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Just Trying to Make Sense of it all


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First of all, let me say that I am a Christian. And I am conflicted. I cannot dismiss either my religion or my belief in science. In fact, I want to be a professor in a science. It is my belief that the physical rules that our universe abides by was created by God or a god, however you may see it. And I do not understand why the majority of scientists are atheists. Would not such a mathematically governed universe such as ours need a creator? Don't computers need programmers? Why did such influential men such as Issac Newton believe in a god whil today's scientists do not.

 

Any input is welcome. I'm just a thirteen year old trying to understand the universe and why life matters.

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Reading the Bible cover to cover may help you make sense of it all. When I did that, I realized I'd been listening to people cherry-pick passages from it all my life, trying to justify whatever they w

Just Trying to Make Sense of it all ---> Bible

Conveniently, I expect them to also mis-remember their vehement obstruction of stem cell research. Especially when we can start regenerating teeth and livers.

First of all, let me say that I am a Christian. And I am conflicted. I cannot dismiss either my religion or my belief in science. In fact, I want to be a professor in a science.

One thing I've done is to define what I really mean when I say I "believe" something. Not all belief is equal.

 

For me, I break it down to faith, hope and trust. Faith is complete and utter belief that something is true. I don't really have any of that kind of belief, especially when it comes to things that are supernatural. No one can prove ghosts and gods exist, so how can I have unbending, unquestioning faith that they do? I can hope that my consciousness lives on after death, but hope doesn't require me to change my whole life the way faith does. I prefer trust, trust in the best available explanation, and only science provides the methodology that ensures explanations like that.

 

It is my belief that the physical rules that our universe abides by was created by God or a god, however you may see it.

As long as that god/those gods has to live within the framework of those physical rules, I have no problem with this. I'm not a fan of omnipotence.

 

And I do not understand why the majority of scientists are atheists. Would not such a mathematically governed universe such as ours need a creator? Don't computers need programmers?

Yeah, the universe isn't a computer. It's best not to rely on analogies, they tend to oversimplify and underclarify.

 

Why did such influential men such as Issac Newton believe in a god whil today's scientists do not.

The last 300 years of scientific knowledge have been extremely... enlightening.

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You'll probably spend much time looking for an answer and in time you will reconcile or make a choice between the two different patterns of thought in your own way...this is your personal challenge and journey. Science looks at things from a detached and critical viewpoint whereas religion is based on voluntary faith which is not conducive to objectivity. The process by which one reasons scientifically is at odds with a system based on pure belief and that's why most scientists, but not all, are atheist.

 

Mathematics doesn't govern the universe, it describes it...you are putting the cart before the horse.:)

 

Newton was a man of his time and religion was the norm...he did alchemy as well.

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First of all, let me say that I am a Christian. And I am conflicted. I cannot dismiss either my religion or my belief in science. In fact, I want to be a professor in a science. It is my belief that the physical rules that our universe abides by was created by God or a god, however you may see it. And I do not understand why the majority of scientists are atheists. Would not such a mathematically governed universe such as ours need a creator? Don't computers need programmers? Why did such influential men such as Issac Newton believe in a god whil today's scientists do not.

 

Any input is welcome. I'm just a thirteen year old trying to understand the universe and why life matters.

 

I'm going to focus this post primarily on the bolded question.

 

For one, a great deal of what we know in science contradicts some of what is written in the bible. Most of the scientists I know who are religious overcome this by simply compartmentalizing their work separate to their religious beliefs, but this is not satisfactory for most. It's hard to maintain a belief in two things when their central tenants are not compatible with one another. It's also hard to justify keeping one for which there is no empirical evidence and that is largely based on irrational thinking and doing so, dismissing ideas that are founded on evidence obtained from verifiable and repeatable experiments.

 

Secondly (and this ties in with the first idea), science is based on logical and rational thinking and the people who become scientists, as well as being trained skeptics, have to adopt these sorts of thought processes for their work. It makes sense then for a scientist to also apply this when considering religion. The question of whether or not God exists is not one that science can answer as there exists no way to test the hypothesis; i.e. it's unfalsifiable. However, to go from that and claim that since there is no scientific evidence to deny God's existence, therefore God, is simply not a sensible way of looking at it. You should have a read of the wiki article on Russell's Teapot for a better explanation of this.

 

The one source of proof for God's existence as touted by religious folk is the Bible. The Bible is full of stories that are simply inaccurate and as time goes on and we discover more about the world around us, more and more of the Bible is shown to be false. Even outside of the scientific claims (e.g. that the world is 6000 years old and was made in 7 days), a great many of the social and cultural demands of the Bible are ridiculous within the context of modern society. Most who believe in a God will say that not all of the Bible is for our time, but for me this is a cop out. If the Bible is truly the 'word of God,' then the Bible (and by association, God's own words) should be able to transcend time. God is supposedly all knowing, yet he gets so much wrong; I find it hard to fathom why more people who claim to be religious do not question this. Furthermore, if some of the Bible is wrong (and many religious people would agree that Genesis, for instance, has some serious flaws) or 'not for our time' (this reasoning is often applied to most of Leviticus, except for the bit about how being gay is wrong), then how can you possibly trust the rest of it to be right?

 

You're young and most likely, religion was ingrained in you from very early on, so I can appreciate why you might be conflicted. Most importantly in all of this, you shouldn't be afraid to keep questioning things about your beliefs and about religion in general if things don't make sense. This applies to most everything, really.

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Yes, I have grown up being ingrained with religion. And I have wondered about the creation story and how it contradicts scientific finding most noticeably that the Earth was created in seven days, because it doesn't mention six thousand years in the Bible. And like you said this is contradicting but I have faith that the Bible is not completely literal, as Jesus spoke parables. I see your point and its given me something more to think about. Thanks. @hypervalent_iodine

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I cannot dismiss either my religion or my belief in science.

You will have to. You cannot be a true scientist unless you are willing to dismiss your belief in a preconceived idea based on the evidence (or lack thereof) before you.

 

You are struggling with hard questions. Countless others here and elsewhere have struggled with the same thing. You have to choose to let go of childish fairy tales and accept nature for the heartless bitch she is, or let yourself be willfully ignorant and continue to accept any myth that is spoon fed you.

 

If you want to describe the rules that describe our universe as "god," then so be it, but why not eliminate the loaded term and embedded confusion and just call them "the rules that describe our universe?" When you say god, you immediately evoke Thor and Zeus and Apollo and all of the other countless fictions laying dead in the graveyard of human mythology.

 

We don't know how this universe began, nor do we know if there even was a beginning. However, openly admitting that we do not YET know is not equivalent to concluding that goddidit. After all, if you think god created the universe, then you are still left with the question of what created god. You haven't actually answered any question at all. You've merely displaced it.

 

 

“Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. It is a bulwark against mysticism, against superstition, against religion misapplied to where it has no business being.”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

 

 

Good luck in your journey, young thinker. The fact that you are asking these questions at all means that you are braver than you were even just yesterday, and more courageous than many of your peers are today.

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Thank you both for your input. And StringJunky, I see now that mathematics does descibe the universe like you mentioned, but then what governs the universe in your opinion?

You mean besides the physical laws we know? We can find meaning to life in a universe like ours, on a planet like ours, without some overarching purpose behind it, I think. We (Earth creatures) are the only life we know. We can be pretty sure we're not alone, but even if the universe teems with life, our life here matters.

 

It's an evolutionary strength that we can imagine things that we can't see. It allowed early hunters to be wary of the shadows for fear there might be a lion lurking there. Since there often was, the hunters with imagination survived more often to pass along their genes. It's easy to see how imagining some magical sky-governor who can do anything might be a comforting answer to hard questions. And ceding authority to the sky-governor makes it easier to cede authority to those who speak for Him, and so priests have always held great power. From there it's easy to see how religions were able to grow.

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I'm a Christian who loves science, especially physical science. Unlike a lot of people that I've met, I don't believe that science contradicts my Christian beliefs. But then again, I have a very basic view of what science is, fundamentally.


For me, science is simply trying to understand things by observing, questioning, experimenting, hyphothesizing, and then theorizing. I don't feel that true science should try to explain things while attempting to make sure that God doesn't enter into the picture. For me, true science tries to answer questions, and if God happens to be a part of the answer, then that's okay. I don't believe that one has to exclude the other. On the other hand, I will admit that my trust in God trumps my trust in anything else, including science. But at the same time it doesn't contradict it. This is because it's not hard for me to believe that there's a sovereign God who is above everything else, including his own creation and the laws that he made to govern it; and also that his thoughts are greater than ours. Because my belief in God is as such, and my view of science is so basic, the two don't contradict.


Your title to this thread, "Just Trying to Make Sense of it all", made me think about an online article that I wrote a while ago. It attempts to answer the question "What is the meaning of life?", using strict logic and basic reasoning. I've decided to supply a link to it here because you may find it helpful. The content is helpful, but so is its portrayal of a method of unbiased approach. Its approach is driven by facts and logic.




As for your question of "why fewer scientists believe in God"; the Bible gives an answer. About one third of the Bible is prophecy and it basically says that the world will become more godless, and that there will be more and more arguments and division before it finally comes to an end (Jude 1:17-23, 2nd Timothy 2:12-17). @hypervalent_iodine gave a good example of how all of this is unfolding. Scientists perform experiments and make discoveries. They then trust these results over previous knowledge. But this is only good science when the results are more reliable than the previous knowledge that was already known.


As I've said before, my trust in God trumps my belief in everything else. If there is a scientific finding that contradicts what the Bible teaches, this is evidence to me that the scientific finding is wrong. At first glance, this may appear to contradict the very pure nature of science (ask questions, experiment, and let the facts lead you to truth), but it doesn't. My view is both logically sound, and is also non-contradictory to either science or my belief about God and the Bible. Let me give an example of the logic behind this way of thinking that will be identifiable to most scientists.


Suppose I told you that I have a scientific process that will determine the exact age of any object, to within a year of accuracy. It has an excellent track record for being correct. I then use it on you in order to determine your age. The final results indicate that you are 53 years old, even though you told all of us that you are 13. Would you believe the results of my procedure, or would you conclude that something isn't right? Logic would cause us to conclude that an error has been made, and we would run the test again. Now if we run the test 100 times and all tests continue to show that you're 53 instead of 13, would you begin to believe that you are 53 instead of 13? Probably not. Is your conclusion irrational? No.


This is my experience as a Christian who loves science. I recognize that scientific results, though rigerous and well intentioned, can sometimes be wrong. I don't dismiss anything. I just recognize error based on a more stable knowledge.


For most non-Christians, this may be difficult to accept. It's often hard for them to believe that a person's trust in God can be as strong, or stronger, than their belief about their own age. Yet at the same time, no serious scientist would trust a flawed experimental, or mathematical, outcome, over the faith about their own age.


The "personal age" example is a good example of faith, trust, belief, or whatever else you may want to call it. We all have it, and there's nothing irrational about it. We can use all sorts of documents, and evidence to support our own age. But the truth is that if we find a document that contradicts what we already know to be true, it's not illogical to dismiss it as some sort of error.


I recognize that my response may not be favored by many readers; especially my quoting the Bible in one of the above paragraphs. But I believe that giving my experience, as a Christian who loves science, to another Christian who loves science, may be helpful.
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For me, true science tries to answer questions, and if God happens to be a part of the answer, then that's okay. I don't believe that one has to exclude the other

This is very, very wrong and I'll tell you why.

 

The reason science offers the best, most trusted explanation for various phenomena, and NOT ANSWERS, is because a theory is always being examined and tested to see if it still works in each new test. If it doesn't, the theory gets changed, reworked, made better, more reliable and trustworthy.

 

Answers, on the other hand, are usually considered complete by themselves. Typically, when you find an answer, you stop looking. Most religions think in terms of answers, and most think they have the right ones, and they rarely question them.

 

Science is used to observe and test natural phenomena. Gods and ghosts don't allow themselves to be tested this way. This makes them supernatural, and thus unfalsifiable (incapable of being shown to be false}, a requirement of any scientific statement, hypothesis or theory.

 

I have no problem with a belief in gods and ghosts, as long as it's more of a hopeful belief. Hope that what your religion teaches you is true, but please take your kids to the doctor and don't rely on God to keep them healthy.

 

Faithful belief, where you never question what you're told about your god, seems like poor judgement to me. It's like you're claiming to know something is absolutely, unerringly true even though there's no way you can possibly know that. The faithful are wishing it to be true and denying all the best supported explanations that science has.

 

Many religious people believe their God can heal the faithful, but ignore the fact that their God has NEVER regrown a leg or an arm for an amputee. Could it really be true that losing an arm ALWAYS makes one lose faith? Or is that beyond the power of this god that they claim can cure everything else?

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@Phi for All, "faith" often becomes a dirty word among analytical thinkers, as well as many scientists. At first glance, it seems to have no place in science because how can anyone be certain about anything, right? But the truth is that all of us, without exception, possess faith. That's what I like about the "personal age" example that I mentioned earlier. If any person is honest with him/herself they would agree that, at this very moment, they are certain about their own age. I can see how a person would try to argue this faith by claiming that they doubt their own age, but if we're all honest, not many people doubt such facts about themselves. Just ask yourself, do you doubt your own age? Just because you don't doubt, that doesn't make you irrational.


If I started talking about Newton's laws of motion, no scientist would say "but how can you be certain that Newton even actually existed?" By faith, we all accept that he existed without trying to prove it, and, today, no scientist would ever be rediculed for having such faith in that belief.


In order to understand the perspective of a Christian, it's important to view their faith in God, and the Bible, as being just as solid as your faith about your own age, if not greater. This may be challenging, but it's critical when trying to understand the Christian perspective.


Let's face it. When you believe your own age, it has little to do with actual proof, even though actual proof exists. You would never be considered to have poor judgment for not doubting your own age. It's the same way with my faith as a Christian. The only reason that you, and other non-beleivers, may not see it that way, is because you don't personally have the same faith. To you, the existance of God is an "unknown", or "we can't be sure" type of topic. But that's just a perspective. If someone tried to tell you that your age is just "your belief", you'd understand that they're merely speaking from their perspective. But you'd never begin to question what you know to be true just because they have doubts.


When you say that "God has NEVER regrown a leg or arm", you're once again merely speaking from your perspective. Though I've never witnessed it, I know that Jesus performed even greater miracles thousands of years ago. If we were both around him while he was here on earth, just as thousands of people were at the time, you would have been able to see him perform those miracles yourself. You then wouldn't doubt his power, in the same way that no one doubted it back then.


But we live in this time. And just as you could talk to a person who may doubt that Isaac Newton ever lived, I could do they same when talking about Jesus. You could talk about Isaac Newton and his accomplishments, and I could talk about Jesus. We both have evidence that supports the truths that we know, and understand. But our beliefs aren't based on the evidence that we would show someone, even though this clear evidence exists. You could show Newton's equations and history books that talk about what he did, and even early portraits of the man. I could talk about the Bible and point out the fact that all of society references all of time to his birth, and that this is evidence that he performed many miracles, just as the Bible says. But in the end, both of our beliefs are based on faith, and neither is less true because of it.


As for doubting God because he doesn't do what I want, when I want it (such as healing someone) -- If I chose to doubt God because of something like that, then that would be through fault of my own. The Bible covers thousands of years of history. Throught that time, there have been many who have seen his miracles. But there have also been many who didn't. Gideon and Job are two clear examples of this. They lived during times that are similar to ours. During the time of their generation, God chose not to perform miracles. Each of them even brought it up specifically (Gideon in Judges 6:13, and Job in Job 42:5). The REAL mistake would be for us to limit truth, or even evidence, to our own personal experiences.


I should also point out a few more truths about miracles. God points out that there are two different kinds of people. There are those who are willing to believe, and there are those who will choose not to believe even if they get miracles that they may have asked for. I can think of two times when Jesus talked about this. One time he pointed out that an unbeliever's family wouldn't believe the truth even if they witnessed a dead man being raised to life (Luke 16:19-31). The second time was when Jesus was talking to the religious leaders of that day. Jesus told them that they were godless and that the people from previous times repented and believed after seeing much smaller miracles (Matthew 12:38-42).


By today's examples, I think of people like the late comedian George Carlin. During one of his routines he said, "I'll prove to you that God doesn't exist. If God exists, let him strike me with a bolt of lightning". The comedian wasn't struck, and the audience laughed. But the truth is, that even if he had been struck, people would have just said that it was a bizarre coincidence. People are always much more willing to think of a different explanation.
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@Phi for All, "faith" often becomes a dirty word among analytical thinkers, as well as many scientists. At first glance, it seems to have no place in science because how can anyone be certain about anything, right? But the truth is that all of us, without exception, possess faith. That's what I like about the "personal age" example that I mentioned earlier. If any person is honest with him/herself they would agree that, at this very moment, they are certain about their own age. I can see how a person would try to argue this faith by claiming that they doubt their own age, but if we're all honest, not many people doubt such facts about themselves. Just ask yourself, do you doubt your own age? Just because you don't doubt, that doesn't make you irrational.

I trust that my age based on my birth certificate is correct, but I can't in the least say that I have unwavering, unquestioning faith that it's correct. There are many things I don't know about how such records were processed back then.

 

 

If I started talking about Newton's laws of motion, no scientist would say "but how can you be certain that Newton even actually existed?" By faith, we all accept that he existed without trying to prove it, and, today, no scientist would ever be rediculed for having such faith in that belief.

I don't believe Newton existed based on faith. I believe it based on trust in multiple historical records that verify that he existed. That's another area where the New Testament fails. There are almost no other historical records that corroborate the existence of Jesus. There are many that corroborate the existence of Newton.

 

 

In order to understand the perspective of a Christian, it's important to view their faith in God, and the Bible, as being just as solid as your faith about your own age, if not greater. This may be challenging, but it's critical when trying to understand the Christian perspective.
Let's face it. When you believe your own age, it has little to do with actual proof, even though actual proof exists. You would never be considered to have poor judgment for not doubting your own age. It's the same way with my faith as a Christian. The only reason that you, and other non-beleivers, may not see it that way, is because you don't personally have the same faith. To you, the existance of God is an "unknown", or "we can't be sure" type of topic. But that's just a perspective. If someone tried to tell you that your age is just "your belief", you'd understand that they're merely speaking from their perspective. But you'd never begin to question what you know to be true just because they have doubts.

I guess you missed it earlier when I said science doesn't look for answers or “proof”. Science looks for evidence to support the best explanation. I can trust that. I can hope there is consciousness after death. But unquestioning faith is just pretending to know what you don't know.

 

When you say that "God has NEVER regrown a leg or arm", you're once again merely speaking from your perspective. Though I've never witnessed it, I know that Jesus performed even greater miracles thousands of years ago. If we were both around him while he was here on earth, just as thousands of people were at the time, you would have been able to see him perform those miracles yourself. You then wouldn't doubt his power, in the same way that no one doubted it back then.

Again, you're pretending to know something you don't really know. You even have to rely on magical “ifs” to take us back in time.

 

But we live in this time. And just as you could talk to a person who may doubt that Isaac Newton ever lived, I could do they same when talking about Jesus. You could talk about Isaac Newton and his accomplishments, and I could talk about Jesus. We both have evidence that supports the truths that we know, and understand. But our beliefs aren't based on the evidence that we would show someone, even though this clear evidence exists. You could show Newton's equations and history books that talk about what he did, and even early portraits of the man. I could talk about the Bible and point out the fact that all of society references all of time to his birth, and that this is evidence that he performed many miracles, just as the Bible says. But in the end, both of our beliefs are based on faith, and neither is less true because of it.

You'll find a ton of references in multiple histories to support Newton's existence, but very few outside the Bible that will verify what you claim Jesus did. In fact, your own religion is splintered into thousands of sects that disagree on exactly what he did, who he was. I'd almost be willing to bet you disagree with the largest sect of Christianity over many details.

 

As for doubting God because he doesn't do what I want, when I want it (such as healing someone) -- If I chose to doubt God because of something like that, then that would be through fault of my own. The Bible covers thousands of years of history. Throught that time, there have been many who have seen his miracles. But there have also been many who didn't. Gideon and Job are two clear examples of this. They lived during times that are similar to ours. During the time of their generation, God chose not to perform miracles. Each of them even brought it up specifically (Gideon in Judges 6:13, and Job in Job 42:5). The REAL mistake would be for us to limit truth, or even evidence, to our own personal experiences.

But no amputees, ever. Why is that? Why does God hate amputees?

 

 

I should also point out a few more truths about miracles.

Would you listen to someone who pretends to know “truth” if it didn't agree with what you believe? I would never ask you to do that. Instead, I invite you to study evidence collected under sound methodology and come to your own reasoned conclusions.

 

By today's examples, I think of people like the late comedian George Carlin. During one of his routines he said, "I'll prove to you that God doesn't exist. If God exists, let him strike me with a bolt of lightning". The comedian wasn't struck, and the audience laughed. But the truth is, that even if he had been struck, people would have just said that it was a bizarre coincidence. People are always much more willing to think of a different explanation.

But that's the basis for every so-called miracle: a bizarre, one-time coincidence that can't be tested or repeated or predicted. That's why gods and ghosts are supernatural when it comes to science. Let God start striking down everyone who asks to be struck down and soon science would have a testable, repeatable, predictive theory about a natural phenomena.

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Just Trying to Make Sense of it all ---> Bible

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Reading the Bible cover to cover may help you make sense of it all. When I did that, I realized I'd been listening to people cherry-pick passages from it all my life, trying to justify whatever they wanted me to believe. It's one of the most insidious tricks in the religious arsenal.

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The bible is not even consistent with itself. There are like 700 times where it contradicts itself. That's hardly a firm foundation on which to make so many extraordinary claims that cannot be supported with evidence.

 

http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions

 

 

Also, accepting that Newton was a real figure who actually existed and contributed information to our culture is not equivalent to having faith that a magical sky dictator floats on the clouds and cares whether or not we masturbate or eat fish on fridays.

 

All you are doing is conflating the term "Faith" and stretching its meaning. I don't have "faith" that the sun will come up tomorrow morning. I accept that it probably will based on experience and evidence, but I also accept that it might not. That is not the same as having "faith" that someone died and came back to life, that two of every animal lived on a boat, that a woman was created from a rib, or that a magical party with Elvis is waiting for us when we die.

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@Phi for All, if someone asked you your birthdate, I doubt you'd say "I think I was born on ___", or "I believe I was born on ___". It also wouldn't surprise me if you've never even seen your own birth certificate. Many people haven't. Most people were told that their birthday is a certain date. Most were told by their parents, years ago -- probably so long ago that they don't even remember being told. They now live their lives, knowing their own age and the date of their own birth -- and not being wrong about it. If they started to doubt their own age, because of having engaged in a conversation such as this, most people would consider that to be a form of paranoia. Just ask yourself, how much so-called evidence would a person have to show you in order to get you confused about your own birthday? If you really start to seriously think in these terms, you'll probably find that your faith about your own birtdhay, is pretty strong.


I understand that your faith about your birthday isn't unwaivering. Neither is mine. It's very strong, but not unwaivering. I use it as an example to show that everyone has faith. It's the type of faith that has a lot in common with my faith about God and the Bible. However, there are some attributes about it that are very different. Unlike my faith about my age, which is extremely strong by the way, my faith about God and the Bible is "unwaivering". It's often difficult for this concept to be relatable to those who don't believe, but that's normal. Because it would be unrelatable, it would also be near pointless for me to try to say much more about it.


You said that you believe Newton's history because of historical documents, and that there are fewer documents concerning Jesus. On one hand, this just makes sense because the events of Jesus took place further back in history. It should also be noted that throughout the centuries, Christians have been persecuted, and there have been many attempts to completely destroy the scriptures in order to prevent the growth of Christianity. But despite all of this, we all reference all of time to this one man's birth, Jesus. Once again, this is true for all cultures around the world. In a legitimate search for understanding, this is something that would never be ignored. Yet, the miracles that Jesus performed, explains all of this very easily.


I understand that Jesus, God and the Bible are all very touchy subjects, and so it's difficult for many to treat them fairly within the realm of science. For instance, at one point, you said "Again, you're pretending to know something you don't really know. You even have to rely on magical 'ifs' to take us back in time". You were talking about the hypothetical that I proposed about you being alive, and present, during the time that Jesus was here on Earth. Hypotheticals, and asking "if", is commonly allowed during the scientific process. Yet you don't allow it here. Had this been a different subject and I was talking about a thought experiment, which is what many scientists have done, you wouldn't have had a problem with it. Einstein asked, "if a person could ride on a wave of light", and Newton asked "if a connon was powerful enough to shoot a cannon ball for thousands of miles off of a cliff". Had I mentioned those "ifs" you would have had no problem at all. Bias is hard to avoid on such a touchy subject, but is necessary for scientific pursuit.


You said that your belief that Newton existed isn't based on faith but that it's based on multiple historical records. However, I'm willing to bet that you never sought out historical records in order to verify that Newton was alive in the 1600s. It's much more likely that you did the same thing that many of us have done. You probably took some classes, and read some physics books that talked about his work, in order to learn more about his work and contribution to science, and that it was by faith that you believe what you learned about his existence. You probably never saw anything beyond that, yet you choose to believe. That's okay, and there's nothing wrong with it. It's the same thing that the rest of us have done. We do it all the time, and it has posed no problem or threat. But in an attempt to show that you don't believe by faith, you mention the existence of historical documents that you've probably never even seen. I don't doubt that such documents exist, I'm just pointing out that we all possess faith, and use it on a consistent basis.


You mentioned that Chrstianity has splintered into many different sects that disagree. You're certainly right about that. It's all happening just as God said it would. There are many places in the Bible that warn about how this sort of thing will take place. It then gives solutions on how to remain faithful to the truth and not be misled. I could explain more about why this happens, but you'd find it to be very unrelatable. You reitterated your perspective when you said in your post "Would you listen to someone who pretends to know 'truth' if it didn't agree with what you believe?" Though the answers are true, you wouldn't value their source. Hence, it makes more sense not to divulge them.


As for the amputees -- The Bible is clear that there are many other miracles that Jesus performed. They're not all listed because there would simply be too many to talk about (John 21:25). However, this leads me back to what I said about there being two types of people. Jesus said that there are those who see and beleive, and there are those who wouldn't believe even if they were shown more miracles. Is your cause for disbelief based on the fact that an amputee wasn't one of the many cases that was chosen to be written down? Had it been listed, would you instantly believe?


You say that people would start to believe if God started striking people dead every time they asked for it. This is the same situation. Jesus resurrected people from the dead -- lots of people. There were even a whole group of people that came back to life the moment that Jesus died on the cross. They came out of their graves and walked around the city. He even radically controlled the weather at will. You would think that these miracles would be great enough to cause someone to believe, which is why they are the ones that were written down (John 20:30-31).


I could just imagine what would happen if God decided to start striking people dead when they asked. I could imagine people trying to find any kind of commonality possible. Did they all happen within a certain range? What about the pitches of their voices when they said it. Perhaps this causes some form of natural disturbance that may contribute to a lightning strike. It's like you said "Let God start striking down everyone who asks to be struck down and soon science would have a testable, repeatable, predictive theory about a natural phenomena". That's not flat-out belief. So what would it take? What miracle would be great enough? So he starts striking down those who ask. But then if he finally decided to quit, or only strike down some, people would say that it can't be God. After all, it's no longer repeatable. And if it is repeatable, then perhaps that would be evidence that it's not due to the conscious decision of an almight God. It wouldn't shock me to see just how far people would go to strive for a different explanation. There would probably be some who would believe. After all, some are willing (Matthew 13:3-23). But as the Bible points out, these are the ones who are probably also willing to pay attention to the many miracles that have already been performed, written down, and spoken of (Luke 16:29-31).


By its very nature, the topic of religion can't help but become personal and controversial; especially when you mention Jesus. So when such a topic is dealt with via scientific methods, a person has to conciously employ special effort in order to try to remain unbiased. It makes sense that this would be difficult, but at the same time, necessary.


@iNow, you said "The bible is not even consistent with itself. There are like 700 times where it contradicts itself. That's hardly a firm foundation on which to make so many extraordinary claims that cannot be supported with evidence."


Explaining to you why it's not a challenge for me to place complete confidence in the book that you describe, would be very difficult. It would require talking about things that will simply be unrelatable to those who don't believe. I'll try to give an analogy, but you probably won't find it useful. But I suppose there's no real harm in doing so since I don't want to dismiss your comment altogether.


I spoke earlier about unwaivering faith, and that my faith about God, and the Bible, is of this type. The kind of faith, that God is interested in, is the "unwaivering" kind. The Bible talks a lot about it, and there are many human examples that demonstrate it. The Bible also talks about why the unwaivering kind of faith in him, is very important. It's kind of like when a person chooses to get married. When a person decides to get married, they take a vow that describes their future choices, even without knowing the future. That's why you'll often hear "for better, or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part". It's a choice that is made with the knowledge, and anticipation, of a potentially bumpy road ahead. It's one of the things that makes faith about God, and the Bible, different than birthday faith. I've been warned about what's ahead, and so no document, finding, or discovery will ever shake it. The Bible clearly warns that every believer's faith will be tested and that God wants faith that doesn't waiver. If I choose to waiver, then what will I tell him on the last day, even after I've been told to expect such testing?


The Bible gives many examples of people who had great faith, and how God was pleased with their faith because it was unwavering. So this is where the rubber meets the road. Jesus said that he came to cause division, and that some would believe and that some wouldn't. I simply choose to be one who believes. You're right, ultimately, a relationship with God isn't based on evidence, even though evidence exists. If it's merely based on evidence, then it could always be shaken. Just as "Phi for All" implied, show him the right set of documents, and a correct set of contradicting evidence, and maybe you could get him to believe that he was born on a different day than what he actually was. But as a Christian, I already know that my faith will be tested. So when such tests come, I'm ready for them. Like marriage, it's a choice that is made even when you don't know what you may encounter next.


So having said all of that, inconsistencies in the Bible don't bother me. One place in the Bible says that Judas hung himself. Another says that he fell to his death and all of his insides spilled out. One could try to argue that he hung himself over a cliff, the rope broke and he also fell to his death. But to me it's not a sticking point. What am I to do? Would I choose to dismiss everything else and choose not to believe because of this? No. I choose to do what Abraham did. God promised Abraham that his barren wife would become pregnant and that he would be the father of many nations. When his wife finally had their son Isaac, God told Abraham to sacrafice him -- to kill him. Abraham could have doubted God, or he could have questioned him. Abraham did neither. He simply decided to obey God, and God was pleased. Abraham didn't understand why God would ask him to kill his only son from whom many nations would come. But his lack of understanding didn't stop him from obeying.


The situation with Job is also similar. God allowed Job to be tested even though Job was faithful. Job didn't know why his life was falling apart, but his lack of understanding didn't change his choices concerning God. God never told him why those things happened to him, but he was pleased with Job's response.


So what should I do, as a Christian, when I encounter something that doesn't necessarily make sense? Should I abandon my faith? Should I question God's plans or his motives? Either would be a bad choice because I already know what God is like and who he is, based on his word. He's told me what to expect. This isn't something that will be relatable, or make perfect sense, to one who doesn't believe. But it's the best explanation I can give to someone who doesn't believe.


An unbeliever may not consider the Bible to be a firm foundation. But the perspective of a Christian is very different, and hard to explain to an unbeliever. Many times in the Bible it's referred to as spiritual sight versus spiritual blindness. It also talks about those who hear his voice and those who don't. The Bible shows that there is a great divide between those who believe and those who don't, and that we won't be able to relate on many issues. The following are verses that give many examples of what I'm talking about. It won't make much sense, and will seem highly controversial to those who don't believe. Because they're from the Bible, many non-believers probably won't value them at all. But I show them as a context that explains what I'm talking about, and they'll be relatable to Christians who may be reading.


2nd Corinthians 6:14-15

Matthew 13:10-17

John 10:22-42

Matthew 10:34-38

Jude 1:17-23


@iNow, these answers probably won't be satisfactory, but I didn't want to just cop out and not respond. As for your comment about the sun -- From my perspective, the fact that you live as though the sun will rise tomorrow, is evidence of your faith. You believe that the sun will rise tomorrow, but you don't believe that the Bible is true. That's all. To me, faith, belief and trust are all the same thing. It's a matter of semantics.


There's not much common ground that will be found between Christians and non-Christians. However, inarguable evidence about Jesus, God and the Bible does exist. It primarily starts with Jesus' birth being a reference for all time. A legitimate scientific pursuit wouldn't ignore it. It will always ultimately lead to extreme controversy for someone who doesn't believe, but for a Christian, there's no conflict.
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@iNow, these answers probably won't be satisfactory...

Indeed, quite right. You should not assume that my nonbelief is a result of not enough time studying your special book. Quite the contrary, actually. It was only after studying it that I realized the only valid conclusion was to treat it for the fiction and mythology it is.

 

I also think you're a fool to continue conflating an acceptance that the sun will rise in the morning with a belief in an ethereal pixie acting like a dictator who convicts people of thought crimes. You may as well suggest that a belief that the sun will rise in the morning is equivalent to a belief in leprechauns or the tooth fairy.

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@Phi for All, if someone asked you your birthdate, I doubt you'd say "I think I was born on ___", or "I believe I was born on ___". It also wouldn't surprise me if you've never even seen your own birth certificate. Many people haven't. Most people were told that their birthday is a certain date. Most were told by their parents, years ago -- probably so long ago that they don't even remember being told. They now live their lives, knowing their own age and the date of their own birth -- and not being wrong about it. If they started to doubt their own age, because of having engaged in a conversation such as this, most people would consider that to be a form of paranoia. Just ask yourself, how much so-called evidence would a person have to show you in order to get you confused about your own birthday? If you really start to seriously think in these terms, you'll probably find that your faith about your own birtdhay, is pretty strong.
I don't really like your birthday analogy. It's not on any kind of level of faith for me as I've described it (which you've consistently ignored). Again, I break belief down into faith (unwavering, unquestioning), hope (wish it might be true, not going to change my life though) and trust (based on the best available explanation). The birthday argument seems like you placed an inordinate amount of concern over how old you really are.

 

I understand that your faith about your birthday isn't unwaivering. Neither is mine. It's very strong, but not unwaivering. I use it as an example to show that everyone has faith. It's the type of faith that has a lot in common with my faith about God and the Bible. However, there are some attributes about it that are very different. Unlike my faith about my age, which is extremely strong by the way, my faith about God and the Bible is "unwaivering". It's often difficult for this concept to be relatable to those who don't believe, but that's normal. Because it would be unrelatable, it would also be near pointless for me to try to say much more about it.
Since no one alive today has ever seen a god, why do you choose that to have faith in? If you're going to pretend to know something you don't know, why pick something that has no evidence that doesn't rely on its own teachings? What's pointless is relying on the Bible as evidence that the Bible is true.

 

You said that you believe Newton's history because of historical documents, and that there are fewer documents concerning Jesus. On one hand, this just makes sense because the events of Jesus took place further back in history. It should also be noted that throughout the centuries, Christians have been persecuted, and there have been many attempts to completely destroy the scriptures in order to prevent the growth of Christianity. But despite all of this, we all reference all of time to this one man's birth, Jesus. Once again, this is true for all cultures around the world. In a legitimate search for understanding, this is something that would never be ignored. Yet, the miracles that Jesus performed, explains all of this very easily.
Nice try, but there were plenty of people besides the Romans who chronicled those times. There aren't any documents of that time that refer to any of the miracles attributed to Jesus, and in the historical world that's very odd. Things like turning water into wine usually got the attention of historians from the whole region. Yet every other document outside the Bible that people claimed confirmed the accounts of the Bible have been proven to be forgeries penned centuries after.

 

I understand that Jesus, God and the Bible are all very touchy subjects, and so it's difficult for many to treat them fairly within the realm of science. For instance, at one point, you said "Again, you're pretending to know something you don't really know. You even have to rely on magical 'ifs' to take us back in time". You were talking about the hypothetical that I proposed about you being alive, and present, during the time that Jesus was here on Earth. Hypotheticals, and asking "if", is commonly allowed during the scientific process. Yet you don't allow it here. Had this been a different subject and I was talking about a thought experiment, which is what many scientists have done, you wouldn't have had a problem with it. Einstein asked, "if a person could ride on a wave of light", and Newton asked "if a connon was powerful enough to shoot a cannon ball for thousands of miles off of a cliff". Had I mentioned those "ifs" you would have had no problem at all. Bias is hard to avoid on such a touchy subject, but is necessary for scientific pursuit.
There's a big difference between posing hypotheticals and claiming, "I know that Jesus performed even greater miracles thousands of years ago".

 

You said that your belief that Newton existed isn't based on faith but that it's based on multiple historical records. However, I'm willing to bet that you never sought out historical records in order to verify that Newton was alive in the 1600s. It's much more likely that you did the same thing that many of us have done. You probably took some classes, and read some physics books that talked about his work, in order to learn more about his work and contribution to science, and that it was by faith that you believe what you learned about his existence. You probably never saw anything beyond that, yet you choose to believe. That's okay, and there's nothing wrong with it. It's the same thing that the rest of us have done. We do it all the time, and it has posed no problem or threat. But in an attempt to show that you don't believe by faith, you mention the existence of historical documents that you've probably never even seen. I don't doubt that such documents exist, I'm just pointing out that we all possess faith, and use it on a consistent basis.
You mentioned that Chrstianity has splintered into many different sects that disagree. You're certainly right about that. It's all happening just as God said it would. There are many places in the Bible that warn about how this sort of thing will take place. It then gives solutions on how to remain faithful to the truth and not be misled. I could explain more about why this happens, but you'd find it to be very unrelatable. You reitterated your perspective when you said in your post "Would you listen to someone who pretends to know 'truth' if it didn't agree with what you believe?" Though the answers are true, you wouldn't value their source. Hence, it makes more sense not to divulge them.
Is it OK that the Catholics believe the way they do? Are they true Christians in your opinion? Do they worship correctly? If not, don't you think it's "miraculous" that your sect happens to know the truth?

 

As for the amputees -- The Bible is clear that there are many other miracles that Jesus performed. They're not all listed because there would simply be too many to talk about (John 21:25). However, this leads me back to what I said about there being two types of people. Jesus said that there are those who see and beleive, and there are those who wouldn't believe even if they were shown more miracles. Is your cause for disbelief based on the fact that an amputee wasn't one of the many cases that was chosen to be written down? Had it been listed, would you instantly believe?
It's completely irrational to use the Bible as supportive evidence for things that you claim happened in the Bible. Let's stay in the present reality for a while.
Many religious people claim that God still heals people. They pray and their cancer is gone, and they forget what their doctor has been doing for them. All kinds of conditions are cured and God gets the credit because people prayed to God. And yet, not one single instance of an amputee getting his leg restored miraculously. Not one. I have to conclude that either God hates amputees or God heals no one.

 

You say that people would start to believe if God started striking people dead every time they asked for it. This is the same situation. Jesus resurrected people from the dead -- lots of people. There were even a whole group of people that came back to life the moment that Jesus died on the cross. They came out of their graves and walked around the city. He even radically controlled the weather at will. You would think that these miracles would be great enough to cause someone to believe, which is why they are the ones that were written down (John 20:30-31).
No, I said that we could make observations, form an hypothesis, test the phenomena and make predictions based on the conclusions we could finally make because God has chosen to be part of the natural world.
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@Phi for All, you asked "Since no one alive today has ever seen a god, why do you choose that to have faith in?"


The reason is very similar to why I believe my own birth date, or why I believe that Isaac Newton existed. It's just as I said in an earlier post -- It's a similar faith. When I was young, I was taught these things. Just as you were told about Isaac Newton, and Abraham Lincoln, so was I. I was also told about the Bible and Jesus, and just like the other truths that I was told, I believe it to be true. I didn't sit down and determine for myself what "truth" would best suit me. As is the case about Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, and my birth date, I was told and believed.


You also asked, "Is it OK that the Catholics believe the way they do? Are they true Christians in your opinion? Do they worship correctly? If not, don't you think it's 'miraculous' that your sect happens to know the truth?"


I'm not Catholic, so I don't know all of the details about what they do. However, I do know that some of the things that they do are unbiblical. This goes back to what you said about different sects popping up. God said that it would happen and gives us warnings to stay away from wrong teaching and stick to the truth. I can know what's true based on whether or not it agrees with what the Bible says. False teaching started very early. It's spoken about in 2nd Peter, Jude, 1st and 2nd Timothy, and probably other places.


Whether or not a person is a Christian is based on a personal choice that is made between them and God. I have no right to judge others. Only God is able to judge. So I can't say whether or not someone is a Christian based on them being Catholic.


There's nothing miraculous about being able to determine the difference between what is true and what is false. As a Christian, I believe what the Bible says. If what someone says agrees with what the Bible says, then I know it's true, if not, then it isn't.


You said, "It's completely irrational to use the Bible as supportive evidence for things that you claim happened in the Bible. Let's stay in the present reality for a while".


As a Christian, what I beleive is completely based on what the Bible says. All that I believe about God is based on it. Therefore, it's the only complete tool that I could ever use to explain it. Is there other evidence that supports the Bible, yes. But there's nothing that is so complete, or trustworthy.


This is one of those things that will be considered irrational to a non-Christian, but it's certainly not the only thing; just ask "iNow". It's just as he said. From his perspective, the Bible equates to unicorns and leprechauns. It's the same kind of division that I mentioned earlier. There are many things that will never be relatable between Christians and non-Christians. I've already said that the Bible shows this division when it talks about spiritual eyesight vs. spiritual blindness, and such other things. It's even more specific in 1st Corinthians 2:6-16 and 1st Corinthians 3:19-20. It talks about just how ridiculous the Bible looks to unbelievers. Once again, because this scripture comes from the Bible it won't have much merit for a non-believer. But for a Christian, it's truth. There's a huge divide that can't be merged. What's wise to one, is nonsense to the other. But as a Christian, I have no other source for truth. If I tried to just tell you what I suppose, or just give my opinion of why the Bible is trustworthy, it wouldn't be real truth. It would only be true if it said the same thing that the Bible already does. Once again, this is irrational thinking to a non-Christian, but not for a Christian.


Now back to amputees and healing. I'm not God and I don't run the universe. I don't know why he may choose to heal some and not others. There could be a number of reasons, and I could be wrong about all of them. Also, God isn't mortal and his thoughts are beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). A common mistake that many people make is to limit God to their own capability of understanding. So if a person prays for God to heal someone, and God doesn't, then that means that God is either mean, unable, or just doesn't care. But the Bible says that no one knows the mind of God. We only know what he reveals to us. Let me give an analogy about perspective and limited understanding.


Suppose we try to think of a dog's perspective. The dog's master gets him up early in the morning and they run around the city until they get tired. When it's all over, they come back to the house without making any stops to any stores or anything. This kind of behavior would make no sense to a dog. Why would they run around the city with no destination? Why run at all? Why not just jump in the car? The dog knows that his master has that kind of capability. Why do they run only to get tired? His master must be an idiot, or maybe he's just mean. Because the dog can't comprehend the concept of exercise, these are the only conclusions that can be made. But what about the dog that just trusts and obeys his master? He accepts that his master is greater and simply chooses to trust. He continues to trust that his master is kind, good and responsible. And he'd be right.
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@Phi for All, you asked "Since no one alive today has ever seen a god, why do you choose that to have faith in?"
The reason is very similar to why I believe my own birth date, or why I believe that Isaac Newton existed. It's just as I said in an earlier post -- It's a similar faith. When I was young, I was taught these things. Just as you were told about Isaac Newton, and Abraham Lincoln, so was I. I was also told about the Bible and Jesus, and just like the other truths that I was told, I believe it to be true. I didn't sit down and determine for myself what "truth" would best suit me. As is the case about Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, and my birth date, I was told and believed.
You said yourself that you have a different (but similar) belief in the existence of God as you do in your own birthday or the existence of Isaac Newton. Of those three things, only the latter two have corroborative evidence (multiple sources that could actually be verified to a fair degree of certainty) to back them up. Yet you choose to place your strongest belief, your unbending, unquestioning, unwavering faith in the first. With nothing but a book compiled by mortal men, who had been ordered by their emperor to create a religion he could approve of, as evidence.
Can I ask, which Bible do you use, which version do you think is the right one?

 

You also asked, "Is it OK that the Catholics believe the way they do? Are they true Christians in your opinion? Do they worship correctly? If not, don't you think it's 'miraculous' that your sect happens to know the truth?"
I'm not Catholic, so I don't know all of the details about what they do. However, I do know that some of the things that they do are unbiblical. This goes back to what you said about different sects popping up. God said that it would happen and gives us warnings to stay away from wrong teaching and stick to the truth. I can know what's true based on whether or not it agrees with what the Bible says. False teaching started very early. It's spoken about in 2nd Peter, Jude, 1st and 2nd Timothy, and probably other places.
Whether or not a person is a Christian is based on a personal choice that is made between them and God. I have no right to judge others. Only God is able to judge. So I can't say whether or not someone is a Christian based on them being Catholic.
But you claim they do things that are unbiblical, and if the Bible is your only guide, they must be wrong. Yet they are the largest Christian sect in the world, they were the ones who compiled the New Testament at the Council of Nicea under the orders of Constantine. You say you have no right to judge yet you do, claiming they are following false teachings. It seems (my opinion based on what you've written) that, in your true heart, Catholics are not true Christians, but your sect is.

 

There's nothing miraculous about being able to determine the difference between what is true and what is false. As a Christian, I believe what the Bible says. If what someone says agrees with what the Bible says, then I know it's true, if not, then it isn't.
You said, "It's completely irrational to use the Bible as supportive evidence for things that you claim happened in the Bible. Let's stay in the present reality for a while".
As a Christian, what I beleive is completely based on what the Bible says. All that I believe about God is based on it. Therefore, it's the only complete tool that I could ever use to explain it. Is there other evidence that supports the Bible, yes. But there's nothing that is so complete, or trustworthy.
Again, I'd be interested to know which Bible version you follow. It's become so easy, with sources like Bible Gateway, to check the differences in translations and see where they've been changed. One that comes to mind from a recent thread is Leviticus 6:21. The New International Version says, "Prepare it with oil on a griddle; bring it well-mixed and present the grain offering broken in pieces as an aroma pleasing to the LORD". But the King James Version (which I was taught from) says, "In a pan it shall be made with oil; and when it is baken, thou shalt bring it in: and the baken pieces of the meat offering shalt thou offer for a sweet savour unto the Lord". Considering that Cain got rejected by God when he offered fruit and grain while his brother Abel's offer of meat was accepted, I'm guessing the difference between meat and grain in an offering is important to God. And even if it's not, why change meat to grain in the new version (the original Hebrew says "meat")?
There are hundreds of differences in the various translations, yet the devout claim the Bible is unchanged. This is one of the big problems I have with unquestioning faith. When it's obvious there are differences in translation that make one version right and the others wrong, aren't you just fooling yourself that you managed to find the right one when you're just doing what you've been taught?

 

This is one of those things that will be considered irrational to a non-Christian, but it's certainly not the only thing; just ask "iNow". It's just as he said. From his perspective, the Bible equates to unicorns and leprechauns. It's the same kind of division that I mentioned earlier. There are many things that will never be relatable between Christians and non-Christians. I've already said that the Bible shows this division when it talks about spiritual eyesight vs. spiritual blindness, and such other things. It's even more specific in 1st Corinthians 2:6-16 and 1st Corinthians 3:19-20. It talks about just how ridiculous the Bible looks to unbelievers. Once again, because this scripture comes from the Bible it won't have much merit for a non-believer. But for a Christian, it's truth. There's a huge divide that can't be merged. What's wise to one, is nonsense to the other. But as a Christian, I have no other source for truth. If I tried to just tell you what I suppose, or just give my opinion of why the Bible is trustworthy, it wouldn't be real truth. It would only be true if it said the same thing that the Bible already does. Once again, this is irrational thinking to a non-Christian, but not for a Christian.
Well, except for Christians that read the NIV Bible. In the KJV Bible, Acts 8:37 reads, "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God", but in the NIV Bible, Acts 8:37 reads... ooops! The NIV Bible JUST OMITS THIS VERSE ENTIRELY!
I guess you're right, "What's wise to one, is nonsense to the other". Clearly, it all boils down to which human beings you trust more, the guys who wrote your bible or the guys who wrote the other bibles. You can't claim all the versions were divinely inspired when they differ so much.

 

Now back to amputees and healing. I'm not God and I don't run the universe. I don't know why he may choose to heal some and not others. There could be a number of reasons, and I could be wrong about all of them. Also, God isn't mortal and his thoughts are beyond ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). A common mistake that many people make is to limit God to their own capability of understanding. So if a person prays for God to heal someone, and God doesn't, then that means that God is either mean, unable, or just doesn't care. But the Bible says that no one knows the mind of God. We only know what he reveals to us.
Isn't it much more likely, since it was never revealed in your Bible that God hates amputees, that God doesn't actually heal anybody of cancer or any other illness? I'm not trying to limit God to my own capability of understanding, I'm wondering why he could cure cancer but not grow a limb back.

 

Let me give an analogy about perspective and limited understanding. Suppose we try to think of a dog's perspective. The dog's master gets him up early in the morning and they run around the city until they get tired. When it's all over, they come back to the house without making any stops to any stores or anything. This kind of behavior would make no sense to a dog. Why would they run around the city with no destination? Why run at all? Why not just jump in the car? The dog knows that his master has that kind of capability. Why do they run only to get tired? His master must be an idiot, or maybe he's just mean. Because the dog can't comprehend the concept of exercise, these are the only conclusions that can be made. But what about the dog that just trusts and obeys his master? He accepts that his master is greater and simply chooses to trust. He continues to trust that his master is kind, good and responsible. And he'd be right.

Please, no more analogies. I used to be addicted to them too, but I learned they really don't help. They assume your audience isn't smart enough to get what you really mean, they often add to the confusion you wanted to avoid and they never carry through to the heightened degree of understanding you're really hoping for.

 

And you just claimed that we're all just God's pets. wacko.png

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You say that people would start to believe if God started striking people dead every time they asked for it. This is the same situation. Jesus resurrected people from the dead -- lots of people. There were even a whole group of people that came back to life the moment that Jesus died on the cross. They came out of their graves and walked around the city. He even radically controlled the weather at will. You would think that these miracles would be great enough to cause someone to believe, which is why they are the ones that were written down (John 20:30-31).
Do you realize how... I can't think of a word that is not insulting, gullible is the best I can do, but do you understand how gullible you have to be to believe this? This walking dead thing is only mentioned in one place... I mean one place ever, it is not mentioned anyplace else in the bible, no other historian mentions this anyplace. Do you really think that the dead rising from their tombs and walking around wouldn't have been noticed by everyone? That would have been the most noticed miracle ever, absolute proof of god's powers, that particular event would have been recorded by every historian of the time had it happened, you could not possibly have kept it a secrete yet it is only mentioned in that one passage, no other gospel even alludes to it. I am going to suggest the OP watch this series of videos to understand that being a theist doesn't preclude being a scientist but it does mean that being a creationist is not just being ignorant being a creationist is being willfully stupid... Watch or not, there are 14 videos involved but the first is very telling...
Edited by Moontanman
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@Phi for All, when I talk about the similarities between my faith concerning my own age and Isaac Newton, and my faith about God, I'm focusing on the fact that my trust in all of them exist without verification. When I first learned of my birthday and Isaac Newton, I never questioned whether or not these facts are true. I was told and believed. I had, and have, no doubt about them. I could find documents and evidence that would support that my beliefs are true. But such evidence isn't the basis of my faith. My faith came first. That is to say -- When I was told of Isaac Newton, I didn't say, well show me the documents to support this, otherwise I won't believe. I believe already, and therefore am not shocked that there is evidence that supports it. The same is true with my belief about God and the Bible.
I read "The Good News Bible". It's one that my mother gave to me when I was about six years old. It was probably chosen because it's written in modern English that is easy to understand. She gave it to me, I continue to read it, and I believe.
As for which Bible version I think is the right one -- they all have equal merit to me as long as the translation is consistent with the original text. For me, there's no sticking point here. As long as the goal of the translator is to accurately convey the message without intentially being deceptive, I don't have a problem. I don't view it any differently than how any other document is translated from one language to another. As long as the content is conveyed accurately, then I see no problem. I don't get hung up on little things like "meat" versus "grain" showing up in two different translations that you've pointed out. If I was really so concerned, I'd look at a bunch of translations and compare them all, or even learn Hebrew and Aramaic and then try to get my hands on the original manuscript. But I don't have this kind of concern. After all, with the translators trying to accurately convey a message, the message will be the same.
For instance, this post could be translated into fifty different languages by fifty different translators. In the end, when read by thousands of readers, each having one of the fifty given languages as their native tounge, they would all know what we're talking about. We'd all be on the same page.
As for the fact that the NIV ommits an entire verse -- you probably see by now that that means very little to me. A person can still read that Bible and learn the truth about God. Certain sections of my Bible have portions of scripture that are placed in brackets "[]", with a little footnote at the bottom. Sometimes it'll say something like, "this section doesn't appear in some ancient texts" -- stuff like that. It wouldn't shock me if that's why it doesn't appear in the NIV. I don't know what the reason is for sure. I just know that it doesn't really matter as long is it was done with good, translational intent. You're not going to get a whole different Bible over things like this. The message throughout the book is very consistent, and continues to be the same from book to book.
As for why God accepted Abel's sacrifice over Cain's, my belief is that it was because Abel gave "the best" of what he had, while Cain didn't. Abel was a shepherd, so it makes sense that he'd give meat. Cain was a farmer, so it makes sense that he'd give grain.
Now lets even take it one step further. Suppose I'm wrong. Suppose God rejected Cain's offering and acceptd Abel's for a different reason. Would my misunderstanding on this issue impact my relationship with God? No. God is much more interested in the motives of individuals who diligently seek him. Ultimately, He's much more concerned with a person's heart and intentions, rather than a protocol. This particular trait of God's is derived from understanding God's word as a whole. When you diligently seek him, you end up having no doubt as to what he's like and what he requires.
As for Catholics -- there are certain things that they do that are unbiblical. The most obvious, and blatant, one is that they have priests and call people "father". Jesus specifically told us not to do this (Matthew 23:9). We now have no need for priests. The book of Hebrews explains that Jesus is our High Priest, and that we can only have a relationship with God through, and because of, him. So on issues such as this -- yes, they're wrong.
Now is it possible for a person to do these things and still be a Christian? Yes. As I've said before, I"m no one's judge. I don't know the hearts of individuals, and I don't know what each person has chosen concerning Christ. God is the only judge.
Let me explain why it's possible for a person to be a Catholic and still be a Christian. Whether or not a person is a Christian is only based on one thing. It's based on whether or not they are trusting Jesus to get them into Heaven, and nothing else. If you wan't the heart of the Gospel summed up as simply as possible, that would be it. So it's very possible for a person to be a Catholic and be a Christian. After all, what's a Catholic? Depending on who you ask, you may get all kinds of answers. As I've said, I'm not a Catholic, and I don't know a whole lot about what they do. But lets say a person goes to a Catholic church. Maybe they go because that's what their parents did. Their parents made them go to a Catholic church during their entire childhood, so they are simply doing what's familiar -- nothing more. To them, going to church may be a ritualistic thing, and so because of their tradition, they consider themselves to be a Catholic.
Now lets say that same person has a true desire to know God. They already know the Gospel and have made that one choice that matters. They are trusting in Jesus to get them into Heaven. If that's their true belief, and their true choice, then they're a Christian. It all boils down to whether or not a person has chosen to trust that it's Jesus who will get them into Heaven. That's it.
The fact that Catholics are the largest Christian sect in the world doesn't mean anything. The situation was very similar in Jesus' day. The teahers of the law, the Pharisees, were very religious. They too were the big group that everyone saw as righteous and godly in that day. But none of this meant anything to God. God looks at the heart of each individual, and is interested in what each of us has chosen (1st Samuel 16:7).
I'm not judging Catholics by pointing out that some of their practices are unbiblical. The Bible is God's revelation. It's his law, not mine. By reading it, I'm able to know the difference between right and wrong. I'm able to know what to do, and what not to do. Because you see someone speed by you on the highway at 100 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone, that doesn't make you a judge. You just recognize that they're breaking the law.
Back to the amputees. Jesus is very clear that God can do anything (Matthew 19:26). For this reason, I have no doubt that he can grow back limbs. There are different instances in the Bible where God gets irritated because people choose to doubt him, or put him to the test. He's much more pleased with those who trust him unconditionally. The latter is my choice. Once again, my relationship with him is based on faith, not evidence. Evidence exists -- But the presence, or lack thereof, doesn't affect my faith. In other words, if Newton's birth records couldn't be found, or got misplaced, I'd still believe that he lived in the 1600s. I don't know whether or not we have those records anyway. For me to conclude that God hates amputees, or that he's unable to grow back limbs, would result in me calling God a liar. He's been very clear throughout his word that he loves people and that he can do anything.
If my dog analogy led you to believe that my view is that we are God's pets, then I apologize. I'm 99% sure that you were just being sarcastic, but it doesn't hurt for me to be clear. I'll admit that it's not a perfect analogy. My intent was to show that God's mind isn't limited like that of a human's. He can lilterally do things that we can't even imagine. He knows of concepts that we simply aren't capable of comprehending. So is the case between humans and dogs. I can think of many concepts that dog's simply can't comprehend. I was trying to show how easy it is for a less capable mind to trust another that has greater comprehension. When a less capable mind tries to ponder thoughts that are beyond it, the outcome can be very wrong.


@Moontanman, we do have evidence that Jesus did something extraordinary. All cultures reference all of time to his birth. It follows that he must have done something that is truly unprecedented for that to have taken place. To me, this is consistent with countless, extreme miracles -- miracles as great as raising a bunch of people from death. You're right, such an event would impact the world greatly, as it has.

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