Did Jesus contradict the Bible by not stoning the woman caught in adultery?

Those who do not want to believe the Bible is the Word of God will stop at nothing to try and disprove the Bible (even making fools of themselves claiming that there are “contradictions” in the Bible and then using lame arguments based on vaguely similar passages that “seem” to contradict each other). Here is the latest “argument” for a contradiction in the Bible. Was Jesus contradicting Moses when He did not command the woman caught in adultery to be stoned? Let’s take a look at the Word of God and see what we can determine.

1) Moses‘ scenario says the following . . .

10 ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10)

I want you to notice a few things here.

  • They are caught.
  • Both are to be put to death.
  • There is to be no partiality.

2) Jesus‘ scenario says the following . . .

2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women ; what then do You say ?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”] (John 8 )

I want you to notice a few things here.

  • People came to Jesus to learn.
  • He was ready to teach those who came to learn.
  • The religious leaders came to Him too.
  • They were not interested in learning.
  • They just wanted to trap Him.
  • They brought a woman whom they claim they “caught” in the act of adultery.
  • They only brought the woman to be tried and punished.
  • They did not bring the man.
  • They were not seeking justice.
  • They were not trying to learn anything.
  • They were trying to trick Jesus and make Him look bad (like the atheists and their “contradictions” in the Bible).
  • Jesus taught them a lesson even though they did not come to learn one.
  • In order to uphold the Law of Moses, both participants were to be tried and put to death.
  • If Jesus would have condemned her to death He would have broken the Law of Moses
  • There is no contradiction here.
  • Jesus actually works according to the Law of Moses by not breaking it.
  • When He asked, “he who is without sin” they all left because they were all sinning in this specific situation by showing partiality and not bringing the man to be tried as well.
  • Jesus took the Law of Moses one step further (He perfected It) by forgiving the woman (something that the Law could not do because It could only condemn).

As you can see, there is no contradiction here. The atheists, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, are left with a lesson learned and should walk away with their “tales between their legs” in shame and defeat. What would be better though, instead of like the religious leaders who were proud and arrogant, the atheists should humble themselves and come to this Jesus who was able to forgive the adulteress woman. He can forgive them as well if they will humble themselves like she did. What about you, are you like the atheists and religious leaders? Do you walk away full of pride and arrogance or do you bow your knee to Jesus Christ? Know this, if you do not do it now by choice, one day you will do it by force but it will be too late for you then. Why not do it now by choice and avoid the wrath to come?

Enhanced by Zemanta

428 comments on “Did Jesus contradict the Bible by not stoning the woman caught in adultery?

  1. Interesting fact: the passage of the woman caught in adultery was added many decades later by later authors – all biblical scholars agree on this. It was never in the original biblical text.

    • This story was left out of the copies of the earliest manuscripts, i think, intentionally.

      Jerome, a Latin church father writing around 420 AD says, “in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story of the adulterous woman who was accused before the Lord.”

      Augustine, a Greek church father, notes the same thing, and even ascribes a motivation to the copyists who left it out. “Certain persons of little faith, or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord’s act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.” Some did not copy this story as it might have been seen as giving permission to the wives to sin. Wow.

      Be careful when reading English translations, compared to the original languages they’re horrible. Using Strong’s will not help you understand the original languages like some people think either. You have to study the language.

    • The passage may have been added many decades later by different authors (though I had never heard this before), but the divine truth it communicates is older than time itself: love does not kill what it loves. Jesus, in stark contrast to his detractors, loved that woman. He did not speak against her being stoned to death because the male party to the adultery was not brought before him, too. He spoke against such unloving action precisely because it was unloving. The death penalty imposed on people in Leviticus for commiting certain moral or ritual offences was NEVER the word of God, but the word of men. The Jews of the Old Testament period were on a learning curve about God, and while they were learning, they did some pretty despicable things to one another, of which God would never have approved. The supreme revalation of God came in the person of Christ. And his words and example clearly show that much of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) was written by men, not inspired by God.

      • And still, the necessity for Christ to shed blood to atone sin is according to the Old Testament death penalty requirements… Instituted by God.

      • To Anonymous

        With respect, it was not necessary for Christ to shed blood in order to atone for sin, but it was necessary for him to be totally faithful to his Father. The shedding of his blood was the price he paid for such obedience.

        It is not suffering that redeems a person, but loving fidelity to God’s will.

    • If you go to torahclass.com and read the study on Numbers Chapter 5 (it will take a while, as there are other topics in that chapter), you can see that Jesus was applying the adultery test from the Old Testament. It is very eye-opening. He shows you how John 8 is like Numbers 5 in a way that most people never notice.

    • Point is These very Men which were Stoning this woman caught in the Very act of Adultery, when They’d not brought the very man she’d been having this Adultery! It takes two to commit adultery Last I’ve read! This is why Jesus was against their actions! These were men which as Jesus knelt in writing in the sand: each of these men’s sins! Say, for instance: “John, weren’t you having Adulterous affair with this woman yesterday!” Or “Jack, didn’t you steal your neighbors donkey.” Etc. Just have to understand this act these Pharisees were trying to trick Yeshua d Christos! This is why One must never ever say My Christ contradicts the Holy Word of our HOLY FATHER! How could Father contradict Himself for the Very precious name of our SWEET, SWEET, SAVIOR SAVIOR IS =“EMMANUEL”= (Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic Manuscripts) means:= “GOD WITH MAN!” Sure He’d come as His son For now we have the Trinity! “YAHVEH, YESHUA AND THE RAUCH!” All together they form the GODHEAD! Hate when ppl say such things against my Sweet Savior. Yeshua came to fulfill the Entire Bible as One Entity! The Old Testament is the New Testament! Sincerely, Méria, Qué Lakota

      • Nobody is without sin. Then why did God gave the Jews such laws and punishments, since everyone is a sinner and (in your opinion) a sinner can’t apply punishments? Since we agree that God doesn’t contradict Himself, then YOU must be wrong. The reason Jesus didn’t let that woman to be stoned wasn’t the fact that the accusers were sinners. Most probably it was because they didn’t respect the laws of Moses. Remember that Jesus used to do that all the time: beating them at their own game, with their own weapons. If Jesus would’ve disobeyed the laws or Moses, the crowd of accusers would’ve accomplished their goal, to trick Jesus into saying something against their laws so that they would have a reason to condemn Him.

  2. Actually, what Christians don’t realize is that Jesus STILL violated the Mosaic Law. You are correct about one thing, stoning ONLY the woman would have violated the Law. However, Jesus STILL violated the Law by NOT demanding that BOTH the man and woman be stoned. Jesus may have out-smarted the Jewish priests who were trying to trap him, but Jesus STILL gave an incorrect answer to their question. In order to uphold the Law, Jesus should’ve demanded that BOTH man AND woman be stoned. Jesus violated the Law by NOT stoning both the man and woman guilty of the “crime”, he let them both “off the hook”. If you delete my comment again, you are only proving that I’m correct and that Jesus DID not keep the Law perfectly.

    • Alrighty, then – how’s this for a new understanding re the woman caught in adultery? This trap was similar to the paying taxes one: if He said to set her free, He’d be breaking the Mosaic Law, but if He said to stone her, He’d be breaking the Roman law which didn’t allow Jews to execute people for religious reasons, at least. So, instead, He exemplifies a higher law: “Judge not, that you be not judged. . . . Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:1, 4-5). Jesus challenges them to see that they have no business judging the adultress for something that apparently everyone of them was guilty of. He doesn’t teach them to disobey the law; He teaches them to be merciful, which is a higher law!! =)

      • @ JDD…

        You said earlier “Roman Law didn’t allow Jews to execute people for religious reasons”. …why do you think Jesus was crucified by the Jews? It was for religious reasons (blasphemy was the main reason). So, are you saying that Pontius Pilate knowingly broke Roman Law by allowing the Jews to crucify Jesus for blasphemy? I highly doubt Pilate would put his career (and possibly his own life) on the line so the Jews could crucify one man, so something doesn’t add up in the Bible. Yes, Jesus was trying to be merciful to the woman and show the hypocracy of the Priests… but unfortunately for Jesus, he violated the Mosaic Law. He should’ved demanded that both man & woman be stoned.

      • @Dan,

        Jews did not have authority to execute people. They had to go to Pilate for authority. In short, yes, Pilate did order Jesus crucified to satisfy the religious leaders of the region. This was a highly volatile area that was well-known for rebellions against Rome. It was for political expediency that Jesus was crucified by Pilate. Pilate had already offended the natives of Judea several times before and had associations with plotters against the Caesar. The Jews had written to Caesar before, complaining about Pilate. Had Pilate not given in to the Jews’ demands, he may well have been removed as governor if the Jews spoke out against him again. So yes, Pilate ordered Jesus crucified at the request of the religious leaders. It was in Pilate’s best interests to do so.

      • We have already established that Jesus did not break the Law of Moses. That Law required both participants to be put to death. They were trumped up charges. I guess you have a short memory 🙂

      • In short, breaking the law is EXACTLY the type of thing that the scribes and Pharisees were hoping Jesus would suggest (John 8:6a); it stands to reason, therefore, that their response would have made it perfectly obvious if He had!!

      • Sorry, Dan! I was in a rush and posted my addendum before I saw the responses; you guys are fast!! I believe dlegr250 explained it to you; the Jews couldn’t execute here – but, of course, the Romans could.

      • What about people who break the law, should they just be forgiven and let go so we can say we have shown them mercy? And when they break the law again and other people become their victims, do we just keep letting them go so that we can say we are merciful?

      • Dear JDD I never gave this a thought , until I started to question the validity of the ” New Testament “which I used to embrace . I am only testing its ” Truths “. It all started while attending a “Brethren church ” as we would sing hymns and read from the Bible , I began to notice the songs unbiblical words we would sing , and that the sermons that didn’t quite seem to be Biblically true { I have read and do read the Bible every day } this went on for several years, during this time I also attended the church down the street, which was “Pentacostal ” and believed in speaking in tongues and “spoke” in tongues they did. On several occasions I noticed they sounded like they were just babbling ,could I prove it ? No. On such an occasion a person started to speak in “Tongues { which is said to be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the ‘New Testament’] but the pastor said ‘ wait a minute so and so’ and the pastor said what he wanted to say ,THEN the pastor let the person or the ” holy spirit ” talk……. HMMMMMMMM I thought ,did the pastor just tell the “Holy Spirit ” to wait ? Yes he did ! He might not have realized it ,but he just subconsciously demonstrated that he did not believe what he preached, for if he had AND if this WAS the “Holy Spirit” of the Sovereign God speaking through this person he would have been “Awestruck” !! How could he not have been? Also they brought in an evangelist who had the “Gift of healing” and many went down to be healed of unseen ailments and yet a wheelchair bound obviously crippled man went unnoticed, now this evangelist walked up and down the isles and mysteriously didn’t notice this crippled man….HMMMMMMMM I thought.. Yet if this evangelist truly had the “Gift ” healing { which is mentioned as a Gift of the Holy Spirit } he could have easily healed the crippled man and the Holy Spirit would have prompted him to this crippled mans needs, just as Jesus supposedly did, yet he healed only those with unseen ailments….So I question the ” New Testament “. Now regarding the woman caught in adultery, { and the man!} if Jesus is the Son of God then he most certainly would have known the Laws of Moses ….. because HE would have been the one who GAVE them to him.! Also he would remember the MANY MANY MANY times He told the Isrealites to “Keep Gods Laws and Obey Gods Commands” because ….HE is the one to claim HE and God are “ONE”, and God gave the Laws to Moses!. Remember the so called “Hypocrites” who you said Jesus Challenged had no business judging the woman , they NOT only had a BUSINESS to do so BUT were COMMANDED to do so!! according to the proper procedure in the Law. ANYTIME the Isrealites were punished it was when they DISOBEYED Gods Laws and Commands,! for Jesus to call them “Hypocrites” seems hypocritical in itself , HE’S the one who gave the Isrealites the Laws And Commands!!! I am still studying the Bible and testing it. I fear the Living God of Isreal in case you were wondering and have since I was a little boy. I do not want to have come across as arrogant or as if I know it all ……..I don’t , thats why I am testing and studying the Bible, I know “Man” is a liar and Greedy and power hungry….. there’s a lot to be had of these using “RELIGION”.

      • Much has been made of the fact that they take the woman but not the man with whom she has committed adultery, suggesting that the man has not been charged.

        This is not correct. By law, both parties to the adultery were charged and punished. There was no leniency shown to the man, and in fact Rabbinic law held that he was more responsible for what happened than the woman.

      • Jesus did not break any law if you read what he said, quote “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” he answered to inform the priests that if are not sinners then OK cast the first stone…but none could do it because they themselves were not perfect, therefore could not stone the woman. He didn’t tell them not to do it. Remember Jesus was a messenger of God therefore God is merciful and forgiving Jesus could not do anything without the will of God Remember those that Judge will be judged. Also God gave Moses the ten commandments where in the 10 commandments does it say that man must stone another man/woman it dos says man should not kill. The law of Moses was his law to keep man in lie with God to prevent them from sinning Moses’ found it hard to obey hence God giving Moses the tablets with the 10 commandments mainly because man could not keep all the 600 plus Mosaic laws because literally if they broke one law they broke them all. So that is why Jesus said those without sin amongst cast you cast the first stone. No human is perfect hence the priest were not perfect and without sin the only person who was perfect was Jesus Christ. All humans are born sinners as a request for forgiveness Jews gave sacrifices as a homage for their sin. Jesus reason for him dying was to be the ultimate sacrifice so that sin can be forgiven through him. Further Jesus new the mosaic law inside and out hence him being called the teacher he knew what he was saying remember Jesus when he spoke to the priests he knew they were hypocrites, so they had no right to condemn another when their sheet wasn’t clean. Adding to this Jesus told the priests previously that he had not come to take away, add or abolish the Law he came to full fill it.

    • @Dan: Jesus upheld the Law because was not a witness to the act and could not do anything to her( read Deuteronomy 17:6) Only her accusers could and they needed to be present. ALL of her accusers left. They were clearly in the wrong for only bringing the woman and not the man.

    • Old thread but I’m not what I consider the obvious true answer about the account of whether Jesus violated Mosaic Law by not condemning the woman. Evidently there is some interest in the question and too many what I believe are incorrect conclusions.
      1. Yes the adulterer man also should have been brought to be stoned with the woman.
      2. Yes Jesus could have demanded the man be brought and both be stoned. The only legal option. The accusers were not free to avoid stoning either the man or woman – whether they were without sin themselves is IRRELEVANT. They realized they were guilty yet unpunished for many sins and their consciences failed them, but THEY SINNED by not stoning the man and the woman.
      3. Jesus did NOT say they should avoid keeping the law. He simply asked a penetrating question. He did nothing to stop from carrying out the legal and REQUIRED punishment. They just refused to do so because of their guilty consciences.
      4. Jesus wasn’t an eyewitness to crime, so it wouldn’t have been fitting for him to execute the punishment. By his knowledge as a Jew he was obligated to demand that the eyewitnesses carry out the punishment. HOWEVER, Mosaic Law is given by God…
      5. Jesus is in fact God’s son, and God in the flesh. This is THE WHOLE POINT OF JOHN’S GOSPEL ACCOUNT! Jesus is God, and only for that reason THE ONLY ONE WHO ACTUALLY HAD A CHOICE TO FORGIVE RATHER THAN PUNISH THE SIN. If Jesus had not in fact been the human manifestation of God, he would still be obligated to carry out the punishment. It would have been sin for him not to do so.
      6. Summary, the men sinned by letting the man go, by bringing the woman to trick Jesus, by not killing the man, by not killing the woman. Jesus taught everyone on this occasion the ugly awful nature of sin, and revealed hidden intentions. Jesus loved them enough to spare them rather than carry out the penalty he was justified to do. He was free to do so because he in fact IS the one sins are ultimately committed against.

    • Don’t you get it the high priests and the Rabbi’s were baring false witness, I don’t think she never committed adultery in the first place they were testing Jesus. That’s why he said “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” and she said “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more. To sin no more is Jesus knowing that humans are born in sin therefore are sinners until they come to the Father to profess their sins and accept Jesus Christ. The high priests had sinned and Jesus knew it, therefore stated “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” They knew they had been caught out in there sin so they left in shame.

      • You’re jumping to conclusions. The punishments from the law of Moses were meant to be applied by people who were not saints without sin. What’s the point of giving laws and punishments if nobody is allowed to apply them, because they were all sinners? Jesus was without sin, but He didn’t condemn her either. So this argument fails.

        Jesus said “go and sin no more” exactly because the woman was guilty of adultery. YOU said that humans are “born in sin” and that we can’t keep the laws, so what’s the point in saying “sin no more” to someone who is bound to sin and to be a sinner? Jesus didn’t condemn her not because she was not guilty, but because that time He came to save, not too condemn.

      • Who knows whether the accusation was actually true, but it seems strange that the woman did not protest the accusation or seem confused when Jesus told her to “sin no more” if she were falsely accused. That also changes the focus of the account from whether the Law should be upheld to catching people out in lies. I don’t see why the account should even be recorded if that is the case.

        Jesus previously accused his hearers in Jerusalem “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law.” (John 7:19) We also know that once he did finally go to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths (aka Tabernacles or Tents) the Pharisees/Scribes were waiting to kill him. John 7:1 “He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.”

        If the men bringing the adulterous woman found Jesus to contradict God’s Law given by Moses, or if Jesus advocated holding up the capital punishment for adulterers (which violated Roman law) they would been able to discredit Jesus and more easily arrest him. They also would find justification to convict him of blasphemy for statements like John 7:37-39 [On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, asf the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”]

        Instead, Jesus response neither disagreed that the Law should be upheld, nor advocated carrying out the punishment – because he didn’t answer the question they asked. He just turned the focus on their motives and they revealed they were actually not interested in obeying the Law or the question, just in trapping Jesus in his words.

    • You are correct on some of your points,but as stated by other replies this passage is never recorded in the earliest copies of the Book of Mark. It is not found in the other Gospels also. So arguing that Yahshua violated the Law is a none argument if this scenario never happened.Like most biblical scholars agree on, this is a late addition to the book of Mark. Basically someone decided hundreds of years later to add this to the passage. YHWH bless you.

    • Jesus came to fulfill the Law of His Father the correct way because the way the “Law” was being taught was not the way it was truly and lovingly instructed by God. Jesus perfectly followed His Father’s law the way it was intended to be followed. Seems like the instruction of stoning and death the Father was speaking about were both spiritual. Stoning would be casting out physically or to shun, death then would be a spiritual death, because in the very next verse the Father is showing the penalty of killing a man is death also!!! See Leviticus 24:16-17 16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. 17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.

    • I think you are forgetting God has the power to forgive sin. He forgave them all. After all he was in his ministry of grace which meant no condemnation.He wasnt going to ask for the man because he wasnt going to stone them, ministry of grace. And why would he want to save the man if it he wasnt being accused, the only one who needed saving was the woman.

    • I do understand where you are coming from. However, all that was necessary for the redemption of humankind was Jesus’ obedience to his Father, even though it would mean dying in the horrible way he did. This is where, in my opinion, very many Christians misinterpret the role of the Father. He wasn’t a celestial Shylock seeking his pound of flesh; on the contrary, he was a loving parent who asked his beloved son to be obedient to him EVEN IF THAT WOULD RESULT IN TRULY HORRIBLE RETALIATION BY AN EVIL WORLD. The Father did not want his beloved to die; what kind of monstrous parent would that have made him? No; he wanted his beloved child to LIVE, in obedience to him whatever the cost. Do you see the difference? My mom used to smoke heavily. For years I pleaded with her (heck, no! I nagged her.) to stop smoking. Eventually, she did. However, even though I nagged her to stop smoking, I NEVER WANTED HER TO SUFFER THE INESCAPABLE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS. What kind of son would that have made me? Nevertheless, such symptoms are an inevitable part of quitting smoking. I believe it was like this with our Heavenly Father and his beloved son. He wanted him to be obedient to him ( to redeem humankind), but he NEVER wanted his beloved child to suffer. Yet he knew that such suffering was an inevitable and inescapable consequence of obedience to him in this life.

      • Hello,

        Yes, I agree with you, very good analysis.

        The Old Testament is still the record of the same God following closely His chosen Israel (Theocracy) including the seemingly cruel acts and “God’s Law” requirements, this is also hard to admit and agree on… But true, the end of the New Testament Revelation does “picture” Jesus-Christ judging the “righteous” and the “wicked” according to their deeds, Eternal Heaven for the former, Eternal Hell for the latter.

        “Death” comes without warning, the time to turn to God, to confess and repent is now…

        For one to follow Jesus also requires to carry their own Cross every minute, every day, this really mean to follow in the LORD footsteps, to deny oneself (will), answering personally the universal call from God to be Holy, as He is Holy, to follow and to fulfill God’s Will, desire for Christ to be all, in all instead through faithful obedience in His Word, at the cost of suffering these “withdrawal symptoms” from one’s “bad habits” to sin, for the better, the gift of Eternal Life with God in Christ, the Holy Spirit indwelling one believer to carry one through all temptations and trials for now in this fallen world, humankind… Amen.

      • Yes, you put the practicalities of salvation well yourself: it is about our enduring the withdrawal symptoms, as it were, of turning away (repenting) from sinful habits.

        But none us can do that on our own, which is why we absolutely must have Christ’s spirit in our lives, for it is only through the strengh of this spirit that we can overcome our natures. This is the way to holiness and the power to travel it comes to us in the Holy Spirit.

        We should pray every day for the Holy Spirit.

    • Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

      7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

  3. LOVE is the fulfillment of the law-Jesus did not ‘break’ the law by not condemning her–he showed her mercy….Roman 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

    • Ah, but He did condemn her sin and told her to go and sin no more. I guess you missed that part or maybe it is not in YOUR version of the Bible.

      • Jesus’ act of mercy was commendable and admirable… but it still doesn’t hide the fact that he violated the Mosaic Law by not stoning both man & woman, which was what the Law mandates. What about the man who was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath in Numbers 15:36? Why didn’t Jesus (or God) step in and save that man from being stoned to death? God (or Jesus) was apparently unconcerned about the sinfulness of those who accused and stoned the guilty man. Why didn’t God mandate in the Old Law that only the “sinless” have the right to stone and punish people? Jesus still violated that law on adultery, whether you want to admit it or not. Most Christians are too emotionally invested in their belief to admit there are contractions in the Bible. Just like the phrase “love is blind” …a person who is “in love” will over-look the flaws in the person they love, but those flaws will be visible to an unbiased outsider. The same goes for Christians, they are too emotionally invested in their belief to recognized or admit there are problems with their religion, which are easily seen by objective outsiders.

      • Now you are bouncing all over the place trying to tie bits and pieces of the Bible together to prove your non-point.

        First of all, the men who brought the woman to Jesus claim to have “caught her in the act of adultery”. As the old saying goes, “it takes 2 to tango”. Where was the man if they caught them in the act of adultery? They were either lying about catching them in the act of adultery or they deliberately let the man go (could have been one of their own). They were not seeking justice or the letter of the Law. They were trying to trap Jesus. They started walking away one by one because they were caught in their own tangled web of deceit and had nothing to say. Jesus forgave the woman (because the whole thing was a set up) and He told her to go and sin no more.

        In the Old Testament, the people had to stone the guilty as a lesson, because each one holding a stone had to admit, “that could be me, I just have not been caught yet”. It was a good lesson to curb sin and sinful desires. Plus, all that is in the O.T. is a shadow of the things in the N.T. Sin does not just physically harm us, worse, it destroys us spiritually. In the O.T. the physical sin was punished so that the person would not destroy himself spiritually and then spread out his sin to influence others as well.

        There are no contradictions on the Bible. If you have found one then please point it out. Make sure you study the passage in context also keeping in mind the historical and cultural context of the passage as well as the Biblical context as a whole.

        True faith is not blind faith. If that is what you think faith is then you just show how much you do not know about the Bible.

      • First of all, let me point out that NOBODY should be stoned to DEATH for committing adultery, that is completely barbaric and inhumane to begin with. And the definition of faith is belief in something without proof, it is believing in something because you WANT it to be true (wishful thinking). Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.” Evidence-based faith is not TRUE faith at all, the Bible even says “blessed are those who haven’t seen and STILL believe.” So blind faith really is true faith, and is something the Bible says is virtuous.

        Now back to my main point. When the priests brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to trap Him, Jesus SHOULD’VE asked where the guilty man was also, and demanded that the man be stoned as well. But Jesus didn’t, and by not demanding that the man be stoned (along with the woman), he violated the Mosaic Law, which mandates that BOTH people be stoned. If Jesus said to stone only the woman, yes, that would’ve also been the wrong answer, you are correct on that point. But Jesus still gave an incorrect answer to the priest’s question even though he out-smarted them. So my point is that Jesus did not keep the Mosaic Law perfectly by not demanding that the guilty man be brought to justice. Jesus only scolded the woman by telling her not to sin anymore, whereas the guilty man got off the hook completely.

      • First of all, let me point out that NOBODY should be stoned to DEATH for committing adultery, that is completely barbaric and inhumane to begin with.

        Do you believe that infecting others with AIDS is humane? What about passing around STD’s? What about killing an innocent baby in the womb? Are those not barbaric practices? What about human trafficking? What about sex slaves? These are all modern sins that the modern age has on its hands.

        No one will be stoned to death in the New Testament period (from then until now). The punishment now is spiritual (although STD’s are also a form of punishment upon those who practice sexual immorality, see Romans 1)

        Do you know Koine Greek? That is the original language of the New Testament. The Koine Greek word for faith is pistis. It means to be completely persuaded of something (not blindly) based on proof and experience with the thing. You see it, understand it, accept it, and apply it. Faith means having the knowledge and understanding of God through His Word and living accordingly. There is nothing blind about Biblical faith. We have not physically seen God but we do have His promises and the experience of His work on this earth. We are totally convinced that He is who He claims to be and does what He says He will do. Again, there is nothing blind about it. That is just your convenient definition so that you can write off what you do not understand. Have you read and studied the Bible from cover to cover? Have you put into practice what is written in the Bible? Or, do you just pick and choose portions that you think will help your argument and own personal belief system?

        Now back to my main point. When the priests brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to trap Him, Jesus SHOULD’VE asked where the guilty man was also, and demanded that the man be stoned as well.

        So in your opinion, Jesus should have overlooked the sins and deception of the priests and gone after a person who may or may not have been guilty. They claimed to have caught her in the act of adultery but did not have proof (the other participant). So law should over look the blatantly guilty and focus on a case with lack of evidence and blatant lies? What kind of law system have you been studying, African dictatorships?

        Jesus kept every aspect of the Mosaic Law, He fulfilled it all.

      • Those modern day problems you mentioned (such as various diseases, sex slaves, or human trafficking) have been around since ancient times, they are nothing new… and yes those are all bad things too, but those are irrelevent to our discussion. You can choose to define faith however you want to fit your argument… you’re doing exactly what you are accusing me of, however I gave a brief dictionary definition of faith and a Biblical definition of faith. The fact that you believe in a god you cannot sense with your 5 senses or scientific instruments, and the fact that you believe in some ancient book simply because it claims to be true are examples of blind faith… you believe it because you WANT it to be true (“the substance of things hoped for”). This is just wishful thinking, and that doesn’t make a belief true.

        But back to Jesus. Yes, the priests were not genuinly interested in true justice, but that doesn’t discount the fact that the woman still broke a commandment punishable by death. Imagine 2 thieves getting caught for stealing, but only 1 of them was arrested and brought to trial, wouldn’t you ask the cops where the other thief was too? Anyways, there is no indication that the priests completely made the whole thing up about her adultery. If Jesus thought they were completely lying about the whole thing, he would’ve condemned the priests for bearing false witness (breaking a commanment), but he didn’t. Jesus also told the woman to “sin no more”, which probably means she actually did commit adultery. The fact that Jesus did not demand that guilty man me brought to justice means he did not keep the Law perfectly. This story’s purpose as 2 meanings, 1) to point out the hypcrisy of the priests, and 2) to demonstrate mercy. Unfortunately for Jesus, he broke the Mosaic Law when doing these 2 things.

      • Also, one more thing I forgot to mention from before. Even if you WERE right, and the priests actually did fabricate the story of the woman’s adultery, that would be bearing false witness… and Jesus did not have the priests stoned for breaking one of the ten commandments (lying), therefore he STILL violated the Mosaic Law (since he did not have the preists stoned for bearing false witness). So either way you look at, whether the priests were lying or not, Jesus still violated the Law in one way or another… for either not having the lying preists stoned, or for not stoning BOTH people committing adultery. At least one of those sins (lying or adultery) were commandments that were broken in the story, and Jesus did not demand anyone (man, woman, or priests) to be stoned for any of those violations.

      • Bearing false witness was not punishable by death. See Deut. 19:15-21. You once again prove that you do not know the Bible and are not really seeking answers.

      • You have just shown that YOU do not know the Bible or the O.T. Law. Have you actually read Deuteronomy 19:15-21??? Apparently not. If you did, you would notice that verses 18-19 says “…if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.” The priests tried to have the woman stoned for adultery, if the priests were actually lying, the Law says to “do to him as he thought to have done to his brother” …and if the priests lied to have the woman stoned… the priest’s punishment would be to get stoned themselves. So yes, the punishment for lying can be death depending on the circumstances.

        You’re just trying to draw attention away from the fact that Jesus did not have anybody punished for their sins, whether it was adultery by both the man & woman, or bearing false witness by the priests. And since Jesus did not demand any of these people be punished for their sins, Jesus did NOT keep the Mosaic Law perfectly.

      • Jesus also asked if any of them condemned her and neither does he. He would tell anyone go and sin no more cause everyone sins! that didnt mean he was condemning her….just saying

      • You need to understand what the word condemns means…Jesus forgave all of her transgressions and told to sin no more…..not that she had only committed adultery but not to sin no more, any form of sin…

  4. Dan, I am afraid that you are missing the major point of the John 8 passage. Jesus never disagreed with the scribes and the pharisees about the sinfulness of the crime of which the woman was accused, nor did he negate the penalty for such sin. He couldn’t. That is not why Jesus came. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus states very clearly: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” As Jewish leaders walk away in John 8:9, we see only Jesus remaining. This reveals the truth about this passage and about Jesus. He is not just a gentle Savior. He is also the God-man, who alone has the authority to punish sin. When he allows the woman to leave, he does not condemn her. However, he did eventually put her sin to death. Her sin, my sin, Erik’s sin, and your sin were borne upon the cross in the body of Jesus Christ, who drank the cup that brimmed full of the wrath of God toward sinners. He did so that our sins may be punished appropriately, but that His beloved creation might be spared. Dan, if you would put aside your logic and your argumentation, you would see the same God-Man in all His glory, ready and most willing to forgive you of your sins and redeem you for His purpose. Please do not reject His love in favor of philosophies and pursuits that will always leave you unfulfilled.

    • I agree – it’s actually a pretty good reply. Especially the start of the penultimate sentence: “Dan, if you would put aside your logic and your argumentation, you would see the same God-Man in all His glory, ready and most willing to forgive you of your sins and redeem you for His purpose.” [emphasis is mine]

      In other words, the only way to see Jesus and God is to abandon logic and its accompanying rationality, and believe in fairy stories.

      Well said.

      • The argument of the article uses logic so I do not understand your saying that there is no logic. No one asks you to set aside your logic. You need logic if you want to understand the truth of the Bible.

      • Point excellently missed, Erik. I guess you didn’t see the text I was referring to (even though I quoted it in my reply).

      • Erik, it’s impossible to use logic to prove the truth of your religion or to “understand the truth of the Bible”. Anything that relies on the existence of one or more all-powerful and non-accountable supernatural agents, as Christianity does (along with all other god-based belief systems) must fall outside of any logical explanations and proofs, because part of the deal is that there’s a super supreme being who can bend logic (and natural laws) in any way that he, she, or it desires.

        You may be able to “prove” things according to what you already believe, but that’s relying on the pre-supposition of the existence of your god to make it work. In other words, you must believe that he exists before you can prove that he exists.

  5. This blog was about whether or not Jesus kept the Mosaic Law perfectly. I have proven that Jesus did not keep the Law perfectly because either 1.) he did not demand the adulterous woman AND man be punished for adultery, or 2.) he did not demand the lying priests punished for bearing false witness against the woman. Jesus did either one or the other, there is no escaping it. It’s funny how Christians will try to use logic when they believe it helps their argument, but then when logic goes against their argument, they quickly abandon logic to embrace incoherence. They are only lying to themselves and being delusional by not accepting the fact they have been refuted on this blog.

    • Dan, you have not proven anything. As stated before, the punishment for lying is not the death penalty. Also, according to the Law of Moses, the elders of the city were to hear the trial and pronounce judgment upon the guilty. These are the people who are trying to trap Jesus by bringing the woman they supposedly caught in the act of adultery. Jesus was not a scribe nor a Pharisee so it was not his job to carry out judgment upon the people. Jesus kept the Law of Moses perfectly, even when people were trying to falsely accuse Him as you are doing. Now, like then, He wins the argument. And like the scribes and Pharisees of that day, you cannot accept defeat.

  6. The elders and the priests asked for Jesus’s opinion on the adulterous woman. And yes, the penalty for bearing false witness CAN be death depending on the circumstances. Have you read Deuteronomy 19:15-21? Notice that verses 18-19 says “…if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.” The priests tried to have the woman stoned for adultery, if the priests were actually lying, the Law says to “do to him as he thought to have done to his brother” …and if the priests lied to have the woman stoned… the priest’s punishment would be to get stoned themselves. If Jesus thought they were lying, he should’ve demanded that they be stoned but he didn’t, so that’s a Law that was broken possibly. And the woman’s supposed adultery, Jesus still answered the preists’ question incorrectly, he should’ve demanded that both people caught in adultery be stoned, so those 2 people who committed adultery didn’t get the punishment that the Law required, so that Law was left broken.

    • Again, Jesus is not an elder of the city, to whom would He appeal, the scribes and Pharisees’ colleagues? According to the Law of Moses Jesus was not the One to examine the situation as a judge and pronounce judgment and punishment. He was to take them to the elders of the city (the colleagues of those same scribes and Pharisees who all wanted to try and trap Jesus so that they could either discredit Him or put Him to death). They failed.

    • Dan I know I’m late to this conversation, a woman was brought to Jesus …my question of the above mentioned passage in Deuteronomy is does a “Woman ” count as to being included in the : ” if the witness is a false witness who has testified falsely against his brother. (” Brother”) it doesn’t seem to specifically say or add “Sister” to this Law? I just want to know the truth .

      • @ Rob, If this link is allowed, I hope you are able to read it and I hope it helps you. Women, according to the article and on a wikipedia article, were not allowed to serve as witnesses. However, I do believe they may have been able to serve as a witness if they were defending themselves so in this particular instance, the woman might have been able to serve as a witness. I will research it some more. May God give you the wisdom to learn the truth.


      • @ Rob again…..the same article states that women were allowed to serve as a witness in a case like this but overall, women were not. I just re-read the article.

  7. Well, if Jesus trully was God in human flesh, Jesus would have the authority to carry out judgement and punishment to either the the lying priests or the adulterous couple. After all, if Jesus is God, and the Law of Moses originally came from God, then the authority of the preists & scribes wouldn’t matter to Jesus. Jesus himself (if he is God) would be qualified to carry out judgement and punishment for the priest’s sin or the adulterous couple’s sin. However Jesus (being God) did not carry out one of those mandated punishments for the priest’s or the couple’s sins. Therefore Jesus did not keep the Mosaic Law perfectly, even though it was a Law he himself originally created and handed down to Moses, with the mandated punishments for each sin. You’re basically undermining Jesus’ divine status by saying there is nothing he can do, since the preists are at the top of the authoritative ladder in Mosaic Law.

    • And now the mental gymnastics begin. I see you cannot stick to the subject of what is written in the Bible (the Law of Moses). I see you are changing the situation to fit your argument instead of your argument to the situation. You are doing exactly what the scribes and Pharisees were doing, but there is nothing new under the sun so we cannot be too surprised.

      Plus, the Mosaic Law is just a shadow of the real thing to come. Jesus is the real so He fulfills the Mosaic Law. Plus He has the power to forgive. The Law just condemns because it is the shadow. Jesus carries out the Law and takes it one step further, forgiveness.

      One difference between you and the scribes and Pharisees is that they accepted defeat, even though they continued to seek new ways to try and trip us Jesus.

      • Mr Brewer to quote you ” The Mosaic Law is just a shadow of the real thing to come” yet as I study the Old Testament it doesn’t seem to me that as I read each book that The Sovereign God meant it to be a “shadow “as is evidenced by the countless times the Isrealites were ordered to obey Gods Laws and keep his Commands. MANY , MANY, MANY MANY, times!. Its throughout the Psalms even, I wish I would have counted them . Also in this conversation about the “Woman” there is no mention about “Damning” to hell or eternal judgement of her or in the Law of Moses for that matter. They had Laws to obey and a course of action in carrying them out, God simply doesn’t mention what happens to them after being “Put to Death” only to “Obey His Laws and keep His Commands” .

    • I just want to say this the Mosaic Law was Moses’ Law 600 plus of them, the law of the prophet. God is merciful and gave moses the 10 commandments lets not get this confused. Moses became the leader of the Jews had to keep them in line from sinning hence he declared the 600 plus laws with Gods blessing. The Jews had difficulties keeping to the law because if they broke one they broke them all…So the priests were hypocrites for lying in the first to test Jesus and Jesus knew this and knew in time of judgement they will be judged so that is why he didn’t argue they be stoned as for the woman why have her stoned based on lies without evidence some people on here or not seeing the big picture…. the only sin made here was by the priests claiming falsehood on the woman to test Jesus to have him imprisoned…all humans are born sinners therefore it is difficult for man to follow the Mosaic laws or follow the path righteousness upright, hence Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice to become our savior through our repentance, praying and asking for forgiveness in his name only.

  8. You’re the one who asked me a question that was off the subject (“who would Jesus appeal to?”) so I answered your off-subject question. And my answer is that Jesus wouldn’t need to appeal to anyone if he’s the god who created those laws in the first one. Your entire argument about the priests lying takes the story out of context, because there is no indication in the story that Jesus thought they fabricated the story. Jesus even told the woman to “sin no more” …which means the priests probably weren’t lying about her adultery.

    The purpose of the story is to demonstrate mercry and to show that only sinless people (nobody) are qualified to “cast the first stone”. Unfortunately for jesus, even though is intentions were admirable, his answer to the priest’s question did not uphold the Mosaic Law, because Jesus did not demand that the adulterous couple be stoned for their sin, which was what the Law required (a law he supposedly created in the first place, and handed down to moses). Jesus should’ve said something like: “What does the Law of Moses say? It says to stone both man and woman, so find the guilty man also, and have them both stoned.” …that’s how Jesus should’ve answered the priest’s question, in order to uphold the Law. Your argument takes the story out of context, there is no indication Jesus thought the priests were lying about her adultery. I could just as easily accuse you of not willing to admit defeat when you’re wrong.

    • Just one question for you:

      Why the arrogant accusers left one after another, if they knew they were right?

      If there are no accusers, there is no trial and no condemnation.

      You think you have perfect understanding, perfect logic, perfect knowledge, therefore Jesus must be wrong. You’ll never understand the Bible with this attitude.

  9. @Dan,

    This is a lengthy reply to some of your points, as I feel it necessary to adequately address some of the important issues you’ve raised.

    First, I do wish to apologize for some of the comments on this post. Some fellow Christians have been very zealous in defending their beliefs and in answering you, yet they have not invested enough time properly studying the issue or topic at hand and thus their answers are not as satisfactory as they could be. Also, some have been rather caustic and derogatory, which is not the example a Christian should set. But Christians are people just like anyone else — becoming a Christian doesn’t make us perfect or sinless, and we will be the first to admit that. Some have also made very good points that simply need a touch of refinement. But attacking an individual’s character does not address the issues you’ve raised, and I wish to keep the discussion as civil as possible and address the issues.

    You’ve raised several good points and the first one I would like to address is the relationship of logic, reason, and faith. Some have said that with your logic and reasoning you’ll never understand the Bible. I think those comments have an element of truth, but they were worded poorly. You describe faith as “blind faith”, the type that says I walk outside and believe the sky is green when really it’s blue, because I “choose to believe” the sky is green without any evidence whatsoever except my decision to believe it. This type of faith is an ignorant faith. The Bible never tells us to use this kind of faith. The passage you presented, Hebrews 11:1-2, reads “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” (NIV) What does this mean?

    Well, faith is described as a confidence in a hope, and the assurance of things not yet realized. How does one have confidence in hope? If I have an olympic runner who’s trained hard and I know to be very fast and skilled, do I “know” that this individual will win gold? No. Yet I have “hope” that they will win because I know their training regiment, I know their test times compared to others, and I know them as an individual. I believe and have confidence that they will win. That is “confidence in hope”. It is believing that something will come to fruition based upon previous knowledge. To further establish that this passage does not support “blind faith”, how can you have assurance of things not realized? Doesn’t “assurance” seem a bit at odds with “blind faith”? Verse 2 says this is what the ancients did, and later verses in this chapter point out individuals such as Abraham. What did Abraham do? If we read the account in Genesis, Abraham was basically a secular person living a normal, happy life, then God comes to Him in some fashion and tells Abraham to leave and go to some strange land. Did Abraham have “blind faith” that God spoke to Him? No. The passage seems to indicate Abraham had no qualms about being talked to by God. Abraham didn’t take by “faith” that God had spoken to him, Abraham took by faith the promises God gave him because those promises had yet to be realized. Here we have God performing some act (speaking to Abraham) claiming that God will fulfill some future event. Abraham, accepting that God spoke to him, obeyed and acted upon what he knew. So faith is based upon what we already know about God, not foolish blindness.

    Now before one continues to attack Christians and their method of faith, we have to realize we do the same thing every day. It feels good to attack Christians and claim they believe in “blind faith” and don’t accept the science of modern man or other such half-truths. Yet we are all guilty of the same faith a Christian employs on a daily basis. When you get up in the morning, do you expect your car to start and work properly to get you to work? Why do you believe that? Is it scientific proof that cars always start 100% of the time? No, because there have been people who get up sometimes and their cars didn’t start properly. So when you have “confidence” that your car will start without having 100% veracity, what is that? It’s faith. It’s expecting something to happen because of what has already happened in the past. It is reasonable to expect the car to start because it’s started every morning for the past 10 years. In the same way, the faith of a Christian is reasonable because it’s based upon what God has already done. God send His Son, Jesus Christ, in the form of a man, to die for our sins in our place. If God is willing to sacrifice His Son in such a cruel fashion for acts that Jesus did not commit, is it not also possible that God will actually fulfill the other promises He made to us? When Christ came down to earth, He didn’t claim He was God and never support it, expecting “blind faith”. What did Christ do? He performed miracles to verify His authenticity. He granted His apostles the ability to do miracles for a time so they could verify their ministries. Christ never expected “blind faith”. The OT and NT both expect people to believe in what they haven’t seen based upon what they have seen.

    You raise the point of the sermon on the mount and “blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29, ESV). Again, it’s not “blind faith”. People could hear the accounts of Christ and the miracles He performed. They could study the accounts for themselves and come to rational conclusions. And an individual is not being fair or honest when they take one statement of anyone and claim this is the entirety of their beliefs or saying to the neglect of other sayings. You must interpret Christ’s words in light of everything He said and the entirety of Scripture. If I were at liberty to take any one phrase or sentence from anyone, I could make anyone say anything I wished. Yet we have the entirety of the Bible to aid in our understanding, not just this one passage. Christ performed miracles to validate Himself, which is at odds with “blind faith”. The faith Christ was expecting was one based upon careful study, research, and knowledge. And this idea of faith is not foreign to anyone. We take by faith that our cars start, just as we take by faith that our spouses are being faithful to us. Have we followed our spouses 100% of the time for years to verify they are being faithful? No. So how do we know they are actually faithful? Well, we call it “trust” in this situation, but it’s the same principle as a Christian’s faith. I trust a spouse because they have proven to be trustworthy in the past and I believe I know them very well. Hence, I have “confidence” that they will continue to be faithful because of what I already know about them. It’s faith because I can’t 100% prove it without any exceptions, and it’s faith because, even though my spouse has been faithful up to today, I can’t prove that they will be faithful tomorrow. It’s trust, which is faith. So a reasonable faith is not foreign to any normal human being. Let us not make a logical fallacy by claiming Christians are the only people who use faith when nearly every human being employs it on a daily basis.

    Now, switching gears a little bit to the primary topic of the story at hand, I feel it is wise to provide a little background to the OT law situation. Dan, you seem to have studied this topic somewhat in-depth or have searched for answers in some fashion. Your responses demonstrate a decent knowledge of the subjects and I commend you for not merely speaking out of ignorance. While I wish I didn’t need to say this, I wish that some of my fellow Christians had done a little more research before they hastily spoke and misrepresented themselves and their beliefs. We are not perfect people.

    The OT law was divided into 3 main categories: the ceremonial/sacrificial law, the moral law, and the legal law. The book of Hebrews makes it clear that the sacrificial laws were fulfilled in Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice, Who covered our sins once and for all. Hence, the sacrificial/ceremonial laws are done away with. So we are left with the moral and legal laws. The moral law could be summed up by the 10 Commandments, although that is more like the reader’s digest version of the moral law, but it is fair to say that the 10 Commandments represent the moral law. This moral law was never done away with and was given in the OT and confirmed in the NT. Hence, the moral law is still binding on all people at all times, including today. Mankind will be judged someday by how well we have kept God’s moral law. The 3rd type of law is the legal law, which was given to Israel as a theocratic nation. Israel was an independent nation at the time and God was their Ruler, speaking through Moses and Aaron to the people. This law was binding upon Israel as a nation during their time as a theocracy and into their monarchy. The legal law covers much, but the law at hand deal with the Israelites removing sin from among themselves (stoning adulterers). Why have this practice? Well, when people remove their own sin they are (hopefully) less apt to commit the sin themselves, as they see the visible effects of the sin at the punishment phase. It is a deterrent for their own sinful desires. Also, if the nation is taking care of their own sin issues, God usually does not need to step in and do something about it. I don’t know about you, but I fear a holy and righteous God coming to judge me for my actions, because I know I have sinned and rebelled against that God. So Israel was to keep itself as clean as possible, yet there were legal requirements for them to provide faithful witnesses and a legal setting to accuse people of their crimes. If these legal requirements are not met, the Israelites did not have the right to carry out judgment against anyone.

    With a little background presented, let’s dive into this topic a little deeper. Christ did not come to punish all people for their sins. That was not His intention in coming to earth. Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, which refers to the entirety of the OT, which boils down to this: “man must be perfect in order to please God”. The OT was about paving the way for Christ to come to earth. The OT law was a teacher that showed man how sinful and hopeless we are. If we could keep 10 simple Commandments, we would be capable of “earning” our way to heaven. Yet no man can keep those 10 simple laws. That’s the purpose of the law — to show man that we are incapable of achieving righteousness and holiness on our own, hence we need someone to step in and provide it for us. Christ came to earth to take our punishment so that we could have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. It’s a legal sense where justice has been met because the punishment has been metered, but an innocent man has willingly taken the punishment out of love for the accused. That’s what Christ did. The law merely showed us that we required a perfect Person, Christ, to take our punishment. Hence, God’s justice was satisfied because the penalty was realized, and God’s mercy is satisfied, because Christ took our punishment instead of us.

    So why did Christ not demand that the man be found and both executed? Well, let’s step back for a moment…why stop at this one individual act? Why didn’t Christ go around demanding all sinners be punished for their crimes? Why didn’t Christ start killing the priests and scribes for leading the people astray? Why didn’t Christ punish all sinners? He was God incarnate, yet Christ did not come here to punish sin at this time. Christ came here to die for our sins and to provide an example to others. Metering out judgment for people’s sins was not His intended purpose at the time. However, the Bible’s very clear that Christ will come again, when He WILL meter out righteous judgment against all mankind. No man’s sin will ever go unpunished, outside of those who accept Christ as Savior, repent of their sins, and submit themselves to God. But Christ did not come down to earth to walk around judging people. He had a specific purpose with come to earth.

    The key to understanding Christ’s actions is clarified later in the NT (remember, we must see Scripture in its entirety, not focusing on one passage or phrase to the neglect of all others). Why did Christ not execute those who committed these sins or demand they be found and punished properly? Well, the answer is provided in Hebrews 8:13 “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” Christ was here to establish a new covenant with His people. Before Christ, “His people” specifically referred to the Jewish people and those foreign acolytes who switched to Judaism. But the mystery of the Gospel is that Christ opened up salvation to ALL people, not just the Jews. Christ was visibly and audibly demonstrating to them that He has come to fulfill and complete the old covenant. And now that it is complete, it is no longer necessarily binding. The OT legal laws had been fulfilled. Israel as a nation was no longer the sole proprietor of God’s love or laws. God had opened up salvation to all people, as demonstrated by the account of Peter and his vision of “unclean animals” when the Roman centurion came to Peter asking how to be saved.

    So the sacrificial laws were done away with by Christ and the legal laws were done away with by Christ. Israel had served the purpose of birthing the Messiah and carrying the truths of the OT Scripture down through the passage of time, even if they did it in a wrong fashion. God will still carry out His promises to Abraham and the Israel nation, but this part of their task was accomplished and hence they no longer needed the legal system of laws. The 3rd law, the moral, was restated throughout the NT and clarified some, hence the moral law is still binding on all mankind.

    Christ did not follow the Mosaic law because Christ had fulfilled the Mosaic law and it no longer held sway over God’s people. Christ was the living fulfillment and He was visibly demonstrating to the people this truth. How did Christ fulfill the OT law? The OT law demanded perfection from its followers. No one could perform that perfection until Christ.

    Christ did not seek the execution of the adulterers because that old covenant system was fulfilled by Him and hence was no longer binding. Christ didn’t follow the Mosaic law because the Mosaic law was no longer the law. There is no need to explain away Christ’s actions; it would be like someone claiming that I have broken one of the laws of the Articles of Confederation of the United States and must be punished because of my crime. Well, that law system was done away with by the establishment of a new one, namely the Constitution of the United States. I have no obligation to the Articles of Confederation. I am only responsible for the laws as set forth by the Constitution (and those laws that inherit their authority from the Constitution, such as state, federal, etc…).

    Dan, I hope this has provided some clarity or some minor insight into what Christ was doing and what His purpose was. I trust you are sincerely seeking truth and not merely here to argue with people. I get the sense that you are intelligent by your answers and have done more research than some of the Christians on this post. That is unfortunate, and I wish it were not so.

    However, I do have to ask something that is puzzling me. If you do not accept the Bible and believe it is false (my understanding from your positions), why are you wasting your time talking to us foolish Christians? If there is no God, then the alternative is that mankind is a freak accident of nature resulted over a vast period of time and random mutations. Someday (unless we discover near-light travel) we will all die. All those who know us will die. All humanity will die as the sun burns out and we will join the cold drift of space. No human will ever be remembered. Everything we accomplish is a waste because it will never last and will never be remembered. So why are you wasting your time debating theological topics with a bunch of crazy Christians?

    I can only theorize as to why you spend time discussing these issues with Christians. But I hope you are desirous of knowing truth. I believe the Bible is truth. I believe God created mankind in a perfect state, that man rebelled against God and was cursed, that God provided justice and mercy by sending Jesus Christ to die in our place, and I believe that mankind may restore his fellowship with God by accepting Christ as our sacrifice, turning away from our sinful life, and submitting ourselves to God. I believe that living a life devoted to God does come at a high cost, but I believe this physical life is temporary and will someday be destroyed but my soul will live forever in a new place. The costs I pay in this life are no comparison to the benefits of the next. And I confirm my submission to Christ by following the teachings of the Bible and loving fellow Christians and non-Christians by word and deed, waiting for Christ to return and fulfill the next stage of His plan.

    In a brief nutshell, the above statements summarize the main tenets of Christianity. I have studied them and I find them to be something I should reasonably place my faith in. I have seen through history what God has done and I look forward to what He will do.

    • Without wishing to waste my entire Saturday reading this deeper, and maybe even thinking about a response (I have better things to do with my time :-), just one thought:

      So why are you wasting your time debating theological topics with a bunch of crazy Christians?

      For me, two reasons:
      1) I think it’s wrong that people who believe in fairy stories indoctrinate their children before those children have developed the critical thinking skills needed to evaluate and challenge what their person-in-authority (ie, parent or priest) tells them. Until that time, kids should not be force fed religion. And please don’t say you’re not force feeding them – the kids don’t have the ability to say they’re not interested. Just like they believe in Santa until they grow a little older.
      2) I think it’s wrong that believers use their story book as the basis for making laws that discriminate against, and subjugate, part of society.

      While 2) is the bigger problem for the whole of society, if we can properly fix 1), then 2) will eventually take care of itself.

      • @Len,

        I appreciate your taking some time to discuss this issue. However, I’m puzzled by something that you said. You used the word “wrong”. What does the word “wrong” mean in this context? From your comment I assume you do not believe the Bible is true or that a God exists. Thus the other option is that man is nothing more than a freak accident of nature resulted from some unknown cause that initially sparked initial matter and then resulted in planets and eventually the first life form in less-complex organisms that mutated into us over a vast period of time and random chance.

        So if you and I are nothing more than rocks with electricity flowing through us to animate us, what is morality? At what point does a rock establish the idea that something is “wrong” or “right”? We say it’s wrong to hit another human, but why do we not say it’s wrong to hit a rock? Are we both not simply made of atoms joined by molecular bonds and nothing more?

        Because if man is nothing more than a rock, the idea of a “consciousness” is absurd. To accept a consciousness is to imply that there’s something more to man than simply atoms and nature. If man is purely a result of natural causes, then man is nothing more than a highly-complex computer program. We simply carry out the instructions provided to us by nature.

        It seems illogical for a rock to even think about morality. If we throw out a God or a Being that provided us a definition for morality, then mankind is left to define his own morality. But that’s really not a workable solution for a few reasons. First, who’s definition of morality should we follow? The simple majority? By what basis is a simple majority right in anything? So if the majority of people defined it good to force-feed our kids religion would you then be ok with it? The other reason is that everyone seems to recognize that there are some absolutes in life, even if they draw their lines at different points. You demonstrated that by using the word “wrong”. You think it is good for society if we stop this “wrong” action of subjugating children and people to fairy tails. But the majority of Americans still claim to believe in a God in one fashion or another, so you can’t believe in a simple majority defining truth, otherwise you wouldn’t have a problem with religion as it’s still winning the majority vote.

        So by what basis do you use the word “wrong”? It is a meaningless word in a world that does not have a God, a Law-Giver. “Wrong” is nothing more than your opinion on this issue, and opinions and personal preferences are not binding upon anyone except you. So how can you tell me that I’m “wrong” or that religion is “wrong” by not subjecting myself to your personal opinion on the issue?

        On a second note, it’s difficult to talk about religion as a whole as fairy tails or fantasy. For instance, when Luke the doctor writes “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar–when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene” is he spitting out fantasy? Were these men not rulers at this time? Is Luke making up names? History and archaeology seem to side with Luke on this issue. It’s too difficult to talk about all religion as a whole. You would need to provide more specific examples in order to discuss whether religion is fantasy or not. Your claim needs some sort of support to back it up.

        I have a basis for morality: that God the Law-Giver created man and is thus able to command mankind how to live because God, in essence, “owns” us has His creation. Thus I can use the words “good” and “wrong” because God has defined them for me. I’m just not sure how you can use them authoritatively without some sound basis.

        I would welcome your thoughts on this issue, as it’s one of the main reasons I accepted Christianity. I have no basis for morality outside of a God, and yet I know that there “wrong” things to do. I cannot rationally satisfy the basis for morality apart from a God.

      • @Erik: No. I’m not against teaching things that can be (and have been) proven to happen in the real world. That’s how we learn.

      • Wow. So much stupid, so many strawmen – and so little time.

        Anyway, here goes:

        “What does the word “wrong” mean in this context?” Wrong means wrong (that was a tough one). Perhaps you’d prefer not correct, unsuitable, undesirable, amiss, unjust, dishonest, or immoral. Why are you looking for a different definition? What is so hard to understand?

        “What is morality?” Morality is what society defines it to be, tempered with what honest people think is best for society as a whole. We should all be that honest. But it’s always good to see believers trying to justify the “morality” that their god displays in the bible. Have fun with that.

        People are the same as rocks. Umm, no. It’s not worth spending even another second on that rubbish. You really should try to start thinking before you write 🙂

        “So if the majority of people defined it good to force-feed our kids religion would you then be ok with it?” No. Force-anything is bad. Why is that hard to understand? You should better ask why anyone would want to force-feed their kids anything. Why not teach the kids to think critically for themselves and then let them decide for themselves what is of value? It’s probably fair to say that all of us who don’t believe in any gods would be happy with that. If the kids find evidence of any god they want to believe in, then fine – they can believe all they want. (And maybe they could let the rest of the world know about that evidence, because there’s been none so far.)

        “But the majority of Americans still claim to believe in a God in one fashion or another, so you can’t believe in a simple majority defining truth, otherwise you wouldn’t have a problem with religion as it’s still winning the majority vote.” Just because people have been led to believe in a fairy tale, doesn’t make it true. A lie is still a lie, even if everyone believes it. The truth is still the truth, even if no-one believes it. [I forget who said that, but it’s a valid statement.] As I mentioned, if we stop people indoctrinating their kids, then those kids will not just slip into believing in “a God” – they’ll actually think about it for themselves and decide for themselves.

        “[Wrong] is a meaningless word in a world that does not have a God, a Law-Giver.” No. Wrong is wrong to anyone who thinks for themselves. But people who try to shirk their responsibility in society and try to hide behind the concept of someone-out-there-who-takes-away-my-responsibility (=god) are harming that society. They are making themselves pawns for whatever the (in this case) religion tells them to do. You don’t need god to be good.

        “On a second note, it’s difficult to talk about religion as a whole as fairy tails or fantasy.” No it’s not. Thriller writers often link their heroes to historic events to make the story seem more real. That doesn’t mean it’s really real. Should we believe that Indiana Jones could have punched Hitler on the nose? Or that he found the arc of the covenant and it was hidden in a government storehouse (albeit one that was later – probably – destroyed by a nuclear explosion)? Did you believe that? Outside of the bible (or derived writings) there are no records of anything Jesus did. There are some (questionable) cases where someone wrote that he’d heard of people who followed someone called Christ – but that just shows that those people may have existed, not that Christ did. There are no records of, say, someone writing that he’d personally seen Jesus perform a miracle. Did someone record seeing for themselves that Jesus walked on water? No. That he raised people from the dead? No. Not outside the bible. Just because a writer mentions some historically verifiable point in his story doesn’t mean that the rest of what he wrote is trustworthy.

        “I have a basis for morality: that God the Law-Giver created man and is thus able to command mankind how to live because God, in essence, “owns” us has His creation.” If you’ve read the bible and read the horrible things that god told his people to do (eg, to other peoples), and the horrible things he did (or allowed to happen) to – for example – Job, then you’d not say that god was your basis for morality.

        I have a basis for morality that’s outside of god. It’s what I have learned from living in society. Basically, I try to follow the golden rule: treat other people as you’d wish them to treat you. That idea was around long before Jesus. It is (judging by the bible, anyway) a higher standard than god lives up to.

      • @Len,

        If “wrong” means “wrong”, then who has defined what was wrong? You claim “Morality is what society defines it to be, tempered with what honest people think is best for society as a whole.” You say morality is defined by society, yet the majority of society claims to believe in a deity. According to your own statements, you would accept that it is moral to teach religion because the majority of society believes it. Yet you add the clarification “tempered with what honest people think…” Who are these honest people? You?

        You have provided no answer to the question and have stated 2 logically contradicting statements: that society defines morality and yet religion (being in the majority of society) should not be taught (ie, force-fed).

        You state that it’s rubbish to compare humans to rocks. Why? If you and I are the result of a large explosion of hydrogen where supernovas occurred and combined the hydrogen into other elements over time and then cooled down into a planet and then the first organisms simply occurred by a random combination of elements, you are a worthless combination of atoms as am I. We have no more meaning other than a rock. You are made of atoms. A rock is made of atoms. If there is no God, then that’s where it all ends. There is no rational basis for holding humans as more important than a rock. Yet we do, and you believe we should. Why? What is your basis for living in such a way? Simply stating you’re right and I’m wrong does nothing to address the issue. Why are humans different than rocks? We’re just more complex machines, but other than that we’re nothing special.

        You say that just because people believe in something doesn’t make it true. I fully agree with that. And I agree that we don’t need God to be good, just as you stated. However, how do we know what “good” is apart from God defining it for us? You seem to state that society defines that by defining morality. So if society defines it as good to force-food kids religion, is that ok? You already answered this and you said no. Which is it? We can’t have it both ways.

        The 4 Gospels claim to be historical, eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ actions. What rational reason do you have for not accepting them as historical? Simply stating they are fantasy and can’t be accepted is not proof or evidence. You cannot make a statement without backing it up. Have you actually read any of the Gospels and tried to verify any of their historical references? Have you found historical errors in the Gospels that invalidate them as historically trustworthy documents?

        You have thrown out the eyewitness accounts of Christ (the Gospels) and then claim there are no eyewitness accounts. Yet you provide no rational basis for throwing them out. The issue is not that there are no eyewitness accounts, but that you do not accept these eyewitness accounts.

        You stated that just having a few verifiable facts doesn’t make the rest true. Agreed. But who are you to decide which points are historical and true or not? Were you present at these events? Have you researched the documents and established conclusively that they are incorrect in some of their claims?

        Were you present during the Revolutionary War? Were you involved in the fighting? Do you know anyone who was involved in the fighting? How do we know it actually took place? How do you know that a bunch of conspirators didn’t get together and fabricate it all? The authors at the time were all biased authors writing about themselves and their friends. How can we trust anything they did or say as true?

        Is your issue that the Bible claims things you do not not accept as possible, and thus you discredit these claims a priori?

        If a secular author had written that he saw Jesus walk on water would you believe that secular author? Would you then trust that Jesus is God, that the supernatural exists, and that the Bible is true?

        What evidence would you find acceptable to accept that the Gospels are historical documents and that what they record is true?

      • “Wrong” is what society defines it to be. It generally means actions that (eventually) harm that society. People who perform such actions are generally punished by that society.

        According to your own statements, you would accept that it is moral to teach religion because the majority of society believes it.

        I don’t think I’ve said that anywhere. That’s why I wrote that “Morality is what society defines it to be, tempered with what honest people think is best for society as a whole.” Honest people are interested in having the truth taught in that society – as long as you understand the difference between what religious people tend to call “the truth” (ie, their religion – regardless of any lack of actual truth) and something that’s actually true. I think it’s important to teach things that are true. If anyone ever finds any evidence for the existence of any god, then teach it. If anyone ever finds any evidence that a god exists and actually interacts with people, then teach that too. Until such time as any evidence is found, teach kids that there’s no evidence for any god, and no evidence of any god–human interaction. Teach what’s true. There’s no contradiction in what I wrote.

        Am I an honest person? I believe so. I try to be honest and truthful in all my dealings. And I get annoyed when I see religious people still repeating lies when they’ve been told (often again and again) that what they say is incorrect. That is dishonesty.

        Society defines “good”, but that doesn’t mean that everything that happens in that society is good. When honest people in a society see practices that harm the society, they work to correct them. Force-feeding religion to young children who have no means to evaluate its truth is one such bad practice. Teach the kids critical thinking skills first, then teach them about all religions (and atheism :-)) and let the kids make informed, rational decisions for themselves, based on honest, straightforward knowledge. If your religion is all it’s cracked up to be, then it’ll have no problem with that.

        The 4 Gospels claim to be historical, eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ actions. What rational reason do you have for not accepting them as historical?

        I base my decision to not accept them as historical on the work done by real scholars – most of whom place the earliest gospel as having been written more than 30 years after the events it reports (that’s from memory – I should probably look it up, but you can too :-)). And as any policeman will tell you, eyewitness accounts are among the least reliable because the eyewitnesses can make too many mistakes, can be influenced by too many unrelated things, and can be persuaded afterwards that things happened differently. Furthermore, I’d have expected that contemporary writings from around the time of the events would also mention some of the more unusual things reported (eg, walking on water and raising the dead). But no – not a word. Some of the more mundane things reported in the gospels may be true or may have happened (eg, people going places, a war, a census, etc) . The same can be said of some of the things in “The Lord of the Rings” or the Harry Potter books. That doesn’t make them true either.

        You ask whether I was present at the events mentioned in the gospels so that I can be justified in disregarding them. No, I wasn’t – but were you there so that you can verify them? The burden of proof is on you, not on me.

        If there were any real evidence of the truth of the bible, then I’d be interested to see it. But that would mean – at the very least – corroboration from an unbiased outside observer. So tell me, in light of the lack of that unbiased outside observer’s report, why do you believe that the bible is true?

      • @ Len…

        You made some good points in mentioning that some of the more unusual events in the Bible (such as Jesus’ miracles) have no historical proof whatsoever. Some more examples would be the sky going dark and the earthquake that happened immediately after Jesus died, or the dead people rising from the ground and wandering around the city… why is it that NO contemporary historian recorded THOSE unusual events??? Did the historians alive during that time think those unusual events were not worth mentioning??? It’s also worth mentioning that all of the extra-Biblical “historical” writings about Jesus (such as Josephus) were written well after Christ’s lifetime and none of them were actual eye-witnesses to Jesus or his miracles. Historians such as Josephus (who was Jewish) only briefly mentions Christ, just a few lines, and thats it.. and those are suspected to be interpolations. If Jesus was the most important man in human history, why didn’t Josephus give Jesus just a few more lines in his writings? And Josephus never met Christ, he got his information from second-hand sources at best. If Jesus was known far and wide throughout the land as a legitimate miracle worker, why didn’t that catch the attention of historians that were alive at the same time??? Jesus should’ve been bigger than Elvis, but nothing is mentioned about Jesus by historians during the lifetime of Christ, not even the unusual events such as the sky going dark, or the dead walking the streets, or the massive earthquake after Christ’s death. There is also no physical evidence that Jesus existed either… no works of carpentry or dwelling place or self-written manuscripts. And a lot of the so called “evidences” for Christ were found out to be fraudulent later (like the shroud of Turin, or this wooden box that said “James brother of Christ”)

      • @Len,

        You have a great misunderstanding of what Christ is talking about. The Law refers to the first 5 OT books, called the Pentateuch. It was acceptable to say “the Law” and any Jew would know what you’re talking about. Christ was thus saying “unless the world blows up, the OT writings are not going away until they are fulfilled”. The phrase “until heaven and earth pass away” is in the same sentence as “until everything is accomplished”. Christ is not saying the Law will endure to the end of history, He’s saying the Law will endure until it is fulfilled. Christ said He would fulfill the entirety of the Law.

        What was the purpose of the Law? The Law was a system that demonstrated to the Jews that they could never be perfect enough to please God. The Law demonstrates that man cannot be perfect, thus we require Someone Who is perfect. Christ was God incarnate and perfect. He lived the perfect life no other human could and was thus a viable sacrifice for mankind. Christ did fulfill the OT law: by living a perfect life and being a sacrifice for mankind. Thus, the Law has now been fulfilled in Christ and is no longer binding on anyone (Heb 8:13).

        This was a more complex answer. The simpler answer is the Law was given specifically to the nation of Israel. I’m not a Jew. The OT laws are not binding upon me in any sense. So, yes, Christians are perfectly valid in saying they don’t have to follow the OT law systems.

        Added to this, what does “fulfill” mean and “abolish”? Imagine that you owe an incredibly large amount of money to a debt-collector and you can never pay it yourself. No matter how hard you work or try, you can’t even pay off the interest. Your situation is hopeless. That’s the sense mankind is in. Now Christ comes along and says “hey, I’m not going to cancel your debt, but I’m going to pay it for you”. So when Christ pays your inescapable monetary debt, it would be absurd for you to say oh man, I still owe the debtor! I hope he doesn’t come around today, I better hide from him!” The debt was paid in Christ. Christ ended the OT covenant that God operated under and established a new covenant. In the OT God kept man at bay, as demonstrated by the curtain in the temple being torn at Christ’s death. Man is now allowed, in essence, to approach God in the allegorical sense.

        Finally, Paul had Christ’s full authority when Paul wrote Scripture. Christ and Paul are not at odds with each other.

      • @Len,

        So you do think there are absolute morals that should be taught in a society irregardless of what that society believes? I asked if you thought it ok to teach religion because it’s the majority belief. You said no, because majority rule must also be tempered by honest men seeking truth. So if majority rule doesn’t dictate what is right/wrong for that society, what does? If morality is not an absolute, how can you use the word “honest”? Why should they be honest in the first place? You have moral men operating in a subjective fashion to define what is moral for the society. However, how do these moral men know in the first place what is moral? If a group of “honest” men tell me how I should live to operate effectively in society, it’s nothing more than if “I” had told them how to live to operate effectively. It has no binding power. The only rational reason I have to following their morality is that it “MAY” furthers my personal goal of survival.

        So as soon as I find it advantageous to kill off all other male members of my group and thus increase my chances of carrying on my genes will all the remaining females, I should? There is an assumption here that morality is nothing more than a government or laws that dictate behavior. However, this is descriptive, not predictive. It’s looking at a working society, noticing the rules they operate under, and thus concluding these rules were established to run the society effectively because the society is running effectively. But if these rules were established to run society effectively, would there not be 1 way of doing it that is the best for all different groups? And why don’t these various groups recognize that 1 way and all use it to continue their societies?

      • @Len (and @Dan),

        With regards to the historical evidence…

        First, I think it’s impossible to find such a thing as an unbiased writer about anything, especially religion. If you believe Christianity, you are labeled a biased individual and thus you cannot be trusted. However, if you don’t believe Christianity, you must believe in something other than Christianity, and that belief system biases you against Christianity. Thus, no person can ever really write about anything because everyone is biased. I don’t agree with that, and I doubt either of you would as well.

        I posit that it is indeed possible for someone to write truth even if they have a “bias” about their topic. If this were not true, we could trust no historical document because every writer has a purpose or bias about their writing because they have a mind that thinks and comes to conclusions.

        Thus we cannot discredit the Gospel writers simply because they were Christians. That’s like saying “anyone who believes something can’t be trusted when they talk about it.” The writing should stand apart from the bias of the authors who wrote them. I read evolutionary writings and accept some of the truths presented because they are true independent of the writer’s bias. If I were applying the same standard you’re applying to the Gospels, I would claim that I needed a non-evolutionist to corroborate the claims these men are making if it’s not something I can directly experiment and verify myself. Why would a non-evolutionist write to support evolution? In the same way, why would a non-Christian write to support Christianity? I think that purpose is adequately verified by this very post that we’re discussing. We each bring various ideas to the table and none of us can claim we are unbiased individuals. Because our very first posts demonstrated our views about the topic in question.

        As far as non-Christian sources, have either of you looked at the works of Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius? These men made some early, non-Christian references to Christianity and touched on some basic elements of what the Christians did. Did they provide a 200+ page exposition on Christianity with documented citations about who saw Christ rise from the dead, etc? No. It would have been totally unrealistic to expect them to do that.

        But what can we see from their writings? Within 100 years of Christ’s death, there were a large number of Christians who had spread throughout the Roman empire. They were large enough to stand as an independent body of people such that even the Roman emperors made decrees about Christians. Nero blamed the Fire on them. If Christ is fake, didn’t exist, how do you explain a very large number of people claiming to follow this individual? I think the only rational explanation is that some individual calling Himself Jesus Christ actually existed and there were a large (and growing) number of followers claiming strange doctrines. If Christ didn’t exist, how will we account for the start of Christianity and the Christian church today? I think the view that requires the least amount of faith is that there was an individual named Jesus Christ Who started it. Now that does not verify that Christ was God or that Christ performed miracles. But it does establish that it is very likely that Christ existed as that’s the simplest explanation for what we do know.

      • @dlegr250:

        So you do think there are absolute morals that should be taught in a society irregardless [sic] of what that society believes?”

        You appear to be trying to make me say that morality is either absolute or relative – as if it’s all one or the other. But it’s not that easy. I see some aspects as absolute and some as relative. All together they make the full set of “morality” that exists for a particular society.

        I believe that there are some moral values which are immutable, such as (but not necessarily limited to) no murder and no rape. Basically things related to some violation of personal autonomy (obviously there are others). I also believe that a society should pursue honesty because wilfully teaching lies or misrepresenting what’s true can also be seen as an assault on personal autonomy: It’s trying to dishonestly gain some form of advantage or control over people by means of a lie. I’d expect to see them in every society that isn’t self-destructuve.

        Beyond those few items, I don’t believe that morality is absolute. It evolves in a society based on what’s best for that society. So every society will have a full set of “morality” which differs from that of another society, but they will share some elements. In many cases, the full set of morality will be pretty close from society to society, because it’s beneficial for society. But still there will be differences – there is not necessarily “1 way of doing it that is the best for all different groups”, as you put it.

        The rest of your argument pretty much builds on your attempted strawman, so I’ll not bother with it 🙂

      • @Len (with regards to the morality issue),

        You are correct that the rest of my argument flowed from the beginning, so there is no need to address it.

        As you stated, you do believe there are some moral absolutes and some things that are subjective. I would, in principle, agree with you on that point. The point of contention between us would most likely be which specific points are absolute vs relative, but we don’t need to discuss those as they flow from a broader subject, namely, where did the absolutes that we do agree upon come from?

        The line of reasoning that was presented to me when I examined this topic was this:

        (1) All laws require a law giver
        (2) There is an absolute moral law
        (3) Thus there is an absolute moral law giver

        I think the basic premise (all laws require a law giver) is valid. Laws that describe how I should behave don’t pop out of no where. Someone established them somewhere. I have laws for my nation, laws for organizations I join, etc… These various groups have established laws at some point that are binding upon me because of my being a part of them.

        I further believe it is rational to believe that there is an absolute moral law to some degree, which you stated as well. If we can find even one absolute moral law, the logic still stands because that one absolute moral law fits into the logical argument. So even if we disagree on various issues, the two you stated (murder and rape) are two issues I would also agree with you upon as being immutable.

        The conclusion would be that if laws require givers, and there is even just one absolute moral law (to any degree), then there must have been an absolute moral law giver. I believe that God is the absolute moral law giver. It’s the explanation I personally find the most satisfactory.

        What do you think about the argument I presented? If you find any logical faults with it, I would welcome your thoughts.

      • @dlegr250

        if you don’t believe Christianity, you must believe in something other than Christianity

        Not really. You could believe in no gods and no religion 🙂

        I don’t discredit the gospel writers just because they colluded and had an agenda, nor just because the gospels were written well after the events described and not by the people who are said to have written them (although those are pretty serious shortcomings). But the lack of contemporary corroboration is a big issue. If Jesus did all those things (eg, walking on water, raising the dead) or those miracles happened (eg, as Dan mentioned, the sun stood still, the earthquake, zombies strolling around down town), then why were they not reported by other people writing at that time? Were they considered so commonplace that they didn’t warrant mentioning? If that’s the case, then why do christians consider it so special that they supposedly occurred for, or were done by, Jesus? They were common occurrences. No – the most likely explanation is that they didn’t actually happen. They were fabrications dreamt up years later by people trying to start a religion. People who didn’t expect us to compare what they wrote to what other people also wrote at the time. It worked – the religion took off. But now it’s being called to task for being what it really is: a fairy story.

        This has nothing to do with getting a “non-evolutionist” to write a paper supporting evolution. It’s about people at the time who were anyway writing about stuff that was happening, with all of them apparently missing all of the miracles surrounding Jesus. Fishy, to say the least.

        You mention “Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius”. It’s been a while, but from what I remember they wrote things that can pretty much be summed up as “I heard someone mention that there’s a group of people way over there who follow someone called Christ”. That doesn’t confirm Jesus’ existence. It confirms that the writer heard someone say there’s a group of people who follow someone called Christ. Just because 100 years later there’s loads of believers spread all over the place doesn’t mean the story is true. Any more than the large number of people who – on official government census forms – state that their religion is Jedi Knight means that Star Wars is true.

        Some person called Jesus may have existed, although the actual historical evidence is very slim to non-existent, depending on who you listen to. Or the Jesus you want to know may be an amalgam of several itinerant preachers from that area at around that time. Either way, there’s no evidence of him being the son of god – just as there’s still no evidence for any god actually existing.

        And yet you still believe in Jesus and you believe the bible is true Why and why?

      • @Len (about historical Gospels),

        First, I do not think you have demonstrated that the Gospels were not written by the authors they claim, you have not demonstrated that they colluded and had an agenda unless that agenda was for them to live lives of persecution and later execution for their beliefs, also the Gospels (as you or Dan did note) were written within a 30 year period of the events. If you are going to be consistent, then you also must discredit Alexander the Great as much as you discredit Christ. The earliest accounts of Alexander we have are from Arrian nearly 400 years after Alexander’s death. Compare 400 years and 1 main text to 30 years and 4 texts that have been carefully copied through history. Added to that the Christian fathers who wrote and referenced the Bible for centuries. You could throw away the Bible right now and almost recreate the entire NT from the writings of the church fathers alone. Can you find me another group of documents that even comes close to that from ancient history? The claims you have made may indeed be valid, but they have not been substantiated and thus are subject to scrutiny.

        And did the individuals claiming to be Jedi Knights also die brutal deaths instead of renouncing their belief? Do they give their time and money to their belief system? Do they operate and run their lives by their religious beliefs? I don’t honestly think that’s a valid comparison at all. Also, the Jedi Knights don’t have any historical basis for their belief system. Christianity has a large amount of historical evidence to support the Bible and the Gospels. We can disagree and debate theological or miraculous events, but when the Bible and Gospels recount specific names and places and customs, those aren’t really up for debate. It’s a matter of fact. To compare Star Wars to Christianity is just absurd. I get the point you were trying to make, I just think it has no resemblance to the issue at hand.

        Another point to consider is that this is really an argument from silence: the claim is that since we don’t have any documents today, they must never have been written. That’s an argument from silence and is not valid. At the most we can rationally claim that it is unlikely that such events would have occurred and not have been passed down to us. However, they were passed down in Biblical accounts, but you have discredited those accounts. So if you will discredit the Gospel accounts because they are biased or made-up, let me provide extra-Biblical accounts.

        CORNELIUS TACITUS (55 – 120 A.D.), Roman historian
        “Christus, the founder of the [Christian] name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius. But the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, by through the city of Rome also.” Annals XV, 44

        Takeaway: Christ existed, founded the Christian religion, was put to death by Pilate, Christianity originated in Judea and spread to Rome.

        GAIUS SUETONIUS TRANQUILLUS (69 – 130 A.D.), Roman historian
        “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” Life of Claudius 25.4

        Takeaway: Christianity was commonly viewed as a sect of Judaism by the Roman empire; normally Rome would remove the religious institutions of conquered people, but the Jews were allowed to maintain their religious beliefs and structure; Christianity, since it was viewed as a part of Judaism, was allowed to continue; here again we see that the Jews (Christians) were in Rome and the Christ (Chrestus) was the leader of their beliefs.

        JULIUS AFRICANUS CITING THALLUS (~ 52 A.D.), historian
        “On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. The rocks were rent by an earthquake and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time… Phlegon
        records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth-manifestly that one
        of which we speak. Chronography XVIII, 47

        Takeaway: the issue of the darkness and other unnatural events surrounding Christ’s death had extra-Biblical records in some fashion

        PLINY THE YOUNGER (63 – 113 A.D), Roman official
        “I asked them directly if they were Christians…those who persisted, I ordered away… Those who denied they were or ever had been Christians…worshiped both your image and the images of the gods and cursed Christ. They used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god… All the more I believed it necessary to find out what was the truth from two servant maids, which were called deaconesses, by means of torture. Nothing more did I find than a disgusting, fanatical superstition. Therefore I stopped the examination,
        and hastened to consult you…on account of the number of people endangered. For many of all ages, all classes, and both sexes already are brought into danger…” Pliny’s letter to Emperor Trajan

        Takeaway: Christians existed, worshiped Christ as God, gathered regularly for worship, and a large number preferred death over recanting their beliefs

        ORIGEN CITING CELSUS’ LOST WORK (~ 178 A.D.), Greek, strongly against Christianity
        “Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain [magical] powers… He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god… It was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed… Let us believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves… These are nothing more than the tricks of jugglers… It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of
        incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of [miraculous] power…”

        “Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard.”

        “Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character… tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen… [He was] deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had him for their teacher, and who believed he was the savior and son of the greatest God… Those who were his associates while alive, who listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher, on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for him… but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die along with Him.”

        “One who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner… What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No calamity happened even to him who condemned him… Why does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him and his Father?”

        “If any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew.”

        “Jesus accordingly exhibited after His death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in reality so wounded as He is described to have been.”

        Takeaway: Celsus was vehemently anti-Christian. Yet, if there was no Christ, what was he against?

        LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA (120 – ~180 A.D.), Greek writer
        “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that
        account… It was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers from the moment they are converted and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws…” The Death of Peregrinus 11-13

        MARA BAR-SERAPION (Post 70 A.D)
        “What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The Athenians died of hunger. The Samians were overwhelmed by the sea. The Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete
        dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good. He lived on in the teachings of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good. He lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good. He lived on in the teaching which He had given.”

        Takeaway: Jesus was mocked as the King of the Jews, was executed, and ~40 years later the Jewish nation was virtually annihilated by Rome

        FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS (37 – 100 A.D.), Jewish historian
        “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. For he appeared to them alive again the third day. As the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things
        concerning him. And the tribes of Christians so named from him are not extinct at this day.” Antiquities XVIII, 3:2

        Takeaway: this passage is contested, but if one investigates the evidence I do believe it is proper to recognize that Josephus mentioned Christ in some fashion, although specific details may be subject to later alteration. But again, if Christ never existed, why was there a controversy?

        THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD (Jewish compilation)
        “On the eve of the Passover Yeshu (Jesus) [Some texts: Yeshu/Jesus the Nazarene] was hanged [crucified]. Forty days before the execution, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favor, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favor he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.”

        CLEMENT OF ROME (? – 98? A.D.), Christian bishop of Rome
        “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the
        Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and being fully
        assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God will full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went
        forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their first fruits,
        when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.” Corinthians 42

        IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (? – ~100 A.D), Christian, bishop of Antioch
        Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under
        Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth. Who moreover was truly
        raised from the dead, His father having raised Him, who in the like fashion will so raise us also who believe in Him.” Trallians

        “He is truly of the race of David according to the flesh but Son of God by the Divine will and powered, truly born of a virgin and baptized by
        John that all righteousness might be fulfilled by Him, truly nailed up in the flesh for our sakes under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch…
        That He might set up an ensign unto all ages through His resurrection.” Smyrneans, 1

        “Be ye fully persuaded concerning the birth and the passion and the resurrection, which took place in the time of the governorship of Pontius
        Pilate. For these things were truly and certainly done by Jesus Christ our hope.” Magnesians XI

        QUADRATUS OF ATHENS (126 A.D.), Christian, Athenian bishop
        “The deeds of our Savior were always before you, for they were true miracles. Those that were healed, those that were raised from the dead,
        who were seen, not only when healed and when raised, but were always present. They remained living a long time, not only while our Lord
        was on earth, but likewise when he had left the earth. So that some of them have also lived to our own times.” Eusebius IV III, 2

        When the Son of God was pleased to come upon the earth, they received him with wanton violence and betrayed him into the hands of Pilate
        the Roman governor. Paying no respect to his good deeds and the countless miracles he performed among them, they demanded a sentence
        of death by the cross… Now the Christians trace their origin from the Lord Jesus Christ… The Son of the most high God who came down from
        heaven, being born of a pure [Hebrew] virgin, for the salvation of men… And he was crucified, being pierced with nails by the Jews. And after
        three days He came to life again and ascended into heaven. His twelve apostles, after his ascension into heaven, went forth into the provinces
        of the whole world proclaiming the true doctrine… They who still observe the righteousness enjoined by their preaching are called Christians.”
        Apology XIV-XV

        JUSTIN MARTYR (~100 – 165 A.D.), Christian
        “There is a village in Judea, thirty-five stadia from Jerusalem, where Jesus Christ was born, as you can see from the tax registers under
        Cyrenius, your first procurator in Judea… He was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified, and died, and rose
        again, and ascended into heaven… After He was crucified, all His acquaintances denied Him. But once He had risen from the dead and
        appeared to them and explained the prophecies which foretold all these things and ascended into heaven, the apostles believed. They received
        the power given to them by Jesus and went into the world preaching the Gospel.” First Apology, 34, 46, 50

        “At the time of His birth, Magi from Arabia came and worshipped Him, coming first to Herod, who was then sovereign in your land… When they
        crucified Him, driving in the nails, they pierced His hands and feet. Those who crucified Him parted His garments among themselves, each
        casting lots… But you did not repent after you learned that He rose from the dead. Instead, you sent men into to the world to proclaim that a
        godless heresy had sprung from Jesus, a Galilean deceiver, whom was crucified and that His disciples stole His body from the tomb in order to
        deceive men by claiming He had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven.” Dialogue with Trypho, 77 97, 107-8

        HEGESIPPUS (110 A.D. – 180 A.D.), Christian
        “This man [James] was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ… The Corinthian church continued in the true doctrine
        until Primus became bishop. I mixed with them on my voyage to Rome and spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were
        refreshed with the true doctrine. On arrival at Rome I pieced together the succession down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus,
        Anicetus being succeeded by Soter and he by Eleutherus. In ever line of bishops and in every city things accord with the preaching of the Law,
        the Prophets, and the Lord.” The History of the Church

        If you’re read to this point, I want to make a few closing remarks. In light of the fairly large number of extra-Biblical accounts that make reference to Christ or Christianity, do you think it is at least logical to acknowledge that, as far as we know, there was a Jewish guy named Jesus who lived a long time ago, who make some radical claims, was executed by Pilate, Jesus’ followers spread their beliefs around and many were executed, Jesus’ followers thought of him as a “God” and that Christianity grew into a large movement because of this.

        I cannot logically or honestly say that Jesus Christ did not exist or that we know nothing about him. I just can’t. The evidence that he existed is rather striking. Now whether Jesus was God incarnate and performed miracles is another story. But to say that Jesus is a fictional character…that’s just rather illogical given what we know, isn’t it?

      • @dlegr250
        You mention three points:

        (1) All laws require a law giver
        (2) There is an absolute moral law
        (3) Thus there is an absolute moral law giver

        The absolute moral law (or as I called them, the immutable moral values) doesn’t have to be “given” by anyone or anything. It can simply be the result of all people (all societies) coming independently to the same conclusion about certain things: that murder and rape (to use my examples) are wrong. It’s quite selfish and self-serving (from both a personal and a societal viewpoint) so it fits in well with human nature. Our desire for self-preservation makes it pretty much a de facto absolute moral law simply because we all agree that it is. There’s no outside agency at work as law-giver making it absolute, there’s just people realising that it’s best for them as individuals and as societies.

        As their initial premise, your three points above already contain the belief that there is an outside agency who can make absolute laws. They’re explicitly phrased to lead to the conclusion they’re aiming for. In other words, it’s already believing in god so you can then prove logically that he must exist. But while logic may appear to prove his existence (if you don’t think about it too much), I think it should be clear that applying good logic to faulty initial premises leads to faulty conclusions.

        You mention that laws don’t just pop out of nowhere. You’re right – they are put together by people for the common good of their society. Notice that I said “by people”. People decide what the laws are, not an outside agency. People “give us” the laws of our countries and of our clubs. That’s all. And the laws’ main goals are to promote the wellbeing of the group to which they apply, so they’ll obviously include the parts that everyone agrees on (although not that many clubs actually have explicit rules which say that murder and rape is wrong – those are already covered by the laws of the country they’re in :-)).

        You’ve explained why you believe there’s a god: because you believe there must be an absolute law-giver. I hope I’ve shown that there’s no need for such a being – people simply all agree on things which are in their best interests.

      • @Len (about morality),

        If I am to be intellectually honest, I have to say I acknowledge your arguments are very strong. Thus, at the moment I have to acknowledge that you present a solid line of reasoning that demonstrates it is highly possible that moral laws (ie, people “should” do such and such) can be established apart from a deity or Supreme Lawgiver, as the standard reasoning goes.

        I do say possibility because I will have to further investigate the reasoning and think it through. I’m not fully convinced of it yet, but I am currently leaning towards that possibility. It is an issue I will have to return to after I’ve looked into it a bit more.

        This is exactly why I enjoy discussing these ideas with other people: it provides me an opportunity to examine my beliefs and see if they hold up under scrutiny. I still hold to absolute morality needing an absolute Lawgiver to be binding upon man, but let me think on it further to determine if that is a valid claim for me to make.

      • @ dlegr250…
        If the Old Law no longer applied to people, then why does Christ say: “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” …If the Old Law no longer applied people, Jesus wouldn’t have said that. The phrase “until heaven and earth pass away” literally means the end of the world, otherwise Jesus would have phrased it differently and said something like: “until I fulfill the law, not one iota, not one dot will by no means pass until I fulfill the law”… but he doesn’t he says, “until all is accomplished” …meaning human history. The Bible can be very subjective to interpretation, that means human error is inevitable. That is why there are thousands of sects of Christianity. So why would God reveal his will to the world through a holy book that is so subjective to interpretation, making it very easy to misinterpret his book?

        Also, you said the purpose of the Old Law was to show that the Jews could never be “good enough”, thus needing a savior. Is there any Biblical foundation to that statement? Where in the Bible does it say God’s intent was to make an example out of the Jews by giving them a Law He knew they wouldn’t be able to keep? As far as I know it doesnt. The reason for the existence of Israel and the Law was because Abraham was obedient to God, and God rewarded Abraham with a nation. God originally created Israel to be a “shining light” to the rest of the world, not to set them up for failure by giving them a Law he originally knew they wouldn’t be able to keep. If what you’re saying is true, then God lied to Abraham about why He created Israel in the first place… that it wasn’t to reward Abraham’s obedience, but to create a nation He knew would fail. So according to your reasoning, God either lied to Abraham about why he was creating Israel, or Jesus was a false prophet. The Bible doesn’t say God created the Law to show people that you can never be “good enough” ….that is just a Christian interpretation that doesn’t have Biblical foundation as far as I know (correct me if Im wrong by showing me the verses).

      • The exact same moral laws would not evolve to be exactly the same in every part of the world, the probability is astronomical. The fact that the same moral laws apply in every country on this earth is evidence that a Lawgiver did hand them down to mankind. If it were based on evolution, there would be different moral laws in different parts of the world. For example, murder is condemned in every country. One may say, “what about societies that practiced human sacrifices?” Good question, a religious ritual is looked at quite differently than murdering a person on the street for no apparent reason. Even societies that practiced human sacrifice still condemned murder and punished it. It is a moral law that was given to all men. You cannot have the exact same moral laws in every society all over the world and not have a Law giver, the evolutionary process would cause variation everywhere, but there is not.

      • @Erik,

        I agree with you but I think I may be able to respond to the points you raised. The issue is how one views morality and actions.

        A professional snow-skier knows that if he crouches down and removes as much wind resistance as possible, that he maximizes his speed. This is due to the laws of physics that dictate less resistance increases his speed. Now if we have skiers in America, Europe, and Asia, and they all discover that crouching makes them faster, do we have to conclude that a super skier somewhere taught each of them to crouch to increase their speed? Not necessarily. Just as Newton and another German discovered mathematical laws about Calculus around the same time independent of each other.

        The argument I think Len and Dan are making is that there are general principles for a society that allow it to operate best (ie, reduce wind resistance and increase speed). If morality is just laws that govern how humans interact with each other, then I have to admit I do not need to appeal to God to establish morality, because these laws can be discovered apart from God, just like the laws of math were discovered by various people at various times.

        Society realizes that murder would be very much like a skier standing up — it increases wind drag, thus slowing the skier down. In the same way, allowing murder to go rampant slows down a society and may even threaten my individual safety. Thus, for the reason of self-preservation and procreation (the only “good” according to evolutionary theory) I and other humans join together, establish, and follow morality to “reduce our wind resistance” so to speak.

        I am not convinced that it has been fully demonstrated that morality can have a logical basis apart from God yet. However, I do concede the above line of reasoning seems sound at first glance. The basis for morality (ie, don’t murder) is self-preservation. Humans realized they survived longer when everyone joined together and watched each others backs. It’s not altruism, per se, it’s really selfish: I watch them so they watch me so I keep myself safe. But selfishness and procreation are the key principles of evolutionary theory. That’s why I find it a very fascinating argument. Not conclusive, but challenging.

      • Those moral codes would not be the same at every place at the same time (some snow skiers might catch on faster than others). These moral codes have been there from the beginning. There is not evolutionary process. It was given to all by the same Lawgiver.

        Discovery does not equal invention. Those principles can be there without people knowing about them. When men discover them, they have not invented the laws, they just found what was there. Just like a gold miner does not invent the gold, he just discovers the gold that is already there.

      • @dlegr250 (about historical Gospels),

        The agenda of the gospel writers (whoever they were) was to promote their religion, long after the main character (if he ever existed as described) had disappeared from the scene. And long after people had started to make up great stories of how they knew him, what he’d said, what he’d done, etc. That could all be included into the lore of Jesus and added to the mystery of the son of god. Think about the daft stories people put out now about famous people – and now there’s the chance for those people to rebut any allegations. But back then, and certainly after the person is dead – no chance. People could write anything they wanted and no-one could challenge it. There’s no reason to believe that things were any different then to how they are now. Many such embellishments would have been harmless, but none-the–less untrue.

        I must admit I know nothing about Alexander the Great, except perhaps that loads of people don’t worship him and try to force others to live by what they think are his rules.

        As for throwing away the bible and re-creating it from other writings, I’m not surprised there’s loads of text written by believers (I used to write copiously when I was a believer). And they’ve had 2,000 years to do it.

        You think that the bible is true because it recounts specific names and places that happen to be real? Or because it describes some things that actually happened? No.

        We have writings from contemporaries of the time, just none (none) that mention Jesus. You want to use the fact that the bible describes some things that are real as proof that all the other things it describes are also real. That doesn’t work. Any more than it works for Harry Potter Or “The Lord of the Rings” (as I mentioned before).

        Most of the passages you cite are from way after Jesus was supposed to have lived and died (thanks for adding the dates – for not making me have to look them all up :-)). So not exactly eye-witnesses. The Babylonian Talmud is saying that someone died because no-one would stand up for him. They pretty much all say there was a guy called Jesus who lived and died. Some of them (christians) say he did miracles or was the son of god. The majority are recounting someone else’s story or were written by christian bishops. Not that they’d be biased or anything ;-). The passage from Josephus has been pretty much accepted as being fake (ie, inserted by a believer long after the piece was written by Josephus).

        And you keep asking: if Christ wasn’t real, why all the fuss? Well, I’d guess it’s because people were then, as now, taking a fairy story and making it out to be real. That’s bound to annoy people who actually like true things.

        Regarding your conclusion: there may indeed have been someone called Jesus. Or there may have been several people who have been amalgamated into a single character, the way it sometimes happens when filming a book (because you don’t always have the time in the duration of a film to include all the characters, so you mash a few of them together to progress the story). The (by then) long dead person was then made the subject of many stories. Some may have been true, many (I’d guess) not – after all, they were trying to get the religion going, so they wanted to make him look good. And who was going to stop them? Jesus wasn’t around. People who actually knew him weren’t around by then either. As long as they were keeping mainly within the lines, they had free-reign to make Jesus into whatever they wanted.

      • @Len (about historical Gospels),

        I have to challenge several of your points. Several of the extra-Biblical accounts were written well within the time of Jesus’ life and eyewitnesses were indeed alive. The Apostle Paul cites such individuals and tells his audience to go talk to the living witnesses who saw these very things. Are you saying that if I write a book on the Vietnam war and I interview the war veterans, that they are unacceptable as witnesses and we can’t trust what they’re saying and what they saw? And that was around 50 years ago, so even less believable than the Gospel accounts.

        I agree the apostles and writers had an agenda. But is that nothing more than a purpose for writing? Is it rational to assume that they made up a bunch of stuff that makes them look like dimwitted idiots, has them abandoning and forsaking Christ, has them fighting among themselves, and then when they get called to task on it all, almost all of the original apostles and many of their followers were executed in brutal fashions? In essence, you’re telling me it’s perfectly reasonable for these men to make up a story they know to be true, to get no benefit from it themselves, to live their lives dedicated to what they claimed, and then continue to hold up this fake lie that they made up when they die? I cannot accept that as reasonable. They were absolutely convinced that what they believed was true. That doesn’t make their claims true, but they indeed believed they were true. That’s the only rational conclusion one can come to. Just like Muslim extremists blowing themselves up today. Their beliefs may be false, but they really believe that they are true. Again, belief does not equal true, but it’s ridiculous to say the apostles were making up stories and then died for them. There is a huge difference between dying for something you’re convinced is true and dying for something you know is false. The apostles knew the difference.

        And within 30 years of the events isn’t “long after” Christ was deceased…these men were living and spreading the beliefs of Christ during this time. There were a minimum of hundreds of believers at the time of Christ’s execution, most likely thousands. If the apostles just waited a little time to make up a story, why didn’t any of the other hundreds/thousands of followers stand up to them? You’re asking me to believe a conspiracy theory involving hundreds of people without any substantiated evidence, merely conjecture about what may have happened. You’re telling me that the entire Christian movement got together and made up a bunch of stories about Jesus. Again, I find it unbelievable that hundreds of individuals (probably thousands) got together and presented a unanimous make believe story. It actually requires less faith on my part to believe that Jesus existed and they were all recording what they saw.

        The extra-Biblical authors present (sometimes very accurately) the beliefs the Christians practiced. There simply isn’t time for the original teachings of Christ to be thrown away without any evidence and new ones re-invented and then used to brainwash all the current believers (many of whom were eyewitnesses to some critical events) and then present this new belief to the world at large. Don’t you think the secular writers would have said something like “hey, Christians, I thought your Jesus guy taught something different, why are you now changing the story?” You don’t find that. What do we find? We find the earliest extra-Biblical authors describing Christian practices fairly accurately.

        You said we don’t have contemporaries of the time…so are you saying you can’t accept an ancient document that was dated within 30 years of the event? Are you saying that because they weren’t dated around the year ~30-33 AD when Jesus lived, that they can’t be trusted? Again, if we are fair and apply that standard equally to all ancients, we conclude that Alexander the great never existed, and most likely many other historical figures never existed as well. You wanted extra-Biblical sources. They were provided. Now you say they aren’t early enough, even though they are closer to the facts than any writings about Alexander (and probably many other historical figures).

        And an eyewitness is one who was witnessing the events with his own eyes. Just because the event was not written down until later does not mean they were not eyewitnesses.

        I don’t think you’re basis for not believing the Bible is based upon evidence, historical veracity, or fact. It seems you reject a priori that the Gospels could be true. Thus, any attempt to demonstrating them as accurate or trustworthy is rejected.

        Could it be that you do not accept the Bible as valid because of the presence of miracles? If the Bible had all of the same content but didn’t include miracles, would you have any issue with it? For instance, the doctor Luke was extremely accurate in his historical accounts of Luke and Acts. He wasn’t even an eyewitness but claimed to have interviewed those who were and studied the data himself.

        You acknowledge that Christ probably existed, but that we can’t know much more than that because we can’t trust the sources or they are too late. What if the accounts had said that Jesus was a great military leader who had conquered the world and established the Christian religion by force? Would you still have a problem with accepting the Gospel accounts as valid? Would you still say the authors of the Gospels were biased and thus untrustworthy, and that Jesus probably didn’t conquer the world because there were no unbiased sources verifying this?

        It seems to me that you reject any claims for miracles, not necessarily claims for historicity. If you were being equal and fair in the employment of you standard, you would believe that most of ancient history is unknowable.

        You’re more willing to believe a grand conspiracy where men kill themselves for something they truly know is false. That these men were also able to fool hundreds/thousands of other believers and remake Jesus into someone He was not. That they also somehow convinced all the extra-Biblical writers that their version of Jesus was the right one. And that this lie has almost spread throughout 2,000+ years of history. That takes a lot of faith for me to believe. I find it takes less faith to believe a God exists, thus miracles are possible, thus there’s no reason to throw the Gospels away. They should be treated just as any other ancient historical document. And if we employed that standard, they clearly stand out among all other ancient documents as trustworthy and accurate.

      • Dr. Luke, an educated Greek, researched the entire situation (including the existing documents of the day) and wrote his Gospel (he was a well educated man who knew how to do accurate research). His Gospel is a synoptic Gospel and backs up the writings of Matthew and Mark. So, this was not a “blind” agenda ignoring the facts. He researched the facts and came to the logical conclusions.

      • @ dlegr250…

        You said: “I have to challenge several of your points. Several of the extra-Biblical accounts were written well within the time of Jesus’ life and eyewitnesses were indeed alive. The Apostle Paul cites such individuals and tells his audience to go talk to the living witnesses who saw these very things.” ….who wrote those extra-Biblical accounts WITHIN the lifetime of Jesus?? You said Paul cites such individuals but you did not give any names of historians or anything. Below I have 2 lists, the first list is of historians that do mention a Christ figure, but most if not all did NOT live within the lifetime of Christ. The second list is of historians that actually did live within Christ’s lifetime, but they mention nothing about him!


        The Jewish historian Josephus briefly mentions Jesus in “Antiquities Of The Jews” …but that was written around 93-94 AD… a good 60 years after Christ’s alleged lifetime. But this is suspected to be a forgery. Josephus wrote of every important event during the first 70 years AD, Josephus writings were interpolated, and forgeries which mention Jesus were added on. This short forgery was labeled by Bishop Warburton as “a rank forgery and a very stupid one too…” It is mentioned in the Church History, that this was the word of the very dishonest bishop Eusebius. The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that the forged passages were not known to Origen and earlier church writers.
        Tacticus mentions Jesus in “Annals” but that was 116 AD. It is also suspected to have interpolations & forgeries though.
        Pliny the younger mentions Christ, but that is also suspected of having interpolations & forgeries.
        The Babylonian Talmud in a few cases includes possible references to Jesus using the terms “Yeshu,” “Yeshu ha-Notzri,” “ben Satda,” and “ben Pandera”. Some of these references probably date back to the Tannaitic period (70–200 AD).
        The earlier passage in Claudius (by Stuetonius), may include a reference to Jesus, but is subject to debate among scholars. In Claudius 25 Suetonius refers to the expulsion of Jews by Claudius and states: “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome”. The reference in Claudius 25 involves the agitations in the Jewish community which led to the expulsion of some Jews from Rome by Claudius, and is likely the same event mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (18:2). Most historians date this expulsion to around AD 49-50. Suetonius refers to the leader of the leader of the Christians as “Chrestus”. However, Suetonius is confused in the passage and assumes that Chrestus was alive at the time of the disturbance and was agitating the Jews in Rome. The confusion of Suetonius weakens the historical value of his reference as a whole, and there is no overall scholarly agreement about its value as a reference to Jesus.
        Thallus mentions Jesus around 52 AD. Some people believe that Thallus details the crucifixion of Jesus, but he explains that the darkness that fell over the land at the time of Jesus’ death was not a miracle as reported in the Canonical gospels, but merely an eclipse. However, this is impossible as only a lunar eclipse can occur at Passover, and lunar eclipses are not visible at mid day (the 6th hour as reported in the gospels) due to the moon being directly opposite the sun, and therefore below the horizon. An eclipse can therefore not be used to establish a pre-Markan origin for the story spoken of in the Gospel of Mark as some people claim.


        Philo lived within the lifetime of Christ, and wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time Jesus was said to have existed. Philo was living in or near Jerusalem when Jesus’ miraculous birth and Herod’s massacre supposedly occurred (which is never mentioned in ANY extra-biblical source by the way). He was there when Jesus supposedly made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He was there for the supposed crucifixion and all the world shattering events that followed — earthquakes, the sun becoming dark at noon, the graves opening and the dead and long dead saints roaming about the place… supposedly seen by many, also when Jesus. himself rose from the dead and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven, but Philo saw nothing, heard nothing, wrote nothing about any of these events.

        Justus Tiberius was a native of Galilee, he wrote a history covering the period of Jesus’ reputed existence. This work was destroyed, but Photius a Christian scholar and critic of the 9th century who was acquainted with it says that Justus made not a mention of Jesus or his works.

        The other historians that were alive at the time of Christ’s lifetime were: Arrian, Lucius Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD) Dion Pruseus, Pliny the Elder, Pater Calus, Suetonius, Juvenal, Theon of Smyran, Martial, Phlegon, Persius, Pompon Mela, Plutarch, Quintus Curtius, Lucian, Apollonius, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Quintilian, Forus Lucius, Lucanus, Phaedrus, Epictetus, Damis, Silius Italicus, Alulus Geuius, Statius, Ptolemy, Columella, Diochry Sostom, Hermogones, Lysias, Valerius Maxiimus, Cornelius, Titus Livius, Cluvius Rufus, Publius Petronius (the Roman consul) who lived in Jerusalem. All these heard nothing, not a word was written about Jesus. These historians wrote about early religions but never mentioned Jesus or the spectacular events that the church said accompanied Jesus’ life. Jesus was supposedly known far & wide throughout the land as a great miracle worker and doer of good works, like I said before he should’ve been bigger than Elvis, and for none of those historians to mention Christ is mind-blowing. So who were those extra-Biblical historians/people that lived DURING Christ’s life that mention Jesus? Who was Paul referring to?

      • @Dan (about historical Gospels),

        That’s some great stuff you provided. Honestly, I really appreciate the information you’ve given with the sources and analysis. Some may wonder why I could be excited about someone citing support against my most personal beliefs, but if my beliefs are worth holding they should stand the test of truth. I have to say I’m excited to sift through the material you’ve provided and see what I find. You provided a lot, so it will take me a decent amount of time to do the research if I’m to be fair and unbiased about it (as much as I can be). If you find further info, please add it as well. I want to have as many resources as possible as I look into this further.

        Again, thanks for the wealth of info; I’m really looking forward to going through it all and see what I find.

      • @Erik (on moral codes)
        You seem to think that evolution means that the societies all developed in parallel, at different places, at more or less the same time, without any common history – and yet they all found the same rules. That’s patently not the case. We all stem from the first evolved “people” (and it’s irrelevant whether we’re talking about homo sapiens or earlier). As the first “people” evolved, they started to build social groups (we’re social beings, after all). It would become pretty clear to that social group pretty early on that not murdering each other is a good idea. That idea would then be carried with the various groups that eventually split off from the main group to form new social groups (and eventually, new societies) elsewhere. We see the same kind of behaviour in the social groups that (social) wild animals form: they look after other members of their group and they don’t kill other members of their group (but maybe they do kill members of other groups – just like people ;-)).

        The full moral codes of the societies then developed over time, but they have a basis of commonality in that the societies would all want to survive. And they all realised that some basic rules – the same basic rules – were good for them. That’s reasonable because not having those rules would mean that murder and rape (my two examples) would lead to the downfall of those societies. Maybe some societies did develop without those basic rules. They are no longer around.

        You try to liken absolute moral laws to something tangible, like gold. Something that someone put somewhere to be discovered. But they are not. They only have validity in the society that embraces them. You can’t pick up a sack full of absolute moral laws at the supermarket. They do not have to lie around waiting to be discovered by a society. The principles are identified by a society as being beneficial to that society, so the society adopts them. In other words, the society doesn’t have to find them, it works them out for itself.

        You’re starting off from the unfounded assumption that an absolute law-giver exists, then you’re using that assumption to conclude that an absolute law-giver exists. That doesn’t work. And even then, your main argument boils down to “I don’t understand how it works, therefore god”.

      • Ah, but just as variation of species occurred through natural selection (so evolution claims), so would variation in the morals of the people groups. They would not develop exactly the same. So one or the other is the case, either they (humans) did evolve (like you seem to believe) which would go against the idea of a lawgiver or they were created (people) and then given the moral laws to disperse to the 4 corners of the earth (I know the earth is round, it is just an expression, like in the Bible 🙂 )

        They are no longer around. (maybe like the vast evidence of the fossil record, oh wait, all those intermediate species that led to other species somehow just did not fossilize). This excuse is used quite often among the naturalists, just in different forms. 🙂

        Moral laws are like the natural laws, even if man does not know about them, they are still there and they still function. The thing about moral laws is that even if a man has not been taught the moral laws, he knows about them in his conscience. We do not have to discover the moral laws, they are built in us. We discover that they should be applied (or lived by) like the law of gravity.

      • @ Erik…

        Variation of moral codes do vary tremendously from culture to culture… yet all successful societies do have a few moral codes in common as well, such as not permitting large-scale murder, theft, rape, etc because without those few basic rules a society couldn’t survive. If everyone was committing murder, nothing would ever be accomplished and a society wouldn’t survive. Yes, there can be vast differences in morality from culture to culture, but yet each society can (independently) come to the same conclusions about which ones are necessary for survival. Some of the moral codes that can vary from culture to culture would be diety laws, sexual activity (such as polygamy vs. monogomy), divorce laws, laws on how to dress, moral laws on gender roles and how to discipline children, and moral laws on how to treat animals are just a few examples. Even the Bible changes its own stance on many issues, such as divorce or polygamy vs monogomy.

        Even if there is a supreme law-giver, how do you know YOUR specific God is the law-giver? There are thousands of religions and thousands of possible gods to choose from, and Judeo-Christianity is not the oldest religion out there. So how do you know YOUR god is the real Law-giver above all the other thousands of Gods? The odds of yours being the real one are very low.

      • @Dan,

        Just a quick note on your recent comment. The Bible did not change its stance on morality over time. First, much of the OT was given to Israel as a nation under the Abraham Covenant. That covenant was fulfilled with Christ and done away with as Heb 8:13 clearly specifies: “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he [Christ] has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Furthermore, the majority of OT laws were only binding upon Israel as a nation and were never given to Christians. There are no Christians in the OT. Christianity was a fulfillment of the OT system. So there are indeed some laws given in the OT that are no longer followed in the NT, just as citizens in the USA don’t follow the Articles of Confederation anymore because that was superseded by the Constitution.

        The moral laws were not changed, although the punishments metered out as a nation were. Israel was commanded to stone adulters (the main post topic). However, in the NT, Christ superseded that punishment and told the NT church to remove sinners from the church body, but Christ removed the command to stone adulters. Christ clearly stated that adultery was still wrong, thus the moral code has not changed. The punishment has changed because God now deals with man through the age of grace instead of the OT covenant of the law. The OT law condemned man, but Christ redeemed man.

        With regards to polygamy, that was never sanctioned. Many men did it but they were clearly in violation of God’s commands. In both the OT and NT God stated His purpose was 1 man and 1 woman for life. Anything contrary to that was man deciding to disobey God. And look at the result of polygamy: Abraham’s sons and wives fought, even to this day; David’s children of various women killed each other and almost took the kingdom away from David; Solomon turned away from God and God didn’t take the kingdom from Solomon only because God honored Solomon’s father David. In the NT polygamy is also clearly defined as wrong, and the churches are told to remove such practices from among themselves.

        With regards to divorce, God only permitted divorce in cases of infidelity as specified in Deut 24:1-4. Jewish rabbis through time eventually interpreted the passage to mean men could divorce wives for something as trivial as burning food. Christ later addressed this very issue when He clarified what the Deut passage actually said. The Jewish religious leaders had forsaken the intent of the law and twisted it to their own end. Divorce apart from infidelity was not in God’s plan in either the OT or NT. Just because people did it does not mean God condoned it. Many individuals who are held up as examples in the Bible were polygamists, harlots, murderers, etc. It demonstrates that even though we may sin greatly against God, we can never out sin God’s forgiveness if we repent and turn to God. No man/woman is perfect.

        I do think there is a misconception between a moral law and specific rules that clarify how that moral law is to be practiced in that community. It’s like cultural greetings. In the US, hundreds of years ago folks may have tipped their hats and said “good day” as a greeting. Today we can nod and say “hey, how you doing?” Various other cultures bow heads, shake hands, etc… The principle is that all have some sort of greeting, even though they execute that greeting differently. Morality is the principle of greeting. Particular cultures carry out that greeting in different formats, just as various cultural laws uphold the moral law.

      • @ dlegr250….

        There are many verses throughout the Bible (most in the O.T., but some in the N.T.) that indicate that the Mosaic Law is binding FOREVERr. Here are some examples:

        -Genesis 17:19
        “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for AN EVERLASTING COVENENT, and with his seed after him.”

        -Exodus 12:14, 17, 24
        “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance FOREVER. … And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance FOREVER. … And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons FOREVER.”

        -Leviticus 23:14,21,31
        “It shall be a statute FOREVER throughout your generations.”

        -Deuteronomy 11:1
        “Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, ALWAYS.”

        -1 Chronicles 16:15
        “Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations … an EVERLASTING covenant.”

        -Psalm 119:160
        “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth FOREVER.”

        -Ecclesiastes 12:13
        “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this IS THE WHOLE DUTE OF MAN.”

        -Malachi 4:4
        “Remember ye the law of Moses.”

        -Matthew 5:18-19
        “Till HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS, one jot or tittle shall nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”

        Luke 16:17
        “It is easier for HEAVEN AND EARTH TO PASS, than one tittle of the law to fail.”

        ….Jesus himself clearly says that heaven AND earth must pass away before the Old Law is no longer valid (that is what “all is fulfilled” means in the context of the passage). Yes, other parts of the New Testament do say the Mosaic Law is no longer binding, so was God misleading Abraham in the Old Testament about the Old Covenant lasting forever? Or was Jesus a false prophet? If the Old Covenant was just meant to be temporary, why did God tell Abraham, Moses, and the Jews that his Covenant with them was binding forever? Was God lying the whole time? Also, nowhere in the Bible does it say that the purpose of the Old Law was to show that people need a savior… that is just a Christian interpretation that has no Biblical foundation. God rewarded Abraham’s obedience with a nation of his descendents, that is why the Old Covenant existed to begin with… it wasn’t to “make an example” out of a group of people. But even if your interpretion of the Old Law is correct, the age of Grace did not begin until AFTER Jesus’ death and resurrection. From a Christian perspective, the Law was not fulfilled until AFTER Christ’s death & ressurrection (because Christ’s death represented the perfect sacrifice to “fulfill” the Old Law). The woman’s adultery occured BEFORE Christ’s “fulfillment” on the cross, so it was not during the “Age of Grace”. She (and Jesus) were still under the Mosaic Law because Jesus did not yet die, so Jesus was still obligated to obey the Mosaic Law until his fulfillment (death) on the cross. So the Mosaic Law was still in effect during the time of the woman’s adultery, even from a Christian perspective. So yes, Jesus gave an incorrect answer to the Priest’s question regarding the woman’s adultery. Jesus should’ve demanded that both people be stoned, because the age of Grace was not in effect until after Jesus’ sacrifice.

        In the Old Testament Law, a man can simply divorce his wife with a letter if she displeases him… that was a law handed down to Moses from God. Jesus says he allowed divorce because the Jews were “hard hearted” …which is a horrible excuse for allowing a marriage law to go un-enforced in the O.T. As far as polygamy goes, God seemed to have absolutely no problem with it in the Old Testament. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there are no verses in the O.T. indicating polygamy (by itself) was against God’s command. Perhaps polygamy may have caused drama and problems within a family, but nowhere in the O.T. does it say having multiple wives was a sin, otherwise all the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc) were going against one of God’s basic laws… again, if there is an O.T. verse that says otherwise, let me know.

      • @Dan,

        You provided a list of verses supporting an eternal covenant as well as a discussion about the issues of polygamy, divorce, and what Jesus should have done with the adulterous woman. I will address these in the following order:
        (1) Jesus and the adulterous woman
        (2) Polygamy in the OT/NT
        (3) Divorce in the OT/NT
        (4) Covenants in the OT and list of supported verses

        I will limit it to 1 comment per main topic, to keep them separate and shorter.

        However, before I get into those 4 topics, I have to make a few redactions to some of my previous statements in other comments. I do not spend as much time studying the OT as I do the NT, thus I’m not as well versed in the intricacies of the OT. I have made several statements that are true in principle but are wrong in some of the specifics. I have not looked up every comment and corrected it, but I would like to address one of the major alterations as my understanding of the OT has deepened with further research.

        (1) Christ fulfilling Law with His life instead of at His death. You do make a good argument about Christ’s death being the fulfillment of a perfect life that atoned for all of man’s sins forever. Since the Law necessitated a perfect person, it would seem incongruous that Christ could have fulfilled that requirement until the end of His life, as it is possible He could have sinned until His very death. Thus it is still true that Christ fulfilled the Law, but the specific point of completion would be at His death. Therefore the Law was still in effect during Christ’s life, and an argument can actually be made that the Law actually existed until 70 AD, something I will address in section 4 on the covenants.

        First, let’s have the passage in question:

        3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
        But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
        9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
        11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11)

        If we study the OT passages about adultery and the OT legal laws regarding witnesses, we find that Jesus actually followed the Law properly by not doing anything. Christ was, in effect, following the Law to the letter in this situation. Let’s examine a few passages of interest in the OT.

        “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)

        Here we have the OT Law regarding adultery and the appropriate action to be taken. These Laws in Leviticus were given to Moses at Mt Sinai with Israel encamped beneath.

        After the Israelites receive the first of the Law from God via Moses, they continue on in their conquest of Canaan, where we find that they refused to obey God and were left wondering for 40 years. This is mostly recounted in the book of Numbers.

        During the 40th year of their wandering, the book of Deuteronomy is written. The purpose of Deuteronomy is to reiterate the laws to this new generation, with a few additions as well. The first 5 books of the OT comprise the Torah, which is commonly referred to as the Law. However, it was common vernacular for a person to reference the OT by “law”, “prophets”, or the combined “law and prophets”. Any one of those could reference the entire sum of the OT.

        But if we just look at the verse above we miss out on a lot of the Law. The section in Leviticus consists of a list of acts and then punishments. However, all cases and punishments were governed by a legal process and all capital punishments required a minimum of 2 witnesses.

        “Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Numbers 35:30)

        “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” (Deut 17:6)

        “One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” (Deut 19:15)

        Furthermore, if the witnesses were found to be liars or false, whatever punishment they were seeking against the unjustly accused would befall them:

        “16 If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deut 19:16-19)

        So what do we have? We have the entirety of the Law requiring 2 witnesses come forth and present the case against the accused. Those witnesses were the only ones who could make the accusation. They would also have to punish the man caught with the woman. One may say “well, Jesus should have called for the witnesses!” Well, He did. The Law required the witnesses to raise the accusation. If those witnesses were not willing to come forth, it was not Jesus’ duty or obligation at all to call for them. Jesus asked where were the witnesses, and they were not to be found. The OT Law system actually made it very difficult to execute people. In order to understand that you have to read the entirety of the Law, not just particular pieces of it. In fact, some even hold that the death penalty was actually able to be escaped in every case except murder. Hence the reason there were judges to decide if an applicable punishment should be metered out or not.

        On a side-note, it’s interesting to conjecture what Christ wrote in the dirt. This is purely my opinion without any solid basis, but I believe Christ first wrote out the legal requirements for a case such as this. When the religious leaders persisted, I actually believe Christ wrote out the name of men who had slept with this woman, including some of those religious leaders present, as well as names of other women they may have had as consorts. I believe that fits with the event, but it is pure conjecture as the Scriptures do not tell us exactly what Christ wrote.

        1b CONCLUSION
        Jesus actually followed the Law to the letter by asking for two witnesses to present themselves to raise the accusation against the woman. Since they did not, there was no proper accusation that could be raised against the woman, and thus she could not be executed. The religious leaders were interested in a “lynching” and Christ was actually interested in following the legal system of the Law. Thus, Christ followed the Law exactly in this situation and did no wrong.

      • @Dan,

        This post deals with issue #2:
        (1) Jesus and the adulterous woman
        (2) Polygamy in the OT/NT
        (3) Divorce in the OT/NT
        (4) Covenants in the OT and list of supported verses

        Is there an OT verse that reads “thou shalt not have more than 1 concurrent wife (spouse)”? No, there isn’t. This issue is one that even many well-known Christian leaders have debated over time. Several early church fathers believed polygamy was permissible in select situations but not preferable, and only if the custom of the land permitted it. Others believed it was always wrong. Who are we to accept? Well, we return to the Bible as the basis for authority and seek the answers there.

        An argument from silence (no direct command against it) is not very strong. There are a number of acts recorded in the OT that were never directly condemned. The purpose was not to provide a listing of condemned acts, but to record what transpired. This argument could be applied to a large number of issues: drugs, polygamy, slavery, etc… So what does the Bible say about topics like this, specifically polygamy, which are not absolutely, directly addressed?

        Were people allowed to sin the OT? Yes, just like they are in the NT. Did God annihilate people for sin? On specific occasions, yes, but most times God did not punish sinful acts right away. No man is perfect, thus no man can ever not deserve punishment from God at some point.

        While polygamy was permitted (not immediately punished) it was never God’s intention for mankind from the very beginning. Allowing someone to do something is not the same as condoning it. For instance, to use a well-known example, think of the child and the hot burner. The parent keeps telling the child not to touch the burner, but the child persists in his interest. Eventually the parent permits the child to touch the burner and get burned so their curiosity is satisfied and they learn next time maybe they should listen. While not a strict analogy to polygamy, it demonstrates that permitting something is not the same as condoning it. In the parable of wheat and tares, Christ states that evil is allowed to continue but that it will eventually be punished. Is Christ condoning evil because it isn’t punished immediately? No, Christ’s view of evil is very clear from Scripture.

        As Genesis accounts, God created man and woman from the very beginning and they were bound together as one flesh. Mark 10:5-9 deals directly with the issue of divorce, but also deals with polygamy in principle because if you didn’t have a proper grounds for divorce, God considered you still married. Thus you would be a polygamist by God’s standard if you divorced for wrong reasons. Christ says God set things up a certain way from the beginning, and that’s how God intended it to be. That would carry over to polygamy as well. God designed marriage to be a sacred joining of 2 people into 1 that lasted forever in this physical life, barring infidelity, death of a spouse, or the special situation of a non-believing spouse who wants a divorce in the NT.

        So what does the OT have to say about polygamy? Well, there is not an absolute “thou shalt not…” but there are indeed verses that address this issue:

        14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” 15 be sure to appoint over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. (Deut 17:14-17)

        The 2nd to last sentence is of particular note. Kings are not to take many wives because they may lead him astray. This is actually the case that happened with Solomon. Now if someone wishes, they could argue this means “many” wives but a “few” is acceptable. Thus, this passage isn’t condemning polygamy per se, just an over-abundance of polygamy. I do think that’s stretching it a bit. Especially since Christ cites the example God setup with 1 man and 1 woman as God’s preferred plan for marriage.

        We also see verses citing the singular when referencing spouses (Eccl 9:9; Prov 5:18; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-29; Ps 128:3). We see no advocating of polygamy in Scripture, either in OT or NT. We do see there were some very negative results of polygamy in the OT. Polygamy is very clearly condemned in the NT (Christians were told to be a “one-woman man”).

        So the question is really “did God permit polygamy in the OT and then switch His view in the NT?”

        The NT condemns it, and Christ in the NT cites the creation of man as His support for monogamy. Polygamy created great pain for most of those who practiced it in the OT. Add to this the reality that a family is very difficult in a polygamist setting.

        2b CONCLUSION
        I would have to conclude that the Bible condemns polygamy. It was never God’s intention, is often found with great pain in the OT, and clearly condemned in the NT. That does not mean polygamy did not happen. It was actually regulated to some extent in some of the OT laws. I don’t see why this should be viewed as condoning polygamy. Many evils were regulated to some extent in the OT. Would it be nice to see a clear-cut condemnation of polygamy in the OT? Yes, but it is not necessary. The weight of evidence stands against it.

      • -Genesis 17:19
        “And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for AN EVERLASTING COVENENT, and with his seed after him.”

        This is actually a reference to the Abrahamic covenant. It is not the same as the Law. The Law was given 400 years later through Moses. The Abrahamic covenant was fulfilled in the New Covenant. These are one and the same and yes, they are eternal, everlasting covenants. The Law was given to keep the people on track until the Abrahamic Covenant was fulfilled in Christ. The “seed” refered to in Genesis is Jesus Christ. Paul’s epistle to the Galatian church explains all of this.

        8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU. 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 19 Why the Law then ? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3)

        This is why you have to have a complete understanding of the Bible, mot just copied and pasted verses to make up your own theology. You have to go to the Scriptures with an open mind, ready to discover what is there instead of imposing your own opinions and beliefs.

        If you would like to learn more about the subject of Covenant, then I would recommend this source.

        As to the Law (Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the other references that deal with the aspects of the Law being eternal), the Law is a shadow of the good things to come in Christ. As you see in Galatians, the Law points people to Christ. Once the real thing comes, the shadow is no longer needed. The eternal things in the Law are fulfilled in Christ who is eternal.

        1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10)

      • @Erik,

        You beat me to those great points! If one is going to cite various verses from scattered texts in the OT, each of those verses needs to be put in context of the specific covenant it deals with.


        I’m researching a more detailed reply, but a very simple answer is this: the promises God made with Israel were two-way covenants. He did His part if they did theirs. In fact, when Moses was getting the two tablets of testimony from God, the Israelites had already broken the covenant. They didn’t even last 40 days…God intended it to be an eternal covenant, but it was binding upon Israel fulfilling their obligations as well. It’s a contract: both parties can break the contract and nullify their respective obligation. What we do see is that God promises to uphold His side of SOME of the covenants in spite of Israel’s failures. But you cannot lump everything written in the OT as a single covenant. There are multiple covenants; some were binding only upon Israel as long as they followed God. I’ll have a detailed address to the various verses you listed, but Erik got there first and pointed out the main issue.

      • @Dan (regarding historical Gospels),

        I have done some further research on the great points you brought up in one of your other posts, specifically regarding the amount of extra-Biblical evidence that references Christ. I wanted to get back with you with my findings.

        Just to reiterate a few things, we do indeed find some references to Christ outside of the canonical Gospels. I have looked at each of these listed sources and the scholarly work done on them, and I am fully convinced that each of these sources does indeed reference the Christ of Christianity and it seems the majority of scholars concur:

        Thallos (~55 CE; via Julius Africanus via Georgius Syncellus)
        Pliny the Younger (~112 CE)
        Suetonius (~120 CE)
        Tacitus (~116 CE)
        Mara bar Serapion (sometime after ~73 CE)
        Lucian of Samosata (~165 CE)
        Celsus (~175 CE)
        Josephus (~90s CE)
        Rabbinic Tradition (various)
        Plus a large number of Christian authors outside the canonical Scriptures, although they would be considered “bias” by most seeking to discredit a historical Jesus.

        What we find in these extra-Biblical accounts is that Jesus was a Jew who lived in Judea, established a following, was executed by Pontius Pilate under Emperor Tiberius, and His followers spread across the Roman Empire and worshipped Jesus as a God. Those things are corroborated in the canonical Gospels as well. This does not prove the claims of the Gospels, it merely shows that all the evidence we have points to Jesus indeed being a historical figure who founded Christianity.

        The issue at hand is: “if Jesus was so famous and performed miracles, why didn’t more contemporary writers talk Christ?”

        This actually has a very simple multi-part answer:
        (1) The Romans were not concerned with Jesus, whom they executed. They were concerned with Christianity, and only when Christianity became prevalent enough to threaten Rome. Even then the Roman writers discussed Christianity as a religion, hardly ever touching on Jesus or the “historical Jesus”. Those were moot points for the practical Romans. They just needed to know about this “superstitious” belief system called Christianity that was invading their entire empire.

        (2) We have very little of the writings of contemporary authors of the time. Much more was probably written that we simply don’t have. That’s not to say that they wrote about Christ, we don’t know. But by the same token, we can’t claim that they didn’t write about Christ either. Very few works from historians contemporary with Christ exist today. Additionally, the closer a work was to Christ’s actual life, the less it would have included about Him. It’s not like they sat down at their computer, wrote up a blog, and published it all within 2 hours. In fact, the majority of historical works of these authors were citing previous historical works. This is demonstrated by Josephus, who in the introduction to his “Jewish War” had to explain why he was writing about events that had not been recorded before.

        (3) The Romans only focused on Christianity when it became a threat. There had been several different attempts at “messiahs” returning from the region of Judea in the 1st century. Until Christianity became a political or social issue to Romans they would have no need to really address it. And this did not happen until later in the 1st century and into the 2nd century, where we start seeing an influx in writings about Christianity (but little about Christ because Christ was a moot point for most; the issue was the religion, not the founder).

        (4) Romans had little interest in “superstitions” and hardly ever wrote histories about them. For instance, Tacitus writes about Judaism and Druidism where he recounts practices and beliefs, but he never dives into the history of either, even though he had access to extensive Jewish history, seeing as Rome had fought the Jews on multiple occasions.

        (5) If even the Gospels did not show up until 20-30 years after Christ’s death, why would we expect contemporary pagan Romans to write about Christ?

        (6) Christ’s ministry took place in a rebellious region of the Roman Empire and Christ’s ministry focused on the Jews and lasted only 3 years. That’s not enough time for Christ to become famous, to spread across the Roman Empire, and have historians come and research Christ before Christ was executed as a criminal by the Romans next to two common thieves. Why would the historians need to document another failed “messiah” attempt from the rebellious Jews?

        (7) Why would the Romans write about a superstitious belief that came out of Judaism? For many decades Christianity was thought of as just a sect of Judaism. If they didn’t talk about Judaism, why Christianity?

        On a side note, I also want to address this issue. The claim is that such a tragedy as cited in the Gospels as the murder of all children under 2 years old would surely have been recorded. Well, Bethlehem is accounted as having maybe 500-600 people living in it. So if Herod did kill all male children under 2, how many would that be? 10? 20? Not that many, when you think about it.

        Furthermore, this Herod is also the same one who murdered his uncle, his children (as well as 300 of their followers), his wife, and other major tragedies. So why would historians need to write about the killing of a few children in a small town? I am not surprised that this event was not documented. Again, we don’t have thousands of historians writing myriads of blogs. We have pen/paper and parchments/papers/scrolls that don’t last all that long in the elements. The murder of the infants is perfectly within Herod’s character according to his other deeds. Plus we’re talking about a time where, when Rome conquered, they would sometimes take their enemies and crucify them along the road for miles. Josephus accounts, during the Jerusalem siege, that in one day up to 500 were crucified. Given this culture, I see no reason why the Romans would even care to talk about the killing of a few children in a far-away rebellious province.

        All things considered, I find it very rational to accept that Jesus was indeed a historical figure that can be established apart from the Gospels. If we want to know more about the specifics of Christ, we have to look at the Gospels, which were written for that very purpose.

        I am not at all surprised that there are not more mentions of Christ for the several reasons I listed above. Even if some historians lived or passed through Judea I am not surprised they did not mention Christ. And they may have, but we have so little from that time period that we can’t say one way or the other.

      • @Erik,
        You can’t draw such parallels between evolution of species (which is mainly based on survival) and “evolution” of societal “laws”. Evolution isn’t really the word to use when discussing societies, because it brings the expectation of some incorrect similaraities to evolution of species (and within a species). The development of a society’s rules is a different process, based on mutual understanding and agreement between the members of the society. And as Dan pointed out, there are significant differences between different societies around the world. That pretty much immediately disproves your idea that all people have inbuilt absolute laws from an absolute law-giver.

        My point that societies which don’t develop to protect their members against murder and rape are no longer around, is that those societies either died out or changed to include those basic rules. It’s rather ridiculous to try and invent an equivalence to actual evolution and fossils. I guess it shows that you’re getting desperate, so you throw up any daft idea in the hopes that it clouds the discussion, and hides your argument’s lack of substance 🙂

        Moral laws are like the natural laws, even if man does not know about them, they are still there and they still function. […] We do not have to discover the moral laws, they are built in us.

        Once again, you’re starting from an unsupported assumption that a god exists. And furthermore that it’s your god.

        I asked you in an earlier post why you believe in your god. I don’t remember seeing your answer, but I’d like to know. And please don’t say that it’s because the bible says so, because then I’ll just ask why you believe in the bible. And please don’t then say that it’s because the bible says it’s the word of god. I’m trying to break through the circular reasoning and “proof” that is usually given to answer such questions, to get to the real reason why you believe what you believe.

      • @Len,

        Isn’t it merely an argument from silence to assume that any society that allows mass murder/rape/theft isn’t around anymore? You just claim they aren’t around because they allowed these things. I don’t see any evidence to support that theory. It’s just conjecture. Because many societies that have gone away actually did have laws against those things, so it’s not like cultures that have them last forever. Thus, the converse isn’t necessarily true either, that societies that don’t have them are doomed to fail. It’s a hypothetical.

        With regards to why the God of the Bible (and by virtue why the Bible) it’s not a one-shot answer. Different people have different objections to be addressed. Some people have an issue with evil in the world and thus do not believe in God. Others believe in evolution and thus do not believe they need a God. Others believe in other religious systems and thus do not accept the Christian God. So you cannot expect a simple answer to a very complex question.

        If you are truly interested, I would love to share with you why I believe God exists and that the Bible is true. I cannot address the entirety of why in a single post, but I will start with the very beginning. I believe Christianity is the best explanation for everything that is, and I believe it requires the least amount of faith to accept. I posit that there is almost no subject or topic that mankind fully understands. We don’t understand the galaxies, we don’t understand the body, we don’t even know what’s in our own oceans. Thus, we have only limited knowledge about any given topic. Faith fills in the gap to that lack of knowledge. I believe everything requires some faith. For instance, when a scientific study comes out, you take it by faith until you have actually verified the experiments yourself, something which many people don’t do. I take by faith that China exists because I’ve never actually been there. Yes, I can have some knowledge about it, but have I empirically verified it? No, I haven’t. I trust the word of many other people who say they have been there and that it does indeed exist. It is very highly probable that China exists given the evidences for it. However, it’s not a certainty for me yet. Thus we are in pursuit of the worldview that requires the least amount of faith as being the most probable. Everyone employs faith on an almost daily basis to some extent.

        Can I prove 100% that God exists? No, that’s absurd. Because as limited humans we simply don’t possess the knowledge to establish absolute proofs of God or God’s non-existence, for that matter. So for any party to claim that have proven that God does or does not exist is actually false; they are really making a probability statement, not an absolute. The question is, which one makes a better case, which one has a higher probability of being true, and is it reasonable to accept either of the scenarios?

        Let’s throw the Bible aside for a moment. As far as we are concerned, the Bible is considered a suspect book that we are not sure we can trust yet. We haven’t validated or verified it, thus it’s suspect. Let’s start at square 1: can we even know anything?

        So what is truth? Simply put, truth is telling something “the way it is”. Any truth claim is actually exclusive, narrow, and absolute. By definition, a truth claim thus denies its opposite. Truth is discovered, not invented. Truth also transcends gender, culture, society, etc… If you add 2 + 2 in Canada, you will get the same answer if you add 2 + 2 in Germany.

        The concept of relativity that seems appealing to many is really a self-defeating argument. I’ve heard some say “that’s true for you but not for me”. Well, try that one out next time the IRS knocks on your door. Or when you check your bank account one day and find it empty. We do have absolutes that we live by. Indeed, we couldn’t live if we didn’t have these absolutes.

        To claim that truth does not exist is absurd…is the statement “there is no absolute truth” a true statement?

        What do you think? Do you agree that there are absolute truths in some fashion in this existence? Do you expect your bank account to have the money you put into it? Do you expect to be treated as if there are absolute truths in this world?

      • In which country does “do not murder” not apply? What about “do not steal”? What about do not sleep with another man’s wife? In which country is lying the preferred standard for daily business? Oops, I guess these are universal truths that have existed since the time that the Lawgiver gave them.

        As to why I believe in God, it is the only logical conclusion to be drawn when studying history, biology, and the Bible.

        I have mentioned earlier the 3 proofs of why I know God exists
        1) the nation of Israel
        2) fulfilled prophesy written hundreds of years before it was fulfilled
        3) my changed life (I was born again)

        These are 3 tangible things that cannot be refuted.

      • @dlegr250
        An argument from silence? No more than you saying that just because there are currently no records of Jesus from the then contemporary writers doesn’t mean they didn’t write about him. And anyway, I originally said “Maybe some societies did develop without those basic rules. They are no longer around. [added emphasis]”. So yes, a specifically hypothetical example. That was the whole idea, to illustrate my point.

        Regarding why the god of the bible: Actually, I do expect a simple answer, but believers are never able to give me one. Why do you believe?
        I see no problem explaining what you call evil, I see no problem accepting evolution, and I certainly don’t follow any other religious system. None of these (and pretty much all other “objections” that believers have or think that non-believers have) are any problem whatsoever when you don’t start from the point of already believing in a god.
        My simple reason for not believing in the bible is that there’s no evidence that it’s true, other than what men say – and they get their ideas from the bible itself = circular reasoning. Even with the writings you mention in your response to Dan, I don’t think there’s anything that says (for example) “Dear diary, I was in the pub at lunchtime and Fred came in. He used to be as blind as a bat – has been since birth – but now he can see perfectly. He says some guy called Jesus healed him. It’s a miracle!” I agree that the absence of such writing is no proof that such a miracle didn’t happen, but you’d expect it to be quite exceptional (kinda sorta like a miracle), so fairly newsworthy – at least diaryworthy by someone at the time. But OK, absence is not conclusive proof (but still a bit iffy that there’s nothing at all). Perhaps someone called Jesus could have existed, but there’s no evidence that he was actually the son of god or that he did miracles.

        Believing in god because you (or humans in general) don’t understand how stuff works is silly. I don’t understand how it works, therefore god. And specifically, my flavour of god, not yours. The god of the gaps is getting smaller and smaller as we discover how things work. Is that the kind of god you want to worship – one that we repeatedly shrink and disprove as science progresses?
        It takes much less faith (actually, none) to not believe in fairy stories, but to observe and accept that there’s no evidence of a mega-parent in the sky who takes responsibility for everything, so it’s all going to be OK. Such a belief is abdicating your personal responsibility to live as you should – you don’t need externally imposed laws to live a good life, you just need to follow what has developed in the society where you live. For your example: Does China exist? Well, there’s a perfectly good way to find out for sure – go there. Does god exist? There’s no way to find out for sure, because he doesn’t show up in the real world. But that doesn’t mean that we should make up stuff and pretend he does exist without any evidence.

        Your attempt to deflect the issue by delving into philosophy won’t work. But I do like the way you say that truth is discovered not invented. That pretty much kills Erik’s argument that god invented the moral laws. 2+2 is always 4. That’s true – no atheist will argue with that. But when you talk about “universal truth”, you get close to trying to imply that someone must have made that universal truth. There’s no evidence that that is the case. Ceiling cat may exist, but there’s no evidence that it does, nor that it interacts with us here on this planet. If you have evidence, then please let us know.

      • @ Len
        I gave you 3 clearly provable points to why I believe in God and why any rational person who has looked at the evidence with an open mind would also come to the same conclusion.

      • @Len,

        You ask why I believe in God and Christianity and say it should be a simple answer. Well, no, most things worth knowing are worth spending some time learning. If you simply want an itemized listing of why I believe, though, here it is. This is a fairly-detailed accounting of why I believe in Christianity. Now that I have provided my basis for belief, what is yours?

        What worldview do you operate under? How do you explain how the universe came to be? How do you decide what to do with your life day-in and day-out? What purpose does your life have?

        Either the universe has always been, it came out of nothing, or it was created by something outside the universe. Out of nothing makes no sense; without an outside force acting upon it, matter can’t create itself if it doesn’t even exist in the first place. So that’s an illogical position.

        The 2nd argument is that the universe has always existed. This can’t get around our current understanding of entropy in the universe. Many theories have been pulled out of thin air to explain how matter can exist continuously, but they’ve never been substantiated. It’s mere grasping at straws.

        There is another excellent argument for why I can’t accept the universe as eternal: crossing an infinite amount of time. If the universe had no beginning and is thus infinite, and we are at an end of days (today), how did we cross an infinite number of days to get to today?

        Furthermore, the universe has been observed to be expanding outwards. Wind the clock back, and it comes to a single point in time/space. We commonly call this the Big Bang.

        The laws of thermodynamics also point to this. The 1st law says there’s a constant amount of energy in the universe. The 2nd law states that the amount of usable energy is decreasing. So if you have a finite resource over an infinite time period, what do you have? Nothing. It would have burned out an infinite time ago. Thus, we are faced with a finite universe that started at some point in time.

        Add to this cosmic background radiation, which is an aftereffect of the Big Bang event explosion. It was predicted in 1948 and finally confirmed in 1965 by Nobel Prize winners Penzias and Wilson. It’s everywhere in the universe, and points to a great explosion event. And Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity refers to the inter-dependence of time, space, and matter (ie, can’t have one without others).

        Thus, I find it very rational to first believe that the universe indeed had a beginning, and that the only rational explanation for that beginning was something external to the universe creating it. By definition, this also establishes a rational basis for believing in the “supernatural”, as the natural world is defined by the universe. If a force outside of the universe must create the universe, it is beyond the universe and thus “supernatural”.

        Now many cite the argument “who made God?” or “if God exists forever, can’t the universe exist forever?” The Law of Causality only states that things that came to be necessitate a cause. God exists forever, and thus does not fall under the Law of Causality. Furthermore, the Law of Causality (and all science) is an observation of the physical universe. If God is indeed outside the universe, the law wouldn’t apply to Him.

        And it is indeed “logically” possible that the universe could exist forever. That’s one of the possibilities I list above. However, when we bring it down to some real science, we find that it does not seem “actually” possible for the universe to exist forever.

        What created the universe? I believe it was an intelligent force, not a natural force. Why? Because I can clearly see that design in the universe. I’ve done a lot of software before. I write programs that carry out instructions. If someone were to come up to me and tell me that he found this amazing program that just popped up out of nowhere that did amazing things like allow bank transactions to occur between existing banking industries, I would not believe him. Why? Because intelligence doesn’t just pop up out of nowhere. We’ve never observed that. It makes no sense. Yet I’m supposed to look at the universe and my own body and assume that it just happens over time?

        Either the universe was designed or it was random. I’ve never observed random acts to create intelligent data. It’s the old “monkeys at the typewriter” argument. It’s never been done. But the monkey argument does indeed have an infinitely small chance such that it’s virtually 0 in mathematical terms of happening. However, what “monkeys” are operating on organisms to change them over time? What mechanism keeps each and every minute mutation at each stage so that they eventually build up to something useful? If DNA didn’t exist initially, how did the RNA tell it how to assemble properly? I see purpose and design in the universe. Thus, I see a Designer. I have yet to come across a satisfactory naturalistic explanation that can actually be demonstrated to exist beyond someone’s imagination.

        Very strange theories have been posited to explain the mathematical chances related to the design we see in this universe. A common one is the multiverse theory that claims many universes exist, thus increasing the chances that random chance will create a functional universe. In fact, I think it was Hawkings who stated there were possibly more universes than there are atoms in our known universe (I would have to research the citation, but the principle he stated is true). However, this multiverse theory has some serious flaws, the chiefest of which: it has 0 evidence to support it and is a metaphysical concoction not rooted in any science. Furthermore, an infinite number of anything in reality is unfeasible. Seems to me that believing in something with no evidence especially when it is contrary to the evidence we do have is called faith.

        It’s like the story of Johnny. He was home one day and saw a note that read “take out the trash – MOM”. Well, Johnny remembered his biology class and recalled that life itself is the result of mindless, natural laws. So why couldn’t this message be the same thing? Maybe some natural force created this message and not his mom. So Johnny decides to skip the trash and go to the beach, where he sees his high school crush Mary holding hands with another guy Bob. As Johnny walks behind them, he sees in the sand a hand-written note that says “Mary loves Bob”. Not to be discouraged, Johnny again remembers that everything is a result of natural, random laws and concludes that this is just another work of natural forces. Let’s just ignore that Mary and Bob are walking away hand-in-hand and that there’s a hand-written note saying “Mary loves Bob” in the sand where they just were. That’s irrelevant. We seem to think that there’s intelligence and designers behind that intelligence EVERYWHERE except when it comes to God…why must we deny that a God designed the very basic essentials of life when we claim designers for everything else?

        You rip open the DNA inside an amoeba nucleus and you find enough information for 30 volumes of an encyclopedia. The entire amoeba has enough info for 1,000 such encyclopedias. We use the letters ATGC to represent the 4 base pairs of DNA. When they combine into a specific pattern they represent the code of life. This is the information we find in the encyclopedias. It’s not random, it’s very specific. And as recently discovered, science doesn’t think any part of the DNA is “junk” or left-over. It has a purpose: some DNA is for structures, others are control switches that control how those organs or structures work.

        Whenever we see nature, it breaks stuff down. So the argument “give it more time” just doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Give it more time and we have worse entropy, not creation. Give it all the time in the world and the laws won’t start magically changing.

        I look at the evidence and conclude (very rationally, I think) that someone designed the information we have and thus the creator of the universe is not a benign force, but an intelligent being.

        This is one we’ve discussed at some length. You’ve adequately demonstrated that a society may have a logical basis for morality, in that it allows groups to thrive and prosper and societies that don’t have such moral rules don’t last.

        So let’s make it personal. Why should I not kill you? (for the sake of argument, I’m not actually making any threats here).

        I’m serious. Your argument is that groups bind together and establish rules that regulate how their group should work, and that outsiders are dangerous to that group. I’m a Christian. That’s the group that supersedes all my other groups. It’s the beliefs I hold closest to me and have the most impact. You, by definition, are a threat to my group. And also by your own definition, you are outside my group and thus my group laws don’t apply to you. So there is no moral reason why I shouldn’t kill you, and I do have an intrinsic self-preservation interest in killing you: namely, removing a threat to my group. Thus, by your arguments, there is no absolute reason why I shouldn’t kill you.

        All you’ve done is taken the argument from “why shouldn’t a person kill another person” to “why shouldn’t a society kill another society?” If the buck stops at a group/society, then there is no moral wrong with the USA firing up all its nukes and annihilating the rest of the world. Yes, some may fight back and send their own nukes. But the second we find a way to remove the other societies and survive, we should. Why not? What possible reason is there to not do so? If morality is a society thing, and societies make their own morals, then there is nothing morally wrong with Hitler. Hitler was merely following his group rules when trying to commit genocide. The Muslim terrorists performed no wrong when they flew those planes into the WTC on 9/11. It was only wrong for Americans, but it wouldn’t be wrong for any other society because they have a different set of morals.

        Do you see how absurd it is to claim there are no absolute morals and that they are only a result of societies? Morality is a prescription of how man “should” behave, not a description of what man does. With a moral system that you described, military personnel are very evil for sacrificing their lives for the “group” if they themselves do not have children to carry on their genes. Because the only evil natural evolution can ascribe to is self-preservation so that DNA can be carried on via procreation. That’s it. Claiming man should bind together so that they can accomplish great things is just absurd. Get real. We are rocks with electricity flowing through us. Why do we need to accomplish anything? You’re trying to ascribe a purpose to mankind. But natural evolution claims there is no purpose: we’re freak accidents of nature. Thus we are all going to die someday, everyone we know will die, and the universe will die out and we and all that we know will cease to exist.

        That’s a sucky future, if you ask me. See, if you’re right and there is no God, then it doesn’t matter. Cause we’re all going to go join the great nothingness. There’s nothing sacred about man. We will eventually all die out. So if you’re right it doesn’t matter what we do in this life. However, if I’m right and there is a God, we have a lot we will be held accountable for. So just on a purely probability scale, it’s rather foolish to bet against a God because you have nothing to gain if you’re right but a lot to lose.

        Ok, so up to this point we see that something external to the universe created it, that this external thing has a mind because design/morality are the results of intelligence. I will reference this being as the Designer for now. So if this Designer exists and created our universe, isn’t it logically possible that the Designer could also interact in our universe and alter/manipulate/supersede or merely employ laws we simply don’t understand yet? This is what most religious refer to as a “theistic god”. A being with supreme power, intelligence, and personality.

        Is this Designer infinite? As far as we can tell, yes. He has no limits with regard to space/time/matter/energy (all products of a physical universe which the Designer supersedes). The Designer has the ability to create this universe. The Designer lacks nothing and is thus infinite.
        So if we know these things about this Designer, what can we conclude? Well, we can conclude that only monotheistic religions are valid because those are the only religions that make the cut up to this point. There are monotheistic religions, polytheistic religions, and new age (a “force” vs a Being). The new age we discount because we’ve already established a force cannot make choices, and a force cannot establish intelligence because that requires choices. Thus any attempt at defining god as nature doesn’t work…added to this the argument that if god is nature, how did it come to be? We addressed that issue early on.

        So what about polytheism? Well, this is actually illogical. If the Designer is infinite, how can there be multiples? If there are multiples, then we have a way of distinguishing between them, which means they are different and thus not all infinite. So there can only be one infinite Being.

        So that leaves us with Judaism, Islam, or Christianity. Each of these belief systems make exclusive claims that negate the other. They cannot all be true because they contradict each other in the vast majority of teachings. So since these are the only logical conclusions so far with which to understand the Designer, which one is valid?

        I assert it is reasonable to believe the Designer has communicated to man in some fashion. The Designer has already communicated to us by creating us and establishing some natural law upon our spiritual hearts that ascribe how we ought to behave. Why doesn’t this Designer appear to each one of us in person to demonstrate His existence to us? Well, that’s where human free will comes into play. We believe in the free will of man to make choices. If the Designer pops into existence, do you really have the ability to choose to love the Designer? Isn’t that sort of short-circuiting your abilities to choose? Do we want the Designer to compel us to accept something that we don’t want to accept?

        In order to not force man to make a choice, I believe it is reasonable to use written language as an appropriate means of communication between man and the Designer. It is able to be copied and passed on through all generations, and it is there for man to accept or deny as he wills.

        So which of the big 3 monotheistic religions has the right book? I posit that the only real legitimate means of verifying the Designer’s book is with events that can only be explained by the Designer. Miracles are the Designer’s “seal”. Miracles allow the Designer to verify His message and confirm which system is correct.

        It is not improbable or unlikely at all that miracles can happen. If the Designer exists (what we’ve discussed up to this point) miracles are perfectly acceptable. And science does not disprove miracles, because science is merely the observation of the natural world. By definition science can’t deal with the supernatural or miracles because science can’t observe them. Thus science is not at odds with miracles.

        But aren’t the laws of nature immutable? No. Creation itself was a violation of natural laws, namely something coming into being when before there was nothing. Natural laws don’t CAUSE things, they are a description of what we see. Is it possible that scientific and natural laws are wrong? Yes. As our understanding deepens, we may alter some of our laws. But some of them are so well-established that if we altered them we would in essence disregard all science up to this point (namely the 3 laws of thermodynamics).

        Now some still cling to David Hume’s argument against miracles. But Hume defeats himself. Hume claims that the evidence for the regular is always greater than the evidence for the rare. However, how many times have you been born? Only once, I imagine. How many times did the universe come into existence? How many times was life started? How many times did history occur? All of those are one-time or rare events. Even if Hume were true, he merely shows that miracles need more belief than a regular event, not that they cannot happen. Hume is telling people that even if they saw a dead guy rise from the dead, they shouldn’t actually believe it happened, because the evidence for regular events is always greater than rare events, and the wise man always goes with the greater evidence. A little silly, isn’t it? Why not go where the evidence leads instead?

        So both the Bible and Koran employ miracles to demonstrate a message from the Designer. Nnow that we’re entering into the “religious” realm, let’s call our Designer God for simplicity, as that’s what all the major possible religions call Him.

        Many people say that the Bible has tons of miracles and today we see none. Well, let’s clear up that fallacy right now. The BIble has around 250 miraculous events (give or take a few) and these are actually spread over a very small period of time: Moses, Elisha/Elijah, and Jesus and the apostles. Now you spread that across the entire Bible history time period, and miracles were also a very rare event in Bible times. So it’s not like miracles happened a lot in Bible times and don’t happen now. They were and still are rare events that were employed at specific times to validate a message from God. Today we simply don’t have a need for miracles as God has told us all we need.

        So we see God exists, and that He employs miracles to confirm His messages to man. So if we can find support for one of these miracles we can confirm which religious belief system is correct. I’m jumping to the NT because I find it to be the most credible place to find a confirmed miracle. If we can establish that God has granted divine support of one system, we can discredit the other systems as opposed to the system God supports.

        To start out with a little perspective, we have 9-10 non-Christian references to the Emperor Tiberius within 150 years of Christ’s death. In that same time period, we have 10-11 references to Christ by non-Christian sources. Depends how you count them, but the fact is that Christ is mentioned about as many times as the Roman emperor who ruled during Christ’s time. Bring in Christian references, and Christ wins hands-down (nearly 42-43 references to Christ). I’ve also addressed the historical sources in other comments on this post. Thus, I will not rehash what I’ve already stated. If one wants to believe that Jesus never existed, I will not try to stop them from believing what they want.

        What do the non-Christian writers tell us about Christ and Christianity? That Jesus lived in Judea, was a Jew, taught some interesting doctrines and gathered a following, was crucified under Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor, Christ’s followers worshipped Christ as a god and died for that belief, and Christianity spread across the Roman Empire. That’s very similar to what the Gospels state.

        So the question is two-fold: do we have accurate copies of what the Gospels said, and did the Gospels speak truth in the first place?

        I will not spend time establishing the copies of the NT as reliable. That has been adequately established by much scholarship. No doctrinal issue has ever been at stake by the portions in contest, and the majority of errors come from spelling or easily-recognized errors. I fully believe the Gospel accounts we have today is, in essence, the writings that the original authors penned. I say in essence because we have a translation and you cannot translate literally from one language to another. If you want to know more about this topic, there’s a plethora of books on it. One you may want to read is “From the Mind of God to the Mind of Man”. I assume one accepts that the copies we have today are, for all intents and purposes, the same information the Gospel writers wrote. The evidence is out there, it’s just a lot of information to get through that provides little benefit to the topic at hand.

        So if we have these copies so what? How do we know that they aren’t full of lies? How do we know the Gospels are trustworthy? We’re not establishing inerrancy for the Scriptures, merely establishing whether the main story of the Gospels is really fact or fiction.

        So what criteria will we apply to determine if the Gospels are telling us the truth? Let’s examine some historical tests and see if the Gospels measure up:
        (1) how early is the testimony?
        (2) are there eyewitness testimonies?
        (3) is the testimony from multiple, independent sources?
        (4) are the eyewitness trustworthy?
        (5) is there corroborating evidence from archaeology or other authors?
        (6) what do the enemies say?
        (7) does the testimony contain elements of realism (embarrassing/negative)?

        Now I must address the common attack that the Gospel writers are biased and can’t be trusted. In summary, there’s no such thing as an unbiased person with regards to religion, because religions claim absolute truths that are true for all people, thus everyone has a stake. Atheists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc… They all are making claims that hold true for everyone. If atheism is true and there is no God, it’s not only true for the atheist; it’s true for me as well. And if Christianity is true, vice versa.

        Furthermore, yes, the Gospel writers were biased. But WHY were they biased? Why did they give up their normal lives to follow Christ and receive persecution, torture, and brutal deaths? They gained nothing humanly speaking by following Christ. They actually had every reason to deny the resurrection of Christ. They lost a lot in this world by following Christ. So the important question is not “how can we verify the writings of these biased writers” but really “why were these writers biased in the first place?”

        Most of the apostles were Jews. Why would they benefit from turning to Christianity? They had a devout religious system that held Jews as God’s chosen people and held other people in disdain. Why would the apostles invent a story that resulted in a sucky life for them and allowed non-Jews to be elevated to the chosen people of God as well?

        Furthermore, simply claiming someone is biased doesn’t mean they can’t be telling the truth. So if a guy walks into my house and shoots me, is the testimony of 9 family members not valid in court because they are “biased” against the guy? No, it’s the reason they are biased which is important, namely they were eyewitnesses to the event and are thus “biased” because they know what they saw.

        So let’s examine the NT writings in a brief overview.

        IS THE NT EARLY?
        The entire NT was written before 100 CE. How do we know? The church fathers had quoted 25/27 of the books, and some of the quoted books were 3rd John which would come after 2nd John (one of the books not quoted). Adding to this, the fathers quoting them were in various regions of the world, and it takes time to write/copy documents for them to disperse. So 100 CE is the end-date for the NT. The accepted dates for most are around the 70s CE, and there are strong arguments for placing several books considerably earlier. Why before this date? Because none of the writings mention the huge destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, a prophecy Christ Himself made. This was essentially the destruction of the Jewish nation and a fulfilled prophecy by Christ. Why would these devout former Jews not mention it? Some say this is an argument from silence. It’s not, actually, because the NT writings do indeed reference Jerusalem and talk about it as if it is still standing. It would be like someone writing a history of the World Trade Centers but having no mention of the attacks on 9/11. That seems pretty strange. I think it very reasonable to assume that such a book was written before the events of 9/11.

        Now let’s take it even further. We have Luke writing in the book of the Acts of the Apostles a very meticulous chronicle of his time with the apostle Paul. Luke was an insanely accurate historian, recounting about every mundane detail you could think of, including the depth of water when their ship crashed into the island of Malta. So don’t you think that Luke would have recorded the death of the main subject of his book of Acts, namely Paul’s death? Or if Jesus’ brother James had been executed? Luke records the death of lesser-known Christians such as Stephen and James the brother of John. It seems odd he would not record the deaths of more well-known Christians such as Paul or James the brother of Jesus. No, instead Acts ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome. The church fathers write that Paul was executed by Nero, and Nero’s reign ended in 68 CE. Josephus accounts that James the brother of Jesus was executed in 62 CE. It is therefore extremely likely and probable that the book of Acts was written before 62 CE. And the book of Acts is Luke’s 2nd work. Luke’s 1st work was the Gospel according to Luke. The Gospel of Luke is thus very realistically dated around 60 CE. Now the majority of scholars state that Mark was the earliest Gospel, and the others used some resources from Mark for their works. So Mark was probably written sometime in the mid 50s CE.

        Add to this Paul’s first letter to Corinth is dated around 55 CE and is really not contested by any major scholar. And in that letter we have Paul addressing issues such as the Lord’s Supper, and then most importantly, talking about Christ’s death and resurrection in I Cor 15:3-8. Why is this important? Because most scholars believe this passage was the citing of an early creed that was established within 18 months to 8 years of Christ’s death. Why is this important? Because there isn’t room for inserting myth or legend when you’re talking about years. Those things happen over centuries of time.

        So there is credible evidence to date several parts of the NT within 10-15 years of Christ’s death, the vast majority of it within 40 years, and all of it within 70 years. And keep in mind that 70 years is the absolute latest a dating could be allowed. I find the evidence very compelling that the majority of NT books of interest were written within 30 years of Christ’s death.

        So the NT writings are indeed early. Yet some claim they aren’t early enough and can’t be trusted. That’s really just stretching it. People routinely write about events that happened 30-50 years ago and we still accept the eyewitness accounts. Events that make deep emotional impacts upon us are remembered fairly easily. Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated or the events of 9/11? Furthermore, legends can begin to crowd out facts with a few years when there are still eyewitnesses around.

        But why weren’t they even earlier? Well, the NT culture was mostly illiterate. They had a tradition of oral accounts, not writing. Add to this that as Christianity spread, the writers finally saw a need to put things down on paper to spread testimony around the world.

        But we have within 150 years of the events nearly 43 authors referencing Christ compared to the Emperor Tiberius’ 10. Nine of the 43 were eyewitnesses or contemporaries of the events who wrote 27 documents, and most of those 27 documents either cite or reference the resurrection of Christ. If people claim there should have been more I think they are merely refusing to accept the facts that have been presented.

        All throughout the NT documents there are claims of witnessing the events. And then Luke also comes along and details things down to what particular name certain rulers were labeled at a certain time. The details Luke recounts come from a first-hand eyewitness. There are at least 84 verifiable historical facts and minute details recorded in the book of Acts. Yet that book also records 35 accounts of miracles performed by Paul or other apostles. If he was so accurate in little details, why would he blatantly lie about the miracles? To claim he was lying is really only based in anti-supernaturalism, which we’ve already discussed. If the supernatural exists, miracles are possible, thus Luke could indeed have been recording factual events. In short, the testimonies verify with detail that they were eyewitnesses. One couldn’t come up with that level of detail otherwise.

        The Gospels contain divergent details. They are not all the same; they each have something different to provide. Since the earliest times the Gospels have been attributed to the namesake authors. We have 2 eyewitnesses (Matthew and John), 1 disciple (Mark), and 1 doctor/historian (Luke).

        They went and died for these beliefs. If they weren’t true, then these guys were really not the smartest bunch out there. Also, why did the non-Christian writers establish a similar story to what the Gospels account? Third, the Gospel writers extensively used real and historic names that their opponents could have easily refuted. To assert that the Gospels are a grand conspiracy is only real in fictional books. That would require various authors spread across the known world in a 20-50 year time period to get everything “just right”. Seems easier to accept they just wrote what they saw, isn’t it?

        Again, Luke has nearly 84 distinct details that can be researched in his Acts. The Gospels have nearly 30 historically-verified names cited that can be independently verified apart from the Gospels. Some of the elements of their story are verified by non-Christian sources as well.

        The Jews established a grave-theft story. They couldn’t outright deny Christ’ resurrection because they didn’t have a body to show. The body went somewhere. And the Jewish leaders claimed the apostles took it. So these apostles took a body and then they all died brutal deaths confessing that the body rose from the dead when they knew they had actually stolen the body? Then we have 500 other witnesses cited as seeing Christ post-resurrection? It’s asking a lot to believe these guys all willingly killed themselves for something they KNEW TO BE FALSE.

        Most definitely. The apostles represent themselves as fools quite often. They record difficult or hard to understand sayings of Jesus. They record their decisions to forsake Christ and abandon Him when He needed someone most. They record the condescending names given to Christ by His opponents. If these guys made something up, they could have done a much better job than what they created. To this day some of Jesus’ sayings cause controversy among Christians.

        This is the critical question that the Gospels address. What do we know so far? Jesus was crucified by Roman authorities. He was placed in a tomb with a guard. The disciples claim they forsook Christ and were depressed. Jesus tomb was found empty 3 days later. The disciples claim they had experiences with the risen Christ and then proclaimed it around the world, refusing to deny it even when faced with death. From the very beginning of Christianity we have the resurrection being presented as a historical event. So how do we explain these events? In light of the evidence, I believe Christ actually rose from the dead. In order to invalidate that belief one needs to establish a plausible alternative based upon evidence, not mere denial of the resurrection.

        WAS JESUS GOD?
        In light that God put HIs stamp of approval on Christ by resurrecting Him from the dead, and the testimony of the Gospel writers, I hold that Christ was telling the truth when He claimed to be God and performed miracles as recorded in the Gospels. There’s lots to say here about this topic, but I’ve already written a miniature book. If any particular topic needs more attention, I will address that in more detail as needed. But since I trust the historical veracity of the Gospels and their claim that Christ was God and verified this by rising from the dead, I accept that Jesus was indeed God and that whatever Jesus says is true.

        Jesus said the OT should be accepted as the Word of God. Being God, I accept what Jesus said. Thus what the OT and NT contain are verified by Jesus, Who was verified by God.

        That’s a fairly-long version of why I’m a Christian. And there are several supports and numerous details left out simply for space’ sake. I find my belief in God to rational and based upon the facts as best I can see them. To deny these beliefs I must have something with which to replace them. One cannot deny something without claiming another thing to be true. Else how does one know that the first item is false to begin with? If one is an atheist, he needs to demonstrate why. He can still be an atheist without any reason, but if he has no reason I posit that his view takes more faith than mine, because mine is based upon reason and evidence.

        Thus, I hold that Christianity is the belief system that requires the least amount of faith because it has the most evidence and support of any worldview system. I hold Christianity to be true beyond any reasonable doubt.

      • This is an interesting thread – we should all get together over a beer – that would save having to keep searching for the right Reply button 🙂 Anyway …

        @Erik (regarding proofs of god),

        In which country does “do not murder” not apply? [… etc, etc]You pretty much prove my hypothetical point – if such societies existed (remember, I said “maybe”), then they no longer exist. But there’s still no need for an absolute law-giver.

        I agree that you can study history and biology and come to learn some very interesting things about the world. But as soon as you start to include stories from the bible, you let go of reality.

        Let’s look at your proofs:
        1) Israel. A nation that has an artificial country, given to it after the second world war. If Israel is proof that the christian god exists, then I’d say that Iran, Iraq, and several other countries could be taken as proof that he doesn’t. Scratch one.
        2) Fulfilled prophecy: I’m not sure which prophecy you mean, but if it’s anything like all the others in the bible, then it is because of:
        * Deliberate lies by the “prophet” to “prove” whatever he wants.
        * Accidental lies due to bad understanding (or bad memory) of what’s actually written.
        * Taking earlier writings out of context.
        Scratch two.
        3) Your changed life. Personal experience is way too subjective and much too easily influenced by other factors to be taken as proof of anything. I’m glad you were able to change your life around, but it’s unfortunate that you were gullible enough to buy into the religions propaganda that you’re worthless and unable to do anything on your own. You deserve credit for what you’ve done. You may think that you personally – and people in general – have no strength, but I don’t think we’re so limited. Humans are stronger than that. Your turn-around is not evidence for any god, but may be evidence for the power of self-suggestion. Scratch three.


        Do you have any real evidence that isn’t subjective or based on misunderstandings?

      • Aarrrggghhh – messed up by markup. This one should be better…

        This is an interesting thread – we should all get together over a beer – that would save having to keep searching for the right Reply button 🙂 Anyway …

        @Erik (regarding proofs of god),

        In which country does “do not murder” not apply? [… etc, etc]

        You pretty much prove my hypothetical point – if such societies existed (remember, I said “maybe”), then they no longer exist. But there’s still no need for an absolute law-giver.

        I agree that you can study history and biology and come to learn some very interesting things about the world. But as soon as you start to include stories from the bible, you let go of reality.

        Let’s look at your proofs:
        1) Israel. A nation that has an artificial country, given to it after the second world war. If Israel is proof that the christian god exists, then I’d say that Iran, Iraq, and several other countries could be taken as proof that he doesn’t. Scratch one.
        2) Fulfilled prophecy: I’m not sure which prophecy you mean, but if it’s anything like all the others in the bible, then it is because of:
        * Deliberate lies by the “prophet” to “prove” whatever he wants.
        * Accidental lies due to bad understanding (or bad memory) of what’s actually written.
        * Taking earlier writings out of context.
        Scratch two.
        3) Your changed life. Personal experience is way too subjective and much too easily influenced by other factors to be taken as proof of anything. I’m glad you were able to change your life around, but it’s unfortunate that you were gullible enough to buy into the religions propaganda that you’re worthless and unable to do anything on your own. You deserve credit for what you’ve done. You may think that you personally – and people in general – have no strength, but I don’t think we’re so limited. Humans are stronger than that. Your turn-around is not evidence for any god, but may be evidence for the power of self-suggestion. Scratch three.


        Do you have any real evidence?

      • @ Len
        And again you want to change the goal posts (since there are no cultures that do not practice “do not murder” they must have gone out of existence). It is the lame “our examples did not fossilize” when evolutionists speak of the fossil record. They do not exists because they never have. These truths are universal, given to all men by the Law-giver. That is the only way to account for the fact that every nation, tribe, and tongue follows these rules and have followed them from the beginning.

        Israel existed and occupied the land long before WWII. You really should work on your history.

        Iraq and Iran do not have promises that they will exist as long as God does. Israel does have that promise. Many, many nations have tried to destroy them over the centuries but all have failed. The Israelites still exist, just as God promised. When they stop existing then God will also. The Romans tried to mix them into the nations and cause them to disappear (like many other people groups all throughout history). They failed. They actually disappeared while Israel remains. Proof one still stands.

        Obviously you have not studied the prophecies of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Have you? Please be honest. If you have not then you really do not have much ground to stand on in this argument. Arguing as a novice leads you to some pretty absurd conclusions. There are over 300 Old Testament prophesies about the first advent of the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all of them, some of which He had no control over, like his gender, who His parents would be, where He would be born, His nationality, the time in history He would be born ect. He also could not choose the method of dying while even that was prophesied in the Old Testament. Again, if you want to have this part of the discussion then you need to be informed, not just regurgitating some talking points. Point number 2 still stands.

        I have personal witnesses who have seen the change in me. It is not me telling others about it. They come to me and tell me that they have seen it. I know about it because I have experienced it. I did not change my life. I had tried that before and failed over and over. When I came to Christ, that is when the transformation took place. I was born again, changed spiritually from the inside out. Trust in yourself was the lie that got mankind to fall into sin. In fact that is the original sin, not eating the fruit. Look at the passage in Genesis 3. The tempter says, “you will be like God” or in other words, “you no longer need Him to tell you how to live” (even though He created you and knows what is best for you), “you can do it yourself”. Because of that mentality, the world is in the mess that it is in today. Have you ever worked with addicts? I have and they all say the same thing, “I want to stop but I cannot do it myself”. This is the central focus of the Gospel, “you cannot do it on your own, because of that mentality you are in the situation that you are in”. The Good News (Gospel) is that God can help if you will humble yourself and come to Him, admitting that you cannot do it on your own. I pray that you come to understand that.

        Point number 3 still stands so once again, I have given 3 proofs that you have yet to dispute logically. I had a teacher in highschool who used to say; “don’t give me them cornbread answers”. In other words, think through the argument instead of spitting out the generic talking points.

      • @Erik,
        History notwithstanding and forgetting the bible as proof that the bible is true and that its god exists, then we have your personal change. Well done. I’m not denying or even questioning that it happened, just saying that you could take most of the credit for it. You don’t have to attribute it to any god. You did the work – maybe you felt stronger because you had something to believe it – some people need something to believe in. But still, well done to you for your hard work.

        While your starting point is that there is a law-giver, in spite of that not being proven, you’ll always be stuck with your fairy stories and any discussion will come back to unproven and unsound conclusions.

      • I really wish you would actually read what I write. I mentioned that I tried by my own strength and failed time and time again. I changed when I gave my life (submitted my life) to Jesus Christ making Him Lord (Master). I then received the ability to say NO to temptation and sin.

      • @Erik,
        And as for fossils, the missing bits may exist, we just haven’t found them yet. Just as atheists can’t prove the non-existence of god, neither can you prove the non-existence of the missing fossils. That’s an inconclusive argument. But even if those fossils don’t exist, if you understood how fossils came about, then you wouldn’t be so dismissive of a (for now) possibly incomplete record.

      • @Len,

        Not to jump into the middle of a conversation, but I saw this update and wanted to give a few comments.

        You stated that even if we don’t have the fossils yet, that doesn’t mean we won’t find them, and you compare that to the Christian’s claim that atheists can’t disprove God. I don’t think that’s a valid comparison. Chiefly, the fossil record is limited to this planet we call earth. It’s a finite number of places to check. Given enough time, we should be able to state conclusively whether the fossil records are there or not because we can eventually dig everywhere and dig deep enough to discover if fossils do indeed exist. However, God claims to be an infinite being that exists in a spiritual realm apart from the physical. If you’re going to prove God doesn’t exist, one would have to be everywhere in the known universe at the same time to verify God isn’t “hiding” somewhere. But then you’d also have to check out the spiritual realm as well, something we can’t necessarily do. The debate is whether the spiritual realm exists or not, and I think there are very strong arguments from our own universe pointing to that (I addressed those issues in the book-like post I wrote the other day).

        The differences are that God is a being who can move around, whereas those fossils aren’t going anywhere. I understand the intent of your argument, and I agree with it to a point, but there will come a point where we can look at the fossil records and say conclusively that there is or is not evidence for evolution. So far the fossil record has given virtually zero support of evolution. That may change, and I’m very open to that possibility. But with each passing year, each “new discovery” that turns out to be Chinese people attaching pieces with glue or discovering the hip bone and the leg bone miles apart, the case for evolution being supported by the fossil records gets smaller and smaller. The more we dig, the less it’s supported. Again, this doesn’t mean there aren’t fossils, just that we haven’t found an abundance of them as dictated by evolution yet.

        Furthermore, fossils have never been my main issue with evolution. They’ve always been an interesting topic, but my main issue with evolution is that no verified experiment has ever been run that applies random mutations to one organism and turns it into another functional organism over time. This is simply an empirical science argument, it has absolutely nothing to do with my Christian beliefs. In fact, everything I say below has nothing to do with my Christianity; it just has to do with science.

        I have seen no scientific verification that the key thesis of evolution is true. We haven’t observed mutations being helpful; pretty much every mutation has been harmful (destruction of genetic material, not building it up). No one has put forth a credible theory as to why each genetic change at each micro-mutation is kept so that they can build upon each other. We’ve never established where the key ingredients of life came from (ie, what was the original “atmosphere” like?). Currently under man’s guidance and brilliance we can’t even turn monkey blood into human blood. We can’t explain how the intermediary species could exist. In short, the main thesis of evolution (random mutations over time altering organisms) has never been observed, is not repeatable, is not measurable, and the support evidence is shrinking the more we learn (ie, fossil record and intelligence theories). I’m not sure how it’s credible to present evolution as a scientific theory. As far as I’m concerned, when we have no evidence for something that we haven’t even observed, that’s called faith. I’m accused of having faith in God. And I admit that. I believe I have a certain amount of knowledge about God and I fill in the rest with faith. But evolutionists keep telling me that it’s a matter of theistic faith vs scientific fact. And I’m just not sure where they get that, because evolution, at the moment, is a faith system. It’s not a science.

        Now we may find support for evolution in the future at which time it will jump out of the faith category into the evidence category. I’m open to that. But armed with the knowledge I have right now, a God is winning by an extremely large majority as the most rational explanation for matter, life, and all that is.

      • @dlegr250,
        Sorry this is so long, but … 😉

        To address your first question first – what is my basis for belief?: I don’t believe in any god because there’s no credible, cogent evidence that any god exists. However, just because there’s no such evidence doesn’t mean that a god cannot or does not exist somewhere (even though it apparently doesn’t have any impact on, or interaction with, the real world). So just to be clear, I don’t believe there is no god, I just don’t believe there is one. However, as there is no evidence for any god’s interaction with the real world, I would expect the chances of any god actually existing to approach zero.

        I don’t know how the universe came to be. While I’m generally curious about things, I’m happy to accept that there are things I don’t know yet, and things that I’ll never know. But I’m also quite interested to read that scientists are getting closer to understanding the origins of the universe. And occasionally one of them passes on a story that I am able to understand, which explains a little more of what happened. But just because I don’t understand it – and “science” (if I may use the term like that) doesn’t understand it (yet), that’s no reason to believe in any god. As I mentioned before, the god of the gaps is a diminishing deity.

        Your trichotomy for the universe’s existence (“Either the universe has always been, it came out of nothing, or it was created by something outside the universe.”) is a bit misleading. As I already mentioned, I don’t know how the universe came to be (and incidentally, neither do you), but certainly two of your arguments are rather iffy. By definition, the universe is everything. So “something outside the universe” is, by definition, impossible. You also state that the universe cannot have existed forever – but later in your chat you’re quite happy to state that “God exists forever, and thus does not fall under the Law of Causality.” You happily make exceptions for god, but hold certain rules to apply to everything else. You do this because you believe god is special. In other words, you already believe in god and you try to use that belief to prove god. That won’t work.

        As for the universe having a starting point – yes, that seems to be the current understanding. The universe as we know it had a starting point. We don’t know what existed “before then”. Time as we know it started at the big bang (at or around, anyway). The concept of “before the big bang” may not be something that we can really understand. But again, it’s no evidence for ceiling cat.

        You try to make a pitch for a rational argument for the supernatural, and for god existing outside of the universe. But by definition the supernatural is outside of nature, thus outside of reality. In other words, you’ve produced a rational argument to show that god is outside of reality – ie, is not real. Well done. I hadn’t even thought of that.

        And trying to make your belief seem like “real science” still doesn’t make your belief true. You can use as many logical arguments as you like to “prove” something, but if those arguments are acting upon false initial premises, then the conclusion – however “logical’ – is unsound. Prove your initial premise (ie, that your specific god exists), then we can talk about whether your conclusions can be considered correct.

        You try to use what’s around us to show some sort of design at work, that something intelligently designed everything. I guess you can’t have looked around very much or thought about it much. Just look at human beings – created in god’s image? I know that Erik would say that all diseases are due to man turning from god, but I hope you’re thinking more than that. The design of the human body is reasonably awful. The appendix and the tailbone are just two examples of places the designer should have done better or are no longer used. But also (as the joke says) what intelligent designer would put a waste-disposal pipeline through the middle of a natural recreational area? Yay – go god 😦

        Why do you sometimes see a pattern in the world around you? Because things evolved. Why are there left-over bits in the body? Because we evolved. Why are our bodies not “designed” to provide the maximum joy and pleasure? Because they evolved – and that’s for survival, not for fun. You say you write software – great. I’ve been writing, debugging, and supporting software for over 40 years (I started back in the early 70s, when computers filled whole rooms and did less than your mobile phone does now). So what? The way you describe what you seem to think is evolution shows that you really don’t know what it is. Look it up on non-christian websites – the christian websites tend to promote their own strawman version of evolution, which they then like to break down. As you’re doing. As for observing evolution of species, look here for a simple case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_species. And before you try to argue micro/macro evolution (which are terms made up by people to deny reality), also look here: http://i.imgur.com/oAnfA.jpg

        Give it more time and we have worse entropy, not creation. Give it all the time in the world and the laws won’t start magically changing.

        You’re right – nothing in the world will lead to creation or deviation from natural laws 😉 Luckily evolution works. And your attempt to use the 2nd law of thermodynamics seems to forget the energy that’s continually being added to the system.

        You mention the story of Johnny and the note from Mom or the writing in the sand. Well, if as christians want us to believe, the christian god is so keen to have a relationship with us, and as we can find quite straightforward explanations for most things in nature (eg, evolution) without resorting to “ceiling cat did it”, why doesn’t god give us a real sign that only he could make? Writing in the sand? Why doesn’t he say hallo by writing in the sky? In a way that’s understandable to everyone regardless of race, place, culture, or language? Pretty easy for the god who created the universe.

        Once again, your conclusion that someone designed everything is based on your unproven first premise (ie, your god exists) , and so is unsound.

        Why should you not kill me? Why should I not kill you? Seriously? Because we’re both part of a larger society. We may live in different countries and believe (or not believe) different things, but we have chosen to live according to some standards. Asking why the US shouldn’t nuke everyone else, or why what Hitler did wasn’t OK, or why 9/11 was a problem, displays a naivete that – unfortunately – is often found in believers’ understanding of morality. Especially the morality of non–believers (or different-believers). You have probably been taught that people who believe differently to you (or who don’t believe at all) have no morals because they have no basis in (your) god for any morals. I think I showed quite clearly in my earlier post that you don’t need god for morals. Morals develop within a society to protect that society. Agreements exist with other societies to protect each other. We don’t enter into agreements with all other societies because the views of some of them differ so wildly from ours. That’s OK as long as we stay away from each other’s turf. Most of those societies are ostracised by the rest of us. But even those societies have discovered for themselves that some form of the basic rules is necessary – even if it’s only fully applied to one part of that society (eg, to the men). But they disagree with pretty much everything else. Again, no absolute law-giver is needed.

        You say that ‘Morality is a prescription of how man “should” behave, not a description of what man does.’ which negates your point about Hitler and 9/11 anyway.

        Evolution isn’t concerned with each individual’s survival – I’m sorry if I gave that impression (I guess I should know by now that believers usually don’t know anything about evolution, other than the strawman that’s burned from time to time in their church). Evolution is mostly concerned with the continuation of life, which usually equates to the survival of a species (that’s not a definition, just a result). So a soldier sacrificing himself for his comrades could be good for the species, but has nothing to do with evolution. And anyway, war like that is not a natural situation anyway, so it’s not a good illustration. Better would be to not go to war in the first place if you’re not actually fighting for your own survival.

        You say “You’re trying to ascribe a purpose to mankind.” – no I’m not, you are. You are saying that we exist because god wants us to worship him, he’s made a plan to get us to heaven, he’s made a list and he’s checking it twice. You desperately want there to be a purpose to life, so you invent a god and trust that he’ll make it all OK. That doesn’t make it so. Pascal’s wager (believe just in case there’s a god) is pretty daft too. If your god can’t see that you only followed his path just in case he existed, then he’s not worth any worship.

        Ok, so up to this point we see that something external to the universe created it, that this external thing has a mind because design/morality are the results of intelligence.

        No, that has certainly not been shown. The rest of the post is pure conjecture, extrapolated fairy tales, woo, metaphysics masquerading as science, and wishful thinking masquerading as reality. You continue based on your flawed conclusions, leading you nowhere.

        You appear unused to having your opinions questioned, but while you continue to make unfounded assumptions and build your arguments upon them, your conclusions will continue to be unsound.

        You seem to think that because the bible mentions some real people and some real places, that it’s true and correct about everything else. Well, we all saw at the opening ceremony of the Olympics (on the TV) that the Queen of England (yes, it really was her) joined James Bond (she actually said “Good evening, mister Bond” when he walked in) and parachuted from a helicopter. But just because it really was the Queen that we saw in the opening sequences, and she really does exist, and the Olympics really did take place in and around London, and someone parachuted from the helicopter, it doesn’t mean that the parachutists really were the Queen (who exists) and James Bond (who doesn’t). Regardless of what we all saw on the opening night. Similarly, just because the bible mentions some real stuff (people, places, and events), doesn’t mean it’s all real. It was put together specifically to promote a religion. Be more critical 😉

        You mention 500 people together all seeing Jesus after the resurrection – wasn’t that when they all failed to recognise him until someone said (or maybe he said, I forget) “that’s Jesus”? Then everyone sort of said “Oh yeah.”. But they didn’t recognise him until then. There was an article in the paper last week about a guy (in Mexico I think) who turned up at his own funeral. His family had identified the body of (as it turns out) someone who worked at the same place and looked a bit like the guy – but it wasn’t him. Mistaken identity happens – often to many people. And the heartfelt desire to have your hero resurrected can be “realised” when someone claims they are him (someone you didn’t actually recognise until it was suggested to you) or that they saw him alive again, trust me. Did the witnesses all see him from close by or were they at a gathering and someone said “Jesus is back” and the believers wanted it so much that they just accepted it? The believers who died for their beliefs really believed that Jesus had risen. I don’t question that. But that doesn’t mean they were correct, that he actually had risen. It would only take one or two shady individuals to fix up things to look for all intents and purposes like Jesus was alive again – they knew they were trying to start a religion, after all. Stage magicians make their living by fooling large crowds into believing an illusion. It’s their job. One or two well placed people is all it needs. Probably not any of the 12 apostles, because – as you say – they died for their beliefs, so I guess that they really believed too.

        While you already accept that the christian view is correct, you will always conclude that the bible is true. It would be pretty daft to not reach that “conclusion”, seeing as you start out from there anyway.

        And for your info, you don’t need to replace your beliefs with anything else. You could just examine the evidence without the christian starting point and realise there’s no good evidence for god in general and christianity in particular. And drop the shackles of your belief system. But that doesn’t mean you have to embark on a life of killing and raping people and barbecuing babies. No – you live by the rules of the society you’re in; they will generally be in line with how you already lived anyway.

        PS A big thank you to Erik for allowing us to hold this long discussion on his blog 😉

      • Oops – my last comment is awaiting moderation, Probably because I put two links in it and the system only allows one per posting. We’ll have to wait for Erik to free it up.

      • @dlegr250,
        You’ll see a couple of the links in my post that’s awaiting moderation regarding observed evolution and micro versus macro evolution (and it’s to your credit that you didn’t try to bring up that red herring).

        The fossil record, being what it is, may never give us a conclusive proof of all stages of evolution, because not everything that lived and died turned into a fossil. So the best we can hope for is that we get a pointer in the right direction. I don’t really understand why you say there’s been no evidence from the fossil record. You cite a case of a hoax, but people who accept evolution are just as much put out by that stupidity as christians (or creationists) are. It benefits no-one to make up stuff. And scientists work harder than anyone to expose such fakes. That’s what science does. Any scientist who actually demonstrated that evolution didn’t work or even that god existed, would be mega-famous. None have.

        Anyway, I believe it was Erik who brought up fossils, probably to try and steer the discussion into a did/didn’t fight – I tried to address it very lightly and then keep clear.

        As for comparing disproving god to disproving evolution based on the fossil record, that was indeed not a very good analogy 🙂 I guess I was tired after answering your previous megaposting 😉

        But still you’re attributing to an unknown being (your god) characteristics that are definitely not proven. You’re basically making it up as you go along to make your god seem super-duper big and powerful. Step away from the belief starting point and you may make some good points.

        To me, evolution (as has been observed in nature) is the best explanation for what we see in reality. It works with what we have in the real world – it doesn’t need an invisible being who is only described in a book that’s nothing more than a marketing brochure (albeit a very long one :-)).

      • @Len,

        “Any scientist who actually demonstrated that evolution didn’t work or even that god existed, would be mega-famous”

        You may have mispoke, but that’s not a fair statement. Evolution is not assumed true. Evolution has to be PROVED true. Thus, evolution is in the realm of a faith, just as God is. The question is which one has superior evidence on hand and thus requires less faith.

      • I agree, evolution is not assumed true. It has been shown to occur. Check out wikidepia for “ring species”. That was one of the links in the post that’s still awaiting Erik’s OK.

      • @Len,

        I’ve looked at the Wikipedia article on ring species and was wondering if you could explain them a little bit? I’m not sure I fully understand it. Could you help explain how it supports evolution and what exactly the claim is? I just wasn’t certain and wanted to make sure I properly understood the concepts.

      • @ dlegr250…

        Here are a couple of links to check out about ring species… perhaps these websites might explain it a little better, plus they give some examples….



        For me personally, evolution doesn’t prove or disprove the existance of some kind of creator existing. I’m an agnostic, I personally don’t know if a creator exists or not. I actually do hope a supernatural entity does exist and that there is something after this life. The idea of something existing after this life is a very comforting idea, and I can see why so many people cling to the idea. However, there is no way for me to know with certainty how this universe came to be or what happens after we die, so I remain agnostic. I do think it’s possible that some kind of creator may have started the universe and left life to evolove on its own. I think the evidence for evolution is strong enough to the point where I can conclude that life evolved from a common ancestor, and not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

        To me, I believe one of the strongest peices of evidences is in the geologic column containing the fossil record. We are lucky to have any fossils at all, of all th animals that have ever existed, very few of them actually fossilize. From a young-earth creationist’s point of view, the geologic column was laid down layer by layer during Noah’s flood in a very short period of time (within a year) and all the animals were trapped inside fossilized. If the flood story were true, we should expect to see a mish-mash in which the fossils are organized in the geologic column. The animals should be in no particular order because they were swept away by the flood and massive mud slides. The only kind of order we might expect to see would be larger heavier animals at the bottom because gravity would cause them to sink faster in the mud… and smaller lighter creatures would be toward the top of the column. We should also expect to see evidence of humans, human artifacts, and human settlements at the bottom of the geologic column. If the flood story were true, we should expect to see humans and other modern animals mixed in the same layers as prehistoric animals, and in no particular order throughout the entire column.

        However, what we do observe in the geologic column is quite the opposite of what we should expect if the flood story were true. Even if you don’t accept radiometric dating as accurate, and even if you don’t accept the ages of the rock layers, different layers yield different species of fossils. The fossils are incredibly ordered throughout the geologic column. You will never find humans in the same rock layer as dinosaurs, you will never find any modern mammals in the same rock layers as dinosaurs or any other ancient animals. The majority of dinosuars were actually pretty small and mobile, why didn’t AT LEAST one small dinosaur make it to the same rock layers as modern mammals such as elephants, buffalo, or monkeys?? To prove my point that the geologic column is very ordered, scientists discovered the transitional species “Tiktaalik” in the devonian rock layers to be a missing link between fish and amphibians. This transitional form shared both fish and amphibian traits (look it up if you’re curious). What’s interesting is that the scientists knew exactly WHERE to look in the geologic column to find that missing link… it was very predictable because the scientists knew the geologic column was ordered in a way that is favorable to evolution. You will also notice in the geologic column that marine mammals are NEVER below marine reptiles in the column, because marine reptiles evolved before marine mammals. Again, you don’t have to accpet the age of the rock layers, the fact that the geologic column is so ordered is incredible evidence for life evolving over time, it is essentially a giant time capsul. Now, of course we don’t have EVERY transitional form that has ever existed, we don’t have a play-by-play recording of every animal evolving. There are a number of transitional forms that have been discoverd, the evolution of whales, horses, and humans is very well documented. In human evolution, you can see our lower jaws gradually become smaller, and our brain cavity slowly become larger and larger over time, and our brow bone becomes smaller and less pronounced. In fact, some people even still physically resemble primates to a certain degree in the face (not to be mean or anything, but everyone knows its true). In fact, all living creatures are transitional forms, there is no “end product”, life is continuelly changing. Some of the more obvious animals would be seals and sea lions, or manitees and other dugongs. They actually have small vestigial fingernails on their flippers. Ostriches, penguins, and other flightless birds would be examples too.

      • @Erik,
        Sorry – forgot to mention (pity there’s no edit function here, like there is on Think Atheist :-))…
        Have I studied the bible? Yes. But that was more than 35 years ago. And it was almost 40 years ago that I last preached from it. Wow – time flies when you’re having fun 🙂
        So I agree that I’m a bit rusty and I don’t have the time to dig too deeply any more 😉

      • So you are not well versed enough in prophesy to be able to argue credibly. That is all I wanted you to admit. Thank you. In that case, the point about fulfilled prophesy still stands. I notice that you throw out a cornbread answer (cliche) to avoid discussing the facts. Are you not a “Thinking Atheist”? If you are then do justice to the name my friend.

      • @Erik (prophesy),
        Ha ha – yes: I’m not qualified to comment on the bible because I stopped trying to make sense of the nonsense in it 40 years ago 🙂 Good try at deflection. It’s not like a pilot’s licence – it doesn’t need continual refreshing. The errors and inaccuracies, mistakes and misquotes that were in the bible (including the prophecies) 40 years ago are still there. The biggest difference is that now, anyone with a browser can look them up easily. I guess that’s progress :–) Plus of course that the apologetics industry has had 40 more years to bend and twist what the bible actually says to try and explain them away. But that didn’t work then (and earlier, of course) and it doesn’t work now.

        Have a good weekend 🙂

      • @Len,

        You made a statement that the Bible has errors and inaccuracies, mistakes and misquotes. Can you provide examples of each of these to back up your claim? And then can you demonstrate how each example you cite supports your view?

      • No he cannot. I have already asked that question. It will be a list of easily disprovable fallacies.

      • It’s not like a pilot’s license – it doesn’t need continual refreshing

        It is something far greater than a pilot’s license. The wisdom of the Bible has no bottom to it. It is literally a bottomless source of information that you could not master completely in multiple lifetimes. I am not trying to deflect anything. I am trying to show you you ignorance (sorry to have to use that word) on the subject, hopefully so that you will better inform yourself for future arguments.

        anyone with a browser can look them up easily

        Do you mean men’s opinions about what the Bible says? Because you can find 100 different men with 100 different opinions and they all can be completely wrong in their arguments. Be willing to do the work yourself. Put in the time, effort, and energy and you arrive at the correct conclusions and be amazed at what you discover. I find this same problem in many churches. People are lazy and they want someone else to figure out the Bible and explain it to them. They usually pay someone like a pastor or priest to do that.

        Another personal question, you say that time is flying by and you are correct. What legacy are you building during your lifetime that will speak of you once your time has flown by? I ask myself this question and really reflect on it quite often. It really helps me see what I am doing with this precious gift called time that we have all been given.

        You also have a nice weekend.

      • @dlegr250 (ring species),
        Here’s a shot at explaining it in real layman’s terms (without even referencing the article – this is my way of explaining it ;–)).

        Firstly, some understanding about terms:
        Species is a group of organisms that can intrabreed (ie, members of the group can breed with other members of the same group to produce living offspring). Members of a species may be able to interbreed with members of another species (if their genetic makeup is close enough) – eg, lions and tigers.
        Evolution means the change in the gene pool over time within a particular group of organisms (a species). It does not mean that a dog gives birth to kittens 🙂

        We start with a species that lives somewhere, let’s call it A. Where they live isn’t really important for this illustration. In the case mentioned in the Wikipedia article it was birds. A group of members from A find a different nice place to live, so that group moves there. They may still have some contact with the guys back home, but they are mostly self-contained – ie, they intrabreed (mate within their group). After a while (perhaps a long time – ie, many generations), due to evolution, the genetic makeup of the new group starts to deviate very slightly from the original group A. This is because the groups live separately from each other and have very little genetic mingling to produce new generations with a “bit of both” genetic makeups. Eventually we have a new group, B. They are genetically separate from A, but still close enough that they can successfully interbreed with (ie, mate with members of) A.

        After a few (or maybe many) generations, a group of members from B now find a new nice place to live, so that group moves there. They still have contact with B, maybe even a little with A (but probably less, as they’re even further away), but essentially the new group is self-contained – they mate within their group. Over time, evolution, …, you get a slightly different genetic makeup in the new group, C. They are still close enough to B to interbreed and they may still be close enough to A to interbreed.

        This pattern repeats itself several more times. Each breakaway group can still mate with the group they came from, but as they form a new self-contained group, and mate almost entirely within that group, their genetic makeup starts to deviate from their own original group. Over time, as new groups emerge that are based on the previous breakaway group, those new groups will have less and less chance of being able interbreed (ie, mate with members of) A.

        Obviously, this doesn’t happen overnight. We’re talking about many, many, many generations.

        Eventually, in the case mentioned in Wikipedia, a distant descendent group (let’s call them L – assuming that the breakaway-and-establish-a-new-colony process has taken place 11 times – it may need more in real life, this is just to illustrate the concept) finds a nice new place to live that happens to be close to where the original colony, A, lives. But they have deviated genetically so far from the direction that A has gone (because they’ve been evolving independently) that the two colonies A and L are unable to interbreed. A can breed with B, B with C, C with D, etc – and K can breed with L. But L and A doesn’t work.

        Group L has become a new species (ie, a group that can’t interbreed with the original). It may very well be that L is not the first new species in the ring (eg, maybe G couldn’t interbreed with A), just the first where it’s noticed. And it’s called ring species because they’ve grown and evolved in a way that leads back to the original group – ie, it’s a ring 🙂

        And it looks like Erik has OK’d my post from yesterday 🙂 Thanks Erik.

      • @Len (ring species),

        Thanks for the explanation. I think the issue rides upon how one defines evolution. I don’t want to get into macro/micro as I do agree with you that that’s a big rabbit trail. But the concept is that variation does not equate to new kinds of life. So if we define evolution as just some changes in the genetic code I fully agree with that. However, the key is HOW is the genetic code changed. I will use the term “Darwinian Evolution” to refer to the theory that life is the result of random processes that took the building blocks and formed them into the first genetic information and then mutations over time altered and created new genetic code, thus resulting in various organisms, and that further mutations over time permitted the variety of species we see today, like a tree with many branches. Modern Darwinian Evolution pictures our variety as a tree instead of a single chain, such that not every organism that lives is directly linked to every other.

        I do think it’s important to keep the Darwinian Evolution theory separate from the term “evolution” as you’re using with regards to ring species, because they are not the same thing. You cannot claim ring species = variation = genetic change = evolution = thus evolution is true. Again, the main thesis of Darwinian Evolution seeks to explain how genetic information is created, not simply changed. Variation occurs all the time and no intelligent person can deny that (ie, humans have blue/green/violet/brown eyes, some are short/tall/fat/skinny, etc…). However, variation has never been able to explain the creation of genetic material, and in fact is the complete opposite.

        With regards to ring species, the speciation occurs with the loss of genetic possibilities. It doesn’t matter if mutations are involved in the speciation process or if it occurs naturally (which it does), both reduce available genetic possibilities by suppressing or even eliminating some genetic information and allow previously-suppressed genetic information to be expressed. New genetic information is not created; some of it is actually lost.

        With ring species, there comes a point (the ends) where the speciation process stops, because the potential for genetic variation has stopped. An analogy would be that I have a 2-story house. Each day, you take 1 brick away from my house and my house has to re-adjust the remaining bricks to keep out the cold. Over the course of time, you can get some very different shapes. However, over time, you’re also losing bricks (genetic information) and there will come a point where you really can’t take anymore bricks without defeating the entire purpose of the house (ie, keeping the cold out).

        Speciation is an example of genetic loss, not genetic creation. The basis of Darwinian Evolution is that less-complex organisms evolve into more complex organisms via random mutations that occur over time, which necessitates the creation of genetic information. If we are losing genetic information in speciation (ring species) then we are actually at the complete opposite of creating new genetic information. I find that ring species are actually support against Darwinian Evolution.

        Darwinian Evolution claims that my 2-story house can eventually be “mutated” into a 60-floor skyscraper (less complex organism into more complex). However, if you take a brick away each day from my house, I feel confident claiming you will never be able to build a skyscraper from my house.

        So we must define the terms we use. I fully accept natural selection, speciation, and variation as true and readily observed phenomena. However, none of these can account for the creation of genetic material, which is the crux of Darwinian Evolution.

        It would be like a person claiming they are a Christian and yet don’t believe that Jesus Christ was God or that miracles exist, but only believes that Jesus was a good person and taught us to be moral and nice to people. With that definition, many people would call themselves Christians. But are they really Christians according to the Bible? No. Because the fundamental tenet of Christianity is that Christ IS God and thus able to redeem man from our sins by His sacrifice on the cross.

        In the same vein, claiming speciation is the same as Darwinian Evolution is not valid. Darwinian Evolution is not supported by ring species. In fact, ring species are actually a great discredit to Darwinian Evolution. Because if you start with 100 and start subtracting, you eventually arrive at 0. There’s never a point where during this subtraction process you magically start increasing and somehow get beyond 100.

      • @dlegr250,
        I’d be interested to see where you get the idea that evolution always means loss of genetic material. The only times I’ve ever seen anything like that has been on creationist websites. And they’re afraid of evolution, so I’m not surprised they try to bend the definition to introduce differences that aren’t really there (like the micro/macro rubbish). And I hope you’re not suggesting that people with different eye colour have different amounts of genetic material 😉 (That’s a joke, by the way. At least, I hope it is.)

        Mutations to the genetic material will, over time lead to changes in the species. Mutations can mean either more genetic material or less genetic material, or the same amount but changed in some way. Assuming we’re only talking about mutations that can be passed on to future generations (ie, they are heritable), it’s safe to say that some mutations will be harmful, some neutral, and some beneficial (in the sense that they better promote feeding or breeding). Harmful mutations will not last long. Neutral mutations may have no benefit, but may tag along in the genetic material as noise. In the future they may become useful if they assist or enable another mutation to be beneficial, but that’s obviously a very long shot. Mutations that are beneficial will help the recipient (and its descendants) survive better and pass on its genes. They may well become the standard for a new species.

        In the case of ring species, yes there is a limitation in how far you can go. But that’s because the available gene pool is not infinite, so after a while you will have gone through all the workable variations that allow you to still remain within shouting distance (but no longer mating distance) of the original species. If you go further (eg, millions and millions and millions of years rather than just a few thousand generations), then who knows what you will end up with – provided you don’t artificially limit what you’re defining is allowed to happen, by saying it can only reduce.

      • @Len,

        I’m not defining evolution as always losing genetic material, I’m merely pointing out that in ring species the variation is accomplished by loss of genetic information. Creation of new genetic information is not the same as adding a new ATGC base pair. Mutations have done that, but they almost always produce no effect. It has not been demonstrated via experimentation that this mechanism can account for the creation of genetic information such that random mutations over time can “build” one less complex organism into another.

        An analogy is a book, or a Shakespearean sonnet, to use a classical example. Merely throwing letters around (ie, adding genetic information) is meaningless. It must be situated in a particular order to create meaningful words and then those words must also be arranged in a particular order to create meaningful sentences. The “monkey’s at typewriters” thought argument has never been established. I submit that a certain level of complexity does necessitate an intelligence behind it.

        I think there is some confusion when I talk about genetic information. I’m not saying that variation implies there will be fewer chromosomes passed on. With regards to the ring species variation example, it is the alleles (specific genes that code for specific attributes) that are manipulated. Altering the alleles (by selective breeding) alters genetic information. Breeding has been doing this for centuries. Dogs, for example, have been bred such that the traits of previous generations have been lost and will not be expressed. It is a deterioration of genetic variation that creates variety in a species. Undomesticated wolves didn’t build genetic code and transform into the variety of dogs we have today: the genetic information and traits selected for always existed in the wolves’ genetic code. It was selected for over time such that some traits (alleles, which are expressed genetic information) were suppressed and lost. Thus certain dogs that were bred for over time have less genetic potential to express various attributes. I call this a loss of genetic information.

        In the sonnet example, it would be like taking a random word like “thou” and turning it into “fiaj”. There has been a net loss of genetic information because the new word now has no meaning. Is the total content lost? No, but the information is lost.

        With regards to mutations, the overwhelming majority have been neutral and harmful. Have there been some beneficial? Probably. However, the probability is absurd to claim that mutations over time account for less complex organisms evolving into more complex. To get a series of mutations that potentially build up into a more complex organism is mathematically improbable.

        In a nutshell, the claim is that if a bunch of monkeys sit down and pound at keyboards long enough, one of them will produce a Shakespearean sonnet. Would you agree that this is a proper analogy to mutations? Random forces are acting on the keyboard (the monkeys don’t know English, and don’t know Shakespeare) over time (they keep pounding and pounding without fail) and mutations are the instrument (each “iteration” of an attempt).

        Now math can be brought into the discussion and we could probably find a mathematical probability that we both agree upon (after some level of disagreement, I’m sure). But let me just short-circuit that and tell you what I think at the moment.

        Is it “mathematically possible” that the monkeys could produce a functioning sonnet? Yes. There are only 26 letters in the English language, adding the (?!,.) symbols and spaces you have 31 possibilities at each stage (give or take a few characters I may not have listed). The sonnet is a finite length. Thus, one of the possibilities for the attempts by the monkeys is the real sonnet by Shakespeare. So it is indeed mathematically possible, but practically impossible. No one in their right mind would ever bet on those odds. No one has verified that this is possible. Yet Darwinian Evolution says “here we are, thus it happened” without having verified it. That’s what my problem is.

        Darwinian Evolution is an assumption, a plausible story, that has not been verified. Ring species do not support random mutations over time creating new organisms by creating new genetic information. Breeders have been doing this for a long time, and they have yet to produce cats from dogs. Variation occurs, no question. But the variation has a finite limit. Your claim is that given enough time, that variation will eventually account for dogs creating cats (so to speak). I’m merely asking where is the experiment that demonstrates this?

        Your assumption seems to be that beneficial mutations occur and are passed on and thus over time many beneficial mutations build up into new organisms. That sounds really good until you dive into it and see how unrealistic that is. I’m claiming that is an unsubstantiated claim without verification. I am also claiming that breeding variation into a species such that later generations can’t breed with earlier ones does not demonstrate the creation of new genetic material. Thus, ring species cannot account for Darwinian Evolution.

        Len, do you think it’s probable that beneficial mutations over time build up to account for new organisms? Do you believe that new genetic material is created by these beneficial mutations?

      • @dlegr250,
        I’ll not be able to reply for a while (contrary to what some people in my immediate vicinity believe, I sometimes have a life offline ;-)), but I just wanted to respond to some of your points.

        You keep trying to limit the discussion to “Darwinian Evolution”, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and saw some interesting stuff 🙂 The tactic seems quite similar to what was repeatedly attempted in the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (whether or not you intended it ;-)).
        From Wikipedia: “The term is a curious throwback, because in modern biology almost no one relies solely on Darwin’s original ideas… Yet the choice of terminology isn’t random: Ben Stein wants you to stop thinking of evolution as an actual science supported by verifiable facts and logical arguments and to start thinking of it as a dogmatic, atheistic ideology akin to Marxism.

        I also read this: “While the term has remained in use amongst scientific authors when referring to modern evolutionary theory, it has increasingly been argued that it is an inappropriate term for modern evolutionary theory. For example, Darwin was unfamiliar with the work of Gregor Mendel, and as a result had only a vague and inaccurate understanding of heredity. He naturally had no inkling of yet more recent developments and, like Mendel himself, knew nothing of genetic drift for example.

        So while you try to keep us focussed solely on Darwin’s ideas, that focus keeps us away from what has been discovered since.

        I would rather trust what I can read on the web and on Wikipedia about evolution (eg, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution). As well as describing what science observes and what it accepts about evolution (ie, the theory behind the observations and why the theory can be extrapolated), it includes the following: “Mutations can involve large sections of a chromosome becoming duplicated (usually by genetic recombination), which can introduce extra copies of a gene into a genome. Extra copies of genes are a major source of the raw material needed for new genes to evolve.

        Regarding your example of the monkeys writing a Shakespearean sonnet, yes it’s a long shot. But given enough monkeys and enough time, it’s not impossible – even you admit that. Thinking of all the cells in all the organisms in all the millions of years since life first began, it becomes increasingly less implausible. Of course, they weren’t all trying to write Shakespeare 😉

        As for dog breeds, they are hardly a good example of what nature can do – they have been bred for specific characteristics, regardless of whether those characteristics would be in line with what nature would have achieved. But I’m surprised to see you say “Breeders have been doing this for a long time, and they have yet to produce cats from dogs.” I hope you were joking, because otherwise it rather shows that you’re not looking at things entirely honestly. No, breeders have not produced cats from dogs. Maybe in a million years, but don’t hold your breath.

        As for your last two questions: (do you think it’s probable that beneficial mutations over time build up to account for new organisms? Do you believe that new genetic material is created by these beneficial mutations?): It won’t happen every time, obviously, but based on the info I can find on the web – and what I read (reasonably nicely summarised) on Wikipedia (see the quote I gave, above) – I think that it’s definitely possible, without any “designer” being involved – intelligent (or otherwise) .

      • @Len,

        It doesn’t matter to me what term we call it. I refer to it as Darwinian Evolution not because it’s limited by Darwin, but because Darwin was the first to heavily popularize and theorize about how it may have happened. Call it whatever you want and we’ll agree on a term and definition to use.

        The process is random mutations in the passed-on genetic material of an organism create new genetic material that eventually enables less-complex organisms such as bacteria to build themselves into more complex organisms such as humans. Whatever term you want to define that as, I’m probably fine with.

        So instead of wasting time defining terms, why do you believe this process exists? Have we observed less complex organisms transform into more complex organisms via random mutations over time? If we have, what citation do you have for it to validate it?

        I do believe I’m being very honest. I’ve spent a good deal of time studying evolution and I even acknowledge the mathematical possibility. However, a mathematical possibility is not the same thing as saying it can ever happen. There’s a lot of unknowns that have to be overcome in order to claim this process has and does occur.

        I’m also not clinging to any religious belief system in opposition to evolution (or whatever term we employ to describe the above process). I’m simply asking the scientific community to establish the process as observable, repeatable, and measurable. I’m asking the scientists who support this idea to provide some real science to verify it. Ring species do not validate this process; in fact, they point to a loss of genetic variation as a result of speciation.

        You stated you believe it is possible for this process to occur without any God/Designer being involved. Fair enough, if you want to believe that. If you are truly convinced that’s where the truth and best explanation are for the evidence we have, I can’t tell you that you’re wrong. People believe and are convinced by different things.

        But why do you believe it? Has it been empirically demonstrated to you? Have you seen the transformation for yourself from a lesser organism to a more complex organism? Have you verified that the scientists are not lying to you or deceiving you?

        When I defend my Christian beliefs I have to establish the possibility that God exists, I have to establish the historical plausibility and then veracity of the Gospels and surrounding non-Christian texts, I have to establish that if a God exists that it is most likely the God of the Bible, and I also have to address modern cultural and ethical issues. I’ve researched and have rational answers for each of these points. A select minority I do have to take on word of mouth with regards to ancient documents. But many of the philosophical and logical arguments for God are easily performed by any person.

        So I’ve carefully researched my belief system. I feel logically safe in my belief system. Yet you tell me that you believe your system because people have told you it’s true.

        So why do you believe your system is the best explanation beyond accepting the words of some men who say it’s true?

  10. dlegr250 great explanation… I am a Catholic, but I thought Dan brought up good points that were not shown to be wrong by anyone else… it was not until you explained that Christ did not follow the Mosaic law because Christ had fulfilled the Mosaic law and it no longer held sway over God’s people did I understand.

    I know this is off topic and I also know you probably won’t agree with me on this issue, but because I am impressed with your ability to explain, I am posting a letter to the editor I wrote after my priests sermon on abortion where he went on to tell us who not to vote for, and if inclined I would love to hear your take on the issue.

    “For some reason, the Catholic Church has determined the separation of church and state only matters when they are protecting their rights and can be ignored at their discretion.

    First, let me say I am normally a proud practicing Catholic, although there have been times, like the church’s cover-up of pedophile activity by some priest and their choice to ignore the victimization of the children affected, that did embarrass and sicken me, and today was another such time.

    Today at Mass, I listened as the priest used the skills that could only be compared to a super-pack political advertisement, twisting together facts and fiction to come up with something more false than true.

    Somehow today’s sermon turned the fact that I am a pro-choice Catholic into meaning I am pro-abortion – The words pro-choice were never used, but the word pro-abortion was used many times. Before I go into why this is an outright twisting of facts, let me ask one question: How many people do you know who would say they are pro-abortion? That would mean they support abortion of life in all cases of pregnancy. Let’s examine what “Pro” means. The definition reads: “An advantage of something or an argument in favor of a course of action: ‘The pros and cons of joint ownership.'” Who in their right mind would state that they favor abortion over life?

    I asked the priest on the way out of church when did pro-choice turn into pro-abortion, and he said, “That is what it means, that they advocate abortion.” How sad and how twisted is that thinking?

    So for the benefit of the priests across this nation who are preaching these half-truth, super-pack-style sermons, let this pro-choice Catholic educate you on what I really believe: First, I am against women getting an abortion. I feel that every woman should seek and receive the counseling of her family, community, church or professional counseling before going through with any abortion. I am for any alternative to abortion, including adopting out an unwanted child as being the best option, but as an American Catholic, I do not feel the government should pass a law that takes this decision out of the hands of the women, and any such law would be unconstitutional.

    There is a big difference between what is morally right and the rights given to us under our constitution, and the church has every right and, yes, even the responsibility to preach against abortions to their parishioners, but they do not have the right to inject themselves into the political process and join the ranks of super packs on both sides that misrepresent facts with twisted logic.

    The priests would better serve this cause by providing spiritual guidance to the young women struggling with this decision. It would be better if they counseled them on the other choices and helped them spiritually and, if needed, financially toward carrying the baby full term and help them with adopting the child out to a loving family.

    How many young women do not seek your counseling because they are scared to talk to a priest? They think you look at them as possible murderers and lack the compassion to look at their side and help them through their struggle.

    Let me spell it out one more time in closing: I am a Catholic, I am pro-choice and I am against abortions, so please get your facts straight and take yourselves out of the political process. If it’s too late and you helped turn this election against the very party that supports some of the groups you support, like immigrant children, the poor whom the other side classify as self-proclaimed victims who feel entitled… if you help turn this election their way, I hope you can live with the outcome when the abortion issue does not change anyway!

    I have to say one thing: The American Catholic Church over the last decade has certainly helped me deepen my faith by forcing me to question it due to their actions or inaction’s and has allowed me to become closer to my God than my church because of its hypocrisies.”

  11. @Mike Considine,

    Mike I appreciate your kind words and I’m glad that my post helped clarify some things for you.

    I take your request for my thoughts very seriously and I want to make sure I adequately answer your post with proper diligence and understanding and without mispeaking. To that end, please allow me a few days to look over your post, do any necessary research, and then I’ll respond to the best of my abilities.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to discussing these issues with you.

  12. Thank you dlegr250, one thing I left out was my suspicions that the Catholic Bishops decided this year after 39 years of Roe v. Wade to tell us who not to vote for based on the abortion issue, more because of their battle with Obama over Obamacare contraceptive issue. I don’t know if your Catholic or not, but the teaching of our Magisterium say I should not question the church on issues like this, and I find myself question my religion because of the actions of some. I see it made up of just men with all mans weaknesses but the Magisterium says I basically should blindly follow.

    • Mike, keep thinking it through. Blind faith in anything is bad for you – your own cognitive dissonance is banging on the door to make you stop and think. Think carefully (and honestly) and draw your own conclusions.

    • I would first like to say this is lengthy and a bit off-topic for the post at hand. If the admin do not want the topic taken off-hand, please let me know and I will not seek to move off-topic anymore.


      Your editorial has raised several issues and I will address each of them in part. As is my tendency, this is a long post. However, I feel it is warranted that I tell you where I’m coming from so you understand my perspective and that I take the time to properly develop my thoughts and reasoning. I feel it would be a disservice for me to make claims without having properly backed them up. I trust that my providing further clarification of my views will aid you in understanding my perspective on your editorial. On a personal note, I would simply define myself as a Christian who seeks to follow the Bible. I currently attend a non-denominational church and thus I am not a Catholic.

      I do not desire to offend your beliefs or insult the Catholic church. They have done many good things but, as you’ve pointed out already, they are simply men. They make mistakes like all men. The Bible never claims to grant immunity to sin to anyone. Even the apostles sinned.

      1a PAUL SINNED
      The apostle Paul sinned as he stated in Romans 7:19 “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” The Bible also teaches that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9), which I understand to say that mankind is wicked and we are capable of fooling ourselves.

      I think it is fairly clear from Scripture that the apostle Peter was also a sinner, which is important as he is the patriarch of popes for the Catholic church. He forsook Christ during the “faux pas” legal hearings and lied about being a follower of Christ (Matt 26:69-75). Later, the apostle Paul had to confront Peter (Cephas) because Peter had caved into the pressure of the Jewish Christians:

      Galatians 2:11-14
      11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

      The full story is found surrounding this passage in Galatians, but the issue at hand is that Peter, years after Christ’s ascension and well into the Church Age, was still capable of sinning. He was not infallible. Granted, he was not speaking “ex cathedra”, per se, but I see no mention of such divinely-inspired speech in Scripture.

      The following is my understanding of the teachings of the Catholic church, so if I am in error or am stating incorrect information, please correct me. I do not desire to have an improper understanding of these issues.

      Vatican I, session IV, ch 4, section 9:
      “Therefore, faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, to the glory of God our savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion and for the salvation of the Christian people, with the approval of the Sacred Council, we teach and define as a divinely revealed dogma that when the Roman Pontiff speaks EX CATHEDRA, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals. Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.”

      My understanding of this section is that the Pope, when he speaks as the leader of the Catholic church regarding issues of morality or faith, is infallible in what he says. I do not see any clear support for this in Scripture. I see the Scriptures teaching faithful men to lead other men, but the examples of Scripture itself tell us that all of these men were sinners and never were any of them granted “immunity” to sin when they spoke for Christianity as a whole. I cannot agree with this theology. I do not find the support for it in Scripture and thus I must reject it until I can be shown from Scripture where this belief is supported.

      The apostle Paul, under inspiration of God, said in Galatians 1:8 “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” From my understanding, Paul himself would strongly disagree with the Catholic church claiming that the pope can add to or alter the teachings that are already in Scripture.

      Thus, I cannot agree that one should simply accept what they are told by Magisteriums without some basis for that trust. I see nowhere in Scripture where I am commanded absolute obedience to anyone except Christ and the clear teachings of the Bible. But I do see Paul claiming, in essence, that Scripture is complete and anyone (even an angel) saying anything else is wrong.

      At first glance, the issue of abortion seems simple to many Christians: the Bible says murder is wrong, Christians believe abortion is murder, and thus they claim “case closed” and condemn all abortion. I do agree with this conclusion, but the issue does require a bit more understanding to fully appreciate the “why” behind it. So in summary, murder is wrong because God said so. The next section of this post is dedicated to opening up that statement with further understanding.

      I think this needs some clarification. Why is murder wrong? Why are humans sacred in that sense? Is murder wrong because it affects the physical body of a person? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

      What defines humanity? Is it the fact that we have 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 eyes, and particular internal organs? No, it is not. Is a child born without arms or legs still a human? Is a military member who gets his leg blown off no longer a human? I think everyone would agree that humanity is not defined simply by the physical characteristics of who we are. Thus, damaging the physical body of a person is not the reason murder is so highly condemned by God. To further this idea, think about someone who has died. Their body is now a lifeless corpse. Is it possible to “murder” that corpse? No, of course not. The person is gone already, that corpse is now nothing but atoms. If I shoot the corpse in the head, have I committed murder? No. I may have been disrespectful to that corpse and the relatives of the deceased individual, but I have not committed murder and should not be punished accordingly.

      So the essence of humanity is not caught up in the physical body that we occupy. The 10 Commandments decree that murder is wrong. But why? Well, Genesis 9:6 clarifies when it says “”Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.” Murder is such an affront to God because there is something special about man, namely we are made in God’s image. But as we’ve already somewhat discussed, this can’t refer to our physical form. God is a spirit Who does not have a physical form. God does not have 2 arms or 2 legs or a corporeal body. So in what regard are we made in God’s image? I think Genesis 1-2 has the answer (I understand Genesis 1 and 2 to be about the same events; chapter 1 is a summary and chapter 2 contains more details about the same event).

      Genesis 1-2 records that God merely created the animals and it was good. But when it came to man, it was different. Genesis recounts that God formed man out of the dirt. So we now have a physical body without any soul/spirit/mind. What did God then do? God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7). The sanctity of man is that God gave us something special that the animals don’t have: we have some spiritual element that no other part of creation has. For sake of simplicity, I will call this element a spirit or soul: I will use these 2 terms interchangeably. I know there is a debate between whether man is comprised of merely a physical body and a spirit (dichotomous) or a body, mind, and spirit (trichotomous) but for the issue at hand I will assume just a physical and spiritual element.

      Thus, murder is not wrong simply because we abuse or harm the physical body, but because we have offended the image of God. God created some binding between a spirit and body that we simply do not understand. I directly confess I do not understand how it works; I leave that in God’s very capable hands. But I understand that there is a binding of the soul and body. The body could be viewed as an outward manifestation of the soul. Thus, when we destroy the body we have, in effect, assaulted the soul, which is made in the image of God.

      So what does it mean “image of God”? Again, I confess my ignorance. I know it means we have an eternal spirit, but beyond that I do not know. We can conjecture that it refers to our personalities or emotions (I think those are excellent ideas), but the Bible doesn’t really clarify this for us. Suffice to say, humans are physical and spiritual, and when we murder someone we have indirectly attacked the soul, which, by consequence, is an attack on God’s intimate character. This is why God has such harsh punishments for murder: we have, in essence, attacked God by attacking His image. And God will not stand for His creation rebelling against Him in that fashion.

      So if we understand murder to be wrong because we have offended the soul (which is made in the image of God), the question that now must be addressed is “when does the soul bind with the body?” Because, as we’ve already discovered, when a person is dead their lifeless body no longer is considered sacred. The argument for abortion would be that the unborn child may not have a soul yet, and thus it is not “murder” but is merely the woman deciding what to do with her own body (pro-choice).

      So when is the body joined with the soul? I don’t know. I wish I had a better answer, but that really is the only answer I can 100% support. The Bible never tells us when the body and soul are joined. Is it when the male sperm and female egg join together and form a zygote? Is it at some later time during the pregnancy? Is it when the baby comes out of the womb? I firmly support that since we do not know 100% when the soul is bound with the body, the only rational and moral conclusion we can come to is that the soul is bound to the body at inception when the male sperm and female egg unite. That is my personal opinion on the matter, and I think it’s the only viewpoint a Biblical Christian can maintain. Since we aren’t given a direct answer, we must assume the safest position possible. Let me explain why.

      If I kill a 5-year-old baby, have I committed murder? Yes. If I kill a 1-year-old baby, have I committed murder? Yes. Now if I kill a baby that just came out of the mother’s womb and is a screaming tirade of humanity, have I committed murder? Yes. Now if I go back 1 minute where the baby is still within the mother’s womb and kill the baby, have I committed murder? Yes. Now if I go back a week and kill the baby, have I committed murder? Yes. I think you can see where I’m going with this. At what point can we arbitrarily say that the child is no longer a being endowed with a soul from God and it is thus ok to “stop” the process of growth and separate the soul from the body?

      Thus, I believe that any form of abortion is killing the baby and should be classified as murder. That would include something like a morning-after pill that destroys any zygotes that may have formed. This is my personal opinion on the issue because the Bible does not provide 100% clarification on the issue.

      The argument for abortion is never couched in the spiritual sense of when do the baby cells receive God’s protection as made in His image by binding the soul and body. If it were, we must conclude that no abortion is ever right and any abortion is murder and is a direct affront to God. No, the argument is couched in the terms of a woman’s right to do what she wants with her body.

      The key issue is not whether a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body, but when does life start? Because, simply put, a child inside her womb is not part of her body. It’s a separate life that is fed through the woman’s body. That child has its own heart, its own blood, its own organs, its own 2 hands, its own 2 legs. So if we say that the child is part of the woman’s body, we are saying that the woman has 4 arms, 4 legs, etc., which is absurd. We know women only have 2 legs and 2 arms. That is why I think it is morally unacceptable to define a baby as part of the mother’s body. It simply isn’t. That baby is a life separate and distinct from the mother, but dependent upon the mother for food and warmth. It is just like a child born with mental difficulties that cannot provide for itself and requires his mother to feed and clothe him. The only difference is this child is outside the womb instead of inside, and the nutrients come from external sources instead of directly from the mother.

      A woman’s right to do what she wants with her body does not extend to the child within her womb. That’s not part of her body, it’s just inside of her body. Again, the child has its own distinct organs, and unless we define a woman as having 4 arms/legs, we cannot rationally define that child as part of the mother. The child also has rights and it is wrong for the mother to infringe upon that child’s rights.

      If you agree with the reasoning I’ve presented so far, we see that no man can claim divine absolute authority. We’ve seen that murder is wrong because it is an affront on the image of God through the soul. And we’ve seen that life (for all moral purposes) begins at the inception/zygote state. So how do we take these ideas and use them to address your concerns about the Catholic church and the apparent politicization taking place within the Catholic church?

      First, what does separation of church and state mean? Well, we don’t have to go far; we can read the Constitution and then we can read the Founding Fathers when they wrote about this issue and what they thought about it for further clarification.

      1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America
      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

      Article VI of the Constitution of the United States of America
      “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

      A little background information is required to clarify these statements. In the preceding times in America, religion ruled supreme. It is an absurd statement to say that America was not founded by deeply religious people for strong religious conviction. It is also absurd to claim that our Founding Fathers were deists or were not religious.

      Now I am making these claims and I am not providing adequate support for them in this post. To adequately support these ideas would take a very long article in itself. Thus, I will make these statements, noting that I have not properly verified them to potential readers. If one wants to know what the Founding Fathers thought, read their writings. Read the letters they wrote to each other. Read what they said in their speeches and words. They were not all Christians. However, the large majority were deeply religious men.

      The basic takeaway is that religion was a requirement for anything in the pre-revolution American colonies. Any political position required church authority and membership. Our Founding Fathers wanted to stop this practice for several good reasons. Madison’s defense is one of the best reasons why religion and government should not strictly be joined. It may seem strange that I, as a Christian, do not support the joining of religion and government. But let me defend my beliefs by letting James Madison state them for me.

      Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” was addressed to the Virginia legislature when they were discussing a bill that would establish government taxes to fund Christian institutions. I have provided some of the more salient quotes from his article, but you may read the entirety of his writing online to verify I’m not misquoting or misrepresenting Madison’s view. Keep in mind it was James Madison who presented and wrote the Amendments to the Constitution, including the 1st Amendment which I cited above. Originally, I believe Madison was against any such Amendments, saying they were not necessary. However, others desired assurances of protection, and thus the Amendments were written.

      Quotes from Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance” (1785)
      “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution. Enquire of the Teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest lustre; those of every sect, point to the ages prior to its incorporation with Civil policy.”

      “…the establishment proposed by the Bill is not requisite for the support of the Christian Religion. To say that it is, is a contradiction to the Christian Religion itself, for every page of it disavows a dependence on the powers of this world: it is a contradiction to fact; for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them, and not only during the period of miraculous aid, but long after it had been left to its own evidence and the ordinary care of Providence. Nay, it is a contradiction in terms; for a Religion not invented by human policy, must have pre-existed and been supported, before it was established by human policy. It is moreover to weaken in those who profess this Religion a pious confidence in its innate excellence and the patronage of its Author; and to foster in those who still reject it, a suspicion that its friends are too conscious of its fallacies to trust it to its own merits.”

      What did Madison believe? He believed that by separating church and state, he was, in effect, preserving strong religion. In Madison’s eyes, keeping them separate was in the best interests of religion. He believed that if they were joined, government would then be able to define religion and have authority over it, and Madison was deeply against that.

      You can read many other Founding Fathers as well; most of their writings have been preserved and many are free as ebooks online or as stand-alone articles. Overall, they did not want government controlling religion and they did not want religion controlling government, because they feared their clergy becoming politicized and watering down their religious institutions.

      Mike, taking this back into perspective with your current issues with the Catholic church acting like a political instrument, I would say just look at what our Founding Fathers wrote about organized religion acting in a political fashion and their fears about that. Now, the Bible teaches that Christians have a moral obligation to teach truth and stand for it, even if the government tells us otherwise. The Bible records in Acts 5 that the apostles claimed they will obey God rather than the government when the government is in contradiction to God’s direct commands.

      So should religious institutions tell us who to vote for and use religious authority to strong-arm church-members through fear or claims of divine authority? I do not think so. Hopefully the above content helps clarify my views as to why that is an erroneous thought process.

      Should religious institutions teach truth and clarify it for their church-members? Absolutely, as you stated.

      Do we, as religious individuals, have the right to stand against things we disagree with? Absolutely. But I agree this is best done as individuals or as organizations separate from a church, per se. If many Catholics decided to form a political organization to stand for their religious beliefs, I see nothing wrong with that. That is a separate entity from a church. The church should be focused on the spiritual issues of its members. Granted, those issues often translate into modern political issues, but I firmly believe the church can remain faithful to the teachings of Scripture without invading the government space and vice versa.

      With regards to the timing of the sermons your priest has been giving, it could be in reference to the ObamaCare as you state. It could also be that it’s just close to election time, and thus they are more inclined to deal with applicable topics. You would be more of an authority on that particular issue than I would be.

      In my opinion, I think if the church teaches the truths of Scripture, there would be no need for them to give out ultimatums for voting choices in life. It’s like raising children. If we tell our children what to do all the time, they will never grow up and be adults. We must teach them truth and then let them make their own decisions. It’s the only way they will actually grow up.

      Mike, I strongly encourage you to continue reading the Bible and seek to understand what It says. The Bible describes how the early churches were set up and established mostly in the Book of Acts. Also, read Paul’s epistles to Timothy and Titus. There, Paul establish criteria for choosing church leaders and leading churches.

      I do not think any rational person would have any problem with you studying these on your own. The Catholic church claims authority from Scripture. If Scripture supports their ideas, then they are correct. If Scripture does not support their ideas, then they are incorrect. We cannot accept men as our final arbiter of what we should believe. The Scriptures never tell us to accept men: Paul himself stated that if he or even angels came back and said something contrary to Scripture, he would be wrong. Scripture must always be our basis of authority, not man. All men have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. Why should we place our faith in fallen creatures like ourselves?

      I know some of my thoughts may be harsh. I do not seek to insult or put down your beliefs or that of the Catholic church. But I must stand for truth as best I understand it. To the best of my abilities, I believe the information I have presented is accurate. But I am a fallen human just like anyone else. If I am wrong anywhere, please do not hesitate to point it out. I hope this helps you in your pursuit of truth.

      • You mention several things that the bible says – why do you believe the bible to be true? Why do you believe it to be the word of god?

        Please don’t say “because the bible says it is”. We don’t need circular reasoning 🙂

  13. Where does morality come from? Why be good if there is no God or Gods to hold us responsible for our actions in life?? That is a common question that religious people ask non-believers and there is a good answer. And the answer is: morality does have a practical logical purpose in society. Morality is mankind’s ability to cooperate together altruistically to achieve a common goal or purpose. It is a system that keeps the overall peace in a society so we can achieve great things. Societies that permit large-scale theft, rape, and murder tend to naturally die out on their own because those dangerous behaviors are self-destructive to a society. Lets take an ant mound as an example; ants are very altruistic social creatures, they cooperate together in large numbers to acheive a common goal (survival, reproduction, food gathering, defense, etc.). If those ants killed eachother and stole from eachother on a large scale, the ants would achieve nothing, they would get nowhere. Mankind works in a similar fashion, morality is our ability to work together toward a common goal. Of course those goals will vary from society to society.

    Now I’ve heard the Christian excuse: “You don’t have to teach a baby to steal, you don’t have to teach him to lie… he will do that on his own, that is proof of a sinful nature.” ….no it’s not, the reason a baby will do all those “bad” things is because they do not yet know the consequences of those actions. Eventually, as the child grows older, the child will learn that doing those “bad” things will be self-destructive to his own life; for example people may not trust him or want to be around him because he does those things. We are social animals just like wolves, chimps, and other mammals. Humans have a tribal/pack mentality just like other animals; we tend to be loving and generous towards those who are in our “pack” (such as family, friends, fellow citizens, & people of the same faith) but we are more hostile, untrusting, and judgemental toward those who are outside our “pack”. We as humans, view oustiders as supsicious, possibly dangerous, and maybe even less intelligent because they do not think like members of our group/tribe. This primative tribal mentality comes in many “flavors” such as: countries, religious groups, political groups, racial groups, ethnic groups, gangs, mobs, family groups, friend groups, any kind of social group can be a tribal mentality. This is evidence that we are no different from the other animals, we are just more intelligent.

    History has shown us that there is no universal standard of morality. What was wrong a thousand years ago may no be wrong today, and vice-versa. Slavery, racism, and oppression of women were never an issue a couple hundred years ago, now those things are viewed as morally wrong. Your moral values will reflect the society you were brought up in. What is wrong in one society may not be wrong in another society, and moral standards change over time as well… this is not something we would expect if there was one supreme lawgiver. If there was one supreme lawgiver, morality would not change very much over time and not be so different from place to place… but the opposite is true.

    • @Dan,

      I first have to say you provide some excellent points supported by valid reasoning. Although I doubt either of us will fully convince the other of our respective views, I welcome discussing these issues with individuals such as yourself, because I walk away having learned more than I knew before.

      I have a few questions and observations I would like to present to make sure I fully understand your argument. I first want to reiterate your view in my own words so that I can verify I’m not taking your reasoning and adding my own understanding to it but truly understand your arguments apart from my interpretations.

      YOUR POST IN MY WORDS (to verify I understand it properly)
      In essence, mankind joins together at some level because we are social creatures. In order for any group to thrive (or even survive) there must be some guidelines or rules for that group to operate within. Morality, in this sense, is a set of agreed-upon rules for each group. This group may be a family, a tribe, a nation, or any group that binds itself together in a semi-cohesive format. These goals vary from group to group. Therefore, morality is logical because it is in an individual’s self-interest and furthermore in the interest of his group.

      Would this be a valid summary of your argument? It just helps me to understand if I really got what you were saying. If I am incorrect in my understanding, please correct me and show me where I made an error.

      I do want to address one particular thought you raised at the end of your post with regards to history and morality. I think there is a distinction between the Moral Law that I espouse and how mankind actually behaves.

      At first it seems valid to claim that, since standards and codes of conduct have changed over time, that morality is thus subjective. However, the Moral Law is a description of how man “ought” to behave, not how man “does” behave. To truly examine this we cannot simply look at how people “act” but how they “react”. For instance, you mentioned slavery as not being an issue before but now is. Well, let us take a Roman senator, make him a slave, and see what he thinks about it. I highly doubt he would be ok with it. It would indeed be an issue to him then, just as it is now. Just because man “has” done something doesn’t mean he “should” do something. Laws are broken quite often: that does not mean the law don’t exist, merely that people are law-breakers.

      It would be similar to saying that the laws of physics were different hundreds of years ago because people thought that their various deities controlled the rain and crops. Because these people thought and operated a certain way, did the laws of physics change with time? No. The laws were still there and operating just the same as they are now. What changed? Man’s understanding of the laws as he discovered them.

      I do not think it’s fair to say that the Moral Law that describes how we “should” behave is subjective merely because people have behaved differently throughout time. It only demonstrates that people are capable of breaking the Moral Law.

      In similar fashion, this also touches upon the idea that all mankind must behave the same way in order for there to be a Law-Giver. Again, the issue is not that all people must behave the same way, but the thesis is that there is a Moral Law that all people recognize in some fashion.

      For instance, there are various ways to arrive at an answer in mathematics, but at the end of the day, there is only 1 right answer. I can add 2 + 2 and arrive at 4. I can take 2 x 2 and arrive at 4. I can take 12 / 3 and arrive at 4. But what’s the common point? The answer for all of them is 4. Are we justified in saying that there are not absolute mathematical laws because there are various means of solving a problem?

      So I think there is a misunderstanding between describing how people do act and understanding a Moral Law that defines how they should act.

      I would welcome your thoughts on this point. I suspect you have some interesting insights I have not thought of.

  14. @ dlegr250…
    You bring up an interesting point by saying: “the Moral Law is a description of how man “ought” to behave, not how man “does” behave… …we cannot simply look at how people “act” but how they “react”” …and you gave an example of your point by saying: “let us take a Roman senator, make him a slave, and see what he thinks about it. I highly doubt he would be ok with it. It would indeed be an issue to him then, just as it is now.” What you are describing (the action/reaction) is essentially the “golden rule”, treat others the way you would have them treat you. I would agree that this is a very good moral code, probably the best so far in my own opinion. However, even the golden rule doesn’t apply to every moral dilema, especially when religious moral beliefs become involved, therefore morality can still be subjective from society to society, and between historical time frames.

    From a secular perspective, the golden rule is very practical because it can apply to anyone no matter your age, social status, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. From a secular perspective the golden rule can apply to almost any moral situation as well. From a Christian perspective, the golden rule doesn’t apply to every moral situation…. such as premarital sex, gay sex/marriage, polygamy, group sex… these are all things a Christian will view as “wrong”… however from a secular standpoint, these actions are viewed as permissable because all people involved are giving consent. Now, sexual assault is wrong because the golden rule CAN apply (one person is not giving consent). So when it comes to the morality of safe, consentual sex… it becomes morally subjective from person to person, and changes throughout history, so your “action/reaction” reasoning doesn’t really apply very much. Another area where morality could become subjective is when it comes to clothing attire or dietary laws. Even the Bible changes its moral stance on these issues, in the Old Testament people could not wear clothing of mixed fabrics and they had strict dietary laws (most of which were not really necessary). In the New Testament, those laws are irrelevant. Even now days, some people (such as muslims) may consider it immoral for a woman to wear a bikini, but here in America it is accepted by society as a whole, again the golden rule (“action/reaction”) doesn’t apply because nobody is really being harmed directly.

    Morality can become subjective when dealing with animals too. I’m sure you and I would both agree that torturing animals is wrong (after all, niether of us would want to be tortured), but what about eating animals? Does your “action/reaction” reasoning apply here? Personally, I enjoy chicken and steak, but obviously I wouldn’t want to be eaten myself. This is another issue where it becomes morally subjective, some people view eating animals as wrong, thus becoming vegan… yet other people view eating animals as permissable. So as you can see, there are moral dilemas where your “action/reaction” reasoning cannot really apply. What if you had to steal food from a grocery store in order to feed your hungry family? Again this can become subjective because you are not stealing out of greed or malice, but for survival. You and other sympathetic people may view it as permissible, but the store owner may not. Your “action/reaction” reasoning can apply to many if not most moral dilemas, but you cannot say it applies to every concievable situation, thus morality can still remain subjective from society to society, and from time period to time period. As far as the golden rule is concerned, that was around before Christianity and even Judaism, so there is no way to know if your god was the Lawgiver to hand out that moral code to humanity, or if it was some other possible deity.

    • @Dan,

      Again, some interesting points. I don’t have time to properly address all of them as deeply as I would like right now, but I will address them with simpler answers for now.

      With regards to the chronological aspect of “when” a Lawgiver gave these laws, Christianity claims that the Moral Law was around from the beginning. A conscience is what many commonly call it. In the book of Romans chapter 1, the Bible addresses this very topic. Assuming a creationist worldview, this chapter teaches that God basically implanted a moral code upon men, such that they know what is true, even if they suppress it. The claim of the Bible is that God created mankind in His image (ie, we have a soul whereas animals do not) thus we have a sense of right/wrong that animals do not.

      With regards to the OT and NT having a change of morality, that’s a much larger issue I addressed in my first post on this article. In summary, God dealt with mankind through a set of promises. Those promises were fulfilled when Christ came to earth and paid man’s penalty for sin. Thus, the OT system was fulfilled. One way to think of it is as a monetary debt that you cannot pay. Try as you might, you will never get yourself out of that debt. In essence that’s how man was during the OT times. The laws God gave served several purposes: some were moral laws to govern man’s actions, others were civil laws for government, and others were particular laws given to Israel to make them stand out from other nations so that they understood they were a different people from the surrounding nations. When Christ came and died for mankind, He paid our debt, so to speak. Thus, the switch from the OT to the NT system was not arbitrary. God’s justice and mercy have been fulfilled and mankind now deals with God in a different fashion than before. Just like a person in debt. If you owe a great amount of money to someone, typically we avoid those people and stay away from them.

      But now that the debt has been paid, we have free access to God and are no longer under the OT system. God’s moral system has not changed, although the punishment metered out has changed. With regards to laws such as the combined fabrics, they were to keep Israel separate as much as possible from the other nations. It was a visible way to stand apart. Just like a Marine wears his dress blues proudly and stands out among others. The clothing rules were not “moral” per se. However, violating them was direct rebellion against God’s specific commands, thus it would be considered “immoral” or “evil” to violate them. Those laws were fulfilled and done away with when Christ came and paid our debt. Thus, according to the Bible, the only binding laws on people today were the laws/principles Christ reiterated in the NT, which we would call the moral laws.

    • “As far as the golden rule is concerned, that was around before Christianity and even Judaism, so there is no way to know if your god was the Lawgiver to hand out that moral code to humanity, or if it was some other possible deity.”

      There are references to “laws” in the Bible before the 10 Commandments were written in stone on Mount Sinai. It is written about Abraham that he kept the Lord’s laws, for example. The Hebrews in the desert, after they left Egypt, were forbidden to gather manna in the Sabbath (also before the 10 commandments were written on Sinai).

      The moral law was given to Adam and Eve, the 10 Commandments are the expression of a higher universal moral law.

  15. ” morality does have a practical logical purpose in society. Morality is mankind’s ability to cooperate together altruistically to achieve a common goal or purpose.”

    Circular thinking: “Morality is… altruism”. You try to define something (“morality”) using terms that you should define (“altruism”). Altruism is a component of morality.

    Then your definition of “morality” is wrong. If you “cooperate” with an interest it means you are moral? No.

    Seems to me that in all the known history there were (and still are) people who choose not to “cooperate” and commit crimes. On what basis do you condemn those people, if morals are so subjective? If it’s subjective, then it can be changed. And if it can be changed, then there is no absolute right or wrong, no morality.

    What and why would stop someone to kill or rape another one? Just the “cooperation” reason?

    Also, why do you argue about anything, if you believe things are so subjective?

  16. @ Mens Sana…
    Humans cooperating together to achieve goals that are benificial to society as a whole is what altruism is. Morality is the system that tries to keep the overall peace in a society by trying to prevent people from engaging in destructive/dangerous behavior. You forgot to mention that part. Humans being able to cooperate together successfully like this (to achieve goals that are beneficial to everyone) is the result of morality being implemented, to what degree morality is implemented may vary. So what I said was not incorrect. Most if not all people want to live peaceful meaningful lives, how we achieve peace and meaningfulness will vary. Like i said earlier with my ant mound analogy, if people are killing, stealing, and raping on a large enough scale, society would get nowhere and we would achieve very little. Societies that permit those self-destructive behaviors naturally die out in the long run.

    The reason people don’t kill, steal, and rape is because there are consequences for those actions, such as jail or prison… victims may even take the law into their own hands and kill the murder, thief, or rapist. Most people take into consideration the consequences of their actions because they themselves want to maintain self-preservation… thats what prevents (most) people from doing those “bad” things, its for self-preservation. But obviously you can never get EVERYONE to “play by the rules”.

    Morality is subjective from society to society and from time to time, history proves that whether you like it or not. Different societies have had differnt methods of dealing out (what they consider) morality. Although most successful societies in history have outlawed murder, theft, and rape… its not like those are the ONLY moral situations concievable. Moral stances on many things have changed over history and differ between societies. Even the Bible changes its moral stance on many issues, such as polygamy and divorce, granted Jesus did say that he allowed divorce in OT times because of the Jew’s “hard heartedness” …which is a horrible excuse for allowing a marriage law (divorce) to go unenforced in the Old Testament. Polygamy is considered wrong by Christians, yet God allowed it in the O.T., and he even blessed some people with a 1,000 wives, so he didn’t seem to have a problem with polygamy at all backt then. So you see, even the Bible changes its moral stance on certain issues. The Old Testament Law says “an eye for an eye” …yet Jesus changes that by saying “do not repay evil with evil” …another example of the your god changing his moral stance.

    • “Humans cooperating together to achieve goals that are benificial to society as a whole is what altruism is.”

      Yes, but based on that organized crime was founded (Mafia, Yakuza etc). Because people are not interested in the benefits of the whole world. They are more interested in their own immediate gains.

      “Most if not all people want to live peaceful meaningful lives, how we achieve peace and meaningfulness will vary.”

      Obviously not. That’s why there are so many crimes and conflicts.There are far more people who cheat and lie, than people who tell the truth, even when they lose something from telling the truth.

      “The reason people don’t kill, steal, and rape is because there are consequences for those actions, such as jail or prison… victims may even take the law into their own hands and kill the murder, thief, or rapist.”

      True, some people are like that, but you can be good because there is an objective standard which define right and wrong. If morality is subjective you don’t have any objective reason to punish rape, theft etc etc.

      “Like i said earlier with my ant mound analogy, if people are killing, stealing, and raping on a large enough scale, society would get nowhere and we would achieve very little.”

      And where does a society which thinks that morality is subjective, that humans appeared by a random accident from nothing and that there is no purpose of this life get? Why should they refrain raping, stealing, killing etc if the end is the same for all (death) and nobody is objectively making you accountable for what you did?

      “Societies that permit those self-destructive behaviors naturally die out in the long run”
      So what? They die anyway at some point. Why should they be interested in such a long term goal? Look around, society self destructs because of money, entertainment and lust.

      “Morality is subjective from society to society and from time to time, history proves that whether you like it or not.”

      It is subjective only because humans are subjective. That’s why we need a ‘supernatural’ objective standard.

      “which is a horrible excuse for allowing a marriage law (divorce) to go unenforced in the Old Testament”

      You are really funny… By which standard do you judge this as “horrible”?? You just said that morality is subjective.

      “Polygamy is considered wrong by Christians, yet God allowed it in the O.T., and he even blessed some people with a 1,000 wives, so he didn’t seem to have a problem with polygamy at all backt then. So you see, even the Bible changes its moral stance on certain issues.”

      I only see that… you don’t see 🙂
      Where did you find that “God allowed polygamy”?? The stories of the life of people who knew God are presented so that we can learn from them, from the good things they did as well from their mistakes. If you read the whole story you can see the bad consequences of polygamy, in the case of Abraham and Solomon, for example.

      God educates His people progressively, using justice along with mercy and lots of patience, so that we can learn and be changed. It’s not “changing stance” at all.

  17. @ dlegr250…

    Christians always say they are free from the O.T. Law, but don’t forget Christ says in Matt. 5:18 “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

    Have heaven and earth disappeared?? Of course not! Thats what the phrase “everything is accomplished” means… it means human history (heaven and earth). “Everything is accomplished” means heaven and earth passing away, which obviously hasn’t happened yet. The phrase “everything is accomplished” does not refer to Jesus dying on the cross, it means “heaven and earth passing away”. Jesus did not divorce himself or Christians from the Old Law. The full version says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5,17-20).

    Heaven and earth have not passed away obviously, so the O.T. Law is still in effect according to Jesus. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, NOT to abolish it… which means, even though he’s fulfilling it, you’re still NOT free from it. Jesus is just providing the example for people to follow. Jesus even says that those who relax the least of these commandments AND teaches others to do so will be considered “least” in the Kingdom of God. So if you’re disregarding even the LEAST of the O.T. Laws, according to Jesus, you will be considered least in the Kingdom of God. Christians have an incorrect interpretation of the O.T. Law, and how it relates to Jesus. Paul is the one who comes along and says Christians are free from the Law, the opposite of what Christ says (that the Law is in effect until heaven and earth pass away).

    • @ Dan,
      I think that you need to study the definition and meaning of the word fulfill used by Jesus Christ when speaking of fulfilling the Old Testament. The word does not mean keep as in hold to the Law of the Old Testament (which He did). The word actually means make complete, finish, add what is lacking. The Law of the Old Testament was just a shadow of Christ. It was a good tutor leading people to the person of Jesus Christ. A tutor during those days was a slave who was in charge of delivering the child of his master to the proper teacher. He had one goal, to make sure the student found his way to his proper teacher. The purpose of the Law is complete when you meet the person of Christ (He even said that when He said, I have come to fulfill (add what is missing) the Law).

      The Word of God will not pass away and all that is written in It will come to pass before heaven and earth pass away. You are misrepresenting the text terribly.

      • I think you both need to precise which “law” you are referring to, because you’re messing the “ceremonial law” (which was a system of symbols, the “shadow of Christ”, Christ fulfilled it with His real sacrifice making it unnecessary after that) with the “moral law” – which was written in stone and it is still valid. From the context you can figure which “law” Paul is referring to in his epistles.

      • Thanks Mens Sana,
        I agree, the moral laws of the Law, the 10 commandments, are still valid. No one said that they were not. And yes, Jesus did fulfill the moral laws of the Law when He walked on the earth. Both were accomplished in His first advent.

  18. Pingback: Just an update from the mission field. | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  19. Pingback: 3 important truths from the story of the woman supposedly caught in adultery | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  20. Pingback: How is Matthew 7:21-27 lived out daily? | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  21. Duet. 9:15 “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.”
    Jesus couldn’t lawfully stone the woman since everybody left feeling convicted of their sins. She was in sin and the men were not false witnesses. God allows for mercy before he passes judgment. The moral of the story is that God forgives us so we can go and sin no more.

    • Dear not so creative,
      Same tired, old arguments that have been disproved over and over again. Why do they continue to be used? Because people do not study the Scriptures for themselves. They just regurgitate what they hear others say, or read what others write 🙂

      • lol. yes, let’s continue to rely on and believe that sheepherders of 2000 years ago had some better understanding of reality than what’s been offered in the past 200 years.

      • Shepherds, are you serious??? Do you know that many of the writers of the Bible were kings? You really need to do your homework before you write ignorant, regurgitated non facts 😉

      • Non facts? Even computers know there are multiple anonymous scribes behind the penning of the bible. A few of the authors of the OT were kings. a few.
        Am i the one claiming that a man dying 2000 years ago represents the path of redemption for geographically unrelated human cultures stemming from an ancient fable about a talking snake in garden? No. Considering the first writings about Jesus don’t arise till 1-2 generations after his supposed death and upwards of 150 years after, What exactly were your “facts” again?

      • All of the Gospels, the entire New Testament was in written form before the end of the First Century. Considering that Jesus died somewhere between 29 and 33 A.D., the writings were in circulation during Jesus’ generation. He was around 33 when He was crucified, so add another 30 years and you have all of the Pauline epistles (which would have made Jesus around 63 years old if He had not been crucified). Add another 30 years and you get into the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation written by Saint John. Jesus would have been in His 90s. You need to think for yourself and not just scribble down what you have read someone else write.

        By the way, doesn’t modern science claim that animals can communicate with each other and in some cases, with humans? Again, learn to think instead of what to think.

      • Of course there are contradictions in the Bible. One of the biggest unresolved contradictions is the conflict between Calvinism and Armenianism. Calvanism argues that God chooses in advance who will be saved and who will not, and that it is not up to humans, so freewill is basically an illusion. Armenianism argues the opposite, that humans choose on their own freewill to accept or reject god. Both cannot be true at the same time, and both ideas have abundant Biblical support.

      • That is not a Biblical contradiction. These are two arguments based on different interpretations, not a contradiction in the text itself. You are confused on what a contradiction is.

        In these passages, which earth is being referred to? Do you know that there are two earths mentioned in the Bible? These are some things that you need to consider. It is clear that you have not studied this supposed contradiction.

      • This isn’t a contradiction between ONE verse and another, it’s a contradiction between 2 groups of verses. Each group of verses supports a different doctrine that is mutually exclusive from the other doctrine. In other words, if one set of Bible verses is true, the other set CANNOT be true. For example, the undelying question to this issue is: Does God desire everyone to be saved or just his predestined elect? Some verses say yes, while others specifally say he created some people as “vessels for destruction” or gave them “blind eyes” or “deaf hears” so they wouldn’t come to the truth. Both sets of verses cannot be true at the same time, either God chooses in advance who is saved, or people choose on their own freewill. The “two arguments of interpretation” are contradictory to eachother. They both cannot be true at the same time. I have studied this contradiction, and the best answer I get is the lame cop-out “well, we just can’t understand god’s ways”.

      • For some reason I couldn’t reply to your comment with the link you provided, but I read the link anyway and decided to reply to this comment instead. The comment is long but I hope you read it all.
        Your interpretation of the context on some of those verses are way off, especially on Ephesians 1:3-12. The verse does not say God predestined the parameters of salvation, otherwise the verse (among many others) would’ve been worded differently to say “He predestined the parameters of salvation”. But instead, the verse (among others) literally and specifically says God predestines US humans (not the parameters for salvation). To be “in him” simply means to be saved. So the verse literally says: “he predestined us to be saved (in him). You can’t alter the verse to suite your purposes.

        Ephesians 1:4-5 (KJV) says: “According as Christ hath CHOSEN [Greek eklegomai: to pick out, to choose] us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having PREDESTINATED [Greek proorizo: to predetermine, to decree, to foreordain, to decide beforehand] us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will….”
        –This verse of predestining humans (not the parameters for salvation) has much more support from other areas of the Bible. I emphasized key words and phrases.

        “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ORDAINED [Greek tasso: to appoint, to ordain, to order] to eternal life believed.” —Acts 13:48 (KJV)
        –Notice the people here are ordained to believe, thus having eternal life. Nothing about the predestined “parameters of salvation” are mention.

        “…and ‘A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall’; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were DESTINED [Greek tithemi: to set forth, fix, establish, ordain] to do.” —1 Peter 2:7-8 (RSV)
        –Notice how God destines some people to disobey.

        –You mentioned Romans 8:28-30, however you conveniently ignore the passages after verse 30. Here is a more complete version:
        “For whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate [Greek proorizo: to predetermine, to decree, to foreordain, to decide beforehand] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of GOD’S ELECT? It is God that justifieth.” —Romans 8:29-33 (KJV, emphasis added)
        –Notice the phrase “God’s elect” at the end. God predestinates people to “be conformed to the image of his son” He predestines their salvation.

        “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the ELECTION hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day.” —Romans 11:7,8 (KJV)
        –According to this verse, God purposely gives people “eyes that they should not see” and “ears that they should not hear”. If God desires everyone to be saved, why would he do predestine people to be “blind and deaf?”

        “Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him; it was that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: ‘Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah again said, ‘HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HARDENED THEIR HEARTS, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.’”
        —John 12:37-40 (RSV).
        –According to this verse too, God purposely hardens people hearts and blinds their eyes so they will not believe, it sounds like their freewill was tampered with.

        –You also completely BOTCHED Romans 9 and left out important parts. I’ll give the complete context with emphasis on key phrases:
        “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then IT IS NOT OF HIM THAT WILLETH, NOR OF HIM THAT RUNNETH, BUT OF GOD THAT SHEWETH MERCY. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and WHOME HE WILL HE HARDENETH. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? HATH NOT THE POTTER POWER OVER THE CLAY, OF THE SAME LUMP TO MAKE ONE VESSEL UNTO HONOUR, AND ANOTHER UNTO DISHONOUR? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, WHOM HE HATH CALLED, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
        —Romans 9:14-24 (KJV)
        –Romans 9 clearly says flat-out that salvation “does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort,” but that “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden”. To be absolutely clear, Paul is saying that being saved has nothing to do with any desire or action on the part of any human. God has mercy on the people he wants to have mercy on, and those he does not want to have mercy on, he “hardens” them so they cannot or will not choose him. Romans 9 also says that God purposely creates people as “vessels for destruction” to demonstrate the “riches of his glory” to those he has mercy on!
        The strongest proof that these verses are speaking of the predestination OF PEOPLE comes next: Paul anticipates the obvious criticism of such a policy – that it is unfair for God to predestine people to hell – and Paul attempts to respond to it! Paul’s response is essentially, “God’s bigger than you so he can do whatever he wants,” but nevertheless. (The verses from Romans 8 say something very similar.)

      • @Dan,

        No worries, this comment will be a bit shorter than the others :)p

        I wanted to say this is a topic I have actually been looking into myself lately. And I’m not going to sugar-coat it or try to explain things away…I’m just going to say at this moment I don’t have an answer that satisfies me. And it really bothers me. As a Christian who places my trust in Jesus as my security for eternity, I can guarantee you that this topic causes me much greater anguish than you. I’ll just go and fully admit I don’t have a good answer at the moment.

        So don’t assume that Christians merely accept things by blind faith or out of ignorance. If they did, there wouldn’t be such a divide on this issue called Calvinism and Armenianism.

        However, in a similar vein, there are currently 3 varying theories about why we sleep. We also aren’t sure whether light is really a particle or a wave. And we can’t tell the exact location of electrons in an atom because of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Yet we accept that we do sleep, that light exists, and that electrons in fact spin around the nucleus of an atom. Not understanding something or not being able to mesh contradictory ideas isn’t always grounds for throwing out something in its entirety. Sometimes it is, but not always.

        I hope I will eventually find a satisfactory answer to this very disconcerting topic. However, even if I don’t, it doesn’t negate the parts of the Bible that are very clear, nor do I think it is irrational to continue accepting those parts of the Bible I do understand even though there are some I cannot fully explain.

      • Besides contradictions, there are logical flaws in many of the stories throughout the Bible… but that’s an entirely different conversation. But still, even if the Bible contained no contradictions or discrepancies, that doesn’t automatically prove the Biblical god is real. A good movie may not have any holes in the story or contradictions, but that doesn’t mean the movie is literally real life. There are Billions of people on the planet of other faiths who are just as confident in their religion as you are with Christianity. The reason I accept science instead of a religion is because science relies on physical evidence observed by very learned people in their specific fields, and not on faith. Science also has the peer-review process to weed out bad theories and fraud. Science has a very strict standard of criteria that must be met for something to be considered legitimate or factual. Science has not proven the existence of a deity. I don’t deny the possibility that our universe has some sort of creator, I simply do not know. However, I’m not just going to pick one religion like a lottery ticket and think “I can’t get saved if I don’t play”. There are a few reasons why religion exists: 1.) It was our first attempt to explain natural phenomena that science has mostly answered now, 2.) to control people and get them to obey authority, and 3.) because people cannot overcome the fear of their own mortality, so religion provides comfort and gives their lives meaning. However just because something makes you feel good about dying and gives your life meaning doesn’t make it true. It gives people the false assumption that the universe was created for them and that it revolves around their moral decisions, this is the ultimate in human arrogance and self-centeredness.

      • @Dan,

        You are correct that just because something doesn’t have any “plot” errors it’s not true. However, comparing the Bible to a movie isn’t a fair comparison by any means. There is a vast amount of historical accuracy covered in the Bible. Now one can hunt out examples where there is uncertainty about some historical references or claims, but that ignores the fact that there is a great deal of historical information already there. Ask the Arabs and Israel where they each claim ownership of the land they’ve been fighting over for so long comes from. It goes back to Abraham and his 2 sons Isaac and Ishmael. To start by saying the Bible is fanciful is not valid. A more rational thought process would be one can question segments of what the Bible talks about with regards to specific topics that have not been confirmed yet.

        To claim that science is superior to religion may not be as appropriate as it first sounds. Off the bat, you’re saying that only the natural world exists by limiting yourself to the physical universe. Thus, if something were to exist beyond the physical world, you’re never going to find it because you’ve stated that only things inside the physical universe exist…

        Think about the story of Tron. You have the Grid, where the digital beings exist, and Users, who are the humans. The folks of the Grid don’t know about users because users exist outside of the Grid and unless a user steps into the Grid, Grid folk can’t know they exist. Do users exist? Yes. Would the Grid discover them on their own employing the rule that “only things that exist in the Grid exist”? No, they wouldn’t.

        Similarly, a computer program. I can write a program that exists in the realm of my computer. I can even create rules and laws for this digital existence that dictates how things will be in that universe. Is my computer program valid in claiming I, as the programmer, do not exist because it can’t discover me through it’s computer program? No.

        You have first limited the knowledge you can achieve by claiming only the physical exists and then proceed to state that since you can’t find God, He must not exist. Why is it appropriate to deny the existence of anything that can’t be discovered in the physical universe? You acknowledge it may exist, but state that science hasn’t proven it, therefore it’s suspect. Why is science the arbiter of truth? Science, by definition, is man’s observations of the physical universe. It’s only good for observing and describing matter. If something exists beyond matter, such as a God Who created the material universe, of course you’re not going to “prove” He exists with the tools of the physical universe.

        That is unless that Creator of matter were to step into this physical universe and communicate with mankind through the medium of matter. And that’s precisely what God did through Jesus Christ. Jesus was God in the form of a material man, Who came to earth and lived a perfect life. That perfect life was then presented to God the Father as a sacrifice for our sins. Since Jesus lived perfectly, when we submit to God and accept Jesus’ life as our ticket to heaven instead of our own, God permits us to be reconciled to Him by permitting Jesus to “cover” us. That’s what the entire animal sacrifice system was in the Old Testament. It foreshadowed Jesus coming and dying to cover for our sins once and for all. After Jesus’ death, the animal sacrifice system was done away with because the One Perfect Sacrifice had been presented.

        Now the argument that science is somehow altruistic and accurate while religion can’t be trusted isn’t necessarily valid. Science is man’s observations of the physical universe. It’s done by men and can be faulty. It often has biased men. To say science is a seeker of truth is not entirely correct, either. If you are a scientist who does not accept evolutionary biology you are ostracized, criticized, and ridiculed. Now, evolution is, at the most, a conceivable theory. The basic tenet of evolution has never been established: employing random mutations over time to one organism to transform it into another. At the moment we can’t even turn chimp blood into human blood with all our mankind’s directed knowledge. How on earth is it accepted that random chance over time does what the active attempts of mankind’s scientists can’t?

        If science has such a good peer-review system, why did science at one point accept abiogenesis, or the concept that flies popped out of inanimate matter? Pasteur later demonstrated this to be false. But it was commonly accepted by the scientific community at one time. Ever heard of Lucy and the fake it is? It went on for quite a while. Esteemed museums have even presented items for many years as factual which were lated demonstrated to be fakes or the result of altered data.

        With an MD/PhD in my family, I have more interaction with the scientific community than an average person. I don’t consider science to be so fool-proof as you would like. In fact, I would say science is very much like a religion in that there is a priesthood of leaders who rule the religion of science. Facts aren’t the dictators of what’s accepted, no matter how much we would like them to be. If they were, evolution wouldn’t be clung to so heavily because it is lacking in confirmed evidence. We also wouldn’t have prevalent astronomers and physicists out talking about the beginnings of the universe and how there are a nearly infinite number of other universes out there, even though we’ve only ever been able to observe and interact with ONE.

        Now you claim science isn’t based on faith, but what is your basis for accepting science? Have you performed the experiments these men performed and confirmed what they say is true? If you haven’t, then you are accepting by faith that what they say is true and accurate. You are guilty of trusting someone’s word, just like a religious person. Just by a few examples above I’ve mentioned instances where the science community is either wrong or uncertain. Why should you trust them? You haven’t confirmed their claims yourself, so how are they valid? These guys also have an intrinsic interest in there NOT being a God, because then they wouldn’t be able to sell their books, materials, classes, etc. So you have a group of biased men with motives to speak out against a God who have already established they’ve made errors. I really don’t see how that’s different than my accepting the historical records of the Bible. Maybe there are some errors or issues in the Bible; but that doesn’t discount the rest of the Bible, just like scientists who make some errors does not necessarily discount all the rest of science.

        You state religion exists for a few reasons. Why are your reasons correct? You state it was man trying to answer natural phenomena that science can explain, to control others, and because people can’t overcome the fear of mortality. Says who? Who established that these were the reasons religion exist? How about religion exists because some men thousands of years ago saw a man perform miracles such as altering the physical nature of water into wine, make blind people see, lame people walk, predict the future, and then raise dead people back to life. Then these men wrote about these events and later died because they refused to recant these things. Religion existed before the time of Christ, for sure. But if you dig deep enough into the historical records we have, I believe you find a common theme of monotheism around the whole entire world, and almost all of them share very similar stories.

        I agree truth is not determined by what makes us “feel” good. But what is truth? It’s not a simple answer. It’s easy to define truth when you’re talking only about a natural law: gravity exists as an inverse square law that always pulls and (so far) doesn’t push, etc… But what about morality? How does one establish truth with that? Is it possible? And even on the physical level, there comes a point where science has not yet been able to penetrate. For instance, electrons are assumed but aren’t necessarily directly observed. Quantum mechanics is filled with observations of effects but no direct observations. Am I justified in saying it’s false because it hasn’t been directly observed? Just like how a God has not been directly observed? No, because it is logical to accept the evidences for something when it hasn’t been fully or directly confirmed. We condemn murderers to death based on an overwhelming amount of evidence, even when sometimes there is no direct witness to the events.

        The indirect observation of God would be miracles. The superseding of the laws of nature in such a way that we cannot physically explain them and the most logical explanation is a Being Who exists outside the universe and has the ability to manipulate the universe.

        Now the question of which system of belief best accounts for what we currently have is a very long question and I have already probably gone on too long here. But I am firmly convinced there is credible evidence that establishes Christianity as the most logical system of belief out there, including naturalism. A key point to remember, though, is that I cannot 100% PROVE God exists or that Christianity is valid. I would daresay there is almost no topic, of moderate complexity, that mankind can know 100% about. Thus man is left making decisions on what requires the least amount of faith. And I believe Christianity actually requires the least amount of faith out of all of our choices.

      • You claimed: “But if you dig deep enough into the historical records we have, I believe you find a common theme of monotheism around the whole entire world, and almost all of them share very similar stories.”
        –You are way off on this one. What historical records around the world are you referring to? Archeological evidence so far establishes that animism and polytheism are the oldest forms of religion, most cultures around the ancient world either worshipped multiple gods or nature like the ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Hindus, Chinese, and an infinite number of Native tribes from around the world. As far as we know, Judaism is the oldest surviving monotheistic religion, but there are many much older polytheistic religions.

        The reason I do not accept the claims of supernatural miracles is because we do not observe them in the real world. Why did the obvious supernatural miracles stop happening? The Bible (and many other ancient holy books & manuscripts I’m sure) is filled with miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, people turning into pillars of salt, talking animals, fiery hail coming from the sky, rivers turning to blood, a man who’s great strength comes from his long hair, a person surviving in the belly of a giant fish for 3 days, people coming back from the dead, and many others. Why do we not observe any of that now?? I find it very convenient that all those supernatural events just stopped happening, there is no rational reason for those miracles to stop happening without going into wide speculation.

        One of the best things about the scientific method is that it is a self-correcting process, changes are made as new discoveries are made. The scientific process is also replicable. In other words, if a scientist makes a discovery, his experiments have to be replicable so that others can perform the same thing, and this happens all the time…. it’s the peer-review process. There is no need for me to “have faith” in science because I can perform the same experiments those previous scientists made if I really wanted to. Of course there may be some debate in the very minor details of evolution, but the overwhelming majority of scientists from around the world from different cultures and disciplines line up heavily on one side. Scientists in all fields line up heavily on one side from biology, geology, astronomy, molecular biology, and all the other fields. The basic tenet of evolution has been established, all it says is that living organisms change over time, that’s it. We see this every year when the common cold mutates, that is evolution. We have observed lizards evolving entirely new organs and body shape when placed on a different island and forced to change diet. We could never turn “chimp blood into human blood” because we did not evolve from modern chimps, we share a common ancestor. We share 97-98% of our DNA with chimps (our closest relatives), a slightly smaller percentage with all other primates, a smaller percentage yet with all other mammals, an even smaller percentage with all four-limbed vertebrates, and a smaller percentage yet with all members of the animal kingdom… heck, we even share a relatively large portion of our DNA with sunflowers! Think of it as a huge family tree. Organisms evolve because of mutation AND environmental ( and sexual) selective pressures (also known as natural selection), not random chance… people with a poor understanding of evolution assume it’s random chance, natural selection is a cumulative process. However, if evolution is true, that doesn’t disprove the existence of a creator, it only disproves a LITERAL interpretation of religious texts. You can believe in evolution and a universal creator at the same time, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

        One of the greatest pieces of evidence for evolution (in my opinion) is how ordered the fossils are in the many layers of the geological column. It would be so easy to disprove evolution if ONE fossil was found in the wrong layers, but that has yet to happen. For example, all dinosaurs are found only in specific layers (Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous layers), if one dinosaur was found in the same rock layers as humans, evolution would be disproved in a heartbeat. In fact, we don’t find any modern-day mammals in the same rock layers as dinosaurs. If dinosaurs and modern mammals lived along side each other, we should see them in the same rock layers but we don’t. If Noah’s flood happened, and the geologic column (containing all the fossils) was a result of that world-wide flood, then the fossils should be in random order, mish-mashed together in no particular order. Humans, dinosaurs, and all modern and ancient animals should appear in no particular order and spread out in all layers. We observed the opposite, the layers are very ordered, with humans only being at the top, and dinosaurs being in their respective layers, and the older creatures below the dinosaurs. All the rock layers yield different ages too, the further down you go, the older the rocks. Even if you don’t accept the ages of the rocks as millions of years old, they should at least all yield the same age if Noah’s flood took place over the course of a year, but they don’t.

  22. i can only assume you know and have read it all. It’s interesting that even a cursory interaction with this chart clearly shows the contradictions (the perfect word of God right?) that are further hot-linked to the specific passage/text and how they differ. Or did you bother to look deeper?

    • @Christian Thomas (and ksocreate),

      I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to offer a few thoughts regarding the topic of Bible contradictions.

      Before any discussion regarding this topic can be profitable, you have to define some terms. Specifically, you have to define “contradiction” and “error”. And almost always each contradiction has to be taken on a case by case basis. Simply referencing a list of discrepancies does not discredit the Bible until they are independently examined.

      Now, does the Bible in our hands today have discrepancies? Yes. I can flip open to 2 passages that list differing numbers, different dates, different names, etc… But are these actual errors? That’s a very different sort of question. Because one author may have used a Hebrew calendar, and another many have used a Persian calendar. One may be using a Greek name for an official while another may use the Roman name. One may be estimating a number whereas another may be giving a specific number.

      We have to remember the Bible is a combination of 66 independent books/letters written over 2,000+ years ago and hand-copied for nearly 1,600 years. As far as I know, there is not a single Bible error that alters accepted Christian doctrine, although there are hundreds if not thousands of misspellings, typos, and even some additional verses/texts. All of these are documented and the topic of great discussion among the scholars of textual criticism.

      Also one must realize the Bible involves poetic writing, wisdom literature, notes to churches, as well as personal letters. You can’t take one of the Psalms and say it’s a contradiction when it’s being used in a poetic sense. By that standard one would have to throw out all poetry from all time. Also, the context of a passage is critical. I would dare say the majority of discrepancies in the Bible can be resolved by understanding the audience or context of the passage.

      I do have one question for you, though. If it were demonstrated that the Bible did not have any errors or contradictions in it, would you accept what the Bible says as truth? The key question is, if it is demonstrated that the presented errors/contradictions each have satisfactory answers, what will you do with the Bible at that point?

      If you are interested in discussing this issue, I would welcome the opportunity to share any knowledge I have. I am a Christian because I believe it is the only rational explanation for the existence we have and I believe the Bible to be an extremely reliable source. I do not accept these conclusions because I was told them or preached them, I accept them because I have spent years looking into them because I had questions about them myself. I do not expect I can answer all of your questions or convince you of my views. Different people are convinced by different evidence. However, if I can answer some of your questions and possibly point you to a better understanding of the Bible and what it teaches, I would consider that profitable for each of us.

      • Just back from vacation and catching up, and saw this:

        Now, does the Bible in our hands today have discrepancies? Yes. I can flip open to 2 passages that list differing numbers, different dates, different names, etc… But are these actual errors?

        That’s an interesting thing to say. In other words, the bible we have in our hands today does contain contradictions and/or errors (ie, “discrepancies”). So the bible we have in our hands is not the infallible, inerrant word of god. The original may have been (although that’s certainly not been proven) but the KJV, RSV, or any other version in English is not.

        As to whether they are “actual errors”: That’s not even really important at this stage, because you’ve accepted that the bible we can all read is not inerrant. You might want to mention that to Erik.

      • It’s interesting that you mention that. You would think an all-knowing god could foresee the future scribal errors in the copying process and make sure those errors never happen. It’s also interesting that an all-knowing god would choose to reveal his will to man in the form of an old book that has been copied and recopied countless times, edited and re-edited by Popes and Kings, translated from dead languages that don’t perfectly align with modern languages, and that is so highly interpretative that the religion spawns countless off-shoot sects with their own interpretation of the Bible.
        The problem with a hypothetical god revealing himself through a holy book is that people aren’t putting their faith in a god, they’re putting their faith in fallible humans that wrote the book. They put their faith in man and HOPE that the authors were inspired by a god.

      • @Dan and @Len,

        The majority of informed Christianity does not claim that the KJV, NIV, ESV, etc… translations that we have today are the totally inerrant, infallible, words penned by the original authors. Why on earth would anyone take such an absurd position? The idea of total inerrancy (no contradictions or errors at ALL) only applies to the Original Autographs as written by the original authors when they penned them in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

        Unless you read Hebrew and Greek, you’re left with a translation. It’s impossible to translate everything word for word between any 2 languages. Especially when you’re actually dealing with translating 3 languages into another language. And when Greek has more tenses and specific idioms that English does not. So can I state 100% that the NIV I prefer to read today is the 100% absolute word for word exact text that God inspired the original writers to pen? No. I cannot. For the simple reason that I don’t read Hebrew/Greek.

        Given the above obvious statements, though, I do normally state that I fully accept the Bible as true. Am I stating a contradiction? Not really; I could state: “I fully accept the Bible as true except for these 10 footnoted examples where we have scribal errors, and here they are listed in numbered format, etc…” It gets rather tedious to footnote the statement. It’s much simpler to state I believe the Bible is true.

        Think of it this way. I think it’s fairly common to say that a friend of ours or someone we know is a “good guy”. Now, are we saying that they are 100% good and never do anything bad? No. So are we lying or contradicting ourselves every time we say it? No, because you understand the idiomatic intent: overall, this guy is more good than bad, so on average he should be trusted.

        The contradictions we have today in the Bible are well known and very well documented. Now, this may surprise some of you, but I even believe there are verses in the Bibles we have today that weren’t inspired by God but were added at a later date. For instance, the “Comma Johanneum” (1 Jn 5:7-8). A quick google or wikipedia read will fill in the details. I believe this phrase was added in later by man as clarification. Does that mean the Bible is now wrong and can’t be trusted? No, because we’re well aware of the addition. In early manuscripts we don’t find it, and then we start finding it in some of the margins of other manuscripts, and then we start finding it in the actual text. I’m fairly confident a scribe or monk wrote it in the margins for personal clarification or as a footnote and it eventually got included into the actual text itself. Almost every error or contradiction I’ve come across is the same. It’s well documented and hundreds of scholars for almost thousands of years have discussed it at length.

        I still accept the Bible as true. If we take ALL of the contradictions or errors supposed in the Bible and throw them aside, we’re probably looking at less than 1% of the text, if even (some believe different spellings are considered errors). Ok, so let’s throw out that 1% of the Bible that’s under contention. What will we do with the other 99% we know is just fine and have no questions about whatsoever that this is indeed the accurate text as copied down for hundreds and thousands of years?

        I think the point is one Jesus illustrated in Matthew 16 when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus in order to test Him. These two groups were diametrically opposed to each other in almost every way. The Pharisees were the religious priesthood, and they held to 8 general concepts. If you listed those 8 ideas, you would almost think they were evangelical Christians today. However, they added strict adherence to the Oral Laws as a requirement, something God never said or approved. The Sadducees were the intelligencia of Israel; they were the educated, the aristocrats. These groups kinda hated each other. Later on when Paul stood before a mixed group of them, he actually played them against each other to achieve his freedom. But when these 2 groups came to test Jesus they asked for a sign. Up to this point Jesus had already performed more than enough signs with resurrections, alteration of physical matter, healing a myriad of sicknesses, etc… The point is that these leaders of Israel were actually not interested in being convinced by the evidence they had before them. They always wanted more evidence. They sought knowledge without any intention of applying it. What did Jesus reply to their sign? He told them He would give them no sign except the sign of Jonah: that His body would be taken under for 3 days when He was crucified, and that He would rise again. And yet even with this ultimate sign, these groups would still reject them. See, it wasn’t a matter of they didn’t have enough evidence. They had no intention of ever accepting Jesus as the Messiah of Israel even though Christ had the right pedigree, had the right timeframe, and did the miracles all foretold about the Messiah. These guys actually ascribed Jesus’ power to Satan and refused to accept He was the Messiah.

        Paralleled to our conversation now, even if the Bible had NO errors at all in it, I suspect you wouldn’t accept it. My only caution is to make sure you are following the evidence and valid reasoning and aren’t simply throwing up barrier after barrier. I have often found it’s not evidence or facts people discuss, but presuppositions. For instance, someone states the Bible’s wrong because of miracles (Jonah in a whale, turning the sun back, etc…). Well, that simply begs the question. If the Bible is true and there is a God, then none of those things are impossible. So to use them as reasons why the Bible isn’t true is not logically valid or even rational.

        The question shouldn’t be can the laws of nature be broken, but rather can God control the laws of nature He created in the first place?

        Anyway, long way of saying I readily acknowledge there are errors in the Bible but none of them up to this point have caused me to not trust the Bible as true and conveying everything I need to know in order to obey God and accept Jesus Christ as the only means of God redeeming me and saving me from my sin.

        The errors are well documented and none alter the teachings of the Bible. They account for an extremely small portion of the overall text. And God never promised us that I could 100% convert Hebrew into English word for word. So why would we then say “You would think an all-knowing god could foresee the future scribal errors in the copying process and make sure those errors never happen.”? Why should He? I’m perfectly fine accepting the Bible as it is with the minuscule errors. You reject the majority of the Bible that is properly confirmed and not contested because of the minuscule. Do we employ that same standard to every book today?

        If you find a textbook that has typos, misspellings, or errors, do you immediately throw out the entire book as fraudulent? Especially if that book were written over 2,000 years ago and has been copied by hand for nearly 1,600 years? Why the double standard? If we cannot accept the Bible we have today as accurately conveying the truths of the Original Autographs, then it is not reasonable to accept any text that pre-dates the printing press (and even then there were errors). Thus, I think it rational that if you disregard the Bible because of inconsequential errors, you must also throw out all ancient texts and must admit you cannot know anything about history before 500 years ago because our source texts are error-ridden.

        God never promised 100% inerrancy in the translations we have today. So holding Him to a promise He never made doesn’t make any sense.

        @Len, you mention why an old book as the medium? Well, what else would you recommend? What else could be copied down and given to all generations to come in a very accurate format? If it were oral tradition you would have an even greater problem with that (as would I). So the only options we have to transmit knowledge is oral or written. I will prefer written over oral all the time.

      • That’s a very long-winded way of saying that you (have to?) accept that the bible is not inerrant. And despite all the waffly fluff, that’s really all you’re saying.

        Do the errors and contradictions change the underlying message? That’s not really a relevant question once you’ve ascertained that the book is not infallible. But the errors and contradictions do call into question all the other bits: the miracles, the resurrection, even salvation itself – how do we know they’re not just made up? We don’t.

        It’s a bit like saying that “The Lord of the Rings” contains errors, so we shouldn’t believe it all. But we accept that it’s a made-up story, so there’s no problem with it containing errors – we can just enjoy it. It’s author was only human, after all. But if god can’t write a book without errors (including errors that would come along when it was translated into different languages in the future), then that doesn’t say much for his omni-everything-ness.

        The trouble is that some people do believe the bible to be inerrant and try to introduce laws that would effectively impose their religious beliefs on other people. That’s not good. It’s worthwhile pointing out the errors and contradictions to people who may not otherwise have realised that the book they read isn’t infallible. Maybe they’ll really start to think for themselves.

        You may wish to live a good life and help people, be a good person, etc, etc. That’s a good and noble aim – you don’t need religion or the bible to do that. And please don’t say that you don’t follow a religion but instead you have a relationship with god. If talking to a “relationship partner” without ever getting a response is what you call a relationship, then you have no idea what a real relationship is. Wait, you say god does respond? Ask yourself (you don’t have to explain it here, just ask yourself, honestly): What has god (/ Jesus / the HS) ever told you that you didn’t already know or couldn’t have worked out from what you already knew?

      • @Len,

        Stating that since the Bible contains some well-known additions or errors does not automatically bring all of it into question. Because the overwhelming majority is not questioned and has been validated. In fact, even the errors are in question. Not every manuscript or copy we have today has every error. The additions were left in on the chance that they were inspired. The translators preferred to be cautious and retain the possible additions instead of throwing them out in case God actually did inspire them. It is logically unsound to focus on well-known issues and then broaden that and claim the whole entity must now be brought into question. That’s making the logical error of inferring Composition when it in fact does not exist. The argument is as sound as my claiming any textbook that contains typos or errors should be thrown out and all of it should now be questioned. Well, if 99% of that textbook contains well-known information that is not questioned at all, then there is no justification to throw it out. I suspect it’s only because it’s the Bible that you apply such a impossible standard; one that was never promised nor is it necessary.

        Translating among languages disallows word-for-word translations almost by definition…if they could be word-for-word, one could almost argue they were the same language. There is not a single work of translation among languages that does not involve similar issues of translation.

        And on the one side, the issues are well-known and documented…think about that. We know it’s there, we acknowledge it’s there, it’s been discussed for hundreds to thousands of years.

        Comparing the Lord of the Rings to the Bible is silly. Not to be offensive, but it is. The Bible is a historical book written by actual people about real events that occurred in our past. Many of these men later died defending those claims when they could have been spared had they rejected them. Tolkien was a fantasy writer who wrote some excellent works of literature. LOTR and the Bible aren’t even in the same universe when it comes to making critical analysis of the pieces.

        Now your claim that God must not be all that powerful if He can’t preserve a book in a certain way is a logical fallacy. God never promised any such thing that you are crediting to Him. If the Bible has errors, it’s because humans have failed to be careful in their preservation. However, as the Dead Sea Scrolls clearly testify, that preservation has been insanely remarkable and NO OTHER ancient work comes anywhere close to the numbers or accuracy of the manuscripts and pieces of the Bible.

        What has God told me? Without the Bible I would not have known how I may be redeemed to God. I would not know how to avoid the penalty of my sin, which is eternity in hell. This is something I could not have known apart from the Bible. Because man’s natural instinct is to think we can work our way to heaven or earn God’s grace. God clearly tells us in the Bible that grace from God is a gift from Him and not dependent on our having done enough good deeds to earn it. It is a gift we accept by submission to God and acceptance of Jesus as the only acceptable sacrifice to God to atone for our sins. That is what the Bible has taught me that no one else or any other work of literature could have told me.

      • Once again you write reams of fluff and stuff but all you actually say is that the bible can’t really be trusted. You believe the original works were inspired by god but after that it’s basically anybody’s guess.

        You say: ”
        The additions were left in on the chance that they were inspired. The translators preferred to be cautious and retain the possible additions instead of throwing them out in case God actually did inspire them.”

        Well that certainly gives me confidence that it’s god-inspired! Not.

        Personal preferences of translators and copywriters are present in the text – some you know about and some you may not. Please don’t try to imply that you know (or that anyone knows) about all the mistakes or changes – you have no way to know that but (based on previous form) it’s fair to expect there to be more than are currently known.

        But it wouldn’t be a big problem for any normal book (or if you accepted that it’s just your mythology’s magical book of stories) but people try to use the bible as a basis for law-making and imposing their beliefs on others. You don’t see that as a problem because you agree with the way the general ideas are expressed – you’re used to the inbuilt privilege.

        As for what God told you and your chat about redemption and grace – sorry, that could only seem reasonable if you already believed the bible. I meant something in the real world that God told you that you couldn’t have known otherwise. Bits of your religion don’t count.

        Regarding belief in the bible, can you tell me – without the use of circular reasoning – why you believe the bible is the word of God?

      • Why I believe:
        – historical evidence
        – fulfilled prophecy
        – the Hebrew nation
        – my changed lifestyle (along with many, many others)


      • Hmm…

        Why I believe:
        – historical evidence
        >>>> Except for the bits it got wrong.
        – fulfilled prophecy
        >>>> Except for the prophecies that were wrong / didn’t happen / happened exactly the opposite.
        – the Hebrew nation
        >>>> Tottenham Hotspur football club. So what?
        – my changed lifestyle (along with many, many others)
        >>>> That you sell yourself short is not a reason to believe in the bible.


      • I gave tangible evidence. Over 300 prophecies of the first advent of Christ were recorded before He was born, including His parents, nation, birth city, and gender, all things over which a person has no control.

        If you reject the authenticity of the Bible based on historical evidence then you must reject all historical writings.

        No other nation has a promise that if they cease to exist then so does God. Many nations have tried throughout the ages but none have had success.

        We have already shown that there are no mistakes, just misinformed people who are quick to judge.

      • @Erik,
        Let’s see:

        Prophecies that were wrong: see here some info from Nox (I hope he won’t mind me giving the link to his postings on Unreasonable Faith – remember them Erik?): http://forums.patheos.com/forums/unreasonablefaith/topic.php?id=1744&page=5#post-38189. It covers several prophecies and how they’re incorrect.

        I don’t reject the bible based only on historical evidence. I reject it based on there being no actual evidence that it’s actually all true. There are some bits stolen from earlier religions that are OK, such as the golden rule – but it’s hardly original. That the bible includes some stories or events that are historically accurate also doesn’t make it true, any more than the books of Biggles’ exploits in the first world war are true because the first world war actually happened.

        Using the writings in the bible about the Hebrew nation as a proof of the bible is circular reasoning. I asked you not to use circular reasoning when saying why you trust the bible.

        As for mistakes, we can start with the link to Nox’s post above. If you want more, then I’ll dig around for more of Nox’s info.

      • @Len,

        I’ll do my best to be succinct in my responses and remove the “fluff” 😉

        We have 25,000+ copies of manuscripts to compare/contrast. They agree in 99.9% of the text. They disagree in about 0.1%. You’re questioning why I accept the 99.9%. Well, the answer is very simple: because I have 25,000+ copies that tell me 99.9% of what we have today is undoubtedly the same that the authors wrote 2,000 years ago. I can physically see and read these manuscripts and scholars have done so for centuries. This is a science. There is no faith involved. You are being intellectually dishonest if you continue believing we can’t trust the 99.9%. Because you’re not questioning divine miracles, you’re questioning whether the words we have today are the words they wrote 2,000 years ago. This is something we can test and observe and have done so. 25,000+ manuscripts state you are wrong. The Bible we have today is 99.9% certainly the same as the authors wrote. 0.1% is in question and we don’t have absolute certainty about it. You are taking the logically indefensible position.

        So your answer is that bias is involved in translations and it’s logical to assume there are more than we know about. What is your basis for this? Give me one shred of evidence that there are errors we don’t know about? This is a self-defeating statement, Len. If you present the evidence that shows an error we don’t know about, you nullify your statement because it wasn’t an unknown error after all…You are merely refusing to accept the facts and when the facts and evidence don’t support you, your argument is that there must be errors we just don’t know about. No, it’s not fair; because you have NO EVIDENCE to support your claim. All the evidence we do have (25,000+ manuscripts to compare/contrast) say you’re wrong. What body of evidence can you provide to support your argument?

        Bias is involved in translations, yes. I don’t deny that. I don’t read Greek/Hebrew. Thus I trust that the translators have done a good job. This is no different than you accepting the scientific experiments done by thousands of men before you. You can perform the experiments yourself if you want, but you don’t. Thus you accept, without confirmation, that these men didn’t lie to you. In the exact same way, I accept, without confirmation, that the translators did a proper job of translating and didn’t lie to me. You are guilty of the same thing you accuse me of. That is, unless you have performed all scientific experiments that confirm all the basics of natural law that science is contingent upon.

        Something in the real world beyond religion? Well, the Bible is a record of God’s history with regards to mankind. How about most of the Old Testament history of Israel? But your response to this is to say the history is wrong. Well, in order to say the history of the OT is wrong, you have to have a set of history that you know is true to compare it against. So why is your history right and the OT history wrong?

        Can I tell you why I believe the Bible is true? Yes, I can. But not in a brief statement. But the short version is I logically conclude a God must exist because that’s the only thing that makes sense. I conclude this God spoke to man in some fashion. I accept God spoke to man via miracles. And I believe the Bible is historical in its recordings of the miracles. Thus the Bible is confirmed as the message from God because of the miracles.

        Yes, other religions have miracles. But they are not historically verifiable miracles like the Bible. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the beginnings of the Christian church have a lot going for them. Since I logically must accept a God exists, it is perfectly logical to assume miracles are possible and even probable. The historical veracity of the NT then ties together the miracles that form the basis of my belief.

        That’s the short version. I have not included the wealth of evidence that led me to that conclusion. That involves hundreds of pages of material. It would probably be best to discuss each individual sub-issue if you are interested in really knowing why I believe Christianity is true.

        But I do not employ “faith” or voodoo mysticism to accept the Bible. I find Christianity to be the logically superior position of any rational person. I believe it accounts for more than any other worldview belief system. I believe atheism and even agnosticism has less support for it than Christianity. Thus, I have made the rational decision and placed my belief in the system that provides more evidence, support, and logical unity.

      • Good try, asking me to provide evidence that there are unknown changes in the bible 😀 I said: “based on previous form” there are likely to be more.

        You mention the OT being a history of Israel: then why is there no physical evidence of the exodus – eg, artefacts left behind by the people wandering the desert for 40 years? You’d think that would leave a trail to follow.

        You also mention the miracles of the bible being real and those of other religions being fake. But there are no records outside of the bible (or christian writers) that speak of those miracles. Yes, there are some writings from contemporaries but (apart from the acknowledged fakes, like the Josephus insertion) they pretty much all say: “I heard about a bunch of people three towns away who say they follow someone called the christ”. None of them says anything like: “Dear diary, I met this guy today, name of Jesus – he turned my glass of water into wine. It tasted wonderful. Pity I didn’t have sparkling water – it would have turned into champagne” 😉

        You say that you logically conclude that God exists. I logically conclude that we don’t know enough about the standard physical laws governing the universe to fully explain all the bits and pieces that we see, deduce, or extrapolate. Which means we need to further examine it rather than just say goddidit. It’s too easy to say there’s a magic man in the sky, so that’s it.

      • @Len,

        Well, no harm in trying to openly corner someone with words 🙂

        The point about not having any physical evidence of Israel wandering the desert for 40 years is something I’ll have to research first. Off the top of my head, I don’t know if it’s logically assumable to find artifacts. It’s a vast area almost 3,500 years ago. Are you saying that we have found 0 items of archaeological interest over the landmass that the Israelites covered? This isn’t meant to be a leading question, but if I can find 1 clearly Israelite artifact dated to the suspected period of the Exodus, what would you say? I don’t have any at the moment because I’m unaware of any. But what would it change if the research did support artifacts? Would you change your mind and believe it happened? Or just move on to the next argument about why you do not believe the Bible’s account? Food for thought. So I’ll have to get back on this one.

        The next concern you mention is that there is no unbiased accounts of Jesus performing miracles. At first this sounds good, but think about it. If you wrote that there was some guy named Jesus who healed sick people, gave sight to the blind, raised dead people, and did all sorts of miracles, would you not be classified as a supporter of Jesus and thus accused of bias? For instance, we have Paul. Paul was about as anti-Christian as they come. He was a member of a ruling religious order that persecuted the church. In fact, Paul himself oversaw the murdering of Christians and was obtaining warrants to hunt them down and throw them all in jail. Support of Christ? Not at the beginning. But when he saw the evidence and was confronted by God, he changed his mind and became a supporter of Christianity. Now we claim that he’s “biased” and we can’t accept his testimony or account of things. No, we need non-Christians to confirm what he says. That’s not realistically or logically sound. Paul WAS a non-Christian who later supported Christianity because he was convinced of its truth.

        In the same vein, you can NEVER provide a supporter of a topic that would be unbiased. Almost by definition, if someone is reporting on something they have a viewpoint on it, and will be accused of bias and thus shouldn’t be trusted.

        But with regards to extra-Biblical mentions, here’s an excerpt from an article I compiled a while back when I research this topic.

        Thallos (quote ~55 CE)
        Thallos was a Greek historian who wrote a three-volume history of the eastern Mediterranean region. Thallos’ work was lost, but it was quoted by Sextus Julius Africanus (~160 – 240 CE), who was a Christian author who wrote History of the World (~220 CE). Africanus’ work was also lost, but it was cited by Georgius Syncellus (~800 CE) in his Chronicle. Just to be clear, Syncellus cites Africanus, who is quoting Thallos. Thus this is a third generation copy of the material. In his work, Africanus is discussing the issue of the darkness mentioned in the Gospels at Christ’s death. Africanus is cited as saying:

        “In the third (book) of his histories, Thallos calls this darkness an eclipse of the sun, which seems to me to be wrong.” (Africanus, disputing Thallos’ claim that a solar eclipse explains the darkness at Christ’s death)

        In his writing, Africanus claims that a solar eclipse is not a good explanation for the darkness at Christ’s death because the Passover occurs at a full moon and solar eclipse’s are impossible at that time. Not much is known about Thallos the writer, although several theories do exist. There is also some question about the dating of Thallos’ work, as it is difficult to verify any ancient work.

        Takeaway: This somewhat-disputed fragment of Thallos doesn’t verify that there was indeed darkness at the time of Christ’s execution, but it does demonstrate that there was an early tradition of darkness, either oral or written. If there was no Christ and no execution, where did the controversy come from and why did Thallos feel it necessary to address an issue that did not exist?

        Pliny the Younger (lived 63-113 CE, quote ~112 CE)
        Pliny the Younger was a well-known writer and later governor of Pontus-Bithynia in Asia Minor (111-113 CE). During his time as governor, Pliny wrote communiques between the Emperor Trajan regarding the Roman persecution of Christians in the province.

        “I asked them directly if they were Christians…those who persisted, I ordered away… Those who denied they were or ever had been Christians…worshipped both your image and the images of the gods and cursed Christ. They used to gather on a stated day before dawn and sing to Christ as if he were a god… All the more I believed it necessary to find out what was the truth from two servant maids, which were called deaconesses, by means of torture. Nothing more did I find than a disgusting, fanatical superstition. Therefore I stopped the examination, and hastened to consult you…on account of the number of people endangered. For many of all ages, all classes, and both sexes already or brought into danger…” (Book 10, Letter 96)

        This passage has no major controversies associated with it. The letter presents Christianity in a poor light and mocks it as a superstition. Had later Christians been able to forge these passages (an argument with little support) it seems logical that they would have presented themselves in a better light.

        Takeaway: Christ was a real person, Christ’s followers assembled together each week and worshipped Christ as a god, and many refused to renounce their beliefs.

        Suetonius (lived ~70-140 CE)
        Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was a Roman lawyer, friend of Pliny the Younger, and secretary to the Emperor Hadrian for a short period of time around 120 CE. His book Lives of the Caesars covers the lives of the first twelve Roman emperors. During his account of the Emperor Claudius (emperor 41-54 CE), Suetonius chronicles a list of actions that Claudius took against various groups of people during his reign. One such passage reads:

        “He [Claudius] expelled the Jews from Rome, since they were always making disturbances because of the instigator Chrestus” (Lives of the Caesars, 25.4)

        This main debate about this minor passage is the name Chrestus. Some debate that Chrestus is a specific name that references an individual who was alive during the events in Rome and does not reference Christ as the leader of Christianity. However, it has been adequately demonstrated that both Christian and non-Christian writers for some time confused Chrestus when specifically referring to Christ, thus there is no absolute reason to assume Suetonius did not misquote or use an improper name if he is indeed referring to Christ. Added to this, there is no evidence that the Jews ever used the name Chrestus from examining hundreds of Roman catacombs. A very satisfactory explanation is also provided regarding the usage of Chrestus instead of Christus or Christos, which are the proper names referencing Christ. Christus/Christos have no religious significance to contemporary individuals, since the closest Greek meanings were the healer term “anointer” or the construction term “plasterer”. Thus it is not surprising or unexpected that the name would have been altered to something more familiar to contemporary people, especially those not familiar with Jewish background.

        The second argument is that Suetonius is referring to a living Chrestus in Rome who is leading a political revolt. However, there is no other evidence to corroborate a political rebellion of the Jews in Rome at this time. Furthermore, Roman emperors have several times expelled Jews because of their missionary/evangelistic work, such as Emperor Tiberius expelling them in 19 CE. It is very reasonable to read Suetonius’ passage as another such expulsion, this time with reference to a Chrestus figure that the weight of evidence supports to be Christ. Suetonius is known to have made several historical errors so it is not unacceptable to believe that he was merely incorrect in his claim that Christ was present in Rome during the events in question.

        Takeaway: Jews were expelled from Rome within a few decades of the death of Christ with a reference to a Chrestus figure leading them.

        Tacitus (lived ~56-120 CE, quote ~116 CE)
        Cornelius Tacitus is a very well-known Roman historian who writes about much of the early Roman Empire and emperors. In chapters 38-45 of his Annals Tacitus recounts the Great Fire of Rome, with chapter 44 being the most significant.

        “But neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered. Therefore, to put down the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unusual ways those hated for their shameful acts, whom the crowd called “Chrestians”. The founder of this name, Christ, had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular. Therefore, first those who admitted to it were arrested, then on their information a very large multitude was convicted, not so much for the crime of arson as for the hatred of the human race. Derision was added to their end: they were covered with the skins of wild animals and torn to death by dogs; or they were crucified and when they day ended they were burned as torches. Nero provided his gardens for the spectacle and gave a show in his circus, mixing with the people in charioteer’s clothing, or standing on his racing chariot. Therefore a feeling of pity arose despite a guilt which deserved the most exemplary punishment, because it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but for the ferocity of one man.” (Annals ch. 44)

        Given the content involved, this passage has been contested by many but there has been no lasting dispute that can credibly discount this passage. Sulpicius Severus’s Chronicle 2.29 corroborates much of the content in the early fifth century, so any alterations to the text would have had to take place between the second and fourth centuries. However, the passage fits with Tacitus’ style of writing and flows with the content of the passage as it discusses the Great Fire and concludes with the persecution of the Christians as the perpetrators of the act (SOURCE). Furthermore, the level of resentment and animosity towards Christians does not support the theory that Christians later altered the text. It has never been adequately demonstrated that this passage should be questioned (SOURCE).

        Another interesting point is Tacitus’ specific use of the term Chrestians and then clarifying that the leader was indeed Christ. The earliest document employ Chrestians (with a marginal gloss correction to Christians) while later documents use Christians (SOURCE). It demonstrates that there was some disparity between using Chrestos(us) versus Christos(us) in reference to Christ but they all clearly referenced the same historical Christ figure of Christianity (SOURCE).

        Takeaway: Christ was the leader of Christianity, was executed by Pontius Pilate in Judea, Christianity spread from Judea around the Roman empire, and Christians were persecuted by Nero. This corroborates the Gospel accounts that Christ was executed by Pilate and was the founder of Christianity.
        END QUOTE

        In the above, we find a variety of non-Christians attesting to early Christian beliefs in Jesus. Does this confirm that the miracles happened? No, not really. But if one of these authors wrote that Jesus performed miracles and he believed that Jesus was thus the Son of God, would he not thus be classified as a “Christian” writer and thrown off your initial list of acceptable sources? It’s like saying you’re going to investigate a crime but refuse to believe any of the eye witnesses. That’s not logical.

        Len, you’re conclusion is we just don’t have enough yet. My conclusion is that saying “I don’t know” is only valid if there isn’t enough evidence pointing towards a conclusion. I firmly believe there is very much evidence pointing to Christianity. Your statement leads me to believe that you don’t have answers but you take, by faith, that you will eventually find answers in science that will explain away a need for God. I have a reasonable faith based on various lines of evidence that points me to God and the Bible. You don’t know enough to form a belief system but can firmly refuse the Christian one.

        That’s not a good position to be in. Because in order to point out that Christianity is the wrong system, you have to have something else you cling to in order to prove that statement. You can’t know something is “wrong” unless you know that something else is “right”. But if your answer is you don’t have enough info now to make a decision, when will you have enough? I don’t think your position is the best one to choose. Not taking a side is, in effect, taking a side.

        What is it that we don’t know or understand about the standard physical laws yet that you think we will find someday? It seems very religious to take, by faith, the expectation of future scientific revelation that will account for all things without evidence pointing you to that conclusion right now. What evidence points you to conclude we will find something in the future that will provide you all the answers you seek?

      • Now, this may surprise some of you, but I even believe there are verses in the Bibles we have today that weren’t inspired by God but were added at a later date.
        –This is true, there are verses that were added at a later date, such as the story this article is about. But as far as what parts of the Bible are “inspired by God” and which aren’t, it interesting you mention that because there are Bible verses that specifically say that ALL scripture are inspired by God, or “God breathed”. So, if ALL of scripture is inspired by God, as the Bible says, and you openly admit that there are errors/discrepancies, then there is an issue here.

      • @Dan,
        With regards to the passages that talk about all the Bible being inspired…

        Very similarly to another point I touched on in a previous post, these verses would have only applied to the Original Autographs. Specifically I believe you are referencing the 2 below passages:

        2 peter 1:20-21
        20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things.
        21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

        2 Timothy 3:16
        16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

        These verses instruct us that the Scriptures (the Bible) were written by men who were moved (inspired) by God. Since these verses would only apply to the Original Autographs, there is no controversy or problem at all if we made copying or scribal errors over time. The verses don’t say that God will leave us an error-free single manuscript that we can use as a proof-text for every other version to reference. So your argument that there is an issue because God didn’t fulfill a promise He never made is illogical.

        I do agree with you about the main passage of this article as well. I am convinced that this passage (Adulterous Woman), the last half of the last chapter of Mark, the Comma Johanneum, and possibly 1-2 others I cannot recall are additions made to the Bible as we have it today. However, when you say the “Bible” you have to define what you mean when you start talking about additions and so forth. Because not every modern translation will have these additions (or some of the errors others point out). That’s because there are several main families of texts used for modern translations. There are arguments for/against each of the families, but at the end of the day it’s more scholarly in nature than practical. No doctrines or teachings are changed or added. And the disagreeing texts consists for an infinitesimally small portion that it’s ridiculous to argue the whole text should be questioned because of it.

        Again, we find many older manuscripts don’t have certain passages or verses, then we find some later versions that have them written in margins, and then we find other versions with it written in the main body. The assumption is that a scribe/priest added a clarification in the margin about a text (for himself or others) and it eventually found its way into the main body of the text.

        To now claim that God is failing at being God because humans made errors does not have a basis. If we want to go down that route, why even worry about the Bible? God employs sinful creatures called “men” to carry out His will. If God can use error-stricken humanity, why can’t He use a book that has human errors? Especially when the overwhelming majority of the Bible has clearly been attested and authenticated?

        I suspect it’s because people do not like what the Bible teaches. That’s what they try so hard to discredit it. More so than any other religion. They apply unrealistic standards to the human-copied texts of the Bible that they would never dream of applying to other ancient texts. And when the Bible clearly blows the other texts away by the sheer volumes we have and the accuracy among them, then folks find the tiniest thing they can cling to and claim they are now justified in discrediting the Bible because they have found an unanswered question or dilemma. I believe that is an illogical position to take. Discrediting the overwhelming support for the tiniest scrap that doesn’t fit is illogical. To paraphrase the well-known humanist David Hume in his anti-miracle syllogism, we should follow where the weight of the evidence lies. The weight of the evidence supports that the Bible (as a whole) has been incredibly well-preserved for hundreds/thousands of years. The words we have today in English are very close translations of the original languages. We have THOUSANDS of texts, manuscripts, scraps, and copies both of parts and of whole books of the Bible. It has been studied and criticized like no other book in human history. And it has been found to be extremely accurate when it touches on any historical aspect of humanity. Now it someone wants to claim that they don’t accept the miracles recorded in the Bible, that’s another thing. But it’s not logical to base it upon the “faultiness” of the Bible text we have today. No, denial of miracles is a presupposition that claims the supernatural cannot exist and thus miracles are impossible.

      • @Len,

        (1) what historical evidence did the Bible get wrong? Please include specific situations and your evidence and reasoning for concluding the Bible is wrong.

        (2) What prophecies did the Bible get wrong, didn’t happen, or happened opposite? Please include specifics of passages and extra-Biblical evidence that unbiasedly confirms that the Bible’s prophecy is wrong.

        All you said was “you’re wrong!” without any reason as to “why”. The why is more important than your opinion. Otherwise we’re merely throwing a ping/pong ball back and forth with no way of verifying anything. It is the reasoning you provide, not the words you say, that are important. The same for me. That’s why I add all my “fluff”; I want to present my thoughts and reasoning.

      • @Len,

        I noted the link you provided with regards to the prophecies. That link post/forum is probably longer than the one we’ve created here. It will take me some time to get through most of it (don’t want to randomly pick out posts). It’s noteworthy that many of the same issues we discuss here have been developed in that forum. I’m very interested in seeing what both parties have to say about the items they’ve raised.

        I’ll have to look at the prophecy sections at a later time (not a lot of time at the moment to do so). I have encountered some of them before, but not all of them. Thanks for listing the link; I’m looking forward to studying it out.

      • @ dlegr250

        For some reason there was no “reply” button on your previous response to me, so I’ll just reply down here, I hope you see it.

        Regarding a perfect god who creates an imperfect creation, you bring up the notion that the potetential to sin must exist for us to have freewill. So my question is, will there be freewill in heaven? If no, then you’re just a puppet. If there will be freewill, but you will simply choose not to sin, why didn’t god just create us like that in the first place? I assume your god as freewill, yet he cannot sin, so why not create humans like that in the first place?

        Regarding Paul and those predestination verses… Paul is very clear in Romans, there is no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ about it. You claim the verses might be talking about whole nations instead of individuals, but does that really matter? Nations are composed of many people. So it doesn’t really matter if it’s on a national level or an individual level, God is still predestining people to hell according to those verses.

        Here are some individual passages:
        “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”. (Romans 9).
        ***If this passage was referring to nations and not individuals, it would have had to have been worded differently. But either way it doesn’t matter, Paul specifically says here that there is nothing a person (or people) can do, plain and simple, god will have mercy on whom he chooses. In other words God predestines a person (or people) to hell.

        Romans 9 continues to say later: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
        ***Paul is making his point in the form of a RHETORICAL question. Paul is implying (in the form of a question) that the potter (God) has power over the clay (us) and that he create some people as vessels predestined for destruction/wrath. This was Paul’s answer to the anticipated criticism of an unjust policy, which is further proof that Paul is talking about God predestining people to hell.

        Romans 8: 29-33 says: “For whom [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate [proorizo] to be conformed to the image of his Son…. …Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
        ***Paul says God predestinates people, plain and simple, there is no ambiguity here.

        ***There are many other verses that claim God purposely gives people “hard hearts”, “deaf ears”, and “blind eyes” so they will not come to the truth. (Romans 11:7-8, John 12:37-40, 1 Peter 2:6-8)

        ***Ephesians 1:4-5 basically says that Christ has chosen certain people before the foundations of the world, and that they are predestined into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.

        So which is it? Does God choose or do humans have the freewill to choose on their own? The problem with this blatant contradiction is that it is a conflict in the nature of reality. If you accept that we have the freewill to choose god, then you must ignore the previous verses. If you believe in predestination, then God is ultimately responsible for sin, and not people… because we are only doing what we were programmed to do.

        Regarding the attributes of God, you said God is just and merciful. Well those two attributes are mutually exclusive to each other because they have opposite meanings. If your god is perfectly just, that means he can NEVER be merciful.
        Justice basically means that people get what they deserve, and according to Christianity, all humans deserve death because of sin. Mercy means the opposite, that you don’t get what you deserve, or leniency.

        As a Christian, you will probably say that perfect justice was served on the cross by Jesus. But that is not true, because Christians are still not held accountable for their actions (sins), they are not getting what they deserve (death). Christian justice is essentially based on the concept of scapegoating (substitutive sacrifice), which is not true justice because people are not held responsible for their actions simply because they suck up to the judge (god). The main tenet of Christianity is that God came down to earth to sacrifice himself to himself to create a loophole around a rule he created (the rule being punishment for sin is death). The idea that an innocent man, Christ, was killed for everyone else’s sin is not only unjust, but it is a double perversion of justice… because you have an innocent man that is killed, while the guilty go free. Proverbs 17:15 supports the notion that scapegoating is unjust, it says: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, are both an abomination to the Lord”.
        The core doctrine of Christianity is based on the idea of the innocent (Jesus) being condemned in order to justify the wicked (humans). So according to your own god’s sense of justice, Christianity is an abomination.

        Regarding God punishing ALL of humanity for the sins of two people, you compared it to a football game, whereas the team suffers for the penalty of one player. This is a very poor comparison because the punishment in a football game does not last the rest of the game, it’s temporary. And if this were such a great form of justice, why not apply it to our laws? If your family member murders someone, would have a problem with your entire family being punished, including you? After all, your family is part of the “same team” right?

        You also said that God is above his own rules and they only apply to us. Well, thats just another way of saying that your god is a huge hypocrite, basically saying: “do as I say and not as I do”. Even if your god is real, he has no attractive characteristics that would compel me (or any sane person) to want to spend an eternity with him. Who wants to spend an eternity with a genocidal, misogynistic, egotistical, hypocritical dictator who is so insecure and petty that he constantly needs to be reminded of how great he is? Sounds fun! You may say that your god is the only one deserving of worship, but what makes your specific god worthy of worship? What makes him holy and perfect that he requires worship? I always hear Christians say their god is perfect & holy and deserves worship, but they never say how or why. How is he perfect & holy? And why does he deserve worship? Simply because he’s bigger than me? That sounds like a primitive notion invented by ancient people.

        Honestly, what good thing has your god done that at least one person hasn’t done already or are capable of doing? Any act of kindness your god has done, a person is capable of doing. You say god died for humanity because he loves us? Well, most decent parents would die for their children, even if their child rejected them, and a lot of people would be willing to die for their loved ones, so that idea doesn’t make your god unique or extra worthy of worship. Based on a lot of his actions throughout the Bible, he really seems like a huge prick. If you knew a person who acted like that, I would be willing to bet you wouldn’t be friends with that person, so why would I want to spend eternity with a god who acts like that. Honestly, your God makes Satan look like a choir boy throughout the Bible.

    • The page you link to is a joke. I have refuted many of the arguments on that page. Did you study the passages in question, in context? Did you study the original languages? Did you use the rules of composition? Are you trained in interpreting literature (of any kind)? Or, do you just take what someone else says as Gospel truth? I would advise you to study the stuff for yourself instead of what others tell you.

  23. Firstly, no. i don’t have to define contradiction. The bible is claimed to be THE perfect word of god.

    Secondly we live in a world of 7 continents divided by geographical and geological boundaries, along with sociological and cultural boundaries making the bible irrelevant to disconnected cultures who arose concurrently and developed their own cultures, and more importantly, religions.

    One word: China. 97% of that country give two spits about the bible or Jesus.

    Thirdly, i would not accept the bible as truth considering there are scores of falsifiable claims in it. ie., incorrect order of creation, (light comes after the formation of the earth which is wrong) the ark story, jonah living inside of a fish, people living to be multiple hundreds of years, (Seth lived 912 years. 5:8
    Enos lived 905 years. 5:11, Cainan lived 910 years. 5:14, Mahalaleel lived 895 years. 5:17, Jared lived 962 years. 5:20) claims of curing leprosy and blindness by touch, demons, all the saints rising from the mount during the resurrection, Satan taking Jesus to a mountaintop in which he can see all the cities of the world (apparently the world was flat and the devil is stronger than “god” in that passage), a talking donkey, no evidence of 10’s of thousands of people who supposedly took part in the exodus leaving behind no trail of refuse, artifacts, etc, adam and eve and the subsequent inbreeding of the entire population, stoning children for being disobedient, instructions on murdering entire cultures taking women and children for our liking simply because they are of different belief systems, Slavery, misogony, and that’s just off the top of my head. Oh, and my favorite, Jesus telling us he’s more important than our own family members. Yeah, nice family values.

    i’ve read the bible (and these contradictions.) I know that a team of people spent years combing the bible with a <<>> and on every attempt i’ve looked at these contradictions, i’ve understood the gaping holes illustrating each of these contradictions and i’ve watched it evolve to be presented as this interactive site. “God’s perfect word” hah! Either you’re too emotionally vested in your faith to admit the reality of this, or not very inquisitive.

    You need to remember there are scores of people who believe in a creator without the bible.

    Let me see how you refute that the bible, god’s perfect word, got the order of creation wrong… sorry, but there were stars way before the earth accreted.

    If i can provide links to the contradictions, your argument is refuted simply by their existence since each of these includes the text.

    doe hell exist?


    How many disciples did Jesus appear to in his first post resurrection appearance?

    Should we fear God?

    Should we trust our hearts?

    • @christian thomas,

      Let me clarify regarding my statement about defining “contradiction”. If a situation arises that seems to have 2 contrary ideas, but a possible explanation is provided that merges the 2 ideas, is it still a contradiction? Let me provide an example. Hannibal Barca, during the 2nd Punic War, crossed the Alps and invaded Rome proper. The exact route he took is unknown and there are sources that site 2 contrary paths. This would be a contradiction in that 2 sources are stating 2 different things that both cannot be true (Hannibal only took 1 path; he couldn’t take 2). Is this a contradiction that can never be resolved? Must there be a hand-written account signed and dated by Hannibal himself in order to rectify this situation? I don’t think so. We can agree that Hannibal took one of these routes because we have the records of him attacking Rome’s land for nearly a decade and the historical records of the Romans at this time. So if a feasible solution is presented regarding the contradiction, is it still considered a contradiction? We may not know for certain which route Hannibal took, but we know he took “a” route.

      In a similar vein, we may encounter 2 passages in the Bible that say 2 different things. We may never have the ability to find the absolute answer between these 2 contradictions. However, if a satisfactory possible explanation is presented that reconciles the 2 varying ideas or statements, would you accept that as valid? That is what I mean by defining “contradiction”. The Bible records the history of the nation of Israel thousands of years ago. Some of the claims presented are unable to be verified and if you do not accept the Bible’s historical account, how will you come to any resolution regarding what event actually transpired? It seems that your current path is observing a contradiction and thus concluding that the Bible is all error and unworthy of trust. Anyway, something to think about.

      You raise an interesting topic: China. You state that China didn’t care about the Bible or Jesus. I contend that your assertion is incorrect. Ancient Chinese is a pictographic language where symbols mean things and multiple symbols are combined to convey more complex ideas. The Old Testament of the Bible mostly covers the history of the nation of Israel but also covers ancient history common to all nations in the beginnings of Genesis.

      In this ancient history summary, we have creation, the fall, the attempt at mankind to unite themselves resulting in the Tower of Babel and God introducing language barriers, the flood, and the repopulation of the world by a single family. Ancient Chinese pictographs were around in nearly 4,500 BC, well before the Old Testament of the Bible was written. And the Chinese have been very secluded as far as we know. So then why do we find these related symbols in the ancient Chinese pictographic system?

      migrate = great division + walk + west
      to talk = dust + breath, mouth + alive
      to create = to talk + walk (creation involves a living dust person?)
      first = alive + dust + man
      happiness, blessing = God + one + man + garden
      west = one, first + person + enclosed garden (Eden was west of China)
      forbidden = two trees + command
      to covet, desire = two trees + woman
      devil, satan = life, motion + secret, private + garden + man
      naked = man + fruit
      pain = a piece + two trees
      sorrow = ancient + weeds
      righteousness = sheep + me
      large ship = person + eight + boat

      If you’re familiar with the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, how does one account for the striking similarities between the ancient Chinese pictographs and the events as communicated in the Bible? I submit the most logical conclusion is that the Chinese shared a common history with the events of the Bible, giving credence that maybe the events in Genesis aren’t as fantastical or mythological as many would like to believe.

      In addition to this, the ancient Chinese were actually monotheistic, worshipping ShangDi, which roughly translates to “the heavenly Ruler”. Chinese records in the Shu Jing (Book of History of Book of Documents) state that the Chinese Emperor Shun in 2230 BC said the following prayer:

      “Of old in the beginning, there was the great chaos, without form and dark. The five elements [planets] had not begun to revolve, nor the sun and moon to shine. You, O Spiritual Sovereign, first divided the grosser parts from the purer. You made heaven. You made earth. You made man. All things with their reproducing power got their being”

      The emperor, as considered the high priest of the nation, was the one permitted to conduct the ceremony. This is very similar to Job, which some believe to possibly be the oldest book of the Old Testament, which records that Job acted as the priest for his family, offering sacrifices on their behalf.

      So hundreds if not thousands of years before the Jewish Bible is written and Israel is a nation, in an entirely separate part of the world, we have the Chinese believing in a Supreme Ruler deity that created all things including man. The ancient pictographs of the Chinese people record events too similar to the events of Genesis to be considered pure coincidence.

      How is it, then, that the Chinese people do not care a spit about Jesus? Their most ancient religious beliefs mirror that of the Bible and ancient man. Christianity is the fulfillment of the Old Testament religious system, not a different religion. In Genesis when Adam and Eve sinned, God promised a Savior would be born someday and until that day man would be required to offer animal sacrifices to temporarily cover his sins until Jesus was offered as the Perfect Sacrifice. The ancient Chinese used a different name for God, but their ancient religious beliefs were cannily similar to those recorded in the Old Testament. Thus, I submit that Christianity is also the fulfillment of the ancient Chinese religion.

      It is my assertion that China, from the beginning of that nation, did indeed care about the religious system which Jesus Christ fulfilled.

      With regards to miracles, if you lay out the time of the entire Bible, miracles only happened at very specific times for specific reasons. The creation, Exodus, beginnings of the nation of Israel, the times of the ruling judges of Israel, lives of Elijah/Elisha, Jesus, and the early apostles. If you add up all those years, it’s actually a very small slice of history. So it would be improper to conclude that the Bible records miracles happening all the time. Miracles were presented to man to confirm God’s message and authenticity to mankind. Once the Bible was established, man no longer needed miracles to discern which prophet truly spoke for God, because God had seen fit to allow the Bible to present God to mankind. Thus we do not find miracles happening every day in Biblical times and then not happening now. We find miracles happening very sporadically in Biblical times, with the final conclusion being that man now has the Bible as God’s Word and does not need to confirm a prophet’s message as being from God by a miracle.

      I’m not sure I understand your argument about the order of creation being wrong…from my understanding you don’t believe the Genesis creation account…so how can you state it’s wrong because the order is wrong? If your issue is with the order of the events, that seems to me an implied consensus that the account is true but somehow the order was recorded wrong. Could you please explain this a bit more? I’m just confused why the order of the events is your main point of contention.

      I will address the cited links you provided at a later time as this post is too long and focuses mostly on the topic of China and miracles.

      Also, I welcome honest criticism of any information I have provided. If I am wrong, it is I who will suffer more than anyone else. I do not wish to misrepresent facts or draw inappropriate conclusions. If you believe the information I have provided is invalid, please mark it and give me a reputable critic as to why the information is inaccurate. I’m not here to be close-minded or ignorantly defend my beliefs: my purpose is to discover and hold to truth. I understand we may disagree on what that truth is, but that doesn’t mean we can do so in an honest and respectful fashion.

      • ShangDi was not the only god the ancient Chinese worshipped during the Shang Dynasty. The Chinese worshipped many other gods during this time period as well (weather gods, sky gods, etc.). However, ShangDi was the supreme god who ruled over all the other gods, probably similar to how Zeus was the supreme god amongst all the other Greek gods. Sacrificing to god or the gods to appease them was very common in ancient times, regardless of the religion. Monotheistic religions (like Judaism) strictly believe only ONE god exists, period, not a bunch of lesser gods or demi-gods who are ruled over by the supreme god. Many ancient religions, like the Mayans or Aztecs or the Egyptians for example, also believe in one “super god” as well, but they also believed other “lesser” gods existed too, who were ruled over by the main god. So no, they weren’t strictly monotheistic in the sense that Judaism is.


      • @Dan,

        The interesting part is that there is a Supreme God common among nearly all cultures in some form and this belief in a ruling God among gods does not begin appearing later in history but was present from nearly all the earliest records.

        The question that must be addressed is what best explains the early, common theme of a Supreme God universally found among cultures? The common idea that man started with spiritism and animism, then personified these spirits into man-like gods, which later progressed into a single deity doesn’t seem to hold up to the fact that cultures have a ruling deity from the earliest records.

        I concur with you the Chinese recognized other gods. But why did they recognize ShangDi as the Supreme God? It’s interesting you mention the Greeks because Justin Martyr (an early church father in the 2nd century) actually addressed the Greeks about this very topic in his Hortatory Address to the Greeks, specifically chapter XV (if I recall properly…). In these discussions Martyr quotes the ancient Greek poet Orpheus regarding a single deity that existed and not a pantheon at all. It seems even the Greeks had a tradition of a Supreme Ruler at one time that some often recognized as a single being and not multiple.

        Now, to be honest, it also seems that the Greeks referenced other gods as well. But they did not credit these gods with the same abilities as the Ruling Deity. It would seem the argument hinges upon how one defines a “god”.

        For instance, all 3 major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have the concept of supernatural beings called angels (also Jinn in Islam). These supernatural beings possess powers beyond mortal comprehension. In the Bible we have a single angel wiping out thousands of men in a battle, blinding cities, and performing miraculous acts that only a “god” could perform. The Greek pantheon has lower gods that each control some aspect of natural life (fertility, crops, war, etc…). Is Christianity polytheistic because it has multiple supernatural beings similar to the Greek lower gods? Or is it monotheistic because it has one Supreme Being Who is in control of all the others similar to how the Greeks have Zeus (or if you want to be more technical, taking it a step back and talking about the Titans that fathered the Greek gods…let’s just stick with Zeus for now)?

        In a similar vein, if the Chinese and Greeks had multiple lower gods (ie, angels) but one ruling deity, are they considered polytheistic or monotheistic? Is it a matter of the term used, maybe? I’m actually pondering my own thoughts about this topic. Let’s take Christianity and the Greek pantheon for example. In Christianity we have God and angels, including a very powerful angel named Satan who was so powerful he actually rebelled against God. In the Greek pantheon we have Zeus acting as the Christian God with lesser gods operating, more or less, as angels. The Greeks talk about their gods coming down and mating with humans, and the Bible accounts angels also coming down and mating with humans (Genesis 6, the nephilim). Both angels and Greek lower gods had tremendous powers over the natural world. Yet both have a ruling deity that all are accountable to (Christian God and Greek Zeus).

        If Christianity called the angels gods but still kept the idea of God as the Supreme God, would it still be monotheistic? Similarly, would the Greek pantheon still be considered polytheistic if they called their lower gods by another name, such as angels?

        I’m actually very interested to see what you think about this. It’s something I’ve never really thought about and I’m just wondering if I’m making any sense or if I’m instead making glaring errors. I guess the summarized question would be, is the key difference between monotheism and polytheism one of what you call lesser supernatural beings?

      • I believe we’re starting to get into semantics here, and it’s really a matter of interpretation and subjectivity now. I see your point about substituting “lesser gods” for angels and so on, and it’s an interesting observation. However, does that prove Judeo-Christianity is the correct religion above those other religions world-wide? No. Christianity is a relatively young religion and started out as an apocalyptic off-shoot sect of Judaism. Someone who believes in those other religions could argue that the hierarchy of “lesser gods” (angels) in Judaism & Christiany proves THEIR religion true. So the question is, which religion(s) proves the other religion(s) true? Who proves the validity of whom? For example, do the Chinese and/or Greeks prove Judeo-Christianity true? Or does Judeo-Christianity prove the Greeks or Chinese true? The Greeks, Chinese, Hindus, Egyptians, and many of the Mesopotamian religions are older… so how do we know Judeo-Christianity didn’t borrow certain concepts from them and prove one of THEM true? You also have to keep in mind that Christianity has changed/evolved over the past 2,000 years and has spawned many off-shoot sects based on varying interpretations of the Bible, all claiming to know “the truth”. Plus there were many gospels that didn’t get included in the Bible, or were originally included but got removed at some point. The speculation of who influenced whom is somewhat futile, because you can’t really prove one way or the other. You also have to keep in mind that ancient cultures throughout the middle-east and Asia had trade routes, so I’m sure there was an exchange of ideas and culture… some cultures could’ve borrowed theological ideas they found attractive from other cultures. It is interesting how cultures may have influenced others.

  24. Of note: I understand the salient point that people can find “truth” in the text. It’s pretty easy to do with any allegory. But, i also understand the there’s a difference between relative truths (specific to a particular brand of theology or culture,) and absolute truths (identifiable across all cultures, time periods, including before the bible.) I also understand that the truly good parts of the bible encompass simple humanistic values that existed prior to the bible and Jesus. Love, altruism, empathy, and community. These are things not owned by the bible or christianity.

    It’s amazing to me to find out there were people here in the Americas, 8,000-10,000 years prior to the bible, but no mention by the all knowing creator in his middle-eastern book of stories. By the way, do we want to cover the council of Nicea? Or, the oldest religious temple, Gobekli Tepe in Turkey that predates the bible by some 10’000 years? Or, the first artifact we have of humans using their imagination to carve idols/gods that were mythical? Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel @ 40,000 years old… what about the first controlled use of fire @ 1.1 milllion years ago? sure is a lot of humanity predating the bible that’s not actually in the bible.

    Natural history > theology.

    • You probably know what their response will be. They will probably say “how do you know those things are that old? Those dating techniques are flawed!” They seem to dismiss radiometric dating unless it works in favor of their argument, then they’ll jump on board in a heartbeat. They also never seem to realize that with enough speculation, mental gymnastics, presumptions, and skewed interpretation, you can rationalize any contradiction and make it disappear no matter how blatant… even if a literal word-for-word interpretation is blatantly contradictory.
      For example, who made King Saul take a census of Israel? One book says God did it, another book says Satan. An apologist would just rationalize this and say: “God allowed Satan to tempt Saul, so both can be true.” However, this is just speculation that has no Biblical support. Nowhere does it specifically say that God allowed Satan to tempt King Saul into taking a census, so this is just wild speculation to rationalize a contradiction. However, in a literal word-for-word interpretation, the two contradict each other. On a side note: Taking a census doesn’t seem like an offense worthy of a horrible plague that kills thousands of people for the actions of one man).

      • @Dan,

        I understand your point that Christians will claim that the dating methods are flawed. My question is, why do you put so much trust in them yourself? If you have not personally verified the accuracy of these methods yourself, then are you not making the same error Christians are: taking someone else’s word as truth without verification?

        You raise an excellent question with regards to the census. I appreciate your raising a specific incident to discuss. However, I believe you’re actually referring to Kind David (king right after Saul) and not King Saul.

        First, let me ask this: if I fully agree with you that this is a contradiction in the Bible, what would you do? Would you accept the other 99% of the Bible that is not in question? Or are you using this example (and others, I’m sure) as rational for not accepting the rest of the Bible? Everyone is quick to point out the problems in the Bible. But lets take all those problems and throw them out. So what about the other 97% of the Bible? Because there are a few things that may be difficult to understand or even blatantly wrong, is it logical to thus say that everything is wrong about the Bible? Richard Dawkins, in the books he has written, has commented that there is no such thing as absolute good/evil…yet, he then progresses to talk about how evil it is for Christians to teach creationism to their children. Is that not a direct contradiction? Am I justified in now saying that everything Dawkins says or does is false because he has a glaring error in writing? Just something to think about.

        Back to the topic of the census…your assessment that there is no support for a “God allowed, Satan performed” may not be fully true. Let us examine a very similar passage in Job where Satan and God essentially both use Job as a pawn (key parts contained in asterisks *):

        Job 2:3-7
        Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although *you incited Me against him*, to destroy him without cause.” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out *Your hand* now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in *your hand*, but spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

        In the same set of verses, Satan incited God against Job, Satan then says that God stretches out His hand and afflicts Job, and then God tells Satan that Job is in Satan’s hands. Back and forth, both God and Satan are involved in this process.

        This is demonstrated again in Job 42:11:
        “Then all his [Job’s] brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the *adversity that the Lord had brought upon him*”.

        A simple reading of Job finds that Satan was the acting agent against Job, yet at the end the author of Job credits it all to God. Again we have God being the permissive force and Satan acting as the active agent.

        Thus, there is prior evidence that “God allowed, Satan performed” does indeed exist. And I believe the census by David falls under this same criteria. It’s not reading into the passage things that aren’t there; it’s simply doing some research into the words and meanings used. Remember, what you are reading in the Bible today is a translation: you are not reading the original language. And you cannot translate 100% of the words and ideas from one language to another. It simply isn’t possible.

        Another very interesting point is the plague that resulted from the census. At first glance it does seem extremely overkill and unjustified. However, there are a few things normally left out.

        For starters, God clearly laid out instructions for performing the census:

        Exodus 30:12-13
        “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary…”

        David and the Israelite nation as a whole clearly violated God’s direct command by not providing the “ransom” money for the census. God gave clear instructions that were not followed. Strike against the Israelites. In addition, 2 Samuel 24:1 states that God’s anger was “aroused against Israel”, very clearly implying they had been doing something that was again in violation to God’s commands.

        So what do we see? God clearly laid out the instructions for conducting a census as well as the consequences for improperly following these instructions. In addition, the Israelites were violating God’s commands and arousing His anger.

        Now I understand you probably do not accept the existence of God. But let us place ourselves in the place of the Israelites and assume, for the sake of understanding this passage, that God exists and that God was leading Israel at this time through a theocracy that turned into a monarchy when the Israelites demanded it. God gave a clear command and the people very clearly violated it, from their leadership down to the individual citizen. They had access to the written commands of God yet they openly violated them. If you’re a parent and you give a very clear command to your children, what do you do when they openly rebel and violate it? You have to punish them. And often the punishment does not necessarily match the offense, but because of the rebellion the child exhibits the punishment must be fairly harsh to ensure it does not happen again. In this instance, though, God very clearly informed Israel ahead of time what the consequences were. So by sending a plague, God was not really be unjust: He was just showing Israel that when He said something, He followed through on it. I don’t really view it as all that unfair given that perspective. What do you think?

      • Putting aside the dating precision, what you presented really proves nothing.
        Your logic is similar to a joke I heard:

        “Two men boasting on the superiority of their countries: “In my country they discovered some very old wires, that proves they used electricity back then.” The other replied: “In my country they didn’t discover any wires, which means they had wireless back then!”

    • @Christian Thomas,
      I fully agree with you that there is absolute truth that is not relative. The question is how does one arrive at that absolute truth?

      One point I must disagree with you on is the “truly good parts of the Bible”. The key message of the Bible is entirely unique to the Bible and Christianity. The message of the Bible, in it’s simplest form, is this: God created everything perfect; man willingly chose to disobey God; God (being a just being) punished man by death; God loved man to the degree that He allowed His Son Jesus to exist as a perfect human and die in our place; mankind is restored to God when we accept Jesus’ death and submit ourselves to God; thus when God looks at us, He does not see our evil, He sees the blood of Jesus covering us. Mankind is legally restored to a right relationship with God. Mankind cannot earn his way to heaven; it is entirely by God’s grace that mankind is redeemed. That is the best part of the Bible.

      Also, whether religions/cultures/ideas/values existed before the Bible is an irrelevant point. The Bible never claims to have existed before mankind was around…if it did, who penned it? The Bible is broken up into 2 parts: the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). The OT is a history of the nation of Israel from its very beginnings to around the time Rome came into the picture. Israel was the nation God chose to allow Jesus to be born into, hence the reason God had a special relationship with Israel. In the OT we find books of history, wisdom literature, and even poetry. The NT covers the life of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Christian church from Jesus’ teachings. The NT contains letters written from founding apostles to churches and to each other, and historical biographies of Jesus and the early church. The intention of the Bible is not to catalog the history of mankind.

      On the issue of earliest religious beliefs, I suspect if we dig deep enough we will actually find that almost all religions across the world are off-shoots of a monotheistic belief system, and they have very strikingly similar stories that are contained within the Bible (creation, floods, etc…). To assume that the beliefs of the Bible were not around before the Bible would not be valid; that’s like saying the belief in a scientific principle can’t exist before someone wrote their thesis on that topic. The book of Job is accepted as the oldest book of the Bible and it records some of the religious practices of the people of the time.

      With regards to dating of things, I consider myself a very rational person. But let me ask you this: are you a scientist who has validated the accuracy of radiometric dating and have personally performed the controlled experiments that demonstrate radiometric dating is indeed consistently correct? I’m not saying it’s incorrect. On the contrary, it may be very accurate. But if you have not confirmed it yourself, then are you not guilty of the same thing I am often accused of? Using “blind faith” to accept what someone else told me? You just assume that it’s fact without presenting the rational behind why it’s fact. If you present your support for why you believe radiometric dating is correct, I promise you I will examine it and am more than willing to discuss it with you. I’m not here to blow smoke or hold ardently to incorrect beliefs. If I am wrong in my belief system, help me understand where.

      However, if your intent is just to blow off some steam every once in a while and tell me I’m incorrect without supporting rational, there’s no reason to do that there. Because if the Bible is false and I’m an ignorant man for believing it, why do you waste your time trying to correct me? The other alternative is that there is only physical matter, which means we will all die, all the people who know us will die, the world will eventually die, and the universe will eventually die when it runs out of energy; and you, me, and all of mankind will entirely be forgotten in this universe as we float around as cold, inanimate atoms. If that is what you accept as truth, why waste time on this forum talking to foolish Christians? You only have so many years to live before you turn into nothingness; don’t waste them on me.

      But if you’re interested in sharing your ideas in a respectful fashion, I welcome the opportunity to learn from you. Some of the most eye-opening ideas for me come from those who are diametrically opposed to my beliefs.

  25. One of the first questions posed on this blog was never addressed: “If this excerpt from the Bible was added 400 years later, why are we considering it”? Why was it allowed to be added and by whom? What other excerpts were added to the Bible that we don’t know about? This was an extremely interesting blog and I’m not finished reading it but this question is burning in my mind. Does anyone know the answers? I wrote some questions to Eric regarding his blog about “Does the Bible condone rape”? If anyone would like to address those questions, I would be most appreciative. I hope you don’t mind me asking this group, Erik. It is not out of disrespect for you but I’m so intrigued with the dialogue of the group here that I’m hopeful they may be able to answer the questions I posed on this blog as well as the other one. Thank you in advance to whomever responds.

    • From wikipedia

      Although in line with many stories in the Gospels and probably primitive (Didascalia Apostolorum refers to it, possibly Papias also), certain critics[2][3] argue that it was “certainly not part of the original text of St John’s Gospel.”[4] On the other hand, the Council of Trent declared that the Latin Vulgate was authentic and authoritative.[5] The Latin Vulgate includes the adultery episode in John 7:53-8:11.

      The fact that someone argues whether a text was in the original or not does not mean that the original text did not contain this passage. There are some people who wear tinfoil hats and claim that Elvis is still alive, with evidence of course. Certain critics does not mean all critics. There is ample evidence to prove that this passage was included in the original.

      • Blah Blah Blah .
        What a bunch of dopes these people are.
        Jesus is the Law.
        What’s it to us if he forgives the woman.
        Jesus is God.
        I hope he forgives me….and you dopes too.

      • You could join the Church of the Lost Frisby.
        And when you die your soul goes on a rooftop.
        But I’m a devout coward so I’m gonna ride out this Christianity thing.

      • I’m going to do a lot of research on points of interest regarding this blog. Thank you very much for your input. I did some research last night and stumbled upon something that said the number of the AntiChrist isn’t 666 but 616. There is so much to learn! I don’t know if that is true but that is just an example of something I stumbled upon when trying to look up why things were added to the Bible. I got lost in a myriad of information. Thank you again!

  26. Too many things don’t make sense. I sincerely want to learn and pastors in my churches don’t take my questions seriously. What is the point of going to church if I can’t have an open dialogue with the pastors. Needless to say, I stopped going to church. It is very discouraging to have your questions taken lightly, ignored, or I’m accused of not having faith. I may not be as religious as other people but for someone to state I have no faith is a huge insult. Why was that said; because I have questions that they don’t want to take the time to fully address or I don’t take the Bible at face value? If these questions were resolved, then maybe I could take the Bible at face value. God will hold them accountable some day. They basically abandoned a wounded sheep because they became tired of tending to my wounds. My family and some friends don’t believe. The ones that do just go to church, listen to the sermons and go home. I can’t find many people that want to have a serious discussion about the Bible so I look for information myself. I will check the accuracy of what people say by comparing it to the Bible. Even though, as is the case with the excerpt we are currently discussing about the woman at the well, why was it added later? Why would God inspire someone to add it later? It truly doesn’t make sense to me Eric. I will do a search to find out if there is ample evidence that suggests that this was originally in but taken out and put back in. If that is the case, WHY? Why? Does that make sense to you? If you wrote something that was true and you were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write something, why would someone else write an addition years later or decide to include something that was taken out? Were they inspired by the Holy Spirit? If I decided to add something to the Bible and claimed I was inspired by the Holy Spirit and knew all of the right people to talk to because I had clout, would I be able to add something? Again, Eric, I’m not being wise or disrespectful. I sincerely don’t understand. Thank you for your patience and anticipated response.

    • You could also ask why an all-knowing god would inspire a book that is so highly interpretaive that it spawns countless offshoot Christian sects, each thinking they have the “proper interpretation.” You would think a god who claims not to be “the author of confusion” would foresee the future confusion of his sheep on interpreting his best selling book.

      • I have been teaching the Bible systematically for 13 years and I have discovered that most of the confusion exists because people do not study the Bible. Many people study much about the Bible but studying about the Bible is not the same as studying the Bible. When I was 18, I was introduced to the inductive Bible study method and it revolutionized my life and totally changed my view of the Bible. Before then, I thought that the Bible was an old book for old people who were easily manipulated. I had never studied it for myself. I just heard what others had to say about it.

      • People’s minds interpret things different. Forgot about “free will”? The Bible is not something you can fully understand without God. There isn’t any argument in this universe that could force you to believe something you don’t want to believe. What you are asking is absurd.

      • @Dan,

        This is really an absurd accusation. First, the overwhelming majority of the Bible’s teachings are not subjective or highly interpretive. I find most of it is pretty simple to understand. However, there are some areas that people disagree about. That’s fine. There is no 100% agreement on any topic of any consequence in this world. Science says the Big Bang happened and others say there was no Big Bang the universe existed forever. Some say life was seeded by aliens some say it developed naturally without any guidance. Now are you going to question the basics of science because scientists have disagreements among each other?

        Pointing the finger at various religious groups as evidence that God does not exist is just childish. And, quite simply, God DID see the confusion on interpreting the Bible.

        1 Timothy 1:3-7
        3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer
        4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith.
        5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
        6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.
        7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

        There are a lot of other passages saying the same thing. The New Testament is FILLED with warnings about false teachers coming and drawing people away from the clear teachings Paul and the other apostles presented. The book of Acts even records some of those cult groups and their teachings.

        So God did indeed foresee the various groups abusing the Bible for their own purposes and warned man about it in the Bible through the medium of Paul and other apostles.

        And to claim God is false because men use the Bible for their own purposes is almost the same as saying God cannot exist because men do evil things.

        In fact, your statement “a book that is so highly interpretative that it spawns countless offshoot Christian sects” is itself a subjective statement. I don’t believe the Bible is that highly interpretative.

        By the way, just a fun question…when you state that there are “countless” offshoot Christian sects, are you using “countless” in the hyperbole sense or are you using it in the absolute sense that the Christian offshoot sects literally cannot be counted? :)p Vicky will understand what I’m saying with regards to literal word-for-word.

      • I don’t mean LITERALLY countless off-shoot sects, I’m sure there is a finite number of them. Some do not exist anymore (like the anabaptists of Munster, Germany in the 1530’s, which is an interesting story in itself), but there are MANY sects of Christianity because there are different interpretations of the Bible… this is an undeniable fact.

        As far as the Bible being highly interpretive, it is highly interpretive on several crucial issues, not just some minor issues. One of the important issues is predestination vs. freewill. Does God choose in advance who is saved like so many verses indicate? Or do people choose to accept or reject God on their own freewill? If God has a divine plan, which most Christians will agree he does, then freewill is simply an illusion. If there is a divine plan, there is nothing humans can do to thwart god’s plan since he is sovereign and all-powerful, so we have no choice but to carry out a preordained plan. God, being sovereign, means he has absolute control over everything, down to the smallest details in nature, if this is not true, then God is not sovereign. If humans are selected by God to be saved or damned, then logic dictates that humans are not responsible for their sins, god is… after all he purposely chose to program people the way they are. If an engineer purposely designs a robot to fail, do you blame the robot? Of course not! So, since God is responsible for all sin (via his divine plan & sovereignty), he cannot be perfect, and a perfect creator CANNOT give rise to an imperfect creation. That is another example of how the Christian god cannot logically exist, a perfect god can ONLY create a perfect creation incapable of being corrupted. Otherwise, if the creation was originally perfect but some how became corrupted, it wasn’t perfect to begin with. A perfect god who creates an imperfect creation is impossible. And if you’re STILL going to claim an originally perfect creation is somehow corruptible, then that means it’s logically possible for a perfect creator to become corrupted as well, you can’t have it both ways.

        Yet there are other verses that claim God wants everyone to be saved and that he hates “when the wicked die”. This implies humans have freewill. So my question is: If god wants nobody to die and everyone to be saved, why create humans he KNOWS will reject him? Why does god create some people as “vessels for destruction” if he explicitly says elsewhere he doesn’t desire anyone to perish? Why not just create the people he knows will accept him on their own freewill? Or better yet, instead of giving humans the option to choose evil (thus having freewill), why not give humans freewill who are incapable of sinning? Instead of having to choose between good & evil, why not just have the choice between several good options? Surely an “omni” god could have done this.

        Another crucial yet highly interpretive part of the Bible is how to be saved. The first three gospels (the synoptic gospels) have Christ putting a strong emphasis on various good deeds to achieve salvation (such as helping the needy, forgiving others their trespasses, selling all your possessions to the poor, exceeding the righteousness of the scribes & Pharisees, upholding “the law”, be baptized, become as little children). Not much if anything is mention about salvation by grace through faith being the ONLY requirement in the first 3 gospels. The gospel of John (the newest gospel), and Paul are the ones that claim salvation by grace through faith.
        Take a look at this link for more detail:


        Anyways, some people even believe in universal salvation (everyone is saved). This one actually makes the most sense too, because if Jesus died for everyone’s sin, wouldn’t that include the sin of rejecting Christ? Or is that just 1 of 2 sins that are unforgivable besides blaspheming the holy spirit? That’s another thing too, most Christians say ALL sin can be forgiven, however Jesus says quite literally in Matthew 12:31-32 that blaspheming the holy spirit is unforgivable in this age and the next, apparently THERE IS a sin big enough (that a nonbeliever can commit) that not even God can (or is willing to) forgive. So any non-Christian who does that even once has NO CHANCE of being saved. So god is not all-forgiving. Anyways, if the price for sin is already paid by Christ, belief in him shouldn’t be required because the sin of rejecting god should have been paid for on the cross, or did Christ’s death not pay for that sin as well? So apparently there are 2 kinds of sins that Jesus did not pay for on the cross, the sin of nonbelief/rejecting god and blaspheming the holy spirit. So all my childhood Sunday school teachers were wrong about God being able to forgive a non-Christian for ALL sin.

      • @Dan,

        I figured you meant in the allegorical sense, I was just using it as an example 🙂

        With regards to various views, my short answer is a Calvinist and an Arminian, although they disagree on a “key” issue, it actually doesn’t change much. Both Calvinists and Arminians “do” the same thing as Christians, they just have a different reason. Both agree they are to obey God because that is right. Both preach the Bible because that is right. Both teach salvation because that is right. However, it is the mechanism behind salvation that they disagree on. Both evangelize, because this is what God commands. But why do they evangelize? The Arminian would believe they are sharing the Gospel with people so that people will use their human ability to logically ponder the Gospel and accept it as truth, and in essence “choose” God. The Calvinist believes that God “calls” the person in the first place and that it wasn’t the person “convincing” himself, but rather God enlightening the person. Now, this is a gross simplification of the 2 general parties. But while they disagree on the mechanism behind salvation, I would argue that both parties perform the actions of a Christian almost identically. It’s not necessarily the “what” they differ on as much as the “why” and “how”.

        You raise an excellent question about predestination and freewill. I’ll be flatly honest with you: I would prefer that the predestination passages just didn’t exist. Then I could not worry about this issue. Or that I could ignore them. However, they were included for a reason.

        The first thing I would say is that the majority of passages supporting both predestination and freewill are penned by the same individual: Paul. He is involved in the majority of the texts. So the first question to ask is why would Paul contradict himself? That gives me a clue that maybe Paul isn’t contradicting himself but may be discussing various contexts.

        Some of your points are very valid and I will do my best to address them. I’ll openly tell you these are some of the very same issues I’ve struggled with and I am currently not satisfied with my resolution to them.

        Here’s a critical question: does having absolute power mean you must EXERCISE absolute power? I believe God is sovereign. He has the ability to control all things. Does that mean I’m typing right now because God is forcing my hands to move? No, I don’t think so. Does God have that ability? Yes. Thus He is sovereign. Having the ability to control all things doesn’t mean you have to. For instance, the story of Esther in the OT. The Persian king had the authority to execute any individual who approached his throne without his permission, including his queen. Esther was his queen and approached his throne without his permission. Yet he let her live. Does this mean that the king didn’t have absolute authority because he didn’t execute her? No. He had the choice to execute her if he wanted to. He was “sovereign” and “absolute”. In the same vein, God can do as He wishes with us. That doesn’t mean He has to control every action we do.

        There are numerous passages that talk about man speaking and God leading, etc… A lot of these are passages in the song or wisdom literature. They teach a principle but are not meant as absolute statements. For instance, “a soft answer turneth away anger” is a principle. It is not an absolute statement nor was it ever meant to be taken as one. Similarly, ascribing all power to God is stating a principle, not necessarily stating specifically that all actions are decreed and enacted by God. When you have passages that say God controls things and other passages that say man makes choices, you must interpret Scripture with Scripture. You find examples of such action being carried out and come to the rational conclusion based on the various passages you have.

        I must contest one of your points, that a perfect God can only create a perfect creation incapable of being corrupted. Why? I don’t see the logical requirement. God created man with choice: man chose to sin. How is that God’s fault? You have a mind and soul and the ability to love and obey God if you want or not. You’re saying that since God didn’t force you to love Him He cannot exist. I don’t think your assumption is logically sound. A perfect being can create imperfect beings if He so chooses. I think you’re extending the definition of “perfection” well beyond its boundaries. Perfection is defined by God; what He does constitutes perfection. It flows from His character. If you had this idea of “perfection” that controlled how God operated, then God is no longer the ultimate Being…there is now this mysterious “force” controlling how God operates. God says His character stems from His nature. It’s “who” He is. I don’t understand where God’s nature comes from. It just IS Who He IS. Anyway, back on topic…

        I submit God could create a being that has the ability to make choices, including the choice to rebel. I do not see how that denies God’s perfection. With regards to predestination, I agree with your basic assessment: if God sovereignly created some of mankind for the explicit purpose of damning them to hell for torture and that was the ONLY destination possible to them, I would posit such a God was not worthy of my love. So what do I do when I find passages that seem to support that ideology? Well, I study the heck out of them because this is a very serious question!

        I do not accept that God is responsible for sin. He permitted it, but that is not the same as creating it. He created man with the ability to choose. Man’s choices do not contradict God’s sovereignty because having power does not require it be exercised. Thus God can have sovereign power and still allow man to make choices. It is not an either-or situation.

        Thus I disagree with your definition of perfect and I disagree with your definition of sovereign. God is not responsible for sin nor is He in a logically impossible situation. Again, God defines perfection…He is not “subject” to perfection, He IS perfection.

        But I do agree with you on the difficulty of the passages that state God creates man for destruction vs others that say God wants all to be saved. Here’s an example. If your child disobeys you and you need to discipline your child, do you “want” to do it? Don’t you wish your child would obey? Yet, your responsibility as a parent requires you discipline your child both for your child’s own good and because it is just. Similarly, God can want all of mankind to be saved and yet must also be just. If mankind rejects God, then God is only just in condemning man to hell.

        The number one passage used in defense of predestination and the “created for destruction” concept is Romans 9-11. Incidentally, I have been studying this very topic lately because it caused me such disconcertion. I will not be able to provide a fully satisfactory answer because I have yet to complete my study of the topic.

        The passage in Romans 9-11 is long, so I will not quote all of it. But the passages Paul references are quoted from the OT where it talks about nations and not necessarily individuals (this is known in figurative language as synecdoche: “part standing for the whole”). Thus when it talks about Esau I believe it is referencing the national descendants of Esau, the nation of Edom. Why is that valid? Because the passage quoted comes from Malachi 1 (going off memory here…) and that passage uses individual names but is clearly talking about nations. Thus I currently believe that parts of Romans 9-11 is talking about God’s plan for ensuring Israel exists as a nation so that the prophesied bloodline of Jesus comes to fruition. It also talks about Israel as a physical nation vs a spiritual entity.

        The big point for me is that in that passage, Paul employs a conditional statement. He never absolutely states that God 100% created people for destruction. Instead Paul states that “what if…” God wanted to do these things. I believe Paul is establishing the sovereign ability of God in that God COULD do whatever the heck HE wanted to with us and there’s NOTHING we could do to stop Him. But God did not. Thus I am convinced this passage does not support the idea of God creating man purely for torture with no possible alternative. Paul states in Romans 1, just a few paragraphs before the curious Romans 9 passage, that no man is without excuse when we stand before God. So why would Paul then state the absolute opposite? I believe it’s because many folks start reading at Romans 9, jump right into the controversial verses, and walk away scared or confused. They really need to read starting from Romans 1, understanding that Paul’s writing to a specific audience about a particular topic. He is referencing nations and not specifically addressing individual salvation as dictated by God.

        This is not fully satisfactory, and I agree. But I am in the midst of seeking to understand it and will have more to say as I learn more. But not understanding this part does not alleviate me from obeying the rest of Scripture that I do clearly understand. While this passage is difficult for me to understand, the Bible clearly states that I have a choice to accept Christ as my Savior or not. It is incumbent upon me to make a proper decision. Not understanding a small part does not remove my responsibility from knowing the bigger part.

        About salvation…the synoptics are biographies about Jesus. They record His strange ministry. Strange because Judaism had a very strong religious history already. If you understand the Jewish religion a bit, I think the actions of Christ can be better interpreted. The Jews were hardcore religious. If you think you or I are religious, these guys make us look like kids. They had prayers for everything…you drank some wine, there was a prayer that went along with it. On the Sabbath, there was a specific number of steps you took from your house before you had “worked” on the Sabbath…but to make up for it, you had to carry a bundle of sticks to represent your house that you could set down and “reset” your step count. They prayed in public many times each day, often times traveling down the most populated streets right at prayer time so that everyone would see them. The religious leaders were supposed to be the ones who preserved the Scriptures and informed the people about the coming Messiah. Ironically, when Jesus was born, Herod asked the Jewish leaders about it…know what they said? They knew all the prophecies and knew the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, which resulted in Herod murdering the children. In the height of irony, the religious leaders knew all the prophecies regarding Christ, but when Christ was standing right before them speaking to them and performing miraculous healings, they asked for more signs and plotted to kill Him. That’s ironic and sad.

        The Jewish people were insanely religious. But the funny part is how they taught. They didn’t research facts and study things out…instead, they quoted other religious leaders. That was their version of references and footnotes. They made a statement and then backed it up by saying “Rabbi So-and-so said this because…” In the Gospels you find the Jewish people wondering at Jesus because of His teaching. Now we read this and it doesn’t make sense…we see a dude named Jesus speaking and saying some stuff and people falling down in wonder…so what? Well, that’s because the Jews had never heard someone claim to teach by his OWN authority. Jesus taught with Himself being the footnote. In fact, one time He stood before the folks of His hometown, walked up in church (the Jewish synagogue), read a prophecy before the people that said that God would one day speak to them, sat down and said the prophecy had now been fulfilled. They tried to throw Him off a cliff. In essence, He just said He was God. Now this was blasphemy unless it was true, which I believe it was.

        It is critical to understand the Jewish religious situation at the time because that’s where Jesus presented His 3-year ministry. Quite often Jesus said outrageous things for shock value because the people were so blinded by their religion that they couldn’t even see the fulfillment of their religion right in front of them.

        But since the Gospels are biographies, their primary purpose is to recount the life of Jesus. The primary purpose of the Gospels was NOT to provide a 3-point outline of salvation. Jesus came to be the means of salvation by His death.

        In several of the events you mentioned (selling possessions, etc…) you have to read the story in context. In that one example, a rich young ruler came to Christ and wanted to show off to others. Jesus, being God, knew what the guy was thinking. Jesus knew the guy loved his wealth and would never give it up. So the rich guy asks Jesus how he could be saved. Jesus knew what the guy was really after…the rich guy wanted Jesus to tell him he was awesome and had done all his good deeds already. Instead, Jesus hit him right where it counted…Christ told him to sell all his possessions, knowing this was the man’s stumbling block. It wasn’t a dissertation on salvation, it was a recording of a meeting Jesus had with a rich young ruler.

        Also, think about this…the accusation is, “why didn’t Jesus say that salvation was obtained by believing on Jesus Christ and accepting His death as the only atoning sacrifice for your sins!”? Well, let’s think about that statement…Christ was standing before them. He hadn’t died yet. So how could they believe on His death if He hadn’t yet died? Salvation in both OT and NT comes via faith in God: faith that a Messiah will come and temporary animal sacrifices to cover sins, and faith that Jesus previously CAME as the Messiah and fully paid for our sins with His sacrifice. It is the submission to God and acceptance that saved; the OT just looked ahead and the NT looks back. So, almost by definition, the methodology of salvation HAS to be different…

        Quite often I think you’ll find that when you provide a specific passage, it can be clearly seen that Christ is not telling the people involved that the mere act of selling possessions will gain them entrance into heaven. On some of the more difficult passages you have to dig into the Greek a bit and examine the meaning and context. I’ll run through a few of the examples you mentioned.

        Rich Young Ruler/Selling Possessions (Matt 19:16-22)
        16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
        17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
        18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
        Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony,
        19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
        20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
        21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
        22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

        Summary: rich guy comes to Jesus, asks how to get to heaven, Jesus tells rich guy to follow the Law (as established in the OT), the guy said he had, Jesus then tells Him to sell his possessions and give them to the poor. Guy leaves dejected cause he has a lot.

        Did Jesus just teach salvation by works or by giving to the poor? Nope. Let’s examine the context a bit further. The OT Law presented 10 simple commandments, that if you could keep fully 100% of the time, you could earn your way to heaven. The Law was given for the explicit purpose of showing man how vain it is to work our way to heaven, because no one can keep the 10 commandments 100% of the time. So the rich dude says he wants eternal life. Jesus actually gets a tacit admission that Jesus is God because He references some OT passages that only refer to God. Jesus then lists of a few of the 10 commandments, basically telling the guy he has to be perfect. The guy thinks he has done all of this…the rich dude believes he has fulfilled the 10 Commandments 100% of the time. However, note what Jesus stated: “love your neighbors as yourself”. Ah, now we start seeing where Jesus is going with this…the rich guy was expecting a pat on the back and assurance he would get eternal life. Instead, Jesus looked into his mind, knew he loved his riches more than his fellow man, and told the guy to sell his riches and thus fulfill the commandment “love you neighbors as yourself”. Then the guy left cause he loved his money more than his fellow man. What did Jesus tell the rich guy? Jesus told the rich guy that he had NOT in fact kept all 10 Commandments 100% of the time because he loved his riches and himself more than his fellow man. Thus Jesus isn’t teaching salvation by giving to the poor. Jesus was confirming that no man can keep the Law. The verses immediately following verse 22 recount Jesus talking to His disciples. They ask who can get saved if rich folks can’t? Jesus told them it was impossible for man to save Himself, but with God it was possible. Again, Jesus confirmed that the Law could not be kept by man, but God could fulfill the Law. Jesus’ purpose on this earth was to fulfill the Law 100% so that He alone could be the perfect sacrifice.

        Exceeding Righteousness of Religious Leaders
        Examined in context, Jesus told the folks that if they weren’t better than the religious leaders, they didn’t have a chance at heaven. This shocked the commoners because they thought of the religious leaders as the guys who CERTAINLY would get heaven because of their works. Jesus was telling them works won’t get them heaven because works hadn’t even gotten the religious leaders into heaven. In other places Jesus also confronts the religious leaders and tells them they definitely weren’t getting heaven and their works were worthless. So did Jesus teach salvation by works? No again.

        Upholding the Law
        If someone could keep the Law (ie, 10 Commandments) 100% of the time, they WOULD gain heaven. However, the Law was established for the sole purpose of showing man that no human could ever keep the Law 100% of the time. So this is one point that does teach “works” salvation in a sense. Basically it says if you can be perfect, you don’t need God. However, since you can’t be perfect, you require God to intervene. Not teaching anything contrary to Christianity.

        Anyway, hope that brings a little clarity on some of these points. If you have other specific examples I would welcome discussing them in further detail. It’s just difficult to know which specific passages you’re referencing.

        Finally, the idea of Universal Salvation. The Bible clearly states that not everyone will be in heaven. It clearly states that there are some people who will reject God’s gift of salvation and thus God’s justice requires they be punished. This is clearly established in both the OT and NT so I will not go into quoting passages unless you would really like me to.

        Jesus paid the penalty for our sins, but you have to accept it. The Bible teaches we are “slaves” to sin and Christ “redeems” us, in essence purchasing our freedom from sin. However, we aren’t fully “free”. We are actually bought out of slavery to sin to slavery to Christ. While free from sin, we now belong to Christ. Salvation requires that man submit himself to God and accept that we can do nothing to gain favor from God to gain entry into heaven. Only Jesus’ sacrifice is good enough to satisfy a perfect, holy God. Think of it this way…I go to a Middle Age slave market and buy “freedom” for some slaves at the market. However, if that slave doesn’t step off the market and walk away with me, is he free? I can pay the price all I want, but if the slave rejects my payment and decides he would rather be a slave, he’s pretty much still a slave. He has the ability to be free if he would accept what I did for him. Similarly, Jesus purchased our freedom with His death. We can walk away with Him, so to speak, and be free from the bondage of sin. However, many people prefer the bondage of slavery to the enjoyment of serving Christ. It is their choice. They could not “free” themselves, so it required Christ. But Christ will not force them off the stand to come with Him. That requires man’s acceptance.

        Does this teach that man “works” for his salvation? No, I don’t believe so. We didn’t earn salvation. But we must accept it. It’s a gift. If I buy you a birthday gift and hold it out to you, did you “earn” the gift by putting your hands up and grabbing the gift from me? No, that’s absurd! That’s the same thing about salvation. I didn’t earn it nor did I deserve it, but I do decide whether to reach out and accept it.

        The sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, as you alluded to, is rejecting Christ as our means of salvation. In our slave market example, it’s akin to refusing to jump off the market stand and go with Christ Who just bought is and deciding to remain a slave. Your freedom is available if you wish it. All you have to do is accept Jesus’ sacrifice that redeemed you. Accept that God’s justice condemns you to die for your sins, just like me. And that the only way God will be satisfied is if He sees Jesus’ blood covering us instead of our sinful deeds. That is salvation. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting salvation. It’s rejecting the guy buying your freedom at the slave market.

      • Regarding the verses on predestination, the Bible says God purposely gives some people “blind eyes so they will not see” or “deaf ears so they will not hear” or hard hearts so they will not come to the truth. In Romans, Paul says flat out that it is not up to man decide his salvation, and that there is nothing a person can do… God will have mercy on whom he has mercy. As further proof that God creates some people predestined for hell, Paul even anticipates the audience’s criticism of such a policy – that it’s unjust for God to do this, and Paul actually responds! Basically Paul says that God is bigger than you and can do whatever he wants, and he says the reason God does this to display his glory to those he shows mercy to, which is the predestined saved/elect.

        The fact that Paul claims God predestines people to hell for his own glory creates a couple of significant problems:
        1.) That Christ did not die for EVERY human (if predestination is true, Jesus died to save only a small handful of people, since the overwhelming majority of creation would be predestined to hell). And since the overwhelming majority of people who will ever exist will be in hell, Christ’s sacrifice was overall an enormous failure. This means Satan won, because one of Satan’s main goals is to keep people away from God.
        2,) God predestining people to hell to glorify himself contradicts the idea of a loving god. The famous verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, IT DOES NOT BOAST, IT IS NOT PROUD. IT DOES NOT DISHONOR OTHERS, IT IS NOT SELF-SEEKING, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

        Basically, throughout most of the Bible, your god does the opposite of almost everything that defines love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. That passage says that love does not boast, is not proud, not self-seeking, and it does not dishonor others. If your god predestines most people to hell to bring himself glory, if your god does EVERYTHING for his own glory, that is VERY self-seeking, proud, and boastful, not to mention it is dishonoring to those people predestined to hell, because your God prioritizes his own glory above the well-being of people he predestines to hell. He is essentially doing this to “show off” his glory to those he has mercy on, which is very petty and selfish, and not love. Would you have children for the sole purpose of throwing them into an oven to “show off” to the other kids? The passage also claims that love is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrongs, your god does both those things… he keeps record of your sins because the Bible says all humans will be judged someday according to their works. Your god is also easily angered too, many times he kills people for petty/trivial reasons, like punishing ALL of humanity because two people ate fruit from the wrong tree, killing Onan for spilling his semen & not impregnating his widowed sister-in-law, turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt for looking behind herself, there are many other examples that are too numerous to list, but you get my point. All in all, based on the actions of your god throughout the Bible, he is not a loving god based on Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians.

        As far as a perfect god purposely creating an imperfect creation, I don’t buy your argument. If your god purposely creates a universe doomed to fail and contain evil/sin, simply because he wants humans to have freewill… then he is either not perfect or not all-good. Your god, being all-powerful, could have easily created a perfect universe where humans would still have freewill (having to choose between several good options), after all, your god is supposedly perfect and is assumed to have freewill.
        Keep in mind too that Habakkuk 1:13 says that god is too pure to have evil in his sight, and many Christians say that god cannot have evil in his presence. Yet if god is omnipresent, sin is constantly in his presence, and there are several Bible verses that say Satan and the demons are in his presence. So Habakkuk 1:13 can’t be true. My point is your god cannot be perfect or all-good if he intentionally allows sin to exist (and be in his presence). The freewill argument is irrelevant because god could’ve created a perfect universe and still given us freewill (the ability to choose between several good options), after all your perfect god is assumed to have freewill too. Thus, your specific god cannot exist.

      • @Dan,

        As I stated in another post, Paul write a lot of things in the book of Romans, starting off with clearly stating no man is without excuse in Romans 1 because man has enough knowledge to point him to seek further knowledge. As to Romans 9-11 and God deciding whom to have mercy on: I believe further study of the passage indicates the context is talking about nations and not solely about individuals. The question is whether the entire passage is specifically talking about individual salvation or not. I am convinced there are multiple topics being discussed in that passage. That belief may change as I continue to study it, but at the moment I’m not convinced it’s entirely about individual salvation.

        Also, Paul employs a lot of conditionals in the passage. There are portions where Paul basically says “if God wanted to do this He could…” but it’s not stated as an absolute that God DID indeed do those things. Is that a fairly weak argument? Yes, but it is valid. Doesn’t account for all of it but does account for some of it.

        Looking at the broader context and not just quoting a few verses in the middle, you have the Jews who thought they were God’s chosen people and would gain eternal life just because they were a Jew. The Jews were shocked when they were faced with the reality that God would ALSO save Gentiles (non-Jews). Much of this passage deals with explaining to the Jews that “God’s People” are not the physical blood-line of Abraham, but the “spiritual” bloodline. Thus the context of the passage is telling the Jews that they are not walking into heaven just because they have their parent’s genes. It’s telling them that God’s people are those who obey God. Now Israel was the group of people God chose to send Jesus through as the Messiah for the world. It’s basically the Jews thinking they were everything and everyone else was nothing, finally facing the reality that they aren’t that special…in fact, God can do whatever He wants because He’s God.

        That’s the broader context of the passage. I don’t believe that either of us have studied this in-depth enough to satisfactorily speak on it with any authority. Thus I will have to forgo a further detailed discussion until I can do more research on it.

        I Cor 13 talks about love, yes. The Bible tells us that God is love but also just; merciful but also righteous. When you take one attribute and say God is ONLY this, everything seems absurd. The Bible clearly tells us that God has several attributes that comprise His nature. When you take one verse and claim it speaks fully to the exclusivity of all other verses, you come to incorrect conclusions.

        In addition, what’s the context of I Cor 13? Paul is talking to humans. The Bible has already stated very clearly in multiple locations that God made humans. God is not subject to the laws of humans. In fact, very clearly God reserves many things for Himself that humans are not to do. If God wished to obliterate all of humanity right now, He is perfectly legally within His rights because He created us and owns us. Nothing “wrong” with it. You may not like it, but there’s nothing wrong. He brought you into existence and He can end it whenever He wishes. God is a jealous God, something He stated very clearly. Bluntly, God can demand absolute love and devotion because He is the only Being worthy of it. For you or I to claim that worship from others is sin because we are not God. So if you bring God down to humanity’s level, yes, you could throw I Cor 13 at God and say God isn’t following the rules. However, God isn’t a human, and He isn’t subject to our rules. He created the rules for us. And He is above the rules because He is above us, pure and simple. Context of the passage and other passages clearly show us that God is not in violation of I Cor 13 because these things are not applicable to Him. It’s like the UK coming over to the USA and charging me with the crime of insulting the queen. I have done nothing wrong because I’m not subject to that system of government. Simply put, God is above the rules for humans because He isn’t a human.

        If God does everything for His glory and for worship of Himself, that’s not only not wrong, it’s actually fully right. Because God is the only being WORTHY of that worship and glory. Thus He is not in error. He created us, He redeemed us. In fact, if we do not worship God and submit to Him, we are committing sin because we are commanded to love and obey our God. Each of the events you describe were situations were God clearly gave the individual a command and the person clearly disobeyed the command. If you’re on a football team and one of your members commits a foul, who is penalized? The individual or the team? The whole team. When Adam and Eve (part of team “humanity”) broke the rules, who was punished? The team was punished. You may not like it, but you’re part of the team and thus the consequences fell to you. God is not doing anything completely unfair here; humans developed the exact same system in almost all of our team-related sports. I see no inconsistency here. I don’t LIKE the fact that Adam and Eve sinned and I am punished, but that’s the reality we find ourselves in.

        All in all, I believe God clearly demonstrates that He is a kind and loving Being. If God were to be righteous, holy, and just, He would have obliterated all of humanity when they first sinned. You and I wouldn’t even be having this conversation right now. God is merciful and kind, which balances out His justice.

        God’s justice demands punishment for sin. Mankind has sinned, both as a whole and as individuals. Yet God’s justice is balanced by His mercy, in that God offered to sacrifice His Son Jesus as an atonement for our sins. Thus God’s justice is satisfied because sin is punished when Christ is punished, and His mercy is satisfied because He provided a means of escape from our punishment. God is a Being of many attributes; whenever you take one and run with it, you get a false image of who God is. This is the same with anyone. You don’t treat any person you meet this way, so why do you uniquely treat God this way? You expect your friends to exhibit a multitude of attributes. Even if you say “this friend is really nice” or “that guy is really smart” you don’t take that statement as “100% of the time this individual must be that thing and nothing else”. So why do you take the logically absurd view that God must demonstrate only one attribute 100% of the time? I can only conclude it’s because you’re ok with your friends but you’re not ok with God because you do not want to submit to God or what God has commanded for mankind.

        Could God create a perfect universe where man can only choose good things? Well, how is that possible? Freewill means you can choose something contrary to what others want. Your options are limited by what you can feasibly do. For instance, I cannot choose to make myself 12 feet tall. That isn’t an issue of freewill/sovereignty. It’s an impossibility. Now do I decide to obey God? Well, if I can’t decide to NOT obey God, then did you really ever decide to obey God? It’s like saying “you can choose whatever color you want, as long as it’s black”. That’s not a choice at all…your argument is logically unsound. You want freewill but you want God to restrict your options. At first glance, those seem to be mutually exclusive ideas to me. Am I missing something obvious here? Could God only have given us a list of choices? Yes. Is that “freewill” to choose? Potentially, based on how you define that word. But what does God want? A creature that just exists, or a creature that has the ability to recognize God’s worth and CHOOSE to follow Him? I believe God wanted a creature that would willingly worship God. So if you can only choose to follow God, that’s not the parameters God wanted.

        In essence, you’re saying that if God created a universe where you HAD to worship Him, you’d be ok with that. But since you’re in a universe where you can CHOOSE to worship God, you have a problem and God made a mistake? No, the issue isn’t whether God created a “perfect” world or not. The issue is you don’t “want” to submit to God. Thus you will do anything you can to alleviate your mind and conscience. Let us say God did create a universe where you could only worship Him…would you want to live in that existence? From our interaction, I submit you would not want that. So you’re blaming God for not forcing you to do something you don’t want to do. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

        With regards to sin and the presence of God, the passage of Habakkuk is very obviously employing figurative language. It isn’t reading into it at all; it’s just what is says. Don’t believe me? In this passage, God’s called a “Rock”, the wicked are said to “swallow” the righteous, people are like fish in the sea, God is compared to a fisherman, etc… What’s the context? Habakkuk is asking God how long will God permit man to rebel against God. The author states God is too pure to look on evil and cannot tolerate wrongdoing.

        So let’s employ a little logical assessment. Let’s say God can’t tolerate evil in His presence. Let’s assume we’re observing heaven before the fall of Satan and there is no “sin” yet. So if God cannot tolerate sin in His presence, and sin is everywhere, how could Satan ever “sin”? If you want to take a “literal word for word” reading of the passage, you can safely conclude that sin is an impossibility. Clearly that’s not what the author is intending to say, either by the context or by employing our brains. Habakkuk already stated sin has been going on before God. God knows about it. The author is using a very simple figurate language to present his point. Now this is where folks jump up and down and go crazy, saying I’m playing around with the words and interpreting it to what I want it to say and not what it really says, et… That’s absurd. Don’t believe me? Ok, then I will take any one of the individuals involved in this forum and I will take the words they themselves have said, and I will employ the exact same logic to their words. I will “prove” that this person cannot exist because they say absurd things like “all religions do this” or “there are countless numbers” or whatever else.

        Again, why is it that you take absurd accusations against the Bible and God when you employ the EXACT same things you’re accusing in your own lives without second thought? Why can you employ figurate language but God or the Bible can’t? I can only conclude you are biased against God and will take whatever path, no matter how logically absurd, to explain away God so you are comfortable living as if there is no God.

        The majority of your arguments fall upon the premise that God “should” have done such and such, and since He didn’t, He was wrong. Well, who are you to know how God “should” have done things? I submit freewill without the choice to rebel isn’t the type of freewill God wanted us to have. Just like doing death-defying stunts isn’t real unless there is the actual prospect of death. If you have a safety net, wires connected to you, and it’s 5 feet off the ground, it’s not a death-defying stunt. In the same vein, a true choice-based love isn’t the same if you cannot choose to not love God.

    • @Vicky,

      I wish I could have addressed your post sooner but didn’t have time until now. There is nothing wrong with questions. It is honest and sincere questions that allow us to learn. Any scientific investigation itself begins with a hypothesis, which is an educated guess.

      I can very much relate to your situation because I grew up in churches that did not do a good job of properly teaching truth. I think the issue is that for centuries the church had no competitors. Meaning they were supreme and everyone accepted, by default, that the Bible was true and that God existed. Times have changed. But this is nothing new in history. The Apostle Paul himself altered his method of interacting with the Greeks because they were a different mindset than the Jews. The Jews knew the Scriptures and Paul could use the Scriptures to discuss and debate with them about the accuracy of Jesus’ claim to be God. However, when Paul went to the Greeks, he couldn’t use the Scriptures because the Greeks would not readily accept them. The modern world, as a whole, is very much like the Greeks. You cannot assume.

      All that being said, I would like to do my best to answer any questions you may have about this topic or any other. However, as Eric properly pointed out, the best source of investigation will be from you looking into these issues; and it sounds like you are very willing and passionate about it.

      As a heads up, this discussion forum has been going on for several months. You have 2 distinct parties discussing a very different set of ideals. That being said, if you employ this as an avenue of investigation, be prepared for 2 contrary sets of answers. It is incumbent upon you to decide which one makes the more rational argument…

      With regards to the authenticity of the Bible, let me begin with a few basics. The Bible as we have it today is a compilation of 66 letters, historical books, song/poem books, wisdom literature, etc… It was written by around 40 different people over a vast period of time. Kings, musicians, fishermen, ordinary men, and extraordinary men are counted among these authors. The Bible is split into 2 parts: the Old Testament and the New Testament (testament is synonymous with covenant or promise). The thing people have to remember is that the Bible is a history of God’s dealings with mankind. In the OT this covers the nation of Israel because that is the means by which God dealt with humanity. God sovereignly chose Abraham and the later nation of Israel to be the group of people through which Jesus Christ would be born and redeem the world. The NT covers Jesus’ time on earth as well as the early church period.

      Thus the Bible is a compendium of books written by men. Why is that common sense important? Because you’ll find in this very forum folks accusing the Bible of errors when the error is one of the reader. For instance, when Jesus said “the faith of a mustard seed will move mountains” was He being literal? Did Jesus lie or have no men in history have enough faith because mountains haven’t moved? Well, examine the context. His disciples were recently trying to perform the healing of a young boy but couldn’t. They brought the boy to Jesus and Jesus essentially scolds His disciples claiming they had no faith. Now here is where the attacker tries to sound unbiased: he claims that he’s reading a “literal word for word” interpretation of the Bible. And since mountains haven’t moved, the skeptic steps back and claims victory. Well, humans every day use allegorical language and hyperbole. In modern English, a common phrase is “I’m so hungry I could eat an entire cow!” If I take that in a “literal word for word” sense, I can accuse that person of being a liar because there’s no way they could even fit a horse inside their body. Thus they are a liar and cannot be trusted. Now, the cow issue seems absurd…of course the individual is not making an absolute statement that he could fit an entire cow in his body. It’s an expression. Often the skeptic does not apply such simple logic to the Bible. Why not? I’m convinced it’s because they are biased against the Bible and it’s teaching and will look for any reason they can find to reject it. If you want examples of this, simply read over some of the (many) posts on this topic and you can find examples where skeptics have accused the Bible of error because they took a “literal word for word” reading and ran with it. Jesus employed hyperbole quite a bit. You have to examine the context and audience to understand what He’s saying. Now I guarantee you that someone will read this post and state that I’m now saying the Bible shouldn’t be read literally…they are so against the Bible that they will stop at nothing to accuse it.

      Anyway, enough of the forethought. One of the key questions you asked was regarding the Bible’s accuracy. For instance, the Adulterous Woman passage. Was it originally inspired by God? If not, why was it later added? If the Bible has been added to, how can I trust it today?

      These are valid questions. They are thinking questions which demonstrates you’re trying to find reasonable conclusions. Now here I will politely disagree with Eric. I am convinced that there are certain passages of Scripture that have been added at a later date and are included today but were not penned by the original authors or inspired by God. But in order to understand why there is this disagreement, you have to have a brief overview of textual criticism.

      The Bible we have today comes from 2 major families of texts. These families are composed of hand-written copies and fragments that we have collected over hundreds of years. In a VERY general statement, the distinction is that one group of texts has more copies but the other smaller group of texts is dated as being older. The question scholars have debated for centuries is which is more accurate to the originals the authors wrote: the older ones of the ones with more copies?

      To draw a simple comparison, you can think of the KJV and the NIV. These 2 (fairly) modern translations come from different text families. They read differently and there is some difference between a few verses. For instance, find an NIV Bible (online is fine) and look at the last chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Mark 16. Many NIV translations stop at verse 8 or, if they include verses 9-20, usually have a footnote about it. That’s because the majority of manuscripts that the NIV is translated from did not have verses 9-20 in Mark. Thus, they conclude that these verses were not inspired by God but were added later. The KJV texts include verses 9-20 and don’t make any comment about them because the majority of texts the KJV draws from have this passage and these translators do not doubt the inspiration of the verses.

      Now, both sides can’t be right…either Mark 16:9-20 was inspired or it wasn’t. I think they were not inspired and were added later. Other good Christians disagree with me. But it doesn’t really matter. These verses do not change any doctrine or teaching of Christianity. It is a difference of which translation family you side with, and that’s a topic that would require reading several books to really understand. At the end of the day, the differences between the two text families is so absurdly small that it’s irrelevant. For the Christian you can learn all you need to know to properly obey God by reading from either family of texts. I can learn everything I need from the KJV and I can learn all I need from the NIV. You’ll find slight differences, but overall nothing really changes.

      The skeptic now jumps in and raises a very good question: if we acknowledge there are errors, how can we trust ANY of the Bible? The answer to this is actually very simple. Even though the 2 text families disagree on a few verses, they agree on pretty much everything else. There are many THOUSANDS of manuscripts for the Bible, more than any other ancient or historical text. The next closest item comes in at the hundreds. So think of it this way. You have 25,000 versions of something. And 99.9% of these 25,000 versions agree. And about 0.1% disagree. We can debate that 0.1% all we want, but the other 99.9% isn’t really up for debate. We have no question about what it says because there are thousands of manuscripts attesting to the same fact from differing geographic locations and periods of history.

      So to say that all of the Bible is suspect because of some small questions is absurd. However, one wouldn’t understand why unless they knew the above information about the text families. So to answer one of your questions, there is no doubt about 99.9% of what the Bible says. It’s logically improper to challenge it because there is no reason to doubt it. We have thousands of copies that permit us to compare/contrast and say with almost absolute certainty that we have what the original authors wrote down. This is not some faith-based voodoo magic or mysticism…this is simple science. We have the thousands of copies from a vast period of time. We can sit down and catalog every discrepancy and difference and compare the texts.

      Here’s a simple example. Let’s take the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Let me present you with several “versions” of manuscripts. The asterisks denote errors or discrepancies among the versions.

      (1) “In the beginning God created the heave*s and the earth.”
      (2) “In the beginning God crated the heavens and the earth.”
      (3) “In the beginning God create* the he*vens and the earth.”
      (4) “In the begin*ing God created the heavens and the earth.”
      (5) “In the beginning God created the heavens * * *.”

      Now, no 2 of these versions are the same. All of them are different. Yet, since we have several of them to draw on, you can piece together what the original text says without any difficulty. In a general sense, this is how scholars conclude what the originals said. Except that have 25,000+ copies to compare and the most common error among them is misspellings.

      So can I trust the majority of the Bible even though there are some questions about small phrases and verses? Undoubtedly. It is logically unsound to throw out all of the text because of small errors.

      But the philosophical question that burns in most of our minds is “why did God permit these additions to the Bible?” Well, God inspired the Original Autographs (originals written by the first authors) but God then entrusted man with the preservation of the Bible. We have about 99.9% of the Bible today without any questions. I would say we have done a pretty good job. But where did God promise that we would be able to create a 100% error-free version of the original words? He didn’t. We can take it a step further and ask why God allows man to sin period, etc… What you’re asking is why didn’t God intervene and make sure that a version was copied down without any errors. Well, in one sense, we DO have the inspired original: however, it’s preserved among the 25,000 copies we have today. We just aren’t perfectly certain about 0.1% of it. So the original inspired words of God are not “lost”. We just aren’t 100% certain which ones they are for that small 0.1%.

      Unfortunately that’s the best answer I can give until we ask God Himself. My personal opinion is that it doesn’t really matter. God’s not going to hold us accountable for the 0.1% we don’t know; His question is going to be what about the 99.9% we did know?

      So if you’re a person who has to make a rational decision, which makes more sense? Ignore 99.9% that we know for sure is correct or deny all of it because 0.1% is in question? I submit it is logically unsound and down-right insane to go with the 0.1% UNLESS you have overwhelming testimony and evidence to the contrary. However, we don’t have overwhelming evidence to the contrary, thus it is only logical to accept what we know and not worry about what we don’t know.

      We can also ask the age-old question of evil. Why does God allow evil things to happen to people? That’s very similar to why did God allow man to imperfectly copy the Bible throughout history? Well, the answer is that man is sinful and imperfect. We failed at perfectly copying the Bible down through time but did a remarkably good job overall. I do not doubt for a second that the Bible we have today in modern translations is essentially the same that the authors wrote thousands of years ago. Note this is a different statement than accepting that what they wrote is true; I’m just acknowledging that what we have today is what they wrote 2,000+ years ago. This is science; there’s no faith involved. There’s no mysticism. We have the manuscripts today that we can see/feel/smell/etc… This isn’t a question we can really debate. Either you accept the evidence and facts or you don’t. This is the same thing skeptics accuse Christians of: not following the “facts”. In this instance, the facts speak very clearly that we have pretty much the same thing today that the authors wrote. To debate that is ridiculous and unfounded.

      I hope this has provided some insight into this particular question. If you have any further questions about this topic, feel free to ask. I can only do my best to address your question to the best of my ability.

      Also, note that there is some disagreement among Christians regarding this topic. That’s fine. We will disagree on this topic but we are still on the same “team” so to speak. We still accept the Bible as true and follow its teachings. As the NT says, have grace for each other to believe separately as long as we are not violating Scripture.

  27. @ Dan…….from reading your comments, I’m assuming, and correct me if I am wrong, that you are either an agnostic or atheist. I’m not making that comment to sound like an idiot if I am correct but I don’t like to assume anything about anyone if I don’t have to and if I have the opportunity to ask them point blank a question. With that being said and working under the the conclusion that my assumption is correct, I have to admit that you pose some very interesting questions and I believe Christians may be intimidated by you. I posed some of these questions to a pastor and the assistant pastor’s wife and my questions were either ignored, I was told I had little faith because “God is not the author of confusion” or my questions were never fully answered. I am informing everyone that will read this blog that I believe in God even though the Bible doesn’t make complete sense to me. I believe in God because of things that have happened in my life, both good and bad. I want to understand Him more so I’m on this blog. HOWEVER, JUST BECAUSE SOME OF US ASK QUESTIONS, IT DOESN’T MAKE US A NON-BELIEVER! EVEN IF PEOPLE ARE NON-BELIVER’S, WHAT ARE THE TWO GREATEST COMMANDMENTS? Maybe, if Christians stopped casting judgement on people who pose the difficult questions, they can then potentially sway non believers to consider that God does exist if the answers to questions demonstrated patience, consistency, compassion, and Bible based response. I sincerely don’t know how to answer you question and I believe it is an excellent question. However, if you look back to some of the responses regarding one of your initial questions: “Did Jesus break the Mosaic Law”, I believe the contributors of this blog answered your question and I personally thank them because I couldn’t understand the intricacies of the entire situation either and I wondered about the same question also.

    @ Eric, I have been going to churches on and off for over 20 years. Why am I an on again, off again church goer? Because the pastors don’t seem to tend to their sheep. It is not enough to go to church and study the Bible because I always have questions. Therefore, if I don’t have a mentor or religious support(s) to address my questions, I become lost and discouraged. It is the responsibility of the shepherd to tend to the sheep. I have learned that the more I study the Bible, the more questions I have and I believe that is based on my desire to understand. With that being said, can you elaborate on “the inductive Bible study method”? Thank you.

    • @Vicky,

      With regards to getting better Bible teaching…my advice would be to move to a different church that provides you the level of teaching and instruction you desire. When I was facing the same situation years ago, I felt that it was hopeless that I couldn’t learn at my church…however, after years of staying there I did a simple Google church…and what do you know…the church I’m at today has excellent teaching, and it’s 60 seconds down the road from my old church. I can almost see the building through the trees at my new church. You don’t know what’s out there until you start searching.

      In the meantime, may I recommend listening to some John MacArthur sermons as well as Mark Dever. Both are Godly men whom I respect greatly. I know Mark Dever personally and I believe him to be a great teacher of the Word of God. The below links are to their various ministries and audio sermons you can listen to.

      John MacArthur sermons

      Mark Dever sermons

      • Thank you for your patience and help, dlegr250. I sincerely appreciate it. God be with you always and may God give you the strength to continue to support a bunch of confused strangers with the patience, respect, understanding, and thoroughness that you seem to consistently extend.

    • I guess I classify myself as an agnostic. I don’t deny the possibility of sort of entity creating the universe, I simply do not know. I don’t think there is any way to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of a creator entity, so my ultimate answer to the existence of one is simply “I don’t know”. I do believe there are many solid arguments based on pure logic alone that rule out the existence of the Christian god. I grew up as a Christian, going to church every Sunday, going to AWANAS, youth group, the whole nine yards. In fact I am the only non-Christian in my family (that I know of). I began questioning my faith at age 25, and believe it or not, the more I read the Bible, the less believable it become to me. As a Christian, I knew only the VERY BASICS of Christianity and only the most popular stories, I was really only a Christian because that was how I was raised. I actually know more about Christianity and the Bible as a non-believer.

      Researching the evidence for evolution also helped. Most young-earth creationists will just give you straw-man arguments against evolution, purposely misrepresenting the facts in order to make it seem less believable. Just look up some Youtube videos on how evolution works and the evidence, and you’ll be amazed. Also, take a look at refuted creationist claims about evolution as well. Their are plenty of creationist claims about evolution that simply don’t hold water yet they keep repeating the same refuted claims, mostly because they don’t have a good understanding of what evolution actually is or how it works, or geology, biology, physics, chemistry, etc.

      Even if you accept evolution as true, that doesn’t mean a god doesn’t exist. Evolution doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of a deity, it is simply and explanation of how & why life changes over time, and we see it every year when the flu mutates, we’ve observed it in lizards evolving new organs and changing form, and we observe the very large scale changes in the fossil record… for example, there are NO humans or modern mammals in the same rock layers as dinosaurs, yet if we all lived along side each other we should see them in the same rock layers, but we don’t.

      I’m glad to see you have a sense of rational skepticism and inquiry. You will find out, as I did, that religion and asking tough questions tend to not be compatible (after all, as a believer, you are considered a sheep! jk). When I began to doubt and started asking tough questions, I was asked “why are you questioning everything???”. Just keep asking those tough questions and keep doing your research. You will find, as I did, that atheist arguments tend to be more logically sound, and the really tough questions are the ones Christians try to avoid or dismiss because they know there’s not solid answer… or they’ll just give you a cop-out answer and say something like: “well, god’s ways are above our ways”. Whenever you hear that cop-out argument, just ask them if they are willing to give all the other religions the same benefit of the doubt, but of course they don’t. They will use the exact same skepticism as atheists when examining all the other religions, but when they examine their own, they come up with all kinds of excuses because they are too emotionally invested in their belief. You know the saying “love is blind”? The saying basically means that a person in love will not see the faults, problems, and bad qualities in the person they love because they are emotionally invested in that person. It works the same way when examining religion, you need an unbiased outsider to examine a religion, not someone with a conflict of interest.

      • @Dan,

        It’s interesting the pieces of your story that you presented. I had a very similar experience, yet the end result turned out completely opposite for me. I was part of the “golden family” of my church, and everyone thought we were perfect. Participated in all the expected things, etc…, just like you did. Yet in my late teen and college years I just had enough. Incidentally I was looking at a list of over 200 contradictions in the Bible and facing the reality at the time that the Bible wasn’t perfect, that maybe God didn’t exist, and that everything people told me was flat out lies. I didn’t know if God existed, I didn’t believe the Bible, and I questioned EVERYTHING.

        As ironic as this is, I will agree with you 100% and say that the only satisfactory answer for future development is to keep asking questions and finding satisfactory answers. And I fully agree, if the answer is “this is God’s way, don’t question it”, run from those people. They are fools (yes, you can quote me on that one!). My presupposition is that IF God exists, and IF the Bible is true, and IF God cares enough to give me what I need, then all of these things will stand up to the tests of truth I throw at it. I studied the evidence and come to a different conclusion. Dan, I respect you for examining and evaluating. Even though it may not seem like it at times, I actually enjoy discussing these things with you because it forces me to ask some questions I may not have though of yet.

        But I would like to present a few points of consideration. These are things I had to start with.

        Where did everything come from? I only see 3 viable options:
        (1) it all came from nothing
        (2) it has all always been
        (3) something created it all
        This was the strongest point as to why I cannot accept that God doesn’t exist. If God doesn’t exist, then the only answer is that naturalistic means account for the universe, and that means either point 1 or 2 above. But BOTH of those points are currently diametrically opposed to the natural laws we know…the only rational conclusion was 3: someone created it.

        Another big point for me was morality. If there is no God, what is “right” or “wrong”? Why is it wrong for me to rape and kill? What authority establishes this? If there is no God, then morality is nothing more than what man defines it to be. Thus, it is actually perfectly moral for me to hunt folks down who disagree with me and kill them. However, I “knew” this innately to be wrong, because I would never want it done to me. And it doesn’t matter if 99% of the population votes on it and decides it’s legal or moral, I don’t want people to hunt me down. So when you apply it to yourself in that fashion, I think we find there is an absolute moral authority that we all tacitly align with. Where did it come from?

        In line with that, evolution starts with simple atoms and progresses from there. At what point do rocks start becoming self-aware and thinking about themselves? I have a mind that thinks about things. If evolution is true, then I actually don’t have a “mind” that makes rational decisions. No, instead I am merely a sophisticated natural computer that only executes the programming nature provided. Thus, I did not “rape” a girl, I merely acted out the programming nature created me with. I haven’t done any wrong, it’s nature’s fault! I found that line of reasoning to be absurd. You cannot fully accept naturalism and then go on and punish people for anything because they are not “responsible”, they are merely natural computers acting out what they were programmed with. But the act of creating laws or right/wrong is admitting we DO have the ability to make rational decisions and be held accountable for them. So how can naturalism be valid if no one can realistically live in a 100% naturalistic environment?

        Also, a final point for me is that evolution has not been established. Changes and variations are great and all. But we have not conducted the repeatable experiment that applies random mutations over time to an organism and changes it into a brand new organism. We have changing lizards, yes, but those changes are the result of the LOSS of genetic potential, meaning they eventually lose the ability to create change. This is the same thing as dog breeding. If you find the master dog race, you can actually breed all variations of dogs from it. It’s not creating anything new, it’s just selecting repeatedly until you “breed” out other expressions. I don’t view that as a viable means of accounting for new creatures. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, because it actually results in a net loss of genetic potential.

        With regards to the fossil records, I’ve looked into the topic before but cannot recall the specifics. However, both parties claim the fossil record supports their case, so someone is either defining things in a strange fashion or else someone isn’t telling the full truth. I’ll have to defer that issue until I’ve looked back over my notes on this topic.

  28. @ Jake…..What brought you to this site? Just curious.

    @ Dan and dlegr250……..I really want to finish reading this entire blog and research some things before I post anything else but I sincerely appreciate the input you both have provided. It truly means a lot to me and I thank you both. @ Eric…thank you for the blog and your patience.

  29. @ dlegr250

    For some reason there was no “reply” button on your previous response, so I’ll just reply down here, I hope you see it.

    Regarding Paul and those predestination verses… Paul is very clear in Romans, there is no ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’ about it. You claim the verses might be talking about whole nations instead of individuals, but does that really matter? Nations are composed of many people. So it doesn’t really matter if it’s on a national level or an individual level, God is still predestining people to hell according to those verses.

    Here are some individual passages:
    “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”. (Romans 9).
    ***If this passage was referring to nations and not individuals, it would have had to have been worded differently. But either way it doesn’t matter, Paul specifically says here that there is nothing a person (or people) can do, plain and simple, god will have mercy on whom he chooses. In other words God predestines a person (or people) to hell.

    Romans 9 continues to say later: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
    ***Paul is making his point in the form of a RHETORICAL question. Paul is implying (in the form of a question) that the potter (God) has power over the clay (us) and that he create some people as vessels predestined for destruction/wrath. This was Paul’s answer to the anticipated criticism of an unjust policy, which is further proof that Paul is talking about God predestining people to hell.

    Romans 8: 29-33 says: “For whom [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate [proorizo] to be conformed to the image of his Son…. …Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”
    ***Paul says God predestinates people, plain and simple, there is no ambiguity here.

    ***There are many other verses that claim God purposely gives people “hard hearts”, “deaf ears”, and “blind eyes” so they will not come to the truth. (Romans 11:7-8, John 12:37-40, 1 Peter 2:6-8)

    ***Ephesians 1:4-5 basically says that Christ has chosen certain people before the foundations of the world, and that they are predestined into the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.

    So which is it? Does God choose or do humans have the freewill to choose on their own? The problem with this blatant contradiction is that it is a conflict in the nature of reality. If you accept that we have the freewill to choose god, then you must ignore the previous verses. If you believe in predestination, then God is ultimately responsible for sin, and not people… because we are only doing what we were programmed to do.

    Regarding the attributes of God, you said God is just and merciful. Well those two attributes are mutually exclusive to each other because they have opposite meanings. If your god is perfectly just, that means he can NEVER be merciful.
    Justice basically means that people get what they deserve, and according to Christianity, all humans deserve death because of sin. Mercy means the opposite, that you don’t get what you deserve, or leniency.

    As a Christian, you will probably say that perfect justice was served on the cross by Jesus. But that is not true, because Christians are still not held accountable for their actions (sins), they are not getting what they deserve (death). Christian justice is essentially based on the concept of scapegoating (substitutive sacrifice), which is not true justice because people are not held responsible for their actions simply because they suck up to the judge (god). The main tenet of Christianity is that God came down to earth to sacrifice himself to himself to create a loophole around a rule he created (the rule being punishment for sin is death). The idea that an innocent man, Christ, was killed for everyone else’s sin is not only unjust, but it is a double perversion of justice… because you have an innocent man that is killed, while the guilty go free. Proverbs 17:15 supports the notion that scapegoating is unjust, it says: “He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the righteous, are both an abomination to the Lord”.
    The core doctrine of Christianity is based on the idea of the innocent (Jesus) being condemned in order to justify the wicked (humans). So according to your own god’s sense of justice, Christianity is an abomination.

    Regarding God punishing ALL of humanity for the sins of two people, you compared it to a football game, whereas the team suffers for the penalty of one player. This is a very poor comparison because the punishment in a football game does not last the rest of the game, it’s temporary. And if this were such a great form of justice, why not apply it to our laws? If your family member murders someone, would have a problem with your entire family being punished, including you? After all, your family is part of the “same team” right?

    You also said that God is above his own rules and they only apply to us. Well, thats just another way of saying that your god is a huge hypocrite, basically saying: “do as I say and not as I do”. Even if your god is real, he has no attractive characteristics that would compel me (or any sane person) to want to spend an eternity with him. Who wants to spend an eternity with a genocidal, misogynistic, egotistical, hypocritical dictator who is so insecure and petty that he constantly needs to be reminded of how great he is? Sounds fun! You may say that your god is the only one deserving of worship, but what makes your specific god worthy of worship? What makes him holy and perfect that he requires worship? I always hear Christians say their god is perfect & holy and deserves worship, but they never say how or why. How is he perfect & holy? And why does he deserve worship? Simply because he’s bigger than me? That sounds like a primitive notion invented by ancient people.

    Honestly, what good thing has your god done that at least one person hasn’t done already or are capable of doing? Any act of kindness your god has done, a person is capable of doing. You say god died for humanity because he loves us? Well, most decent parents would die for their children, even if their child rejected them, and a lot of people would be willing to die for their loved ones, so that idea doesn’t make your god unique or extra worthy of worship. Based on a lot of his actions throughout the Bible, he really seems like a huge prick. If you knew a person who acted like that, I would be willing to bet you wouldn’t be friends with that person, so why would I want to spend eternity with a god who acts like that. Honestly, your God makes Satan look like a choir boy throughout the Bible.

  30. @dlegr250 regarding a comment made on 9/8 at 3:30pm…..I don’t know if the majority of Christian religions proclaim that the Bible is 100% correct. The last church I went to, a Baptist one, basically told me that because I am a woman, I have to have my hair long, wear modest clothes (dresses and skirts because they “cover me”), I am not allowed to have any leadership roles in the church (unless I volunteered to clean the church because I, and another woman did the job), and I needed to be submissive if I was married. They also said that divorce is not permissible. I think that is terrible! I’m sorry. If my ex husband cheated on me profusely in a day an age of HIV/AIDS, I have to remain married to him? It didn’t matter to them that Jesus granted divorce because “our hearts became cold” and based on adultery. They believed I should have remained married. Even if it is not in the Bible, we can’t exercise common sense? For example, if my husband was beating the living daylights out of me repeatedly, I have to stay married to him? This is nothing against you, dlegr250. I sincerely appreciate the thoroughness in your responses and you seem to know what you are talking about so this is why I am asking you. Why don’t men have to dress modestly either? That is so sexist! Why wasn’t there a number of discussions in the Bible about virgin men all the time. It was always the woman who had to be and prove she was a virgin. It’s terrible. Why were people owned in the Bible? I’m currently disgusted with organized religion. I recently wrote to a pastor to answer some questions for me on September 1, 2013 and he still hasn’t written back. I’m used to this. They are phony! I have to find the answers myself.

    Needless to say, I left that church and I’m not going back to the other church where the pastor has me wait weeks for a response to an email. I think the Bible is sexist and churches condone it based on Paul’s opinion’s as illustrated in the Book of Timothy. I think the bottom line is we are not going to know all of the answers to our questions. Maybe God predestined me to have faith but I have questions. Some may say I don’t have faith because I didn’t condone a sexist church but who are they to judge me. Maybe God hardened my heart in respect to how horribly women have been treated so I question it and maybe the church should “open their eyes” and recognize this.

    I will continue to pray for all of us because none of us knows the answers. I will pray to God that I overcome this bitterness in my heart because so many churches failed me. I will pray always that God forgives us all, has mercy on us all and helps us all, in Jesus’s name. Amen.

    • There are laws of God and there are regulations of the organization – the church. Ultimately, each is on his own conscience. Divorce shouldn’t happen and was not in the original plan of God for us, but it was permitted in the Bible, on the ground of cheating.

      “Why don’t men have to dress modestly either? ”

      Where did you find that?? Modesty and humbleness is for anyone. But usually women have more problems at this chapter because of jewels, accessories, revealing dresses, makeup and such.

      “Why wasn’t there a number of discussions in the Bible about virgin men all the time. It was always the woman who had to be and prove she was a virgin.”

      Again, in the Bible chastity before marriage and fidelity in marriage is for everyone. Because of anatomy, it’s easier to prove the virginity of the women.

      “Why were people owned in the Bible?”

      Why don’t you read the Bible to find the answer?
      There were several ways to become “owned”:
      -voluntarily, because of a debt and you become sort of bankrupt you could gave yourself or a son of yours as servant. There were many measures of social care taken to prevent someone to get in debt in the first place.
      -as a prisoner of war

      They were not slaves like the black people on America, they were more like servants. They were made free after 7 years and they were given payments and many compensations. They had the same holidays and days of rest as their ‘owners”. Masters were commanded to treat servants well. I think the social system was better than today.

      ” I think the Bible is sexist”

      I think you have an oversensitivity on this matter and therefore you are misjudging.

      • Thank you very much for your input Mens Sana but I disagree with you and you missed some of my points. Do either of our feelings really matter anyways? You may think I’m oversensitive and I may think you are harsh but isn’t it the truth that matters? You mentioned this in the other blog and God really does work through others to give me messages I need to hear. It just took some time for the message to fully resonate in my head. I’m learning to finally have the courage to trust my conscious, which includes listening to the Holy Spirit, and following both. I feel that I’m finally seeing the light and I have to search for it myself. No church, human being, blog or book alone is going to help me find the answers to my questions. It involves a combination of sources that I continuously have to use.

        God bless you. I sincerely mean that.

    • @ Vicky

      Regarding Slavery in the Bible, here is a link to check out. The Bible gives instructions on how slaves are to be bought & sold, and how to beat your slaves, keep in mind that male slaves are worth more than female slaves. Slavery is supported by both the Old and New Testaments.


      Regarding the 7 years of “voluntary servitude” to repay a debt that Mens Sana referred to, this only a applied to Hebrew men, if the slave was not a Hebrew, they were a slave for life. Even during the U.S. civil war, the confederate slave owners used parts of the Bible to justify slavery.

      The Bible is very sexist too. Here is a link for examples of sexism in the Torah (Old Testament). This also includes a verse that says a virgin rape victim must marry her rapist, and that a mother is “unclean” for twice as long (2 weeks vs 1) if she gives birth to a girl. The difference makes no sense, not to mention the birthing process is completely natural and poses no health risk to other people, so I don’t know why she would be considered “unclean” after childbirth.


      As far as the New Testament, Paul says women are to be silent in the church, and are not permitted to have authority over men, and that wives should submit to their husbands.

      If you want examples of rape and pillaging in the Bible, check out the link below. Many times throughout the conquest of Canaan, God commanded his soldiers to take virgin captives as “spoils of war”, the rest of the non-virginal women (and children & babies) were killed off by command of god. Gee, I wonder how they determined who were virgins and who weren’t? They probably lined up all the women captives, lifted up their dresses to dig around in their private parts, and whoever they thought was a virgin they kept alive …if not, they had a sword thrusted through them. Often times these virgin captives would be forced into marrying the Hebrew soldiers who slaughtered their families, and if the soldier was dissatisfied with his new captive wife, he could let her go. Of course, in that day & age, who will want a non-virginal bride once her Hebrew husband kicks her to the curb? She would likely have to resort to prostitution to survive, since no potential husband will want to marry her now that she’s been deflowered by her former Hebrew husband.


      Christians will try to water down all the repugnant parts of the Bible… like sexism, slavery, infanticide commanded by God, or God killing huge numbers of people in plagues for the sins of just one person (like Pharaoh, King David, etc). But these are all just excuses, because they are too emotionally invested in their religion to admit the Bible contains much more verses about destruction & death than love and mercy. The verses about love & mercy are just islands in an ocean of violence and bloodshed.

      • @ Dan……It is so refreshing to hear a man (and I’m assuming Dan is for Daniel) admit that the Bible is sexist. Thank you! I posed the argument to a number of pastors/religious people about why women were considered unclean for 2 weeks when they had a female child as opposed to 1 week for a male child and never received any feedback. I also posed another instance regarding rape in the Bible (Judges 19: 22-30) to pastors/religious people and never received any feedback for that except that it was “sensationalized” (whatever that means). The assistant pastor’s wife, the only one who was willing to address the question, said it was wrong but it was “sensationalized” because her body was cut up into 12 pieces. Why 12 pieces? Rhetorical question. I think you know the answer.

        What I can say about you and Len is even though we disagree on the subject matter, at least you have the respect for me as a human being to try to understand me AND WRITE BACK! THANK YOU! I don’t believe, however, either of you will ever convince me that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist. If you don’t believe in Them, I respect that but I do. Life would have no meaning for me if I didn’t have Them to believe in and rely on Them for spiritual support. So many churches turned their backs on me but I truly feel in my heart that God is true and will never “forsake” me. People and phony churches forsaken me.

        I posed the Book of Timothy argument to a number of pastors and was told I need to take the Bible word for word or I’m guilty of not having enough faith and allowing Satan to control me because God is “not the author of confusion”. I find that interesting because if you look at 1 Timothy, Paul continually uses the word “I” (NKJV). In other words, it is his opinion! None the less and regardless of whether it is in the Bible, I have to abide to these restrictions regarding women according to Paul’s opinion? I don’t agree with that. The Catholic Church, which was the main authority over 500 years ago gave their opinion that the selling of indulgences was ok. Interesting how that opinion has been smothered and abolished. The Catholics view Martin Luther as an “antiChrist” according to an EWTN show and I consider him a role model!

        I agree with you about how many Christians won’t analyze some of the sordid excerpts in the Bible and how many expect other Christians to accept the Bible word for word. I personally believe that if more people used Jesus as their example of how to live, half of our disputes within the Christian circle would be resolved. Who said that a woman was unclean for 2 weeks if she had a female child and only one week for a male child? Was is Moses, a mere human being? I also don’t believe that God would condone a person beating a slave senseless BUT, if he gets up in a day or two, then that is ok because the slave is property (Exodus 21:20-22). I sincerely don’t believe that came from God. On a side note and in reference to other Christians, what I can say about dlegr250 is he is an inspiration to me and he makes Christians look good! He is thorough, obtains the facts, is patient, and can humble himself if he is wrong. Thank you dlegr250! I’m also assuming you are a guy so if I’m wrong, I apologize and kudos to women if your not! Thank you again, Erik for your patience with attempting to answer my questions. Your answer on the other blog allowed me to sway my belief and that is all I wanted, a Biblical excerpt that could back up another and you provided it to the point I can’t refute the argument.

        Even though you and Len either doubt or don’t believe, I will keep you in my prayers. I literally just said a prayer for the both of you now. 🙂

      • @Vicky,

        What are you trying to establish with regards to questions about sexism in the Bible? Is the question “why is the Bible sexist?” Well, that assumes the Bible is sexist, and then the question is why does it matter if it is or isn’t? Is it a condemnation upon the Bible that men and women are treated differently? I’m not sure what the goal is with regards to that line of questioning.

        I’m also puzzled by the confusion about Judges 19. The Bible records a wicked and vile event that took place. The people were all wrong for what they did. What’s the question or concern about this passage? The Bible records events that took place. Recording them does not condone them or approve them.

        With regards to your pastors or religious leaders and their failure to lead properly, I strongly encourage you to leave that church and join another body of Christ that seeks to instruct the members on truth and teach the Bible. I readily admit that there are many churches and many more individuals who are horrible at properly following the Word of God. However, I also know there are excellent churches and leaders out there who properly teach the Word of God and follow it in their lives. I encourage you to find such a church and join with it.

        With regards about Paul and Timothy and his “opinion”, what you’re claiming is that the Bible presents opinions and you can take or leave those opinions as you see fit. Why do you think Paul is only expressing an opinion about something that he has been given instructions on from God Himself in person? Is it because you don’t like the conclusion that Paul presents, or is it because you truly believe Paul is somehow in error or only expressing a possible solution but not the only solution?

        Vicky, what you are doing throughout your post is picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you will accept and follow. If you do that, then why is there a God who provided the Bible for us? In essence, you become “God” because you are now the authority on what is or isn’t true based on what you like. Thus the Bible will be nothing more than the pieces you like, just as Thomas Jefferson did with his version of the Bible.

        Jesus Christ testified to the inspiration of the Old Testament. If we are going to pick/choose pieces of the OT to believe or question their authority, now we must also accept that Jesus wasn’t right about the OT. If Jesus was wrong, then He’s not God. And if Jesus isn’t God, then His sacrifice was worthless because He was just a man. And thus we are all still condemned to hell because God never redeemed us by a perfect sacrifice through Jesus’ perfect life.

        The question is not whether we agree with something, but whether it is what God said. The textual criticism of the Bible is second to none. We can same, with virtual certainty, that we have the words the original authors wrote. These men claimed their writings were inspired by God and verified those claims by miraculous events and the support of Jesus, Who was God in the form of a man.

        If we accept the Bible, we must accept all of it. It is not for us to pick and choose what we like and discard the rest. God did not leave that option available to us. Maybe a good place to start is investigating the authenticity of the Scriptures. I have found when you trust the words you read, you are more apt to accept them.

        I appreciate your kind words, but I’m simply someone who has gone through many of these same issues years ago so I have a little bit more perspective and knowledge on them. Even though I grew up in a Christian church, none of my questions were answered as a youth and I spent years doubting Christianity. But the only solution is to get out there and ask questions like you are doing. You will never grow or learn more by simply doubting something. Best to find whether it is true or false and live accordingly.

        I followed the evidence and I ended up strongly admitting that Christianity was the only view of the world that explained things on a satisfactory level. Are all of my questions answered? No. I have questions that still trouble me. But I have enough questions answered to know what to do with regards to eternal salvation, and God will hold me accountable for that knowledge.

        If you can break your questions down a bit, I welcome the opportunity to discuss them with you. I am convinced that if one follows the evidence we have, they will acknowledge theism and Christianity as true. But my questions will be different from your questions. And what convinces you will be different than what convinces me. Doesn’t mean truth is relative, but our level of satisfaction is different to remove obstacles to accepting Christianity as truth.

        I also strongly encourage you to read both sides of the equation. See what theists have to say and see what skeptics have to say and weigh each argument for yourself. I actually learn more by talking to educated individuals like Dan and Len who disagree with me than if I were to simply talk to fellow Christians who would act like “Yes Men” and agree with me.

      • @Dan,

        I need to address one of the underlying errors in your reasoning with regards to slavery, morality, etc… If I recall properly, you claim to be an agnostic or at least a skeptic of God. An agnostic concedes a “god” may exist, but that we don’t or sometimes can’t know enough about “god” to know one way or the other. But for all real purposes, an agnostic doesn’t believe in a “god”. If one is not convinced that God exists (in one form or another) then the only alternative is naturalism.

        Naturalism means that man is nothing special. You are atoms animated by electricity with the illusion of free will but in “reality” you are a complex natural machine that evolved over millions of years. So the sum total of man is physical matter and nothing more. Man is on par with dirt. Because if only physical matter exists, why should some physical matter be “worth” any more than other physical matter? It’s all atoms.

        So only atoms exist and man is nothing more than joined atoms run by a highly complex program called “nature”. My question is rather simple: at what point does a bunch of atoms animated by electricity decide that there is a moral issue with forcing other atoms animated by electricity to do anything?

        Just to make my point very clear, you have zero basis for saying anything is “right” or “wrong”. Morality is an absurd idea in a naturalistic worldview. Who defines what is right/wrong? Who says it’s wrong to own slaves and abuse them? They are nothing more than atoms animated by electricity. In fact, slave “owners” are doing nothing except acting out the programming nature gave them, and “slaves” are doing nothing more than acting out the programming nature gave them. So why are you fighting over morality or trying to say God can’t exist because God is immoral? The second you bring morality into the discussion, by default you assume a God.

        If God exists, then God has the right and the ability to define evil because God created us and thus “owns” us. I can claim things are right or wrong based on the rules God has provided us.

        In your worldview, if God does not exist and the universe is naturalistic, why on earth are you even talking about how atoms “should” behave? It’s an absurd idea. Why are you stealing morality from theism to argue against theism?

        Your argument is self-defeating because you cannot live fully in your own view of how the world operates. Thus you really aren’t an agnostic. Because if you argue from morality you have shifted from a naturalistic view to a theistic worldview. And since you’re arguing against a God, you’re defeating your own argument because you assume God.

        It’s on par with saying “I’m going to prove math doesn’t exist by adding 2 + 2”. Well, the operation you are performing assumes math exists in the first place…

        So why do you tell me you are an agnostic but act like a theist? I submit it’s because no one can live consistently in an atheistic or agnostic worldview. You MUST live in a theistic worldview.

        So why are you talking about slavery, sexism, rape/pillage, etc… None of these are issues or problems UNLESS you bring a God into the picture who has defined these things to be wrong. Because if the universe is only naturalistic, then “morality” is nothing more than what an individual defines. I simply define slavery, rape, pillage, sexism, etc… to be “right” for me. Thus there are no “issues” in the Bible because none of the recorded actions were absolutely “wrong”.

      • @ dlegr250

        You’re making the presupposition that all morality comes from having a form of religion, when in fact religion is really used as a tool (by the authority) to regulate human behavior (for better or for worse). This fact is self-evident. You’re claiming that your religion has authority when you have yet to prove your god is real. Claiming authority means nothing if you can’t back it up. In order for your god to be an authority, you first have to be able to physically demonstrate that he’s real, otherwise he’s not an authority if your god doesn’t physically manifest himself and exercise his authority over people. It would be like me claiming there is an invisible police force (a form of authority) that will come and arrest you if you don’t believe in their existence. But since there’s no evidence that it enforces it’s authority, its authority is meaningless. The same thing holds true for your God, if your god doesn’t directly exercise his authority over people in an obvious way, his authority is just imaginary.

        From a naturalistic perspective, you could argue that morality is subjective since we are technically clusters of atoms that run on electro-chemical reactions. Morality has changed from time to time, and from culture to culture, there is no disputing that. However, humans are also conscious self aware beings capable of feeling pain. We are naturally social animals too, and if we are going to share space and cooperate to accomplish goals, a group of humans would have to establish certain rules if we want to share space in relative peace. In other words, having some kind of behavioral control system is beneficial for everyone in the group, and it allows us to have a higher quality of life because everyone will know that there are consequences for destructive behavior. So there are logical reasons to have a system of morality, not just divine reasons, because it makes our lives more livable and enjoyable than if we lived in chaos. Many other social animals have social structures to keep each member “in line”. Lets use an ant hill as an analogy. Ants can accomplish great things when they work cooperatively, and their quality of life is better too. However, if all the ants just started to kill and steal from each other, they would accomplish nothing, and most of them would just die off alone.

        If one group of humans desires to have a behavioral control system that benefits the most people possible, then having empathy is the best method. Empathy basically makes you put yourself in the other person’s position. Compassion is not just a human trait, it has been seen in other intelligent animals like primates. The resulting benefits of a behavioral control system are self evident. Just like it is self evident that there is a “best method” to do certain things. For example, a car can travel faster if it is smooth & streamline verses being box shaped, the resulting benefits of a car being streamline are self-evident (instead of being box shaped). The same holds true for regulating human behavior in a society, the benefits are self-evident in that we can live more enjoyable lives and not have to constantly worry about our neighbor killing us or stealing from us.

        There are also groups of humans that have a behavioral control system designed to benefit just some people or just the powerful elite. Most societies throughout history have operated this way. These are usually societies that are ruled by fear and oppression, and this would also explain why sexism, slavery, and such existed. The rulers of these societies were clearly not concerned about the well-being of everyone, only until there are uprisings from the masses do authorities change the rules/laws to keep the general peace.

        So in conclusion, from a naturalistic POV, there are beneficial reasons to have a behavioral control system (morality).

        -Makes our lives more peaceful, versus living in constant fear of our neighbor robbing/killing us.
        -It enables us to cooperate in order to accomplish goals.
        -A tool used by the elite/powerful to keep the masses from killing them and under control. This may not necessarily benefit the masses (such as slavery or sexism), but it benefits the elite/powerful.

        For most of history, religion was the tool used by authorities to enforce moral law on the general masses. It becomes easy to control people if you convince them that certain desirable behavior will be rewarded. However, if the authorities fail to deliver on the reward, they will quickly lose followers (and possibly be killed). So what do the authorities do? They invent a reward that is always just out of reach, or just beyond the horizon, something that is just one step ahead, but not something people will give up trying to accomplish… and this is where the concept of an afterlife comes in. If eternal life is the reward, people will then be willing to dedicate their entire life to the system set up by the authorities, because the reward of eternal life caters to our instinct of self-preservation.

      • You really are not on the right page because you miss the big picture all the time.

        You are like a patient who was just cured of cancer by having a tumor removed, and all he has to say is complaining: “The surgeon is a butcher, he cut me open and remove parts of my organs, he is also a tyrant, he didn’t let me smoke or eat what I want, he only gave me bitter medicine and kept me isolated in this hospital” etc etc. Ridiculous…

        Sometimes a medic must take painful and unpleasant measures to preserve the life of a patient. The surgeon doesn’t like to cut people open, but he knows that without that the patient will surely die. This is reality. Of course God can make miracles to cure without pain, and He did. But sinners must also see the consequences of their actions, or of the actions of others, even across generations. The Gospel is about salvation and education, not about everyone living in comfort, regardless of what they do.

        Instead of reading the Bible, you read that crap thinking that you are so smart that you discovered things that stupid gullible Christians believed for centuries.

        “sexism, slavery, infanticide ” – Really? By what or whose standards do you judge that? If there are no absolute standards, all that remains are subjective opinions that have no value.

        “The verses about love & mercy are just islands in an ocean of violence and bloodshed.”

        You are so poisoned that you cannot think clear. The whole Bible is about how God came among man and risk His position to save them and to give us an example of what true love means. Have the decency not to speak about things you never read or understand. Reading “about the Bible” on some atheists sites doesn’t count. The Bible must be studied, with sincerity and a true desire to find the truth, not only read like a newspaper or a novel. Also it must be PRACTICED. Just reading about music wont make you a musician. If you practice the small things that are very clear, you’ll start to understand things that now are unclear.

        2 Timothy 4,3: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Does that ring a bell? I wish it does.

        The Bible was revered by people like Albert Schweitzer, George Müller, David Livingstone, Ben Carson and such. If they understood it, respected it, worshiped by it, and had their lives transformed by it in such an amazing way, there must be something about it. Read about them, not only the bad examples about people who used religion for they own interests and wishes. You cannot find atheists examples of such men.

      • @Dan: At least from religion you CAN justify an absolute morality, while from naturalism YOU CAN’T. At all. No matter how hard you try to fool your conscience to make peace between your fictional theories and your moral instincts.

        From a naturalistic POV there is no good or right. All the terms you use: “good”, “beneficial”, “peaceful” etc have NO value in your paradigm. Why survival is good? Why is it a must?? You’ll die anyway sooner or later (regardless you “cooperate” or not). It makes no difference.

        Even if I skip that, why do we need any laws if people are so cooperative and moral (like you said) without the need of any external moral laws?? From a naturalistic POV sometimes it might be beneficial to cooperate, other times to cheat or kill, or steal, or eat a child, or to rape, whatever it takes. You can even choose to suicide.

        One more thing: OPPORTUNISM IS NOT MORAL. Moral is to stick to a principle even if it is disadvantageous to you.

      • @ Mens Sana

        I already addressed the issue of morality to dlegr250, But here are the main points on why a behavioral control system is in humanity’s best interest…

        -Makes our lives more peaceful, versus living in constant fear of our neighbor robbing/killing us.
        -It enables us to cooperate in order to accomplish goals and potentially increase our quality of life.
        -Morality is a tool used by the elite/powerful to keep the masses from killing them and under control. This may not necessarily benefit the masses (such as slavery or sexism), but it benefits the elite/powerful.
        -If you want a moral system that benefits everyone and not just the elite, then empathy is the best tool… this isn’t subjective, it makes logical sense, and everyone’s quality of life increases… again this is logical, unless you WANT to live in constant fear for your life and decrease your quality of life.

        Humans are just like any other pack animal, we care for those who are in “our group” but we are cautious, skeptical, and suspicious of “outsiders”. The perfect example of this “pack mentality” that humans have is the idea of forming nations. Nations are just very large complex “human packs”. Notice how America is enraged if terrorists attack us, but you barely hear a word if innocent Pakistani citizens are killed in a US drone strike… this is because we subconsciously believe AMERICAN lives are more important… because they are part of our “pack”. This primitive pack mentality takes many other forms like gangs, political parties, religious groups, sports teams, race, any group that divides people against each other encourages a pack mentality. We are just like all the other animals in so many ways, and yet despite having the vast majority of people believe in an authoritative law giver, so many people still rape, steal, kill, etc… most of which believe in some sort of moral authority.

        Your analogy of a cancer victim finding fault with the surgeon that saved him is a false analogy… because, in order for it to be equivalent to Christianity, the surgeon would’ve had to have given the patient cancer to begin with. You’re giving credit to a god who “saves” you from a hazard that he himself created in the first place! Imagine a firefighter setting a house on fire, rescuing the occupant, and then demanding praise for saving the person! Not to mention your surgeon doesn’t blackmail the patient into praising him. Imagine the surgeon telling his patient: “I will torture you forever if you don’t bow down and worship me, but I love you!”

        You talking about a moral authority is meaningless if you cannot prove his existence. Your god is not a moral authority if he doesn’t physically manifest himself and exercise his authority over people in an obvious way. In other words, your god’s supposed authority means nothing if you can’t back it up. You might as well claim there is an “invisible police force” that will come and arrest me if I misbehave.

      • @Dan,

        A few comments on the points you mentioned. First, “proving” God exists is an issue you cannot establish because you will never be convinced. Whenever any issue or topic is addressed or answered, you will move to the next topic/issue/question. You will never be satisfied with any answer. You cannot account for the physical universe period without a God, yet you claim God doesn’t exist. Your only other options are (1) the universe came from nothing or (2) the universe has always existed. Both of those are illogical without any rational belief whatsoever or support. Since you do not accept God, you must accept one of those 2 alternatives. And since you accept one of those 2 illogical alternatives, you are not thinking logically. Thus, presenting the logical arguments for God is a waste of time because your attacks are not based on logic. They are based on a volitional decision that you will not believe in God. So if you will not be logical or rational, do not claim that God hasn’t “proven” Himself to you.

        I find no reason why God has to physically manifest Himself. If your boss calls you over the phone, is that a physical manifestation? If your spouse leaves you a note on the table but didn’t “physically in-person” tell you something, is it not valid? And God did come in a physical form: Jesus Christ was God in a physical form. But Jesus did not come 2,000 years ago to rule this world; He came to die so that man can be redeemed by God. There will come a time when Jesus will come back to earth to rule it. But that time is not yet.

        Your assertion that God gave man sin is not correct. The Bible is very clear about this. Man chose to rebel against God and God acted justly in punishing man accordingly. Man created the hazard by choosing to sin and God’s nature requires that sin be punished. The only way to defend the argument that God created the hazard and then saved man from it is to put blinders on, select a few hand-picked verses from the Bible, and then ignore the rest of it. Why don’t you do the opposite? Why don’t you hand-pick some of the verses that clearly state that man rebelled against God and God was required to punish man for his sin? My conclusion is you don’t put your blinders on with those verses because they don’t support or further your view that God is evil. Thus, you ignore them.

        As to morality and the pack mentality…The pack mentality does not address the question. All you have done is add a layer of complexity. Instead of applying morality to a single individual, you have applied it to many individuals as a group. What you’re saying is that it’s perfectly ok for one group to force their views on another group because morality is a group thing.

        So follow along with that reasoning. I am a Christian. That is the closest, most intimate “group/pack” to me. You are a skeptic. You are a threat to my group because you attack those ideas and values I hold most closest to me. With the rational that group morality trumps all else, you’re saying it’s ok for my group (Christians) to hunt down all skeptics (your group) and eliminate you all because that’s how I ensure my group remains safe. How is that moral? Is it EVER right for someone to rape a 6-year-old girl? If one group agrees it’s ok, does that make it ok?

        The pack mentality does not provide a basis for morality. It provides a very unsatisfying answer that doesn’t answer the question. What is your basis for morality? If it’s the pack, then according to you it is “moral” for me to hunt you down and eliminate all skeptics because you are opposed to my group. Thus I am acting “morally”. I think we both have to admit that’s absurd.

        Also, if we accept that groups are the basis for morality, are we just using majority votes? Are some things not ALWAYS wrong no matter what people think? You’re claiming that there is not an absolute morality and that morality is completely subjective. Well, let us apply that standard to you and see how much you truly believe that. If I got 51% of people to vote that murder is moral, would you be ok with someone killing you? If I got 51% of people to vote that slavery is ok, would you be ok with me enslaving you?

        You claim that morality is subjective based upon the group, and then you talk about slavery, God being evil, etc…

        So which is it? Because you keep changing your view depending on what benefits you. If morality is a group thing and not absolute, then you cannot logically attack God for being evil, slavery in the Bible, sexism, etc… You state there is no standard, and then attack God and the Bible for not following the “standard”. You are being hypocritical in your logic.

        If you are going to be consistent, you must either acknowledge that there is an absolute standard of morality that must be accounted for in some fashion or else you must admit there is nothing wrong with slavery, rape, sexism, etc…, or any other issue you find recorded in the Bible. Which is it going to be?

        In addition, if there is no God or absolute morality, why do I care about the group at all? What you are in effect teaching is that every action I do should be for my own gain and selfish. If any action is against me, I should oppose it. So why do warriors defend their loved ones and countries from invasion? Why do people die for principles? What we find in reality is that people do not live according to a relative sense of morality. We find general similarities among all nations. Why is it that almost all nations have common elements of morality?

        The argument that morality exudes from nations recognizing “the best rules for survival” doesn’t address the root issue. Why should I care about the well-being of society? Naturalism, by definition almost, establishes the fact that life has no meaning because we are the result of random chance from colliding atoms animated by electricity with the illusion of consciousness when in reality we are nothing more than complex machines.

        If we are machines acting on nature’s programming, then no act anyone ever does is evil or immoral. Because the only “good” or “god” would be nature. Thus every action we do is nothing more than acting in full accordance with the natural programming nature gave us. This means a person who murders is acting out nature’s programming and shouldn’t be punished for it. That means people who are homosexual are that way because nature made them that way. But, if we accept that, then we must also accept that people who hate homosexuals are also born that way. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        Throwing God out raises more questions than it answers. You cannot establish a basis for morality. You cannot establish why groups shouldn’t impose their will upon others. You can’t establish why anyone should be held accountable for merely acting out their “natural programming”. Also you cannot live consistently with this view, because you state you don’t believe in absolute morality yet you accuse God of being evil for not following morality. Is it rational to reject the view that accounts for most of what we know? I do not think so. I find morality absurd without God. It is logically indefensible. Morality is a “why”. If all you have is chance and atoms, then the “why” is absolutely ridiculous.

        The argument that benefiting others benefits me is only good until benefiting others is at odds with benefiting me. The example of my removing you as an opposing voice to my “group” is an example of this. If morality is only a tool of the elite/powerful, you have to establish that claim. What historical or logical evidence do you propose that supports this?

      • @ dlegre250…

        First off, I never once said “No god exists”, I specifically said that I am agnostic and that I do not know if a god exists or not. I also said that I do not deny the POSSIBLY that some sort of creative entity started the universe. Just because I don’t accept the existence of YOUR god, doesn’t mean I completely deny the possibly of some kind of creative entity existing somewhere. Your statement creates a false dichotomy because you’re implying that it’s either YOUR god or NO god. My stance is that there is no way to know for sure if a god(s) exists or not, unless one manifests itself in the physical world and interacts with us in a meaningful way, because people of every faith claim “they just know” based on intuition. This isn’t a reliable way of determining what is real. There are literally billions of people half way around the world who are absolutely convinced that YOU are wrong and they are right. Some religions, like the Muslims, also claim fulfilled prophecies as proof of their religion (google that, it’s interesting). Do you somehow think that YOU are special and blessed with the truth because you were born in a culture with the “right” religion? And all those other people are misled, right? What if the evil spirits of another religion are deceiving you into believing in the wrong religion? That’s probably what you think of people from all the other religions, that Satan is deceiving them. Yet by not thinking that it could be happening to you, you don’t realize you’re creating a double standard.

        You claim absolute certainty on something that is, as of right now, unknowable… which is illogical. You claimed that it is illogical for the universe to always exist, yet you don’t apply that logic to the existence of your god, whom Christians claim “always existed”. What you’re doing is compartmentalizing and creating a double standard. If you claim your god can “always exist” but the universe can’t, then you’re guilty of the fallacy known as special pleading. You will apply the rules of logic in every other aspect of life accept your own cherished religious beliefs because you’re too emotionally invested.

        I never claimed that YOUR god gave man sin, I simply pointed out the blatant contradiction between the predestination verses and the freewill verses, and you even admitted you wished those verses didn’t exist. I never claimed one POV was true and the other is false, it would be pointless since I don’t believe the Bible was divinely inspired to begin with. What I did say is that if those predestination verses are true, then your god is responsible for sin since humans are only doing what they’re programmed to do. You are choosing to believe the freewill verses while ignoring the many verses that imply predestination, or you’ll reinterpret their obvious intended meaning. What you’re doing is the exact same thing you accused Vicky of, picking and choosing which verses to follow. You desperately attempt to brush aside the Biblical contradiction in the nature of reality by saying “well, just because ONE contradiction exists, doesn’t mean we should throw out the whole Bible”. But tell me something, if a contradiction of this magnitude existed in another holy book, would you give that religion the same benefit of the doubt as you do Christianity? At what point can you say that Christianity is proven wrong? You accuse of me of “never being convinced” of your god’s existence, but I could say the same thing about you, that nothing would convince you of Christianity being a false religion. But like I said earlier, even if Christianity is proven wrong, that doesn’t mean that some other religion couldn’t be true. Who knows, maybe the ancient Egyptians had it right.

        In regard to the pack mentality and morality, I never said it was okay for one group to force their beliefs on another group, but that DOES happen all the time, and that is most of human history right there. Human history is filled with people killing off their rivals, and each group that did it thought they had the correct way of doing things. I also never said “majority rules” was the correct way to go about things (which is what you implied), but that is generally what happens anyway. Acknowledging something doesn’t mean you believe it’s right.

        The basis for MY morality as an individual is the idea of empathy and compassion: putting myself in the other person’s shoes and treating people the way I want to be treated. I try to treat my peers with kindness and respect because I want them to treat me the same way… if I don’t, I can expect to be treated poorly. The reason I believe this standard of morality is the best isn’t because “it’s good”, but because it’s practical, it works to everyone’s benefit including mine, and allows all me to live a more enjoyable life. Even though we are technically just clumps of atoms, we humans are smart enough to know what works and what doesn’t, which explains why you see some of the same moral traits throughout different cultures… because they work. Like I said earlier, a society that permits self-destructive behavior like large-scale murder would die out for obvious reasons, and so they wouldn’t pass on their cultural norms. The reason sexism and slavery didn’t last (or is fading) is because at some point, those systems create uprisings from the group being oppressed. Besides empathy being a standard, I also realize there are consequences for certain actions. For example, even if there were no laws and no police, if I kill someone’s child, I would have to be worried about the child’s family coming after me. So another element to my personal morality is self-preservation.

        You are free to disagree with me on which standard of morality is the best, but for your god to be the standard moral authority, he has to exercise his authority, which is something I have never witnessed. Your god’s supposed authority means nothing if he doesn’t back it up, just like a police officer’s legal authority means nothing if he/she never arrests anyone. You’ll probably say god’s authority will be exercised after we die, yet there is no solid proof of your specific god holding us accountable after we die. Action means more than words.

        I also never said that your specific god is evil either, you’re putting words in my mouth to construct a strawman argument against me. What I did say is that based on your god’s actions throughout most of the Bible (mainly the OT), he seems like an unpleasant character whom I wouldn’t want to spend an eternity with unless he addressed some issues to me. I also said that if you knew someone who acted like that you probably wouldn’t be friends with that person, so why apply a different standard to god? Because your afraid of going to hell? In that case you’re just being blackmailed.

        I said morality was a tool used by the elite to control the general population, but I never confined morality to just ONLY that. The fact that morality was used as a tool (within the context of religion) should be pretty obvious historically, since most cultures historically have been ruled by monarchs, kings, emperors, and tribal leaders along with their religious leaders. This is a historic fact that kings and religious leaders controlled the general population. An example would be the Catholic Church not allowing people to read & interpret the Bible for themselves, and heretics being burned alive at the stake for holding a different view on Christianity… even Galileo’s life was threatened simply for postulating that the earth revolved around the sun!

      • @Dan
        1. You don’t read what I write.
        2. You keep repeating the same circular non-arguments, like: “good is good because is…. good”.

      • @ Mens Sana:

        Having a bahavioral control system that condemns muder and theft is beneficial for everyone, because it is self-evident that a society that permits large scale murder would naturally die out for obvious reasons. The reason I don’t want murder and theft to be socially acceptable is because I don’t want to increase the chances of those things happening to me. Morality isnt “good because it’s good”, morality is necessary to increase the chances of everyone’s survival. A moral system caters to our instincts of self-preservation. It’s good because it actually works, not because it’s good… in the same sense that food is good for us not “because it’s good”, but because it is in everyone’s self interest to eat.

      • You still don’t read what I write.

        “Morality isn’t “good because it’s good”, morality is necessary to increase the chances of everyone’s survival. ”

        “Morality is good because its necessary” its the same thing. Flawed circular thinking. Anyways the discussion wasn’t whether morality is good or not, but how to define standards for good and morality.

        Reality contradicts you. Lots of people don’t care what is beneficial for you. That’s why we need laws. And the real problem is that YOU CAN’T BLAME THEM. You can’t blame anyone for rape (maybe they want to propagate their genes, better chance for survival), you can’t blame anyone for murder (they find that you are to weak and it’s not in their best interest to keep you alive and in the “herd” to consume from the limited resources) etc. See? I can find naturalistic “explanations” for any crime. You don’t like some of them because you still have some built-in moral instincts, but they are not sustained by your theories you believe in. That’s the difference. If I strictly follow your beliefs I find an explanation and excuses for any crime or perversion.

        I don’t care that you want or not killing to be socially acceptable. Your personal subjective feelings don’t have value for others. You can feel like that because you are weak and not good for combat or theft. Or because you are sick. Or because you were educated like that etc etc etc.

        Again, why do you think that we have self preservation instincts? Another “random accident”? You take it as a given. Why it’s so important to survive, to live a meaningless life in a meaningless world? Anyway you will die sooner or later and that’s it. Oh, and I love explanations like “evolution did”. Like “evolution” is some sort of a god.

        Just because you can made up a story doesn’t mean it can stand as an explanation.

      • “Morality is a tool used by the elite/powerful to keep the masses from killing them and under control. ”

        Yeah, food too, gravity too…

        “-If you want a moral system that benefits everyone and not just the elite, then empathy is the best tool… this isn’t subjective, it makes logical sense, and everyone’s quality of life increases… again this is logical, unless you WANT to live in constant fear for your life and decrease your quality of life.”

        Obviously it’s not. Otherwise we won’t need laws and we won’t argue now. Are you living on another planet?? For the strong, “quality of life” means to be able to kill and steal the weaker. It’s very logical. And people are not necessarily logical. Why should be? What difference does it make if you die today or tomorrow? None.

        “Humans are just like any other pack animal”
        Circular thinking again. Animals are not from another universe.
        And no, I am not like an animal. I’m much more. I have a higher conscience.

        Some humans CAN have “pack” mentality, because it’s more comfortable, but THEY CAN CHOOSE NOT TO, and to stand against the crowd if the crowd is wrong – and we call them heroes – that’s morality. Such heroes pursuit what is good and right in the first place and the quality of life and comfort have lower priority. You CAN choose which category you want to belong to. That’s the difference.

        “yet despite having the vast majority of people believe in an authoritative law giver, so many people still rape, steal, kill, etc… most of which believe in some sort of moral authority.”

        1. Believing in a higher moral authority does not make you instantly a saint. You are still tempted and you can fail, that’s why it is a lifelong struggle.

        2. Just saying “I believe” could mean nothing. In the Bible, in the epistle of James it is written “…faith without deeds is useless. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

        “Your analogy of a cancer victim finding fault with the surgeon that saved him is a false analogy… because, in order for it to be equivalent to Christianity, the surgeon would’ve had to have given the patient cancer to begin with.”

        It’s a perfect analogy, you just don’t get it or don’t want to. It shows a different point of view that it’s perfectly true, only that the patient doesn’t see the bigger picture and sees just the unpleasant part.
        And you add false information, sin was not created by God.

        If you consider the firefighter is blackmailing you if he tells you to exit from your house because you will burn to death, you are stupid, excuse my bluntness.

        “You talking about a moral authority is meaningless if you cannot prove his existence.”

        Your talking about morals is meaningless and circular. Regardless if God exists or not, IF He doesn’t exist any talk about morals is meaningless, that was my point. “Atheist morality” is an oxymoron. It is just the subjective will of the most powerful imposed on the rest and you cannot objectively condemn anyone for any crime.

        “Your god is not a moral authority if he doesn’t physically manifest himself and exercise his authority over people in an obvious way.”

        He manifested throughout the history (thousands of years) and that was recorded in several books that were grouped in one: the Bible.

      • @ Mens Sana:

        “Are you living on another planet?”
        –Are you??? You’re the one who’s actually convinced that a talking snake persuaded a naked rib woman to eat from a magical tree, and that’s why suffering exists. Not to mention the fact that your god’s command to Adam & Eve to not eat from that tree was pointless, since they had no knowledge of good & evil prior to eating from the tree. Without knowledge of good & evil, they wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the concept of obedience/disobedience to god without knowledge of good & evil, which they wouldn’t acquire until after eating from the tree, by that time it was too late though.

        Regarding your analogy of the surgeon curing a cancer victim, my point still stands. If your god exists, he created the hazard of hell to begin with, and if he’s omniscient he knew in advance that Adam would fall, dooming most of god’s future creation to hell, yet did your god did nothing to prevent it. It would be like the fire marshall inspecting a building to make sure it’s up to code, if he is absolutely certain the building will catch fire, but does nothing to prevent it, isn’t the fire marshall at least partly (if not completely) responsible? Christianity is a form of divine blackmail. The real motto for Christianity should be: “I created you knowing you would fail… so love me, or be forever tortured in a place that I created for those who don’t love me”. If your god is real, he could’ve easily avoided all this trouble if he created us as perfect as he supposedly is, but instead he knowingly created a creation doomed to sin, so he has nobody to blame but himself. It would be different if your god didn’t see it coming and there was nothing he could do to stop it. But being all-powerful, all-knowing, and being capable of stopping it, that negates any argument you could say.

        Regarding morality, you’re arguing in favor of Divine Command Theory. DCT basically says that whatever god has ordained is good, because god has ordained it and he is good. So if god wanted us to rape, murder, or fly planes into buildings… those things would be good because it would be what god wanted. The weakness with DCT is that it is circular reasoning (God says good things are good, because God is good. God is good because He says good things are good). So the theory doesn’t tell you anything, because it simply says that things are how they are, because that is how they are.

        Another thing to consider about DCT – Is something moral because god said it is moral? Or does god say something is moral because it was already intrinsically moral? If the latter is true, then there is a moral standard that is independent of god, which contradicts his sovereignty. If the former is true, on what grounds did your god base his decision on when he decided what is good and bad? I’m sure he had reasons for deciding murder and theft were bad, but I doubt it was for reasons of HIS self-preservation. Did God decide murder is bad because he was afraid of being murdered? Probably not, he doesn’t have to worry about dying. Why did god decide murder is bad if he doesn’t have to worry about being killed? Additionally, if we have an immortal soul, murder would only be an acceleration from this brief life to the next level of existence, thus forbidding murder would seem rather pointless, especially for murdered Christians who would only go to a better place anyway (heaven). From a naturalistic perspective, this is the only life we know we have, so discouraging murder for everyone’s self-preservation makes more sense. We have an instinct for survival because any creature that did not would be killed off pretty quickly before it could reproduce and pass on its traits. If an afterlife actually existed, your instinct for physical survival is pointless… why do you put on seatbelt? Why go to doctor when you’re sick if you believe a better place awaits? Why avoid risky/reckless behavior if it could lead to going to heaven?

        Also consider that the Bible says that God decides the time and place for everyone’s death. According to ‘A Purpose Driven Life’ it states “Because God made you for a reason, he also decided when you would be born and how long you would live. He planned the days for your life in advance, choosing the exact time of your birth and death. The Bible says ‘You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!’ (Psalm 139:16)” The book also says that God “never does anything accidentally, and he never makes a mistake. He has a reason for everything he creates.” Under this idea, god plans everything. So if God forbids murder, yet someone dies by being murdered, is the murderer blameless since god ‘schedules’ each day of our lives according to Psalm 139? Check out this link for the full video.

        Another problem with DCT is that until a specific god manifests itself and physically exercises its authority over people in a meaningful way, a religion’s moral system will still be subjective only to itself. You asked why my moral standard is better than anyone else’s, I could turn the same question on you: Why is your god’s moral standard any better than another god’s moral system? If the Islamic god says it’s okay to kill non-Muslims, who are you to disagree? DCT fails on pluralistic grounds, because different religions often contradict each other on what is considered moral. Of course, I expect you to object and say that your god DID physically manifest himself and exercised his authority in the past, and that those ancient people documented the events in the Bible for modern humans. However, other religions often do something similar. Many (if not most) religions speak of some past golden age where their gods would interact with humans, so how do you know those stories aren’t true?

    • @Vicky,

      Here are a few thoughts with regards to some of the points you raised.

      It seems that many view the Bible as anachronistic or purely cultural when it comes to the roles of men and women, specifically in a marriage relationship and with regards to the leadership of the church. Throughout history, it has essentially been a “man’s” world. That’s merely an observation, not a judgment of what is right.

      So when we come to passages in the Bible that talk about men/women, we have to understand whether the passage is talking about a cultural system or is making absolute statements.

      The Bible makes it clear that with regards to the church structure, women are not to be pastors (1 Tim 2:12-14). The reason Paul gives is not cultural. Paul references the order of creation (men first) and then the order of sin (women sinned first). These events don’t change with culture, they apply equally across all cultures.

      So does this belittle women in a sexist fashion since they are not to be pastoral authorities in the church? I don’t think so. God established an authority structure for how things are to be run in His church. Just the same way that the trinity has an authority structure. Jesus submits Himself to the Father and the Spirit submits to both the Father and Jesus.

      In the church God setup a chain of command. If we don’t like the way God did it, we can take it up with Him. But to disregard God’s authority structure as “sexist” would be similar to saying God the Father was being “sexist” (figuratively speaking) to Jesus the Son.

      Note that this authority structure does not carry over into the national/economic system. Women can be national leaders and CEOs, etc… But the Bible clearly attests to the fact that pastorships are reserved only for men. However, both men and women can be deacons in a church. So when you get to the end of the road, the only position women cannot hold in a church is that pastor position. Thus female pastors is not a cultural issue but rather is simply how God decided to do things.

      In a different but related avenue, men can’t have children. They are different. God created us different in that regard. To say that men/women are fully 100% equal is absurd. Because if they were fully 100% equal, you wouldn’t need to use the separate words “men” and “women” to differentiate between them. You could use the same word for both. Just because the sexes are not equal does not mean one is greater than the other. God gave each sex a role in various organizations. The family and the church are 2 organizations that God decided men would lead.

      With regards to divorce, the Bible clearly states that divorce was not originally how God wanted things to be. However, because man is sinful, God permitted man to divorce. There are 2 Biblical reasons for divorce: adultery, and abandonment by a non-believing spouse. These are the only 2 situations the Bible clearly presents to us.

      The Bible does not clearly allow divorce for any other reason. But you present a very good question: what if a spouse is abusing the other physically or something along those lines? Well, first and foremost you physically separate from that individual because marriage does not give you the right to violate God’s clear commands about how to treat others. There is no Biblical command to permit someone to abuse you. But it does get tricky when one tries to seek divorce based on the grounds of spousal abuse.

      If a spouse abuses you, the proper course of action is to seek reconciliation through the medium of the church. Reconciliation is always God’s preferred means of resolving marriage situations. Divorce is never commanded but is permitted as a last resort. If both individuals are believers, they should seek counseling and reconciliation.

      However, if an abusive spouse refuses to reconcile or change his ways, that begs the question of whether he truly is a believer. In a situation where a spouse refuses to repent, demonstrates he is a non-believer, but refuses to seek divorce, my understanding of the Scriptures is that you do not have a Biblical grounds for divorce. I do not see that meaning you are required to remain physically with that individual, but I do not believe you are free to re-marry with God’s blessing. This is my opinion based on my understanding of what the Bible teaches.

      I also understand God is a God of mercy who did not setup marriage for misery, but for comfort, enjoyment, and mutual assistance for each other. If I were in a situation where a spouse was physically abusing me, I am not 100% certain I would not seek divorce. But I know divorce is never God’s preference and is never commanded.

      That’s why it’s so important to know the individual you are marrying. God doesn’t take marriage lightly, neither should we. You are binding yourself to this person for your entire physical life no matter what (outside of the 2 above listed reasons).

      Men do have to dress modestly. God made men/women differently, and this is readily substantiated without any question by observing any modern high school. Men are very attracted to what they see, and women love attention. Nothing against either sex. God created the sexes with these predispositions. So when you go to a high school, you will overwhelmingly see women with tighter clothing and exposing more of themselves. That’s because God created men to desire to see women and teenage girls know exactly what they’re doing when they dress the way they do.

      On the flip side, most girls aren’t “turned on” by guys in short shorts, or really tight clothing. Go to any organization that has any dress code, and I can almost guarantee you the section for women is larger than the section for males. Is this sexist? No. Sexism is making a decision based purely upon the gender of the person involved. Sexism decides I will or will not do this for this person depending on who they are. Modesty rules simply point out the obvious things we all know about men/women already. It’s not sexist to spend more time telling women to dress modestly or to focus on that, because that’s an issue they struggle with more than men. Let me flip the tables. Is it sexist for the Bible to tell men to love their wives unconditionally? Why aren’t the women told to love their husbands unconditionally? How unfair is it that the Bible is so sexist against men!

      Men and women are different. They each have different struggles. Thus the Bible spends different amounts of time discussing these various issues to each different gender.

      This is a question that one has to define a bit more. Your question was “why are people owned in the Bible”. Well, that’s too broad to address. Does a parent “own” their child? Does the credit company “own” the person who owes them $50,000? Does the military “own” a service member who wants to leave early without fulfilling their contract? Does a nation “own” its citizens?

      That question is too broad. The short version is that skeptics want the Bible to be abusive, cruel, and unjust to people so they can point out how immoral the Bible is and how unjust God is and how it is thus absurd to accept the Bible.

      However, as I clearly pointed out in a previous post today, morality apart from God is absurd. If there is no God, then there is nothing wrong with slavery. Thus a skeptic cannot accuse God of immorality. So if someone wants to contest moral issues, by default they are assuming God exists.

      If you have specific questions about the Bible and slavery, feel free to ask them. However, without a more directed question, I can’t properly address that issue without writing a 50+ page book to cover all the items of interest.

      I doubt I have answered all your questions to you liking, but I do hope I have provided some rationalizations behind some of what the Bible teaches. There are some things that are simply the way God set them up and there’s nothing we can do about it. Not liking it doesn’t mean it is so. The question is not whether we like or agree with something, but whether it is right or wrong.

      • @dlegr250….in reference to your comment about slavery, please read the blog at the end of my post; particularly the argument that the writer presented and the counterargument posed by Halolmao……..The bottom line for me is I understand why it was done but I still believe it is unethical and wrong. Would any one of us want to be owned by another human being regardless of the reason and is it something God would condone? I don’t believe God would condone it so I don’t understand why it was even allowed by OT and NT leaders unless it was one of their own rules that allowed them to control more people besides women. The excerpt taken from the NT from 1 Peter 2:18-21 disturbs me the most for two reasons that support my argument that religious and social ideologies of the Bible were infiltrated throughout time. 1. With this particular passage, it provided justification for Christian slave owners in THIS COUNTRY to own other human beings. (This will make more sense when you read the other article that is linked below this blog). 2. This particular excerpt basically says that slaves must submit to their masters, both good and harsh. I believe that is wrong based on the same premise that individuals use to abuse their wives……women must submit to their husbands so slaves must submit to their owners. I don’t have a problem submitting to my husband as long as he treats me like a human being that he loves and wants to spend the rest of his life with in a loving, monogamous relationship in which we try to know, love and serve the Lord. Does this happen in Christian marriages, particularly my last one? NO! Did this happen when our founding fathers justified kidnapping innocent people from their native homeland of Africa and abusing them for their financial gain? NO!

        Men, however, abused their God given authority to “rule over women” and to own other human beings and this verse, along with others listed in the OT, justified their sordid actions.

        You previously mentioned in this post the following: Why aren’t the women told to love their husbands unconditionally? How unfair is it that the Bible is so sexist against men! Excuse me for saying this but please say that again, to yourself, and listen as you say that out loud. Men ARE supposed to love their wives so how is that sexist? Women were constantly told to be “submissive” to their husbands because they were allowed by God to have men “rule over us” so we didn’t need that commandment. After all, we might be issued a divorce decree if we burned their dinner and with that being said, how many wives could actually love their husbands if they were treated so poorly? They were brainwashed!

        The problem I am beginning to notice with Christians is they 100% trust the authenticity of the Bible and I don’t believe they should. Why? Because it was tainted by men. Should we use it as a guide? Yes. What results when people take it verbatim without checking for authenticity? Sexism, slavery, and oppression to name a few that is enforced by Christian men with big egos that don’t have the ability to swallow their pride and admit that maybe there is SOME truth to these issues being discussed. I’m not saying that you are one of these people. I respect the fact that you are willing to admit that you are wrong but you are honestly, from my experience, the exception to the rule.


        Click to access Cway_104_AfricanSlavery.pdf

  31. @ Dan and Len…….Who am I to judge either of you? I disagree with your positions on either questioning the existence of God or not believing in Him at all but I believe in Him. Why? Part of my answer is supported by Dan’s answer to why we believe…..I fear hell. When I die, I don’t want to go there and I believe it exists. Some may say we are living in hell now but I don’t feel that way. I believe that until we lose all bits of hope for everything, we still have hope because we are alive and we can change certain things in our lives. Therefore, this realm we are in is not hell.

    Another reason I believe is I can’t live my life knowing that anything I did was for nothing. When I die, I become nothing? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Why do we suffer? Why are people born with lifelong illnesses such as cerebral palsy or mental retardation? Is it so they can suffer their whole lives and then die to become nothing? That doesn’t make sense to me unless we receive a reward when we die.

    I also think people will be held accountable for everything they did and failed to do. We hold people accountable in our society today (i.e., you steal or kill, you get punished by imprisonment or some type of penalty and if you donate to a charitable organization, you get a tax write off and sometimes recognition from the organization). I believe what we accomplished with our lives will be carried over into the next lifetime. Where is Hitler? Where is Jeffrey Dahmer? Where is Pontious Pilot? Where is Jesus? Where is Mother Theresa? Where is my sister that died tragically at the age of 12 from a drowning accident? Some questions we will never have the answers to and it is hard to accept but we don’t have a choice because no one knows.

    One last reason I believe….God does speak to my heart. I had a conversation with a non-believer one day and we discussed how Satan “counterfeits” everything God does. For example, Satan gave us Santa Clause and God gave us the birth of Jesus. Satan gave us the Easter bunny and God gave us a chance at everlasting life through the death of Jesus. My question to you is this and I sincerely believe God gave me the answer to the question…..If God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, what is Satan?

    • @ Vicky

      You said you believe in god because you believe hell exists and it scares you… but honestly, how do you know hell exists? I find it disturbing that a supposedly loving god would have to use the threat of hell to get people to love or believe in him. To me, this is nothing more than a form of “divine blackmail”. How could this be considered a decision of freewill if you have a gun to your back? This isn’t true freewill, it’s circumstantial freewill. Imagine if you told your own child: “Love me, or I’ll throw you in the oven!” Sure, your child technically has the freewill to choose to love you, but he really doesn’t have a true choice. Even if such a god exists, would you really want to spend eternity with a being who creates a place of eternal torture for people simply for honest disbelief? I don’t know about you, but I could never send my own child to hell.

      You also said another reason you believe is because you don’t want everything you did in life to be for nothing, and you basically said that people should be rewarded if they suffer in life. Well, just because you want something to be true, doesn’t mean it is. As an agnostic, I create my OWN reason for living. Life is more beautiful because this is the only life we’re guaranteed to have, and I have more motivation to make the most of it, what comes after this life is one big mystery. I think if there is one thing people fear more than death, it’s fear of the unknown. It is self-evident that humanity clings to gods and religions because we fear the unknown. Most people cannot handle “not knowing” so they cling to any belief system that appeals to them and reinforces their biases & preconceived notions.

      You also said that you believe everyone will be held accountable for their actions in life, but how do you know this? One thing about Christian justice that disturbs me is that, hypothetically, a serial baby raper can go his entire life without getting caught, and on his death bed, repent and “accept Jesus” thus escaping both earthly AND eternal justice. Meanwhile, a nonbeliever who spent a lifetime caring for others will be tortured in hell for an eternity for honest disbelief. If the Christian god were actually real, and if this is what actually happens, I want nothing to do with it. Even if I did get “saved”, just knowing there a billions of otherwise decent people roasting in hell FOREVER would spoil my eternal bliss in heaven.

      Lastly, you said that you believe god speaks to you, and that Satan “counterfeits” everything god does with Christmas, Easter, etc. With these holidays, the early church incorporated pagan ideas so Christianity would be more appealing to a wider audience of people in the Roman empire. Just google “pagan origins of Christmas” to a get a good idea of what I’m talking about. Everyone of every religion also claims their god(s) speaks to them, and they are just as convinced as you are. So as you can see, human emotions/feelings are an unreliable way of determining what is real. You said “Satan counterfeits what God does”. Well, how do you know the Bible & Christianity aren’t a creation of the “satan” of some other religion? For example, a Muslim or Hindu (or whomever) could claim that their “satan” or evil spirits inspired the Bible and its prophecies in order to deceive Christians into believing in the wrong god… after all, don’t Christians often times say the same thing about all the other religions of the world? Well the same thing applies to Christianity too, and Christians don’t realize they are applying a double standard when they say Satan deceives people into believing the wrong religion… the REAL Satan of some other religion could just as likely be fooling Christians.

      • @ Dan…..I’m going to quote something Jesus said and it isn’t verbatim so please forgive me: “if people don’t listen to you, wipe the dust off of your feet and move on”. I don’t fully hear you and you don’t fully hear me although I do hear some of the things you are saying and I believe you hear some of what I’m saying. Bottom line, we are at different points in our journeys and I can’t judge you because when I do that, I’m doing God’s job and that is an insult to Him. Furthermore, it hurts me because I could be the recipient of judgements someday and it would hurt you because I don’t know what it is like to have experienced your journey. All I can say is if studying the Bible has not brought you to find some of the answers to your questions, maybe you should look into other sources that you may not have considered. It is obvious that you have done your homework in these areas simply by reading your previous comments but there may be other sources you may not have considered. Did you see the movie “The Conjuring”? It scared the hell out of me and I mean that literally. I believe it too. I believe the outcome of that movie is modern day evidence of a miracle!

        God can do whatever He wants. God owes us nothing. God is supreme and God has an understanding of the world and everything in it that we are not capable of understanding. Why? I think God withholds information from us for two reasons, maybe more. One, just like our earthly parents, “there was/is a time and a season” for our learning. We didn’t eat solid food until a certain age. We didn’t learn about addition and subtraction until a certain age and we couldn’t drive until a certain age. I don’t think we will fully understand God until we die because we were not equipped to understand Him in this lifetime. Again, God owes us nothing and God can do whatever He wants (including withholding information) just like our earthly parents. Our earthly parents owe us nothing and can do whatever they want (unless it is against the law but that’s a different argument).

        Reason two, I personally believe that we are pawns in a spiritual warfare between God and Satan. Why God has us as pawns is His business and I I have to accept it because I don’t have a choice. The same holds true if we consider why we are all here? Why are we here? Why are we on this earth? Another reason I believe we are pawns is God allowed Satan to tempt Eve in the Garden of Eden and, I believe Satan may have had sex with Eve but that is my opinion. Please read my argument on Eric’s blog: Does God condone rape? Nonetheless, it would explain a lot of questions I have like women having to bear children in great pain as a result of the original sin and the lineage of Cain ceasing after the flood. It would also explain the “giants’ in the Bible. God also allowed Satan to have a field day with Job with the exception of killing Job. Interesting. Why would God allow that?

        You mentioned you create your “own reason for living”. I think that people should but there has to be limits. These limits were already discussed on this blog in reference to morality and absolute truths so I’m not going to address those again but, I do believe that an alcoholic wanting to drink all day, for example is wrong even though that is their own reason for living. I personally believe that particular action is a manifestation of a counterfeit of God. Satan’s counterfeit to the Trinity is me, myself and I so someone wanting to drink all day is a manifestation of that counterfeit. On the same token, when we rely solely on ourselves for all of the answers, we are not humbling ourselves and putting our faith in God. Isn’t that what Satan did? It is one thing to use our minds and question things but it is completely different to say: ” I can do it all by myself if I believe in me”. I tried to use me, myself and I in that sentence. Regardless, I know I can’t do everything by myself. I tried and failed and Eric pointed it out in more detail in one of his previous posts. If you have the patience, please re-read his point.

        You mentioned that the church incorporated these pagan ideas in the church. What I am learning about the church is they don’t always do as they should because they are human and can be influenced by the wrong sources. If your conscious is telling you to keep questioning, then keep questioning, Dan. Who am I to judge you?

        As far as a baby killer repenting on his deathbed, I believe that no one knows for sure where that person will end up regardless of whether or not he repented and regardless of some of the Biblical excerpts. Some may say my 12 year old sister is in hell because she wasn’t born again. I think God is the ultimate judge and Jesus will consider the whole picture on her behalf. I think some Christians need to knock it off with the judgements! The Bible should be used as a tool, not a means to judge people and put them down. Some say I’m an adulteress because I married again after my divorce. Who are they to judge me? You already mentioned the idea of polygamy in the Bible and it was wrong but it is also wrong for people to judge and stone another human being to death who is supposedly caught in the act of adultery. JESUS IS THE REASON FOR CHANGE! CHANGE OCCURS BECAUSE WE CHANGE, NOT GOD!

    • @Vicky,
      Sorry for the short reply – I’m in the middle of moving and living out of boxes for the moment in my new home.

      If God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, what is Satan?

      That pretty much sums it up: IF God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … But as there’s no real evidence to support this assertion, then I’d rather not follow a fairy tale. As Dan says, every religion’s followers claim to hear their god speak to them – they can’t all be right. Show that god exists (that is, your specific flavour of god) and maybe there’s something to discuss. But no-one has managed to find real evidence for god yet.

      Anyway, good luck in your search. But don’t forget that sometimes you have to take a step back and examine your underlying beliefs – are they really worth following?

      • @ Len…I do believe my beliefs are worth following because I do believe in the Trinity. Currently, my biggest contention is having the courage to question man’s authority because it may not always be right as evidenced in 1 Timothy or in reference to how poorly women were treated in the Bible. I sincerely respect your viewpoints but I will always believe. I just question man’s authority and opinions.

        Good luck moving. I hope the weather cooperates for you and your transition is smooth.

  32. @dlegr250……Thank you so very much for the explanation you provided. I received more information from a group of strangers than I did at churches I attended. I don’t agree with everything you stated but I respect your answers. I don’t know if anyone will ever convince me that the men of the Bible weren’t sexist. I also don’t know if I will ever know why God seemed to condone these things if we are to actually take the Bible literally. I refuse to believe that God condoned some of these things so that is why I will always question the Bible. If God is good, holy, and just, why were women treated like garbage in the Bible? We are to this day. I have more rights as an American citizen than I do as a Christian woman sometimes. I’m certainly not looked down upon by most in society if I wear pants but in some churches, I’m considered a harlot! That’s terrible! Thank the Lord I’m not in Iraq!

    I saw the movie “Unstoppable” last night and one of the Christian men who was singing a song had his shirt unbuttoned half way. Is that modest? This was a Christian movie and half of his chest was exposed! Why isn’t he questioned? Why aren’t men who take their shirts off in public questioned? Why can Christian men wear shorts in the summer and women have to wear dresses? That is terrible! The problem, I believe, is men can’t control themselves with their lustful desires and women were/are conditioned to believe they are sex objects AND they are to blame! Men had and continue to blame women for sex crimes. For example, a woman had to prove she was a virgin in the Bible all of the time. I know it is difficult for a man to prove it but why should a woman have to even prove this? Why are women still blamed or looked down upon when they are victims of rape or assault? Please don’t tell me they aren’t because I was a victim myself and I wasn’t dressed provocatively. It shouldn’t matter what clothes I had on anyways. No means No! These are all rhetorical questions. Religious leaders who want to oppress women go to town with these Biblical excerpts and the root of the problem is they are in the Bible to begin with. I want to know why. Why are they there for women and not men? Rhetorical. Rhetorical. Rhetorical.

    I don’t want to argue with you so that is why I’m not going to address the issue any further but I sincerely thank you for your input and the amount of time you spent addressing my issues. Again, you are an inspiration to me. I will learn from your “fruits” or actions the same way we are supposed to learn from Jesus’s “fruits” or actions. God be with you always.

    Another rhetorical question I do have is if God supposedly doesn’t allow a re-marriage after a divorce that is based on Biblical grounds, never mind ethical as is the case with spousal abuse, why will the church bless someone by allowing him/her to get married when that person fornicated for years prior to the marriage? What’s the difference? I don’t see it. Jesus also referred to the woman at the well as having 5 husbands when she really didn’t have any (John 4:1-18). Later, He said she really didn’t have any but He also said she had 5 husbands. Please don’t answer. I don’t believe we would agree and I don’t have the time to effectively argue with you. I’m not being sarcastic but my work schedule changed. Thank you again for all of your input and comments.

    • @ Vicky

      From a secular perspective, the fact that the Bible is clearly sexist shows it was just the work of men, and not inspired by some all-knowing, all-wise deity. If God isn’t even a human, why would god even want to be referred to as “he” to begin with? This is all just more evidence that it was a religion invented to keep MEN in power over women because most men are insecure about their sexuality, or their ability to please a woman sexually. That is why there was more emphasis placed on the woman’s virginity, because men don’t like being compared to other men when it comes to their genitals. It’s all about protecting a man’s fragile ego over his sexual perfomance.

      • Yeah, they even created the genitals in such a way and they made the women mothers on purpose, to keep them occupied with children, so that men could be free to rule. Just because you can invent a story doesn’t make it true.

      • @ Dan…..I don’t agree with you that God doesn’t exist but it is extremely difficult to refute your arguments. I want to know why also to many of your questions. If God is a spirit, why is he referred to as He? I also agree with you that men don’t like it when you step on their egos. I had a discussion with another woman about 2 weeks ago and she said to me that she believes that part of the reason why Eve was told by God that her initial punishment would be that men “will rule over you” is because Adam’s ego was damaged. He was probably ticked off at Eve because she had sex with the serpent first. That would explain why OT men are so adamant about women having to prove their virginity in the Bible all of the time. Furthermore, if Adam was supposed to be Eve’s “umbrella of protection” according to the Bible, where was Adam when Satan was tempting her in the garden? Was Adam talking to the animals? Was he sleeping? He certainly was there protecting his wife. I wonder why? On top of that, Adam received first hand knowledge from God Himself not to eat from the tree of knowledge. It doesn’t state anywhere in the Bible that Eve was told by God directly. Therefore, was she told by her umbrella of protection, Adam? If so, she received second hand knowledge and it would also justify why Adam was ticked at Eve because she didn’t listen to him so his ego was damaged. The same way our egos become damaged when we try to tell people that our way of thinking is “the most logical” and others don’t listen. Just look at all of the responses on this site. I’m guilty too. I will admit it and I apologize to anyone I offended. I really just want to know the answers to my questions. In Eve’s defense, how often do any of us listen to second hand information? The Bible criticizes women because Eve didn’t listen to Adam so “we must be easily deceived” because Satan deceived us. That is nonsense! Adam had first hand knowledge!!!!! Eve didn’t! This leads me to the next point…….

        If Adam was led by his private parts and he listened to Eve despite having heard from God first hand to not eat from the tree, that would explain why women have to dress modestly. Men really do think with their private parts! I’m sorry but I’m beginning to believe this. All 4 of my brothers tell me this is true and so did my father! The modesty issues protects us from men who are supposed to be our umbrellas of protection. Interesting. Furthermore, men have such big egos they blame the women. Isn’t that what Adam did? Isn’t that what men do when they justify raping a woman? They will say we dressed too provocatively or we led them on. Really? C’mon now. That is ridiculous!

        I read a site from this pastor who felt compelled to warn young pastors about 7 women to guard yourselves from. I wrote back to him and he deleted all of my comments except on. I can provide the link if you would like. I googled a question about pastors not listening to their flock and got directed to that nonsensical and sexist site. How often do you see women raping men but men will blame women if they fornicate or commit adultery. Interesting. Anyone who fornicates, commits adultery or rapes should blame themselves, period!

        I have to say, and please take this for what it is worth, I respect the fact that you question God but to call him a pr*#k is terrible. Even if you don’t believe in Him, have respect for us that do. It is like me telling my ex sister in law that her brother is a pr*#k because of the way he treated me when we were married. Even if I felt that way, I can’t tell her that out of respect for her. I’m not trying to offend your ego but since we were discussing egos, I felt compelled to bring that up.

        Bottom line, your answers and questions seem logical to me so I’m hoping I find something in the Bible to refute your argument and again, I appreciate you actually admitting that the Bible does seem sexist towards women AND responding. Many Christian leaders ignore me! At least you have respect for me as a human being to acknowledge my questions. Thank you!

        I really have to get off of this blog. I will be up late catching up on work for this. Thank you again for your response. I agree and disagree. Your points are valid but I still believe in the Trinity.

      • @Vicky,
        I always find it interesting to see the mental and verbal gymnastics that Erik, dlegr250, and Mens Sana (and others – eg, pastors, etc) have to go through to try to make the bible not seem sexist and misogynistic. I’m glad to see that you’re noticing that too. When you can accept that the bible was written by men in a society that was itself pretty much geared to keeping men in power and women subjugated, you’ll start to understand why it reads as it does.

        You mention that a pastor deleted all but one of your comments from his blog – that’s a fairly common tactic on believer blogs. They don’t like to leave any comments that don’t follow their story. Kudos to Erik on this blog for leaving the disagreeing comments as well.