A Review of Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”, Part 2: Why Did God Allow Satan to Roam Around in His Garden?

IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, why would Satan use a serpent to speak to ...

It is upon this plain narrative of facts, together with another case I am going to mention, that the Christian mythologists, calling themselves the Christian Church, have erected their fable, which for absurdity and extravagance is not exceeded by anything that is to be found in the mythology of the ancients.The ancient mythologists tell us that the race of Giants made war against Jupiter, and that one of them threw a hundred rocks against him at one throw; that Jupiter defeated him with thunder, and confined him afterwards under Mount Etna; and that every time the Giant turns himself, Mount Etna belches fire. It is here easy to see that the circumstance of the mountain, that of its being a volcano, suggested the idea of the fable; and that the fable is made to fit and wind itself up with that circumstance.

The Christian mythologists tell that their Satan made war against the Almighty, who defeated him, and confined him afterwards, not under a mountain, but in a pit. It is here easy to see that the first fable suggested the idea of the second; for the fable of Jupiter and the Giants was told many hundred years before that of Satan. Thus far the ancient and the Christian mythologists differ very little from each other. But the latter have contrived to carry the matter much farther. They have contrived to connect the fabulous part of the story of Jesus Christ with the fable originating from Mount Etna; and, in order to make all the parts of the story tie together, they have taken to their aid the traditions of the Jews; for the Christian mythology is made up partly from the ancient mythology, and partly from the Jewish traditions.

The Christian mythologists, after having confined Satan in a pit, were obliged to let him out again to bring on the sequel of the fable. He is then introduced into the garden of Eden in the shape of a snake, or a serpent, and in that shape he enters into familiar conversation with Eve, who is no ways surprised to hear a snake talk; and the issue of this tête-à-tête is, that he persuades her to eat an apple, and the eating of that apple damns all mankind.

After giving Satan this triumph over the whole creation, one would have supposed that the church mythologists would have been kind enough to send him back again to the pit, or, if they had not done this, that they would have put a mountain upon him, (for they say that their faith can remove a mountain) or have put him under a mountain, as the former mythologists had done, to prevent his getting again among the women, and doing more mischief. But instead of this, they leave him at large, without even obliging him to give his parole. The secret of which is, that they could not do without him; and after being at the trouble of making him, they bribed him to stay. They promised him All the Jews, All the Turks by anticipation, nine-tenths of the world beside, and Mahomet into the bargain. After this, who can doubt the bountifulness of the Christian Mythology?

Having thus made an insurrection and a battle in heaven, in which none of the combatants could be either killed or wounded —put Satan into the pit—let him out again—given him a triumph over the whole creation—damned all mankind by the eating of an apple, there Christian mythologists bring the two ends of their fable together. They represent this virtuous and amiable man, Jesus Christ, to be at once both God and man, and also the Son of God, celestially begotten, on purpose to be sacrificed, because they say that Eve in her longing had eaten an apple.

Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, pp. 28-30

Gary: Dear former Christians, while still in this belief system, did you ever wonder why Satan was given free reign to wander about God’s perfect creation, tempting God’s perfect creatures, when he had previously been cast into “the pit” for his insurrection? Paine’ says it perfectly: It is a set up! The Christian storytellers needed Satan loose to introduce their hero: the gentle Jesus meek and mild, riding into the story on a white steed (colt) to vanquish the Bad Guy and save the day!

How gullible we were to believe this silly nonsense!

Read part 3 here.

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End of post.

 

140 thoughts on “A Review of Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason”, Part 2: Why Did God Allow Satan to Roam Around in His Garden?

  1. re: “…did you ever wonder why Satan was given free reign to wander about God’s perfect creation, tempting God’s perfect creatures, when he had previously been cast into “the pit” for his insurrection?”

    Such a tell-tale question. Somebody told you the serpent was Satan, and you never even looked to find out if that was the case or not.

    You didn’t use much (if any) critical thinking back in your Christian days, did you?

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    1. PolycarpsScribe, isn’t attacking Gary’s critical thinking skills… unhelpful?

      Gary, I’m not sure Thomas Paine is the best target to focus on when it comes to convincing Christians to step away from the faith. I don’t follow Paine, I follow Jesus, you know? Getting to the heart of the matter, like your thoughts on the Trinity and the Resurrection in other posts, are much more effective arguments.

      As to your point, there’s a lot more going on in the garden of Eden than most Christians realize. The nachash (translated serpent) is not just a snake (hence Eve’s lack of surprise). Nachash can also be “shining one.” If you are interested, check out Michael Heiser’s discussion on it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzDilcaRF-Y (it’s about 30 minutes, but it’s very informative)

      God bless!

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      1. In actual fact , Paine is an excellent example to use as he demonstrates there have been those who have seen through the B.S. that is Christianity since the time of the Lake Tiberius Pedestrian(sic) who was crucified for sedition, rose from the dead after three days then soon afterwards, magically floated away onto space ne’er to be seen or heard of since. Amen.

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            1. Caveat: When you ask for evidence of my personal belief, I in no way expect it to be convincing evidence for you. 🙂

              Answer: Initially, I chose to believe in and be loyal to Jesus as a teenager because (a) I saw the love that his followers showed to me that I didn’t see in others and (b) I felt a supernatural surge of joy and peace before, during and after my decision.

              However, this was not sufficient for me to continue in my belief. For my heart, I have since experienced answered prayer, a healing, and the fruits of the spirit that the Bible talks about as confirmation of my faith. For my mind, I have been intellectually satisfied by various apologetic arguments as well as delving into religion, science, and history to answer my questions of why I believe what I believe.

              I am open to hearing your arguments; I have been persuaded to many positions over the years on a variety of topics.

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                1. It’s 100% reliable for what its intended purposes were. The Bible is not a modern biology textbook. It was written thousands of years ago by ancient authors to ancient readers in ancient Mesopotamia. One shouldn’t expect the scientific content to be as accurate as what it is now.

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                  1. It’s 100% reliable for what its intended purposes were.

                    I am going to take it as a given that your use of the past tense was intentional.

                    So, based on the fact we know that it is NOT reliable in any of the disciplines I mentioned what is its intended purpose now?

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                    1. Whoa, your definition of “reliability” applied to such a variegated collection like the Bible is too broad. For instance, Genesis 12 onward is a narrative history. The Psalms are poetry/music. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job are wisdom collections. And so on. Clearly, I’m not going to get great geographic data from “Songs of Songs” (though maybe biology).

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                    2. Immediately you equivocate.
                      I was specific with regard reliability with regard to the disciplines referenced.

                      So, once again,
                      Based on the fact we know that it is NOT reliable in any of the disciplines I mentioned what is its intended purpose now?

                      Please provide a simple straightforward answer.
                      And I did ask if you were male or female. Could you please answer this as well.

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                    3. Arkenaten, acknowledging nuance is not equivocation. “The Bible” has a lot of books.

                      Books focused on history are reliable for history.
                      Books mentioning geography are reliable for geography.
                      Books that focus on science… there are none.
                      Books focusing on philosophical and religious considerations are reliable for those things.

                      I already answered you earlier. I’m a male.

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                    4. Let’s start with this …

                      Books focused on history are reliable for history.

                      Demonstrate with evidence the historical reliability of the, Noachian Flood tale and also the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest tale as they appear in the bible.

                      And, yet again ….

                      What is its ( the bible) intended purpose now?

                      Please provide a simple straightforward answer.

                      I already answered you earlier. I’m a male.

                      Have you ever commented on this blog under any other name?
                      If so, which one(s)

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                    5. Demonstration of evidence (The Captivity and Conquest I’m a little hazy on right now, but I have spent time on the Flood and Exodus):
                      – Noah’s flood – At the moment, I think the Bible records a massive flood in Arabia/Mesopotamia around 4000 BC (the Jewish calendar started around 3950 BC, interestingly enough). I encourage you to check out Dr. Jeff Rose’s recent archaeological/anthropological work around the Persian Gulf (https://www.academia.edu/39054193/Introduction_to_Human_Prehistory_in_Arabia_The_Lost_World_of_the_Southern_Crescent)
                      – Exodus – I think the Exodus pharaoh was either Amenhotep II or Thutmose IV… I think a decent case can be made for either one. I used to be in the Thutmose IV camp (Steven Collins’ “Will the Real Pharaoh Please Stand Up?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3BRi5EOz4g) but a lot of the reasons he gives can be said equally of Amenhotep II, and the dates fit the Biblical chronology better.

                      Bible’s intended purpose: To know the purposes and plans of Yahweh, the Creator, for the world and where humans fit into those purposes and plans.

                      Nope, just discovered this blog yesterday. 🙂

                      Also, how do you do quotes in the chat? Or italics? Very frustrating.

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                    6. Most of us are aware of the evidence suggesting a localised flood.
                      I asked for evidence of the Noachian Flood -which of course is global – and all the details included in the tale as recorded in the bible.

                      And I also asked for evidence of the Exodus as told in the bible, not speculation on the name of the Pharaoh.
                      Sorry, not interested in listening to yet another Christian waffle on with no evidence to support his Christian beliefs.

                      So far the best you have offered is ”I think …”
                      Have another go. And this time, please keep your reply on point. Thanks.

                      Bible’s intended purpose: To know the purposes and plans of Yahweh, the Creator, for the world and where humans fit into those purposes and plans

                      What evidence do you have to support this?

                      Nope, just discovered this blog yesterday.

                      Will you provide a link to your blog, please.

                      Formatting comments:

                      https://findingtruth.info/how-to-format-comments/

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                    7. You’re assuming I am a Young Earth Creationist, I think. I don’t think Noah’s Flood was global, and it doesn’t have to be based on the text. I highly encourage you to look at InspiringPhilosophy’s Global vs. Local Flood video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q07gxxbggJs).

                      Regardless, I’m trying to respond to you with succinct answers (it’s a discussion forum). If you’re not going to actually interact with what I respond with, why are we doing this? Disregarding my points because I say “I think” to qualify my openness for discussion is… well, it seems lazy, Arkenaten.

                      For the Bible’s purpose, are you looking for a Bible verse? 2 Timothy chapter 3 comes to mind…

                      15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

                      Does that answer your question?

                      Thank you for your help with the link, btw.

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                    8. You’re assuming I am a Young Earth Creationist,

                      I never assume.
                      You stated the bible was historically reliable. We have already established this is an erroneous claim.

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                    9. Sorry, I clicked send accidentally.
                      If you make a claim of reliability then you must be prepared to support this claim with evidence. To date you have done non such thing.
                      You are either ignorant or disingenuous.
                      And please don’t quote scripture, and especially not fraudulent text, which only weakens your position even more.
                      I am only interested in you providing evidence for your claims.

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                    10. Well, there it is, I guess. You claim I can’t quote scripture, the very thing we’re discussing, to make points about the reliability of scripture. It’s clear to me that you don’t really want to interact with the items with which I’ve actually responded. You continue calling me names (ignorant, disingenuous). I appreciate you taking the time to converse with me, though. Maybe next time?

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                    11. And there it is, I guess
                      When called upon to stay on topic and provide evidence you fail on both counts, and are conceited enough to believe that in the absence of evidence quoting scripture – and fraudulent scripture to boot – to an atheist will somehow win me over.

                      You might as well have quoted Genesis ch 6-9 as evidence demonstrating the veracity of the Noachian Flood.
                      This is how idiotic your attitude is regarding scripture.

                      Perhaps it would be better to discuss further on your blog?
                      I did ask you for a link. Are you now afraid to provide it?
                      And you

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                    12. Thanks!

                      As far as what I’m interested in learning, I am very interested in reasons why people reconvert. The debate within Christianity concerning “once saved always saved” vs. the reality of apostasy is something I find fascinating. The definition of what constitutes “salvation” is facilitated by “believing loyalty in Yahweh, the Creator”. I was attracted to Gary’s blog because I wanted to see what his reasons for leaving the faith were and to, perhaps, see if I could contribute anything to his consideration.

                      I don’t pretend that I’ll be able to change his (or your) mind about all this, though I pray that I could one day. But… in the meantime, I am interested in learning folks’ thought processes for turning away from Jesus.

                      And shoot, if I was shown convincing arguments for why I ought to leave my faith, sure, I’ll leave! I’m interested in Truth. So far, I’ve not been swayed. 🙂

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                    13. I am very interested in reasons why people reconvert.

                      I presume you meant to write deconvert?
                      Gary is a former fundamentalist , ( I never believed) so best he gives you the answer from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

                      However, for what it’s worth, in my experience reading many,many testimonies of deconversion it is generally the total lack of evidence for the outrageous claims made by Christianity and its proponents.

                      I am interested in learning folks’ thought processes for turning away from Jesus.

                      Do you any evidence to support any claim of veracity for the historicity of the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth?
                      ( To be clear, I am referring to the the miracle working, Lake Tiberius pedestrian, and not the itinerant rabbi executed for sedition as mentioned by Tacitus )

                      I’m interested in Truth.

                      Fascinating! Please outline what you understand by the word truth? And please explain why you capitalized the word?
                      I look forward to some interesting and (hopefully) productive dialogue.

                      Thanks.
                      Regards
                      Ark.

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                    14. Yes, you are correct… typo. From what I’ve seen, I would agree with your assessment. The emphasis on physical evidence seems to be a hang up for a lot of people.
                      Well, I tend to put a lot of stock in the four gospel accounts and the book of Acts (which are reliable according to multiple criteria; four are Greek biographies and the other is a straight-up history). If we can’t rely on documents like these, what can we know for sure about ancient goings-on? If we let in things like Plutarch’s writings concerning Alexander the Great, why not these?
                      Ha! I actually considered not capitalizing it as to avoid getting off track… I just did it to demonstrate that I do think there is such a thing as objective truth (ie, something that is true whether we know about it or not). For instance, I believe that there is probably a set, finite number of quarks in our universe even though we have no way of knowing what that exact number is. (maybe a bad example… just spitballing, here)

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                    15. Well, I tend to put a lot of stock in the four gospel accounts and the book of Acts (which are reliable according to multiple criteria;

                      None are considered reliable by genuine scholars and Acts is generally regarded as Historical Fiction outside most Christian circles.
                      I presume you are reading outside of your (naturally) biased Christian perspective, so who are the scholars, and preferably historians, you have read that deem the gospels reliable?
                      To save your typing fingers I am not interested in you citing Christian scholars – NT Wright, Licona, Habermas, Lewis, etc.

                      Define objective truth.

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                    16. I don’t think your first sentence here is correct. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Gospels) indicates that the “majority viewpoint” is that the Synoptic Gospels are “the primary sources of historical information about Jesus”, that “almost all scholars of antiquity agree that a human Jesus existed” and the “two events subject to ‘almost universal assent’ are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of … Pontius Pilate.”
                      I’ve read many articles by Bart Ehrman (though I don’t own any of his books… Jesus, Interrupted is on my list) and though he makes very good arguments about many specific issues and discrepancies in the Bible, I haven’t come across anything that (a) can’t be answered with some digging nor (b) worrisome enough to abandon my faith.
                      Is it wise to dismiss the work of all Christian scholars just because they’re Christians? What about weighing the strength of their arguments? Isn’t that a better way to ascertain what is true?
                      Objective truth:
                      “Objective” truth is a statement or proposition that describes reality as it actually is (ie, the statement “snow is white” is objectively true if and only if snow is actually white).

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                    17. Who better to write the “historical reliability of the gospels” than a believer? And where else would the “primary sources of historical information” originate but the gospels? But not all “scholars of antiquity” agree that a human Jesus existed. And it is almost universal assent’ that Yeshua was crucified.

                      😉😀

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                    18. I mean, almost all philosophers agree that we didn’t pop into existence 5 minutes ago, fully formed with fake memories, but there are a few out there that hold the line. 😉

                      I suppose to counter your first point, Nan, I’d point to Paul’s conversion. He was killing Christians left and right, a Jewish holy man, until suddenly he had a change of heart/mind and ended up writing the majority of the letters following Acts. Gave up everything and became a missionary for the rest of his life.

                      The point is, enemies of Jesus ended up being convinced He was the real deal. James, His brother, didn’t start following his older brother until *after• the crucifixion! What brother would declare unto his death that their bro was God, even if they did hallucinate it all (which I don’t buy)?

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                    19. Okay, you don’t think Acts is reliable as history. That’s fine; Richard Carrier (not a Christian, correct?) states the following (https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/7643):
                      So in Damascus what Paul could or couldn’t do would be a complex political question, and not a cut-and-dried matter of law. Paul implies he was hunted by the Damascene authorities once he converted, which suggests the Damascenes were actually endorsing the enforcement of Jewish law there (against, as they would see it, troublemaking Jews), and thus annoyed when Paul switched sides.

                      Even if I exaggerated the point for rhetoric’s sake (based on Acts), my point stands.

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                    20. You are aware that Carrier considers Acts to be a work of Historical Fiction,yes?

                      And what on earth has this got to do with your unsupported claim that the character Saul of Tarsus was killing Christians right and left?

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                    21. As I said in my response, the reason I quote Carrier is because even though he believes Acts is fiction, he defends the historicity of Paul and the plausibility that “Damascene authorities… were actually endorsing the enforcement of Jewish law there…”, talking about Paul.

                      And I already said it was for rhetoric’s sake to make my point. If you don’t like Acts, that’s fine. My point stands that Paul was a very unlikely convert, along with many others, which should give us pause if we’re considering whether Jesus existed or not.

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                    22. Paul was a very unlikely convert … ahhhh, but he had this VISION, you see. And visions are high on the list as a means to convince people that something is real.

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                    23. Okay, then… and I’m asking your opinion here…

                      How do you feel about folks who ask why Jesus doesn’t just show himself to everyone in the whole world right now, but then get annoyed about accounts of God doing exactly that? Or if God would announce himself to the world in an undeniable, obvious way, folks would call foul about God violating their free will?

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                    24. Janitor, it’s difficult to form opinions about something that I have no “faith” in … 😉

                      I don’t think I understand your question … people get annoyed about accounts of God showing “him”self? When did this widely acclaimed event take place that caused the annoyance? I must have been asleep.

                      I’d probably have a much better answer to your second question if/when the Christian god actually “announced “him”self in an undeniable, obvious way.” So far it hasn’t happened.

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                    25. sigh You really need to do some/more research on the events reported in the New Testament.

                      See … this is the core reason why there is so much disagreement between believers and non-believers. The latter has, in nearly all cases, looked beyond what they were taught (or heard from the pulpit) and found it wanting; whereas the former continue to cling to words and stories that were written over two-thousand years ago and which have been interpreted and analyzed ad nauseam in an effort to make them relevant to today’s world.

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                    26. That’s the thing… I agree that many Christians in the West have not looked beyond what they’re taught or what they’ve heard from the pulpit. I have focused on looking further back to understand the context of the Jewish world, and I have come to different conclusions than you, Gary, and Ark have. I haven’t focused so much on the New Testament as I have the Old Testament, and the cohesiveness of the worldview presented among the two is… uncanny. I have no interest in forcing the Bible to be “relevant” to today’s world, but instead on discovering the threads that run from antiquity through today.

                      Many of the things found in the New Testament make a whole lot of sense when you dig into the ancient Jewish/Mesopotamian worldview of the Levant.

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                    27. Since for as long as I can remember it has always seemed that for the average fundamental/evangelical xian ”the Jews” are incidental to the whole Jesus Messiah garbage. Somewhat of a necessary evil,if you will, or a platform to build upon. I feel sure that for many of them it irks like Hades the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth is portrayed as a Jew!

                      I’ll bet that most would feel a whole lot better if he was a former Thracian Roman slave a la Spartacus!
                      Or, better still, some itinerant white dude from just outside Mobile, Alabama!

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                    28. Point of clarification: Some atheists are “mythicists”, and some are “historicists”. Ark is a mythicist. He believes that Jesus of Nazareth is an invented, fictitious character. I am an historicist (I believe that Jesus existed, that he was an apocalyptic preacher, that he was crucified, and that some time after his death his followers believed that he appeared to some of them in some fashion). I believe that the rest of the “Jesus Story” is unprovable. I accept the majority scholarly opinion that the Gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses/non-associates of eyewitnesses and therefore are not reliable sources of historical information.

                      What evidence is there for the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth? Answer: Very, very little. I personally believe in his historicity to be consistent with my worldview that non-experts should always trust consensus expert opinion on all issues.

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                    29. Ah, I see. Do you and Ark hang out on each other’s blogs to tag team people like me? 😀 (just kidding, man, I love it! lol). Seriously, though, that helps. You two seemed to take very different approaches to my points; now I know why. 🙂

                      If I may… you clearly have spent more time on this than I have, so I am willing to entertain your point that non-eyewitness/non-associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Synoptic Gospels. The question I have then is: why on Earth is there even a debate as to their reliability as historical documents? I know certain recent archaeological finds (Pontius Pilate coin, etc.) that confirm historical details of the gospels… is that why the Gospels are not immediately dismissed by all scholars? It seems that even Bart Ehrman agrees with you as a “historicist” on many points.

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                    30. Most scholars agree that the Gospels were written in the genre of Greco-Roman biographies. In this genre, what was important was for the storyteller to correctly reflect the true character of the central figure of the story. Maintaining strict accuracy with the details was not expected. Adding embellishments to the details was perfectly acceptable. That is the problem. How do we know which parts of the Jesus story are historically accurate and which parts are literary or theological embellishments?

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                    31. I see the problem when it comes to the details, but as you characterize the genre in your post, wouldn’t the central figure and true character of Jesus remain intact? They agree on the important tenants of what happened; Mark especially is a “just the facts, ma’am” with almost no opining on theological interpretations (from what I remember).

                      Isn’t it wrong to impose our standards of “historicity” on these documents, especially when they employed the best practices of their time?

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                    32. But that’s what they were intended to be! You said “maintaining strict accuracy with the details was not expected” in Greco-Roman biographies… yet you’re insisting that I not take these stories seriously because they don’t meet the modern standards of what a “biography” should be.

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                    33. My entire comment is correct.
                      That there was probably someone called Yeshua who was crucified for sedition by Pilate does not make the gospels reliable.
                      Fir a start, the long ending of gMark is a forgery. Therefore all credibility is flushed down the toilet.

                      Is it wise to dismiss the work of all Christian scholars just because they’re Christians?

                      As a general rule of thumb – yes. Unless they agree with the secular non christian evidence.

                      What about weighing the strength of their arguments?

                      Most of them are devoid of evidence and apologists present the same tired arguments over and over and over and — yawn-

                      Isn’t that a better way to ascertain what is true?

                      Always! Which is why so many former Chratians, like Gary and Nan deconverted.

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                    34. Just so we’re clear… are you saying that secular scholars don’t have biases and presuppositions they need to deal with when investigating the Bible?

                      For instance, if you presuppose that miracles are impossible, then couldn’t that shade your judgment as to the veracity of a miraculous claim?

                      If you find a list of arguments defending atheism written on a random piece of paper on the floor, and they’re really good arguments, would you then dismiss the arguments just because you find out later that the author was an atheist?

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                    35. I am saying that whoever you wish to present /reference to support any point you make should be backed to the hilt with hard evidence.

                      I can’t think of any way I could make this point more clear.

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                    36. Okay, great! 🙂 That’s better than just forbidding me to cite reputable scholars just because they happen to be Christians.

                      So… you said Mark was a forgery. Can you cite evidence for that? I know about the “long ending.” Every Bible I have that includes it also puts it in italics and a disclaimer that says something like “this section is only found in later copies of Mark.” It’s not a big surprise. What about the rest?

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                    37. Um, I know… and I asked you why the forged long ending negates the rest of it?

                      In fact, shouldn’t it bolster my confidence in the rest of Mark since, based on the sheer amount of manuscript evidence we have, we can discover which parts are forgeries and which are not?

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                    38. Because it is a forgery!
                      And there are numerous other similar ocurances throughout, so why should anyone afford it any credence?
                      In fact, on what grounds do you?

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                    39. Hey man, I read half the article… I get the point. You clearly have done much more work in this specific area than I have. 🙂

                      I would like to point out, however, that the sayings, teachings, miracles, itinerary, etc. of this man Jesus, a peasant from nowhere, are recorded in 3 full blown Greco-Roman biographies within less than 100 years, widely disseminated around the Mediterranean with more than 10,000 manuscripts that we have 2000 years later. That’s pretty astonishing considering someone like Alexander the Great, ruler of the whole world not that long prior to Jesus and vastly more important geo-politically, is only attested to in 5 main sources that we have our hands on. Why should a nobody from nowhere get anywhere near the attention of Alexander the Great, historiographically speaking?

                      As for the bubble, that’s why I’m here, man. Getting out of the bubble.

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                    40. Most scholars believe that Luke and Matthew borrowed extensively from the first gospel written, Mark. At least half of scholars believe that the author of John used the Synoptics as templates for his gospel. So it is possible that we have only one source for the Jesus Story: the anonymous author of Mark. (The existence of “Q” is debated.)

                      Just because we have thousands of copies of an original book, does that make the claims in the original true?

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                    41. Not necessarily; my point was that the impact of this alleged resurrection sure caused a huge and immediate stir in the populace around the Mediterranean Sea in the first century AD, under harsh treatment no less. There’s a reason “dying declarations” are granted special status in our courts of law… people tend not to propagate lies when they’re on their death beds.

                      And I had heard that Luke and Matthew borrowed from Mark… If I’m to give these authors a fair shake, wouldn’t this be expected? If I’m going to write a biography on someone, why on Earth would I not access earlier material on the subject? It’s not like Luke and Matthew copy Mark verbatim; each one presents new information, and they even acknowledge that there was even more material that was not recorded.

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                    42. It’s not like Luke and Matthew copy Mark verbatim;

                      Hilarious! There most certainly are verbatim verses. But you know this I hope?

                      Also: gMark has approximately 661 verses.Over 600 of these verses appear in gMatthew!

                      Take a moment to let that sink in.
                      In other words Matthew ripped off over 600 verses from gMark.
                      Seriously, where or from whom did you ”learn” Christianity?

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                    43. Huh! Didn’t know that. I see your point, but if the document we call Mark is an accurate reflection of what really happened, and the author of Matthew (who was writing later) wanted to make sure he got things correct, I’m still not seeing the problem here.

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                    44. Are you aware that even evangelical scholar Richard Bauckham does not believe that Matthew the Apostle authored the Gospel According to Matthew in your Bible?

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                    45. Nope, didn’t know that either! (funny, I just found this Ehrman vs. Bauckham debate and saw your comment down below! lol https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Are-the-Gospels-based-on-eyewitness-testimony-Bart-Ehrman-vs-Richard-Bauckham) I’m putting this debate on my to-watch list.

                      I guess what I’m wondering with these points you bring up is… why is it such a deal-breaker for you that these documents weren’t written for decades after Jesus’ life? In this period of time, there is still a huge emphasis on oral tradition and authority (oral Torah?). Also, I don’t know how old you are, but I still remember really important moments from when I was 3 years old (I’m 35 now)! Even if I lose some details, the big important stuff is there!

                      If you saw a man rise from the dead, then “fly up into the sky” as Ark says, don’t you think you could hold onto that fact accurately for a couple decades, then tell someone about it, who then takes some notes and then writes it all down?

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                    46. Yes, I would remember the details of such an extra-ordinary event for the rest of my life. After thirty to sixty years, I could probably still write them down fairly accurately. The problem with the Gospels is not just that these books were written decades later. The problem is that they were written decades later by people who were not eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses! That is the consensus scholarly opinion. See here:

                      https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/majority-of-scholars-agree-the-gospels-were-not-written-by-eyewitnesses/

                      If the Gospels were written by people who had no relationship with the alleged eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about, how would they know which parts of the story are true and which parts are legend?

                      Yes, Jewish temple scribes were very good about copying and maintaining the accuracy of the Torah. But that doesn’t mean that a handful of Galilean fishermen were just as good at keeping the accuracy of their oral stories intact! These were “unlearned” people, by the Bible’s own admission. Based on cumulative human experience, the odds that over forty to sixty years legends crept into the oral stories of uneducated or poorly educated people is very high!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    47. The problem is that they were written decades later by people who were not eyewitnesses or even the associates of eyewitnesses!

                      The core problem is that people today actually live their lives based on what these fellows wrote …

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                    48. Totally willing to concede your point, but it’s not like this happened in a vacuum. These documents were being shared. Mark was probably written while many of the original disciples were still alive… you don’t think someone probably checked?? The church fathers thought the writer of Mark was interviewing Peter… that’d be a bold claim if Peter (or even the people in his local church) was around. Matthew was a tax collector… maybe the posited Q and other source were actually just his notes! Maybe only the most learned men of the early church engaged in writing the gospels, and that’s why we have “only” three synoptic ones (though that’s still pretty good for a random itinerant preacher in the boonies, don’t you think?).

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                    49. Mark was probably … someone probably checked … church fathers thoughtmaybe the posited Q … maybe only the most learned …

                      Solid evidence! Probably? Maybe? You think?

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                    50. Mark was probably written while many of the original disciples were still alive…

                      Assumption.

                      You don’t think someone probably checked??

                      Checked what? Scholars believe that the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies. In this literary genre, adding embellishments (fiction) to the story was allowed and expected! So why would any first century person have a problem with the author of Matthew inventing guards at the tomb and dead saints being shaken out of their graves? Why would any first century person have a problem with the author of John inventing Lazarus’ raising from the dead? Why would first century people have a problem with a young man or one angel or two angels being inside or outside Jesus’ empty tomb? Why would people of the first century be bothered that someone wrote in their Greco-Roman biography that the son of a god walked on water, turned water into wine, or levitated into outer space?? They wouldn’t! These embellishments were acceptable and expected. They made a biography much more interesting to read!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    51. Hey Gary, I’m sorry I haven’t responded to anything in a while… I’m a teacher and yesterday was the first day of school. It’s been crazy. Hoping to get back into it soon. Believe it or not, I actually miss you guys on here! 🙂

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                    52. if the document we call Mark is an accurate reflection of what really happened,

                      It isn’t …

                      Fact 1. The original gMark features no post resurrection appearances. The long ending is a forgery. (euphemistically called an interpolation. ) There are apparently three versions of the long ending!

                      Fact 2. None of the gospels are eyewitness accounts. The authors are unknown. The ”names” were added later -probably in the 2nd century.

                      Fact 3. Therefore, as the writers of gMatthew and gLuke used gMark as a template they not only copied /plagiarized a document that in itself is not an eyewitness account, it could well be nothing but a work of historical fiction at best and at worst a cobbled together document using Old Testament themes as its basis. And, yes there are scholarly arguments for this – in case you wondered if I was just making this stuff up.
                      Furthermore, the writers of both gMatthew and gLuke added even more material of their own inventiveness to further a theological agenda.
                      I hope you are getting at least a glimmer of what the problem is?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    53. 1) While resurrection appearances do not happen before what the oldest manuscripts agree upon (ie, ch. 16, v. 8), they do agree that an angel tells the women that Jesus has been raised and to go and tell the disciples. Pretty dramatic way to end the account, indicating there was a resurrection. I appreciate the accuracy of your statement, though. 🙂

                      2) Even if there are questions about authorship, it’s not like this thing happened in a vacuum. When you claim hundreds of people saw a resurrection and give their names, and among them are public officials in a crowded Jerusalem for Passover, these gospel accounts would have been easy to prove wrong if they were inaccurate. Apparently there were enough witnesses and enough accuracy in the oral accounts that were written down that believers (Jewish believers, mind you, who would otherwise consider Jesus being Yahweh blasphemy had they not been convinced!) spread quickly.

                      3) Given the timeline of the earliest manuscripts, plenty of eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus would have been there every step of the way to call “bullocks” on the account and kill this new movement. Even if you discount Acts, there are plenty of early church fathers who wrote about their interactions with eyewitnesses and confirm the things written in the gospels.

                      I’m also scratching my head as to your disdain for plagiarism in this instance and the later writings adding additional material to further flesh out theological considerations. As a musician, I certainly would give permission for a person to arrange a piece of music that I wrote in the hopes that maybe my work will be shared in a different way to a different audience. If I wrote the manuscript for Mark, I’m interested in more people hearing about Jesus. The guy who wrote Matthew wants to take my work but add some stuff that focuses to Jewish readers, and the writer of Luke wants to take my work but add some stuff to make it more palatable for a Gentile audience, and I have another guy who ends up writing John who takes all three and decides to reframe it with other accounts that he’s heard from eyewitnesses and compile it into a different format entirely for more theological purposes……. gosh, that sounds like a great idea if we all want the same thing: to get the good news out about Jesus!

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                    54. And you’re actually suggesting these folks got together and discussed how they might improve on each other’s writings? Wow.

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                    55. @ Nan
                      Of course they did!
                      In 70 AD the 10th destroyed Jerusalem and all those Jewish reprobates – you will have heard of terrorist groups such as the People’s Front of Judea, surely? – were either enslaved or crucified, or if they got lucky, simply buggered off.
                      Then, about fifteen years after Titus had returned to Rome and things had quietened down a bit, not-an-eyewitness Matthew heard rumours of a tale about a miracle working god-man who had pranced about Galilee for a year or was it two? Or Maybe three?
                      Anyhow, he got hold of . a copy of a manuscript, met up with a few mates over a coffee klatch, and thought: ”This has potential, but we need to add a few details to make it sound real. I suggest things like a virgin birth, dead saints coming back to life and we definitely need to bring this bloke Yeshua back to life.”
                      And as they say … the rest is history.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    56. 1.

                      they do agree that an angel tells the women that Jesus has been raised and to go and tell the disciples.

                      Hilarious!
                      “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed – and she’s still there!” said Baby bear.
                      I’m sure you will remember this tale, yes?
                      Probably the only major difference between your tale and my quote is that in your story the words: Once upon a time do not feature.

                      Bollocks. (reminder: not a castrated domestic bull ).
                      Bollocks. You have no grasp of history. Stop repeating what you have been indoctrinated with.

                      ”I’m also scratching my head ….etc
                      Then stop scratching your head; you might get splinters in your fingers.

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                    57. Hey Ark, I’m sorry I haven’t responded to anything in a while… I’m a teacher and yesterday was the first day of school. It’s been crazy. Hoping to get back into it soon. I actually miss chatting with you guys! 🙂

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                    58. I mean, I do have students who occasionally find my stuff, so I do moderate profanity and vulgar stuff, etc. I think I’ve only rejected one comment ever. But anything else is fair game, especially if you want me to “show my work”, as it were! lol

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                    59. I am asking if comments go directly into moderation as a matter of course to await your approval or are comments automatically posted on your blog, as they are here on Gary’s blog and likewise my blog?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    60. Why did you stop responding to my comments?

                      I asked you for objective evidence for your belief that you have a personal relationship with Jesus. Do you have any?

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                    61. Hey man, gotta be a Dad ‘n stuff… can’t get on every day! lol

                      I responded to this about 20 minutes ago somewhere on here… let me know if you don’t see it.

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                    1. Well, I find the fact that all but one of Jesus’ disciples went to the grave proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection quite convincing. These were real people with real families in a real community who gave up everything, including careers, their religion, families, all in 3 years. Dismissing this out of hand seems a bit callous considering what they went through.

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              1. You have listed several forms of subjective evidence for your belief in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. But do you have any objective evidence that Jesus is alive and well today and that you have a personal relationship with him?

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                1. Since I am witness to those things in my life, I can attest to the objective reality of those things. But again, like I said, I wouldn’t expect my experiences to convince you. There is the testimony of people in the first century and the evidence of fulfilled prophecy. There is the element of faith to all this, you know. Even if Jesus came down right now and stood before you and said, “Gary! Follow me!”, would you? The fact that many wouldn’t even then is a testament to how important faith is in this whole equation.

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                  1. Let’s make sure we are using the same definition for Objective Evidence: Objective evidence refers to information based on facts that can be proved by means of search like analysis, measurement, and observation. One can examine and evaluate objective evidence.

                    I have objective evidence, which meets the criteria of the above definition, regarding my personal relationship with my wife. It is evidence for which no one is asked to “take my word for it”:

                    -marriage certificate
                    -photos
                    -childrens’ birth certificates
                    -signed birthday and anniversary cards from her addressed to me personally

                    Do you have any similar objective evidence from Jesus?

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                    1. We agree on the definition, Gary! And what I’ve said from the beginning is that I am able to “examine and evaluate” (through analysis, measurement, and observation) the evidence that I’ve been privy to in my life, but I have no expectation that you will be convinced by those things.

                      For instance, I experienced a healing, though it wasn’t fantastic or flashy. It was, however, very important to me. This was years ago… I had a big concert with my students the next day (I’m a music teacher). The night before, I had a temperature of over 102 and felt terrible. I got on the floor and prayed for healing over night. Instead, when I stood up, my fever was gone and I suddenly felt well again. I analyzed the measurements, concluded that my prayer was directly answered (which reinforced my belief in my relationship with God), and got to go to school the next day to do the concert.

                      But, I don’t often go around proclaiming this willy-nilly on discussion boards because it’s a small miracle that no one else but me (and, presumedly, my Jesus) would find in any way significant or worthy of consideration. I know you’re asking for physical evidence of a supernatural relationship with a living God-man who resurrected 2000 years ago. I can’t provide that for you (although it just occurred to me that perhaps the Shroud of Turin might interest you).

                      However, I think if you base your entire worldview on physical evidence as the only type of “objective evidence” that you will accept in a debate, you are presupposing that there is not a supernatural dimension to our existence, and I don’t think you or anyone else can prove that…

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                    2. No, I am speaking only about evidence for having a “personal relationship” with another person.

                      Again, I can provide all kinds of objective evidence for my claim that I have a personal relationship with my wife:

                      –marriage certificate
                      –the birth certificates of my children
                      –photos
                      -signed birthday/anniversary cards signed by my wife
                      –testimony of eyewitnesses who have seen my wife and I interact

                      You can’t provide anything like this for your “personal relationship” with Jesus, can you? All you can provide are your subjective personal experiences and perceptions. That being the case, why should we believe that you have a personal relationship with an invisible person named Jesus based solely on your subjective experiences when we do not believe similar subjective claims from a child who alleges that he has an invisible friend named “Bob”?

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                    3. You keep asking for physical evidence of my own personal relationship with a supernatural being. As I’ve said multiple times, what you’re asking for is not something I can give you. However, I shared a spiritual experience with a physical outcome. That’s the best I can do. Believe me or don’t… that’s up to you.

                      But not believing my testimony should have no bearing on the validity of arguments for (a) God’s existence, (b) the historicity of Jesus, or (c) His resurrection and the benefits thereof.

                      Focusing on personal anecdotes doesn’t get you any closer to the objective truth you seek, which should be independent of human relationships, wouldn’t you agree? In other words, even if I’m wrong about my personal connection with Jesus doesn’t mean that Jesus isn’t real.

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                    4. But not believing my testimony should have no bearing on the validity of arguments for (a) God’s existence, (b) the historicity of Jesus, or (c) His resurrection and the benefits thereof.

                      (a) Let’s assume for the sake of argument, that the universe was created by an intelligent being with supernatural powers (the creator god). I personally believe that this is definitely a plausible possibility, so let’s assume it is true.

                      (b) I believe in the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, so I do not contest that point.

                      (c) Isn’t it possible that Jesus was truly seen alive again after his execution, but he is not alive today? How do sightings of Jesus after his execution 2,000 years ago prove that he is alive today and ruler of the universe?

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                    5. So you agree that just because Jesus was seen again after his death does not in any way prove that he is alive today or that he is the Creator. So historical evidence does not help prove that you have a personal relationship with Jesus, does it?

                      The fact is that the only evidence you have that Jesus is alive today and that he has supernatural powers to answer your prayers and to perform acts of the supernatural for you are your subjective personal perceptions.

                      The problem is: Millions of Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, and others claim that they too have experienced answered prayer and miracles (due to the interventions of their gods) which are just as odd and statistically rare as yours. How can a third party know which of you is correct??

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    2. Let’s forget about the Creation Story for a moment.

      Traditional Christianity teaches that an angel named Lucifer rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven into the “pit”. Yet currently this being roams the earth “seeking whom he may devour”. How did he get out of the pit?

      If you don’t believe that a creature named Satan exists, you don’t need to bother answering the question. You are not a traditional/orthodox/Trinitarian Christian and this post is not directed at you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not really sure what “camp” I belong to… so I’ll engage anyway. 🙂 lol

        I am not convinced that there was one big rebellion in the heavens prior to the creation of man, and that’s the only divine rebellion there will ever be. Supernatural beings are characterized in the Bible (as well as in most cultures and religions around the world) as having agency and free will. I do think there is singular powerful being that most Westerners call “Satan,” but he’s not the only bad guy, and besides, the timeline of his rebellion is not clear from the Bible.

        So, why does Paine think the nachash of Genesis 3 was Satan, that he crawled out of the pit following a prior judgment, and was allowed into the garden? Where does he get that information?

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        1. Revelation 12:7–10

          And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they [a]did not prevail, nor was a place found for [b]them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

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        2. Isaiah 14:12-15

          “How you are fallen from heaven,
          O Lucifer, son of the morning!
          How you are cut down to the ground,
          You who weakened the nations!
          For you have said in your heart:
          ‘I will ascend into heaven,
          I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
          I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
          On the farthest sides of the north;
          I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
          I will be like the Most High.’
          Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
          To the lowest depths of the Pit.

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        3. Ezekiel 28:12-17

          “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:
          “You were the seal of perfection,
          Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
          You were in Eden, the garden of God;
          Every precious stone was your covering:
          The sardius, topaz, and diamond,
          Beryl, onyx, and jasper,
          Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold.
          The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes
          Was prepared for you on the day you were created.
          “You were the anointed cherub who covers;
          I established you;
          You were on the holy mountain of God;
          You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones.
          You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created,
          Till iniquity was found in you.
          “By the abundance of your trading
          You became filled with violence within,
          And you sinned;
          Therefore I cast you as a profane thing
          Out of the mountain of God;
          And I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
          From the midst of the fiery stones.
          “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
          You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;
          I cast you to the ground,
          I laid you before kings,
          That they might gaze at you.

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        4. 2 Peter 2:4

          For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

          Revelation 12:4

          His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

          Job 1:6-7

          Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

          Luke 10:17-18

          Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heav</em>en.

          Revelation 9:11

          And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

          Revelation 12:12

          Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

          Revelation 20:1-3

          Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

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          1. Okay? Can you build a timeline out of what you quoted? Half of what you cite is from Revelation, which is notoriously wonky when it comes to timelines (for instance, this paper by Marko Jauhiainen discusses how Revelation may be cyclical and recapitulatory rather than linear… https://drmsh.com/TheNakedBible/Recapitulation.pdf). “Satan” in Job is not a proper name but rather a description of what the being is doing in God’s council, since it has a definite article. So it could be any being accusing Job. Is Satan Apollyon? Are you sure it’s not another entity?

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                1. OH! I would soooo like to jump in on this!! I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to the Big Bad Guy. But to make it short and simple … no. He is NOT a literal being. And my research proves it.

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                    1. I have a blog centered around the book — escapefromreligion.wordpress.com. You might want to go there if you have any comments or (gasp!) criticisms to share. Oh, and thanks for the purchase. 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, here’s my go at your question. This information is being paraphrasing from excerpts of Michael Heiser’s “Demons” book, chapter 3.

    History: the being who takes the form of a serpent in Genesis 3, the nachash (which can be “serpent” but also “shining one”), is a “guardian cherub” (hassock kerub), as indicated in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, which point back to the being in question. These types of beings aren’t discussed much in the Bible but are widely attested in Mesopotamian and Egyptian literature from the same period, which provides the context for the accounts recorded in the Old Testament. Given the context (how God speaks to the nachash by using plural pronouns like ‘us’ and ‘we’), this being was a member of God’s Divine Council (Psalm 82, 89, Deuteronomy 32). This divine rebel was in the garden where he was supposed to be, doing his job, until he deceived Eve; after this he was cursed and removed from his position as throne guardian and out of God’s presence, cast down to the earth/under the earth (the Hebrew erets can mean either one). What happened before this? I don’t know.
    Powers: being a kerub implies a fearsome, occasionally serpentine form and being a guardian of the throne of God would imply impressive abilities in order to do the job. From the New Testament, this singular entity is credited by its writers as “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). There are, however, multiple entities who might be characterized as “satans” or Satan-figures in the Second Temple Jewish texts (Satan, Azazel, Mastema, etc.). These texts do provide important context especially since examples like 1 Enoch are quoted by canonical books like Jude and 1 Peter.

    From all of this ancillary evidence, I think it’s safe to say that there is definitely one entity on top of the demonic heap, as it were, but I don’t know what its name is 100% and I can’t be sure if that top dog is always the same entity throughout history.

    whew 🙂

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      1. Well, the preponderance of all cultures over all of history believe(d) they exist. These are all rational human beings with the same brains you and I have. That seems like a pretty convincing observation to me.

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          1. No. It’s just one piece of evidence (which you asked for) that should be taken seriously.

            For instance, are you prepared to say every exorcism ever performed was bogus? Because if even one exorcism involved an actual spiritual entity, then there is a supernatural aspect to our reality.

            Are you prepared to say that every person who ever claimed to have met a supernatural entity during a DMT trip was wrong (even when half of the atheists in this study no longer claimed atheism following their trip)? Because if just one of those people was right, then there is a supernatural aspect to our reality. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881120916143

            Can you say that every single indigenous tribe in history imagined or made up their encounters with the supernatural? How can you prove this?

            I understand it may seem far fetched to suppose that there is a supernatural aspect to our universe, but to claim unequivocally that it doesn’t exist is just too strong of a claim that can’t be supported.

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            1. I have never claimed that the supernatural does not exist. What I have stated is that, in my opinion, there is insufficient evidence to believe the supernatural operates in our universe. Even if the universe was created by a god with supernatural powers, I see no evidence that this creator god has allowed the supernatural to violate the laws of nature since creation.

              Just because a lot of people allege a lot of supernatural events have occurred is not sufficient evidence for me to believe they have. Science has proven similar supernatural assumptions wrong multiple times in the past. Many ancient cultures believed that diseases were caused by evil spirits/demons. We now know that the cause of disease are viruses, bacteria, and cellular mutations, not evil spirits.

              One after another, supernatural explanations for phenomena in our universe have fallen to the scientific method. So which is more rational: To believe that the supernatural does operate in our universe, even though so many previous assumptions of supernatural activity have been disproven, or to say like me, “It is within the realm of possibility that the supernatural exists, but as of yet, I see no good reason to believe that it does”?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I see what you’re saying… you have been convinced through the data you’ve encountered that it is most likely that a supernatural realm, if it exists, doesn’t interact with our universe in any tangible way, correct? I totally get that. I would agree with you if I thought the only worthwhile evidence was physical in nature; however, I don’t think this is the case.

                When the scientific method clarifies that, for instance, things like diseases are physically caused by bacteria, viruses, etc., these findings don’t really have anything to say about the foundational ontology of these things. I think that’s where a lot of atheists and dualists have a fundamental misunderstanding that needs to be addressed. Identifying the physical properties of something does not automatically answer all the metaphysical “why” questions. On this issue, I think we can both be right, since from my perspective science and religion tend to be a both/and pairing, not an either/or one.

                I do appreciate that you acknowledge that a supernatural realm is possible. I’ll have to dig through some of my stuff and see if I can provide you with evidence that you might find compelling, since clearly I’m drawing blanks right now. 🙂

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                1. How do you respond to the fact that millions of Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus report the same shocking answered prayers and miracles that you do?

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                  1. Well, as we’ve discussed in other posts, I do believe in a supernatural realm that interacts with our physical universe (and people). I know you’re going to say, “Well how do you know a demonic entity isn’t what’s answering my own prayers??!?!?” If you permit me to quote scripture, we are to “test the spirits.” If you want to discuss this further, we can, but I don’t want to get too off topic.

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                    1. I agree with you 100%!

                      Just as I would tell a child to test his invisible (imaginary) friend, I encourage you and every other evangelical Christian to do the same with your invisible (imaginary??) friend. Ask Jesus to do something which could not, in any way, be mere chance.

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                    2. I guess I should ask… Does this child’s invisible friend come with thousands of years of prophecies, religious and cultural context, and shared experiences with other people?

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                    3. First, you won’t find any public university history textbook with the following chapter title: “The Amazing Accuracy of Old Testament Prophecies About Jesus”

                      If the prophecies about Jesus were as accurate as you seem to believe, we should find these predictions in public university history textbooks and in the Guinness Book or World Records! But we don’t, do we? Why? Answer: Because most non-Christians doubt these Hebrew passages have anything to do with Jesus. The evidence that they do is so weak that there is major controversy regarding these “prophecies”. Disputed fortune telling is not good evidence for the existence of an invisible friend!

                      Millions of Muslims, Mormons, and Hindus can claim thousands of “shared experiences” and miracles in relation to their gods. Shared religious experiences are therefore not good evidence for the existence of an invisible friend who claims to be the one and only god!

                      Like

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