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Thread: God is Love?

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by SiMar View Post
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    So the key aspects are he took part in some sort of ceremony and was killed.....must admit that's hardly proving many points Ancient and even TC admitted that Jesus could or did exist. It's what's been attached to that existance is the real issue here.

    As another poster said I admire your faith but I certianly don't share it!

    Enjoy your Christmas too
    To Mr Twice, Mr Stranraer, Mr Hiberlin and Mr Si-Mar, can I say thank you for courteous and kind responses and may I wish a fine and merry Christmas to you all and your families.

    This is not a night for getting heavy, but as a response to Mr Twice (and all) I would say this - I hope you get some Christmas book tokens from a large on-line retailer with a base in Dunfermline!!

    If so try and get these two readable paperbacks:

    David Robertson: The Dawkins Letters; and

    Gary Habermas: The Historical Jesus.

    Both books are pretty cheap and with free postage (if you chose the right option).

    Hope this thread goes on to the New Year!

    Best to you all.
    AH.
    ps a thumping of Rossco on Wednesday will do wonders for all our spirits!

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  3. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    To Mr Twice, Mr Stranraer, Mr Hiberlin and Mr Si-Mar, can I say thank you for courteous and kind responses and may I wish a fine and merry Christmas to you all and your families.

    This is not a night for getting heavy, but as a response to Mr Twice (and all) I would say this - I hope you get some Christmas book tokens from a large on-line retailer with a base in Dunfermline!!

    If so try and get these two readable paperbacks:

    David Robertson: The Dawkins Letters; and

    Gary Habermas: The Historical Jesus.

    Both books are pretty cheap and with free postage (if you chose the right option).

    Hope this thread goes on to the New Year!

    Best to you all.
    AH.
    ps a thumping of Rossco on Wednesday will do wonders for all our spirits!
    No probs Ancient...but just for the record the only spirits I believe in are alcoholic ones...not scary ones nor holy ones

    Oh and with TC on board I'm sure this thread could run on for a while....one of his favourite subjects this I think. Maybe I should just buy him the books and we can look forward to an articulate and interesting reprise in the New Year!!

  4. #33
    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hiberlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    To Mr Twice, Mr Stranraer, Mr Hiberlin and Mr Si-Mar, can I say thank you for courteous and kind responses and may I wish a fine and merry Christmas to you all and your families.

    This is not a night for getting heavy, but as a response to Mr Twice (and all) I would say this - I hope you get some Christmas book tokens from a large on-line retailer with a base in Dunfermline!!

    If so try and get these two readable paperbacks:

    David Robertson: The Dawkins Letters; and

    Gary Habermas: The Historical Jesus.

    Both books are pretty cheap and with free postage (if you chose the right option).

    Hope this thread goes on to the New Year!

    Best to you all.
    AH.
    ps a thumping of Rossco on Wednesday will do wonders for all our spirits!
    Best wishes to you and your's AH, if we could stretch the Christian Christmas values out over the whole year then I'm sure the world would be a better place for it. Merry Christmas.

  5. #34
    Private Members Prediction League Winner Hiberlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    To Mr Twice, Mr Stranraer, Mr Hiberlin and Mr Si-Mar, can I say thank you for courteous and kind responses and may I wish a fine and merry Christmas to you all and your families.

    This is not a night for getting heavy, but as a response to Mr Twice (and all) I would say this - I hope you get some Christmas book tokens from a large on-line retailer with a base in Dunfermline!!

    If so try and get these two readable paperbacks:

    David Robertson: The Dawkins Letters; and

    Gary Habermas: The Historical Jesus.

    Both books are pretty cheap and with free postage (if you chose the right option).

    Hope this thread goes on to the New Year!

    Best to you all.
    AH.
    ps a thumping of Rossco on Wednesday will do wonders for all our spirits!
    Best wishes to you and your's AH, if we could stretch the Christian Christmas values out over the whole year then I'm sure the world would be a better place for it. Merry Christmas.

  6. #35
    Resident of North Britain Phil D. Rolls's Avatar
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  7. #36
    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    Sadly, a typical response, TC. Rubbish learned scholars because they might have a pre-disposition to believe. Even a brief examination of the subject would show you these scholars come from all sorts of theological backgrounds.

    Again, your 'absolutely undeniable' claim is out of kilter with modern Biblical scholarship where there is almost unanimous agreement on two key aspects of Jesus life on earth. First that he was baptised by John the Baptist and, second, that he was crucified by Pontius Pilate.

    I hope He touches your life this Christmas. You'll know when He does.

    Enjoy your Christmas!
    Sorry Ancient, this is a fundamentally inaccurate response to my post. I haven't rubbished anybody, and indeed specifically avoided doing so in my post. I made the assumption that I thought it likely that biblical scholars were more likely to be pre-disposed to believe in Jesus, which I think is a fair stance. I also suggested that it should at the least be taken into consideration when evaluating their works, which is also fair. Oh, and the two scholars you referenced are: Revd Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of King's College London and Professor of Biblical Interpretation, and James Dunn, Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at Durham University (retired). This would tend to disagree with your claim of a wide range of theological backgrounds.

    Biblical scholars may well agree amongst themselves that the baptism and crucifixion happened. However, I state again, without any prejudice as to the ultimate accuracy or otherwise of their claims, that there is absolutely no contemporary, corroborative evidence for anything related to Jesus' life. The first extra-biblical references to Jesus are from Tacitus and Josephus. If I'm missing something by way of actual evidence, then please tell me - this isn't the stance of a godless atheist trying to score a point against Jesus , this is just a fact, and a fact that calls into question the historical accuracy of the biblical version of Jesus' life.

    I also specifically stated that this lack of corroborating evidence does not constitute evidence against his existence, but is a factor in my doubting his divine historicity as recounted in the bible. If it's not an issue for you, then no problem, but don't misrepresent what I said. As SiMar mentioned, this is a particular interest of mine - I've read lot of biblical history and apologetics work, and from a historical perspective, the evidence is incredibly flimsy.

    Have a good Christmas!
    Last edited by Twa Cairpets; 24-12-2012 at 08:52 PM.

  8. #37
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    I was christened C of E but the services I have attended recently have been very insipid. Beards and sandals stuff. The C of S seems better to me. More austere.

    While not a believer I do like the comfort zone of the church and its music and intend to go regularly once I find a service that I like. I could be accused of seeing organised religion as entertainment of a kind, I suppose.

    I guess I want some hellfire, "watch your step or you're for it" material delivered by a chap in a dog collar. Am I a Wee Free at heart? Or a Catholic?

  9. #38
    I have no knowledge of the subject regarding evidence etc...and I can't say I have formed an opinion of whether god exists or not. I was brought up to believe but have gradually become less interested in the question. Even if it all did exist then it would only really matter once I was dead.

    However, "finding god with your heart" and therefore knowing, not just believing there is an afterlife sounds a lot more appealing than the alternative.

    I also think there's an element of embarrassment that stops people looking. I've heard people describe those who believe in god and go to church as fruitloops and nutters who can't be taken seriously. Maybe the rise in the amount of non-believers is putting people off, perhaps even myself if I'm being honest.

    Also, if there is one god then why are there so many different religions? On another level, why are there so many forms of Christianity? Even if you believe in the concept then questions like this might put you off attending church regularly or truly finding god.
    I was going to say that God doesn't exactly make it easy for you to find him...but maybe that's because the above questions are coming from the wrong place and therefore irrelevant. After all, you apparently don't find him using that place.

    Maybe I'll try and make an effort when I'm older or my life takes a turn for the worst. However, I'd be really hacked off if I waited years, found god and realised I had been missing out all that time.

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  11. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    Sorry Ancient, this is a fundamentally inaccurate response to my post. I haven't rubbished anybody, and indeed specifically avoided doing so in my post. I made the assumption that I thought it likely that biblical scholars were more likely to be pre-disposed to believe in Jesus, which I think is a fair stance. I also suggested that it should at the least be taken into consideration when evaluating their works, which is also fair. Oh, and the two scholars you referenced are: Revd Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of King's College London and Professor of Biblical Interpretation, and James Dunn, Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at Durham University (retired). This would tend to disagree with your claim of a wide range of theological backgrounds.

    Biblical scholars may well agree amongst themselves that the baptism and crucifixion happened. However, I state again, without any prejudice as to the ultimate accuracy or otherwise of their claims, that there is absolutely no contemporary, corroborative evidence for anything related to Jesus' life. The first extra-biblical references to Jesus are from Tacitus and Josephus. If I'm missing something by way of actual evidence, then please tell me - this isn't the stance of a godless atheist trying to score a point against Jesus , this is just a fact, and a fact that calls into question the historical accuracy of the biblical version of Jesus' life.

    I also specifically stated that this lack of corroborating evidence does not constitute evidence against his existence, but is a factor in my doubting his divine historicity as recounted in the bible. If it's not an issue for you, then no problem, but don't misrepresent what I said. As SiMar mentioned, this is a particular interest of mine - I've read lot of biblical history and apologetics work, and from a historical perspective, the evidence is incredibly flimsy.

    Have a good Christmas!
    TC, one of the key fundamentals here is that Christianity is a faith-based religion, so bags of compelling empirical evidence is not part of the equation. Second, the Lord reveals enough of Himself in Scripture to, if you like, whet the appetite of seekers. Third, as I have said before in other threads, He is a personal God and will be found by those who seek after Him.

    I am no theologian, but I am aware of any number of writers whose work you might find helpful. Two of the finest theologians of recent times are Richard Bauckham, most recently at University of St Andrews and Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh. Both are widely respected New Testament scholars and you may well find some of their works illuminating.

    Beyond that, I am constantly amazed at the number of working scientists who also proclaim their Christianity. You might be familiar with some, but I would certainly recommend the works of Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project; Alister McGrath, the molecular biologist; John Lennox, the mathematician; John Polkinthorne, the physicist. A surprising number of scientists who are also Christians started of as atheists. The famous atheist Antony Flew also converted to Christianity in the latter stages of his life!

    Beyond that, there are a couple of gifted American preachers, namely Don Carson and Tim Keller, both of whom write eminently readable books and Carson in particular is a very fine expositor of the NT. And if you really want to find a prolific, compelling Christian apologist, try the works of Gary Habermas.

    Good reading!

  12. #41
    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    TC, one of the key fundamentals here is that Christianity is a faith-based religion, so bags of compelling empirical evidence is not part of the equation. Second, the Lord reveals enough of Himself in Scripture to, if you like, whet the appetite of seekers. Third, as I have said before in other threads, He is a personal God and will be found by those who seek after Him.

    I am no theologian, but I am aware of any number of writers whose work you might find helpful. Two of the finest theologians of recent times are Richard Bauckham, most recently at University of St Andrews and Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh. Both are widely respected New Testament scholars and you may well find some of their works illuminating.

    Beyond that, I am constantly amazed at the number of working scientists who also proclaim their Christianity. You might be familiar with some, but I would certainly recommend the works of Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project; Alister McGrath, the molecular biologist; John Lennox, the mathematician; John Polkinthorne, the physicist. A surprising number of scientists who are also Christians started of as atheists. The famous atheist Antony Flew also converted to Christianity in the latter stages of his life!

    Beyond that, there are a couple of gifted American preachers, namely Don Carson and Tim Keller, both of whom write eminently readable books and Carson in particular is a very fine expositor of the NT. And if you really want to find a prolific, compelling Christian apologist, try the works of Gary Habermas.

    Good reading!
    I've no argument with you presenting your belief system as faith based.

    I do have a serious argument with you saying, as per your first post "Jesus existence is verified time and time again.", and then going on to use as your justification the statements of biblical scholars. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren't deliberately misrepresenting the truth of the situation, because the only verification of Jesus existence as portrayed in the bible comes from that faith.

    Why would you suddenly be amazed at the number of scientists who have faith? Why have you suddenly pulled this out of the hat to try to justify your faith? Francis Collins is a deist sure, but so what? I'm sure there are hundreds or thosuands of religious people in senior scientific positions who are muslim or buddhist or hindu or shintoists - its got no relevance as to the truth or otherwise of your particular God, the historicity of Jesus or the validity of scientific discoveries and settled opinion in areas that would contradict biblical teaching. There's a lot of atheist scientists too. Presumably if list of a load of them then you'd accept that as an argument?

    I've read and listened to McGrath. I have to say "The Dawkins Delusion", which I forced myself to read cover to cover, is one of the most turgidly whining pieces of apologetic writing I've read, and I've listened to William Lane Craig a lot so that's saying something.

  13. #42
    Coaching Staff lyonhibs's Avatar
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    If Jesus isnae on Youtube, then I'm no havin' it!


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    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lyonhibs View Post
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    If Jesus isnae on Youtube, then I'm no havin' it!

    Oh Jesus is on YouTube alright...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    TC, one of the key fundamentals here is that Christianity is a faith-based religion, so bags of compelling empirical evidence is not part of the equation. Second, the Lord reveals enough of Himself in Scripture to, if you like, whet the appetite of seekers. Third, as I have said before in other threads, He is a personal God and will be found by those who seek after Him.

    I am no theologian, but I am aware of any number of writers whose work you might find helpful. Two of the finest theologians of recent times are Richard Bauckham, most recently at University of St Andrews and Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh. Both are widely respected New Testament scholars and you may well find some of their works illuminating.

    Beyond that, I am constantly amazed at the number of working scientists who also proclaim their Christianity. You might be familiar with some, but I would certainly recommend the works of Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project; Alister McGrath, the molecular biologist; John Lennox, the mathematician; John Polkinthorne, the physicist. A surprising number of scientists who are also Christians started of as atheists. The famous atheist Antony Flew also converted to Christianity in the latter stages of his life!

    Beyond that, there are a couple of gifted American preachers, namely Don Carson and Tim Keller, both of whom write eminently readable books and Carson in particular is a very fine expositor of the NT. And if you really want to find a prolific, compelling Christian apologist, try the works of Gary Habermas.

    Good reading!
    Well, I've had a look at Carson and Keller, as I didn't know them. Admittedly, just their blogs and interviews, but it's the same old apologetics stuff. A bit less strident than somel, I'll grant you, but the same stuff nonetheless. The problem with looking at NT scholars and those (like Keller and Carson), who are evangelicals or at the least pastors, is that they have a literally presuppositionalist stance. They accept that God / Jesus are real and that the bible is the inspired word of God, and therefore they interpret the bible in this light. It is impossible therefore for them not to use the NT to justify its own accuracy, and at that point I lose interest I'm afraid.
    "The bible is true!"
    "How do you know its true?"
    "Because it says so in the bible"

    I think both testaments of the bible and other holy books are worthy of study - the impact on humanity and the width of interpretations that can be reached is vital in understanding both history and motivations of those with faith, especially extreme or fundamentalist faith. However, no matter how deeply you study the scripture, it can only be interpreted within its own self-affirming story, unless you accept the presuppositionalist position. if you go back to the OP, understanding religiously driven motivation for extreme appalling behaviour is vital.

    This is where there is a difference between, as we've been over before, faith and evidence. You have faith, and believe it to come from a personal relationship with God. I suggest that there is no evidence for your stance to be correct (indeed, that there is a mountain of evidence to suggest, if not prove, that your position is actively wrong given the variety of deep convictions held by those of faith). Apologists work hard to present compelling evidence from the bible, but its just not possible if you view evidence as requiring to be being corroborated, impartial and of enough sufficient volume to be of worth.

    This is one of the reasons why I am surprised and a bit disappointed you chose to go down the route of "well scientists believe in God too". It reads as if you are suggesting this is evidence of Gods existence. It's not.

  16. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    This is one of the reasons why I am surprised and a bit disappointed you chose to go down the route of "well scientists believe in God too". It reads as if you are suggesting this is evidence of Gods existence. It's not.
    Is it perhaps not the case that many scientists believe in (a) God because (particularly in the US) funding for projects or indeed career opportunities often seems go hand in hand with a required belief in God, not to mention a perceived need to acquiesce to certain societal peer pressure to simply keep out of "trouble" or on good terms with the neighbours?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeeJay View Post
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    Is it perhaps not the case that many scientists believe in (a) God because (particularly in the US) funding for projects or indeed career opportunities often seems go hand in hand with a required belief in God, not to mention a perceived need to acquiesce to certain societal peer pressure to simply keep out of "trouble" or on good terms with the neighbours?
    Interestingly, you would find the fundamentalists in the US use the exact same argument in reverse. If you ever have a burning desire to lose 90 minutes of your life that you'll never get back and leave you going "What the F***", watch "Expelled - No Intelligence Required" which is Ben Stein claiming that researchers are being hounded out of academia because of the liberal/atheist agenda.

  18. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    I've no argument with you presenting your belief system as faith based.

    I do have a serious argument with you saying, as per your first post "Jesus existence is verified time and time again.", and then going on to use as your justification the statements of biblical scholars. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you weren't deliberately misrepresenting the truth of the situation, because the only verification of Jesus existence as portrayed in the bible comes from that faith.

    Why would you suddenly be amazed at the number of scientists who have faith? Why have you suddenly pulled this out of the hat to try to justify your faith? Francis Collins is a deist sure, but so what? I'm sure there are hundreds or thosuands of religious people in senior scientific positions who are muslim or buddhist or hindu or shintoists - its got no relevance as to the truth or otherwise of your particular God, the historicity of Jesus or the validity of scientific discoveries and settled opinion in areas that would contradict biblical teaching. There's a lot of atheist scientists too. Presumably if list of a load of them then you'd accept that as an argument?

    I've read and listened to McGrath. I have to say "The Dawkins Delusion", which I forced myself to read cover to cover, is one of the most turgidly whining pieces of apologetic writing I've read, and I've listened to William Lane Craig a lot so that's saying something.
    Well, that's a less tetchy response than the last one!

    I was only trying to help you, TC! Trying to direct you to other scholars/thinkers etc, who might not fall foul of your mantra that 'it's in the Bible, so I must dismiss it'. I am well aware of your thinking in this regard and this is why I tried to direct you to scholars who study 'outside of the Bible' if you like.

    That's why I referenced Bauckham and Hurtado who both have done substantial work in sources outside of the Bible and who make the case for the authenticity of Jesus from local, traditional, language, other sources, etc. In this respect Bauckham is particularly strong.

    Likewise the comment about scientists. I thought it might help you first, to narrow the focus, as with Bauckham and Hurtado, who are 'source scholars' outwith the remit of the NT alone, and then broaden the focus to suggest you look at some scientific scholars who find no contradiction with their Christian belief and who continue to write on the continuing dialogue between the two.

    I chose Francis Collins because he moved from being an atheist to a theist. And the philosopher Antony Flew for the same reason.

    I chose the other scientists, mostly because they are UK based and easily accessible. Most are linked to the Faraday Institute and will publish in the journal 'Science and Christian Belief' from time to time. Internet access is available for every name quoted.

    I repeat, do enjoy some good reading!

  19. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    That's why I referenced Bauckham and Hurtado who both have done substantial work in sources outside of the Bible and who make the case for the authenticity of Jesus from local, traditional, language, other sources, etc. !
    The Tank is a Biblical scholar?!

  20. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by The Green Goblin View Post
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    The Tank is a Biblical scholar?!
    Aye! 'God works in mysterious ways His purposes to fulfil', eh!?

  21. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Green Goblin View Post
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    The Tank is a Biblical scholar?!
    I don't know about Hurtado, but for his role in gettingintousintoeurope.com, Konte was definitely The Redeemer

    Gary O'Connor has to be John the Baptist because of his trouble with the authorities

    Paul seemed to have an interest in the Brian Kerr enigma "We should look not at things that are seen, but the things that are not seen' (Corinthians).

    there must be more sacreligious analogies out there

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    Quote Originally Posted by ancienthibby View Post
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    Well, that's a less tetchy response than the last one!

    I was only trying to help you, TC! Trying to direct you to other scholars/thinkers etc, who might not fall foul of your mantra that 'it's in the Bible, so I must dismiss it'. I am well aware of your thinking in this regard and this is why I tried to direct you to scholars who study 'outside of the Bible' if you like.

    That's why I referenced Bauckham and Hurtado who both have done substantial work in sources outside of the Bible and who make the case for the authenticity of Jesus from local, traditional, language, other sources, etc. In this respect Bauckham is particularly strong.

    Likewise the comment about scientists. I thought it might help you first, to narrow the focus, as with Bauckham and Hurtado, who are 'source scholars' outwith the remit of the NT alone, and then broaden the focus to suggest you look at some scientific scholars who find no contradiction with their Christian belief and who continue to write on the continuing dialogue between the two.

    I chose Francis Collins because he moved from being an atheist to a theist. And the philosopher Antony Flew for the same reason.

    I chose the other scientists, mostly because they are UK based and easily accessible. Most are linked to the Faraday Institute and will publish in the journal 'Science and Christian Belief' from time to time. Internet access is available for every name quoted.

    I repeat, do enjoy some good reading!
    Tetchy? Maybe. I don't like being deliberately misrepresented about what I post, so you'll maybe forgive my apparent tetchiness when I point out that I have at no point said "It's in the bible, so I must dismiss it". It is absolutely not my "mantra", and if that's what you think it is then you have a preconception that is clouding your interpretative skills. I don't believe the bible is what it is claimed to be - I dont believe it to be the inspired word of God, I don't believe Jesus was son of God, I don't believe the Genesis account of creation, I don't believe in the Flood, i don't believe in the concept of damnation or original sin, I dont believe in the resurrection, I dont believe any of the prophecies have any extra-biblical relevance, i dont believe in the Exodus, I dont believe Revelation is anything but a drug-inspired dream, I don't belive in the virgin birth, I dont believe in a historical Moses, or a whole lot of other stuff in the bible. However, I absolutely, fundamentally dont believe that anythign should be instantly dismissed solely because it is in the bible. If there's no evidence to back up the supernatural claims, then for sure the burden of evidence rests with the believer to back it up, bu tin the same way an alien abduction claim shouldn't be dismissed just because its by a redneck hillbilly, until there is some corroboration then I'll remain sketically unconvinced

    Your scholarly references are still basing their study on a non-evidenced presuppostion. From what I have read of Bauckham (not read the book, admittedly), the core of his argument is that the gospels are the the recorded word of eyewitnesses, therefore are valid evidence in themselves. This may be true - I don't know - but there is no independent evidence to support this. None. It comes down again to faith. The second you accept assumption about the veracity of the bible, then it makes more sense because it is, in part, self affirming (or at least can be interpreted to be so).

    For every Francis Collins there's a Bart D. Ehrmann or Matt Dillahunty who've left the faith, so again you (a) assume that I haven't looked at the thoughts and positions of Flew and Collins, which I have, and (b) that the fact they have personal belief in any way impacts the truth of the matter.

    But, going back to the nub of the matter from your original post (and my original gripe).
    There is no extra biblical evidence for Jesus, his miracles, his divinty or his life.

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    As to the book called the bible, it is blasphemy to call it the Word of God. It is a book of lies and contradictions and a history of bad times and bad men. [Thomas Paine, writing to Andrew Dean August 15, 1806]
    or as God himself kind of says in the Acid House "ah created yis wi a free will, it's youse chunts that keep daein aw the evil n blamin it oan me".

    Bringing Back the Rainbows

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    Coaching Staff lyonhibs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filled Rolls View Post
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    or as God himself kind of says in the Acid House "ah created yis wi a free will, it's youse chunts that keep daein aw the evil n blamin it oan me".
    Sauzee was in Acid House?????

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    Quote Originally Posted by lyonhibs View Post
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    Sauzee was in Acid House?????
    If you believe he was, then he was. It's beyond question.

    Bringing Back the Rainbows

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    Ach ... I've yet to hear a decent argument against the existence of a higher power.

    Anyway ... If it is the case that us and everything that we can prove exists are the result of a random series of events and we have no other function than to spend 4 score years and 10 polluting the Earth and then becoming fertilizer at the end of it, then all I can say is .... what a bloody pointless waste of time.

    If I'm wrong and the athiests are right they can say I told you so the second I snuff it.

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    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BOVRIL View Post
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    Ach ... I've yet to hear a decent argument against the existence of a higher power.

    Anyway ... If it is the case that us and everything that we can prove exists are the result of a random series of events and we have no other function than to spend 4 score years and 10 polluting the Earth and then becoming fertilizer at the end of it, then all I can say is .... what a bloody pointless waste of time.

    If I'm wrong and the atheists are right they can say I told you so the second I snuff it.
    Interesting. Genuine question: What would constitute a decent argument against the existence of a higher power? For me, if there was any evidence of a creator or higher deity not based solely on a requirement for me to have unconditional faith, I would absolutely accept it. Something supernatural, something genuinely miraculous - the regrowing of an amputees leg or the creation of species or the instant making of, say, the Sahara into a fertile environment would be the kind of thing. I'm not being smart and I know the argument against this - "don't challenge God to prove himself, you need to know him in your heart etc". But as the Bible is meant to be our instruction manual, it clearly isn't working as such for the majority of humanity - a genuinely indisputable sign of divine power would work for me. Sadly, we know this wont happen, because (a) if you're an atheist you don't believe in any God, or (b) if you're a christian you know that this has not been foretold, and that the end of the world will be as described in Revelation. i' don't know enough about other religions to comment on their reasons for the lack of divine display of awe, but I'm guessing they are, at root, similar.

    I believe there is no afterlife, but for me this just means the opposite of your stance. Not "what a waste of time", but "what an opportunity to use the time we have to live life well and full". Do you really want to spend eternity in heaven, and are you really happy at the thought that your religion (assuming you are a relatively mainstream christian) actively believes that I am going to spend eternity in hell, torture and damnation?

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    Coaching Staff BEEJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    Do you really want to spend eternity in heaven,
    As heaven represents the eternal presence of God and hell is the eternal absence of God, I know where I'd rather be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    and are you really happy at the thought that your religion (assuming you are a relatively mainstream christian) actively believes that I am going to spend eternity in hell, torture and damnation?
    Speaking for myself, 'not at all'; but it's not in my power to do anything about your eternal destiny. We have each been given the free will (as you would prefer) to make that choice for ourselves.

    Your image of heaven resounding to the guffaws and chuckles of the 'saved' as they rejoice in the misfortune of those lost forever in hell is singularly inappropriate. It is only by God's grace that anyone gets to heaven; nothing of ourselves except to humbly receive that grace. Your image (mentioned on here before), with it's insinuation of a sense of superiority amongst Christian believers, only serves to further alienate you from any concept of a loving God.

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    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    As heaven represents the eternal presence of God and hell is the eternal absence of God, I know where I'd rather be.
    I obviously think you're offering up a false dichotomy, but the idea of eternity anywhere to me is pretty appalling.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    Speaking for myself, 'not at all'; but it's not in my power to do anything about your eternal destiny. We have each been given the free will (as you would prefer) to make that choice for ourselves.


    I would dispute that. I've read some interesting stuff on free will as it relates to religion recently, the nub of it is that it is at odds with an omniscient and omnipotent God, as described in the bible. If God created me, and if he is omniscient then he knew that I would choose not to believe in him, thereby leading to the conclusion that he created me to fail and suffer in an an eternity of hell (depending on how you interpret the bible, of course). If he didn't create me to fail, then he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent, as he created me flawed.

    I appreciate that my impending damnation doesn't sit well with you. I personally think it is morally repugnant to worship a being (albeit in my opinion a fictional one) that will, as an alleged sign of love, commit me, personally, to an eternal sentence for a very finite crime. Especially when this "crime" is predicated on the ability (or, more accurately, lack of ability) he created me with to believe in him.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    Your image of heaven resounding to the guffaws and chuckles of the 'saved' as they rejoice in the misfortune of those lost forever in hell is singularly inappropriate. It is only by God's grace that anyone gets to heaven; nothing of ourselves except to humbly receive that grace. Your image (mentioned on here before), with it's insinuation of a sense of superiority amongst Christian believers, only serves to further alienate you from any concept of a loving God.
    ancienthibby has often told me to "open my heart to Jesus", on the assumption that I have never considered this or tried it. I just cannot get to a point where I am willing to disregard everything I know to be true and accurate and evidenced to "just have faith" in Gods grace. To me that is an intellectual absurdity, but doubtless it would be "rationalised" by those of faith with me not believing enough or being open enough, so putting the fault on me, not their God.

    So when people choose to belong to a group that considers me deserving of an infinity of suffering, based on this absurdity and given my earlier point about free-will, that does tick me off a bit. Whether or not it is interpreted as an "insinuation of superiority" is a moot point. I'm pretty confident that with the exception possibly of child rapists and genocidal dictators, there isn't anyone who deserves that because of their actions. I personally know nobody who I think deserves eternal torment. You, presumably do, assuming you have non-christian friends and family. I would have thought that in a very literal sense, that should distance anyone from the concept of a "loving" God.

    Finally, I don't believe that heaven (if it existed) would resound to the "guffaws and chuckles of the saved". I would think it has to be viewed as a place where your memory is wiped clean and you live in a kind of SOMA induced bliss, otherwise the certain knowledge (what with you being in heaven) of beloved family and friends suffering in hell would be too sorrowing to bear for all eternity. How awful would that be?

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    Coaching Staff BEEJ's Avatar
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    Wishing you a good New Year, TC. I hope 2013 is a happy and healthy year for you and yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    I've read some interesting stuff on free will as it relates to religion recently, the nub of it is that it is at odds with an omniscient and omnipotent God, as described in the bible. If God created me, and if he is omniscient then he knew that I would choose not to believe in him, thereby leading to the conclusion that he created me to fail and suffer in an an eternity of hell (depending on how you interpret the bible, of course). If he didn't create me to fail, then he is neither omniscient nor omnipotent, as he created me flawed.
    God is the alpha and the omega and therefore knows the end from the beginning. He sits outside time as we understand it and has seen how things will pan out.

    But in order to relate to us he deals in time as we do, in simple chronolgical order. The fact that God is omniscient and omnipotent does not mean that he interferes with our freewill. Your interpretation assumes that everything that we do, say and think has been pre-ordained and set out in detail in advance by this omnipotent God. That's just not the case. If you create beings for relationship and interaction, you don't then turn them into pre-programmed robots by predefining their every move and breath. That would be the exact opposite of us being able to exercise freewill.

    And your accusation that you have been in some way created with hell as your destiny is quite wrong. You may (as many of us are) be very well predisposed to engage brain much more readily than your heart; but I doubt that youíre completely incapable on the latter score. Were you to be, as Godís created being, unable to function in the latter way entirely then and only then could you accuse Him of having perversely made you in a way in which you would never encounter Him. Instead the fact is that it doesnít come as easy to you (and others). It's not impossible, it's just more difficult and requires perseverance.

    What would have been perverse, in fact, would have been if God had taken the opposite approach. Imagine for a moment that discovering / encountering God depended in some way on our intellect / IQ / education. That would have been extremely elitist, very limiting for us ordinary mortals and would have resigned the kingdom of heaven to something of an eternal Mensa club (ugghh!).

    Instead we are to engage with Him in the first instance using our hearts, which individually we are able to use in much more equal measure.


    Quote Originally Posted by Twa Cairpets View Post
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    ancienthibby has often told me to "open my heart to Jesus", on the assumption that I have never considered this or tried it. I just cannot get to a point where I am willing to disregard everything I know to be true and accurate and evidenced to "just have faith" in Gods grace. To me that is an intellectual absurdity, but doubtless it would be "rationalised" by those of faith with me not believing enough or being open enough, so putting the fault on me, not their God.
    God says in the bible "if you seek me with all your heart." If instead some part of you holds on to your own understanding and hence remains cynical about the apparent absurdities to you of a creator God, then you're highly unlikely to encounter Him. That first step is all about trust.

    Instead there is base human pride in the statement "everything I know to be true and accurate and evidenced". Once we are able to set that to one side, then we are more likely to encounter the living God.

    Once you do, the miracles you call for in an earlier post will arise; but they will not be evident in the sudden changing of the sahara desert into a lush, green pasture etc etc. They will be that your creator God not only chooses to reveal himself to you, but that he also loves you and demonstrates as such.

    Many millions of Christian believers across the world today can testify to that reality. And God has no favourites.

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    @hibs.net private member Twa Cairpets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    Wishing you a good New Year, TC. I hope 2013 is a happy and healthy year for you and yours.


    And the same back to you and yours BEEJ.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    God is the alpha and the omega and therefore knows the end from the beginning. He sits outside time as we understand it and has seen how things will pan out.

    But in order to relate to us he deals in time as we do, in simple chronolgical order. The fact that God is omniscient and omnipotent does not mean that he interferes with our freewill. Your interpretation assumes that everything that we do, say and think has been pre-ordained and set out in detail in advance by this omnipotent God. That's just not the case. If you create beings for relationship and interaction, you don't then turn them into pre-programmed robots by predefining their every move and breath. That would be the exact opposite of us being able to exercise freewill.


    A couple of points here.
    1) You are shoe-horning your interpretation of how your God deals with time to fit with your position. It doesn't make it wrong, necessarily, but making assumptions about how God must be and the nature of his relationship to time/space etc is piling on the amount of non-evidential supposition.
    2) No matter how you juggle the semantics, it is a black and white issue. God cannot literally know everything if actions taken by his creation cause him to be surprised by the exercise of free will. Therefore he cannot be omniscient. Or, as before, if he does know, then demanding me to believe without giving me the tools to do so is cruel and unjust.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    And your accusation that you have been in some way created with hell as your destiny is quite wrong. You may (as many of us are) be very well predisposed to engage brain much more readily than your heart; but I doubt that you’re completely incapable on the latter score. Were you to be, as God’s created being, unable to function in the latter way entirely then and only then could you accuse Him of having perversely made you in a way in which you would never encounter Him. Instead the fact is that it doesn’t come as easy to you (and others). It's not impossible, it's just more difficult and requires perseverance.

    What would have been perverse, in fact, would have been if God had taken the opposite approach. Imagine for a moment that discovering / encountering God depended in some way on our intellect / IQ / education. That would have been extremely elitist, very limiting for us ordinary mortals and would have resigned the kingdom of heaven to something of an eternal Mensa club (ugghh!).

    Instead we are to engage with Him in the first instance using our hearts, which individually we are able to use in much more equal measure.
    The head v heart argument is not valid. If you mean rational v irrational, then you've got a point, because that is what it boils down to.

    If I am Gods created being, then for him to put me on Earth at this particular time, with this particular mindset and this access to knowledge, then it is actually more perverse to not give me the tools to believe. I think I'm a good guy - pretty bright, good friends and family, do lots of volunteer work with kids etc - I just happen to not believe in any particular form of God, and don't think that justifies great swathes of the population thinking I'll deserve to burn in hell.

    I also think that intellect and access to knowledge is the biggest threat to religion. All religion has thrived historically to some extent due to demand of unquestioning faith and not to be skeptical of your preacher/Imam/Swami/Living God. i am not saying that you need to be stupid to believe in god, but it has never done religion harm to keep the masses ignorant and servile.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    God says in the bible "if you seek me with all your heart." If instead some part of you holds on to your own understanding and hence remains cynical about the apparent absurdities to you of a creator God, then you're highly unlikely to encounter Him. That first step is all about trust.

    Instead there is base human pride in the statement "everything I know to be true and accurate and evidenced". Once we are able to set that to one side, then we are more likely to encounter the living God.

    Once you do, the miracles you call for in an earlier post will arise; but they will not be evident in the sudden changing of the sahara desert into a lush, green pasture etc etc. They will be that your creator God not only chooses to reveal himself to you, but that he also loves you and demonstrates as such.


    It's not pride. It's fact. If I am to accept the bible as true - and I have read it - my interpretation is that there is also a need to believe (amongst other things of course) in the truth and absolute veracity of literal creation, the literal flood and the literal resurrection. The NT (Luke) gives Jesus genealogy back to Adam, so it's a bit of a given that to believe in Jesus the rest of it has to be correct also (notwithstanding the different genealogy in Matthew, and the immaculate nature of the conception). So you're asking me to "trust" in massive supernatural events that have left no evidence whatsoever. Why would I do this? Why would I willingly decide to think that everything we know about the planet and evolution and dinosaurs and the Universe is wrong?

    As for your last point, I would personally prefer God to do something that would benefit lots of his creation, rather than just reward me for believing in him.

    Quote Originally Posted by BEEJ View Post
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    Many millions of Christian believers across the world today can testify to that reality. And God has no favourites.
    This is a very weak argument. According to Wiki, there are 2bn Christians who presumably could back you up. There's also 1.65bn Muslims, 1bn Hindus and 0.5 bn Buddhists, all of whom would undoubtedly make the same claim, with equally passionate and unshakable belief on their own religion. An appeal to popularity isn't a valid argument in this case. In fact, taking the Wiki numbers, Christians accounts for 29% of the global population. Your God may have no favourites, but he's also apparently spectacularly poor at convincing people he is real.

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