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Go to: Indonesian atheist faces long jail sentence for posting "God doesn't exist" on Facebook

Confident Christian's Avatar Jump to comment 51 by Confident Christian

Alex Aan has been treated with massive injustice, and I hope that he gains freedom and an apology for the way that he's been treated, and that others like them gain the government support, which they ought to have, to be able to hold atheist beliefs in a free society, which I certainly, fully and absolutely support.

I as a Christian considered this certainly a worthy case to support, (as has Persecution.org)

[link to blog removed by moderator]

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 10:48:49 UTC | #945444

Go to: Sam Harris: Religions Are Failed Sciences

Confident Christian's Avatar Jump to comment 419 by Confident Christian

Hello all,

Comment 204 by Quine (http://richarddawkins.net/articles/642776-evolution-threatens-christianity/comments?page=7#comment_865449)

These attempts to get around the problems with mythical scripture remind me of building a Roman stone arch. First you have to have wood scaffolding because until you put the keystone in, the sides of the arch will not be supported. Christianity needed the scaffolding of the old creation mythology of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Now that our knowledge of where we came from removes all that, the structure has to stand by leaning on its own assumptions, assumptions that would not have been believable had they been introduced without the scaffolding.

It is difficult to argue that Adam and Eve are required for basic Christian theology unless we subscribe to a particular, narrow view of "original sin". Moreover, the whole idea of "original sin" itself, if we are considering it in terms of 'inherited guilt' (which may be a more classical notion of 'original sin') is certainly something that I reject, and it certainly is not required as 'scaffolding' or anything else for the Christian worldview, being unecessary. There is no need of any inherited guilt when there is adult abuse of free will; of course, babies are born innocent. What I would consider a better notion of 'salvation' would be that of out of this abuse of free will; each person who has willingly chosen actions that have caused harm to others, requires some degree of development before they are able to live in a society where such harm does not occur. It seems to me that there is no need for justice in the form of retribution; instead, true justice is solely an expression of love, in a restorative sense, to benefit the victim and reform the offendor mutually.

Just to mention, non-literal approaches are not only recent; the major early Christian leader Origen (around 3rd century AD) seemed to propose at least some degree of non-literal interpretation to Genesis, in De Principiis, briefly described at http://www.proof-of-evolution.com/bible-interpretation.html

It is of little consequence that such views are different to those of others, since the truth of a worldview does not depend on the knowledge of those who hold it; some proposition can be objectively true even with no-one believing in it or with many people disagreeing about it. Simply because different people hold different views does not require there to be no group of them which is closer to the truth than another (in a similar way that disagreement about quantum physics does not mean that there is no objective reality of quantum mechanics); likewise, differences in viewpoints amongst Christians (and atheists) does not negate the idea that some viewpoints are closer to objective truth than others, and that there is an objective truth. Neither does it negate the idea that the central propositions of the Christian worldview are true; what it does is help show the unsurprising idea that no human on Earth today is knowledgeable about everything.

Establishing god exists would be a 'miracle'. There is your 'a priori bias'!! Your saying that it's likely that these miraculous events took place since you have already established god's exitence is an amazing leap. What criteria, historical or otherwise, did you apply in making the original discovery? There is no criterion a historian can use to establish god's existence, let alone miracles he supposedly performed. There must be an implicit belief in god for anyone to think that a miracle is more likely than a normal event; that is something which is completely outside the competence of a historian. So weigh up the options: god performed all these miracles or people told stories that were passed on, changed, exaggerated, changed again etc...much like what happens when children play Chinese Whispers (taking into account that biblical scholars have evidence of how the gospels were changed over time). Which is more likely?

If we take 'a priori' bias to refer to possibility of a conclusion before applying argument and evidence, it is difficult to determine any sort of truly 'a priori' possibility for theism, or for many other propositions. Hence, it seems that it should neither be assumed that establishing (epistemologically) the existence of God should be, a priori, assumed to require a 'miracle' itself.

If the aim of a historian is to establish what has taken place in the past, it is problematic to presuppose rigid naturalism, since this may prevent a person from establishing the actual events in the past; in other words, it in some way assumes the lack of interventions by an external agent in order to demonstrate that such interventions are not seen, which can end up begging the question. Thus, a better beginning to a more open endeavour for truth may be to be establish a prior plausibility of the intervention of an external Agent, and then to take this into account, amongst other historical criteria (such as explanatory power, explanatory scope and ad hoc assumptions), when hypothesising what took place, given a set of established facts. It is then argued that, taking these into account, the hypothesis that an external Agent performed an action to restore life to Jesus of Nazareth is argued to be the best explanation of the facts (fitting them all, without exception, without forcing them to fit etc.).

It does not seem that the classic 'Chinese Whispers' objection can be made without justification for the idea that belief in the Resurrection was a later addition, and not a central belief from the beginning of the Christian Church. Indeed, the idea that the earliest disciples at least believed in the Resurrection is supported by the earlier Christian writings found in the Pauline epistles, and particularly the creed appearing in 1 Corinthians 15 (emphasising the importance of the Resurrection of Jesus) that is widely accepted, even amongst notable critical scholars, to be a statement of Christian belief within 1-3 years of the crucifixion. The basic facts used to make a case for the Resurrection are established based on the historical sources, searching them meticulously to find details that are most plausibility representative of reality and basing a case on these 'minimal facts'; it must be emphasised that this is not 'top down' (establishing the reliability of the documents as a whole and then working from this), but instead 'bottom up' (finding the minimum facts within the documents which can be agreed to), which is the reason why the accuracy as a whole of historical documents in this case is not a requirement. This 'bottom up' approach is very significant and essential for making the conclusions about ancient history that are widely accepted today.

It must be also emphasised especially that evidential claims for the Resurrection certainly do not assume that the Bible needs to be treated as differently to another piece of 1st century literature; they do not assume Biblical works to be perfect, and so evidential claims are not particular impacted by assertions about the reliability of the Gospels. That is not to say that they do not have reliability (I would concede that they do); instead it is to emphasise that the argument certainly does not require this. It does not require the reliability of the Gospel accounts of the resurrected form of Jesus, for a particular example.

The part in bold is the central error in your entire premise. Each and every argument for evidence you've presented regardless of the question presented is predicated on the idea of your deity of choice being proven, which is impossible to do. As I stated in my last response, you can't use the impossible to establish the impossible as being true. You believe in god, and therefore believe that his existence will become self evident to everyone. I get that.

What you don't understand (or simply refuse to accept) is that there is absolutely in no way shape or form any evidence for his existence. It's not there. Putting God at the beginning of your explanation for how biblical claims can be proven serves no purpose in a debate on the proof of his existence if you haven't proven he exists yet.

Using evidence in an inclusive sense for a given event X, we can consider that, for a proposition E to be evidence, it should have a truth value that is known to some extent, where this knowledge of the truth value increases the plausibility of event X in its presence compared to if it were absent and we just had the background information b (i.e. roughly P(X | E&b) > P(X | b). In this sense, certainly there are features about reality that makes theism at least to some extent more plausible than if we had not known about these features; someone may deny the conclusion, but this is different to a very strong statement that there is no evidence, something which is, in fact, highly implausible for any given set of affairs.

The specific nature of any potential intelligent, transcendent Reality can be considered by looking at other aspects of reality; in the case of the historical case for Jesus' resurrection, this is a matter where the truth of this event is confirmatory for the Christian worldview in that it gives basic information about the established features of an intelligent Reality so that the resultant is a concept of God which fits the basic truth claims of Christian theism.

You continually repeat this 'new agey' mantra like it will eventually convince someone here it means something. You are entitled to invent any form of Christianity you wish, it's been done ta death over 38,000 times already, but your own special flavour of woo gets nowhere without the reality you are trying to forcefully wedge into the nonsense. You hold no belief in a number of other religious scriptures, Scientology for example, that are stories that other men have 'made up' for political or self serving reasons. Of course Inerrancy is not even explicitly mentioned in the Nicene or the Apostles' creeds, the bible is presumed to be the divine word of God, why would one expect either in-errancy or errancy to be mentioned? Remember at the time Nicene and the Apostles' creed were being invented by MEN, people outside the circle of those men coming up with the creeds had little or no proper understanding of the scriptures, nor who wrote them, nor why they wrote them, nor where they wrote them, nor when they wrote them and nor how they wrote them. Modern critical biblical scholars, when I say modern I mean the last couple of centuries, have ripped the scriptures apart. We know about the skeletons in the cupboards. Of course the fact that a book is a forgery, to you, means nothing, it must have been Gods will to have done it in that way, why else? It's at this point that evidence as far as you are concerned is of no consequence and the debate cannot continue. Anything put foreword can be brushed aside as "Well that's how God must have planned it"...classic pretselmania.

As I have mentioned, objective reality is what it is regardless of what people think about it; just the fact that there are a variety of views on a certain matter does not necessitate that all such views are false, or, to the contrary, equally true. Instead, and much more plausible, some views are closer to the truth and some are further away; hence, it is perfectly warranted to consider, given the basic truth claims of the Christian worldview, what can be established now these are in place. Thus, we can evaluate differing views within Christian theism, where some will more accurately represent truth than others; many different viewpoints (as in, similarly, any philosophy or science) does not necessitate that views cannot be evaluated.

I would like to emphasise again that Biblical inerrancy is not a central truth claim of Christianity, where its omission from the Nicene and Apostles' creeds are telling (since they affirmed many more widely recognised ideas, and it would be thus expectable for, if inerrancy is intensely important, them to include it), and hence its opposition is not a particular problem for Christian theism. This is not a claim that the creeds are necessarily authoritative in and of themselves, but it does help to put the lack of centrality of Biblical inerrancy in perspective.

This (that Biblical inerrancy is not central to Christian theism) then means that, even if some biblical scholars are perceived as having 'ripped the Scriptures apart', this is not of particular consequence, and neither are allegations of 'forgery' (which are fairly meaningless given that an original author of a document can barely forge anything, since they, themselves, are the writer). In addition, the extent of this 'ripping' seems rather sporadic, since large proportions of the text are still judged as being, at least, accurate representations of what was first written down.

Disagree all ya like, ya just proved my point by yer own admission, see emphasis in your comment. If you can't pin the deity down, what chance has an Atheist of even knowing what it is they are supposed to not believe in, hence my position of Igtheism. Some advance in the debate is you demoting God to a hypotheses, a point to which many an Atheist would agree, I'm not one mind you. Your problem is the in the truth of the resurrection. Also, "Christian" is too broad a term nowadays as you yerself have proven by your concept of what your Christian worldview shows.

I would say that, since any statement that "the moon exists" can be treated as a hypothesis ("a proposed explanation for a phenomenon"), saying that theism acts as a "proposed explanation" in no way 'demotes' it. Also, if "Igtheism" is being used here in reference to certain imprecise theistic definitions, meaning that an igtheist finds it difficult to affirm propositions relating to theism, a problem arises in that being imprecise about definitions does not prevent an object from existing, for the similar reason that truth is objective regardless of what humanity understands or knows about it. This can be illustrated by considering that, even though string theory in physics, for example, is not completely known or properly defined, it doesn't prevent the objective reality of string theory from being true. What imprecise definitions can hinder, however, is certain arguments for a given entity; even then, though, arguments can be made that point to an entity which is not absolutely defined, and definitions can be sorted subsequently. Thus, imprecision of theistic definitions does not necessitate non-theism, since objective reality is not influenced by human definition, and definitions can be adapted according to knowledge, and can be provisional or partial where appropriate.

However, even so, I could give a more recognisable definition for, "God exists", to avoid any such problem. If we consider, "God exists" to refer to the truth of the proposition that "there is a Being which is a) conscious (aware) of its own existence (in the sense of cognito ergo sum, existing in the sense that it is conscious), b) not causally influenced by any of the physical principles that describe any of physical reality, c) able to consciously process knowledge in order to come to decisions and d) from such conscious decisions, exert a causal influence over physical reality." This is a basic definition, but it demonstrates that it is possible to formulate definitions for theism, as can be done for other concept in language, politics, geography etc.

At least we've gotten him from a Immaterial Mind to a Transcendent Agency. That may represent a little progress.

Seems his UR idea works like this: Yes, there is a hell of burning fire (brought to us by Jesus meek and mild, thank you very much) which corresponds poorly with his other cited examples. So if you had not crossed all the tees and dotted the i's while alive, you can burn in the lake of fire until you understand your mistake and then you will be let into heaven. Nice doctrine. Maybe even worse than the original--at least there you wouldn't have to listen to Christians all day.

Transcendence refers to the idea that the Being is not causally affected by the physical principles that apply to physical reality (e.g. gravity, spacetime etc.), which would fit the idea of 'immaterial'. Then, a 'conventional' Mind (which, we will say, is conscious) is also an Agency in that it can process information and make decisions (moral agent).

I would also like to clarify the UR concept that I believe is the inference to the best explanation once the basics of Christian theism are established; justice is used in a 'restorative' and 'corrective' (not 'retributive') sense. The ultimate aim is the reconciliation of all of humanity into a perfect society which can be sustained without moral evil, hence requiring the free development of humans to such a necessary extent. Thus, if further 'discipline' is required, it will be for this loving purpose, and hence be humane, purposeful and respectful of human dignity; 'fire' has a more poignant and deep meaning than just simply the assumption of burning, since it can be metaphorical for the process of restoration and purification itself (think of the analogy with refining silver). Hence, fire, non-literally, is intense and active love that brings restoration according to the will of the person.

Thanks to all, CC

Fri, 09 Sep 2011 02:47:42 UTC | #868778

Go to: Sam Harris: Religions Are Failed Sciences

Confident Christian's Avatar Jump to comment 413 by Confident Christian

Thanks again for the replies.

We have been here before CC. Literal, true, more accurate are synonymous, as is figurative with less true. If you want genre to mean artistic licence then fine, that's okay, but let's not get way ahead of ourselves. A parable, is figurative, is less true than something literal, although the underlying message may be the same, are not in fact the same as literal. A parable is metaphor, analogy, fable used by way of illustration...it didn't really happen. The passion narratives on the other hand, are claimed as literal, real, events that occurred, so the difference is big. Like confusing the Tortoise and the Hare yarn as a real event so to speak. The problem here is with the truth of the passion narrative...I mean, which one was the real one and how do you know? If one is true then three are false and if three are false why not all four, they are different ya see, so all four can't be right, which is more than an embuggerance factor for Christians I know.

The in-errancy of scripture is at the very heart of the believers faith, it has to be, it's all there is to go on. Now you may be able to contort the square into a circle in your mind, but I'm pretty sure the majority of Christianity don't have a clue that their faith is constructed on a lot of lies.

As I mentioned earlier, it must be emphasised that, regardless on how we view the 'added extra' idea of Biblical inerrancy or infallibility, it isn't necessary, integral or even central to the Christian worldview. Hence, discussing the accuracy of the Bible on its own, if not linked to associated points, impacts more the non-essential ideas than anything strictly important. Inerrancy is not even explicitly mentioned in the Nicene or the Apostles' creeds. This means that any alleged discrepancy between different versions of the Passion narrative only has power in arguing against these non-essential ideas, rather than the centre of the worldview.

However, in order to defend this point regardless, I take a 'middle knowledge' view; this is postulating that God is able to have knowledge of 'counterfactuals' (i.e. what a given free agent would choose if placed in a given circumstance), and hence, by placing free agents if particular circumstances, He can direct, as far as is faesible, the course of history. In this way, the people who wrote the texts that ended up forming the New Testament, according to the idea of Biblical inspiration, were (at least) placed in particular circumstances so that the resultant text, in this specific situation, would be what God had intended it to be. The 'message' portrayed by this text would be, most plausibily, the part that is specifically intended by God; to simplify, we could say that this 'message' is the inspired content itself of the work. Since such a message would be portrayed (under different literary styles) in both literal and figurative genres, neither is necessarily more true (in terms of message) than the other; they are just portrayed at a different level in relation to the text.

That's convenient. The first question is unhelpful to you because you don't have an answer, pure and simple. The same question has been asked of every believer to pitch up here in the 4 years I've been visiting, and the question has never been answered. The believers follow this vague notion of a god, but never give attributes or validity. We really need a datum to set off from if we are all to understand what it is we are debating. A cop out but unsurprising as I've said.

I disagree; the first question is most certainly answerable, since different concepts of theistic agency can be, just like any other set of hypotheses, differentiated between by certain specific truth claims. In this, the entirity of the historical and philosophical case for Jesus, resurrection fulfills this perfectly; in the case of the truth of this event, the theistic concept can be narrowed down to a set of worldviews that would be described as, "Christian". In this way, differentiation can be made. However, my argument was that the specific terminology used to describe the situation is problematic; it can be used if necessary, but it lends itself to generalisations that may be misleading.

Do you not see that the resurrection can never be historically affirmed because it is a miracle, and miracles, by definition, are the least likely of all events to occur; therefore, all other possibilities are historically more probable.

I would define miracle more in the order of, "an event brought about by the intervention of a transcendent Agent such that it involves the 'override' of one or more physical principles". Such an event cannot be said to necessarily be unlikely (it may actually be more faesible than alternatives in cases), since, on theism, such events are of no difficulty by a "transcendent Agent". In this way, no a priori bias needs to occur against 'miracles' as defined in this way, and they certainly need not be instantly presumed to be irrational.

All very admirable I'm sure and the world would be a far superior place if all religious folk thought the same way, unfortunately they don't, and from all accounts looking around, you are in a minority. You also forget that a lot of us do not want to be saved or reconciled with your God or anyone else's for that matter. Your Romans 11:32 verse is nice, but I'm not sure ya interpret it right. Try this one.

"He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16 RSV)

This position is, indeed, at present a minority, but it has been suggested in places (such as http://www.askelm.com/news/n020820.htm) that such a position was notably common in early Christianity (Origen and Gregory of Nyssa are examples of prominent early theologians with Universal Reconciliation (UR) tendencies).

The verse quoted involves the word "condemned", which is commonly associated with eternal punishment due to theological preconceptions (perhaps, "judged" may be a better verb to avoid such connotations); however, just as a prisoner serving a, say, 5-year prison sentence could be said to be 'condemned' to prison, there is no reason why judgement cannot be temporary, and corrective and redemptive in nature (as the Greek word, "kolasin" implies).

The matter fits well into ideas presented particularly in the Parables of the Lost Son and of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin (Luke 15, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15&version=NIV)

I also have to say that, however comendable the Universal Reconciliation may be as a thought for the religious, the overarching thrust of the Bible not only does not support it, but makes it laughable. If everyone is going to heaven, why is there a hell?

The word translated, "hell" can refer to a number of concepts, from "Gehenna" (in reference to the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem) to "Hades" (the idea of the unseen 'abode' of the dead) to "Sheol" and others. It is perfectly plausible that such places are a reference to a temporary period of corrective and redemptive discipline necessary, or at least the best option, for the development of conscious creatures to the necessary extent for a form of moral everlasting happiness etc. Such an idea is supported by such verses as (amongst other ideas):

"That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe." (1 Timothy 4:10)

"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)

Funny, you said before you're not using the bible to prove the bible, then have to resort to quoting it to try to prove something you can't prove. The idea of everyone going to heaven is not new and is mentioned in one of the books that didn't make the NT cut.

Nevertheless, the idea doesn't reconcile with several other notions in the bible regarding the fate of non believers. This is where the issue of your interesting interpretations become a problem once again. What is your criteria for your changes in view regarding literal and non literal ideas in the bible? You seem to have a far more philosophical view than anything else, which can lend itself to be interpreted anyway you wish. Why not stop attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable?

The idea of UR is not central to arguments made for the truth of the Christian worldview; it is an example of something that is reasoned as a consequence of historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection. It can be reasoned both Biblically and philosophically once the basics of the Christian wordlveiw are established, and does not necessarily have to presume inerrancy, partly because of philosophical support. However, even if it did, this inerrancy would, then of course, first need to be established.

As for the matter of interpretation, under the 'middle knowledge' view described above, if Biblical documents are taken as inspired, then God has specific, objective intentions about the intended meaning of a given text; such an objective 'goal' is then possible to aim towards by exploration and hence this need not be a fundamental problem.

Best wishes, CC

Wed, 07 Sep 2011 05:34:07 UTC | #868123

Go to: Sam Harris: Religions Are Failed Sciences

Confident Christian's Avatar Jump to comment 406 by Confident Christian

Thanks for the replies

The first paragraph doesn't make much sense: You're saying the bible isn't to be taken literally, but is divinely inspired so parts of it are true and the rest is allegorical? Or that it's all true to some extent, but not literally? That inerrancy and inspirational viewpoints can be maintained by middle knowledge view of god's sovereignty? You haven't established god in fact, yet you wish to use him as a method of making your book true? Are you honestly trying to sell that the bible proves the bible.

I am certainly not saying that the Bible proves the Bible; I wanted to emphasise that inerrancy of the Bible is not central to the Christian worldview, since it is not required for the Bible to be perfect (infallible/inerrant) for Christianity to be true, as is hinted at by the fact that neither the Nicene nor the Apostles' creeds contain explicit reference to Biblical infalliability. Biblical inerrancy is an "added extra", as it were, rather than an essential.

However, a case can be made for Biblical inspiration if so desired, not because "the Bible says so", but after Jesus' Resurrection has been established as historical, as an implication of this. After this, we can start pondering on matters such as middle knowledge etc. as potential mechanisms. It must be noted, however, that the case for Jesus' resurrection is certainly not presuming Biblical inerrancy or inspiration or infallibility; inspiration can be established after the Resurrection is found to be historical, but it must be emphasised that it is not a presupposition.

It must also be emphasised that 'literal' genre is not any more 'true' than figurative language; what matters is the meaning that the text is portraying, not so much what way it is being portrayed. This 'meaning', or 'message', if we establish inspiration, is the significant portion that is inspired, and hence, just as it should not be said that the (figurative) Parable of the Lost Son is 'less true' than the (literal) Passion narratives, it is of no matter whether a given portion is of a figurative or literal genre. "Literal" is not synonymous with "more accurate" and "figurative" is certainly not synonymous to "less true". Genre need have no effect on truth value.

Are you trying to use the all paths lead to God position? Honestly?

You seem to keep missing the point: NONE of the claims (including yours) has met any standards of evidence. Whether they're still being practiced or not. Whatever position the differing mythological/ religious position is, there is no proof, and no reason to accept any of the positions as in any way factual or scientifically evident.It doesn't matter whether we're talking about your god or anyone else's.

And how is a series of theistic arguments making the resurrection story stronger? What actual historical arguments do you have for said resurrection outside of the bible? Any claims to people that have been mentioned in the past have either not been around while he was said to have lived or heard the info second, third, or fourth hand. And once again, where is your evidence for such a claim as someone coming back from the dead? You need a lot more than theistic arguments to even have that taken seriously.

I thought that it would be beneficial to, instead of asking the question "which god, if any, exists?", which, it seems, is unhelpful, ask "which worldview is true?" or "what is the truth about reality?" The first question is unhelpful because it falls too easily into generalisations about the term 'god' that can end up clumping positions together and making analogies that may not be representative; this could be because "God", which is used as the Proper name of a personal being in Christian thought, is associated with a category ("god") assigned to very different theistic concepts, so that parallels inevitably end up being drawn, which may have no relevance to certain theistic concepts.

However, the second question ("which worldview is true?") encompasses everyone, treating positions in a more balanced manner as 'worldviews', from the hypothesis of naturalism (the postulate of the existence of nothing apart from that which is physical) to the hypothesis of theism (where, in simple form, this postulates that there is an intelligent reality which is not governed by physical laws); this means that better philosophical enquiry can result without as many of the misrepresentative associations.

As for the 'all paths lead to God' idea that seemed to be alluded to above, this could be referring to pluralism, i.e. it doesn't matter what position you follow. I disagree with this, since some positions are clearly detrimental (e.g. a person who seeks to murder as many people as possible), while others are beneficial, and so it cannot easily be affirmed that they're actually all the same in value, and so I take up a more 'inclusivist' position; this means that many 'paths' may be of some, but not necessarily complete or sufficient, value to bring people into fellowship with God and (hence) with one another. I then also take up the position that has to be one of my favourite; this is the idea of Universal Reconciliation, referring to the idea that all people, without exception, will eventually (even if after some form of correction or redemptive suffering) be 'saved', or, to put it another way, reconciled to God and to one another, hence all ultimately being brought into enduring happiness and joy. This is alluded to in parts such as, Romans 11:32, "For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all".

As for the Resurrection issue, the reason why theistic arguments increase the plausibility of the resurrection of a prominent rabbi such as Jesus of Nazareth is that, although resurrection is, for all intents and purposes, never going to happen of its own accord (hence why it is uncommon), with the intervention of an external agent, the whole perspective changes. Such an agent, having forulated the basics of physics in the first place, will undoubtably have ability to suspend or alter them as required, and hence resurrection is, as it were, "a walk in the park" for such an external agent. Thus, the existence of such an agent makes resurrection vastly more plausible, and this is why theistic arguments provide excellent grounding and greatly increase plausibility, making it a viable possibility and lowering the 'bar' of the evidential support required.

I would also like to emphasise that, from a historian's point of view, the Bible is a collection of works written by the early Christian Church. No inspiration nor inerrancy nor infallibility needs to be presumed; they can be treated as ancient literature in order to 'search around' for the basic facts that can be established from them. Abductive reasoning (inference to the best exdplanation), can then be used, where theistic arguments, as well as the great explanatory power and scope of a resurrection hypothesis, make concluding resurrection very plausible.

CC, let me ask you one last question. Let's say your best and most trusted friend comes to you with a video recording. He claims, in obvious sincerity, that it shows, well, what it shows. He insists that you watch the whole thing. Seems he had two cameras rolling all the way so no way to slip in any tricky stuff. He shows a man getting killed, the doctors arriving and pronouncing him dead. And then he just lays there for three days, then suddenly gets up and gets poofed up into the sky--obviously alive.

Let's say that we can be sure that the videos themselves were not tampered with, i.e. let's say that they have remained on the camcorders without any potential for computer modification, and that the friend is clearly convinced, or that the camcorder is kept by someone who becomes so obsessed by the event that they decide to leave their job, and, despite hostility, tell about it to others. Then, we would assume that something unusual were occurring; perhaps we would assume the person had been comatose and that a freak weather event had just happened to occur, although this is on the very limits of plausibility. Yet, let's slightly change the scenario: let's say that the person had been crucified, or a similar process with near zero survival possibility, and checked over subsequently by executioners, and was subsequently buried by their friends, and then the similar event occurred. At this point, we would struggle to find any naturalistic explanation whatsoever, and may need to consider alternatives at this point (and, indeed, perhaps this would be quite prudent).

However, let's now say that this individual just happened also to be an individual who claimed to be the Messiah, and who had gained followers. Let's say that the body of the person, after the video recording was taken, is not traceable. Let's say also that the period before he gets "poofed up" is slightly longer than just a few moments, and that perhaps the individual appears to others, who are also sincerely convinced. It must be realised that, in such a case as this, which is unusually filled with religious significance, an odd occurance is made much more plausibly a miraculous intervention, since it is reasonable to suggest that an intelligent Agent would more plausibly intervene at such a point as this than on an event with no particular significance. In this case, it seems as though it would be very difficult indeed to deny that some form of miracle occurred, and, if it is denied, it must be questioned why such a denial is made.

Of course, even in this case, it would be possible to follow hyperskepticism and deny the apparant implications, but, again, it must be questioned about the reasons why a person would take up such an approach, when it could end up being a great hindrance to the pursuit of truth. A commitment to a naturalistic framework, in this case, may be problematic if a person wished to realise the truth of the matter.

Let's now take a hypothetical situation: an intelligent, transcendent Agent did intervene to resurrect a prominent rabbi who claimed to be the Messiah. Let's assume that we can know that it actually took place. Then, we can present the evidence to another person. They can always deny the event if they adopt an excessive amount of scepticism, but, ultimately, it must be questioned why they take up such excessive scepticism for this particular circumstance, when they may not in another. One must be careful to not overstep the line between rational and useful scepticism and irrational hyperscepticism; in this hypothetical example, the event did occur, but it is always possible for a person to deny it. Similarly, in the example above, scepticism must again be taken in moderation to ensure that it doesn't move a person away from, instead of towards, the truth.

Best wishes, CC

Tue, 06 Sep 2011 02:06:14 UTC | #867732

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Confident Christian's Avatar Jump to comment 86 by Confident Christian

What happened to "love thy neighbour as thyself"? I completely and utterly disagree with the pastor. Absolutely certainly, all humankind, without exception, should be living in fellowship, with tolerance, care, patience and peace as founding principles, and freedom of thought from all perspectives, atheist, Christian and the like.

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 22:14:26 UTC | #867640

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