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Except for Santa Claus, the Christmas Tree is probably the most popular and recognizable symbol of Christmas. It's also the least Christian! Originally used in pagan religious celebrations in Europe, the Christmas Tree was adopted by Christianity but never entirely at home in it. Today the Christmas Tree can be a completely secular symbol of Christmas celebrations. It's curious that Christians latch on to it as if it where inherently Christian.

Read Article: Oh, Christmas Tree: Christmas Tree as a Secular Symbol of a Secular Christmas

Comments
November 26, 2007 at 8:08 pm
(1) Michael Ruge says:

Hi Austin,

I hope this e-mail finds you well… I previously read an article about Jesus’ ethics you wrote and like many whom are not filled with Spirit cannot interpret Scripture properly. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are folly to him, and he is not ABLE (able is the ability) to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). So here, Paul writes that they (you) CANNOT understand… In reading your article, like all aethiest/agnostics, there was a LOT of misinterpretation. You were clearly reading into the text and using improper use of hermanutics. In short, you mentioned that Jesus’ behavior was not exemplary. Although that may appear so in the text, that could not be furhter from the truth. Yes, Jesus is love and is full of grace and mercy BUT what most fail to understand is that God is also a just God and demands payment for sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). God’s love is perfect which does not mean that He is going to be this big, bright shiny star with a soft-spoken voice all the time. He is a personal God who cares for us and disciplines us when necessary. Isn’t that what a loving parents does with their children? A parent who demands that their child to stop playing in the street cares for their safety out of love. Now, the child at the time may think the parent is just flat out being mean but that isn’t so. The parent loves their child and is trying to protect them. I believe that a parent that didn’t care would just allow their child to play and not warn them about the dangers out on the street. You also mentioned that Jesus was a hyprocrite on number of occasions. But you failed to mention one in your article. A claim without support or evidence is just a “claim” and nothing more. The Bible has been accused of hypocrisy and contradictions but nobody has ever been able to prove it. The Bible has been criticized for a very long time and will continue to be but it has NEVER been discredited once. Sure, people have challenged the Bible with claims but again, with no concrete evidence of their own that would dicredit the Bible’s claims. Please understand that I am not a Christain that “hates” athiests/agnostics but want to extend that there are answers to to a lot of questions people have about God. When I hear or read an athiests/agnostic’s views on God, I am always confused about all the energy they pour out into a God they choose to disbelieve in. If that is their chose then why not just leave it alone. Why do you, Austin, choose to write an article to denounce Jesus’ deity and purpose? Why waste all this time attacking Jesus? Where is all this energy coming from? Do you hate God? If so, why? Since you pour in so much time wrapping your thoughts and views about Jesus, can I please recommend some books by Lee Strobel and Josh Mcdowell. They were both aethiest at one time in their lives. Strobel was a journalist who spent his life finding evidence for everything. He has two good books called, “Case for a Creator” and “Case For Christ”. These books deal specifically with evidence and historical facts- not theories or philosophies. I write to you because I care. Not to debate, but to share. there is so much out there that we do not know. We have to prove that Jesus existed (which nobody debates), whether or not He was crucified (the only people that debate that really is Muslims), and finally, did Jesus rise from the dead. There is evidence for that Austin…Nobody knows everything so I would like to challenge you to please seek for yourself the existence of God with no bais. Be open. What do you have to lose???
I will be praying for you, Austin…
Please remember that God loves you!

November 26, 2007 at 11:14 pm
(2) Jenna says:

uhh. No offense Mike..but I think Austin is doing an alright job regarding morals and ethics without Jesus.

November 27, 2007 at 2:03 am
(3) Tatarize says:

Christmas trees are great. If the Bible opposes it, I’m for it. Jeremiah 10:1-4 is pretty clear about such things being bad. So I’m getting one, and decking it in the manner forbidden by the Bible, in other words, the traditional way.

November 27, 2007 at 3:03 am
(4) Jenna says:

but i’m also sure there are theists who practice humanism or something similar who are just as moral and ethical.

November 27, 2007 at 6:59 am
(5) Austin Cline says:

I previously read an article about Jesus’ ethics you wrote and like many whom are not filled with Spirit cannot interpret Scripture properly.

Feel free to support that claim.

I believe that a parent that didn’t care would just allow their child to play and not warn them about the dangers out on the street.

Actually, a parent that cared would go and, grab the kid, and drag them back into the house. A parent who gives an ambiguous warning and then lets the kids get run over isn’t a parent that cares.

You also mentioned that Jesus was a hyprocrite on number of occasions. But you failed to mention one in your article.

That is a falsehood. Your Bible instructs people not to lie, but it doesn’t look like you have any problem ignoring this when it suits your purposes.

A claim without support or evidence is just a “claim” and nothing more.

That is true; in fact, it may be the only true thing you’ve written. It’s just a shame that you don’t take this principle seriously enough to actually support any of your own claims.

The Bible has been accused of hypocrisy and contradictions but nobody has ever been able to prove it.

Then you should have no trouble rebutting all of the examples of contradictions people have offered.

The Bible has been criticized for a very long time and will continue t!o be but it has NEVER been discredited once.

Actually, it’s the obligation of believers to show why the Bible should be given any credit in the first place.

When I hear or read an athiests/agnostic’s views on God, I am always confused about all the energy they pour out into a God they choose to disbelieve in.

If that were true, you’d ask about it — and you’d get clear answers. I’ve written several articles on the matter on this site. I’m not going to link to them, though, because I frankly don’t believe that you really care.

Since you pour in so much time wrapping your thoughts and views about Jesus, can I please recommend some books by Lee Strobel and Josh Mcdowell.

It’s pretty arrogant of you to assume that I haven’t. It’s also pretty sad that they are the best you can think of; as far as apologists go, they rank just about at the bottom of the list in terms of the quality and soundness of their arguments.

I write to you because I care.

No, you write to preach. A person who cared would ask serious questions rather than make assumptions; a person who cared would seek to learn rather than to mere instruct.

We have to prove that Jesus existed (which nobody debates), whether or not He was crucified (the only people that debate that really is Muslims), and finally, did Jesus rise from the dead. There is evidence for that Austin…

Then you should be able to provide that evidence.

November 27, 2007 at 9:13 am
(6) tracieh says:

I need to reply to the Josh McDowell recommendation. When I was a teenager, I took a class at my church based on Josh McDowell’s instructional series, “Evidence for your Faith.” In that class, in clear and uncertain terms, Josh claimed that the Bible had been _meticulously_ copied from generation to generation. He used excruciating detail in describing the pains that people took to make sure that it was accurate to the original texts letter to letter. He absolutely was making a clear implication that the texts should be considered trustworthy and reliable insofar as they were accurate reflections of the original documents.

The problem is that the Bible’s translators, themeselves negate Josh’s claims.

Both the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible are considered to be extremely scholarly versions–two of the best translations available. And both books call out forgeries in the texts that remain in the Bible to this day. I am aware of at least two big ones–and anyone who reads their marginal notes in their Bible will see scads more “problems” in smaller details where different manuscripts do not agree, and the translators are called upon to go with one or the other based upon a best guess. Where do these discrepancies in the different versions of the manuscripts come from if people throughout history have taken such great pains to copy them letter by letter down through the generations? Does Josh’s claim make any sense unles we simply refuse to trust our best Bible scholars–the men and women who translated the best known version of the texts into English?

Here are some examples of the marginal notes for a couple of the most relevant and blatant forgeries included that I am personally aware of:

John 7:53-8:11 (that’s quite a big one): Margin note reads: “The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11″ NIV (and yet, the Bible contains them.)

Mark 16, has another pretty big blunder: “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20.” (NIV)

The NASB has the same marginal notes as well. Different translators, same conclusion.

Who do I trust, Bible translators or Josh McDowell? If Josh has studied the history of the Bible as well as he claims, then he has no excuse to use. He has misrepresented the “validity” and the “accuracy” of the Bible–purposely. It appears he has distorted reality in order to make a point that is not supported by actual facts. No matter how meticulously he claims some monks were during some period of transcription–he has to know that somewhere, somehow, someone broke that chain at least long enough to vastly alter the texts. But he withholds that information.

I have no respect for McDowell and his mischaracterizations of reality. He either knowingly tells falsehoods, or he’s so ignorant regarding the history he claims to know that he’s untrustworthy as a source of information.

Meanwhile, as far as contradictions of Jesus:

Luke 6:35: (Jesus speaking) “But love your enemies, do good to them…”

John 2:14-15: “In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he [Jesus] made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area…”

Since when is chasing people down with a whip “doing good to them”? In the sermon on the mount, Jesus indicates that if someone abuses you, you should turn the other cheek: (Same chapter, verse 29) “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”

So, don’t assault someone, even if they assault you first. But if you don’t like them doing business in a particular location–chase them down with whips?

That’s consistency?

November 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm
(7) Michael Ruge says:

Hi Austin,

It is me again… Thank you for your response. I really did not think I would hear back from you-I’m glad I did.

If you don’t mind, I would like to comment on your comments (in order) with love and grace.

1. I was a little confused by your comment about 1 Cor. 2:14 when Paul writes that those who do not accept the things of the Spirit of God are not able to understand because they are spiritually discerned… Paul simply says in other words that for those who think that the things of the Spirit of God is folly to them, they cannot understand God and His work, mission, the Bible, etc… So since the things of the Spirit of God are folly to you, you not be able to understand Scripture. That passage is pretty stright forward. What claim are you asking me to support???

2. God is a perfect “Father” and disciplines and teaches His children. God is not a pampering God, but a perfect God. With “new” believers (born-again), He will hold your hand through your times of growth but He wants you to grow into a mature Christian. It is not good parenting to do things for us. He was us to be critical thinkers and use our minds that He has given us. But we must think the right ways according to Scripture, not what the world wants us to think. God is a loving God who does not control us with strings like a puppet. He will have raised us well enough to know the dangers on the street to not go there. But I assure you that He is with us the whole time–even when we do make a bad choice…

3. I am also confused by what you meant about “falsehood”. I simply asked you to give me an example of Jesus being a hypocrite. You avoided answering the question. You did not give me one example. And, the “lie” part. I am sorry but what did I lie about? I did not lie about anything I spoke of. I also find it ironic that you borrowed a passage from the Bible that you do not believe is true– ” For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths (2 Tim 4:3-4).
I am aware of the Bible teaching not to lie. So what problem did I ignore???

4. You mentioned that I “need” to support my claim. I don’t believe that you understand that my comments were in response to your article that “attacked” Christ. So Christianity is on the defense here, not offense. It is also ironic that you said that you would want me to seek anwers by asking you questions to learn. But it’s funny that you have not done that either. You also have made many assumptions. You assume that everything you believe about the Bible is true. You did not ask me any questions about the Bible. See, you would like me to learn from you but you do not wish to learn about the Bible by asking me any questions. You have made nothing but assumptions about me in every comment you made. But it seems like it is okay when you do it? I don’t understand that…

5. YOu mentioned that I shouldn’t have a problem rebutting any of the contradictions people present to me. And I don’t. Using the very Bible they use to point out any contradiction, I have been able to explain the meaning of the Scripture with proper use of Hermanutics. Muslims are the biggest group who are anxious to point out Biblical contradictions. I understand it as that they are ignorant (meaning lacking knowledge–not in a negative way).
James MacDonald wrote, “God Wrote a Book” and it is an excellent tool to use to help people understand that the Bible does not contradict itself (not even a little).

5. I totally agree with you that believers should show the Bible’s credibility. Peter says that we must be prepared to make an defense of the truth (apologeteics). “Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 peter 3:15). (which is what I am trying to do with you– do it with gentleness and respect. But unfortunately I have seemed to offended you which is not my intention). It is hard to pick up dialogue via e-mail but I hope you would understand that my motives are not as you assume they are and know that I really do care. Again, please do not assume you know my heart. I live to please the Lord and arguing and quarreling with you would be ungodly…

6. When I asked you why do you put in so much energy into the Bible, writing articles, talking to believers, etc… I wasn’t looking for an answer. it was a rhetorical question for you to ask yourself why you expend so much energy doing what you do if you disbelieve in God? What is it about God and the Bible that draws you to read it, comment on it, and write articles? And, why do athiests attack Jesus? there are over 500 religions out there. So why not attack Buddha, Muhammed, Peter Smith, etc… Do you ever wonder why so many Christians and Jews are so heavily persecuted? Why aren’t the Muslims persecuted (i’m sure there are a few but nothing in comparison to Christians around the world). SO many Christian are killed just because of their faith in Christ- why? Why is the Bible attacked soooo much? What about the Quaran? Jesus taught in John that the world would hate us (and they do)-why? Finally, why is the Bible banned and burned in so many countries? Hmmmm…

7. Finally, why would you call me “arrogant” for referring you to some reading materials? My intentions were good in a friendly manner. Notice I said, “please”. I did not attack you and “suggest” you read those books… You mentioned that I assumed things but I see that you have done so yourself. Also, how are apologists ranked??? Is there a list I have missed? Who judges whether an apologist is a good or a bad one. Lee Strobel is an excellent and very credible apologists who has not lost a debate yet. If he is at the bottom of the list of quality, then why is a man of your “intelligence” wasting your time reading pour quality material? Besides, he can’t be all that bad, you heard of him, right? Understand that God uses ordinary people for His glory. Note the biblical characters God used were just ordinary peasants (mostly). Most of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen. God knows what high-profiled would do when chosen to do His work-they would glorify themselves instead of God. Big rollers are not humble enough to be servants. They are out to make a name for themselves. Take Joel Olsteen for example. The man is in it for money and his face posted on magazines and bulletins on the expressways. Please also understand the form in which Jesus came. He came from Nazereth who was a peasant. He humbled Himself taking the form of a servant. He served? If He was a king of Jews, then shouldn’t He be the one served? Again, humility…

Last of all. Sorry this is long…
What evidence would you like to know?
Internal evidence:
The OT written hundreds of yrs before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death, and resurrection. Mathematically speaking, the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy is staggering. mathematicians put it this way:
1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000
1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power.
1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies: only Jesus!
His birth was predicted: When, where, how, by whom (Mary was just ordinary)
His coming was predicted by which bloodline he would come
How he would die was predicted exactly (mind you, the time Isaiah wrote about his crucifixion, Rome did not kill people that way yet)
Daniel predicted when He would come (after the first temple destroyed and right before the second one was built)…

Wars were predicted.
Regions that were destroyed/fell were predicted…

External evidence:
Science- Archiologists support the Bible by uncovering so much the Bible talks about that people doubted even existed.
Josephus- Jewish writer (not a Christian) recorded things going on at the time and writes about Jesus.
Again, creation is too perfect. OUr bodies is made too well to be an accident.
I know I am paraphrasing and unfortuanetly I cannot remember the Scientist’s name who cracked the DNA code. but anyway, when he was awarded with the Nobel Prize, he said that DNA is so complex that it is impossible that creation was an accident. It is too perfect he said. When asked if he now believes in a creator over evolution, he said that aliens came down and created life. Can you believe that he would go as far as saying something so far fetched before he would submit that there is a God?

Anyway, I think I went on long enough. I again hope this e-mail finds you well and know that God loves you. And, I am praying for you, Austin :)

Please look up Greg Bahnsen. He has great debates that I think you may be interested in…

Thank you!
Michael

November 29, 2007 at 1:47 am
(8) John says:

Michael,

“So since the things of the Spirit of God are folly to you, you not be able to understand Scripture.”

So, if any non-believer shows they are able to understand scripture, it would show that Paul was wrong? And since Paul’s words are written in the Bible, it would show the Bible is in error? And since Chistians claim the Bible is the inerrant “word of God”, an error in the Bible would show Christianity to be a load of crap? Thanks, Michael, for bringing it to my attention. I never thought of it that way before.

November 29, 2007 at 6:25 am
(9) Austin Cline says:

That passage is pretty stright forward. What claim are you asking me to support???

Simply citing the fact that Paul said it doesn’t qualify as support for the claim you made.

God is not a pampering God, but a perfect God.

So if a parent pulls a child from the street to prevent them from being run over, you call that “pampering”?

I am also confused by what you meant about “falsehood”.

Then I’ll state it more simply: you lied.

I simply asked you to give me an example of Jesus being a hypocrite.

Now you’re lying again; you didn’t ask for an example, you asserted that I gave none in the article. In reality, I did.

You mentioned that I “need” to support my claim. I don’t believe that you understand that my comments were in response to your article that “attacked” Christ.

Doesn’t matter how you regard your comments; your claims need to be supported.

You assume that everything you believe about the Bible is true.

No, I don’t.

You did not ask me any questions about the Bible.

I don’t have any questions for your about the Bible. Thus far, I see no evidence that you have anything to teach anyone about the Bible.

YOu mentioned that I shouldn’t have a problem rebutting any of the contradictions people present to me. And I don’t.

Feel free to support your original claim, then.

It is hard to pick up dialogue via e-mail but I hope you would understand that my motives are not as you assume they are

Maybe you should stop assuming that you know what I am thinking.

When I asked you why do you put in so much energy into the Bible, writing articles, talking to believers, etc… I wasn’t looking for an answer.

Yes, I thought so, and that’s why I didn’t bother to provide links to the places where I explain this to people who have a genuine desire to learn.

it was a rhetorical question for you to ask yourself why you expend so much energy doing what you do if you disbelieve in God?

So you assume that I’ve never stopped to think about the issue. In fact, the rhetorical questions you raise to trivially easy to answer and I have done so.

Finally, why would you call me “arrogant” for referring you to some reading materials?

I don’t; I point out that you are arrogant for assuming that I haven’t read what you recommend.

Also, how are apologists ranked???

By the quality of their arguments.

Internal evidence:

You just provide a list of claims. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you to offer evidence for the truth of those claims. That would be off-topic here, though. You should post in the forum.

I again hope this e-mail finds you well and know that God loves you.

Do you really not understand that this isn’t email?

And, I am praying for you, Austin :)

The time would be better spend thinking.

Please look up Greg Bahnsen.

Now you assume I’ve never heard of and/or haven’t read Bahnsen. You like to whine about me making assumptions about you even though you can’t point to a single time where I have done so; in contrast, you make continual assumptions about me — all of which are false. I suspect that you only complain about something in others which you know you yourself are guilty of — rather like how a person who lies a lot is constantly distrustful of others.

November 29, 2007 at 5:19 pm
(10) Michael says:

Tracieh,
With all do respect, I appreciate your claim of contradiction of Scripture.
“Be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26).
This means righteous anger. God is a loving God full of grace and mercy but He is also a “just” God and will bring His wrath on judgement day. This anger God brings will be righteous. There are many passages when God is angry.
If someone were to come into your home and and beat up one of your family members for the heck of it, wouldn’t you be angry? Do you get angry when you hear of a child being abused or a woman getting rape? Yes, you would… This is righteous anger. But you cannot take vengance because God said He will have vengance. “Do not repay evil for evil” (1 Peter 3:9). That is what Scripture means by be angry but do not sin. YOur anger would become sinful if you take revenge.
God hates sin. It angers Him… He also is angry when someone gets raped, abused, murdered, etc…
And that is what He did in the temple. He was angry with the people deliberately sinning against God.
Righteous anger…
Therefore, no contradiction. We just have to understand God’s nature.

God bless :)

November 29, 2007 at 5:35 pm
(11) Michael says:

Hi John,

I would appreciate it if your comments were a little bit more respectful. I don’t think the “load of crap” comment was appropriate.
All is good though :)
Anyway, I would like to share the Bible’s view on your comment:
Every Christian, aided by the Holy Spirit, has the ability and the right to interpret Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor. 2:12-16).
SO here we can know that unless you have recieved Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior and confessing that you are a sinner and repenting, (become a Christian) you cannot have the ability to interpret Scripture. People unfortunately may “think” they understand the Scripture but they actually don’t. Without the Holy Spirit in you, you are unable to interpret Scripture. This is how false religions start. So Paul was accurate and true to his writing.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9)

God bless :)

November 29, 2007 at 5:55 pm
(12) tracieh says:

>There are many passages when God is angry. If someone were to come into your home and and beat up one of your family members for the heck of it, wouldn’t you be angry?

Likely. However, I’m not the one telling other people that the only right response to abuse is to turn the other cheek (as I deliberately chase other people down with whips). That would by hypocritical–a “contradiction” in my character.

>And that is what He did in the temple. He was angry with the people deliberately sinning against God.

And rather than do what he claimed was the right thing for someone to do, turn the other cheek, he assaulted them. He did the very thing he said one should not do. That’s a contradiction.

I should also point out that the people he assaulted hadn’t harmed anyone. They hadn’t beaten someone’s family or raped anyone. They were doing business. And it seems a pretty simple thing to recognize that if the penalty for doing harm is “turn the other cheek”–the penalty for not doing harm should be even somewhat less.

Jesus, in this story, got pissed and lost it. If he’d have done that today, he’d be in jail for it, and perhaps forced to take anger management classes.

Also, I’d love to hear your take on the forgeries that your own translators point out. I see you didn’t really address those. Or are forgeries OK, so long as they don’t contradict the other material?

Also, what is the miracle if a book doesn’t contradict itself, if people have had centuries to revise and edit it so that it is consistent. To me, it would be a miracle if they hadn’t gotten it right by now. I don’t think they have–but I can’t convince a believer, because it’s really not possible to discuss the “problem” of what’s in the Bible with someone who condones assaulting people who haven’t hurt anyone, and who worships a god they believe instructed the Jews to kill homosexuals, to stone children to death, to force raped women to marry their rapists, to slay neighboring nations (including their children) for not worshipping the way, and on and on.

Hitler was able to get some people to think such things were OK, too. But I can’t fathom trying to reason with someone who “worships” him–knowing what he’s promoted.

November 29, 2007 at 6:23 pm
(13) Michael says:

Hi Austin,

“Then I’ll state it more simply: you lied.”

I lied? If I believe that the Bible is true, then how did I lie?
Here is the definition of a lie:

a: An assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive.

b: an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker.
So again, if I believe that Bible to be true, then how did I lie…

Now, I’m caucasian, and I obviously know that to be true. But if I tell you that I’m African American or Korean, etc. then, that would be a lie.
Besides, I thought secular humanism believed in relativism (forgive me if I am wrong). Which means (in other words) that whatever you believe to be true is true and whatever I believe to be true is true–its my view, right?

“Now you’re lying again; you didn’t ask for an example, you asserted that I gave none in the article. In reality, I did”.

I plead ignorance on that one. My mistake. But, ignorance is not a lie (pleae refer to the definition of a lie above).

“You like to whine about me making assumptions about you even though you can’t point to a single time where I have done so”

“That is a falsehood. Your Bible instructs people not to lie, but it doesn’t look like you have any problem ignoring this when it suits your purposes.”

Here you assumed (as you explained later) that I lied. Again, a lie is to purposely deceive someone. I had no intention to deveive you. I just explained what I believe to be true. Besides, what would I gain by lying to you?

“No, you write to preach. A person who cared would ask serious questions rather than make assumptions; a person who cared would seek to learn rather than to mere instruct.”

It is amazing how you made this statement with such confidence as if you knew my heart. You assumed what my intentions were. It is ironic that by you accusing me of making assumptions is the very exact thing you just did…

In the beginning of the above paragraph. You answered “no” to me saying that I care… Again, you said, “no” (I don’t care). You assumed that I don’t care… If I didn’t care, Austin, I wouldn’t be praying for you :)

Please understand that I am not your enemy. I at one time was a non-believer and I just want to share what Christ has done in my life…

I know that you do not believe that the evidence I shared is not enough but I see God at work all the time. The evidence that is most convincing to me is how He has changed me.
On a personal note, I was diagnosed with OCD and needed to seek medical attention and use perscription medication. I was a mess struggling with other difficulties in my life that was bringing me down into depression. To make a long story short, I surrendered myself to the Lord and asked Him (finally) in to my heart. I needed help! Doctors explained that OCD cannot be cured but that with good treatment and medicine, I can at least have a handle on it. BUT, God intervened and helped me. He cured me Austin! It was so amazing! And here I am 5 years later, cured. What medicine said was impossible, God showed me that He is more powerful than OCD. He set me free. SOOOO many others have been transformed by the Bible. I have witnessed drug addicts stop using, depressed people smile and have a purpose in life that they never thought possible, I have seen abused children (but now adults) free from mental disabilities, I have seen abusive husbands become a soft, loving man, I have heard testimonies from David Berkowitz and Ted Bundy crying like children asking for forgiveness and are now changed! (well, Ted Bundy is dead now). But David Berkowitz’s story is so fascinating! How can such a brutal murderer be changed like that?
So much more…
So because of my transformation and knowing that God saved me, I am so enthused and excited to tell people to good news of Jesus Christ! True, I may be over zealous at times but I am just so excited about it! I want to share with other. I believe it would be selfish to keep it to myself.

For the first time, I now have meaning and purpose in my life and do not fear or worry anymore as I once did. I no longer fear death. I no longer struggle trying to find answers to life and try to make sense out of things that are out of my control. I am at peace in my life and I have searched high and low for answers and could not find it until I found Jesus Christ.
My views and philosphy would frequently change and was inconsistent about what I thought was “true”. Science, philosophers, religions try so hard to find truth, meaning, and purpose but nobody had found what they are looking for. But we can find it in God. He is real and He loves us unconditionally. He desires an intimate relationship with us. I stopped fighting it 5 years ago and have been at unbelievable peace ever since.

I mean only but good intentions…
I will always pray for you, Austin.

God bless!
Michael

November 29, 2007 at 7:06 pm
(14) Austin Cline says:

I lied?

Yes. You claimed that I provided no examples when, in fact, I did.

But, ignorance is not a lie

True, but my example comes immediately after the assertion you said was accompanied by no examples. You couldn’t have read one without reading the other.

You assumed what my intentions were.

You confirmed my assumption by admitting you asked rhetorical questions, i.e. questions not designed to elicit real answers. A person asking rhetorical questions is not seeking information or to learn.

The evidence that is most convincing to me is how He has changed me.

Anyone in any religion can make a similar claim.

I mean only but good intentions…

If that were true, you wouldn’t lie and you would ask serious questions designed to help you learn more about others.

I will always pray for you, Austin.

You’d be better off spending the time thinking. If you won’t, then should someone else be asked to do it for you?

November 29, 2007 at 10:53 pm
(15) Michael says:

“I lied?

Yes. You claimed that I provided no examples when, in fact, I did.”

Again, A lie has to be “deliberate”… I did not deliberately try to decieve you in any way. This reminds me of a time when I went to Home Depot to get an estimate on a door for my bathroom. I saw one for $75 I liked. I went home and told my fiance about it. I gave her a description of it and asked her to check it out… Well, she did and when she came back she accused me of lying and told me the one I described was actually $95. See, when I was at the store, I looked at the wrong tag (I made a mistake) I did not purposely give her the wrong price. I really believed that it was $75. But she insisted that I lied. It seems much like this case as well. Someone could only lie if they knew the truth or a fact but yet said something else to decieve the other person. It is hard to read your comments at times (miscommunication is not a lie either)…

“If that were true, you wouldn’t lie and you would ask serious questions designed to help you learn more about others.”

You are really stuck on this lying thing huh? :)

I will always pray for you, Austin.

You’d be better off spending the time thinking. If you won’t, then should someone else be asked to do it for you?

Now this was just flat out mean of you… I was being sincere and you rejected my care by “trying” to insult me. And, you “tried” to humiliate me with sarcasm…

I leave you with this:

Sinner’s Prayer – Become a Sinner Saved by Grace!
What’s the key to the Sinner’s Prayer? As long as we are content to live in sin, the Bible says we are separated from God. That condition may seem fine for a while, but it ultimately leads to misery and then to eternal separation from God. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25). The good news is that God Himself has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, and He has done this through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-15).

What about you? Are you content to live for yourself, get the most toys, and die anyway? Or do you want a life of purpose and hope? God, the One who created you, has a purpose for your life and wants to give you a new beginning. If you are ready to admit your need for a clean slate in life, the God of second chances is waiting to give it to you. All you have to do is start with the Sinner’s Prayer.

Sinner’s Prayer – Recognizing the Need
The “Sinner’s Prayer” is a term that describes the words spoken by a person when he or she has recognized their sin and their need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It goes something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

In God’s grace!
Michael

Again,

November 29, 2007 at 11:14 pm
(16) Michael says:

Tracieh,

I would surely like to discuss this topic with you but only if you would be ready with a softened heart. The truth is is that you do not want the Bible to be true. That is why you spend so much time trying to disprove it… Why do you put so much effort, time, and energy towards a God you do not believe or is full of contradictions and hypocrisy? What you said could not be so far from the truth. I realized that speaking to athiests does nothing but cause strife. Anytime I speak of Jesus around an athiest, they get SOOO angry. Why? One time I told an ahtiest that Jesus loves him at a party and he told me to shut the F&%# up! Why would he be so mean about it? Why is Jesus so offensive to people??? Athiests spend so much time worrying about a God that doesn’t exist-why? WHy can’t athiest leave Christians alone? Why the anger? My intent to comment on Austin’s article was to try to understand why Athiests attack God… Again, why read the Bible, debate, write, and read articles about God? Why does the Christian life bother you so much? My quesions were rhetorical so that perhaps the questions can challenge you to ask yourself why in fact you do spend so much time refuting God. Is ther something stirring up inside that you haven’t come to terms with? Are you angry with God because you were hurt? God has revealed Himself to us and unfortunately some still reject Him. People that were around Jesus and witnessed His miracles and healings still rejected Him?
With all that said, what can I possible say to you that would convince you that there are no contradictions and hypocrisy in the Bible and that God is real? Probably not much with your hardened heart towards God. You have “chose” to disbelieve in Him…
The OT written hundreds of yrs before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death, and resurrection. Mathematically speaking, the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy is staggering. mathematicians put it this way:
1 person fulfilling 8 prophecies: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000
1 person fulfilling 48 prophecies: 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power.
1 person fulfilling 300+ prophecies: only Jesus!
His birth was predicted: When, where, how, by whom (Mary was just ordinary)
His coming was predicted by which bloodline he would come
How he would die was predicted exactly (mind you, the time Isaiah wrote about his crucifixion, Rome did not kill people that way yet)
Daniel predicted when He would come (after the first temple destroyed and right before the second one was built)…

Wars were predicted.
Regions that were destroyed/fell were predicted…

If the above evidence doesn’t convince you to at least look into things, then what else could I tell you?
Nobody has the power to predict and have them come true. It is 100% accuracy. Not ONE mistake–that is impossible. Investigate for yourself. The facts are there…

All I can do is pray for those who do not believe and leave you with this:

Sinner’s Prayer – Become a Sinner Saved by Grace!
What’s the key to the Sinner’s Prayer? As long as we are content to live in sin, the Bible says we are separated from God. That condition may seem fine for a while, but it ultimately leads to misery and then to eternal separation from God. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25). The good news is that God Himself has made a way for us to be reconciled to Him, and He has done this through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-15).

What about you? Are you content to live for yourself, get the most toys, and die anyway? Or do you want a life of purpose and hope? God, the One who created you, has a purpose for your life and wants to give you a new beginning. If you are ready to admit your need for a clean slate in life, the God of second chances is waiting to give it to you. All you have to do is start with the Sinner’s Prayer.

Sinner’s Prayer – Recognizing the Need
The “Sinner’s Prayer” is a term that describes the words spoken by a person when he or she has recognized their sin and their need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It goes something like this:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

In Him,
Michael

November 30, 2007 at 6:23 am
(17) Austin Cline says:

Again, A lie has to be “deliberate”… I did not deliberately try to decieve you in any way.

Again, it’s not possible for you to have read the claim and miss the example.

Now this was just flat out mean of you…

No more mean than your implication that I need to be prayed for. Perhaps you should think about how that looks from another’s perspective rather than remain locked in your own perspective and assume that others see things as you do. If you don’t like the suggestion that you need someone to do your thinking for you, then I recommend you stop telling people that you will be praying for them unless and until you ask them how they feel about that.

Are you content to live for yourself, get the most toys, and die anyway?

No, and it’s both arrogant and rude of you to imply that that is how I live because I don’t believe in your god. It is, furthermore, bigoted to imply that I live without meaning or purpose. You claim to only have the best intentions, but you reveal that in your heart you’re just a bigot.

November 30, 2007 at 6:31 am
(18) Austin Cline says:

The truth is is that you do not want the Bible to be true. That is why you spend so much time trying to disprove it…

Again with the arrogance — this time, assuming you know what she does and does not want. This time, though, it’s such a convenient excuse to avoid having support the claims you have made. Funny how that works.

WHy can’t athiest leave Christians alone?

Since you’re the one who came here, that question should actually be reversed.

My intent to comment on Austin’s article was to try to understand why Athiests attack God…

That’s a lie. When you actually asked the questions about that subject, you admitted that they were only rhetorical questions. A rhetorical question is not a question designed to elicit a real answer. Ergo, you did not ask “why atheists attack God” (notice the lower-case a — atheist is not a proper noun) with the purpose of learning any new information. People ask rhetorical questions when they think they already know the answer.

My quesions were rhetorical so that perhaps the questions can challenge you to ask yourself why in fact you do spend so much time refuting God.

Once again you admit that the questions were rhetorical and that you weren’t trying to learn anything new; furthermore, you arrogantly assume that atheists here haven’t thought about the issues. The more civil, serious, and reasonable approach would have been to ask real questions and set aside any assumptions you may have had in the hopes of learning something new.

You didn’t do that, though.

All I can do is pray for those who do not believe

Actually, you also have the option of thinking more about what you are doing, what you are saying, and what you believe. Since you won’t, perhaps you should find someone to do the thinking for you? If you still find it “mean” that anyone would suggest you need someone do your thinking for you, then I again recommend that you stop saying that others need you to be praying for them.

November 30, 2007 at 7:02 am
(19) Simon says:

Michael:

In your first post you claim:

1. To have read Austin’s article on Jesus’ ethics.

2. You claim that Austin says in that article that Jesus was a hypocrite. This is true.

3. You then claim that Austin does not provide a single example. This is not true. Austin even includes the chapter/verses where his examples can be found.

In later posts you claim that you did not knowingly tell an un-truth.

I can’t see how you can get out of this one. Please explain. As far as I can see, either you lied about having read the article or you lied about the content of the article.

Or is it that you are incapable of understanding plain English?

I repeat, please explain.

November 30, 2007 at 7:29 am
(20) Simon says:

Michael:

And when you’ve finished explaining that one for us, how about explaing how the numbers you cite represent the odds of fulfilling the stated number of prophesies.

If that is too complicated, then feel free to tell us which “mathematicians put it this way”.

November 30, 2007 at 11:23 am
(21) tracieh says:

Tracieh,
>I would surely like to discuss this topic with you but only if you would be ready with a softened heart. The truth is is that you do not want the Bible to be true.

Which is why I spent so many years as a Xian trying to prove it to other people, until I studied the issue independently and found _I_ was the one who was misled.

That is why you spend so much time trying to disprove it…

And what is your theory on why all the best Bible translation teams point out the forgeries. Are they also against the Bible—is that why they devote years to study of the manuscripts and translating the books for mass production?

>Why do you put so much effort, time, and energy towards a God you do not believe or is full of contradictions and hypocrisy?

Because I care about people. And after realizing how much time, energy, and life I devoted to a falsehood that causes much harm, I decided I needed to do what I can to try and help any others who might want to save themselves the same sort of loss.

Your question would be like asking a woman who is not abused by her husband, but who used to be abused, why she feels it’s necessary to devote time at a woman’s shelter—since she is not an abused woman. You would absolutely understand the motivation in any other case—but you act as though you can’t apply the same logic to this situation. I call that disingenuous.

>What you said could not be so far from the truth.

I agree—although I don’t think that’s what you meant to say.

>I realized that speaking to athiests does nothing but cause strife. Anytime I speak of Jesus around an athiest, they get SOOO angry. Why?

Because religion is massive and harmful. It takes people’s time, money, energy, life, and minds—and it’s false. Many atheists are aggravated that such a power structure has such a stranglehold on so many good people’s minds/lives. It is upsetting to see even young children indoctrinated into an ideology that condemns critical thinking and reason—and praises gullibility (faith) as the highest virtue. I don’t get upset when someone “speaks of Jesus”—but I do get extremely concerned when someone is promoting Christianity (or any other harmful ideology).

>One time I told an ahtiest that Jesus loves him at a party and he told me to shut the F&%# up! Why would he be so mean about it?

I don’t know, as I wouldn’t say such a thing. So, I can’t guess why anyone would speak that way to anyone else about anything. You’d have to ask _him_. It could be that when you disrespected his view on the matter, he felt a need to reciprocate. I don’t agree that reciprocating disrespect with disrespect is justified—but some people do, and if I had to wager, that’s what I’d assume.

>Why is Jesus so offensive to people???

Jesus is no more offensive than the Easter Bunny. But when someone is telling me the Easter Bunny is an all knowing, existing, all powerful entity that judges me to be worthy of eternal punishment for simply living my life—guess what? I still don’t get upset. But when belief in the Easter Bunny becomes an unofficial requisite for things like getting elected president—NOW I have a concern.

You seem to be confusing “Jesus” with religion. Religion is what is offensive to many. Jesus is a historical figure (who may/may not have ever existed) who is long dead. He’s not offensive to anyone that I’m aware of.

Athiests spend so much time worrying about a God that doesn’t exist-why?

Because a person can’t be elected president in this nation without believing in god—and god doesn’t exist, so there’s something really messed up about it—and it’s infected the nation at such high levels that it is a major concern. If it had the same appeal as palmistry or Tarot, it’s not likely it would get such backlash. Since it infiltrates so much of our life in the U.S.—and often is at odds with Constitutional rights and freedoms, it differs significantly from other con ideologies—and does impact those who don’t believe quite a lot. In fact, one of our TEA officials was just forced to resign mainly for not showing deference to “Intelligent Design” in a science classroom setting! And this is AFTER the Dover trial. If religion didn’t adversely affect the society—I, and most other atheists, wouldn’t give it a second thought.

>WHy can’t athiest leave Christians alone? Why the anger?

Didn’t you say YOU told the atheist you were talking to that Jesus loves him? WHY can’t the theists leave the atheists alone? Why aren’t you asking that? Perhaps if Christians kept their religion a matter of personal, private concern, and didn’t thrust it on the larger society—there wouldn’t be this “anger” you notice.

>My intent to comment on Austin’s article was to try to understand why Athiests attack God…

Then let me help you. Your question is nonsensical to an atheist, first of all—since atheists don’t believe in god. You can’t attack something you don’t believe exists. Atheists attack religion. They also sometimes take on “god” as an idea in a hypothetical mode in order to dialogue with Xians. But when an atheist says “god”—it’s not a concept the atheist holds, it’s the atheist addressing a concept the theist holds. The atheist is never more than attacking the theist’s mental symbol—the atheist would not think of it as “attacking god,” as he/she does not believe in god. The atheist is attacking a religious ideology only—a perspective held by a person. If you truly want to grasp an answer to your question, then you’ll consider this.

> Why does the Christian life bother you so much?

If Muslims became the dominant religion where you live, and they wanted to start passing Sharia laws in your district, and they had the numbers to make sure only someone who professed faith in Allah could be elected to office…you’d be cool with that, right? Your claim to not understand this either illustrates a massive disconnect in your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, or your just _that_ disingenuous. I’m not sure which.

>My quesions were rhetorical so that perhaps the questions can challenge you to ask yourself why in fact you do spend so much time refuting God.

It’s too bad they’re rhetorical, as they illustrate ignorance and a lack of understanding of diversity and perspective. You could learn something from the answers, but as you ask without wanting answers, I think that really sums up your reason for this dialogue. A person who sincerely wants to know “why atheists…” doesn’t ask in a rhetorical mode—they ask sincerely wanting to know. You ask rhetorically “why” because you assume your presumed reasons are correct—but they’re not. So, you’ll never learn—as you don’t want or expect any actual responses (i.e., answers).

>Is ther something stirring up inside that you haven’t come to terms with? Are you angry with God because you were hurt?

Not at all. I used to be a Christian—a very devout, very proselytizing Christian. Nothing “bad” happened to make me lose faith. I studied the Bible from a historical vantage point, began to see that my belief it was from god was not supported by history. And I valued truth over what I wanted to believe. It didn’t matter how much I thought I was right (as you do now)—if what I believed wasn’t true, I didn’t feel it was right to keep professing it to others—or to myself. I had to hang it up when I learned I was wrong.

>God has revealed Himself to us and unfortunately some still reject Him.

No, god has not revealed himself to anyone. I’m in a dialogue right now with another person (who also wrote to an atheist list…BTW, do you find it at all hypocritical that YOU came to an ATHEIST list to ask atheists why they are always worrying about Christians?) who can’t explain what god is. The sun reveals itself each day. God hasn’t revealed himself. If he had, I assume this other guy would be able to show me the manifestation that is revealing. Instead he shows me his claims and the claims of others (which is all the Bible is), and asks me to believe, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that there is a god manifesting somewhere. No, there’s not. There’s just a lot of people claiming it—but nothing to show for it.

>People that were around Jesus and witnessed His miracles and healings still rejected Him?

Here’s a good example of a claim. If I ask you how you know this, you will point to the Bible. I have provided examples of forgeries in the Bible. I don’t accept it as god’s word, as I know people have mucked with it—the translators themselves have indicated this to everyone. The question is—why do you accept the word of your church that it’s from god—and reject the word of the scholars who translate it—and who tell you point blank it’s not even a perfect copy of whatever existed originally. On top of that, the book itself makes no claim to be god’s word. Luke certainly explains that he just interviewed people and jotted down their tales for another party. He doesn’t claim inspiration. Why do you claim it for him? Who gave you that authority? Did god tell you Luke was inspired? He didn’t seem to bother to tell Luke…? Is that at all odd to you? Luke doesn’t (and the Bible doesn’t) say he’s inspired, but your church tells you he was—and rather than believe Luke—you believe your pastor.

>With all that said, what can I possible say to you that would convince you that there are no contradictions and hypocrisy in the Bible and that God is real?

Any Moslem would give me the same arguments. In fact, I have had this discussion with a Moslem who said the Koran is contradiction-free and Allah exists. Do you accept his book and his god as well—since he has the same evidence to support his claims as you have?

>Probably not much with your hardened heart towards God. You have “chose” to disbelieve in Him…

You make assumptions. Not only did I preach in bars, at college, at Disney World on vacation…I brought strangers to church. My brother was a preacher. My good friend, Matt, was studying for the ministry…all of us studied ourselves right out of our faith. If you value truth and your value reason—faith just isn’t compatible. This isn’t about hardening a heart—it’s about using a brain.

>The OT written hundreds of yrs before Jesus’ birth, contains over 300 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death, and resurrection.

Forgeries. Which part of that don’t you get? First of all, most of the prophecies weren’t about Jesus—they were about historic figures (generally rulers who lived during OT times) that later people attributed to Jesus. Second of all, many of the “prophecies” are so general and vague they could apply to many, many people. Thirdly, knowing that people just went in and took the liberty of adding text to later manuscripts that were used in producing the Bible—how can you trust what you’re reading and take it as unquestionable?

>Mathematically speaking, the odds of anyone fulfilling this amount of prophecy is staggering. mathematicians put it this way:

Again, the Koran has prophecies that Moslems will tell you have been fulfilled. When you accept the Koran, I’ll consider your arguments, at least, to not be disingenous.

Also, here’s something to think about. Even if Jesus did every magical thing you claim and attributed it to god. That in no way verifies a god exists. If Jesus was able to defy all the known laws of physics and come back from the dead. That verifies that this person was able to defy all the laws of physics and come back from the dead—and he thought god was the reason. That doesn’t verify god exists.

If I open an empty box and you see it’s empty. And I tell you there’s a coffee mug inside, what would it take for you to believe that the box is not empty? If the mug doesn’t manifest—does it matter what I say to you? If I turn water into wine, and say, “I did that because of the power of the mug in the box,” does my turning water into wine prove there’s a mug in the box?

>Wars were predicted.

I prophesy that in the coming week, people will die in Iraq. Let’s see if my prophecy comes to pass. If it does, will you believe I’m in touch with the divine authority?

>Regions that were destroyed/fell were predicted…

Many people predicted the New Orleans levies would fail—is that divine?

>If the above evidence doesn’t convince you to at least look into things, then what else could I tell you?

Tell me you’re going to say “Mohammed was truly a prophet of god.” That won’t convince me you’re right—but at least I’ll know that you’re willing to accept as valid the same “evidence” from others, as you expect me to accept as valid from you.

It is 100% accuracy. Not ONE mistake–that is impossible. Investigate for yourself. The facts are there…

I have investigated it. It’s just about wanting it to be true. It doesn’t hold up. And it’s not proof of any god.

>All I can do is pray for those who do not believe and leave you with this:

Prayer is a great example of the harm caused by religion. How much time do you reckon people spend prayer rather than doing? How many hours do people pray for help with their lives—when they can and should be working to make their lives better? Prayer is time and energy taken away from actual actions that could result in real improvement.
>What about you? Are you content to live for yourself, get the most toys, and die anyway?

Who says I’m collecting toys? You’re using the false dilemma fallacy. You assume that it’s either “god” or “commercialism.” That’s not true. I work with a volunteer group, the Atheist Community of Austin. We have adopted a highway and do a once-a-month clean up. We do a blood drive every 8 weeks, where a group of us go to the blood and tissue center and donate blood. I support local animal shelters with donations and do personal animal rescue work. Why would you assume my goal in life is about “things” or “money”? You don’t understand atheists at all. Atheists don’t believe in god. That speaks to nothing else about what does motivate each individual atheist. You make sweeping assumptions about people you know nothing about—rhetorically—because you aren’t interested in someone actually pointing out if you’re wrong or not. You don’t want to know that I’m actually a caring person who can selflessly devote myself to others because I like people and even other species. You want to think I’m a shallow, uncaring, materialistic (in the vulgar sense) person with no depth or love—because I think your god is a fantasy.

Your wrong. But you won’t ever know it—because your rhetorical questions assure that you’ll never get any informative feedback that might challenge your false assumptions.

>Or do you want a life of purpose and hope? God, the One who created you, has a purpose for your life and wants to give you a new beginning. If you are ready to admit your need for a clean slate in life, the God of second chances is waiting to give it to you. All you have to do is start with the Sinner’s Prayer.

I’m not a horrible person. If I die and there is a god and he sends me to hell for the life I’ve led—he’s a prick. And I can endure an eternity of torture with dignity—knowing I didn’t worship a prick who would torture the average Joe for living his life. If you agree that Hitler deserves the same punishment as someone who tells a lie—again, I can’t reason with a person who’s mind has been so poisoned as to call that “just.”

And just to clarify—I’m not attacking god. I’m using the concept of god as a hypothetical to show you the absurdity of what you’re putting forward. If your god exists, he killed nearly every life form on the planet—including all the infants and toddlers—because he wasn’t happy with his own creation. He wanted a do-over—and all the lives of all the animals and people on the planet weren’t important enough to “redo” it—since he’d mucked it up the first time around. Your bible says, “The LORD was grieved that he had made man.” It doesn’t say “The Lord did a bang up job—but people messed up.” He was SORRY about what he’d done. He made a mistake and he needed to erase it—and however many thousands upon thousands of executions of men, women, and children that meant—he was cool with it. THAT’S the concept of god you want me to lovingly embrace—and call “just,” and worship in order to avoid an eternal torment you agree I deserve because every average human is just THAT horrible in your (and your concept of god’s) opinion.

THAT’s messed up. And that’s the sick sort of thing religion does when it twists people’s minds. It leaves them with a moral bankruptcy where they can’t tell the difference between genocide and justice. That’s why atheists are unnerved by it—it’s pervasive, and it really, really mucks with people’s heads—people (that you don’t realized) many of us actually care about and don’t want to see mucked up in the fashion you’re illustrating.

Why do I do what I do as an atheist activist? I do it to help people like you. Maybe not now–but maybe in five years you’ll finally put the pieces together and see what’s been done to you, and step out into the light of reason.

You keep on praying. I’ll keep on working. But please, in your prayers, add this: “Lord, let truth prevail.” And if you say it enough and really mean it–maybe it will sink in one day.

November 30, 2007 at 11:34 am
(22) tracieh says:

OOPS!

The beginning of my post above should have cut out the intro “Tracieh” and had it addressed to Michael. Also, I didn’t format that correctly in the first few lines. Just to clarify, it should have started thusly:

TO Michael:

>I would surely like to discuss this topic with you but only if you would be ready with a softened heart. The truth is is that you do not want the Bible to be true.

Which is why I spent so many years as a Xian trying to prove it to other people, until I studied the issue independently and found _I_ was the one who was misled.

>That is why you spend so much time trying to disprove it…

And what is your theory on why all the best Bible translation teams point out the forgeries. Are they also against the Bible—is that why they devote years to study of the manuscripts and translating the books for mass production?

***

Sorry if that caused confusion.

November 30, 2007 at 11:51 am
(23) tracieh says:

I found other format muck ups of mine. I’m trusting that my words will be easy to differentiate between Michael’s however–so I won’t keep posting revisions for formatting purposes.

December 3, 2007 at 8:09 am
(24) tracieh says:

>The Bible has been accused of hypocrisy and contradictions but nobody has ever been able to prove it.

Just to add. I can’t force someone who won’t accept a contradiction to accept one, but for the record, if you read the resurrection stories in the gospels side by side, they hardly agree on anything.

Further, this is one of my favorite contradictions. I even did a cartoon about it awhile back:

Matthew 27:3-5:

3When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4″I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”
“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Acts 1:18-19:

18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

***

So, did Judas hang himself or explode in a field? And did he give the money back out of remorse, or buy a field with it?

I once heard that he hanged himself and the rope broke, and he exploded. If Xians give themselves the right to just make up any sort of “Well the Bible doesn’t say this–but this HAS to be what happened, because the Bible CAN’T have contradictions”–then you’re right. Some Xians even say that after he threw the money down, he had a change of heart, went back, picked it up, and bought a field.

The point is, however, the Bible doesn’t say any of these things that Xians fill in and try to say MUST have occurred. If you start with the bias that even a blaring contradiction CAN’T be a contradiction–then you’ll never see a contradiction. And in the worst cases, where there is no apparent explanation that appeals to the theist I’m dialoguing with–they just say, “Well, I don’t understand it–but god is mysterious, and one day I will understand it.”

Well, geez, if you’re going to believe anyway, in the face of a real problem that even you are unable to reconcile. It’s really hopeless. That’s what I call indoctrinated/brainwashed.

December 23, 2007 at 10:45 pm
(25) Rob says:

Is a Christmas tree a religious symbol? It’s the number one holiday poll on this site: http://www.apopularitycontest.com/poll_category.php?category=Holidays So far 135 people voted on it, and most are saying no.

December 10, 2008 at 5:01 pm
(26) Darwin Finch says:

I respect Austin’s ability to stick with the tenacity of someone like Michael. I find Michael’s brand of longwinded, empty explanations exhausting and ultimately unfulfilling. For me, one of the greatest things about atheism is the discovery that one may be moral and happy without wading through the muckbogs of religious reasoning like the kind Michael offers. When I made that discovery it was like driving up to a morality wholesale depot where ethics and happiness could be had without the middleman or the markup at a retail shop. Perhaps the declining need for moral salesmen is why some theists have a problem with atheism (need I cite sources?).

December 10, 2008 at 8:50 pm
(27) Pete Seeker says:

In a sense, everything is secular, depending on how you define the term.

The Ten Commandments were written by humans in behalf of an imaginary deity. They are not God’s commandments, they are human thoughts.

December 10, 2008 at 9:46 pm
(28) Austin Cline says:

In a sense, everything is secular, depending on how you define the term.

Yes, it’s possible to define a term into meaninglessness.

The Ten Commandments were written by humans in behalf of an imaginary deity. They are not God’s commandments, they are human thoughts.

And churches are built by humans, does that make them secular? If everything is secular and nothing is religious, the terms become meaningless. That’s a tactic employed by someone who isn’t actually interested in honest, substantive debate. It’s a tactic used by someone who knows their arguments can’t hold water and so need to score cheap rhetorical points to get anywhere.

December 11, 2008 at 3:06 pm
(29) Pearl Ostroff says:

I love Xmas trees. I was born into a non-Christian family, I am an atheist. I don’t put up my own tree and my parents would never have thought of it. But I watched the Santa Claus parade from my bedroom window (until I was five, we lived in an apartment that faced a major street in the city that the parade went down}. As an adult, for the last ten years or so I watch Scrooge with Alastair Sim every year. I love the movie and Sim’s acting, but felt slightly guilty watching it until I realized that it and Dickens was celebrating a pagan holiday, not the Christian Xmas.

December 12, 2008 at 6:36 pm
(30) deegee says:

I always get a big laugh when I read or hear someone try to “justify” their god by quoting the bible. To me, the bible is nothing but a fairy tale, a piece of fiction. It is a good piece of fiction, like “Alice in Wonderland”, but still a piece of fiction.

I was born jewish so Xianity was never a possible religion to be raised in. I abandoned being jewish when I was a teenager when I realized what a piece of fiction the bible is.

Quoting the bible to prove god or jesus christ is like proving the “Mock Turtle” exists by using “Alice in Wonderland” as a basis for it.

December 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm
(31) AtheistGeophysicistBob says:

Michael (11). Since I am unable to interpret scripture (not a Xtian), please answer a question that I have asked Fundies many times on this Site, and all have chosen not to answer. Scripture says that Jesus said the Earth is flat; is it flat, or did Jesus lie? I am waiting…

December 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm
(32) ChuckA says:

I’m sure I read the comments in 2007 & 09. In reading through them again, I have to say that Austin and Tracieh do an excellent (Yoeman’s?) job of analysis RE Michael’s (rather annoying) “preaching”. Tracie, IMO, brought up some REALLY interesting points; and, as is the usual case with her perceptive comments, I’m impressed by her diligent patience in spending so much time making her case.

On the contradiction about Judas…one of my favorites, also…I had forgotten the part where he…”exploded”.
Reading that immediately sent me into my silliness ‘mode’, remembering an old SCTV shtick, combined with a bit of “Pythonesque” humor:

“Acts 1:18-19:

18 With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.
19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this…”
[Recently discovered passage]: :shock:
“…And one witness was reported to have loudly exclaimed…
“He blowed up…R-E-E-E-E-EAL good!”

December 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm
(33) Coryat says:

Big props for having the patience to wade through so much sludge Austin and Tracieh. My reply would have been more along the lines of ‘If Christ comes back we’ll crucify him again.’

“I realized that speaking to athiests does nothing but cause strife. Anytime I speak of Jesus around an athiest, they get SOOO angry. Why? One time I told an ahtiest that Jesus loves him at a party and he told me to shut the F&%# up! Why would he be so mean about it? Why is Jesus so offensive to people??? Athiests spend so much time worrying about a God that doesn’t exist-why? WHy can’t athiest leave Christians alone?”

Maybe it’s because people don’t appreciate being sold spiritual ponzi schemes at parties?

“Now this was just flat out mean of you… I was being sincere and you rejected my care by “trying” to insult me. And, you “tried” to humiliate me with sarcasm…”

I couldn’t venture an opinion as to why “you” put scare “quotes” around random words; for what it’s worth though, I think you’ve humiliated yourself with your stream of consciousness prose babbling about a fictitious God.

“I have heard testimonies from David Berkowitz and Ted Bundy crying like children asking for forgiveness and are now changed! (well, Ted Bundy is dead now).”

Oh well, no harm no foul I guess.

N.B

“Cod, the One who created you, has a purpose for your life and wants to give you a new beginning. If you are ready to admit your need for a clean slate in life, the God of second chances is waiting to give it to you”

This bit sounds pretty good; clean slate, does that mean like bar tabs and stuff? Or is the God of Second Chances only good for roulette?

December 22, 2009 at 7:57 am
(34) tracieh says:

Chuck/Coryat:

Just to say thanks. If it weren’t for people like you expressing your appreciation, it would be hard to go on fighting Goliath. There is so much overwhelming ignorance and irrationality, and sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible for reason to ever be the driving force for the majority of people. It just seems such a majority is so easily swayed by irrational offerings, and getting them to even see the fallacies they’re making can be a long and arduous journey. Before AETV, I was doing this on my own, and never saw whether or not I had an impact. But now, I get mail often from people around the globe–a modest but dispersed audience–thanking me. And often, those people are recent atheists, writing to say that AETV actually impacted them and got them thinking and ultimately to understand their belief WAS based on irrationality, fear, or accepting “evidence” that, upon further investigation, was shown to be invalid.

While it’s nice to get these notes personally, I want to say that I now realize that ANY atheist anywhere who is posting reasoned arguments or information about evidence that might get anyone to think, “is that right?”–just to make someone think–can have an impact. Those notes of thanks to us, really could be sent to anyone who publicly expresses atheist perspectives online. But anonymous atheists don’t get the benefit of feedback letting them know that what they wrote or said online had an impact. I promise you it can and it does.

So, just to share the “thanks” to everyone who plays a part by expressing themselves publicly.

December 22, 2009 at 2:55 pm
(35) Coryat says:

Aww shucks, thanks!

“There is so much overwhelming ignorance and irrationality, and sometimes I wonder if it’s even possible for reason to ever be the driving force for the majority of people.”

While I was never a full blown faith head, it was during my A level course in religious studies that I first started reading this site, and Austin’s insightful work, especially on the relationship between agnosticism and atheism helped me to clarify things in my own mind. Similarly, it was studying theodicies and arguments for god that helped me realise my own atheist stance. Don’t be discouraged: although I’m only one small example, I was reached by reason.

December 22, 2009 at 8:25 pm
(36) ChuckA says:

Tracie/Coryat:

I think it’s helpful, at least occasionally, to give credit and appreciation to fellow atheist commenters; not that we want to get into any extensive ‘kissy-pooh’, “I’ll scratch yours/you scratch mine”
[BACK, that is! ;) ]
I’m reminded also from both of your comments, how “lucky” we are (thanks to Science, of course!) to have the Internet. Personally, it was a long journey for me to fully discover my atheism. I went from agnosticism in the 1960s, through almost 20 years of mixed bag agnosticism/New Age/Quasi-Buddhism in the ’70s, until my ‘complete atheist awakening’ when I was in my late 40s; towards the end of the 1980s. [My longtime female companion, also an atheist, shared much of the same.]
Tangentially…We had our first computer (Commodore 64) from 1983; then an Amiga 500 (1994); but it wasn’t until we bought a Compaq PC laptop in 1999, that we got on the Internet. What a breakthrough in communications! Finally…we discovered a whole atheist community online. “Alone no more!”; and I think I first discovered Austin’s Site ca. 2001(?)…and this became a particular favorite daily oasis.

Cutting to the chase…I just turned 70…and almost everyone I know, including family, “associates”, various friends, old High School classmates/buddies, etc., are STILL invariably god believers (‘god botherers’), to one degree or another.
AND…from my experience, for those who still AREN’T computer literate and Internet connected; there’s absolutely no way to “reach” them regarding any rational, critical thinking. At least those who are on the Internet, one can link them to info, etc.; with occasional, extremely careful, caution and tact, of course!

Anyway, it’s very satisfying reading this always stimulating Site, and such intelligent, perceptive commenters like youse guys…and many others, of course.
A big THANKS (w. feigned kisses and hugs?) for all your time and effort!

And, while I’m at it…two other favorite atheist Site plugs?
(“Erm…Somebody stop Me?”):
1) “The Atheist Experience” (“Huh…say what?”)
http://atheist-experience.com/

And if, like me, you enjoy engaging in an occasional full-blown atheist ‘rant’:
2) “God is for Suckers”
http://gods4suckers.net/

December 21, 2011 at 2:51 am
(37) Brain Dead Administrator says:

THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING [oops, caps] for providing a forum where we can speak without fear of our comments being deleted thus “skewing” the information being read.
It’s Dec 2011 [ and the world didn't end this past summer. as expected] and your information is still as relevant today as it was when it was posted.

I’ll leave this letter from a dear friend

Dear fellow-unbelievers,

Nothing would have kept me from joining you except the loss of my voice (at least my speaking voice) which in turn is due to a long argument I am currently having with the specter of death. Nobody ever wins this argument, though there are some solid points to be made while the discussion goes on. I have found, as the enemy becomes more familiar, that all the special pleading for salvation, redemption and supernatural deliverance appears even more hollow and artificial to me than it did before. I hope to help defend and pass on the lessons of this for many years to come, but for now I have found my trust better placed in two things: the skill and principle of advanced medical science, and the comradeship of innumerable friends and family, all of them immune to the false consolations of religion. It is these forces among others which will speed the day when humanity emancipates itself from the mind-forged manacles of servility and superstitition. It is our innate solidarity, and not some despotism of the sky, which is the source of our morality and our sense of decency.

That essential sense of decency is outraged every day. Our theocratic enemy is in plain view. Protean in form, it extends from the overt menace of nuclear-armed mullahs to the insidious campaigns to have stultifying pseudo-science taught in American schools. But in the past few years, there have been heartening signs of a genuine and spontaneous resistance to this sinister nonsense: a resistance which repudiates the right of bullies and tyrants to make the absurd claim that they have god on their side. To have had a small part in this resistance has been the greatest honor of my lifetime: the pattern and original of all dictatorship is the surrender of reason to absolutism and the abandonment of critical, objective inquiry. The cheap name for this lethal delusion is religion, and we must learn new ways of combating it in the public sphere, just as we have learned to free ourselves of it in private.

Our weapons are the ironic mind against the literal: the open mind against the credulous; the courageous pursuit of truth against the fearful and abject forces who would set limits to investigation (and who stupidly claim that we already have all the truth we need). Perhaps above all, we affirm life over the cults of death and human sacrifice and are afraid, not of inevitable death, but rather of a human life that is cramped and distorted by the pathetic need to offer mindless adulation, or the dismal belief that the laws of nature respond to wailings and incantations.

As the heirs of a secular revolution, American atheists have a special responsibility to defend and uphold the Constitution that patrols the boundary between Church and State. This, too, is an honor and a privilege. Believe me when I say that I am present with you, even if not corporeally (and only metaphorically in spirit…) Resolve to build up Mr Jefferson’s wall of separation. And don’t keep the faith.

Sincerely, Christopher Hitchens
(13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011)

December 21, 2011 at 2:55 am
(38) Brain Dead Administrator says:

hello?

December 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm
(39) ChuckA says:

@Brain Dead Administrator…
I’m guessing that because there are so many of these “War on Christmas” style rehashes that, after a few days, almost nobody checks back to see additional comments. Soooo…with sincere appreciation for your thoughtful and considerate posting of that highly interesting letter from Christopher Hitchens, I decided to post it on another atheist Site; which I’ve frequented for many years. That’d be Atheist Oasis; formerly “God is for Suckers”. I hope you don’t mind my presumptive action. I posted it in the comment thread of a very relevant, and excellent, tribute article by Ray Garton.
Here’s the link to my comment:
http://atheistoasis.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/nobody-makes-hitchenss-point-better-than-believers/#comment-3664
Again…my appreciative thanks, and here’s hoping for…
A Happy and Healthy 2012…?
:)

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