Jul 10, 2011

69 Is it right to smuggle Bibles

Is it right or wrong to smuggle Bibles into China today?

Apparently it’s the wrong thing since God establishes authorities on earth, and Christians are called on to obey the authorites thoroughly

Romans 13: 1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 

Recap: Today there are missionaries who smuggle Bibles across borders, defying the laws of the foreign country. But are they right-doers according to Romans?

Related post:

Jul 9, 2011

68 Atheists lack a higher power for morality

Believer says: Atheists have no higher power to justify morality.

But skeptic says: Well, the way I see it, wherever there are two people together, morality is there, too. Say in one extreme, people bully one another in their group; that’s their morality. In the other extreme, people are generous toward one another; and that’s their morality. In other words, it’s never possible to have no kind of morality in a group.

As for a higher power or standard to justify morality, standards of morality are relative--they change, they vary from culture to culture as well as from religion to religion. I say there’s no such thing as a higher standard of morality, but there's only a different standard.

Recap: Morality is intrinsic in a group. It’s unavoidable whether for better or worse. And a belief in God isn't automatically a higher standard for morality. It's really just a subjective thing. 

Related post:

Jul 8, 2011

67 Does Paul say that Jesus is not co-equal to God

Paul’s letter 1 Corinthians says Jesus isn’t actually co-equal to God in the longer run, since Jesus will be made subject to God when everything has been accomplished in the end

1 Corinthians 15:27 [T]he scripture says, "God put all things under his feet." It is clear, of course, that the words "all things" do not include God himself, who puts all things under Christ. 28 But when all things have been placed under Christ's rule, then he himself, the Son, will place himself under God, who placed all things under him; and God will rule completely over all.

Recap: It looks as if it's bye-bye to the doctrine of a real Trinity.

Jul 7, 2011

66 How do you define a miracle

Believer asks: What to you is the religious definition for miracle?

Skeptic answers: The religious definition for it is “God did it.” 

The secular definition for a miracle is “a great beneficial surprise.” As “It was a miracle he showed up on time!”

Jul 6, 2011

65 Was the Devil the snake in the Garden of Eden

Believer says: The snake in the Garden of Eden is the devil in disguise.

But skeptic says: It’s always strange to me that Satan was the snake in the Garden of Eden according to the Christian view. After God showed up in the Garden (because Eve ate the forbidden fruit), Satan wasn't punished for fooling Eve. But the snake was punished for it, and so were all other snakes; they were made to crawl on their bellies from that time on. But apparently Satan got away scot-free

Genesis 3:14 [T]he Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.”

Later in the Bible Satan showed up again and was doing just fine. And he wasn't crawling on his belly 

Job 1:6 When the day came for the heavenly beings to appear before the Lord, Satan was there among them.7 The Lord asked him, "What have you been doing?" Satan answered, "I have been walking here and there, roaming around the earth." 

And what's more, Paul teaches that the devil is still at large and is up to his usual old tricks 

1 Thessalonians 2:18 We wanted to return to you. I myself tried to go back more than once, but Satan would not let us.

Further, Peter teaches that the devil is still going around doing bad things, too 

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.

Recap: Christians teach that the devil was the snake in the Garden of Eden. However, punishment was dished out to the serpent, which ended up on its belly. Meantime, Satan remained at large “walking here and there” (Job 1:6). So, after the Garden of Eden incident, it didn't appear as if Satan crawled on his belly or ate dust.  

Jul 5, 2011

64 Is there purpose thanks to God

Believer says: There must be a God because without one, we would have no purpose, no meaning. We can't define meaning without him. 

But skeptic says: Well, we can hardly define purpose as defined in the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 22:14 “Many are called but few are chosen.”

Christians say everyone has ears but few bother to listen and respond. So not everybody who hears the Gospel accepts it. Just the few have “ears to hear.”

Accordingly, then, the bulk of humanity has no purpose or meaning, anyway. 

Paul even says “the god of this world”--that's the devil--confounds the unbelievers. And it seems that God doesn't intervene to prevent it 

2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Further, God’s grand scheme works for the comparatively few to go to heaven, and it was the plan from the beginning 

Ephesians 1:11 All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. 

Recap: It appears that few have been chosen from the start, according to the Christian view. There's purpose for those few. But it's nada for the majority.

Related post:

Jul 4, 2011

63 Define truth, reality, morals without God

Believer asks: How can you define "reality," "truth," "moral wrong," "faith" or "knowledge" without invoking God?

Skeptic replies: Well, all of those words have relative meanings. So with that in mind, one way to define them is as follows:

1) Reality: My experiences while I'm awake. They make up my personal reality even if I misapprehend some things about them. Thus reality. 

2) Truth: Well, let's say I live on Maple Street. It's a fact. Thus truth. 

3) Moral wrong: It's has to do with my personal point of view. Let's say I dislike the cruel treatment people receive from others. According to my personal view, moral wrong is going on. My point of view is key but it’s relative. Thus moral wrong.

4) Faith: Let's say I have confidence in the mail carrier, Newman. I trust him or take for granted he will keep delivering the mail like before. I put faith in him but he isn’t on my mind very much at all. I expect he'll do his thing, having casual faith in Newman. Thus faith.  

5) Knowledge: One example is two plus two equals four. Another is the history fact that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Another is that every time I ask Linda out, she gives me a dirty look. That’s knowledge. 

Recap: Those words have relative (subjective) meanings. So I defined them in relative terms. And I didn't have to evoke God.

Related post:

Jul 3, 2011

62 Did Christianity invent compassion

Believer says: Jesus invented and taught compassion. 

Matthew So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

But skeptic says: I doubt whether it’s really the case that Christianity invented compassion. Here are several instances of non-Christian documentation about being nice: 

Seneca: "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors." Epistle 47:11 (Rome, mid-1st century AD) 

Confucianism: "Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state." (China, Analects Bk.12, Ch.2, 3rd century BC) 

Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." Laws Bk.11.254 (Greece, 4th century BC) 

Egyptian papyrus: "That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another." (Egypt, 4th century BC) 

Isocrates: "Do not do to others what would anger you if done to you by others." (Greece, "Nicocles" 6, 4th century BC) 

Leviticus 19:18 Do not take revenge on others or continue to hate them, but love your neighbors as you love yourself. (Israel, 6th century BC) 

Tao Te Ching: “To those who are good to me, I am good; to those who are not good to me, I am also good. Thus all get to be good. To those who are sincere with me, I am sincere; to those who are not sincere with me, I am also sincere. Thus all get to be sincere. . . . The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful.” (China, Chapter 49, 3rd century BC) 

Jul 2, 2011

61 Where's the evidence that atheism is true

Believer says: Provide proof and evidence that atheism is true and accurate.

Skeptic replies: Well, there’s so-called strong atheism, which asserts that there is no god (or if you like, no gods). In which case, no one can provide proof or evidence for the strong assertion, since no one can be a know-it-all.

But there’s the other kind of atheism, too. Or least that's what it’s called, atheism. It has one foot in agnosticism--meaning that there’s no way to know if gods really exist. And it has the other in atheism--meaning that the atheist doesn't see any good evidence for the existence of the god that you name. It’s always a good idea for the theist to name a god first of all, then the agnostic-atheist explains why he doesn't see any convincing evidence for it. If they don't begin the discussion that way, the theist can say sooner or later, “Well, I’m not talking about that god.” Then the atheist has to start all over again. 

So the second kind of atheist admits there may be a god but doesn't see any compelling evidence for its existence yet.

Recap: It's easy for the second kind of atheist to “Provide proof and evidence that atheism is true and accurate.” The proof is, you failed to persuade the atheist your God exists and that's true and accurate.

Jul 1, 2011

60 In a dark alley, six guys are coming toward you

Believer’s question: You're in a dark alley at night and six guys are coming toward you. Would it make any difference to you if you knew they were coming from a Bible study?

Skeptic’s answer: I can answer in two ways:
1) Yes, it'd make a difference. It'd make a difference, too, if I knew the six were coming from a Boy Scout meeting, a Free Mason’s Lodge, The Bird Watcher’s Society, or a piano concert. Thus it'd help if I knew where they were coming from. 

2) As for Bible study, I might not feel relieved if I were gay and looked it, and knew they were coming from a fundamentalist Bible study.