Summary of the Argument Between Secular and Faith Scholars.

In debates about what the Bible says or means, there is always an elephant in the room.  The elephant is whether the person making judgments believes there is a god, whether or not the Bible is the word of the god and whether sources outside of the Bible may be more reliable.

It is possible for one to believe there was a Jesus and that the human Jesus taught valuable lessons but still not believe the tenets of sin, the cross and all the rest.  But, it is not common to think in that way.

My friend, Howard Bess, a Baptist minister and believer, does an excellent job of explaining the different approaches. As he explains, critics make the assumption scholar Bart Ehrman rejects all the Bible when he treats it miracles as religious ideas instead of facts.  Ehrman says the miracles do not meet the standard for historical events.

Bess says about Ehrman and his critics it all reminds him of the Scopes trial which was about teaching evolution in schools.  The trail ended with the anti evolution side losing in court.  But, the power of the case for teaching it was so great it is taught everywhere today.

Ehrman argues that Jesus became a god when people began to believe he came back from the dead.  That his body was removed from a cross and moved to a tomb is contrary to the known historical practices.  That he was seen alive is a religious concept.

It is not possible to have a debate between these two kinds of scholars when they are not talking about the same thing.

 

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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74 Responses to Summary of the Argument Between Secular and Faith Scholars.

  1. entech says:

    Yeshua the human preacher may have taught many valuable lessons and paradigms for a good life. However, the idea that the kingdom of god was at hand, giving us ignore your family and follow me, don’t think about tomorrow, give everything away and other such things only made sense if the world was actually about to change, 2000 years and waiting.

  2. Michael Ross says:

    “Bess says about Ehrman and his critics it all reminds him of the Scopes trial which was about teaching evolution in schools. The trail ended with the anti evolution side losing in court. But, the power of the case for teaching it was so great it is taught everywhere today.”

    I believe the creationist side won the legal victory but evolution won the moral victory. In others word creation won the battle but lost the war.

    William Jennings Bryant, former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, was a great orator and attorney for the creationist but was out done the brilliant intellectual Clarence Darrow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiW0GOOyvro

    Bryant died 5 days after the trial.

    • entech says:

      You would think that the creationists would win all the wars and battles, assuming, of course, that there is a creator and he is their creator and on their side.
      Quote me Joshua :)

      • Michael Ross says:

        Bryant didn’t get the chance to give his closing arguments on the scientific basis for creation. The pattern was set and has held. Creationist are seldom heard in public. When they are they win the debates:

        http://www.conservapedia.com/Creation_scientists_tend_to_win_debates_with_evolutionists

        The law in Tn in 1925 was evolution could not be taught in public schools. I disagree with that law. Parents, teachers, administrators, and the local school board should determine the curriculum of each individual school , not politicians.

  3. Adam Heckathorn says:

    I don’t know how One can have faith in the Bible and faith that evolution is true with out the ability to believe two things that are mutually exclusive. An ability that is surprisingly common. Education makes it harder to keep all those balls in the air mentally. Education teaches Us not to make assumptions but to think critically. Does anyone really believe fact based, education enhanced reasoning should be rejected in favor of blind faith in miracles?

    • Avatar of realist realist says:

      Oh, yes. Many fall into this “blind faith” category. Interestingly, miracles are always defined as positive. Nobody recognizes that when, let’s say, a person is T-boned at an intersection, the split-second timing of the accident should be classified as an “act of god”. If a person avoids such a collision, it is surely called a miracle. The word “miracle” defined is simply “divine intervention”–it doesn’t need to be good thing. When people say they believe in miracles, they mean they only believe in the good ones.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Realist I appreciate this comment as it demonstrates the Human tendency to choose to believe, often the Implausible rather than to reason on what is true.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        I like this analogy. Recently I saw a post on facebook from a religious woman I know she posted it’s a miracle because her son who might have been diagnosed with cancer was diagnosed with a clean bill of health. She was praising God on facebook for the miracle.

        When I saw that, I whispered a small prayer to all the children in this world whom are laying debilitated in hospitals waiting to die of liekemia and cancer who have not received their miracles as of yet.

        It’s one thing to be thankful that one has helathy children. It’s another to be so self centered to think that God spared your child. So, God doesn’t care about any of the other children whom didn’t get miracles and don’t get them everyday?

        Kinda curious how from an ethical / religious stand point, christians can celebrate the miracles that happen to them, while some in their very own congregation may be suffering from not receiving the miracles they need. All the while being judged for either not having enough faith, or not believing enough or not having enough prayer, or not going to the alter enough. Etc.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        realist 12:46 they mean only believe only in the good ones.

        Great comment. We need to remember this every time someone says, “God saved my life (or someone else’s)”. If there is a god, it certainly does a lot of evil and cruel things.

  4. Lou says:

    try a spiritual bath jon,what could it hurt.i switched providers jon so me not being a very good techy.still getting the bugs out.

  5. Wolfy32 says:

    Interesting information Jon. I had found some information on scientific based theories that are nearly, if not impossible, to humanly prove (at least at this point in time) on the concept of our Reality. There are some quantum theories out there propose that, if the universe is eternal, that the nature of the universe runs on probability and over time, there are particles that cause random things to come into existence. This form of “creationism” is not a thought or God driven event, it is a natural phenomina based on how particles in the universe work. One theory indicated that if the universe is eternal, random versions of ourselves would pop into existence thinking it is the only one of us with all of the memories and information we currently have. In theory, and over “time” these random occurances of things fading into and out of existence would happen at a cosmic scale if time were eternal.

    Scientists use this model to support the theory that our universe must be finite for the simple reason that Chaos in nature would rule if it were left unchecked forever.

    This gives support to creationist christian theories that the earth could be only 6,000 years old or whatever they think it is. Scientifically it’s possible the universe burped up a planet full of established history and life 6,000 years ago, and as quickly as it came, could simply phase it out into nothing as soon as it came to be.

    As much as I hate to admit it early Christians may have been onto an early scientific theory. The only difference between now and then is that they believed a mastermind of some type was behind it all, and some scientists see no intelligence behind what’s happening in the universe.

    Other than that minor issue, scientific theories on space and time mecanics are really hard to pin down, and yet, it’s something by which we have to live by because our existence depends on space and time continuing to function the way we understand it.

    • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

      Our existence is not dependent on our understanding of space-time being correct. We’ve existed just fine with incorrect and incomplete understanding of space-time and we probably will continue to do so for quite some time to come.

  6. Adam Heckathorn says:

    Recently Henry indicated He would like to visit why I have come to the conclusions I have (Atheism). In His post He sighted a post of mine http://redriverfreethinkers.areavoices.com/2014/06/24/there-is-less-sin-today/#comment-363260 There were two kind responses to this post but no real dispute of My conclusions. I talked of two facets of My conclusions 1. Behavior We would expect if Human beings were created and behavior We see that fits the hypotheses that We evolved. I’m talking about the behavior of believers. 2. The theory of Evolution. There is nothing benevolent nor vindictive about evolution to the evolutionary losers. The vast majority of genetic mutations are harmful but occasionally one is beneficial. This speaks to random chance not a beneficent God. My Wife suffered a heart attack which lead to severe brain injury all caused by a genetic defect. Many among My Wife’s family believe I caused Her heart attack although exactly how I managed this They haven’t explained, They are all JW’s. I have a step grandson Who has a rare always terminal genetic disorder called Niemann–Pick disease http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_genetic_disorders To revisit The behavior of the religious, in a recent example of believing what I’d like to be true rather than what simple logic demonstrates to be true I had an Elder want to arrange a visit with Me in which He hoped to convince Me to return to a belief in God. I have been willing to discuss almost anything with anybody but in this case I decided not to and I’ll tell You why. The individual and another Elder had recently visited and the conversation though polite had gone nowhere. They believe what They believe not because it’s reasonable but because They choose to believe it. I can demonstrate This with an example. A few years ago I did some extensive repair work on Our local Kingdom Hall. The Brother in charge of maintenance and I walked through The entire Hall and I explained what I was going to do (repair drywall). The brother with responsibility of over site of the congregation was spending the winter in Texas. I got the go ahead and preceded with the work all volunteer mind You. After I got started This same Brother approached Me and said I was presumptuous and This was not what He expected that it was more extensive than We had agreed. I’ve some thirty years experience in paint and drywall and I have learned the value of clear communication and had never run into anything like this. when I couldn’t resolve this I spoke with The Elder Who now wants to meet with Me to reason on why I should believe and He took The maintenance Brothers side. My argument was “what crack did You not want Me to repair?” Soon after The Older Brother with oversight of The entire Congregation returned from Texas and was tickled pink to have the work done and the whole petty, ridiculous affair was put behind Us. Since then The Brother that now would like to meet with Me to convince Me to resume believing has come to believe that He didn’t throw Me under the Bus but had agreed with Me the whole time. If He can rewrite events in His Mind that actually happened recently so as to believe something more flattering for Him personally than what actually transpired is He not demonstrating His gift for believing not what He can reason on and find to be true but on His ability to believe what He wishes to be true? What is the point of having a discussion with such an individual on ultimate truths? He’s already demonstrated He will believe what He wants regardless of evidence, reason, or anything else. I might as well start trying to teach My Cat to speak English as to try to reason with the unreasonable. I have an astounding number of examples such as this that demonstrate why the blind faith of others is reason for disbelief. This picture is better explained by evolution than creation. So to recap two reasons for disbelief 1. The behavior of believers, the lack of thought, reason in deciding what’s true or false. 2. This behavior is better explained by evolution than creation. Evolution does not care if what You believe is true just that You keep having Babies and They survive to have Babies Themselves. If God created Us shouldn’t there be some mechanism in place to prove what’s true not true besides blind faith? The Aztecs had blind faith in the value of Human sacrifice how is their blind faith any less valid than anyone else’s? I would love to read how My observations are wrong. Last time I talked about these two points in the post cited by You Henry I received no real response that questioned My observations. I would enjoy moving on to other reasons for disbelief also.

    • Tyndale says:

      ” So to recap two reasons for disbelief
      1. The behavior of believers, the lack of thought, reason in deciding what’s true or false.
      2. This behavior is better explained by evolution than creation. Evolution does not care if what You believe is true just that You keep having Babies and They survive to have Babies Themselves.”

      #1 negates #2 which negates #1. Evolution does not even care whether anyone has babies or not. Evolution does not care about good or evil, truth or lie.

      “If God created Us shouldn’t there be some mechanism in place to prove what’s true not true besides blind faith?”

      Actually, yes. The following ethical dilemma illustrates:

      “The Aztecs had blind faith in the value of Human sacrifice how is their blind faith any less valid than anyone else’s? I would love to read how My observations are wrong. ”

      If you are a product of evolution and chance, which neither cares nor knows good or evil, then you can only conclude that human sacrifice is just a thinning of the herd and falls within the guiding principle of evolution, namely, survival.

      Yet, I assume you feel human sacrifice is wrong, or, at the very least, if you were the sacrifice. Only a personal Creator who Himself knows good and evil would be able to impart a conscience to His creation. An impersonal force like evolution or a chaotic mess like chance cannot do this.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        “Only a personal Creator who Himself knows good and evil would be able to impart a conscience to His creation. An impersonal force like evolution or a chaotic mess like chance cannot do this.” Why not? If there is an advantage to ethical behavior and I certainly believe there is then We should expect ethical behavior among evolved People. We see altruism among insects is it so surprising to see decent behavior among People? flawed yes but If People were created wouldn’t it be unjust to have a standard set by God and then have that God not give His creation the capacity to judge right from wrong. I think most of Us struggle to see what is truly ethical That would not make sense if We were created by a being who is the definition of ethics. If we’re created ethics should be imprinted on Us so there would be no doubt.

        • Tyndale says:

          Why not? If there is an advantage to ethical behavior and I certainly believe there is then We should expect ethical behavior among evolved People.

          How so? How does evolution and chance cause us to expect ethical behavior? Even Dawkins won’t grant you that, saying that, “In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good.”

          “We see altruism among insects is it so surprising to see decent behavior among People?”

          There is a significant difference in altruism in an insect as opposed to a human: intent. If we are to take your view, then it would mean that insects are also capable of narcissism or megalomania.

          “flawed yes but If People were created wouldn’t it be unjust to have a standard set by God and then have that God not give His creation the capacity to judge right from wrong.”

          This is precisely what I am arguing, that God HAS given us that capacity because He is just. What you have yet to demonstrate is how man is able to judge right and wrong from evolution and chance.

          “I think most of Us struggle to see what is truly ethical That would not make sense if We were created by a being who is the definition of ethics. If we’re created ethics should be imprinted on Us so there would be no doubt.”

          Are you saying that because there are conflicting ethics among men that must indicate there really is no one and true ethic?

      • entech says:

        11:44
        1. At the end of all discussions believers are reduced to a declaration of faith. It is true because I believe it.
        2. Natural selection ensures that the best traits survive; the only important thing is that the organism reproduces.
        In a tribal situation the groups that cooperate and look after each other in an ethical way are more able to survive than a group with personal power and selfish motives.

        How does one negate the other? There are many religious professionals (Fr. George Coyne, for example) who find no conflict in religious faith and evolution. The only reason I can see to be so vehemently opposed to evolution is the blind faith that they are the special creation of a special creation (that is, the whole thing was created with them in mind by a creator god that cares for each one personally and individually, a love and care that MUST be reciprocated on pain of eternal punishment).
        There is no negation. If a decent civilisation persists because its members do the right thing because of faith or because it is a survival mechanism is there any real difference? As many bad things are done for religious reason as are done for other reasons. The frequently suggested idea that there can be no morals without a moral law giver is patent nonsense if you take the God of the Bible as that lawgiver – just consider all the first born in Egypt, slaughtered because the moral lawgiver hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to demonstrate his power. (If the angel of death could tell the difference between first born sons and others why did he need a blood mark to tell the difference between Hebrews and Egyptians?

        Human sacrifice is an interesting example. Do you suggest that the ancient Hebrews did not have human sacrifice? There is one case, written up in the Bible, where a man was prepared to sacrifice his much loved son. That this was prevented is, to me, an indication that the leaders and scribes were trying to start new thought patterns in their followers, the thought that their God did not require human sacrifice (animal sacrifice in the prescribed manner was different, after all the scribes and leaders were too busy being important to actually work for their own food).
        True a real moral lesson came this, human sacrifice is wrong. It is wrong because God says it is wrong or because it leads to destruction of the gene pool and a society that fails as did the Aztecs. I think your being disingenuous in your “blind faith” sentence; it was not so much blind faith in the value of the sacrifice as the blind faith that their god(s) required it. Is it your blind faith in your God and his requirements and threat of punishment the only thing that keeps you from behaving badly? If not then good behaviour does not rely entirely on God and can exist with or without him.
        Begging the question with”a chaotic mess like chance”, read George on Coyne (or watch on YouTube) for a scientific explanation of the relationship between chance and necessity.

        3:29
        I think you are being a bit selective in quoting Dawkins; he puts forward many arguments in favour of ethical behaviour having an evolutionary advantage.
        Not a good example to suggest that sacrifice for the common good can be equated with narcissism and megalomania, the direct antithesis I would think. If you want to continue with Dawkins you would have to agree that is the imperative to advance the gene pool that leads to such hive behaviour. Better is the observation that even among mammals the mother will go to extreme lengths to protect her offspring, propagation of the species perhaps, protecting the gene pool maybe. If the cow just wandered off and left her calves to eaten by lions there would not be much reproduction going on and extinction a possibility – interesting change of position is when a new male takes over a pride on of the first things it does is to try and destroy offspring of his predecessor, only his genes are to go forward.

        Right from the start according to your story the God given capacity to know right from wrong fails. It was not until they were led astray did Adam and Eve learn right from wrong, the consumption of forbidden fruit gave them the God like knowledge of good and evil, all they knew was what they were told with no basis for it. Perhaps if that had faith they would have obedient. No point saying they were told that they would die, death did not come into the world until after the “fall” so they could not know what they were being told – because He is just ???
        Ethics – is it ethical because God says it is or does God say it is ethical because it is. If the first it gives license for all kinds of horrors based on example: if the second, well the ethics are self evident and merely corroborated. But who have seen many variations and expansions on this theme, the final defense always comes down to “you don’t understand the nature of God”, or similar.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Great post entech. I have a tough time reconciling a just God with the warcrimes committed in the biblical stories.

          Now if we’re speaking of a malevolent God, whom is neither good nor evil and is therefore ambivalent about the fate of humanity. And as a creature outside of space time, winks realities into and out of existence on a whim, sees what can come to be then winks them out and winks new ones into existence… Without truly realizing what it’s doing or capable of. Well, I could see that being reflective of the chaos we see both in our own reality on this planet in terms of how the laws of nature work for our planet, as well as the chaotic nature of how the universe works.

          If that “God being” is the intelligence behind our reality, being in existence, then it would be safe to say that our own constructs of morals, ethics, and community living is completely constructs we created for the betterment of our races, communities, and society.

          The God in this case wouldn’t care at all whehter anything serves/ worships it or care about what humanity does. The only reason I would find this being anymore believable than the Muslim, Hindu, or Christian God, is quite simply because it would more accurately reflect the reality in which we live.

          Our experience is that the created begets that which is has some semblance of itself. Many human scientist’s ambition is to create artificial intelligence that mimics the thinking patterns of a human. NOt of a gerbal or mouse, but of a human. So, if a chaotic being creates a reality that reality could most likely be said to reflect it’s own thought patterns of chaos.

          Who knows, the being may not even be sentient it may have a natural ability to create universes and space time, that it just feeds on or simply does as a hobby.

          Whether there’s an intelligence behind the universe remains to be seen / experienced. I hope there’s something looking out for us for our own sake. To say that God is the end all for creating our moral and ethical behavior though, makes that God responsible for our morals and ethics.

          The fall of mankind as Entech pointed out has some major flaws.. How the hell would mankind know what death was without knowing it? You tell a kid if you do something you’re in timeout. Well, how do they know what a timeout is until they experience one? Or a spanking, or etc.

          The punishment is moot if the awareness of the experience of the punishment is unknown.

        • Adam Heckathorn says:

          These discussions are enjoyable to Me because I like to think but I am suddenly realizing to seriously consider and answer other viewpoints especially if they’re more than just some silly personal attack takes work and time. let Me thank You Tyndale for Your thoughts and continuing to take the time and effort to express them even if I don’t agree with all of Them and let Me thank You Entech for doing the actual work of answering so many of these points . In a way I wish I could find some difference of opinion with Entech but I and I suspect many reasoning People are going to continue to come to the same conclusions. Tyndale in the quotation by Dawkins I agree with what He say’s about no justice in fact Solomon said similar things in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12) 11?I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all. 12?For man also does not know his time. Just like fishes that are being taken in an evil net, and like birds that are being taken in a trap, so the sons of men themselves are being ensnared at a calamitous time, when it falls upon them suddenly.
          It’s all about the odds. By Our decisions We widen the angle to the goal or We decrease it increasing or decreasing Our chances of success or even survival. Let’s take planning for retirement as an example. I can have as My retirement plan to Buy one lottery ticket and hope for the best or I could get an education pick employment based on benefits. The Guy Who does all the right things may still get hit by a drunk driver and never benefit from His retirement and I just heard about a friend of an acquaintance Who won millions in a lottery who may very well be broke again before He reaches retirement age. reasonable People only throw hail mary’s or pull the goalie when there is no time left on the clock. The truth is You can’t guarantee anything but You can increase Your odds by certain behaviors. People pray for others when ill and research shows no benefit but placebos statistically work because Your attitude matters. The point of this is God seems to be irrelevant and even non existent the facts on the ground do not demonstrate a logical reason to believe. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons to believe just not good ones.

        • Adam Heckathorn says:

          Let Me just say it would be nice if there was a benevolent God because I really enjoy being alive! If wishes were fishes We’d all have a fry! If cow pies were apples. . . There is probably a benefit to having faith My only problem with the faith of some is it sometimes enables Them to trample on the rights of others.

        • Tyndale says:

          Thanks for the reply Entech,

          “1. At the end of all discussions believers are reduced to a declaration of faith. It is true because I believe it.
          2. Natural selection ensures that the best traits survive; the only important thing is that the organism reproduces.
          In a tribal situation the groups that cooperate and look after each other in an ethical way are more able to survive than a group with personal power and selfish motives.
          How does one negate the other? There are many religious professionals (Fr. George Coyne, for example) who find no conflict in religious faith and evolution. The only reason I can see to be so vehemently opposed to evolution is the blind faith that they are the special creation of a special creation (that is, the whole thing was created with them in mind by a creator god that cares for each one personally and individually, a love and care that MUST be reciprocated on pain of eternal punishment).
          There is no negation. If a decent civilisation persists because its members do the right thing because of faith or because it is a survival mechanism is there any real difference? As many bad things are done for religious reason as are done for other reasons. The frequently suggested idea that there can be no morals without a moral law giver is patent nonsense if you take the God of the Bible as that lawgiver – just consider all the first born in Egypt, slaughtered because the moral lawgiver hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to demonstrate his power. (If the angel of death could tell the difference between first born sons and others why did he need a blood mark to tell the difference between Hebrews and Egyptians?”

          This is not about whether there is such a thing as evolution, rather, it is about whether evolution has in itself an ethic and explains ethics.

          “Human sacrifice is an interesting example. Do you suggest that the ancient Hebrews did not have human sacrifice?”

          Were they obeying God or sinning against God when they offered human sacrifice? God warned and later punished them for doing it.

          “There is one case, written up in the Bible, where a man was prepared to sacrifice his much loved son. That this was prevented is, to me, an indication that the leaders and scribes were trying to start new thought patterns in their followers, the thought that their God did not require human sacrifice (animal sacrifice in the prescribed manner was different, after all the scribes and leaders were too busy being important to actually work for their own food).”

          There is only one time, one place and one human sacrifice that is pleasing to God: the offering of His Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who willingly laid down His life that He might take it again and save people from their sins against God. The hand of Abraham was stayed for this reason. He believed in the provision that God would provide in a future time and it was counted to him for righteousness.

          “True a real moral lesson came this, human sacrifice is wrong. It is wrong because God says it is wrong or because it leads to destruction of the gene pool and a society that fails as did the Aztecs. I think your being disingenuous in your “blind faith” sentence; it was not so much blind faith in the value of the sacrifice as the blind faith that their god(s) required it. Is it your blind faith in your God and his requirements and threat of punishment the only thing that keeps you from behaving badly? If not then good behaviour does not rely entirely on God and can exist with or without him.”

          I don’t recall saying “blind faith,” but anyway, my point was that, from an evolutionary point of view, one cannot conclude that human sacrifice is wrong, which you have yet to demonstrate. It is not my blind faith nor the fear of punishment from God that makes me do anything, rather, it is the love of God. He loved me long before I loved Him, and I rejoice in Him. This love extends to others who are made in His image, if I should sin against them (no matter how “justified”) I am really sinning against their Creator and my Father, it is for this reason that Paul reminds us not to avenge, since only God knows the truth of the matter and executes perfectly.

          “Begging the question with”a chaotic mess like chance”, read George on Coyne (or watch on YouTube) for a scientific explanation of the relationship between chance and necessity.”

          Again, this has nothing to do with how chance and necessity leads to ethics. A better understanding comes from Jacques Monod, who said, “man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he emerged by chance. Neither his destiny, nor his duty have been written down. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.” In other words, the only ethic is whatever one wants to have or to impose on others. Anything goes here.

          “I think you are being a bit selective in quoting Dawkins; he puts forward many arguments in favour of ethical behaviour having an evolutionary advantage.”

          As I have been saying, ethical behavior and evolutionary advantage are NOT the same thing. Life just dances to DNA.

          “Not a good example to suggest that sacrifice for the common good can be equated with narcissism and megalomania, the direct antithesis I would think.”

          That is the very reason I said it; to question Adam’s equivocation.

          “If you want to continue with Dawkins you would have to agree that is the imperative to advance the gene pool that leads to such hive behaviour. Better is the observation that even among mammals the mother will go to extreme lengths to protect her offspring, propagation of the species perhaps, protecting the gene pool maybe. If the cow just wandered off and left her calves to eaten by lions there would not be much reproduction going on and extinction a possibility – interesting change of position is when a new male takes over a pride on of the first things it does is to try and destroy offspring of his predecessor, only his genes are to go forward.”
          Again, evolution doesn’t care whether a species lives or dies; ie. it does not take the side of the calves and say the lions are “bad” for eating the calves or whether the cow is “bad” for leaving them, since the lions’ survival is prolonged by eating them!
          “Right from the start according to your story the God given capacity to know right from wrong fails. It was not until they were led astray did Adam and Eve learn right from wrong, the consumption of forbidden fruit gave them the God like knowledge of good and evil, all they knew was what they were told with no basis for it. Perhaps if that had faith they would have obedient. No point saying they were told that they would die, death did not come into the world until after the “fall” so they could not know what they were being told – because He is just ???”

          You can’t be serious.

          “Ethics – is it ethical because God says it is or does God say it is ethical because it is. If the first it gives license for all kinds of horrors based on example: if the second, well the ethics are self evident and merely corroborated. But who have seen many variations and expansions on this theme, the final defense always comes down to “you don’t understand the nature of God”, or similar.”

          If God the Creator, Who for His pleasure, made creation and gave the benediction “it is good,” how can the goodness be inherent in creation itself, and thus independent of God the Creator?

        • entech says:

          First of all I must apologise for overextending your use of the phrase “blind faith”; on rereading I see that the expression was specific to the Aztecs, although you did question why their blind faith should be considered less valid than any other.
          You then postulated that Only a personal Creator who Himself knows good and evil would be able to impart a conscience to His creation.. You then continue with An impersonal force like evolution or a chaotic mess like chance cannot do this.. There are two things here that I referred to as question begging – presupposition that there is a personal creator and the chaotic mess statement.
          All this related to whether or not human sacrifice is wrong, you compound this with making it a personal. I contend that an evolved being, most of humanity in general, is capable of making an ethical decision that sacrificing fellow human beings is wrong, as is eating them, extreme abuse of the young and many similar things. This does not require the existence of a supreme law giver, whose laws have been given by people claiming to his agents on earth, those people who claim to speak directly to God, to know his requirements and demand they obey on pain of death, which is in itself a form of sacrifice to God. I must say this is extremely rare in a highly evolved religious belief system such as modern Christianity.
          Just as Christianity has developed into relatively benign system from some horrendous actions early on the human race has developed an idea of an ethical morality. Even in ancient Greece where so much philosophy and ethics was discussed and developed it was common practice for sickly babies to be left out in the forests, Aristotle and others never raised this as an ethical anomaly, yet today it would be almost universally condemned. Social mores have evolved and I contend that the human race has also evolved.

          From the time early hominids developed a sense of self awareness leading to an awareness of others and the sense of empathy there was growing together as tribes and eventually civilisations.
          Even in tribes of apes which do not have any real empathy (except perhaps mother and child) some elementary ethics evolved from necessity, in one tribe of monkeys that were basically vegetarian they occasionally hunted other animals and ate meat, they hunted as group and shared the catch, in one documentary they showed how one went a bit rogue and ate a chance solo catch by itself attempting to hide it from the others – it was excluded from group catches and virtually from the rest of the tribe, to survive it had to make amends and learn to conform.

          One essential difference between an evolutionary viewpoint and a religious one is in the idea of direction and purpose, religions have the concept of a creator of everything and everything was created with an end in view an evolutionary view can only speculate on origins of the material world and how life came about. Life can be thought of as a chemical combination that can temporarily overcome the second law of thermodynamics, this is the ability to take energy from an external source, essentially the sun, and utilise that energy to stave of the descent into disorder, decay, death is the end of that ability and decay and putrefaction follows. Evolution requires that living organisms are able to reproduce, reproduction is never perfect and random variations occur, the element of chance comes into which variations or mutations are beneficial and which are not; the process of natural selection ensures that only the most suitable to the environment at the time survive and succeed in further reproduction. This can be applied to the way the life is lived, ethical and mutually beneficial behaviour leads better survival rates for groups which cooperate, the better ethical behaviour is passed to succeeding generations, a kind of natural selection for ethics.

          Whether ethics are evolved, handed down by over generations or handed down from above is the question. If from above we really need to demonstrate that there is indeed a creator with a plan in mind and required behaviour. For many of the reasons explained by Adam I have strong reservations about the existence of a personal God, I accept as possible a “prime mover” in the Aristotolean sense but do not find it necessary.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 3:17 One essential difference between an evolutionary viewpoint and a religious one is the idea of direction and purpose, religion jhave the concept of a creator of everything and everything was created with an end in view (while) an evolutionary view can only speculate on origins of the material world and how life came about.

            Wow. Excellent summary of the two–never seen it expressed so succinctly.

            Besides the monkey example, I thought of the movie and book, The Horse Whisperer. The master of this technique of training horses observed the way an alpha mare trains misbehaving colts. She pushes the colt away from the herd, then turns her back to it. When the colt feels unsecure being off by itself it tries to return. She chases it off again. Finally, when she senses the colt gets the point, she allows it back into the herd.

            In publically passed laws and public debate we still are at work trying to balance healthy self interest with healthy group or common interest. This surely was a work thousands of years before Christianity. The rules of Christianity, and of Judaism, came from those thousands of years of experience.

            The problem with Christianity, and Islam, etc., is that some branches do not understand the limits of self interest on the common interest. They think they are one and the same, i.e., “The more the general public conforms to the rules that benefit me, the better off they will be.”

          • Henry says:

            Jon:“Wow. Excellent summary of the two–never seen it expressed so succinctly.”

            Yes, I would have to agree that atheists/evolutionists are backwards thinking, and Christians are forward thinking. This confirms. Thank you gentlemen.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 1:27 …Christians are forward thinking.

            I think you should be a comedy writer for one of the late night liberal TV shows.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Jon 1:17 Only with kicking and screaming.Jon 1:12 I really appreciate this post these things have been mulling around in My Dyslexic Brain I feel something is starting to gel In My Perception : In publically passed laws and public debate we still are at work trying to balance healthy self interest with healthy group or common interest. This surely was a work thousands of years before Christianity. The rules of Christianity, and of Judaism, came from those thousands of years of experience.

            The problem with Christianity, and Islam, etc., is that some branches do not understand the limits of self interest on the common interest. They think they are one and the same, i.e., “The more the general public conforms to the rules that benefit me, the better off they will be.”
            This actually helps Me to make sense of Individuals and their political thought on many subjects. Ugh I gotta Go to work. I appreciate every ones thoughts especially those that disagree with Mine (Henry, Tyndale) I look forward to reading and pondering more later.

          • Tyndale says:

            Thank you for your further elaboration, Entech.

            “You then postulated that Only a personal Creator who Himself knows good and evil would be able to impart a conscience to His creation.. You then continue with An impersonal force like evolution or a chaotic mess like chance cannot do this.. There are two things here that I referred to as question begging – presupposition that there is a personal creator and the chaotic mess statement.”

            Recall Monod: chance in / chance out. When any and all may choose their own ethic, I call that chaos, or anarchy, if you prefer.

            “All this related to whether or not human sacrifice is wrong, you compound this with making it a personal.”

            Yes, I made it a personal.

            “I contend that an evolved being, most of humanity in general, is capable of making an ethical decision that sacrificing fellow human beings is wrong, as is eating them, extreme abuse of the young and many similar things.”

            Guess I am in good company, since an evolved being is also personal. But, here you begin and try to explain why human sacrifice is wrong following an evolutionary model… continuing on:

            “Social mores have evolved and I contend that the human race has also evolved.”
            “From the time early hominids developed a sense of self awareness leading to an awareness of others and the sense of empathy there was growing together as tribes and eventually civilisations.
            Even in tribes of apes which do not have any real empathy (except perhaps mother and child) some elementary ethics evolved from necessity,[...]”

            Note that three times the word ‘evolution’ was used along with ‘growing together’ to explain ethics, but this clearly explains no such thing. All that can be concluded from this is that from Evolution came Self-awareness, and from Self-awareness came Empathy. Just how those got there is not explained.

            “Life can be thought of as a chemical combination that can temporarily overcome the second law of thermodynamics, this is the ability to take energy from an external source, essentially the sun, and utilise that energy to stave of the descent into disorder, decay, death is the end of that ability and decay and putrefaction follows.”

            I find this statement to be very interesting! I am not a Scientist but I assume that by “overcome” you mean “violate” and I don’t know just how it is physically possible for evolution to violate the second law of thermodynamics. Do you have any other resources for this?

            “Evolution requires that living organisms are able to reproduce, reproduction is never perfect and random variations occur, the element of chance comes into which variations or mutations are beneficial and which are not; the process of natural selection ensures that only the most suitable to the environment at the time survive and succeed in further reproduction. This can be applied to the way the life is lived, ethical and mutually beneficial behaviour leads better survival rates for groups which cooperate, the better ethical behaviour is passed to succeeding generations, a kind of natural selection for ethics.”

            Just a recap, to make sure I follow:

            A. Evolution – Requires that living organisms have the ability to reproduce.
            ~ The imperfection of reproduction is due to random variations.
            B. Chance (as an element) – Orders mutations of reproduction into the beneficial or the detrimental.
            C. Natural Selection (as a process) – Ensures survival and reproduction of [mutations, organisms or both?]

            Now, if random variations are detrimental to reproduction, how can chance be the solution to removing random variations when it itself is a random variation? That is to say, how can probability be the solution to anomaly which is detrimental to ordered replication? Being+Probability+Anomaly=Reproduction of Being (replication from order to order)?

            That Natural Selection will take care of this problem in that it ensures that the ethical organism continues to survive, which is itself the agent for Natural Selection (being rooted in Evolution), seems to be untenable, since it would have some capacity to discriminate an ethical organism. For example, it would be like saying that Natural Selection (C) is ethic itself or, more specificaly, (A)(B) and (C) is ethic, yet in varying aspects.

            In this model, the species that does the most reproducing is the most ethical! Not only that, but this then must carry over into mankind: those who have the most children must be more ethical! I realize I may be dishonest in relabeling here, but I don’t know how else to understand, so, please correct me by explaining how evolution necessitates ethics, instead of saying that ethics necessitates evolution.

            I still have yet to see reason to believe that, from an evolutionary view, that human sacrifice is wrong. No, I think those like Dawkins and Monod recognize the futility and are being more consistent with what they believe, though I disagree with their worldview, naturally.

            “Whether ethics are evolved, handed down by over generations or handed down from above is the question. If from above we really need to demonstrate that there is indeed a creator with a plan in mind and required behaviour. For many of the reasons explained by Adam I have strong reservations about the existence of a personal God, I accept as possible a “prime mover” in the Aristotolean sense but do not find it necessary.”

            I agree, and if ethics are evolved, that must also be demonstrated. As for your reservations, I can understand them, since I was not always a believer. Thanks again.

          • Tyndale says:

            EDIT: “I still have to reason to believe that, from an evolutionary view, that human sacrifice is wrong. ”

            Should be read, “I still have yet to see a reason”. Sorry.

          • entech says:

            I am assuming here that you believe nothing happens by chance, that God oversees everything in detail. But it is largely a matter of the chance of your parents being who they are; you do not choose your parents yet your parents are a dominant influence on your religious thinking. It is only by chance that you were born in America (assumption) because if you were born in Saudi the chances are much greater that you would be Muslim. I mentioned Fr. Coyne on chance and necessity earlier he discusses hydrogen and oxygen and explains that if the two are put together in the right circumstances they become water, there is a lot of these elements around and only a part of them become water, chance plays a big part in whether they form water, whether the meet under the right conditions. A ‘chance’ meeting of two friends would not, could not, take place if they were not in the same location. So chance is not some totally abstract notion there must be some background for it to operate. A popular argument for the existence of a creator is that nothing can come from nothing, true, if a pre-existing creator can make a universe from nothing then a pre-existing energy source can change form to become a material universe (a bit simplistic but a full discussion would take a book or two).

            A personal, as an individual not as all people.

            Along with self awareness etc. Such things as the ability to think and remember developed. Learned behaviour becomes a part of a culture and better habits survive and are passed on, cultural evolution only peripherally related to biological evolution. Mainly in that a better behaved and coherent tribe that works together will survive better than a tribe that is forever fighting for individual advantage and there will be more reproducers with better cultural and ethical behaviours. We do seem to being going around in circles a bit, biological evolution alone does not create ethics but it is given a better “chance” of more ethical societies continuing and expanding while leading to decline and possible extinction of others. A purely biological aspect to this has been the discovery of “mirror neurons” (there is a lot of this on You tube from VS Ramachandron from San Diego University) it is this which makes people react to pain being inflicted on others surely a basis for empathy and a possible candidate for evolutionary empathy and ethics.

            Basic second law states that in a closed system disorder tends to increase, earth is not a closed system we have an external source of energy helping to maintain a higher entropy, it is the sun. A living organism is one that can utilise this energy to maintain its own order even though this is temporary and losing the capacity results in the inevitable long term descent into disorder, usually called death. Chance does play a part against this background – take the example of seed given the right conditions of moisture, nutrients and heat it will grow into a plant, it will absorb energy from the sun and grow and develop creating more seeds for the process to continue. In drought conditions the seeds die in the ground before having the chance to grow. Some trees live hundreds of years and many plants only one year. This is not violating the second law as they all eventually succumb to the inevitable long term tendency to become more disordered. I don’t recall reading any exposition of this idea, It was almost a throwaway line by the professor at a Cosmology course I have been doing.

            A_ Yes, reproduction is essential
            B_Mutations occur and it is a chance relationship to the entire conditions at the time which determines which mutations survive. Changed circumstances could make different mutations viable. It is a chance occurrence that determines which mutations survive, chance does not determine anything, it does not Orders mutations of reproduction into the beneficial or the detrimental.
            C_Not quite, natural selection ensures the survival beneficial mutations. Not quite sure what you are looking for with [mutations, organisms or both?] They are inseparable, it is the mutations that are happening in the organism – you seem to try and make it as though they were two independent things wandering around in some chaotic environment and happen to collide by chance – you really take the concept of chance into places it does not fit.

            Who said random variations are detrimental to reproduction? Who said anything about ordered reproduction; it is estimated that over 90% of all species have become extinct. Natural selection only ensures that the most suitable survive; it is unfortunate that the word selection is used as there is no agent doing the selection.

            A huge leap to read the volume of reproduction as being a measure of ethics. I did not intend to imply that there I a relationship of necessity, only that an ethical species is more likely to survive than a selfish and self-destructive one and in that sense ethics are part of the evolutionary process.

            An interesting discussion. I take you for having a presuppositional basis for your thinking, that there is a creator and that creator is the Christian God and is the source of all ethics and morality, almost to the extent of suggesting that one cannot know right from wrong. I come from a materialist background. In trying to work it out I think a certain bias shows through from both of us.
            Thank you.

          • entech says:

            Poor Henry, it is so long since he had anything to say which wasn’t plain old sniping. Doesn’t seem to want to know that lack of belief in God and acceptance of evolution are not synonymous. Many professional Christians (priests etc.) accept evolution and I have met atheists who very skeptical about evolution.

            The teleological argument is the antithesis of forward thinking, going back as far as is known for origins and seeing how they evolve over time is forward thinking. Stuck in the past against looking forward from it.

          • Tyndale says:

            Hi, Entech. I’m going to focus on the following, in order to stay on track. I may revisit the rest of your points after I am clear about this point.

            “Along with self awareness etc. Such things as the ability to think and remember developed. Learned behaviour becomes a part of a culture and better habits survive and are passed on, cultural evolution only peripherally related to biological evolution. Mainly in that a better behaved and coherent tribe that works together will survive better than a tribe that is forever fighting for individual advantage and there will be more reproducers with better cultural and ethical behaviours. We do seem to being going around in circles a bit, biological evolution alone does not create ethics but it is given a better “chance” of more ethical societies continuing and expanding while leading to decline and possible extinction of others.”

            Is Cultural Evolution independent of Biological Evolution? If not, then Biological Evolution either is or is the cause of Cultural Evolution.

          • entech says:

            Is Cultural Evolution independent of Biological Evolution? If not, then Biological Evolution either is or is the cause of Cultural Evolution.

            I think that proposition is oversimplifying, if two things are independent of each other, it must be a mutual relationship case with neither affecting the other. My argument is that they are not; there is a relationship between these two and the whole world we live in.
            Weather conditions, for example, can certainly affect biological evolution, probably as much as anything, if a lake dries up all the species dependent on the lake are pretty much guaranteed extinction and an end to any evolution of that species. On the other hand if a mutation improves the possibility of adapting to the changed conditions then a slightly changed branch of that particular species could continue to evolve and overtime develop into a new species. In this case the mutation came about the right time when change was needed to adapt to the changing conditions, chance comes in because it occurred at the right time, at another time with conditions remaining stable or perhaps even leading to a bigger lake the mutation may have died away.

            Weather conditions can and do affect culture, just as a genetic change can be beneficial or not so can a cultural change, a culture that left the diminishing lake environment would stand a better chance of surviving than one that kept chasing diminishing resources, spending more and more energy for less and less return to the point of dying out. The new community would have different requirements to prosper in the new circumstances. Males displaying the best adaptability, were better able to adapt and prosper would be more attractive as fathers and more likely to have more progeny so that this would slowly affect biological evolution.

            Not to be confused with the big changes leading sea species becoming amphibians becoming land animals, and so on, but everything affects everything else, directly and/or immediately or peripherally and over time.

            You say that if they are not independent then they are the same or there is a causal relationship, I can’t see a viable case for that. Everything has some affect, bigger or smaller quicker or slower, the whole universe is connected in some way but you cannot say that any parts are the same or that they cause each other.

          • Tyndale says:

            “I think that proposition is oversimplifying, if two things are independent of each other, it must be a mutual relationship case with neither affecting the other. My argument is that they are not; there is a relationship between these two and the whole world we live in.”

            Ok, that would seem to be consistent with the idea that “a better behaved and coherent tribe that works together will survive better than a tribe that is forever fighting for individual advantage and there will be more reproducers with better cultural and ethical behaviours” is based on the essence of evolution as being reproduction.

            “You say that if they are not independent then they are the same or there is a causal relationship, I can’t see a viable case for that. Everything has some affect, bigger or smaller quicker or slower, the whole universe is connected in some way but you cannot say that any parts are the same or that they cause each other.”

            You confused me here. You affirm effect but deny cause?

          • entech says:

            affect and effect are different words.

          • Tyndale says:

            “affect and effect are different words.”

            Good! Let’s see now…

            Affect: 1. to act on; produce an effect or change in: Cold weather affected the crops.

            Cause: 1. a person or thing that acts, happens, or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result; the producer of an effect: You have been the cause of much anxiety. What was the cause of the accident?

            Both are producers of an effect. Now, I’ll be more specific, how is it you affirm cause and deny cause?

          • entech says:

            I don’t, you are conflating the possible meanings.

          • Tyndale says:

            It seems we are at an impasse.

            The remarkable thing to me is that you actually believe that dead, inorganic material can suddenly become living, conscious beings from Matter+Time+Chance and think that this is perfectly reasonable, while denying that God rose Jesus Christ from the dead as being unreasonable because, for one thing, dead things don’t rise again from the dead.

            Anyway, thank you for the discussion, Entech.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Tyndale 5:43 The remarkable thing to me is that…

            I compliment you on a courteous summary of your discussion with entech. Since he is in Australia and may the just rising, I’ll toss in the usual way a Freethinker would answer your summary. (Entech may answer it differently)

            inorganic material can suddenly become living, conscious beings from Matter+TIme+Chance and think this is perfectly reasonable, while denying God rose Jesus from the dead as being unreasonable because…dead things don’t rise again from the dead.

            I’m not sure if you meant the word “suddenly” to mean suddenly or you meant it to mean “eventually”. I don’t know of any nonbelieving person who thinks life came about in anything short of millions of years. And, we don’t know how it came about.

            It seems to me the one big difference in our approaches is in evolution. We can actually see evolution taking place under our eyes. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude it probably has always been taking place. But, we cannot see a God or see evidence verified by uninterested parties that a god exists or has ever existed. We all agree there are unanswered questions, but disagree the default answer for all questions of where life came from is a god. That rules out other explanations which have equal probabilities.

          • Tyndale says:

            Hi, Jon, thanks for the reply.

            In the using the word “suddenly”, I meant it in a twofold way: The Big Bang and emergence of life. The Big Bang because it happened at a definite point or singularity, without which, there would be no life at all. The emergence of life on earth, it seems to me, must have happened at a particular point. Now, someone who knows better may correct me and say that life gradually came about and did not emerge from a singularity of sorts. But in this case, it seems to me to be problematic in two ways:

            1. In that this comes near to attributing life to inorganic matter (quarks, protons, helium, et al) as being inherent to that matter which itself regresses to the Big Bang.
            2. Inorganic matter gradually became organic; in which case, there would be intermediate states of a matter that is neither inorganic nor organic but is inorganic-organic matter.

            A distinction must be made between micro-evolution and macro-evolution as to just what is proven. As far as evidence of God goes, I know there is compelling evidence that I am a sinner and I believe Jesus Christ is the compelling evidence that God forgives.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Tyndale 9:14 As far as evidence of God goes, I know there is compelling evidence that I am a sinner and I believe Jesus Christ is the compelling evidence that God forgives.

            I like the way you state that. You are not requiring me to see what happened to you as “compelling evidence.” Whatever it is you see personally probably would not be compelling evidence to others.

            Posters on this forum have told of seeing and hearing personal visions and voices of Jesus. There is not reason to doubt these. There is reason to doubt the usefulness of them as evidence that can be used of an actual sovereign god. This would require some kind of an independent third party verification.

          • Tyndale says:

            Agreed. Thank you for your input in this discussion.

    • Henry says:

      2:47, I see much decidering in your dissertation. Why should I need to decider? My faith has been given to me.

      Also, why would I allow some other jerk to determine my faith (if that were possible)? Based on your reasoning #1, this seems to have happened for you.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        Henry I appreciate Your response. I would question Who actually gave You Your faith and honestly it may come down to a difference of opinion I’m skeptical about a Supernatural Power giving away faith. On Your second point Note that I used One example among many in describing unreasonable behavior. One of My Daughters has used the same argument that the behavior of Christians shouldn’t be used to determine truth but what I’ve found is that unreasonable behavior is the result of believing with out reasoning. It is part of the culture of faith. Faith enables bad behavior by allowing an out from ethical behavior. It took years but in finally getting down to brass tacks It is clear JW’s as an organization have no respect for individual rights putting The reputation of the organization ahead of innocent individuals including victims of Child abuse While criticizing other Religions doing the same thing. Moving on to other Religions We as a country have done things We shouldn’t be proud of. In My time in the Navy it was in Central America. I have seen groups of People among Lutherans in the ELCA Organize to help even with immigration People effected By this craziness while at the same time Ministers in Uniform supported it. The Human race is still reaping the results of this as seen across recent headlines. Religion keeps Us from putting all Our cards on the table so We can finally face some of the nonsense The Human race involves itself in and make some progress forward. The point I hope I’ve made is connecting the dots reveals not individual “Jerks” but a system of belief that has always lead to harm for the Human race.

        • Henry says:

          Adam:“The point I hope I’ve made is connecting the dots reveals not individual “Jerks” but a system of belief that has always lead to harm for the Human race.”

          I am not sure what reading the Word of God, baptising, and communing with my Christian brothers has to do with harming the human race.

          You have a distortion of generalizing a few extreme examples of individual behavior and attributing them to an organization. Following your line of thinking, I know of a number of criminals that have come from the Duluth area. What then does that make you per your logic?

          Adam:“I would question Who actually gave You Your faith….”

          The Holy Spirit.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Certainly there is good done by many Christians and many are good decent caring people. There are some fine principles in the Bible there are also cases of incredible genocide sanctioned even demanded by the God of the Bible. I believe Humanity would be better served by talking about ethics with out the baggage all religions bring to the table. On Holy Spirit some JW’s among Them believe it is Gods active force Others believe It to be a co-eternal, coequal third person of the Trinity. For something so important why the confusion? There are literally millions on one side and perhaps billions on the other side is it to much to ask for some sort of Holy ruling?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Adam 3:12 I believe humanity would be better served by talking about ethics without the baggage all religions bring to the table.

            Hear! Hear! Well said. Ultimately, I think people’s consensus about ethics and morals are what religions adopt, but we waste precious time chasing the religion when we could make the same decision without it.

          • Henry says:

            Adam:“For something so important why the confusion?”

            Those questions could be asked a lot to the JW. Why denial of the Trinity? Why date set for the end of time when Christ said we won’t know? Why the confusion? Look what it did for you.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Henry 12:42 on this Your preaching to the choir I can do nothing but acknowledge Your right but where is God/Jehovah/Jesus/Holy Ghost/Spirit on all of this. There are sincere People on all sides of this willing to die for One or all of the above mentioned Personages. Don’t They deserve a little clarity from The Almighty/Almighties? Were talking about Millions or Billions Who’ve missed the boat and don’t even know it. Shouldn’t They matter to The Creator/Creators of all things?

          • Henry says:

            :”Don’t They deserve a little clarity from The Almighty/Almighties?”

            Available. However, if you want to follow 140 year old goat trails with significant doctrinal conflicts with scripture, you will have difficulty finding clarity. If you follow the “original” trail, you may find their first love may be lost despite their hard work, and clarity may be difficult as well. Find the Word and participate in what Jesus Christ instituted.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            This is from wikipedia on the trinity Although there is much debate as to whether the beliefs of the Apostles were merely articulated and explained in the Trinitarian Creeds,[31] or were corrupted and replaced with new beliefs,[32][33] all scholars recognize that the Creeds themselves were created in reaction to disagreements over the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These controversies, however, were great and many, and took some centuries to be resolved.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Henry I don’t see these controversies ever being resolved. I’ve mentioned I read The Bible became convinced it was true then went to the first Church I came to Our Saviors in Kelliher MN (at the time I knew no reason why One would be any better than another) and asked to be Baptized. The Minister had Me go through confirmation with a confirmation class and when We got to The Trinity I took Him aside and told Him that some how reading The Bible from cover to cover I had missed this central concept to Christianity. Sensing My dismay He laughed and reassured Me that I had nothing to worry about that no Man could fully understand The Trinity. Henry do You know any Man that completely understands It? I am told it is a matter of Faith could We not say Blind Faith? Why isn’t it spelled out in The Bible? Jesus said narrow is The Path and Few are the Ones finding it so We can hardly assume That right lay’s with The Majority view. I’ve just started Ehrmans latest book which so far confirms what I’ve said here.

          • Henry says:

            How long were you with Jesus, Adam? Don’t you know Him? Read John. That should help.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            When I was forced to pick between Jesus and reason (reality and unreality) I knew We’d have to part ways. In this latest controversy over Apartments for The Homeless 41 apartments 29 for Women with small Children. There are Christians on both sides. I support The construction. Some Christians support it because Their faith compels Them to care. Other Christians feel that these folks are homeless because of some moral deficiency and feel They are under no obligation to accept Them in Their Neighborhood. I actually live in the same neighborhood in The Easten Town homes and see this as unwarranted Hysteria. On another page on this site it was mentioned how Some Christians felt AIDS was a judgment from God on Homosexuals. This, using Ones religious belief to deny rights to others and as a poor substitute for moral decision making is My central problem with religion in politics

          • Henry says:

            Adam: “I don’t see these controversies ever being resolved.”

            Underneath your 140 year old goat trail that you as an atheist still strangely cling to, is the ancient heresy of Arianism. As far as the controversy not being resolved, you could also similarly say the Gordon Kahl incident is not resolved either with their claim of innocence. Despite it being properly adjudicated, they still beat their chests saying they have been wronged. I say the controversy has been properly settled a long time ago.

            Here, besides reading John, this will help:

            Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 12:52 and shall give an account of the own works…and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

            I think of this passage every time I see someone tout the Book of John. If there is some weak kneed discipline in the afterlife, it is possible that folks who have never heard the book of John was written long after the time of Christ and does not jive with the three gospels written earlier can receive a pass for quoting it as some kind of “truth”. But I’m not so sure about those who know it is not a reliable source of religious dogma and continue to refer to it as legitimate material.

            There may be dark days ahead for those who know better but did not heed the information provided them.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            I should mention I’ve actually read the book of John many times in many translations.I agree having read it has helped Me to come to rational conclusions One of which is to find belief in The God of the Bible Irrational.

          • Henry says:

            Then you have Moses and the Prophets. Good luck with your decidering.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            I certainly would never question Your faith Henry and I appreciate this excerpt on The Trinity. I have read either this or something very like this in the past. I notice You focus on faith and that makes sense if God exists but if He doesn’t One naturally moves on to what can We do for Our Neighbors now. That seems more practical to Me.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            On Gordon Kahl I’m pretty confident the courts got it right. Throughout history courts have got it wrong often when some preconceived Idea is brought into the courtroom by The One judging. In Illinois Many death row convictions were overturned by DNA evidence and I think the main problem came down to preconceived ideas on the Morals of People of darker skin tones. In like manner religious views can sway ones views of what is moral or immoral. I had an Old Somali Man say something to Me in response to my trying to convince Him to except the Bible as true. “There are good People and bad People in all religions.” Some of the most nasty Evil People are deeply religious and some of the finest examples of Humanity are deeply religious. Certainly the same could be said for those with out faith also. I have met People Who’s profession of atheism is not some deeply held philosophical position but simply a rejection of any and all authority even an excuse to trample the rights of others.

          • Henry says:

            Profession of atheism? You don’t say?

            “One naturally moves on to what can We do for Our Neighbors now.”

            That should have already been occurring as a result of your faith, while you were in your faith. Those works shouldn’t have only started after you left the faith. This is telling.

            I am glad you help your neighbor.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            Actually like many Americans I’ve always been one to volunteer for what seem like worthwhile causes but accepting faith especially that the end is coming any minute will change the priorities of those that believe. At the Kingdom Hall People are encouraged to care for their neighbors and examples are pointed out in the Watchtower but it is all tempered by the view that The end is coming soon. I’ve often heard trying to fix social issues compared to something like painting the Titanic when You know It’s sinking. There are many decent People at the Kingdom Hall and The Organization spends time trying to refocus attention on the preaching work as They sincerely believe that to be the only real answer to any problems in Our world. You’ve heard Me talk about trying to resolve what is best for My Wife, to the Society whether I’m in the right scripturally or Morally couldn’t matter less The end is coming that’s all that matters. One Elder illustrated it this way He held the Bible out and said “Focus Your eyes on This Bible do You notice how when You focus on the Bible You can’t focus on the background in like Manner if You focus on The Preaching work all these other problems will fade into the background.” I actually did that but as I witnessed to others I found when They asked about My own family and the obvious point that Our family was not at all in line with the things I was preaching I had no answer. So then I started Bible studies (thirty two in a two year period) and immediately turned Them over to Others only to discover attitudes from out and out racism to absolutely bizarre attitudes about belief with those I had turned The studies over to. The weight of the nonsense and cruel stupidity finally crushed all faith out of Me which allowed the brilliant white light of reason and science to finally allow Me to see things as They are rather than how I or perhaps some religious zealot whether living today or two thousand years would like reality to be.

          • Henry says:

            “The weight of the nonsense and cruel stupidity finally crushed all faith out of Me….”

            Too bad. You already know my opinion of the JW program.

            “…..which allowed the brilliant white light of reason and science to finally allow Me to see things as They are rather than how I or perhaps some religious zealot whether living today or two thousand years would like reality to be.”

            Be careful in applying science to matters of religion. That may not work as you would like. Even with science, there is gray area. i.e. Is light a wave or a particle? It is both. That is incomprehensible. Yet, science accepts this paradox.

            You have been burned very badly by others. Unfortunately, you are attributing their bad behavior to Christ (Christianity). I cannot help you. You have available the means of grace if you were to stop rejecting.

          • entech says:

            12:52 Underneath your 140 year old goat trail that you as an atheist still strangely cling to, is the ancient heresy of Arianism.
            Strange that you should attribute a heresy to an atheist??? Of a non-trinitarian Christology, to someone who denies the existence of God, no God no Christ created or non-created.
            Your creedal statement is full of paradox, yet you have trouble with:
            Is light a wave or a particle? It is both. That is incomprehensible. Yet, science accepts this paradox. You might as well quibble with is the H20 substance solid, liquid or gas.

            There must be a real problem with maintaining this three part invention in the minds of so many, atheists are bad they reject god, but the real venom comes out for people that accept God but not the great mystery of the three.

          • Henry says:

            I see the mudhen comes paddling into the conversation, wallowing around, and stirring the pot.

            Your comments do not follow.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            I think it is a mistake to play the blame game. I see this done in religion, on the job, in family relationships actually in every aspect of life. We find someone to blame and We quit thinking. I have a Cat named Fluffy, if One mindlessly feeds Fluffy by just throwing an abundance of food in Her dish She will often gorge Herself Then soon after She loses Her cookies. I think blaming The Religious for Their behavior makes as much sense as blaming The Cat. So what are real solutions? Lets start with two for sures 1. Education, knowledge takes away fear driven extreme behavior. 2. A separation of Church and state, You want to bring Your bible based principles to the public forum and They can stand on their own fine but if You have to resort to “cause My God says so and My Gods The True God (Bigger than Your God) no that’s not OK.

          • Henry says:

            Adam:“So what are real solutions? Lets start with two for sures 1. Education, knowledge takes away fear driven extreme behavior.”

            Go for it. Study John.

            Adam:“2. A separation of Church and state, You want to bring Your bible based principles to the public forum and They can stand on their own fine but if You have to resort to “cause My God says so and My Gods The True God (Bigger than Your God) no that’s not OK.”

            You seem a little confused in this. You seem to think I cannot have an opinion I can bring to a public form because I hold to Bible based principles? Really? As far as my religion corporately involving itself in government, you are very mistaken.

  7. Tyndale says:

    “That his body was removed from a cross and moved to a tomb is contrary to the known historical practices.”

    Philo: “I have known cases when on the eve of a holiday of this kind, people who have been crucified have been taken down and their bodies delivered to their kinsfolk, because it was thought well to give them burial and allow them the ordinary rites. For it was meet that the dead also should have the advantage of some kind treatment upon the birthday of the emperor and also that the sanctity of the festival should be maintained.”

    Josephus: “Nay, they proceeded to that degree of impiety, as to cast away their bodies without burial, although the Jews used to take so much care of the burial of men, that they took down those that were condemned and crucified, and buried them before the going down of the sun”

    Julius Paulus (Roman Jurist): “The bodies of persons who have been punished should be given to whoever requests them for the purpose of burial.”

    Ulpian (Roman Jurist): “The bodies of those who are condemned to death should not be refused their relatives; and the Divine Augustus, in the Tenth Book on his life, said that this rule had been observed. At present, the bodies of those who have been punished are only buried when this has been requested and permission granted; and sometimes it is not permitted, especially where persons have been convicted of high treason. Even the bodies of those who have been sentenced to be burned can be claimed, in order that their bones and ashes, after having been collected, may be buried.”

    In 1968, remains found in an ossuary in Giv’at ha-Mivtar are of a crucified man named “Jehohanan”.

    “That he was seen alive is a religious concept.”

    No, that was resurrected bodily after three days and appeared to many is evidence of truth.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Tyndale 3:57 As nearly as I can tell, none of the examples you give involved assassination for crimes against Roman authorities. There were different rules for different kinds of crimes. Many advise me to read different sources than I normally do. I would suggest for you reading Bart Ehrman who covers the controversy well.

      • StanB says:

        Jon, I know you don’t believe inBiblical truths but my reading of the Gospels tell me Pilate really didn’t care one way of the other about executing Jesus. Why should he deny burial? Also Joseph of Aremia was a wealthy Sanhedrin as was who was also on the Temple Council. The death was on the day before the Sabbath and Jewish law didn’t allow burial on the Sabbath or the leaving of the dead on the crucifixion hill over the Sabbath.

        Of course you know better then I what went on in Jerusalem that spring so I defer to you….

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stan 2:14 re: the tomb

          I don’t know what happened to the body of Jesus. All I know is this: There is no record outside of the Bible as to what happened in the particular case of Jesus. Pontius did not leave any written material. There is no independent record of who saw what. There is, however, an independent record of the deaths and the practices surrounding who was killed and for what and what happened to the bodies at different times this all took place.

          It certainly appears the unknown Biblical authors wanted Pontius to look better as time went on and the suspicious Jews to look worse. That is a literary reading, not a theological one.

          You can accuse me of being a “know-it-all” if you wish. The real issue is not what I think but what independent information is available.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stan 2:14 The death was on the day before the Sabbath and Jewish law didn’t allow burial on the or the leaving of the dead on the crucifixion hill over the Sabbath.

          No one has ever said the Jews were in charge of the crucifixion. The Romans were in charge. Do you think the Romans who abide by Jewish laws in the case of someone who they thought was trying to interrupt the flow of cash they wanted from that area, or, in the case of someone who claimed to be more important than Pontius?

          Doubters about the tomb story remain.

          • StanB says:

            I’m saying that Israel was a powder keg at the time and that it’s possible Pilate felt that further insult would be counter-productive…

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Stan 1:16 I’m saying that Israel was a powder keg at the time and that it’s possible Pilate felt further insult would be counterproductive..

            That is one of may possible circumstances. The thing is we know there were Jewish opponents to Jesus, or, to his approach. We know Pontius had the soldiers, the Jews did not. We know Pontius killed thousands of Jews for one reason or another and seemed to face no negative consequences.

            All that said, no independent source recorded what happened to the body.

  8. Tyndale says:

    “As nearly as I can tell, none of the examples you give involved assassination for crimes against Roman authorities. There were different rules for different kinds of crimes.”

    Oddly, you failed to make that distinction in your post. Not only that, as I am sure you are aware, Ehrman himself uses the Philo quote and mentions it as “the exception”.

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