Making sense of the NT

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Sherlock Holmes
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Making sense of the NT

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Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Hello,

I've been debating (online) against atheism for many years, I'm very well educated in the sciences and to a lesser degree, philosophy.

However - and I know I'm not alone here - Christianity itself, the New Testament, remarkable and thought provoking as it is, and not questioning the legitimacy of the texts we have access to, I am ultimately deeply puzzled by it all.

Christ revealed some deeply profound things, completely dumbfounding prevailing Jewish beliefs and this goes in its favor, as it's sheer radicality is just not something I'd expect to simply emerge from prevailing ideas.

Yet it makes no sense at the end of the day, for example why go to all this trouble? the entire human race is in a state of anguish, confusion and beginning to collapse, why is that logically necessary as part of creation?

What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).

So that's my position, I'm interested in hearing some candidate answers!
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #81

Post by JehovahsWitness »

benchwarmer wrote: Fri Dec 31, 2021 10:18 amIf the person continues their ways, they are instantly vaporized.
THE GREAT VAPOURIZATION OF NOAHS DAY


Would holding the the world under the threat of instant VAPORIZATION have been a sensible solution to the wickedness of Noahs day?


No, this would have created "reign by terror" which history has shown us never ends well. A father that takes out a gun and shoots any of his children that question his way of doing things is better called a tyrant; rule by tyranny tends to create more not less corruption.

Further it would be naïve to think death threats change peoples fondamental nature. The truly evil never change even faced with death; like a desperate man with a gun that has already shot a cop, they are more likey to determine to go down fighting, taking as many with them as he can.

JEREMIAH 13:23 New Living Translation

Can an Ethiopian change the color of his skin? Can a leopard take away its spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you have always done evil.
A God of love would desire his subjects love righteousness and love each other freely. Instigating an "Orwellian" system of oversight could only cause the righteous to doubt Gods love and wisdom.


JW





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Last edited by JehovahsWitness on Sun Jan 02, 2022 10:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #82

Post by mgb »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Wed Dec 29, 2021 11:14 am What exactly are humans expected to do? it is far from clear (as is evidenced by the many doctrinal arguments over the past twenty centuries).
We are supposed to listen to God and live by His will and guidance. It is up to each individual to do this. If we do, things will come right.
Last edited by mgb on Sun Jan 02, 2022 6:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #83

Post by mgb »

TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:10 pm Aside that none but Bible - literalist believers would think that all humanity (but Noah and his family) down to babies that were rotten to the core before they had learned how to walk, were really bad enough to merit extermination, that they see no difference between doing it humanely (if there was no alternative) and doing it in the clumsy and vindictive way it was done and which God supposedly repented afterwards.
is, as I said, appalling.
Well, not all modern Christians are literalists. But in more general terms, I think modern Christians should accept that while there is much wisdom in the bible it is not likely to be the word of God from cover to cover. All kinds of additions and subtractions have been made and some of them make God look like a maniac. I thing both theists and atheists need to get over this. On the one hand atheists are bible battering in an attempt to pull the mat from under theism in general and literalists are trying to defend the indefensible. So many words are wasted with this stuff. Much of the bible needs to be left behind.

I believe that we have come to a turning point in history and this civilization will pass away; it is no longer viable. A new beginning will come for the world and God will provide a means of faith that is appropriate for the coming times. In short; it is a waste of time going over old ground that has proved to be too soggy for anyone to walk on be they atheists or theists.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #84

Post by TRANSPONDER »

mgb wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 6:40 am
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 12:10 pm Aside that none but Bible - literalist believers would think that all humanity (but Noah and his family) down to babies that were rotten to the core before they had learned how to walk, were really bad enough to merit extermination, that they see no difference between doing it humanely (if there was no alternative) and doing it in the clumsy and vindictive way it was done and which God supposedly repented afterwards.
is, as I said, appalling.
Well, not all modern Christians are literalists. But in more general terms, I think modern Christians should accept that while there is much wisdom in the bible it is not likely to be the word of God from cover to cover. All kinds of additions and subtractions have been made and some of them make God look like a maniac. I thing both theists and atheists need to get over this. On the one hand atheists are bible battering in an attempt to pull the mat from under theism in general and literalists are trying to defend the indefensible. So many words are wasted with this stuff. Much of the bible needs to be left behind.

I believe that we have come to a turning point in history and this civilization will pass away; it is no longer viable. A new beginning will come for the world and God will provide a means of faith that is appropriate for the coming times. In short; it is a waste of time going over old ground that has proved to be too soggy for anyone to walk on be they atheists or theists.
:D I can applaud your move from 'The Bible is true, cover to cover' to something like a more accommodating cafeteria Christianity, which is more reasonable, in a way...drop the unbelievable stuff and go with Believing what is still credible..and is a Belief that we unbelievers can do business with socially, practically and even politically. But I am obliged to say that it is not about searching for the truth but damage limitation for a religion that has been torpedoed in the credibility, and some bulkheads have to be shut and left to flood.

Bot OT and NT are open to critique. The Gospel -story has been taken as a broadly credible record (if not eyewitness) by both believers and non -believers. I won't keep riding my hobby horse, but some things that have been strongly defended as actual events are for sure now known to be fabrications (*kofff..nativities..koff*) and more and more will go. I believe in time, even if the time isn't now.

So while those "closest in love" (as the Quran puts it, referring to those it would prefer to eliminate) to atheists, Irreligious theists, Deists, 'agnostics', UR believers and cafeteria Christians, are all issued with invites into the camp of secular humanism (whether they take up the offer or not), it has to be said that it is seen (by me at least) not as a reasonable position on Bible credibility but a gradual (and probably grudging) progression to seeing that none of the Bible or the religions it spawned are credible.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #85

Post by benchwarmer »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:20 am
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Dec 31, 2021 10:18 amIf the person continues their ways, they are instantly vaporized.
THE GREAT VAPOURIZATION OF NOAHS DAY


Would holding the the world under the threat of instant VAPORIZATION have been a sensible solution to the wickedness of Noahs day?
Well, you conveniently skipped an important step in my proposal. Each and every person will have a DIRECT conversation with God about what they are doing wrong FIRST. They get a warning. Not some handwavy preaching from a religious leader. A direct conversation with God. After that, if they continue their ways, God follows through. Essentially, it's the same thing that Christians threaten (eternal hell, separation from God, whatever your flavor of Christianity promotes) except we get actual direct communication first, while we are alive, then reap the consequences while everyone else that is alive can witness what happens.



JehovahsWitness wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:20 am
No, this would have created "reign by terror" which history has shown us never ends well. A father that takes out a gun and shoots any of his children that question his way of doing things is better called a tyrant; rule by tyranny tends to create more not less corruption.
Oh the irony. So God giving direct, actual feedback and killing people now in the real world is 'a reign of terror', but if He does it afterwards anyways, it's all God's plan that we better be prepared for?

How about some scripture to set the stage for how we are supposed to think of God:

New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (2013 Revision) (see jw.org for your very own copy)

LEVITICUS 19:14
14 “‘You must not curse a
deaf man or put an obstacle before a blind man,i and you must
be in fear of your God
. I am Jehovah.
LEVITICUS 25:17
17 No one among
you should exploit his fellow
man, and you must be in fear
of your God
, for I am Jehovah
your God.
There's more of course, search for 'fear' in your favorite translation.

JehovahsWitness wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:20 am Further it would be naïve to think death threats change peoples fondamental nature. The truly evil never change even faced with death; like a desperate man with a gun that has already shot a cop, they is more likey to determine to go down fighting, taking as many with them as he can.
My proposal is not 'a threat' per se. It's a promise after a direct conversation. It will happen after an actual conversation with the one who will carry it out.

It's like telling your child that if they touch the hot burner on the stove, they WILL get burned. They try it, they get burned. No vague promises of consequences after you're dead.

I foresee a link storm of how 'fear your God' is not really supposed to be fear and how eternal (torture, hell, separation, whatever) is fine and God's beautiful plan.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #86

Post by Tcg »

mgb wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 6:40 am On the one hand atheists are bible battering in an attempt to pull the mat from under theism in general and literalists are trying to defend the indefensible.
Bible battering? What an odd term. Even if such a thing were taking place and even if it succeeded it wouldn't "pull the mat from under theism." There are plenty of theists whose beliefs aren't based on the Bible. Odd how some think that Bible based beliefs are the only form of theism.



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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #87

Post by theophile »

benchwarmer wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 2:37 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:15 am
benchwarmer wrote: Fri Dec 31, 2021 9:00 pm First, why was pharaoh's heart hard?
Yah I knew you would go there. This risks opening a can of worms, but we have different views on how pharaoh's heart is hardened.
I get that. I'm just reading the text in the Bible, not trying to make it fit a God that can do no wrong. Trying to interpret things so it sounds like it's always the humans fault is common Christian apologetics. To each their own.
I'm not trying to make the story fit a God that can do no wrong either. I've been saying all along that somebody (Noah) should have challenged God. That somebody (humankind; God; I don't really care who) should have done something about the situation in the first place. We agree on those points.

Granted, I do put more blame on humankind than God. But I think that's justified, again, given the (biblical) fact that the earth was handed over to us to rule.
benchwarmer wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 2:37 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:15 am Just to be clear, I don't subscribe to classical theism and God as some sort of omnipotent being (which a lot of your response implies). I think there are 'secular' (let's call it) lexicons or explanations for everything in the bible (including God). As such, I tend to bristle at any appeal (by theists or atheists) to divine (/magical) power plays to resolve conflicts or to create them.

A good example, how God hardens pharaoh's heart.

On this, ask yourself this simple question: what generally happens when you try to take something away from someone?

Heck, I can even use my dog's chew toy as an example! The answer: She clamps her teeth and locks her jaw... She pulls back! My action, in effect, hardens her heart and increases her resolve to not let go. To keep what is hers... (The fact that this is play with her makes no difference. It would be even worse if we were out in the wild and it was a haunch of meat I was trying to take!)

No different with pharaoh and the slaves that God / Moses try to take. The very act of trying to take the slaves away causes pharaoh to clench up. This simple (secular) 'mechanism' is all the bible is describing here. (It is not some magical God act to control pharaoh's will.)
Well, I can see what you are saying, but it's not God talking to pharaoh. It's Moses. So maybe Moses is hardening pharaoh's heart in your analogy? Why mention "The Lord" doing it?
It's just a simple fact of the matter. When I take my dog's toy, I knowingly cause her to seize up. So I can rightly say that "I will cause her heart to harden" just as God can say the same of pharaoh. God is simply predicting the outcome of what will happen based on knowledge of human (animal) nature, and the causal relationship between trying to take something from someone, and that someone seizing up.
benchwarmer wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 2:37 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:15 am Even better though is if we turn our criticism of God onto ourselves.

[snip]

Again, we keep throwing stones at God
This is not what is happening. I'm not throwing stones at God, being mad at God, etc. Common apologetic arguments that seem to always creep in.

What I'm saying is that we can tell this is not a god acting because it reeks of bad human solutions to problems a god would not let happen or drag out to such a length it required a mass extinction event. And even if a god somehow was busy somewhere else and discovered all the wicked humans, the solution proposed by the authors, is ludicrous.

The only thing I'm throwing rocks at are the authors of this story (and perhaps those that think this is 100% accurate history because their religious faith compels them to that conclusion).
Okay. You see the whole mess of Genesis 6 as evidence that the biblical God cannot be God since no God would allow things to get so bad in the first place. I get it. And like I said before, you're imposing a theology here (something along the lines of classical theism). One that we fundamentally disagree on.

For you, God must have the power, presence, and good nature to keep everything running smooth and in the right direction from the beginning or else God is not God. For me, this amounts to an idolatry of perfection. It's more the worship of a golden calf of power, presence, and knowledge (of good and evil) than it is (the biblical) God.

For the record, in case you want to go there, I think it would be great if God had all these things, but none of them are necessary for God to be God. I would lean more to the Process Theology camp on this one, at least insofar as it insists on an important aspect of 'becoming' to God. i.e., Praise Jesus if God becomes all these things in the end, but that is the work of history versus something we can take for granted from the beginning...

But look, if I shared your theology that God already is (or must be) a perfect being in order to be God, then I would reject Genesis 6 too. I really would. Per a comment I made before, I would reject the whole of creation if such a God was at the center of it all.
benchwarmer wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 2:37 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:15 am We are the ones responsible for the mess God sees when God wakes up... (Yet all we want to do is blame God for everything!)
Umm, "God wakes up?". Ok, that's a new twist. It says God rested for a 'day', not went to sleep and ignored the planet for a long period of time. If that's the explanation to make the story work... Ok... Not biblical at all.
So you recognize a clear biblical reference to God resting, yet the idea that God may be resting / sleeping is not biblical at all? Okay... I'm really not following the logic there.

But look, to abstract a bit, there is strong biblical evidence that God is largely absent from the scene (for whatever reason, call it God sleeping, God traversing the rest of the universe, God simply not being there, or whatever else).

Just look at the chapters preceding Genesis 6 and the flood:

Genesis 1: God is absent on the seventh day when God rests (humankind is in charge).
Genesis 3: God is absent when the serpent visits Eve and when Adam and Eve eat the fruit.
Genesis 4: God is absent when Cain murders Abel.
Genesis 5: God is hardly mentioned at all, and absent for all we know during thousands of years of human generation.

So like it or not, the bible is actually pretty clear on this. God is absent most of the time leading up to the flood! No apologetic trickery, just simple statement of biblical fact.

So you can ring the atheism bell all you want and say that such an absent God cannot possibly be God, but you cannot say that my view is non-biblical. :)

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #88

Post by theophile »

Tcg wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:46 pm
benchwarmer wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 8:54 am Apologetics on display. Always fun to watch. How this gains converts I'm not sure.
I'm not convinced that it does except perhaps in rare circumstances. It seems that the main consumers of apologetics are those that are already convinced that what it pushes is true.

Tcg
Well this sounds just a little bit smug and unfair.

For starters, can the same not be said of atheists? You too are failing to "convert" with your arguments. You too come into any discussion "already convinced" that what you're pushing is true... i.e., that Christianity is just plain wrong.

And frankly, you have it a bit easier than us (although I can't wait for the arguments against this one :))

First, your core positions - being non-Christian - are exempt from attack here by the very nature of the board. All apologists can really do is dismantle your attacks; we can't attack your core positions because, frankly, they are non-Christian and out of scope. That means you have much less of a burden to defend, and a much higher surface area to attack than we do. Which makes it harder for us and easier for you.

Second, you benefit from power in numbers. By that I mean, while apologists are all united in defending their Christian views, we all have wildly different views on what it means to be Christian (an accurate point that atheists often make themselves). This creates more disunity on our side than yours, where there is a much simpler position to share and galvanize around, i.e., that Christianity (whatever variant on offer) is just plain wrong.

(An interesting evidence to consider for this is in 'likes' given to posts. This is more personal observation than factual analysis, but I would think it is much easier for an atheist to 'like' another atheist's post that takes down a Christian position than it is for, say, me, to 'like' another theist's post no matter how well presented. This is largely because there's a good chance I don't agree with that theist in the first place given the wide disparity in Christian views, and you're all of the same mind from the get-go that any argument for Christianity is bunk.)

Anyways. All of this is meant in the spirit of good discussion. And the hope that we can all do better for each other here.
Last edited by theophile on Sun Jan 02, 2022 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #89

Post by benchwarmer »

theophile wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 9:32 am
So you can ring the atheism bell all you want and say that such an absent God cannot possibly be God, but you cannot say that my view is non-biblical. :)
To be fair, just about any view can be made 'biblical'. That is the joy of interpreting scripture. Here are some that refute the above, but as always, open to interpretation.

(bolding mine)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=NIV
Proverbs 15:3
New International Version
3 The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?s ... ersion=NIV
1 Chronicles 28:9
New International Version
9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

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Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #90

Post by JoeyKnothead »

JehovahsWitness wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 4:20 am ...
No, this would have created "reign by terror" which history has shown us never ends well. A father that takes out a gun and shoots any of his children that question his way of doing things is better called a tyrant; rule by tyranny tends to create more not less corruption.
Yeah, that whole "lake of fire" deal ain't it a terror.
Further it would be naïve...
To think a god one can't show exists gives him a dang one can't show he does.
...to think death threats change peoples fundamental nature. The truly evil never change even faced with death; like a desperate man with a gun that has already shot a cop, they are more likey to determine to go down fighting, taking as many with them as he can.
Yet the bible's all about stoning folks just cause they kissed em someone the christian gets upset about em, the doing it.

Christians have absolutely no moral authority on matters of morals, unless and until they renounce their 'sacred' texts.
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Invention is using things discovered.

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