Why I Am Not A Christian

Rosary

As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night.  So why I am no longer a Christian?

The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is infallible? I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.

Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide? Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves? If God really loves us why would he create Hell? How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell? Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.

The single argument that shook my belief the most was The Problem Of Evil. If there is an all-powerful God who loves us all, why is there so much evil in the world? What sort of God would stand idly by and ignore the pleas of his people in the Holocaust? How can anyone look at the world history of massacre, genocide, rape and cruelty and still claim that God will help us when we need him? What about those who died from natural causes and famines? Why did God not save them? As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.

If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church? For decades the Catholic Church’s will was law in Ireland and instead of this resulting in God’s paradise, it was the pits of narrow mindedness. We were a petty, sectarian and cold nation. There was no compassion for the poor or love for the downtrodden but rather a rigid and stagnant dogma. Books and ideas that did not agree with the Church were censored, divorce banned and homosexuality made illegal (these are not ancient examples, but rather laws that were not changed until the 1990s). Women who did not conform to the Church’s view were sent to Magdalene Laundries where they were treated horribly and forced to work without pay.

It is the treatment of children that really drove me from the Church. Even if you believe in God, there is no way you can remain a member of the Catholic Church knowing what crimes priests committed. Children were regularly beaten and abused, physically and verbally. God representatives on Earth treated vulnerable children with nothing but vicious cruelty. The abuse and rape of little children was not an isolated case but rather a systematic problem. The hierarchy’s reaction was nothing short of disgraceful as its priority was to cover the abuse up in order to protect its own reputation and to this day has stalled on paying compensation to survivors. What sort of God turns a blind eye to child abuse and is silent when the perpetrators claim to act in his name?

So it was for a mixture of reasons that I grew disillusioned with Christianity. The scandals and general rigid dogma of the Church drove me away from Mass. There was also the fact that Mass in general is incredibly boring where nothing about anything seems to be said. The hypocrisy of a Church filled with gold lecturing the rest of us on the importance of charity or perpetrators of child abuse lecturing us on the morals of sex made me stop listening to the priests. If the Church really cared about the poor it would sell the Vatican and at a stroke help millions. I looked at other religions but they all seemed the same mixture of hypocrisy mixed with superstition. None of them had any answers and instead relied on “faith” (that is to say they preferred if people stopped asking questions and just accepted what they were told.) I gradually realised that my problem was more than just with the Church and that’s how I became an Atheist.

About Guest Contributor

Robert NielsenRobert Nielsen blogs at Robert Nielsen, a blog dedicated to explore issues in economics, politics and religion. Robert was raised a Catholic, but in 2012 he lost the last of his faith and is now an Atheist (See Robert’s Story: How I Became An Atheist). I(Prayson Daniel) am being edified and challenged through reading Robert’s blog. Robert’s blog offers a ground for debating and discussing, in gentleness and respect, ideas and ideologies that are not similar to mine.

Robert’s worth reading articles: 10 Questions For Christians &

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194 thoughts on “Why I Am Not A Christian

  1. Robert. It is very clear to me that your problem with Christianity stems from either a direct desire or an inability, or both, not to listen. If you perceive that I have insulted you, then you are wrong, ( in fact I think the boot is on the other foot ). You appear to have taken my response to Paarsurrey very personally. If people, not least yourself, are going to react in such a manner, I ask again, what is the point of attempting open and honest debate? Clearly you find such attempts strange – though I know not why.

  2. Paarsurrey says:
    I agree with following points of Robert Nielsen statement “Why I am not a Christian” and as to why he has become an Atheist:
    1. The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense.
    2. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least
    3. If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church?
    This is because the Church has presented a mythical Jesus instead of presenting a real Jesus and his teachings.

    • What is the point of your response – none of which makes the slightest sense to a believing Christian? Either a person believes, or they do not believe. These endless criticisms of Christianity prove nothing and are therefore pointless. If Christianity does not make any sense to you, then give up on it. Fine! If parts of the Jesus story appear strange, they either don’t bother with them, or, try to understand them, if only from a angle of literature/story telling. A principle point of Christianity, indeed Judaism and Islam also, is that God chooses who He will, whether they be of the Church or not. If you have been following/reading about a Church that represents Jesus as a mythical figure, then you have not been introduced to real Christianity. These continuous list of half-baked notions of Christianity do nothing for a real and serious debate/argument/discussion.

        • Thank you – but I don’t think there is any need to be so rude. All that does is encourage the exact opposite of what you wish for. You may wish to depart Christianity, but depart your manners too?

          • First of all, I think you need to deal with your aggression. Secondly, I made no such declaration – read properly you will see it is a question for debate. But maybe for you it is a question for the too hard basket?

  3. Robert Nielsen addresses the subject of monotheism on the basis of the bible and makes a critical all the paragraphs of the bible as a reference (since it is the bible that is your reference and the basis of your belief) and to again, to be precise, I repeat the word Elohim is a Hebrew word which is plural – read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elohim

    But I will not make any controversy on the subject of the existence of a god, you do as you want!

    @ Graywills: These wonderful uman beings, the Elohim (described in thbible) are such as we; today, they live on their planet, almost like ours, and they have 25,000 years of scientific advance on us. They contatc us by their Messngern, , Named Rael; the site http://www.rael.org explains which are the Creators of humanity and all life on earth. A scientific debunking …

    Peace and Love to All …….

  4. The Bible is incomprehensible if we believe it speaks of an immaterial god, but it is much more acceptable if you keep the term written in ancient Hebrew ‘Elohim’, which means “those who came from the sky”. Creation took place by Beings mastering perfectly genetic engineering and DNA, they sent the Prophets to guide humans to Love All Others, until the time of Revelation (‘Apocalypsis’ in Ancient Greek) where everything can be understood scientifically.
    http://www.rael.org/

    • Etienne,

      The Hebrew word for God is Elohim.

      Atheists can play words games all day long, lie, dumb down opposing arguments all day long and into the night.

      But it is the Hebrews who give meaning to their words, not atheists.

      Elohim means God. PERIOD.

      • Amen! Btw, for those that care, see the 19th century English Brit. and writer: Andrew Jukes and his book: The Names of God, the first chapter and book is worth the whole book itself! “Elohim” is a plural noun: the One true God, our Creator and Redeemer…!

  5. You can find a free PDF copy of this book here.

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/BLogicFinal.pdf

    Here is another free good one (130 pages)
    http://www.frame-poythress.org/ebooks/god-centered-biblical-interpretation/

    Here, from the book, is an conversation between a liberal, a naturalist, a critical-“methodist,” a demythologiser and a therapist on the following short Bible excerpt:

    Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath began to teach the people. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority. In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an evil spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, “Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him. All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!” And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

    Liberal:
    Now let’s discuss it. What’s your reaction? R
    R
    Natalie Naturalist:
    It shows what I’ve always suspected: the Bible comes from primitive, superstitious times. People attributed natural phenomena like mental illness to demons and occult forces. They used God and the supernatural to allay their fears. Then science came along and gave us the true explanation of how the world works. I would guess that Jesus had some kind of personal influence that helped those who were mentally ill, and then people exaggerated it into a stupid story about an evil spirit.

    Liberal:
    Isn’t Jesus’ concern for the mentally ill inspiring!

    Naturalist:
    Well, at least he tried to help them. But he was a person of his own times, and probably believed a lot of that superstitious garbage himself. I really don’t see what’s so exciting, Libbie. Everything of significance can be found in a much more enlightened form in our own modern scientific thinking.

    Carol Critical-Method:
    It is still illuminating to apply modern historical methods to ancient documents. I’ve been doing some research. We can establish that this story was once transmitted as an oral tale during the period of the early church. It belongs to the category “Miracle Story,” and the subcategory “Exorcism.” The early church used it to reinforce its claim that Jesus had divine power and to confirm the authority of its teaching, which it claimed was derived from the Master. But as people passed on the story, they introduced changes and embellishments over time. There is probably some historical core to this story. But it is so typical of the genre that it would be impossible to be dogmatic. We really don’t know what happened.

    Naturalist:
    So why should we bother to discuss this story?

    Danny Demythologizer:
    Wait a minute. Don’t dismiss the story out of hand. Martin Heidegger and Rudolf Bultmann, two of our outstanding modern thinkers, showed us that mythical stories like this one can still have a hidden message for us today. The man possessed by a demon pictures every individual that is alienated from God, and therefore alienated from fellow human beings. He lives a confused, inauthentic life, in bondage to hidden psychic powers that he does not acknowledge. Then he meets Jesus. Jesus shows that authentic, free living can be achieved by communion with God. Jesus calls him out from the alienation that fears death and fears hidden powers. He moves him into joy of loving and respecting others. Through this call of Jesus, people can still experience an existential encounter with God today. The people in the ancient world expressed these truths in mythical form, because that was part of their culture. Our culture is different, but the fundamental human struggles are still the same.

    Theo Therapist:
    I feel that Danny is onto something. But he is still too caught up with the religion thing. Sure, the culture back there was different. But what is the same is the need for self-esteem. This guy described as demon possessed must have had a case of low self-esteem.

    • Awesome Logical book. Vern Poythress is growing to be one of my favorite thinker. I would encourage Robert to read the first book. It is super thick but worth it. Thank you Raphael.

      • Graywills, I infer that you regard the Bible as a purely human book. With regard to your approval of Demythologizer’s “Jesus calls him out from the alienation that fears death and fears hidden powers. He moves him into joy of loving and respecting others. Through this call of Jesus, people can still experience an existential encounter with God today.”

        According to the Bible, the above has no direct relationship to “I was before, and am now, and I will be forever.” But then this dos not matter to you, not so?

    • “Jesus calls him out from the alienation that fears death and fears hidden powers. He moves him into joy of loving and respecting others. Through this call of Jesus, people can still experience an existential encounter with God today.” I couldn’t put it better, and that is why the words are alive today, because Jesus speaks to every age. Surely that is one meaning of, “I was before, and am now, and I will be forever.” ?!

    • I’d hate to burst your bubble, but that extract reveals a problem I have with Christianity. The belief that mentally ill people were possessed by demons is one that lead to centuries of abuse. Mental ill people were treated horrifically as the result of the baseless superstition. For example the medieval mental institute Bethleham (from which we get the word Bedlam) used to torture people until the demon left the body.

      I don’t think that is the best case you can make for Christianity.

      • The “bubble” is yours mate, for we all live in a very evil and fallen world! But Christ ALWAYS had power over the demonic spirits, and HE alone is Victor here! (Col. 2: 15) And btw, Christianity (so-called) is really “Christ Himself”, and “HE” alone is always the best case!

        • I would agree. Sadly many corners of the Church ( Catholic in particular ) continue to rely on the sort of superstitions one had hoped were left behind in the Dark Ages – sadly not. Isn’t there here a muddle between fact and language, ( or am I reading this wrong ) – surely mental illness can easily be described as demonic in certain circumstances.
          From a Christian perspective ‘HE alone’ is OK, but I am sure other Faiths have the same powers – not least our other Abrahamic brothers and sisters. ?

  6. In the end, true Judeo-Christian apologetics must be presuppositional to the authority of Holy Scripture! I taught both philosophy & theology in the latter 90’s in Israel. Btw, let me recommend Vern Poythress’s new book (this year 2013)…Logic, A God Centered Approach to the Foundation of Western Thought (Crossway, 733 pages). This might become a classic in the subject for Reformed Christians!

    • Sorry, but an Atheist website will not cut it Ark, they are just too biased.

      Please reference an Authority website like Wiki, or a University, where I can verify the source.

      “The Roman historian and senator Tacitus referred to Christ, his execution by Pontius Pilate and the existence of early Christians in Rome in his final work, Annals (written ca. AD 116), book 15, chapter 44.” [1]

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

      1. ^ P.E. Easterling, E. J. Kenney (general editors), The Cambridge History of Latin Literature, page 892 (Cambridge University Press, 1982, reprinted 1996). ISBN 0-521-21043-7

      Anyone can read Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44 for themselves at

      mcadams.posc.mu.edu/txt/ah/Tacitus/TacitusAnnals15.html

      Our “thread” is at

      withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/why-i-am-not-a-christian/comment-page-22/#comments

      I’ll copy and paste your rebuttal to Item B there and reply…

      • Please reference an Authority website like Wiki, or a University, where I can verify the source.</blockquote

        Lol….Wiki, authority. What a twit!
        Go away Roy, you are an incorrigible apologetic with absolutely no desire whatsoever to explore the truth.
        If you can’t be bothered to investigate Sulpicius Severus then I am damned if I am going to spoon feed you.
        I will suffer a fool such as you no longer.

        • The translation of the SULPICIA SEVERAL CHRONIC was enlightening, thanks paulo calidum iaculat. It mentions the Christians, and Paul and Peter, who were put to death. Are these Apostles? And I wonder what a Christian is?

          If you like Latin and want to translate Tacitus Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44 go to

          http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/tacitus/tac.ann15.shtml#44

          We find, in part, using Google Translate Latin to English “…Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most elaborate, whom he had by the common people hated for their abominations, called Chrestianos. the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate, the author of the name, Christ, was greatly affected by the punishment of checked for a moment exitiablilis superstition broke out again, not only through Judaea, the source of its evil, but even in Rome…”

          • .I have already mentioned that I have Annals. Don;t you pay attention?
            You really are not interested in properly reading and digesting other points of view are you Roy?
            A flat out numb brained fundamental apologetic.

          • I agree, the translation, in several places, does not make any sense. But notice how the Ark doesn’t answer the questions. His own SULPICIA SEVERAL CHRONIC mentions Christians, Christ, Paul and Peter. Lends more proof to what the hostile Roman Historians wrote about and confirms my proofs Ark requested, at

            withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/why-i-am-not-a-christian/comment-page-22/#comments

  7. @Walk the way (Roy)

    In fact, we can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

    Truly , I cannot be bothered to dissect these tome-sized comments. The points raised are mostly so old and easily refutable that I would probably fall asleep halfway through. They are ideal for dysfunctional fundamentalists , so you may continue to espouse your singular brand of evangelical diatribe to the ‘faithful.’
    However, the block quote I will address.
    That you site Josephus and the infamous TF, and particularly the part that includes his reference to Jesus being the Christ merely demonstrates how truly inculcated and ignorant you are.
    This has been demonstrated to be a Christian interpolation and even most normal Christians accept this as so. The Catholic Church is quite scathing of this passage.
    No Christian scholar before Eusebius ever mentions the TF in Josephus. Not one.
    If Josephus had actually regarded Jesus as the Christ or messiah if you will he would have rushed off to find the nearest Christian sect , said Hallelujah and become a Christian.
    So, only an absolute plonker would quote this spurious and blatantly fraudulent piece as ‘evidence’ Yeshua

    Now, as for Tacitus. I did say, no hearsay.

  8. Actually the great history of Ireland is one of Saints, Scholars & Kings… from Patrick, Enda, Finian, Brigid… to the travelers of Brendan, Columba, Columbanus, etc. And the Poets too! And then finally to the Reformation and the Reformers also, John Knox.. and too men like the great Archbishop James Ussher! The great Salvation-History of God continues until the eschaton! Come Lord Jesus!

  9. Hi, Robert. Thank you for sharing your story about why you are not a Christian. I was also raised in a church (though not Catholic) and left it as soon as I was able. I also disliked the hypocrisy and the God preached on Sunday mornings didn’t seem real. Martial arts led me into Eastern religions as a teenager and, eventually, I became an atheist. I became a professional journalist and it was through the skills I learned there that I was able to look at the evidence for Christianity. The hypocrites are still in the church, but the God preached on Sundays is real every day of the week. Not because I need Him to be real or want Him to be real. I believe only because He is real. People in churches have still been a big disappointment to me, but I’m not following them. I follow Jesus Christ. Interestingly, people in churches have often been a big disappointment to Jesus as well (Revelation 2 & 3). Just wanted to say hello and thank you for sharing.

  10. Okay. let’s cut to the chase.
    Robert and every other former Christian deconverted primarily because of the problem of evil and the lies in the Bible.
    Its stories are ridiculous, its claims fallacious and the gospels cannot be harmonized.
    They are historically inaccurate, geographically silly in some cases,scientifically ridiculous.
    There are no contemporary documents to vouchsafe the contents or the characters.
    There is no evidence for the biblical character of Jesus of Nazareth
    There is a complete lack of Archaeological and historical evidence for Moses, the Exodus, and the conquest of Canaan. It has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that this is a complete fiction and acknowledged so by all the worlds leading archaeologists and including many Rabbis. There are also christian scholars who acknowledge this are fact.
    Jesus and Paul both make mention of old testament characters Moses and Abraham. This suggests they were unaware of jewish history, they ignored the truth and lied anyway or were fictitious characters.

    Unless you can demonstrate unequivocally that Yeshua was not only divine but also the creator god you claim then the only thing you have is faith.
    Believe…don’t believe. No problem. But DO NOT PREACH it as truth. Leave the children alone.
    fair enough?
    Super.

    • Don’t assume that every Christian preaches, apostatises, or anything else of that ilk. I think a significant problem with both your own writing and that of Robert’s is that the comments wish to taint every Christian, and that is grossly unfair. There are doubtless hundreds of thousands of Christians that would agree with some of you points of view – just please don’t paint all with the same brush.

      • All Christians believe in the Resurrection.
        The faith stands or falls on this one thing.
        It is unprovable .
        Christians are INSTRUCTED to proselytize.
        Without the ”liberal” christians there would be no extremists, Like Creationists.
        And who’s to say they are wrong?
        They eschew Evolution and moderate christians distance themselves from such mind warping nonsense. These same Christians who think it is perfectly normal for a man to walk on water and come back from the dead and is the creator of the universe only he’s was hanging out on earth in his human disguise.
        have you ANY idea how idiotic that sounds?
        Each sect believes in its own superiority.
        There are over 40,000 different christian cults/sects.
        Which is the right one? How would a non-believer like me identify the right one when you lot can’t even figure it out?

        The Abrahamic religions are utterly ridiculous.
        It’s time the world grew up…

        • “All Christians believe in the Resurrection. The faith stands or falls on this one thing. It is un-provable.”
          Well that depends on whether or not one believes in an actual physical resurrection or a spiritual one.

          • Lol…You going to try and run a non christian pseudo-Pauline interpretation by me?
            “No, Paul didn’t mean a real risen Jesus..not physically”
            RFLMAO.
            That is rich.
            Try and run the Spiritual Resurrection past Prayson or Roy or Silence of Mind or the Pope and see what happens.
            You are hilarious!

            But you’ve got balls, I’ll give you that.

          • “You going to try and run a non christian pseudo-Pauline interpretation by me?”
            Nothing of the kind.
            “RFLMAO” – and this means what?
            Yes, being male, I do have balls.
            Like you, I have just as much right to my spirituality, thoughts, and opinions.
            What I don’t do is condemn yours.

          • Of course you are entitled to believe whatever you want. If you want to believe a man came back from the dead, fed thousands of people with fishes and stale bread crumbs and walked on water while demonstrating his ability to be a part time weatherman, and was the Creator of the Universe during his day job, this is fine by me.
            Nutters come in all shapes and sizes
            Just don’t claim this is truth and just don’t preach it to kids.

            Atheism does not have a make believe prophet as it’s mentor
            It does not lie about what it believes
            It does not proselytize to children
            And innumerable other things…including never burning witches….
            What is there to condemn?

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roflmao

          • “If you want to believe a man came back from the dead.” I think I had already answered that spiritual conundrum. But I hadn’t really expected you to take me seriously, and doubtless you never will. While I on the other hand fully respect your right to believe what you believe. Continue to enjoy your life as I will mine.

          • So do I take this as a gentlemanly agreement that you will not teach the divinity of Yeshua and all that entails to any children you may have, now or in the future?

            That would be the honourable thing to do and – not that it is in any way really important – but for that you would have my respect.

          • I do not teach, I do not preach, I do not apostatise, and I do not have any children. So I hope that makes you happy. Now, for crying out loud, shut up.

          • Ah..this is an example of the polite erudite em>I’m-not-a -rude and-arrogant-spiritual-person-at-all you have been at pains to demonstrate to all and sundry.

            Let’s hope we don’t get to see your rude and arrogant side then, hey?
            And remember this if you ever do have kids,okay?
            Super…
            Now we have cleared that up you can go be a little Jesus Sunbeam and not be rude and not be arrogant toward someone else.
            Isn’t that wonderful?
            Smiley face, smiley face.

        • “Christians are INSTRUCTED to proselytize.” This depends entirely on the manner with which one interprets the instruction of Jesus. There is no ‘instruction’ in my Christianity. And in any case, what does instruction mean? (Rhetorical question).

          • Now you are being obtuse..and I don’t like playing with people ho are dense on purpose.
            First you accuse me of being rude and arrogant for assuming you are a christian then you state openly
            “in my Christianity”.
            Would I still be rude and arrogant if I called you a damn liar?

            No I won’t call you that. You are an idiot so why waste an expletive?
            Go pander your silliness to someone else.

  11. To become cold from the coldness of the world is weakness; to become broken by the hardness of the world is feebleness; but to live in the world and yet to keep above it is like walking on the water.

  12. It is the consciousness of the God who is never absent that gives that illumination, those riches, that strength, that calm and peace to the soul for which the soul has taken the journey through this world of limitations. Experiencing life through the form of man it accomplishes its purpose, and the wish with which it started from heaven is fulfilled on earth. It is through man that God completes His creation.

  13. One does not become a Christian by his/her own efforts, including human logic or reasoning or so-called proofs. One becomes a Christian when God the father draws him/her to Jesus and instills the faith to believe. Christian faith to believe in Jesus is a gift of and from God. It is not a natural faith, but a supernatural faith. The God who saves is able to keep those whom He has saved, and He does. But, one who was never a born-again Christian (i.e., a real Christian) can become an atheist by his/her own efforts, including human logic or reasoning or so-called proof or dis-proof. Nielsen was never really a Christian (i.e., born again). If he had been, he would not have become an atheist. This is the biblical viewpoint.

    • Yes, an oft touted claim. Evangelists and other fundamentalists always have a way of snubbing every rational argument because they are not honest enough to accept any other viewpoint, especially those from fellow Christians and deconvertees. For to simply acknowledge them would immediately cast aspersions on their own jaundiced perspective.
      That they are so inculcated is perfectly demonstrated by their unwillingness or simply plain iignorance of the history of the bible’s dubious composition over several centuries.Even the ancients couldn’t agree what t was to be a proper Christian until Constantine and later Theodosius came along and made it LAW.
      And now there are around 40,000 different Christian sects/cults.

      Explain this tripe to a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Jainist or a Hindu.

      The hypocrisy is stark.

      Go read this chap’s story of deconversion. His name is Nate Owens, and a more honest and sincere chap you are unlikely to come across.
      Try telling him he was never a real Christian and let him tell you in his own words.

      Didn’t your man god have something to say about hypocrites? And this is what you and your ilk are.

      http://findingtruth.wordpress.com/

      Tell him The Ark sent you.

  14. http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k70847&pageid=icb.page346376

    For the record:
    There are no contemporary documents about Yeshua. None. So from what do you think scholars arrive at the conclusion that Yeshua existed?
    Not a single secular scholar will acknowledge that the character they state may have existed is the man god you believe in.
    Tacitus was not quoted prior to the discovery of his lost work
    Papias is only known via Eusebius – all his work is ‘lost’.
    The TF was roundly rejected long before the 20th century… by Christians

  15. Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Hadrian, Seutonius, Pliny the Younger, Josephus — not one of these men denied Jesus ever lived.

    Falsehood. And by even mentioning these names you clearly demonstrate your ignorance regarding the relevant history and are merely parroting evangelical dogma.

    http://commonpaine.blogspot.com/search/label/Did%20Jesus%20Exist%3F

    Historical References to Jesus
    If Jesus Christ had actually existed as a historical person, we would expect Jewish and Pagan historians would have made some reference to him. Historicists claim there are such references, which I will detail below.
    Suetonius, writing around 120 CE states:
    “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome.” Life of Claudius (XXv.4)

    Historicists claim that Chrestus is a misspelling for Christus, however Chrestus was actually a rather common name at the time and there’s nothing to suggest it was a misspelling. After all, Suetonius correctly spelled Christians later in the book. Also, this passage implies that Chrestus was alive at the time, but it refers to the events of 49 CE, long after Christ was dead.
    Tacitus wrote that:
    “Consequently … Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations. Called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of the Procurator Pontius Pilatus.” Annals (XV.44)

    Scholars believe this passage to be an interpolation because it isn’t quoted before the 15th Century. If Tacitus had actually written this, certainly it would have been quoted by Christians earlier than this. Also, Pilate was a Prefect, not a Procurator, which Tacitus would have known if he was getting his information from Roman records. Even if this passage is genuine, it doesn’t tell us that Jesus existed, Tacitus would just be repeating what he was told by Christians about their founder.
    Pliny wrote a letter to the emperor Trajan around 100 CE saying:
    “They also declared that the sum total of their guilt or error amounted to no more than this: that they had met regularly before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses alternately among themselves in honour of Christ as if to a god, and also to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from theft, robbery, and adultery …”

    This passage, as well as others quoted by historicists, only proves that Christians existed, not that Christ did.
    In the third century, Julius Africanus cites a passage written by Thallus that says earthquakes and darkness followed the death of Jesus. However, the original work by Thallus is lost, so this could have been an interpolation. Also, there is no other reference to earthquakes or darkness at the time from any other historian, which is quite unusual since such geological and meteorological events were dutifully recorded by historians back then.
    There are countless later references. “The letter of Pontius Pilate which he wrote to the Roman Emperor, concerning our Lord Jesus Christ” is not thought to be authentic and most historians think it was actually written in the fifth century. In the Talmud, Jesus is said to be the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier, however, as it was written hundreds of years later, it’s more likely a Jewish response to what Christians said of their founder.
    Mythicists contend that in the early centuries of Christianity, the religion encompassed a wide range of movements. The Jesus of the Gospels is different from the Jesus of Hebrews or the Jesus of Paul’s epistles. There were even some Christians who didn’t believe Christ was crucified at all. The writings of these opposing sects were destroyed in the centuries of orthodoxy that followed or altered to be brought in line with the new opinion that Jesus had in fact existed. However, there is one such text that managed to survive.
    Early Christian writer Minucius Felix wrote a dialogue between Caecilius, a pagan, and Octavius, a Christian. Caecilius accuses Christians of worshipping the head of an ass, reverencing the genitals of their priests, having orgies, and killing a baby and drinking its blood.
    “And some say that the objects of their worship include a man who suffered death as a criminal, as well as the wretched wood of his cross; these are fitting altars for such depraved people, and they worship what they deserve.”

    Octavius is horrified by such accusations and counters that Christians don’t do such things.
    “Moreover, when you attribute to our religion the worship of a criminal and his cross, you wander far from the truth in thinking that a criminal deserved, or that a mortal man could be able, to be believed in as God. Miserable indeed is that man whose whole hope is dependent on a mortal, for such hope ceases with his death.”

    Minucius Felix is defending Christians from the wild accusations that they slaughter infants and drink their blood, have orgies, or worship someone who was crucified. Clearly the crucifixion story wasn’t wide spread among all Christians in the early days.
    We now turn from a Christian who didn’t believe in the crucifixion to a Jew who supposedly did. The most famous historical references to Jesus are found in the Antiquities of the Jews written by the historian Josephus.
    “So he [Ananus, son of Ananus the high priest] assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before him the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others (or some of his companions) and when he had formed an accusation against them, he delivered them to be stoned.” (Antiquities 20.9.1)

    “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” is a rather awkward way of telling us someone’s name. It is likely that the phrase “who was called Christ” was a marginal gloss which was later inserted into the text. “The brother of Jesus” doesn’t necessarily refer to Jesus Christ, since Jesus was a rather common name at the time. Even if the phrase is a reference to Christ, “the brother of Jesus” could just as easily be a title as a familial identification.
    Since Josephus spends much more time discussing other messiahs such as John the Baptist, it would be strange for him to make only a passing reference to Jesus without going into more detail, which brings us to the second passage. I’ll include the text immediately preceding and following the reference to show it in context.
    “But Pilate undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs. However, the Jews were not pleased with what had been done about this water; and many ten thousands of the people got together, and made a clamor against him, and insisted that he should leave off that design. […] So he habited a great number of his soldiers in their habit, who carried daggers under their garments, and sent them to a place where they might surround them. So he bid the Jews himself go away; but they boldly casting reproaches upon him, he gave the soldiers that signal which had been beforehand agreed on; who laid upon them much greater blows than Pilate had commanded them, and equally punished those that were tumultuous, and those that were not; nor did they spare them in the least: and since the people were unarmed, and were caught by men prepared for what they were about, there were a great number of them slain by this means, and others of them ran away wounded. And thus an end was put to this sedition.

    “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

    “About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder, and certain shameful practices happened about the temple of Isis that was at Rome.” (Antiquities 18)
    The second paragraph above is called the Testimonium Flavianum. Even this expanded reference to Jesus is uncharacteristic of Josephus who usually goes into much more detail about even minor historical figures. Also, it doesn’t make much sense for a Pharisaic Jew to declare that Jesus was the Christ.
    What further makes the Testimonium suspect is the fact that it disrupts the flow of the passage. With the second paragraph removed, the narrative is much smoother. The first paragraph describes one calamity, the third paragraph refers to “another sad calamity.” It seems as if the second paragraph were inserted by someone. Otherwise, we’d have to read the passage as saying that the “ten thousand other wonderful things” concerning Christ were, in fact, a calamity.
    The case for interpolation is made stronger when we realize that no Christian writer refers to the Testimonium until two hundred years after it was written. Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr and Origen were undoubtedly familiar with Josephus, and would have jumped at the chance to answer their Pagan and Jewish critics with such a passage. Origen actually says that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Christ.
    The first person to cite this passage was Eusebius writing about 324 CE. Indeed, the vocabulary used in the Testimonium is more similar to Eusebius than to Josephus. For example, Josephus uses the Greek word poietes only to mean “poet”, yet in the Testimonium it is used to mean “doer” (as part of the phrase “doer of wonderful works”) Eusebius, on the other hand, does use poietes to mean “doer”. The reference to Jesus as a “wise man” whose followers did not leave him after he was crucified is similar to the argument Eusebius makes in Demonstratio. In fact, Eusebius all but admits that he committed the forgery:
    “Certainly the attestations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss, if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness.” Demonstratio Evangelica, (Book III, pg. 124)

    Eusebius is also our first source for Papias and Quadratus who both claim to have eyewitness testimony to the miracles of Jesus:
    “If by chance anyone who had been in attendance on the elders should come my way, I inquired about the words of the elders — that is, what according to the elders Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas or James, or John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples, and whatever Aristion and the elder John, the Lord’s disciples, were saying.” Now lost document by Papias (according to Eusebius)

    “The words of our Savior were always present, for they were true: those who were healed, those who rose from the dead, those who were not only seen in the act of being healed or raised, but were also always present, not merely when the Savior was living on earth, but also for a considerable time after his departure, so that some of them survived even to our own times.” Now lost document by Quadratus (according to Eusebius)

    So the question of whether there is proof of Jesus’ existence outside the Gospels or not seems to depend on how reliable you consider Eusebius of Caesarea to be. I can think of no better way to end this post than with a quote from him:
    “It shall be legitimate and appropriate to use lies as a remedy.” Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, 12:31
    I reiterate there is NO evidence for the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth who is but a narrative construct

    Furthermore , I strongly recommend you investigate the archaeological findings of Professors Israel Finkelstein and Ze’ev Herzog.

    They have demonstrated that Abraham, Moses, The Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan are all complete fiction.
    The devastating relevance is that the biblical characters Jesus and Paul both mentioned these characters which
    clearly indicates that if they were real people they were either ignorant of the truth or chose to ignore it for their own ends, which makes them liars.

    • Historical References to Jesus? You cite an atheists blog, a free blogspot website at that?

      The historicity of Jesus concerns the analysis of historical evidence to determine if Jesus of Nazareth existed as a historical figure, and if any of the major milestones in his life as portrayed in the gospels can be confirmed as historical events, as opposed to the Christ myth theory, which holds that he may be a fictional figure.

      Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed. Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.

      In antiquity, the existence of Jesus was never denied by those who opposed Christianity.

      Although a very small number of modern scholars argue that Jesus never existed, that view is a distinct minority and virtually all scholars consider theories that Jesus’ existence was a Christian invention as implausible.

      Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus

      ****

      Who is your source on the critique of the Testimonium Flavianum? The same free blogspot website?

      Refer to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_on_Jesus where I read, “The general scholarly view is that while the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety, it is broadly agreed upon that it originally consisted of an authentic nucleus with a reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate which was then subject to Christian interpolation. Although the exact nature and extent of the Christian redaction remains unclear there is broad consensus as to what the original text of the Testimonium by Josephus would have looked like.”

      “Modern scholarship has largely acknowledged the authenticity of the reference in Book 20, Chapter 9, of the Antiquities to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James” and considers it as having the highest level of authenticity among the references of Josephus to Christianity. Almost all modern scholars consider the reference in Book 18, Chapter 5, of the Antiquities to the imprisonment and death of John the Baptist to also be authentic.”

      “The Testimonium Flavianum (meaning the testimony of Flavius [Josephus]) is the name given to the passage found in Book 18, Chapter 3, of the Antiquities in which Josephus describes the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus at the hands of the Roman authorities. The Testimonium is likely the most discussed passage in Josephus and perhaps in all ancient literature.”

      ****

      Who is your source on the text about Eusebius?

      Refer to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebius

      “Eusebius held that men were sinners by their own free choice and not by the necessity of their natures. Eusebius said, “The Creator of all things has impressed a natural law upon the soul of every man, as an assistant and ally in his conduct, pointing out to him the right way by this law; but, by the free liberty with which he is endowed, making the choice of what is best worthy of praise and acceptance, because he has acted rightly, not by force, but from his own free-will, when he had it in his power to act otherwise, As, again, making him who chooses what is worst, deserving of blame and punishment, as having by his own motion neglected the natural law, and becoming the origin and fountain of wickedness, and misusing himself, not from any extraneous necessity, but from free will and judgment. The fault is in him who chooses, not in God. For God has not made nature or the substance of the soul bad; for he who is good can make nothing but what is good. Everything is good which is according to nature. Every rational soul has naturally a good free-will, formed for the choice of what is good. But when a man acts wrongly, nature is not to be blamed; for what is wrong, takes place not according to nature, but contrary to nature, it being the work of choice, and not of nature”

      You then state, “So the question of whether there is proof of Jesus’ existence outside the Gospels or not seems to depend on how reliable you consider Eusebius of Caesarea to be. I can think of no better way to end this post than with a quote from him:

      “It shall be legitimate and appropriate to use lies as a remedy.” Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, 12:31

      But when I go to the Praeparatio Evangelica and look at Book 12, Chapter 31, it states no such thing.

      tertullian.org/fathers/eusebius_pe_12_book12.htm

      Below is the real Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, 12:31, from the above source.

      “”” [PLATO] ‘But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?

      ‘Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.’

      Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction. “””

      There is no way to refute the true historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist and others unless you would burn all ancient books and manuscripts containing the references.

      • Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed. Biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of his non-existence as effectively refuted.

        Let me try to clarify this in the simplest of terms without trawling through your whole post.
        There is NO evidence to suggest the character portrayed in the bible ever existed. None. Zip Nada.

        That such a narrative construct may have been initially based on a particular individual is open for debate.
        But the miracle working, walking n water divine individual portrayed within the covers of the Bible is pure fiction and nobody, whether scholar or laymen, has ever been able to produce a single shred of evidence to verify such a person as Jesus of Nazareth ever existed.
        I hope this is clear enough?

        Thank you.

          • I have yet to come across a Christian who was not arrogant and intransigent. Are you suggesting Walk the way is not arrogant? OIr a commenter such as Silence of Mind?
            You believe in a man- god for heavens’ sake! you believe in the idiotic and fallacious virgin birth and are not even aware that the prophecy was not even referring to Yeshua.
            Your faith was able to take centre stage of the world religions after butchering its way through Europe And largely butchering fellow Christians!
            Have you no sense of humility at all?
            Are you unaware of the vile heinous abuses your religion is responsible for?
            The Crusades
            The French civil war.
            The Inquisition
            The Reformation
            The Monstrous abuses by the Catholic Church in in Northern Ireland and across the globe
            Do you know of the town of Carcasonne?
            I do. Are you aware what the Catholic Church did there? I am and I have even been there.
            Are you totally insensitive to the Witch trial,To.the heinous things the church was responsible for in South America?

            Are you completely blind to the lunacy of Creationism and the vile child abuse foisted on children through ACE?

            You are a damn hypocrite.

            .

          • Though I am firmly based as a Christian religious in that Tradition,

            also….

            And, spent some time in an Anglican monastery, praying etc; ran an Anglican parish in London;

            While it is often unwise to make assumptions considering the above one can be blamed for thinking your leanings were definitely christian.

            if you’d care t clarify then be my guest.

            Irrespective…it does not diminish the truth pertaining to christianity one iota.
            And if you think I am angry because of it, then you are sorely mistaken.
            It would be heartening if you at least showed compassion for those that suffer because of religion, especially children.

            Or does that extend beyond the bounds of your “spirituality?

            Just asking….

          • Christianity is NOT based on compassion.
            It is based on fear.
            If you are suggesting otherwise then you are mistaken.
            Maybe you do not understand the bible well enough?
            If you would like,simply ask and I will demonstrate.

          • Ironically this is what Robert said right at the beginning did he not?
            Christianity makes no sense.

            A god that demand worship, forbids any other gods ( which immediately raises the question of which gods was Yahweh referring to?) and lastly, if you do not believe in Him you will be going to Hell.
            That is some pretty scary Sh*t if you ask me.
            I cannot see an ounce of compassion there at all, can youy?
            And we haven’t got past Commandment number two

            Ever wondered why the are call COMMANDments?

            Next….

          • “if you do not believe in Him you will be going to Hell” – there is no such mandate in the Scriptures, nor is there any such mandate in the Church. If any Christian suggests there is either or both, they are wrong.

          • Oh really? LOL!

            So what was the purpose of Hell then , hotshot?
            I know the history behind it, so don’t worry about explaining its etymology, but this is NOT what the church taught then..or now, is it?

            Oh, and I notice you did the theological two step and deftly avoided confronting the first two commandments.

            Such an apologetic thing to do, right? 🙂
            Come on, you can do better than that surely? Or are youy now going to throw your toys out the cot and tell me I am arrogant once more?
            More arrogant than Yahweh? I don’t think so…

            In the King James Bible, the term “hell” is used 54 times; 31 times in the Old Testament, and 23 times in the New Testament.

            Hows that? Pretty cool…

          • “Oh, and I notice you did the theological two step and deftly avoided confronting the first two commandments.”
            You see, this is exactly what gets up people’s noses – you assume I have avoided this part of your response. For me, with regards this, there is simply nothing to respond to.

          • Exactly…a classic type William lane Craig response.
            When faced with the truth just move on to the next point.
            Nothing to respond?
            You consider a meglomaniacal deity has nothing to answer for?
            That he is a “nice guy”? A compassionate guy?

            Pah!
            If it wasn’t that Christians are so damn ignorant i would be surprised they could look themselves in the mirror.

          • William lane Craig? I have no idea who he is.
            And no, I am not avoiding or side stepping anything. There is nothing in that part of your ‘argument’ to answer.

        • I love you too Ark. Your lies, cussing, and hate speech does not anger me. I feel sorry for you, the hate you have for those that just want peace and freedom to find a spiritual connection to our Creator. I pray that you have fulfilling purpose and loved ones in your life that bring you joy, the kind of joy that I feel. It wells up and fills me and flows out and touches everything in a positive way. This joy has brought me many riches: money, houses, classic cars, a most beautiful and loving wife, children, grandchildren, good health,charity and compassion.

          Are you 100% sure our Jesus never existed? Really 100% sure? Were you there Ark? How can anything that happened 2,000 years ago really be proven today? We can see the Great Pyramids but no one really knows how they were built, given the “technology” of the time. We can see our world and all that is within but no one really knows for sure how it all came about. 100% sure? NO!

          • Are you 100% sure our Jesus never existed? Really 100% sure?

            RFLOL… “Our” Jesus, oh I Iove that.
            Yes, mate I am 100 % sure that the Jesus as described in the bible did not exist.

            Your belief is based solely on faith. There is NO evidence to support the character that you claim is god. None.
            And there are MILLIONS of people around the globe who will support me in this.
            Atheists, Muslims, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and every other non Christian person on this planet will state that your Jesus, the divine character as reflected in the bible, did not exist. Period. Are we perfectly clear now?

            As an aside.
            Shouldn’t you be donating all your worldly goods and following Jesus?
            You are going to struggle like Hell to get those fancy cars through that eye of the needle, hey Roy?
            😉
            Don’t fret so much…Yeshua still loves you.

          • They do NOT believe he was divine. They do NOT believe in the Jesus of the bible. What is it you are not understanding?

            Christianity is solely based on Jesus being god.

          • Your comment shows your lack of understanding Scripture. I can’t follow Jesus since He has already ascended to Heaven. You reference a passage in Matthew and had I been the man asking Him how to get into heaven and He told me to sell all my possessions and follow Him perhaps I would have.

            I am not rich by any stretch of the term. I have just enough to live comfortably and I still work, sort of. I have a few toys but rich, no. And the correct translation is not “camel”, but “rope”. The Aramaic word gamla means camel, a large rope and a beam. The meaning of the word is determined by its context. If the word riding or burden occurs then gamla means a camel, but when the eye of a needle is mentioned gamla more correctly means a rope. There is no connection anywhere in Aramaic speech or literature between camel and needle, but there is a definite connection between rope and needle.

            Many people living in the Bible lands at the time when the Gospels were written, erroneously believed that all wealth was a blessing from GOD. If one was poor, then the people believed that he must surely be cursed by GOD, but if one was rich he must surely be blessed by GOD. This is why the disciples then “were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” (MARK 10:26). They thought that if the rich found it difficult to enter the kingdom of GOD, what chance did the rest of them have? Much of God’s teaching endeavored to correct the false assumption that wealth is always a blessing from GOD. The truth is more the other way (JEREMIAH 9:23-24). Too often the pursuit of wealth insulated them from the workings of GOD in their lives (ISAIAH 41:17-20). It would choke the word sown in their hearts and rob them of eternal treasures their heavenly Father desired for them to obtain. Hence, it was difficult (not impossible) for a rich man to enter the kingdom of GOD.

          • Your comment shows your lack of understanding Scripture.
            Lol…any excuse to impressive the natives with your encyclopaedic ability to quote reams ..and reams…and reams and reams..of meaningless imbecilic text from one of the most fallacious books ever compiled.
            Once you develop the integrity to actually study the bible: how it was compiled and all other relevant bits of its history you will realise how utterly meaningless this clever little party piece of quoting all this text really is.

          • I didn’t make anything up, did I? You are a funny man, disrespectful and childishly immature. I say that because you resort to mockery and insults when slapped with truth. You can not use Scripture against itself Ark, it wont work with me because when you use Scripture against itself I know you are lying and I can easily explain why. So, I present a counter to your misuse and misrepresentation of Scripture and instead of an intelligent reply to my points I get, “it is too much to read”. Really? Either you are lazy or you know I am right.

            I shouldn’t expect anything more from you. It is quite obvious you read Roy’s’ Atheist Handbook On How To Win An Argument:

            “Whatever you do, don’t use logic. The way to win an Atheist argument is to use the principles of reverse gullibility. Study the fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes” to learn how it is done.

            Just keep attacking their belief and denying any evidence they bring up. Stonewalling is the preferred tactic. Never mind that your own belief is based on blind faith, just keep criticizing them for having faith and never mind that Atheism is a religion of faith too, just keep mocking ‘religion’ as if it means fallacy.

            Be sure to use flippant terms such as skydaddy and godbook and tell them that you don’t have to show any evidence for your assertions because you were born with them. and don’t forget, if you finally have nothing intelligent left to say, end the debate by calling them hateful names like imbecile and insane.”

          • Okay, Roy, here’s your opportunity.
            Demonstrate – without quoting biblical text- using historical evidence alone (you may use the bible if you are able to produce non-biblical evidence to back a claim) the veracity of the claim that Jesus is: No hearsay allowed.
            A) A real historical figure
            B) Divine
            C) Did resurrect as claimed by the bible
            D) Is the purported Creator of the Universe
            I wish to make it very clear that Jesus did NOT claim he was god in any biblical text even though Christians like to interpret the text as such.
            E) Explain the fallacious claim he was the product of a virgin birth/ supernatural impregnation (no sexual intercourse involved) as per the erroneous prophecy that was hijacked.

            That he did in fact come from the ”City” of Nazareth, and explain the etymology of the word and quote sources, if you please. (preferably not Wiki if you can avoid it.

            There you go, Roy.

            Caution: One single unsubstantiated biblical quote and I call foul. This is a historical litmus test not another widow for to espouse your doctrine, okay? Fairs fair.

            Right. The floor is all yours.

          • OK Ark.

            I’ll break each reply down and address them individually, A, B, C, D, and E, and I will try to be brief, concise and provide source URL’s where I obtain the information.

            I don’t have all day to devote to this undertaking, I must take care of my businesses, then there are meals to prepare, a household to manage, the wife wants to go for a walk through the park everyday, but I am confident I can prove these things you ask in the manner you require.

        • Item A: Is Jesus A Real Historical Figure?

          What is a “historical” person? Is it not the person who originates and bequeaths a permanent influence? He is one of those dynamic individuals who intervene in the course of history. Do any records exist to document the claim that Jesus Christ “intervened in the course of events” known as world history? Yes.

          The following records come from what are known commonly as “hostile” sources—writers who mentioned Jesus in a negative light or derogatory fashion. Such penmen certainly were not predisposed to further the cause of Christ or otherwise to add credence to His existence. In fact, quite the opposite is true. They rejected His teachings and often reviled Him as well. Thus, one can appeal to them without the charge of built-in bias.

          In his book, The Historical Figure of Jesus, E.P. Sanders stated: “Most of the first-century literature that survives was written by members of the very small elite class of the Roman Empire. To them, Jesus (if they heard of him at all) was merely a troublesome rabble-rouser and magician in a small, backward part of the world” (1993, p. 49, parenthetical comment in orig.). It is now to this “small elite class of the Roman Empire” that we turn our attention for documentation of Christ’s existence.

          Tacitus (c. A.D. 56-117) should be among the first of several hostile witnesses called to the stand. He was a member of the Roman provincial upper class with a formal education who held several high positions under different emperors such as Nerva and Trajan. His famous work, Annals, was a history of Rome written in approximately A.D. 115. In the Annals he told of the Great Fire of Rome, which occurred in A.D. 64. Nero, the Roman emperor in office at the time, was suspected by many of having ordered the city set on fire. Tacitus wrote:

          Nero fabricated scapegoats—and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus. But in spite of this temporary setback the deadly superstition had broken out afresh, not only in Judea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome.

          Tacitus hated both Christians and their namesake, Christ. He therefore had nothing positive to say about what he referred to as a “deadly superstition.” He did, however, have something to say about it. His testimony establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that the Christian religion not only was relevant historically, but that Christ, as its originator, was a verifiable historical figure of such prominence that He even attracted the attention of the Roman emperor himself!

          Additional hostile testimony originated from Suetonius, who wrote around A.D. 120. Robert Graves, as translator of Suetonius’ work, The Twelve Caesars, declared:

          Suetonius was fortunate in having ready access to the Imperial and Senatorial archives and to a great body of contemporary memoirs and public documents, and in having himself lived nearly thirty years under the Caesars. Much of his information about Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero comes from eye-witnesses of the events described.

          The testimony of Suetonius is a reliable piece of historical evidence. Twice in his history, Suetonius specifically mentioned Christ or His followers. He wrote, for example: “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius—KB] expelled them from the city” (Claudius, 25:4; note that in Acts 18:2 Luke mentioned this expulsion by Claudius). Sanders noted that Chrestus is a misspelling of Christos, “the Greek word that translates the Hebrew ‘Messiah’” (1993, pp. 49-50). Suetonius further commented: “Punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief” (Nero, 16:2). Again, it is evident that Suetonius and the Roman government had feelings of hatred toward Christ and His alleged mischievous band of rebels. It is equally evident that Suetonius (and, in fact, most of Rome) recognized that Christ was the noteworthy founder of a historically significant new religion.

          Along with Tacitus and Suetonius, Pliny the Younger must be allowed to take a seat among hostile Roman witnesses. In approximately A.D. 110-111, Pliny was sent by the Roman emperor Trajan to govern the affairs of the region of Bithynia. From this region, Pliny corresponded with the emperor concerning a problem he viewed as quite serious. He wrote: “I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know the customary penalties or investigations and what limits are observed” (as quoted in Wilken, 1990, p. 4). He then went on to state:

          This is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians. I ask them if they are Christians. If they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist, I sentence them to death (as quoted in Wilken, p. 4).

          Pliny used the term “Christian” or “Christians” seven times in his letter, thereby corroborating it as a generally accepted term that was recognized by both the Roman Empire and its emperor. Pliny also used the name “Christ” three times to refer to the originator of the “sect.” It is undeniably the case that Christians, with Christ as their founder, had multiplied in such a way as to draw the attention of the emperor and his magistrates by the time of Pliny’s letter to Trajan. In light of this evidence, it is impossible to deny the fact that Jesus Christ existed and was recognized by the highest officials within the Roman government as an actual, historical person.

          Celsus, a second-century pagan philosopher, produced a vehement attack upon Christianity by the title of True Discourse (c. A.D. 178). In that vile document, Celsus argued that Christ owed his existence to the result of fornication between Mary and a Roman soldier named Panthera. As he matured, Jesus began to call himself God—an action, said Celsus, which caused his Jewish brethren to kill him. Yet as denigrating as his attack was, Celsus never went so far as to suggest that Christ did not exist.

          Some have attempted to negate the testimony of these hostile Roman witnesses to Christ’s historicity by suggesting that the “Roman sources that mention him are all dependent on Christian reports” (Sanders, 1993, p. 49). For example, in his book, The Earliest Records of Jesus, Francis Beare lamented:

          Everything that has been recorded of the Jesus of history was recorded for us by men to whom he was Christ the Lord; and we cannot expunge their faith from the records without making the records themselves virtually worthless. There is no Jesus known to history except him who is depicted by his followers as the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour to the World (1962, p. 19).

          Such a suggestion is as outlandish as it is outrageous. Not only is there no evidence to support such a claim, but all of the available evidence militates against it. Furthermore, it is an untenable position to suggest that such upper class Roman historians would submit for inclusion in the official annals of Roman history (to be preserved for posterity) facts that were related to them by a notorious tribe of “mischievous,” “depraved,” “superstitious” misfits.

          Even a casual reader who glances over the testimony of the hostile Roman witnesses who bore testimony to the historicity of Christ will be struck by the fact that these ancient men depicted Christ as neither the Son of God nor the Savior of the world. They verbally stripped Him of His Sonship, denied His glory, and belittled His magnificence. They described Him to their contemporaries, and for posterity, as a mere man. Yet even though they were wide of the mark in regard to the truth of Who He was, through their caustic diatribes they nevertheless documented that He was. And for that we are indebted to them.

          Even though much of the hostile testimony regarding the existence of Jesus originated from witnesses within the Roman Empire, such testimony is not the only kind of hostile historical evidence available. Anyone familiar with Jewish history will recognize immediately the Mishnah and the Talmud. The Mishnah was a book of Jewish law traditions codified by Rabbi Judah around the year A.D. 200 and known to the Jews as the “whole code of religious jurisprudence” (Bruce, 1953, p. 101). Jewish rabbis studied the Mishnah and even wrote a body of commentary based upon it known as the Gemares. The Mishnah and Gemares are known collectively as the Talmud (Bruce, 1953, p. 101). The complete Talmud surfaced around A.D. 300. If a person as influential as Jesus had existed in the land of Palestine during the first century, surely the rabbis would have had something to say about him. Undoubtedly, a man who supposedly confronted the most astute religious leaders of His day—and won—would be named among the opinions of those who shared His rabbinical title. As Bruce declared:

          According to the earlier Rabbis whose opinions are recorded in these writings, Jesus of Nazareth was a transgressor in Israel, who practiced magic, scorned the words of the wise, led the people astray, and said that he had not come to destroy the law but to add to it. He was hanged on Passover Eve for heresy and misleading the people. His disciples, of whom five are named, healed the sick in his name (1953, p. 102).

          First-century Judaism, in large part, refused to accept Jesus Christ as the Son of the God. Yet it did not refuse to accept Him as a historical man from a literal city known as Nazareth or to record for posterity crucial facts about His life and death.

          Yamauchi summarized quite well the findings of the secular sources regarding Christ:

          Even if we did not have the New Testament or Christian writings, we would be able to conclude from such non-Christian writings as Josephus, the Talmud, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger that: (1) Jesus was a Jewish teacher; (2) many people believed that he performed healings and exorcisms; (3) he was rejected by the Jewish leaders; (4) he was crucified under Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; (5) despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed that he was still alive, spread beyond Palestine so that there were multitudes of them in Rome by 64 A.D.; (6) all kinds of people from the cities and countryside—men and women, slave and free—worshiped him as God by the beginning of the second century (1995, p. 222).

          I could provide other writers of this time period who mention Christians and Jesus but I need to be brief, right? (-:

          Source Material:

          Sanders, E.P. (1993), The Historical Figure of Jesus (New York: Lane-Penguin)

          Beare, Francis Wright (1962), The Earliest Records of Jesus (New York: Abingdon)

          Bruce, F.F. (1953), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), fourth edition

          Wilken, Robert L. (1990), “The Piety of the Persecutors,” Christian History, 9:16

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suetonius_on_Christians

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Younger

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_the_Younger_on_Christ

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_jesus

          Kyle Butt, M.A, apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=187

          Yamauchi, Edwin M. (1995), “Jesus Outside the New Testament: What is the Evidence?,” Jesus Under Fire, ed. Michael J. Wilkins and J.P. Moreland (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

          • I have never ever said there were no Christians. This means what? There are millions of Batman fans, does this mean Batman is real? Get a grip for gods’ sake.
            I specifically said NO hearsay. So this bulk 14,000 plus word comment is a gigantic fail.
            Do you honestly think I am unaware of Tacitus, Suetonius and Pliny?
            Well, do you?

            For the record, Suetonius is talking about ‘Christian’s being thrown out of Rome. “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbance at the instigation of Chrestus,”
            First. What was the date of this?
            And second, when was ‘’Chrestus’’ ever in Rome? Are you totally off your rocker, Roy.

            Now, go back and read my comment again then answer the question correctly and honestly.
            If you are not prepared to does this then stop being a damn fool and don’t waste my time.

            Are we clear?

          • Yes, he is, and he uses the same mind-numbing endless comment tactic every where he pops up.
            He behaves as if he is a school teacher having to educate children yet he is gives no thought that those he tries to engage in dialogue likely know far more than he does.
            Pedantic evangelists are all the same.

          • You ask for proof Jesus was a real historical figure Ark (Item A).

            This has been answered satisfactorily by the writings of hostile Roman Historians, and other non-Christian sources, from the time the events unfolded.

            In fact, we can almost reconstruct the gospel just from early non-Christian sources: Jesus was called the Christ (Josephus), did “magic,” led Israel into new teachings, and was hanged on Passover for them (Babylonian Talmud) in Judea (Tacitus), but claimed to be God and would return (Eliezar), which his followers believed, worshipping Him as God (Pliny the Younger).

            Without a “Christ” there would no “Christians” and I’ve never heard of any “Batmanians” who worship a “Batman”.

            The Spelling Issue

            Chresto (ablative of Chrestus) is the most trustworthy spelling in Suetonius’ work. William L. Lane states that the confusion between Chrestus and Christus was natural enough for Suetonius, given that at that point in history the distinction between spelling and pronunciation was negligible. [1] Lane states that this is supported by the spelling of Christians in Acts 11:26 and 26:28 and in 1 Peter 4:16 where the unical codex Sinaiticus reads Chrestianos.[1] Raymond E. Brown states in the second century, when Suetonius wrote, both Christus (Christ) and Christianus (Christian) were often written with an “e” instead of an “i” after the “r”.[2] In Suetonius Nero 16 the word “Christians” is spelled christiani.

            On “Suetonius is talking about ‘Christian’s being thrown out of Rome”.

            Most scholars assume that the disturbances mentioned by Suetonius in the passage were due to the spread of Christianity in Rome.[3] These disturbances were likely caused by the objections of Jewish community to the continued preaching by Hellenistic Jews in Rome and their insistence that Jesus was the Messiah, resulting in tensions with the Jews in Rome.[4][1]

            Some scholars think Suetonius was confused and assumed that as the leader of the agitators, Chrestus, was alive and lived in Rome at the time of the expulsion.[5][1] The notion that Chrestus was instigating Jewish unrest suggests that the Chrestus reference is not a Christian interpolation, for a Christian scribe would be unlikely to think of the followers of Christ as Jews, or place him in Rome at the time of Claudius.[6]

            Your rebuttal to Item A has been answered and all the historical writings are sufficient as proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ is a real historical person.

            By the way, the average person reads between 200-250 words per minute, so my short 1,400 word essay would take 5 to 8 minutes. Give it a rest Ark, whining is not indicative of intelligence!

            References

            1. William L. Lane in Judaism and Christianity in First-Century Rome edited by Karl Paul Donfried and Peter Richardson (1998) ISBN 0802842658 pp. 204-206
            2. Antioch and Rome by Raymond E. Brown and John P. Meier (May 1983) ISBN 0809125323 pages 100-101
            3. Louis H. Feldman, Jewish Life and Thought among Greeks and Romans (Oct 1, 1996) ISBN 0567085252 p. 332
            4. James D. G. Dunn Jesus Remembered (2003) ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 pp. 141-143
            5. Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (2009) ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 p. 110
            6. Examples of scholars who see historical value in the passage as a reference to Jesus are Craig A. Evans, John

          • Item B. The Divinity Of Jesus

            As outlined in Item A, there is overwhelming evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ in secular history. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus did exist is the fact that literally thousands of Christians in the first century A.D., including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.

            We find another non-biblical reference to Jesus in the Babylonian Talmud, a collection of Jewish rabbinical writings compiled between approximately A.D. 70-500. Given this time frame, it is naturally supposed that earlier references to Jesus are more likely to be historically reliable than later ones. In the case of the Talmud, the earliest period of compilation occurred between A.D. 70-200. The most significant reference to Jesus from this period states:

            On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy.”

            You may have noticed that it refers to someone named “Yeshu.” So why do we think this is Jesus? Actually, “Yeshu” (or “Yeshua”) is how Jesus’ name is pronounced in Hebrew. But what does the passage mean by saying that Jesus “was hanged”? Doesn’t the New Testament say he was crucified? Indeed it does. But the term “hanged” can function as a synonym for “crucified.” For instance, Galatians 3:13 declares that Christ was “hanged”, and Luke 23:39 applies this term to the criminals who were crucified with Jesus. So the Talmud declares that Jesus was crucified on the eve of Passover. But what of the cry of the herald that Jesus was to be stoned? This may simply indicate what the Jewish leaders were planning to do. If so, Roman involvement changed their plans!

            The passage also tells us why Jesus was crucified. It claims He practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy! Since this accusation comes from a rather hostile source, we should not be too surprised if Jesus is described somewhat differently than in the New Testament. But if we make allowances for this, what might such charges imply about Jesus?

            Interestingly, both accusations have close parallels in the canonical gospels. For instance, the charge of sorcery is similar to the Pharisees’ accusation that Jesus cast out demons “by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” But notice this: such a charge actually tends to confirm the New Testament claim that Jesus performed miraculous feats. Apparently Jesus’ miracles were too well attested to deny. The only alternative was to ascribe them to sorcery! Likewise, the charge of enticing Israel to apostasy parallels Luke’s account of the Jewish leaders who accused Jesus of misleading the nation with his teaching. Such a charge tends to corroborate the New Testament record of Jesus’ powerful teaching ministry. Thus, if read carefully, this passage from the Talmud confirms much of our knowledge about Jesus from the New Testament.

            Lucian of Samosata was a second century Greek satirist. In one of his works, he wrote of the early Christians as follows:

            The Christians . . . worship a man to this day–the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account. . . . [It] was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.

            Although Lucian is jesting here at the early Christians, he does make some significant comments about their founder. For instance, he says the Christians worshiped a man, “who introduced their novel rites.” And though this man’s followers clearly thought quite highly of Him, He so angered many of His contemporaries with His teaching that He “was crucified on that account.”

            Although Lucian does not mention his name, he is clearly referring to Jesus. But what did Jesus teach to arouse such wrath? According to Lucian, he taught that all men are brothers from the moment of their conversion. That’s harmless enough. But what did this conversion involve? It involved denying the Greek gods, worshiping Jesus, and living according to His teachings. It’s not too difficult to imagine someone being killed for teaching that. Though Lucian doesn’t say so explicitly, the Christian denial of other gods combined with their worship of Jesus implies the belief that Jesus was more than human. Since they denied other gods in order to worship Him, they apparently thought Jesus a greater God than any that Greece had to offer!

            In summary, what can we conclude about the figure of Jesus Christ by only listening to non-Christians of the first centuries? That he was an invented myth? Absolutely not. Just by listening to Jesus’ enemies and outsiders, we can put together the following profile on Christ and his influence; the sum of which positively affirms the believability of the Bible and deity of his person:

            Jesus was a wise man and was called the Christ or Messiah, (Josephus)
            Jesus gained many disciples from many nations, (Josephus)
            He healed blind and lame people in Bethsaida and Bethany, (Julian the Apostate)
            He was accused of practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray, (the Talmud)
            Under Herod, and during the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate condemned Christ to die, (Tacitus)
            Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover, (the Talmud)
            His crucifixion was accompanied by three hours of unexplained darkness, (Thallus)
            Christ’s disciples, “reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive;”, (Josephus)
            His disciples took to the habit of meeting on a fixed day of the week and took their name “Christians” from him, (Pliny)
            They gave worship to Christ “as to a god”, (Pliny)
            They bound themselves over to abstaining from wicked deeds, fraud, theft, adultery, and lying, (Pliny)
            Christians held a contempt for death and were known for a voluntary self-devotion, (Lucian)
            Christians believed themselves all brothers from the moment of their conversion, (Lucian)
            Christians lived after Christ’s laws, (Lucian)
            Christians were willingly tortured and even executed for their refusal to deny their belief in the resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ. (Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian)

            Lets spend a few minutes now and look at the testimonies from martyrs.

            — THEY EACH DIED MAINTAINING JESUS WAS RISEN

            The testimony of death has to be a very difficult problem to get around. This is in reference to the last point on the above list: people who were tortured and executed willingly rather than deny their beliefs of Christ.

            It is a challenging conjecture for any of us to think of what beliefs, if any, we would hold to the point of enduring torture or death. How long would you burn, or how much skin could you take being peeled away before screaming out whatever your tormentors wanted to hear? Until such moment comes, no one can say. But that moment did arrive for many who came before us, and history answers that they believed Jesus to be God-incarnate to their last breath.

            The torturous end of Jesus’ closest followers and the torture and exile of another indicates something radical. Their lives and their writings may show us what they believed; but nothing as much as their deaths shows us just how much they believed Jesus to be risen.

            Although many martyrs (people who died for not relinquishing their beliefs) and confessors (people who were threatened with death for the same) can be named throughout church history, it is the deaths of the apostles and other close followers which carry the bulk of evidence for Christ’s deity.

            The apostles knew, lived, and worked with Christ daily for years. If Christ were a fake, no matter what the apostles might have previously preached or written, it is improbable that even one of them would have died for the sake of a joke or a lie. How rational is it that all of them would endure torture, eleven to the death, without even one wavering from their singular belief that Christ was God, and that he appeared to them after his crucifixion?

            The fact that they maintained perfect unanimity on Jesus’ resurrection under torture, separately and over many years, is inconceivable unless they were each absolutely convinced of Christ’s claim to be the almighty God of the universe. The possibility that the apostles honestly mistook him to be God and only thought he appeared to them will be discussed later. But it is without a doubt that, rightly or wrongly, they were all totally convinced of Jesus’ deity to the end.

            — JESUS’ APOSTLES: THE GREAT OBITUARY

            Here is how many of those closest to Jesus met their end:

            Matthew – killed by stabbing as ordered by King Hircanus
            James, son of Alphaeous – crucified
            James, brother of Jesus – thrown down from a height, stoned and then beaten to death at the hands of Ananias (circa AD 66)
            John – tortured by boiling oil, exiled to Patmos in AD 95
            Mark – burned during Roman emperor Trajan’s reign
            Peter – crucified upside-down by the gardens of Nero on the Vatican hill circa AD 64
            Andrew – crucified on an “X” shaped cross by Aegeas, governor of the Edessenes, around AD 80
            Philip – stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia
            Simon – crucified in Egypt under Trajan’s reign
            Thomas – death by spear thrust in Calamina, India
            Thaddaeous – killed by arrows
            James, son of Zebedee – killed by sword in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea
            Bartholomew – beaten, flayed alive, crucified upside down, then beheaded 11

            No group of individuals had closer contact with Jesus than those listed above. Their conclusion, even unto death, was that Jesus was God. Multitudes of unnamed Christians of the same and following eras likewise perished faithful to the conviction that Jesus is Lord. Pliny records an arrest procedure of many such Christians that today reads like a McCarthy-era transcript:

            “Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, and who repeated after me an invocation to the gods,… and who finally cursed Christ – none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced into performing – these I thought it proper to discharge.”

            Tacitus, in his work Annals, tells us of the fate common to Christ’s faithful, under Nero, who refused to recant their beliefs:

            “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.”

            We often hear or say some variation of, “Your actions are speaking so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” The apostles and early Christians’ actions speak very clearly. Their actions matched their words. They walked their talk. Of course at this point, one might wonder what good their faithfulness did them – secure for them a horrible death? Where was their so-called loving God?

            — WHERE WAS THEIR LOVING GOD?

            Long ago I asked this kind of question and felt a certain skepticism about the supposed love of Christ for us. The apostles were Jesus’ best friends and they carried on the faith just as he had asked. If the Bible is an accurate portrayal of history and of Christ, I wondered how he could have let them suffer and die as they did.

            Christ did love these men, and these men loved Christ. These men could have denied their belief in Jesus and he probably would have forgiven them. But they loved the truth of God literally more than earthly life. Even one denial just to spare themselves from the moment might have become popularized as the “awful truth about Christ”, and the worship of Christ then greatly curtailed.

            By the apostles’ obedience and sacrifice, Christ has allowed their deaths to become an extremely powerful witness to us of his person. They died because they loved Christ, and Christ let them die for him because he loves us. Belief in Christ is that important, and those who died knew it. So it is not God who devalues the apostle’s deaths, but us whenever we ignore the truth of Christ for which they surrendered their lives.

            The deaths of Jesus’ closest followers are speaking to us. Their deaths have become evidence of Christ’s deity and ministry on earth. This is evidence of the Bible’s believability that no historian, scientist, or skeptic can ignore in clear conscience.

  16. Robert, well said. I also don’t appreciate when people start insulting others simply for disagreeing. I can also say I can partially identify with your experience. I was raised in the Catholic church (I was altar boy one time). I became disillusioned with the Catholic church and began attending a Pentecostal church instead. After a few years of working as a deacon, youth leader, and usher, I became disillusioned again after dealing with hypocrisy. I am currently not attending any church, but I still believe God exists. the only difference now is that I don’t claim to know for sure who this God is, except that I believe God is found in grace, forgiveness, mercy, and genuine service. I don’t believe the Bible is without errors, but it is still an inspirational book. The problem of evil does not prove to me that God does not exist, but it actually serves evidence of existence of good. I believe God is greater than we can actually comprehend. I appreciate your respectful posts, in spite of differences.

    • Thank you Noel and I can relate to your position, its more or less what I believed up until about two years ago. I disagree with you, but respect your position and it is clear that you are at least looking in the right direction.

  17. Ok, enough is enough. I’m laying down some rules. This is a decent blog, not a schoolyard. Either debate like adults or get out. That means no calling the other side stupid just because they disagree with you. If you can’t show basic amounts of respect then you should take you trash talk elsewhere. I’m saying this to both sides, Atheist and Christian.

    “If you deliberately choose to be ignorant (some might call it being downright stupid) and deprive yourself of your own human ability to discern God through insight, God’s existence still remains unaffected.”

    Silenceofmind, I happen to have different beliefs to you. This shouldn’t be surprising as not everyone in the world agrees with you. This disagreement does mean I am stupid or deliberately being ignorant and saying so only betrays your arrogance. Is a little of the supposed Christian kindness too much to ask for?

    “So if you claim ignorance of the existence of God it’s because you haven’t made the proper effort to be insightful.”

    Again your arrogance reveals itself. No I am not an Atheist because I am too lazy to look for the truth, as I say in the opening paragraph I was once a devout Catholic and even an altar boy.

    “If Robert ever volunteers to do another post on this site he should ask Prayson if he can write it in Crayon using words with less than three syllables.”

    Arkenaten, I am even more annoyed with you. I don’t mind experiencing ignorance from the other side, it happens. However, I am disgusted when I see the side that is supposed to represent rationality and knowledge represented by such childish insults. You are giving Atheists a bad name with your insults. Rather than debating theists and helping to change their mind, all you do is encourage them to close the shutters when they meet an Atheist and think we are all rude and nasty.

    I love a debate but a debate requires civility and respect. Trash talk and insults belong elsewhere.

    • I stand solely and wholly with Robert. I am sadden that some Christians comments failed to show love, respect, and understand even though disagreeing.

      We, Christians, are called first to love God and to love our neighbor. Words that destroy instead of building, negative criticism, and attack of one character ought to be far from us. Slogs, Bible verses thrown in without explanations and Christian talk fails to create mutual ground to reason together.

      Examine your words, Christians, and before posting, ask if they glorify God.

      I cannot pass judgement to none-Christians(1 Cor. 5:13). I chose to love them as I was loved when I was not a believer.

    • With all due respect, Robert, the ridiculous deserves ridicule and it is not as if your comments to Lee Marshal over Creationism are any less derogatory than anything I may have said to an absolute dingbat like Silence of Mind, who, by the way , is quickly becoming a disgusting troll of note across many sites, Christians as well as atheist.
      Go look at nate Owens blog

      To stand by and idly allow the type of utter hogwash presented by certain christians as “truth” is unacceptable, especially as so many of them have access to children, and there are a few on this very post, and considering you were brought up in the Catholic faith then you should probably know better.
      There is no such thing as a ‘reasonable debate’ with a person of faith as they have NO INTENTION of even considering the validity in what you or any other atheist says. If they were even prepared to do so, they wouldn’t be Christian for very long, now would they?
      Every appeal to rationality backed by solid historical and archaeological evidence is met with a blanket wall of dogma and religious diatribe.

      If and ,when a Christian is prepared to come to an atheist and ask why we believe the way we do with the sole intent of genuinely considering the possibility that what they believe is based on demonstrable falsehood then they will be welcome with open arms and treated woth the utmost respect.
      Until then…..that respect must be earned.
      Based on history, and the general manner in which christians, especially fundamentalist, ply their faith, then they on have a lot of earning to do.

      If you wish to allow these people to gleefully do the Theological Two Step all over your ‘face’, Robert, then so be it.
      Perhaps you might feel differently if you took the time to investigate organisations such as ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) and see what filth they are pushing on children.
      I once had a very civil discussion (or at least I thought so) with a supposed educated Christian. After about twenty minutes this person rather abruptly interrupted something I was saying and demanded….

      ” Listen, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?”
      “Well, no , obviously not.”
      To which the reply was,
      “Then we have nothing to discuss.”

      Whether you recognise it or not the tippy toe approach plays right into the Christian’s hands and they are metaphorically laughing ( or praying for you) behind your back.

      • Arkenaten, you must seperate the person from the idea. You may criticise the idea or even attack it, but never the person. Firstly, it is rude and second of all it guarantees that you will not change their mind. I am here to debate people, share ideas and possibly even change minds, not simply to bash religion.

        Prayson took a big step in allowing me to guest blog here as I’ve never heard of an Atheist allowing a Christian to post on their blog. This co-operation shows that things are not as binary as you think and we are not fighting a war with the enemy.

        “There is no such thing as a ‘reasonable debate’ with a person of faith as they have NO INTENTION of even considering the validity in what you or any other atheist says.”
        The vast majority of the world believes in God, so sweeping statements like this are not true. To the contrary, I feel that many people are willing to at least here me out and some try to understand my position. There are people who don’t, but they are the rare exception. Perhaps if you weren’t so quick to attack, then maybe people would listen more.

        “If and ,when a Christian is prepared to come to an atheist and ask why we believe the way we do with the sole intent of genuinely considering the possibility that what they believe is based on demonstrable falsehood then they will be welcome with open arms and treated woth the utmost respect.”
        Is the fact that a Christian allowed me to post an unedited argument for Atheism on their blog, not proof of this?

        Remember, attack ideas, not people.

        • Unfortunately, proselytizing is part and parcel of the credo of Christians.
          Their ideas are based on demonstrable falsehood that has by and large been inculcated.
          Of the commenters on this thread not a single Christian has expressed an iota of interest toward examining the veracity of the claims you make or is interested in the reasons you became an atheist.
          Every single one has tried to demonstrate how wrong you in varying degrees of disinterest from patronising to raging vitriolic dogmatic hyperbole.
          And they cannot even agree amongst themselves, for the gods sake, so how much credibility should they be afforded?

          The vast majority of the world believe in <em<different gods, Robert. Please don’t lump Jews, Muslims Christians, Hindus, etc together. They most certainly do not consider the gods they worship to be the same so why on earth would you do them a favour and tacitly suggest they are all just one big happy family?
          There are around 40,000 different Christian sects alone!

          I am attacking ideas; the idea that they are in any way talking sense.

  18. “And as soon as a Christian opens his/her mouth to try and explain it you just know it’s going to go downhill from hereon out ..”
    Putting aside the glaringly obvious grammatical error, the expression regarding stones in glass houses springs to mind.

    Really? A grammar lesson? lol…How cute. If you say so….teach.
    I cannot see the relevance comparing atheism with the Christian notions you hold.
    Everything you believe pertaining to this cult is based on falsehood and without resorting to semantics and silly philosophical meanderings you are unable to demonstrate otherwise.
    How was the grammar this time? 🙂

    • Arkenaten, the aim of Robert posts it to create a place for Christians to listen to a different and opposing view. I am sadden that you have turn this into a place of ridiculing and public laughing at those who disagree with you.

      As an atheist you ought to show rationality not ridicules.

          • Robert,

            Labeling me as an “extreme example,” demonstrates that you are not really interested in dialogue. My views are pre-postmodern mainstream views.

            Giving derogatory labels to opposing views and people who effectively express those opposing views is what atheists and almost all postmoderns do, as a matter of fact.

            You are an atheist evangelist whose purpose is to hide your proselytizing behind a completely phony guise of moderation and “dialogue.”

            But the truth is, you have no intention of learning anything or getting any doubts resolved which are the benefits of dialogue.

            Your only purpose is to prey on people’s doubts, especially Christians, and turn them into atheists.

          • Respectful debate? Really, Robert?
            Walk the Way
            Silence of the Mind
            Lee Marshall….who you made this comment to:

            Creationism WITH AN OPEN MIND.”

            Creationism is a joke of a science unsupported by evidence and only believed for ideological reasons. It is up there with global warming denial and other such pseudo-science.

            Now although this is technically attacking an idea it is also tacitly attacking Mr. Marshall as he believes this stuff to be true. So by calling his belief a joke you might be accused of suggesting he was as well.
            Certainly some people might think so, based on your emotional response. 🙂
            Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it was a cracking reply. Creationism is dangerous and some of those who believe in it need to be treated like inmates from an asylum. But they have access to children.
            Should they be afforded respect? I don’t think so.

            Noel seems reasonable and an okay bloke. I’ve encountered him before on nate Owens Finding Truth blog.
            The others merely quote scripture, Yes to the truth, comes to mind

            Respect?
            Their ilk have hurt and killed innumerable people in defense of this fallacious belief.
            Let them first prove beyond doubt that their god, Jesus, walked on water, raised dead people, came back from the dead himself and is the deity they claim. Only THEN might I reconsider.

  19. :”The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense”</em?

    You had me right there.
    And as soon as a Christian opens his/her mouth to try and explain it you just
    know it’s going to go downhill from hereon out..
    I hope Prayson is paying you to post on his blog, Robert?. Considering the level of intellect you are directing such.
    a post at he damn well ought to.

    Well written.

      • Oh, I am dreadfully sorry, I thought this was an open forum I didn’t realise it was a sounding board for Christians to simply trash Robert’s excellent post.
        I mean, do you consider Silence of Mind even worthy of the label “Christian?” Is he the sort you would truly wish to associate your own faith with?
        Good heavens’, and I thought you were opening your blog because you had a measure of integrity.
        Silly me, what was I thinking.

        • Arkenaten, I have never ban and blacklist anyone in my blog. If you follow I tolerate ridicules and name-calling leveled at me. As Robert pointed out this is a place to reason together.

          It is an open forum of reasoning together not ridiculing and laughing at each other. Not slogs, nor mere personal feelings. You know me Arkenaten, for we have a history together. I am sadden by some Christians who failed to reason together but offered their emotions. I apologize for that.

          • In the main, you and your fellow christians use philosophical arguments to justify an unprovable argument based on demonstrable falsehood.
            You have never once addressed the gross anomalies in the bible or the ludicrous and utterly false Old Testament prophecies in a truthful manner.
            You deftly sidestep every suggestion to investigate the very real findings of genuine archaeologists and yet you still maintain Christians are willing to debate reasonably?
            What reasoning is there with the likes of Silence of Mind or a Creationist or even a Fundamentalist like Walk the Way?

            You have to make a real effort to demonstrate what you believe and desire to spread through the world is at least based on factual evidence before you can justifiably claim you are at all interested in rational debate.

            If you and every other Christian was prepared to say that what you believed is solely based on faith, that at least would earn you respect because for the first time you would be being honest.

          • You see, that’s exactly the kind of sarcasm that gets up people’s noses. Why do you need to respond in such away? It spoils the debate and frankly doesn’t really add anything, other than to reiterate the fact that you are so clearly anti-Christian. Why?

          • Because Christianity is based on demonstrable falsehood.
            Because scientific evidence has shown that the origins of the Abrahamic religions are based on made up stories:
            Moses did not exist the Exodus did not happen and neither did the conquest of canaan.
            And the biblical characters Jesus and Paul Moses and Abraham.
            Do you need me to spell it out for you?

            Christianity has produced various insidious strains of the faith including jehovah’s Witnesses, Creationism and such delights as ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) which corrupts the minds of kids from primary school to Matric .

            The bible is claimed to be a collection of documents touted as divinely inspired. This too is false and demonstrable.
            Please feel free to call me out and demonstrate to everyone here on anything I have written that is not true.

          • Simply because there seems no better response, as all other avenues of attempting to reason with the type of mind that adheres to god belief based on errant nonsense are quickly exhausted.

          • It is to demonstrate that what you believe is based on lies. Of this I care not but you preach it to others, especially children who are unable to distinguish.and protect themsleves.
            That is why I engage.
            And this is why I always will.
            Be grateful you live in a secular society, because it is this secularfreedom that allows you to practice your religion
            Always remember this.
            Because if your country ever becomes a theocracy then your god help you!

  20. @Lee Marshall.
    In conclusion, I would say that your argument is with the church, even though you say it isn’t. Furthermore, when you say that faith is used to get people to stop asking questions, who is saying that to you if not a church?

    This is the type of boneheaded comment that makes normal people take a step back and wonder how Christians are allowed in the gene pool – even in the shallow end.
    There could be NO bible without the church. Who the heck do you think put it together?
    Do you even know HOW is was put together?
    Are you aware of Constantine or Eusebius?
    Did they not teach you about Theodosius at bible school?
    My goodness, the utter outrageousness of things fundamental christians espouse.

    Maybe you should go and study biblical history and archaeology paying specific attention to Moses and the Exodus.
    Look up Israel Finkelstein.

    If Robert ever volunteers to do another post on this site he should ask Prayson if he can write it in Crayon using words with less than three syllables.

    • Ark,

      You kind of just proved my point, there. You are blaming the church for what you see to be a church phenomenon (the bible). Deal with God. I do know how it was written, but somehow I don’t think “prophetically by God” is a viable answer to you.

      Deal with God. Not with man. He will not blame the church when you face Him, He will blame you. Likewise, shifting blame on the church would not be a good defense.

      • There could be no bible without a church that created it and no knowledge of god (YOUR god being Yeshua) without the bible.
        “prophetically by God” is a viable answer to you.
        It is not an answer for anyone except the credulous..

  21. Here is another of your provably false statements where you project some of your own shortcomings (lack of comprehension, profound ignorance, and the tendency to proclaim your own personal biases as God’s truth).

    “Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form.”

    Actually, no, I haven’t noticed.

    God is discernible through insight.

    If you deliberately choose to be ignorant (some might call it being downright stupid) and deprive yourself of your own human ability to discern God through insight, God’s existence still remains unaffected.

    One person’s ignorance, or a million people’s ignorance has absolutely no affect on whether something exists or not.

    That is science or pseudo-science, it’s just plain old common sense.

    With regard to religion, both the Hindus and the Buddhists have as their goal, spiritual enlightenment, which is the ultimate insight: seeing God.

    Christians are given enlightenment upon Baptism.

    So if you claim ignorance of the existence of God it’s because you haven’t made the proper effort to be insightful.

    And for that alone you deserve a sound, loud rebuke.

  22. Correct. The Gospel is foolishness to those who do not believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). The approach to it must be a childlike faith (Matthew 18:3; Proverbs 3:5-6). The wisdom of man and the wisdom of God are not the same (1 Corinthians 3:1; Job 28:28). That’s a humbling reality I had to concede.

    • Thank you for your comment. Robert does not believe in the Bible, thus Bible passages is not away, if you do love him and wish to share Jesus love for him, to reach him.

      When Paul talked to Jews he used Torah, but when he spoke to non-Jew, he appealed to their wisdom(to the unknown God). We have to remember that we with Spirit of God were also blind and foolish. Faith that we have is a gift from God thus we cannot boast and look-down at those without.

      It is in love, and only in love, we can discuss with those we disagree, showing Christ character in us.

      • Prayson,

        Robert also does not believe in philosophy (calling it “pseudo-science”), history, reason and common sense or our Western Heritage in general.

        Why don’t you criticize that?

        You are the kind of Christian who was polite and supportive of people who instituted the abortion Holocaust. One million unborn children are slaughtered every year because Christians like you were too busy being polite.

        What kind of dialogue do you suppose is possible between Christians and advocates of mass murder?

        You are the kind of Christian who cheered as Christians were convinced to outsource their duty of charity to the government which has no conscience, no mercy, no compassion and no remorse.

        Now blacks and other poor minorities live generation after generation in concentration camps called the projects and gulags we call inner-city ghettos.

        Atheists are philosophically violent and nihilistic and seek the end of the Western Civilization whose rise was powered by Christianity.

        That means a return to a time when the value of human life is nil and the common man is ruled by power-mad psychopaths.

        Dialogue with advocates of such madness is impossible.

        • You become more entertaining by the minute. Truly, you are a wonderful addition to the Christian Community.
          The perfect Poster Child .
          If there were a few million like you, Silence of no mind, then Atheism would sweep the world in no time. I cheer every time you make an appearance on a blog.
          Now me, Prayson knows. And he is perfectly aware that I won’t keep silent and lie down in the face of Christian falsehood, especially as it affects children.
          But You…Lol. You are ONE of THEM! ou are the type of Christian that in the old days would have started wars against the “christian heretics” You are Priceless.
          I imagine poor Prayson must be wondering what the hell has hit his poor blog when he let you through the door.
          You are brilliant!
          My favorite Christian by a long stretch.

        • I was a none believer and hostile to Christians morality. I was blind and fool. A young beautiful Christian loved me for who I was and in love she dialogued with me. God used her to bring me back to Him.

          It is impossible with man but in Christ Jesus, the true source of joy, love and understanding, it is more than possible. Trust Him. He will do it. Not you. You are just a means. Yes?

          • Prayson,

            Like your brethren, the postmodern atheist, you, a postmodern Christian, respond to simple reason, common sense and facts with a hallucinated alternative reality that everyone else in the world must conform to or else be deemed evil.

            So I will ask you the same question I ask your atheist brethren:

            Who appointed you the Thought Police?

          • I am a blog owner and Robert is my guest under my roof. I am only asking for us to be Jews to Jews and Gentiles to Gentiles as Paul. I am only asking us to love each other though disagreeing. I am asking us to reason together using critical thinking, a mutual ground, to debate each other in civility, love, respect and understanding.

            For Christians, remember who we are is a gift of God and mercy upon us. We were fools and blinds. It was His doing that we are here. Let us show Christ love. That I pray of you.

          • Prayson,

            Your appeal for Christian goodwill is well taken.

            Nevertheless, Western Civilization is in the middle of a culture war, a battle of ideas.

            And Christianity is losing badly.

            Christianity is losing badly because Christians can’t make the necessary arguments our society needs in order to fend off total destruction.

            In the battle of ideas there can be, nor should there be, any quarter given.

            The brute ignorance expressed by the atheists must be exposed for what it is.

            Taking such action is express of true love.

            Love does not mean standing by and watching our society be destroyed by the deification of ingrained ignorance.

            Consequently, I recommend that Christians and all people who value Western Civilization take a lesson from the Bible and take an uncompromising stand for our civilization.

            That means pointing out ignorance wherever it is being deified and offering the proper, correct teachings.

          • “a postmodern Christian, respond to simple reason, common sense and facts with a hallucinated alternative reality that everyone else in the world must conform to or else be deemed evil” – no sensible Christian thinks like that, at least I have never met such a person.

        • “a postmodern Christian, respond to simple reason, common sense and facts with a hallucinated alternative reality that everyone else in the world must conform to or else be deemed evil” – no sensible Christian thinks like that, at least I have never met such a person.

          Smile…then you must live a sheltered life.
          ACE , Creationism, including Young Earthers, and Evangelical Fundamentalism, to name three.
          I am not a big fan of Wiki for many subjects but as a quick go to site they’re okay.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_right

  23. “For the believer He doesn’t hide. God is right before me every day, and night, in the world I see all around me. ”
    Really? What does he look like? Can you point him out? (Don’t just say you see him in people and trees which is the greatest load of nonsense. You might as well say you see Elvis in the trees)

    “that is OUR choice”
    Christianity gives you as much choice as a Communist dictatorship. Obey or die.

    “To reiterate my previous points – WE make choices, WE sometimes fail!”
    Do you accept that God does not intervene to right these failings?

    You try to pass off dogma while ignoring that it comes directly from religion and the Bible.

    • Proving God? Ha!

      The president of the New York Scientific Society once gave eight reasons why he believed there was a God. The first was this: Take 10 identical coins and mark them 1 to 10. Place them in your pocket. Now take one out. There is 1 chance in 10 that you will get number one. Now replace it, and the overall chance that number two follows number one is not 1 in 10, but 1 in 100. With each new coin taken out, the risk will be multiplied by 10, so that the chance of ten following nine, is 1 in 10,000,000,000 or 10 billion.

      That is why George Gallup, the American statistician, says, “I could prove God statistically. Take the human body alone – the chance that all its functions would just happen is a statistical monstrosity.”

      Surely no thoughtful person would wish to base their eternal future on a “statistical monstrosity”? Perhaps that is why the Bible says in Psalm 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'”

      Believing is seeing? Right!

      Although man has discovered many of the laws that govern electricity, even the greatest scientists cannot really define it. Then why do we believe it exists? Because we see the manifestations of its existence in our homes and industries and streets. Though I do not know where God came from, I must believe He exists, because I see the manifestations of Him everywhere around me.

      Dr Wernher von Braun, director of NASA research, and developer of the rocket which put America’s first space satellite into orbit, says,

      “In our modern world, many people seem to feel that our rapid advances in the field of science render such things as religious belief untimely or old-fashioned. They wonder why we should be satisfied in ‘believing’ something when science tells us that we ‘know’ so many things. The simple answer to this contention is that we are confronted with many more mysteries of nature today than when the age of scientific enlightenment began. With every new answer unfolded, science had consistently discovered at least 3 new questions.

      The answers indicate that everything as well-ordered and perfectly created as are our earth and universe must have a Maker, a Master Designer. Anything so orderly, so perfect, so precisely balanced, so majestic as this creation can only be the product of a Divine idea.”

      The late professor Edwin Conklin, a noted biologist, very aptly said, “The problem of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of Chamber’s Dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop.”

      God exists whether or not men choose to believe in Him. The reason why many people do not believe in God is not that it is intellectually impossible to believe in God, but rather because belief in God forces the thoughtful person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God. Many people are unwilling to do this. Most of those who take refuge in atheism or agnosticism do so because it is a convenient escape from the stern reality that man is accountable to his Creator. It is usually not so much a case of “I cannot believe” as it is a case of “I do not want to believe.”

      I know only 2 ways by which God’s purpose and God’s person may be known. First there is the process of reason. As a good detective can, for example, tell you many things about my skills, habits and character just by examining something I may have made or handled, so much can be learned about God by a careful examination of the universe, the work of His hands.

      But the detective who examines only what I make can never say he knows me. He may know some things about me, but before he can say that he knows me, there must be a process of revelation: I must communicate with him. I must tell him what I think, how I feel and what I want to do. This self-revelation may be made in conversation, in writing, or in some other way. Only then does it become possible for him to know me. Just so, if God is ever to be known and His thoughts, desires and purposes perceived, He must take the initiative and make at least a partial revelation of Himself to men.

      We Are People, Sir, Not Puppets!

      Why did not God make man incapable of disobeying His will and therefore incapable of sinning? Such a question is like asking why God does not draw a crooked straight line or a square round, or make an object black all over and white all over at the same time. Man is a creature with power of intelligent choice, so that the question really is : Why didn’t God make a creature with the power of intelligent choice and yet without the power of intelligent choice at the same time?

      If I had the power of hypnotism, I would be able to put my 2 sons into a hypnotic state, thus robbing them of the power of intelligent choice. I could then say, “Sit on those chairs till I return” – “Get up and eat” – “Stop eating” – “Kiss me goodnight” – and unfeeling arms would go around my neck, and unresponsive lips would be pressed to mine. I would have prompt and perfect obedience to my every command, but would I find satisfaction in it? No!

      I want boys with free wills, who are capable of disobeying me, but who willingly choose to carry out my instructions, which are the outcome of my love for them and are given for their own good. I cannot conceive of God, who put these desires in my heart and yours, being satisfied with anything less than Himself.

      God does not want puppets who jump in a given direction according to the wire that is pulled, nor does He want robots in the form of men who mechanically and absolutely obey His will as do the planets whirling through space. God can find satisfaction in nothing less than the spontaneous love of our hearts and our free-will decisions to act in ways that please and honour Him. But it is obvious that this same power of free action enables us to defy and dishonour Him if we so choose.

      The real difference between you and I.

      “But,” says someone, “there is one more problem that puzzles me. I know a polished gentleman who is not a Christian and states so quite definitely, and I know a rather crude and uncultured man who is a Christian and who shows his genuine belief in many ways. Do you mean to tell me God prefers the uncultured man simply because he had accepted and acknowledged Christ as his Saviour?”

      This question arises from a confusion of ideas. A Christian is not different in degree from a non-Christian; he is different in kind, just as the difference between a diamond and a cabbage is not one of degree, but of kind. The one is polished, and the other is crude, but the one is dead while the other is alive, therefore the one has not what the other has – life – in any degree whatsoever, and such is the difference God sees between a Christian and non-Christian.

      Here is one of the many such statements He makes in His Word. 1 John 5:11-12 :”And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. “So the vital and all-important question for everyone of us becomes not, am I cultured or uncouth, but, am I alive or dead towards God? Have I received God’s risen Son who brings me life from above, the life of God, called in the Bible eternal life? Or have I not received Him and am I therefore classed by God as among those who” hath not life”?

      • “the chance that all its functions would just happen”

        This shows you fail to understand the Atheist position. We do not claim things “just happen”. That’s what Christians do. You guys claim the entire world and everything in it “just happened” in seven days. An Atheist argues that we evolved over billions of years.

        “The answers indicate that everything as well-ordered and perfectly created as are our earth and universe must have a Maker”
        Who said Earth was perfect? If it really was perfect would it be three quarters covered in water? I have enough objections to this claim as to fill a post in itself
        http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/god-did-not-create-earth-for-us/

        “The reason why many people do not believe in God is not that it is intellectually impossible to believe in God, but rather because belief in God forces the thoughtful person to face the fact that he is accountable to such a God.”
        So I’m an Atheist because I lack integrity? Notice how I manage to make an argument against Christianity without resorting to insults? Why are you unable to do the same?

        So you say God gives us a choice? What nonsense! We have no choice according to Chrsitians, rather we must blindly obey or be tortured. That is as much choice as slaves have. That is the choice dictators give their people, “Obey me or suffer”. In no sense is that a free choice.

        “God does not want puppets who jump in a given direction according to the wire that is pulled, nor does He want robots in the form of men who mechanically and absolutely obey His will”
        Then why did he give such an elaborate set of rules governing every part of our lives down to what food we can and cannot eat?

        One final question, why do you always post such ridiculously long comments that have clearly been pasted? Sometimes less is more.

        • Dear Robert,

          The question of whether the seven days of creation were literal days, or symbolic of stages of development is actually irrelevant to the undeniable reality that Creation happened. The observable universe, the earth beneath our feet, and every one of us exist. Who needs more proof than that?

          The Bible begins with the creation of the universe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1 This single verse describes the actual transformation of invisible energy into all of the fundamental physical matter (as summed up in Albert Einstein’s famous E=mc2 equation) that would be formed into stars, planets and everything else – including us. Scientists now estimate that the great event took place approximately 15 billion years ago.

          Stars

          The next verse describes the earth after its creation, long after the creation of the universe: “Now the earth was [or became] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. Genesis 1:2 Scientists estimate the age of the earth to be about 5 billion years old – leaving an estimated 10 billion years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

          There has been a tremendous amount of disagreement between science and religion, each side armed with its own obvious facts to refute the other. People of science and religion need not disagree so often if they would realize that their different observations are the result of each looking only at opposite sides of the same coin. The contradictory evidence is actually an illusion, caused by omission, which virtually guarantees that alone, either scientific theory or religious doctrine can only be half-right in their understanding of the creation of the universe or the origin of humanity. Together however, the picture is complete and harmonious.

          We all realize that God was Creator, but how often do we consider what was involved in that creation? God was a chemist, a physicist, an astronomer, a biologist. He was most certainly an artist, a maker of all of our world’s beauty. He was the lawmaker of all of the unseen forces that make “nature” orderly and predictable.

          The universe as it exists was not produced by some cosmic accident. The conditions of creation were intricately planned and considered. A mindless uncontrolled “big bang” would result in destruction and chaos, not the life and order we now see.

          On the other hand, a great initial expansion (explosion) of physical matter that had just been transformed (created) from pure energy (from a physical point of view, literally nothing), followed by orderly development (from natural laws put into force beforehand by a Creator) of stars, galaxies and everything else, is reasonable and logical. It satisfies both religion and science.

          The First Day

          The first recorded Words of God that we have are “Let there be light”. Genesis 1:3 The sun was already shining brightly, but God made the earth’s thick new atmosphere allow diffuse light to penetrate to the surface. And so it was that the light was made separate from darkness. The first day of earth’s creation was literally the first “day” as someone on earth’s surface would experience it – a period of opaque light, and a period of darkness. Genesis 1:3-5

          The Second Day

          The separation of the waters. There was yet no liquid water, no oceans. All of the water was in the form of a vapor, a worldwide super-fog, extending a number of kilometers/miles up from the very hot (above the boiling temperature of water) bare-rock earth’s surface (the earth’s core remains molten right to the present day). God’s “hovering over the waters” in verse 2 describes His being above that gaseous-water atmosphere, not a liquid ocean. God then caused most of the water to condense onto the cooling earth which simultaneously formed a whole-planet ocean and cleared the sky. Genesis 1:6-8

          The Third Day

          The first appearance of dry ground. The further cooling of the surface set in motion a process of natural contraction, uplifting and motion of the crust (the process continues today, called “plate tectonics”). The earth changed from a smooth one-level molten “cue ball” to a planet with an irregular surface with ocean basins and continental landmasses. With dry ground available, the first plants were made to grow in great abundance. Genesis 1:9-13

          The Fourth Day

          With the sky now clear, the sun, moon and stars were dependably visible. They were to “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” The sun marked the day (sunset to sunset), the moon the month (new moon to new moon), and the stars the seasons (constellations are seen in particular seasons e.g. “Orion” is visible in winter in the northern hemisphere, which is summer in the southern hemisphere). Genesis 1:14-19

          The Fifth Day

          Great numbers of birds and sea creatures. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” Genesis 1:20-23

          The Sixth Day

          Vast numbers of land animals. Man. From the man, woman (humans today are just now discovering how to genetically alter fertilized embryos, and even to create one human from the tissue of another – known as “cloning”). Genesis 1:24-31

          The Seventh Day

          The Sabbath Day. “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested [or ceased] from all the work of creating that He had done.” The day that is the basis for The Fourth Commandment. Genesis 2:2-3

          WATER

          Water—we take it for granted! We use it every day for cooking, drinking, bathing, swimming, and fishing; we use it for our pets, our livestock, and our backyard birds. Although water covers almost 70% of the earth’s surface, it is not limitless. Every drop of water that exists on the planet today was here in one form or another the day our planet came into being!

          The human body is made up of 55% to 60% of water. Water is found in as much as 75% of lean muscle tissue, 95% of blood, and 22% of bone. Water is so essential to the human body that the longest we can survive without water is three days.

          Water is so essential to the body, that it is a requirement for proper immune system functioning. Whenever you get sick, your body requires more water to help it fight off infection. Fighting a cold or the flu can dehydrate your body quickly.

          INSULTS

          If you think I insulted you Robert then I apologize because that is not my intention. Your post is an insult but I would never accuse you of that. You are free to twist truth any which way you care to. Most every statement you make is an untruth. Like taking other men (Chatholic pedophilic priets) bad behavior as an excuse to discount the Creator.

          CHOICE

          You are proof He gives us a choice. You made yours and I made mine. Remember, that is the real difference between you and I. You are of your kind and I am of my kind.

          PUPPETS

          You can eat of any food you like Robert. It is not what goes into the mouth that makes us unclean, it’s what come out.

  24. I’m afraid my responses to your item Robert became muddled in the transmission. I hope you can discern them within the text above. Sorry about that.

  25. Well said. This pretty much summarizes many of the reasons whu such belief is illogical. I believe psychology has come up with the reasons why we cherish irrational beliefs. Unfortunately, this doesn’t get us further down the road but at least we are talking to one another. Good job, Robert!

  26. Reblogged this on Robert Nielsen and commented:
    A guest blog I wrote for Prayson Daniel explaining why I am not a Christian. My reasons are: it doesn’t make sense, God’s lack of revelation plus general lack of evidence, the problem of evil and the general disgrace that is the Catholic Church. Check it, its worth a read if I say so myself.

  27. As an Irishman I am surrounded by Christianity and Catholicism in particular. My family is Catholic as are my friends, relatives, neighbours and pretty much everyone I come across. In fact, throughout our history being Irish and being Catholic were considered the same. The Church traditionally had a major influence on the country and still exerts control over schools and hospitals. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy and even used to say a decade of the rosary every night. So why I am no longer a Christian?
    The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about.
    I get very worried when people use the term ‘most’ or ‘majority’. It’s as though they have some amazing insight into the minds and thinking of almost everyone on the planet. How do you arrived at such an exacting statement as ‘most’? I feel too that you discredit Catholics as non-thinkers. My great joy in retirement is to discover a new age of young thinkers who challenge both the Church and the Gospels with wonderfully open minds and immense devotion to the Word.
    How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it?
    This may not be an act of faith for you, but it most certainly is for a great many people. Have you never sat and discussed this with a priest or theologian? A discourse on this subject could take up many pages of this blog.
    I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales.
    The Bible is full of, as you put it, stories, (not necessarily for children either), and all should be taken in the context of the time in which they were written. Anyone reading the Bible in a literal manner is destined to fail in understanding. 2000 years on and we still debate it’s content. Hebrew scholars are in the same position when it comes to thinking about the Torah and the OT Scriptures.
    There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.
    What I suspect you refer to are spiritual issues that require teaching and education, and again, to take such matters literally is to tread very dangerous waters, (if you’ll pardon the pun).
    Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide?
    For the believer He doesn’t hide. God is right before me every day, and night, in the world I see all around me. Does anyone seriously believe in the notion of God in ‘place’ called heaven, sitting on a golden throne et al? I think we have moved on from that.
    Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves? If God really loves us why would he create Hell?
    God doesn’t create Hell, we do. Freedom of choice, which you so clearly enjoy – and good for you – is what the consciousness of God is all about.
    How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell?
    Of course not! Who believes in the fires of Hell? That’s a very outmoded and obsolete take on Hell.
    Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.
    As I have said, there is no physical place – it is a state of spirituality.
    The single argument that shook my belief the most was The Problem Of Evil. If there is an all-powerful God who loves us all, why is there so much evil in the world? What sort of God would stand idly by and ignore the pleas of his people in the Holocaust? How can anyone look at the world history of massacre, genocide, rape and cruelty and still claim that God will help us when we need him? What about those who died from natural causes and famines? Why did God not save them? As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.
    The point of being Christian is to follow Christ and his teaching where he repeatedly advises we can change these ways – that is OUR choice, change or be dammed, and being dammed means living in the Hell we create, not what God has created.
    If there was a God surely he would choose better representatives than the Church? For decades the Catholic Church’s will was law in Ireland and instead of this resulting in God’s paradise, it was the pits of narrow mindedness. We were a petty, sectarian and cold nation. There was no compassion for the poor or love for the downtrodden but rather a rigid and stagnant dogma. Books and ideas that did not agree with the Church were censored, divorce banned and homosexuality made illegal (these are not ancient examples, but rather laws that were not changed until the 1990s). Women who did not conform to the Church’s view were sent to Magdalene Laundries where they were treated horribly and forced to work without pay.
    To reiterate my previous points – WE make choices, WE sometimes fail!
    It is the treatment of children that really drove me from the Church. Even if you believe in God, there is no way you can remain a member of the Catholic Church knowing what crimes priests committed. Children were regularly beaten and abused, physically and verbally. God representatives on Earth treated vulnerable children with nothing but vicious cruelty. The abuse and rape of little children was not an isolated case but rather a systematic problem. The hierarchy’s reaction was nothing short of disgraceful as its priority was to cover the abuse up in order to protect its own reputation and to this day has stalled on paying compensation to survivors. What sort of God turns a blind eye to child abuse and is silent when the perpetrators claim to act in his name?
    So it was for a mixture of reasons that I grew disillusioned with Christianity. The scandals and general rigid dogma of the Church drove me away from Mass. There was also the fact that Mass in general is incredibly boring where nothing about anything seems to be said. The hypocrisy of a Church filled with gold lecturing the rest of us on the importance of charity or perpetrators of child abuse lecturing us on the morals of sex made me stop listening to the priests. If the Church really cared about the poor it would sell the Vatican and at a stroke help millions. I looked at other religions but they all seemed the same mixture of hypocrisy mixed with superstition. None of them had any answers and instead relied on “faith” (that is to say they preferred if people stopped asking questions and just accepted what they were told.) I gradually realised that my problem was more than just with the Church and that’s how I became an Atheist.
    I’m afraid all ‘followings’ will have hypocrisy because of that very point I have previously indicated, some us will fail, time and time again. As for dogma, (manmade), most of it we can confine to the garbage can without question or hesitation. Religions will build up dogma – it’s a human weakness all too prevalent in every religion, and again, something Jesus tried very hard to overturn – but frail human being keeping on making crutches for themselves instead of looking Truth in the eye.
    The very fact that you are forwarding these questions tells me that you are not entirely devoid of a real and meaningful spirituality. Sit in silence and listen to what that might be – and if following the path you have now embarked on is right for you, then your soul will respond to your listening.

  28. This is the proof you are looking for: “Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” (John 7:17) Seek the truth in the words of Jesus, seek Him with all your heart, obey Him and you will find Him (John 14:21; Hebrews 5:9). But you must love what you hear, there is no way around that. The skeptic and the one who loves the truth will never get the same thing out the bible, which is a true testimony. The skeptic will stumble upon it while the one who believes will find the words of eternal life. If you will seek the truth, seek it diligently (Hebrews 11:6). The word of God is foolproof, my friend. You have been in Christianity but you have never been a follower of Christ. Tough pill to swallow for many. If you can take it, glory be to God. Most Christians are followers of men and man-made doctrines. And the reason for so many denominations that all claim to be Christians is this: disagreement with the truth on one point or another. May you find repentance and faith in the truth that saves (John 14:6; James 1:21-25). Do read these few scriptures I referenced.
    May Jesus bless you!

    • I was raised Catholic and sought the truth and got no answers from above. If God really did reveal himself and provide then there wouldn’t be any Atheists. Do you not think we have put some thought into our belief? Do you not think we have searched for the truth?

      I find it funny that a requirement for evidence is that you already love Jesus, in which case evidence is not needed. Its a nice way of saying “Stop thinking and just love Jesus”

    • If anyone were to claim that Thor was not only a real historical character but also divine you would treat such an assertion with the contempt it is worth, yet you lend credence to a book – the bible- that claims the same and more. Why? And based on what? There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest the character depicted in the gospels was ever a real person.
      Only a very silly person would accept such nonsense without bothering to consider how the bible came about.

  29. You mentioned the fact that God created hell. Yes. He did. But He didn’t create it for man, but for the devil and his angels, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:41. Anyone who goes there does so because he sends himself because of his rebellion against God. Jesus was a historical person, He once lived and walked among us, as any honest historical scholar will admit, even those who aren’t believers. He died for our sins, for my sins, and for your sins, Robert. His crucifixion is part of the ancient record, not only the BIble’s but in ancient secular sources, too. He also rose from the dead. I challenge you to read the Bible with an open mind and an open heart, and sincerely ask God (in whom you don’t believe) to speak to you. He always rewards those who sincerely, and diligently, seek the truth.

    • “But He didn’t create it for man, but for the devil and his angels, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:41. Anyone who goes there does so because he sends himself because of his rebellion against God.”
      Oh I see, so you’re blaming the victim. If someone had the misfortune to be born something other Christian do you believe this constitutes a rebellion against God and worthy of torture?

      “Jesus was a historical person, He once lived and walked among us, as any honest historical scholar will admit, even those who aren’t believers.”
      Actually honest scholars are uncertain. However, even if there was a real person named Jesus, that doesn’t mean he was the son of God.

      “He died for our sins, for my sins, and for your sins, Robert.”
      How does that make any sense when my sins hadn’t been committed yet? When I hadn’t even been born?

      “His crucifixion is part of the ancient record, not only the BIble’s but in ancient secular sources, too”
      Wrong. The cruxification is only mentioned in the Bible. There are no independent ancient sources, only ones that repeat claims of Christians.

      “I challenge you to read the Bible with an open mind and an open heart,”
      Been there, done that, not convinced.
      http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/crucifixion-contradictions-or-how-did-jesus-really-die/

      “sincerely ask God (in whom you don’t believe) to speak to you. He always rewards those who sincerely, and diligently, seek the truth.”
      If revelation is proof then what is lack of revelation? Is it disproof? Because I was a practising Catholic until my teenage years without any sign or answer. Nor did any of my religious friends receive any sign.

      Your naivety is funny. You see to genuinely believe that God is really standing in front of us, but Atheists somehow pretend he isn’t there as though we are deliberatively looking the other way.

      • Those who lived closer to Jesus’ day were not uncertain. Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Hadrian, Lucian of Samosata, Josephus — though they mocked Christians, not a single man among these ever denied Jesus didn’t once live. Some of them called Him such things as a “magician” because of His miracles, etc. The ancient historian Eusebius, in his work ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, left us a record of his conversation with Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. In this conversation, Polycarp recounted John’s words to him about Jesus. Eusebius is a very reputable, oft-quoted historian.

      • God doesn’t just stand in front of me. He’s omniscient. He’s everywhere. Creation itself proclaims God’s glory.

      • I meant to say God is omnipresent — that His presence is everywhere. I know omniscient means all-knowing. God is that, too!

    • @ Jack
      ”Jesus was a historical person,”

      A groundless assertion unless you are able to provide evidence.

      “His crucifixion is part of the ancient record, not only the BIble’s but in ancient secular sources, too.”

      Which ancient secular sources? Tacitus? Do you know what you are actually saying?

      • Tacitus, Lucian of Samosata, Hadrian, Seutonius, Pliny the Younger, Josephus — not one of these men denied Jesus ever lived. They merely mocked Him and His followers,. And they lived closer to the time Jesus walked the earth than we do.

  30. I feel your frustration. It must be difficult growing up surrounded by a belief system that, as you grow older, you feel has no connection to reality.
    As silenceofmind said above, I do think that a lot of what you wrote was based on false statements (that were probably planted in you as a child), but if you’ll allow me also to address one, I hope that you will perhaps see that there is significant value on the ‘other side of the coin.’
    You said that God is invisible and that He goes to great lengths to hide himself.
    I’d like to flip that statement and say that if God is powerful, and the universe is as big as what science tells us, then there is absolutely no reason why God couldn’t hide himself to such an extent, that we, as tiny human beings could NEVER find him. I would argue that the existence of the scriptures, the dramatic changes in people’s lives, and the presence of Jesus Christ on earth, are huge signs that a God who is so great as to be beyond our human comprehension, has made no effort to hide himself, but rather to reveal himself. Having said that, even if God never communicated with us directly (through the bible or the presence of Jesus) we would still have to somehow explain our own presence and the presence of the amazingly ordered universe around us. (Science has not yet managed to entirely explain this without God)

    I don’t want to ‘de-validate’ your concerns. I think a lot of what you said is very valid, as there are far too many people out there peddling a weak and flawed brand of religion, masquerading as Christianity. I’d stay far away from that too. I wouldn’t be so quick however, to dismiss the words of the bible. Instead of listening to other people’s flawed arguments, I’d suggest reading that book for yourself, and not falling into the trap of saying that it can’t be taken literally. What better way to weaken and completely destroy a system of faith than to suggest that it’s book can’t be trusted. If it is the word of God, as it claims to be, then it will hold it’s own without us having to make ‘excuses’ for it. Appreciate your thoughts and honesty 🙂

    • I agree it would be a lengthy reply to address each of your “reasons” Robert.

      There are many Christian denominations and churches: Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and so on. Being a member of one doesn’t determine whether a person is a Christian.

      The real issue is whether the person individually has Jesus Christ living inside of him or her…if they actually have a personal relationship with God.

      In the Gospel of John, we are told, “to all who received him [referring to Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Why do we have to become children of God? Because until then, God is distant. We may know he’s there. We may know we are supposed to worship him. We may even know that in times of need, he’s the one to pray to. But there is a distance we are aware of, and it is because of our sin.

      Perhaps Derek Holmes’ story may give you some perspective into your man-made reasons to reject God.

      “Until about twelve years ago, my view of religion was that it was a psychological crutch required by neurotic people to enable to them better face the rigors of life.

      I never accompanied my wife on her Sunday morning trips to church as I had much more important things to do with my day off work. Nevertheless, I often felt quite sorry for her, particularly on those cold, wet and windy mornings as she set off alone. One particularly cheerless Sunday morning she seemed rather dejected and as I had nothing else to do, I thought I would accompany her. When I suggested it she seemed to welcome the idea and so we set off together.

      On the rare occasions I had set foot in a church it had usually been for weddings, funerals or baptisms. Churches, to me, were redolent of neglected libraries in old houses. Invariably, there were the smells of damp, decay, stale polish and musty books, and the church we visited that morning was no exception. When we entered, a middle-aged man greeted us with a smile and various books and papers were thrust into our hands. My wife guided me to a seat near the front. She seemed to know quite a few of the people, and she opened one of the books for me, pointed to the place where I assumed it was all going to begin, and then started talking to the woman who sat next to her. By this time I was seriously wondering what the hell I was doing there. Suddenly an organ started playing and what I took to be the choir, followed by a white robed and bearded man made its way into the church. We all stood up; the bearded man bid us good morning and welcome and we began by singing a hymn I had not, unsurprisingly, heard before.

      The words of the service that followed were totally incomprehensible to me and I was intrigued to see my wife at one stage go with others to the front of the church, eat and drink something, and then return to her seat. To me it all looked a bit druidic and full of superstitious nonsense.

      During the service my mind wandered away from what was happening in church to more important things such as my work plans for the next day and at last the ordeal was over. Sensing my impatience to be about my business my wife declined an offer of coffee and biscuits and we joined the queue to leave. On our way out we had to run the gauntlet of the Rector?and shake. He stood in the doorway, the obligatory smile locked into place, and as he shook my hand I inexplicably found myself asking him if he played chess. I had glanced at the notice board on the way in and had read that the incumbent was a Cambridge MA, and subsequent idle speculation during the service made me wonder whether this undoubtedly intelligent and well educated man had any interests other than religion. He replied that he did play chess and there and then he issued an invitation to me to visit him one evening at the Rectory for a game. I must have looked a bit apprehensive for he said he would not talk to me about religion. I was a bit dubious about his offer but as I enjoyed a game of chess and hadn’t played for some considerable time, I accepted.

      I forget what night it was that I visited him but I remember that we played our game on his computer, using the screen as a board. I also remember that I won what turned out to be quite a hard fought game and remember thinking that his God hadn’t done him much good on that occasion. Afterwards his wife brought in coffee and cakes and we chatted about many inconsequential matters until I could contain myself no longer. I asked him, rather rudely I suppose, why he was wasting an intellect such as his on religion, particularly when he might be earning much better money and doing a far more worthwhile job in industry. He surprised me by gently saying that being a minister was that vocation to which he had been called by God and for the rest of the evening we left the matter there and talked of other things. I suppose I felt rather envious of his apparent certainty as to his role in life and as I took my leave I rather sarcastically asked him whether, if and how I could discover this God of his for myself. He disappeared for a few moments into his study and emerged, carrying what turned out to be a book containing some of the poems of the Victorian poet Francis Thompson. He suggested that when I arrived home I read one of them in particular, the Hound of Heaven and if I then really wanted to encounter God, I should go into a preferably quiet room, ask God to enter my life, and then to let Him take it over. He did point out that I should not make the request unless I was prepared to turn myself, and my life completely over to God. I was intrigued and rather disappointed by what seemed to me to be a rather facile and much too simplistic response. Nevertheless, when I arrived home I glanced at the poem he had given me and in particular the part that reads:

      I fled Him down the nights and down the days;
      I fled Him down the arches of the years;
      I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways
      Of my own mind and in the midst of tears
      I hid from Him.

      The words caused a rather shadowy understanding to dawn in my mind, a vague notion that was like a half remembered song that had been long put aside, and I became more deeply aware of an inconsolable longing that had plagued me for many years. I then made my decision, entered the bedroom, fell to my knees because that seemed the appropriate thing to do at the time, and full of aggressive and embarrassed curiosity, challenged, for want of a better word – God, if indeed He existed – to enter my life and take it over. There was no flash or bang and the earth did not move, but from that moment until this very second I have been aware of the presence of God, all the time and in every place even when I am tired or ill, busy or idle, happy or sad. I had discovered like so many before me that Faith is simply a question of making a quantum leap into the unknown, reaching out a hand in the darkness and then discovering that someone is holding it. I am totally unable to rationalize this gift of absolute Faith as from that day to this, no matter how bad things have been; I have never once doubted the ever-present reality of God.

      And so began for me what has turned out to be a continuing journey into the heart of God.”

      You asked a question Robert, “Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form.” But the incomprehensibility of the Divine nature is not a reason why we should desist from reverent inquiry and prayerful striving to apprehend what He has so graciously revealed of Himself in His Word. Because we are unable to acquire perfect knowledge, it would be folly to say we will therefore make no efforts to attain to any degree of it. It has been well said that, “Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.” (C. H. Spurgeon). Allow me quote a little further from this prince of preachers.

      The proper study of the Christian is the God-head. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go on our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, amid that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought “I am but of yesterday and know nothing.” (Sermon on Mal. 3:6).

    • “I would argue that the existence of the scriptures, the dramatic changes in people’s lives, and the presence of Jesus Christ on earth, are huge signs that a God who is so great as to be beyond our human comprehension, has made no effort to hide himself, but rather to reveal himself.”
      That’s pretty scanty evidence. Scripture if full of holes and contradictions, there is remarkably little evidence on the life and Jesus and it is rare that anyone ever directly experiences God (it is more common for these to be cognitive biases).

      What if instead of these scanty bits of information God opened the clouds and appeared? Why if these supposed apparitions of Jesus and Mary were caught on camera? Think of the billions of converts that would result in overnight. God must know that, yet he still remains hiding. Why? Does he not want us to believe?

      “we would still have to somehow explain our own presence and the presence of the amazingly ordered universe around us. (Science has not yet managed to entirely explain this without God)”
      If you want an explanation read a science book. We have the Big Bang and evolution and if you really wanted an answer (rather than using it as a rhetorical device) you could research the rest. I would not in anyway suggest that our universe is amazingly ordered. I also dislike arguments based on ignorance. You are saying that you don’t know something about the universe so you say God did it (but don’t know how)

      “I’d suggest reading that book for yourself,”
      That would take weeks if not months.

      “not falling into the trap of saying that it can’t be taken literally.”
      Of course it can’t be taken literally. Should homosexuals be stoned to death? Did Noah’s Ark really happen? Of course not.

  31. I totally understand. I was there, too, once. I actually come from a family of atheists here in America. This is how I reconciled it:

    Your first few questions: “The first and most obvious point is that Christianity doesn’t make any sense. This is a point that most Catholics will admit and try not to think about. How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it? Can anyone truly state with a straight face that the Pope is infallible?”

    These are problems with the church, not with God. Catholicism, however, has a tendency to equate the church with God, however, so I understand the frustration here. Communion is not literal, nor was it meant to be. Jesus used metaphorical teaching in nearly every sermon he preached — this is no different. Also, there is no biblical demonstration for an infallible pope. Peter was the first pope, and he was rebuked by Paul at one point long after the resurrection. And I hardly doubt a Medici was infallible.

    Next section: “I think we (fundamentalists aside) can all admit that the Bible is not literally true, the Garden of Eden is not a real place, Noah’s Ark is just a children’s story and people don’t live inside whales. There are many parts of Jesus’ story that seemed a bit strange to say the least. Virgins giving birth, the dead coming back to life, walking on water, all these things that you can go along with so as you don’t think about them, all start to crumble once you examine them with an open mind.”

    For me at least, it wasn’t until I examined them with an open mind that I actually took a deep look at it. My own bias was against it. Ironic, huh? Scripturally, Eden was sealed off, so if it was real we wouldn’t be able to find it. Noah’s Ark is one of the most heinous children’s story ever told. Imagine the people beating on the sides of the ark begging to be let in. Not for kids. And who knows about the whale? It could have been big enough, and maybe it was just it’s mouth. FAITH MEANS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. That’s what it is, and that is why people believe. Besides, if God is real, than everything in there is true. If you believe Genesis 1:1, that “In the beginning God…”, than everything else becomes possible. Especially if you take a look at Creationism WITH AN OPEN MIND.

    Next batch: “Then there is God himself. Have you ever noticed how strange it is that so many people believe in something they cannot see, hear, touch or detect in anyway shape or form. What if there is just nothing there? If there was a God why would he hide? Why would he deny us any proof but compel us to believe anyway? Why would he not set out clearly what he wants from us instead of letting a wide variety of religions fight it out among themselves?”

    Faith is “the belief in things unseen”, according to the Bible. In other words, as said above, the benefit of the doubt. And God didn’t hide. He came down as Jesus to tell us what’s what. The life of Jesus is His proof. He leaves it up to us to decide. To those who demand a sign, Jesus says, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” He was talking about those who demand a sign. That was the old generation. the new generation is those who are born anew. Notice, the Pharisees asked for a sign immediately after he fed four thousand people with seven loaves of bread. Somehow that wasn’t enough for them. God gives his signs — it is up to us to accept them. That is faith — the benefit of the doubt, or the belief in causes unseen.

    Next batch: “If God really loves us why would he create Hell? How can anyone with a conscience be comfortable with the idea of eternal torture in the fires of Hell? Sure we would all like to believe in Heaven, but what is it actually like? Where is it and how does it work? We all picture it as a place where all our dreams come true and we get everything we ever wanted, but there must be a difference from our fantasies and reality.”

    Because God loves us, He created Hell. He is Good, but He is not All Things, in the pantheistic sense. Therefore, there must be a place where that which is not Him can exist. He will one day separate evil from the world. It will go in Hell, along with those who choose Evil over Him.

    Moving on to the Problem of Evil. God does not initiate evil… we let it in. God does not kill innocent people. We do. He comforts the victims, and punishes the guilty. Someday, he will eliminate it entirely, but if He were to do so now, many people who would be saved would miss their chance. Someday, there will be no more chance, but for now, he relents. With natural disasters, Scripture shows that He takes the innocent victims home to Heaven, while He lets the disaster be a judgment against those evil ones still caught inside. In the Old Testament, God often uses Nature to punish wicked nations. But again… faith. The benefit of the doubt.

    The church was never meant to be politicized. Your criticism of the Catholic Law in Ireland is a perfect example of that. But why does He choose bad representatives? He doesn’t. All of His people are good. But the Church is not composed entirely of His people. Scripture says that mark of a Christian is a wise, loving, compassionate, strong, peacekeeping, and righteous individual. It does not say that Christians will be known by their frocks and fetters. It says they will be known by their faith and actions. However, a large and overreaching church like the Catholic church will inevitably let wolves in the front door and ordain them. It’s too big and bureaucratic to do otherwise.

    In conclusion, I would say that your argument is with the church, even though you say it isn’t. Furthermore, when you say that faith is used to get people to stop asking questions, who is saying that to you if not a church?

    Sorry this is so long, but I refused Christ for much the same reasons. My advice would be to not depend on the Church for your own faith, but to deal with God directly. After all, if I have a problem with someone, I go directly to them with it. I don’t just deal with their friends. He is a person. Ask Him. The church is an institution, and institutions rarely help anyone…

    In Philo.

    • “These are problems with the church, not with God.”
      True but the title of the post is why I am not a Christian rather than why I am not a Theist.

      “FAITH MEANS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”
      You seem to mistake caps lock for a convincing argument. It is not a question of doubt, it is clear that none of those things ever happened, nor could they happen. Its funny that you keep saying to have an open mind, because you asking me to close it. You are asking to ignore all the evidence against the Bible and just believe anyway. To close my mind and just accept unquestioningly.

      “Creationism WITH AN OPEN MIND.”
      Creationism is a joke of a science unsupported by evidence and only believed for ideological reasons. It is up there with global warming denial and other such pseudo-science.

      “Faith is “the belief in things unseen”, according to the Bible.”
      In other words belief despite the lack of evidence. I’m sorry but that is not good enough. I do not believe in unicorns because there is no evidence for them, I do not rely on faith.

      “And God didn’t hide. He came down as Jesus to tell us what’s what. The life of Jesus is His proof.”
      He’s been hiding for the last 2000 years and his only appearance was in a tiny desert land lacking a sizeable population or educated writers, in other words anyone who could record the appearance for later generations. As a result we do not have any first hand accounts, but rather must rely on ones written decades later.

      “To those who demand a sign, Jesus says, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” He was talking about those who demand a sign.”
      If Jesus doesn’t give signs, then what were his miracles? And what about John 2:11 which clearly states that Jesus gave signs?

      You even conclude the paragraph that God does give signs despite beginning by saying there aren’t. Which is it?

      Because God loves us he created a place of eternal torture where he will send everyone who disagrees with him? Really, that’s a sign of love? More like the sign of a brutal and vain dictator

      “God does not kill innocent people.”
      The Bible contradicts you here. Also how can allowing genocide to occur be considered a good and necessary thing?

      “Someday, he will eliminate it entirely, but if He were to do so now, many people who would be saved would miss their chance.”
      That doesn’t make any sense

      “But why does He choose bad representatives? He doesn’t.”
      But does he not see that the Church is driving people away from him? Why not intervene to bring people towards him? Why do not nothing to prevent the mass child abuse? Or perhaps it doesn’t matter whether we believe or not.

  32. In general … why I am not an atheist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB_n9QCi6Gc

    However, the following speaks volumes to me personally:

    Although there are very compelling arguments (that do not use the Bible) for the obvious existence of God, one of the most compelling is the existence of consciousnesses … I mean, at the end of the day, if one takes evolution seriously, then what you arrive at is incredible complex machines … none of which can have consciousness. Rearrange matter, and you get simply rearranged matter. I am not my brain, and looking at neural activity is not the same as that activity pulling up a memory, or a desire, etc … as only I can do introspection within my own awareness of what is going on with my willed, controlled thoughts. I am able to meaningfully say “i am” because there is the One and only great “I AM” that has allowed me to have a similar free will.

    This is a lengthy video … 59 minutes, but, really, in view of what’s at steak, it’s very invaluable information (and for me, proof) that we are called to deal with the reality of God. Take a look and see if this makes sense:

    • Unfortunately I tend to reject “God of the Gap” arguments out of hand as they are more based on ignorance than evidence. We do not understand something so we say God did it. That is not proof but clutching at straws.

      I’m not sure why you think evolution presupposes we are machines and not conscious, if anything, increasing complexity would lead to some form of conscious.

      We are conscious but this proves nothing about God or Christianity.

  33. Your entire case is based on false statements. It would take three or four complete posts to deal with them all.

    So I’ll deal with only one.

    Catholicism is 100% consistent with concern to its doctrines, traditions and religious practices.

    Your second false statement that you put as a question: How exactly is Communion the same as eating the literal flesh of Jesus and why would you want to do it?

    Not knowing the answer to that question stems from a lack of education both in philosophy and the Catholic Catechism (that probably isn’t your fault since the Church is absolutely abysmal at providing good basic education for adults whose spiritual questionings has moved beyond childhood).

    Here is the answer:

    All things have a particular nature.

    For example, a dog has a particular nature that differentiates it from all other creatures. A dog has attributes that define it as a dog. All the definitive attributes of a thing are contained in what is called its substance.

    The substance of a dog is thus different from the substance of a cat because the dog and the cat are by nature different.

    But one dog is different from all other dogs. On dog might be black. Another white and spotted.

    Those differences among creatures with the same nature are called accidentals. Having different accidents doesn’t change the nature of a thing.

    Similarly, with respect to God… God has His own nature. So does the bread that makes up the Communion wafer.

    During the Mass, the substance, or nature of the Communion wafer is changed from the substance of bread to the substance of God while the accidentals of the bread remain the same.

    Remember, the accidentals of a thing do not determine its nature.

    Catholics believe that during Mass the nature of the bread is changed to the nature of God while the accidentals of the host (the bread) remain the same.

    This is logical since God, by his nature, does not possess accidentals. He takes on the accidentals (physical qualities) of the bread at Communion just as he took on the physical accidentals of a human being when he was Jesus, the man.

    The flesh that Jesus referred to is the substance of God which was contained in the appearance of a human body (an accidental).

    At Communion, the disciple actually ingests the substance of God under the appearance of bread and wine.

    • That’s some nice pseudo-science, but unfortunately it still doesn’t make any sense. Why are we doing this in the first place? Why do we need to ingest God every week?

      • Robert,

        2500 year old, well known philosophy is not “pseudo-science.” It is the answer to your question.

        What you have done is admit to brute ignorance by whimsically giving the answer to one of your questions a non-sense label.

        • There is an hilarious irony here that needs to be addressed.
          The other commentators who are not Catholic,/em> yet still claim they are Christian will almost without exception reject your strident vitriolic defence of the Catholic Church and Catholicism.Many do not even consider it is Christianity. With 40,000 separate Christian denominations all unable to reach true religious and /or spiritual harmony among themselves what hope in hell do any of you have of ever defending what you believe or demonstrating unequivocally the veracity of such silly claims?
          Robert is very patient. You should consider yourselves lucky in this regard.

          • What argument? It is an observation and an accurate one .

            Otherwise go abuse yourself in private instead of in public.

            I thought it was the religious that went in for this sort of mental masturbation?

            Sorry if the truth upsets you, SOM, I don’t make the rules. I merely watch from the sidelines. The Catholics and their time-of-the-month tantrums are occasionally worth keeping an eye on, and one such as yourself, is always food for a laugh or two.

            You belong to a religious cult that every other Non-Catholic, generally abhors.
            Must be tough knowing all the other children regard you with such scorn.Shame!
            Maybe your local Priest could offer some consolation? 🙂

          • Arkenaten,

            Why is it that when I state the truth it is “strident” but when you and others state demonstrably ignorant personal opinions as facts, you expect everyone to bend over and grab their ankles?

            Our civilization is facing the same problem that every great declining civilization has faced:

            The intelligencia deliberately chooses ingrained ignorance and stupidity and extols them as virtues.

            It is my Christian duty to scream protest over a megaphone about such a heinous harkening to a pre-Christian world.

            Western Civilization stands on a foundation of learning, reasoning, science, education and ethics that was organized and brought into the world by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages.

            It would be foolish indeed to see all of that frittered away by a population of misguided human beings and remain silent.

            Speaking up, after all, is the Christian Way.

          • You don’t have to convince me…Lol. I don’t believe any of you and consider it all nonsense.
            First you have to convince all the other believers who don’t even consider you to be a Christian

            You really have your work cut out for you.
            It’s like watching a scene from the movie Life of Brian.
            “I’m the Messiah, and so;s my wife.”

            You really are so very funny.

          • Arkenaten,

            What you just did was hallucinate an alternative reality and then try to demonize me with it.

            The biggest miracle of the modern age would be if an atheist would actually argue a point instead of demonizing their opposition with psychotic nonsense.

          • And there you, go talking drivel once more….
            Do you not realize that all non Catholics on this and every other site think you Catholics are worse than atheists?
            Don’t you read the papers?
            All the stories about your wonderful priests?
            Another was arrested in Brazil the other day for engaging in oral sex with boys.
            Disgusting.

          • Arkenaten,

            If you had even a basic education in logic, you’d understand that the truth is not a democracy.

            The Catholic Church is what it is regardless of what anyone thinks or how many ignorant bigots think it. And God’s existence isn’t determined by whether or not he conforms to the standards you set for his behavior.

            The notion that the existence of anyone or anything is determined by whether or not it conforms to someone’s personal standards of behavior is idiotic.

            Yet that idiocy is the foundation of the atheist’s argument against the existence of God.

            Further, only postmoderns like atheists think that personal opinions are actually facts.

            And that is my fundamental problem with this post.

            Opinions are presented as facts.

            And when someone explains what the facts actually are, that explanation is labeled something like “pseudo-science.”

            Willful, deeply ingrained ignorance is the result of being a slave to personal bias. Fundamental to our Western Heritage is systematic thinking which attenuates man’s tendency toward ignorance-breeding bias.

            Atheist is a nihilistic philosophy which completely denies our Western Heritage thus sending mankind back to the oppression of prehistoric ignorance.

          • You’re absolutely correct! 🙂
            However, every other cult of Christianity thinks that Catholics are pretty much the Devil’s spawn and your Pope is the antichrist.
            Now, me, I couldn’t care less, as I have often said and I don’t believe any of it.
            Also, I would hazard a guess that most ordinary Catholics would consider you rather childish. A petulant little upstart that needs to be sent to his room.
            Whenever you pop up on a post and begin with your usual brand of verbal diarrhea you provide such “entertainment for the troops” as it were, that you make me brighten my whole day. Really, you have no idea how much I love to read your comments..
            You are the type of mindless individual who personifies everything that is the anathema of what intellect and civility on the blogs represent and are thus, a joy to behold.
            LOL!

          • “And as soon as a Christian opens his/her mouth to try and explain it you just know it’s going to go downhill from hereon out ..”
            Putting aside the glaringly obvious grammatical error, the expression regarding stones in glass houses springs to mind.

  34. “As states by Epicurus, I could only find 3 explanations. Either God is not all-powerful (in which case we are wasting our time asking him to help us) or he does not love us (same as above but only more worrying) or he does not exist. Either way, there is no point in being a Christian.”

    I actually came to five conclusions when I was first presented this problem which I’d like to get your opinion on.
    1) God does not exist.
    2) God is all-good, and evil exists alongside god, an equally powerful entity which existed with god before the beginning, and so making god not all-powerful.
    3) God is all-evil, and the entity of good exists outside the realm of god, also making god not all-powerful, but sadly leaving us in the hands of our evil creator, being influenced by good as a mercy and battle between god and goodness.
    4) God is separate from both good and evil, and merely created us within the confines of the pre-existing constructs of the universe, also making god not all-powerful, but bound by the powers of nature, possibly existing on its own or created by an even bigger god.
    5) God is all-powerful, and created both good and evil.

    My personal belief follows the fifth option, suggesting that god is neither good nor evil, something which humans cannot fully comprehend, aka neutrality. My concept of god is that of an all-loving, all-powerful being (love meaning that which is content and accepting, despite aspects which would normally cause conflict) which created both good and evil to allow for something outside of itself, aka conflict. There is good and evil, there is peace and conflict. Conflict exists because of the existence of good and evil. God allows both to exist in order for humans to experience choice, in order for humans to learn and to appreciate what it means to have peace. It does not rebuke us for committing good or evil acts, as it is our nature as humans living in this world to try both sides of the coin.

    That’s just my personal idea, though, not anything that I expect anyone to agree with. I’d really be interested in your thoughts on it, though, if you don’t mind. ^_^

    • Hey Rana, your argument is better than most I’ve come across and I appreciate your input. However you make the common mistake of misunderstanding the meaning of evil. It is not simply badness, but outright evil like say the Nazis. Now I cannot comprehend why God would allow the Holocaust to occur and why that would be desirable in order to give us choice or appreciate peace.

      Also the idea of a free choice is contrary to Christianity where you have no choice but to obey.

      • I completely understand. I do consider the evil of Nazism, of extreme levels of evil, in my interpretation. I look at it like a parent sending a child to college. The parent gives the child guidelines (our moral conscience), and lets us go off to do our own thing. The child can choose to follow those guidelines or not follow them, and the parent respects the child’s growth by letting the child choose for themselves. If the child falls on their face because of their choices, it may hurt the parent to see the child fall, but the parent trusts the child to pick themselves up. This is how I picture god.

        Regarding choice, it is that choice is ultimately to choose between good and evil, or good and bad depending on the degree of impact that choice will have. I can choose to have broccoli or choose to have a cookie (let’s pretend this is a moral choice, and not a choice of the stomach HAHA). The cookie and the broccoli both have good and bad implications for me (healthy choice versus delicious choice), though not necessarily evil implications. Without the implications, we’d have no basis on which to make a decision. We would simply react to the situation, we would not think about the implications of that decision.

        And I also keep in mind, again, that god creates both good and evil. Without evil, good has no meaning, and visa versa. I look at god as peace, the middle between good and evil, where both cancel out. I do not believe that humans can completely understand peace because we are so caught up in the conflict of good and evil. Peace is incomprehensible and under-appreciated, just as god is.

        Also, mind you, I don’t necessarily believe that god is a conscious entity. I’m sort of in between the idea of a conscious god and a Tao-like stream of existence. That is a point I haven’t really explored very deeply, although lately I have been very intrigued by the Taoist concepts. I have always valued the teachings of the Tao Te Ching as general guidelines to a kind and happy life, and have been revisiting those concepts. There are many more parallels between my ideas and Taoism than I originally thought. 🙂

  35. Hi Robert. Enjoy your posts! You site the Problem of evil as causing pain because of legitimate tragedies. What about the fact that pain comes for many in the presence of extreme pleasure. In other words what about those that have everything and it’s their lowest point. What is the common denominator? How do you explain that?

    • Theists often seem to confuse what Atheists mean by the Problem of Evil. I don’t mean small things in life like losing your keys or not getting a promotion. Rather I mean genocide, famine and rape. Things that do not in any way make the good times more pleasurable.

  36. I understand a great deal of your reasoning. It is because of that I am not Catholic. I am, however, Christian. The two are not synonymous, in spite of what Rome tells us. Catholicism departed from Scripture, and therefore from Christianity, a long time ago. The Scripture is infallible; the pope is not. If Scripture is not trustworthy in everything it records, then it is not trustworthy in anything it records. Christ is the entrance into heaven, not any church. There is no need for an “unbloody sacrifice” of Christ to be offered, In fact, such an idea is terrible blasphemy, because Scripture says that without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

    As for Epicurus, a pagan Greek may not be the best interpreter of Christianity. There is fourth possibility: God may have a reason for allowing things to happen that we don’t approve of.

    I also agree with you about the wealth of the Vatican. During the installation of the last pope, I wondered how much it would cost to replace that square swarming with people waiting for a puff of the right-colored smoke. This says nothing of the treasures housed within its walls. Priests and nuns may take vows of poverty, but their church certainly hasn’t.

    I’m sorry that this by no means answers your objections. It does show, however, that there are answers, whether you agree with them or not. Rome has a great deal to answer for, but when you stand before God [yes, I know that you don’t believe that], her sins will not excuse yours.

    • Since it was the Catholic Church who gave the Bible to the world, it is the Catholic Church who gets to tell the world what the Bible means.

      And for nearly 2000 years, it has done exactly that.

      Papal authority comes from Matthew 16:18 where Jesus, in his own words names Apostle Peter the head of the Church and gives him divine authority.

      Of course, Protestants claim that Jesus didn’t really mean what he said or else they quibble over the meaning of Greek language.

      Fortunately, Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Greek and he didn’t write a single word of scripture.

      That means that the entire meaning of the Gospel was passed down the good old fashioned way: through living example and tradition (the passing down of knowledge from those how know to those who want to learn).

      And that also means that when a Protestant tells someone what the Bible means, they are simply expressing a personal opinion.

      You see, reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin had no ecclesiastical authority whatsoever other than what they granted to themselves. Where is granting one’s self ecclesiastical authority ever mentioned in the Bible?

      That means that whatever they said was simply their own personal opinion.

      And since one man’s opinion is as good as another, what they said about the Gospel was essentially meaningless babble.

      And that is why, in brazen defiance of Jesus (see the Gospel of John where Jesus expounds on unity) Protestantism has split into a million meaningless babbling pieces.

      Meanwhile, Catholicism remains united, universal and essentially unchanged since the time of the Apostles.

      • I actually agree with you silenceofmind to an extent. The Bible certainly has been altered over the years due to the fact it was originally passed orally and then translated. It is true that most people see what they want to see in the Bible.

        This makes me wonder why you are a Christian? If the Bible is unreliable, then how do you know Christianity is true? How do you know Jesus rose from the dead and that other stories of his life are true?

        “essentially unchanged since the time of the Apostles.”
        That is flat out untrue. Most of the Church’s structures took form centuries after the apostles died.

    • Sure there are other brands of Christianity but no one seems quite to know what the differences are or they are too trivial to care about.

      “The Scripture is infallible; the pope is not. If Scripture is not trustworthy in everything it records, then it is not trustworthy in anything it records.”
      This is easy to debunk. The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination, women should be silent and subservient to their husbands and Jews are children of the devil. These are obviously untrue, there using your logic, Scripture is unreliable.

      There are also the multitude of contradictions . . .

      “a pagan Greek may not be the best interpreter of Christianity. ”
      But even the Greeks had the concept of God

      “There is fourth possibility: God may have a reason for allowing things to happen that we don’t approve of.”
      What reasons could he have to allow genocide and famine? When you say we don’t agree with the reason are you admitting that the reason is indefensible? If so, how can this God be called good?

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