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Why is the Old Testament irrelevant?

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This string is moves only these steps: 1) hyperbolic doubt, that is, everything which is not logically proven in your mind, doubt. 2) As you doubt, you become certain of one thing, that you are doubting. If you are doubting, then you must be thinking. If you are thinking, then there must be a you, that is, a mind. 3) If there is a mind, and if it is the case that out of nothing, nothing comes, then your mind must have come from something. But, in the case of something as ephemeral and complex as your mind, and no lower thing can create something which is made of materials not possessed by it, then, it seems, your mind was created by something greater. There is no thing greater than the human mind except some higher, meta-mind, if you will. This is where the hypothesis of God comes into being since no other explanation fits the circumstances. But, if God, then what kind of God? Clearly a God which is not weak or otherwise merely a god-like man or a man-like god. He must be a maximally great being in order to fit the circumstances.

 l like this.

 

I'll add my response on the video later. Going to be busy couple days.

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Glad you like it. That section that you quoted is taken pretty much lock-stock-and-barrel from Rene Descartes.

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doesn't care or impotent - false dichotomy - suffering: what is it?

 

Alright, so I listened to the vid and took some rough notes. That ten minute section hinges upon the fact that physical suffering is evil. But what if that was done away with? What if suffering weren't seen as evil? Then, conceivably, Mr. Harris' entire case would fall to pieces since, it seems, it is primarily motivated by the injustice of God. Is there any way to show that physical suffering is not evil? Only if there is some kind of afterlife. But an afterlife would be contingent, most likely, on there being the Christian God. Can the Christian God be proved? Strictly speaking, it depends on the argument being used. In the case of my particular favorite string of arguments, his existence can be proven.

 

This string is moves only these steps: 1) hyperbolic doubt, that is, everything which is not logically proven in your mind, doubt. 2) As you doubt, you become certain of one thing, that you are doubting. If you are doubting, then you must be thinking. If you are thinking, then there must be a you, that is, a mind. 3) If there is a mind, and if it is the case that out of nothing, nothing comes, then your mind must have come from something. But, in the case of something as ephemeral and complex as your mind, and no lower thing can create something which is made of materials not possessed by it, then, it seems, your mind was created by something greater. There is no thing greater than the human mind except some higher, meta-mind, if you will. This is where the hypothesis of God comes into being since no other explanation fits the circumstances. But, if God, then what kind of God? Clearly a God which is not weak or otherwise merely a god-like man or a man-like god. He must be a maximally great being in order to fit the circumstances.

 

At this point I recommend you check out the article recently posted here which was done by Dr. Alvin Plantinga which provides the rest of the string. This can be found here.

 

This string shows the rationality of belief in God and, I daresay, shows that his existence is required by the circumstances. We may now progress. For the sake of the argument, let's say that you were immediately convinced by the preceding string to become a theist. Let's also, for the moment, disregard the term "Christian morality" since Christian morality is not fundamentally different from, say, classical Stoic morality, though there are some differences. What may now be said of the suffering of children? Of animals even? What may be said of that recessive longing for the beautiful which most will never seemingly find?

 

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus had a saying that true wealth consisted in having few wants. What does that mean? It seems to mean that physical things are not wealth but, rather, that which physical things seem to bring. Perhaps fame, or comfort. What do we picture when we say the term wealth? We picture a very great good, indeed, if we thought that a thing had evil to it we would not call it wealth. So then, it seems, that which is wealth is also good and not partially good but wholly so. But, alas! It seems, then, that nothing is truly wealth or good since all physical things at least have the evil of diminishing over time either because we lose them, or because we die. Is there something then which lasts longer and is more wholly good? It seems that our happiness is that which is wholly good since it is not contingent on anything else. We may be beaten and bloody but it is our choice to think that we might every really enjoy anything better. After all, everything is evil in the end every thing is vanity and vexatious since when we are rich we are discontent and when we are poor we are likewise. Ergo, it seems that no physical thing is actually good but rather that which is out of our control is none of our concern. It is our place to decide how we shall comport ourselves.

 

What role does our physical suffering play then? If we believe in a God as he has been conceived here, a maximally great being, then we must think that he has some purpose. We find ourselves in an intellectual vise of sorts; on one side we have the rationality of belief. On the other, we have suffering. And, in this picture, the purpose of suffering is revealed. Suffering is intended to turn us on ourselves, to force us to contemplate its meaning and, afterwards, our placement in the world. Or at least, so it seems. 

 

For this reason, I say that suffering is not evil as Mr. Harris seems to think that it is. Those children buried in post holes, those millions slaughtered in the killing fields of Cambodia, the gas chambers of Auschwitz, or, even, in the womb with no chance to suffer and to, truly, live, play a role in our lives which some cause of death played in their own; to cause us to contemplate and that is the greatest good we are capable of.

 

Now, what about those who are supposedly sent to hell? This is a touchy subject as many Christians believe many different things. I will simply note that our hypothesis of a maximally great being entails that he is also just and merciful in his being just. Who can say whether the spirit of man goes up and the spirit of an animal goes nowhere. But it is, at its very least, thinkable that it does and such makes a great deal of sense.

 

wrong culture - wrong religion - disregards the "findable" nature of Christianity

 

This, compared to the first explanation, is quite simple. The "wrong culture, therefore wrong religion" objection to Christianity rests on two things; 1) that God does not judge justly in the afterlife those who chose poorly on the basis of cultural blindness and, 2) that the nature of Christianity is not eminently findable. I was not raised in a home which taught me to be Christian. Oh, they taught me to be something like a Christian but I had no idea of the demands that Christ makes. I came to Christ through the Greek philosophers and the biblical book of Ecclesiastes and it's forceful case for proper action. I did grow up in a quasi-Christian culture, but nothing about my intellectual journey, except, perhaps, Ecclesiastes, is not completely accessible to the child in India, Tibet, or New York City.

 

There is also another explanation to this challenge which was made by that well known Englishman, C. S. Lewis. He held that all things done in the name of goodness were, in fact, done, albeit, unknowingly, in the name of Christ. So, then it would be that the young Buddhist monk who helped his fellow man in the earnest desire of doing good would have been closer to the kingdom of Heaven then the preacher who preached fire and brimstone from the pulpit.

 

God's command to the Israelites to kill 

 

This is also a fairly touchy subject, especially since I am no Old Testament scholar. I will say that Harris notes the "divine command theory" which, at least, a large minority do not adhere to. I will simply point out that, given our hypothesis of a maximally great being, the fact that whole nations die is irrelevant since God will not judge unjustly. Indeed, there is something more to the case than what Harris points out since, of all the nations that Israel was ordered to wipe out, none were not decidedly evil in that they sacrificed children, were rapacious, etc. 

 

Christ doesn't equal Elvis Presley

 

I found this rather humorous. Harris attempted to construe the eucharist as absurd since we would readily understand that hoping that something would turn into the body of Elvis Presley by speaking Latin as absurd. This ignores the fact that Christ is not equivalent to Elvis. And that Catholics, as far as I know, do not expect their wine and wafer to turn, literally and physically, into the body of Jesus of Nazareth. 

 

Who were the sorts of people who wrote the Bible?

 

Here, at Harris' point that superstitious and ignorant folk wrote the Bible, I was nearly laughing outloud. Clearly, Harris has never read the epistle to the Romans or Ecclesiastes or Job or Proverbs. These were not an unsophisticated people for their times. Foolish mayhaps, but not more foolish than ourselves and, in some ways, quite a bit more familiar with the wisdom that suffering brings.

 

------------------------------------------------------

 

This all, I think, shows what Mr. Harris said to be wrong. Again, I urge you to check out some guys like David Hume or Bertrand Russell or even Friedrich Nietzsche (though he criticizes atheists almost as much as Christians). These guys have far better academic reputations than does Harris and, at least in Nietzsche's case, he being the only one whom I have read, he was a bit less sleep inducing.

 

If you want a more balanced education, I'd start with the Greeks or Confucius and work your way through the ascent of philosophy. 

 

You make a lot of sense here but the thing is, the same things could be said about, say Islam. Both have about the same number of followers worldwide and have roughly the same "findability". And that doesn't count for the people who pray to other Gods and are completely convinced they are real. You mentioned C. S. Lewis' theory. While that would make a lot of sense the thing is that A-It's not biblical and most Christians don't listen to anything non-biblical and B-That's basically a rip off of Hinduism which advocates that all Gods are just forms of the one true God and therefore all religions are based in truth. Also I'm not an atheist BTW. I'm just saying that the Christian God isn't the nicest.

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You make a lot of sense here but the thing is, the same things could be said about, say Islam. Both have about the same number of followers worldwide and have roughly the same "findability". And that doesn't count for the people who pray to other Gods and are completely convinced they are real. You mentioned C. S. Lewis' theory. While that would make a lot of sense the thing is that A-It's not biblical and most Christians don't listen to anything non-biblical and B-That's basically a rip off of Hinduism which advocates that all Gods are just forms of the one true God and therefore all religions are based in truth. Also I'm not an atheist BTW. I'm just saying that the Christian God isn't the nicest.

Your assessment of "find ability" is wrong. There are historical and logical rayon reasons to prefer Christianity to Islam. Also, C.S. Lewis' position in inclusivism is very different than Hinduism, and there is a possible Biblical case for it

Also, niceness is not necessarily a virtue. Goodness is, and they're not the same things

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You make a lot of sense here but the thing is, the same things could be said about, say Islam. Both have about the same number of followers worldwide and have roughly the same "findability". And that doesn't count for the people who pray to other Gods and are completely convinced they are real. You mentioned C. S. Lewis' theory. While that would make a lot of sense the thing is that A-It's not biblical and most Christians don't listen to anything non-biblical and B-That's basically a rip off of Hinduism which advocates that all Gods are just forms of the one true God and therefore all religions are based in truth. Also I'm not an atheist BTW. I'm just saying that the Christian God isn't the nicest.

 

First of all, I apologize for my false assessment. Even if you aren't an atheist you ought to check out the history of philosophy which would include those specific writers that I mentioned.

 

Next, it's irrelevant whether it can be said of Islam or not. Fact is, we're talking about Christianity here. I don't care if it can be said of the devil himself, it seems to be the truth in this circumstance and that's all I care about.

 

As far as C. S. Lewis goes and his hypothesis not being biblical: again, I don't care. If it's ripped off from Hinduism, I don't care. And all truths are at least partially true since no lie is convincing unless part of it is true - unless the person being lied to has a place to start building the false world in her head. Just so happens the Bible can be interpreted to support that/those notions.

 

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First of all, I apologize for my false assessment. Even if you aren't an atheist you ought to check out the history of philosophy which would include those specific writers that I mentioned.

 

Next, it's irrelevant whether it can be said of Islam or not. Fact is, we're talking about Christianity here. I don't care if it can be said of the devil himself, it seems to be the truth in this circumstance and that's all I care about.

 

As far as C. S. Lewis goes and his hypothesis not being biblical: again, I don't care. If it's ripped off from Hinduism, I don't care. And all truths are at least partially true since no lie is convincing unless part of it is true - unless the person being lied to has a place to start building the false world in her head. Just so happens the Bible can be interpreted to support that/those notions.

 

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Well yeah but we're talking about people being tortured forever for not finding the right God here so...

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Well yeah but we're talking about people being tortured forever for not finding the right God here so...

 

And so my shpeal is that if they don't find him, it isn't because he wasn't findable, it's because they weren't looking in which case it seems justifiable that they suffer. Perhaps not all eternity, and, looking to the Catholics, the idea of purgatory, if I'm not mistaken, was designed to act as a reformatory. The sinner goes in there, gets the stuffing kicked out of him, and, upon his eventual capitulation, is excepted in through the gates of splendor. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy. 

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And so my shpeal is that if they don't find him, it isn't because he wasn't findable, it's because they weren't looking in which case it seems justifiable that they suffer. Perhaps not all eternity, and, looking to the Catholics, the idea of purgatory, if I'm not mistaken, was designed to act as a reformatory. The sinner goes in there, gets the stuffing kicked out of him, and, upon his eventual capitulation, is excepted in through the gates of splendor. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy.

Those papists are getting to you too deeply. SEMPER REFORMADA!

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And so my shpeal is that if they don't find him, it isn't because he wasn't findable, it's because they weren't looking in which case it seems justifiable that they suffer. Perhaps not all eternity, and, looking to the Catholics, the idea of purgatory, if I'm not mistaken, was designed to act as a reformatory. The sinner goes in there, gets the stuffing kicked out of him, and, upon his eventual capitulation, is excepted in through the gates of splendor. Easy peasy, lemon squeasy. 

haha. Spheal. happy_spheal_by_stayeend-d5nhk3i.png

 

Those papists are getting to you too deeply. SEMPER REFORMADA!

Yeah how about we have the reformation just die. Or at least the Pentecostals. 

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Guest Mike Spero

Wow, this was a rather old thread to get bumped O.O Anyways, short answer: It's not. Jesus said He came to fulfill the law, not destroy it. Also, I highly doubt our omnipotent God was like: "Let me use my own divine Providence to assemble a holy text which shall be a beacon of Me and truth for all of man... And let's also let half of it be some junk that got thrown in there"

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Those papists are getting to you too deeply. SEMPER REFORMADA!

 

I am a willy fox, they haven't got me yet!

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I am a willy fox, they haven't got me yet!

 

There are some very good arguments both for and against Catholicism...

 

Nevertheless, Mr. C. Ingram, but how should one narrow things down.  There are several rational conflicts with polytheism, but what of monotheism?  How does one narrow it down to Christianity from there?

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Yeah how about we have the reformation just die. Or at least the Pentecostals.

Seriously, the love I'm feeling is just overwhelming.

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There are some very good arguments both for and against Catholicism...

 

Nevertheless, Mr. C. Ingram, but how should one narrow things down.  There are several rational conflicts with polytheism, but what of monotheism?  How does one narrow it down to Christianity from there?

 

1) I'd say the rationality and expansiveness of the Christian system is something unique to it. The other religions of the world may be good ethically, cohesive and coherent philosophically, but, as far as I know, none covers all aspects of life so fully the way Christianity does.

2) There's also good evidence for the life of Christ as well as several problems with rejecting his resurrection.

3) The third reason that I can think of, is that Christian theology and philosophy is massively advanced. Even if Christians weren't right on every point the fact that the system is so advanced makes expanding other systems rather pointless. It'd be like trying to develop a new branch of philosophy to replace a branch like metaphysics that's been around for a couple thousand years.

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Guest JAG

There are some very good arguments both for and against Catholicism...

 

Nevertheless, Mr. C. Ingram, but how should one narrow things down.  There are several rational conflicts with polytheism, but what of monotheism?  How does one narrow it down to Christianity from there?

 

Which religion would you put up against it and why?  I've yet to find a theology so convincing, nor a philosophy so propelling, nor a mode of salvation so sound and tangible.

Edited by JAG

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Which religion would you put up against it and why?  I've yet to find a theology so convincing, nor a philosophy so propelling, nor a mode of salvation so sound and tangible.

I speak of all monotheistic religions: rastafari, zoroastrianism, Islam, etc...

 

So for all I pose this: how do we refute those who say that Christianity (and Judaism) are just a "collection of fairy tales from various cultures" even though the original texts of the OT pre-date just about everything else ever written?

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Guest JAG

I speak of all monotheistic religions: rastafari, zoroastrianism, Islam, etc...

 

So for all I pose this: how do we refute those who say that Christianity (and Judaism) are just a "collection of fairy tales from various cultures" even though the original texts of the OT pre-date just about everything else ever written?

 

Why would rastafari, zoroastrianism, Islam have anything on Christianity in terms of theology, philosophy, etc.? Are you saying you don't know much about these religions, or that you don't know much about Christianity, or both?

 

I'd say I have a massive book called Grimms Fairy Tales by my bed next to the bible and anyone who has been to school can tell a difference between the writing styles...or that would be my sarcastic remark anyway.

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Guest JAG

I retract that statement.  Even the most uneducated of persons can tell the difference.

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Why would rastafari, zoroastrianism, Islam have anything on Christianity in terms of theology, philosophy, etc.? Are you saying you don't know much about these religions, or that you don't know much about Christianity, or both?

 

I'd say I have a massive book called Grimms Fairy Tales by my bed next to the bible and anyone who has been to school can tell a difference between the writing styles...or that would be my sarcastic remark anyway.

 

No, I know much about that, but how does one refute them?  No, I know much about all of these religions, but as a person somewhat interested in evangelization, it would be quite helpful.

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Guest JAG

No, I know much about that, but how does one refute them?  No, I know much about all of these religions, but as a person somewhat interested in evangelization, it would be quite helpful.

 

Ok, sarcasm aside, if a person is a theist, but can't decide if Christianity is true or not, and specifically can't decide if it's true in light of the other religions, I'd start with something like this.

 

First, you'd have to accept that if Christianity is true, then every other religion, at its core, is false.  That's merely because of Christ's claim to divinity.  If Christ is divine, then Islam is false because it directly states Christ is not divine.  See what I mean?  Whoever this person is, if they can't accept this one reasonable law (that a direct contradiction such as "Christ is divine and Christ is not divine" yields only one true answer) then I wouldn't begin to try to convert them using logic.  An object can't be 'blue', and be 'not blue', at the same time.

 

From there you have to bring evidence to the divinity of Christ, and I feel from reading the gospels you're left with a sinking suspicion that if not an angel, then an alien, if not an alien, then Jesus must have been a god - or at least a demi god.

 

That's the next big step though.  This person, whoever they might be, has to read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) - otherwise they may not even know who Jesus is.  They've probably heard a lot about Him, but it's nothing compared to actually reading His words and observing His actions.  Einstein, a man who was in no way a Christian, wrote, "No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life. How different, for instance, is the impression which we receive from an account of legendary heroes of antiquity like Theseus. Theseus and other heroes of his type lack the authentic vitality of Jesus."

 

Which is why I can't tolerate a person who equates the gospel with fairy tales.  It's ridiculous, absurdity to its natural end - which is foolishness.  I suspect they have never read Grimms Fairy Tales, or they have not read the gospels (and the truth is usually they've read neither).

 

From there, while this person is reading the gospels (you may need to make a trade here - perhaps read The God Delusion), pray.  Seriously, if your God is real, and His promises are true (seek and you will find!) then you must pray that God, rather than you, reveals Himself to your friend.  If they read the gospel, seeking God in the process, He will reveal Himself to them - the Holy Spirit will touch their heart and convict them of their sin ('even if you're angry at your brother, it's murder!' cries Jesus).

 

I wouldn't focus too much on why the other religions are false.  If you can show that Jesus is true, it naturally follows the core of the rest of those religions is false.  You could focus on how Allah doesn't love sinners, and thus is not perfect in his love as Jesus is.  You can focus on a million tiny details, but once again, it's about Christ.

Edited by JAG

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