the evidence confirms the Bible, I mean that it is consistent with what we read in the Bible. It agrees with the Bible. If you read my post to Aelyn, I gave her a little archaeological evidence. But notice that the archeologists use the Bible-first approach to determine where to dig. When they discover a city recorded in the Bible, they do not prove the Bible is true. It was true before they were born or started their dig.

In one of my earlier posts, I argued that an ultimate standard must be reached in order to prove anything. An ultimate standard must not only prove itself; it must provide a foundation for proving absolutely everything that is knowable. God says that to know anything, you have to start with Him (Prov. 1:7). God further says that this must be true because if you reject His claim you are reduced to foolishness (Prov. 1:7). And Paul writes that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in God” (Col. 2:3).

The Christian Ultimate Standard gives us the foundation for rational reasoning (which includes the laws of logic), uniformity of nature (which makes science possible), reliability of our senses and memory, and even morality. Morality is important in that we should not be inconsistent or arbitrary because God isn’t and we are to imitate Him (Eph. 5:1). The Bible passes its own standard for truth. It’s consistent and non-arbitrary.

In order for an atheist materialist to argue that only matter exists, he must borrow God’s immaterial laws of logic and rational thought to argue that only matter exists. To rail against any injustice he encounters, he must borrow moral laws from God—a God he denies. In order to do science, he must assume there is uniformity in nature (that the physical laws will remain constant). But uniformity in nature is only promised in God’s word. God created all things (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3). He has imposed order in the universe (Gen. 8:22; Heb. 1:3). God is consistent (1 Sam. 15:29; Num. 23:19). The atheist assumes his senses and memory are reliable and trusts them to interpret what he sees, hears, remembers, etc. But he has no rational foundation for this assumption.

So, I try to show the atheist that his worldview is arbitrary (no rational reason for it), irrational, and inconsistent (does not comport with reality). When the atheist uses laws of logic and rational thought, trusts that nature is law-like, trusts that his senses and memory are reliable, becomes indignant when he encounters injustice, he is being inconsistent with his worldview—a worldview that can’t account for or justify these things. And the beginning of knowledge itself is predicated on these things (which are only promised and justified in God’s word). This is why I argue that God and His word are my Ultimate Standard.

Do I believe scientific evidence should be used? Yes. There is a place for it. For example many Christians have been hoodwinked by atheists into believing that scientific evidence points to evolution. Many Christians, rather than questioning, have opted to the blind-faith position. But science is perfectly consistent with what we read in the Bible. Genetics confirms that organisms “produce after their own kind.” Does this prove Genesis true? I argue that Genesis proves that what we encounter in reality is true. I love to use evidence to expose an atheist’s inconsistency. In the SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence) program, atheists will accept a signal that contains information (prime numbers) as proof of an intelligent source. Yet these same researchers will deny that DNA must have an intelligence Source. Their worldview will not allow them to accept a self-evident truth that information can only come from an intelligent mind.

TeeJay


#35 JayShel

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 05:53 PM

JS,

At the outset, I said that I would “play” Satan’s advocate to make it interesting. If you go over to ToL and present your NT eyewitnesses, they will ask: “Why is the testimony of these witnesses true?” And you will answer: “Because they’re recorded in the Bible.” And they will come back: “Why is the Bible true?” And you will answer: “Because of the witnesses.” And you will attempt to provide additional evidence: “Jesus walked on water.” Atheist: “How do you know this is true?” Christian: “Because it’s recorded in the Bible.” Atheist: “How do you know the Bible is true?” Christian: “Because it’s God’s word.” Atheist: How do you know it is God’s word?” Theist: “Because the Bible says it is.”


Let me stop you right there TeeJay. This was not my argument, therefore the rest of your post is not really a response to my position at all. I do not invoke the circular reasoning that you suggest in the section quoted above, rather I appeal to other historical evidence surrounding the Bible such as secular writings, archaeology, and anthropology, all of which support the idea that the eyewitness accounts recorded in the NT are in fact reliable historical accounts of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Arbitrarily discarding such evidence is illogical. There must be reliable testimony (close to the historical event itself, well preserved and documented) calling the integrity of such writings into question in order to consider them to be unreliable eyewitness accounts.

A new born-again Christian might use the flawed logic used in the quote above, but this is not my position, and I would never recommend using such flawed argumentation in witnessing since there is far greater evidence for our faith.

#36 Teejay

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 07:12 PM

[quote] name='JayShel' timestamp='1339116839' post='84297']
Let me stop you right there TeeJay. This was not my argument, therefore the rest of your post is not really a response to my position at all. I do not invoke the circular reasoning that you suggest in the section quoted above, rather I appeal to other historical evidence surrounding the Bible such as secular writings, archaeology, and anthropology, all of which support the idea that the eyewitness accounts recorded in the NT are in fact reliable historical accounts of the life, ministry, and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Arbitrarily discarding such evidence is illogical. There must be reliable testimony (close to the historical event itself, well preserved and documented) calling the integrity of such writings into question in order to consider them to be unreliable eyewitness accounts.

A new born-again Christian might use the flawed logic used in the quote above, but this is not my position, and I would never recommend using such flawed argumentation in witnessing since there is far greater evidence for our faith.
[/quote]

JS, I did not say it was your position. I am simply trying to show you what you will encounter with trying to witness to an unbeliever using evidence. I'm trying to show that the transcendental argument for God is my position. You are preaching to the choir if you are trying to convince me that there is evidence, historical and otherwise, that is proof positive for the Bible. Basically you have two sets of witnesses--those in the Bible and secular. If you use the witnesses in the Bible to prove the Bible then you are using circular reasoning. But remember that I have already argued that when it comes to the Christian's Ultimate Standard, circular reason is unavoidable and acceptable. If an ultimate standard was not reached (a Standard that proved itself), no argument could be completed and proven true or false. I believe the witnesses because God's word is true and not because the witnesses prove God. If I use the witnesses to prove the Bible, then the Bible is no longer my Ultimate Standard by which all truth is measured. The secular witnesses to the Bible did not see Jesus walk on water or rise from the dead.

I'm glad that Aelyn came into the fray. She is proof positive of what I am arguing. Why don't you try your evidence-first approach with Aelyn? I submit that there is no evidence you can present to her that she will accept. Her worldview will not allow her to accept it.

In "The Great Debate" Dr. Bahnsen did not use any scientific, historical, archeological evidence for God; yet he destroyed his atheist opponent Dr. Stein. In atheist circles, Dr. Bahnsen was the most feared Christian apologist. I was trying to show that perhaps we should use his transcendental arguments. But I'm not having much success.

For some reason, JS, you are finding my arguments upsetting. Why I am not sure. But I am going to move on. I would like you to respond to Aelyn. The opening post was addressed to atheists and she was nice enough to respond. You can present your historical, archaeological, witnesses teltimony (secular and Biblical).

God bless, TeeJay

#37 JayShel

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 09:47 PM

JS, I did not say it was your position.


Sorry, I felt it was safe to assume you were attempting to respond to what I had posted since you had quoted me.

I am simply trying to show you what you will encounter with trying to witness to an unbeliever using evidence.


I understand this since I have tried it, but success in convincing people is not the issue here, strength of evidence is also not the issue here. The work of opening people's eyes is that of the Holy Spirit. We were both given tools to plant seeds so that God may water them.

I'm trying to show that the transcendental argument for God is my position. You are preaching to the choir if you are trying to convince me that there is evidence, historical and otherwise, that is proof positive for the Bible.


Understood.

The secular witnesses to the Bible did not see Jesus walk on water or rise from the dead.


In order to throw away an eyewitness account as untruthful, you need a good reason. The secular sources do not counter the NT, which should be expected if the NT were untruthful. Even people who hated Christians confirmed important historical details in their writings. Furthermore, through examining the motives of the eyewitnesses, in their death preaching this as truth, we can find no reason why they would not be telling the truth. Secular sources confirm this resolve to spread the Gospel in the face of death.


Why don't you try your evidence-first approach with Aelyn?


I only plant seeds, so I know that not everyone that I talk to about God will come to love Him or believe in Him, either instantly or even later on. Still I am blessed to be able to share the Gospel.

For some reason, JS, you are finding my arguments upsetting.


Actually I was firmly correcting what I thought was a wild misunderstanding/misrepresentation of my position, which I took pains to prevent, so I was a bit baffled, but not really upset. I now understand that, though you quoted what I said, you were not responding to it (which was also confusing). You did not say "i agree with this" or "i disagree with this" or "i think you have some good points there but...", so you can understand why you had to draw me a map to get me out of the dessert, or was that desert. :D

But I am going to move on. I would like you to respond to Aelyn. The opening post was addressed to atheists and she was nice enough to respond. You can present your historical, archaeological, witnesses testimony (secular and Biblical).


It can't hurt to try responding to her concerns about the Bible, although I will have to do that later since I am running out of time at the moment. Also, I understand what you are getting at, that I will not convince people to believe through my evidence. This is true in my experience, since in many cases, no argument will suffice. Salvation is the work of God, and it is much more complicated than simply providing evidence.

#38 Teejay

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 07:25 PM

Hello Teejay ^^

We already had this conversation. I'll answer some of your questions and see if we can break new ground, but if I start feeling like it's too much of a repeat of our last conversation I'll bow out if that's okay with you.


Aelyn, first I want to thank you for responding to this thread. If you’ve read some of the previous posts, you will see that we needed someone to make peace in the family. Of course you can bow out at any time. It’s okay by me and I don’t think there’s any rule against it.

And I will try and keep this short and not inundate you with evidence arguments.

For a quick aside, if you want an “adventure among ants,” just come to my ranch in Texas. We have the infamous Texas fire ants that will eat the circuit breakers in your electrical box and leave you without electricity, kill weak calves, render the rabbit and quail population extinct, and if you accidently stand on a mound, they will not sting you until they are all in place covering your legs, etc. Then they seem to bite all at the same time as if the queen gave a command.

Legend has it that some cotton farmer from Texas was visiting a large ranch in South America and he saw how these critters would kill just about anything. So he reasoned that they would eat the pests that were eating his cotton. But on the North American continent they have no natural enemies. In their native environment (South America), there is a fly that stings the ant in the head and deposits its eggs. The ant wakes up and resumes carrying food into the mound. Eventually, the eggs hatch and more flies sting the ants and deposit more eggs. Eventually the mound dies as the queen does not have enough workers to feed her. (Proof of God’s existence is that only God could create something that would take on fire ants.) The agriculture experts are thinking of introducing this fly into America. My question is what do they sting in the head after they have killed all the ants? I told my wife that if they do introduce this fly, and if she sees me laying out in the pasture, be sure to check the back of my head.


Yes. That is, I believe reality exists and as far as I can tell it's the same thing. I don't believe humans can know that truth however, our beliefs can only approximate it. Which is good enough in my opinion.


I should have supplied you with a definition. Truth is a statement of reality. Presently, I am looking at my cows out of my window eating grass. If you were here with me, I don’t think you would deny that you know my cows are in my pasture eating grass. It is a statement of reality. It’s true—not “approximately” true. I’m not surprised by your answer though. My grandson came home from college and said to me, “Grandpa, there’s no such thing as truth.” He got this relativism from one of his professor—who also taught that morality is relative. So I asked him, “Is that true?” I should have had a camera ready to take a picture of the look on his face. So, Aelyn, I am going to ask you: Is what you posted above true? If you answer yes, I will ask how you know it’s true. If you “know” it’s true, then your argument defeats itself.




Has your grandmother passed?

How sensitive of you.


Aelyn, I’m so sorry. I did not mean to be insensitive. I just read your original post again and I mistakenly remembered you talking of her in the past tense. All my parents have passed, but I do not shed tears “as those who have no hope.” I know that I will see my mother and father again. I hope my mother does not have that stick she used to use to get my attention.


According to your opening post, you believe “what you experience for yourself.” So if what you experience matches what you read in a book, then you can believe the book right? But does the book prove the evidence or does the evidence prove the book?

Neither. They're both different pieces of evidence. If they agree, i.e. they both imply the same conception of the world, then that conception is strengthened. If they disagree, then a conception of the world that accounts for that disagreement is strengthened.


Aelyn, that’s a very good answer! However, I can show that there are some concepts that only the Bible can prove. But you’ve scolded me for being long-winded. And I think you’re right with that accusation. I’ll let that argument go for now.


What if I were to call Logic the "Ultimate Standard" ?


Dr. Norman Geisler, in his book Systematic Theology, Vol. I, defines logic: “Logic deals with the methods of valid thinking; it reveals how to draw proper conclusions from premises. It is a prerequisite of all thinking, including all theological thought. Logic is such an inescapable tool that even those who deny it cannot avoid using it, for it is built into the very fabric of the rational universe.” Of course, you can probably provide your own definition and you can do so if you like, but I think this is good enough for our purposes here.

You can use logic to prove that laws of logic exist (and the argument is a little circular but acceptable). But you can’t use logic to explain “why” they exist. Rational reasoning involves using the laws of logic. Therefore, a rational worldview must be able to explain why these laws exist. The atheist believes laws of logic exist, but his or her belief is an arbitrary one. In logical debate, one is not allowed to argue arbitrarily. If it were allowed both sides could simply make arbitrary assumptions and who could be right. The Christian creationist has a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic. The atheist materialist does not.

To justify why there are laws of logic apart from circular reasoning, you must seek the foundation of logic outside of logic itself. Thus, apart from belief in God, nothing can be truly knowable. If an honest and consistent atheist could actually exist, he or she would not claim that atheism is defensible by logic, since logic itself is indefensible by logic apart from circular reasoning. Therefore on the one hand, if the atheist claims to know anything at all, he or she unwittingly has shown that atheism (the alternative to God) is impossible because apart from God, nothing is knowable.

And, Aelyn, I must remind you that you don’t believe you can know that anything is true. So, according to your own admission earlier, it can’t be true that logic is your ultimate standard. Nor can it be true that logic is not your ultimate standard. Now I know this is absurd because the Law of Non-contradiction will not allow logic to be your ultimate standard and not be your ultimate standard at the same time and in the same way. And if it was your ultimate standard, you could not know it. Right? Such is life in an atheist relativistic worldview.

I’m now going to ask you to do the same thing I asked my grandson. Aelyn, you need to rethink and question the worldview you are now trying to live in but can’t. Why? Because it is not a rational worldview that justifies or accounts for what you are experiencing in reality. To live in the real world, truth must exist and you must know truth. When you cross the street, you must know that it is either true that a truck is coming and it is unsafe to cross or it is true that a truck is not coming and it is safe to cross. In the real world where college professors do not live (mentally anyway), there is nothing “approximate” about the truck that will run over you.

If I accomplish nothing else here, Aelyn, I would at least like to get you to admit that truth exists and that you can know truth.

TeeJay







#39 aelyn

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 10:07 AM

For a quick aside, if you want an “adventure among ants,” just come to my ranch in Texas. We have the infamous Texas fire ants that will eat the circuit breakers in your electrical box and leave you without electricity, kill weak calves, render the rabbit and quail population extinct, and if you accidently stand on a mound, they will not sting you until they are all in place covering your legs, etc. Then they seem to bite all at the same time as if the queen gave a command.


Hah ! Thank you very much, but I like my ants black, inoffensive and cute. Anything else can stay in books where they belong :D I have heard those fire ants are really something though. Back when I lived in New Mexico there were fire ants but I don't remember them being that scary. (we did have an inoffensive ant infestation during the winter which was very exciting. Every week my parents would update us on which new area we weren't allowed to leave food on anymore because they'd gotten to it. They disappeared in the spring though. And a good thing they did, the whole kitchen was getting to be off-limits)

I should have supplied you with a definition. Truth is a statement of reality. Presently, I am looking at my cows out of my window eating grass. If you were here with me, I don’t think you would deny that you know my cows are in my pasture eating grass. It is a statement of reality. It’s true—not “approximately” true. I’m not surprised by your answer though. My grandson came home from college and said to me, “Grandpa, there’s no such thing as truth.” He got this relativism from one of his professor—who also taught that morality is relative. So I asked him, “Is that true?” I should have had a camera ready to take a picture of the look on his face. So, Aelyn, I am going to ask you: Is what you posted above true? If you answer yes, I will ask how you know it’s true. If you “know” it’s true, then your argument defeats itself.

It's good of you to clarify; I was talking about truth in a more cosmic “do we understand everything about reality” sense. I agree that when you make a vague statement of fact like “there are cows in my pasture” it is perfectly possible for it to be absolutely true. (if nothing else you could make opposite statements, so one of them would have to correspond to reality)

There is still the issue of us knowing absolutely whether it is true or not. I don't think that's possible; hallucinations exist, and people get tricked by their brains in even more bizarre ways all the time. There are quite a few brain disorders that not only impair people's abilities (like, for example, making them blind on one side), but makes them unable to realize this. They don't directly perceive they have a problem, and so they refuse to believe they have one. Now if I were in such a situation I would like to be at least theoretically capable of realizing the truth, that someone could tell me “you've got this form of visual agnosia” and that with enough evidence, explanations and experiments I could be convinced that this was indeed the case. If I believed that something as simple as looking out the window and seeing cows were absolute 100% undoubtable proof that cows were there then this would be impossible because no evidence could outweigh my own direct perceptions.

Now one could argue that brain disorders aren't random, they do some things and not others, and that there are some experiences that can NOT be simulated by a brain problem. I don't know if this is true or not. If it were true that would still leave the basic Matrix or Last Thursdayist scenarios to deal with for someone who believes they can know the absolute truth (in fact Last Thursdayism is an absolutely serious physical hypothesis but that's another story).

And to answer your last question : I am quite confident that what I posted above is true. I have given a few reasons why, I could give more if you wanted. I am not as confident of it as I am of some other things, but I'm confident enough about it to say it's what I believe. I don't know what “know” in quotes means. Is it supposed to denote 100% certainty ? I don't “know” anything in that sense that I can think of.

Aelyn, that’s a very good answer! However, I can show that there are some concepts that only the Bible can prove. But you’ve scolded me for being long-winded. And I think you’re right with that accusation. I’ll let that argument go for now.

If I came across as scolding you I apologize, that wasn't my intention at all ! Me scolding others for being long-winded would be the rankest hypocrisy :) I just meant it as a neutral statement of fact, really.

You can use logic to prove that laws of logic exist (and the argument is a little circular but acceptable).

You'll have to explain this bit. Circularity is an either/or property; if an argument is “a little circular”, then it's circular, and circularity is not acceptable. A system of reasoning that allows circular arguments will allow anything, and this leads to contradictions. The laws of logic are the axioms of any system of logic. You don't prove they exist, you say they exist.

Now you can show that those rules are useful, or reflect the way the Universe works, or very probably don't lead to contradictions, by induction. And you can make induction mathematically rigorous by using Bayesian probabilities. In fact you should do that, because induction and bayesian reasoning are much more productive than pure Aristotelian logic. But it's a different process, and even there circularity is not acceptable.

The atheist believes laws of logic exist, but his or her belief is an arbitrary one.

You talk as if everything that isn't based on deductive aristotelian logic is "arbitrary", but that's a false dichotomy. Methods like induction, Bayesian reasoning or criteria like "usefulness" are things deductive logic has nothing to say about, but there's nothing arbitrary about them.

The Christian creationist has a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic. The atheist materialist does not.

Just knowing God created the laws of logic isn't a rational reason to know why there are laws of logic anymore than "because Leonardo da Vinci painted it that way" is the full answer to the question "why is the Mona Lisa smiling ?". Why did God create laws of logic ? Why create these laws of logic ? Is God himself logical ?

And, Aelyn, I must remind you that you don’t believe you can know that anything is true. So, according to your own admission earlier, it can’t be true that logic is your ultimate standard.

I didn't say it was. I wasn't even talking about my own standards. You said we needed an Ultimate Standard; I asked why logic itself couldn't be one. As for me, I think looking for an “ultimate standard” is an interesting exercise but the exercise itself is more interesting than the result. At the end of the day my beliefs rest on the sum of my experiences and thought processes, not a single Ultimate Standard.

I’m now going to ask you to do the same thing I asked my grandson. Aelyn, you need to rethink and question the worldview you are now trying to live in but can’t. Why? Because it is not a rational worldview that justifies or accounts for what you are experiencing in reality. To live in the real world, truth must exist and you must know truth. When you cross the street, you must know that it is either true that a truck is coming and it is unsafe to cross or it is true that a truck is not coming and it is safe to cross. In the real world where college professors do not live (mentally anyway), there is nothing “approximate” about the truck that will run over you.

I'm not sure what that example was meant to illustrate, but if you're trying to make the point that absolute knowledge exists I think it's a rather strange choice. "In the real world" crossing the street is a very complicated decision that requires managing uncertainty and risk. It will involve uncertain factors like the speed of cars and how they will change their speed in the future, how likely it is that there are additional cars or vehicles one hasn't seen, how likely it is the drivers will see you, how fast you can cross the road and how likely you are to get run over if you stop in the middle, in how much of a hurry you are and so on. It's very hard to reach zero risk (although when I was a little kid I certainly tried : I wouldn't cross the road if I could even see a car. Sometimes I waited a long time), and in practice you don't, you just minimize the risk as much as you feel comfortable with. And in fact pedestrians get run over all the time, which they wouldn't if they were imbued with absolutely true knowledge of whether it was safe to cross or not.

#40 ringo

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:40 AM

Why don't you believe the bible?

It isn't a question of believing or disbelieving "the Bible". I believe or disbelieve individual items on an individual basis. Finding one correct item in a book is not grounds (for me) to accept any other item in that book as correct. Each item has to stand on its own merit.

Have you read it?

Yup. I was practically born in church. I could quote from the Bible before I could read it.

Do you know its history? (i.e. written over a 1500 year time span)

Yup.

What was the purpose of the men who wrote the bible?

Different authors have different purposes: to preserve history (or a particular slant on history), to give advice, or just to be creative, to name a few. With dozens of authors, it seems unlikely that they all had identical purposes.

Do you acknowledge or deny the fact that there are 100s of 1000s of prophecies in the bible, many which have come to true with great accuracy?

I think that sometimes believers exaggerate the accuracy of the fulfillment.




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