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Assorted and general Bible questions that really don't fit any of the other categories

The Unforgivable Sin

Postby Sloth » Sun Apr 22, 2018 7:22 pm

I truly want your honest opinion on this, so please don't try to blue pill me if you just think I'm hopeless and don't want me to worry or something like that.

Anyway, when I was in elementary school (and even still a little now) I had serious anger issues, which usually came out almost every time I played video games. However my parents rarely ever caught me having an outburst because I would do this silent scream kind of thing, I don't know how to explain it. But one time I had an outburst so bad that I said, "God, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, don't ever forgive me."

Other than my serious anger problems I think I was a true Christian-- I sincerely felt I had a relationship with God and Jesus, I prayed daily, I went to Church three times a week, and I was generally a good person. I'm not saying those works were what made me a Christian, I'm just setting myself apart from the many people who say they were Christian but never showed it.

So, I never thought about how I had asked God to never forgive me until years later, in the 8th grade. So to figure out if I was safe or not, I went to the internet because I figured telling someone what I had said would make me look mentally unstable (which I most certainly was at the time I said it). But after a lot of Google searching and Yahoo Answers (yes, I know) I started seeing a lot of things against Christianity. After I think about 3 months, I found I had lost my faith. During that time, I still prayed almost every night, sometimes crying, that God would remove my doubt and let me stay a Christian, but it obviously never happened.

Although since that time I've almost always wanted to be a Christian, I've just recently been trying to get serious about it, and try to convince myself that Christianity is true. I've looked at all the evidence, and it seems that it has more evidence than any other religion. But I just can't make myself be a Christian. Recently I have literally prayed on my knees, begging God to let me feel the Holy Spirit again, but I just don't no matter how hard I try. What about "knock and the door shall be open?"

So anyway, this all ties back into me telling God to never forgive me. Do you think he severed his relationship with me, permanently? Is that why I can't convince myself to become a Christian?
Sloth
 

Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby jimwalton » Sun Apr 22, 2018 7:24 pm

The unforgivable sin is perpetual, habitual rejection of God. That is the only thing that can't be forgiven. An outburst isn't it. Serious anger problems aren't it.

If you're trying to get serious about Christianity, let's talk. I have found on this forum that many people reject Christianity because they have severe misunderstandings about it—things that just aren't true. I, too, have examined the evidence deeply, and have come up more confident than ever that Christianity is true. Let's talk about your doubts and the obstacles you see.
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Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby Sloth » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:11 pm

From looking at the evidence, I came to the conclusion that Christianity was more well-supported than any other religion, but it honestly, when viewed from a completely unbiased viewpoint, doesn't seem to be good enough to conclude that Christianity is true. The best evidence I've seen for Christianity probably comes from the minimal facts argument, and even it seems to have a conspiracy theory-style logic to it because the conclusion simply doesn't follow from the premises. His disciples believed they saw him after he died, okay... Paul was converted, okay... but how are these supposed to carry the weight of an entire religion? Maybe from your perspective they are very strong, but from everyone else's they simply are not.

Anyway, the two main issues I see with Christianity have to do with evolution and the whole universe. The scientific consensus is that we got here through evolution, and this is supported by mountains of evidence. A natural reading of Genesis, however, would lead you to think that the Earth was created in 6 days just a few thousands years ago. Now I don't know whether or not you believe in evolution, but if you do, I see a massive disconnect between it and the all-knowing and all-powerful nature of God, because he knew when he wrote Genesis that hundreds of millions of people would read it and think the Earth is 6000 years old when he knows it isn't, and he gives no indication in the entire Bible that the Earth is any more than a few thousand years old. Also, if he is all-powerful, why would he not create intelligence himself, rather than letting hundreds of millions of years pass to allow for a cruel system of natural selection could work?

About the universe, it seems baffling to me how small we are in comparison to everything, and how little of the universe we can actually live in. We can only live on 25% of one planet while the other seven planets are there for apparently no reason (other than maybe Mars), and our planet orbits a star that is one of hundreds of billions in our galaxy, which is just one of trillions. So why, if are created by God, is there so much useless space out there? It seems that our universe looks exactly as we would expect it if there were no god at all.

A smaller issue I see is with contradictions in scripture, namely ones from the New Testament.
Sloth
 

Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 23, 2018 3:11 pm

> His disciples believed they saw him after he died, okay... Paul was converted, okay... but how are these supposed to carry the weight of an entire religion? Maybe from your perspective they are very strong, but from everyone else's they simply are not.

The thing about this is that their lives were radically and (to be fair, inexplicably) changed in such a huge way. And we're not talking about just one crazy person, or passionate person, or whatever, but people by the hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions and billions. But back to the disciples, I can see one person getting out of control and claiming blah blah about Jesus, but to have ALL of them (the 11 disciples still alive after the resurrection) radically changed says that something objective happened that cannot be rationally explained by group think, mass hysteria, or peer pressure.

> The scientific consensus is that we got here through evolution, and this is supported by mountains of evidence.

I believe in evolution also. You don't have to give up on evolution to be a Christian.

> A natural reading of Genesis, however, would lead you to think that the Earth was created in 6 days just a few thousands years ago.

You are obviously not familial with the work of Dr. John Walton. In his book "The Lost World of Genesis One," he gives a completely different natural and literal reading of Genesis 1-2. What it's about is how God created the cosmos to *function,* not about material creation. (God did created the universe, but that's not what Gn. 1 is about.) The 1st day speaks literally and naturally of the sequence of night and day, light and darkness, and therefore God is ordering the cosmos to function according to TIME. The 2nd day, the firmament functions to bring weather and climate. The 3rd day, the land naturally and literally functions to bring forth vegetation—the function of agriculture, environment, and sustenance. The 4th day, the heavenly bodies naturally and literally function to mark the times and seasons. The 6th day, humans function to fill the earth and subdue it, to rule over the earth. It's about function, not material creation, how God made the world to work, not how he brought it into existence. It's a very literal and natural reading of the text.

What about how long it took and what processes were used? Walton says the Bible doesn't tell us—that's what we have science for. We don't have to choose between science and the Bible.

> So why, if are created by God, is there so much useless space out there? It seems that our universe looks exactly as we would expect it if there were no god at all.

Maybe it's not so useless. We are discovering so many things now with technology and our telescopes and instruments. Maybe we will learn before too long how the space is necessary for radio waves, electromagnetic forces, dark matter, gravitation, and who knows what else in string theory or QM that the "useless space" actually has a function.

John's book is available on Amazon for a pretty small price if you're interested in a fascinating and fairly easy read.

> contradictions in scripture, namely ones from the New Testament.

I've done quite a bit of work on these and always enjoy conversation about them if you want to talk.

I just wonder if you've turned away from the faith for the wrong reasons.
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Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby Sloth » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:25 pm

> The thing about this is that their lives were radically and (to be fair, inexplicably) changed in such a huge way. And we're not talking about just one crazy person, or passionate person, or whatever, but people by the hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions and billions.

But unfortunately this is something that can be said about the beginning followers of any religion. The only difference is that the New Testament specifically tells the readers exactly who the disciples were and their importance in the beginning of the movement.

> But back to the disciples, I can see one person getting out of control and claiming blah blah about Jesus, but to have ALL of them (the 11 disciples still alive after the resurrection) radically changed says that something objective happened that cannot be rationally explained by group think, mass hysteria, or peer pressure.

This is where it seems the connections aren't very strong. Unfortunately, it seems to me that it's basically an argument from ignorance-- because we don't know that something natural happened, they must be telling the truth. But even Paul, when he writes down the Corinthian creed, doesn't even say he appeared to all the disciples at once, even though he says he appeared to the 500 brethren "at the same time." How do we know they didn't have individual experiences, or simply see Jesus in their dreams? And how do we even know that all of them had experiences at all? We know they claimed they had experiences, and we know that two of the disciples were executed for their beliefs, but we don't know a whole lot about the rest outside of the gospels. How do we know a few didn't just give into peer pressure? Or how do we know that some of them had some other unknown motivation? For example, we know that of the handful of people that signed swearing they had seen Joseph Smith's golden plates, a number of them later recanted it. What historical information do we have that tells us this wasn't the case with some of the disciples?

> ...It's a very literal and natural reading of the text.

That's my point. The natural interpretation is that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and it has been the standard interpretation of Genesis for hundreds of years. Sure, maybe in the culture that it was written in it was understood to only be saying that God is the creator of the universe, but if God is all-knowing, then he knows that hundreds of millions of people will read Genesis and interpret it literally, so why not either give the correct order of events or just not give any order at all? If no order of events was given, then anybody can easily interpret Genesis any way they like. But the way Genesis is written and they way it is mentioned in the rest of the Bible, notably by Jesus and Paul who seemingly refer to Genesis as a literal account, has lead a huge number of people to believing in a completely wrong view of how we got here.

> What about how long it took and what processes were used? Walton says the Bible doesn't tell us—that's what we have science for. We don't have to choose between science and the Bible.

My point is that if God is powerful enough to create an entire universe, why would he only allow us to arise by completely natural processes that would have happened regardless of whether or not he was there? And this also ties in to the vast universe problem I see-- why so much stuff that makes the universe appear exactly as it would if there truly were no God?

> Maybe it's not so useless. We are discovering so many things now with technology and our telescopes and instruments. Maybe we will learn before too long how the space is necessary for radio waves, electromagnetic forces, dark matter, gravitation, and who knows what else in string theory or QM that the "useless space" actually has a function.

Of course for our universe to exist as it is space needs to be there. Gravitational force is extremely low in comparison to its full range of possibilities that it could have been, but the point is why does an all-powerful God need to create so much space? Why should life require such strict requirements if the universe is designed for life? If God has the power to raise a man after being dead for three days, then why does God need to create a universe that requires billions of years for stars to form, for planets to form around those stars, and for life to begin on a planet? Again, it just looks too suspiciously similar to a universe that wasn't created by God.
Sloth
 

Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby jimwalton » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:29 pm

> But unfortunately this is something that can be said about the beginning followers of any religion.

But this isn't so. The beginning of Islam was a military movement. People joined to conquer or to survive. The beginning of Hinduism was a gradual subscription to a particular philosophy of life. And Judaism has nothing to do with life-change, let alone radical life-change.

> Unfortunately, it seems to me that it's basically an argument from ignorance-- because we don't know that something natural happened, they must be telling the truth.

This is not what I'm claiming at all (because we don't know that something natural happened, they must be telling the truth). It is undeniable that history was radically altered by this small group of preachers from Jerusalem. What they preached was nothing expected (Jesus's resurrection), nothing deemed practical (a person came back to life), and nothing considered even possible (physical resurrection). And yet a mere two months after Jesus's very public crucifixion, in the very city where it happened, in midst of the eyewitnesses of the event, in the vortex of a different religion, this new belief caught on like wildfire, and without any political or military help, spread throughout the entire empire and the world. You are left to explain the phenomenon, because this surely is not based in ignorance on my part or anyone else's.

> the Corinthian creed, doesn't even say he appeared to all the disciples at once, even though he says he appeared to the 500 brethren "at the same time." How do we know they didn't have individual experiences, or simply see Jesus in their dreams?

You said it yourself. 500 people saw him at the same time. There is no such thing as group hallucinations or mass dreams.

> And how do we even know that all of them had experiences at all?

At some point we have to choose credibility criteria for historical records.

> and we know that two of the disciples were executed for their beliefs

You're right that James and Peter are the only two we have solid historical evidence for. We have traditions for five more that are interesting but impossible to substantiate.

> How do we know a few didn't just give into peer pressure?

Because there's no evidence for such a position. We're not free to make things up. The evidence we have is that they were all all-in. The traditions support the evidence. "That they just gave in to peer pressure" is pure, unsubstantiated speculation.

> The natural interpretation is that the Earth is only a few thousand years old

Uh, not it's not. Did you read what I wrote? It doesn't seem so. You're right that maybe since the Enlightenment we have read Genesis 1 this way, but if we go back into the worldview of the ancient Near East, they had a completely different mindset. What they cared about is order, non-order, and disorder. Their theologies are centered in function and functionality, not material manufacture. In the thinking of the ancients, something was created when it had a function. (They considered the wilderness, for instance, to be uncreated disorder because it had no function.)

> If no order of events was given

Genesis 1 isn't a chronology. It's an account of functional creation. The cosmos was created to function as God's temple (Ps. 104), since no temple made with human hands was adequate to display his glory and person. Genesis 1 is a temple text. In the ancient world, without exception, every temple dedication ceremony we have on record is a 7-day ceremony where they rehearse the greatness of their god, and on the 7th day the god comes to "rest" in the temple, meaning he comes to live there and engage his people. The 7 days of Genesis aren't chronology but rather a 7-day dedication ceremony dedicating the "temple" (the cosmos), recounting the greatness of God in bringing order to disorder and non-order, and in coming to live ("rest") with his people. Literally.

> notably by Jesus and Paul who seemingly refer to Genesis as a literal account

Of course Genesis is a literal account, but not a literal account of material manufacture. It is rather a literal account of God bringing order to non-order, and ordering the universe and the Earth to function as his temple.

> My point is that if God is powerful enough to create an entire universe, why would he only allow us to arise by completely natural processes that would have happened regardless of whether or not he was there?

Because God often uses processes. The Bible is an account of God using the processes of history to reveal Himself. It's no different for God to use the processes of science to accomplish His purposes. God created the processes of science; I would expect him to use them.

> why so much stuff that makes the universe appear exactly as it would if there truly were no God?

Now, I see it completely opposite. The universe appears exactly as it would if there WERE a God: a delicate balance of finely-tuned parameters, purpose, regularity, order, beauty, functionality, predictability, and even consciousness, personality, and intelligence.

> the point is why does an all-powerful God need to create so much space?

I just read an article last night from Space.com. It was saying that if the universe were infinite in time and space (no beginning, no Big Bang, no borders), there would be light from every star throughout the universe. (We only see the light from stars that have had time to reach us.) That is why the universe is dark, empty, void, blackness—you know, space. If the universe were infinite, it wouldn't be dark at night. The sky would be ablaze with the combined light of gazzillions of stars that wouldn't even be diminished by any intervening dust or clouds. Maybe there are plenty of reasons for so much space.

> Why should life require such strict requirements if the universe is designed for life?

As it turns out, truth is narrow. Colors have only certain wavelengths; mathematical formulas demand precision; oxygen has a particular blend of elements.

> If God has the power to raise a man after being dead for three days, then why does God need to create a universe that requires billions of years for stars to form, for planets to form around those stars, and for life to begin on a planet?

As I mentioned, there could be many reasons. Without the dinosaurs and their millions of years on the earth, and millions of years between them and us, we would not have the fossil fuel reserves to power our civilization. Without space, there might be no night. Without this specific parameter of gravity, the galaxies wouldn't hold together, nor would life on earth be possible. To me it's overwhelmingly evidence that this was no lucky accident.
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Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby Sloth » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:34 pm

> But this isn't so. The beginning of Islam was a military movement. People joined to conquer or to survive.

What about that can be interpreted that nobody was changed by it? We know that many early Christians were executed, but we also know the same for Islam. Sure, it's possible many of the first followers of Islam wanted to conquer or to survive, but the same can be said of Christianity in terms of surviving. We know the early Christians divided their wealth among themselves and gave people a sense of community. Does that mean they didn't truly believe? Just because they had motivation from feeling hope, community, financial security, etc.? Of course not.

> The beginning of Hinduism was a gradual subscription to a particular philosophy of life.

But it's not just a philosophy, it is a religion with particular beliefs about gods, the afterlife, etc. You don't think there were any strong adherents in its early days who tried to convert people to their religion? And anyway, Christianity never exploded until Constantine legalized it. It isn't fair to say that Christianity "exploded" if it didn't truly spread very far until a few centuries later.
And what about the origin of Buddhism? We know Buddha had followers who didn't join just to conquer or survive. Same thing with Mormonism and Bahai as well.

> This is not what I'm claiming at all (because we don't know that something natural happened, they must be telling the truth). It is undeniable that history was radically altered by this small group of preachers from Jerusalem. What they preached was nothing expected (Jesus's resurrection), nothing deemed practical (a person came back to life), and nothing considered even possible (physical resurrection).

These are all the same thing, that they claimed something that would otherwise be considered unlikely actually happened. But we know the Jews already believed that a Messiah would come, and we already know that the Jews already believed in a resurrection that would take place at the end of the world. Combine this with the new message that they don't have to follow the new law and that the church is basically a safe haven for the poor and oppressed, and hardly any reason why such a movement wouldn't be expected to gain momentum underground.

> And yet a mere two months after Jesus's very public crucifixion, in the very city where it happened, in midst of the eyewitnesses of the event, in the vortex of a different religion, this new belief caught on like wildfire, and without any political or military help, spread throughout the entire empire and the world.

Again, this explosion didn't happen until centuries after Jesus's death.

> You said it yourself. 500 people saw him at the same time. There is no such thing as group hallucinations or mass dreams.

But this isn't a testimony from 500 different people, this is just what the Christians used to repeat, and we have no idea if this was in the original creed anyway because we know Paul added "some of whom are still living" to the verse, so its origin is questionable. We have no idea what this is referring to anyway, because it isn't even anywhere in the New Testament. For all we know it could have been like a Pentecostal worship service where everyone "feels" the Holy Spirit. After all, we know Paul even considers his revelation an "appearance," even though in his own description of the experience he merely sees a bright light.

> Because there's no evidence for such a position. We're not free to make things up. The evidence we have is that they were all all-in. The traditions support the evidence. "That they just gave in to peer pressure" is pure, unsubstantiated speculation.

Of course it is illogical to say that some definitely gave into peer pressure, but the same logic also works the other way. Your argument relies on the assumption that all of them were completely and entirely genuine, that no one ever told any white lies, and that there were absolutely no external factors motivating them. All of those are assumptions that must be made.

> Uh, not it's not. Did you read what I wrote? It doesn't seem so.

So you're telling me that if you told someone who had never heard of Christianity that the Bible was completely and entirely true and all other religions were incorrect, and this person had also not be exposed to modern science, that they could read Genesis and come away unsure of whether or not the universe was billions or thousands of years old?

> You're right that maybe since the Enlightenment we have read Genesis 1 this way, but if we go back into the worldview of the ancient Near East, they had a completely different mindset...

> Genesis 1 isn't a chronology. It's an account of functional creation...

But again, God is all-knowing and therefore knows that by writing Genesis the way he does, he is going to cause serious division among believers and lead many to believe an incorrect view of the world. That's the point. Not to mention that he could take the opportunity to prove the Bible is inspired by saying "13 billions years ago, God created the universe. After millions of years, stars began to form that would produce the elements necessary for life..."

> Because God often uses processes. The Bible is an account of God using the processes of history to reveal Himself. It's no different for God to use the processes of science to accomplish His purposes. God created the processes of science; I would expect him to use them.

This seems like a cop-out. "God uses natural processes that make him unnecessary because he wants to." But again God knows that the clockwork nature of the universe and its history will cause many to doubt he's there in the first place, so how could that be worth it?

> Now, I see it completely opposite. The universe appears exactly as it would if there WERE a God

But you're again forgetting about the fact that we know that there must be trillions of trillions of planets in the universe that are absolutely useless. They don't sustain life, they don't provide signs for seasons, they don't do anything except exist.

> a delicate balance of finely-tuned parameters, purpose, regularity, order, beauty, functionality, predictability, and even consciousness, personality, and intelligence.

Firstly, I don't see any problem with a "prime-mover" kind of God, there's just simply no reason to assume that must why we're here as opposed to the many worlds interpretation, rebirthing universe etc. Anyway these are all conditions which are absolutely necessary for any observer to be able to take note of them in the first place, so regardless of whether or not we're here by natural processes or by creation we would always observe that the conditions were perfect for us. After all, if we found ourselves in a universe in which we could not live at all that would actually be proof of God, wouldn't it? Because who set the rules for God outlining the specific conditions for which life can exist? The fine-tuning argument doesn't make sense if God is all-powerful, because if he created the universe then he was the one who decided that life can only exist in certain conditions. The reason I say the universe looks exactly as it would if there were no creator is that we can see the many "failed attempts" at fine-tuning, such as the hundreds of exoplanets we've seen that are in the Goldilocks zone but almost certainly do not support life.

> I just read an article last night from Space.com. It was saying that if the universe were infinite in time and space (no beginning, no Big Bang, no borders), there would be light from every star throughout the universe. (We only see the light from stars that have had time to reach us.) That is why the universe is dark, empty, void, blackness—you know, space. If the universe were infinite, it wouldn't be dark at night. The sky would be ablaze with the combined light of gazzillions of stars that wouldn't even be diminished by any intervening dust or clouds. Maybe there are plenty of reasons for so much space.

That's if there were no Big Bang. If you talk to the majority of physicists, they'll tell you the Big Bang was the beginning of time as we know it. There's no reason why there couldn't have been something before the Big Bang. And again there are hundreds of other ways that God could have done this by using non-natural processes. Why couldn't he have created a dome with the sun moving across it? And anyway how does this solve the problem anyway? If space and time were infinite then that would be even more useless space.

> As it turns out, truth is narrow. Colors have only certain wavelengths; mathematical formulas demand precision; oxygen has a particular blend of elements.

Imagine if you have an entire house that someone says is fine-tuned for life, but it's actually only capable of supporting the life of a single cockroach. That's what the fine-tuning argument is like.

> As I mentioned, there could be many reasons. Without the dinosaurs and their millions of years on the earth, and millions of years between them and us, we would not have the fossil fuel reserves to power our civilization.

Why is God incapable of creating fuel reserves from nothing?

> Without space, there might be no night.

Not according to the hundreds of models of our world from ancient cultures. Why is God incapable of making a flat Earth with a dome?
Without this specific parameter of gravity, the galaxies wouldn't hold together, nor would life on earth be possible. To me it's overwhelmingly evidence that this was no lucky accident.

The point is that those other galaxies don't need to exist. Even if there is other life, it is definitely not present around every single star in the trillions of galaxies.
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Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby jimwalton » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:52 pm

> What about that can be interpreted that nobody was changed by it?

I've conversed with Muslims. Islam isn't like that. It's a legalistic system that they consider to be truth, not a faith that brings liifechange.

> But it's not just a philosophy, it is a religion with particular beliefs about gods, the afterlife, etc

Not so much. Hindus can believe in one god, no gods, or 300 million gods. It's a mystical/philosophical religion about achieving nirvana by self-denial, regardless of any deity.

> And anyway, Christianity never exploded until Constantine legalized it.

Not so. A population study based on archaeological evidence has concluded that by AD 150 there were 40K Christians in the Empire, by 200 217K, by 250 close to 2 million, and by 300, 6 million. This is all before Constantine's edict.

> And what about the origin of Buddhism?

Buddhism isn't a religion. Buddhists are atheistic.

> But we know the Jews already believed that a Messiah would come, and we already know that the Jews already believed in a resurrection that would take place at the end of the world.

Jews believed that a spiritual resurrection (ghosts; spirits) would take place after a duration of being dead. They did not believe in any kind of a physical resurrection, and certainly not a physical resurrection back to this life.

> Again, this explosion didn't happen until centuries after Jesus's death.

Remember they were being martyred by the thousands.

> So you're telling me that if you told someone who had never heard of Christianity that the Bible was completely and entirely true and all other religions were incorrect, and this person had also not be exposed to modern science, that they could read Genesis and come away unsure of whether or not the universe was billions or thousands of years old?

Yes. It depends on their worldview. Ours is one of technology and manufacture. Other cultures are of order and disorder, a mindset completely foreign to us. If you put Genesis 1 in front of someone from 1000 BC, they would recognize it right away as a temple text.

> God is all-knowing and therefore knows that by writing Genesis the way he does, he is going to cause serious division among believers and lead many to believe an incorrect view of the world.

You want God to control our minds and the way we think. Hmm.

> Not to mention that he could take the opportunity to prove the Bible is inspired by saying "13 billions years ago

The Bible makes no claims as to length of time. Our minds go this direction because of our scientific environment. We've been trained.

> trillions of trillions of planets in the universe that are absolutely useless.

It all contributes cumulatively to the wonder, size, and diversity of the universe. As you know, we are the only generation to know about such things.

> The fine-tuning argument doesn't make sense if God is all-powerful, because if he created the universe then he was the one who decided that life can only exist in certain conditions.

We can discuss the fine-tuning argument, but it's too big to insert into this discussion.

> There's no reason why there couldn't have been something before the Big Bang.

It's possible I guess, but as yet unknown and hardly even theorized, though the speculations about it are starting to rise.

> but it's actually only capable of supporting the life of a single cockroach. That's what the fine-tuning argument is like.

Not really. That's not a fair assessment.

> Why is God incapable of creating fuel reserves from nothing?

He's capable, but God uses processes.

> Why is God incapable of making a flat Earth with a dome?

He's not. Ours isn't that way, but who's to say if there isn't one that is.

> The point is that those other galaxies don't need to exist. Even if there is other life, it is definitely not present around every single star in the trillions of galaxies.

The point isn't always about life. At least according to the Bible, at least some of the point is to display the power and glory of God.
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Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby Sloth » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:10 pm

> Not so much. Hindus can believe in one god, no gods, or 300 million gods. It's a mystical/philosophical religion about achieving nirvana by self-denial, regardless of any deity.

So you're saying because Hinduism is unique from Christianity, its growth can't be compared to Christianity's? I mean the only reason I'd say they can't be compared is because Hinduism is so old and its origins so obscure, but I can point to just as many differences between Christians. There are theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists, progressive young-Earth creationists, 6-day young-Earth creationists; some believe that the universe is anywhere from 13 billions years old and some believe the Earth is 6000 years old.

> Not so. A population study based on archaeological evidence has concluded that by AD 150 there were 40K Christians in the Empire, by 200 217K, by 250 close to 2 million, and by 300, 6 million. This is all before Constantine's edict.

True, I was mistaken there, but there were also an estimated 33 million Christians by 350, which really was an explosion compared to the growth rate before. But what's interesting about those numbers is that, before Constantine, it gives us a growth rate of approximately 40% per decade, or about 3.4% per year. To put that into perspective, Mormonism has grown an average of 3.6% per year since its founding, and Christianity never had to compete with any other prominent proselytizing religions, while Mormonism had to compete with Christianity.

> Buddhism isn't a religion. Buddhists are atheistic.

Again with pointing out the uniqueness of a religion. Firstly, not all Buddhists are atheists, it's just something the religion doesn't cover. Just because they don't believe there necessarily must be a god doesn't mean they are all atheists, and even if they were they still have beliefs about the afterlife, karma, becoming enlightened, etc. and carry out religious practices like meditation.

> Jews believed that a spiritual resurrection (ghosts; spirits) would take place after a duration of being dead. They did not believe in any kind of a physical resurrection...

This was not a clear-cut issue among the Jews, whether or not resurrection was physical or merely spiritual. Even in the gospels there's no indication as to whether the pharisees believed in a physical or spiritual resurrection, and even if the pharisees only believe in a spiritual resurrection what would stop an uneducated Jew (like we know the disciples were) from going against the grain? There's nothing in the Old Testament that says it's wrong, and if it did then it would prove their belief wrong anyway.

> and certainly not a physical resurrection back to this life.

In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 Jesus tells his disciples about the end times and, if you give it an honest interpretation, that the end will come within some of their lifetimes. Jesus's resurrection from the dead is part of the fruits of the general resurrection at the end of the world.

> You want God to control our minds and the way we think. Hmm.

What? This has nothing to do with mind control. It has to do with knowing that if you write a text for a specific culture and a specific time in a way that only that culture at that time can understand by reading it naturally, that you are going to cause division as well as millions of people who hold ridiculous beliefs about the world and believe that any other interpretation is anti-Christian, and their interpretations aren't too easy to dismiss.

> The Bible makes no claims as to length of time. Our minds go this direction because of our scientific environment. We've been trained.

I'm saying God could have easily proven that the Bible is his word by saying something like this, and we wouldn't even need to have the discussion in the first place.

> Not really. That's not a fair assessment.

You're right, because the ability of the universe to support life is actually much less of that house's ability to support that one cockroach. Humans can only on 25% of one planet in a solar system of 8, around a star which is one of hundreds of billions, in a galaxy which is one of hundreds of trillions, which each have hundreds of billions of stars, which each have their own planets which cannot sustain life. If I were to make an accurate representation, it would actually be more like a single bacteria in that entire house.

> It all contributes cumulatively to the wonder, size, and diversity of the universe. As you know, we are the only generation to know about such things... He's capable, but God uses processes... The point isn't always about life. At least according to the Bible, at least some of the point is to display the power and glory of God.

Yes, the wonder of using natural and clockwork processes to create a universe which is exactly what we would expect to see if he weren't there in the first place. If he truly wants to demonstrate his power, why not, for example, create a constellation that undeniably spells out YHWH in Hebrew?
Sloth
 

Re: The Unforgivable Sin

Postby jimwalton » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:24 pm

> So you're saying because Hinduism is unique from Christianity, its growth can't be compared to Christianity's?

No, I'm saying that the growth of Hinduism was not characterized by sudden life-change like Christianity was.

> they can't be compared is because Hinduism is so old and its origins so obscure

This is true, but even in our present day when people come to Christ they talk about a radical life-altering phenomenon, and that is not how people describe the becoming Hindu.

> To put that into perspective, Mormonism has grown an average of 3.6% per year since its founding, and Christianity never had to compete with any other prominent proselytizing religions, while Mormonism had to compete with Christianity.

True, but my point was never that the rapid expansion proves the truth of Christianity, but only that the people who convert to Christianity have life-changing experiences, as opposed to a change of religions or an adoption of a new belief system.

> This was not a clear-cut issue among the Jews, whether or not resurrection was physical or merely spiritual.

It was. The only debate in Judaism is whether there was a spiritual resurrection to a ghostly existence after a time of being dead (Pharisees) or whether this life was the end of it all (annihilationism: Sadducees).

> even if the pharisees only believe in a spiritual resurrection what would stop an uneducated Jew (like we know the disciples were) from going against the grain?

All Jewish males were well trained. It was part of their culture. Even the disciples, contrary to your statement, would have been schooled in the Torah by their fathers and would have to pass the "bar mitzvah," so to speak. Jesus was a carpenter's son, but he had his day in Jerusalem just like all Jewish boys.

> In Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 Jesus tells his disciples about the end times and, if you give it an honest interpretation, that the end will come within some of their lifetimes.

There was some expectation of that, yes, but there was also an understanding that the end would be delayed. You'll notice that Jesus says in Mt. 24.8 that these signs are not a proof of the end, but of the beginning. Paul sets out to establish a system of church government that will last for the long haul. They wrote books so that the story of Jesus could exist in perpetuity. We can't be certain they assumed the end would come within their lifetimes, though they were ready for his return at any time.

>

You said, "God is all-knowing and therefore knows that by writing Genesis the way he does, he is going to cause serious division among believers and lead many to believe an incorrect view of the world." So I was interpreting your statement to mean, "Since all communication is subject to interpretation, the only way for God to avoid that in his writings is to control the thoughts of all who read it." I guess I was mistaken in assuming this is what you were implying.

> It has to do with knowing that if you write a text for a specific culture and a specific time in a way that only that culture at that time...

Any communication is subject to interpretation. No matter how pure the source, the message is interpreted by the human agent on the receiving end. The only way for God to stop ridiculous beliefs is to control the minds of all who read it.

> I'm saying God could have easily proven that the Bible is his word by saying something like this

He did. Genesis 1 makes no reference to the length of time or what processes God used in creation. The ancients would read the chapter as a temple text, not as a chronological account, as we do. We're the ones who read everything as chronology and in a scientific mindset.

> universe to support life is actually much less of that house's ability to support that one cockroach...

You are making a very unfair caricature of the fine-tuning argument. If you want to have this discussion for real, we can, but don't just create a straw man.

> If he truly wants to demonstrate his power, why not, for example, create a constellation that undeniably spells out YHWH in Hebrew?

You actually think that this would cause you to believe in God? I suppose rather that many would claim, along with possibly you, that the ancients saw this pattern in the sky and made up a God with this name to explain it. Please, no more cheap shots. Let's have an honest, respectful discussion about the real issues and real evidences.


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