Paul, your double post is b/c the spam filter ate your 1st one, but in the interest of full disclosure i went ahead and made it post it anyway. No problem. It's a bit of a headache for everyone. :-)
And thanks for your thoughts and continued interaction.
Finally, thanks for letting me know you're a naturalist. It might be relevant later on.
2) Re: mutilation - when I said "specious", I meant that it's loaded with pejorative baggage. "Circumcision", being more precise both contextually and theologically as well as lacking said pejorative baggage, is to be preferred. Would not a refusal to modify your vocabulary accordingly demonstrate bias on your part?
3) Hebrews and probability analysis.
I would be quite a task to do a true Bayesian probability analysis
Then may I ask why you made the claim? Did you have any reason, any justification for it, or think you did when you wrote it?
It is somewhat unclear who the original author of the letter to the Hebrews was
True, it's unclear who the HUMAN author was. Christians also accept that God is the fundamental (aka "other") author, though.
The belief in resurrection is a core element to developing Christian theology at this point, and it shows throughout the letters in the New Testament.
So why then would we assume such passages as Hebrews 11 are an accurate account of history?
I'd say it's b/c God wrote it, and b/c it actually discusses historical people, in the past tense.
Especially when it the majority of the book is based around themes of faith and resurrection.
Certainly it does. I'd contend that it brings up the ppl it brings up precisely b/c an important part of their lives and careers was relevant to the discussion. It's significant to talk about them b/c faith and resurrection were active in their lives, as opposed to bringing up some guy named Joe who didn't have faith and who died after an unremarkable 40-year life.
It is also a stretch to assert the author of Hebrews had a better chance of correctly deriving Abraham's motives from the text than we do.
What if God were writing it and knew Abraham's heart better than even Ab did, and chose to reveal it more fully in Hebrews?
4) So I understand that you don't have knowledge of a textual variant, and know of no translational problem. OK, cool.
Also, "multiple sources" =/= textual variant.
However, not something I find particularly compelling.
I'd ask you at this point: given naturalism, why would you believe that ANYthing is compelling, given that you're merely matter in motion, receiving and reacting on neural impulses over which you (since "you" don't exist; matter exists and you're a material machine) have no external control?
a. Yes, He knows the outcome of the tests.
b. Yes, those things required a lot of faith. One thing to clip your nails, quite another to circumcise yourself. Yeesh.
c. 2 things. They had their origin in God, not in man. And on a human level, what reason do you think the apostles might have had to throw away all their religious acceptance and such for the sake of a guy who they knew wasn't God (if indeed they knew for sure that they'd hidden the body and that Jesus didn't really rise from the dead)? It's not comparable to jihadists blowing themselves up - they don't KNOW that Allah is a false deity. The disciples would've KNOWN FOR SURE that Jesus didn't rise, if He didn't rise.
6) I wouldn't say that asking for "evidence of God's character" is the right way to go about it. Rather, we either accept that claim at face value or we accept another. Accepting any other leads to absurdity (and when I say "absurdity", I mean it as a serious charge, haha); thus by process of elimination I don't see a good reason to say that God's character is not in fact absolute and unchanging. Especially b/c He said it is.
It would seem God changes very much from the OT to the NT.
I would suggest that you're not reading them correctly.
For one thing, did you know that the NT discusses eternal torment in Hell MUCH more frequently than does the OT?
Have you ever looked at OT/NT with a view to the different situations in which the people of God (rather than God Himself) lived?
In the OT He is concerned only with his preferred family, while in the NT he is much more interested in everyone
Actually, He's very interested in redeeming a particular people in both, and reaches out to the outside world in the OT quite a lot. Let me commend this article to you.
stops walking and wrestling with people
Far from it! Jesus is very God incarnate, and He's in the NT!
The book of Joshua is filled with the genocidal slaughter of the Canaanites. God commands the killing of even the elderly and unborn children. Yet in the New Testament we are told of a God who loves the world. Then on to the present, and genocide is seen as barbaric.
This is shifting morality? God condemns Ananias and Sapphira to death in Acts 5, and Jesus says in Luke about some ppl who died when a tower fell on them: "I say to you that you too must repent or you will likewise perish". Jesus predicted the razing of Jerusalem in AD 70 and warned the unrepentant Jews that this judgment would fall on them. Etc.
God has the right to put anyone to death anytime, remember? And every day, 1000s of ppl die.
What of all of the laws in the OT?
Here, take a look at this and it will hopefully help you out on this question.
Yet it is commanded, then Jesus tells us later only the blameless can cast stones.
Are you familiar with the actual Mosaic law regarding how adulterers were to be punished? Namely, that BOTH parties should be present? That the whole reason they brought the woman to Him like that was to hypocritically test Him?
And thanks for the link to commonsenseatheism. I'm afraid that I can't take Luke too seriously, given his propensity to delete my comments, which I assure you contained no unseemly content or profanity.
But as for Fyfe, I'm still waiting for him to let us all know how we can know which desires are moral to have and act upon.
What is interesting is quite a few religious philosophers have been doing ethics without grounding moral truths in God for quite a while.
Well, sure, but the question is not whether people can "do ethics", but how they justify those ethics.