If all you knew about Jesus

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Elijah John
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If all you knew about Jesus

Post #1

Post by Elijah John »

It is said that the apostle Paul never met Jesus in the flesh, only in a vision.

Yet he preached "Christ crucified".

Question for debate, if all you knew about Jesus was that he "died for your sins" would that be enough for salvation?

If you knew nothing of Jesus teachings, nothing of his vision of right and wrong, would it be enough just to believe that he died for you?

What does conventional, orthodox Christianity teach?
My theological positions:

-God created us in His image, not the other way around.
-The Bible is redeemed by it's good parts.
-Pure monotheism, simple repentance.
-YHVH is LORD
-The real Jesus is not God, the real YHVH is not a monster.
-Eternal life is a gift from the Living God.
-Keep the Commandments, keep your salvation.
-I have accepted YHVH as my Heavenly Father, LORD and Savior.

I am inspired by Jesus to worship none but YHVH, and to serve only Him.

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Post #21

Post by oldbadger »

Saul/Paul was simply a contract-busting deceiver.
And travelling North to Damascus he had this blinding idea about what to do next.
And then he made up all these crazy rules..... nothing to do with Yeshua.

And poor John, writing circa 80 years after Yeshua's death, writing such strange timelines and compilations. And such strange stories to elevate Yeshua into a Christ.

........... and then, when Christians want to make a strong point, they quite often quote one or the other.

???????????

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #22

Post by dio9 »

[Replying to Elijah John]

Clearly Jesus' death and resurrection was not enough. His resurrection began a prolongation of God's grace , carried out by Christians. If you believe Jesus came to establish an earthly nation and world , we are not there yet. Hiss mission is not finished. The only thing all biblical scholars can agree on is Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand , meaning in his lifetime his now. His death on the cross was not enough . What we have instead is an imperfect alternative history . The revelation of God to Mankind is incomplete.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #23

Post by anontheist »

dio9 wrote: [Replying to Elijah John]

Clearly Jesus' death and resurrection was not enough. His resurrection began a prolongation of God's grace , carried out by Christians. If you believe Jesus came to establish an earthly nation and world , we are not there yet. Hiss mission is not finished. The only thing all biblical scholars can agree on is Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God was at hand , meaning in his lifetime his now. His death on the cross was not enough . What we have instead is an imperfect alternative history . The revelation of God to Mankind is incomplete.
You use the term "clearly," but what is your source and how do you know it is true?
I only want to believe what is true.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #24

Post by Tired of the Nonsense »

Volbrigade wrote: "And I see those (Paul's) writings dovetail perfectly with the writings of 39 other authors, spread across at least 17 millennia, the collection of which comprises an integrated message system which authenticates itself as having extra-terrestrial origins in a number of ways: symbolic and idiomatic consistency; thematic unity; macro- and micro coding elements that feature cryptological elements far outside the capabilities of our most sophisticated information technology, or any possibility of chance occurrence; and the foretelling of events centuries before their occurrence -- a quality reserved for an entity which is outside our time domain."
May I assume that you are suggesting that these 40 authors were all inspired to accurately set down His Will and His Intentions? And therefore these works, inspired by God Himself, are completely valid in every way? Or is there any wiggle room in that declaration?
Volbrigade wrote: Paul was indeed wrong once. In persecuting the followers of Christ; and in so doing, persecuting Christ himself. He wrote copiously of his mistake in doing so; and elegantly of the reasons for faith in the risen Jesus.
The point is, Paul was absolutely certain that he was right in what he believed, and in what he was doing. Until he changed his mind and rotated his beliefs 180 degrees. And then, now working under an entirely new theory of what was true and valid, Paul declared himself to be absolutely certain about what he believed and what he was doing. You are absolutely certain that what you believe and what you are doing is true and valid. Do you see a chance, at least, that you are wrong? And why do you know that what you believe is THE real and valid truth? Because you personally feel it in your heart? Why do you suppose that anyone else should find that especially compelling?
Volbrigade wrote: Dead religions are not what's under discussion here. Both Judaism, and the belief in Jesus, are alive and kicking. Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism; He is the expression of God to us, and our Savior. But God is not done with Judaism yet -- or, at least, with the Jewish people, to whom He has made promises that have yet to be fulfilled.
The point of bringing up dead religions is that the people that subscribed to those religions were absolutely certain that they were right in what they believed and in what they were doing. Yet the nonsense they once believed in is now as dead as they are. Imagine their stunned shock if they could be brought back and shown that everything they once believed to be true and valid, their entire world view, was nothing but nonsense all along. "I pity the fools..."
Volbrigade wrote: And God always keeps His promises. Another topic, to be sure.
I hear this one often. I am unclear on exactly how God goes about making promises in the first place. What I notice is other people making promises in God's name. Promises never actually made by God Himself at all are the easiest promises to be kept, you see.
Volbrigade wrote: The reason Judaism and Christianity -- which is the subject of this site -- are so gloriously alive and "remembered" is because of their spiritual validity.


That's your opinion. But you see, those that follow other beliefs have their opinions too, which they hold with the utmost of sincerity. Like the practitioners of those dead religions, you are suggesting that despite the fact that those others who subscribe to an entirely different set of beliefs from you and are as absolutely certain that they are right in what they believe and in what they are doing as you are, they are all just flat wrong. Because what you believe and what you are doing is the REAL truth. Well, that's mighty smug of you. You can see how this becomes nothing but background noise for someone like me who subscribes to no religious beliefs at all. By "background noise" I mean that one persons utter nonsense is much the same as another person's utter nonsense. The claims of each may be drastically different. But nonsense is still nonsense.
Volbrigade wrote: And spiritual trumps physical any day of the week. And, you might say, "twice on Sundays."

This is another way of saying that what you make up in your head has move validity then things which are physical do. Or another way of putting it is that you are claiming that make believe has more validity that reality does. Which is like saying that it is your dreams are real, and the waking world is the one that is illusion. Well, perhaps you are right. I notice though that in my dreams I am able to accomplish virtually anything I want to. In the waking world, not so much. I have won the lottry repeatedly in my dreams. Then I wake up and I am right back in physical reality. The waking world provides a certain predicable continuity that the dream world simply does not. I also notice that individuals who consistently live in the world of their imagination while awake are considered mad, and require care.
Volbrigade wrote: We're not talking about what I believe, here. We're talking about the nature of the truth claim made by Jesus, and adhered to my His followers: the the God of Heaven and Earth became a man: not in a fable, or even during a fabled time; but was born as a specific infant who grew to be a specific man at a specific time and place in history. A man who attended feasts that are still part of the Jewish calendar; walked the dusty roads of Judea and Samaria, and went to Jerusalem, a Roman provincial outpost, at the "appointed times".
Notice how you claim to not be "talking about what I believe, here," and then you immediately jump into a statement of your personal belief.
Volbrigade wrote: And that man was Jesus, who died a substitutionary atoning death, and was resurrected 3 days later, during the tenures of Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiphas.
Or... the story was nothing but a false rumor that was spread around by his followers after after his execution and no ACTUAL resurrection from the dead ever occurred. Something which would be entirely consistent with the activities of actual dead people around the world and throughout history. And again, this is something that you believe to be true and have claimed to be true. Yet the claim violates all observation, experience and common sense. That certainly would SEEM to open the door to reasonable doubt.
Volbrigade wrote: That claim is categorically different from any other claim. And certainly from the Muslim/Mormon ones, which are rather tame by comparison -- "an angel told me something" -- and similar to each other.
Actually the claim that the corpse of Jesus came back to life and flew away is comparable to claiming that Santa has a team of flying reindeer. Both claims appear to be utter nonsense based on all experience and observation. And it should be noticed that at the end of the day, no one has produced an ACTUAL flying reanimated corpse, or an ACTUAL flying reindeer. All we ACTUALLY have are insupportable stories and unrealistic claims.
Volbrigade wrote: Maybe. Unless he comes to faith in Christ -- as many have -- for which he stands to pay a high cost. But that's irrelevant to the point -- the singularity of the "truth claim" in regard to Jesus Christ.
You're point is that you say you are right and they are wrong. Which is of course exactly what they say about you.
Volbrigade wrote: Not I. But I do assent that it is so. After all -- a man who encounters the risen Christ, and has enough wherewithal to ask the question that we all should ask of Him: "who are you? And what do you what of me?" And is provided an answer to those questions -- that man should be listened to.
One might choose to listen to a man who cannot tell the difference between delusion and reality if they want. There is no real requirement for believing that his personal delusions were valid however.
Volbrigade wrote: There is more correspondence between those entities than you know. Loki, Zeus, and all the other demigods that populate paganism are references to Nephilim, distorted by accreted fables; and have Satan -- the archangel in rebellion against God -- as their source.


The correlation between them is that they are all imaginary beings. All of these things are like the other. The only difference is that you choose to believe that one of them is real. And yet at the end of the day, much like flying reindeer and flying reanimated corpses, none of these things can be shown to have any actual physical validity at all. When I was a child I did not believe that Frankenstein's monster actually existed. The POSSIBILITY that Frankenstein's monster existed scared the crud out of me though. When I grew up I overcame my unreasoning fear of imaginary monsters however. Coincidentally I have never once encountered any.
Volbrigade wrote: The prevailing religion of our time, in the post-Christian west, is what I refer to as Whateverism.
This is true. Christianity is rapidly becoming a third world religion. The educated west is losing interest in ancient superstitions.
Image "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." -- Albert Einstein -- Written in 1954 to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #25

Post by Volbrigade »

[Replying to post 24 by Tired of the Nonsense]


Volbrigade wrote:

"And I see those (Paul's) writings dovetail perfectly with the writings of 39 other authors, spread across at least 17 millennia, the collection of which comprises an integrated message system which authenticates itself as having extra-terrestrial origins in a number of ways: symbolic and idiomatic consistency; thematic unity; macro- and micro coding elements that feature cryptological elements far outside the capabilities of our most sophisticated information technology, or any possibility of chance occurrence; and the foretelling of events centuries before their occurrence -- a quality reserved for an entity which is outside our time domain."
May I assume that you are suggesting that these 40 authors were all inspired to accurately set down His Will and His Intentions? And therefore these works, inspired by God Himself, are completely valid in every way? Or is there any wiggle room in that declaration?
That is indeed my suggestion and declaration.

God is the author of scripture, through the agency of His Holy Spirit, guiding the writings of humans who exercise their personal styles, experiences, skills, etc. Example: Peter's Greek is rather rough -- that of a fisherman (in one of his letters. He has an amanuensis for the other letter, which is much more elegant in style). Isaiah is grand in style, with a vocabulary that matches that of Shakespeare.

Volbrigade wrote:

Paul was indeed wrong once. In persecuting the followers of Christ; and in so doing, persecuting Christ himself. He wrote copiously of his mistake in doing so; and elegantly of the reasons for faith in the risen Jesus.
The point is, Paul was absolutely certain that he was right in what he believed, and in what he was doing. Until he changed his mind and rotated his beliefs 180 degrees. And then, now working under an entirely new theory of what was true and valid, Paul declared himself to be absolutely certain about what he believed and what he was doing. You are absolutely certain that what you believe and what you are doing is true and valid. Do you see a chance, at least, that you are wrong?


If you mean, "do I have moments of doubt?" Of course. But then (to paraphrase Lewis), when I was an atheist, I had moments of doubt that the dimensional environment that I lived in could have just been the product of mindless, random causes, processes and events. And that the thoughts produced by my "mind" would necessarily have to be of the same category, and therefore of no validity whatsoever.
And why do you know that what you believe is THE real and valid truth? Because you personally feel it in your heart? Why do you suppose that anyone else should find that especially compelling?


That question goes to the heart of the matter. I could ask the same of you. Do you adhere to any definite beliefs? Do you believe them to be true? On what basis?

My determination that what is proposed as true, or as Lewis put it, "Mere" Christianity, came about as a product of intense investigation into both it; and, as it were, "everything else." Biblical Christianity, in my view, is the only satisfactory explanation for the shared reality that we exist in, in all its aspects, that unifies science, philosophy, history, and the unique and peculiar circumstances of human beings, who possess the singular gifts of abstract thought and symbolic language, on a planet exquisitely fine- tuned to support a complex biosphere, in a universe exquisitely fine-tuned to support that planet.

If you have a better explanation, I am open to consideration.
Volbrigade wrote:

Dead religions are not what's under discussion here. Both Judaism, and the belief in Jesus, are alive and kicking. Jesus is the fulfillment of Judaism; He is the expression of God to us, and our Savior. But God is not done with Judaism yet -- or, at least, with the Jewish people, to whom He has made promises that have yet to be fulfilled.
The point of bringing up dead religions is that the people that subscribed to those religions were absolutely certain that they were right in what they believed and in what they were doing. Yet the nonsense they once believed in is now as dead as they are. Imagine their stunned shock if they could be brought back and shown that everything they once believed to be true and valid, their entire world view, was nothing but nonsense all along. "I pity the fools..."
Fair enough.

But that doesn't apply to Christianity, in my experience. Because it is true, it just continually expands to accommodate our increasing understanding of the physical and metaphysical world.

A great example are the Big Bang theories, in which it was discovered that the universe had a beginning; whereas before that, it was accepted (by secularists) that it was eternal.

Since it is not infinitely old, it cannot be infinitely large; which leads to the logical conclusion that it is, in a dimensional sense, "bounded".

It turns out we exist in a subset of a hyper-dimensional "metacosm". Just as the Bible has insisted for 4,000 years.
Volbrigade wrote:

And God always keeps His promises. Another topic, to be sure.
I hear this one often. I am unclear on exactly how God goes about making promises in the first place. What I notice is other people making promises in God's name. Promises never actually made by God Himself at all are the easiest promises to be kept, you see.


One way He makes promises is to reveal them to selected individuals. Such as the promise to Abraham that he would be the father of two great nations; and through one of his offspring (Isaac) all peoples would be blessed.

This is an area of massive study. In addition to the Abrahamic promises, or Covenant, there is the Davidic covenant (his would be the royal line, through which would come the Messiah), the Land Covenant with Israel (recently reaffirmed, in 1948); the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai, which was "made obsolete" by a much better covenant issued at Golgotha.

Etc.
Volbrigade wrote:

The reason Judaism and Christianity -- which is the subject of this site -- are so gloriously alive and "remembered" is because of their spiritual validity.
That's your opinion. But you see, those that follow other beliefs have their opinions too, which they hold with the utmost of sincerity. Like the practitioners of those dead religions, you are suggesting that despite the fact that those others who subscribe to an entirely different set of beliefs from you and are as absolutely certain that they are right in what they believe and in what they are doing as you are, they are all just flat wrong.
This is true. Why would you believe something that you knew to be untrue?

The question is:

can what you propose for belief stand up to challenges made against it?

Christianity always does.

Does what you believe? You might ask yourself that. I can't, since I don't know what you believe, other than you don't believe Christianity to be true.
Because what you believe and what you are doing is the REAL truth. Well, that's mighty smug of you. You can see how this becomes nothing but background noise for someone like me who subscribes to no religious beliefs at all. By "background noise" I mean that one persons utter nonsense is much the same as another person's utter nonsense. The claims of each may be drastically different. But nonsense is still nonsense.


No argument there.

If having beliefs that you are satisfied are propositional truth is "smug", then so be it.

If you have beliefs that are superior in terms of claims to being true, then again -- I'm open to hearing them. So far, I haven't encountered them -- and believe me, I've heard a bunch of 'em... ;)
Volbrigade wrote:

And spiritual trumps physical any day of the week. And, you might say, "twice on Sundays."
This is another way of saying that what you make up in your head has move validity then things which are physical do. Or another way of putting it is that you are claiming that make believe has more validity that reality does. Which is like saying that it is your dreams are real, and the waking world is the one that is illusion.


Not at all.

I'm saying that the 4-dimensional "macrocosm" that we exist in is bounded in terms of time (it had a beginning) and size (on both ends of the spectrum -- "largeness" and "smallness") and is thus a subset of an eternal (outside of space and time) "metacosm".

That is not "imaginary". It is a logical inference, much like those made in quantum physics, with which it resonates, both being tuned to the truth.
Well, perhaps you are right. I notice though that in my dreams I am able to accomplish virtually anything I want to. In the waking world, not so much. I have won the lottry repeatedly in my dreams. Then I wake up and I am right back in physical reality. The waking world provides a certain predicable continuity that the dream world simply does not. I also notice that individuals who consistently live in the world of their imagination while awake are considered mad, and require care.
I'm sure your dreams are interesting to you.

But I prefer to discuss our shared reality.
Volbrigade wrote:

We're not talking about what I believe, here. We're talking about the nature of the truth claim made by Jesus, and adhered to my His followers: the the God of Heaven and Earth became a man: not in a fable, or even during a fabled time; but was born as a specific infant who grew to be a specific man at a specific time and place in history. A man who attended feasts that are still part of the Jewish calendar; walked the dusty roads of Judea and Samaria, and went to Jerusalem, a Roman provincial outpost, at the "appointed times".
Notice how you claim to not be "talking about what I believe, here," and then you immediately jump into a statement of your personal belief.
If articulating the "truth claim" under discussion is the same as making "a statement of... personal belief..."

So be it.
Volbrigade wrote:

And that man was Jesus, who died a substitutionary atoning death, and was resurrected 3 days later, during the tenures of Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiphas.
Or... the story was nothing but a false rumor that was spread around by his followers after after his execution and no ACTUAL resurrection from the dead ever occurred. Something which would be entirely consistent with the activities of actual dead people around the world and throughout history. And again, this is something that you believe to be true and have claimed to be true. Yet the claim violates all observation, experience and common sense. That certainly would SEEM to open the door to reasonable doubt.


I have already conceded room for "reasonable doubts". But that applies to any belief system. And certainly to any non-belief system.

If the unique truth claims in regard to the Person and plan of Jesus Christ did NOT "violate... all observation, experience and common sense..." they wouldn't be very unique, would they?

They speak to an intervention into our dimensional realty by a being who is transcendent of it. In the case of the Gospel -- the very Creator of that reality, Himself.

I would expect that intervention to blow "common sense" to smithereens. An expectation that is not disappointed.

By the way -- if "common sense" is your criteria for believing something -- it is advisable to stay away from the fields of genetics, and the mechanisms of the DNA molecule. Or quantum physics.

Or human relationships and/or history. 8-)

Volbrigade wrote:

That claim is categorically different from any other claim. And certainly from the Muslim/Mormon ones, which are rather tame by comparison -- "an angel told me something" -- and similar to each other.
Actually the claim that the corpse of Jesus came back to life and flew away is comparable to claiming that Santa has a team of flying reindeer. Both claims appear to be utter nonsense based on all experience and observation. And it should be noticed that at the end of the day, no one has produced an ACTUAL flying reanimated corpse, or an ACTUAL flying reindeer. All we ACTUALLY have are insupportable stories and unrealistic claims.
No more unsupportable than a comparison between the Gospel accounts and Santa Claus. And no more unrealistic than the claim that the unique claims of the "intervention" referred to, by God, into His creation, is unrealistic.

Given the nature of God, properly understood, it would be unrealistic to think He WOULDN'T intervene in the physical realm He created.
Volbrigade wrote:

Maybe. Unless he comes to faith in Christ -- as many have -- for which he stands to pay a high cost. But that's irrelevant to the point -- the singularity of the "truth claim" in regard to Jesus Christ.
You're point is that you say you are right and they are wrong. Which is of course exactly what they say about you.
An acute observation.

Volbrigade wrote:

Not I. But I do assent that it is so. After all -- a man who encounters the risen Christ, and has enough wherewithal to ask the question that we all should ask of Him: "who are you? And what do you what of me?" And is provided an answer to those questions -- that man should be listened to.
One might choose to listen to a man who cannot tell the difference between delusion and reality if they want. There is no real requirement for believing that his personal delusions were valid however.
I could argue that men who can't tell that difference (delusion vs. reality) are listened to all the time; and even have succeeded in make theirs the prevailing views in secular culture. Perhaps later, or in another conversation.

But there is every reason to believe what happened to Paul was a genuine experience with the Divine, or spiritual, or hyper dimensional, or whatever language you are most comfortable with.

But you must be willing to examine those reasons with an open mind, instead of coming at them with preconceptions and foregone conclusions.

Many people are unwilling to do that.

Such is life... (shrug)
Volbrigade wrote:

There is more correspondence between those entities than you know. Loki, Zeus, and all the other demigods that populate paganism are references to Nephilim, distorted by accreted fables; and have Satan -- the archangel in rebellion against God -- as their source.
The correlation between them is that they are all imaginary beings. All of these things are like the other. The only difference is that you choose to believe that one of them is real. And yet at the end of the day, much like flying reindeer and flying reanimated corpses, none of these things can be shown to have any actual physical validity at all. When I was a child I did not believe that Frankenstein's monster actually existed. The POSSIBILITY that Frankenstein's monster existed scared the crud out of me though. When I grew up I overcame my unreasoning fear of imaginary monsters however. Coincidentally I have never once encountered any.
To borrow from Lewis, again: the existence of Satan, demons and the demonic is essential, but not paramount, to my case. Nor is the correlation between them and the occultic tales and practices of paganism.

I would argue that you HAVE encountered demonic presences ("imaginary monsters") though you have been unaware of them.

But I won't. Suffice it to say that there are innumerable, documented cases of encounters with extra-terrestrial manifestations that are both plausible, credible, and inexplicable.

Volbrigade wrote:

The prevailing religion of our time, in the post-Christian west, is what I refer to as Whateverism.
This is true. Christianity is rapidly becoming a third world religion. The educated west is losing interest in ancient superstitions.


Christianity has been gaining enormous ground in the third world these past few decades. Those who are keenly aware of the "bad news" are much more receptive to the Good News than those who are anesthetized with affluence.

But it is also gaining ground among scientists and intellectuals who recognize the impoverishment of the atheistic, secular models and theories of existence, which categorically cannot provide meaning and purpose, as those things cannot arise from random, mindless processes and events. Chaos cannot produce information -- only intelligence can.

And it is also gaining ground among the "middle ground" -- those who are neither impoverished, nor among the intellectual elite; who benefit from the information (that word again!) age by accessing the arguments of the intellectuals just mentioned -- such as yours truly.

And who use "common sense" to arrive at the conclusion that the universe didn't just invent itself. That "everything that has a beginning must have a Cause."

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #26

Post by marco »

Volbrigade wrote:

Christianity has been gaining enormous ground in the third world these past few decades. Those who are keenly aware of the "bad news" are much more receptive to the Good News than those who are anesthetized with affluence.
If large numbers add up to truth, Islam is doing well. Christianity acquired a huge number of converts by using swords in South America and providing food in Africa. 100 clever scientists opposed Einstein on relativity and Einstein was right.

Volbrigade wrote: But it is also gaining ground among scientists and intellectuals who recognize the impoverishment of the atheistic, secular models and theories of existence, which categorically cannot provide meaning and purpose, as those things cannot arise from random, mindless processes and events. Chaos cannot produce information -- only intelligence can.
Flawed "secular" explanations for existence and order are not justifications for adopting Yahweh. Ignorance was never a good basis for accepting something as true. If indeed wagon-loads of scientists are flocking to Christianity, it has not been given press coverage.
Volbrigade wrote:
And it is also gaining ground among the "middle ground" -- those who are neither impoverished, nor among the intellectual elite; who benefit from the information (that word again!) age by accessing the arguments of the intellectuals just mentioned -- such as yours truly.
And who use "common sense" to arrive at the conclusion that the universe didn't just invent itself. That "everything that has a beginning must have a Cause."
Common sense doesn't help much at the quantum level or in n-dimensional theory. I can accept that "my Father's house has many mansions" could refer to n-dimensional space, but since Jesus wasn't particularly sharp at anything outside Scripture and parable, one wouldn't have thought his mathematics was A grade.

I am happy to suppose that our universe is more complex than we imagine and entities may exist that are beyond our 4-dimensional reasoning. I would all the more argue against the primitive monster Yahweh and his abominable thirst for animal blood in sacrifices. Reason, however unsophisticated, rejects him. And if Jesus was in Yahweh's team, as he seems to have been, then we must dismiss him too.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #27

Post by Tired of the Nonsense »

[Replying to Volbrigade]
Volbrigade wrote: That is indeed my suggestion and declaration.

God is the author of scripture, through the agency of His Holy Spirit, guiding the writings of humans who exercise their personal styles, experiences, skills, etc. Example: Peter's Greek is rather rough -- that of a fisherman (in one of his letters. He has an amanuensis for the other letter, which is much more elegant in style). Isaiah is grand in style, with a vocabulary that matches that of Shakespeare.
This is EXACTLY what the Muslims declare to be true concerning the Qur'an. They claim that it is sublime in a way that only God could have produced. But you see, it's perfectly possible for opinions to differ. Because nothing is true just because someone declares it to be so.
Volbrigade wrote: If you mean, "do I have moments of doubt?" Of course. But then (to paraphrase Lewis), when I was an atheist, I had moments of doubt that the dimensional environment that I lived in could have just been the product of mindless, random causes, processes and events. And that the thoughts produced by my "mind" would necessarily have to be of the same category, and therefore of no validity whatsoever.
No, I mean do you understand and accept the possibility that you might be wrong? I am an atheist. I was raised to believe in Christianity as a boy, but I stopped believing any of it was I was thirteen. Do I occasionally have moments of doubt that no God ever existed in the first place? NO! NONE! NOT EVER! In fact I don't believe that God exists in exactly the same way that I don't believe that Santa Claus exists. Do I understand and accept the possibly that I could be wrong? CERTAINLY! I do not possess the superpower necessary to know ANYTHING to be true or false ABSOLUTELY. Humans are uniformly fallible, and as a result NONE OF US possesses the superpower of infinite knowledge required to know things to be true or false absolutely. The best we can do is to reach a very high level of probability. I can state to a very high level of probability, for reasons which I can explain in detail and to a very high level of certainty, why Santa Claus probably does not exist. But I cannot prove it absolutely. And neither can you.
Volbrigade wrote: My determination that what is proposed as true, or as Lewis put it, "Mere" Christianity, came about as a product of intense investigation into both it; and, as it were, "everything else." Biblical Christianity, in my view, is the only satisfactory explanation for the shared reality that we exist in, in all its aspects, that unifies science, philosophy, history, and the unique and peculiar circumstances of human beings, who possess the singular gifts of abstract thought and symbolic language, on a planet exquisitely fine- tuned to support a complex biosphere, in a universe exquisitely fine-tuned to support that planet. If you have a better explanation, I am open to consideration.
Well, since you asked.

The stuff that generally makes up the universe at large and the stuff that makes up life is exactly the same stuff. We call it matter. Matter is made up of combinations of incredibly small energetic bits; negatively charged electrons combined with positively and negatively charged elementary bits of energy scientists call quarks, which have themselves combined together to form protons and neutrons. The reason this occurs is because opposites attract and the positively charged quarks, known as up quarks, are massively attracted to the negatively charged quarks, known as down quarks, and immediately join together into clumps. A pair of positively charged up quarks joined to a negatively charged down quark forms a particle we call a proton. A proton has a net charge of positive. A pair of negatively charged down quarks joined to a positively charged up quark forms a particle we call a neutron. A neutron has a net charge of neutral. While oppositely charged particles are strongly attracted to each other, particles with the same charges are strongly repelled by each other. During high speed collisions, or under the influence of heavy gravity, protons and neutrons are forced closely enough together to become bonded. The energy that caused this to occur is locked into what is now the newly formed nucleus of an atom. A negatively charged electron now becomes attracted to the proton/neutron because of the positively
charged quarks it contains. It does not bond with the proton/neutron however, because of the presence of negatively charged quarks. This is the classic model of an atom; a nucleus and a free electron. This is in fact an atom of the basic element known as hydrogen. An atom which contains two protons and two neutrons, as well as two free electrons is an atom of the element helium. Both of these elements are gasses over a very wide range of temperatures. An atom containing three protons, three neutrons and three free electrons however is the metal known as lithium, which has very different properties from hydrogen and helium. Because as the numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons increases, the inherent property of the element changes. Two or more elements joined together form what are called molecules. Molecules are the stuff of matter; the stuff of the universe and the stuff of us.

At the heart of matter however, in the realm of quarks and electrons, there is a constant shifting of position, due to the effects of ongoing attraction/repulsion. Because oppositely charged particles attract each other, while like charged particles repel each other. This causes a constant ongoing roiling to occur at this most basic level, the elementary level of the quanta, which is known as quantum mechanics. It is the engine that drives all change and the universe itself. It is what is responsible for such phenomena as lightning, thunder, wind and rain, earth quakes and volcanoes. It's also the reason that plants grow and you have thoughts flying around in your brain. Thoughts are electrical impulses caused by positive and negative charges. This attraction/repulsion caused by positive and negative charges is pretty much responsible for EVERYTHING THAT OCCURS. It can even be responsible for intelligence like our own. And yet at it's basic level it is not itself intelligent. It occurs because these quantum bits, quarks and electrons, vibrate at a certain frequency. The frequency of their vibration determines whether they are positively charged, or negatively charged. The universe is simply reacting to itself you see. Because the universe itself IS energy according E=MC<2, and because matter is one of the forms that energy takes. And according to all observation and experimentation, energy can neither be created or destroyed. This is known as the law of conservation of energy. Energy is therefore ETERNAL, finite in amount, but infinite in duration. This understanding is neither a philosophy nor a declaration of religious belief. This understanding is simple observation. The universe exists in this configuration because energy comes in different quantum bits and these bits interact with each other. If they did not, then there would be NO CHANGE and NO UNIVERSE. The "evidence" which the universe provides us with tells us of ongoing change caused by quantum mechanics. It DOES NOT tell us that these mechanical causes are the result of intelligent creation. That idea was born in the minds of intelligent creatures struggling to understand the wonder of it all. And beyond that the questions are still wide open.

Now, do I believe that all of this is true ABSOLUTELY? I have no particular attachment to this explanation emotionally. It simply currently happens to be the way that things actually are observed to be.
Volbrigade wrote: But that doesn't apply to Christianity, in my experience. Because it is true, it just continually expands to accommodate our increasing understanding of the physical and
metaphysical world.

A great example are the Big Bang theories, in which it was discovered that the universe had a beginning; whereas before that, it was accepted (by secularists) that it was eternal. Since it is not infinitely old, it cannot be infinitely large; which leads to the logical conclusion that it is, in a dimensional sense, "bounded".

It turns out we exist in a subset of a hyper-dimensional "metacosm". Just as the Bible has insisted for 4,000 years.
The universe had a beginning in the same way that you had a beginning. There was a time when there was no you. And yet every tiny little bit of you already existed in other forms. Most directly, the beginning of you was contained in material found in your parents. But the material that would become you already existed in other form prior to you parents existing. And every tiny little bit of what you are now will continue to go right on existing in other forms after you are gone. Because you are made of matter, matter is one of the forms that energy takes, and energy can neither be created or destroyed. There is absolutely no reason to suppose that our universe wasn't born in exactly the same way that you were born, from material (energy) that already existed. It certainly is possible to declare that the source of that energy from the beginning was God. But that is not observed at all. You simply made it up and declared it to be true because it pleases you to do so. Your assumptions and declarations for what it pleases you to believe to be true but for which there is no physical observable evidence whatsoever carries very little weight I am afraid. Because that is called imagination, and imagination has a very poor track record for proving to be true.
Volbrigade wrote: This is an area of massive study. In addition to the Abrahamic promises, or Covenant, there is the Davidic covenant (his would be the royal line, through which would come the Messiah), the Land Covenant with Israel (recently reaffirmed, in 1948); the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai, which was "made obsolete" by a much better covenant issued at Golgotha.
The question of existence is only the more profound question that there is. It has spawned numerous very complicated and intricate systems of make believe over the course of human history. Hinduism for example is more than 4,000 years old.
Volbrigade wrote: This is true. Why would you believe something that you knew to be untrue?
I certainly would not. Knowing something to be untrue becomes a very difficult proposition when absolute unquestioning belief becomes involved however, does it not? Which fully explains why those who hold beliefs other than yours hold on to their beliefs so fiercely. Just as you do yours. But why do those other people hold those beliefs so unquestioningly in the first place? For most people around the world, the answer to that question is because their mommies and daddies told them that it was so when they were young.
Volbrigade wrote: If having beliefs that you are satisfied are propositional truth is "smug", then so be it.
Do you see how a Muslim or a Hindu might hold EXACTLY this same level of smugness concerning what they declare to be unquestionably true? Then so be it.
Volbrigade wrote: If you have beliefs that are superior in terms of claims to being true, then again -- I'm open to hearing them. So far, I haven't encountered them -- and believe me, I've heard a bunch of 'em..
Well, I'm working on it. The difference between us is, I do not "believe" my proposition for the explanation of the universe to be true unconditionally. I'm simply pointing out that it is what we observe.
Volbrigade wrote: I'm sure your dreams are interesting to you.

But I prefer to discuss our shared reality.
I don't give my dreams much thought because I have no reason to suppose that they are anything other than the activity of my brain while I sleep, and every reason to suppose that they have no physical reality. This sort of mental games that occur entirely inside of our minds is common among humans. Many of us realize this. Others of us have come to believe that these mental activities have some actual physical reality, or are the attempts by imagined deities to contact us. This was much more common in ancient times among simple people who ascribed virtually everything that occurred around them to some supernatural cause. Paul was clearly one of these people.

2Cor.12
[1] It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
[2] I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
[3] And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
Volbrigade wrote: I have already conceded room for "reasonable". But that applies to any belief system. And certainly to any non-belief system. If the unique truth claims in regard to the Person and plan of Jesus Christ did NOT "violate... all observation, experience and common sense..." they wouldn't be very unique, would they?

They speak to an intervention into our dimensional realty by a being who is transcendent of it. In the case of the Gospel -- the very Creator of that reality, Himself.

I would expect that intervention to blow "common sense" to smithereens. An expectation that is not disappointed.

By the way -- if "common sense" is your criteria for believing something -- it is advisable to stay away fro the fields of genetics, and the mechanisms of the DNA molecule. Or quantum physics.

Or human relationships and/or history
The complex DNA molecule is clearly an advanced evolutionary state over the vastly more simple RNA molecule. A recent study concluded that "complex DNA and RNA organic compounds of life, including uracil, cytosine and thymine, were reportedly formed in the laboratory under outer space conditions, using starting chemicals, such as pyrimidine, found in meteorites. Pyrimidine, like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), the most carbon-rich chemical found in the Universe, may have been formed in red giants or in interstellar dust and gas clouds, according to the scientists." March 3, 2015
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RNA#cite_ ... 0150303-76
Volbrigade wrote: No more unsupportable than a comparison between the Gospel accounts and Santa Claus. And no more unrealistic than the claim that the unique claims of the "intervention" referred to by God, into His creation, is unrealistic.

Given the nature of God, properly understood, it would be unrealistic to think He WOULDN'T intervene in the physical realm He created.
The truth is you can provide no physical evidence for either Santa or God one way or the other, can you! A fact check would produce nothing but declarations and assumptions. But no actual facts for you to stand on.
Volbrigade wrote: I could argue that men who can't tell that difference (delusion vs. reality) are listened to all the time; and even have succeeded in make theirs the prevailing views in secular
culture. Perhaps later, or in another conversation.

But there is every reason to believe what happened to Paul was a genuine experience with the Divine, or spiritual, or hyper dimensional, or whatever language you are most
comfortable with.

But you must be willing to examine those reasons with an open mind, instead of coming at them with preconceptions and foregone conclusions.

Many people are unwilling to do that.

Such is life... (shrug)
It's true that such men are listened to all the time. And they have led many people right down the rabbit hole into wonderland. Jim Jones, Marshall "Do" Applewhite, Joseph Smith, Elron Hubbard immediately come to mind, just off of the top of my head.
Volbrigade wrote: To borrow from Lewis, again: the existence of Satan, demons and the demonic is essential,, but not paramount, to my case. Nor is the correlation between them and the occultic tales and practices of paganism.

I would argue that you HAVE encountered demonic presences ("imaginary monsters") though you have been unaware of them.

But I won't. Suffice it to say that they are innumerable, documented cases of encounters with extra-terrestrial manifestations that are both plausible, credible, and inexplicable.
"The Amityville Horror" was a book from the 1970's that was turned into a movie of the same name. In the story, which was reputed to have been based on actual facts, the family living in a house becomes convinced that there was a demon lurking in their basement. Much of the story contained in the book, and then the subsequent movie, was "elaborated on" by the author for effect. One of the things that occurred in both the movie and the book, was that periodically the closed attic of the old house would be come filled with swarms of flies. It's one of the things that convinced the family that there was a demon in their house.

I happen to live in a big old one hundred year old two story house myself. I have been here for 30 years. One of the things that I discovered after I moved in was that periodically my back porch would become filled with hundreds of big fat flies. The back pouch is closed off with windows, and there is a door leading to the outside. But the door had been closed, and even if left open, would not explain the hordes of flies. It happened off and on over the course of several years and was quite a puzzle. If I was superstitious and believed in demons it might very well have concluded that there was a demon in my basement and it might well have scared me right out of my house. I have a more rational mind however, and I knew that there was a natural explanation, I just didn't know what it was.

One day while crawling under my house I discovered a dead rat swarming with maggots. And the solution to the fly problem suddenly became apparent. Old houses like mine with a basement are often set well up off of the ground. My house has a very generous crawlspace under it. Old houses such as mine are also often of lathe and plaster construction , which means that the walls are hollow. Rats get into the house and crawl around in the walls, the sound of which tends to make wives very cranky. It certainly effects my wife that way. So I routinely keep rat poison under the house. Rats eat the poison and die. Flies lay eggs in dead rats, which produce maggots. Maggots turn into flies which fly towards the light. In my case that is my back porch. Big fat nasty flies. An inexplicable manifestation? Not at all. It was entirely natural all along, it just took me awhile to figure it out.

Does the supernatural exist? There are NO credible examples of actual supernatural occurrence which can be shown unquestionably to have occurred. None. Ever! There are many people who fully subscribe to superstition however and believe that the supernatural is an established fact. This is simply ignorance at work. The only thing that can be established is that sometime ignorant people reach silly conclusions that have nothing whatsoever to do with what is actually occurring. The Amityville family allowed their superstitious fears to drive them out of their own house. Were they religious? well, DUH!
Volbrigade wrote: Christianity has been gaining enormous ground in the third world these past few decades. Those who are keenly aware of the "bad news" are much more receptive to the Good News than those who are anesthetized with affluence.

But it is also gaining ground among scientists and intellectual who recognize the impoverishment of the atheistic, secular models and theories of existence, which categorically cannot provide meaning and purpose, as those things cannot arise from random, mindless processes and events. Chaos cannot produce information -- only intelligence can.

And it is also gaining ground among the "middle ground" -- those who are neither impoverished, nor among the intellectual elite; who benefit from the information (that word again!) age by accessing the arguments of the intellectuals just mentioned -- such as yours truly.

And who use "common sense" to arrive at the conclusion that the universe didn't just invent itself. That "everything that has a beginning must have a Cause."

Declaring things to be true can accomplish the purpose of giving life whatever meaning is meaningful to that person. Every religious belief that ever existed gave those who subscribed to them meaning and purpose in their lives. The fact that the belief itself was total nonsense didn't effect that. But you see, I don't subscribe to any religious belief. Yet despite that it has never once occurred to me that my life was meaningless and purposeless.
Image "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." -- Albert Einstein -- Written in 1954 to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #28

Post by Volbrigade »

[Replying to post 27 by Tired of the Nonsense]
Volbrigade wrote:

That is indeed my suggestion and declaration.

God is the author of scripture, through the agency of His Holy Spirit, guiding the writings of humans who exercise their personal styles, experiences, skills, etc. Example: Peter's Greek is rather rough -- that of a fisherman (in one of his letters. He has an amanuensis for the other letter, which is much more elegant in style). Isaiah is grand in style, with a vocabulary that matches that of Shakespeare.
This is EXACTLY what the Muslims declare to be true concerning the Qur'an. They claim that it is sublime in a way that only God could have produced. But you see, it's perfectly possible for opinions to differ. Because nothing is true just because someone declares it to be so.
Including the declaration you made there? ;)
Volbrigade wrote:

If you mean, "do I have moments of doubt?" Of course. But then (to paraphrase Lewis), when I was an atheist, I had moments of doubt that the dimensional environment that I lived in could have just been the product of mindless, random causes, processes and events. And that the thoughts produced by my "mind" would necessarily have to be of the same category, and therefore of no validity whatsoever.
No, I mean do you understand and accept the possibility that you might be wrong? I am an atheist. I was raised to believe in Christianity as a boy, but I stopped believing any of it was I was thirteen. Do I occasionally have moments of doubt that no God ever existed in the first place? NO! NONE! NOT EVER! In fact I don't believe that God exists in exactly the same way that I don't believe that Santa Claus exists. Do I understand and accept the possibly that I could be wrong? CERTAINLY! I do not possess the superpower necessary to know ANYTHING to be true or false ABSOLUTELY. Humans are uniformly fallible, and as a result NONE OF US possesses the superpower of infinite knowledge required to know things to be true or false absolutely. The best we can do is to reach a very high level of probability. I can state to a very high level of probability, for reasons which I can explain in detail and to a very high level of certainty, why Santa Claus probably does not exist. But I cannot prove it absolutely. And neither can you.
I agree with you that Santa Claus does not exist. As anything other than a fictional character.
Volbrigade wrote:

My determination that what is proposed as true, or as Lewis put it, "Mere" Christianity, came about as a product of intense investigation into both it; and, as it were, "everything else." Biblical Christianity, in my view, is the only satisfactory explanation for the shared reality that we exist in, in all its aspects, that unifies science, philosophy, history, and the unique and peculiar circumstances of human beings, who possess the singular gifts of abstract thought and symbolic language, on a planet exquisitely fine- tuned to support a complex biosphere, in a universe exquisitely fine-tuned to support that planet. If you have a better explanation, I am open to consideration.

Well, since you asked.

The stuff that generally makes up the universe at large and the stuff that makes up life is exactly the same stuff. We call it matter. Matter is made up of combinations of incredibly small energetic bits; negatively charged electrons combined with positively and negatively charged elementary bits of energy scientists call quarks.... etc.
Yes. I'm familiar with all that.
Volbrigade wrote:

But that doesn't apply to Christianity, in my experience. Because it is true, it just continually expands to accommodate our increasing understanding of the physical and
metaphysical world.

A great example are the Big Bang theories, in which it was discovered that the universe had a beginning; whereas before that, it was accepted (by secularists) that it was eternal. Since it is not infinitely old, it cannot be infinitely large; which leads to the logical conclusion that it is, in a dimensional sense, "bounded".

It turns out we exist in a subset of a hyper-dimensional "metacosm". Just as the Bible has insisted for 4,000 years.
The universe had a beginning in the same way that you had a beginning. There was a time when there was no you. And yet every tiny little bit of you already existed in other forms. Most directly, the beginning of you was contained in material found in your parents. But the material that would become you already existed in other form prior to you parents existing... etc.
But my "beginning" had a cause. What was the "cause" of the beginning of the universe?

And did this cause have a mind? Intelligence? Will? Or was it mindless? Random?

You say the mind can arise from mindless interactions of matter, and its vibrations and so forth. That is nothing other than an ad hoc explanation, to explain the existence of something we can't otherwise explain. Where is the physical evidence?

And is there any reason that the eternal... vibration, or what have you, that produced the universe as one of its permutations, and is therefore its "cause"(?) -- is there any reasons why it could not possess a mind, intelligence, and will?
Volbrigade wrote:

Christianity has been gaining enormous ground in the third world these past few decades. Those who are keenly aware of the "bad news" are much more receptive to the Good News than those who are anesthetized with affluence.

But it is also gaining ground among scientists and intellectual who recognize the impoverishment of the atheistic, secular models and theories of existence, which categorically cannot provide meaning and purpose, as those things cannot arise from random, mindless processes and events. Chaos cannot produce information -- only intelligence can.

And it is also gaining ground among the "middle ground" -- those who are neither impoverished, nor among the intellectual elite; who benefit from the information (that word again!) age by accessing the arguments of the intellectuals just mentioned -- such as yours truly.

And who use "common sense" to arrive at the conclusion that the universe didn't just invent itself. That "everything that has a beginning must have a Cause."
Declaring things to be true can accomplish the purpose of giving life whatever meaning is meaningful to that person. Every religious belief that ever existed gave those who subscribed to them meaning and purpose in their lives. The fact that the belief itself was total nonsense didn't effect that. But you see, I don't subscribe to any religious belief. Yet despite that it has never once occurred to me that my life was meaningless and purposeless.
Interesting.

I would be interested in hearing what you consider the meaning and purpose of your life to be.

It is my contention -- a contention shared by a good many other honest atheists --

that if the universe is just the random vibration of mindless matter; an explosion which created an endless series of interactions between matter, that eventually, and against very great odds, happened to produce a planet with conditions suitable for molecules to line up in a complex information code; which proceeded to increase in complexity through an endless series of random mutations, progressing from a simple microbe to more and more complex organisms in the process; sprouting tissues and muscular and nervous and circulatory and skeletal systems; eyes and wings brains capable of seeking evidence for the source of its own existence --

etc.

if all of that is just the product and process of endless mindless, random occurrences --

then there can be no real meaning or purpose to life.

That all events are categorically the same; that there is no difference between a kiss and a killing; that both are merely two bags of chemicals acting on one another.

And that "meaning" and "purpose" are then purely subjective fabrications. And that there is no basis for saying that someone who determines that the "meaning and purpose" of their life is the acquisition of maximum power and pleasure, at the expense of their fellow bags of chemicals, if need be:

is any better or worse than someone who says their "meaning and purpose" is to live "a good life", help others, and make the world "a better place".

The universe certainly doesn't care either way.

Is that not so?

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #29

Post by Tired of the Nonsense »

[Replying to Volbrigade]

Tired of the Nonsense wrote: This is EXACTLY what the Muslims declare to be true concerning the Qur'an. They claim that it is sublime in a way that only God could have produced. But you see, it's perfectly possible for opinions to differ. Because nothing is true just because someone declares it to be so.
Volbrigade wrote: Including the declaration you made there?
Absolutely! I have no power to made things be true by the force of my will. If I say that something is true I am prepared to provide evidence for my claim.
Volbrigade wrote: I agree with you that Santa Claus does not exist. As anything other than a fictional character.


Yes. Believing in fictional beings and declaring them to be true has no force to make it be so.
Tired of the Nonsense wrote: The stuff that generally makes up the universe at large and the stuff that makes up life is exactly the same stuff. We call it matter. Matter is made up of combinations of incredibly small energetic bits; negatively charged electrons combined with positively and negatively charged elementary bits of energy scientists call quarks.... etc.
Volbrigade wrote: Yes. I'm familiar with all that.
That's good to hear. But if that is so, what was the point in asking?
Volbrigade wrote: But my "beginning" had a cause. What was the "cause" of the beginning of the universe?
Quantum mechanics.
Volbrigade wrote: And did this cause have a mind? Intelligence? Will? Or was it mindless? Random?
This is a very zen question. Currently there is no reason to suppose that quantum mechanics itself is intelligent. It is clear that quantum mechanics can lead to intelligence however.
Volbrigade wrote: You say the mind can arise from mindless interactions of matter, and its vibrations and so forth. That is nothing other than an ad hoc explanation, to explain the existence of something we can't otherwise explain. Where is the physical evidence?
The physical evidence is us. Since it is absurd to question one's own existence, we can see through observation that intelligence, even sentient higher intelligence, is possible. We have yet to fill in all of the blanks concerning exactly how this occurs at a step by step level. We are closing in on that goal however.
Volbrigade wrote:
And is there any reason that the eternal... vibration, or what have you, that produced the universe as one of its permutations, and is therefore its "cause"(?) -- is there any reasons why it could not possess a mind, intelligence, and will?


Perhaps. As yet we have absolutely no physical evidence for such a thing being the case however. The concept of a creator Being was imagined into existence by our ignorant ancient superstitious ancestors, and then assumed to be true. It is easy to understand why they would have come to that conclusion. In their minds examples of the supernatural were a part of their everyday life. Science has shown us however that everything can be understood as the result of natural occurrence to such a high level of probability that supernatural cause not only plays no obvious role, but actually has no real level of probability for being true. To the best of our understanding at this point, quantum mechanics can be seen as the root cause for everything that occurs.
Volbrigade wrote: I would be interested in hearing what you consider the meaning and purpose of your life to be.

It is my contention -- a contention shared by a good many other honest atheists --

that if the universe is just the random vibration of mindless matter; an explosion which created an endless series of interactions between matter, that eventually, and against very great odds, happened to produce a planet with conditions suitable for molecules to line up in a complex information code; which proceeded to increase in complexity through an endless series of random mutations, progressing from a simple microbe to more and more complex organisms in the process; sprouting tissues and muscular and nervous and circulatory and skeletal systems; eyes and wings brains capable of seeking evidence for the source of its own existence --

etc.

if all of that is just the product and process of endless mindless, random occurrences --

then there can be no real meaning or purpose to life.
I love my children. There are a great many other things that I value about my sentient existence, but that one thing alone gives me all of the meaning I require. Prior to my children being born, I suppose that general curiosity sustained me very nicely. That and an overwhelming interest in sex.
Volbrigade wrote: That all events are categorically the same; that there is no difference between a kiss and a killing; that both are merely two bags of chemicals acting on one another.
This has never occurred to me. I can only offer my condolences for those who feel this way.
Volbrigade wrote: The universe certainly doesn't care either way.

Is that not so?
The universe, being without intelligence as far was we know, takes no position on our concerns at all. It's up to us to survive and continue our species as best we can. I personally have always found the universe too interesting to give any consideration at all to the sort of hopelessness that you are suggesting. Make believe certainly does not offer any obvious solution.
Image "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." -- Albert Einstein -- Written in 1954 to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind.

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Re: If all you knew about Jesus

Post #30

Post by Volbrigade »

[Replying to Tired of the Nonsense]
Tired of the Nonsense wrote:

The stuff that generally makes up the universe at large and the stuff that makes up life is exactly the same stuff. We call it matter. Matter is made up of combinations of incredibly small energetic bits; negatively charged electrons combined with positively and negatively charged elementary bits of energy scientists call quarks.... etc.


Volbrigade wrote:

Yes. I'm familiar with all that.
That's good to hear. But if that is so, what was the point in asking?
I was curious as to whether you had a better explanation for our shared reality than that expressed in Biblical truth -- perhaps one I was unfamiliar with.

Fortunately (or, unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I suppose -- ;) -- you don't.
Volbrigade wrote:

But my "beginning" had a cause. What was the "cause" of the beginning of the universe?

Quantum mechanics.
What caused quantum mechanics?
Volbrigade wrote:

You say the mind can arise from mindless interactions of matter, and its vibrations and so forth. That is nothing other than an ad hoc explanation, to explain the existence of something we can't otherwise explain. Where is the physical evidence?
The physical evidence is us. Since it is absurd to question one's own existence, we can see through observation that intelligence, even sentient higher intelligence, is possible. We have yet to fill in all of the blanks concerning exactly how this occurs at a step by step level. We are closing in on that goal however.
Aren't you just making the same "declarative statements" that you accuse me of? The type that aren't so, just because you say they're so?

If we are the "physical evidence" that quantum mechanics can produce mind and intelligence, then surely we are also the physical evidence that God made us in His own image -- i.e., with the attributes of mind, intelligence, will, and purpose.

And surely the universe itself -- so exquisitely and synchronously fine tuned to the nth degree, among numerous exacting standards -- e.g., the gravitational constant; electro-magnetism; the strong and weak force; the periodic table itself, and the 3D information code of DNA, which exists in all living things --

surely that is "physical evidence" by your own criteria, for the kind of exquisite design that requires infinite Intelligence to execute?
Volbrigade wrote:

And is there any reason that the eternal... vibration, or what have you, that produced the universe as one of its permutations, and is therefore its "cause"(?) -- is there any reasons why it could not possess a mind, intelligence, and will?
Perhaps. As yet we have absolutely no physical evidence for such a thing being the case however. The concept of a creator Being was imagined into existence by our ignorant ancient superstitious ancestors, and then assumed to be true.
See my response, above.

An alternate view to the unsupportable "our ancestors imagined a creator Being" is that He instilled a knowledge of Himself into them, as described in the Biblical narrative.
Volbrigade wrote:

I would be interested in hearing what you consider the meaning and purpose of your life to be.

It is my contention -- a contention shared by a good many other honest atheists --

that if the universe is just the random vibration of mindless matter; an explosion which created an endless series of interactions between matter, that eventually, and against very great odds, happened to produce a planet with conditions suitable for molecules to line up in a complex information code; which proceeded to increase in complexity through an endless series of random mutations, progressing from a simple microbe to more and more complex organisms in the process; sprouting tissues and muscular and nervous and circulatory and skeletal systems; eyes and wings brains capable of seeking evidence for the source of its own existence --

etc.

if all of that is just the product and process of endless mindless, random occurrences --

then there can be no real meaning or purpose to life.

I love my children. There are a great many other things that I value about my sentient existence, but that one thing alone gives me all of the meaning I require. Prior to my children being born, I suppose that general curiosity sustained me very nicely. That and an overwhelming interest in sex.
I'm glad you love your children. And I can certainly relate to your curiosity, and interest in sex.

And I'm sured that those things, and others, provide your life with a sense of meaning and purpose.

But those are personal and subjective. I am wondering where, in a universe where a quantum fluctuation, of unknown cause, but presumed to be mindless and therefore random in nature, initiated an endless series of random interactions of matter, one of the results of which is a pattern of atoms which is "you", and which has fabricated a sense of meaning and purpose out of whole cloth, that REAL, actual "meaning and purpose" resides. I can see no way how your personal, declarative "meaning and purpose" must, of necessity, be as random, mindless, and without meaning and purpose as the rest of the universe that it takes place in.

A gangster, a serial killer, or a brutal dictator may also have "meaning and purpose" in their life. Those may include the gratification of ego and desires, including the exercise of their will over others, to the extent of subjugation and exploitation and determining whether, and how, those others will continue living, and the method of their termination.

In a random, mindless, unguided universe, that "meaning and purpose" is no better or worse than yours. Just different. There is no standard by which to judge which is "better" or "worse", other than our own personal and subjective ones -- our own personal "declarative statements" toward them.

It's like if you were asked how wide your front porch is. And you say "it cannot be said -- their is no yardstick, or measurement, or standard by which to determine its width. I can tell you how wide I think, believe, or feel it is -- but you may have a different standard, which is just as valid as mine, though it may be different. All we can say for sure is the front porch "is". Value determinations, even in regard to its state of repair, are relative, arbitrary, and pointless."

Do you follow?

All I'm trying to get you to concede is that according to your view, in a universe that is not created by an infinite, sentient, intelligent being, there is no conceivable meaning or purpose. That any we assign to it, or to us, is wholly imaginary, illusory, and subjective.

That is the consequence of living in a universe of mindless, random, unguided causation and processes -- the fact that we must confront, if we are to follow our curiosity to its logical conclusion, and face those facts.
Volbrigade wrote:

That all events are categorically the same; that there is no difference between a kiss and a killing; that both are merely two bags of chemicals acting on one another.
This has never occurred to me. I can only offer my condolences for those who feel this way.
That's good of you to do so. And I do, as well.

I think that it's key to the character of our discussion that you confess that you have never confronted that bedrock reality. It is clear that you have lived in an imaginary reality, though of a different kind than the one you accuse Christians of manufacturing -- one that is tailored to your personal preferences and desires.

Which is okay. I understand why you would do that; we all do, to one extent or another --

but it is not true.

Here's how I see it:

If God doesn't exist, then if your life is to have meaning, you have to manufacture it.

From what?

"Once there was nothing, and then it exploded". Or there is an eternal vibrating "energy field", that occasionally gets organized for no reason, since it doesn't have a mind. Or whatever. And from that explosion, or vibration, endless random interactions of matter happened to create the illusion of design and order, where there can be none. Yada yada, molecules link up, RNA forms, and becomes DNA (whatever the fable is this week) which makes cells, which make worms, etc. etc., and finally there's you.

All of this by random process. All of this mindless. Except your own mind, funny thing.

But your mind is just an illusion of ordered processes, according to what you say you believe. You may think you're making decisions, and choosing the meaning and purpose of your life, but in reality you're just doing what interactions of matter dictate you do in your unique environment, at a particular junction in time.

Because there is nothing but matter. Remember?

So.

Here are the courses of action available to you.

You can accept what I've just written; and that there is, and can be, no real meaning or purpose to life, and try to make the best of it -- it'll be over in a few decades anyway, what's the diff? Or you can make the "worst" of it, and become one of those sociopathic monsters whose only goal is to experience maximum pleasure -- or just maximum, period -- everything and everybody else be damned. Or just say "screw it", and put a pistol in your mouth --

Or you can become a mystic, and say "there is a meaning and purpose, we just don't know what or why or how it is (yet)..."

Or you can be so vague and sentimental and provincial in your outlook that you just sort of make up your own little "meaning and purpose", so to speak. But mainly, just try to stay busy enough that it's not an issue. Which is very easy to do. And, like the first choice -- it'll all be over in a few decades, anyway. And you begin to realize, as you accumulate them -- those decades start to fly, after the first 2 or 3... ;)

Choice #3 is a very prevalent, and popular one. So is choice #2. #1, I submit, is a little stark for most peoples's taste: and tends to produce either monsters or suicides.

Now, if I may, I would like to present an alternate view:

If Christianity is true, then the universe is the product of the creative act of an eternal, uncreated Mind-force and Intelligence, that is the wellspring of all existence.

That Mind-force -- known to the ancient Hebrews as YHWH, and to us as "God" -- exists outside of our time domain; is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; and expresses His infinite intelligence and artistry in the stunningly beautiful and orchestrated universe He invented -- including the biosphere of one privileged planet, which he fashioned as an environment for the one creature He made "in His image" -- the only creature that has free will. Man.

Since He is the Creator of our dimensional reality, He makes the rules. And if He says He is "good", then He's "good". And whatever He calls "good" is "good"; and what He calls "bad" is "bad". No matter what we think about those judgments.

We'd have a real problem then, if He called injustice and deceit and treachery and lying and murder "good"; and sex and ice cream and the love of a mother for her children "bad". Because then our Creator would be a cosmic fiend.

But He's not.

In fact, He demonstrated to us what "good" is, in terms we can understand, by becoming one of us, and living a life of perfect "goodness". A life that was recorded, and the account of which has spread to all nations, in all languages.

So we know He is "good".

And we know that He has gifted us with many "good" things. such as a measure of intelligence, in the "image" of the intelligence that He has. We have used that intelligence to produce science and technology.

And because of that, we now understand that we live in a limited, bounded, temporary dimensional environment -- which is precisely what God has been telling us in His message system to us, for 4000 years.

And we know, from that message system, that once we leave this 4D, temporal dimensionality, we can enter into His eternal one, which is unbounded spatially, and outside of time.

And that we will be adopted joint heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ, and share the same manner and mode and quality of existence that He has.

And while we don't know what that fully entails, from our side of the divide between the temporary and the eternal --

We know it's "good". Really, really good. Beyond our imagining good. Beyond ANYTHING we know of in this present world good.

Therefore, my friend -- the meaning and purpose in acquiring that mode of existence is an eternality of GOOD.

The meaning and purpose of existence in a godless, random universe is nothing.

It follows that the meaning and purpose that an infinite (Christian) life has, that a finite (atheist) one doesn't?

Is total.

It is EVERYTHING.

I believe that is the reality, and the choice, that each of us is faced with.

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