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Former atheist and post-evangelical dives into a ‘Blue Ocean Faith’

“Blue Ocean Faith” and author Dave Schmelzer

(RNS) — Dave Schmelzer is an unlikely evangelist.

An in-your-face atheist until his early 20s, Schmelzer ended up in seminary and, eventually, at the pulpit of Vineyard Christian Fellowship, an evangelical church in Cambridge, Mass. Under his leadership, membership soared despite its location in one of the most secular enclaves in the U.S.

Then something changed. Schmelzer started asking why some Christians focused less on Jesus and more on exclusion, drawing lines between themselves and other people whose sexual orientation or politics they disagreed with. He took his church in another direction, focused on inclusion, eventually formalizing its philosophy as a “Blue Ocean Faith” — because these churches “fish” where others don’t and because blue oceans connect the world.

Today, there are 11 churches in the Blue Ocean Faith Network. Most are in the Northeast, one is in Iowa and two are in California. Schmelzer is now in Santa Monica, organizing a new congregation.

He outlines his philosophy in “Blue Ocean Faith: The Vibrant Connection to Jesus That Opens Up Insanely Great Possibilities in a Secularizing World,” a new book he hopes will start a “New Jesus Movement.” He sat down for an interview with Religion News Service. The following has been edited for clarity.

One of the main tenets of Blue Ocean Faith is “solus Jesus,” Latin for “only Jesus,” and a nod to Martin Luther’s “sola scriptura,” the belief that authority is in the Scriptures only. Why is “solus Jesus” the center of Blue Ocean Faith?

Sola scriptura was a powerful way to call out what Luther saw as the corruption of the church of his day. He substituted the authority of the church with the authority of the Bible. That kicked off a worldwide revival, along with a whole lot of wars, and the spread of Christianity.

However, it seems to me sola scriptura is showing cracks. What I discovered as someone who had been an atheist is that the Bible is powerful to study, think about and live by, but increasingly to me the way it was being used to draw lines between people didn’t connect me to the God that drew me out of atheism.

I spent decades trying to find the misconnection here and it seems the theological difference between sola scriptura and solus Jesus is at the heart of the misfire. Sola scriptura has become a way for some evangelicals to feel safe that God will not judge them, that they have not made a mistake. But it has become a poor substitute for actually knowing God. I wasn’t willing to make that trade.

The idea of solus Jesus comes from (the late Christian thinker) Phyllis Tickle. It makes Jesus the center of our faith. We want to know Jesus more, rather than the Bible more, though the Bible is a crucial and valuable tool. Solus Jesus makes the claim that Jesus is alive and speaking, so if we give him focus he will guide and speak to us. We began to see that is a valuable way to think about faith and was something sola scriptura was missing.

Another tenet of Blue Ocean Faith is adherence to what you call “the Third Way.” What is that?

Over the last few decades, I saw controversial issues come into the evangelical churches of which I was a part. We drew a hard line against the people we thought were “wrong,” like LGBTQ persons. But our church in Cambridge and other Blue Ocean churches were filled with people who had come from secularism and it became obvious to us that treating LGBTQ persons differently than anyone else is not something Jesus would do. So we ended up in controversy with our evangelical friends who felt differently. For them, it was obvious this was a holiness question and the Bible was clear — LGBT people cannot be married or lead in a church. So what do you do?

We needed to strike a deal when we have disagreements in Jesus’ church. And that is the Third Way. Taking its lead from Paul in Romans 14, it says we need to respectfully decide that the issue will resolve itself in time and in the meantime we need to err on the side of inclusion. We need to keep people at the table. What we discover is that the Third Way does favor the people on the liberal side of the issue because the other side customarily draws lines against people and won’t come to the table. However, we found many people who are conservative can hang with us and say “that seems fair.” The Third Way requires goodwill. It requires believing the people on the other side are doing their best to follow Jesus, that they have actually considered the question thoughtfully. The Third Way makes sure nobody is excluded.

How do you answer your critics that this is “Christianity lite” or — worse — “buffet Christianity,” where you pick only the parts of the faith you like?

My experience is that people in a Third Way setting are more invested in their experience of faith than the average congregation in an exclusive rather than inclusive setting. At our church in Cambridge, we had higher levels of giving than any church in our evangelical denomination of 550 churches. People were giving money, planting churches — all the markers of serious Christianity. So the criticism that we were watered down wasn’t based on the evidence.

You say in the book you hope a Blue Ocean Faith can kick off a “New Jesus Movement.” How would such a thing be the same as and different from the original Jesus Movement of 50 years ago?

In the original Jesus Movement, which I experienced the tail end of, you had the feeling you were walking into a grand adventure God created that was happening all over the world. That still seems appealing to me and a great thing.

The original Jesus Movement didn’t last, because all revivals don’t last. But we would love to see a new Jesus Movement with the sense of grand adventure that Jesus is on the move, that miracles can happen. We think that solus Jesus helps in this, that Jesus is alive and at work and drawing us all to himself. It is true to say we in Blue Ocean Churches are revivalists at heart.

Your experience is that Blue Ocean Faith appeals to people who don’t go to church. What does Blue Ocean Faith have to say to them?

It is certainly true in our secular settings that if people were to hear most things associated with evangelicalism right now — the frequent racist rhetoric, the anti-LGBT bias — they would be gone. We are 100 percent sure of that. But we are not an evangelical reform movement, we are just followers of Jesus. We came out of the evangelical church because we distance ourselves from a political and social agenda which we find destructive. That said, we by no means distance ourselves from evangelicals who would enjoy worshipping in our churches. So the only deal anyone would have to make to follow Jesus with us is to welcome anyone else in the room. The Third Way requires that of us all.

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

145 Comments

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  • Most of Christianity is on the cafeteria plan considering the number of denominations. I would guess that applies to individual Christians as well – most have their own personal interpretations of Christianity.

  • For many people, “Solus Jesus” sounds just as exclusivist and discriminatory as “Sola Scriptorum.”

    (Especially since “Solus Jesus” excludes other sincere and “thoughtfully considered” beliefs. Moreover, “Solus Jesus” completely relies on the claims and authority of the Scriptures anyway, just like church policies that prohibit gay marriage/gay clergy.)

    So why doesn’t Schmelzer simply throw away **both** phrases, (not just one of them), in order to appease those people “who have come from secularism”?

  • “How do you answer your critics that this is “Christianity lite” or — worse — “buffet Christianity” where you pick only the parts of the faith you like?”

    It’s all of it, every bit of it, buffet Christianity. Some people listen when Jesus says don’t judge, others say “sure, judge away. It says right here…”

    Some people need god to tell them murder is wrong. Other people can figure it out for themselves.

    Some people need their faith to be a weapon. Others need it to be a guide.

  • His answer with respect to “Christianity Lite” is problematic, he identifies as “markers,” increased giving and church planting, but upward trends in numbers both fiscal and per capita are no guarantee that what is being preached is sound for the soul. I believe the Church has an obligation to be welcoming, inclusive and diverse, even when attendants are struggling with powerful sins in their life, but embracing them without lovingly admonishing them is no solution for them or for the advancement of the Church. Naturally this includes any pattern of sin that contradicts the clear instructions from God’s Word. Mr. Schmelzer himself acknowledges the bible as a “crucial and valuable tool.” There is a great tension between doctrine and compassion that must be maintained, but Mr. Schmelzer’s answers don’t provide enough clarity, for me at least, as to how he addresses those questions.

  • So sorry, me no speak Yankee Christianese, brother Dave Schmelzer and sister Kimberly Winston. Repeat, please.

    (1) “Jesus is alive and speaking so if we give him focus he will guide and speak to us”? “Jesus is on the move [and] we think … solus Jesus helps”?

    “Solus Jesus helps” who? – Jesus?

    (2) Your “need[ing] to err on the side of inclusion … makes sure nobody is excluded”?

    As if! As if the Non-Blue Ocean Faithful’s “need[ing] to err on the side of [ex]clusion … makes sure [every]body is excluded”?!

    (3) “People … giving money” constitute “all the markers of serious Christianity.”

    Now, see, I understand you now. Money talks. And in Yankee Christianese, too!

  • “Solus Jesus” completely relies on the claims and authority of the Scriptures anyway, just like church policies that prohibit gay marriage/gay clergy.)” Assertion devoid of evidence. Those policies have nothing to do with scripture or Jesus.

  • You need to look in the mirror before you look out the window. Any church which “admonishes” those it feels it is better than should be burned to the ground.

  • Well, duh. And the biggest offenders are those who name-call after others doing it. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. too.

  • Which “word salad” is it, Kangawho (look it up), that you know whereof you speak? But why one and not the other in my case for commenting the way I do on Dave Schmelzer’s Blue Ocean Faith?

    Is it “word salad” that “can be generated by a computer program for entertainment purposes by inserting randomly chosen words of the same type (nouns, adjectives, etc.) into template sentences with missing words, a game similar to Mad Libs”? WHY?

    Or is it “word salad” that “may describe a symptom of neurological or psychiatric conditions in which a person attempts to communicate an idea, but words and phrases that may appear to be random and unrelated come out in an incoherent sequence instead”? WHY?

  • Romans 14 is about grey areas, conscience issues, not absolute moral issues. Robert Gagnon, Joe Dallas, Michael Brown, etc. have written biblical, balanced books on this issue. We can speak truth in love, not compromise, etc., but making homosexuality a grey area issue instead of black and white is not following Jesus or the Word of God. We can love and support people with same sex attraction without condoning homosexuality, gay marriage , etc. Jesus was an observant Jew who affirmed the Old Testament and normative sanctity of marriage (heterosexual). It is only recently that a revisionist view has distorted Scripture. Pauline teaching also supports this and we are not being faithful to what Jesus would do if we blur distinctions between sin and holiness.

  • John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have eternal life. These are they who bear witness of Me. 40 Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

    You can’t have Jesus without the Scriptures. And you can’t have the Scriptures without Jesus. And you can’t ignore what Jesus said because it is inconvenient or politically incorrect.

  • Christians have to acknowledge that not all of the scriptures are true or literal. There’s incontrovertible proof that Genesis is wrong. There are many errors between the gospels. Yet you point to specific things and say Jesus definitely said this or Paul – never meeting Jesus or having access to the not-yet-written gospels – is correct when he speaks for Jesus. God tolerated slavery – what Christian in America would do so now? And by not saying it’s ok you disagree with god.

  • One doesn’t need a reason to ignore Jesus any more than one doesn’t need a reason to ignore any other o the gods of men.

  • “There’s incontrovertible proof that Genesis is wrong.”

    Hmm. THAT’s not very friendly! Attacking Christian foundational documents, are we?

    Now we’re all happy that this thread is crankin’ up in good style like most of the others, and you can always be counted on to do your part in a good respectacle atheist style.

    But please do NOT throw any more no-good, half-drunk, mangy-hide, var-mint, Bill Nye propaganda on the discussion table. Unless, of course, you want to skip all the diplomatic warm-ups and go straight to all-out debate wars ….

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+tsar+bomba&view=detail&mid=B13EEFC10CDF4A3396F6B13EEFC10CDF4A3396F6&FORM=VIRE

  • A statement can be true tho not literal. There are many different genre’s in Scripture. Genesis can be true while it may not be a 21st century historical treatise.

    Please inform me of the errors between the gospels.

    Paul did meet Jesus: Galatians 1:11 [Paul speaking] But I reveal to you, brothers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, neither was I taught it, except by a revelation of Jesus Christ.

    God tolerated a lot of sinful behavior out of mankind – and He still is!
    II Peter 3: 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    Rom. 2:4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

    Acts 17:30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent…

    Acts 14:Acts 14:16 In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways…

    Romans 3:25 [Jesus Christ] whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;

  • And one doesn’t need a reason to ignore you…LOL. But c’mon BO, share your ignorance about the Bible some more. Like I said before, what you DON’T KNOW would fill volumes.

  • And I think what you say has a lot of truth in it. But churches considered orthodox Christianity largely agree on the fundamentals of the faith. So why all of the denominations – for the same reason we have Walmarts and Targets and Sears and Macy’s etc etc.

  • Luke 23:32 Two different men, who were criminals, also were led with Him to be killed. 33 When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 43 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

    How about that! The thief had with him not only the Word of God Himself but the word of God too. Like I said you can’t have one without the other.

  • No just a wealth of evidence – which you guys ignore or discount because the need to believe consumes you.

  • There was no Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago. Evolution is well established and we have evidence of modern humans going back 40,000 years or more. No perfect humans, no garden, no serpent and no original sin. Thus no need for Jesus.

  • I intend to quote you on that.

    Exhibit A on the deteriorating condition of my United Methodist Church. But it’s worse than I thought. Increasing spiritual deadness yes. Property destruction — well, that’s a new one.

  • Genesis doesn’t promote itself to be a scientific treatise but it does tell the truth about human origins.

    And you say there was no Adam and Eve…
    Really?
    https://www.reference.com/science/mitochondrial-eve-d20afb458e58a78b?aq=mitochondrial+eve
    Mitochondrial Eve refers to an actual person who is thought to have lived in East Africa. Scientists and anthropologists have estimated that all anatomically modern humans living today descended from this one woman.

    So it’s okay for science to have an Eve…but not religion.
    Are you saying you believe something only when science can prove it with facts and figures?

    Everybody believes in evolution. For eg. I got up this morning, looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “Dang! I get better looking every day.” 🙂 and if it keeps up I may someday be mistaken for a young Clint Eastwood.

    It is called the “Theory of Evolution”…not the “Law of Evolution.”

    When Christians and others who do not believe in evolution say they don’t believe it, they probably mean they don’t believe in macro-evolution – ie. one specie evolving into another. Micro-evolution is apparent all around us. It is called adaptation of a specie. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t believe that. And we see that all around us. For eg. horses that live in the sandy desert have larger hoofs than those who live on the prairie.

    “…in 2005 Philip Skell, a retired chemistry professor at Pennsylvania State University and former member of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote the following [Skell2005]:
    “Scientific journals now document many scientific problems and criticisms of evolutionary theory. … Many of the scientific criticisms of which I speak are well known by scientists in various disciplines, including the disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry, in which I have done my work. … None of the great discoveries in biology and medicine over the past century depended on guidance from Darwinian evolution — it provided no support. … In my judgment, this state of affairs has persisted mainly because too many scientists were afraid to challenge what had become a philosophical orthodoxy among their colleagues. Fortunately, that is changing as many scientists are now beginning to examine the evidence for neo-Darwinism more openly and critically in scientific journals.”
    http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/evolution/scientists-evolution.php

    I don’t think it is as cut and dried as you seem to believe.

  • You exemplify Jacque Barzun’s chief principle of writing: writing should be simple and direct.

    Well done.

  • Not a “wealth of evidence” at all, Jim.

    It’s just a certain number of items — a manageable number — that atheists and evolutionists (like Bill Nye) try to market & sell as iron-clad refutations of Genesis’ historical claims.

    It’s an easy sell, NOT because of the actual physical data, but simply because evolutionists have solid control of the secular media, public schools, universities, and even some seminaries. Nobody wanna get blacklisted for publicly opposing the great god Evolution.

    But as it turns out, those evolutionary items are NOT iron-clad. There’s many scientist and scholar Christians who unpack these evo-claims, and expose their weaknesses and blankspots.

  • Jesus condemned divorce. THe Southern BAptists have te highest rate f divorce in the USA.

    Almost all commandments in Leviticus are ignored because of their savagery or pettiness. Except the mis-interrpreted comment on homosexuality. Misinterpreted becase the original statemnet in part of a condemnation of pagan temple worship. Ad why is the command to kill adulteres ignored but the statement about homosexuals made the core of evangelism?

    Paul’s comment on homosexuality refers specifically to the coerced sexual relations between men and boys that the rich. privileged classes of the Roman Empire indulged in freely.

  • How did Ben show ignorance about the Bible? And why does anyone need to know about it?

    I’ve never read it, and probably never will. What am I missing?

  • Another creationist who doesn’t understand evolution? I’m shocked! 😉

    Another creationist who doesn’t understand what the word “theory” means in science? Who could have predicted such a thing?!

    No; it’s cut and dried. But that won’t stop those invested in ancient myth and magical beings.

  • Nonsense, but spoken like the true believers we’ve seen so many times before.

    80+ percent of the population is religious, but somehow them dang secular elites have got hold of the levers. Guess we’re pretty powerful to be doing so well against the vast majority, eh?

    “Genesis’ historical claims”

    That’s a gem. Reminds me of a quote by Saul Bellow: “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.”

  • Well, as you told DH, you’ve never read the Bible. (An interesting admission, btw.)

    If you do choose to skim it someday, you’ll discover that the book of Genesis makes certain interesting historical claims. Most serious evolutionists already know about those claims, and try to respond to them — but then again, most serious evolutionists have at least cracked open a Bible sometime in their lives.

  • https://evolutionnews.org/2016/04/for_darwin_advo/
    “It looks like the math is not going to cooperate” with Darwinism, was the message the mathematicians and physicists delivered to their biologist colleagues. As Paul says, the official monograph that followed the conference — “Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution” (1967) — features transcripts of the conversations and one can all but hear the attendees tossing chairs at each other.
    And…
    Dr. Nelson notes that the upcoming Royal Society meeting, “New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives,” to be held in November of this year, will likely replay the drama of Wistar.
    And…
    What’s changed since 1966 is that challenges to Darwinism have multiplied and grown enormously in scientific sophistication, matched by the heightened defensiveness of Darwin apologists. The mathematical challenge, like the others, remains without a convincing answer (see here and here). That’s why in replying to critics, Darwinists overwhelmingly content themselves with storytelling, insults, and invective.

    “Darwinists overwhelmingly content themselves with storytelling, insults, and invective.” Like YOU.

  • No it doesn’t. There was a particular word for that. The word Paul used is much broader.

    “Misinterpreted becase the original statemnet in part of a condemnation of pagan temple worship.” No it wasn’t. It is part of a long list of condemned sexual practices, including adultery and incest, that are prohibited no matter the circumstances. One might just as well claim that adultery is OK as long as it’s not part of pagan temple worship.

    “Ad why is the command to kill adulteres ignored but the statement about homosexuals made the core of evangelism?” Because on the cross Jesus satisfied the death penalty that the Law requires. But the sins that put him there remain sinful.

  • You’d have to have been there.

    Why you should read the bible?
    To be an intelligent and well read atheist.

    Another reason is found in this verse in the Gospel of John.
    John 20:30 Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

  • The Bible is quite a lengthy collection of works. It would be too time-consuming to explain one person’s ignorance of it to another person equally ignorant of it. If you’re that curious, get one and read.

  • The Top Ten Scientific Problems with Biological and Chemical Evolution
    Problem 1: No Viable Mechanism to Generate a Primordial Soup
    Problem 2: Unguided Chemical Processes Cannot Explain the Origin of the Genetic Code
    Problem 3: Random Mutations Cannot Generate the Genetic Information Required for Irreducibly Complex Structures
    Problem 4: Natural Selection Struggles to Fix Advantageous Traits into Populations
    Problem 5: Abrupt Appearance of Species in the Fossil Record Does Not Support Darwinian Evolution
    Problem 6: Molecular Biology has Failed to Yield a Grand “Tree of Life”
    Problem 7: Convergent Evolution Challenges Darwinism and Destroys the Logic Behind Common Ancestry
    Problem 8: Differences between Vertebrate Embryos Contradict the Predictions of Common Ancestry
    Problem 9: Neo-Darwinism Struggles to Explain the Biogeographical Distribution of many Species
    Problem 10: Neo-Darwinism has a Long History of Inaccurate Darwinian Predictions about Vestigial Organs and “Junk DNA”
    Bonus Problem: Humans Display Many Behavioral and Cognitive Abilities that Offer No Apparent Survival Advantage

    So, no, it’s not so cut and dried as you would have us believe. But I’ll give you points for effort. ;-D

  • Sorry, but it’s pretty cut and dried, especially after you dispense with the nonsense put out by the “Discovery” Institute, a creationist “think tank”, (or “wishful think tank”, to be more precise), which is where you’re getting your poor guidance.

    Look — it’s easy to cut and paste from our various sources (say for example, this rebuttal to your list: https://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2015/02/20/casey-luskins-top-ten-misunderstandings-of-biology/ ),

    but it comes down to learning what sources are most trustworthy and have the best track record with regard to scientific theories. Evolution is only being challenged from defenders of religions, who have a stake in finding problems with it. (There are debates withing the scientific community about certain aspects of it, but knowledge that it happened is not in question)

    Contrary to what most creationist think, some of us are’t biased; we only want to know what’s true, which means we lose nothing by finding out what we believe needs correcting. In fact, we like learning!

    Don’t rely on propaganda organizations like the Discovery Institute! And read about the Dover case, where they tried to get “intelligent design” into the curriculum and a conservative judge ruled in favor of science!

    “In the nation’s first case to test the legal merits of intelligent design, the judge, John E. Jones III, issued a broad, stinging rebuke to its advocates and provided strong support for scientists who have fought to bar intelligent design from the science curriculum.

    Judge Jones also excoriated members of the Dover, Pa., school board, who he said lied to cover up their religious motives, made a decision of “breathtaking inanity” and “dragged” their community into ‘this legal maelstrom with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.'”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/education/judge-rejects-teaching-intelligent-design.html?mcubz=3

  • Sorry again, but no cigar. 😉

    If you have nothing but DI propaganda you’re not going anywhere. The funny thing is it doesn’t take an atheist to rebut their pseudoscience. Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University who testified against the creationist side, is a believer! But he has integrity; he admits he has no evidence but likes thinking there is a creator. Now, I think that’s pretty sad, but at least he refuses to distort and deny science like most believers are so willing to do. His testimony at the trial helped convince the judge of the emptiness of the Discovery Institute’s claims.

    And if religion were such a wonderful thing, why do we so often find people willing to lie and distort & misrepresent in order to defend it? Read this bit, again from the Dover case, for a perfect example:

    “The judge’s ruling said that two of the most outspoken proponents of intelligent design on the Dover school board, William Buckingham and Alan Bonsell, lied in their depositions about how they raised money in a church to buy copies of an intelligent design textbook, “Of Pandas and People,” to put in the school library.

    Both men, according to testimony, had repeatedly said at school board meetings that they objected to evolution for religious reasons and wanted to see creationism taught on equal footing.

    Judge Jones wrote, “It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the I.D. policy.”

    I run into it all the time when I discuss religion with believers. Either they unwittingly pass on nonsense from an incorrect or dishonest source, or they themselves are intellectually dishonest and unable to support their contentions.

    Gods are unlikely, given all we know, but on the chance they do exist, we need good evidence & reasoning to make a case. We haven’t seen any of that yet, and the most likely reason is because belief is a social phenomenon, something widely accepted and passed on to others in spite of the facts.

  • Believer: “You’ve never read the Bible? Well, that’s an interesting admission!”

    Doubter: “Admission”? What’s wrong with not reading an ancient book, or any book promoting improbable accounts of our origins? Have you read the Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash, New Testament, Quran, Sunnah, Nahjul Balagha, Avesta, Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Puranas, Tantras, Sutras, Vachanas, Adi Granth, Purvas, Samayasara, Niyamasara, Pravacanasara, and Pancastikaya; Anupreksa; Samadhishataka of Pujyapada; Tattvarthasutra of Umasvati, Tattvarthasutra, Pali Tripitaka, Jataka, Visuddimagga, Tripitaka, Lotus Sutra, Garland Sutra, Analects; the Great Learning; the Doctrine of the Mean; the Mencius, Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu, Kojiki, Nihon Shoki, K-oki, Ofudesaki, Mikagura-uta, Michi-no-Shiori, Johrei, Goseigen, Netarean Shower of Holy Doctrines, Chun Boo Kyung, Kitab-i-Iqan, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Book of Mormon, Dianetics (Scientology), or Revelation X?!

    Believer: “Uhh…. well, no”

    Doubter: “Well, that’s an interesting admission!”

    Now, having said all that (and I hope you get the point), I have a standing offer to ANY creationist: I will read the book cover to cover ALONG WITH anyone who would like, and we can see what the results would be.

    Of course, I also remind them that one of the common reasons people have become atheists is precisely >>>because<<< they read it.

    "you'll discover that the book of Genesis makes certain interesting historical claims"

    Oooh…. really? And let me guess…… how could they have known….unless…?

    Yeah. Heard it all before. In fact, former believers are great at demolishing that nonsense. See Dan Barker, who was a preacher for many years and a devout Christian. https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Faith-Preacher-Atheist/dp/187773313X

    "Most serious evolutionists already know about those claims, and try to respond to them "

    Oy. Creationists are constantly spinning out nonsense. Knock it down and another batch comes at you.

    Reread that quote in my earlier comment and think about it: "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep."

    People fool themselves, and people fool other people. Get enough fooled people together and they'll say a naked emperor has clothes on! Don't you see that?!

    Doesn't Scientology look weird to you? Apparently it doesn't to them. For atheists, all magical beliefs are weird; you have to have a little understanding of human psychological needs to see how people get caught up in all of it.

    One last fun exercise fer ya!: If you’re a Bible adherent, how do you know whether Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, Byzantine, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, Anabaptism, Brethren, Methodist, Pietism, Apostolic, Pentocostal, Charismatic, African Initiated, United, Quakers, Couthcotti.tism, Millerism, British-Isrealism, Latter Day Saints, Mennonite, 7th day Adventism, Kelleyism, Co.oneyism, Shakers, Methernitha, Strigolniki, Yehowism, Christadelphians, Christian Science, doukhobors, Iglesia ni Cristo, Makuya, Molokans, Subbotniks, Ebionism, Martinism, Rosicrucians, Rastafarianism, Santo Daime, or Umbanda is the REAL interpretation of your God’s words?

    😉

    Folks, it's a social contagion; it's OK to see that and give it up. You'll be a better thinker, as so many former believers have said.

  • “If you’re that curious, get one and read.”

    But I’m not that curious! Since I was a wee little thing I have not had good cause to go reading ancient tales, except possibly for their entertainment value.

    I could spot nonsense at an early age, and nothing I have learned since tells me otherwise.

    Now, this isn’t an argument AGAINST reading a particular ancient book; for those who wish to know what it says and effectively counter it I can see the value. Many atheists are quite familiar with it, and were former believers, and they have confirmed my view of it.

    See my other comment about all the other possible books we could read!

  • “Why you should read the bible?
    To be an intelligent and well read atheist.”

    Sorry again, but wrong. While my specialty is not refuting the Bible I do quite well in debate & discussion with theists.

    And as you may have read in another of my comments, to be an an “intelligent and well read atheist”, someone could say I should read any of dozens of so-called “Holy books”. Have you read all of them? Can you effectively refute the Quran because you know it well?

    Or is it possible to spot the imagination of human beings at work when you hear of magical claims about unseen creators? Is it possible to have critical thinking ability and knowledge of human gullibility so that you recognize what they’re doing? From what I can tell, it’s rare, but I am fortunate in that regard, and was therefore not prone to magical thinking. I prefer to read books about science, although I have read many about religion, both defending and rejecting, and those rejecting religious claims are considerably better.

    As for your Bible quote, I don’t know why you would think that would convince anyone. And I don’t know why you wouldn’t simply provide the words that have “been written so that you may believe”. I’d be happy to read them!

    Right there, it says that there are such words somewhere; so show me?!

  • So you’re saying a skeptic is biased? How?

    Where do you get that impression from, and what examples of bias do you have?

  • “I will read the book cover to cover ALONG WITH anyone who would like, and we can see what the results would be.”

    Well, that’s an interesting offer, and it is not unreasonable. If you are actually serious about it (and it does take a little time to do this), just look at a calendar and then say what works for you. (Also, no pressure on you. Whatever part you’re able to complete, God can take it from there.)

    Oh, and to answer your other question there:

    Old Testament (all of it)
    New Testament (all of it)
    Talmud (couple snippets, just curious)
    Midrash (couple snippets, just curious)
    Quran (a few snippets for debate purposes)
    Book of Mormon (a few chapters; a small debate with Mormon missionaries)
    Revelation — Its Grand Climax At Hand (JW textbook, but don’t tell Jim)
    Should You Believe In The Trinity? (don’t tell Jim)
    Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? (don’t tell Jim)
    Watchtower (don’t tell Jim)
    Official Catechism of the Catholic Church (A few sections, various topics. Pope John Paul II was cool, you know!)
    Evolutionary Analysis 4th Ed. — (the snake-oil monkey-business religion)
    The Works of Ba’ha’u’llah (merely a few snippets, just to make sure the guy wasn’t endorsing homosexual marriage on the down-low!!)

  • You do not understand the dynamics of the argument from the perspective of a believer. Admonishing is called for in the biblical text as a tool to be applied carefully in order to teach and correct. As one outside the Body of Faith, the practice and obligations do not apply to you as they do to those within the faith..

  • But it is classic literature. If you don’t consider it important to read…don’t read it. But your opinion is not shared by scholars around the world. You can read a lot of literature for it literary value – art needs no justification. And literary scholars – even those who share your views – consider the Bible to have literary value. In fact – they even teach it in secular colleges.

    And a familiarity with world literature is by no means a bad thing even if you don’t agree with it.

    And so you should just continue reading books about science.

    My bible quote? I don’t think it will convince you or anyone – it was to demonstrate there was a purpose to John’s gospel.

    Now you seem to have all figured out. So good luck with your reading list.

  • “Internal evidence”

    Where have I heard that before? Maybe from just about every believer ever?

    Of course facts about the world aren’t determined by someone’s personal belief about something, or their claim to have a “personal relationship” with a person who died centuries ago.

    What is needed is the external evidence you also claim to have, but which no one has ever presented in an even remotely convincing way. So go for it! Win a Nobel Prize with your amazing contribution to human understanding! (I’ve always wondered why people who are so convinced of a god wouldn’t wish to convince the world in the way that scientists make discoveries. If something is true it should be subjected to the same scrutiny as any other fact claim.)

    I eagerly await your “external evidence”!

    And just for the heck of it, what is your “internal evidence”? Please tell me, because if it’s the usual stuff we can discuss why it points to nothing outside of your head.

  • Lol. By your own admission you haven’t read the bible. So first read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and then come back and we’ll talk.

  • Don’t misunderstand; I’m not opposed to reading any book.

    The reason I was never drawn to the Bible is because of the absurd beliefs it promotes, and the influence it has on gullible people. This doesn’t mean there aren’t a few interesting passages here and there.

    When you first encountered the Bible you most likely weren’t as alert to nonsense as I was. This seems clear from your comments.

    “And a familiarity with world literature is by no means a bad thing even if you don’t agree with it.”

    Exactly! And I AM familiar with it. In fact, over the years I’ve seen numerous snippets, such as a few you have presented here. In these discussions, Bible fans have repeatedly quoted it, and there are articles and other books which discuss it. It’s hard NOT to be familiar with it!

    I’m always fascinated by the strange things people will believe, so I read about all different religions, or weird medical cures like Homeopathy, not because I’m some kind of “seeker” naively trying to decide what to believe, but because human foibles are interesting to learn about.

    But when you approach god claims with doubt, and nothing you hear lessens your doubt, while much that you hear increases your doubt, you simply don’t have to go reading every supernatural claim in order to figure out there is nothing there.

    As my brother always says, “It seems the only people really serious about religion are atheists!” (No surprise then that atheists rank higher than most believers in their knowledge about religions.)

    “it was to demonstrate there was a purpose to John’s gospel.”

    What was that purpose? Was it “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name”?

    Great! So tell me exactly what words I need to look up and read! I’ll do it as soon as I get your response! Then, we’ll see if this “gospel” will cause me to “believe that Jesus is the Christ”! I mean, surely it must have convinced a lot of people, so bring it on and convert me! 😉

    And if for some strange reason it doesn’t, I can tell you why.

    Sound good?

    Last but not least, you say “Now you seem to have all figured out”

    Yeah, pretty much. Ask me whatever questions you want!

  • Love that one! Floyd said it too.

    I “admitted” that I hadn’t read the Bible! O……M…..G!

    But wait. What does that have to do with my comment above? I asked for your evidence, so what does the Bible have to do with evidence?

    Are you seriously saying the Bible is true because it says so….. in the Bible?!

    Lol all you want, but you’re the one who is being funny. (And extremely naive)

    So about that “external evidence”; got any?

  • We’ve all read snippets here and there of a lot of this stuff, but the difference is some people are naive “seekers” and others are simply fascinated by the gullibility of their fellow human beings.

    I am quite serious about what I offered! Let me know when you’d like to start. I can make a night or two each week to spend time reading, starting from the beginning or any passages you assign me to read. Your choice.

    Send stuff now and I’ll look it up and start reading! It’s all online.

    Be forewarned, however, that I will ask questions and make general criticisms along the way. And hopefully you will take the time to explain to me exactly why any given passage is important. Give me the full picture, and I’ll listen to or read it!

    2 predictions:

    1.) It’s doubtful we’ll get very far (though not on my account, since I’ll continue as long as you like, and read all of it as long as you continue to discuss it with me). The reason is that you may quickly see where I’m coming from, and why I am more than likely not susceptible to “Holy” books.

    2.) This will more than likely confirm my position. I’ll find exactly what I thought I’d find. (Just like reading a Scientology book or a book on witchcraft would very likely not surprise me!) But expecting to find something doesn’t mean I won’t accept a surprise.

    My email is fatmind at outlook. Looking forward to hearing from you and anyone else you’d like to have jump in and help me understand!

  • How would you know there are interesting passages? You said you have never read it.

    A lot of believers have been some of the brightest ever to have lived. I will name some if you’d like.

    “When you first encountered the Bible you most likely weren’t as alert to nonsense as I was. This seems clear from your comments.
    Probably not – since I was just an toddler. My mother use to read to me Bible stories at bedtime.

    Well, and I am sure you are superior to me in every respect. This seems clear from your comments. Lol.

    Sounds to me like you approach religion with a priori skepticism and dogmatism.

    You aren’t forced to believe what you think is silly.
    I disagree with your brother – but each to his own.

    Read all the words from the Gospel of John. I’m sure you’ll find more than enough words there to describe what it means to have life in His name.

    “I mean, surely it must have convinced a lot of people…” In 2010 there were reported 2.2 billion Christians. I guess that’s a lot. What do you think?

    “… so bring it on and convert me! 😉
    Lol…Bring what on? I can’t convert you…faith is a gift from God. You could read Genesis to Revelation and intellectually accept it as fact yet not believe in Christ. How can that be? Well, the scribes and pharisees had the Son of God in their midst and still did not believe. And why was that? You’ll find the answer to that question in your homework studying the gospel of John.

  • “Win a Nobel Prize with your amazing contribution to human understanding!” Well, I did win a TV back in the ’70’s. But I guess that doesn’t count.

  • O……M…..G! Wow! You believe! Boy, that was fast.

    “I asked for your evidence, so what does the Bible have to do with evidence?” Lol.
    You’re kidding, right?

    “What does that have to do with my comment above?” Ok, lets discuss Darwin’s Origin of Species without reading it.

    Ummm…It’s hard to discuss a book with someone who has never read it.

    Are you seriously suggesting I am going to use circular reasoning to prove the bible is true? Lol.

    “So about that “external evidence”; got any?” Just you. The bible says there will be people like you. But you read your homework…the gospel of John…and then we’ll talk.

  • “It’s hard NOT to be familiar with it!” If that were so, you would not have found it necessary to ask how Ben demonstrates his ignorance of it. It would have been more than evident.

    You’re an atheist so of course this isn’t for you, but this is exactly how so many myths about scripture get a foothold — too many people listening to ignoramuses telling them second and third-hand what the bible says instead of studying it for themselves, most of the time out of sheer laziness, and other times because they’re afraid of what they might learn.

  • Great! Resonating so deeply with Greg Boyles’ teaching (and living and working for) “kinship. ” Founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, Jesuit priest, author, tons of talks on Youtube. He’ll love what you’re doing. I’m forwarding this to him. So do I! Mary Rakow, novelist

  • “We can love and support people with same sex attraction without condoning homosexuality”

    You are saying, “We despise your existence and want to treat you as less than human. But we love you.”

    Kind of missing the point about love and supporting one’s neighbor by adding stipulations and carve outs for it. You are not really doing much here except to show the duplicity and lack of moral thinking which goes with certain kinds of Christians.

  • “…without lovingly admonishing them”

    Riiight, LOVING admonishment. That’s what it is among such churches. So who actually does that? Plenty of admonishment, but a lot of it is simply looking for excuses for malice. I certainly don’t see a lot of loving there.

  • My goodness.Why are so many believers completely unable to reason?

    “Lol. You’re kidding, right?”

    No. Why would I be?

    “Ok, lets discuss Darwin’s Origin of Species without reading it.”

    My face is hurting from slapping my head in disbelief! 😉

    1.) Darwin’s book is a SCIENCE book. It presents a theory about the real world and backs it up with mountains of evidence!
    2.) More important, the theory it presents DOESN’T REQUIRE reading his book or any other book from well over a hundred years ago! We can discuss the actual evidence for his theory using all the latest evidence and understanding.

    Scientists don’t stop thinking and investigating because they read some ancient book, unlike other people we know.

    Sheesh. 😉

    “Are you seriously suggesting I am going to use circular reasoning to prove the bible is true?”

    No. You are (“read your homework…the gospel of John…and then we’ll talk.”), since you think it’s important for me to read a book from thousands of years ago in order to come to “know” a god which the book claims to exist.

    “Just you. The bible says there will be people like you. But you read your homework…the gospel of John…and then we’ll talk.”

    The gullible believer, once again falling for an ancient book’s claim to watch out for doubters. Wonder why people promoting a belief would do that? “Dorothy! Don’t look behind that curtain!” said the Wizard of Oz. 😉

    I’ll read this “gospel” you’re so fond of, and get back to you.

  • “If that were so, you would not have found it necessary to ask how Ben demonstrates his ignorance of it. It would have been more than evident.”

    Here is what Ben said: “One doesn’t need a reason to ignore Jesus any more than one doesn’t need a reason to ignore any other o the gods of men.”

    Now, I take this to mean he finds ancient stories about gods to be nothing more than the active imagination of people. Care to tell me how knowledge of your book would change this?

    But before you reply, consider the great many atheists who HAVE read the Bible, and in fact in many cases were devoted believers or even preachers, such as Dan Barker, or Robert Price, or John Loftus, or all the former clergy here: http://clergyproject.org/ who can go toe to toe with anyone as far as knowledge of the Bible is concerned. Why do they confirm what Ben and I suspect?

    “You’re an atheist so of course this isn’t for you, but this is exactly how so many myths about scripture get a foothold — too many people listening to ignoramuses telling them second and third-hand what the bible says instead of studying it for themselves”

    Now read what you say in that quote above in light of what I said about all those former believers. Doesn’t hold up, does it? Did all those clergy members who wised up and no longer believe simply fall for “myths about scripture”? Did they not study it hard enough?

    “most of the time out of sheer laziness, and other times because they’re afraid of what they might learn.”

    That’s my favorite part of your comment! Love how you leave out the other option: because they are not susceptible to ancient myths about magical unseen beings.

    “Afraid of what they might learn”

    Oooooohhhh……. haven’t heard that one from a creationist since….. maybe an hour ago or so. 😉 Can’t you folks come up with some, shall we say, more credible defenses? I suspect the problem is bigger than that; you can’t because there IS no defense for belief in ancient myth.

    Why else would the believer ultimately resort to calling it “faith”?!

  • 1.) Darwin’s book is a SCIENCE book. It presents a theory about the real world and backs it up with mountains of evidence!
    And that’s great, Cp, but how would I know it unless I read the book?

    2.) More important, the theory it presents DOESN’T REQUIRE reading his book or any other book from well over a hundred years ago! We can discuss the actual evidence for his theory using all the latest evidence and understanding.
    Of course it doesn’t unless you are interested in the history of evolution and so you want to read one of its foundational documents. [btw he is on my reading list as I think it is important to read things like that even if it is dated.] But I used Darwin as an example…didn’t you understand that? Maybe I need to be more clear with you.

    “Are you seriously suggesting I am going to use circular reasoning to prove the bible is true?”
    You’re confused…I would never use circular logic intentionally. You must be thinking of some other believer. But not me. Not only that I know that with your intellectual superiority you would spot that in a “jiffy” –
    [The jiffy is the amount of time light takes to travel one fermi (about the size of a nucleon) in a vacuum. Planck time is the time light takes to travel one Planck length. Theoretically, this is the smallest time measurement that will ever be possible. (Thanks to your influence I just learned this. And so I copy/pasted it to show you my progress.]

    No. You are (“read your homework…the gospel of John…and then we’ll talk.”), since you think it’s important for me to read a book from thousands of years ago in order to come to “know” a god which the book claims to exist.
    You wanted the “words” so I gave you “the word”. In order to connect the evidence with the text…you’ve got to read the text. [You know, I bet you’re the kid in college who read only the cliff notes instead of the book, aren’t you? 😉

    “The gullible believer, once again falling for an ancient book’s claim to watch out for doubters.”
    Well, the CDC tells people all the time to watch out for various kinds of dangers. And doubters can be liars, you know, NOT that I’m calling you a liar – but yes you are a doubter – and the Bible does warn the believer of some kinds of doubters. But your dogmatic skepticism doesn’t unsettle me. Some time I’ll explain why.

    Now Cikkipop, so far all you’ve done is rant and spew invective. (I swan, some things never change with adolescents) So stop complaining and read the Bible. We can’t have a discussion about the Bible without you actually reading the Bible. Remember, YOU are the one who pursued the conversation, so you must meet me half way.

  • “How would you know there are interesting passages? You said you have never read it.”

    Guess you haven’t read all my comments here. That’s understandable; it can get pretty crowded on these discussions.

    As I’ve said, just about everyone has read Bible quotes. In fact, you’ve provided some here, and I have read them. I’ve also read many articles about the Bible, heard many talks about belief, seen many debates, etc. So don’t confuse my statement that I’d never sat down and read your book cover to cover with being totally unfamiliar with it!

    “A lot of believers have been some of the brightest ever to have lived. I will name some if you’d like.”

    This is another one you guys always stumble on. Here’s the problem: We know smart people can have emotional needs or character issues which drive them to poor decisions. We know people have a fondness for the community they were raised in. We know human behavior is influenced by many factors other than just intelligence; how else would you explain why so many smart people do dumb things?

    Now, here’s the bigger problem with the believer’s boast that “A lot of believers have been some of the brightest ever to have lived”: Not ONE of these people ever, anywhere, has ever — using their intelligence or expertise — provided evidence for a god.

    Once again, this fact shows that smart people can compartmentalize just like average people do. They can pray for a cure to the great magic man in their imagination, and go to the best doctors like rational people do.

    Take just one example of a highly accomplished man: Dr. Francis Collins is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute — what some call the most prestigious job in science. He led the effort to decode human DNA, along the way developing a revolutionary method of screening genes for disease. Pretty smart guy!

    He read “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis, and found it compelling. I read the same book, as did many other atheists, and found it entirely unconvincing and flawed. Here’s just one critique of it by someone who had been impressed with it when he was younger (and a preacher!), but reread it when he had matured: https://ffrf.org/legacy/books/lfif/?t=assertions

    You can read about Collins’ “journey to faith” here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/questionofgod/voices/collins.html

    It is as unconvincing as the cases made by those with far less impressive credentials. It is based upon >>emotions<>>without consideration of evidence<<<<, please do so! The fact is, it's precisely by considering all the evidence and arguments anyone wishes to present that leads to doubting fantastic claims.

    "I disagree with your brother – but each to his own"

    2 things:

    1.) Survey: Atheists, Agnostics Know More About Religion Than Religious
    http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2010/09/28/130191248/atheists-and-agnostics-know-more-about-bible-than-religious

    2.) To each his own? Sure; you have a RIGHT to believe whatever you wish, but for many of us it is just as important to have a REASON. That's why we don't say "to each our own facts"; either the evidence points to something or it doesn't.

    My brother is correct.

    "Read all the words from the Gospel of John. I'm sure you'll find more than enough words there to describe what it means to have life in His name."

    I will read it. Then I'll ask what words you found in it that convinced you that "life in His (with the upper case "H") name" points to an actual fact about the existence of something. (You can provide them now if you want! I've never understood how people could be convinced by something, yet totally unable to provide even a small passage which would intrigue a skeptic.)

    "In 2010 there were reported 2.2 billion Christians. I guess that's a lot. What do you think?"

    Definitely! And there are a lot of Muslims, and a lot of Mormons and a lot of Hindus and a lot of people who buy homeopathic remedies and a lot of people who practice witchcraft in Africa and Haiti……. on and on.

    Get my point? If the number of people who believed something had anything to do with whether it was true or not, this would be a pretty strange world, eh? 😉

    "faith is a gift from God"

    There's another believer gem! Always love that one! Guess this "God" isn't factually based after all. Could you imagine a scientist who's just figured out, say, plate tectonics, and rather than presenting actual evidence for his factual claim, he says "You have to have faith"?

    The believer is always darting back & forth in his justifications, first claiming there is evidence, then saying "faith is a gift from God". Of course, if there is evidence you don't need faith that something exists!

    "the scribes and pharisees had the Son of God in their midst and still did not believe."

    And you know this because, of course, an ancient book told you so. I mean, just because people were superstitious and far less knowledgeable about the world in their day, that's no reason to doubt their common claim about a god, is it?

    Heck, if they said it, it must be true! Says so right here in this book.

    😉

  • I’m referring to the biblical Adam and Eve, 6000 years ago per the lineage provided. Mitochondrial Eve lived 200,000 years ago. Please Google ‘scientific theory’ to understand how that differs from our common usage. The basic framework of evolution is well documented and it has benefited tremendously with the advent of DNA. Creationists want to generate controversies that don’t exist except in their minds.

  • “And that’s great, Cp, but how would I know it unless I read the book?”

    Guess you missed my point, particularly this one: “2.) More important, the theory it presents DOESN’T REQUIRE reading his book or any other book from well over a hundred years ago! We can discuss the actual evidence for his theory using all the latest evidence and understanding.”

    We don’t point to ONE book, and especially not an old one, to make the case for a scientific theory! We know a ton more than Darwin did back then, and have enormous modern-day confirmation of the basics of his theory.

    If you want to read his book to get an idea of the >historybasis in fact< is another. Surely you can make that distinction.

    Scientologists have a different view on reality. Have you read their books? Have you read any Hindu mythology, or the Book of Mormon? I don't know about you, but I don't have the time or inclination to know the history of every superstition to the point of reading every book that makes a wild claim, fascinating as it is to see the human imagination at work. I've always been an astute observer of behavior and I keep my eyes open, but when a Scientologist says to me "Well, have you read Dianetics by our founder L. Ron Hubbard?!" what am I supposed to say?

    "In order to connect the evidence with the text…you've got to read the text. "

    Great! I said I'd read it, but one small question: what evidence? If it exists apart from the book, and I'll soon be able to "connect" it, I should be able to see it now.

    "Well, the CDC tells people all the time to watch out for various kinds of dangers."

    Facepalm. The CDC is an evidence-based org. They actually use science. So tell me, do you really not get the difference between a religious cult telling its credulous flock to beware of the evil secularists who will go to a magical invisible undetectable place where they'll burn, and a health organization?!

    Goodness gracious almighty! 😉

    "But your dogmatic skepticism doesn't unsettle me. Some time I'll explain why."

    Great! But first be sure to read that definition of dogmatism I sent you! (And hopefully it WILL one day unsettle you, because that will be a sign of wisdom. It is a good thing to change course when you realize a mistake.)

    "Now Cikkipop, so far all you've done is rant and spew invective."

    Wrong again, but a familiar streak the believer goes on. In fact I've been strongly critical of your credulity and pointed out errors in your comments by quoting you directly and responding. I've sent you credible and thought-provoking links to read which represent my views very well. Believers never like that!

    "We can't have a discussion about the Bible without you actually reading the Bible. "

    You can cling to the belief that reading an ancient book will make a difference, while ignoring all the other factors (such as an upbringing which prepared you to believe), but I can pretty much assure you that going into it with a bit more questioning and a lot less credulity will not get me the outcome you have.

    Besides, once again, the central point for atheists is not any one book; it's the evidence-free claims about gods. The idea that we can't have a debate about that question unless we've read a 2,000 year old collection of stories is absurd.

    "But, but, but…. L. Ron's book! It tells us about XENU, the dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" who 75 million years ago brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as "Teegeeack") in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Official Scientology scriptures hold that the thetans (immortal spirits) of these aliens adhere to humans, causing spiritual harm!"

    Yeah. Sure, kid. 😉

  • Your entire post was mostly beside the point. We’re not talking about people who openly repudiate the Bible — I actually have no problem with that position because at least it’s honest. What I’m talking about is people who try to discuss Bible without having studied it, and picking up misrepresentations of it from others who haven’t studied it, and worse still passing on those misrepresentations to still more people who haven’t studied it. And we have many of those here, Ben being only one of the most persistent and verbose.

    For such a wonder in your own mind, your reading comp could use a little honing.

  • I quoted the one thing I’d seen Ben say >>>in this string of comments<<<. Any other indications of his supposed ignorance are beside the point, since people were responding to what he said here. If he's made other comments showing his ignorance, please present them, and present the comments of "many others" you refer to. I've never been here before, as far as I recall.

    I'll be eager to see how their "misrepresentations" change my views about god claims.

    "We're not talking about people who openly repudiate the Bible — I actually have no problem with that position because at least it's honest."

    Yeah, at least. And it's also far more compelling than any defense of the Bible that I've ever seen. Got one I haven't considered? Do you really, seriously think reading an ancient book will change my view about the likelihood of a god?

    "What I'm talking about is people who try to discuss Bible without having studied it"

    I discuss Scientology, Mormonism, Homeopathy and many other social phenomena without having "studied" their books in detail. I am suspicious of all of them and my suspicions are well-founded, especially given the testimony of former believers, who DID study their books.

    Have you "studied" all of the founding texts for every religious claim throughout history? Do you really have to in order to get the general idea? Or are you implying, as so many believers do, that if we just read this one important book we'd come to understand something we're not getting now? If so, I must remind you again that many atheists were former believers, and a great many of them said reading their ancient book was part of the reason they became an atheist.

    And again, about those "misrepresentations", what are some of them, and do they change anything at all with regard to the central claim of the existence of gods? Don't you realize the concern of atheists is far less about one ancient book than it is about widespread credulity & superstition?! EVERY purveyor of it always wants us to read their book!

    And many of us have. We've read both criticisms and defenses, seen many debates, and participated in many as well. Get over the idea that it's all about one book. The point was never that anyone should NOT read it, but that resorting to an ancient writing to find out about the existence of a god is a dubious tactic, as many former believers confirm

  • Your comments are growing exponentially. Why?

    But I will have to read A book – which was my point. But you missed that, I guess.
    “Great! I said I’d read it, but one small question: what evidence?”
    So…get reading and then we’ll look at the evidence. And do this too…jot down questions you have about what the text says.
    …Hindu mythology…a little but not much
    …Book of Mormon…yeah, I grew up in that tradition. Read it – most of it is plagiarized from the NT.
    At one time I considered majoring in mythology – they actually have degrees in it.

    Facepalm. Really? Why so emotional, Cp?
    “Goodness gracious almighty! ;-)” To be consistent shouldn’t you say ‘Goodness gracious no-almighty?’ ;-P

    ” In fact I’ve been strongly critical of your credulity and pointed out errors in your comments by quoting you directly and responding. I’ve sent you credible and thought-provoking links to read which represent my views very well. Believers never like that!”
    No, it has been YOUR sources, YOUR links…my sources say different. Battle of the sources. Your’s are wrong; mine are right. ;-P

    “Now Cikkipop, so far all you’ve done is rant and spew invective.” Quite to the contrary. All who read it can see what you have said and how you’ve said it. Right there in print.

    “…preparation to believe…” I’ve never denied that. Of course I was prepared. Don’t you remember I told you my mother read bible stories to me? A little more attention to detail here Cp.
    Oh and, by the by, that’s what I’m doing right now with you – preparing you to believe.

    “the central point for atheists is not any one book; it’s the evidence-free claims about gods.”
    I thought you wanted to discuss the Christian religion. The old bait and switch. Well, Paul the apostle was right there with you… I Cor. 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.

    And you promote yourself as an educated person? In order to have a discussion about the Biblical text you’ve got to read the Biblical text. Sorry, that’s how I roll.

    “But, but, but…. L. Ron’s book! It tells us about XENU, the dictator of the…
    LOL! SQUIRREL!

    Oh, you, kid.

  • “Your comments are growing exponentially. Why?”

    It’s called the Bullshit asymmetry principle (also known as Brandolini’s law): The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

    “Facepalm. Really? Why so emotional, Cp?”

    Facepalm. 😉

    “Battle of the sources. Your’s are wrong; mine are right. ;-P”

    Yeah; sure, kid.

    Apologist sources and “faith”. No evidence. No facts. Never any credible evidence FOR gods, so the strategy is to undermine science (which is what the judge at the Dover trial quickly understood). But make sure to read an ancient book! ……facep…….ooh! Stoppped myself! Don’t want to get too “emotional”!

    “Don’t you remember I told you my mother read bible stories to me? A little more attention to detail here Cp”

    Uhhh… yeah? I’m the one who recalled it in my comment. Seems the one not paying attention is you. And of course the larger point is how this “preparation” has a great deal to do with acceptance of otherwise untenable beliefs.

    Check out one of my favorite comics. This one is about a new poll result in England, about the rapid decline of religion there, and how “preparation” figures into its survival: http://www.jesusandmo.net/comic/pray/

    Damn those clever people! 😉

    “All who read it can see what you have said and how you’ve said it. Right there in print.”

    Yup. Full of pretty strong and well-deserved criticism of your beliefs. But it doesn’t surprise me that the believer always attempts to gain high ground by pointing out how mean and nasty those atheists are, all the while ignoring his own insults. The one I love the most is about how we atheists don’t WANT to believe, or investigate an old book because, as Shawnie5 said in this string of comments, “they’re afraid of what they might learn.”

    Good one. Atheists don’t want no morals and no rules. We just wanna be badddd!

    Not too much of an insult, right? We see it all the time.

    And then your own comments sarcastically alluding to my “intellectual superiority”, as if I’m just full of myself, while the believer is this humble being who thinks a god created him, talks to him in some form, and offers “eternal life”, and we just have to have “faith”, which of course is a “gift” from this magical unseen entity. The arrogance and self-centeredness is astonishing.

    Atheists just couldn’t make this stuff up! But you guys did.

    “preparing you to believe.”

    Yikes. If you were actually trying to do that, why are you so bad at it? Talking with believers is like being with a living, breathing advertisement about how NOT to think! If your religion is so good, why doesn’t it make you more impressive?!

    “I thought you wanted to discuss the Christian religion. The old bait and switch”

    I have no particular interest in the Christian religion or any other religion, and have never said so. (Reading comp not your thing?) I am, however, fascinated in the general phenomena of credulity and beliefs in magical things, and I like to challenge anyone who is in thrall to it. It’s a public service!

    “Well, Paul the apostle was right there with you… I Cor. 8:4 ”

    When in doubt, quote your old book! You guys never cease to follow form!

    “And you promote yourself as an educated person? In order to have a discussion about the Biblical text you’ve got to read the Biblical text. Sorry, that’s how I roll.”

    More reading comp problems, I see. I guess it confirms the atheist’s view that believers will insist on seeing what they want to see.

    Once again, for the reading impaired: Though I am perfectly willing to discuss your old book, I have never said it was what I wanted to do. It was your suggestion! My primary concern when I comment is to challenge people’s untenable beliefs and magical thinking. Sorry, that’s how I roll.

    Nice reply to the L. Ron example. None of that wacko stuff for you, right? Hail no! Smart guys like you prefer deep & meaningful poetry like this from John 3:36 (I think that’s how you do it):

    “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them”

    “But, but, but…. the Bible!”, says Harry.

    Yeah. Sure, kid. 😉

  • It’s immaterial to me whether you change your views about the bible or not. And if you’re interesting in the various misrepresentations of the bible, stick around a while and you’re bound to see some, or check out the comment histories of the more obnoxious trolls — not that you would be able to either recognize the errors nor understand the refutations of them with no background of your own. Beyond that, your verbosity is even worse than Ben’s and infinitely more boring. I wish you good day.

  • “If that were so, you would not have found it necessary to ask how Ben demonstrates his ignorance of it.”

    BO mocks Christians and the Bible at every opportunity. I simply corrected him at first, but he continued, so I decided to use the old “breaking a dog from sucking eggs” strategy. So every time he mocks Christians or misinterprets the Bible in an erroneous manner I take him to task on it in a style and tone of voice that he displays.
    I’ve had lengthy discussions with several atheists here who were forceful in their beliefs but respectful in their tone of voice. And I always learn something from them.
    So now you know why I said that to BO. (also I abbrev. so BO isn’t a double entendre.)

  • “It’s immaterial to me whether you change your views about the bible or not.”

    “Nah, nah, I don’t care what you think!”, says the believer child.

    “stick around a while and you’re bound to see some”

    Can’t point to any, but you sure are concerned about it! Not concerned about whether even an ACCURATE understanding of your book does any better for you though, are you? It’s always “misrepresentations”!

    Never mind those preachers I listed who got over religion, right? Guess they just misunderstood, and folks like you get it (even though we never quite hear anything even remotely persuasive).

    What a disingenuous bunch of whiners you folks are!

    Oh but I don’t have a “background” in your superstition! You just can’t get beyond that, can you!? Must be hard to accept that others had no need and were not susceptible to magical beliefs; many former believers have said so.

    And the verbosity? It’s what I told another true believer here; it’s called the Brandolini Principal (or the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle): The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

    You can keep your comments short and sweet and nonsensical, just like your evidence for the magic beings you have a special “relationship” with.

    I wish you a horrible and agonizing death. 😉

  • Sorry, but I’m not familiar with the guy other than the one comment I’ve seen which had no need of correcting.

    Anyway, there is nothing wrong with mockery of bad ideas. It certainly isn’t the ONLY way to deal with them, but as Mencken once said “One good belly laugh is worth a thousand syllogisms”.

    And I like this one from Jefferson: “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

    Mountebanks indeed.

    Hopefully you’re learning from me. We’re here once, and that’s it; why waste the one life you have believing utter nonsense instead of honestly inquiring and gaining real knowledge?

  • “So don’t confuse my statement that I’d never sat down and read your book cover to cover with being totally unfamiliar with it!”
    Ok, just be a little more clear next time then.

    “Not ONE of these people ever, anywhere, has ever — using their intelligence or expertise — provided evidence for a god.”
    And: Could you imagine a scientist who’s just figured out,
    So?
    This isn’t science or mathematics: If your standard for evidence is scientific accuracy well of course not. I’ve never said I have conclusive scientific evidence or absolute mathematical proof.That’s for the physical realm. It’s by faith. You could have the Son of God Himself talk to you in person (which according to the gospels, the scribes and pharisees did have) and you still wouldn’t necessarily believe – like them.

    It’s not scientific and mathematical certainty that that leads you to faith in God anyway. Paul the apostle stated that in I Cor. 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
    Now in reference to this text you’d probably want both: signs and wisdom (read proof/conclusive evidence) and you won’t get it. Why? I’ll let you read the text closely and find it.

    “There’s another believer gem! Always love that one! Guess this “God” isn’t factually based after all.”
    Well, I’m sure He is, if the Bible is accurate. We believe He created everything. And it seems that the entire universe runs according to information. In fact I read once that a geneticist said that dna is pure information. Since I’m not a scientist I’m not sure I understand entirely what he means, but it sure sounds like information is at the heart of all creation – information that is organized and with an end in view.
    But for those with your attitude see this text: Matt.13:57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” God withholds His presence from those with attitudes like your’s.

    So what kind of evidence would convince you? Maybe I can help you out?

  • And Mark Twain said “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

    Well, I learn from many here – you included.

  • I just LOVE how creationists will happily cite science when they think it helps their position, and ignore it if it doesn’t!

    Look at this one: “So it’s okay for science to have an Eve…but not religion.”

    Yes!! Because it’s metaphorical! The “Eve” they point to is an early human we descended from, and she descended from earlier creatures on the tree! That’s a big difference from actually saying a couple of characters were special creations of a god!

    And your ignorance about “micro” versus “macro” is quite common (once again, you folks love to pass around all these pseudo-arguments against science);

    Microevolution and macroevolution are frequently used as a false dichotomy by creationists, who say they accept the former and reject the latter. Biologists say that the two terms refer to >>>identical processes over different time scales, so there is fundamentally no difference.<<<

    Here's a comment on Skrell (another of your "sources" who is an ID nut):

    "Skell's claims are strongly disputed by actual biologists. For example, Nesse and Williams, in their book Why We Get Sick: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine, explain in detail how understanding evolution contributes to the improved practice of medicine. P. Z. Myers, in two different posts, has explained in detail why Skell is wrong. And Gary Hurd has also pointed out Skell's misrepresentations. Read this: http://stonesnbones.blogspot.com/2009/03/phillip-skell-liar-or-ignorant.html (Darn these actual scientists! When they tell you they're Curator of Anthropology, and Director of Education for the Orange County Museum of Natural History, you just KNOW they're biased, right!)

    When I mentioned this to the good Prof. Skell, what happened? Like the brave Sir Robin, he ran away in a huff: "As a follower of PZ you have no intellectual honesty. I prefer not to hear further from the likes of you. Sayonara!!!"

    Poor Dr. Skell. He's used to intimidating the rubes with his degree and his NAS membership. But when somebody who actually knows something about the subject is cited, he vanishes in a puff of smoke and three exclamation marks.

    Philip Skell – the cowardly creationist."

    Read a science book!

  • Great! Keep thinking about it!

    We both like us some quotes!

    Here are a couple of good ones:

    “I may be wrong in regard to any or all of them; but holding it a sound maxim, that it is better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858

    “Challenge a person’s beliefs, and you challenge his dignity, standing, and power. And when those beliefs are based on nothing but faith, they are chronically fragile. No one gets upset about the belief that rocks fall down as opposed to up, because all sane people can see it with their own eyes.

    Not so for the belief that babies are born with original sin or that God exists in three persons or that Ali is the second-most divinely inspired man after Muhammad. When people organize their lives around these beliefs, and then learn of other people who seem to be doing just fine without them–or worse, who credibly rebut them–they are in danger of looking like fools. Since one cannot defend a belief based on faith by persuading skeptics it is true, the faithful are apt to react to unbelief with rage, and may try to eliminate that affront to everything that makes their lives meaningful.”
    ― Steven Pinker

  • “preparing you to believe.”
    “Yikes. If you were actually trying to do that, why are you so bad at it?”
    I didn’t say I was good at it…and I didn’t say I was going to convert you – but I do what I can. I can’t convert anyone.
    “…why are you so bad at it?” And why are you’re a walking advertisement for a root canal? LOL
    .
    “When in doubt, quote your old book! You guys never cease to follow form!
    Well sure, its a great resource for that.

    “More reading comp problems, I see. I guess it confirms the atheist’s view that believers will insist on seeing what they want to see.”
    And I guess it confirms the believer’s view that atheists will insist on not seeing what they don’t want to see.”

    Once again, for the reading impaired: Though I am perfectly willing to discuss your old book, I have never said it was what I wanted to do. It was your suggestion!
    You’re the one who came on this thread. You have to meet people half way.

    If you wanted to discuss evolution with me I would need to read sources for the theory of evolution before I could intelligently discuss it.

    “My primary concern when I comment is to challenge people’s untenable beliefs and magical thinking.”
    That’s hard to believe.

  • UmmmHmmm. We do like us some quotes:

    “Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning…”
    ― C.S. Lewis

    “In the end, I came to the conclusion that the gospels were reliable eyewitness accounts that delivered accurate information about Jesus, including His crucifixion and Resurrection. But that created a problem for me. If Jesus really was who He said He was, then Jesus was God Himself. If Jesus truly did what the gospel eyewitnesses recorded, then Jesus is still God Himself. As someone who used to reject anything supernatural, I had to make a decision about my naturalistic presuppositions.“
    -Jim Wallace (‘Jesus Is Evidence That God Exists.’)

    “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.”
    -Frank Tipler (‘The Physics Of Immortality.’) Frank is a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University.

    “Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain.”
    -Alister McGrath (‘Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond.’) Alister is theologian, scientist, and a priest. He has delivered various lectures and presentations on God, faith, and science.

    -Alister McGrath (‘Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond.’)

    “Christianity offers a worldview that leads to the generation of moral values and ideals that are able to give moral meaning and dignity to our existence.”
    -Alister McGrath (‘Christian Quotes: Alister McGrath.’)

    “I remember how frustrated I became when, as a young atheist, I examined specimens under the microscope. I would often walk away and try to convince myself that I was not seeing examples of extraordinary design, but merely the product of some random, unexplained mutations.”
    -Rick Oliver (‘Designed to Kill in a Fallen World.’) Rick Oliver has his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Irvine. He is a member of the American Federation of Herpetoculturalists, the California Science Teachers Association, and the New York Academy of Science.

    Aleksandr (1918 – 2008) was a Russian writer, and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in literature. He was pivotal in revealing what life was like in the days of the atheistic communist Soviet Union. He is the mind behind his powerful book Voice from the Gulag.

    “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”
    -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (‘Voice from the Gulag.’)

    We can play Quote War…

  • “Ok, just be a little more clear next time then.”

    Couldn’t have been any clearer the first time, or the other times I described reading quotes, articles debates and books on the topic. And as I said, “Guess you haven’t read all my comments here. That’s understandable; it can get pretty crowded on these discussions.”

    “So? This isn’t science or mathematics: If your standard for evidence is scientific accuracy well of course not. I’ve never said I have conclusive scientific evidence or absolute mathematical proof.That’s for the physical realm. It’s by faith.”

    Yup. We know; it’s the special “Get Out Of Evidence Free” card you guys pull out.

    Sure; there’s another “way of knowing” and it’s by “faith”. With any luck you’ll grow out of your delusion, and >>>I promise you you’ll cringe to think you once offered such a silly defense.<<<>>provisionally<<< accept it. New information may alter the theory.

    Sorry, but certainty isn't a hurdle we have to jump.

    Being "led to faith" is not an objective for me. Either something exists or it does not. Faith is something one has when they WANT to believe something.

    "I'm sure He is, if the Bible is accurate."

    And one fine day a believer will manage to convey why he would think an ancient book making a fantastic claim is accurate? Is there any hope of that? 😉

    "And it seems that the entire universe runs according to information."

    Oh no….. not "information" again…….not that common misunderstanding….. f…a…c..e [email protected]!!!!!!! Now see what ya did to me?

    "God withholds His presence from those with attitudes like your's."

    Facepalm….. doggone you! I've lost all control of my facepalm reflex!

    https://www.google.com/search?q=facepalm+gif&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS688US688&tbm=isch&imgil=AaW2vk7dwcg5DM%253A%253B-fTGJTix6jDsUM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fgiphy.com%25252Fsearch%25252Ffacepalm&source=iu&pf=m&fir=AaW2vk7dwcg5DM%253A%252C-fTGJTix6jDsUM%252C_&usg=__LbxuntIT_RZ2423W2BJcc1VXoRY%3D&biw=1920&bih=974&ved=0ahUKEwizx6WvrZHWAhWH34MKHZGHC_QQyjcIVQ&ei=iVSwWfPeB4e_jwSRj66gDw#imgrc=AaW2vk7dwcg5DM:

    😉

    And psychics say spirits won't come out when "negative energy" is in the room.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=isn%27t+that+convenient+gif&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS688US688&tbm=isch&imgil=e2L6pZrnYXZ7VM%253A%253BMt-M60SUBQT-pM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.reddit.com%25252Fr%25252Fworldnews%25252Fcomments%25252F2o9ar5%25252Fvatican_finds_hundreds_of_millions_of_euros%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=e2L6pZrnYXZ7VM%253A%252CMt-M60SUBQT-pM%252C_&usg=__0SG43RhOwoxlh0jYC8wmifWK3gc%3D&biw=1920&bih=974&ved=0ahUKEwiX9MXdrZHWAhUD74MKHbUAAuMQyjcIRA&ei=6lSwWZfXB4PejwS1gYiYDg#imgrc=OGcSUMUcRdur8M:

    Just having fun here!

    But notice what kind of god this feller would have to be to "withhold his presence"? Kind of petty, don't you think?

    Look; it's OK. You made a mistake. But it's time to start cringing at the vapidity of this stuff and grow out of it! It's better out here in the real world!

    "God withholds His presence from those with attitudes like your's."

    Sorry. Just had to look at that one again. 😉

    "So what kind of evidence would convince you? Maybe I can help you out?"

    Uuhhhhhh…….. I've been asking for a couple of days now. It's what we do.

    But see, we don't have to specify what evidence it needs to be; what we need is to SEE some, just like the way evidence is presented for any concept which is thought to be real. We may have no idea how something will eventually be demonstrated, but a discovery is made and we can then test it and subject it to scrutiny, and if it survives, fine. I just want to know what is true, as best we can find out. I have absolutely no loyalty to an idea; if a better one comes along I toss out the old one.

    Once you get over the "faith" thing you'll be a much better thinker. Huge stumbling block for believers, and it's utterly ridiculous.

    Maybe I can help you out? We can have much more conversation if you'd like. Just don't get too upset when I get a little frustrated at seeing the same creationist nonsense repeated time after time. You'll see how it feels one day (with any luck)!

  • Painfully absent from these sorts of conversion stories are the specifics of the subject’s epiphany.

    “An in-your-face atheist until his early 20s, Schmelzer ended up in seminary–” is akin to Cliff’s Notes telling us the Romeo and Juliet were “madly in love and then died”…

  • My goodness I sure have learned to despise Lewis, or more precisely the smarmy word salads he put out to impress the home crowd with pseudo-profundity.

    “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..”

    Just the kind of meaningless nonsense that SOUNDS like it means something. But of course, humans are the creators of our meaning; any larger concept of meaning has not so far been discovered, and our tentative but reasonable conclusion is that we are the product of natural processes.

    As for the 2nd quote……Oy. (def: used especially to express exasperation or dismay) 😉

    Tipler, McGrath… know them well. Mega irritating and easy to spot their weaknesses. You can always find emotionally weak characters who try to dress up their belief to make it seem credible.

    Rick Oliver. Complexity. Complexity. OMG, complexity! How could it have happened? Another outlier scientist, which you can always find, but who never have any evidence, just doubt that so complex a thing could have happened.

    Of course it goes without saying that he can’t just be a scientist with ordinary puzzlement about a difficult problem in the lab. No no no; he’s a…..wait for it…..creationist! How convenient.

    People have a hard time with the concept that >>complex things can arise from simple things<<<. They prefer the "top-down" concept because it's easier to grasp and they think it gives meaning to their lives, but as has been said, given enough time, nature will do its own work, following the laws of physics.

    “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

    Of course it's possible they've forgotten him because there is no sign of him. In any case it's an absurd thing to say. Reminds me of charlatans like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell – please tell me these nuts aren't your heroes – who will come out with stuff like "Homosexuals are the reason god sent that hurricane."

    Can you imagine a god who lets himself be forgotten — because the only way to him is by choosing without any reason to believe he exists? And then all kinds of bad stuff happens because poor poor humans are wicked? Puh…lease!

    Atheists just can't make this stuff up! But you guys do.

    What a despairing and dismal view of humanity!

    We can play Quote War…

    Sure can. But what we can't do is get you to think about it; you have to decide for yourself to be honest and reasonable, and when you do, you'll recognize real wisdom. Glad to be of help!

  • It must feel like a root canal to hear your beliefs being shredded. Many former believers have said it was awful at first.

    But it was worth it!

    “Well sure, its a great resource for that.”

    No. It isn’t. Not in any way. Unless you’re going to tell me that, after all the quotes I’ve seen and all the discussions I’ve had, there is something buried in there that’ll do the trick.

    Your book is what you’ve been taught to refer to; for those of us outside of the cult it is nothing more than a historical record of what people thought about centuries ago, with bits of wisdom you’d expect, along with superstitious claims you can also expect. It is one of many “holy” books, and no more likely to be true than most other magical accounts from the long-ago past. That it became the source for the dominant religion in the world was a historical accident, and says nothing about its truth value.

    “And I guess it confirms the believer’s view that atheists will insist on not seeing what they don’t want to see.”

    I know you are but what am I?! Come on!

    You admit you’re only “seeing” your god because you wish to (“faith”), and then try to tell us we don’t want to see it?! Tell me something; what else in our world >>actually exists<<, but you only see it if you believe it first? I can wait.

    "You're the one who came on this thread. You have to meet people half way."

    Yup. And that's different. You guys said read your book, not me. All I've done is point out how utterly inadequate your book is for getting at what is true about the existence of an unseen being, which believers admit when they resort to "faith". It's an idea designed to keep the faithful in the flock. Don't look for actual reasons, just have faith.

    I never said I wanted to discuss evolution. I've repeatedly said I commented to challenge irrational beliefs. In fact, you mentioned evolution, from creationist sources who couldn't testify effectively in a court case that there was any merit to their claims! "Breathtaking inanity", the conservative judge said.

    Why do you say it's hard to believe I'm challenging beliefs? Just a joke, I guess. ;-0

  • Wrong. “‘Solus Jesus’ completely relies on the claims and authority of the Scriptures anyway” – is NOT what the two interviewers said nor the gist of this article.

  • Well I certainly hear about “showing concern for the souls” of others and “showing love to one’s neighbor” from that crowd. But it usually comes out in actions that scream, “I hate you and want to harm you”.

    If its love, it doesn’t need a special qualifier of “Christian” to be identified. Anyone would recognize it.

  • One woman’s ignoramus is another woman’s leading light. It’s all a matter of opinion, despite your claims to the contrary, there are at least a billion Muslims who think Christianity is a matter of opinion, and an ill informed one at that. Then there is half of Christianity calling the other half ignoramuses.

    It’s almost as if none of you actually know what you are talking about.

    Sincerely, your local ignoramus.

  • I don’t mock Christians and the Bible at every opportunity. That’s your story about me. I’ll leave that mocking to the True Blue Christians, such as yourself and Shawnie.

    I don’t mock you. I point out your inconsistencies. Tat you take it as mockery says a lot about you.

  • 1. Abiogenesis. It’s already been done.

    Bonus problem: no apparent survival advantage AS FAR AS WE CAN TELL.

    You should stick to your bible,

  • I doubt SB have the highest divorce rates in USA. Mormons are against divorce and majority Mormon Utah has high divorce rates. There are nominal, hypocritical, sinful people in any true or false religion. The Levitical commandments are not ignored, but understand as being limited to theocratic Israel only on civil/ceremonial matters. The moral law of God is not limited to Israel and is reiterated in principle in the New Testament (except the Sabbath that shifted to the Lord’s Day for the Church).

    Your revisionist view of Paul is refuted by Jewish, historical, biblical, linguistic evidence to the contrary.

    This is an expert scholar on homosexuality who deals with modern arguments that are not defensible.

    https://www.amazon.com/Bible-Homosexual-Practice-Hermeneutics-2002-09-01/dp/B01LP97GCY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1504757776&sr=8-2&keywords=the+bible+and+homosexual+practice+gagnon

  • My sentence contradicts your wrong assumption about what I said and believe. Christians do or should love all sinners since that is what we are/were too. The image of God is defaced, not erased. Our love for God and His Word is supreme and we should not condone what God does not condone. This is not despising or not loving. Telling an adulterer or pedophile that they are sinning, but can experience forgiveness is not treating someone less than human. It is not loving to let someone persist in sin that will be judged and likely cost them their eternal life in heaven. The same lists about adultery, pedophilia, divorce, fornication, etc. include homosexuality. We do not condone heterosexual sin in our family members, so why would be embrace homosexual sin?

  • The Bible teaches that even God disciplines His children in love when they are practicing destructive sin that robs them of abundant and eternal life (Heb. 12). If you are a parent or court judge, you should get this concept.

  • You are being shrill about hate and harm and describing the attitude of many gays to Christians. Speaking truth in love based on the truth of God and His revelation is not the straw man you are railing against.

  • Few Muslims who have not studied the Bible show up around here telling others how to read the Bible. In fact, I can not recall even one.

    Atheists who have not studied bible, however, aplenty. Funny that.

    As for other Christians…no, half are not calling the other half ignoramuses. Christians who haven’t studied the bible are no less ignoramuses than the rest of you — although it’s hard to fathom those who claim Christ not wishing to know the scriptures that reveal Him and that He taught from. Christians who HAVE studied it but simply disregard it have more serious issues than simple ignorance — but at least one can have an informed discussion with them.

  • Where do non-Christians fit into Solas Jesus? Are we still going to Hell because we don’t believe in Jesus?

  • Hardly. I have touched a nerve. Maybe you should be far more honest in your view instead of using false euphemisms to cover them up.

    Calling outright malice and bigotry “speaking truth” doesn’t make it so. Calling for the ostracism, discrimination, imprisonment, assault and even murder of people, as some Christians call for (and claim as God’s word) towards gays is not, “speaking truth in love”. Its malice incarnate.

    The world can do without that kind of “Christian love”.

  • This is exactly the kind of dishonest garbage I was talking about.

    You are not calling for the ostracism, discrimination, imprisonment, assault and even murder of people as Christians call for gays out of concern for their lives or their souls. You are just looking for excuses for treating people badly and using religion to justify it. When one looks at the actions of Christians like yourself, one can see the malice, the bigotry and the dishonesty in their views. This is not love of others, it is not concern for them, its not looking for forgiveness. It is deliberate harm out of hate.

    To put it mildly, you are full of crap. You are 1ying to me. You are acting spineless.

    “Christian love” like what you are advocating is garbage. Nobody needs it.

  • So you are god, parent, or judge of everyone else? No. You are just someone with no respect for the lives of others and seek to trespass upon them. A busybody looking to attack people and using religion as a pretext.

  • No actually I have benefitted greatly and am willing to continue. I’ve never gotten to speak with an atheist who can defend their beliefs like you. In fact I am saving your comments to study as I see your defense of atheism as a great case study not only in thinking through the issues but also in communicating beliefs. You are an excellent debater, and debate is something I’ve never studied. So let’s keep going. But it will have to be later as I’ve got to go to work.

  • You may be correct about the specific denominations. The studies do show, however, that the states with the highest concentrations of conservative Protestants have the highest divorce rates.

  • Good analogy. Although all brick-and-mortar retail are having problems, Walmart and Target seem to have found a niche. Walmart has rebranded itself as less rural and white, more suburban, diverse and overall cheery rather than cheap. Target has been discount chic for some time. Macy’s has its problems but will always have the holiday season to make up for it. Sears has been in trouble for decades. There are less than 700 stores left in the US. They and their parent Kmart failed to distinguish themselves and are looking at extinction.

  • Shouldn’t it be Solus Iesus? And wasn’t the “original Jesus Movement” 1,980 years ago, not 50?
    ok more seriously, while the Jesus Movement of the late (19)60s-early 70s petered out eventually, its legacy has been enormous. There are many Christian institutions today that trace their lineages and influences back to it.

  • The right words are all there, Spuddie, what’s the problem? – “embracing … without lovingly admonishing … is no solution”.

  • How much personal experience do you have within, or observing a specific church fellowship? The experience might prove illuminating.

  • It is a myth that we are not to judge. We are to judge, but not hypocritically or not according to truth. If God’s Word and the criminal justice system says that murder is wrong and you say it is right, then you are wrong, not those telling the truth. I fully respect people’s freedom and have good relationships with gay people. This does not mean that I have to condone, celebrate, normalize it based on conviction and evidence. The most strident, shrill, intolerant types are often the gay agenda that demands we accept perversion, while they want to rob us of legit freedom of religion, speech, etc. Grow up.

  • I am fully transparent in my view and do not condone the Ugandan approach to homosexuals. There are so-called Christians, a distinct minority, who fit your accusations. You are misrepresenting the vast majority and confuse love, truth, holiness, reality. You are a bully.

  • Well my take on such reactions are that the Christians who are “not all like that” need to be far more vocal and more willing to call out their more malicious brethren. Lest they be lumped together with them. If you are only coming forward in a defensive manner like this, who cares? Where was your voice when needed?

  • “Judge not lest ye be judged”

    “Do not pay attention to the more in your brothers eye and ignore the plank before yours”

    The behavior of others and their sins are not for your approval or disapproval. Worry about your own life and sins first and foremost before you choose to look at those of others.

    You are simply looking for excuses for untoward trespasses upon others and to stroke your ego with self righteousness. Truly loving behavior would not need such belabored and euphemistic explanations. It would be apparent to all. Just like hate clearly is.

    Your version of Christian love is better described as abusive malicious behavior.

  • Enough to know that people don’t need religious excuses or compulsion to act kind and loving. But they surely do for the opposite.

  • Of course it is. Ita called showing respect for people as people. Unless one is intentionally harming others, ones sins are ones own. Between them and their God. Unless you are the living incarnation of Jesus, without your own sin, worry about yourself first before going after others. Motes and planks.

  • I wonder…when tharticle states “Under his leadership, membership soared despite its location in one of the most secular enclaves in the U.S.” Should it read “because” instead of “despite”?

  • Please….hardheaded skeptics are equally capable of thoughtless, selfish, and untoward attitudes.

  • Been busy with real life the last couple of days.

    I haven’t answered each & every one, but that’s just from impatience with really silly stuff, like that Jim Wallace character: “I came to the conclusion that the gospels were reliable eyewitness accounts…”, meanwhile nothing he (nor anyone else) says indicates why. And this one, which is Chinese water torture, and for some reason has become super popular among Jesus folks because we see it so often, but it’s so vapid: “If Jesus really was who He said He was,..”. What in the world could that even mean??! As I’ve heard it said, “IF and a bottle of beer will get you a bottle of beer!”

    I answered Lewis by saying his quote was simply one of those “Christian Poster” quotes that sound pretty but are meaningless. I could expound by saying there is absolutely no reason, if the laws of nature gave rise to life forms and one of them gradually developed intelligence, that we could not explore our world and come to reasonable conclusions about it. You can’t just make a declaration without the slightest justification like that!

    Unfounded assertions just don’t work as quotes. They’re only passed around among the faithful as confirmations, but to outsiders they mean nothing.

    One of McGrath’s quotes at least makes sense; “Christianity offers a worldview…”

    Yeah, it does; but 1.) is there even the slightest reason to suppose it is true? And 2.) what does it actually offer that isn’t already available?

    We generate “moral values and ideals that are able to give moral meaning and dignity to our existence” because of our hard wiring as pack creatures, because of our intelligence, and because of our ability to learn from experience & observations. It is messy, and a constant source of controversy, because there is no instruction manual, but one thing we don’t need is false accounts which compromise our intellectual integrity and encourage motivated reasoning.

    We have 2 choices: either the observed fact that humans struggle with issues, getting things right sometimes and wrong sometimes, is because there is no external rule book and we are simply naturally occurring animals who should be expected to behave the way we do, or there IS such a book and we just don’t know of it. Where would such a thing come from? Certainly there are no religious texts which fit the bill, since they all actually contribute to the disagreements rather than settling them, claim unseen supernatural sources which have no known foundation in reality, and contain dated social mores one would expect of ancient peoples. I think the choice is pretty obvious.

    McGrath’s other quote, ““Atheism, I began to realize..” is just another self-serving declaration without any supporting argument. I’m familiar with him and have read articles of his which cause gnashing of the teeth. 😉

    Belief in gods because they offer tidy solutions to moral questions, and belief in gods because of bafflement that life could arise, are conclusions born of ignorance & misguided wishes. There will always be a percentage of the population that finds it difficult to grasp the notion that life is a “bottom-up” phenomenon, yet the more you look into it, the more strongly it is confirmed.

    I’d suggest getting “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”, by Dan Dennett, for a terrific explanation of “design” by nature over vast amounts of time. He uses an interesting analogy of “cranes versus skyhooks”; a crane is a device for building something from the ground up, while a skyhook lowers it from above. He argues that resistance to “Darwinism” is based on a desire for skyhooks. The book is not an easy read, but the effort is like muscle-building for the mind!

    https://www.amazon.com/DARWINS-DANGEROUS-IDEA-EVOLUTION-MEANINGS/dp/068482471X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504922760&sr=8-1&keywords=Darwin%27s+Dangerous+Idea

    Have you ever been to Barcelona? There is an amazing church there, designed by Antoni Gaudí, called La Sagrada Familia. Take a look at a picture of it, and then imagine a friend of yours, who happens to be a termite, also sees it and decides to build his own version. Now look at pictures of your termite friend’s work along with Gaudi’s, and read the short piece that accompanies it: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/02/13/evolution-mind-termite-colonies-termites-models-human-brain/

    Pretty cool! And your termite friend is an intelligent designer! 😉

    Now, does that >absolutely< rule a designer out? Maybe not, but I wouldn't subscribe to a worldview that promoted such an entity given that it is not very likely at best, and given that all religions clearly show all the signs of human invention one could predict. Religions were for the childhood of humanity, and we're simply beyond taking thunder as a sign the gods are angry any more, or adopting a mythical "worldview" because a Roman Emperor happened to endorse it centuries ago, thereby lifting it beyond the cult it had been!

    I'm an atheist because I don't like being duped, whether by others or by my own doing. All I care about is what is most likely true.

  • And that’s why churches infested with p*orn-addicts & marriage-infidels condemn themselves when they signed off on the anti-LGTBQ Nashville Statement. That’s my shorthand saying, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    Nevertheless, truth to tell, “embracing … without lovingly admonishing … is no solution”.

  • The post-modern mantra to not judge and to just maximize personal pleasure is not biblical nor helpful. Other contexts do tell us to judge and this context is to not judge hypocritically. We can say pedophilia is wrong, but it would be hypocritical if we were also doing it. It is not self-righteous to have disgust against pedophilia. The Bible/God consistently condemns all forms of heterosexual and homosexual sin as destructive and worthy of God’s judgment. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, etc. are in the same lists.

  • Christians do condemn the Ugandan approach, but this is not the same as condoning homosexuality. We would be against Islamic killing of an adulterer, but we would agree with them that adultery is a sin.

  • If you cited studies, are they credible and are there other studies that contradict it that are more credible. The commonly sited states that 50% of Christians divorce or that 10% of the population are gay or that there are 30% Christians (?) in America, etc. are all wrong.

  • Let’s cut through the BS euphemisms here. “Condoning homosexuality” means in reality acknowledging the existence of gays as people. “I don’t condone homosexuality” is the same justification for the Uganda law to the letter. You agree with the repugnant discourse but are just squeamish about the implementation…in public.

    Analogies to adultery and murder only demonstrate your moral background is arbitrary and non existent. Based allegedly on just a self serving interpretation of a religious dictate. Not on any reflection on whether an action is actually moral or immoral.

    A moral person who respects the lives of others would recognize their sins are their own and really none of your business to call out, denounce or use as a pretext for malicious behavior.

  • Post modern mantra? The Gospels are post modern? Those were the words of Jesus himself. Not Paul in his post facto letter writing campaign.

    You are simply looking for excuses to act in an abusive and malicious manner to others under a dishonest pretension of “love and concern”. When in reality it is just self righteous aggrandizement done at the expense of others. To denigrate and attack others to feel more pious and superior.

  • Jesus’ words are being taken out of context of other things He said and the rest of biblical truth. We are not judge, but not hypocritically or self-righteously. You are judging me every post and are intolerant to views other than your own. God is the ultimate judge, but we all judge and discern right/wrong/truth/error.

    My snide comment with someone who can dish it out, but not take it, is another social media issue or personal problem, not the reality of the principles that are defensible.

  • We should not condone and celebrate that which God says is contrary to His glory and our good. Some want to celebrate polygamy and pedophilia. I will not for right reasons. To not condone it is right, not intolerant. I have gay friends, co-workers, relatives. I love them and give them freedom even as I do with my heterosexual friends who also sin and do wrong. You have no objective basis for morals. The Judeo-Christian morality is based on God’s will, Word, character and is absolute. The same principles against same sex marriage and relations apply to opposite sex sinful issues. This is not arbitrary, but absolute. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, etc. etc. did stand for truth and righteousness and spoke wrath against hard hearted sinners to get them to save themselves, while they also speak hope and mercy to those soft hearted ones that yearned for freedom. I fear you do not know what you are talking about.

  • “You have no objective basis for morals.”

    Of course I do. It involves things such as not following arbitrary dictates which are harmful and hateful to others. It involves weighing one’s actions and results against how it impacts others.

    Let me put it to you this way, if you suddenly learned there was no God, would you go on a spree of murder, rape and theft?

    You are arguing that your answer would be maybe. Your argument really does religious believers a grave disservice. It gives the impression of them as craven sociopaths only marginally held in check because of a perceived divine leash.

    I can tell you my answer in a heartbeat, my desire to murder, rape or steal is the same regardless of whether anyone can prove the existence of God. Absolutely none whatsoever.

    Your arguments, which involve conflation of alleged sins is as relative, subjective and arbitrary as it comes. Unless you can evaluate an action against the harm to others, you are not acting in a moral fashion. You are applying using rules without reason, for its own sake. In this case, there is absolutely no harm whatsoever in consensual adult relations between two people. Saying God hates such things, doesn’t make it immoral.

  • I can’t help it if the plain meaning of Jesus’s commands and those given by his apostles are inconvenient to efforts to demonize people and justify trespasses upon others. He was pretty good that way. His followers, not so much.

  • This is a big philosophical debate in secular and sacred circles. Apart from a holy God, there is no objective basis for absolute morals. Atheists co-opting a pragmatic Christian view means they can do right, but the philosophical issue remains unresolved.

    The Bible (final authority) is strictly heterosexual and has always condemned all things homosexual. Judeo-Christianity has always defended this until the relatively recent gay agenda has moved the moral pivot points, even in too many churches.

    This includes a technical discussion of the philosophical basis/arguments about morals (beyond the scope of a post; you reject basic truths, so I will not waste much time). It is a tome, not a tweet.

    https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Apologetics-Comprehensive-Groothuis-2011-07-27/dp/B017WQPJZA

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