Making sense of the NT

Argue for and against Christianity

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply
User avatar
Sherlock Holmes
Under Suspension
Posts: 1532
Joined: Wed Dec 29, 2021 10:42 am
Has thanked: 40 times
Been thanked: 75 times

Making sense of the NT

Post #1

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.

User avatar
theophile
Guru
Posts: 1215
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:09 pm
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 79 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #91

Post by theophile »

benchwarmer wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 11:05 am
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.
There is no joy in interpreting scripture just to validate one's own views. The writers meant something, and the joy is in finding out what.

We need to use evidence such as you presented here, and I presented earlier, to arrive at the truth of the matter. A view that accounts for everything said.

mgb
Guru
Posts: 1666
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Europe
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #92

Post by mgb »

Tcg wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 8:45 am
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.
All too often people argue against theism and belief in God by pointing out the bad pages in the bible. They are not the same thing.

mgb
Guru
Posts: 1666
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Europe
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #93

Post by mgb »

TRANSPONDER wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 6:58 amare 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.
I would not reject all of the bible just because there are distortions in it and it is a sweeping statement to say any religion is not credible. Humanism will not suffice because mankind needs a light above the world if it to ascend. Humanist lights within the world will not raise humanity above the mire. It will descend. It is descending.

TRANSPONDER
Guru
Posts: 1985
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:05 am
Has thanked: 263 times
Been thanked: 943 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #94

Post by TRANSPONDER »

mgb wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 12:24 pm
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 6:58 amare 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.
I would not reject all of the bible just because there are distortions in it and it is a sweeping statement to say any religion is not credible. Humanism will not suffice because mankind needs a light above the world if it to ascend. Humanist lights within the world will not raise humanity above the mire. It will descend. It is descending.

Well that's a 'sweeping statement' and no error. It's the problem I was pointing up. Humanism aims at what seems possible for ourselves. It doesn't insist on angelic perfection or a Fail. Not that I have been overly impressed by the results of Christian morality on the whole. I have met some nice guys though the niceness tends to have an element of sueoror smugness and the smile gets wiped off their face quick enough when a preaching or lecture faces a few questions.

Such as Bible reliability. And there are some 'true' things in there for sure, on evidence. The siege of Jerusalem and of Tyre; the conquest of Babylon by Persia, the census of Quirinus and I think the crucifixion and even the Exodus. But the thing is, I think they are invalidated by polemic tweaking. I discussed the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem with otseng and he made the best case possible. Indeed, not long after, I watched a video on the Assyrians and it dealt with that event. But it repeated the Bible account without question or comment. It is laid out as though Hezikiah submitted to Sewnnacherib and paid tribute - just as the Assyrian account says. Then the king sent deputies to Jerusalem to demand surrender while Lachish was being reduced. The Assyrian army was 'smitten' and they told the king (who was then investing Libnah) and he retreated, Hallelujiah.

I'm sure you can see the problem. The Assyrian account is that Sennacherib reduced Lacish and demanded surrender from Hezekiah who submitted and paid tribute. THEN Sennacherib marched off and got on with the campaign against the other members of the coalition against Assyria. I'm inclined to credit that and not the Biblical tweak to make it seem as though God saved them. And that's most Historical bit that I know. Mind, I suspect that Sennacherib's account was face -saving. He'd had to do a deal.

The way I consider religions may seem sweeping to you; I regard it as approaching them in the same way. The Theist claim is made. I say: 'what's your evidence?' It won't surprise you that Christianity on the face of it seems the most historically credible of them all other than the Quran close behind and then the book on the Buddha. If the Bible goes down (in my view) why should I credit the others? Christians don't.

User avatar
theophile
Guru
Posts: 1215
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:09 pm
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 79 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #95

Post by theophile »

TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:13 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 3:17 pm
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 1:13 pm :P Maybe I overreacted. Yes, it is 'thought experiment' going on. The whole idea is pretty horrible even for humans let alone a supposedly superior god. It still strikes me that unless a god was evil, incompetent or stupid, none of Genesis could happen. Trying to explain it to be acceptable if not credible, just grated on me, even as a hypothetical. Or mythological.
Remove God (and any presuppositions we have about God) for a moment. Simplify things down to the essence of the problem that Genesis 6 is presenting.

i.e., Imagine you encountered a world (in your sojourns through space), and all that you saw in its inhabitants was evil. Pure wickedness and corruption through and through. No rational distinction to be made between babies and adults, humans and animals. Just corrupted life everywhere. All rotten to the core.

What would you do?
That particular thought experiment must assume my having the same powers as God and thus assumptions have to be made about what powers God has.
Absolutely. And if you want to get metaphysical we can. I would just generalize to power though to keep things simple. i.e., Whatever you can do about the situation, like God, who as we know from Genesis 1 can command the deep to hold back its waters, and as such can presumably have them released.
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:13 pmGiven the ability to do everything I'd find a more humane way to do it than drowning, and I wouldn't take the rest of creation down with Man.
Then you would have made a much better Noah, and perhaps even God in the process. If there was a way to save any part of creation, any innocent life, then it should have been called for and done.

TRANSPONDER
Guru
Posts: 1985
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:05 am
Has thanked: 263 times
Been thanked: 943 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #96

Post by TRANSPONDER »

theophile wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:02 pm
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:13 pm
theophile wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 3:17 pm
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 1:13 pm :P Maybe I overreacted. Yes, it is 'thought experiment' going on. The whole idea is pretty horrible even for humans let alone a supposedly superior god. It still strikes me that unless a god was evil, incompetent or stupid, none of Genesis could happen. Trying to explain it to be acceptable if not credible, just grated on me, even as a hypothetical. Or mythological.
Remove God (and any presuppositions we have about God) for a moment. Simplify things down to the essence of the problem that Genesis 6 is presenting.

i.e., Imagine you encountered a world (in your sojourns through space), and all that you saw in its inhabitants was evil. Pure wickedness and corruption through and through. No rational distinction to be made between babies and adults, humans and animals. Just corrupted life everywhere. All rotten to the core.

What would you do?
That particular thought experiment must assume my having the same powers as God and thus assumptions have to be made about what powers God has.
Absolutely. And if you want to get metaphysical we can. I would just generalize to power though to keep things simple. i.e., Whatever you can do about the situation, like God, who as we know from Genesis 1 can command the deep to hold back its waters, and as such can presumably have them released.
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:13 pmGiven the ability to do everything I'd find a more humane way to do it than drowning, and I wouldn't take the rest of creation down with Man.
Then you would have made a much better Noah, and perhaps even God in the process. If there was a way to save any part of creation, any innocent life, then it should have been called for and done.
I don't know about metaphysical. I'm just keeping the two examples the same. If I don't have God's powers (in the mind -experiment), how can you ask me how I'd do it better? For the rest. Absolutely. The question that atheist apologetics has posed is; given a Creator that made everything, knows everything and can do anything, wouldn't starting with Noah rather than Adam have been a better bet? Aside from that, just Oblivion for the wicked and save the blameless to heaven which I guess is current Christian theology on babies that die before they become morally responsible. Noah inhabits a world that is not destroyed and Theist apologetics don't have to rack their brains about what the heck they found to eat.

If God wants my advice about a revision of his Book, my consultancy fees are reasonable.

mgb
Guru
Posts: 1666
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Europe
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #97

Post by mgb »

TRANSPONDER wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 1:47 pmWell that's a 'sweeping statement' and no error. It's the problem I was pointing up. Humanism aims at what seems possible for ourselves. It doesn't insist on angelic perfection or a Fail. Not that I have been overly impressed by the results of Christian morality on the whole.
Humanist morality is largely inherited from Christianity. Modern so called humanist societies are still largely Christian by way of this inheritance. As for a humanist world - we could never agree. The world is darkening and I don't see how humanism will save it. Have you noticed that as soon as a society becomes affluent hedonism sets in? Drugs, booze, self indulgence. How does humanism view human nature and the tendency for humans to be selfish? Proper religion encourages people to go beyond self-service and we must do this if we are not to revert to being beasts. There must be a reason to go beyond being merely human and religion provides this. There must be a light above the world or we will descend.

User avatar
theophile
Guru
Posts: 1215
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:09 pm
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 79 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #98

Post by theophile »

mgb wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:26 pm There must be a reason to go beyond being merely human and religion provides this. There must be a light above the world or we will descend.
We are called to be lights to the world in the bible, are we not? You may be underselling our human potential. Christ after all is the key, and he was human.

mgb
Guru
Posts: 1666
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Location: Europe
Has thanked: 7 times
Been thanked: 21 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #99

Post by mgb »

theophile wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:33 pm
mgb wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:26 pm There must be a reason to go beyond being merely human and religion provides this. There must be a light above the world or we will descend.
We are called to be lights to the world in the bible, are we not? You may be underselling our human potential. Christ after all is the key, and he was human.
But the light comes to us from above. It is our job to bring it into the world.

User avatar
theophile
Guru
Posts: 1215
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:09 pm
Has thanked: 39 times
Been thanked: 79 times

Re: Making sense of the NT

Post #100

Post by theophile »

TRANSPONDER wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:16 pm I don't know about metaphysical. I'm just keeping the two examples the same. If I don't have God's powers (in the mind -experiment), how can you ask me how I'd do it better?
Use known God powers. Preferably from Genesis 1-5, which sets the context for any power God may have in Genesis 6. Like I mentioned, power to hold back the deep / waters. Which is what God actually used.
TRANSPONDER wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 2:16 pm The question that atheist apologetics has posed is; given a Creator that made everything, knows everything and can do anything, wouldn't starting with Noah rather than Adam have been a better bet? Aside from that, just Oblivion for the wicked and save the blameless to heaven which I guess is current Christian theology on babies that die before they become morally responsible.
At least God's answer contains things to the current, corrupt generation. You are proposing an expanded scope of destruction to include all the generations before.

That sounds way more horrible to me.

Post Reply