Oct 11, 2011

99 Do atheists believe everything came from nothing


Believer says: Atheists have to accept the premise that everything came from nothing. However, everybody knows that nothing comes from nothing.

But skeptic says: Uh, you don't have to accept the premise that everything came from nothing. You can say that you don't know and still be an atheist.

Even if a theist says science can’t explain what brought the Big Bang about, the declaration doesn’t do anything to support the Bible. Science simply doesn't know yet, may never know. But it doesn't mean we must go to the Bible.

Related post:

Oct 10, 2011

98 Does the Bible include women prophetesses

Believer might say: The Gospels relate that women were the first to see the risen Jesus. It’s obvious that the Gospels give the facts because women belonged to a low social status, and so their testimonies were to be distrusted in the first century AD Jewish world. Women were never prophets, either.  

But skeptic says: Well, the Gospel of Luke appears to differ with you. It reports a Jewish prophetess of the times 

Luke 2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then had been a widow for eighty-four years. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to [Mary and Joseph] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

A Jewish prophetess is mentioned in the Old Testament book of Judges, too. She lived in the 11th century BC 

Judges 4:4 Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, judged Israel at that time. 

And she was a judge, too 

Judges 4:5 [Deborah] held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided. 

The Old Testament book 2 Kings mentions an Israelite prophetess, who lived in the seventh century BC  

2 Kings 22:14 Hilkiah the priest ... went to Huldah the prophetess

Recap: Yes, the Bible mentions several women prophetesses. 

Related post:
70 Did men trust women's testimonies

Oct 8, 2011

97 Will end time and Judgment Day ever get here


Believer might say: No man knows the hour of Christ’s return to earth and the Judgment. We must always prepare as if it could come at anytime.   

But skeptic says: Good luck with that. It seems the end won't ever come. In the AD 80s, the Gospel of Matthew commanded believers of the day to keep watch  

Matthew 24:42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  

But Judgment Day didn't come in the first century AD two millennia ago, or in the second or third century, and so forth.  

So, telling the first-century Christians to “keep watch” didn't do them much good. It's apparent that Christ's return wasn't set to happen in the first century, and yet they were commanded to “keep watch.” Watch for what? I say it's strange that Jesus told them to keep alert.

Recap: The Gospel enjoiner to “keep watch” was so premature that it sounds like a failed prophecy now.

Oct 7, 2011

96 Was animal sacrifice people’s way not God's

Believer says: Animal sacrifice in the Old Testament was commanded for the sake of God’s people, who couldn’t imagine worshipping God without it, and God knew it so he commanded it. 

But skeptic says: A web article agrees with you:

“After the destruction of the Second Temple (AD 70), ritual sacrifice ceased except among the Samaritans. Maimonides, a medieval Jewish rationalist, argued that God always held sacrifice inferior to prayer and philosophical meditation. 

“However, God understood that the Israelites were used to the animal sacrifices that the surrounding pagan tribes used as the primary way to commune with their gods. As such, in Maimonides' view, it was only natural that Israelites would believe that sacrifice was a necessary part of the relationship between God and man.” 

Maimonides concludes that God's decision to allow sacrifices was a concession to human psychological limitations. It would've been too much to have expected the Israelites to leap from pagan worship to prayer and meditation in one step. 

Well, I say it’s an irony that God kept his people in the Sinai wilderness for forty years (so the story goes) but didn't wean them away from animal sacrifice. Instead God issued specific commandments to imitate the pagans.

Maimonides: “For to obey such a commandment [to give up animal sacrifice] would have been contrary to the nature of man …” 

Um, I really doubt that animal sacrifice is part of the nature of man. This rabbi seems to know little about “the nature of man," so he must be speaking for himself. I say people can learn and appreciate new ways; so they can do away with animal sacrifice altogether. They can always burn biscuits if they must make sacrifice.

Another rabbi: "In contrast, many others disagree with the idea that 'God always held sacrifice inferior to prayer and philosophical meditation.' In his Torah commentary on Leviticus 1:9, Rabbi Nachmanides (13th century) contends that sacrifices are an ideal in Judaism, completely central." 

It sounds as if Nachmanides claimed that sacrifice didn't have anything to do with imitating the pagans.

Recap: I say these Jewish teachers had relative point of view. Animal sacrifice is "ideal in Judaism" and "completely central" although it has fallen out of general practice. Sounds totally contraditory to me.

Related post on my other blog:
85 Could animal sacrifice remove your sin

Source for web article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice

Oct 6, 2011

95 Does the title of Darwin’s book support racism

Believer says: The title of Charles Darwin’s book clearly proves that he believed that northern Europeans were biological superior to others thanks to evolution.

But skeptic says: The title of his 1859 book included the word “races” but didn't imply a lower species of 19th century humans. The complete title was “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” 

Yes, it said that. He initially decided to call his book “An Abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species and Varieties Through Natural Selection.” But with publisher persuasion, he changed it to “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

His book uses the word “races” about “the several races, for instance, of the cabbage" and proceeds to discuss "the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants."  Catch where it says varieties (races) of plants. 

Reference to the cabbage race didn't make Darwin a racist, just referred to the variety of the cabbage. Even if he was a racist, the title did nothing to reveal his view. 

Recap: The title or content didn't indicate “race” like today. In his later Descent of Man he favors the cultural level of the northern European. He said cultures that lacked technological advancement or modern education were “savage races.” And he expected the civilized races to absorb them. He might have been a cultural snob but insisted that all living humans were one species. That is, his theory says lower human species didn't exist in his day. 

Related post:
38 Nobody was there to see evolution taking place

Oct 5, 2011

94 Is the resurrection historical fact

Believer says: An historical resurrection of Jesus is the only reasonable explanation for what really happened. The fact of the Resurrection is just as the New Testament tells it. All naturalistic explanations are doomed to fail.

But skeptic says: I say the most reasonable explanation is the story was made up. There are conflicting versions of it. For example, the Gospel of John says Mary Magdalene took herself to the tomb. She was alone. The other Gospels say she went in the company of friends. Somebody was wrong.  

The Gospel of John gives the impression she was alone 

John 20:1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance. 2 She went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple.  

The other Gospels say she went in the company of women. For example, Mark  

Mark 16:1 After the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices to go and anoint the body of Jesus. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they said to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" (It was a very large stone.) 4 Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back. 5 So they entered the tomb ...  

As I said, somebody was wrong.  

And Mark says there was an angel, who told them Jesus had been raised.

But John says she took one look inside the empty tomb, then ran to Peter and another disciple and told them.  

Mark says an angel spoke to the women, but they ran away and didn’t tell anyone

Mark 16:8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. 

Other details fail to match up with John, too. I'll provide a link to it on my other blog:   

Recap: I say various and radical differences in the resurrection accounts show there were several rumors of the resurrection. Rumors are the best explanation for the stories. Namely, they're fictions. The rumors are incompatible and attempts to harmonize them have failed. They have too many conflicting details.

Oct 4, 2011

93 What about the miracles of Jesus

Believer asks: What about the miracles of Jesus? Are they not proof of the truth of the Gospels?  

Skeptic answers: Even if miracles were possible, we'd still need evidence for the miracles of Jesus. In other words, their possibility doesn't prove the ones in the Bible. So the supposed miracles in the Gospels don't prove the Gospels. First show that they happened. So what about the miracles of Jesus? 

Related post on my other blog:
35 Could Jesus ever lose the power to do miracles

Oct 3, 2011

92 Is skepticism self-defeating

Believer says: The truth is, skepticism is self-defeating. According to the skeptic's philosophy, we should be skeptical of skepticism itself. 

But skeptic says: Um, is that the truth? That is, is skepticism really a philosophy or doctrine? I'd say that skepticism (as it is on this blog) is a position that waits to hear better evidence. Skeptics don’t have a formal philosophy about the Bible, they have an attitude towards it. That is, they doubt that the Bible doctrine as the content of Bible doesn’t ring true for them.  

Further, I say the truth is, Christianism is self-defeating. According to Christianism, adherents to the faith should be certain about the doctrine. But what are their chances of belonging to the one true church when there are so many different churches? Do they ever wonder about that? If they do, they're skeptical. 

I say a little healthy skepticism is fine whether you're religious or not.

Recap: Christians engage in skepticism, too. I say if it's okay for them, it's okay for secularists.

Related post on my other blog: 

Oct 2, 2011

91 "What if you're wrong and there’s a God"

Skeptic answers: I assume what it really means to ask is, “What if you are wrong and there's a Bible God?”   

I'll flip the question: “What if you're wrong and there's no Bible God?” Then what? Should you worship Isis of Egypt or other goddess or god instead? I'd say no; that wouldn't do any good. It seems to me there are Christians who attend church just in case their God exists. But their taking the position of "just in case" fails to convince the non-theist. 

Related post:
49 Pascal’s Wager: Just believe and go to heaven

Oct 1, 2011

90 If the smartest man believes ID, why don’t you

Believer says: The smartest man living today believes in ID. Why don't you?  

But skeptic says: Well, he might be real smart in the sciences. But that doesn't make him smart in theology or Intelligent Design. If he knows something special, some coercive facts about ID, what are they? We merely hear, “He’s real smart and believes in ID. Why don’t you?”   

It isn't unusual for somebody to be adept in a field of science, yet when it comes to religion, he throws critical thinking to wind.

Believer says, too: It’s Christopher Michael Langan (born c. 1957), an American autodidact (self-taught person) who has taught himself mathematics, physics, cosmology and the cognitive sciences. Various media sources report Langan as having an estimated IQ of 195.  

Langan supports Intelligent Design theory. Why don't you? 

But skeptic says:
He could know theological truth that we don’t. Therefore it would make him right. So let’s hear it. But we only get silence.  

Or we might know a theological truth that he doesn’t. Therefore it would make him wrong. So let's hear what we know. Again we get silence. Thus we're both in the same boat. Neither side has anything new to argue really, regarding ID.

Christians argue ID theory, then lead to the Bible. They believe that the Bible God is the Designer. They advocate ID and head for the Bible next. But the deal is, a hypothetical Designer doesn't need to be the Bible God. 

Recap: I infer that this smart man knows something special about ID. Let's not make it a mystery anymore; let's hear what it is. But I only hear, “He’s real smart and believes in ID. Why don’t you?” So something tells me he hasn't anything special to say about ID.