Jun 10, 2011

59 Are there no contradictions in Bible anywhere

  Believer says: The Bible never contradicts itself anywhere. 

But skeptic says: That isn’t so. For example, there’s Psalm 14. First it says ... 

All men are corrupt

Psalm 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. 3 All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. 

But then it says there are righteous men

Psalm 14:5 God is present in the company of the righteous.

Recap: I don't understand how “all men have turned aside” while some men are righteous at the same time. Apologists might say it’s a hyperbole--that is we shouldn't take it literally that all have turned aside and some are righteous. They make excuses for the text; they rephrase it and make it say things. The verses in question are in opposition to each other if someone doesn't reword them. 

Examples on my other blog:

Jun 9, 2011

58 Does evolution violate 2nd law of thermodynamics

Believer says: Evolution is impossible because it breaks the 2nd law of thermodynamics. 

But skeptic says: One can only wonder why creationists say the 2nd law of thermodynamics has anything to do with evolution, so-called speciation. The 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to the amount of used-up energy when there isn't a means to recharge or resupply with energy. Think of a flashlight whose dry-cell batteries are spent. The flashlight bulb can’t shine if the batteries go dead. 

But life on the planet re-vitalizes or re-charges itself owing to the consumption of food. For example children grow up by consuming nutriments. Evolution, too, doesn’t violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics since animals continue to eat.

Recap: Creationists who say the 2nd law prevents evolution, present a lack of understanding.

Jun 8, 2011

57 Can humans reason thanks to god

Believer says: Humans can reason only because of God. 

But skeptic says: Neither apologists or atheists can full explain the ability to reason. Apologists have a metaphysical belief about it, but they can't verify it.

Atheists may explain that reasoning is a product of the neural network. But apologists may reject that explanation by asking to account for everything about the neural network.

But the apologetic defense fails to bring us any closer to the answer whether God had anything to do with the human capacity for reason. While we toy with the idea of gods, we could speculate that a god who is different from the one in the Bible is behind reasoning and nature, if we were to speculate about it. 

Recap: Whatever we have to say about how humans are able to reason, we eventually have to say, “I really don’t know the whole answer.”

YouTube debate on the question:
Greg Bahnsen vs George Smith debate (1 of 6)

Jun 7, 2011

56 Atheist asks how God made the cosmos come

Skeptic says: If I ask you how did the universe come? and you say, "God created it,” that doesn't answer the question. The question is how did God create it? And I defy any theist to explain how God created it. 

Theists can't explain how the biblical God created the cosmos. And yet it’s theists who complain that science can't explain how the universe came.

How did God create the world? How was it done? The answer is unknown.

It's often like a mystery novel when theists talk. Namely, they say the cosmos came from an incomprehensible God by equally incomprehensible means. Genesis creation just happened, they say.

Somebody might "explain" the Big Bang model in the same way--that is, something simply happened and that something created the Big Bang. However, the more honest answer is, “I don’t know how it happened.” Theists should talk that way more often, too, so they should say they don't know.

Related post:
52 Did God make and well tune the cosmos (1)

Jun 6, 2011

55 Can Christian worldview explain ultimate causes

Believer says: The atheist worldview is inadequate, because it cannot explain what life is all about, but the Christian worldview can explain it.

But skeptic replies: Christians naturally assume that their biblical explanation is better than a secular one. Atheists may very well have a worldview, such as there’s no life beyond the present one, so make the most of life and, like the old expression, “seize the day.” But there’s really no general tenet for atheism, not even that one.

For example abiogenesis--meaning how life got started on earth--remains one of nature’s mysteries. Apologists may claim that God gave life its start. But beyond their faith assertion, the mystery lingers on. Naturally the fact of the matter is that humanity will always face unknowns.

Recap: The Christian worldview isn't testable, so there isn’t any way to show if it’s right.

Related post:

Jun 5, 2011

54 Is all knowledge only faith

 Believer says: Many atheists uncritically accept the worldview of scientism, and don't recognize that their knowledge is also based on faith. 

But skeptic says: Well, I say that Christians have faith in a master plan, salvation. And I’ll say that Christians uncritically accept that worldview. So it's strange when Christians claim that atheists uncritically accept something such as science. 

It’s strange, too, whenever apologists think that faith bad when they say “atheist faith.” But the apologists are eager to say that faith is good when it's Christian faith. Thus they have a double standard.  

Yes atheists may put faith or confidence in science. But science, unlike religion, looks for verification and leaves room for revision.  

Recap: Christians might denounce scientism, saying it's a stronghold for atheists. But the Christians are barking up the wrong tree since many Christians are scientists, too. I doubt that these scientists say, "Yes, I just practice faith when I'm in the science lab." Be that as it may, what it comes down to is, if Christians say science or all knowledge is just some kind of "faith," they should first make up their minds if "faith" is good or bad.

Related post:
47 Did Isaac Newton suggest the God of the gaps

Jun 4, 2011

53 Is God mysterious and controversial

Skeptic’s statement: What kind of God wants to gain victory through misdirection and confusion? 

For example, in the Old Testament God reveals himself to his people and yet remains a big mystery. 

And in New Testament God does the same thing: God and Christ reveal themselves to the Judean and Galilean people and still remain a big mystery.  

The Christian Trinity is a mystery, too.  

Moreover Christ was the architect of his own death in order to atone for the sins of humankind: It’s another mystery. 

Further, Christians say they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit indwells all of them. Yet it’s often true that they differ in scriptural opinions and interpretations. The way I see it the Holy Spirit that indwells them wouldn't give them conflicting views. 

Recap: I'm put in mind of the saying where there’s the greatest mystery, there’s the greatest emptiness. There's a lot of mystery about the biblical religion, so it's an indication of it's emptiness. 

A Christian may claim that the true view is his view and the many other Christian views are wrong. But he can't demonstrate it. So the claim only makes me wonder who's minding the store.

Related post:
54 Is all knowledge only faith

Jun 3, 2011

52 Did God make and well tune the cosmos (1)

Believer says: Do you not agree that every piece of grand music must have a composer and that the instruments must be finely tuned for it to sound good? What about our awesome universe?

But skeptic says: Well, you might agree that most composers make changes to their new musical piece until they're satisfied with the results. And of course the orchestra must rehearse it. From the human perspective, then, the hypothetical God must have reshaped the cosmos and remade humans again and again until the God got the whole thing right. But I doubt that the asker wishes to mean those things, too. So it's a moot point to ask about a music composer. 

Most arguments fail when they compare God to human activities and give God human characteristics. What the asker is really doing is making a knowledge claim; in this case it's the assertion that an intelligence fine-tuned the cosmos. But he can't demonstrate that God fine-tuned the physical laws. Yes, he can say it but he can't prove it. 

In fact nobody has demonstrated that Zeus or some other god fine-tuned the laws of nature, either. So it's just nature's mystery who or what was the "composer."

Related post:

Jun 2, 2011

51 Was Jesus God walking on earth

Believer says: Jesus was God walking among men. 

But skeptic says: In ancient times it was hardly unique to declare that a man-god walked and talked on earth. The first-century AD was a superstitious time. Even the New Testament Book of Acts says that when Paul (during the mid first century) survived a snake bite on Malta Island, his survival convinced the inhabitants that he was a god. 

At first they believed that Paul was a murderer whom the Fates had punished with a snake bite. But when he showed no ill effects, the natives changed their minds and believed he was a god. 

Acts 28:3 Paul gathered up a bundle of sticks and was putting them on the fire when a snake came out on account of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. 4 The natives saw the snake hanging on Paul's hand and said to one another, "This man must be a murderer, but Fate will not let him live, even though he escaped from the sea storm.” 5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire without being harmed at all. 6 They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after waiting for a long time and not seeing anything unusual happening to him, they changed their minds and said, “He is a god!”

While in another town Paul and his comrade healed a lame man. Because of that, the natives concluded that they were deities. The locals wanted to make a sacrifice to them, believing they were manifestations of Zeus and Hermes, two Olympian gods.

Acts 14:11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they started shouting in their own Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us!” 12 They gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and Paul the name Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of the god Zeus, whose temple stood just outside the town, brought bulls and flowers to the gate, for he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifice to the apostles.

The stories show us that people believed that a god could walk among them in human form. 

But the catch was that they could accuse a miracle healer of sorcery, too. In fact Paul failed to impress some Jews or he made them nervous in the story. Either way the Jews spoke rhetoric to the crowd and they turned against Paul, believing him to be a sorcerer, the crowd that had believed he was a god before. But they wound up believing he was bad

Acts 14:18 [T]he apostles could hardly keep the crowd from offering a sacrifice to them. 19 Some Jews ... won the crowd over to their side, stoned Paul and dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead.

Recap: People could find favor or disfavor in faith healings in those times. They might conclude that a faith healer was a god or sorcerer although he was neither. Superstition simply prevailed. The Jewish people believed that Jesus was a god-man or sorcerer (who cast out demons through Satan). You could become a god-man or sorcerer if you were associated with an extraordinary thing. Thus the Gospel stories embellished the life of Jesus, who was probably little more than a faith healer and philosopher. 

Related post:
01 So, was there an historical Jesus

Jun 1, 2011

50 Is Genesis creation the evolutionary picture

Believer says: Genesis 1 is just evolution in a nut shell.

But skeptic says: Genesis 1 says that marine life was first and humans the last to appear on the planet, and that's right as far as that goes. But it also says that birds were the first along with marine life to appear on the planet, and that's incorrect. 

Genesis 1 puts creation in order as follows:

Day 1
Water was the first thing to exist. But science says land existed before any lakes or seas ever did.

Light and darkness were called Day and Night. But the sun hadn’t been made yet. So it's an anomaly for evenings and mornings to come without a sun.

Day 2
In Genesis there was a water reservoir located high overhead and situated above a solid sky dome. But science and evolution certainly don’t support anything like that.

Day 3
God made land by separating the seas. But science has it the other way around; there was land long before there were any seas.

Further, God made earth plants yield fruits and vegetables. God hadn't created sea life yet. But science has it the other way around; there was sea life before there was any land vegetation.

Day 4
Now, God made the sun and the stars. God had already made the earth. But science explains that the sun and stars were among the first things to be made, and that the earth was made later.

Day 5
Now, God created marine life and birds. God hadn't made land animals yet. But science explains that there were land creatures before there were birds.

Day 6
God created land animals and humans. But there's no mention of the earliest forms of humans.

God created both land animals and humans to be vegetarians.

So creation in Genesis shows less in common with science than Biblicists let on. Sometimes Biblicists make adjustments to the text to make it comport with science. They often read between the lines or say “what the Hebrew really means is ...” It’s of course their means to “rescue” the text from an otherwise unscientific picture. 

In other words today's Biblicists rewrite Genesis. They learn what modern science says, then recast Genesis to try to make it blend with modern findings.

Defenders might predict that one day modern science will change its hypotheses and theories to fall in step with Genesis. But something tells me that day won’t ever come. 

But there isn't a problem with it Genesis 1 so long as we take it to be just poetic literature.

Related post: 
41 Did early Christians rethink Genesis creation