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Why do Christians Assume that Evidence for a Creator God is Automatically Evidence for their god, Yahweh/Jesus?

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Gary:

In my view, existence is biological. There is no need to delve into the deep philosophical questions you have presented unless philosophy turns your crank. My personal view is that the Scientific Method is the best method, to date, to understand our universe and how it operates. Yes, it is possible that other dimensions of reality exist. Yes, it is possible that a better method to discover truth exists that we have not yet discovered. It is also possible that you and I only exist in the consciousness of someone else. But I ignore all these other possible realities. I ignore them not because I am certain that they are false, but because they do not have the track record of accurate predictions that science has accumulated.

Now would you kindly answer MY question: Why do you assume that evidence for a Creator God is automatically evidence for YOUR god, Yahweh/Jesus?

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Lord Brahma, Creator of the Universe

Christian pastor and blogger:

Before I answer YOUR question, why is the question important to you? What’s behind the question. I can guess, but maybe I’m wrong.

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Gary: 

(I persisted in requesting that the pastor answer my question, but he refused.  He then stopped posting my comments.)

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Yahweh, Creator of the Universe

 

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Christian Pastor Says He Knows that the Bible is True because God has Revealed Himself to Him

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Conservative Christian pastor/blogger:

I strongly agree with [another Christian commenter] that accepting “science and reason,” as you called it earlier—at least apart from God—risks the same “magical thinking” that you accuse us Christians of exhibiting. Earlier you appealed to your experience as a deeply committed Christian (right?) as the basis of your authority to tell us now that it’s really all nonsense. But as Tom points out, that road runs in both directions, and you must know that plenty of hardcore atheists have converted to Christianity. You might ask them why Christianity proved so compelling that it overturned their atheism. I hope you do! Or read their books—or something.

While I was never an atheist, I have certainly grappled with many of the same questions you’ve grappled with. While I don’t know you at all, I doubt that your abandonment of the faith was[n’t] as neat and tidy as you describe: not because I think you’re lying but because we humans are more complex than that. I never considered abandoning the faith because I’m not ultimately an evidentialist: God is unknowable, except what he reveals to us. And God revealed himself to me. That’s the basis on which I have saving faith. I know he’s real. I know the gospel is true. If I encountered an intellectual objection I couldn’t handle, I wouldn’t sweat it. I’d assume the problem lies with me. Who am I, after all? What do I think I know? Some humility is called for here: we’re dealing with mysteries beyond human comprehension.

 

Gary: 

You said: “I’m not ultimately an evidentialist: God is unknowable, except what he reveals to us. And God revealed himself to me. That’s the basis on which I have saving faith. I know he’s real.”

I believe that this is why skeptics and Christians will never agree on the strength of the evidence regarding the truth claims of Christianity: Ultimately Christians base their belief in the truth claims of Christianity on feelings and perceptions. Feelings and perceptions are subjective. They cannot be examined for all to verify their accuracy. So here is my question:

Some children create imaginary friends. To these children, their imaginary friend is very real. He/she provides emotional comfort and a sense of security. Good things that occur in the child’s life are attributed to the imaginary friend. Bad things are attributed to disobeying the imaginary friend.

How do you know that your belief in Jesus is not the same phenomenon?

 

Conservative Christian pastor/blogger:

While I’m happy to admit the possibility that God is an “imaginary friend,” I would, at the same time, have to wonder how I have an imagination to begin with! Then I’d have to say that my belief or lack of belief doesn’t depend on me anyway, since, from your particular materialistic point of view, I️ don’t have free will. I have no “mind” that is independent of the physical processes within my brain, which are themselves undirected sequences of cause and effect over which I have no control. So I’m not merely deluded about God, I’m deluded—as are you, I’m sure—that I️ possess free will.

 

Gary:

In my view, existence is biological. There is no need to delve into the deep philosophical questions you have presented unless philosophy turns your crank. My personal view is that the Scientific Method is the best method, to date, to understand our universe and how it operates. Yes, it is possible that other dimensions of reality exist. Yes, it is possible that a better method to discover truth exists that we have not yet discovered. It is also possible that you and I only exist in the consciousness of someone else. But I ignore all these other possible realities. I ignore them not because I am certain that they are false, but because they do not have the track record of accurate predictions that science has accumulated.

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Scholars Reach Consensus on the Exact Number of Eyewitnesses to the Resurrection

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Unbeknownst to most modern Christians, New Testament scholars long ago reached a consensus on the exact number of eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  The number is (drum roll) Zero!

-Zero eyewitnesses claim to have seen the three-day-brain-dead body resume breathing.

-Zero eyewitnesses claim to have seen the body open its eyes.

-Zero eyewitnesses claim to have seen the body sit up and begin removing its burial cloths.

-Zero eyewitnesses claim to have seen the body stand up and move back the large stone.

-Zero eyewitnesses claim to have seen the body exit the tomb and vanish into thin air (allegedly to teleport to the Emmaus Road).

Yes, folks, hundreds of people may have claimed to have seen a walking/talking/broiled-fishing eating dead body in the days and years following this man’s death, but NO ONE claimed to have witnessed the Resurrection.  (By comparison, Muslims can provide at least one eyewitness to their alleged central supernatural event, and Mormons can provide three or four eyewitnesses to their alleged central supernatural event.)

So what about the claims of this resurrected body’s post death appearances?

Tens of thousands of grieving friends, family, (and the mentally ill), over the many millennia of human existence, have claimed to have “seen” dead people; even groups of people have claimed to have seen dead people.   Most modern, educated people (including many Christians) don’t believe these claims.  So why should we believe this claim?

We shouldn’t.

It is an ancient tall tale, folks.

Modern, educated people should not believe this silliness.

 

 

Why did the Author of Mark Omit Matthew’s Claim that Peter too Walked on Water?

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It is now a consensus among New Testament scholars that the Gospel of Mark was the first gospel written and that the gospels of Matthew and Luke followed, approximately a decade or two later.  It is also a consensus among scholars that the author of Matthew (and Luke) borrowed heavily from the Book of Mark when writing his (their) gospel.

So what do we make of the fact that in the Story of Jesus Walking on Water in Mark, there is no mention of any of the disciples expressing any desire to take a walk on the water themselves, yet, in Matthew’s gospel, Peter jumps out of the boat and begins walking (on water!) to Jesus?

Can anyone say, “literary invention“? 

“Matthew” should be given the nickname of “the teller of whoppers“.  Come on.  If Mark had a good miracle story, Matthew had to make it bigger and better for his book.  What a plagiarist!  What a concocter of tall tales!  And Christians wonder why so many of us non-Christians are skeptical about the historicity of many of the claims in the Gospels.

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The Story of Jesus Walking on Water in the Gospel of Mark:

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. 49 But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 51 Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

 

The Story of Jesus (and Peter)Walking on Water in the Gospel of Matthew:

 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land,[a] for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind,[b] he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 

Did Jesus sometimes use Magic Words when Performing His Miracles?

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“The next two miracles [in the Gospel of Mark] also take place on Gentile soil.  In the first, Jesus heals a deaf mute who also has a speech impediment.  Jesus heals him by putting his fingers into his ears and by spitting and touching his tongue, saying, “Be opened.”  What’s unusual here is that Mark includes an Aramaic word—Ephphatha—in his otherwise Greek narrative.  It may be a colorful detail, or it may be that Jesus did at times use a “magic” word in his healings.”  —Kenneth L Woodward, The Book of Miracles

 

Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. 34 Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 Then Jesus[a] ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”  —Gospel of Mark chapter 7

 

Gary:  Why would the Creator of the universe need to stick his fingers into someone’s ears to heal his deafness, or worse, put some of his spit on the guy’s tongue to allow him to speak??  That just seems really bizarre to me.  It doesn’t prove that this story is a literary invention, but…

Come on.  Why not just make the conscious decision to heal the guy and…POOF…the guy’s hearing and speech are restored?  Why the dog and pony show?

Can We Rescue Liam from his Cult (Christianity)?

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If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that a Christian named “Liam” frequently comments on my posts.  Typically, he only leaves an initial comment and never engages in discussion after that initial comment.  It is as if Liam wants to make sure that every one of my assertions against his belief system is refuted by at least one pro-Christian comment.  That is perfectly fine with me.  I welcome opposing opinions.

But as fellow skeptic, Nan, has recently noted, Liam brushes off any and all evidence against his cherished faith, no matter how convincing the evidence.  I replied to Nan’s statement under the previous post with this comment:

As long as Liam senses a Presence within him, no amount of contrary evidence is going to change his mind. Since (to Liam) the Presence is real, the alleged discrepancies in the Bible cannot be real.

The real question is: How do we get Liam to see that his perception that an invisible, supernatural being lives inside his body is not real? What evidence can we provide him to do that? If we challenge him to demand that the Presence perform a magic trick (miracle) right now, at this very moment, (such as levitating a coffee table), Liam will tell us that the Presence does not like to be tested.

Only if Liam is confronted with a situation where the Presence does not perform as Liam believes it should will Liam begin to question the reality of the Presence. Liam is too heavily indoctrinated for us to expect evidence to change his mind. We must concentrate our efforts on those who are not so deeply under the influence and control of their cult.

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Strong Evidence that the Miracle Stories in the Gospels are Literary Inventions

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“By any measure, Jesus was a prodigious miracle worker, surpassing even Moses in this regard.  By one scholar’s count, the four gospels together include six exorcisms, seventeen healings (including three raisings from the dead), and eight so called nature miracles, such as feeding five thousand people with a few fish and loaves of bread, calming storms, walking on water, and transforming water into wine.  This list does not include variants of the same story or the brief summary statements that suggest that Jesus worked many more miracles than are recorded in the texts.  And all this occurs in the space of one year in Mark, three years in John.

—Kenneth L Woodward, The Book of Miracles

 

Gary:  Read that last sentence again, dear readers:  “And all this occurs in the space of one year in Mark, three years in John.”

What???

Christians want us to believe that the Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark, the traveling companion of the Apostle Peter (a witness to all Jesus’ miracles), after hearing Peter recount these events over and over again in his sermons over a period of several decades.

Christians also want us to believe that the Gospel of John was written by the Apostle John, son of Zebedee, who was also (allegedly) a witness to all of Jesus’ miracles…yet…John Mark tells us that all these events happened in one year and John tells us they occurred over three years!

One or both of these authors is WRONG!  Both cannot be correct.  How could John the son of Zebedee not remember that Jesus ministry had only lasted one year after his baptism?  How could John Mark have forgotten that Peter had preached that Jesus had worked miracles for three years, not one?  Isn’t it obvious, folks?  This is very strong evidence that neither eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels.  It is also very strong evidence that modern readers of the Bible can have very little confidence in the historical accuracy of these ancient texts, in particular, claims of supernatural acts which defy the known natural laws of the universe!