“Top 10 Reasons To [Not] Be A Christian”

Faith-killing questions from the trenches, and answers

 
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  1. “There is no scientific evidence whatsoever of any miracles ever actually occurring.”
  2. “The Jesus story just is an accumulation of myths of legendary people, all rolled into one über nice guy.”
  3. “Science and faith are incompatible ways of thinking. Separate realms that should be kept separate.”
  4. “The history of science is the story of one religious superstition after another being eradicated by reason and logic.”
  5. “The Bible is a translation of a translation of tales cobbled together by Constantine in 300AD.”
  6. “St. Paul invented Christianity by making a nice rabbi named Jesus into a god.”
  7. “Evolution disproves God.”
  8. “In their arrogant superiority, Christians think everybody else is going to burn in hell for all eternity.”
  9. “The Bible is riddled with contradictions and therefore cannot be the perfect word of God.”
  10. “More people have been killed in the name of religion than any other cause in the history of the world.”

This story starts with my brother Bryan, a tough-questions seminary student. He got a Masters degree in theology at a very conservative seminary where they work them real good, and he toed the line and he learned all the stuff that he’s supposed to learn, and he moved to China.

He’s in China for a couple of years and he basically turned into an agnostic and came within spitting distance of becoming an atheist, which really shook me up.

Bryan is a very smart guy, and one of the questions that he asked was this.

He goes, “Okay, Perry, I’ve been to seminary. I know Greek, I know Hebrew, I know Aramaic, and when I read the New Testament I do not see any reason whatsoever from the text why we should not have miracles today. So where are they?

1. “There is no scientific evidence whatsoever of any miracles ever actually occurring.”

And I’m like, “Uh…let me ask my sales manager and get back to you.” I hate it when people ask ‘elephant in the room’ questions.

Now, if you’ve been in any strand of Christianity for any length of time, you will encounter miracle stories. For example, “We prayed for my sister Debbie and she had cancer, and all of a sudden she didn’t have cancer anymore.”

Every now and then, I don’t care where you are in Christianity, you will hear those. I’ve heard a few of them, but I was in very short supply of such stories and I hadn’t thought about it much. I had always been taught that those miracles went away and they either don’t exist anymore, or at least never happen “on command.”

And Bryan’s cutting to the chase; he’s like, “Well, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t.” And I knew he was right. So what’s the deal? Let’s start in on this.

I went looking and I’ll teII you that one interesting book that I found along the way was by Richard Casdorph, who is a medical doctor. He wrote a book in the 1970s called Real Miracles. This is an older version of the book. It’s called, The Miracles – A Medical Doctor Says Yes to Miracles.

What this guy did was there was this lady back in the 1970s named Catherine Kuhlman and she would do these healing services. He followed her around and he documented what happened to these people. He documented the “before” and the “after” and he did so with X-rays, medical reports, letters from doctors, all of that kind of stuff. This book is 10 case studies. I’ll tell you what some of the chapter names are:

  • Malignant Brain Tumor
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Atherosclerotic Heart Disease
  • Carcinoma of the Kidney
  • Mixed Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

And he goes through, one by one, with X-rays, doctor’s reports and everything and says, “This guy had this before and it’s gone now. Here’s the X-ray, here’s the letter from the doctor, and there it is.” This is not by any means the only such book, but they exist.

Another example of this is God and The Sun at Fatima. Catholics will know what Fatima is (probably most Protestants won’t) but I think back somewhere around 1913, just before World War I, some children were playing and they had a vision of the Virgin Mary. She said that something really amazing is going to happen here at this certain date and they told everybody. Everybody showed up and they all saw it.

This book is by Stanley Jaki, who is a physicist and a Catholic priest and a science historian. He goes into 360 pages of interviewing people and documenting all this. This is as close as you can get to a scientific investigation of a miracle.

Another book that I ran across that I found real interesting that isn’t really about miracles but is about the metaphysical world is called Margins of Reality, by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne.

They worked at the Princeton University Engineering Anomalies Research Lab. The lab was closed in 2007, but for almost 30 years there was a lab at Princeton and they would investigate paranormal phenomena. And they proved to five 9’s of statistical confidence (that’s almost six Sigma) that people could deflect falling objects by concentrating. They proved that they could send and receive telepathic messages.

Now, most of the scientific community does not know what to do with this stuff. It freaks them out, but it’s there. This is a fascinating book. So I started investigating this, and I also started looking for personal experiences.

A couple of years ago I was in India with my friend, Jeremy. He has spent a lot of time doing healing and practicing Biblical healing. We were at a little church service and Jeremy goes up to the pastor and says, “Tell these people that if they want healing prayer at the end of the service, I’ll pray for them.” So the pastor tells all the people and everyone was like, “Well, okay, I’ll go over there!”

Jeremy was like, “Perry, Perry, come over here and help me!” I’d never done this before. There was a woman whose whole left arm was paralyzed. She had had brain surgery a year and a half before. She had an indentation in her head from the surgery. She had been having seizures ever since the surgery and she had no feeling in her left arm. She wanted us to pray for her.

So Jeremy’s like, “Okay, Perry, start praising God, start praying for this lady!”

I’m like, “Okay, me Robin, you Batman, I’ll do whatever you tell me to do,” and we started praying. He would poke her on the hand – “Can you feel that?”

“No, can’t feel that.”

He’d pray some more and ask, “Can you feel that?”

“I’m starting to feel something!” So he would pray some more and at the end of 20 minutes, all the feeling was back in her left arm. She was so excited, she didn’t know what to do with herself.

A guy came in with a broken wrist, holding it like that; by the end, he was jumping up and down, he was so excited.

There was another lady who had a severe shoulder injury and she couldn’t move her shoulder past about here. I put my arm on her shoulder and I could feel this crunching going on in her shoulder and we prayed for her for about 30 minutes. The crunching was all gone and she was moving her shoulder and she was all excited.

Then I go home and I’m like, “I wonder if this actually stuck. I wonder if it did.” So I emailed this guy and I asked him, “How are these people doing, anyway?”

He said, “In the glorious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Mr. Perry Marshall, I am so excited to tell you, they are telling everybody they can’t wait for you to come back!”

I said, “Wow, this is great!”

Now, I’ve got to cover 10 of these things in 50 minutes, which is kind of insane, so I don’t have time to go any more. The church that I attend, a Vineyard Church, we practice this.

I of all people know what it’s like to sit here and pray for someone and go, “I feel really stupid! What if this doesn’t work?” You know, sometimes there’s no obvious result, but sometimes there is. You know what?  It’s less risky than going to the emergency room.

I have a few friends who actually go to the emergency room every Tuesday night and they pray for people, and trippy stuff happens sometimes. If you want to read some more of these stories, go here. You can read the whole India story in more detail.

This brings up another thing. You know a lot of the people talk about Christians living by faith. Well, I totally understand and agree with that, but I also think that as you mature as a Christian, you live more and more by experience. That faith leads to results which gives you experience, and there’s kind of an upwards spiral and it’s not just like, “Well, you know, life is miserable, but by and by in the sky, someday God’s going to make the world a better place.”

No, it can be now. I think the Kingdom of God is now. I think a lot of Christians kind of have this, “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to the higher gifts, and I guess the question that I’d like to raise for people that want to take that approach is, well, if we took the New Testament and took all of the miracle stories out, what would we have left?

I think my brother was right. I don’t see any place in this book that says these miracles are supposed to stop. There’s a little challenge for you on that.

Note: For more information on documented healing events, see my extensive article on miracles which includes videos of live healings taking place, links to mainstream media coverage and recent reports in scientific journals. Read and watch here.


2.   “The Jesus story is just an accumulation of myths of a legendary people, all rolled into one ü
ber-nice guy.

Let me expand on that a little bit. People say, “The God and the Jesus that Christians worship today are actually amalgams formed out of ancient pagan gods. The idea of a virgin birth, a burial in a rock tomb, a resurrection after three days, eating a body, drinking blood, had nothing to do with Jesus.

“All those things were already in other myths and legends before that, so they just took them all and they kind of rolled them into these Jesus stories. So Christianity is a snowball that rolled over a dozen pagan religions and as the snowball grew, it freely attached pagan rituals in order to be more palatable to converts.”

By the way, I got this verbatim from an email that a guy sent me, so I just went and fished one up, and there you go. This is a very common thing. Well, I would like to reduce this to a question, so let’s look at the logical question behind the question.

I think the question is this:

“If a myth precedes a fact, does that make the fact a myth? Does it logically follow?”

Well, let’s take 9/11 as an example. On 9/11/01, as we all know, two planes flew into the Twin Towers.  The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg, on the first page puts readers into the cockpit of a hijacked jet, on a kamikaze mission into an American city, but it was written nine months before 9/11.

Does that make 9/11 a myth? Or how about Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy. 1996 – a Japanese 747 crashes into the Capitol, killing most of the top functionaries in the U.S. government.

Or here’s a good one – The Lone Gunman TV series. The pilot episode was about an attempt to crash an airliner into the World Trade Center. It was a government conspiracy to increase defense spending by making it look like a terrorist attack. It aired in March 2001.

So the next time someone tells you that Jesus was a myth, ask them this question: “Name one other resurrection story that stuck. Just one.” I don’t know of any. I think there’s a reason for that.

3.   “Science and faith are incompatible ways of thinking. They are separate realms that should be kept separate.”

I’ll tell you a little story. Back in the early 20th century there was a great deal of optimism in the mathematical profession that we were closing in on a theory of everything. What mathematicians were looking for was a set of constructions that made all of the propositions of mathematics form a nice, tidy, complete circle.

Let me explain what I mean by this. How many of you took high school geometry and it was stuff like, “This triangle has three equal sides; therefore, it is an Equilateral triangle.” And then you do all these proofs and you work all this logic from it.

Well, if you take that high school geometry book, there are always four or five things that the book starts with as premises that everybody knows are true but no mathematician has ever been able to prove are true.

For example, “We know this is true, no one has ever been able to prove it. We know it’s true because it works and it’s all consistent, but we can’t prove it.” And they were like, “Someday we’re gonna prove it!”

Well, in 1931 a guy named Kurt Gödel proved that it would never happen. And actually, I think that Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem is just as important as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Most people have never heard of it, but let me explain what his Incompleteness Theorem says.

This is the kindergarten version. It says, “Anything you can draw a circle around requires something on the outside to explain it, which you cannot prove.” This applies to everything. It applies to a bicycle; if you build a bicycle, the fact that it’s there relies on something outside of the bicycle.

It’s true of a geometry book, a software program, the English language, or the universe. Gödel’s Theorem was a crushing blow to mathematicians. It was as if they realized, “You mean, we’re never going to make everything flow into a perfect circle?” No. Can’t be done.

Actually, the universe is like an MC Escher painting where you climb up the steps and all of a sudden you’re at the bottom again. There’s a book called Gödel Escher Bach, which takes Gödel’s Theorem, Escher’s paintings, and Bach’s music and shows how they’re all basically the same.

For instance, in Bach’s music the notes escalate and they go up and up and somehow all of a sudden it starts with bass notes again and you didn’t even notice. What does this have to do with the question, “Science and faith are incompatible ways of thinking”?

Gödel’s Theorem says that you cannot do science without faith; it’s impossible. You start with a fact – “I know this because of this, and I know this because of this,” you always go back to some fact that you can’t prove.

Now, what does science do? Science says, “If I drop this cup from my hand onto the ground, it’s going to fall every time. Only past experience shows that to be true. I cannot prove that it’s going to fall again. I always have to rely on some assumption that I can’t prove in science.”

One little extra thing I want to throw in here; the statement that, “Science and faith are incompatible ways of thinking, separate ways of thinking that should be kept separate,” is that a scientific statement?

No, it’s a philosophical statement.

Even a statement about keeping science and philosophy separate requires philosophy. And the statement itself presumes that philosophy gets to say something about science.

That’s exactly what Gödel was talking about.

I’ve written a much more thorough treatment of Gödel’s Incompleteness theorem here: http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/incompleteness/


4. “The history of science is the story of one religious superstition after another being eradicated by reason and logic.”

I want you to think about something:

Where did science come from?

If you study the history of science, you’ll find out that it got started in Greece and didn’t go anywhere. It got started in Rome and it fizzled out and didn’t go anywhere. It got started in ancient Egypt and in China – didn’t really go anywhere there either. It got started in Islam, and every time in those places, it stalled.

Why did it succeed in Europe after failing everywhere else? We all know it launched there and took off like a rocket.

Here’s why I think it happened. In the Apocrypha, the part of the Bible that the Catholics read and the Protestants don’t, Wisdom of Solomon 11:21 says:

“Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.”

I submit to you that this verse is where science started. That all things are weigh-able, measurable and countable. That there’s a systematic explanation for what goes on in the universe. So far as I know, no one else in the ancient world made a more definite statement about science than Solomon did right here.

Western Christianity believed that the universe was governed by fixed, discoverable laws, and that’s what gave birth to science. The reason that science succeeded in the West and failed in all those other places was that in all those other places, there was no theological basis to believe this.

If you believe that it rained today because Zeus is in a snit with Apollo, how are you going to come up with a systematic explanation that doesn’t invoke some kind of arbitrary, whimsical source?

Christian theology believed that God could create the world and then on the seventh day that He could rest and the universe would continue to do what He told it to do. Therefore, the great scientists viewed the study of science as a way of studying the mind of God.

I would rewrite the question to say this: “The history of science is a story of faith in a harmonious universe being rewarded in weight, number, and measure.”

1,000 years ago you couldn’t take that for granted. Now we all take it for granted, because we figured it out.

5.  “The Bible is a translation of a translation of tales cobbled together by Constantine in 300 AD.”

People make a lot out of this. Constantine got everybody together and they hammered out what they agreed was going to be the Bible. “You know, we just don’t buy these books, we’re going to keep them.” A lot of people have this idea that this is when the Bible that we have today came to exist.

I want to show you a book that will correct that notion. This is called Faith of the Early Fathers by Jurgens. I have to mention here that this is another Catholic book. I was raised Protestant. I was a preacher’s kid. We were uber-studious Protestants. We took ourselves real seriously. Some of you know what I’m talking about – “Oh, that kind…starchy!”

We thought that Catholics were bad people. You know, “Go tell them how bad they are!” Well, then I grew up and my brother-in-law, Alan, studies church history. He gets a Ph.D. in church history at Iowa State, not some conservative place.

He went to Iowa State because they had the biggest and best library he could find on church history.

It turned out that most of his professors were atheists. To get a dissertation pushed through these guys was a Herculean task. But he and I would talk about theological stuff, and it was kind of funny because every time I would raise some theological question, he would always say something like, “Well, yeah, the first people to probe that question in detail were the monks in Western Italy in 800 AD and what they said was…” and he’d go off on something.

Anything you could come up with, someone had already thought about it and written about 1,200 books on it. I thought Christianity started all over again with Martin Luther after this burned-out period…oh, come on! Heavens, no.

So this is a Catholic book. I have great respect for Catholics and Catholic theologians and all that. I know somebody will probably want to get in a fist fight about that with me at the end, but I’m telling you anyway.

This book is a collection of all of the earliest writings, and actually there’s three of them. I just brought the first one. It starts at about 80 AD and it’s letters from all these guys that ran churches. Letters from pastors to their congregations, and letters to disciples from their mentors, and it ends somewhere around St. Hilaire of Poitier and St. Cyril of Jerusalem. I don’t know what year this was, probably about 400-500 AD, and it starts at 80.

It goes in order, so you can read 80 AD and then you can read 110 AD and then you can read 125 AD and 300 AD and so forth. In every chapter there are footnotes of the Bible verses they’re quoting. It’s exactly the same.

Pastor Bill Hybels at Willow Creek could use this to preach a sermon out of any page in this book and it would be just fine. It would be scriptural and it would be original Christianity, no different than we have today. Most of these early letters sound an awful lot like the New Testament letters that Paul wrote.

Anyone that tells you that Christianity started in 300 AD is just as ridiculous as saying it started in 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door.

6.  “St. Paul invented Christianity by making a rabbi named Jesus into God. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were just later fabrications.”

Obviously, the book that I just talked to you about does speak to that, because you can go all the way back to 80 AD and you have a whole body of literature that’s already telling a consistent story.

What’s usually said is that Paul wrote his letters in 40-50 AD and the Gospels were written in 60 – 90 AD and that’s too long. All of these myths would have accrued, so yes, Jesus was probably just this radical guy and he had these radical teachings and then they wanted him to be God and so they made the story about Him being God, and the people were so desperate and oppressed by the Romans that they found it believable – well, let’s do a comparison.

Paul Tibbetts was the pilot of the Enola Gay, which was the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. He wrote a book in 1998, shortly before he died, called Return of the Enola Gay. How many years after 1945 is that? Fifty-three years after the bomb was dropped.

I found this book at my father-in-law’s house because he’s into World War II. You go over there and he always has The History Channel on. I started thumbing through this book, and the reason Tibbetts wrote the book was to correct revisionist history.

Revisionist history said, “If we had just been a little nicer to the Japanese, we should have just gone over there and talked to them, and they would’ve…”

Tibbetts is saying, “No! Let’s get this straight.” He goes into extensive detail about the political situation and all this stuff that was going on behind the scenes. He tells what it was like to get in that plane, what it was like to let the bomb loose and go into a 135 degree angle and feel the shock wave from  the bomb and the brilliant flash of light and think, “Oh my word, what did I just do?” and all that.

Now, does anybody doubt that his autobiography tells you more or less accurately what happened? Is anybody going to reasonably doubt that he doesn’t remember what happened, 53 years later? I don’t think so!

So if Jesus died in 33, what’s 53 years out from 33 – isn’t that 86? That’s like getting to the outside limit of when they said the Gospels were written.

Is there any reason to think that the Gospels were any less reliable?

Considering there are four of them and considering they don’t all perfectly line up or quote everybody verbatim the same way, they don’t all tell stories the same way – four independent accounts – can anyone reasonably think that the Gospels are any less reliable than his story? I don’t think so.

And if you compare it to other things in history, a lot of those things were written even further after the fact than that. I would like to point to the consistency of early teachings about Jesus and raise the question: Why do substantially different teachings about Jesus only appear after 150-200 years? Isn’t that kind of what you would expect?

I rest my case.

7. “Evolution disproves God.”

That’s a good one. I like that one. I have a question for you. Who knows what that is? DOS – how many of you have used DOS somewhere in your early childhood? This is a screenshot of DOS 3.0, 3.3, which is about 1985. You all remember DOS:

C:> dir

C:> dir /w

C:> format c:

When you tried to format the hard drive, did it say “Are you sure?” I don’t remember. Early versions did.

Now here we have Windows XP with Internet Explorer, which is about 2005. Let me ask you a question: let’s say that DOS never got modified by the guys in Redmond, Washington and it evolved into Windows XP all by itself.

Imagine that DOS adapted, that it had a capability built in to where it would sense that it needed an Internet connection and it needed a web browser and it needed Outlook, and that it needed a mouse and updates and antivirus software. And let’s say that it would rearrange its code and then test different versions with some version of natural selection until the pieces started to work.

Did that happen? No. If DOS had actually evolved all by itself, off without any exterior tampering, tinkering or code writing from any software engineers, and it had just done that, would you be more or less impressed with the person who wrote the first DOS program?

You would go, “How did you do that?” You could go to China and for $2 you can buy a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of Windows. All those versions, especially the ones in China, they don’t have the little 3D thing on them. It’s grey and it has Magic Marker on it ‘Windows XP’.

Now, the copies of copies of copies of copies, they all had mutations, didn’t they? And the marketplace had a chance to select them. Does anyone know of copies of Windows that were better because of the mutations?

No.

Now, I just tried to apply the usual theory of evolution to DOS and everybody got a chuckle out of it. First of all, everything that evolves that we have any experience with, evolves because of some ability to do so or some kind of design or something acting upon it.

At the very least, if we’re going to even imagine that DOS could have evolved into Windows XP, we have to imagine that it has some kind of special program inside that’s ready and willing to rearrange all the pieces.

You know what? I am totally open to the possibility that God planted a cell in the ocean and that cell had some kind of magnificent program that could eventually evolve into everything that’s on Planet Earth. I am open to that.

And if that happened, then God is even more impressive than the version of God that says, “Well, OK, now we need apes, so let’s put an ape there, and now we need people, so let’s put a person there..”

I’m not trying to get into some debate about Genesis 1; this is simply an engineering argument. If evolution is true, then God is even more impressive than they thought God was before anyone thought of evolution!

8. “In their arrogant superiority, Christians think everybody else is going to burn in hell for all eternity.”

Let’s get the most riling questions out on the table. I want to point some scriptures out to you. Little things are kind of tucked in there that are easy to miss.

John 15:22 – Jesus says, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.” Hmm, that’s interesting.

Luke 11:30 – Jesus said, “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom and now one greater than Solomon is here.”

Let’s look at this again. “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them” – so what does this tell you about judgment? This isn’t like some cowering guy staring at God, getting pounded; this is anybody who has anything to say about what he knew, didn’t know, did and what he did not do, and what they did perhaps in a comparable situation.

Let’s look at this one. Matthew 11:21 – “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

Well? That’s a statement about two people, now, isn’t it? “Tyre and Sidon would have believed if they had Me.” Do you think that gets taken into consideration? I think so.

Acts 17:29 – Paul refers to idol worship and he says, “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Now, this always comes up, somebody always says, “Well, what about the guy in Africa that never heard about Jesus?” They’re like, “I have to get this guy figured out before I decide if I’m going to go for this Jesus thing. I’m not sure if this is fair. I think this is all a setup. What about all these people?”

Here’s my concern: If you’re that guy, I’m not real worried about him. Not that the missionaries shouldn’t go talk to him and all that. In the Great Commission – “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” – God told us to do that for a reason.

This is just my opinion, but I suspect that guy in Africa, he has no missionary, Bible, or anything, I think if he looks up in the sky and goes, “Somebody made all this, whoever You are, I’d like to know you,” I think God can respect that prayer.

What I’m concerned about is that guy will rise up in the judgment and testify against the guy who used him as an excuse. If you look at all of these verses, the theme is, “Hey, guys, you knew an awful lot. What did you do with it?”

“If Tyre and Sidon had seen what you have seen, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes.” The people he was talking to saw a lot. They saw the dead raised, they saw the blind see.

9. “The Bible is riddled with contradictions and therefore cannot be the perfect word of God.”

I’m going to take an interesting approach with this. I brought with me three different versions of the Bible. I’ve got a King James New Testament, a New Living Translation Bible and a New American Standard. I could have brought an NIV, but all you guys probably have one, because that’s kind of the popular Bible translation.

Do they all read the same? No.

I had to sign this thing before I came that I understood that Willow Creek has a doctrinal statement. One of the things in the thing that I had to sign was that I understand that Willow Creek says that the scriptures are inerrant in their original writings. That’s a very common thing that you’ll find in the Protestant church, that scriptures are inerrant in their original writings.

Do we have the originals? No. What we have are thousands of Greek manuscripts and there are slight differences with some of them. You could make a whole little tree of this copying error and that. You could put it all together and we could open all three of these Bibles up to John 5 or Ezekiel 34 or Revelation 12 or any book and we could read them side by side.

And rather than getting 12 decimal places of precision, I think what we get is more like there’s an outer edge on one side or the other on how you can interpret something, and then there’s something sort of in the middle.

Maybe the King James seems to be here and maybe the NIV seems to be here, and maybe the Catholic Bible seems to be here. But they’re all kind of within this range of variation. So there’s some wiggle room, not like 12 decimals of precision, but more like maybe two.

No matter what Bible you read, did Jesus rise from the dead in all of them? Is adultery a sin in all of them? Is it not all right to lie, cheat, and steal in all of them? Is there a debate between predestination and free will in all of them? Yes.

I had this realization one day; “Hey, wait a minute! I don’t have to sit here and nitpick every last verse that some skeptic wants to pick a fight with me about and make me explain everything that doesn’t quite seem to fit together, because you know what? This is like a puzzle that you’re trying to put together and some of the edges are fuzzy and I can’t put it perfectly together. And that’s all right.”

I was emailing back and forth with an atheist and he’s quibbling about the different tomb stories of the Resurrection. I don’t think they contradict each other, but in order to make them fit, you have to make a couple of assumptions before they fit.

He’s trying to duke it out and I said, “I don’t feel like defending the idea that the Bible is infallible. I’ll just say for today that I have four stories that were pretty close! So what do you think?”

He didn’t know what to do.

I said, “Well, Jesus died on the cross, you are a sinner, God created the world, 12 disciples went out and preached. The story’s pretty clear. How many of these little nit picky things from the New Testament that you brought up because you found them on some website do you have to get all straight before you get the big picture here?”

Try this on for size; the Bible is the word of God with a lower case w. But if we’re going to use a capital W, what is the Word of God? Jesus! Jesus is the Word of God. The Bible is the written testimony, inspired by the Holy Spirit, testifying to the Word of God. There’s a verse that says, “No one can confess Jesus Christ is Lord apart from the Holy Spirit.”

Let’s not put the Bible above the Holy Spirit.

You realize if you want to sort out all those puzzle pieces, you need the Holy Spirit to help you do it. And a person who does not have the Holy Spirit is not even going to be willing to do that. That’s why they’re arguing with you.

So when I get in these debates, I say, “Let’s just assume that this is like any other piece of history. Someone wrote it down as best they could, and here we have it. Let’s make a judgment from what’s in front of us. So what do you think?”

Did they just make all this up? Like perhaps, Jesus didn’t really die; they pried him off the cross and he was almost dead and then he was in the tomb, and people in the Middle East had these clever ways of reviving almost dead people and then he popped out. He looked so good, he looked like Superman, and everybody said, “Wow!  You’re the Son of God!” Yeah, that’s what happened! Sure, that’s what happened!

Guys that are pulled off crosses when they’re almost dead always inspire people three days later to like change the world! That’s what happened!

Sorry, I’m getting a little sidetracked… here’s a fun one:

10. “More people have been killed in the name of religion than any other cause in the history of the world.”

Let me show you a book, called The Black Book of Communism. How many of you think this is cheery? Oh, yeah, if you’re feeling a little too good today, just read this one. This book documents the genocide of 160 million people in the 20th century alone – mostly by atheist governments.

Remember the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao? Well, that was a great period in China’s history, wasn’t it? How about Stalin? Oh boy, Stalin loved children. Yep, that guy just loved puppy dogs and children. He was such a nice man. 160 million people! Do you realize that’s more people than all the religious wars of the whole history of the world put together?

Some people say, “Well, it was just a coincidence that they were atheists.” All right, well, you can believe whatever you want to believe, but there does seem to be a correlation. Let’s recognize the question behind the question.

First of all, I don’t think you can overstate just how dangerous a worldview atheism actually is. I’m sure there are atheists here, and I’m glad that you’re here and you’re welcome.

When my brother slid into his faith crisis, I wanted to argue with him and he wouldn’t; and I’m not sure that would have been the healthiest thing if we had argued. I think it was probably a good idea that he declined, but I was ready to go. In truth, he was dragging me with him. I was scared because he was raising all kinds of questions.

I started going to Willow Creek 15 years ago and I started leading Seeker Small Groups. Those groups are where people who do not necessarily believe the Bible or Christianity get together at a table, and so every other Sunday for a couple of years I got seekers in there pummeling me with questions, and I thought I’d heard everything. Well, when Bryan and the Internet came along, I had no longer seen everything!

It was intense. Bryan was asking all kinds of penetrating questions and I was going to all these websites and it was like walking into machine gun fire. One of the things that I did was decide that I had to duke this out. So I started this website, www.CoffeehouseTheology.com, and it has emails that you can sign up for and see what it’s all about, if you like. If people replied to the emails, the emails came back to me.

The reason I did that was that I wanted to know if enough people came through the website and sent me emails, if Christianity cannot stand up to the test, I was going to find out! I decided that I was going to take everyone on and I was going to see if someone can punch a hole in this thing. And there were some scary moments. I was like, “Oh my goodness, these are big questions!”

I probably answered 10,000 emails during the last 6 years. There have been a LOT of people and a lot of conversations. The first thing I’ll tell you is that nobody’s punched a hole in Christianity. I think it stands up very well. If you have a question, there’s a book or website or something that has a good answer to it.

Here’s the other thing; nobody comes out swinging like the new breed of atheist like followers of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and all of those guys. These guys are furious! People talk about Muslims being extreme? Well, I get emails from a lot of Muslims and none of them come out swinging like the atheists do. They’re angry. And Richard Dawkins says things like, “Teaching your children that there is a God who would reward or punish you, people that do that are worse than child molesters.” That’s what he says.

It’s a war. What’s the track record? 160 million dead people. Now, this is not a battle of guns, because the pen is mightier than the sword. This is a battle of the pen. This is a battle of truth and belief systems. I think Christians have a moral obligation to know what’s going on, because if you don’t know what’s going on, you’ll get picked off by a skeptic.

The reason we have science today is because Christianity said there is a logical rational universe that was designed by an intelligent Creator. And the reason we have democracy is because Paul said, “There is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free; all are equal in Christ Jesus.”

The most cherished Western values come from Christianity. Don’t surrender them to someone who has an axe to grind.

827 Responses to ““Top 10 Reasons To [Not] Be A Christian””

  1. I have something to share w/ you.. Science and Faith are compatible or relative…(http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/a-scientific-way-of-discovering-biblical-truth-part-1/ http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2007/08/05/a-scientific-way-of-discovering-biblical-truth-part-2/ http://esoriano.wordpress.com/2007/08/07/a-scientific-way-of-discovering-biblical-truth-part-3/)

  2. Tosco says:

    Well, “9/11″ actually is a myth. It was designed as a mainstream-splitting, artificial (which means: controlled) controversy with just a number as sort of neutral, “nonpartisan” point of crystallization for corporate and conspiratorial terror propaganda. And that’s common practice throughout the millennia because political power originates from spiritual supremacy. In other words: “They became a mystery to the others and the priesthood was born. No king ever existed without the permission of the priesthood.” The non-initiated ones (as well as the less initiated ones, of course) were always and are ruled to this day by myths that we “can’t” understand, that we were/are never allowed to even think of being able to handle these highest degrees of complexity which our priestly “fathers” (of all sorts) have taken for granted as their exclusive domain.
    Power arises from mysteries – that is why “mystery is the very heart of Roman Catholicism: Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical on the Eucharist is titled ‘Mysterium Fidei’ (Secret of Faith). Vaticanum II (October 1962 – December ‘65) refers repeatedly to ‘the Mystery of the Eucharist’. The Vatican’s new universal Catechism declares that all of the churches liturgy is Mystery! And that its aim is to initiate souls into the mystery of Christ. It is Mystagogy!”
    And that’s open source knowledge: “The Church’s universal mission is born from the command of Jesus Christ and is fulfilled in the course of the centuries in the proclamation of the mystery of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the mystery of the incarnation of the Son, as saving event for all humanity.”
    Ever since a single man or groups of men did successfully seize power over others, the notion of “you can’t handle the truth”, you know, has been alluded to the actual pointer saying “you can’t handle complexity”. But now we have the Computerweb …
    “9/11″ should help to stigmatize the cyberspace as crazy, as kind of totally unacceptable realm of serious political debates, thereby neutralizing its progressive power to a great extent.

    “Communism was really started by” …

    And you’re right: science does operate with dogmas like the church and has also its hierarchical rigor in regard of institutional structure. Maybe the reason why the first-ever scientific academy was the Pontificial Academy of Sciences.

  3. Lilly Rabarbara says:

    I have to comment on this Communism atheist issue. I sense fear and disgust and I understand. What Stalin and Mao did was terrible, horrible, words can’t describe it.
    But the very idea that all people should have equal rights and that we should share goods with other people is not bad at all. In fact it has many similarities with what Jesus preached. I was lucky to experience the best of Socialism in my childhood – gender equality was enforced in schools and poor people weren’t ashamed of themselves (none of us was rich either). Of course, as a child, I knew nothing about the ugly face of Communism and I didn’t sense the repression. I however got a lot of “education” on evil capitalism and evil religion. They were quite convincing – I still feel nauseous in Churches and I still feel it’s not OK that few people hold immense amounts of money with people dying of hunger on the other hand.
    However I do believe in God and I believe in Jesus. I do it because I want to do it and not because someone threatens me to do it. I don’t believe God is vindictive and threatening. I believe God is merciful, loving and forgiving. I don’t believe bad things happen to people because of God’s will. I believe we are responsible for our actions and not God. He told us what is right and what is wrong through Jesus’ life, now we are on our own. Clearly we do badly. We buy plasma TV instead of sending a Tibetan girl to school.
    One person I really admire is Mother Teresa – she put words into action and she is the one that made me think faith is not so wrong after all.

    • Jay says:

      Dear Lilly, I understand where you are coming from. At a very young age I decided the Catholic teachings were not for me. Even though parents, teachers and priests taught an eternal burning hell fire if a child or adult person were to die not having gone to Mass on Sunday. Then there was the ideology that if a child died before being baptised they would not go to heaven. They would remain in limbo. Then there was the purgatory teaching. These people also claimed that if a priest attended a murderer before his soul left his body and perfomed absolution rights the murderer would go to heaven and if a person missed mass on Sunday and died not receiving absolution from a priest they would go to hell fire and burn eternally in the presence of Satan and his demons. Then at 7 years of age we had to have sins to confess to the priest every week. From 5 years of age I had the sense to see the nonsense in those beliefs. However I am grateful for the sensible guidance of morality, the teaching of the apostles creed and the Catholic Catechism. I still remember these although it has been many years since they were taught. I now read the bible and find God activates my mind and I receive an understanding.

      I perceive that religions have something to offer that is of value to the discerning reader and in my consideration none have it all right. I believe the truth resides in heaven and God shines his ligh on those seeking truth. However association with religions or religious beliefs can help educate us. I have found searching the internet under many different bible topics very enlightening but by far the greater tutor is from God’s provision of spiritual guidance. I belong to no religious institution or organisation. These I find too dogmatic and domineering whereby people dogmatically think they have the right to control and dictate your life.

      • Bert Pursoo says:

        Since the concept of God, Heaven and hell is directly associated to religious beliefs, it is inconceivable that you can believe in God – any God, that is – without some form of religious affiliation.

  4. Lilly Rabarbara says:

    Sorry for double posting but I forgot to stress this – name 5 countries in the world where women are treated badly and that do not have rampant poverty and human rights abuses.
    I think respect towards women is the key, not religion.

  5. John Doyen says:

    I wonder if this website is to attack christianity, why are you not talking about other religion and what knowledge do you think you have to disapprove a standing religion with so much credibility, I think you need to change your ways.

    • perrymarshall says:

      If you think the purpose of this site is to attack Christianity, I suggest you read a little more carefully.

    • Trevor Drummond says:

      Why do Christains feel that God had a son.Why do they feel that God so loved the world that he beget his only son. If God is almighty why would he need a son for us to pray thru as if God needs a secrtary. God is all knowing, he is everything he does not beget, God says Be and it is done. To beget would give God mortal implacations and God is above all things, there is one God. Jesus is a profit of God, like Moses, Paul, David ect… his message was one of peace and love and to follow God’s. His message was not unlike the profits before him and the profit after him. I feel that any religion the promotes Love and being a Good person and to care for one another then each has a place in the world.

      • perrymarshall says:

        God did not become man so that we would have someone to pray to. He became mortal man and died on the cross so that a perfect being could bear the sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews says, “Without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins.”

        • Bert Pursoo says:

          Perry:
          I don’t recall God becoming man. I thought that Jesus became man so that he could dwell among us to fulfill his mission on earth! And why would it be necessary to shed blood (I interpret that as kill someone)to be saved from a sin that god gave us?
          In the early days the Hawaiians used to appease the anger of the gods that caused a volcano to erupt to hurling a virgin into its womb. But we have since evolved beyond that state of ignorance or have we simply substituted it for a more modern form of ignorance?

          • Caleb Neff says:

            Man, you really have no idea what happened in Genesis, sorry to offend. No, God didn’t give us the sin, WE did. Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though they knew that they shouldn’t have. When we were born, we took their example (doing things that we know are wrong), and now we have to share in the mess as well. Other than that, your idea about Jesus is relatively good (He was on a mission, but He also made it clear that He was God ["Before Abraham was, I AM."]).

            • Bert Pursoo says:

              Caleb, are you saying that the Tree of Knowledge – of Good and Evil was placed there merely to tempt Adam and Eve but to have them remain in total ignorance. Considering that God must have known that they would eat of that very tree, don’t you wonder why He put that tree there to begin with. Was it pure godly cynicism?
              Of course had they not eaten of that tree you about I would not have the ability to engage in this discussion about a mythical God and a Heavem and Hell that do not exist!

              • Jay says:

                The tree of knowledge was not placed in the gardent to tempt Adam and Eve it was placed there to protect them. The same issue is before us in this day. Satan had rebelled against God and had led one third of the angels in heaven into rebellion against God. Adam and Eve were created and so long as they obeyed that commandment they and mankind would have been spared from the authority of Satan. After taking from the tree of knowledge of good and bad their eyes were open. The issue was that they would make their own decisions free from God’s direction and instruction and we today are marvelling at human knowledge and progress but where is that great knowledge and progress leading us? There was almost a nuclear holocaust with Anglo American World domination making a mockery of banking and the production of materials with the controlled backing of the United Nations who are also conspiritors in the debunking of stability for the earths survival and security. Then recently we had that nice intelligent scientist who produced systemic virus that could wipe out many people and cul the nations. Of course we have to look on Islam as the bad Satanic race that might get HOLD of this nice virus that the nice European scientist has developed because the Islamic race are the terrorists. whew!!!. There is no truth in this world because the law God gave to protect us from Satanic forces was rejected.

                Satan was put before God’s guidance then and this is the situation in this world today. Truth is missing. The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one. If Adam and Eve had obeyed God they would still be on earth today instructing their children in the ways God was instructing them. But they chose to oppose and plunged us into the mess our wonderful, intelligent scientists, biologists and world leaders under Satanic direction are leading us today.

            • it mean we are become God right? just feel it! no one like to know right or wrong because wrong that you all call=0 and right=1 mean everything depends on what you want to do 0 have 0 n 1 ….1 have 0 n 1 is it right? if you feel it wrong and i feel right who’s the winner? your own and mine 0 and 1 again dude…
              Christianity in Islamic view have 3 GOD Father, Son n Holy Spirit that’s why their never except this statement! so, why Church never confess that only God it/he/she was the only one?! even Christ reporting and asking God, why you called me with this suffering? His 0 and 1 playing hard,
              So if you never trust my Christian,Islam or others why depends on God, it means 1 and 0 or 0 and 1 it rolling n rolling until anger created. your anger is your satan, satan created by your self i never saw satan because satan live in every of us like 1 and 0 so what should i do?

              H U M A N I T Y !!! no one/nothing can pay you if you help other who need, who eat from garbage bin, son want to kill her mother or the opposite or me with your money HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH joke.. i’m tired and just let it be, at least i’ve tried and i don’t want to blame by my own spirit of myth that’s why you call J with M lols

      • Dalibor Šver says:

        Besides,
        - Jesus was without sins, and prophets all sinned
        - Jesus performed miracles, much more than Moses, Eliah or Elisha; and those prophet miracles were performed by God, whether upon their prayers or His command
        - Jesus resurrected as He said He would
        - He claimed to be God
        - He is announced in OT

        • How do you know

          Jesus was without sins, and prophets all sinned
          - Jesus performed miracles, much more than Moses, Eliah or Elisha; and those prophet miracles were performed by God, whether upon their prayers or His command
          - Jesus resurrected as He said He would
          - He claimed to be God
          - He is announced in OT

      • Ray Perry says:

        Science and evolution are simply tools and gifts from God dedicated to helping humanity find their way to his light.

      • well I’m just a kid, so You’ll have to forgive me if I sound a bit off.

        It isn’t that Christians feel that God had a son. In fact most Christians believe that Jesus was God himself. The God head three in one. The father (God), spirit (Holy Spirit or rather God’s voice in those who choose to listen) and Son (the sacrifice for all our sins). Jesus isn’t a secretary. As humans, we are curious and skeptical. It’s not that God needs miracles to prove his existence, God would exist without our support or sense of belief. Jesus is a message. A message in fact that God is here and he does love us. You see miracles aren’t for the unsaved, but for the unbeliever. Jesus was sent as a second chance. Our sins separated us from God. It’s true he doesn’t need to show us anything. In fact he doesn’t need us at all. There are people who believe and trust, and then there are those who need hard evidence. Jesus wasn’t a mere profit, if that were the case his sacrifice wouldn’t have been sufficient enough to save us from ourselves. The image of a son..Now this is just my opinion, to me seems more relatable I guess. Like metaphors, they give you images and pictures in your head to try and understand.

        A mother is like love…she and blah blah. I don’t know if I am rambling but that’s the gist I suppose.

  6. Jim Diamond says:

    1. Though many christians work in science, none of them have found any evidence in their fields to back up their beliefs. There are no peer reviewed papers! A doctor supposedly produces proof of miracles maybe 35 years ago, yet every other doctor since has ignored him. What does that tell you?

    2. NO as in NO evidence that Jesus existed. We have the gospels which could have been written any time between 70 – 170 AD in a time when lots died in their teens and most were dead in their thirties. We have known christian forgeries in Josephus, Pliny, Suetonius, Tacitus, etc. Why the need for forgeries?

    3. Science is about facts, faith is about fantasy, which is why it is called faith. There are no peer reviewed papers to back up any religion.

    4. The god of the gaps has been forced into ever smaller gaps as religion has been shown to be wrong, wrong, wrong. The science of the bible is about kindergarten level, what you would expect from goat herders living thousands of years ago.

    5. We have whole books of the bible from the beginning of the third century but only a few verses that ended up in John from before that (125-160 AD). Why is that? We do not know who wrote the gospels or when they were written. We do not know their source material and it is probable that none of the authors had ever met Jesus, any of the disciples or any eyewitnesses. As christians were not persecuted in Paul’s time, we can say that he lied about being Saul, having a vision, etc.

    6. Paul wrote maybe 50-60 AD. I don’t know where you got 40 AD from as I have never heard this before. He made up lots of stuff and seems to have been a control freak. It is possible that he did make up much of christianity.

    7. Evolution is about how life has changed. It says nothing about the origin of life, so many christians find it acceptable, believing that god created the original life.

    8. Some christians do assign most people to hell but many don’t and consider those who do as fanatics. Some do not even believe in hell. Hell is a myth:

    http://www.thercg.org/books/ttah.html?cid=g0086&s_kwcid=ContentNetwork

    9. The bible has to be the worst book ever written. It has always needed an army of apologists to explain “what it really means”. It is wrong on so many levels.

    10. We get this atheist governments nonsense on the BBC christian topic every few months. Stalin who trained as a priest was responsible for 30 million deaths. He killed anyone and everyone, not just christians. Even one of his closest friends. Everyday he must have seen St Basil’s cathedral next to the Kremlin and he never touched it. Russia has loads of old churches and religious icons, that he never touched. Atheism is solely a lack of belief in god. It has no rules, no moral code, no beliefs, nothing. It is solely a disbelief in god. Apart from that, any atheist can be good, bad or mad. Stalin was mad. I would think he saw himself as god, so could not accept any other gods on Russian soil.
    Chairman Mao was a tree-hugger. He kicked all the people out of cities into the countryside, but with no infrastructure so 1.5 million starved to death. The figure of 160 million is of course a lie. On the BBC, some quote 100 million but cannot justify even half of that. Especially since Hitler had christian leanings and Germany was a good christian country.

    As to christians, we have nine crusades including the Children’s Crusade where they were all sold into muslim slavery by christians at the end of it. We had one inquisition which is usually divided into two or more where people were imprisoned, tortured or murdered for various very minor reasons. Torqemada the butcher was so hated, even by christians, that he needed a bodyguard of upto 100 soldiers everytime he went out. The slaughter of 1.5 million Albigensians by fellow christians. The witch trials. Various exterminations in South America. Slavery flourished in a Europe (and America) that had been christian for many centuries. Even silly old JP2 killing millions by AIDS from his lies about condoms. And so on. How many did the god of love murder:

    http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2007/01/how-many-has-god-killed-complete-list.html

    I did a several hundred post thread on the BBC before it was stopped using what is in the pentateuch to show how many god killed. It is a lot more than on that site. He made Stalin look like a Boy Scout by comparison and was positively murderous to anyone who disobeyed him.

    • perrymarshall says:

      “NO evidence that Jesus existed” – Yeah, you’re right. Ignoring for a moment the four gospel accounts in the New Testament… and Paul… and Peter’s epistles and the book of Acts… oh, and Thallos, Pliny the Younger, Seutonius, Tacitus, Mara bar Serapion, Lucian of Samosata, and Celsus to name a few. And Josephus and Eusebius and the Talmud….and the entire Western Calendar….

      Yeah, other than those 17 different sources, there’s not the slightest crumb of evidence to support the existence of a Jesus. Jesus never existed.

      For everyone else – Good book on the subject: Jesus Outside the New Testament by Van Voorst.

      Claims that the most influential person in world history never existed have very little credibility. Jim, your above statement is Exhibit “A” of psychological denial. Most of these documents are not considered forgeries by credible scholars.

      For similar reasons, most of the rest of your statements are not worthy of comment.

      Perry Marshall

      • Leonardo Buitrago says:

        Mr Marshall.
        I was thinking to write as a rebutal but Jim made it well. The proof is you have no comments about his points because you cannot argue consistently against them. The answer you gave about historicity of Jesus was so poor…if the gospels are evidence, then Harry Potter and Hogwarts actually exist indeed..

        And this guy Jesus is definitely NOT the most influential person in world history, ask 4,7 billion of the 6,7 billion people in the world and they don’t even know him..

        I will only add one point against organized religion and beliefs in gods:

        “The 2004 United Nations’ Human Development Report, which ranks 177 countries on a Human Development Index – HDI, measures such indicators of societal health as life expectancy, adult literacy, per-capita income, educational attainment, and so on. According to this report, the five top nations were Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands. All had notably high degrees of organic atheism. Furthermore, of the top twenty-five nations, all but Ireland and the United States were top-ranking non-believing nations with some of the highest percentages of organic atheism on earth. Conversely, the bottom fifty countries of the HDI lacked statistically significant levels of organic atheism.

        Concerning international poverty rates, the United Nations Report on the World Social Situation (2003) found that, of the forty poorest nations on earth (measured by the percentage of population that lives on less than one dollar a day), all but Vietnam were highly religious nations with statistically minimal or insignificant levels of atheism.

        Regarding homicide rates, Oablo Fajnzylber et al., in a study reported in the Journal of Law and Economics (2002), looked at thirty-eight non-African nations and found that the ten with the highest homicide rates were highly religious, with minimal or statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism. Conversely, of the ten nations with the lowest homicide rates, all but Ireland were secular nations with high levels of atheism

        In sum, countries with high rates of organic atheism are among the most societally healthy on earth, while societies with nonexistent rates of organic atheism are among the most destitute. The former nations have among the lowest homicide rates, infant mortality rates, poverty rates, and illiteracy rates and among the highest levels of wealth, life expectancy, educational attainment, and gender equality in the world.”

        Leo

        • perrymarshall says:

          Leo,

          Please provide us with complete statistics about the actual percentage of atheists in these countries, as well as the actual percentage of Christians in these countries.

          You will find that Christianity positively correlates to prosperity, human rights and literacy, and that in these prosperous countries, professing people of faith significantly outnumber professing atheists.

          You will find that in every country where atheists outnumber religious people, genocide and mass human rights abuses are the norm not the exception.

          Atheist countries have the worst track record of all belief systems. I’ve got a book on my shelf called The Black Book Of Communism. It documents in excruciating detail the genocide of 160 million people under mostly atheist regimes — in the 20th century alone.

          That’s more people murdered, butchered, slaughtered, churches burned with congregations inside, women and children sent to mass graves via atheism – during the 20th century – than because of all religious wars in all centuries combined.

          Again I invite you to come back and present the full statistical data and see whether it matches your hypothesis, or mine.

        • Carlos says:

          Hello, Leo:

          There is also the

          “Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies”. Journal of Religion and Society.;

          It says the same thing.

          Greetings

          Carlos

          • Bert Pursoo says:

            Perhaps we are all off topic. Life is not about religion and which is the best. It is not about whose God is stronger or the one true God. It is simply about living! Religions complicate an otherwise simple system. For example religions give rise to unnecessary wars unless religious fanatics can prove that this is what their Gods want. The Pope want to Christianize the whole world while the Muslims want to Islamize the world. I get the feeling that the Jew want to be left alone. Here is an excerpt from an article that proves religions do more harm than good (and hamper human development):
            “… shortly after Mubarak’s ouster, a series of assaults on Christians brought home a stark reality: The fading of authoritarian rule empowered Islamist fundamentalists, known here as Salafis, who have special resentment for Christians.
            While the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood has long been Egypt’s best organized opposition movement, the Salafis are a new player in politics. They are ultraconservatives, close to Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi interpretation of Islam and more radical than the Brotherhood. They seek to emulate the austerity of Islam’s early days and oppose a wide range of practices they view as “un-Islamic” — rejecting the treatment of non-Muslims as citizens with equal rights as well as all forms of Western cultural influence.
            The Salafis persistently accuse the Copts of trying to spread Christianity in a Muslim nation, echoing Wahhabism’s deep distrust and hostility of other religions.
            Mubarak’s regime tolerated the Salafis and they expanded in numbers and power over the years. However, after Mubarak’s overthrow, they enjoyed more freedom than ever before to go after their No. 1 target — Christians.

            • Caleb Neff says:

              Sorry, but I would call the post in question a rather bad argument against what Christianity is. I only know about what it shouldn’t be: a religion. A lot of us are merely going through the motions without even wondering ‘why?’ “And God said ‘Come, let us reason together’”—Job. “Test everything, keep the good”—Timothy.
              Also, this looks closer to an attack on Islam. Also, I don’t see how this proves that Christianity is anti-science. Nevermind that in order for knowledge to be possible, God needs to exist (or else we have no reason to believe our thoughts are `rational`, that logic and the laws of nature exist [which are both required for knowledge], etc.). Just a comment. :(

        • Bert Pursoo says:

          Leo, It is not possible to have a creationist accept any real discussion that challenges the notion of creativity. Faith is stronger than truth because Faith does not need evidence to exist as does truth. The most ridiculous nonsense in the Bible is the Holy Trinity which no one can explain. Proof that Jesus even existed is far from convincing since the writings all come from the same Bible that is considered highly suspect.

    • Caleb Neff says:

      Diamond: 1) Your claim that no Christian scientist has ever found support for his beliefs is way off: the universe BEGAN to exist, violating the first law of thermodynamics, and requiring over 120 decimal-places of fine-tuning to account for the expansion alone. And, according to Roger Penrose, the odds of the universe having useable energy within it after popping into existence by random chance are 1:10^10*123. If THIS doesn’t prove that the universe was designed for us, then you’re in denial. No, I’m not saying that to upset you, it’s found in Romans chapter 1; You are without excuse.
      2) Right! Now tell me: do you believe that Homer the Greek poet existed? If so, then you’re in denial of Jesus, and being irrational and inconsistent. If not, then it seems awfully strange that you’re denying the existence of what other scholars have agreed existed for the past 2 centuries…. Lastly, i) PROVE that these are forgeries; ii) explain how Jesus managed to become the most famous name ever, through word-of-mouth story-telling that nobody in their right mind would believe is true. Your idea here is flawed.
      3) Faith is about believing that which you cannot prove to be true. For example, you cannot prove that the sun will rise tomorow, or that an apple will spontaneously generate itself on your desk. You have to have faith that the first event will happen, and that the second event won’t. Hence the two complement each other (in Christianity that is).
      4) Please name a science error in the Bible. To date, I have found none. “Children’s Garden Level?” Really? Here’s a challenge: can you please explain how they knew that the universe is expanding, that light travels at a FINITE speed, that the Earth is floating in space, etc.?
      5) Can you please notify where you found this erroneous data? The Dead-Sea Scrolls show us that the Bible has not been altered, and these books are from approx. 90A.D. Lastly, if Paul lied, and Christians are punished for lying (and know that they will be punished), how did he get away with it?
      6) I ask you to answer the last question above, at Point5. A control freak? So what, not to be rude, but you would let your students run about doing things that the principle would fire you for? Paul’s actions, whenever they seem to be the way you describe them, are disciplinary.
      7) Christians support evolution for the same reasons that Perry does: God is even more awsome if He preplanned evolutionary progress! I personally don’t believe it right now, but I might. The origin of life, that won’t be answered untill we have a law of physics that can produce information.
      8) Hell is a place that Satan and his demons are to be sent to. If humans go there, it is possibly temporary, given the quotes that seem to support annihilationism. I believe that it exists, because the mentioning of “the Lake of Fire” of Revelations, and the reference Jesus made in His parable of the rich man and Lazarus. These people who assign everyone else there might be fanatics, but I’m not one to make a sound evaluation.
      9) Worst book ever written, and it still manages to be the most popular book as well…. These `armies of apologists` are people who are trained to see what subtleties there are and understand them better. As Gitt had put it, “the Bible is inexhaustible” (#In The Beginning, There Was Information#). So people are trying to protect it from all the attacks that people hurl at it—why attack it if it’s not worth attacking anyways? Can you please explain where it is so `wrong`?

      Sorry to post all this here, if it bothers anybody.

      • Martin Lagerwey says:

        Hello Caleb
        I will address a couple of your responses.
        A list of 10 points bouncing tit for tat is kind of cherry picking and making an arguments like a debating club.
        I doubt that the great debate (God/no god) will be solved any time soon but we need to step back from the angry/defensive approaches.
        Comments like “worst book ever written” or atheists killed more people than god did, do nothing to determine the facts. You can easily find bible errors such as bible says that grasshoppers and beetles have four legs. You can check the websites and some say back legs are not counted for grasshoppers and some say they are. The debate goes round and round. If you want to know, go look at a beetle. That is science. There are six.

        I think the debate is really about how we can know things are true. Science seeks empirical evidence, checking facts and open debate. Even philosophy is not reliable, as a logical progression of untested ideas are not necessarily true. Faith is problematic because it doesn’t get tested very often. Faith is belief without evidence and can sometimes be fantasy. Faith can look like loyalty when Muslims believe in Mohammed and Christians in Jesus partly because of the country or scripture they are raised in. Obviously there is a risk of error in faith based belief systems. Science has very few points of difference because we can usually devise an experiment to disprove a wrong theory.

        Over 40% of Americans believe the earth is 6000 years old based on a Bible interpretation. Scientists who study earth clocks such as carbon dating, evolution, plate tectonics and astronomy almost never accept the young earth theory. I side with the scientists because I have studied evolution and geology. I can reinterpret one word in the bible (day) to make it consistent, not that it really matters to me. However if some Bible words contradict my science, like “a virgin conceived”, I would assume she conceived in the normal biological way and the believers got the wrong idea.
        If God was controlling evolution, he was very wasteful and clumsy because 99% of earths history had no humans. If God worked one day and clocked in at 9.00 life started mid morning. Multi-cellular life started mid afternoon and mankind evolved while he was putting on his coat to go home.
        Natural theology is used by theological scientists to show that nature implies God. CS Lewis and John Polkinghorne both end up admitting that it doesn’t really do so, at best it leaves the door open. Some people quote crazy statistics that impress everyone except mathematicians. The statistics are clearly badly misused and you can find this on google too if you want to know. Others quote information theory as evidence. “Quote one example of information not made by a mind!” is the challenge by Perry Marshall. He even admits he hasn’t proved God, only by inference. Life may be that one example. Remember that we know only of humans systems and biology that contain information. Once life began, evolution explains information very easily. Biologists rarely believe in divine input into evolution. “God did it” is not really an explanation because God isn’t defined, and a mystery cannot explain a mystery.

        Did you know the earth is not floating. Floating implies buoyancy and suspension. It is held in a tight orbit around the Sun by gravity and momentum while spinning like a to; that is not floating. The bible has lots of words and some seem to agree with some things science has found out. You find that in all large volumes including poetry, scriptures and ramblings such as Nostradamus. The bible calls the earth flat, round, circular and an orb. Is that enlightened or just thick?

        • Caleb Neff says:

          Martin, can you explain where I am cherry-picking?

          Second, Look at the page “http://www.evidentcreation.com/AC-Scierr.html”. Yes, the English version makes such crazy things appearent. However, this pages shows that you are the one cherry-picking, not me (you would have read more than just the English version). Also, I think that you might want to read the page “http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/false.html” to clear up all additional errors that you might have known about, but decided not to list.

          Third, science demands assumptions. Assumptions. Something that we cannot PROVE. Hence, science rests on philosophy for some aspects, if not, indeed, ALL aspects.
          No, I don’t accept a philosophical idea merely because it is there. Nobody should do that. I accept the ideas present because they allow me to build a consistent framework of the world around me (this extends from the above paragraph).
          No, faith is not the same as fideism. I am not a fideist, I am instructed to have a knowledge-based faith. What I believe makes sense, what you do, doesn’t. I believe because the universe has a beginning, is fine-tuned, obeys laws of physics and logic, contains abstract entities, and is in direct violation of the first law of thermodynamics (it wouldn’t be here otherwise). You can’t account for these at all, they only make sense if God exists. I accept on faith that the sun will rise tomorow, but because of uniformity (which only makes sense if God exists).

          Third, once again, assumptions. I could make different assumptions from what geologists and astronomers make and thus `prove` that the Earth will form untill one week from now. In retrospect, BOTH tents are being circular, Young-Earthers, and Old-Earthers (and Next-Thursdayists, if they work in either department).

          Fourth, right. So we don’t show up untill much later somehow shows that God is clumsy? (This is just you arguing to argue, rather than from rationality.) Here’s an idea, read Hugh Ross’ book “The Genesis Question”. You’ll notice that there was a reason for us not being here untill the last moment.
          To propose that life is such an example of information that was not created by a mind is to be circular. Further, we would have found an example of it happening in modern times, if this were true. Your proposal is unacceptable. Please name an example of new information arising in the present.

          Fifth, sure, I could have used a different word then `floating`. However, I expected you to know what I meant when I said that. The Earth is not on top of a giant turtle, or floating in an infinite sea. “He hangs the Earth over nothing.”-Job. I hope this part clears up your first complaint about astronomy.
          There is a reason why using the word sphere is not present in the Bible, mind you. The Hebrews lacked an equivalent term. They have circle, and ball.
          Here is a proof that the Bible says the Earth is round: 1) Satan mentions walking up and down the Earth (read Job, chapter 2?). 2) This is only possible if the Earth is three-dimensional. 3) Whenever the Bible talks about the shape of the earth, we see some word that implies roundness. C) Therefore, the Bible teaches that the Earth is round.
          Yes, the Bible says things that are consistent with modern science. That is my point, they wouldn’t have came to such conclusions about cosmology and the like if it weren’t for the fact that the Bible is God-breathed. Ergo, you’re just arguing to argue. Have a nice day. :3

          • Martin Lagerwey says:

            Here is an illustration of my point that “tit for tat” arguments are futile. I am a biologist and I study beetles and crickets. Grasshoppers may occasionally hop but usually walk on six legs. Crickets walk on six legs. If the translation says beetles, then they should call them beetles and not try to squirm out of the problem.
            When you say
            “Please name a science error in the Bible. To date, I have found none.”

            Then I point one out, please don’t then accuse me of cherrypicking. There is no wonder you cannot find one if you refuse to recognize one.
            Cherrypicking is going to your confirmation sites and selecting the argument that suits your point. I have checked these insects out. This is my area of scientific study and from my observations, crickets do not jump in the way that your quoted authors claim.
            Third point. If you read (cherrypick) only the YEC site they make a persuasive argument fir their view. The issue is that both cannot be correct. One is in error. How can we know which one it is. Bible scholars are divided (in USA about 50/50). Scientists without the influence of the “Yom=day” philosophy have universal agreement based on empirical observations. I suggest the Bible has not been very helpful to find this truth even though afterwards, the correct interpretation can be found in the Bible.

            Fourth point; how is my argument that man arriving so late implying a clumsy God not rational? How is the observation that information is produced by natural selection (selection of useful genes by natural environment rather than a mind)a circular arguement.
            This evolution is the cornerstone of biology and considered by serious scientists to be a theory that is proven. Evolution of eyes, feathers, lungs, ears in whales are examples of new information. Science describes how they evolved by evolution but religious people claim God did it. When this answer results in a lack of interest in further study, I get concerned.

            Science has discovered the universe by observation and not because of an occasional reference to it in the Bible.

            As you think I am arguing merely for the sake of arguing then you are likely to counter each point with another google search on your answersingenesis site for some more cherrypicked answers. However, maybe I am making some rational points and have studied both sides of this debate. Maybe the Bible has some flaws, It’s still a good book and you don’t have to throw it away:)

            Did you know that whales are not fish but lung bearing and air breathing mammals? The Bible says whales were created before land mammals but science has a clear fossil before of them evolving from mammals only 50 million years ago. The order Genesis is clearly described incorrectly.

            • Caleb Neff says:

              Martin, I acknowledge you being a biologist, but maybe you should consider that you are ignoring what the Hebrew has to say as well. This is a flawed aproach on your part, not mine.

              “Then I point one out, please don’t then accuse me of cherrypicking. There is no wonder you cannot find one if you refuse to recognize one.” So far, you’ve failed to point one out, when you point one out that hasn’t already been refuted, you’ll have made a point here. Untill then, No. Just No.

              “Cherrypicking is going to your confirmation sites and selecting the argument that suits your point. I have checked these insects out. This is my area of scientific study and from my observations, crickets do not jump in the way that your quoted authors claim.” I obviously missed where they describe jumping, so I have no idea what you are talking about here. Further, you are also cherry-picking in this area. You have to pressupose what you are trying to prove (evolution), then you interpret the evidence this way. Really, the fact that logic exists demands a God, so why I am arguing over origins is beyond me.
              ” Third point. If you read (cherrypick) only the YEC site they make a persuasive argument fir their view. The issue is that both cannot be correct. One is in error. How can we know which one it is. Bible scholars are divided (in USA about 50/50). Scientists without the influence of the “Yom=day” philosophy have universal agreement based on empirical observations. I suggest the Bible has not been very helpful to find this truth even though afterwards, the correct interpretation can be found in the Bible.” Yes, one has to be in error. This is because of mutual exclusion. Further, no, I’ve read from both an old-earth site, and a young-earth site. How is this cherry-picking, to read sites that have a rational starting point for their work (you don’t have a rational starting point, no offense)? Empirical observations of uniformitarianism? Over a mere ~2000 year time-period? Sorry, but the question is “should I go with a global or local Flood?” After that, we can make assumptions about uniformitarianism. Otherwise, you’re just being circular, and closed-minded.

              “Fourth point; how is my argument that man arriving so late implying a clumsy God not rational?” Because you have given no reason for it to be acceptable. Once again, I beg you to read “The Genesis Question”. “How is the observation that information is produced by natural selection (selection of useful genes by natural environment rather than a mind)a circular arguement.” Natural selection only works if we have a goal in mind, or else we just get losses of specificity (information). As I have asked before, please give an example.
              “This evolution is the cornerstone of biology and considered by serious scientists to be a theory that is proven. Evolution of eyes, feathers, lungs, ears in whales are examples of new information.” And these are what you have never been able to prove were created without a mind. You are pressuposing what you want to believe is true. “Science describes how they evolved by evolution but religious people claim God did it. When this answer results in a lack of interest in further study, I get concerned.” So I should believe a model that makes knowledge impossible? You have the right to be concerned just because some in our camp don’t want to ask “how did God DO it?”, but instead say “God did it! Don’t ask how!”, but don’t come running to me about them. Either way, whenever I do find an idea of where it came from, it always hits the wall (parallel evolution and convergent evolution are absurdly improbable).

              Yes, science has found the world, but in order for it to work at all, God needs to exist. So the Bible will always have a place here.

              Once again, you assert that I am cherry-picking. AiG has credentials, you just don’t like that they find the Young-Earth view to fit better. I’d rather go listen to people who have a good reason to believe that their conclusions are reliable (or even /testable\), and at least try, than to someone who has to be inconsistent.
              I say that you are arguing for the sake of arguing because your very world-view makes knowledge impossible, and yet you still argue from it over something that makes perfect sense within the context. That definitively is arguing for the love of argument.

              Yes, I know about whales being mammals. Are you saying this because of when God fills the seas with `fish`? In one version of the Bible I have at home (if memory serves), the term sea-creatures is used instead. I currently have no idea which one is closer to the original translation. Once again, I maintain that our assumptions determine what we think the fossils tell us. So Genesis is only falsified if we pressupose that it cannot be true under any circumstanses.

              • Caleb Neff says:

                Oh, I wish I thought of this earlier: when I read in the Living Translations version, whales aren’t even mentioned. Neither are dinosaurs. I take it you reference Jonah, when you talk about whales being fish? Actually, I believe that God created a special fish to swallow him (I have no reason for this, other than whale’s throats [last I checked] were too small to swallow humans up in).

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  Caleb.

                  You make the bewildering arguments that my worldview (science) precludes knowledge. To the contrary, science has been responsible for every new advance in knowledge in the last 200 years. Faith has hardly contributed a new idea at all. Science makes knowledge possible. Faith makes beliefs possible, strong, untestable and inflexible.

                  You asked for a science error in the Bible. Your AiG site says crickets have four legs because the Bible realized that legs five and six were used for jumping and not creeping. This refutation is very tenuous and frankly rather embarrassing for nearly every christian who tries to defend it to me. The bible does say whales (mammals) were created before terrestrial mammals. The fossil record and DNA phylogenic studies prove this is a scientific error. If you re-translate this as fish, we might re-interpret any other verse too. (How do we know Jesus didn’t say “I one a way, one truth and one life”?) I can give other examples but you’ve already accepted whatever the AiG site says on each of them.

                  I don’t really mind if Genesis is correct or in error but I find it frustrating when believers deny in the Bible the numerous translation errors, scientific errors and overlook its numerous interpretations and ambiguous meanings, each assuming vigorously that their own version is Gospel. Meanwhile they discredit science as secular and somehow limited, refuse to teach evolution because it shows common descent and expect scientists to have personally observed the evolution of the first cell of life, complete with clipboard and electron microscope. They assume convergent evolution is implausible; although it has been shown to have occurred many times. (Eg Bats and birds evolved from mammals and small dinosaurs. Wings are one of many examples of convergent evolution.)

                  Science almost always rejects the God hypothesis these days. This bias is because the evidence is simply not there. The AiG staff have few credible scientists and one has been threatened with expulsion when he made supportive comments about evolution. Even though Perry dismisses the academy of science as full of tough nuts, it has less than 1% of members who deny evolution. It is almost as evident and accepted as the atomic theory, only a few religious ostriches left.

                  • Caleb Neff says:

                    Actually, NO. I keep asking you to explain why there are constant physical laws, and logical laws. NEITHER of these makes sense. In order for you to be consistent, you would have to say that these are illusions, otherwise, you borrow from the Christian world-view. Therefore, you are still wrong, because science only works in a Christian world view.

                    Actually, it depends on who you are asking. I was merely pointing out that even YECists have educations. Starting with crickets: the word that describes crickets, locusts, etc., is sherets, which describes creatures that have a MINIMUM of four legs. And these definitely are within that limit! With whales, you fail to realize that the days of Genesis overlap. Therefore, it depends on who you ask that determines whether this is an error. Call this what you may, but there is no error that is present that lacks an explanation for why it seems present. I am glad that you don’t care about these aspects however. It means I have one less task to deal with next time you decide to reply (or should). If you must insult my character, and call me unthinking, yeesh, what does that show?

                    Most of the meanings are very clear cut, and there are NO translation errors that are unsolvable. Numerous science errors, but every claim made so far has been refuted. Maybe if you keep trying?
                    The problem with evolution is that it requires an explanation for regulatory genes, which prevent variation from extending too far in any one direction. We also need to explain why phylogenies contradict, placing horses farther away from cows than what is expected, and the origin of the genetic code. Parallel evoltution, contrary to your complaint, IS implausible: there are a near infinite number of structures. IF Richard Dawkins is wrong with his law of the conservation of the stable, then convergence shouldn’t happen. Given that advanced life exists, even though simpler life is more stable, I would believe that his postulate is false.

                    This last complaint fails to acknowledge the oft-repeated request: explain the origin of laws of any sort. Sure, they have problems, but everybody does. You are dodging the issue.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Caleb. Science is simply the testing of observations rather than believing what you’re told. This is a valid approach to learning for skeptics, Buddhists, Jews and Christians. Science is borrowing nothing from Christianity. Your assumption here is the same as Perry makes when he thinks that science began because of an obsolete verse in the catholic bible that no scientist ever heard of but all were (somehow) fundamentally influenced by. Science occurred in other places such as China before Christianity existed. Christianity depends on faith in a God they admit cannot be proven.

                      Where does it say in the Bible that crickets have a MINIMUM of four legs? If you add things later to make the verses fit into science, then it wasn’t right in the first place.

                      Where does it say in the Bible that the days overlap? Days have nights in between and don’t overlap. If you change definitions later to make the theory fit the facts, then the theory wasn’t right in the first place.

                      No translation errors? How can you know that until you check them all out? All you can honestly say is you haven’t found one yet. Or at least you haven’t noticed the ones that I’ve pointed out.

                      Caleb. You continue to assert that evolution cannot explain things like convergent evolution although it does. These arguments are becoming tiresome and circular. There fore my comment about ostriches with heads in the sand (actually they put their ear to the ground to hear for predators footsteps so the analogy is not fair to ostriches). I don’t think that I said you are unthinking, however there are some truths there that you clearly haven’t thought through for example;

                      “Therefore, it depends on who you ask that determines whether this is an error.” your quote implies that truth is subjective. Opinion is opinion and facts are independent of what someone thinks or believes. It doesn’t depend on opinion because facts are objective.

                    • Caleb Neff says:

                      Martin, your argument shows you don’t understand the history of science:
                      science assumes that the universe is understandable to us, which does not make sense in atheism (or Buddhism, but that’s because it is a form of atheism). Again, I am still waiting for a plausible explanation for there to be any laws of physics or logic anywhere in the universe. Actually, that we are in a universe that began to exist, operates on comprehensible principles, and does not feature Boltzmann Brains (which are more probable than us) would be a rather good proof of _/somebody\_ running around out there.

                      The word that describes crickets, locusts, etc. is `sherets`, which describes rodents as well. This word is for any creature that swarms, and all of them have at least four legs. Therefore, the word involves a minimum of four legs. Again, you are arguing for the sake of argument.

                      I conclude that the days overlap because at the end of the `creation week`, it describes the whole event as happening in a single day. This is one of the things that convinced me of the Progressive Creationism model being the best interpretation. “Days have nights in between and don’t overlap. If you change definitions later to make the theory fit the facts, then the theory wasn’t right in the first place.” I am not changing the definition; The days, as I have given my reasons, overlap, and are longer than 24 hrs., as shown.

                      You are 100% correct when you say the best I can do is claim that I haven’t found any, or noticed the ones you point out…. Untill you realize that the history of the Bible shows that they agree perfectly with what we have in the present editions (NIV, NSAB, etc.). My claim is concrete, according to what I can dig up.

                      Actually, it can’t account for that: i- we need a source of information that forces the same structure to arise (whether the arrangements that lead to these structures are the same or not is irrelevant, because shannon information confuses the argument). ii- we need some reason for only a certain set of structures out of an essentially _infinite_ set to arise. If there is, I welcome you to provide the reason.

                      I do sound like I am saying truth is subjective, but this is not intentional. I am doing all that I can when I make such statements, to show that how one interprets truth is subjective. AiG interprets it so that it always confirms YECism, I interpret it according to what I have as the best model of epistomology and metaphysics. I apologize for being so tiresome, but I don’t know where I am being circular in unacceptable ways. (A circle is only acceptable when the circle proves more than /just itself\, or else all models of epistomology and metaphysics are baseless [they must stand on themselves].)

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Hello Caleb.
                      The reply tab is missing so I will post up here:)

                      ((I conclude that the days overlap because at the end of the `creation week`, it describes the whole event as happening in a single day.))

                      Are you telling me that the Bible says that six days is described as one day??? How can we rely on a book that uses meanings of words so loosely? No wonder you get confused. Still, nothing here suggests that days can overlap.

                      Even if the bible word “sherets” means swarming creature it clearly intends to define flying insects and not tiny rodents or any other quadraped, the bible continues “beetles after its kind, locusts after its kind grasshoppers after its kind and then describes all other flying insects as excluded. I cannot think of a four legged creature that fits in here. Neither could the translators, evidently. If that was the intention, somebody would have corrected it by now, surely.

                      ((Yet these may ye eat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four which have legs above their feet to leap withal upon the earth 22 Even these of them ye may eat the locust after his kind and the bald locust after his kind and the beetle after his kind and the grasshopper after his kind – KJV))

                      Virgin can mean “maiden”. Worldwide flood can mean “known world” “I am the way” could mean “I am (one of) the ways” Who knows what is true in the bible if words are used so loosely. “Yom” (day) is stated to mean 24 hr day by the YEC’s, or long period of time by others, same hebrew word, still different meanings. When you know the original text, its meaning is still ambiguous.

                      Probably this happens because people use the bible to support what they already believe. As a result we have thousands of interpretations. Not helpful.

                      ((science assumes that the universe is understandable to us, which does not make sense in atheism))

                      This is simply an unsupported assertion. We’ve been over this before. Science assumes a natural world and attempts to describe and understand its laws. In religion the world is not understandable. “You’ll understand that in heaven…only god knows…divine mystery…it was a miracle…”
                      I’m supporting science and frustrated when people try to adapt science (such as evolution) to fit into bible mythology, creation chronology, bible events, heaven and hell etc. It doesn’t work.

                      Convergent evolution is easy to explain. Placental mammals and marsupial mammals (in Australia) both evolved to dig underground for worms (moles and marsupial moles). Both adapted by sealing over their eyelids and losing practically all eyesight. The same information was available to both ancestors to develop these modifications. That information came from the environment (natural selection) by making a niche available in each continent and eliminating any less suited offspring. Moles with sealed eyelids survive better digging underground. This is basic evolution. I know you don’t accept this science but you did ask for it. This is an explanation and the God model doesn’t add any explanation.

                    • Caleb Neff says:

                      The words are not being used loosely, the meanings are just more diverse. Remember, the original Hebrew only had ~3000 words. Further, given how God commands the planet to do things (”|Let| the Earth produce plants,” etc.), this can be argued to give extra support for overlapping days.

                      Yes, I am very much aware that the context excludes rodents, but the point is that all creatures that fall under the term for swarming have at least four legs. This does not refute my argument.
                      Yes, virgin can mean maiden, but notice that not being `touched` by a man is a hint for us here. I can build a case for a localized flood, without how `worldwide` can mean `known world`. The context in Hebrew is especially more important, but what the words /allow\ is also taken into account as a whole (because it features a minimum of four legs, in definition).

                      Actually, the God of the Bible wants us to reason. I take it that if you can quote the Bible, you ought to know what I am referencing? Your claim is patently false. Further, again: atheism has no answer for constant physical laws, and I am still waiting for an argument that is bullet-proof for your side.

                      Again, there is an essentially INFINITE number of possible structures. If I properly researched the terminology (you can tell me if I didn’t), then convergent evolution involves UNrelated organisms. This example falls on its face if my terminology is proper. Further, natural selection removes information that is already there. You need a mechanism, and random mutation has been eliminated as a factor: random mutations do not subscribe to the required rules in order to produce new strands of code that mean anything for the cell.

          • Bert Pursoo says:

            Hello Caleb:
            First of all we need to set the groundwork here:
            1. The Christian Bible was the result of the order of Emperor Constantine to fulfill two objectives: A) reduce the number of gods to One (for political reasons; and B) to arbitrarily select writings that would be included in the Bible which is a compilation of stories (You may want to bone up on at least “The First Council of Nicaea”. But note that you’ll need to find a proper source, not one promulgated by a pro religious group.

            2. Everything in the Bible was written by man – not by any god!

            3. Everything written about Jesus was done so well after his death and each writer had his own account simply because whoever wrote the gospels had to rely do enough “padding” to make the account acceptable.

            4. God is probably impossible because God cannot be three persons and be one at the same time. I suppose I can point out that more than one object cannot occupy the same space and dimension at the same time, but well…I will leave you to attack that universal truth.

            5. “In order to argue that God doesn’t exist, you have to assume that He /does\ (this is why the first claim is true”.
            I don’t think so! That is illogical and without logic we’ll have no basis on which to continue this dialogue.

            6. There is no such thing as perfection. It is an illusion. Look around you at the number of imperfections and you will be forced to agree with me! Furthermore, since God is supposed to have made me in his own own image and likeness and I am imperfect, then God is imperfect. QED(Quat erat demonstratum)

            6. Now about recovering his body, I want to refer you to some of the stories surrounding the myth of the man Jesus. Here goes and do remember that I did not make these up.

            *Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus being God, or a person of a Trinity, or a mediator to God and further rejects assertions that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh.

            *In Islam, Jesus is considered one of God’s important prophets,a bringer of scripture, and the product of a virgin birth, but NOT to have experienced crucifixion. Islam (and the Bahá’í Faith) use the title “Messiah” for Jesus, but do NOT teach that he was God incarnate.

            *The Ahmadiyya Movement (a Muslim Sect) considers Jesus a mortal man who died a natural death. According to the early 20th century writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement),Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross, and after his apparent death and resurrection, he fled Palestine and migrated eastwards to further teach the gospels. Jesus eventually died a natural death of old age in Kashmir, India and is believed to be buried at Roza Bal

            *In a letter to his daughter Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, “All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even farther north, there is a strong belief that Jesus or Isa travelled about there.”

            *There have been various claims that Jesus travelled to Britain during his lost years. One such claim was made by Gordon Strachan in his book Jesus the Master Builder: Druid Mysteries and the Dawn of Christianity (1998), which was the basis of the documentary titled And Did Those Feet (2009)

            *The anthropologist and author L. Taylor Hansen wrote the book “He Walked the Americas” in 1963. In the book drawing from Native American legends, folklore and mythology discussed that a “White Prophet” had visited many different parts of America. Mormons believe that the “White Prophet” was Jesus Christ.

            I have provided you with those excerpts to demonstrate that your understanding of Jesus is too skewed for you to make any intelligent decision on the nature of the life and times of Jesus at this time. Therefore, you may want to refrain from declaring anything someone writes on this site about God, Jesus, the Holy Trinity, Immaculate Conception et al as nonsense.

            7. “They (the apostles) surely would have fessed up to save their own skins!”
            Not necessarily, my friend. First of all, Faith is stronger than Truth especially when it’s difficult to define Truth. Also, as you know people can be so caught up in what they want to believe that they miss the most obvious. Some Muslims and terrorists all over the world are willing to kill themselves to demonstrate their Faith. (Remember 9/11).
            In any political revolution dictators and oppressors are well supported and are prepared to die for their cause. Millions of people remain strapped to poverty and mistreatment because they refuse to think and take action on their own (true, some because of lack of education as distinct from training)and rely on God to protect them and it’s just not happening!. You need to travel to countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Somalia, Libya, Sudan etc and experience the absence of the mercy of the Christian God.

            8. Do remember that Christianity is but ONLY one religion and it’s nothing short of abject arrogance to profess to speak for the entire world and all of mankind!
            Finally, my friend learn that Heaven and Hell, God and Satan are all concepts which mean different things to different people, so when you discuss or debate try to be respectful. As Abraham Lincoln said: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend … your right to say it”.

            Have a good day Caleb, and may whatever God you acknowledge truly bless you!

            • Caleb Neff says:

              Nice to see you again.
              1: Actually, the whole is more complicated than you want to say it is. For example, notice how the Bible holds to some key-themes, which it holds to consistently. The Apocrypha fails to be consistent to these themes, so they wouldn’t be allowed in. The entire Bible has a message in it.
              2: This is an assertion. Further, it is rather funny that this book, written by man, can account for logic and physical laws, but nobody else can! This is self-refuting.
              3: This claim is a half-truth. Yes, the Gospels were written between 60 and 90 years after Jesus’ cruxifiction. The reason why they seem so different is actually very simple to `resolve`: Each one records a slightly different time in Jesus’ life, in addition to multiple accounts of the same cruxifiction (of which repeating the same event shows how significant this theme is). Truths are reiterated, but in different events, and mildly different retellings of similar ones.
              4: Ah. The Trinity-paradox. Actually, it is only a paradox if you don’t try to think about it. God `manifests` as three persons. This is the basis behind the Schema (pronounced `Shma`), which describes God as having `compound unity` (which is also the basis of marriage). Each person in the Trinity is in constant communion with the others.

              Attacking omnipresence only works if we assume that God has to occupy space as a material entity. To the best that I can currently find, the term `omnipresence` means `having _access_ to all possible locations`. (That also explains why Hell can be described as a place where God is NOT.) How I would need to attack any truth at all is not in view.
              5: Actually, you must assume that God exists in order to argue against His existence. Go on, provide an account for the existence of logic, and it has to be God-free. Really, you are very much wrong here, and should know it by now. (Why /should\ a contradiction be wrong?)
              6: Actually, the definition of perfection in the Bible (Corrinthians?) describes `completeness`. God is complete, we aren’t. Further, how is it that I don’t see any perfections as you define them prove that they don’t exist? I don’t see any islands where I live…. Nor do I see any microbes.
              Actually, no. God created Adam and Eve in His image, who then created children in their image. We are like a mirror, but shattered, so that the Image is ruined.
              6?: Sorry if it annoys you that I am quoting.
              “Now about recovering his body, I want to refer you to some of the stories surrounding the myth of the man Jesus. Here goes and do remember that I did not make these up.
              “*Judaism rejects the idea of Jesus being God, or a person of a Trinity, or a mediator to God and further rejects assertions that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh.”
              To wit, He was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, grew up as a Nazarene, performed miracles, and rose from the dead. I don’t know where to research the Tanakh, so I am very much limited to ignorance.

              “*In Islam, Jesus is considered one of God’s important prophets,a bringer of scripture, and the product of a virgin birth, but NOT to have experienced crucifixion. Islam (and the Bahá’í Faith) use the title “Messiah” for Jesus, but do NOT teach that he was God incarnate.”
              They also teach that everything Jesus said was true. The fact that He claimed to be the Son-of-God demonstrates that they are self-refuting. In their belief, it was Judas who was cruxified (which raises the question for me, “who pulled off the deception of 500 people?”).

              “*The Ahmadiyya Movement (a Muslim Sect) considers Jesus a mortal man who died a natural death. According to the early 20th century writings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (the founder of the Ahmadiyya movement),Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross, and after his apparent death and resurrection, he fled Palestine and migrated eastwards to further teach the gospels. Jesus eventually died a natural death of old age in Kashmir, India and is believed to be buried at Roza Bal.”
              Fascinating, but the swoon theory is impossible if we assume naturalism. Why He would then lie that He rose from the dead after that 3-day ordeal makes this belief suspect.

              “*In a letter to his daughter Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, “All over Central Asia, in Kashmir and Ladakh and Tibet and even farther north, there is a strong belief that Jesus or Isa travelled about there.””
              I won’t dispute that people believe this. I do dispute that it has basis in reality, but I have only a Bible to dispute that with, rather than a logical reason (so this shouldn’t be used to convince people).

              “*There have been various claims that Jesus travelled to Britain during his lost years. One such claim was made by Gordon Strachan in his book Jesus the Master Builder: Druid Mysteries and the Dawn of Christianity (1998), which was the basis of the documentary titled And Did Those Feet (2009)”
              This is very similar to the above. Again, I have no logic that can be used to argue against it. The real question involves is whether Jesus would survive swooning (He wouldn’t unless He were Divine in some way).

              “*The anthropologist and author L. Taylor Hansen wrote the book “He Walked the Americas” in 1963. In the book drawing from Native American legends, folklore and mythology discussed that a “White Prophet” had visited many different parts of America. Mormons believe that the “White Prophet” was Jesus Christ.”
              If we assume that the Tower of Babel story is correct, then the legends told amoung indians would have been Old Testament prophecies. The only reason to assume that the ToB story is correct is because we have legends of floods all over the planet. Evolutionism does have an explanation for this as well, which I will simply sum up as “evolved minds think alike”.

              7: ““They (the apostles) surely would have fessed up to save their own skins!”
              Not necessarily, my friend. First of all, Faith is stronger than Truth especially when it’s difficult to define Truth. Also, as you know people can be so caught up in what they want to believe that they miss the most obvious. Some Muslims and terrorists all over the world are willing to kill themselves to demonstrate their Faith. (Remember 9/11).” Actually, they would have fessed up. You see, they already knew that Jesus hadn’t risen in your scenario, so they really don’t have this faith at all. The rest would have stuck, but the proof is lost in the pudding.
              ” In any political revolution dictators and oppressors are well supported and are prepared to die for their cause. Millions of people remain strapped to poverty and mistreatment because they refuse to think and take action on their own (true, some because of lack of education as distinct from training)and rely on God to protect them and it’s just not happening!. You need to travel to countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Somalia, Libya, Sudan etc and experience the absence of the mercy of the Christian God.”
              These are dark times, that has come true. Also, consider that they are still alive (which requires needs be provided). I believe that we should be helping them, because we are commanded to love our neighbors as well as ourselves (which would also be fulfilling their needs).

              8: “Do remember that Christianity is but ONLY one religion and it’s nothing short of abject arrogance to profess to speak for the entire world and all of mankind!”
              It would be arrognace, if we are wrong. Given that logic and the laws of physics require a god that has revealed themself, is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient (else there is no reason to believe they exist, nor a way to account for them), it would seem as though only the Abrahamic religions are left. I already have a reason for eliminating Islam, the real tricky part is showing that Christianity is the fulfilment of Judaism to them.
              ” Finally, my friend learn that Heaven and Hell, God and Satan are all concepts which mean different things to different people, so when you discuss or debate try to be respectful. As Abraham Lincoln said: I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend … your right to say it”.”
              Yes, I must try very hard to be respectful. “Be prepared for people to ask you why you have the hope you do, but do so with kindness and gentleness.”-1Peter.
              Enjoy your week. :)

            • Caleb Neff says:

              This is another thing I wish I said: I only need to worry about the Jewish idea that Jesus failed to complete the prophecies of the Tanakh. The idea that He didn’t die and was walking around those other areas would only be possible if Islam is correct: He was cruxified, and it is medically impossible for Him to have swooned and revived later (so naturalism is out). Being that Islam is self-defeating for the reason I gave previously, and I have no need to worry about Jesus roaming America (He can do whatever He wants).

  7. Stacey Anderson says:

    Dear Mr. Marshall,

    Many miracles have occurred in my life, and I truly do believe in them.

    I was wondering if you could take a few seconds to pray for something for me?

    I have to drive 64 miles to work and 64 miles back every day and, because of that, I can’t be involved in my community. I want more community involvement and I think it’s God’s will that neighbors know each other and take care of each other.

    There is a federal forest service position open locally. It is the only good job in several years that has opened up locally that I’m qualified for. I live in a very rural area without a lot of jobs available. I’d have to take a pay cut, but it is only 9.5 miles from my house. The competition for forest service jobs is fierce. I doubt that I have competition from any locals, but the position is posted nation-wide. I was informed that people have a better chance of winning the lottery than of getting one of those jobs.

    The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit have worked many miracles in my life and I am asking for another. I have prayed and I hope you will pray for me, too, please.

    May our God bless you and keep you. May you be safe, may you have all that you need, and may you have peace. Amen.

    Stacey Anderson

  8. Chukwu Emeka says:

    Dear Perry,
    I do not know if you are a Christian, but i sense you are one Great Christian and a highly blessed one. I love the way you bring the points out one after the other in such a way that only people who refuse to accept the truth refuse it. I would be greatly honored if you can guide me on how to bring the truth of God and our Lord Jesus Christ to the fore front.
    Are you concerned with Christians that are still living under the Law of Moses today, and not under the Grace and Truth brought by Christ? I am a new creation and would love to have a mentor like you. For God has directed me to do his work but I am a coward for now on how to progress his work.and I have a lot of Highly controversial issues to tackle on behalf of God like the ones you are tackling.
    By the way, I loved your response to the Brother John Doyen,

    “Claims that the most influential person in world history never existed have very little credibility. Jim, your above statement is Exhibit “A” of psychological denial. Most of these documents are not considered forgeries by credible scholars”.

    For similar reasons, most of the rest of your statements are not worthy of comment.
    That got me rolling on the floor.

    Thanks for defending God, for God will defend you in all your endeavors Through Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. Thank you Sir, and Brother. I would love to hear from you if your most busy schedule would permit.

  9. JJ Harris says:

    The Father the Creator has shown me so many times He is there He does care and love all. Evil exists because we exist we have darkness in us everyone of us. We act like we can solve these complicated answers with nothing more than guesswork. I believe in the Creator “I AM”. Love is a feeling a gift a emotion that exists and we should use it more often, rather disprove something you deny so much with a mindset of being opposed of something proving wrong for your own benefit in self gain in pride. All I can say of any value without throwing facts forever and counter facts is to tell you if you truly seek you will find.

  10. tamayo gb says:

    you know, you are right. you are in all aspects correct with your views and opinions. you should teach this to the world. you should start a crusade and save christians and christians-to-be and convert them to your own teachings. in fact, i believe that all religion is false. they were created by men to control their fellowmen, to be able to tax them, make them follow their commands “or else…”. yes. you should start demolishing these lies. yes, start with christianity which is the biggest lie of all! go ahead. i support you. i believe you.

  11. sachin says:

    it is strange that you say and trying to prove that JESUS is not GOD.
    I am from hindu background,india, suffered from
    1) skin disease(treated at allopathic,homopathic and ayurvedic hospitals but to no vain)
    2)suffered from evil and witchcraft from 33 years (tried to get rid from hindu and other religion perspective but to no vain)
    3)suffered from gastric ulcer(treated at allopathic and ayurvedic hospitals but to no vain)
    4)liver damage(treated at allopathic and ayurvedic hospitals plus tried hindu ’s related method but to no vain)

    AT LAST JESUS HEALED ME,DELIVERED ME, AND SAVED ME.
    not me even my family members too,my aunty,my uncle,my grandmother too got healed. from last 7 years no problems/diseases has come near to me. even my colleagues and friends are amazed.
    If problems/diseases have powers then there should be someone who should have power over them. AND IT IS ONLY JESUS ,LORD GOD OF HEAVENS AND EARTH.

    read it carefully ,think and try to understand how can this happens?

    TRY JESUS ONCE WHEN U LOST UR HOPE IN UR LIFE.

  12. perrymarshall says:

    Ryan,

    My friend Carol will be in touch with you via email. But I would encourage you to try this:

    -Write down what you want to do, ask God to help you do it, and COMMIT to it.
    -Surround yourself with 2-3 friends who will help you stay on track.

    Watching all the people who don’t agree with your beliefs will only drag you down.

  13. Viswanath Natrajan says:

    Sir,

    Do you think there is a Soul of all departed human beings?
    Is there a thing called Soul?
    Why no soul for Animals?

    Thanks

    Nat

    • perrymarshall says:

      Yes, I think that all people have a soul. I don’t know if animals have a soul or not.

      • Shane Jansen van Vuuren says:

        The Bible states that we are a soul, not that we have one. Also, it states further, elsewhere in the Bible, that certain animals are souls.

        I know the first reference is in Genesis, the animals reference I’ll see if I can find it again. It blew my mind.

      • Ray Perry says:

        The soul is nothing more than some form of energy.

        • Everything that exists is nothing more than some form of energy. The soul is a concept and a feeble attempt by us to describe what we really are.

          • Caleb Neff says:

            Your claim that the soul is a feeble attempt to understand what we are amuses me, no offense. Riddle me this: whence consciousness?, whence intelligence? You see, the lower cannot give rise to the higher. Our machines are stronger than we are, faster, better at running advanced calculus…. What does this tell you? It tells me that intelligence is superior to strength, speed, and mathematics, as well as many other fields. Therefore, intelligence is not reducible to these properties. So whatever gave us these qualities is not materialistic. What we know to be true requires you to be wrong.

            • Bert Pursoo says:

              Actually, Caleb, you don’t know anything to be true. All you know is what you believe. There is no proof concerning the existence of the “soul”, regardless of how nice it is to imagine we have something that is greater than our physical body. There is no riddle about things like intelligence, consciousness, etc. Just because we don’t fully understand yet is no reason to give these things divine attributes!

              • Caleb Neff says:

                I argue that there is some part of the human that is not controlled by physical laws. I `know` that it exists on the grounds that if it didn’t exist, then I wouldn’t be able to make rational choices. For example, if you are nothing but atoms, then you only believe you are nothing but atoms because the laws of physics made you do it. Given that these laws also control our memories, who is to say that you are real? You? Not really, since it would just be another thing the laws of physics forced me to think you told me that you are real.

                Also, I argue that these things are mysteries, because there is no good reason for them to exist. Assuming that Richard Dawkins’ Law of the Conservation of the Stable is correct, there is no good reason for life of any sort to exist at all, let alone complex life! The more complex it is, the more resources are needed for it to survive and reproduce, where as nonlife doesn’t need anything, and has no need for competition. Simple life ought to be the only thing here, but it isn’t.

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  Caleb.

                  If you were controlled by only physical laws then you would be compelled to eat when you were hungry and sleep when you are tired. These are rational choices. Some part of the human not controlled by physical laws? Your rationalization is hardly evident.
                  I notice religion causes people to fast when they are hungry, give money when they are poor, pray for things that hardly happen, and believe in things they hardly see; hardly rational, I would think.

                  Maybe the fact that some people make irrational choices is evidence of some divine influence.

                  Any evolutionary biologist can give good reasons for intelligence, morality and consciousness to evolve. The existence of matter is somewhat of a mystery. The origin of life is still somewhat of a mystery. Single cells (definitely not simple) evolving complexity is no mystery but a certainty.

                  Neither argument is convincing. Even though we have no soul. we still have friends, love, hopes, fears, memories, purpose, desires, humor, and three score and ten good years.

                  • Caleb Neff says:

                    Actually, the laws behind evolution demand that I sleep when I’m tired, and eat when I’m hungry. The laws of physics, on the other hand, control my behaviour by way of neurochemistries that don’t need to exist at all. The laws of physics can very well force me to think that you are real, even when you aren’t. Think about it: in order to say that the laws of nature are constant, you have to remember the past, but if the laws of physics change, then your memories will also change. Because your brain obeys chemological and biological forces, it would also be forced to have false memories. Given that you have no reason for physical laws, your ideas of the origin of morality and consciousness fall apart at the seams: there is no reason for your observations about evolution to be true.

                    People giving money when they are poor would imply compassion, if they are giving it to people who need it. Fasting when they are hungry only works if they had instructions from God (I doubt that fasting has been commanded recently, but I won’t guess either!). Praying for things that hardly happen fails to understand the thing prayer is mostly for: direct communication with God. He promises to grant needs, maybe wants, in accordance to His will, but I think that that is it.

    • Martin Lagerwey says:

      Hello Perry
      As a naturalist (distinct from a supernaturalist) I find miracles hard to accept and believe that all things follow natural laws distinct from divine laws, whatever they are. I admire most of what you say because it seems well thought out rather than regurgitated.
      I have one question which seems to me to be a contradiction in Christian theology.
      Since Jesus died for the sins of mankind, shouldn’t he be dead still? If the debt is now paid since he did die and can now be resurrected, then why didn’t God just raise Adam, and Eve, and everybody. If I owe you $1000 and then pay you back, you won’t return it to me once the debt is paid. Christians that I have asked cannot comprehend the question at all. I expect that you will. Thanks Martin

      • perrymarshall says:

        It’s essential to Christian theology that Christ rise from the dead, that He defeat death. Otherwise what is the point?

        I might not be understanding your question. Maybe you’re asking why everyone hasn’t already risen from the dead? In my opinion the answer to that question is, God has a whole plan of bringing the kingdom from heaven to earth, and in time that plan will be fulfilled.

        If I’m misunderstanding then elaborate – thanks

        • Martin Lagerwey says:

          Payment for sin must be legally correct, ie. someone sins so someone dies. So Jesus died as payment for Adams sin. By what rule was Jesus raised from the dead after three days? Is death from sin only temporary? No. Is it because his death came from someone else’s sin? Don’t think so. Does it work differently because Jesus was a special man and immortal?
          I think my answer is in your comment that he “defeated death” and it seems I haven’t understood what Christian theology really teaches. I thought God raised Jesus from the dead, meaning the debt is no longer legally paid anymore. If however, Jesus had a power to raise himself, and defeat death, then it’s a new insight for me. I would have a problem with believing that kind of supernatural event because he was supposed to be human.

          • perrymarshall says:

            Jesus was fully human and fully God.

            He emptied himself of his divine privileges and experienced death on a cross. Philippians 2:

            5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
            6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
            did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
            7but made himself nothing,
            taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
            being made in human likeness.
            8And being found in appearance as a man,
            he humbled himself
            and became obedient to death—
            even death on a cross!
            9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
            and gave him the name that is above every name,
            10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
            in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
            11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
            to the glory of God the Father.

            God raised Jesus from the dead and restored to Him the power that he surrendered.

            If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then one could only say “Physician, heal thyself.” He would be a hypocrite if He didn’t rise from the dead, because He defeated death itself. The debt IS legally paid and now freedom is earned. That is precisely why there is a resurrection!

            • Martin Lagerwey says:

              It seems you’re not understanding my question.
              Humans all die because of Adam (the wages of sin is death). But Jesus dies in our place.
              He should be dead in our place, so we can now be resurrected.
              It’s because he died that the debt is paid – that he was raised by God, I cannot understand. The animals sacrificed on altars as sin offerings stayed dead.

              Any debtor has to pay the cost that he owes;
              If I owe you $100 then I pay you, how come I get the $100 back.
              If Jesus offers to pay the $100 (life) then he pays it how come he gets the $100 (life) back.

              I’m not trying to be difficult but I think in a court of law, any barrister would see the debt is NOT legally paid, or at least wonder why God who required such a high penalty, decided to return the cost.

              Kind regards
              Martin

              • perrymarshall says:

                Martin,

                Let’s say you live in an ancient colony where cruel punishments are practiced.

                You commit some crime and someone beats you with leather straps until your skin is red and blistered and burning.

                A year later your skin is all healed and there is no physical evidence of the beating.

                Because your skin healed, does that mean that you were never punished?

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  Hey, I think you offered an unrelated analogy of a beating for a death. You don’t just heal from death? Isn’t that comparing apples and oranges?
                  Isn’t it his death that paid for our sin so that we can be raised? But God gave the life back by raising Jesus – he didn’t just get better by himself (skin healed).
                  Didn’t God reverse the punishment by giving life back to Jesus? Is my $100 analogy faulty?

                  • perrymarshall says:

                    God did not reverse the punishment. Resurrection did not undo the suffering. Jesus still had scars when Thomas touched his hands. The torture had been done, the punishment had been administered. So yes, the $100 analogy is faulty in my view.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      You are saying now that the punishment was suffering and torture. I thought the punishment was death, and that was reversed. The Bible agrees sometimes with your last statement in the famous prophecy in Is.53 “He was wounded for our sins…bruised…by his stripes we are healed.” This statement is vague because it does not say death is necessary for payment of our sins. Other parts of the Bible state that death is required. Since these seem to be confused in the Bible, your argument seems to me to slide from death to suffering and you cannot seem to explain why you disagree with my $100 analogy. If suffering alone was sufficient payment for sin, then I agree with your argument; if death was required, I don’t think you have understood my question.

                    • Dalibor Šver says:

                      Martin,
                      through your $100 example you miss the point of resurrection.
                      Jesus did paid $100 with his life as you suggested.
                      After the paying the debt for sin, now it’s all settled (It’s finished, as Jesus said on the cross). There’s nothing standing in the way of living forever. The death is beaten – symbolically through his resurrection – and for real that will happen later on.
                      Resurrection is a gift from God, showing us that we can all live forever if we want to!

                • Ruth Geiger says:

                  Perry, I think the confusion re: Jesus death and resurrection have to do with what exactly was the nature of the greatest sacrifice ever made. We are told in the Scriptures that “for a righteous man, some would even dare to die.” The moment when that burden of sin was laid on Him who had never sinned, was the single moment in all eternity past and future, when there was or would ever be, a separation of the Son from the Father. The depth of the sacrifice is one we cannot fathom, and it is on faith alone that we cn see even a glimpse of it. But the totality of the sacrifice was finished when the Son bore in His own sinless body, the sins for everyone who would believe in Him and receive Him as Lord. He, who knew no sin, was made “to be sin,” had the sins of the world placed on Him, and in His body, He bore those sins to the death. The glorification of His physical death on the cross is based on the simple inability of some people to see that fact. The Scriptures tell us that He laid aside His divine prerogatives, and until the moment when those sins were placed on Him, He could indeed, have called ten thousand angels. When the body of that sin reached the final moment and death was imminent, Christ knew the work was finished.
                  Death was for the purpose of doing away with the penalty for sin for all who would trust in Him as Lord and Christ. I recommend to the reader the second chapter of Ephesians, which tells the story best, I think.

              • Roger Sawtelle says:

                Let me see if I can clarify this problem. When you and I sin we create a penalty or debt against us. If I take $100.00 from you, I owe you $100.00. At one time I could be sent to jail until I paid the $100.00 back.

                You and I, all human beings go through life accumulating this debt of sin. We are unable to pay it off because doing good does not create surplus merit, because being good is what we are supposed to do. Thus we are dead in our sins, because we cannot pay off our debt. Death, spiritual and physical, is the penalty for sin. “The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23

                “But the free gift of God is eternal life.” Rom 6:23 One important aspect of your misunderstanding is that it is not the fact that that Jesus died that paid for our sins, but the fact that Jesus came to earth as a human being, put up with all the trial and hardships that people put up with suffered all sorts of unfair persecution, and finally suffered unimaginable physical, mental, and spiritual agony on the cross, not because He did anything wrong, but because we did many things wrongs, collectively and individually.

                Since Jesus was able to pay for our sin and the sin of the whole world, past, present, and future, we know that God, good, and love, are stronger than sin, evil, and hatred. Thus a very rich person could pay off my debts without making a dent in his or her bank account, however, the cost to Jesus and to God the Father was not insignificant, but was very high.

                Another way to understand this is relationally. Jesus was God because He had a unique very close relationship to God the Father through the Holy Spirit. This relationship was His lifeline as it is ours. On the Cross God the Father allowed this relationship, this lifeline to be severed completely by Sin, so Jesus could truly say using the words of David, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Only the God the Son could survive separation from the Father, but even He was unable to survive for long. In this Jesus went through Hell, which is separation from God, for us, and while it might have been for just a short time, time is not the issue. His physical (He refused drugs to ease the pain), mental (the betrayal of His friends and enemies), and spiritual pain (separation from God the Father) were more than enough to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world.

                • P. Peter says:

                  Hi Ron,

                  Everyone dies. (maybe there are exceptions)

                  Everyone is raised up when God decides. Jesus,
                  Elijah, Elisha, Peter, Paul, many christians even today raise up dead people. (In the USA you can talk to Mr. Andrew Wommack) Most are raised up at the Judgement. Jesus was raised up on the third day by the Holy Spirit. Thats it.

                  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened ( = made alive) by the Spirit:

                  It is no surprise that He rose up again as all must be raised up. The death is itself the $1.00 being paid back. Raising up is independent of death as everyone who dies shall be raised up at some time.

                  If this does not satisfy you, follow the instructions given below:

                  1. Ask God.

                  I asked the same question you asked but I asked God, who gave answer that satisfies me. Next time you have any questions ask God.

                  with lots of love,
                  Peter

              • Walter Prins says:

                An additional viewpoint, which I hope helps.

                Remember that God gave humanity (via the Israel) His holy law, which if we could uphold it perfectly would allow us in theory to be saved from/resurrected from death based on our works. In reality of course, we’re all damaged goods and it’s impossible to fully uphold God’s perfect law from our own strength.

                The explicit Old Testament laws in practice thus served not so much as a way for humanity to know how save ourselves, but rather to show us our own imperfection and how lost we are by ourselves/by our own efforts.

                However, in theory, a man which upheld God’s standard perfectly would earn the right to eternal life again and to being restored/resurrected. If such a man were to die, his death would be sufficient to pay for another man’s sins, which means the other man would then earn the right to eternal life again.

                However, such a perfect man would’ve also simultaneously still himself earned the right to eternal life via his perfect life. So apart from his death, he would still also have earned the right to resurrection.

                Jesus was this perfect Man.

                Consequently:
                1.) Jesus was perfect, but he nevertheless died. His death remains and served to pay for (all of our) sins.

                2.) However, because Jesus also fully fulfilled God’s law completely (in its true meaning.) As a result, he singularly, out of all humanity, ALSO earned the right to eternal life by fulfilling the law. Consequently God also had the legal right to raise from death despite dying, thereby conquering death that was introduced through the original sin.

                So my own suggestion of a solution to your dilemma is hence that the payment Jesus made was not returned by him being resurrected, rather, the payment was made, he did suffer, die etc. and then, as a seperate case/issue, he however also earned the right to eternal life, by being sinless and fully upholding God’s requirement of perfection. For this reason He was raised again.

                Hope that helps. Blessings and best wishes.

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  So Jesus earned eternal life by being sinless but forfeited it by dying instead of us – even though for some reason, we still die – there is another question – why should christians STILL die if our sin is forgiven already? I think most christians would say that Jesus ‘became sin’ (mankinds sin- not his own) and therefore God did not have the legal right to raise him.
                  I understand your explanation but it doesn’t work for me.

                  • Andrew Lobb says:

                    Christians still die a natural death, but not a spiritual death. Not all Christians will die the natural death, as when Christ returns those who are not dead do not need to be resurrected.

                    The problem with our existence is that without Christ, we are all spiritually dead already, i.e. separated from God. As a result of Jesus’ death, we can be reconciled to (i.e. alive in) God.

                    The advantage of Christianity is not that you don’t die, but that you can live _now_. “I came that they may have life, life in all its fullness.” Living now is the start of living for eternity. Physical death is a minor unimportant and reversible thing (consider the story of Lazarus). This is why there are so many Christian Martyrs. They understand this. But, be warned, there comes a point when spiritual death becomes irreversible.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Can you illuminate me as to what the spiritual death that everyone except Christians suffer from.
                      Some wonderful followers of other religions seem as close to God. Do you think that some non Christians don’t live a very full and useful lives, even if they don’t believe in God.

                      “I came that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”

                      Some people interpret these kind of quotes to exclude and marginalize others.
                      I think that is sad.

                    • Caleb Neff says:

                      Hello Martin. You asked what the spiritual death is like. I usually here it as a place of suffering (I also here debate over whether it is eternal or not). I assume you have heard of Divine Simplicity? God is goodness, in a word. Thus, because spiritual death is a seperation from God’s presence, there is no goodness where one is. Those who are truly saved don’t experience it because they are not cast out from God’s presence.

                      Yes, it is very sad for people to be marginalized over it. I very much don’t think that those who do marginalize are saved, because they are not trying to be good to their neighbor (which would mean respecting what they believe once the line is drawn).

                    • Andrew Lobb says:

                      Hi Martin

                      Firstly, I never asserted that everyone except Christians suffer fro spiritual death. What I did say is that Jesus had to be separated from the father – i.e. die spiritually. I also stated that an unknown number of people never died spiritually before Christ came.

                      How can someone know or define “life in all its fullness” unless they have had it? How can you explain colour to a man born blind? You can talk of wavelengths of light, but he can never fully experience it. It is the same with spiritual life.

                      Cheers

      • Erin Handover says:

        You paid me $1000. You’ve cleared the debt. If I return you the $1000 later on, does it mean that the debt’s come back? No. It only means that I gave you $1000. Jesus died. The wages of sin was paid. Whether He got resurrected or not after that is irrelevant.

        God is planning to raise Adam and Eve and everybody, at the end of the age.

        Jesus is different. The bible does not describe Him as a mere man. He’s the Word of God. The Alpha and the Omega. YHWH (Heb 1:10 And, Thou, originally, Lord, dost found the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands. etc. etc.). The only begotten Son of God.

        As to why God chose to do this rather than something you think “makes more sense”, I must repeat Paul’s words. Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

        Just chipping in on what scant understanding I have.

        • Martin Lagerwey says:

          Thanks for contributing. Are you suggesting that since we are created beings we should not try to make sense of God and His ways? I cannot follow something until it makes sense because until that point there is an error, either in my understanding or in the theory. Perry said that the resurrection is important, “otherwise what’s the point.” But the same question comes back – why not just give Adam’s life back after three days, and Eve’s, and mine, etc. That would still show His love. Sending Jesus makes no sense since God can resurrect men that died for sin.

        • hahahah 1 n 0….0 n 1 who’s the winner? pc comes live for your advantages or anger appearing between u and me ckckckck please come luseeya conclusion is they are waiting for you! heheh what a happy day, i’ve feel what human cant feel and i want more! hehheh

      • Martin, I think that there is a problem with the way you state your idea. There is a difference between a money debt and breaking the law. In a money debt, there is no wrong involved. If you are kind, after getting repaid, you can return the money that was owed to you. But when a wrong is committed, a judge and a court system are involved because punishment must be applied if the person is found guilty. Payment is not optional. Justice must be served. Laws exist (supposedly!!) for the well being of all. After punishment was applied to Jesus in place of the guilty, God gave Jesus, who was innocent of any crime, his life back and also gave him control of yours. Jesus now has control of who lives and dies for their crimes. Every single person must face Jesus for his/her actions. Just like God gave Jesus his life back, he can give your life back to you; or not!!

        • Martin Lagerwey says:

          Ilfonso, thanks for your reply.
          A sinner and a debtor both must pay in principle. A debtor may have done nothing wrong but he has still promised to repay.
          The Bible teaches that Jesus “became sin” and was not innocent in that sense, although he may have committed no sin. How can god gift his life back as if he was sinless. If God works that way, then Adam could have been raised after paying for his sin by his own death. Why send Jesus to die? I know… to show his love but why is it needed in a legal sense? There’s a faulty logic here. The teaching of resurrection and victory over death conceals the logic problem. The miracle overshadows the question. Why can nobody understand my question? Non believers seem to understand it easily. I see dots being joined that don’t fit together, to explain away a tragic death of a good man, to give hope to to disappointed followers, to create an inspiring theology? Inspiration is good but is that enough?
          Martin

          • Martin, there is no air tight legal argument and there is not meant to be. You might consider some of the stuff that Joseph Campbell (a world authority on myth and legend) has said about this. It turns out that myths that are quite similar to the Jesus story are actually quite common in worldwide myths throughout the ages. And I do not mean “myth” in the sense of a lie. I mean Myth as in creeds, metaphors for how we should live, and grand stories about being human. Taken this way, the story is very inspiring, heroic, sweet and comforting, while offering us the ultimate hope. Even a hard core athiest might admit that we should heed this man – for he shows us all how to live our lives.

            • Martin Lagerwey says:

              Ron, You are talking sense. I see the words of Jesus as inspiring and mostly “sweet”. If everyone read the sermon on the mount before breakfast every morning, the world should be a better place. That is why I think religion is useful for society and that is why it persists contrary to development of reason. It works on that level but it doesn’t make it true. I struggle with debating the superstition of religion with my many friends and I seldom do, because they are genuinely happy with these “myths”. They offer hope and comfort and meaning for life. But this doesn’t show how Jesus is more than just an inspiring man. The word “Myth” easily offends traditional religious people but rarely offends people who have studied other faith systems as you seem to have.

              • Yes, I have studied other faith systems. I was a practicing Hindu for a time, but stopped short of the commitment ceremony. I’m a layman, not a theolog, but after years of study, it seems to me that at a fundamental level (the only level that really should matter), most of the organized, thoughtful monotheists are showing us the same path. The names are different, but the rituals are surprisingly similar, the creeds are the virtually the same, all the basics seem to be created to address the same basic human fears, hopes and mysteries.

                So I would humbly advise you to pick one and stop agonizing over angels dancing on the head of a pin.

                That said, I came back to Christianity to stay. I love it on every level: great metaphors and myths, history and tradition, a heartbreakingly beautiful messiah, easy access to churches around the world, great music. :-) And I believe the Jesus story, hook line and sinker. Here’s why:

                We can’t understand what God is. We can’t. Sad fact. This “life/love” problem is rigged so that just as we get close, it vanishes in a puff of doubt. But the basics are taught everywhere and are easy to understand. In Sunday school I learned the three characteristics of God: Omniscient (all knowing), Omnipotent (all powerful), Omnipresent (everywhere). What we usually don’t consider is the ALL in front of these adjectives. Look around. Do you think that the power who created the cosmos, physical being, time, this planet, etc. etc., would have trouble accomplishing the comparatively trivial miracles we find in Jesus’ story? God could accomplish these things between bites of a sandwich and be doing really difficult things in a million other galaxies and dimensions.

                *ALL* POWERFUL. ALL!!. I try to wrap my head around it and smoke comes out of my ears.

                It’s fun, yes?

                • Lynda Bonus says:

                  Dear Mr. Lagerwey:
                  May I, with all due respect, ask you if you believe that there is something greater than you that created you and brought you to this earth? Because, if so, than you must realize that we WILL NOT understand all of God’s ways. As was explained above He is All-Knowing. And, we, humans, are not. None of us. If He has contrived a plan for our salvation than that is what I want to put my trust in!
                  Faith in Jesus is not a ‘theory’ to those who choose to embrace it – it is a relationship. That is the bottom line. Can you imagine having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe?! But this relationship never promises that we will have all the answers while we walk on this earth – this is where the faith part comes in (ie – you may never have a satisfactory conclusion to your issue about Jesus’ death and ressurection). Faith does not rest on logical proof or material evidence, it is trust in the person of Jesus Christ and what the bible says he did for us. And we embrace the relationship that we now have with God through Jesus. To say you are not going to believe because “I cannot follow something until it makes sense because until that point there is an error, either in my understanding or in the theory” is to trivialize the faith – We humans have been given finite minds; there are many things we do not understand; that our finite minds cannot comprehend it all! And I am certainly not ready to say that there are errors in God’s plan because they don’t make sense to little ‘ole me!
                  The great thing about us is that we have been given the right to choose – lots of things – we choose to get up in the morning, we choose what we eat, we choose to love people or not, we choose to forgive. We can also choose whether or not we receive the gifts offered by a loving God or choose to reject him and suffer the consequences when this ‘vapour’ of a life is over.
                  I honestly think the best thing for you to do would be to read the bible and pray that God will reveal to you what He knows you need.
                  Respectfully,
                  Lynda

                  • Martin Lagerwey says:

                    Hello Lynda,
                    I entered the discussion disclosing that I am a naturalist and scientist in my way of thinking. It is not a choice but it is the way I think. I think it is a myth when people say “you chose to believe in God or reject him” I can no easier decide to believe as you can decide to not believe. If you were promised a new car if you “decided” to not believe in God, you probably would feel like a hypocrite if you tried to comply. It is good to try to trust things and people for a while but faith in systems that don’t make sense lead people to follow bizarre ideologies. I’ve done that before and “once bitten, twice shy” applies to me. Many Christians accept that their theology confounds their logic but feel the need to have faith anyway. I have prayed in my life and read the Bible more than you realize and given it a very good try already. If God is there at all he wouldn’t want blind or hypocritical followers.

                • Bert Pursoo says:

                  Mr. Ron Weitnauer

                  The fact that we do not understand something (in this case our own existence) is not enough reason to take the easy way out. After all at one time the Church opposed the practice of medicine and doctors were not welcome because it said that illness was the result of breaking God’s Laws hence the illness was punishment. It was not important to know which Law was broken because God kept a record and we were too stupid to understand anyway.
                  But knowledge soon overcame that absurdity. Perhaps one day knowledge would allow us to go beyond and find god is really a nice comfortable myth that makes those who believe happy one way or another.

          • Hello dear friend Martin, I’ve totally understood your question. You are so absolutely correct in your approach that no one can give the apt and reasonable reply to you. This is because there is no such reply existing in the cosmic field that would stand as an answer within that limited boundary. Hope you understand what I mean. The answer cannot be given within that limit itself. If you need the true answer then you have to come out those boundaries. The beauty in our cosmic field is that whenever a query comes to our mind it comes out leaving its apt answer hidden in the mind itself. Just as positive charges get separated from the neutral one, then negative charges will be left over there. So you yourself would get definitely that hidden answer soon. All the best my dear friend. If you would like to continue the contact then you are mostly welcome. I’ve given my email id. If you are willing to do so I’ll sail with you with all harmony.
            your loving friend,
            jegannathan

      • Caleb Neff says:

        Sorry to butt-in like this, but here’s my answer: Jesus rose from the dead because He has power over the grave. He was the sacrifice, and now we can escape the punishment we deserve. If He didn’t rise, then He didn’t defeat judgement. Everyone else will be raised for judgement at the last day.

      • Caleb Neff says:

        Sorry to show up in your conversation, but here’s my thought on this: if Jesus didn’t rise, then how will we `cross the bridge` over into Life? You see, it’s like the bridge, if it’s broken, one will not make it across. By rising from the grave, Jesus built that bridge. We can now cross it toll-free, if we ask. All these dead, they will rise on the `Final Day`. Those who crossed Jesus’ Bridge will not suffer from the evils that are not allowed on it. Savvy?

        • Martin Lagerwey says:

          Hello Caleb

          You are welcome to the discussion but you miss my point.

          You and I have different understandings of Christian theology. I believe that according to the bible, the wages of sin is death. Jesus’ crucifixion and death is taught to be the full cost of Adam’s (and our) sin. This indicated that the resurrection was not essential to salvation.

          If I donate my heart to save a friend, it will cost my life. The friend is saved at the cost of my life.

          You state that;
          ((If He didn’t rise, then He didn’t defeat judgement.))
          Perry stated once;
          ((It’s essential to Christian theology that Christ rise from the dead, that He defeat death. Otherwise what is the point?))

          My question is this;
          if he was not resurrected, isn’t sin still paid for?

          My second (original) question is this?
          Shouldn’t Jesus have stay dead?
          Why not resurrect Adam after he paid for his own sin?
          By what rule can God raise a dead man (Jesus) if that death is a sin offering?

          I know that’s what everyone here believes and it’s an inspiring story claiming victory from the jaws of defeat. Jesus was raised anyway so why don’t I just accept it as part of his story? But it seems there’s a flaw of logic in the story of salvation.

          Why can nobody on this blog even understand the question? Why is it that only Christians cannot understand?

          • Andrew Lobb says:

            I understand your question.

            Jesus’ death and punishment before death are sufficient for the payment of our debts. Full stop. The resurrection is not a requirement for forgiveness of sins, but rather a proof of that.

            The resurrection proves the acceptability of the offering and proves the life after death part. Paul writes, if Christ did not rise, we are to be pitied above all men. Christ is our hope not just for salvation but life and in this case eternal life. If God could not raise the one who paid the debt, how much less could he raise the ones whose debt is paid?

            When Christ died, that sin was removed – destroyed if you will. Not just from us, but from him as well. Adam’s death was insufficient to remove his rebellion – he died a rebel. Jesus’ death was sufficient, he died a servant carrying someone else’ sin. Only a perfect sacrifice could suffice.

            To understand better, separate the issues of resurrection and sin. The resurrection’s only link to sin is to prove it is gone. If Jesus had not risen, then sin would not be gone.

            I hope this answers you somewhat.

            Regards
            Andrew

            • Andrew Lobb says:

              To clarify my last statement; if Jesus had not risen, then we would know sin was not gone i.e. the offering was not acceptable.

              Cheers

              • Martin Lagerwey says:

                Hello Andrew

                Thank you for your considered response.

                You raise two points that I did not understand. You say that (1)our sin was removed (rather than only forgiven) (2)because it was paid by a perfect person and Adam’s death is insufficient payment. I do not think that either is correct theology. When Jesus paid for sin, he became a sinner. God cannot say “I’ll give your life back because you paid for someone else and it was not really your own debt” That’s not the law. It’s like Jesus saying “I’ll take responsibility for Adam’s sin. I’ll die in his place.” The sin is not gone, only forgiven, because someone else paid instead. Therefore Adam’s debt from sin is equal to Jesus’ debt from sin. Of course Adam is still a rebel but a forgiven one. Lets not confuse the point.
                Where do we learn that only a perfect sacrifice is sufficient to pay the debt? Adam paid the cost of his sin with his life. Jesus paid the cost of our sin with his life.

                Your final comment;
                [If Jesus had not risen, then sin would not be gone.]
                confuses me because it seems to contradict the premise that death paid for sin, full stop.

                Andrew, you have addressed my question better than anyone on this blog. You have explained that Jesus was the only person who could pay this debt because he was sinless. But my under-standing of theology is that he could only pay for others because he had no debt of his own. In law you cannot pay a debt on someones behalf if you owe that debt yourself. But Adam paid his own. Eve paid her own. I cannot see how Jesus removed sin, he only removed it from us. He paid for it in our place so we are forgiven. The cost is death, not just for three days. If you tax debt is $5000 and I pay it for you, it stays paid and not returned to me after three days. That is the law. I know analogies are not always valid but I think a legal analogy is accurate here.

                If the resurrection is the evidence that salvation works, then Adam would have been raised from the dead, and Jesus, the scapegoat, should be dead. That would be proof that salvation and resurrection works for those for whom the debt is paid. Why is Adam not already raised if his debt is already paid?

                • Andrew Lobb says:

                  Hi

                  Ok, you raise some good points. Let me try and address them.

                  Historically and traditionally the Jews paid their debts by taking an innocent lamb(and unblemished) and sacrificing it. The lamb was to take their sin away. Jesus’ death can not be viewed accurately without first considering this tradition.

                  Jesus is then in this Jewish picture the perfect and unblemished Lamb chosen by God for sacrifice. No other sacrifice could be unblemished enough to take the sin of the whole world. The sin is now removed (as far as God is concerned at least); “as far as the east is from the west, so far have I removed your sin.”

                  If we talk about debt/credit (although I don’t think this is the best analogy, it shows the general gist). You can not pay a debt if you are broke. Jesus therefore had a source of credit. An unusual situation for any human being. This is in contrast to Adam who only had debt and perhaps knew no way to pay it all off. (And this is the point of Christian Life to get a healthy balance. When you are redeemed, you start at zero, not at $2 million. Imagine it like a bank that every time you are in overdraft cancels your debt and resets your balance to zero.)

                  If your balance is negative, you are separated from God – God does not tolerate sin. If you happen to die (depending on your theology) you can no longer affect your balance. In order to get your balance up to zero, you must sign the contract as it were – “I agree to accept Jesus’ sacrifice in my place” You are free to choose to try and pay it yourself, but it is doubtful you will succeed. There are things one can do on earth that does increase your balance. You are also free to keep racking up the debt as fast as you can.

                  Now, the proof (sorry my final comment was confusing. I tried to clarify it later) of the debt being paid is the fact that Jesus rose. We know the debt was paid, because if Jesus had died and kept a negative balance he would have been separated from God forever and thus unable to rise. However, because of his sacrifice, he was in credit, so despite death he was not separated from God, and was thus free to rise and return to God. Jesus’ resurrection proves it works. When we die with our meager positive balances, we know we won’t be separated from God. There is no longer anything that can do that. Although some will die with a zero balance, like someone escaping from a fire, they survive but bring nothing with.

                  Jesus’ death left him in credit because it was in humble obedience to God. God considers that sort of thing a plus on your balance. His suffering for the love of the whole world is to God, a huge credit. His perfect obedience to the law is also a credit. Everything Jesus ever did got him credit. He needed all he could get to pay the huge debt we racked up. And still after that he was left in credit.

                  Certain people who lived before the time of Jesus were able to get to zero, because their actions showed their faith and therefore God credited righteousness – he considered the sacrifice that had not yet happened sufficient for them. By their actions they “signed a contract”. We don’t know how many people were in this situation or much about it, all we know is that Moses, Enoch, and Abraham and a couple of others were in that situation. There could have been a whole lot more. That is something that we are not told about.

                  Adam, after rebelling did not do anything like that as far as we know, so he probably remains separated from God forever.

                  I know some people on this site don’t like the concept of free will, but theologically this is my (and several others’) viewpoint. I will leave it to a calvanist to explain their view.

                  I hope this helps explain the theology behind Jesus’ death. If you like I can hunt up the specific Bible verses that lead to these conclusions.

                  Regards
                  Andrew

                  • Andrew Lobb says:

                    Of course, you should note that where the analogy breaks down is that credit does not necessarily cancel the debt – our “good” actions are still at times tainted by our bad actions..

                    Any debt or sin we have is a black mark which God will not tolerate and will separate him and us. But God does accept excuses to a point – Luke 10:13-14.

                    Cheers

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Historically the lamb was slain for a sin offering. The sinless lamb was not raised again. Jesus, according to Christian theology paid for Adam’s(mankind’s) sin, not his own(the sin that he took upon himself). Therefore Adam should be raised and not Jesus. I cannot see how your response has addressed this question.

                      You admit some opinions and things that the Bible doesn’t explain such as Moses and Enoch whom some presume were righteous. I guess they are born in sin and still need salvation.

                      Although do not follow God, when I did, I believed he could forgive anyone anytime, just as you or I can. Jesus forgave people on earth before he died so he can clearly do it without dying. The death of Jesus is a glaring logical contradiction in my mind and seems entirely unnecessary. If I could believe in God ever again the “sin and salvation” story would be a major obstacle for me. I would accept a more loving and powerful God than that.

                    • Bert Pursoo says:

                      Hi again Andrew:
                      I am following up on your analogy of a sin and a debt. If I owe you $100 and that debt is repaid either by me or someone else on my behalf, I cannot still owe that debt. In English that would be considered loan-sharking. That is why I, like so many others are having a problem understanding how we can still retain the sin which Jesus is supposed to have paid with his death on the cross.
                      All attempts at answering this simple question have followed the same trend of illogical statements and ambiguous references to the very Bible that is under scrutiny.

                    • Andrew Lobb says:

                      Reply to “Martin Lagerwey says:
                      October 5, 2011 at 6:42 am etc..”
                      Sir, you fail at reading comprehension. Meaning no offense, but how many times do I have to say, salvation is a free gift *that must be accepted* or it is worthless. If you see this point, you will see all the answers. If the gift is rejected, then the debt is not paid and Adam does not rise. If Adam placed his faith in the promise of Christ, then on the last day, Adam, having his debt paid will rise. That is the bottom line. I am not saying Adam won’t, I am saying it is unlikely. The “glaring hole” in theology, I have addressed thrice now. You can accept it or reject it, but I don’t feel the need to repeat it again.

                      Jesus death was necessary, because for God to forgive without the punishment makes God unjust. God is fair and Just, when a crime is committed there must be consequences. Because God was loving he accepted our consequences on himself to allow us to return to him. It is your *choice*, you can keep the sin and consequences or you can give both to him.

                      You may not accept or like the idea of free will, but that is a philosophical question for now. Science has no answer for it, and anyone who tells you otherwise has never looked deeply into these things. Determinism, like free will, is an assumption.

                  • Bert Pursoo says:

                    Hell Andrew,
                    If I may, I’d like to continue this discussion analytically;
                    1. How did the Jews acquire this “debt” and to whom was the “amount” due. If the answer is that the sin was a debt, we’d need to consider the source or origin of said sin. But since God is supposed to have created everything, one must conclude that this God also created sin which he then imposed on the Jews and supposedly on all mankind. The question is WHY?
                    2. For the sake of argument let’s suppose this merciful all-powerful god could find no other way but to send his son to die for man’s sins which He gave them to begin with. Now having died we now are told that we still possess the sins which Jesus is supposed to have died for. Logically you see the paradox here. If that is so then Jesus died in vain and God was in fact was either overly cynical or made a fatal mistake.
                    3. Your metaphor of this massive debt in the form of sin begs the question: Why do we have this great debt. If yo make me give me the will, the power and ability and apparently the order to do something, how can you turn around and then punish me forever for doing the very thing you ordered me to do? Remember we didn’t ask God to make us, it was all his decision so why are we to be blamed for making us what we are?
                    4. Back to Genesis apparently and Adam. Why did Adam rebel and where did he get the ability to rebel if not from god himself? “So Adam probably remained separated from god”. And why would you suppose this were so? If this be so then you are saying god effectively sanctioned rebellion!
                    5. Andrew, did you know that the world is over 4.5 billion years old?. We are talking about the life of a man and about the events of just over 2,000 years. So let us assume that homo sapiens as we know him is just say 150,000 or 100,000 years old what was god doing for the 98,000 years before he decided to send Jesus down to die a horrid death?
                    6. Calvinism deals with predestination which would suggest that each of us has his destined already preplanned; that we are inherently morally destitute but that God in his great mercy will pit one but must condemn another (I suppose to maintain balance between good and evil). So according to such a concept, there is no hope for mankind as a whole.
                    7. The Bible like all religious “bibles” are compilations of stories based on myths not unlike Aesop’s Fab;es and like Aesop’s Fables, there are indeed lessons hidden in parables. But we need to realize that the Bible is a book commissioned by the great Emperor Constantine in order to control the Christians who were making trouble. (This hasn’t changed much because the Vatican still wields untold power over billions).
                    There was no burning bush; there were no tablets brought down from the mountain by Moses.
                    8. Finally, Andrew, if Jesus really did exist and the jury(history) is still out on this, he would have been no more than a teacher of the ilk of Socrates whom students and people wanted to learn from. Why he died. Maybe he committed treason in the eyes of the government and you do know that in many countries today treason is still punishable by death. The crucifixion on the cross was no more than a means to prevent others from committing the same “error”. It was to send a message.
                    9. If Jesus was a Jew and the Jews were God’s people, why in his great mercy would he allow Hitler to murder over 6 million Jews in the name of this same God? Yes, Andrew Germany was a very religious country at the time that Hitler tried to purge the world of Jews as he said “in the name of God and country’!
                    10. Sorry, Andrew, yo did not explain anything about Jesus’ death and simply because there really is no explanation.

                    Have a good day!

                    • Bert Pursoo says:

                      Sorry Andrew,

                      My earlier comment/reply greeting was “Hello” not “Hell”

                    • Andrew Lobb says:

                      Hi

                      You are easily answered, and your questions are not new. They are in fact very old. If my reply seems harsh, it is because by you claiming logic, I feel I can hold you to that standard. If it seems condescending, my apologies in advance, it is not meant to be.

                      There are two answers for you. The one I do not accept (I find it illogical) is called Calvinism. The one I do accept is as follows –

                      God desired(not needed, but desired) companionship. Therefore he created man. Man was given free will, because God, being love considers “forced love” a contradiction in terms. Therefore man had choices. Now, whether you accept free will or not is a matter of philosophy. That argument is very long and neither side has much proof.

                      If you accept free will most of the rest of your arguments collapse like a house of cards. If not, prove it without a circular argument, and we will probably give you a Nobel prize for physics and biology.

                      Man was given the ability to sin, and the choice, but not *made to sin*. Therefore, if man did not sin, he would not have “debt” (the debt/credit analogy is far from perfect, but it will suffice.) He was provided with everything he needed and had no need to sin. Thus the debt or sin belongs only to man. He is responsible. Just like if you steal money from the bank, the police will ask you to give it back whether you have already spent it or not. Or have you no idea where our legal systems come from?

                      Sir, I know the age of the world and the universe well. I am very well educated on these matters. If you assume every Christian, in contradiction to context and almost all biblical scholarship on the matter, is a Young Earth Creationist, you have ignored more than 80% of Christians. The first(I know about) Christian to propose a non literal interpretation of Genesis was St Augustine, some 1600 years ago, when we did not know these things. A literal interpretation of Genesis was indefensible even when it was assumed (because we had no better age that long ago, science was yet to provide one) the earth was 4400 years old. Your argument is in the form of a straw man, a logical fallacy having no weight at all. We Christians *Know* the age of the earth, and have no problems taking poetry, parable and metaphor as such.

                      Before Jesus, those who put their faith (even unknowingly) in the promise of Christ are probably saved. If you read the reference in Luke I posted, you will see that God *does* take into account circumstance when judging.

                      As to number 6. I am not a Calvinist. I will leave them to defend their views. If you want to know, my theology is largely Weslyan. I reject Calvinism as being contrary to the bible. Though, I do not reject Calvinists as people.

                      Regarding number 7, *all* mainstream historians including those who say the bible is fiction disagree with you. The constantine thing is so well refuted it is hardly worth a mention! Those who say the Bible was forged point to a number of different authors predating Constantine. Wikipedia can help you out there. Constantine had almost nothing to do with the Bible in its current form. And nobody credible, atheist or religious believes otherwise. If you want a citation go on, have some respect for historians and check for yourself.

                      8. Most mainstream historians agree Jesus existed. I will ignore the fringe views that he did not. There is enough evidence of his existence outside the Bible to show that he did.

                      9. An unbiased analysis of the Bible, specifically the new testament as a collection of written witnesses to an event may change your mind. As you analyse, be sure to consider context, cultural, historical, archeological and literary.

                      You claim Hitler murdered in the name of God? Does that make him Christian? Are you deliberately ‘Godwin’ing the thread? To quote wikipedia, “Hitler, for a time, advocated a form of the Christian faith he called “Positive Christianity”,[283][284] a belief system purged of what he objected to in orthodox Christianity, and featuring racist elements.” In other words, a mad man invented his own religion and used it to try and con people to do what he wanted. Everything Hitler stood for is contrary to the teachings of the bible. Guilt by association? Since when was that logical? Mao tse Tsung was an atheist. So was Pol Pot. Shall we then condemn all atheists because some mad men ascribed to their views? Within Christianity, we may at least condemn people like Hitler(as he did not follow the bible), but by what standard do we condemn those above? They claim no religion, so we must condemn them on moral grounds. But where do morals come from? Religion?

                      10. Sorry, you have not raised any new or valid points. Every point you raised is either a matter of philosophy, a thoroughly discredited urban myth (constantine inventing the bible? I find it hard to believe people still propagate that one!) or a straw man. I have never seen so many fallacies in one place!

                      If the reasons you give above are your reasons for rejecting religion, you sir are on very shaky ground. I should introduce you to some real atheists and then you will see what the word “atheist” means. Even Dawkins for all his arrogance knows better than to speak with such certainty or to go against mainstream historical scholarship with no evidence to back his view. I advise that you consider well and carefully what you write before you reply. Since you seem to claim logic, I will hold you very closely to that.

                      Have a good day as well.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Andrew

                      You claim, *Jesus death was necessary, because for God to forgive without the punishment makes God unjust.*

                      I recently watched my christian friend explain to my children about God’s forgiveness and justice. “If the debt is paid, forgiveness is not needed.” they suggested “If I forgive your debt, I need no payment from you or anyone. Which is it?” My children were confused until I explained that if contradictory attributes (justice and mercy, love and omnipotence) are contained in a deity, theology is likely to sometimes contradict. People loyal to God are unlikely to notice these contradictions.

                      My question stated again is since Jesus died for the sins of Adam (and mankind) then Adam should be raised up at that time. You suggested that maybe Adam was a non believer but that misses my point. Saint Peter, Saint Paul, King David, Saint Francis, (put your name in here) should never die. Why wait for some date in the future? If a person jailed for burglary was suddenly found to be sinless, he would be released immediately. 2000 years is a long time for mankind to suffer. I wouldn’t do it to a dog. Why wait so long. My father waited. My grandfather waited. My great grandfather waited… Maybe my great grandchildren will be expecting too.

                      It would be unwise to believe what I don’t understand. Christianity promises salvation but after 2000 years cannot show that anyone has been saved except possibly Jesus. It seems this “free gift” is worthless whether I accept it or not. I cannot pretend to believe.

                      Normally I can comprehend what I read quite well. Your comments are becoming rather spiked (also to Bert) even though you claim to intend no offence. Reading now, between the lines, you seem frustrated that I do not come around to your view. Please recognize the difference between not agreeing with you and “failing at reading comprehension.” My question is still open.

                    • Andrew Lobb says:

                      Reply to :”Martin Lagerwey says:
                      October 9, 2011 at 6:18 am”

                      Ah, now I see. You see the reason you frustrate me, is your complete failure to address my points. If you agree, say so, if not say so. I have said time and time again that this is a matter of choice. I am not frustrated with Bert, simply applying his standard to himself. If he wants to call Christianity a “fairy tail”, he must be prepared to let that idea face logical scrutiny.

                      Now I understand your confusion. If we are indeed immortal in any way, it follows that death is not the end. When a Christian speaks of death it is ambigous without context. In the context here, we are talking about the “second death” or Hell.

                      That is why I used “eternal separation from God”. Adam’s punishment was not physical death, but separation from God. That may result in an eternal death or end. You must remember that the closest concept for an early jew to “ending” was death. God promises life after death, and almost all must die physically.

                      Only fundamentalist christians beleive there was no physical death before Adam, and they are a minority.

                      Cheers

          • Walter says:

            Simplistically:

            Jesus paid for our sin with His life. He himself however, didn’t sin, and lived a perfect life thereby also earning the right to life himself.

            So, by his *death* our sins are forgiven so we might live.

            By his perfect life he fulfilled and completed the law (which for men is a curse as they can never perfectly keep it), thereby saving, if you will, himself.

            • Martin Lagerwey says:

              Walter,

              Based on bible theology, I think that only Jesus sinless life gave him the right to save us. He took the sin on himself and died in our place. But why then do we still die? Why is Adam (and all men) not raised three days after Jesus died? I know you think that we will be raised “in the last days” but if sin is paid, Why is Adam not resurrected already? My concern is that I cannot see this principle working.
              If I am to be hung for murder and Jesus takes my place, that analogy might help you understand why I think Jesus should be dead, based on this law.

              I’m not glad Jesus died. It was stupid to kill a good man. Imagine if he lived for 30 public years instead of just three. He forgave sins while still alive and God can too.
              I cannot understand God requiring death.
              Even I don’t require that when my children disobey. Payment is not really even forgiveness at all, it’s justice. If Jesus can readily forgive, then surely God can, and does too. I think the teaching that “the wages of sin is death”, while obviously true is interpreted way too literally.
              Modern Christianity (of which I am not one) does not see God as a mean, scary, angry being anymore, but this bit of theology is still pretty severe.
              I know the bible says these things and you’re stuck with them – good luck.

            • Bert Pursoo says:

              Walter:
              According to the various writings about Jesus, he had to become man so that he could dwell among us in preparation for fulfilling his mission on earth. So we are born into sin, i.e. the moment a person is born that person becomes a sinner, then it’s not a question anymore of whether Jesus sinned or not but being made into man regardless of how temporary automatically made him a sinner.
              You simply can’t have your cake and eat it!
              Of course the entire discussion may be totally irrelevant since the whole concept of the Immaculate Conception to the Resurrection and Ascension is without logic, cause or reason.

            • Bert Pursoo says:

              Hello Andrew:
              I agree that my question is not new and the reason is simple. No one has been able to provide an acceptable reply, i.e. one that is not pregnant with illogical attempts at explanations. You say God made us because he desired companionship. So is this akin to a child wanting (you eschewed the word “needed” in favour of desired!)toys so that he has something to play with.
              Follow this analogy. The toys or some at least break and the child now blames NOT himself but the toys for not being strong enough.
              “Man was given free will, because God, being love considers “forced love” a contradiction in terms. Therefore man had choices”.
              You see this is where your argument breaks down. This idea of “free Will” or Free Agency” is overworked and lacks substance.
              First of all, God supposedly made us in his own image and likeness. I don’t know how you’d interpret that but I see it as our being equal to god (this is a mathematical equation).
              Secondly, you failed to explain why God found it necessary to burden us with sin.
              Thirdly, why would god give us a trait that is offensive to him if he desired us as companions.(and bear in mind, this is the first time I have heard about the Companionship Theory)
              Fourth, God is supposed to be all powerful, All knowing which wou;d mean he HAD to know that Adam would eat from the tree of knowledge.
              Fifth: Why would God have a garden and place in it a tree of knowledge if he did NOT want man to have or obtain knowledge?
              Sixth: After more than 100,000 years God decided he has had enough. he needs to clean his remaining toys so he send a son (not sure if it’s his only son because it is said that Lucifer was the son he banished and who set up a rival kingdom. Well, every story needs a good guy and a bad guy)
              Seventh: The problem now is that Jesus died for our sins; he paid the GREAT Debt, but it seems God was not satisfied with the cleaning of his remaining toys, because we did not become free of sins – in fact, our sins may have increased since we killed his son. So now we are really doomed!
              Conclusion: Let us forget about whether or Jesus was real, whether he was Man or Word or whatever, let us forget about whether he “rose” from the dead, the question that is still unanswered – not for lack of trying by many – is if since Jesus died for our sins – past, present and future, why are we still burdened with the original and other sins. In other word, I believe like many that if my debt is repaid, it matters not who actually pays, what is important is that I no longer owe that debt!
              I’d appreciate your comment but please be reasonable and don’t just quote from the Bible!

              Best regards!

              • Andrew Lobb says:

                Lets look at what you say…
                First you dismiss free will out of hand? What reasoning do you give for this?

                Secondly, being made in God’s image does not make us the same as God. A photocopy of my drivers license won’t get me through many police checks. We are not God, though we share some of his attributes (free will being the relevant one here).

                God did not burden us with sin. We chose sin. All God did was provide the option, and say please don’t do it, and probably at great length explain why it was such a bad idea. Without that option, we would not have been free to love Him, we would have been forced to. And that is evil. God being Good would not do that.

                God rightly blames us for our choices because they are *our* choices.

                God knowing Adam would choose against him, but unwilling(not unable) to stop Him (because that would break free will) He made a plan to allow us a way back in.

                The tree was placed again to give choice. God could hardly say man was free if he had no choice or opportunity to sin.

                It was possible to be “clean” as you put it before Christ. See Abraham, Enoch, etc.. And those are only the cases we know about. It is not certain everyone who never heard of Jesus goes to Hell.

                As to your seventh point. Anyone is free to become clean. The fact that you may choose not to be is your problem, not God’s. Your debt is only paid if you go and ask for it to be. Its not hard. All you have to do is go back to the original situation and re-establish your relationship with God. Or you can choose not to and face the consequences (eternal separation from God). In the end, everyone gets what they want. If you don’t want God, you won’t get Him. If you want Him, you will. God gets His companionship that loves Him truly. How can anyone possibly complain?

                See, a nice concise reply. No Biblical references, as requested. There are no logical fallacies here. if you believe there are, please clearly identify them. I would also ask that you suspend (if temporarily) your disbelief of free will, to read the above. We can of course discuss it, but without referring to unprovable philosophy, how do you intend to refute it?

                If you choose to attack free will only, I would ask (for the sake of not wasting time) you confine your discussion to that. Everything above hinges logically on that. If you choose to attack the other points, then suspend your disbelief in free will. Or perhaps separate the two into different comments. This will keep the discussion clear and easy to follow.

                Regards
                Andrew

              • Caleb Neff says:

                {Sarcastically} Great…. I’m butting in AGAIN.

                Alright, so I have to say, Andrew is right when He says that God sees forced love as a contradiction of terms. Love is by definition, a free will act. Further, you are only considering the world as it is now, rather than what it is intended to lead to (consider Leiniz’s statement about the best of all possible worlds). All these questions are resolved once we realize that God did know that Adam would eat the forbidden fruit, and planned all that He did based on what He knows will happen, and what He wants to happen. The future world will be what you want right now, but don’t get to have. Just be patient. Once again, sorry for showing up in this conversation.

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  you say that love is, by definition a free will act. lets consider animals, such as dogs that love their pups and usually not other dogs’ pups based on instinct. this love is genetically controlled and therefore not by free will. Can instinctive love be love?
                  Humans, you say are different because we have free will. A Chinese proverb says there is only one best child in the world… and every mother has it! We too (nearly) always love our own children by this same biological principle. This is instinctive in the same way and hardly our free will act.
                  I accept that you can love someone as an act of will and this is honorable.
                  Why is instinctive love not love and how then is love, by definition a free will act? Is love not a feeling of commitment to another, whether by choice or instinct?

                  • Caleb Neff says:

                    You argue that animals (specifically the soulish creatures) can experience love. There are at least two possibilities that are consistent with my view:
                    a. Love is a freewill act amoung the soulish creatures. They simply don’t love the offspring of other soulish creatures because of their inherent territorial behaviours.
                    b. It is not real love, because it is not their choice.
                    I don’t consider either option to be the closest to what we observe thus far. I am perfectly fine with humans having nurturing instincts, without them, we would not survive as a species, which undermines God’s purpose for the existence of the human race. It should be noted, however, that this isn’t a love in and of itself; You didn’t chose it the instant it happened, and if you somehow didn’t recognize them as your child, you would likely choose not to love them until you bonded a little more. It isn’t love, I don’t think, if it is conditional (like “you’re my child, I have to love you!”), which seems the basis of instinctual ‘love’.

                    In summary:
                    1- Love is unconditional (and therefore free).
                    2- Instinctual ‘love’ is conditional, and therefore not free. It is not love in any sense.
                    3- Human instincts don’t pose a problem, so long as we understand what makes ‘love’, ‘love’.
                    4- Soulish creatures being capable of love doesn’t cause any trouble, since the love is still free, which is what is important.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Caleb
                      I checked the online dictionary for ’soulish’ and it is not even a word. I did not “argue that only soulish animals can experience love”. I did argue that instinctive affection is love if we agree to use the correct definition.

                      You define love as only existing based on free will but the correct dictionary definition is;
                      1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another.
                      2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
                      3. sexual passion or desire.
                      4. [other meanings]
                      There is no reference whatsoever to love having to be unconditional. Why do you require it to be thus? You say specifically that human nurturing instincts is not love but #2 definition seems to include this as love.
                      Now if you want to use a limited meaning, you should use another word, like ‘divine love’ or ‘free love’ otherwise we all get confused by your inaccuracy.

                      In summary;
                      Love correctly defined, is not limited to free will affections.

                    • Caleb Neff says:

                      No, ’soulish’ is not an English word. It is just the closest approximation I can derive for the Hebrew term thereof: ‘nephesh’. No, you argued, “lets consider animals, such as dogs that love their pups and usually not other dogs’ pups based on instinct. this love is genetically controlled and therefore not by free will. Can instinctive love be love?” This can be summed up as, “Dogs (and animals in general) love their offspring because their genetics force them to.” This is exactly what you said you were arguing in your latest post.

                      Sure, I could switch to using the terms of ‘free love’ or Divine love’. Anything to keep this conversation more clear next time.

                      I will take time to consider the definitions provided, based on what I think is important:
                      “1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another.
                      ” 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.” I am arguing that one must choose to be affectionate. If I programmed my computer so that it would speak “I LOVE YOU!” to me every morning, would it truly love me?
                      ” 3. sexual passion or desire.” I personally consider this one misguided, the body is now the object that one is attracted to. It’s in the dictionary, so what do I know?
                      On the related note, I argue that love should be unconditional, because otherwise, are we not just loving what our other is _doing_ for us? “If you stop painting the house every year, I won’t love you anymore!” Although childish, that is the basis behind it. If two people do things for each other, it should be _because_ they love the other person, not to keep recieving that love.
                      Yes, I stated that instictual love is not love, because it isn’t free. I merely argue that the attraction must be the choice of the one attracted. The computer analogy provided elaborates on this.

          • Caleb Neff says:

            First thing’s first: the reason we `don’t understand` is because you’re trying to ignore important theology.
            1: Jesus promised to rise from the dead. If He didn’t rise, then i) He would be a liar. (Not God, there would be no reason to think that He paved the road for us.) ii), He wouldn’t have fulfilled God’s promise: “He shall crush your (Satan’s) head, and you shall bruise His heel.” And iii) He wouldn’t have had power over death (hence my bridge analogy).
            2: Humans _don’t_ pay for their own sins. This one needs elaboration: If Adam didn’t sin, then there would be no NEED for him to die. If Adam did sin, then he is blemished, so is unsuited to be his own sacrifice. Your question refutes itself.
            Second, this whole question you asked is just you trying to argue. “I owe you a thousand dollars. I pay you that money. But you wouldn’t give it back, now would you?” Salvation isn’t supposed to work that way. Sorry.

            • Bert Pursoo says:

              Perhaps you should remember that theology is based on the study of a myth. It’s about Faith for accepting one thing because we don’t either know or understand the other yet!
              If the road before me is dark, dues that mean I should follow a light and risk falling off a cliff to my death?
              About the debt again, once I pay you what I owe you, my debt is repaid. If you choose to give the money back to me, that is a new transaction and does not reinstate the debt. So whether or not Jesus rose after his death is of no consequence.
              If salvation is not supposed to work that way, then pray tell, exactly how is it supposed to work?
              But again Salvation from what? What are we supposed to be saved from? And please don’t say from sin because I will tell you it was the absolute decision of god to saddle me with that sin. That’s like teaching and telling your kid to steal then punishing him forever for stealing. Dose that make sense to you?

              • Caleb Neff says:

                The important part of the whole talk is the debt, so I will pick up there.
                I would say that it is closer to being put into prison than a debt. When Jesus was `sent to prison`, He did it in our place. It is noted that Jesus is fully and properly God and fully and properly man. Jesus as a man stayed in prison for us, Jesus as God rose up because God accepted this sacrifice, which was sufficient for our salvation.

                Actually, as I said in my previous comment, God didn’t give you that sin, you did. If we were incapable of moral descisions, we wouldn’t be held responsible for breaking His commandments (this is why the Bible says that babies are innocent). You learned to sin from your parents, who learned it from theirs, untill we reach Adam and Eve. So yes, the payment is for sin against God.

      • Carlos says:

        Hello, Martin Lagerway.

        (About your post Dec-3-2009)

        I read your posts. I had never before read something like that. Your analysis-criticism of the so-named Jesus’ sacrifice in terms of debts and payments, is really clever.
        Thinking from that, I have some comments.

        1) The so-named sacrifice of Jesus wasn’t that. It was plainly an execution.

        The victim of sacrifice was beaten, spited, insulted, wounded and put to die after hours of torment. For what I know about, the animals sacrificed were killed in a fast operation, not in a long lasting one, not with torment.
        The flesh offered in holocaust by fire was usually eaten by priest. Not in this case.
        It was not performed by Levite priests clean, wearing their ritual dresses and “perfect”, as Jewish religion ruled, but done by foreigner and irrespective soldiers, not Jews besides.
        It happened not in the Temple but in a vile site.
        There was not an altar, and there was not the smell of holocaust by fire “to please Jehovah”.
        The death was on a cross -a patibulum- instead of an altar, where sacrifices were usually done.

        If Jesus had offered himself in sacrifice for our sins -as is usually said- he had previously informed of it, addressed and taught people about in order they appreciate and celebrate their coming forgiveness, and Jesus had walked by himself to the Temple, sustained, comforted and escorted by his loving friends instead of a military ward.
        If an eternal Jesus died for mankind forgiveness, why their followers cried, instead of celebrate?

        Here you can see how far “metaphor”, “interpretation” and “context”, as “worked” by professional priests, clergymen and theologians can take us. The re-signification of facts puts it up-to-down.
        Saying the execution of Jesus was a sacrifice for our sins is a mock to intelligence.

        2) It is said that Jesus gave his life for the forgiveness of the whole mankind or at least, for many millions of human beings. Being the facts so, Jesus was –in my personal opinion- a “financial” genius: WITH ONLY ONE LIFE HE NEGOTIATED FOR MILLIONS OF LIVES.
        Other people weren’t so “clever”. Firemen, soldiers, mothers, fathers, policemen, common people, etc. along history gave their life for only a son, a brother, a group of fellows, a person in danger, etc. Not for millions.
        THEY GAVE THEIR UNIQUE AND MORTAL LIFE FOR VERY MUCH LESS than –supposedly- Jesus did.
        So, being simple people, not gods, THEY PAID A VERY MUCH EXPENSIVE PRICE THAN JESUS did. And they are not worshipped.
        This is, more or less, like the case of the sheeps: A prophet say to king David: “An owner of many sheeps (David) wishes the only sheep (Betsabe) that a poor shepperd (Urias) has…. If you take a sheep from the rich man, he losses few, but if you take the only sheep from the poor shepperd, he loses almost all…” You know the end…

        3) I can’t see the “transcendent” merits of sacrificing the own life when one is eternal. Being eternal, one is immortal, obviously. So, if I immortal “died” and three days later I am living again, what life did I give? Which is the GREAT sacrifice? Perhaps, it was a bit of discomfort, not more.
        Instead, when simple people dies, dies for more than only three days.
        I think this issue of THE SACRIFICE and all the fuss related is pure joke.

        4) It is said the bible doesn’t contain errors. To me, it is false.
        a) When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he was moved to a high mountain and from that height he was showed ALL the reigns of the world. Being the world spherical, it is geographically and geometrically impossible. It is plainly WRONG AND FALSE.
        b) It is said the bible matches with today’s science. It is said that bible writers knew the Earth is spherical. But some parts of Old Testament speak about the four corners of the world, what is FALSE because a sphere has not corners.
        c) It is said that Josue stopped the Sun for having more time to finish a battle. This is twice false: 1) To get that, you have to stop the Earth, not the Sun, because is Earth’s rotation what determines day duration. This reveals a geocentric -and erroneous- concept of business instead of a heliocentric one. 2) If you do that –stopping Earth’s rotation- how do you avoid oceans and seas going eastward over lands like tsunamis because of water inertia? And, the same but reversed when you re-start the Earth.
        To me, this is another hallucinated-and-biblically-false fairy tale.

        Similarly, to me –and many others- it is clear that bible, via metaphor, symbols and interpretation, twists facts and logic and lie.

        I greet your efforts to explain things to believers. But have in mind it is a very hard enterprise. Religion is a deadly poison that damages intelligence and clear thinking and is especially harmful when instilled in little children.
        I invite you not to hope very much to be clearly understood.

        Greetings

        Carlos

        • Martin Lagerwey says:

          Carlos

          Isn’t it good to be able to argue from your actual belief and reason without having to justify someone else’s theological position.

          Rational and secular minds have no loyalty to doctrine and easily recognize that death is forever and not only three days. The faithful confuse the issue endlessly by claiming Jesus is God/human(?) death is physical/spiritual(?), salvation is by faith/works, hell is death/alive but suffering, earth is young/old, evolution is guided/false, God is silent/active, God is a being of justice/mercy.
          Imagine the mess science would be in if it couldn’t define its own terms.

          I came to this question by myself when reading the favorite Isaiah (Ch.53) prophecy of the suffering Jesus that said “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquity, by his lashes we get healed,” this significantly doesn’t bother to mention that he needed to die. Hmmm…

          I consider people are not rational in essence, but emotional, favoring security, acceptance and happiness. Sometimes these objectives are more important than truth (or being right). This includes me and probably you too. But truth is truth and the true, scientific understanding of the world can also bring happiness maybe even more, even without the prospect of heaven and hell, spirits, loving God etc. Science is still very young.

          Many like Dawkins and myself are bewildered by the strong hold superstition still has over mankind but I notice with my children that when presented with both sides (as objectively as possible) they can be very rational and truth is obvious. They outgrow magical thinking like they outgrow Easter eggs.

          I read about Dorothy Martin, an ‘end of the world’ prophet who when found she was wrong, just got more convinced instead of less. A myth, in the face of evidence causes the myth to grow, rather than die.
          Read this if you dare – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Prophecy_Fails

          The implication is that Jesus, claiming to save the disciples (and mankind), was expected to overthrow the Roman army. That was the saving they expected and needed immediately. Instead their messiah was harshly crucified. Nobody (me included) expected that salvation meant that their great, great great greatgrtgrtgrt… grandchildren would get spiritually resurrected after they die! If they knew that, they’d all leave. But this is what Christians have come to believe that Jesus originally intended! Before the earth was created! The dis-confirmation of Jesus, he didn’t save them (there and then), had to be reinterpreted, with invisible, intangible, spiritualised, meanings even though it defies everyone else’s logic, otherwise the religion would have died. I guess its survival of the fittest.

          The point this book makes is the same that you make; you probably won’t change anyone by logic.
          Try converting a follower of the All Blacks!

          And thanks for your kind words.

          • Caleb Neff says:

            In order of reletive importance:
            1. The burden of proof is on you that Jesus intended to save us at that very instant. If you can’t do that, then don’t make use of ad hominem criticisms that are below the belt, thank you very much.
            2. Yes, this prophecy has no mention of Jesus dying. However, at the same time, you are cherry-picking. For instance, it is very clear that a sacrifice is needed for salvation. Such a sacrifice, as found in Torah, demands DEATH. So really, there is no overall inconsistency here.
            3. In order for science to even be possible, God needs to exist (or else there is no reason to think that our observations are accurate [because they are predetermined]). Really, that you deny God shows that, even though you earnestly intend to be rational, you are inconsistent.
            4. Yes, I’m disturbed too! Superstition is deadly gripping you right now, since you think that your thoughts are free (and thus `rational`) while at the same time being a materialist! This is why I could never be anything less than a theist. Also, accuse me of cherry-picking, but the Wall-Street Journal once published that Orthodox Christianity is less likely to breed belief in such things as saiances(?), palm-reading, etc., than atheism.
            5. “I consider people are not rational in essence, but emotional, favoring security, acceptance and happiness. Sometimes these objectives are more important than truth (or being right).” Following that logic, I’d be an atheist by now. ‘No meaning in the world makes it that I have no consequences when I die. (Singing) “Everything you know is WRONG. Black is white, up is down, and short is long. Everything you ever thought was important DOESN’T MATTER! Everything you know is wrong. Forget the words and sing along! All you need to know is that everything you know is wrong.” (Courtesy of Weird Al)’
            6: The religion wouldn’t have died. The only way to disprove this religion now (which would leave us with Judaism) is to produce Christ’s body. Given that you have no good explanation, I’d say that this is arguing pointlessly.

            This is something that I’m glad nobody is upset about: I’m joining just about every conversation. Goodness, I’m annoying!

            • Martin Lagerwey says:

              Caleb

              You seem rather offended by my comments even though they were made to Carlos.

              1/ Many back in Jesus’ day expected Jesus to save them in a political sense. I never claimed to prove this was Jesus’ plan, but it may have been. Don’t tell me not to suggest an idea because it is unproven. This is not a personal attack on anybody, so is not an ad hominem criticism as you suggest and not below the belt at all. Similarly, the claim that Christians are saved in any way 2000 years later is not proven either.

              2/ ((Yes, this prophecy has no mention of Jesus dying.)) This prophecy actually states as true that Jesus’ suffering was sufficient for our salvation “by his stripes we are healed”. My point is that other verses state that death is needed. This is the inconsistency; different verses say inconsistent things. I told Carlos that this verse, because it was imprecise, prompted my questioning of salvation.

              3/ Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, David Attenborough seem to think that science works quite well without God. I believe they are correct. If you think that science requires God, that does not mean I am inconsistent, really. Your statement ((In order for science to even be possible, God needs to exist )) assumes that God created all things including science. Attenborough and nearly all biologists assume life began by natural processes which we can study. This is not inconsistent but merely has a different assumption than yours. BTW. I doubt God exists but science cannot prove his absence so I do not deny God.

              4/ I ask you to understand what superstition means. In case you wonder, I have included the Wiki definition;

              Wiki: Superstition is a belief in a non-physical (i.e. supernatural) causality: that one event causes another without any physical process linking the two events.

              I thought you would realize by now that I accept physical explanations for all things and view spiritual causes with suspicion. That is why I am bewildered that you accuse me of superstition. When you misuse words, it is hard to respect your conclusions.

              Your other points I don’t quite follow but I suspect less serious.

              • Caleb Neff says:

                Yes, I came off as offended. What I find most interesting is that you make the argument over and over, but refuse to rebut my response to it beforehand (which is rather /telling\)

                1. No, my point here is that you claim that this is what Jesus intended. Therefore, the burden of proof is on you that the Bible was altered to avoid the failure to save them politically. That you act surprised that they `changed` it so that He promised to save them sometime after they died, before time began, is where I derive the use of the term ad hominem.

                2. How is this an inconsistency? It states that Jesus had to suffer, and He did. Being that all the other verses make it clear that a sacrifice is necessary (which Jesus fulfilled), there is no overall inconsistency.

                3. Right. So? “I don’t believe in the existence of air, and I can breathe just FINE!” The fact is that in order for science to be possible, i- Logic needs to exist. ii- the laws of physics need to be constant. iii- our senses need to be reliable. None of these make sense unless God exists. Why do the laws of physics STAY constant? As a Christian, I can account for this, you can’t.

                4. Actually, I was deliberately ignoring the Wiki definition. Is this wrong in any way? No, given that the universe must have been caused somehow…. In this case, I am probably one of the lesser of the superstitous. If we use this definition, then your entire argument here is self-serving, so I can ignore it without any worries.

                Allow me to re-word 5. and 6. so that you will see what I am saying:
                5. My point is that although people tend to be emotional, rather than rational, the Christian is told not to be this way. When I typed Weird Al’s song, I was pointing out that there is no reason for my senses or observations to be reliable if they were a mistake. As I said before, it is like vinegar and baking soda, all our thoughts are predetermined by outside causal forces, whose initial conditions started at the big bang. (There is no reason to say what I believe is true, so it is all wrong.)
                6. Here, I stated that the religion of Christianity wouldn’t have died just because it wasn’t re-interpretted (in this alternate timeline we are sand-boxing with). How does it defy logic? No one has ever explained how somebody rising from the dead is illogical, etc. This is listed last because there is no good reason to make such a claim as ‘miracles are illogical’. Thank you for reading.

                • Martin Lagerwey says:

                  Oh, Caleb,

                  Please read my post of October 13th to Carlos; (pasted below)
                  ((The implication is that Jesus, claiming to save the disciples (and mankind), was expected to overthrow the Roman army. That was the saving they expected and needed immediately.))

                  1/ I did not make any suggestion as to Jesus intentions or beliefs, only his followers expectations. If they believed as you do, they might have rejoiced at his cricifixion.

                  I did not mock Jesus (or anyone) in order to undermine the argument.
                  Ad hominem is to attack someone based on his personality etc thereby implying their argument is false. Ad nominem is playing the man and not the ball and is used typically when no real argument is offered. You claim I did this but that is not so.

                  2/ The inconsistency is in the verse; ‘by his stripes (suffering) we are healed (saved)’. This is a false statement according to other Bible verses which say we are saved by his death. The Bible is saying two different things. If death is needed, as Christians believe, they would have to concede that this verse is incorrect not because it is incomplete, but because it is misleading. It is inconsistent.

                  3/ Who are you quoting doesn’t believe in air? If you are resorting to mocking, then am not responding.

                  4/ All words including “superstition” have a clear meaning. When its definition is understood by both parties, a conclusion may be agreed upon. I use words clearly defined to argue my point. If you are not happy with that logical use of correct definitions you call it self serving. Yes, it is wrong to ignore definitions. You can ignore definitions without worries if you want to live in ignorance. If the definition is wrong, point it out, but lets not debate on shifting sands.

                  6/ Lets agree on a definition of miracles before we pursue this debate.

                  Actually lets define God before we proceed. I have one ready if you wish.

                  Martin

                  • Caleb Neff says:

                    1. This statement has lost its relevance. If you must act surprised over what Jesus didn’t say, you are attacking Jesus and not His intentions. Thus, my claim of ad hominem is still present.

                    2. Yes, and He DID suffer. He also suffered death. He met both demands. Once again, there is no inconsistency, other than what you want, which is a form of eisigesis(?).

                    3. You are missing the point: in order for the argument that air doesn’t exist to make sense, the argument needs to be WRONG. Further, pay attention to the rest of the point. Now go on, provide an explanation for why the laws of physics are constant, why logic exists, and why I should believe that my senses are reliable.

                    4. So I shouldn’t ignore a definition that is self serving? You are more than welcome to explain why having something that CAN account for logic is superstitous. Untill then, this term is unfair.

                    5. I will restate this argument if you need me to.

                    6. Sure, but don’t use one that is unfair. Simple enough? Here is my definition of God, “A Being that can account for logic, constant physical laws, and is the cause of the universe. All other attributes are not considered.” What say you? And you are welcome to offer yours if you think mine doesn’t help any.

                    • Martin Lagerwey says:

                      Caleb.

                      1/ I’ve told you twice that I was criticizing the disciples and not Jesus. If you continue to misrepresent my statements, you will continue to suppose that I mock Jesus.

                      2/ I agree he suffered, and died. As you apply capitals, I see clearly that you missed my point. Isaiah said that suffering was ENOUGH to heal (forgive) us. But Jesus had to do more. Therefore the statement is incomplete. It is inaccurate. It is wrong. It is inconsistent.
                      Imagine I offer you a car for $1000 and then offer you a car for $2000. These are contradictory offers. If you pay $2000 and fulfill both demands, one was still contradictory. It’s not eisigesis, I’m just reading what it says.

                      3/ Science observes that the laws of nature are predictable and consistent. Either that is the inherent nature of the universe, or God made it that way. You assert that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God made it that way but it is not an explanation, merely an assertion. Most scientists today accept that natural laws do not require a complex and unproven God.
                      Laws of nature exist because they are the inherent way that matter and energy interact. (This is an assertion too but much more simple) Logic exists because we evolved in a world with constant laws. We cannot always trust our senses. (These two statements can be easily supported if you like.)

                      4/ Of course you should accept a correct definition even though it supports my argument. If you don’t want to learn, you call my points self serving and we go round in circles again.

                      6/ Any definition of God usually attributes supernatural powers to God.
                      Physical laws rarely evoke God, such as “God made that apple fall”.

                      My traditional definition of “God is a being that created the universe and physical laws which God sometimes overrides with spiritual laws.” Attributing events to supernatural causes is (by definition superstitious) and this is a God that I do NOT believe in. I argue for logic and empirical science and not for any God.

                      Your definition of God differs from my (more traditional)one. I am grateful for your definition and now understand why you react to the label of superstitious.
                      Your definition “A Being that can account for logic, constant physical laws, and is the cause of the universe. All other attributes are not considered.”
                      “All other attributes are not considered.”
                      What say I? Brilliant!!!
                      This definition would question the immaculate conception, resurrection of Jesus after three days, rapture, stopping of the Sun, raising of Lazarus and any other supernatural miracles. These miracles defy natural laws and I have trouble believing in them too. Natural explanations are more simple and more likely.
                      I wonder why a being is needed at all to explain logic, and laws, and origins, but as a naturalist, I do like your definition. I do find this definition hard to reconcile with a Christian God of miracles.
                      While my last paragraph is genuine, I present it to test your definition and see if it is closer to mine, allowing for supernatural laws.

                    • Caleb Neff says:

                      1. By saying that the accounts were altered, you are mocking Jesus. I will not contest, if you think I am wrong.

                      2. Actually, death is also a form of suffering. It is more like offering a $2000 car, and a car that has no price tag, but is still worth the two thousand. Argue against that, but the fact that, when compared to other scripture, we see that we also need death, it is still not an inconsistency.

                      3. You claim that you believe that the laws of physics run the way they do because science believes so? If I am understanding you, and this is indeed the case, then you need to explain why they should be constant, or else science has no place to stand. Sorry for taking these quote from you, but I need them:
                      “Laws of nature exist because they are the inherent way that matter and energy interact. (This is an assertion too but much more simple)” Actually, this fails to explain WHY they exist. my point is that I can account for them, and rationality says that one needs a reason to believe everything they believe;
                      “Logic exists because we evolved in a world with constant laws.” Sure, one can say this, but the problem with above is important;
                      “We cannot always trust our senses. (These two statements can be easily supported if you like.)” I accept that we cannot always trust our senses. The question is why our senses are generally reliable, or even reliable at all. If the laws of physics determine what we think, then there is no reason for this world to be more than an illusion.

                      4. Actually, if you define superstition in this way, then of COURSE you’re going to have superstitous people! It is self-serving because you are giving yourself a reason to call people who believe differently from you irrational. Further, if I can account for it, then isn’t that explanation better than _none_at_all_?

                      5. Actually, I am ignoring these other attributes because they are irrelevant to whether there is a God of some sort. We will determine whether a God that fits this description exists, and then work from there. So, I think you misunderstood me.

        • Bert Pursoo says:

          Carlos,

          I would like to commend you on your bravery in stripping away some of the covering that hides the truth about religion.
          Unfortunately, religious beliefs are not something that can be erased with logic and thinking.
          I do think that religion has a place in our world, but I don’t think that it has the right to defer human development by passing off myths as irrefutable truths.

    • Ray Perry says:

      I believe that the soul is just an other form of energy.

    • CRUZ says:

      who said animal don’t have souls …you are something funny

  14. Dalibor Šver says:

    Hi, Perry! Terrific site, I love reading it.

    About your statement:
    “No matter what Bible you read … Is it not all right to lie, cheat, and steal in all of them?”

    That raises one question that puzzles me a bit.
    I haven’t found any part that suggests that cheating or stealing is OK.
    But I can think of at least two parts that suggest that lying is OK (for saving yours or others’ skin):
    - Midwifes in Exodus 1:19-20
    - Rahab in Joshua 2:4-6
    How would you comment it and maybe help me not misunderstand?

    • perrymarshall says:

      Dalibor,

      Great question. I spent a couple of hours discussing this with some friends and the consensus we came to is that there are situations where you are simply forced to choose between a lesser evil and a greater evil. In both of these situations it was “do I tell the truth or do I save someone’s life?” These kinds of situations are not very common but they do happen. I think that saving someone’s life is the greater value.

      I am also reminded of the story of the widow Tamar in Genesis 38 where her brother-in-law is supposed to impregnate her but does coitus-interruptus to keep from having to give his inheritance over to the son she would bear. God kills him for cheating her in this way. Her father-in-law Judah doesn’t do anything about it; so later she dresses up as a prostitute, seduces him on the side of the road without him knowing who she is and gets herself pregnant. Then she retains physical proof that the son is his and makes the act public. In Jewish tradition, by implication in the passage and by her inclusion in Jesus’ geneaology she is honored for doing this. Rahab too is in Jesus’ geneaology.

      You can take this any number of ways but it’s clear the OT is not ashamed of these women. In fact the OT writers seem to like these uppity women. The Bible reports much more “grey areas” than most religious people would ever be comfortable with.

  15. Johnny Lee says:

    Hey Perry, you got a great site.

    I’m wondering if you could help me with this question I have had for a long time.

    How can there be God if there is so much pain and suffering in the world? If God is so loving and merciful why is there poverty, starvation, genocide??

    It would be great if you could answer this question that I have been struggling with!

  16. Daniel Calcines says:

    Question number 8. “In their arrogant superiority, Christians think everybody else is going to burn in hell for all eternity.” Is my absolute biggest doubt in God’s mercy and grace. I really don’t see how to resolve this one. Jesus says he is the only way to God and heaven, So what happens to the practioners of others faiths whose families have been Hindu, Buddist, Etc. For generations? when they die is God going to say “sorry, wrong religion, you knew about the bible’s existance.” “But my family’s been X since before my great grandparents!” Even if God respects thier prays, according to Jesus that won’t do them any good, because he’s the only way in!

    Why can’t their be universal salvation, so sinners could be justly punished, yet eventually forgiven. Also Hell in and of itself seem brutally unfair, and raises for me at least alarming moral implications

    For example it creates a problem with heaven.

    • perrymarshall says:

      I would encourage you to go back and re-read what this particular section #8 because in part I think I do address this question. These Bible passages suggest to me not a black-and-white bliss-or-torment picture but one involving great subtlety and deliberate fairness. Ultimately I believe that God’s judgment of people will be extremely fair. No one will be penalized so much as a single penny more than they have to pay. Personally I see from scripture that God judges people based on what they know, not what they’re “supposed to know.”

      Which by the way is another reason why I rather doubt the “Eternal suffering in hellfire” interpretation. It’s an infinite amount of suffering for a finite crime. Jesus only had to suffer for 12 hours, why do humans have to suffer for billions of years?

      There is a very interesting story in CS Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia which deals with this question through allegory.

      In the last book, “The Last Battle”, a follower of the false god named Tash is defeated and he assumes he is going to be killed. Aslan explains that in his quest for truth and justice, he was in fact a follower of Aslan. Aslan says that no one can do good in the name of Tash–it is really in Aslan’s name, and no one can do evil in the name of Aslan–it isn’t really in Aslan’s name at all. He welcomes the follower into his new kingdom.

      This is highly speculative, but Lewis thought very deeply about these things and this story is consonant with the scriptures I quoted in section #8. Check those a 2nd time.

      BTW this whole question you’re asking used to bother me a LOT. I’ve tempered my views as I’ve described here and read more scripture and I’m much less uncomfortable about this than I used to be. Also, I really do trust God to be completely fair, just, and as merciful as He ought to be with every single person.

      • Justin says:

        Hi Perry,

        I know this is an old post but I found it very intriguing. You are talking about your interpretation of the scriptures. Surely there should be no interpretation of anything. It should just be the way something should be done. If the scriptures are left open to interpretation then your view and my view may differ substantially. What God meant may be miscontrued. What if you view above is completely incorrect i.e. God only takes Christians and you do suffer for eternity. Is that not the literal translation, but here you are offering an alternative viewpoint. How can we take you seriously. Has God authorised you to make these changes?

        Thanks for your time.

        • Bert Pursoo says:

          Hi Justin:
          Interpretations are always necessary, simply because our thought processes do not work the same way.
          I have found some very interesting posts from Caleb, Carlos and Martin, inter alia. You may want to read or re-read some instead of my pasting them here.
          One important thing to remenber is that the Bible is a compilation of stories. It is filled with myths and that makes it unbridled acceptance as factual quite dangerous. I found this statement by Carlos to be of great significance:
          “Religion is a deadly poison that damages intelligence and clear thinking and is especially harmful when instilled in little children.”
          Having said that, I don’t believe that the faithful, regardless of their preferred religion will ever veer from their firm belief in favour of ligic or scientific truth, because Faith will always be stronger than Truth.

  17. Daniel Calcines says:

    Here’s my problem with Heaven. Let me start with an example what if you went to heaven but your son/daughter/husband/wife/mother/father/etc. did not. Could you enjoy heaven knowing full well that your loved one or loved ones were burning and suffering in hell? Could you be happy in paradise knowing the person(s) you love the most in the world are in perpetual pain and agony? Not only that, but you’ll never see them again EVER. Do those who made it into heaven mourn for those who didn’t? If they don’t, why? Did God erase thier memories, an action that at best could be considered morally ambigous. Are the people in heaven so afraid that if they show any sympathy to the damned they’ll be joining them? Are they enjoying themselves so much that they don’t care what happens to their former family members? Let’s save the ethical implications of being eternally punished for tommorrow.

    • perrymarshall says:

      Daniel,

      For what it’s worth I lean towards a view that says the dead are destroyed in hell, rather than the “eternal damnation” view. I think the Bible is somewhat ambiguous about this but ultimately I read about Satan being “destroyed” and “no more” and I assume the fate of humans is certainly not worse than that. There’s a whole thread on this starting at http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/god-unapproachable-guilt/comment-page-1/#comment-33

      I see hell as something people choose by default because they truly do not want God in their life. They get more than they bargained for, for sure, but God is giving them the desire of their heart. Is this tragic? Yes, undoubtedly. Can people make peace with it? Yes, I think we can. Because I think when we are perfected we will be in agreement with God about wanting to honor their free will.

      • Lynda Bonus says:

        Mr. Perry – that is the most profound thing I have ever heard on the topic of hell and the possibility of our loved ones being sentenced to that death. God is so good. Thank you.

        • niall ridgeway says:

          ‘god is good’ a statement i hear a lot and in this context i think it is especially confronting. god created hell, and sends the people he doesn’t like there to rot eternally in unimaginable pain and suffering. could you please explain the good part of this to me.

          • perrymarshall says:

            I see hell as something people choose. It’s a natural consequence of free will. Hell is whatever you have left when you take all of God’s influence away. I believe that God values your free choice more than he values the wisdom or comfort of those choices.

          • Bert Pursoo says:

            Maybe it’s because He’s so merciful that he send some people to hell to prevent them from continuing to be sinners even after death!

            Of course it’s a bit of a stretch to see gos as being good when he stands by and watch an innocent individual get murdered. But what is more confusing is that if the murderer confesses his sin he ig guaranteed of forgiveness because God is Good!

    • Roger Reyes says:

      Daniel Calcines says:
      December 3, 2009 at 1:07 am

      Here’s my problem with Heaven. Let me start with an example what if you went to heaven but your son/daughter/husband/wife/mother/father/etc. did not. Could you enjoy heaven knowing full well that your loved one or loved ones were burning and suffering in hell? Could you be happy in paradise knowing the person(s) you love the most in the world are in perpetual pain and agony? Not only that, but you’ll never see them again EVER. Do those who made it into heaven mourn for those who didn’t? If they don’t, why? Did God erase thier memories, an action that at best could be considered morally ambigous. Are the people in heaven so afraid that if they show any sympathy to the damned they’ll be joining them? Are they enjoying themselves so much that they don’t care what happens to their former family members? Let’s save the ethical implications of being eternally punished for tommorrow.
      Reply

      Here’s my reply to Daniel

      Did not God says that we must love God above all things here on earth? Did he not said that we leave our love ones if we want to follow him? If heaven is a place of unlimited happiness it surpasses all things here on earth. God knows all that is best for us. I will give you an example as a illustration taken from the bible. In the book of Job (he is a filthy rich guy in his time, with his family complete with slaves with land and animals). To make the story short Satan ask God to destroy all that he have – nothing to be left out except his life. This is of course is a grave tragedy. This is the same as David is saying he will miss when he is in heaven – he will lost all that he love on earth and not only that – they will be in heaven. But lets go back to Job. After a long dialog with Job’s three friends and with God, Job was found righteous. Because of this what he lost was replaced with the number to the second power (2x of what he lost!). Of course what we will leave here on earth including our loved ones are painful for us to experience. It is painful for God too. But the promise of heaven is – I am sure, more than we can imagine.

      • Roger Reyes says:

        Hi Its me again, I would like to just add something to my last comment that might be useful (source: http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/). Here it is:
        ———————-
        # Matthew 22:30
        At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
        Matthew 22:29-31 (in Context) Matthew 22 (Whole Chapter)

        Mark 12:25
        When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
        Mark 12:24-26 (in Context) Mark 12 (Whole Chapter)
        ———————-
        Part of the commentary for it is here:

        (source: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Matt/Proving-Resurrection)

        “Most Jewish people agreed that angels did not eat, drink or propagate (1 Enoch 15:6-7; Test. Ab. 4, 6A; ARN 1, 37A). Some Jewish traditions also compared the righteous after death with angels (1 Enoch 39:5; 104:2-4; 2 Baruch 51:10-11). Since angels did not die (unless God destroyed them), they had no need to procreate. Jesus’ statement about lack of marriage and procreation in heaven (Mt 22:30) follows largely from the logic of the resurrection, to which he now turns (vv. 31-32)….”

        I hope this helps.

  18. Krishna Eachempati says:

    Dear
    mr.perry
    Your website makes for interesting reading. Dont you think that the scripturess convey more subtler messages than gross interpretation of the verses.
    What is your take on reincarnation?
    Evolution of imperfect man to a perfect god can take millions of years. Jesus conquered those years of evolution and of course was the perfect man. Is it possible to emulate his feat for other human beings?

    • perrymarshall says:

      I do not believe in reincarnation. The Bible says “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment.”

      It is possible for other human beings to live in the spirit. I am not sure it is possible for us to be perfect in this life.

      Yes, there is much subtlety in the Bible.

      • Ray Perry says:

        Did you know that the bible and it’s content are not excepted as proof of anything in nany court of any land that i know of???

        • The bible is the guide to all wisdom, it is decidedly NOT the guide to all knowledge. The moral principles contained in the bible and the Jewish/Christian tradition are enforced every day in every court of this land.

          • Bert Pursoo says:

            Sorry Ron,

            The Bible is not a guide to anything; it is a book of stories some of which have good lessons to teach while others are most confusing!

        • Jun Mahusay says:

          “Did you know that the bible and it’s content are not excepted as proof of anything in nany court of any land that i know of???”

          Of course. Courts try to establish facts about specific contemporary events. They take for granted the truth of the Bible, which is about moral principles and metaphysical truths. Moral principles and metaphysical truths have nothing to say at all about the facticity of any contemporary events. Why would any court use it to prove anything?

  19. Keith Wilson says:

    Hi Perry,

    Ambitious work you have cut out for yourself here. I am a committed Christian, but one whom I’m afraid many others might consider lost or borderline heretical in my leanings. I have become a student of George MacDonald to some extent and am in the process of dissecting and then dismissing much of what has come from the Calvinist/reformed tradition – beginning with Augustine’s doctrine of original sin – which as I read his Confessions – is born mostly of self-flagellation over sexual sin. That is awfully relevant today in the church, but it seems pretty shaky grounds for a traditionally foundational belief. I have come up with all sorts of bad ideas about how the world works while under the influence of self-loathing…they were never good ideas.

    Anyway, George MacDonald, who most people know of because C.S. Lewis claimed to be a disciple of sorts, and many of the Inklings were devotees, as was Madeleine Lengle…he had a pretty well developed theological perspective (which was rooted in an intense knowledge base like your brothers) which makes the case for a Gospel of Jesus Christ for the which the world is desperate…but which pretty much excludes our current evangelical view of hell. Have you ever read his “Hope of the Gospel?” I would wager it will shake some of your orthodoxy to it’s core. It has mine. and for the better. He posits that one lens through which to view the scriptural narrative is that Jesus came not to save us from an eternal punishment for sin, but to save us from sin itself. Sin itself creates a here and now hell for the sinner. He comes to break the chains of this hell.

    It is powerful stuff. I’ve been a follower of the early Celtic Christians who were sidelined for their brand of believing which didn’t fit with the massive church power structure at the time. Through this I discovered that many of Pelagius’s (a Celt, most think) ideas were not nearly as scandalous as they have been characterized to be. The only thing people in seminary are taught about this free thinker and therefore menace to the pope, is that his name shall be forever associated with heresy. I think one of the things he, and later MacDonald, were onto was that perhaps we ought to spend a little more energy and concern with THIS life than our obsession with the next, which however you interpret scripture or whatever you believe…has to be mostly speculation.

    The last thing I’ll note about the idea of hell as a physical place of eternal punishment – many near death experiences (NDEs) have now been documented (obviously only by personal testimony), and if anything of them is to be believed – these people were in a spiritual netherworld for some window of time. The theme that is most common is an overwhelming sense of unconditional love. Some come back with a radically changed perspective spurring them on toward greater compassion and love toward others. Why does no one with a stopped heart and brain, float above the operating table and glimpse a vision of a waiting torment, and come back to the living to preach and warn, etc? I recommend a BBC documentary whose evidence you can take or leave, as food for thought. It’s called “The Day I Died” and you can find it various places on line.

    I am sure God knows the principle this phenomena may hint at, people motivated by fear (of hell, police, cruel parents, terrorist phantasms) may do good for compulsory reasons, but will ultimately be damaged goods, and may in the end become like the thing they fear. People motivated by sheer gratitude for unconditional love can and will do great things and become more whole as a result. My conclusion is that this is in fact a divine principle which works itself out much better than a “fear of hell” model, and for me, calls into question the whole notion of hell.

    And as to the theological argument that a perfect and holy God by sheer logic means that he can abide no imperfection and therefore hell is justified (along with verses in the bible – I’m not saying they don’t exist)…George Macdonald takes that apart much more beautifully and accurately than I can in freeform blog mode, so I’d refer you to Hope of the Gospel and his Unspoken Sermons.

    I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on the matter.

    Peace, and keep up the good work.

    Keith

    • perrymarshall says:

      Keith,

      I think I know what you’re talking about when you refer to being changed by unconditional love. I have had some similar experiences.

      I’m no fan of the idea of hell, believe me, but neither am I ready to declare it obsolete. For what it’s worth I have a book by a heart surgeon named Rawlings called “To hell and back” – he documents cases he personally experienced of people having very very bad NDE’s, noting that most people would forget them much as we forget dreams. But that some people had such NDE’s and resolved to change their lives and did so.

      I agree that Jesus came to set us free from sin. I doubt that means we should expect others to be 100% sin-free in this world.

      Thanks for posting your comments.

      Perry

    • Ray Perry says:

      (Heaven,hell,and the lake of fire.)

      Do you know where heaven is?

      Do you know where hell is?

      Do you know where the lake of fire is?

      Do you know where purgatory is?

      If i did not know where i was going would you follow me???

  20. Ray Perry says:

    (Jesus the Christ.)

    Master teacher,master carpenter and reported to be the son of God.

    Not recorded to have ever written anything with no one on earth having any idea as to what he may have looked like.

    (Jesus the Christ.)

    Man,Myth,or legend???

    • perrymarshall says:

      I say: Jesus was God in the flesh. The most controversial, most influential, most loved, most hated person in all history.

      There’s not even a close second.

    • Jun Mahusay says:

      There’s enough documentary evidence to show that Jesus was a real man.

      There’s also enough documentary evidence about what Jesus said and did.

      If the documentary evidence is not acceptable, then we will have to revise history and declare many of the supposed historical events and personages as pure fiction.

      • Martin Lagerwey says:

        It’s feasible that Islam or Mormonism or another religion becomes dominant in the future. This is possible. Does that mean that their leaders would then become messiahs, or true leaders? Jesus the most loved, hated, influential, controversial. Maybe all this means is that St Paul was a good salesman. Please don’t confuse popularity with truth. If he was never loved, would that make him wrong? No. Similarly, if he’s loved or popular now, how does that make him right? Also no.

        • Jay says:

          Reply re. religions becoming dominant. Jesus died for who? He was sent to the Jewish nation to proclaim salvation and show them the way but the Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus and had him delivered up to death. After Jesus’ resurrection the apostles were sent to the nations. These nations Herbert Armstrong believes are the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel. H.Armstrong believes the tribe of Dan escaped to Ireland and other parts of europe Mr Armstrong quotes Genesis 49:16-19 and shows how there is a snake like identification of the Dan tribe due to the places with dan, den, dun or don written in them like Donegal, Dundee and many other places.

          I consider what he claims could be possible if not probable. This man’s teachings are interesting if a person is open to considering other beliefs. The reason I bring this teaching to light is for the reason the apostles were told not to go to the nations but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The nation of Judea were descendants of the two tribe Kings of Judea and thereby known as Jews but Israelites as Mr Armstrong explains are the lost 10 tribes of Israel whom Jesus sent his disciples to preach.

          Although the good news of the Kingdom was to be preached to all nations, preaching was more intense within the European nations. Jesus came to the people chosen by God to be the light of the world and there was great success whilst the apostles were preaching but as prophecy by Jesus reveals Acts 20:29 “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you…. and will speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves”, etc. The fact that there are so many diverse teachings and beliefs within Christianity stands out as proof to this prophecy. If many who believe we are followers of Jesus are being misled how then can we teach others ie. Muslims and Buddhists etc who have a belief that does not fit in with our fragmented dictates. If we have truth it comes from the Spirit of God and is written in scripture. If we who had the intensity of teachings based on the writings but corrupted in essence by the wolves in Jesus prophetic teaching how can we shine the light because the world today does not shine forth light it is in darkness and disunity.

          The Jewish religious leaders because of their jealousy did not accept the Son of God and had him crucified Luke 23:35 “But the rulers were sneering, saying: “Others he saved. let him save himself if this one is the Christ of God the Chosen One”. Obviously there were many Jewish nationals who became beleivers and accepted the Son of God as their saviour but the truth became corrupted in addition to the opposition of those Jews who rejected the salvation provided by God by means of the Great Ransom Sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

          It is for God to say whether he approves or disapproves of persons or their way of worship. God has put in everyones heart the knowledge of what is good and what is evil. Is it good or evil to murder, steal bear false witness, covet another persons marriage mate, be insolent to parents, abuse children?, etc. We need to look to God to keep us on the right path. Malachi 1:3 corresponds with Romans 9:13-15 just as it is written “I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated”. God will have mercy and compassion on whom he choses.

          Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. How easy is it for us to love our enemies? That is the mark of the true Christian. To the extent people of all beliefs love others and are prepared to search for God and follow the footsteps of Our Lord I believe must be to the extent a person will be shown mercy.

          As far as athiests and agnostics are concerned are these people more like Esau or Jacob? Would that be a defining mark as to how God would view people? Is it therefore a person’s own responsibility to search for God? Does disunity and defragmentation of Christian religions and standards dissolve people of the obligation to serve God and teach children love and moral standards? Does ignorance reliquish us from knowing how to love? In answer to questions what does the example of Jesus and the word of God teach?

          • Martin Lagerwey says:

            Jay, I would suggest that ((The fact that there are so many diverse teachings in christianity)) implies that Christians, as in all religions, cultures, languages and races diverge. This is the nature of life. Old testament people believed different to new testament and we believe different today. What is the chance that you or I are right? Very small; and what right do we have to tell others what to believe? If we follow opinions of other men like our ministers or politicians, we’re probably following opinions. Since they are all so different, they certainly are only opinions. Best to have two eyes, two ears and (only) one tongue.

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