Sunday, February 27, 2011
First of all, the argument is a biased fallacy that arbitrarily discounts the historicity of the New Testament. A single source document doesn't automatically disqualify itself as evidence.
They love to tear away at the extrabiblical sources that do mention Jesus, and most of those have proven to be modifications to the original documents by the early Church. However, there are 2 that stand out as reliable.
The first is a passage by the Jewish Historian Josephus, from his book Antiquities, known as the Tesitmonium Flavianum. The passage was in fact modified by the early Church, but if the obvious Christian language is stripped from it, it still mentions Jesus by name. I won't go into detail about it here. You can read about it in "The New Testament Documents" by F.F. Bruce, page 111.
I want to discuss a passage from Cornelius Tacitus, considered by many to be Rome's finest historian. It comes from his "Annals", and it mentions in detail the controversy surrounding the Emperor Nero and the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64:
"But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind."
There are few who have studied this passage that doubt its authenticity. Ironically, Tacitus is the only Roman historian to mention Pontius Pilate, and it happens to be in reference to Jesus. It doesn't prove Jesus was anything but a man, but it stands as evidence from a non-New Testament source about the confirmed existence of Christ. Okay, so it's only one reference, but it proves that others besides believers knew about Him.
The funny part is when I mentioned this to some Village Atheists at a website, they went nuts. The first one was stuck on the idea that this reference was a forgery. He had no way to prove this was the case, but he blabbered on, anyway. Another Atheist tried to ridicule the passage because it didn't use the name "Jesus", as if there were 30 guys calling themselves Christ when Pilate was Governor. A third Atheist posted this response:
"Point by point dissection of the b******* that is Tacitus."
Followed by this link:
The link is from some obscure Australian website which referenced the "Constantine Invented Christianity" conspiracy. It is a link to an electronic copy of a book by a guy nobody heard of, named John Wilson Ross, originally published in 1878. The book is about the supposed "Eusebian corruption" of the histories of Tacitus.
The angry Atheist then instructed me to refute every point in Wilson's book or shut up.
Too funny! I'm picturing this guy, furiously googling his fingers to the bone, so that he could dredge up a link to 133 year old book that was originally published anonymously. Gee, you'd think there might have been some more recent research done on this subject, say, within the LAST CENTURY? The answer is YES.
The fact that the early Church messed with some of the ancient documents they preserved is well known. But improved scholarship of the last century has helped correct most of those flaws and provide us with what was originally written by the authors.
On top of that, I was dealing with one specific passage from the Annals, and in response I get a homework assignment from a sputtering Village Atheist.
I won't waste space here reproducing the opinions of a dozen of the finest Tacitean scholars, who have no doubt that this passage from the Annals is authentic and uncorrupted.
Let it suffice to say that their expertise trumps the book from the unknown dead guy, who passed away before the 20th Century.
You just can't buy this kind of entertainment.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
He talks about being an ex-Christian, who "spoke in tongues" and led youth ministries, that lost his belief when he began to see "reason". I take this to mean that something happened to him in that church setting that deeply hurt him, and the result was that he let this hurt tear down his faith, which was not as strong or guarded as it should have been.
Why would I think this? Because he claims to have "spoken in tongues". It's obvious he DIDN'T speak in tongues, but was probably faking it to please somebody. Don't get me wrong. People DO have the gift of tongues, even today, because that gift has a purpose. Tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who has to indwell you and then "baptize" you before the gift can be exercised. Without a true indwelling and baptism, the "speaking in tongues" is phony and just for show. Unfortunately, many churches misuse this teaching and FORCE people to believe that EVERYBODY must speak in tongues, resulting in people walking around trying to impress their friends with gibberish. I'm betting Mr. TekPhreak was brought up in such an environment.
Tongues is still a real, viable gift, but the Apostle Paul clarified this by saying:
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:5 NIV
Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
1 Corinthians 14:6 NIV
The Scriptures reveal that Paul wanted people to prophesy, which edifies the body of the Church, vs. just spewing out utterances.
I'm a leader at a church that believes in and seeks after gifts like tongues, but my Pastor will be the first to tell someone to sit down and shut up if his service is interrupted by baby talk that no one can interpret.
But I digress.
TekPhreak makes comparisons between believers and non-believers in attempt to illustrate some sense of superiority on the part of Atheists. My comments follow each of his claims.
"I don’t worship the devil. I don’t even believe in the devil. I don’t hate believers."
No, sir, you may not think you don't hate believers, but you spend a lot of time on the internet attacking their faith and belittling them. Is this how you show love? By the way, the Devil's greatest weapon is unbelief.
"Surely a Omnipotent Omniscient Eternal God would leave some kind of empirical evidence behind, beyond being a character in a bronze age collection of books."
What do you want? What makes you think the empirical evidence God did leave behind isn't being viewed through the wrong lens?
"there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere"
Meaning Atheists have no absolute standards or morals.
"There is a reason I don’t believe in God."
Probably many, but that's just subjective on your part.
There is no evidence to support the existence of any God or Goddesses.
On this, he's simply wrong. This an absolutist statement that Atheists make all the time, while hiding behind the tired 'You can't Prove a Negative' Argument. First, there is documentary evidence that Atheists simply refuse to accept. Second, there is observable evidence in the Universe, which has led many scientists to question Naturalism. Third, there is eyewitness testimony and personal revelation. If Atheists wish to sweep all this under a rug, fine, but to say "there is no evidence" is a bald-faced lie.
1. Atheism accepts scientific facts.
So does religion. Atheists don't hold a monopoly here.
2. You can sleep in late on Sun. mornings.
3. You don’t pay someone to tell you what to believe.
This argument is just stupid. In fact, I'll go further to say Atheists DO pay people to tell them what to believe. Those people are known as "college professors".
4. You can deal with reality if you are an Atheist.
Unless that reality includes a Supreme Deity.
5. You don’t live in a fantasy world.
Uh, excuse me, but I don't think it's Disneyland outside my front door, either. It seems that some people who spend a lot of time on the internet are the ones with a warped sense of reality.
6. Atheists are Humanists, in that they have empathy for how others believe and are not blinded by their own belief.
Really? Then why do so many of them spend tons of time and waste lots of bandwidth bashing Christianity? There are entire websites dedicated to this purpose. Ever heard of Chris Baba's evilbible-dot-com? How about the Humphreys jesus-never-existed site, Pedro Timoteo's Way of the Mind, or the God-is-4-suckers website? Show me the slightest bit of "empathy" in any of those sites.
7. Atheists don’t tell others that they are going to hell.
No, but they tell a lot of people to go to hell, anyway.
8. Atheists are more likable.
As long as you don't mind being told you're an idiot if you're a believer.
9. I’ve never met an Atheist that doesn’t have a sense of humor.
Yes, lots of them seem to enjoy having a good cackle after ridiculing believers.
10. Atheists don’t live in fear of gods, hell, or the end of the world.
Until they're faced with the end of their lives, then I'm convinced many of them say "God, if you're real, now's the time to prove it..."
11. i won’t be punished after death for not obeying arbitrary rules.
A faith-based statement for sure. See? not everything an Atheist believes they can prove.
12. atheists are concerned with the environment because there is no “life of the world to come” and they’re not waiting for imaginary beings to save the planet.
Another stupid argument. The man claims to have been a youth pastor and yet is unfamiliar with the biblical concept of stewardship, which includes God's green earth.
13. Guiltfree sex
Married christians enjoy it, too.
14. No tithe.
Yay! more money for beer and pot, or an overpriced i-pad. The heck with charity!
"If you are a christian, the chances are that you have not actually studied the primary article of your faith with a critical eye. If you did, you would realise that that it falls apart under critical scrutiny. I hope one day you do actually take the time to study and scrutinize it."
TekPhreak followed this statement with a video featuring Bart Ehrman, an ex-Christian who has authored some lousy books that demonstate Ehrman's own intellectual dishonesty, which only fools laypersons. I imagine it was an Ehrman book that hoodwinked Mr. TekPhreak. How Ehrman had such stellar teachers as Bruce Metzger and still could be so terribly misgided is beyond me, but that's for another blog entry.
The fact is, I have studied the Bible as long as (and probably harder than) Mr. TekPhreak, and there is still so much I have to learn. I even fell away for a while, but God called me back (not through friends or relatives, but by a gentle pull on my heart).
My faith is real, my faith is strong, and it's for life. I study and pray to keep it strong, something I'm afraid many ex-Christians didn't emphasize in their own lives.
I'll pray for you, TekPhreak.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Check out this British Atheist on YouTube:
Not a very good evangelist for the Atheist crowd. Why would anybody be attracted to the godless lifestyle, if it's populated with unhappy souls like this guy?
I'm just thinking here: If you have time to get in front of a webcam and make derogatory comments about believers, then you have time to get away from your computer, go out, and do something to make your world a better place.
Rants like this from Atheists accomplish nothing. It's time for the "brights" to stop wasting internet bandwidth and do something to add a positive spin to Atheism... ya think?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I offered the response that Pontius Pilate was a real person.
They demanded proof. I offered this:
I posted a link to the discovery of the Pilate Stone in Israel, which had Pilate's dedication of the ampitheater to Tiberius Caesar.
One Atheist countered "it's probably a fake". I replied, "Sorry, but it's been accurately dated and considered authentic."
The other Atheist in the discussion went on a tirade, calling me a lying "Jesus freak", and refusing to open the links I provided. He claimed the stone would soon be discovered as a fake. I responded by telling him "It's been accepted as authentic for 50 years". His response was, "I'll take it with a grain of salt", and he still refused to look at the links.
Gee, I thought Atheists were all about reliance on facts. Yet, when I provided facts to a couple of them, they went nuts.
Perhaps Atheism really is pathological, vs. just being "logical".
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Her fangs are out immediately with this little gem:
"If you value freedom, you should flee from religion as the antelope flees the lion. Religion is the very antithesis of freedom, insisting on our complete subjugation to the unachievable demands of an invisible but supremely powerful overlord."
Unfortunately, Ms. Kirby, despite all the venom she musters, seems to think that couching an obviously anti Judeo-Christian-Islamic attack with a generalizing term like "religion" somehow makes her opinions balanced or fair. In my opinion, she just comes off as trying to hide her obvious prejudice towards certain faiths in a very gutless fashion.
The fact is, "religion" encompasses a wide variety of beliefs, from Christianity, to the Hindu Pantheon, to the ancient religion of Native Americans, Paganism, and even the benign beliefs of Zen Buddhism. I doubt highly that Ms. Kirby has issues with Buddhism or even the Navajo Kachinas. She would display a tad bit more integrity if she would drop the "safe" terminology and simply admit she hates the Abrahamic religions and blames them for most of the evil that occurs. It doesn't take an advanced education to see through her words.
Even worse is that, despite calling herself a "former Christian", her understanding of Christian theology is mediocre and tainted by feminist groupthink. And what does she mean by "unachieveable demands"? Is learning to respect your neighbor and treat him as you'd like to be treated "unachievable"? That happens to be the 2nd of 2 commandments from Jesus, the 1st being to love, honor and respect God. In Christianity, the "unachieveable" stuff was fixed by the voluntary sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
Judaism, although more complex and ritualistic, does not have "unachieveable demands" according to an orthodox Jew. I cannot speak for Islam, but I imagine Muslims don't consider their God's requirements unachievable, either.
If learning to love your neighbor is an "unachievable demand", why is this principle taught in secular public schools?
Ms. Kirby then delights us with this comment:
"The Abrahamic god even enthusiastically endorses the vilest of all negations of freedom: slavery. In Leviticus 25, there is a direct quote from this supposedly perfect deity, specifically permitting the Israelites to take and keep slaves, the only proviso being that they must be from the neighboring tribes and not from their own people. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were, and hardly a shining example of freedom as a religious ideal"
Ms. Kirby, of course, doesn't provide context or explore the history of why this was so. She just assumes that God takes joy in enslaving people, instead of bothering to tell us why slavery of non-Hebrew tribes was permitted. Slavery was a judgement upon other nations who would frequently attack the Hebrews and take them as slaves. Slavery was a historical fact and not a religious belief, but unfortunately, there was a purpose behind it a long time ago, and as time passed, involuntary slavery began to disappear.
"Religion delights in petty rules and the exercise of power over its followers. What theistic religion does not attempt to curtail believers' freedom with nonsensical decrees about foods that may or may not be eaten, fibers that may or may not be worn, days on which they may or may not work, coverings that must or must not be worn on their heads, books that must or must not be read, images that may or may not be created, words that may or may not be spoken, ideas they may or may not explore, actions they may or may not perform, rituals - whether physical or symbolic - they must perform in order to cleanse themselves of impurities of religion's own invention?"
What religion doesn't curtial believers' freedom with "nonsensical decrees"? That religion, Ms. Kirby, would be Evangelical Christianity, a religion you are supposed to be something of an authority on. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross was the substitution for all the rituals. It was a means by which mankind could have same access to God as Moses and David. It's amazing that Ms. Kirby could make such a glaring error in her assessment of Abrahamic faiths.
"There is no aspect of our lives, no matter how intimate, which religion does not unblushingly insist on its right to control. Whom we may love, whom we may desire, with whom we may physically express those feelings: in such restrictions on our freedom religion is at its most insistent and intrusive."
Ms. Kirby is ranting against the traditional stand on homosexuality of course, without bothering to mention that the very same religions also forbid bestiality, incest, and relationships with minors, which nobody has a problem with. Like a typical antitheist, she just broadbrushes.
"...the invisible Thought Police of religion do not scruple to pursue us even into the innermost recesses of our minds and there to stand ready to condemn us for our very thoughts. Not even the most heinous ruler or most brutal slave-owner ever achieved such extremes of tyranny; yet religion grants us no privacy, nowhere to hide, no freedom to entertain even a fleeting thought without its being immediately known to - and judged by - a cosmic dictator."
I guess Ms. Kirby has never had the privilege of living in an atheistic Communist regime, which is pretty darn close to what she described, with the additional possibility of being imprisoned or even killed for practicing religion.
She also doesn't understand that The Christian God isn't a dictator, but a judge. All evil and wrongdoing starts with a thought, and all of us would be judged for every thought were it not for our redemeption through Jesus Christ. Human law judges us and monitors our behavior in a similar fashion.
"And yet we are invited to credit religion as the source of true freedom? It is a laughable claim, a disgraceful claim, a claim that makes a mockery of language as well as of truth and of human dignity. As such it is on a par with other religious claims, such as those that define perfect forgiveness as something dependent on the barbaric sacrifice-by-crucifixion of an innocent man, perfect justice as consisting in the innocent being tortured to death so the guilty can be let off scot-free, and perfect love as something that would damn us to hell for all eternity if we refuse to accept such grotesque monstrosities as evidence of a perfect and loving god."
Yet liberal atheists like Ms. Kirby would also be the first to tell you that eternal punishment is too extreme, even for human monsters like Adolph Hitler or Josef Stalin. She also doesn't get why the Crucifixion is perfect justice: because the Judge sacrificed a part of Himself to satisfy His requirements. No other sacrifice is needed or will ever be. Compare that to human sacrifice rituals of the Aztecs, where human hearts were cut out and eaten, or the terrorism of the Hindu Pantheon, neither of which Ms. Kirby feels is worthy of mention.
Ms. Kirby proceeds to lecture us on freedom, the supposed "antithesis" of religion:
"...True freedom involves the freedom to think, to explore, to grow; the freedom to pursue knowledge and learning, wherever they lead; the freedom to be different, not to conform; freedom from bigotry; freedom from ignorance; freedom to love and to express that love as we choose; freedom to be ourselves, to accept ourselves, warts and all, and to accept others on the same terms; freedom to choose our own meaning and purpose in life, and to make our own decisions on the basis of those free choices; freedom to make mistakes; freedom to change our mind; freedom from fear..."
Ms. Kirby, in case you didn't get the memo:
As a Christian, I DO have the right to pursue learning and knowledge. I am also encouraged to be different, because Christians are not to behave like their heathen counterparts, using foul language or trying to get away with whatever you can. We do NOT have total freedom to "express" love as we choose, as there are legal limits to certain types of expression, especially concerning minors. I am ecouraged to accept myself as I am, warts and all, becsue that is the way God made me, and I was made for a purpose. We also don't have total freedom to choose our meaning and purpose if that purpose entails harming others. But I DO have the freedom to change my mind, although that choice doesn't free me from suffering the consequences of those decisions. Freedom from fear? NOBODY has complete freedom from fear, unless they're a mental vegetable.
Ms. Kirby makes one final jab:
"There can be no true freedom so long as religion still keeps the human mind in shackles."
Ms. Kirby, you still have the freedom to be an unbeliever, now don't you? By the way, you atheists are no freer than I am, in any sense of the word.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I'm trying to picture some Christian, walking down the street, stopping frequently, looking around in all directions, scared to face anything outside the front door of the house.
Then along walks by an Atheist, who says, "I pity you, Christian! You should be like ME, understanding that you're really just a happy random occurrence, with no real purpose other than to get all you can out of this short life before you croak and become worm food. Instead of pondering your existence and thinking about an afterlife, you should just go out and get drunk."
I think Atheists really push the idea of the reality of God far back into their minds, because they cannot tolerate the idea of being under the authority of a Supreme Person. Atheistic narcissism can't deal with such possibilities.
Maybe we just apply our critical thinking towards Atheism and Naturalism.
Perish the thought! You're only supposed to apply a critical thinking process towards religion.
Naturalism? Science-based and untouchable.
"they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover ."
Of course, the argument follows: "If you Christians truly believe your Bible, you'll never go to the doctor."
Let's look at the WHOLE passage so we can get the CONTEXT, which atheists like to ignore:
"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved ; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. "These signs will accompany those who have believed : in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues ; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover ."
Mark 16: 15-18
It's plain that Jesus was prophesying of Apostolic gifts given to those chosen ones who were seeding the early Church. The prophesy of the snakes came true on one of the Apostle Paul's journeys. He was bitten by a serpent, yet suffered no ill effects.
Many Atheists labor under the delusion that everything in the Bible is a commandment. Where are people commanded here to drink poison, play with vipers, or skip seeing a doctor?
Paul the Apostle knew very well the Apostolic gifts, yet his advice to his student Timothy, concerning what were obviously gastrointestinal issues, was:
"No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments."
1 Timothy 5:23
Not to mention the Apostle travelled with a Greek doctor named Luke.
There's a REASON we read the Bible in whole passages, versus singling out a verse or two. We believers actually think the Bible is worth reading and understanding.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Specific examples showing Luke was right after his critics said he was wrong
Let's examine some cases where Luke was called wrong, but later vindicated. For example, Luke was said to imply incorrectly that the cities of Lystra and Derbe were in Lycaonia but Iconium wasn't (Luke 14:6), according to what the Roman politician and orator Cicero (106-43 B.C. ) and others had written anciently. But in 1910, Ramsay found a monument that showed Iconium was in Phyrgia, not Lycaonia--a discovery since corroborated by further evidence. When Luke said Lysanias was the Tetrarch of Abilene (Luke 3:1), this was said to be erroneous, since the only Lysanias known to ancient historians had died in 36 B.C. But later an inscription, dated between A.D. 14 and 29, was discovered near Damascus, Syria that said "Freedman of Lysanias the Tetrarch." The textual critic F.J.A. Fort maintained Luke was wrong to use the Greek word meris to mean "district" when referring to Philippi as part of Macedonia. Later archeological discoveries have found that Luke was right--this very word meris was employed to describe this district's divisions.
Luke called Publius of Malta the "first man of the island" (Acts 28:7); inscriptions have been found that refer to him as "first man." Luke wrote of a riot in Ephesus that took place in its theater. Having room for 25,000 people, this theater has been dug up. Paul's preaching here provoked a riot because silversmiths feared their trade in objects related to the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world) would collapse if he was believed. Correspondingly, one unearthed inscription said the silver statues of Artemis were to be placed in the "theater during a full session of the Ecclesia [assembly]." Luke once described Paul nearly being killed by a riot provoked by the rumor he had brought a gentile into the Temple (Acts 21:27-31). Helping confirm this account, archeologists have found inscriptions that read in Latin and Greek:
"No foreigner may enter within the barrier which surrounds the temple and enclosure. Anyone who is caught doing so will be personally responsible for his ensuing death." (44)
These are just a few of the numerous examples of the proven accuracy of the Bible.
The fact remains, the Bible has been found truthful again and again concerning ancient history. To claim the Bible is worthless without corroborating extrabiblical evidence is just bigotry.
Monday, February 14, 2011
The problem here is, atheists like Sagan or the Spaghetti Monster people failed to address the spirtual needs of human beings, which dragons and noodly monsters don't meet the criteria for. God is in a form we can relate to, according to the Bible and the testimonies of millions of believers.
Monsters like dragons only appeal to terror. Cults that ruled through nothing but fear have died out. In fact, any form of religion or government that rules through terror will eventually fall apart.
Judeo-Christianity, the world's oldest monotheistic belief system, has survived not by inventing fantastic pasta beings but through a loving God who seeks personal relationships.
Sagan didn't get it, the Spaghetti Monster Bunch didn't get it, and neither do the supporters of these lame arguments.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
"...Traditional Christian doctrine is no less different from the historic Mormon teaching that God is not a transcendental being, but was once a man who by moral excellence ascended to the role of deity over this universe (of which there are implicitly companions without number -- hmm, maybe Joseph Smith received a revelation about quantum mechanics)..."
Am I not understanding Mr. Flynn's context here, or is he just plain wrong?
Anybody with a Sunday School education knows that both traditional Christianity AND Mormonism believe in a trancendental God. The difference is in their beliefs on JESUS.
Traditonal Christians believe Jesus IS God and the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Traditional Mormons believe Jesus was a created being and a son of Adam.
This is basic knowledge, something you don't need a degree in Religious Studies to understand.
Or am I just too stupid to understand the wording of a smart guy like Tom Flynn?
Maybe one of the 'brightstars" can correct me here.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
It doesn't allow for documentary evidence (such as the Bible), alternate interpretation of existing physical evidence (such as the orderly complexity of our universe), and evidence yet to be discovered (read Bradley Monton, atheist, on this subject).
Village Atheists need to stop speaking in unprovable absolutes. Why do I need to provide a reasonable rebuttal for a provably false argument?
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Atheists love to tell you that nobody believes in God until "some wacko" tells that person about God.
Well, if a person had never heard about God, and you mentioned God to that person, what would that person say in response?
Probably something like "Who's God?" Guess what? That's what you call an "agnostic".
I contend nobody is born an atheist, either, until somebody tells them that God doesn't exist.
Being ignorant doesn't automatically make somebody an atheist. But it helps.