Thursday, December 20, 2007

A scenario

This is probably my last post before the Christ-mas holiday takes me away from the computer for a while. Merry Christ-mas!
I'll celebrate by posing a slightly disgusting question for atheists to answer as they like:

Situation: You are traveling in a foreign land and go to an out-of-the-way picturesque temple. There you meet a native, there to offer religious piety. He finishes lighting his candle and then greets you, speaking serviceable English. Edit: He introduces himself as Tkalim.
He offers to tell you a little about his religion. You, being the courteous gentleman/lady you are, invite him to proceed. He tells you that he and his whole society worship 5 gods of the fish, air, earth, fire, and tree. He then tells you that part of his worship devotion is to go with all the men of his society to steal girls between the ages of 3-8 years from their families in the nearby large city, take them into the jungle, and rape them.
Once raped, the tribesmen leave the girls in the jungle as an offering to the tree god. He says he knows of no girl that has ever returned to the city to her family.
Once he finishes his story with calm voice and clear eyes, he falls silent.
I have something to say to him about this practice. What would YOU say? How would you try to explain that what he is doing is wrong? *Is* what he is doing wrong? On what basis?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Atheists don't have to prove anything

John Morales says:
For the umpteenth (plus one) time, atheists do not share any beliefs/opinions/traits other than a disbelief in gods.

There is no such thing as a communal "atheist worldview".

Different atheists will give different answers, because there is no such thing as atheist dogma.

Dr. Robert Morey writes:

My... problem with (George) Smith's definition (of atheism, in his book Atheism: The Case Against God [Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1979]) is how he can attempt to disprove the theistic proofs if he cannot make any assertion about anything. By what standards does he judge these proofs as invalid? On what basis and by what methods can he criticize the theistic proofs if he does not have his own belief system? Why does he have to appeal to such things as "logic" on page 61, and to "reason" on page 110? By doing this he is implying as his confession of faith, "I believe in logic. I believe in reason." He evidently asserts his belief in such things. When he says that every "advocate of reason must begin with an unequivocal condemnation of Christianity's brutal past" (p. 114), to make such moral judgments requires a prior commitment to ethical standards by which he can judge something. If he does not assert anything, however, he then cannot condemn anything.

-The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom (Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1986, p. 47-48)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another failed attempt

Those who would point out a "contradiction" in the Bible usually forget a couple of things:
1) NO harmonisation can be possible for the scenario to qualify as a contradiction.
2) An author doesn't often completely lose his total train of thought just a few chapters later after writing something.

We see an example of that in Rintintin's attempt in John 5 and 8. He must think John suffered an aneurysm or something in between.

In John 5, Jesus states if he were to testify on his own behalf, his testimony would not be valid
In John 8 he then goes on to state that 'these claims are valid even though I make them about myself'

In John 5, Jesus refers to His submission to the Father and the Father's authority. He does nothing of His own initiative. Neither does Jesus' testimony stand alone nor His judgments b/c the Father is the One making those judgments first.
Jn 5:31: If I ***ALONE*** testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.

Jesus was talking about the requirement of the Law to have 2 and 3 witnesses. He was not saying "If I speak this testimony, then my testimony is untrue." He was saying "If I speak this testimony then my testimony is unconfirmed" b/c the Bible requires independent confirmation as the context makes plain.

John 8:

He was saying that His testimony is true and you need independent confirmation to know that His test is confirmed.
The 2nd witness confirms it. My own testimony does not stand alone. If the 2nd witness is making a true testimony, then how could Christ's testimony be untrue?
Jn 8:16 - for it is not I ***ALONE*** who judge, but I and the Father who sent Me.

Moving on...
in John 7 he states that 'you work on the Sabbath too when you obey Moses law of circumcision' - this is wrong as it is in fact Abraham's covenant with God that is the reason for circumcision, not Moses', as stated in Genesis.

1) Your sentence structure leaves a bit to be desired.
2) Jn 7:21-23 - "Jesus answered them, 'I did one work, and you all marvel at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?'"

Why not quote the whole psg? Probably b/c you got these out of some lame source like the Skeptics' Annotated Bible or some or some such. Shoddy.

In John 1: John explains that noone has ever seen God except for Jesus
yet in Genesis 32, Jacob names Peniel after the fact that he has seen God face to face (Peniel = face of God)

1 Timothy 6 helps us understand that it is the *Father* Who dwells in unapproachable light.
John 1's whole point is to express the deity of the Word, who is Christ, and who is with "God" in the beginning. Who is this "God" a reference to? The Father.
"No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." (John 1:18)

an example of God changing his mind is in Exodus 32:14 - "So the Lord withdrew his threat and didn't bring against his people the disaster he had threatened"

Where does it say anything about Him changing His mind? It says He didn't do what He had threatened. A threat is not necessarily a promise of action. In this case it acted as a stimulus to self-correction.

God is capable of changing his mind, so even if someone does exactly what God wants, they might still be looking forward to a pretty warm afterlife if God can change his mind whenever he wants for whatever reason.

God's decrees are eternal and He has decreed whatever comes to pass (Ephesians 1:10-11).
If you had brought up something like where God "repents of making man" or sthg like that, I'd've been happy to remind you that "to repent" there can also mean "to be sad".

Best of luck in your next and final attempt (since you seem to have used up 4 of your 5).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Garbage in, garbage out

Yestuhday I challenged Martin at the Atheist Experience to substantiate his throwaway claim that the Bible contains contradictions.
I asked him to provide his 5 best "contradictions" and take into account the rules I laid down in a previous post on the topic. The conversation with Martin has recently degenerated due to his emotional outbursts and difficulty in keeping track of his own arguments, his own worldview and its implications, his own previous statements, and my own worldview. But let's see how he did on this count.
Okay, that's one down. Jeez, Judaism isn't even in the top five!
I'm not sure what he means here. I listed 3 theistic religions, and Judaism is certainly in there.

So the Bible is infallible because God wrote it and God is infallible because the Bible says so.
Strawman (he's fond of these).
And it's not surprising, really. I took a listen to one of the Atheist Experience radio shows yestuhday (the show of which Martin was previously a host) and found it a morass of poor arguments, question-begging assertions and just all-around ugliness. So he's apparently not been exposed to the better side of Christian apologetics. That's OK; I'm here to serve!
Notice, however, that he's already broken one of the rules. We must assume theism, and he's not doing so.
I'll add to the already-stated reasons of why we must assume theism, why we must perform an internal critique: Nobody would accept if I said "Deuteronomy 6 says there is a God! Atheism is wrong!!!!" as an argument. That would be ASSUMING theism and critiquing atheism based on its presuppositions.
So, the Bible is infallible b/c God wrote it, yes. God is infallible b/c He is the fount of logic, reason, intelligibility, etc.
Now, we KNOW He is infallible partly b/c of the Bible, yes, but that's a separate question altogether.
Didn't you tell us before you weren't a presuppositionalist?
That's rich. You, dear reader, do click on that link and see what I said. Martin, in his haste to try to make me look foolish, has completely misunderstood what I said and then proceeded to dance a victory jig. Premature celebrations usually make one look silly.

Onward through the usual claims about prophecies and stuff
Which he doesn't even try to deal with. And the link is even dead. Hopefully he'll try again.

the two creation stories and the four conflicting accounts of the resurrection put that one to bed
The 2nd creation story is a magnification of the 1st. The only possible contradiction I see is that Gen 2:5 says "and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth" though the plants had already been created. However, the "of the field" provides the key. Martin is giving this the 5th-grade book report treatment, which does little for the credibility of his claim.

As for the "discrepancies" between the 4 resurrection accounts, see here (pdf alert), or better yet, here and here. Remember that a contradiction is when 2 conflicting accounts exist and NO POSSIBILITY for harmonisation exists.
As one writer, Steve Hays, puts it:
The problem with trying to harmonize the Easter accounts is not that we have no way of sequencing the materials, but too many ways of sequencing the materials.
Combining the four accounts, we have the following people at the tomb and elsewhere at one time or another:
2 angels
The Magdalene
Mary (mother of James & Joses)
“Other women” (from Galilee)
That, right there, gives you ten independent variables (not counting the guards), which can be combined and recombined in literally a hundred different ways. There are, moreover, several different trips to the tomb—probably with some folks meeting each other coming and going. That adds a number of temporal variables to the mix.
Furthermore, you have appearances at three difference locations—Jerusalem, Emmaus, Galilee. That adds a number of spatial variables to the mix. So there are dozens of possible harmonizations. (p. 346)

Those seem to be 2 of Martin's 5 "best". Not a good showing so far.
Next Martin wonders aloud:
If we as humans are fallible, then how can we claim to know that anything is infallible?
Which I answered already, and amazingly he even cited it without dealing with the distinction I made between knowing something infallibly and knowing it sufficiently.

You would argue, circularly, that we know the Bible is infallible because God says so and the Bible's all about God so they both must be right.
Here he repeats his strawman.

I do like the way the Gospels, presumably written by "men in a position to know with certainty," make a real pig's ear out of the resurrection accounts.
No argument is given, leaving us with a bare assertion.

does that mean that you really believe that Jonah lived in the belly of a whale

that the resurrection of Jesus prompted a zombie invasion of Jerusalem?
Not a zombie invasion. These people were brought back to life; where does the text say they were undead or zombies? Martin is just making things up now.

I don't have time to do my top 5 contradictions.
But he somehow had time to type all this out. Very well, I guess we'll all have to be patient.