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Question: How Can We Know One Belief Selected for By Evolution is Superior to Another?

Theist:  You say there is no God. 

Evolutionary Materialist [EM]:  Yes.

Theist:  Yet belief in God among many (if not most) humans persists.

EM:  I cannot deny that.

Theist:  How do you explain that?

EM:  Religious belief is an evolutionary adaption. 

Theist:  But you say religious belief is false.

EM:  That’s correct.

 Theist:  Let me get this straight.  According to you, religious belief has at least two characterizes:  (1) it is false; and (2) evolution selected for it.

 EM [looking a little pale now, because he’s just figured out where this is going]:  Correct.  

Theist:  You believe the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis [NDS] is true.

EM:  Of course. 

Theist:  How do you know your belief in NDS is not another false belief that evolution has selected for? 

EM:  ___________________ 

Our materialist friends are invited to fill in the blank. 

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230 Responses to Question: How Can We Know One Belief Selected for By Evolution is Superior to Another?

  1. … the evidence

    What is selected for is the strange propensity, in the case of religion, to have a belief when there is little or no evidence. You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity. So unless you accept there is also strong evidence for all the other religions then for some reason a lot of people believe in something for which there is no strong evidence. This needs explaining.

  2. Let’s change that response up just a little bit:

    “What is selected for is the strange propensity, in the case of Darwinian evolution, to have a belief when there is little or no evidence. You probably think there is strong evidence for Darwinian evolution, but the majority of people do not believe in Darwinian evolution.”

    That game can work both ways.

    If the propensity to believe in things with little or no evidence is what is happening, how do you know those who follow evolution are not in the same boat? Of course you think there is evidence, but then Christians think there is evidence too. So just saying “the evidence” doesn’t really answer the question.

  3. But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? ~ Charles Darwin

  4. Mr. Arrington’s post is another (quite clever, in my opinion) way of pointing out the fundamental dilemma of materialism. One must conclude from a materialist position that our brains, which are entirely material, are the sole source of all our thoughts and thus all of the conclusions to which we arrive regarding the nature of reality, including the conclusion that reality is entirely material. The problem, of course, is that if there are any flaws in the “programming” of our brains which impact our ability to arrive at correct conclusions, those very flaws will also prevent us from discovering our errors. Thus, the very assumption of materialism negates any possible confidence we might have in the validity of that point of view.

    In other words, materialism as a metaphysical position destroys itself.

  5. Exactly, Bruce David: only minds — which are not programmed — are capable of discovering and correcting the errors they may make.

  6. Exactly, Ilion, and minds exist independently of our brains, although of course they are intimately tied to each other while we have a body.

  7. Leslie

    If the propensity to believe in things with little or no evidence is what is happening, how do you know those who follow evolution are not in the same boat? Of course you think there is evidence, but then Christians think there is evidence too. So just saying “the evidence” doesn’t really answer the question.

    It is a possibility that we are under a total delusion about scientific evidence.  But key difference between religious evidence and scientific evidence is that our scientific evidence is grounded in repeatable observations that engage with reality all the time in very concrete way.  If our scientific beliefs are wrong then planes will crash and diseases will not be cured.  If our religious beliefs are wrong then we may be making wrong moral judgements and worshipping the wrong objects – but if someone disagrees there is no concrete way of demonstrating they wrong – planes still fly whether atheism, Catholicism or Buddhism is true .  I understand that some scientific beliefs are more conjectural but they are conjectures based on repeatable observations.

    Bruce David

    The problem, of course, is that if there are any flaws in the “programming” of our brains which impact our ability to arrive at correct conclusions, those very flaws will also prevent us from discovering our errors.

    Doesn’t follow. For example, many people have faulty programming when it comes to probability e.g. they belief that if heads comes up five times in a row then the chances of a tail next time increase so as to get 50/50 in the long run.  They discover their error when they place bets on the outcome.  They may never work out why they were wrong.

  8. Religious belief is an evolutionary adaption.

    Religious belief is actually not an evolutionary adaption. Gullibility is.

  9. markf you state;

    ‘It is a possibility that we are under a total delusion about scientific evidence. But key difference between religious evidence and scientific evidence is that our scientific evidence is grounded in repeatable observations that engage with reality all the time in very concrete way.’

    Yet ironically, belief in an orderly universe, where the transcendent laws of physics are non-variant, is a Theistic belief, and in fact atheists fight tooth and nail trying to show that there is no such inherent transcendent order in the universe. Thus you have in fact falsely assumed a primary theistic belief into your atheistic argument for an orderly universe when you stated,,, ‘our scientific evidence is grounded in repeatable observations’,,, and have severely undermined the credibility of the atheistic belief you were trying to support by appealing to a primary Theistic pillar of belief;

    notes;

    This following site is a easy to use, and understand, interactive website that takes the user through what is termed ‘Presuppositional apologetics’. The website clearly shows that our use of the laws of logic, mathematics, science and morality cannot be accounted for unless we believe in a God who guarantees our perceptions and reasoning are trustworthy in the first place.

    Proof That God Exists – easy to use interactive website
    http://www.proofthatgodexists.org/index.php

    Nuclear Strength Apologetics – Presuppositional Apologetics – video
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....pologetics

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: The physical universe is causally incomplete and therefore neither self-originating nor self-sustaining. The world of space, time, matter and energy is dependent on a reality that transcends space, time, matter and energy. This transcendent reality cannot merely be a Platonic realm of mathematical descriptions, for such things are causally inert abstract entities that do not affect the material world. Neither is it the case that “nothing” is unstable, as Mr. Hawking and others maintain. Absolute nothing cannot have mathematical relationships predicated on it, not even quantum gravitational ones. Rather, the transcendent reality on which our universe depends must be something that can exhibit agency – a mind that can choose among the infinite variety of mathematical descriptions and bring into existence a reality that corresponds to a consistent subset of them. This is what “breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe.,,, the evidence for string theory and its extension, M-theory, is nonexistent; and the idea that conjoining them demonstrates that we live in a multiverse of bubble universes with different laws and constants is a mathematical fantasy. What is worse, multiplying without limit the opportunities for any event to happen in the context of a multiverse – where it is alleged that anything can spontaneously jump into existence without cause – produces a situation in which no absurdity is beyond the pale.
    For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    Dr. Bruce Gordon – The Absurdity Of The Multiverse & Materialism
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5318486/

    The Underlying Mathematical Foundation Of The Universe -Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491491

    Latest Test of Physical Constants Affirms Biblical Claim – Hugh Ross – September 2010
    Excerpt: The team’s measurements on two quasars (Q0458- 020 and Q2337-011, at redshifts = 1.561 and 1.361, respectively) indicated that all three fundamental physical constants have varied by no more than two parts per quadrillion per year over the last ten billion years—a measurement fifteen times more precise, and thus more restrictive, than any previous determination. The team’s findings add to the list of fundamental forces in physics demonstrated to be exceptionally constant over the universe’s history. This confirmation testifies of the Bible’s capacity to predict accurately a future scientific discovery far in advance. Among the holy books that undergird the religions of the world, the Bible stands alone in proclaiming that the laws governing the universe are fixed, or constant.
    http://www.reasons.org/files/e.....010-03.pdf

    This following site discusses the many technical problems they had with the paper that recently (2010) tried to postulate variance within the fine structure constant:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-367471

    Psalm 119:89-91
    Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.

  10. markf, In fact it was such a belief in a transcendent invariant order that God has placed on reality that drove the Christian founders of science to make the breakthrough discoveries they did;

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Modern Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

    Christianity and The Birth of Science – Michael Bumbulis, Ph.D
    Excerpt: Furthermore, many of these founders of science lived at a time when others publicly expressed views quite contrary to Christianity – Hume, Hobbes, Darwin, etc. When Boyle argues against Hobbe’s materialism or Kelvin argues against Darwin’s assumptions, you don’t have a case of “closet atheists.”
    http://ldolphin.org/bumbulis/

    Founders of Modern Science Who Believe in GOD – Tihomir Dimitrov
    http://www.scigod.com/index.ph.....File/18/18

    The Origin of Science
    Excerpt: Modern science is not only compatible with Christianity, it in fact finds its origins in Christianity.
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

  11. Exactly Barry!

    Plus, in a materialistic world, even our thoughts are determined by the chemical reactions in our brains. Who is to say whose chemical reactions are trustworthy and whose are not? Since religionists seem to be winning the evolutionary survival game, perhaps, belief in God is being selected for. After all studies have shown there are lots of benefits to going to church and believing in God. Plus, how can anyone say that the extinction of atheists or religionists is either good or bad? Nothing is good or bad in evolution. It cares for nothing and no one. It has no direction, no goal, etc. So one result is as good as another. What is, is.

    If atheism is really so good, then I’m sure evolution will select for it in time. So atheists need not be worried. OR, should they? Perhaps evolution will select for religionists? At this point in time, that seems to be the trend. Time will tell.

  12. fn;

    In this short video, Dr. Stephen Meyer notes that the early scientists were Christians whose faith motivated them to learn more about their Creator…

    Dr. Meyer on the Christian History of Science = video
    http://www.thetruthproject.org.....000287.cfm

  13. markf: You said,
    “For example, many people have faulty programming when it comes to probability e.g. they belief that if heads comes up five times in a row then the chances of a tail next time increase so as to get 50/50 in the long run. They discover their error when they place bets on the outcome. They may never work out why they were wrong.”

    Conclusions based on probability are not quite so straightforward as you make out. The person betting on tails for the next few tosses might get lucky and have his theory “confirmed”. On the other hand, if he is unlucky, how will he decide whether his probability model is incorrect or if he just happens to have landed in the improbable (but not impossible ) tail of the distribution? Someone else might conclude that the coin is biased and bet on heads. How many tails will it take for him to revise his conclusion? Another might tell you that the whole theory of probability is bogus–every possible event either has a probability of 1 (it happened) or 0 (it didn’t), but we can’t know until after the fact. Who is right?

    The unavoidable conclusion of materialism is that all our thoughts are entirely the result of complex electro-chemical activity in the brain, ie, of the way our brains process the data input through the senses. These thoughts include any conclusions we draw regarding the nature of reality. One person’s brain might process data during childhood and conclude that Christianity is correct, but upon entering college, process more data and become an atheist. Another’s might process data during childhood and conclude that agnosticism is the appropriate stance, but later process additional data and conclude that God exists, but that no religion has all the truth. A third might be a Roman Catholic during childhood, but upon processing additional data convert to Islam (to the utter dismay of her Catholic family).

    The point is this: if the portion of the brain that draws conclusions about the nature of reality is flawed, so that those conclusions cannot be trusted, and if the brain is the one and only producer thoughts, how can the brain even know this fact (that its processing is flawed)? The answer is that it can’t. The problem cannot be solved by the input of more data–the problem isn’t in the data, it is in the way the brain processes the data.

    Thus the materialist, by the very nature of his or her beliefs about the nature of reality, cannot trust those beliefs to be true.

    So I repeat, materialism as a metaphysical position destroys itself.

  14. Bruce,

    I completely agree. Materialism is self-stultifying because if it is true, then we cannot know if it (or anything) is true. In addition, all psychological theories that do not make room for real rationality end up this way.

  15. 15

    “minds exist independently of our brains, although of course they are intimately tied to each other while we have a body.”

    *Consciousness* exists independently of the brain, not mind. The “shape” of one’s mind, i.e, the powers and modes of thinking and the experiences of consciousness, are absolutely dependent on the brain. Try damaging your brain or taking a hallucinogen and you’ll find out quickly how true this is. Or just go to sleep.

  16. 16

    kornbelt888: You said,
    “…the powers and modes of thinking and the experiences of consciousness, are absolutely dependent on the brain.”

    I submit that you do not know this.

    In Journeys Out of the Body, Robert Monroe chronicles his many out of body experiences. In some of them he visited people and places far from the location of his physical body and learned things he could not have known from the the sensory input available to his physical brain.

    In Journey of Souls, and its sequel, Destiny of Souls, Michael Newton records some of the thousands of case histories in which he used hypnosis to regress people to the period between their previous life and the current one. Although none of his subjects knew each other, their accounts of that time are remarkably consistent.

    In My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, we have the record of someone who lost most of the functioning of the left hemisphere of her brain, including memory and the power of speach, due to a stroke, yet eventually recovered those capabilities and so could relate to us what the experience was like. Through it all, her consciousness and her sense of identity never left. Here is a description of some of that experience:

    “In the wisdom of my dementia, I understood that my body was, by the magnificence of its biological design, a precious and fragile gift. It was clear to me that this body functioned like a portal through which the energy of who I am can be beamed into a three-dimensional external space. This cellular mass of my body had provided me with a marvelous TEMPORARY home. [emphasis mine]

    Now I am sure that you have explanations for all of the above consistent with your materialist world view, but you DO NOT KNOW that those explanations are correct. Your warrant for their truth stems entirely from your metaphysical assumptions (materialism).

  17. 17

    Bruce David,

    Difficult to see how you read my post and came away with a assessment that I am a “materialist” (whatever that means.) When I say that “Consciousness exists independently of the brain” that pretty much puts me outside of any popular, or otherwise, definition of “materialism.”

    Beyond that, having perused Monroe’s materials years ago, and having had OOB experiences myself, along with various altered stated that I won’t get into, I have to respectfully disagree with his (and your) conclusions.

  18. Bruce David

    You are probably right that examples based round probability reasoning are not the clearest.

    So let’s take another, simpler, example. Someone who is bad at maths might wrongly calculate the path of a projectile. They may not know why they were wrong, but when the projectile fails to fulfil their expectations they know their reasoning was faulty.

    You also need to explain how you know that a material brain is incapable of detecting its errors but somehow you know that an immaterial mind is!

  19. MF:

    Kindly cf here on how naturalism traces to it, and then here on the self-referential incoherence involved in evolutionary materialism.

    Haldane put the dilemma particularly well:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    Check . . .

    GEM of TKI

  20. F/N: we have good reason to be confident in minds working under the first principles of right reason. What we have no good reason for confidence in is the claim that a mind claimed to be reducing to networks of neurons is any more than whatever chance events and blind mechanical necessity is said to have shaped it on evolutionary materialistic premises. The issue is not whether minds work, but whether minds can be reduced to brains, and brains in turn to 500+ mn years of chance plus blind mechanical necessity.

    This last claim, for reasons already linked, reduces to absurdity by several different paths. BarryA is simply pointing out one of them above.

  21. Bruce David (13),

    Your probability example might be plausible for five coin tosses, but progressively less so the more tosses you do. Anyone who tosses a coin 500 times will rapidly realise they aren’t in a probability tail. Probability calculations – like science itself – become better with more data.

    And that is the real reason why evolution is accepted by most scientists, not “faith” as some would have it. After millions of fossils, studies of tens of thousands of species alive today, and increasingly vast amounts of molecular studies, the data supporting evolution is immense. Contrast that with field data supporting ID – essntially, there is none.

  22. 22

    Kornbelt888: I apologize. I did quite misread your post. I should have been more careful.

    My definition of mind is the sum total of our thoughts, sense impressions, knowledge, memory, and emotions, and I am certain that mind in that sense continues after the death of the physical body, although much of the personality associated with that body probably drops away.

    Given the types of experience you allude to, I would be very interested to know in exactly what way you disagree with my conclusions.

  23. 23

    Markf: You said,
    “You also need to explain how you know that a material brain is incapable of detecting its errors but somehow you know that an immaterial mind is!”

    First, a completely material brain simply cannot detect logic errors in its programming any more than a defective computer program can detect its own bugs. The brain has only its internal logic with which to operate. If that logic contains errors, it’s stuck with them. It has no other recourse.

    As to how I know that an immaterial mind can detect its own errors, well, I don’t know it. I have some beliefs about it based on my own metaphysics/spirituality. Basically what I believe is that we are each made in the image and likeness of God (in this I agree with Christianity, although I take issue with other aspect of that faith), which includes the ability to know literally everything. However, I believe that it is part of the purpose of physical existence for each of us to forget who we really are when we take a body. Then what happens is that over the course of many incarnations we slowly remember, and in the process the errors in our understanding (which arose as a byproduct of the forgetting) are gradually revealed and thus eliminated.

    In a nutshell, my belief is that each of us is actually an infallible knower, that we have each forgotten that, but that we are in the process of gradually remembering.

  24. Portishead you wrote;

    ‘And that is the real reason why evolution is accepted by most scientists, not “faith” as some would have it. After millions of fossils, studies of tens of thousands of species alive today, and increasingly vast amounts of molecular studies, the data supporting evolution is immense. Contrast that with field data supporting ID – essntially, there is none.’

    1) After millions of fossils

    “The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find’ over and over again’ not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.”
    Paleontologist, Derek V. Ager

    “A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants – instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God.”
    Paleontologist, Mark Czarnecki

    “There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration. The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.”
    Professor of paleontology – Glasgow University, T. Neville George

    “Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them.”

    David Kitts – Paleontologist

    “The long-term stasis, following a geologically abrupt origin, of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists” – Stephen Jay Gould – Harvard

    “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track. What is the picture which the fossils have given us? … The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record.” Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma 1988, Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9

    “The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be …. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin’s time … so Darwin’s problem has not been alleviated”.
    David Raup, Curator of Geology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History

    “In virtually all cases a new taxon appears for the first time in the fossil record with most definitive features already present, and practically no known stem-group forms.” Fossils and Evolution, TS Kemp – Curator of Zoological Collections, Oxford University, Oxford Uni Press, p246, 1999

    “Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.”
    George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.

    “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” -
    Niles Eldredge , “Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate,” 1996, p.95

    “Enthusiastic paleontologists in several countries have claimed pieces of this missing record, but the claims have all been disputed and in any case do not provide real connections. That brings me to the second most surprising feature of the fossil record…the abruptness of some of the major changes in the history of life.” Ager, D. – Author of “The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record”-1981

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”
    Stephen Jay Gould

    “Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined? But, as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth? But in the intermediate region, having intermediate conditions of life, why do we not now find closely-linking intermediate varieties?”
    Charles Darwin – Origin Of Species

    Ancient Fossils That Have Not Changed For Millions Of Years – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4113820

    2) increasingly vast amounts of molecular studies

    A New Model for Evolution: A Rhizome – May 2010
    Excerpt: Thus we cannot currently identify a single common ancestor for the gene repertoire of any organism.,,, Overall, it is now thought that there are no two genes that have a similar history along the phylogenic tree.,,,Therefore the representation of the evolutionary pathway as a tree leading to a single common ancestor on the basis of the analysis of one or more genes provides an incorrect representation of the stability and hierarchy of evolution. Finally, genome analyses have revealed that a very high proportion of genes are likely to be newly created,,, and that some genes are only found in one organism (named ORFans). These genes do not belong to any phylogenic tree and represent new genetic creations.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....izome.html

    Why Darwin was wrong about the (genetic) tree of life: – 21 January 2009
    Excerpt: Syvanen recently compared 2000 genes that are common to humans, frogs, sea squirts, sea urchins, fruit flies and nematodes. In theory, he should have been able to use the gene sequences to construct an evolutionary tree showing the relationships between the six animals. He failed. The problem was that different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories. This was especially true of sea-squirt genes. Conventionally, sea squirts – also known as tunicates – are lumped together with frogs, humans and other vertebrates in the phylum Chordata, but the genes were sending mixed signals. Some genes did indeed cluster within the chordates, but others indicated that tunicates should be placed with sea urchins, which aren’t chordates. “Roughly 50 per cent of its genes have one evolutionary history and 50 per cent another,” Syvanen says. .”We’ve just annihilated the tree of life. It’s not a tree any more, it’s a different topology entirely,” says Syvanen. “What would Darwin have made of that?”
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....-life.html

    As well, completely contrary to evolutionary thought, this following article and video shows that the ‘same exact genes’ in different species have actually been shown to produce ‘completely different’ body structures:

    A Primer on the Tree of Life (Part 4)
    Excerpt: “In sharks, for example, the gut develops from cells in the roof of the embryonic cavity. In lampreys, the gut develops from cells on the floor of the cavity. And in frogs, the gut develops from cells from both the roof and the floor of the embryonic cavity. This discovery—that homologous structures can be produced by different developmental pathways—contradicts what we would expect to find if all vertebrates share a common ancestor. – Explore Evolution
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    Neo-Darwinism’s Gene Homology Problem – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6P6bXA50c0

    As well, many times evolutionists will scan molecular sequences using computer algorithms to find a hypothetical Tree Of Life (TOL), but this is very problematic because of the inherent bias of researchers to look solely for evidence that accords to a preconceived evolutionary conclusion whereas ignoring all sequences that disagree with their inherent bias:,,,

    Pattern pluralism and the Tree of Life hypothesis – 2006
    Excerpt: Hierarchical structure can always be imposed on or extracted from such data sets by algorithms designed to do so, but at its base the universal TOL rests on an unproven assumption about pattern that, given what we know about process, is unlikely to be broadly true.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/7/2043.abstract

    A Primer on the Tree of Life – Casey Luskin – 2009
    Excerpt: The truth is that common ancestry is merely an assumption that governs interpretation of the data, not an undeniable conclusion, and whenever data contradicts expectations of common descent, evolutionists resort to a variety of different ad hoc rationalizations to save common descent from being falsified.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/10651

    Do Molecular Clocks Run at All? A Critique of Molecular Systematics – Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Bruno Maresca
    Abstract: Although molecular systematists may use the terminology of cladism, claiming that the reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships is based on shared derived states (synapomorphies), the latter is not the case. Rather, molecular systematics is (largely) based on the assumption, first clearly articulated by Zuckerkandl and Pauling (1962), that degree of overall similarity reflects degree of relatedness. This assumption derives from interpreting molecular similarity (or dissimilarity) between taxa in the context of a Darwinian model of continual and gradual change. Review of the history of molecular systematics and its claims in the context of molecular biology reveals that there is no basis for the “molecular assumption.”.. For historians and philosophers of science the questions that arise are how belief in the infallibility of molecular data for reconstructing evolutionary relationships emerged, and how this belief became so central …
    http://www.mitpressjournals.or.....06.1.4.357

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    thus Portishead, much contrary to you bold assertions, the truth is that the more we learn the more absurd darwinism becomes!

  25. #23 Bruce David

    First, a completely material brain simply cannot detect logic errors in its programming any more than a defective computer program can detect its own bugs. The brain has only its internal logic with which to operate. If that logic contains errors, it’s stuck with them. It has no other recourse.

    You assert this but do not prove it. I am not convinced – although Godel’s theorems have been interpreted as providing a justification for this view. But in any case it is not necessary for this to be true for such brains to be able to detect their own bugs for them to discover that they have come to false conclusions. I gave an example above. You can know you are in error without knowing why your reasoning was defective.

  26. Theist: ” How do you know your belief in NDS is not another false belief that evolution has selected for?”

    —-Markf: …”the evidence.”

    But you have begged the question. Both sides can appeal to evidence. The question is, how do you know which way to interpret the evidence if the standards for interpretation may, themselves, be false?

    —”What is selected for is the strange propensity, in the case of religion, to have a belief when there is little or no evidence.”

    You have, by using the generic term “religion, fallen into a logical error of assuming that the evidence for all religions is of the same quality.

    —”You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity.”

    You have fallen into yet another logical error by assuming that the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong, when the fact is, most people do not know what that evidence is.

    –”So unless you accept there is also strong evidence for all the other religions then for some reason a lot of people believe in something for which there is no strong evidence. This needs explaining.”

    Same error as above. Also, by virtue of your unless/then proposition, you are assuming the law of non-contradiction, even though a selection process cannot produce any such law, nor do you acknowledge any such law.

  27. #26 Stephenb

    I am only to pick up on a few of your points as we have discussed the others before.

    —”What is selected for is the strange propensity, in the case of religion, to have a belief when there is little or no evidence.”

    You have, by using the generic term “religion, fallen into a logical error of assuming that the evidence for all religions is of the same quality.

    —”You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity.”

    You have fallen into yet another logical error by assuming that the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong, when the fact is, most people do not know what that evidence is.

    –”So unless you accept there is also strong evidence for all the other religions then for some reason a lot of people believe in something for which there is no strong evidence. This needs explaining.”

    Same error as above.

    My case is:

    The majority of religious people are not Christians.

    Therefore, unless you believe that the evidence for these other religions is strong, the majority of religious people believe something for which there is no strong evidence.

    This case does not assume:

    the evidence for all religions is of the same quality

    the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong

    In fact it would hold even if the evidence for Christianity were overwhelming.

     

     

  28. Re (26): Actually, if evidence is the criteria for choosing a faith (??) then Hinduism should be the religion of choice. The evidence for miracles by Hindu gods is far stronger than that for Christian ones (though still weak by objective standards).

  29. bornagain, your gallop through quotes has plucked out mainly quotes by evolutionists. Yet they accept evolution, by definition!

  30. —markf: “My case is:

    —”The majority of religious people are not Christians.”

    —”Therefore, unless you believe that the evidence for these other religions is strong, the majority of religious people believe something for which there is no strong evidence.”

    Yes, the majority of people believe in religions for which there is no evidence. So what? That has nothing to do with the fact that a minority of people believe in a religion for which there is evidence.

    —”This case does not assume:

    —”the evidence for all religions is of the same quality.”

    Yes, it does. You just haven’t picked up on your assumptions yet.

    —”the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong.”

    The strength of the evidence for Christianity has nothing at all to do with the fact that very few people even know what the evidence is. Even at that, many people reject propositions for which there is plenty of evidence because they simply would prefer not to go where the evidence leads.

    —”In fact it would hold even if the evidence for Christianity were overwhelming.”

    No, your argument is totally disconnected as indicated above. Indeed, you would seem to qualify as one of those about whom I speak. You claim that the evidence for Christianity is not strong, yet you appear not to know what that evidence is. Don’t you think that is a bit irregular?

  31. StephenB #28

    I am glad you agree that the majority of religious people believe something for which there is no strong evidence. This is all I wanted to establish. I was making no assumptions or claims about the quality of evidence for Christianity or why most Christians believe what they do. What made you think I was?

  32. —markf: “I am glad you agree that the majority of religious people believe something for which there is no strong evidence.”

    Yes, as long as we understand that the word “something” needs to be more precisely defined. If, by “something,” you mean the existence of God in general, you would be mistaken. There is plenty of evidence for the existence of the Creator. On the other hand, you would be correct if you said that many religious people believe in irrational manifestations of God, such as the idea that God is organic with the universe [Pantheism] or that God can whimsically change his mind about morality [Islam].

    Of course, we can also say that Darwinists believe in something for which there is no evidence. The difference would be this: ALL Darwinsits embrace their world view on the basis of faith apart from reason and in the absence of evidence, while MANY religious people are guilty of the same fault.

    —”I was making no assumptions or claims about the quality of evidence for Christianity or why most Christians believe what they do. What made you think I was?”

    I was responding to this statement:

    …”the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong.”

  33. Markf & StephenB,

    There’s evidence for God that is specific to Christianity and evidence that is more general. The more general evidence points to the existence of a god of some kind while the more specific evidence shows that given the existence of a god, it is more likely than not that that god is Christ.

  34. Markf,

    Do you really believe that most people have evaluated the evidence for and against Christianity and made an informed decision about it? Isn’t it more likely that most have just not considered it very carefully?

  35. #30

    I was responding to this statement:

    …”the reason most people do not believe in Christianity is because the evidence is not strong.”

    A misunderstanding between us – I was saying that was one of things I was not assuming.

  36. #32

    Do you really believe that most people have evaluated the evidence for and against Christianity and made an informed decision about it? Isn’t it more likely that most have just not considered it very carefully?

    I agree. What did I write that gave you the opposite impression?

  37. 37

    Markf: You said (beginning by quoting me),

    “‘First, a completely material brain simply cannot detect logic errors in its programming any more than a defective computer program can detect its own bugs. The brain has only its internal logic with which to operate. If that logic contains errors, it’s stuck with them. It has no other recourse.’

    You assert this but do not prove it…But in any case it is not necessary for this to be true for such brains to be able to detect their own bugs for them to discover that they have come to false conclusions. I gave an example above. You can know you are in error without knowing why your reasoning was defective.”

    No. You don’t get it. You (according to your own metaphysics) are a machine, like a computer. You form conclusions about the nature of reality through the operation of the machine. NO conclusion you reach can be trusted, because it is the result of the internal logic of the machine, which you, the machine, have no way of determining whether or not is flawed. If you deny this, please reveal to us a method THAT DOES NOT UTILIZE THE OUTPUT OF YOUR BRAIN by which you can verify the validity of any conclusion you come to.

    Here’s what I believe is true about this: your refusal to see the truth of what I have said is the result of a deep knowing on your part that you actually are NOT a machine, that the conclusions you come to are not just the output of a machine called your brain, but have a validity that is senior to any mechanical view of reality. In other words, in your heart of hearts, you actually deny the materialism you espouse on the surface of your thinking (but you won’t admit it to yourself, much less to me).

  38. Hi markf,

    You write:

    -”I agree. What did I write that gave you the opposite impression?”

    I don’t know about Collin. But I got that impression from this statement you made from the beginning.

    -”You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity.”

    The implication being read by Christians from this statement (at least by me) is that: while we BELIEVE the evidence for our faith is strong, the fact that the majority of the world doesn’t follow our example demonstrates that we don’t actually have evidence on the level of material atheism (which is what I’m assuming you are. If I’m wrong in that my ‘b’). In the context of your statement previous:

    -”What is selected for is the strange propensity, in the case of religion, to have a belief when there is little or no evidence.”

    The picture painted is that Religions don’t have strong evidence (or evidence at all). Which is why the straight Theists on this board (and Bruce – ‘sup dude?) are responding. What I think is being ignored is that most religion (at least the three major Abrahamic faiths and their subsidiaries) share quite a bit of the historical evidence used to defend our causes.

    I submit that, as most of religion shares a similar premise (that is: a God exists, that said God has sent messengers to promote his will for this realm) that the core evidence for all are moderately firm (Christian William Lane Craig has used the Islamic based Kalam Cosmological argument on numerous occasions for example, and I’ve seen a Muslim creationist site that references Christian authors all the time). It’s when we get into what that God (or gods) want from creation that brings up the dispute between Religions.

    As to evidence for Christianity: the widely accepted historicality of Jesus’ existence, coupled with the accounts of peoples within the timephrame of his death and the 1st generations of Christians afterwards (including Josepheus, Tacitus, etc.) make a solid if not strong case for Christianity, on top of the base of theism in general. There will be disagreements from my muslim/jewish/mormon/Bahi cousins, but for my money Christianity works.

    Now, all of this is off-topic. Still, I hope I’ve been clear enough to state our/my key issue with some of your posts. As already mentioned by others, anyone can make a statement like “the evidence” and wave a hand like it’s settled. So again, as StephenB put it:

    -”The question is, how do you know which way to interpret the evidence if the standards for interpretation may, themselves, be false?”

    My two cents anyway.

    ;-P

    - Sonfaro

  39. 39

    Bornagain: That’s quite a compilation of paleontology quotes (#24). I’m impressed. In fact, I have copied your comment and saved it as a Word document.

  40. 40

    Bruce at 35

    “you actually deny the materialism you espouse on the surface”

    Quite correct. They seemingly all do. Who operates like they are matter alone? Certainly none of the evangelical materialist that appear here on UD.

  41. 41

    Hi Sonfaro. ‘Sup with you?

    On the subject of evidence, I would like to make one point, which is that even if one accepts all the evidence for the historical Jesus and the events of his life, including the resurrection, that in no way validates the Christian dogma that was developed long after those events took place by church leaders making their interpretations. Further, the events and words attributed to Jesus in the Bible must be read with the understanding that they have been twice translated–from Aramaic into Greek and thence into English, and that the meanings could have been significantly distorted by that process.

    When I watch videos of people giving evidence for Chritianity, I get the strong impression that their stance is something like, “Here is the evidence that Jesus lived, performed these miracles, died on the cross and rose from the dead. Therefore the entire body Christian belief is true.” The second sentence really doesn’t follow.

  42. Bruce, I’ve collected those quotes over the years from UD contributors. I must say I like the clarity of your response to markf at 35. Especially;

    ‘In other words, in your heart of hearts, you actually deny the materialism you espouse on the surface of your thinking (but you won’t admit it to yourself, much less to me).’

    Reminds me of this scripture;

    Romans 1:20

    20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

  43. —markf: “A misunderstanding between us – I was saying that was one of things I was not assuming.”

    OK.

    I was, however, hearkening back to your original statement, which read:

    —”You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity.”

    Clearly, that statement suggests that the strength of the arguments in favor of Christianity should be assessed, at least in part, by taking into account the number of people who happen to believe in Christianity. I was simply pointing out that this is not the case. The strength of the arguments for Christianity has nothing to do with the number of people who believe in Christianity since, as indicated, one must first know what those arguments are in order to be persuaded by them. In fact, many people are not even permitted to investigate the matter, especially in Muslim countries. And, of course, Darwinists are not the least be interested in hearing about them.

  44. —collin: “There’s evidence for God that is specific to Christianity and evidence that is more general. The more general evidence points to the existence of a god of some kind while the more specific evidence shows that given the existence of a god, it is more likely than not that that god is Christ.”

    Yes, that’s right. Also, the more general evidence for God’s existence normally precede the specific arguments for Jesus Christ.

    After the general argument is made, we can say, “now that we know that God exists, let’s line up those who claim to speak in his name and assess their credentials.”

    On the other hand, the specific arguments can be made independently of the general arguments. When we do line up the claimants, it isn’t much of a contest.

  45. @42 should read, “the more general [arguments] for God’s existence normally [precede] the specific arguments”….

  46. 46

    Thanks, Bornagain.

  47. @Bruce: Not much bruh’ ;-)

    This may be long and winding. But… ah, whatever.

    You say:

    -”On the subject of evidence, I would like to make one point, which is that even if one accepts all the evidence for the historical Jesus and the events of his life, including the resurrection, that in no way validates the Christian dogma that was developed long after those events took place by church leaders making their interpretations. Further, the events and words attributed to Jesus in the Bible must be read with the understanding that they have been twice translated–from Aramaic into Greek and thence into English, and that the meanings could have been significantly distorted by that process.”

    I agree with this in principle, I think. This is something I’d like to make clearer to my brothers and sisters in Christ as well as non-believers, as it would clear up a lot of objections to the bible and our faith if this were understood. There’s double… sometimes triple hearsay from the bible (Aramaic->Greek->Old English). What is recorded and what actually went down may be two different things (though I doubt they’d be too far different.)

    I think though, the core of the faith (ie. that Jesus was who he said he was) is somewhat validated through the historical evidence. Maybe not the miracles, but the teachings and life he lived, and the example he gave to the rest of humanity. It just makes sense to me that if we all resisted the so called ‘selfish gene’ in the way he did that life would be easier. Which is why I think Christianity (and I guess it’s cousin Bahi to an extent…but that’s a different bag of marbles) is one of the stronger faiths IMO.

    ‘Course, if I understand pantheism correctly (and I’m in no ways an expert) Jesus saying he was the son of God and his actions thusly fits anyway, as we’re all part of the mind of God – right? (please correct me if I’m wrong dude).

    Also, you say:

    -”When I watch videos of people giving evidence for Chritianity, I get the strong impression that their stance is something like, “Here is the evidence that Jesus lived, performed these miracles, died on the cross and rose from the dead. Therefore the entire body Christian belief is true.” The second sentence really doesn’t follow.”

    Again, I understand most of this, though I agree a bit less with the second statement. While the evidence for Jesus life, works, miracles, and reserection wouldn’t confrim, say, the need for catholic mass or repeating doxologies or any number of the things we do as an organized religion; I think the core beliefs shared by every denomination of Christians – Jesus was who he said he was, and that there is a God – are somewhat validated.

    I just realized I may have said that earlier above. Sorry if I’m repeating myself. Hope that makes sense though.

    - Sonfaro

  48. Sonfaro, this may be of interest;

    Defense Of The Historical Jesus From Supposed Higher Criticism Of Biblical Text And Historical Reliability – William Lane Craig
    http://www.vimeo.com/11144955

    It should be noted that I feel the Bible ‘authenticates itself’ through precisely fulfilled prophecy. Especially this prophecy since it was fulfilled within our time;

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    Bible Prophecy Fulfilled – Israel 1948 – article
    http://ezinearticles.com/?Bibl.....;id=449317

    further notes;

    The following video is downright eye-opening with its evidence for authenticity of the Bible:

    The Physical Ashen Remains Of Sodom and Gomorrah – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwTVFk1HK3Y

    The following videos have some fairly persuasive archaeological, and even geological, evidence that the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt actually did occur:

    The Exodus Case Interviews with Lennart Moller – video
    http://www.prophecyinthenews.c.....rt-moller/

    Exodus Revealed part 2 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bJ5JdBd4QU

  49. Thanks BA!

    - Sonfaro

  50. 50

    Sonfaro,

    Here is an example of where the double translation might be giving a very strong false impression of what Jesus taught:

    Samuel Dawson has a page where he addresses the use of the word “Hell” in the Old and New Testaments (http://www.tentmaker.org/artic.....nhell.html). According to him, in the twelve places in the King James version where Jesus uses the word, it was translated from the Greek, “Gehenna”, which is actually a place name that refers to a valley outside of Jerusalem where the dead were cremated. Jesus also speaks of “unquenchable fire” in a number of those same passages.

    Dawson contends that in all those passages, Jesus was actually speaking to the Jews of his day and not to future generations (us) at all. He makes the case that Jesus was making a prophesy (which was fulfilled) regarding what would happen to the residents of Jerusalem if they did not change their ways, namely that their city would be burned and they would be cast into the cremation fires of Gehenna.

    I am not a Biblical scholar, so I can’t really evaluate Dawson’s analysis of what Jesus meant, but I do think that it is enough to give one pause that what appears to us as “Hell” in the English version of the scriptures is actually the name of a physical location near Jerusalem in the Greek.

    This leads nicely into what I am referring to when I speak of the distinction between what Jesus said and did and what those who came after claim that it means. As I am sure you are aware from previous threads, the part of Christian dogma with which I take issue is the part where God is portrayed as judgmental, condemning, and punishing, which I see as a contradiction of His basic nature, ie., infinitely and unconditionally loving. I believe that this belief stems from a deeper error in Christian thought that has us separate from God and from each other. Jesus said that he was One with the Father. Well, I believe that we are all One with the Father (and thus with each other) and that that was Jesus’ real message.

    I have no problem whatsoever with your using Jesus life as a model for yourself. I support you fully in that, and if you find that your Christian faith helps you to be more of the person you want to be, then by all means, go for it.

  51. @Bruce:

    -”I have no problem whatsoever with your using Jesus life as a model for yourself. I support you fully in that, and if you find that your Christian faith helps you to be more of the person you want to be, then by all means, go for it.”

    Oh no, I figured that! I think I just went on a general tangent towards the end there. Thanks for clarifying your position though. I can see where you’re coming from (I don’t necessarily agree with you, but I understand the split we have).

    - Sonfaro

  52. and yet Bruce;

    Hell is a REAL place!

    In the New Testament, there are three Greek terms that are translated “hell.” The word hades, which appears eleven times in the Greek New Testament, is commonly seen to be compatible to the Hebrew term sheol. Minnick identifies two characteristics of the term as “the fiery destination of only the immaterial… rather than the material… portion of unredeemed men” and that which “confines the soul for only the intermediate time between physical death and final judgment… Hades holds the dead until it delivers them up to be reunited with their resurrected bodies for the Great White Throne Judgment following the Millenium.” The second term is gehenna is used twelve times in the New Testament and refers to unending punishment and the “final destiny of the lost.” The final Greek word is tartaros which is found in II Peter 2:4. The term is similar to gehenna. Minnick writes that tartaros “is the intermediate destination for some of the fallen angels between the time of their first sin and the time of their final judgment.”

    The usage of the word gehenna always refers to the everlasting torment of the lost. “The term gehenna is derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly. (The Valley) located just south of Jerusalem… was used as a burial place for criminals and for burning garbage… Its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked.” Minnick declares that gehenna is a place where the unsaved go in their bodies. Many writers indicate that the “lake of fire” is a synonym for gehenna because both point to an eternal place of torment and suffering. The words of Scripture prove the suffering of the unredeemed will endure forever:

    “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”

    “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.”

    “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

    “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

    And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    The representations given in Scripture leave no room to doubt that there is a place for the finally impenitent, where pain shall forever urge them.” As God’s people, rather than doubting His truth of eternal punishment, we must press on to tell the Good News to the lost who are perishing.

    And of course there are Near Death Testimonies;

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    I like this quote from the following video around the 2:30 min. mark:

    ‘God is neither a cosmic rapist who forces His love on people, nor a cosmic puppeteer who forces people to love Him, rather God, the very personification of love, grants us choice. So people who have lived a whole lifetime voluntarily distancing themselves from God are not in the end involuntarily dragged into His presence for all eternity, if they were heaven would not be heaven, heaven in fact would be hell.

    Studying Near Death Experiences – 4 / 8
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdE6fAGR3Ok

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand:
    Excerpt: The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of `going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:

    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living. (of note; the last part of this paper contains the full paper)
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    Greyson and Bush (1996) classified 50 Western reports of distressing NDEs into three types:
    * The most common type included the same features as the pleasurable type such as an out-of-body experience and rapid movement through a tunnel or void toward a light but the NDEr, usually because of feeling out of control of what was happening, experienced the features as frightening.
    * The second, less common type included an acute awareness of nonexistence or of being completely alone forever in an absolute void. Sometimes the person received a totally convincing message that the real world including themselves never really existed. (note* according to one preliminary study, a similar type of this NDE may be very common among the Buddhist culture of China)
    * The third and rarest type included hellish imagery such as an ugly or foreboding landscape; demonic beings; loud, annoying noises; frightening animals; and other beings in extreme distress. Only rarely have such NDErs themselves felt personally tormented.

    23 Minutes In Hell – Full Length – High Quality – Bill Wiese – video
    http://www.vimeo.com/16641462

    Former Atheist Howard Storm’s Hellish NDE – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF7AzxplsME

  53. corrected link;

    Former Atheist Howard Storm’s Hellish NDE – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_GmifF8Fkc

  54. Sonfaro, I would add to a point made by bornagain77. The strongest evidence for Jesus’ miracles in the New Testament comes not from Christians who reported them but rather from their enemies who, try as they might, could find no way to deny them. Picture the Pharisees as they try to explain away miraculous healings by attributing them to the forces of hell. Consider their duplicity as they bribe Roman guards to explain away Christ’s risen body with the ridiculous story that the apostles stole it while they were asleep–as if sleeping guards would know.

  55. @StephenB & BA77:

    Thanks guys. I mean, I believe in the miracles Jesus performed and all. So when I said this:

    -”Maybe not the miracles, but the teachings and life he lived, and the example he gave to the rest of humanity.”

    I wasn’t saying they were dubious or whatever. Just that what evidence we do have for Jesus’ miracles isn’t enough to convince some people. (Like Bruce I guess… or our guests markf or Portishead). I’m not sure how many outside-the-bible sources there are that mention Christs’ miracles, which is why I added that admission.

    To be clear though, I believe completely that Jesus was & is who he said he was, and that he did all the things he was written to have done. Solid?

    - Sonfaro

  56. 56

    I actually do believe that Jesus performed miracles. However, I do not believe that he was unique in that regard. In Autobiography of a Yogi, for example, Yogananda records a number of miracles performed by many different saints and sages in India while he was there, some of them quite spectacular. My favorite was a yogi who had the habit of not wearing any clothes. The police would periodically arrest him for indecent exposure and lock him in a cell. Every time they did this, however, he would disappear from his cell and reappear on the roof of the police station, still naked, walking back and forth. They eventually gave up and left him alone.

    The man who was my spiritual teacher, Reshad Feild, even performed one that I know of (although admittedly not of Jesus’ level). He told one of his students who was taking photos of him to note the number of the next frame, and when the pictures were developed, the frame in question showed only a blur of light where Reshad would have been in the photo, although the rest of it was normal, as were the rest of the pictures on the roll.

    Just so you know, I accept that Jesus was a being of pretty much the highest level of spiritual attainment that ever walked this earth. The difference between me and most of you is that I do not think that he was essentially unique. I believe that there have been others of equal or nearly equal attainment, for example Gautama Buddha. And more to the point, as I have said before, I believe that he came to show us by his example who and what we are (“These things and greater shall ye do…” and “Have I not said ye are gods.” and “You are made in His image and likeness.”)

    It’s the whole “only begotten son of God who died for our sins” interpretation of his life that I reject.

  57. Stephenb and others

    —”You probably think there is strong evidence for Christianity, but the majority of people do not believe in Christianity.”

    Clearly, that statement suggests that the strength of the arguments in favor of Christianity should be assessed, at least in part, by taking into account the number of people who happen to believe in Christianity.

    I was not intending to suggest that at all.  To repeat – my sole point was that the majority of religious people have beliefs that are not based on strong evidence.  Elsewhere you and Collin point out that all religious people believe in some kind of deity, and the Abrahamic religions share a considerable amount of  beliefs and evidence.  Clearly I disagree about the quality of this evidence, but we do agree that there is no strong evidence for some of the particulars of Islam, Buddhism, etc.  Yet these billions of people believe these particulars and this is not trivial – in many cases it dominates their lives – these particulars determine how they worship, what they believe to be right and wrong, who they marry what they eat, it is the cause of wars and terrorism. In almost any human society – even one which has had no contact with the rest of humanity for thousands of years – something similar happens. Even among Christians there are different beliefs about particulars with similar effects.  And as Collin says quite rightly in #32 most Christians have not evaluated the evidence for their religion and yet it dominates their lives. This is an extraordinary fact of human psychology which merits some explanation.  It is quite different in nature from a scientific belief which may or may not be justified or wrong.  Many people used to believe the world was flat because they misinterpreted the evidence – but it was a standard reaction to evidence or to people who purported to have evaluated the evidence.

  58. #35 Bruce David

    No. You don’t get it. You (according to your own metaphysics) are a machine, like a computer. You form conclusions about the nature of reality through the operation of the machine. NO conclusion you reach can be trusted, because it is the result of the internal logic of the machine, which you, the machine, have no way of determining whether or not is flawed. If you deny this, please reveal to us a method THAT DOES NOT UTILIZE THE OUTPUT OF YOUR BRAIN by which you can verify the validity of any conclusion you come to.

    I don’t understand what you are asking for.  Obviously I belief that a conclusion is the output of my brain – so to that extent  any act of verification will use an output of my brain because that is what I am verifying.  However, the method of verification is simply to observe whether the conclusion is true.

    Here’s what I believe is true about this: your refusal to see the truth of what I have said is the result of a deep knowing on your part that you actually are NOT a machine, that the conclusions you come to are not just the output of a machine called your brain, but have a validity that is senior to any mechanical view of reality. In other words, in your heart of hearts, you actually deny the materialism you espouse on the surface of your thinking (but you won’t admit it to yourself, much less to me).

    And I believe that your obscure and theoretical arguments are a smokescreen to hide your deep knowledge that materialism is true but you find the reality too frightening to face.  So we are at a bit of an impasse here aren’t we?

  59. 59

    Markf: You said,

    “However, the method of verification is simply to observe whether the conclusion is true.”

    Your brain concludes that this will bring you some kind of truth about reality. But, given that your brain’s internal processing may be flawed, you have no way of knowing whether this is correct or not.

    And what observation will confirm the truth of the conclusion that the world is entirely material, pray tell?

  60. Bruce David re markf;

    And what observation will confirm the truth of the conclusion that the world is entirely material, pray tell?

    Please do pray tell markf!

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    The falsification for local realism (materialism) was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    Shoot markf; pushing entanglement even further, researchers were able to teleport not only photons but an entire atom, thus conclusively proving, by the ‘repeatable observation’ you pay such great lip service to, that ‘material reality’ reduces to a ‘transcendent information’ basis, just as predicted 2000 years ago by Christian Theism!

    John 1:1
    ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original (that was destroyed),,,
    http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo.....ammeup.asp

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    Quantum Teleportation – IBM Research Page
    Excerpt: “it would destroy the original (photon) in the process,,”
    http://www.research.ibm.com/qu.....portation/

    Unconditional Quantum Teleportation – abstract
    Excerpt: This is the first realization of unconditional quantum teleportation where every state entering the device is actually teleported,,
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/.....2/5389/706

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

  61. This may be interesting with regard to what the human brain is capable of:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine......f-science/

  62. —markf: “And as Collin says quite rightly in #32 most Christians have not evaluated the evidence for their religion and yet it dominates their lives. This is an extraordinary fact of human psychology which merits some explanation. It is quite different in nature from a scientific belief which may or may not be justified or wrong. Many people used to believe the world was flat because they misinterpreted the evidence – but it was a standard reaction to evidence or to people who purported to have evaluated the evidence.”

    Most people believe what they believe for reasons that have little to do with any kind of rational justification. Sometimes it’s the environment. When Ghandi was asked why he was a Hindu, he responded, “Because I was born in India, of course.”

    Quite often, it is just a case of personal preference. Immanent, new-age style religions and Darwinism appeal to some people because it provides them with an excuse to ignore the natural moral law, become a law unto oneself, and live a libertine lifestyle. This, of course, leads to slavery, which, in turn, leads to a search for justifying the slavish lifestyle. Either a man shapes his behavior in accord with a philosophy of life or he will find a philosophy of life that justifies his behavior.

    The problem with the latter group is that they want everyone else to share in their misery. Having become a slave to their passions, they embrace an ongoing revolutionary spirit and seek to disrupt the rational and social order.

    Then again, there is a small percentage of people who simply want to know the truth whatever the cost. We can define the current culture war as a battle between those who seek truth, embrace reason, and follow evidence where it leads, and those who hate truth, militate against reason, and twist evidence to fit their biases and prejudices.

  63. 63

    StephenB: “Immanent, new-age style religions and Darwinism appeal to some people because it provides them with an excuse to ignore the natural moral law, become a law unto oneself, and live a libertine lifestyle.”

    And just which natural moral law are you referring to? The Catholic one, which holds that divorce or having sex with a contraceptive is a sin and that you can sin in your thoughts without actually doing anything? Or a fundamentalist Christian one, which holds that dancing and listening to non-liturgical music are sins? Or perhaps a more liberal Christian view that it’s ok to participate in a gay relationship as long as it’s permanent and loving? Or maybe its the one you get from a literal reading of the old testament, where a woman who grabs the genitals of a man attacking her husband “shall be taken to the city wall and stoned”? Just where do you get this “natural moral law” that you so indignantly suppose applies to all of us?

    Just for the record, my reason for believing in what you would undoubtedly characterize as a “new-age style religion” is because I prefer to believe in a God who actually loves me. Anyone who believes in a God who would create a Hell believes in a God who doesn’t love.

    I know many of you Christians cling to the idea that somehow a loving God could actually create a Hell and put people in it, but nothing any of you have said comes close to demonstrating that a God who is unconditionally loving yet who imposes eternal, horrible punishment is a logically consistent being.

  64. —Bruce David: “And just which natural moral law are you referring to?”

    Begin by Googling “Illustrations of the Tao.”

    As I said, “Immanent, new-age style religions and Darwinism appeal to some people because it provides them with an excuse to ignore the natural moral law…”

    As an immanent-style pantheist, you confirmed the point by investing three paragraphs to question the existence of a natural moral law. Is it your contention that that you are refuting my point by confirming my point?

  65. Hey Bruce,

    Gotta say man, this is a head-scratcher. You say:

    -”Anyone who believes in a God who would create a Hell believes in a God who doesn’t love.”

    As far as I know, at least the way I was taught, Hell isn’t really a place God crafted together, it exists in contrast to Paradise/peace. It’s not like God built Hell, so much as it’s the natrual opposite of the creation of Heaven.

    What I mean is, when God created light, then instantly darkness existed. So too when he created a place for his children to go, a realm where those who rejected him was created simulntaneously. It isn’t Gods desire for people to go there. Does that make sense?

    As an example (and maybe this doesn’t work so well but): My parents build a clay shelter by digging mud from the ground – forming a pit. Then they tell me not to jump into the pit and come inside the shelter. If I jump, I can’t blame my parents for telling me not to jump. Nor can I blame them for the end of my journey. They gave me fair warning.

    Does that make sense dude?

    Again, I can sorta see your argument, but I don’t think it’s as compelling as you think it is. My opinion though.

    - Sonfaro

  66. 66

    StephenB: “Is it your contention that that you are refuting my point by confirming my point?”

    Ok, I’ll spell it out for you. If there really were a “natural moral law”, every sect of every religion would not have its own version. Not only is there no agreement between sects about what the moral law actually is, but what is regarded as moral changes over time even for the same sect. For example, for many Christian sects 100 years ago, natural moral law held that a woman should love, honor, and obey her husband. There are only a few which today would hold that obedience to her husband is included within a woman’s duties.

    In other words, my contention is that there really is no such thing as “natural moral law.” It is an illusion, another demonstration of the fact that reason by itself is powerless to arrive at truth.

  67. @ Bruce,

    Not sure if the example you gave would be a ‘natural’ moral law. For my money, when I think moral laws that are self evident, I’d suggest something along the lines of the laws posted in the Ten Commandmants. Don’t murder, stealings bad, respect your parents, etc.

    The laws that govern marriage, while important, aren’t necessarily ‘natural’ moral laws. At least, I don’t think so. Could somebody correct me if I’m wrong?

    - Sonfaro

  68. 68

    Sonfaro: I really, really appreciate the truly respectful way you offer alternatives. It’s quite refreshing.

    In answer to your question, first, I don’t believe that anyone rejects God after leaving their physical bodies (what we know as dying). But even if they did, God could easily have created a place for them that did not entail eternal fiery torment, and He could easily have set it up for them to continue to have the opportunity to change their minds about their rejection. A truly unconditionally loving God would not have any stake in whether anyone rejected Him or not. He would simply continue to love and support them, and help them to return to Him, whenever they chose.

    The Christian view of Hell, as I understand it and which has been described to me by others in these threads, is a place of punishment, not just a place for people to go who choose not to be with God. And it is a very, very severe punishment, way beyond any reasonable idea of justice, since it is infinite, whereas no sin committed during a finite lifetime could possibly be infinite.

  69. @Bruce

    -”Sonfaro: I really, really appreciate the truly respectful way you offer alternatives. It’s quite refreshing.”

    It’s what havin’ a great family will do for ya’. ;-)

    - “In answer to your question, first, I don’t believe that anyone rejects God after leaving their physical bodies (what we know as dying).”

    Nor do I. However, how we live in life right now will affect what happens in the hereafter. Atleast as far as I know.

    -”But even if they did, God could easily have created a place for them that did not entail eternal fiery torment, and He could easily have set it up for them to continue to have the opportunity to change their minds about their rejection.”

    Thing about this though, is that some would never change their minds if they had anything to say about it (guys like Dawkins for example). They’d happily go on being disrespectful, and change wouldn’t likely come without a divine hand, which is something God doesn’t do often (if I were a betting man, I’d say because he doesn’t enjoy interfering with our free will).

    Also, if I remember correctly, the fire and brimstone were conjectures from Paul (and maybe John during his revelation). Two guys who’d never been. I think it’s likely they got this from beliefs of the day – Greek/Roman Hades.

    Jesus, a guy who eventually went, described it simply as a place of great shame. No fire and brimstone was mentioned. Only “Weeping and gnashing of teeth”. Which I believe was the Jewish expression of shame. Having lived your whole life against God, to wind up realizing that he’s been there and now he’d moved on. Not because he wanted it. But because you (the sinner) did.

    -”A truly unconditionally loving God would not have any stake in whether anyone rejected Him or not.”

    Not sure about that. I’d say my mother will love me unconditionally, but if I showed her disrespect, contempt, and utter hatred she wouldn’t automatically let me in her house. Not unless I’d changed – truely changed. It’s not because she no longer loves me, but the idea of her son hating her would drive her to despair.

    Now I don’t know if God can feel despair. But I’m sure he wouldn’t want someone who hated him to the last to show up at his door and change their mind at the last second. We all have a time.

    For me, God’s love is unconditional, but his mercy is. God is (again, as far as I know) at the end of the day a God of right and wrong. A just God. And if rules have been unapologetically broken then the punishment is delivered.

    - “He would simply continue to love and support them, and help them to return to Him, whenever they chose.”

    Because we have a set limit to our lives here, we don’t have long to do the chosing. Once our physical lives are shot that’s it, unless he’s got a suprise waiting for us when we get there.

    -”The Christian view of Hell, as I understand it and which has been described to me by others in these threads, is a place of punishment, not just a place for people to go who choose not to be with God. And it is a very, very severe punishment, way beyond any reasonable idea of justice, since it is infinite, whereas no sin committed during a finite lifetime could possibly be infinite.”

    There are actually several differing Christian views on Hell, as there are several differing views of Christianity. There’s the one I outlined above, and there’s the one’s you’ve heard. There are also some where “Hell is empty”, and that it it mearly a warning God gives to motivate people to do the right thing. And likely others.

    Again, it is my opinion, and the opinion of my household, that what we do in this life echo endlessly throughout the realms currently unaccessible to us.

    Again, my two cents on the matter. Hope that helps.

    - Sonfaro

  70. Ack! Slightly incorrect I think.

    -”Jesus, a guy who eventually went, described it simply as a place of great shame. No fire and brimstone was mentioned. Only “Weeping and gnashing of teeth”.”

    There are indeed spots where Jesus mentioned fire when describing hell, but this gets back to the whole Gehenna/translation issue.

    Still, as far as I know, it’s a place of great shame. (Could be wrong though).

    - Sonfaro

  71. —Bruce: “Ok, I’ll spell it out for you. If there really were a “natural moral law”, every sect of every religion would not have its own version.”

    The natural moral law, at its most basic, is obvious to all rational people, just as the law of non-contradiction is obvious to all rational people. Everyone who has reached the age of reason, whose mind is in tact, and who is not burdened with some kind of emotional problem, knows that humans should not lie, cheat, steal, torture, or commit murder. There are many, however, who will not acknowledge the point because they would prefer not to.

    —”For example, for many Christian sects 100 years ago, natural moral law held that a woman should love, honor, and obey her husband. There are only a few which today would hold that obedience to her husband is included within a woman’s duties.”

    You are thinking varying interpretions of Scripture, which is not the same thing. Your comment suggests that you did not Google “Illustrations of the Tao,” which provides a good description of the natural moral law. Clearly, that description was not sectarian.

    I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I simply stated the obvious and you confirmed the point. Immanentists [of which you are one] and Darwinsits [of which mark is one] and Islamists, for that matter, will typically question or disavow the existence of natural moral law. True to form, you disavowed the natural moral law.

    Hearkening back to the original context, I was simply answering a question from another blogger who asked why so many people embrace religious concepts with little or no evidence to support their choice. For the most part, they embrace what they embrace for reasons of preference or convenience. The number of people who come to their world view by studying reasoned arguments and analyzing evidence is, sorry to say, quite low.

  72. 72

    StephenB:

    Ok, if you limit the scope of “natural moral law” to lying, cheating, stealing, torturing and committing murder then I won’t argue with you too much, although I do have two comments to make about it.

    1. I do not think what you call “natural moral law” is arrived at through reason. Philosophers through the ages have tried to derive moral law through reason and in my opinion have always failed. I believe that it is simply part of our being created in His image and likeness that each of us has certain standards of behavior built into us, which we sometimes allow our wants and needs to override. So I would not call it moral law at all, but rather our essential nature. Further, I believe that all such standards of behavior are based on just two aspects of our natures–1) love, and 2) a high regard for truth. To my way of thinking, the way to determine the appropriate action in any given circumstances in which one might find oneself is simply to answer the question, “What would love do now?”

    2. Notice that there is nothing about sex in your list. This is one area (and it includes such diverse topics, as homosexuality, promiscuity, and contraception) where Christians (and most other religions too) have strong opinions. In my view, there is nothing that human beings naturally feel is immoral about sexual activity UNLESS THEY ARE CONDITIONED TO THINK SO, which they almost always are.

  73. Bruce David, do you still deny the existence of evil and still claim that ‘everything is part of God’? If so you cannot maintain an absolute standard for even the minimalist concession you made to ‘essential nature’.

  74. 74

    Sonfaro,

    See my last post to StephenB (#72) for my views on “natural moral law”.

    The only comment I have regarding your last post on the nature of Hell (#69) is that there seems to be an underlying assumption, which I disagree with, that in this life we seal our fate, so to speak, that this is our one and only chance to “get it right”, and if we fail, we are doomed for all eternity. I submit that such a set-up would also contradict an unconditionally loving God. I believe first that this life is just one of many, and second, that our spiritual development continues unabated (although in somewhat different form) during the time we spend between lives. I believe that God loves us enough that there is ALWAYS another chance. And another. And another. Forever. World without end, amen.

  75. 75

    Bornagain: “Bruce David, do you still deny the existence of evil and still claim that ‘everything is part of God’? If so you cannot maintain an absolute standard for even the minimalist concession you made to ‘essential nature’.”

    I don’t maintain that there is an absolute standard at all. I maintain that we each of us have built into us by God an essential nature which includes love and a high regard for truth. I believe that when we are tuned to that essential nature instead of our more surface wants and needs, we will act in accordance with it. When we do, it may appear to some that we are acting according to some absolute standard, but in fact we are merely paying attention to our true natures which are in the image and likeness of God.

  76. @Bruce,

    “The only comment I have regarding your last post on the nature of Hell (#69) is that there seems to be an underlying assumption, which I disagree with, that in this life we seal our fate, so to speak, that this is our one and only chance to “get it right”, and if we fail, we are doomed for all eternity. I submit that such a set-up would also contradict an unconditionally loving God.”

    Again, I can see why one would think this, but I’m not sure it’s as solid as you believe it to be. One can love unconditionally and still allow a person to choose their own fate. As I said, it’s my belief that:

    A.) God only medles with your free will when he absolutely must.

    B.) Hell is simply a true existence without God, which is what those who would be going desire in this life anyway. The fire & brimstone is just special effects. -_-’

    Personally, while it’s possible that we get more chances through each cycle, the only one we know for sure that’s garunteed is this one right now. So from a Christian point of view (at least mine), it becomes crucial to try to alter the lives of all that we can before the timer is up. Because “tomorrow isn’t ever promised.”

    Also, you write to StephenB:

    -”1. I do not think what you call “natural moral law” is arrived at through reason. Philosophers through the ages have tried to derive moral law through reason and in my opinion have always failed. I believe that it is simply part of our being created in His image and likeness that each of us has certain standards of behavior built into us, which we sometimes allow our wants and needs to override. So I would not call it moral law at all, but rather our essential nature.”

    I submit then that we’re all arguing/discussing semantics. What we call ‘moral law’ is ‘essential nature’ to you. It doesn’t really change what the thing is. To-MAY-to to-MAH-to.

    Could be wrong though.

    Also:

    -”In my view, there is nothing that human beings naturally feel is immoral about sexual activity UNLESS THEY ARE CONDITIONED TO THINK SO, which they almost always are.”

    Err… gotta say dude, I can name some things I’d HOPE we’d all be naturally uncomfortable with. :-(

    - Sonfaro

  77. Bruce David right now we live in a temporal reality and when we die we enter (are fully born into) a eternal (timeless) reality;

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    The ‘eternal’ reality is corroborated by the science of Special relativity;

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as an observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences:

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    As well, it can be forcefully argued, with much corroborating evidence, that we are, in reality, higher dimensional ‘spiritual’ beings inhabiting physical 3-Dimensional bodies;

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-369806

    etc.. etc..

    The point being Bruce David, is that the Christian worldview, of our decisions in this temporal reality having consequences for our eternal destiny, finds compelling plausibility in reality itself. Whereas your position is born primarily from your dislike of the possibility of eternal damnation (eternal separation from God) Thus I hope you can see how reality itself testifies to the gravity of the situation that rests on our decisions in this world! The exception that you would so love to make of nobody going to hell is not born out. The one NDE case I know of that offers even a glimpse to your ‘God will not separate anyone from himself’ position is this one;

    Howard Storm (Part 1 of 5) former atheist – near death experience (NDE) conversion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_GmifF8Fkc

    but even in Howard Storm’s case Bruce, it was only the faith that Howard had put in Christ as a child that ultimately saved him from hell!!! Bruce I know hell is a very horrid thought, and I completely understand why you would so disparately want to find some kind of the loop hole, but, from the best evidence I can gather, that is just wishful thinking on your part.,,,

    fn;

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  78. Sonfaro: You said, “I submit then that we’re all arguing/discussing semantics. What we call ‘moral law’ is ‘essential nature’ to you. It doesn’t really change what the thing is. To-MAY-to to-MAH-to.”

    With all due respect, I think there is a huge difference. If it’s moral law, then it is imposed from outside, and when we violate it, the appropriate response is punishment. If it’s our essential nature, then when we act in ways that are in conflict with it, the appropriate response is to remind us that we forgot who we really are.

  79. @Bruce:

    Ah… Then I see the dilema we’re having. Thank you for clarifying.

    - Sonfaro

  80. Bornagain, “Bruce I know hell is a very horrid thought, and I completely understand why you would so disparately want to find some kind of the loop hole, but, from the best evidence I can gather, that is just wishful thinking on your part.,,,”

    You really don’t appear to understand what I have been saying over and over. It’s not that I want to find some kind of loophole. It’s that the notion of Hell contradicts God’s loving nature. It’s really that simple–it is LOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for an unconditionally loving God to create a Hell. All the evidence in the world cannot make something true that is logically impossible.

  81. Ah Sonfaro, you’re great. You actually can allow me to have a difference of opinion (a difference of belief?) and still honor me as a person. Thanks.

  82. And Bruce, if someone rejects the unconditional love of God that was poured into Christ in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins, then there is nothing left for the unconditional love to do to save us from the fallen/separated state from God when we die!!! You see Bruce sin CANNOT dwell in the presence of a infinitely holy God!

  83. @Bruce,

    “Ah Sonfaro, you’re great. You actually can allow me to have a difference of opinion (a difference of belief?) and still honor me as a person. Thanks.”

    No problem. “Do unto others-” and all.

    ;-)

    - Sonfaro

  84. Bornagain:

    The characteristic of unconditional love is that it is, well, without conditions. If someone rejects it, it still continues to love all the same. And if you love someone unconditionally, you don’t cast them into Hell, even if they did reject your love. And if they continue to separate themselves from you, you still continue to love them and wait patiently for their return (which, if they are made in the image and likeness of God, they will).

  85. Bruce sin CANNOT dwell in the presence of a infinitely holy God! You are simply cherry picking the attributes of God that you find comforting and ignoring the rest. Besides infinitely loving, which He demonstrated in that he died for us while we were yet sinners so as to save us from separation from Him, God IS ALSO infinitely just. But in your ‘molded’ view of your god you have simply remade your god to one that renders justice impossible. In fact you have stated that ‘everything is god’, but clearly sin is not God, and thus you have simply redefined your worldview in which sin does not exist. Yet in doing so you have completely divorced yourself from reality. In your ‘absolute’ view, the holocaust was not evil, and Mother Teressa’s orphanages were not good. The were both just different aspects of your god, which is all good in your view. The incoherence is shocking, and is a crystal clear example, right alongside neo-Darwinists, of the lengths people will go to to delude themselves into thinking they are being objective, when really it is in reality just wishful thinking for a preferred philosophical worldview.

  86. —Bruce: Ok, if you limit the scope of “natural moral law” to lying, cheating, stealing, torturing and committing murder then I won’t argue with you too much, although I do have two comments to make about it.”

    OK.

    —”I believe that it is simply part of our being created in His image and likeness that each of us has certain standards of behavior built into us, which we sometimes allow our wants and needs to override. So I would not call it moral law at all, but rather our essential nature.”

    Let me tweak that just a little bit. Because we have a human nature, we discover that there is a morality appropriate to that nature. That is why they call it a “natural” moral law, it pertains to our nature. For that same reason, we have “natural rights,” because they, too, are appropriate to our nature. The two are related: Because we have inherent dignity, we deserve to be free; because we are bound by the natural moral law, that freedom can be exercised responsiblty.

    –”Further, I believe that all such standards of behavior are based on just two aspects of our natures–1) love, and 2) a high regard for truth. To my way of thinking, the way to determine the appropriate action in any given circumstances in which one might find oneself is simply to answer the question, “What would love do now?”

    If your standard is informed by the natural moral law, then it is a good one. Someone once expressed it this way: In any given situation we can ask ourselves, “What is the most loving thing I can do.” That sounds almost exactly like yours.

    However, and this is key, that principle will not suffice to inform us about what a loving act would be like. For that we need the natural moral law and reason. Even more important that what we do is why we do it. If I help an old lady across the street because I am trying to impress someone, I have just transformed a potentially moral act into an immoral act. Without the aid of reason, we would never know this.

    —”Notice that there is nothing about sex in your list.”

    That is only because I didn’t include them in my abbreviated list. In keeping with that point, I encourage you to visit the website I provided so you could get a better feel for what we mean by the natural moral law. You might be surprised to find out how much you agree with it.

    —”This is one area (and it includes such diverse topics, as homosexuality, promiscuity, and contraception) where Christians (and most other religions too) have strong opinions. In my view, there is nothing that human beings naturally feel is immoral about sexual activity UNLESS THEY ARE CONDITIONED TO THINK SO, which they almost always are.”

    Well, no. We have plenty of natural feelings that we ought not to honor and plenty of itches that we should not scratch. Adultery is a great offense. Using another person or even looking at them as a mere sexual object is an offense. Indeed, once one becomes familiar with the natural moral law in its most basic sense, we soon become familiar with higher levels of morality. That, by the way, is why the Old Testament [The Ten Commandments] provides only the basics, while the New Testament [Sermon On the Mount] provides more advanced principles.

    One cannot advance to the level of loving his enemies [Christian morality] without first having resolved not to murder them [natural moral law].

  87. Bornagain: you said, “…sin CANNOT dwell in the presence of a infinitely holy God”.

    That is easy to say in the abstract, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the concept of sin becomes decidedly fuzzy. Is it limited only to the list that StephenB sent me earlier (lying, cheating, stealing, torturing and committing murder)? If so, then what about all the other things that Christians normally think of as sins? If not, what exactly constitutes sin? Is it sin for two single people to sleep together? How about if they are the same sex? What if I use contraceptives when I make love to my wife? What if I sin in thought but not in deed? What if I go out dancing and listen to rock and roll? What if a woman wears a dress that shows her knees? etc, etc, etc. What exactly constitutes that which cannot exist in the presence of God? How do I know which list compiled by which Christian sect is the correct one? How the Hell do YOU know, for that matter?

    I have explained to you my position, that what we label sin is solely for the purpose of allowing us to experience that we are good, and thus in God’s eyes, it is all good because it all contributes to the purpose of physical reality (which is merely a dream and an illusion anyway). The fact that you cannot get past your certainty that sin is real (and bad) reminds me of the Darwinists who cannot see how ID could be true because they simply cannot imagine a non-material world. (See, two can play that game.)

  88. —Bruce: “That is easy to say in the abstract, but when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the concept of sin becomes decidedly fuzzy. Is it limited only to the list that StephenB sent me earlier (lying, cheating, stealing, torturing and committing murder)?”

    I did not say that Christian morality is limited to those things, or even come close to saying that. Please reread my comments @86—carefully!

  89. StephenB:

    See my response to Sonfaro above (#78) for my view on the difference between “moral law” and “essential nature”.

    As for adultery, I believe that what makes it in conflict with our essential nature is that it constitutes a broken promise (and usually involves lying as well), unless it doesn’t. I believe that it is entirely possible for two people to choose to experiment with a sexually open marriage in a given lifetime and not be in conflict with their essential natures, as long as both freely choose it and there is no dishonesty or manipulation involved.

    Using another person or relating to them as an object I agree is also in violation of our essential nature, but that will be true whether or not the context is sexual.

  90. —Bruce: “As for adultery, I believe that what makes it in conflict with our essential nature is that it constitutes a broken promise (and usually involves lying as well), unless it doesn’t.”

    So, now you are saying that a broken promise violates the same natural moral law that you once declared didn’t exist?

    —”Using another person or relating to them as an object I agree is also in violation of our essential nature, but that will be true whether or not the context is sexual.”

    Did I say that treating someone as an object in a non-sexual way was not a problem? No, I said that treating someone as a sexual object or thinking of them that way is a problem, which you now seem to acknowledge, and which contradicts your earlier position [”In my view, there is nothing that human beings naturally feel is immoral about sexual activity UNLESS THEY ARE CONDITIONED TO THINK SO,].

    I really think you should take time out to visit the website that I recommended so that you can become familiar with the subject matter that we are discussing.

  91. 91

    StephenB: Please read my post to Sonfaro (#78) for what I see as the distinction between natural law and our essential nature. It’s a very big difference in my eyes, and I have not contradicted myself.

    As far as treating someone as a sexual object goes, my point is that the sexual aspect has nothing to do with whether or not it conflicts with our basic nature. It is treating the person as an object that is the problem. If I treat a store clerk as a sales person object instead of a person I have done essentially the same thing.

  92. 92

    StephenB: I should have said “natural moral law” in the previous post. It’s the conjunction of “moral” and “law” that is crucial for me. What I reject is the notion that God has laid down moral laws that we are required to follow, on pain of eternal damnation if we don’t. When I use the term “essential nature”, I mean that we are made of love and a high regard for truth, so that when we act in accordance with those qualities, we are not being “moral”, we are simply being true to our own nature. (Which by the way is also God’s nature. As I keep pointing out, we are made in His image and likeness.).

  93. Bruce David you wrote;

    ‘What I reject is the notion that God has laid down moral laws that we are required to follow, on pain of eternal damnation if we don’t.’

    That is exactly the point; no one is perfect in keeping God’s moral law, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).,, and yet “,,,the wages of sin is death”,,, So we are in quite a dilemma!!!, though some may do more ‘moral works’ than the next guy, they still fall short of the perfection needed to meet the perfect justice of God!,,, thus,, In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “ . . . ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . . .’ ”

    ,,,Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior.

    ,,,Though not letting us off the hook for morality, it is only through our acceptance of Christ that God’s perfect justice is satisfied, our works will NEVER be good enough. i.e. there is ONLY one primary requirement for ‘going to heaven’, acceptance of what Christ has done on our behalf!

  94. StephenB, since you touched on it, I think you might enjoy towards the end of this short video clip, where David Barton speaks of ‘morality beginning with our thoughts’;

    Removal Of Prayer From School – The Devastating Effect – Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6063727/

  95. Bornagain:

    So this, then, is the way God set it up:

    He laid down this moral law, which we all must follow to avoid going to Hell. However, every sect of every religion has a different idea of what that law is exactly, which basically means that it is impossible to know precisely what we must do to avoid going to Hell. Furthermore, God created us imperfect beings, so that even if we knew exactly what the law was, we would still be unable to follow it completely, so we are still going to Hell.

    Then, 2000 years ago, God relented and sent His son to earth to suffer for our sins so we don’t have to, but there is a catch: you have to “believe on him”. Otherwise, you’re still going to Hell, which for all practical purposes puts salvation out of the reach of the vast majority of people born into Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or atheist (or indeed any non-Christian) cultures.

    And you call this an unconditionally loving God? I’ll stick with Conversations with God, thank you very much. At least it’s logically consistent.

  96. Bruce, and your gripe is exactly what??? You are mad at God for being perfect and you/us being imperfect??? And that only God could pay the price of perfection required to redeem fallen man to a right relationship with him??? You are mad that your works or money will never be enough to earn the priceless gift of eternity with God??? You are mad that God had to clearly demonstrate this obvious point through Christ??? This is weird, on the one hand you say God is unconditionally loving and could forgive all sins (even though, when its convenient for you, you don’t admit that sin even really exists), and yet when I show you that the unconditionally loving God did make a way to forgive all sins, all of the sudden this is ‘not good enough’ for you??? And now you would rather treasure the blatant fallacies in ‘Conversations with God’ than gratefully accept the priceless gift God has offered you, and all men, through Christ??? Bruce clearly you are embracing a worldview that is completely blind to consequences, and is thus divorced from reality! Myself, I choose to follow the one who defeated death and tells me exactly like it is, rather than follow one who will tell me anything I want to hear just so as to comfort my ‘itching ears’ that find the ‘hard’ truth offensive!

    Shroud of Turin in 3-D – The Holographic Experience
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5833152/

    Revelation Song (song by Kari Jobe)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahhg1LFGyPA

  97. —Bruce………….” and I have not contradicted myself.”

    On the one hand, you claim that the natural moral law doesn’t exist. On the other hand, you describe its limitations, boundaries and conditional aspects as if it did exist. That is a contradiction. On the one hand, you declare that God created us in his image. On the other hand, you declare that God is, himself, the creation, which would mean that He cannot also be the Creator. That is a contradiction.

    —-”In my view, there is nothing that human beings naturally feel is immoral about sexual activity UNLESS THEY ARE CONDITIONED TO THINK SO,].

    So, you are OK with ten-year-old children having “natural” sex on the school bus? So, you are OK with internet pornography? So you are OK with pornographic addiction?

    —“What I reject is the notion that God has laid down moral laws that we are required to follow, on pain of eternal damnation if we don’t.”

    That’s not surprising. Having created your own morality, it would follow that you would fashion an imaginary God that would approve of your morality. Indeed, this whole discussion started when I argued that Darwinists and pantheists reject the natural moral law and try to create their own morality so that they can become a law unto themselves. You objected to those comments, but as as your ongoing comments indicate, my original characterization aptly describes your philosophy of life.

    And, dare I mention it, you have repeatedly failed to read “Illustrations of the Tao,” which means that you have not yet even become acquainted with the subject that you are trying to refute.

  98. 98

    Bornagain:

    I’m not mad. The God I believe in loves me unconditionally (that means no matter what I do), is with me always and in all ways, will never punish me, indeed IS me (since He/She/It is All That Is). What in the world is there to be mad about?

    I am merely pointing out that the God you believe in is self-contradictory (for the hundredth time, it seems, since you never get it).

    StephenB:

    “On the one hand, you claim that the natural moral law doesn’t exist. On the other hand, you describe its limitations, boundaries and conditional aspects as if it did exist.”

    You continually try to make what I say into a contradictory straw man that you can then tear down. It doesn’t work. When I talk about acting in ways that are consistent with our essential nature, I am not describing natural moral law. I have made the distinction between my view of moral law and our essential nature quite clear: (one more time) moral law is imposed from outside, and requires punishment to enforce it, whereas acting out of harmony with our essential nature merely implies that we need a reminder that we have forgotten who we really are. Punishment is never an appropriate response when someone acts in ways that are inconsistent with their essential nature. (Consequences can be, however, depending on the situation.)

    “I argued that Darwinists and pantheists reject the natural moral law and try to create their own morality so that they can become a law unto themselves. You objected to those comments, but as as your ongoing comments indicate, my original characterization aptly describes your philosophy of life.”

    So now you understand what makes me tick, huh? Are you psychic, then? I have explained my reasons for believing the way I do a number of times. Not the least of my reasons is my requirement that the God I believe in not be a contradiction in terms. Silly me. Beyond that, the understanding of reality that Conversations with God evokes in me is at once breathtaking and crystal clear. It just makes so much sense!

  99. Bruce David, you claim you are not ‘mad’ but then state,,,

    The God I believe in,,, indeed IS me

    You don’t mind if I run a little test to see if you are God would you??? How about you come over to my place and walk on the Mississippi River so as to calm my doubts of your divinity???

    Bruce you are much ‘madder’ than you realize! :)

  100. 100

    Bornagain:

    God is also you and the chair you’re sitting in and the rocks in your garden and your cat, if you have one. You know I’m a pantheist. Why are you trying to score cheap points?

    The Sufis have a saying, “Everywhere you look, there is the face of God.”

  101. —Bruce: “You continually try to make what I say into a contradictory straw man that you can then tear down. It doesn’t work.”

    Doesn’t work? You say that God created us in his image, but you also say, in effect, that God is the image that was created. If you cannot see the contradiction there, then you really aren’t trying.

    –”When I talk about acting in ways that are consistent with our essential nature, I am not describing natural moral law.”

    But you continue to beg the question. If there is no natural moral law, why should we act in ways that are “consistent with our essential nature?” Is there anything wrong with not acting in such ways? If so, what makes it wrong? If not, then what does it matter what we do?

    —“ I have made the distinction between my view of moral law and our essential nature quite clear: (one more time) moral law is imposed from outside, and requires punishment to enforce it, whereas acting out of harmony with our essential nature merely implies that we need a reminder that we have forgotten who we really are. Punishment is never an appropriate response when someone acts in ways that are inconsistent with their essential nature. (Consequences can be, however, depending on the situation.)”

    I have asked you some specific questions which remain unanswered. Are you OK with 10-year-old children having sex on a school bus? Are you OK with internet porn? Are you OK with porn addiction? Since you will not address these questions, I have to assume that you think these activities are, as you put it [or your author puts it] “consistent with our essential nature.”

    I have also asked you to learn something about the natural moral law and even provided you with a resource to make that possible. You obviously have no interest in becoming familiar with the subject matter. Don’t you think that is a bit odd?

  102. 102

    Bruce RE 98

    “I’m not mad. The God I believe in loves me ”

    As if that means anything. The God you believe in may not exist, the God I believe in may not exist. If God exists God is an objective being and what we may or may not believe about that God does not change Gods objective being.

    Vivid

  103. Bruce, I wasn’t taking a cheap shot, I was highlighting the inanity of your belief. It is a huge problem for you, for as StephenB pointed out, your position reduces to something like God creating God in the Big Bang.

  104. …Hey gang. Could we agree to disagree on this one? We’re all friends here.

    - Sonfaro

  105. 105

    Thank you, Sonfaro. I’m enjoying this conversation, however (so far, anyway).

    StephenB: “You say that God created us in his image, but you also say, in effect, that God is the image that was created. If you cannot see the contradiction there, then you really aren’t trying.”

    I could create an image of myself in a dream, say, that would of necessity be contained within me. If I can do it, why not God?

    But in order to understand how God can be both the creator and the created, you need to understand that God has two aspects: the transcendent and the immanent.

    “If there is no natural moral law, why should we act in ways that are ‘consistent with our essential nature?’”

    The reason is that it is more satisfying, more loving, and more joyful. There is no moral “should” involved. (That is precisely the point–there is absolutely no MORAL imperative whatsoever to being true to oneself.)

    As for the questions regarding sex, I don’t believe that it would be at all fruitful to get into a discussion with you on those topics. You appear to me to be thoroughly entrenched in your positions, and I can see no profit in butting heads on yet another subject matter.

    Regarding your wanting to educate me on the subject of natural moral law, I appreciate the offer, but I have been too busy to take you up on it just yet. I will when I get some free time.

    Bornagain: “Bruce, I wasn’t taking a cheap shot, I was highlighting the inanity of your belief. It is a huge problem for you, for as StephenB pointed out, your position reduces to something like God creating God in the Big Bang.”

    Ain’t no problem for me, my intense friend. This may come as a shock, but I really don’t need StephenB’s or your validation of my belief system. I know my beliefs are logically sound, and I have a pretty good idea why you and StephenB don’t see it that way. It doesn’t bother me.

    vividbleau: Of course what we believe ultimately is irrelevant. The truth is the truth and what we believe about it won’t change it. On the subject matter under discussion here, we will each find out when we die.

    Bornagain accused me of being angry about the way God has set things up. I was simply explaining why I had no reason to be.

  106. Bruce David, I will start winding down. Meanwhile, I would like to extend my sincere thanks for an interesting discussion.

    About the challenge of being consistent with one’s essential self, you wrote, “The reason is that it is more satisfying, more loving, and more joyful. There is no moral “should” involved. (That is precisely the point–there is absolutely no MORAL imperative whatsoever to being true to oneself.)”

    I agree with much of what you say here. Many of the Greeks believed that virtue is its own reward, and I agree with that point. Even if there were no afterlife, a virtuous person[my term not yours] will be happier than a non-virtuous person, independent of any reward or punishment system coming from the outside. In order to act according to our nature, however, we have to know what our nature and we have to know what we are created for. The two points are inseparable. Once we know that we were created to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with him in the next world, the next order of business is to find out how we can make that happen. This is the essence of the moral life.

    On the theological front, you wrote this: “But in order to understand how God can be both the creator and the created, you need to understand that God has two aspects: the transcendent and the immanent.”

    Yes, I do understand the difference, however, I am not persuaded that you do. A pantheistic God is immanent but is not transcendent. Pantheism rules out a transcendent God. If you believe in a God that is both, then you are not a pantheist.

    Deism [and Islam] = Transcendence without immanence.

    Pantheism [and eastern religions] = immanence without transcendence.

    Christianity = Transcendence and immanence.

    No one can logically say, as you do, that he believes in a transcendent God and also say that he thinks “we are God.” Please trust me on this if you do not accept anything else that I say.

    On the matter of sexual morality [my word] you wrote this: “As for the questions regarding sex, I don’t believe that it would be at all fruitful to get into a discussion with you on those topics. You appear to me to be thoroughly entrenched in your positions, and I can see no profit in butting heads on yet another subject matter.”

    My purpose for pushing the matter was to make it clear that matters of sexuality are, indeed, of primary importance and we cannot, in spite of your claims to the contrary, be true to our nature by simply doing what comes naturally. Pornographic addiction is the result of uncritically doing what comes naturally.

    Thanks again for being such a good sport.

  107. Bruce David you state;

    ‘I really don’t need StephenB’s or your validation of my belief system.’

    No you don’t, and indeed many people believe whatever they want because they are free to do so, but at the very least I would hope that you would apply a minimum of introspection to your personally chosen beliefs to see the fatal flaw of your ‘everything is god’ belief. For instance, besides the complete failure of moral responsibility in your belief system, why should anyone presuppose a ‘higher dimensional’ afterlife in your belief system? For in your ‘everything is god’ beliefs there is absolutely no reason to presuppose that this would be so. Yet, we have very good empirical evidence to see that an afterlife for the ‘soul’ is reasonable to infer. Whereas in in your ‘plastic’ beliefs you may take pains to include this, but the point is that it is not warranted from your starting presupposition. Moreover these empirical findings are directly presupposed into Theism, especially Christian Theism;

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-373533

  108. 108

    Bornagain and StephenB:

    Just so you know, I do not come by my understandings in a vacuum. The sources that have influenced my thinking include far more than just Conversations with God, although the latter ties everything together more completely and with greater clarity than anything else I have yet encountered.

    My pantheism is based on the realization that there actually is only mind and the contents of mind–thoughts, emotions, sense impressions, memories. The physical doesn’t really exist. The physical universe is an illusion, a kind of virtual reality in which God performs the role of the computer that manages it all. One of the best arguments for this perspective can be found in Bishop Berkeley’s Three Dialogues. Also, Maharishi (of Transcendental Meditation) was fond of saying that the ground of being is Creative Intelligence. My former teacher, Reshad Feild, had a teacher, Bulent Rauf, who was said to have “worn the hat” of Ibn al ‘Arabi, perhaps the greatest mystical philosopher that ever lived. Bulent once said, “The single most important point that must be understodd by someone who wants to know is that there is only One infinite, absolute existence…God shows you He is you. Then little by little, He shows you how He is everything else.”

    So my understanding is that God, in His transcendent aspect, is pure mind, pure creative intelligence. Then, “in the beginning” He created billions of souls within Himself, each in His “image and likeness”, each one being Him occupying a given point of view, as it were. And He gave each of these souls (each a piece of Himself) free will. (This, by the way, is the only part of all this that I don’t fully understand–how He gave each of us free will. However, I take it on faith based on the revelation that I recognize, Conversations with God.)

    Then He created physical existence, which as I said, is actually an illusion, existing only in the mind of God (His immanent aspect) and our own minds, which are part of Him. When we take human form, we agree to forget all this, so that the illusion seems very real (it’s a very persuasive illusion).

    The reason we forget is so that God’s purpose for the creation can be fulfilled as we gradually remember over the course of many physical incarnations. I have explained this elsewhere, so I won’t go over it in detail again.

    I’ll stop here. There is more, much more, to this metaphysics, some of which we have gone over before. I say all this to let you know that 1) my ideas fit with several long and valid intellectual/spiritual traditions, and 2) I have certainly devoted a lot more than “a minimum of introspection” to my views (Bornagain).

    You may disagree with my views, but there is nothing logically inconsistent about them if they are understood properly.

    Thank you both also for quite an interesting discussion.

  109. 109

    StephenB and Bornagain: One last comment:

    A fundamental difference between me and the two of you, as I see it, is how we each view the power of the faculty of reason.

    You both appear to be quite certain that if one applies reason correctly, the only valid conclusion that can be reached is that Christianity (as you understand it) is true.

    I, on the other hand, am equally certain that reason BY ITSELF is powerless to arrive at any truth whatsoever. In my view (and taking a cue from Euclid), reason can only reach valid conclusions when it has something to work with, namely propositions that are taken as true without proof. (“Valid” here means following from the initial assumptions.) It should be obvious that in this view, the conclusions reached will only be as true as are the initial assumptions.

    This to me is the basic nature of the impasse between us.

  110. Bruce, I thank you as well.

    Even within its irrational context of subjectivism, Pantheism makes no sense. If I am God, why am I so ignorant and lacking in wisdom? As someone once said, “I can understand why a fool could play God, but why would God play a fool like me? If I am God, how can I also be a part of God? A part cannot also be the whole of which it is a part. Even if it were granted that I was a part of God, how can one part be at war with the other? Are Christians one part of God, atheists another, and Muslims yet another?

    If God generates everything in a dream, why would a perfect God dream an imperfect dream? If, as we are told, evil is an illusion, where did the illusion come from? Is it evil to have succumbed to that illusion? If not, what’s wrong with the illusion? How do I distinguish the dream, which is alleged to be real, from the illusion, which is alleged not to be real? Also, I haven’t even begun to address the irrational ethics that comes out of this unfortunate world view. Is sexual addiction consistent with our “essential nature?” Presumably, the pantheistic answer is yes.

    We must face the facts. Pantheism is an intellectual madhouse.

  111. 111

    StephenB,

    When you ask, “If I am God, how can I also be a part of God?” The answer is, in exactly the way that Jesus meant it when he said, “I and the Father are One.”

    As for the remainder of your questions, they are all answered when you understand the purpose of the Creation. I have attempted to explain that purpose several times during the course of this and other threads in which we have both participated; obviously, I have failed. It seems pointless to try yet again. I can only refer you to the first volume of Conversations with God, where the purpose is laid out early in the book in a more lengthy and complete manner.

  112. Well Bruce you state;

    ‘When you ask, “If I am God, how can I also be a part of God?” The answer is, in exactly the way that Jesus meant it when he said, “I and the Father are One.”’

    not quite exactly the way he meant it for Jesus also said;

    John 14:6
    6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Moreover Bruce there is actually a very strong ‘empirical’ case to be made that Jesus Christ ripped a whole in the ‘entropic’ space-time of this universe, so as to reunite us with God the Father;

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  113. correction;

    ripped a hole,,

    further notes;

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

  114. 114

    Bornagain:

    I meant what I said–we are each of us One with the Father in exactly the same way that Jesus was (and is) One with the Father. In my view, the difference between Jesus and most of the rest of us is that he knew (remembered) his oneness, whereas we do not. I am speaking here of knowing like the awareness is part of one’s very being, not a mere intellectual understanding. As I have said before, my understanding of Jesus is that his mission was to show us by his example who and what we all are. (“Have I not said, ye are gods?” and “These things and greater shall ye do.”)

    However, Jesus is not unique in this way (although I do believe that he was one of the greatest). There have been many throughout history and in all traditions who have achieved this understanding, and many examples of people who could perform miracles. There have even been some who reappeared in physical form after death. Sri Yukteswar so appeared to his disciple Yogananda, for example.

    As for the “except through me” quote, this is another that I am convinced has been seriously distorted in translation. I expect that in the original Aramaic, it meant something more like “except by my example” or “except as I have taught you”.

    I am very aware that all this is heresy to a Christian, and probably makes you shudder. Nonetheless, this is how I see it. If I were you, at this point I wouldn’t try to convince me otherwise. It should be obvious by now you won’t succeed.

  115. Bruce David, here is another saying from Jesus for you to ignore and rationalize away;

    John 8:24
    “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

    And once again I point out the obvious fact that ONLY Jesus rose from the dead to validate his claim for authenticity for being THE ONLY WAY to God the Father, while all other religious leaders are still in their graves!

    Burial places of founders of world religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

    History proves Christ’s resurrection – article
    http://www.c-bstatesman.com/ne.....RISEN.html

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    As well Bruce, there is compelling warrant to believe that Christ overcame the entropic space-time of this universe, and Thus defeated death;

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”

    This 1 in 10^10^123 number, for the time-asymmetry of the initial state of the ‘ordered entropy’ for the universe, also lends strong support for ‘highly specified infinite information’ creating the universe since;

    “Gain in entropy always means loss of information, and nothing more.”
    Gilbert Newton Lewis – Eminent Chemist

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh!
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

    As well, contrary to speculation of ‘budding universes’ arising from Black Holes, Black Hole singularities are completely opposite the singularity of the Big Bang in terms of the ordered physics of entropic thermodynamics. In other words, Black Holes are singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order.

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    Further note:

    Intelligent Design – The Anthropic Hypothesis
    http://lettherebelight-77.blog.....is_19.html

    Moreover Bruce, I believe there is severe warrant for the belief that Christ’s return is very, very, soon!

    Bible Prophecy Fulfilled – Israel 1948 – article
    http://ezinearticles.com/?Bibl.....;id=449317

    Whereas Bruce, you have no evidence at all to back up your claim for the ‘don’t worry, be happy, everything is god! position’

  116. —Bruce: “When you ask, “If I am God, how can I also be a part of God?” The answer is, in exactly the way that Jesus meant it when he said, “I and the Father are One.”

    Well, no. That will not work. You are arguing that God and you [and me] are the same person. By contrast, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are different persons.

    —”As for the remainder of your questions, they are all answered when you understand the purpose of the Creation.”

    None of those other questions can be answered from a pantheistic point of view. That is why I asked them.

  117. 117

    Bornagain,

    All of your arguments come to naught with me because I know for a fact that many, many have “come to the Father” without accepting Jesus as their savior. One has only to read Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, the poetry of Rumi or Hafiz, or the sublime philosophy of Ibn al ‘Arabi to see this.

    StephenB,

    I just can’t get my ideas through to you. Whatever I say, your responses indicate to me that you have not understood. I don’t know if the fault lies with me or with you or with both of us, but at this point I feel it’s pointless to continue. God be with you.

  118. Bruce, when you ignore direct physical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, not to mention compelling historical evidence, with merely a wave of your hand, I really don’t think you can fairly ascertain the truth in the first place, for you have clearly shown me that you are far more interested in philosophical posturing rather than what reality is telling us!

  119. supplemental note to 115
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-373648

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler
    Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    “Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us of nature.”
    St. Augustine

  120. 120

    Bornagain: “Bruce, when you ignore direct physical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, not to mention compelling historical evidence…”

    I’ve already told you, at least twice, that I accept the resurrection of Christ. What’s at issue is not whether it happened, but what it means. You think it implies the whole of Christian dogma, whereas I think it means that Jesus was demonstrating the truth of what he had been teaching–that we are not our physical bodies, but rather eternal souls.

    To be frank, I don’t think either you or StephenB is making any serious effort to understand my thinking (as opposed to Sonfaro, who in my experience actually listens (or whatever the equivalent to listening is in the context of written communication)).

  121. Bruce: “I just can’t get my ideas through to you. Whatever I say, your responses indicate to me that you have not understood. I don’t know if the fault lies with me or with you or with both of us, but at this point I feel it’s pointless to continue. God be with you.”

    Bruce, bless your heart, I am tempted to give you the last word as a tribute to your patience and good will. I realize that I will likely never change the mind of my beloved dialogue partners [especially those who carry themselves as gracefully as you do] through through this kind of dialogue.

    However, I also value the opportunity to make the case for rationality to any lurker or onlooker that may have been bamboozled by the academy into accepting irrational and culture-destroying world views. Western Civilization is crumbling because it has, for the most part, abandoned reason and the commitment to maintain a well-ordered society.

    It is important to me that those observers who have not yet been rendered impervious to reason through the academy’s subtle brainwashing process can witness the fact that the faddish world views that have been presented to them as truth cannot, in the final analysis, withstand intellectual scrutiny. Once they realize that they have been lied to, they can, once again, begin their search for truth with a firm confidence that good answers are available for those who are willing to commit themselves to the first principles of right reason and follow the evidence wherever it leads.

  122. Bruce David to defend the historical accuracy of scriptures which you question so as to defend you beliefs for ‘non-consequence’,

    Defense Of The Historical Jesus From Supposed Higher Criticism Of Biblical Text And Historical Reliability – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.vimeo.com/11144955

    To defend necessity for acceptance of Christ, I list studies of foreign NDE’s,,,

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:

    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    India Cross-cultural study by Dr. Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia Medical School and Dr. Satwant Pasricha of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Bangalore, India
    Excerpt: “Suddenly I saw two big pots of boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no fireplace. Then, the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You’d better hurry up and go back.” When he touched me, I suddenly became aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realised why the pots were boiling. The heat was coming from his hands! When I regained consciousness, I had a severe burning sensation in my left arm.” Mangal still had a mark on his left arm that he claims was a result of the burning. About a quarter of Dr Pasricha’s interviewees reported such marks. http://www.rediff.com/news/1999/apr/06pas.htm

    The Japanese find death a depressing experience – From an item by Peter Hadfield in the New Scientist (Nov. 30th 1991)
    Excerpt: A study in Japan shows that even in death the Japanese have an original way of looking at things. Instead of seeing ‘tunnels of light’ or having ‘out of body’ experiences, near-dead patients in Japanese hospitals tend to see rather less romantic images, according to researchers at Kyorin University. According to a report in the Mainichi newspaper, a group of doctors from Kyorin has spent the past year documenting the near-death experiences of 17 patients. They had all been resuscitated from comas caused by heart attacks, strokes, asthma or drug poisoning. All had shown minimal signs of life during the coma. Yoshia Hata, who led the team, said that eight of the 17 recalled ‘dreams’, many featuring rivers or ponds. Five of those patients had dreams which involved fear, pain and suffering. One 50-year-old asthmatic man said he had seen himself wade into a reservoir and do a handstand in the shallows. ‘Then I walked out of the water and took some deep breaths. In the dream, I was repeating this over and over.’ Another patient, a 73-year-old woman with cardiac arrest, saw a cloud filled with dead people. ‘It was a dark, gloomy day. I was chanting sutras. I believed they could be saved if they chanted sutras, so that is what I was telling them to do.’ Most of the group said they had never heard of Near-Death Experiences before.
    http://www.pureinsight.org/node/4

    Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in a Melanesian Society by Dorothy E. Counts:
    Excerpt: “When you were in your village you claimed to be an important man. But in this little place you have been eaten up by a knife, a dog, and a pig. And now fire will utterly destroy you.” When the loudspeaker had finished, a fire blazed up and destroyed the remains.
    http://anthropology.uwaterloo......Death.html

    ,,, Thus Bruce it seems in order for you to maintain your belief in your morally and empirically impoverished philosophy, you must carefully choose which evidence, and scriptures, to ignore, though there is compelling reason to see you have no right to this extremely prejudiced ‘selectiveness’ of scripture and evidence you practice.

  123. 123

    Bornagain:

    “Thus Bruce it seems in order for you to maintain your belief in your morally and empirically impoverished philosophy, you must carefully choose which evidence, and scriptures, to ignore.”

    As do you, my friend. You choose to ignore the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Book of Mormon, The Tao Te Ching, etc., etc. This is what is most annoying about you and some of the other Christians who post on this blog–your colossal arrogance in the assumption that you know the truth and all those others in the world who disagree with you do not, particularly when there is overwhelming evidence that it is possible to find God in any religion (evidence you choose to ignore).

  124. 124

    StephenB:

    And I, for my part, hope that someone reading these pages may realize that religion as it has been practiced for over 2000 years has failed to create a world of brotherhood, love, and peace, that perhaps there is more to be learned than is contained in those religions, and thus to be open to the possibility that there may be revelations coming to us even now, in our own time.

    I believe that the Conversations with God series of books is one such source of revelation, and superb, but far from the only one.

  125. Bruce,

    ‘your colossal arrogance in the assumption that you know the truth and all those others in the world who disagree with you do not,’

    And yet Bruce even you admit to the fact that Jesus UNIQUELY rose from the dead, and exactly why should this fact, testified to by multiple lines of evidence, not give Christians the ‘colossal arrogance’ for the assumption that we know the truth and the other world religions do not?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-373648

    Perhaps you find defeating death a trivial’ thing, and indeed death in the grand view of things does seem rather unnatural, while life seems rather ‘natural’, but none-the-less no other man in the history of earth has defeated death, just as He said He would do for testimony to the propitiation of our sins, and thus Bruce, you can call me colossally arrogant, but that is some pretty stiff evidence you are arguing against for the ‘non-uniqueness’ of Christianity!

  126. 126

    Bornagain:

    Death is but a transition from one state of being to another. As Seth said, “You’re as dead now as you’ll ever be.” We all defeat death, and have innumerable times. Jesus was able to return to the physical body he occupied, but so have many others (it’s called a near death experience). Jesus MAY have been unique in the length of time he waited before returning, which would have required his being able to keep his body from decomposing in the interim, but this also is not unique. Yogananda’s body remained in an undecomposed state for 17 days after his death (at which point it was interred), for example.

    I think the reason most masters did not resurrect themselves is simply that it did not suit their respective purposes. When they died, they were done here. Jesus obviously had a purpose for returning briefly to his body. I have already given you my opinion of what that purpose was.

    Now I expect that you’re going to accuse me again of rationalizing or ignoring the evidence. Please spare me. Haven’t you yet realized that all evidence is open to interpretation and that legitimate differences of opinion over what given evidence signifies can and do exist?

  127. 127

    Bornagain:

    Oh, and by the way, Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s teacher, appeared to Yogananda in his physical body after his death.

  128. Bruce, you can call this just a minor technicality, but Jesus actually resurrected into a ‘supernatural body’, that could instantaneous appear in different places he so desired, as well as walk through closed doors, and eventually ascended into heaven with His ‘supernatural’ body to the right hand of God the father, while all the other bodies you mentioned, that ‘delayed’ death, particularly delaying onset of entropic deterioration,, are still here on earth! Though you consider that a ‘trivial point’, methinks that your ‘balance’ for determining importance needs calibrating severely!

    Burial Places Of Founders of World’s Religions
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B....._religions

  129. Bruce,

    Sri Yukteswar’s ‘physical body is still here on earth, his ‘resurrected body’ conveniently was said to be made out of ‘cosmic atoms’;

    quote;

    “from cosmic atoms I created an entirely new body’ page 400

    http://books.google.com/books?.....38;f=false

  130. Bruce, there are many among us who make truth claims. The only way to know which claims, if any, are worthy of belief is to become familiar with them, compare them, and test them.

    For my part, I don’t argue for or against any world view unless I am already well acquainted with it. Indeed, my dialogue partners often learn that I have considered elements of their philosophy that even they are not familiar with. Seldom, if ever, do feel the reciprocal obligation.

    Thus, when I ask them the hard questions about their world view– questions they are likely hearing for the first time–they devise multiple strategies for refusing to address them. What they don’t realize is that they have already conceded the debate by choosing not to participate in it.

  131. 131

    Bornagain,

    So Sri Yukteswar also appeared in a “supernatural body”.

    A fundamental difference between your view of Jesus and mine is that you see him as unique and I don’t (other than that he MAY have been the greatest of all the masters who have walked this planet). When I say I don’t see him as unique, I mean that there is nothing he did and no wisdom he possessed that is unique to him alone. As I have said many times, I believe his mission was to show all of us who and what we are by his example. I believe that there is no essential difference between us and any of the masters who have walked the planet. The apparent differences are due solely to our various respective levels of development (ie., the degree to which we remember who we are). Further, I believe that the mission of all the great masters throughout history has been the same–to support us in that remembrance. We are made in the image and likeness of God. I take that seriously.

    Your arrogance, by the way, is in your assumption that your interpretation of the evidence is the only valid one, and your certainty that the conclusions which you have drawn based on that evidence are the only correct ones.

  132. Bruce you state;

    So Sri Yukteswar also appeared in a “supernatural body”.

    one big difference Bruce is even if your story is true, which I don’t believe, Sri Yukteswar’s physical body IS STILL HERE ON EARTH, whereas Jesus physical body became a supernatural body when he ‘ripped a hole’ in the entropic space time of this universe! And moreover where you just have one witness of questionable motive, I have the witness of many first century martyrs who died gruesome deaths for the testimony of what they ‘physically saw’; Moreover I have the Shroud, which you refuse to address;

  133. —Bruce: “As I have said many times, I believe his mission [Jesus] was to show all of us who and what we are by his example.”

    According to Jesus Christ, there will be a final judgment, at which time He will separate the sheep from the goats. The former will go to heaven, and the latter, to hell. By his “example,” He submitted to the frightful prospect of being tortured to death on a cross in order to rescue us from eternal suffering–if we cooperate with his grace and keep the commandments.

    According to you, there are no commandments and hell doesn’t exist. If you are right, then Jesus was a false teacher and He set very bad example by lying about who he was and why he was here. So, which is it? Did Jesus Christ tell the truth and set a good example, or did he lie and set a bad example?

  134. In order to head off any discussion of irrelevant side issues, we will make the above summary complete:…”to rescue us from eternal suffering–if we believe, are baptized, and love God and neighbor by following the commandments.

  135. 135

    StephenB:

    Well, this is an interesting question. The passage where Jesus talks of deviding the sheep from the goats is Matthew 25:31 – 45. There are a few things I notice about this:

    1. There is no mention of believing in Jesus, loving and worshiping God, not committing adultery, etc. Only whether we have been kind to one another. So it seems that he is saying that all it takes to be a sheep and have eternal life in paradise is to take care of one’s fellow human beings. Since this contradicts much of what Christians tell me is in the rest of the Bible, there seems to be some inconsistency here.

    2. In my observation, most people are not always kind to others or always cruel or heartless. Most are in between, including myself. What does Jesus do with vast majority of us who fall in between the two seemingly absolute criteria?

    3. I would interpret this passage as a parable about oneness. I think he was pointing out that we are all connected. In fact, we are all One, so that what I do for or to another I do for or to myself. The part at the end about the everlasting fire and torment, I can only conclude is a mistake, since I know that the concept of Hell simply makes no sense*. Probably Matthew or the scribe who finally wrote it down got it wrong.

    *I have been arguing in this and other threads that the concept of Hell contradicts the idea of an unconditionally loving God. Actually, it’s much stronger than that for me. I KNOW that there is no Hell. I am as certain of this as I am of anything. It is simply impossible for God to create a Hell, and it is equally impossible that were there such a place, Jesus would send anyone there. This is as obvious to me as the veins on the back of my hand. If scripture contradicts this, then there is a mistake in scripture. (Another difference between us is that I do not and never have believed in the infallibility of scripture. I don’t even believe in the infallibility of Conversations with God, which I regard as revelation.)

  136. 136
    CannuckianYankee

    Hi Bruce.

    I’ve read through most of the exchange here. I hope you don’t mind if I make a few observations.

    I don’t think most Christian philosophers or theologians would dismiss the idea of hell as simply as you seem to be able to do. I gather that the issue is one that most of have grappled with much more than most others. Yet with the exception of a few fringe groups in Christianity (7th Day Adventists and a few others), most denominations retain belief in the existence of hell.

    There a number of reasons for this:

    contrary to the existence of hell being incompatible with the goodness of God, God’s goodness actually demands its existence, given the fact that there is true evil in the world. I recently finished reading Dr. Dembski’s very thorough treatment on this issue in his book ‘The End Of Christianity.’ I highly recommend it. Perhaps a well thought out, yet different perspective will be welcomed?

  137. 137
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    Continuing….

    Most Christian denominations also perceive an authoritative dificulty when there is a less than firm aknowledgement to the inerency of scripture. That issue alone should cause one to tread lightly on what scripture has declared as true. It was Paul who stated ‘if the dead are not raised, there is no resurrection.’ withe the same logic, if there is no hell, there is no sin. If there is no sin, there is nothing for us to be forgiven of. If there is nothing for us to be forgiven of, then there is nothing for us to believe in. If there is nothing for us to believe in, then there is no love of God, no Son sent by the Father to give us eternal life. None of it makes any sense without the element of hell’s true existance. and as surely as Paul said that without resurrection the Christian faith is meaningless, without the existence of hell it is equally meaningless. Otherwise, what are we saved from: a bad day?

  138. Semi OT: Bruce since, in my view despite your protestations to the contrary, your philosophy is just about as morally incoherent as atheism. This audio, of a man raised in India, home of your philosophy, is relevant:

    Ravi Zacharias – Why I am not an atheist
    http://www.muhammadtube.com/vi.....an-atheist

  139. Hey bruce, I would like to hear your reasoning for why it is impossible for a Good God to create hell, because I certaintly dont think so. Take for example Satan, whether you believe he exists or not. For the purpose of this conversation, assume he does. Satan is someone who hates God, and us since we are made in the image of God.Satan is evil in every sense of the word sinse he truly hates good.
    He knew God in heaven in all his glory and goodness and power and he, out of his free will chose to reject God and his goodness. Now remember that such a being hates good out of his own free will. God in his perfect justice would logically have to send Satan to hell.Here is why. Hell is a place where there is no goodness because God’s attributes have been removed from it. There is darkness, because God is light. There is no peace just unrest, no joy just unimaginable sadness, no comfort,no hope, just complete hopelesness,no pleasure, just pain. There is no good in hell because God is the source of ALL that is good and wholesome. And since there are none of God’s attributes there, there can only BE hell. God is only giving satan what he wants. A place where there is no goodness and no Godly presence. Satan in every sense of the word DESERVES is.Now this is what i think. ONly a few people will go to hell. I believe the bible teaches that everyone who never knew God and his plan will have a chance to know him and accept him when they are ressurected at the end of times. Those people who never heard about the bible or Jesus will get their opportunity. Those that were decieved their whole lives into thinking the bible isnt true and NEVER knew better will also know the truth. These are different than those who willfully resist the truth because frankly they HATE it,and a few athesits that I know of come to mind.I believe that there will be a few people who even after being resurrected will HATE God and refuse to follow his perfect and good will. God in his perfect MERCY and JUSTICE will have to send them to hell. God is such a loving God That he would NEVER force somebody to be with him if they didnt want to. They would be miserable either way in heaven with God sinse they hate God and his goodness. He would send them to hell where God’s presence isnt felt and where his Goodness is absent. God is the source of all goodness, so by rejecting God, ultimately you reject all that is good. The people in hell are only getting what they bargained for. You cant have any good without God as its source. I believe that because of God’s perfect justice the people in hell will only be there for the appropriate amount of time and then cease to exist completely.

  140. StephenB and Bruce,

    This audio is directly to the point on the incoherency of the pantheism, and is right down your alley Stephen!

    Ravi Zacharias on the Law of Non-Contradiction – audio
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pDs1wlmshg

  141. To all of you:

    Interesting. I appears we have had an audience. I assumed it was just me, StephenB, and Bornagain for these last 40 or so comments.

    Here’s the deal. I have before me two competing sources of revelation: the Bible and Conversations with God. In some ways they are consistent (given a particular interpretation) and in some ways they conflict. For example, as I understand them, the statements, “We are made in His image and likeness,” “The Kingdom of Heaven is within,” “Have I not said, ‘Ye are Gods,’” and “These things and greater shall ye do.” are all consistent with the view of reality presented in Conversations.

    On the other hand, God states quite explicitly in Conversations that there is no Hell except that which we create within ourselves by believing in separation, that Satan does not exist, and that there is no right and wrong (in the moral sense), only what works and what doesn’t depending on what you want to be, do, and have. He also says that He created us out of Himself, that He loves us unconditionally, always, and in all ways, and that He will never punish us, ever. You must understand that these statements do not occur in isolation. They are part and parcel of an overarching explanation of everything, including Him, us, our relationship with each other, the true nature of reality, and the purpose of the creation, woven into a consistent whole.

    So which of these two semi-competing sources of truth am I to believe? What authority is there that can tell me unequivocally which is correct? (And of course I’m not even addressing all the other sources of revelation the exist in the world–the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu holy texts, the Bahai teachings, the Tao Te Ching, etc.)

    What authority is there other than my own internal sense of truth, my own inner knowing? I must, as everyone must, ultimately choose for myself, and there is no authority other than my Self by which to make the choice. And I choose Conversations with God as the most reliable source of truth I have yet found. Why? Because my head and my heart both cry “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

    So when I say I KNOW that there is no Hell, it is because the God who speaks to me through Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations would never, ever, create such an unholy place, and every fiber of my being affirms it. The God I have come to know and love simply would not do such a thing.

    And by the way, Conversations with God is not alone. There are many, many other sources of truth in the world that agree with it to a greater or lesser extent and more or less completely. I focus on this particular text because it is the most thorough, complete, and clear that I have yet encountered.

  142. —Bruce: “Well, this is an interesting question. The passage where Jesus talks of deviding the sheep from the goats is Matthew 25:31 – 45. There are a few things I notice about this:”

    Forgive me for cutting you off too soon, but you also need to know that Jesus Christ speaks more about the existence of hell than any other subject. So, Matthew is, by no means, the only reference.

    —”1. There is no mention of believing in Jesus, loving and worshiping God, not committing adultery, etc. Only whether we have been kind to one another.”

    You expect that one passage alluding to the final judgment would also contain the entire Christian moral code? Excuse me again, but do you have any familiarity with the Bible?

    –”So it seems that he is saying that all it takes to be a sheep and have eternal life in paradise is to take care of one’s fellow human beings. Since this contradicts much of what Christians tell me is in the rest of the Bible, there seems to be some inconsistency here.”

    Do you realize the extent to which you “read into” passages meanings you wish they contained and strive mightily to avoided “reading out” of them what is really there. It really is a remarkable phenomenon. Like the ancient Procrustes, who stretched his victim guests until they fit his iron bed, you stretch Scriptural passages until they fit your world view. It’s called the “fit, damn you, fit” syndrome.

    –”2. In my observation, most people are not always kind to others or always cruel or heartless. Most are in between, including myself. What does Jesus do with vast majority of us who fall in between the two seemingly absolute criteria?”

    He leads them on a path of moral growth, of course. The goal has been made explicit: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” “He who loves me will keep my commandments.”

    That, by the way, is why the Sermon on the Mount goes beyond the Ten Commandments and introduces intentions and motives–what we do is important, but why we do it is even more important. The idea of Christian morality is to become so loving that you have no need of commandments. However, the Ten Commandments are to be transcended– not bypassed. It is not possible to love while bypassing the Ten Commandments.

    —”3. I would interpret this passage as a parable about oneness. I think he was pointing out that we are all connected.”

    So you think that separating sheep from goats forever is an example of “oneness?” [Fit, damn you, fit].

    –”In fact, we are all One, so that what I do for or to another I do for or to myself.”

    If you and I are the same person, then that one person is clearly schizophrenic.

    —”The part at the end about the everlasting fire and torment, I can only conclude is a mistake, since I know that the concept of Hell simply makes no sense*. Probably Matthew or the scribe who finally wrote it down got it wrong.”

    So, are you suggesting that the other references to Hell were all mistakes as well— all 55 of them? [Fit, damn you, fit]

    So, let’s get back to my question (which, in spite of it all, you didn’t answer).

    You wrote:

    –”I believe his mission [Jesus] was to show all of us who and what we are by his example.”

    Jesus taught that Hell exists and that we should take every precaution to avoid it. So, which is it? Did Jesus Christ tell the truth and set a good example, or did he lie and set a bad example?

  143. Bruce, it seems that your opinion that a loving god would not create hell is based solely on your subjective feelings and not on reason. But of course it is a moot point since you have created your own god which suites your ideology, whoever your god maybe. If I’m not incorrect, you’re a pantheist.

  144. 144

    StephenB: “Jesus taught that Hell exists and that we should take every precaution to avoid it. So, which is it? Did Jesus Christ tell the truth and set a good example, or did he lie and set a bad example?”

    I have already explained, in detail, the source of my certainty that there is no Hell, and why I don’t accept the Bible as an infallible source of truth. That should answer your question. I’ll expand a little, just to be clear. Jesus uses the word “Hell” in the English versions of the Bible in some nine different passages. In every case, the Greek word from which it was translated was Gehenna, the name of an actually existing valley outside of Jerusalem. So Jesus did not say Hell, as the English translations aver. Some Biblical scholars interpret that word to mean that Jesus was referring to Hell; others do not. In any case it is not certain that Jesus was referring to Hell; it is a matter of interpretation. As for the Matthew 25 passages, the reference to the “everlasting flames” I regard as simply wrong if interpreted literally. He could have been speaking metaphorically of the Hell that we create within when we do not act in accordance with our oneness with each other (if the Kingdom of Heaven is within, then the Kingdom of Hell should be also), or it could have been that Matthew misremembered what Jesus said, or it could be that the scribe who eventually wrote it down got it wrong, or it could be that error has entered through the process of translation from Aramaic to Greek to English. In any case, since Hell does not exist, Jesus clearly could not have been saying that he was going to send anyone there. It’s quite simple, really.

    As for the rest, the passage from Matthew clearly contradicts your interpretation of the other part of the Bible. You can’t get around it by saying that the other parts just add to the meaning of that passage. Jesus could easily have said that the sheep were the ones who were kind to their fellow human beings, believed in him, AND followed the commandments. He did not. So this passage is either a parable, in which case it is not to be taken literally, or it contradicts the other parts of scripture (as you interpret it). You can’t have it both ways.

    I say you are the one who is force fitting your interpretation onto the words that are there.

  145. 145
    CannuckianYankee

    Interesting thoughts, folks. SB….as clear and well thought out as ever in 142

    Bruce,
    I hope you don’t feel that I’m singling you out or anything (well I sort of am, but I mean well by it) :)

    Anyway, I gather by your reference to ‘Conversations’ that you don’t mean your own conversations with God, but perhaps a book or someone’S philosophy of which I am currently unfamiliar. What you are saying though, sounds like something that is often popularized on Oprah – the notion of ‘re-imagining God, which sounds like something new, but is actually as old as the heavens. It’s a new idiom only, of the ancient idolatry – creating one’s own image of God, that is in fact not God, I’m not saying that you are doing such, but the practitioners of what you seem to be suggesting are in fact doing so. If God can be re-imagined to be what we desire Him to be, then that image is not God.

  146. 146

    CannuckianYankee and anyone else who is interested:

    Conversations with God is a series of books by Neale Donald Walsch in which God speaks to him through automatic writing. I regard them as genuine revelation. Everyone else, of course, will have to judge for themselves.

  147. 147
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    Continuing…

    Regarding Gehenna – try to imagine that the ancients of Jesus’ time – including Jesus himself, did not have 21st Century sensibilities in mind whenever they spoke a word whose meaning is currently hampered by 2,000 years of history and changing universes of culture. I don’t think the matter is as simple as taking the word Gehenna and insisting that it only means a literal place near Jerusalem any more than say, to suggest that Watergate only refers to a certain hotel in Washington DC. Biblical exegesis requires more than a cursory unerstanding of such words. It requires that we carefully allow such words to speak to us within their cultural-historical context. It’s not like this hasn’t already been done countless times by biblical scholars and scriptural translators, and the consensus seems to be consistent that when Jesus refers to Gehenna, he means something other than a particular valley outside Jerusalem.

  148. 148
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,
    Continuing,,,
    Of course you will always find detractors, and this may lead one to perceive ancient writings as a matter of interpretation. It is not simply a matter of interpretation when enough is known about a particular word usage within a culture. In this case we have enough understanding of the word’s usage to make a reasonable claim to its meaning, even if we don’t currently understand all of the pariculars of how that meaning developed within it’s cultural context.

  149. 149

    CannuckianYankee:

    Here is my source on the subject:
    http://www.tentmaker.org/artic.....nhell.html

    What I have noticed is that each person who quotes scripture is generally certain that they know what it means, and usually acts as though their interpretation is fact. However, I have also noticed that there are usually many varying interpretations of a given passage. Frankly, I see it as a blind spot among Christians (and most other religions as well) that they are unable to see the degree to which scripture is subject to (nay, dependent upon) interpretation, and the degree to which the interpretation can vary among the faithful.

  150. 150
    CannuckianYankee

    Kuartus,
    Re: 139,
    I appreciate your comparisons regarding God’s goodness and the necessity of hell. I perceive, however that Bruce disregards hell for moral reasons , As such, I think a moral rather than a sort of yin/yang approach will receive a more receptive ear. Hell exists because God is loving, and not simply because there needs to be an opposite to heaven.
    Since God is loving, He is also just. Justice goes along with love. If there is no justice, there is no love. I’m thankful that there is indeed justice. With God neither justice nor love precludes the other. They both go hand-in hand.

    This is directly related to the OP in this way:

    The materialist compartmentalizes jusice and love, because they are perceived as outcomes or processes of cultural evolution, such that there can be justice without love and vica versa…….

  151. —Bruce: “I have already explained, in detail, the source of my certainty that there is no Hell, and why I don’t accept the Bible as an infallible source of truth.”

    Jesus Christ did, indeed, teach that hell is a reality. Your response is to deconstruct the passages to make them say something else or to question the veracity of those who reported on the teaching.

    —”As for the Matthew 25 passages, the reference to the “everlasting flames” I regard as simply wrong if interpreted literally.”

    The context makes it very clear that eternal fire means eternal punishment, very clear indeed.

    —”He could have been speaking metaphorically of the Hell that we create within when we do not act in accordance with our oneness with each other,”

    Well, no, that is not possible because he also said that it was the same place of eternal punishment that was prepared for the Devil and his angels.

    Also, we cannot, as you say, act in accordance with each other if, as you also say, we are all the same person, which would mean that there is no other. You need to make up your mind one way or the other: Are we all the same person or do we have separate identities. Please come to a final decision on this matter.

    —”(if the Kingdom of Heaven is within, then the Kingdom of Hell should be also)”

    The kingdom of heaven and hell are within in the following sense:

    Sow a thought; reap an act
    Sow an act; reap a habit
    Sow a habit; reap a character
    Sow a character; reap a destiny

    We will all find ourselves in a final state of existence that represents the extent to which we loved or refused to love, and that love must be rooted in truth. Anyone who refuses to accept the truth, cannot root his love in the truth.

    –”or it could have been that Matthew misremembered what Jesus said,”or it could be that the scribe who eventually wrote it down got it wrong,”
    or it could be that error has entered through the process of translation from Aramaic to Greek to English.

    No, none of these things are possible. All of Christ’s apostles, his disciples, the early church fathers, the patristic fathers, all the Church councils, and the history of common teaching, both oral and written, confirm Christ’s teaching about Hell. It’s all on the record. Either your sources are not very well educated on the matter, or else they, like you, have problems facing reality.

    –”In any case, since Hell does not exist, Jesus clearly could not have been saying that he was going to send anyone there. It’s quite simple, really.”

    You can have your pantheism or you can have Christ as a good teacher, but you cannot have both. If Hell doesn’t exist, Christ was not a good teacher. If Hell does exist, then pantheism cannot be reconciled with Christ’s teachings. There, see, I answered the question that you refused to answer. I often have to accept that burden.

    —”As for the rest, the passage from Matthew clearly contradicts your interpretation of the other part of the Bible.”

    It is obvious that my interpretation is correct and that your interpretation has been forced. It is also obvious that nothing I said contradicts anything else I said, which would explain why you didn’t specify which contradiction that you had in mind.

    –”You can’t get around it by saying that the other parts just add to the meaning of that passage. Jesus could easily have said that the sheep were the ones who were kind to their fellow human beings, believed in him, AND followed the commandments. He did not.”

    Did you really think about that comment before you wrote it. I have already explained that the Bible does not, nor could it, provide a comprehensive explanation of God’s plan of salvation in one set of passages in one limited context. That is like arguing that if Aristotle did not say anything about rhetoric in his book on metaphysics, it must not have been important to him.

    –”So this passage is either a parable, in which case it is not to be taken literally,”

    You are confusing a parable with a metaphor.

    …”or it contradicts the other parts of scripture (as you interpret it). You can’t have it both ways.”

    No part of Scripture contradicts any other part, nor does Christ’s teaching on Hell contradict any of his other teachings.

    —”I say you are the one who is force fitting your interpretation onto the words that are there.”

    You may say that, but it is clearly not true. I read “out of” Scriptures what is there; you read “into them” your notions of pantheistic “oneness” in areas where it isn’t even close to being relevant.

  152. 152
    CannuckianYankee

    Kuartus,
    Continuing…
    I think I should be clear. God’s justice is not the same thing as His love. They are separate but harmoniously engaged.
    What I find insightful in light of Bruce’s perspective is that he apparently rejects materialism, yet his view on the love of God seems to stem from a materialist perspective. Only Bruce’s perpective is a reaction to the materialistic tendency to separate love and justice into two distinct culturally evolving spheres. I think he is righ in rejecting the materialist perspective, but I perceive that he’ doing so at the expence of a cler understanding of what it means to be loving. He seems to believe that love supercedes justice. Although I understand if he doesn’t see it that way.
    He wants the kind of love that do not place a consequence on wrongdoing to the extent mandated in scripture. In my view, this cannot be done while maintaining any meaningful remnant of what justice truly means. In my thinking, if there is no justice such as is…

  153. of related interest to the spiritual aspect of man;

    This is very interesting, especially since quantum entanglement/information is now found in molecular biology:

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed. This concept stems from two fundamental theorems of quantum mechanics: the no-cloning theorem and the no-deleting theorem.

    A third and related theorem, called the no-hiding theorem, addresses information loss in the quantum world. According to the no-hiding theorem, if information is missing from one system (which may happen when the system interacts with the environment), then the information is simply residing somewhere else in the Universe; in other words, the missing information cannot be hidden in the correlations between a system and its environment. Physicists Samuel L. Braunstein at the University of York, UK, and Arun K. Pati of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, India, first proved the no-hiding theorem in 2007. Until now, however, the no-hiding theorem has been a purely theoretical concept.

    Now for the first time, a team of physicists consisting of Pati, along with Jharana Rani Samal (deceased) and Anil Kumar of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, has experimentally tested and confirmed the no-hiding theorem.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    notes:

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Further evidence that quantum entanglement/information is found throughout entire protein structures:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-373214

    Does the fact that indestructible quantum information resides in molecular at such a foundational level of molecular biology provide conclusive proof for the eternal soul of man??? Well maybe not ‘conclusive’ but it certainly makes the whole conversation A LOT more interesting!

    Further notes:

    The ‘Fourth Dimension’ Of Living Systems
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Gs_qvlM8-7bFwl9rZUB9vS6SZgLH17eOZdT4UbPoy0Y

    It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology, for how can quantum entanglement, in molecular biology, possibly be explained by the materialistic framework of neo-Darwinism, a framework which is predicated on the presupposition of being constrained by time and space, when Alain Aspect and company falsified the validity of local realism (reductive materialism) in the first place with quantum entanglement? It is simply ludicrous to appeal to the materialistic framework, which undergirds the entire neo-Darwinian framework, that has been falsified by the very same quantum entanglement effect that one is seeking an explanation to! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! Probability arguments, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply!

  154. 154
    CannuckianYankee

    Kuartus (Bruce and others)
    Continuing…
    …ia proscribed in scripture.

    *Note. please forgive my posts being broken up in this manner. I recently moved and my internet connection is not set up yet. I’m using my mobile phone, which has a qwerty keypad, but my service only seems to allow a limited number of characters, So Im forced to split it up.

    Anyway, back to the discussion.

    In my view, if there is no justice as proscribed in scripture, then the perpetrators of all the evil in the world, in the end, get off scott free. A loving God does not allow evil to exist as though it is good – with the same ending consequence as that which is good….

  155. 155
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,
    I couldn’t help but notice that at the same time that you shiver to the idea of the inerancy of scripture, you seem to warm up to the inerency of one book ‘Conversations with God.’ I must ask by what measure you determine that one man’s peculiar writings are to be preferred as more authoritative regarding specifically God’s nature and purpose than the time tested authority of scriptureN

  156. 156

    CannuckianYankee: “I couldn’t help but notice that at the same time that you shiver to the idea of the inerancy of scripture, you seem to warm up to the inerency of one book ‘Conversations with God.’”

    No, that is not correct, and at one point above I say so. In fact, God Himself says so in the book. He admonishes us not to believe anything that is written there, but rather, look within our own inner knowing for what in the books resonates to that. I don’t believe absolutely everything in the books, but my inner knowing resonates to almost everything there.

    To the rest of you: You’re just rehashing old ground now. I have only this to say: reason is obviously useful in discovering mathematical truth, and the fact of near perfect agreement among mathematicians regarding the truth of the body of mathematics attests to this. When it comes to religion and philosophy, however, the fact that virtually every sect of every religion as well as every school of philosophy claims to use reason to arrive at truth, yet they all reach different conclusions attests to the fact that in that arena, “reason” is only useful to support what you already want to believe.

    During the course of this long discussion, various of you have attempted to convince me of the truth of what you believe (or my own error) with reason. In every case I have pointed out the flaws in your logic, and in every case, you either ignore or cannot understand my reasoning. It’s time to take Sonfaro’s advice and agree to disagree.

  157. 157
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce,

    I get it now. I’m not to believe anything in the book because God said so in the book. That makes sense now. Thanks. :)

  158. 158
    CannuckianYankee

    It’s the Catch22 god in conversation. What he says cancels out what he says,

    Incidentally, I did hear about this book on Oprah (not that I actually watch her show), but that fact alone should make anyone suspicious.

  159. @CannuckianYankee,

    Aww come on. It’s Oprah.

    :)

    - Sonfaro

  160. 160
    CannuckianYankee

    Continuing…

    Which brings us back to the OP once again:

    With materialism, how can we tell that a lie is a lie? There’s no way to tell. So there’s not much difference between materialism and this particular and peculiar manifestation of new age ‘spirituality’ in this regard, Both are self-refuting.

  161. 161
    CannuckianYankee

    Sonfaro,

    Oprah spelled backwards is Harpo. I.e., what is espoused is laughable. :)

  162. lol

  163. How Can A God Of Love Send Anyone To Hell? – audio

    Ray Bradley vs. William Lane Craig
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiRjRc0Tuos

  164. CannuckianYankee “I get it now. I’m not to believe anything in the book because God said so in the book. That makes sense now. Thanks.”

    Do you recall how when one is in a discussion with a Darwinist and they resort to ridicule instead of actually grappling with the points you make, how foolish they look? I just mention this in case you might want to rethink your approach.

    But in any case, any usefulness I may have had in this discussion is clearly at an end, so I’ll say, “Goodbye” now.

    Goodbye.

    Bruce

  165. 165

    Bruce,
    When someone espouses something that is so obviously contradictory, ridicule is often the only appropriate response. I’m not ridiculing you so much as an idea, which you apparently espouse. Surely if you are at all thiking person, you can detect the incongruence of what you stated. If by your philosophy you cannot, perhaps it is thephilosophy that is defective, and not so much peoples’ reaction to it, such as mie and other’s here. You will notice that I’ve also commented where I agree with you, and have given you credit. But I cannot for the life of me abandon logic for some sort of ‘spirituality’ that is not based in logic, To me spirituality is foremost concerned with truth. One cannot really have truth if by one’s spiritual or logical perceptions, one cannot decipher truth from lies. In my view such is a false spirituality.

    But in the interest of meaningful discussion, I’m willing to suspend what you have found offensive, without suspending the reason behind it.

  166. 166

    Bruce,
    When using a mobile phone it’s not as easy to block quote if it can be done at all, so bear with me while I paraphrase. In a recent post you stated that God says in the book to not believe in anything in the book, but rather to use your ‘inner’ knowing to decipher what is true. Now here’s the thing – if that is what is to be done, why is the book even necessary? I think what this guy is espousing something that is extremely and blatantly deceptive, and in my own ‘inner thinkink,’ I’ve been able to decipher that just from what you have mentioned,…

  167. 167

    Bruce,
    …What he’s essentially saying is that you don’t need any authritative source to know what’s true and good and right, because such an authority is in your ‘inner knowing.’ In other words, we ourselves are the authority for what is true and good and right. The reason this is blatantly false is the fact that you need the book to understand what he means by it: whereas if we ourselves are the authority for what is true from our own inner knowing, we should already know the content of the book without having to read it,
    I imagine myself here on Operah’s show discussing the book, and after she’s lavished praise on the author for helping her and so many others to think, I have the opportunity to raise my objection, to which Opeah responds: ‘Interesting.’ We’ll be right back after…….’
    The point being that this new age spirituality lives in a vacuum of it’s own truthiness, and any attack from without is contained due to it’s inability to break through the commitment to truthiness of it’s…..

  168. 168

    …adherents. The reason it can’t break through, is that you cannot appeal to logic from without when people are committed to truth only from within, for one reason or another such as that it sounds good, or that it makes them feel good, or because……
    Truthiness is not truth. Truth appeals to laws that lie outside of the inddividual – the laws of right reason

  169. 169

    …and this may come as a shock to some, but the rules of right reason do not lie in the brain as though the new ager can find them simply by looking in their ‘inner knowing.’ So both the new ager and the materialist simply have no basis within their particular claimed means of knowing, to know if their thinking is defective, that is apart from laws, which lie outside the physical, and also outside a peron’s own inner reasoning. So our ability to know truth really is a spiritual affair.

  170. 170

    ,,,And as a spiritual affair we do have a mechanism within our makeup, which affords us a cursory commitment to truth, Interesting that it isn’t our brains, but our conscience – our sense of right and wrong. So truth is also moral. it appeals to our conscience. When a person says something that we know they know to be untruthful, we not only appeal to logic, but to morality. To lie knowingly is morally wrong. The absense of a sense of morality is said to be characteristic of a sociopathic personality – and if you’ve ever worked with sociopaths as I have, one thing becomes clear – their mistakes are at the most logical lapses rather than moral ones. So when one sociopath chides another for what we would normally perceive as a moral lapse, there isn’t a ‘shame on you’ rather more of a ‘what were you thinking?’
    The point in all of this is that what lies inside us is our inherent sense of right and wrong, which we have the ability to turn off. What we don’t have the ability to turn off is…

  171. 171

    …truth, because it lies entirely elsewhere in the laws of right reason.

  172. CannuckianYankee
    I completely agree with you. God’s love and justice makes it necessary for there to be consequences for evil. As for bruce here, it was pretty clear that his disbelief in hell was because of subjective feelings and personal ideology, not because he had thought about it rationally. He has invented his own brand of morality so talking with him is like an american talking about the american revolution with the british.

  173. Bruce,

    Your comments can be useful to lurkers.

  174. 174
    CannuckianYankee

    Kuartus,
    I’ve had trouble discussing the revolution with a Brit, and I’m Canadian. :)

  175. -”…talking with him is like an american talking about the american revolution with the british.”

    What’s there to talk about? We won, they lost.

    U-S-A! U-S-A! (*Sonfaro fistbumps while the rest of the world collectively facepalms.)

    ;)

    - Sonfaro

  176. 176

    Thank you, Collin. Your comment prompts me to give it one more shot.

    I detect a certain subtle condescension from more than one of you (et tu, Sonfaro?), so I am going to say a little bit about myself here. I graduated cum laude from one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country (Carleton College). My major was mathematics and my minor was philosophy. I received an “A” in every course I took in both subjects. I subsequently earned a master’s in math from the University of Md. I say this to support the following: 1) I’m not stupid, and 2) I’m very well trained in logical reasoning.

    I am very careful about the logical consistency of what I believe and what I write, and at the risk of appearing arrogant, I can say that if you see an obvious logical error in something I have written, in all likelihood you have not fully understood it. This of course could be as much my fault as yours, or maybe even entirely my fault, but a proper response would be to ask for clarification.

    I have alluded in earlier posts a couple of times to the difference between the discipline of mathematics on the one hand, and those of philosophy and theology on the other. I would like to take a closer look at this topic.

    As I mentioned, it is significant that although all three utilize “reason”, only mathematics enjoys virtually universal acceptance of the conclusions of its practitioners. With very few exceptions, mathematicians do not argue over whether a given theorem has been proved. Why should this be? What is it about mathematics that sets it apart from philosophy and theology? The reason is this: of the three, only mathematics recognizes the limitations of reason. In a tradition that began with Euclid, all mathematical reasoning proceeds from statements that are taken as true without proof (axioms) plus definitions, and derives all the rest using rules of inference. Only mathematics recognizes that the sole power reason has is the ability to validate that a given proposition follows from other propositions. It is not capable of arriving at truth starting from scratch, as it were.

    In philosophical and religious arguments, there are always assumptions, propositions taken as true without proof. However, they are seldom, if ever, identified as such. For example, several of you have attempted to refute my arguments by invoking moral law, or morality. That there is absolute morality appears to be a proposition taken as true without proof by most of you, since in your arguments, it is always simply assumed to be true. Now the logical problem with this approach is that you are attempting to use your own axiom to show that my views (eg., my brand of pantheism) are logically contradictory. This, however, is an invalid argument, since I made it quite clear that I don’t accept that axiom as true. You may believe that I am wrong, and attempt to persuade me of that, but the charge of logical inconsistency is incorrect.

    Another example is your attempt to refute my assertion that a God of love would never create a Hell by invoking divine justice. However, if there is no absolute morality (which I believe we all agree means morality handed down by God) in my theology, then the whole idea of divine justice collapses, since justice means punishment for morally bad behavior and reward for morally good behavior and in God’s eyes there is neither (in my theology).

    I have axioms around the notion of unconditional love. It is axiomatic for me that unconditional love is incompatible with judgment, condemnation, or punishment. I cannot prove this. It derives from my own personal experience of the nature of unconditional love. Bornagain has written a couple of times that reconciling God’s love and God’s justice is subtle and difficult. I say it’s impossible. It is also axiomatic for me that all genuine love is unconditional.

    So what are the sources of that which we know as true without proof? I see two legitimate such sources: intuition and what Werner Erhard calls “natural knowing”. Intuition, unfortunately, is fallible, or more precisely, is hard to identify clearly, but natural knowing is a direct source of truth (another of my axioms). It is a kind of seeing. A good example is Descartes’ realization after doubting everything that “I think, therefore I am.” He couched it in logical form, but actually it was a kind of seeing that thoughts require a thinker. I did not list revelation as a source of that which we know without proof because there are so many sources claiming to be revelation in the world, and so we must somehow select which one or ones in which to put our faith. If we are fortunate we use our intuition for this, but most of us simply accept what we were taught as children.

    Beyond all this, however, is the fact that ultimately real knowledge of the true nature of reality is beyond logic altogether. As it says in the opening line of the Tao Te Ching, “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.” (Stephen Mitchell translation) In other words, language is incapable of expressing the Truth of Reality. And since logic is rooted in language, it is also incapable of discerning and expressing ultimate Truth. So the most we can do is talk about it or around it or point to it with language, but ultimately, it is ineffable (and replete with apparent paradox, by the way). One can only approach it through intuition and natural knowing. Language and logic can point to it but not express it.

    I know that most of you will not agree with what I have said, and, unfortunately, will come back at me with more condescending arguments as to why my views are stupid and not based on reason. But that’s how it is in these blogs, isn’t it. Those of us who are convinced that ID is true have the same problem with Darwinists, don’t we.

  177. Bruce, you pride yourself on being logical, and indeed in the ‘calculus’ of your rejection of Christian Theism, you have rejected the existence of evil because you find it ‘logically’ inconsistent with God’s characteristic of infinite love. Yet in your rejection of the reality of evil, you have in fact rendered yourself incapable of any absolute moral standard to make judgments by. i.e. by your standard of ‘All is God, All is Good’, the holocaust was not evil and Mother Theressa’s altruism towards the poorest of the poor was not good. As StephenB has so clearly pointed out, from this pantheistic point of departure, of ‘All is God’, your worldview dissolves into a ‘madhouse’ of logical inconsistency. And not to be condecending to you in the least but perhaps it would be well for you to be a bit more humble as to how highly you think yourself capable of logical thought (math degrees and all), when you have in fact made such a gross error in your foundational precept of rejecting evil solely based on only one characteristic of God (infinite love) while ignoring the other characteristics of God (infinitely just, infinitely holy)???

    ———-

    Skillet “Awake and Alive” Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-iB9qKZ2HI

  178. -”I detect a certain subtle condescension from more than one of you (et tu, Sonfaro?), so I am going to say a little bit about myself here”

    Whoa, didn’t mean to give you that impression… Unless you’re British.

    If you are, then yeah. I’m being condesending.

    >:D

    U-S-A! U-S-A! (The fistbumps continue as the world groans.)

    Seriously, while I don’t fully understand or agree with your theology, I certainly don’t think less of you for it. If you sensed condesention on my part then I apologize.

    - Sonfaro

  179. Bruce’s musings bring up a rather interesting point. Only Christianity provides a precise definition of love. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Love is that which builds up life. It follows, then, that there is a kind of love that does not build up life. This self-serving love is described in the commandments. “Whatever commandment there is is summed up in one command: love one another.”

    “God is love,” but there is another kind of love seen in the human race that is not godly. If I murder someone, I have violated the law of love that preserves life, the only sacred value known to man (“in him was life, and this life was the light of men”). My action, according to the Biblical view, is evil. And I have also murdered him if I am even angry with him. “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer,” because by hating him I deprive him of life. I cause him pain and unhappiness.

    This logically consistent description of love is both precise and unique.

  180. E. Michael Jones summed it up best:

    “There are ultimately only two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire.” Truth often stands in the way of me fulfilling my desires. When truth does not fit my desires, rather than acknowledge the wrongness of my desires, and seek change, it is easier to change the “truth” and bring it in line with my desires. Thus truth, ceases to be an unchanging standard once it becomes flexible, and man can adjust it to fit his desires. Not unlike children who want to change the rules of the game once it becomes evident that they are not winning.”

  181. 181

    Bornagain: “Yet in your rejection of the reality of evil, you have in fact rendered yourself incapable of any absolute moral standard to make judgments by. i.e. by your standard of ‘All is God, All is Good’, the holocaust was not evil and Mother Theressa’s altruism towards the poorest of the poor was not good. As StephenB has so clearly pointed out, from this pantheistic point of departure, of ‘All is God’, your worldview dissolves into a ‘madhouse’ of logical inconsistency.”

    Can you really not see that your argument begs the question? My worldview is a “‘madhouse’ of logical inconsistency” only if you already assume that good and evil exist. Otherwise it merely disagrees with yours.

    Your use of the term “worldview” is apt. It appears to me that the real difficulty you and others are having with me is that you judge parts of my worldview out of the context of the whole. The notion that good and evil do not exist really only makes sense in the light of the whole metaphysical/spiritual system that I espouse. I have tried throughout this thread to convey a sense of that whole. One of the most important aspects to understand about it is God’s purpose for physical creation, which I have explained several times, but which, unfortunately, is very difficult to convey adequately in the limited space that these threads provide. In Conversations with God, God takes some 11 pages to explain it the first time, and revisits the question several times in the ensuing volumes.

    To use an analogy, earthly existence is like being in a play, say Macbeth. In the context of the play, much happens that appears evil, but when the play is done, the director claps the actor who played Macbeth on the shoulder and says, “Well done. You played your part well and served my purpose admirably.” It’s kind of like that.

    The problem is, you take this temporary physical existence, which is not our true home nor our permanent abode, much too seriously.

  182. 182

    Sonfaro,

    I meant my “Et tu Sonfaro?” as a genuine question. I wasn’t sure. Thanks for clearing it up.

    Bruce

  183. 183

    StephenB:

    Responding to #180:

    The passage you quote assumes that the truth can be known without difficulty. But the question that we have been grappling with is what IS the truth, and how can we know it?

    I’ll make it personal. How can I know it? I was raised as an agnostic. I come to my search for truth equally open to all candidates. How do I know which of the many competing religions and philosophical systems, if any, are true? On what or whose authority do I decide? You tell me that reason and the revealed word of the Bible clearly show that Christianity is the answer. My Muslim friends (and I do have Muslim friends) tell me the same regarding Islam and the Koran, which after all was given word for word to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. My Bahai friend informs me that his faith trumps the others. My brother tells me that reason gives him no reason to believe in a God. How do I decide? On whose authority? I have given you my answers to those questions already, so I won’t repeat myself here.

    I have accused you and others who post in these blogs of arrogance. I’ve seen nothing yet to change my mind. You assume you know the truth and that all others are in the throes of error. It’s not that simple, my friend.

  184. Bruce David, that is the whole point is it not? everybody thinks their religion is the true one, even the doggone atheists think theirs is right! But I have many reasons why I find Christ to be true and alive.

    Number one is the Bible is unique in its claim for a transcendent origin of the universe.

    The Big Bang and the God of the Bible – Henry Schaefer PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5222493

    It is also very interesting to note that among all the ‘holy’ books, of all the major religions in the world, only the Holy Bible was, and is, correct in its claim for a transcendent origin of the universe. Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact. (Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5)

    The Uniqueness of Genesis 1:1 – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBXdQCkISo0

    Number two is that the Bible is unique in prophecies that have been fulfilled to the letter (Most remarkably, the prophesied restoration of Israel exactly in 1948)

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    Bible Prophecy Fulfilled – Israel 1948 – article
    http://ezinearticles.com/?Bibl.....;id=449317

    Number Three is the Shroud of Turin which stubbornly testifies to the resurrection of Christ;

    Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words ‘The Lamb’ – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041205

    Number Four is the many ‘personal’ miracles I’ve seen in my life, especially, and most importantly, in times of need;

    Miracle Testimony – One Easter Sunday Sunrise Service – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995314

    Number five is the changed lives, and personal testimony, of others,,

    Number six is the moral coherency of the Christian worldview which we have clearly outlined in this thread,,,

    I could probably go a lot further, to the point of excruciating boredom, but the point is Bruce, is that the integrity of my Christian belief system is, far, far more solid than anything you, or any other person, has ever presented to me! I don’t know Bruce, perhaps you feel ‘conversations with God’ is ‘holy’, but I find even cursory examination to disintegrate it??? Myself, if I could not find something more solid than that in the Bible, I would still be looking. Hopefully you have not quit.

    note;

    Christianity Gave Birth To Each Scientific Discipline – Dr. Henry Fritz Schaefer – video
    http://vimeo.com/16523153

  185. —-Bruce: “How do I know which of the many competing religions and philosophical systems, if any, are true?”

    First, we come to understand the nature of God in general, realizing that the first cause discussed by the philosophers, and the same first cause implied by the big bang, must be a transcendent creator of supreme intelligence and power. As I pointed out earlier, God cannot be his own creator.

    At that point, we have to ask who among those who have claimed to speak for God is worthy of belief. Once again, we appeal to reason. If God were to reveal himself, what should we expect?

    [A] We would expect that God would tell us ahead of time who to look for and what that person would be like. The least God could do is pre-announce the arrival of his spokesman.

    [B] We would expect that person to differentiate himself form the pack by performing miracles and associating those miracles with his claim to be God’s spokesman.

    [C] We would expect that this person would never teach anything contrary to the first principles of right reason.

    So, we line up the claimants.

    [A] Was Mohammed foretold? No. Was Buddha pre-announced? No? What about Confucius? No. What about your favorite author? No. These men just showed up and made a declaration. Anyone can do that. Your author can do that.

    With Jesus Christ it is different. We have 459 prophecies in the Old Testament announcing, among other things, the time, place, and birth of the Messiah. Other prophecies describe details of his mission as well the circumstances of his life, death, and resurrection. The odds against all these prophecies becoming manifest in time/space/history by coincidence is impossibly high.

    [B] Did any of these other claimants perform credible miracles in such a way that hundreds or thousands of witnesses could attest to their validity. Did any of them raise themselves from the dead and associate their claims to Divinity with the event? Was their character spotless in every way and did they practice superhuman love?

    Christ was the perfect person in every way. Indeed, He challenged his enemies to find even one fault in him, one unloving gesture, one broken promise, one hasty word, one intemperate act. He performed countless miracles and raised himself from the dead as proof that his claims were true. He literally came to the world to die and always knew that this was his fate. He gave his life freely and out of love. Most everyone else came to live and avoided death for as long as possible.

    [C] What about their teachings? Mohammed claimed that God can change his mind about morality and truth on a whim. Is that reasonable? Mohammed also insisted that his religion should be spread at the edge of a sword. Buddha, on the other hand, tells us that we can be happy only if we extinguish all desire and destroy our personality in the process? Is that reasonable?

    Unlike Buddha, who taught that desire should be extinguished, and unlike atheists, who tell us that our desires should be fed without constraint, Christ taught that we should use our desires to motive us in the service of love. Which one seems most reasonable to you? Christ taught us that truth and morality exist. Indeed, he claimed to be nothing less than the truth itself. Not only that, he said that He was the only way to God and that no other way exists. No other teacher has ever said that. If Christ claimed to have that authority, and didn’t have it, or if there are other ways to God, then He was not telling the truth, which means that He was not a good man or a good teacher.

    —“I have accused you and others who post in these blogs of arrogance. I’ve seen nothing yet to change my mind. You assume you know the truth and that all others are in the throes of error. It’s not that simple, my friend.”

    But you told me that God, you, and I are all the same person. You should stop speaking about God and yourself that way.

  186. 186

    StephenB, your A, B, C of what we should expect from a person “worthy to speak for God” reminds me of the Darwinists talking about “predictions” of Darwinism which are not predictions at all but facts that were known in Darwin’s time and which he created his theory to explain (eg., the increasing complexity of life as recorded in the fossils). You find qualities that seem to have been true of Jesus after the fact and then claim that reason tells us that these are precisely what we should expect. What you do is not reason in the sense of logical argument; rather it is inventing reasons to make what you believe sound reasonable.

    I believe that at this stage in our spiritual development there is no way we could possibly know through whom God would choose to communicate with us. It seems to me that the most important quality would be the humility to be a clear channel, but surely each age and place entails its own unique set of requirements. Furthermore, I believe that they all were God’s messengers–Jesus, Mohammed, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Krishna, Baha’u'llah, Rumi, Yogananda, Ibn al ‘Arabi, and so many more, and yes, Neale Donald Walsch. I believe that the message of each was moderated by the need to speak in a way that could be heard and understood by the people who lived in the time and place in which they delivered their messages, and I believe that the message of each has been further distorted by its translation into English (except for Walsch and Yogananda, of course), by the interpretations of those who came after, and by the very limitations of language itself.

    Thus, each religion and spiritual system (for want of a better word) contains both truth and error. The good news is that we are each endowed by our Creator with the ability to know everything, and we are each of us through our many incarnations moving towards that sublime and breathtaking awareness.

  187. 187

    StephenB: “But you told me that God, you, and I are all the same person. You should stop speaking about God and yourself that way [as arrogant].

    Not so! Arrogance is a part of God, too. It is the part that opens the door for us to have the experience of being truly humble. We can be humble, but without having known its opposite, we cannot EXPERIENCE our humility.

  188. Bruce David to highlight the incoherence of your beliefs you state:

    ‘Not so! Arrogance is a part of God, too. It is the part that opens the door for us to have the experience of being truly humble.’

    But you also stated that ‘everything is god’ and thus everything is equally good in your eyes since it is all part of God,,,,,,, thus from what standard can you possibly differentiate that ‘arrogance’, which you have accused us of, is ‘less good’ than humbleness??? Since according to your view everything around us, including murder, lying, stealing, destroying, is just as good, as healing, truth, charity, and creativity??? You simply have forfeited the right to judge whether anything is good or evil when you claimed ‘all is god’!!!

  189. —Bruce: ‘Not so! Arrogance is a part of God, too. It is the part that opens the door for us to have the experience of being truly humble.’

    Well, then, you should stop complaining about that good part of God that you see manifested in me [arrogance] as if it was a bad thing.

    In any case, truly humble people do not seek to become a law unto themselves. On the contrary, they hope to find God’s laws so that they can humbly follow them. Thy want to find their own distinct identity by worshipping the one, true God as a distinct, Divine person, rather than to worship themselves as God, which is the epitome of arrogance.

    Why not open up your world and spend some time with Thomas Aquinas, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, Norman Geisler, or William Lane Craig.

  190. —”Bruce: “What you do is not reason in the sense of logical argument; rather it is inventing reasons to make what you believe sound reasonable.”

    You wanted to know what reasoned arguments look like, so I obliged. I didn’t expect you to approve of those arguments because you don’t trust reason’s role in discerning a false religion from a true religion, which is why you currently embrace a false religion.

  191. Bruce

    “To use an analogy, earthly existence is like being in a play, say Macbeth. In the context of the play, much happens that appears evil, but when the play is done, the director claps the actor who played Macbeth on the shoulder and says, “Well done. You played your part well and served my purpose admirably.” It’s kind of like that.”

    Bornagain’s term “madhouse” is most appropos.

    Lets insert Hitler for Macbeth. Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews, millions of Christians and gays. What he did only apeeared to be evil. Furthermore he gets a clap on the shoulder and is told “well done, you played your part perfectly and served my purpose admirably”!!!!!!

    Acoording to your logic not only does Hitler get an atta boy so do the millions who suffered torture, starvation, gassing and other unspeakable crimes against their person. Way to go everyone you get atta boys as well!!!

    For the survivors and their families who might take an offense to these heinious crimes against humanity you say

    “The problem is, you take this temporary physical existence, which is not our true home nor our permanent abode, much too seriously.”!!!!!

    This is a disgusting philosphy.

    Vivid

  192. Oh Bruce one other thing. Hitler gets an attaboy for slaughtering, torturing and starving millions and your sensiblities are offended over the concept of hell?

    Vivid

  193. StephenB and Bornagain:

    I prefer French cuisine to English cuisine because I like the way French food tastes. That doesn’t make French cuisine moral and English cuisine evil.

    I prefer humility to arrogance because in a discussion arrogance on the part of either party precludes real discourse, and I find real discourse, by which I mean a discussion in which both parties are genuinely seeking truth, much more satisfying than one in which one or both are trying to prove they are right. I prefer love to hate because I like the way love feels much better than the way hate feels. This is because I am made in His image and likeness, and He IS Love. There is no logical rule that states that a preference implies moral rectitude.

    You both keep trying to tar me with the brush of morality. I say that one can lead a life of love, compassion, joy, truth, and peace in the complete absence of judgment, condemnation, and punishment. In fact, it is only in the absence of these that a truly loving and joyful life is possible.

    StephenB, you accuse me of seeking to be “a law unto myself”. I assume by the word “law” you mean a moral law. But I seek no such thing. I reject the notion of moral law altogether. I seek to be one who always acts from love into the need of the moment. I don’t seek this because I hold love to be morally right. I seek it because God made me that way.

  194. 194

    Vividbleau:

    You can be disgusted as long as you wish. You can judge and condemn until the cows come home. No one will stop you. But at some point, you might want to ask yourself what your judgment and condemnation actually accomplish.

    Hitler genuinely believed that he was doing the right thing–purifying the race in accordance with Darwinian principles. Do you think he would have cared a whit for your condemnation? To bring it into a more modern context, the men who flew the airliners into the World Trade Center believed they were warriors for Jihad and that they were martyrs for the cause of Allah. Do you think our calling them terrorists and evil will stop their compatriots? Is it possible that it might even have the opposite effect?

    I say to you that the only power that can truly change the world is love, and love includes compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. Wasn’t it Jesus himself who said, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do?”

  195. —Bruce: “StephenB, you accuse me of seeking to be “a law unto myself”. I assume by the word “law” you mean a moral law. But I seek no such thing. I reject the notion of moral law altogether.”

    You reject God’s laws and declare them to be non-existent. That is an attempt to be a law unto yourself. If one comes to a four-way stop sign and decides that he doesn’t believe in traffic laws, or decides that he is not going to follow them, he is, by virtue of that resolution, trying to become a law unto himself, making himself a public menace. It is no different with the moral laws of the universe. To deny them and refuse to follow them, is to seek to be one’s own law and to be be a moral menace.

    —”I seek to be one who always acts from love into the need of the moment. I don’t seek this because I hold love to be morally right. I seek it because God made me that way.”

    Because you do not believe in morality, you cannot define the love you claim to possess, except to simply use the word as a meaningless semantic exercise.

    How can you perform a loving act for one who is about to become addicted to pornography if you see nothing wrong with pornography? You cannot. How can you love your neighbor if you see nothing wrong with committing adultery with his wife? You cannot. Your vague utterances that smack of sentimentality will not guide you on the path of love.

    How, for that matter, do you love a baby who is about to be murdered by the abortionist when you see nothing wrong with abortion. Even if your personal preference is to save the baby, you would still be useless as a citizen since you could not condemn the act in general or mobilize a group effort to have the practice stopped.

    How can you love someone without knowing what is good for him and what is bad for him? You cannot. Your amoral philosophy of life is totally bankrupt and quite destructive to the social order, which requires morality as a staple.

  196. Bruce David, to point out your inconsistency of logic once again,, You state;

    ‘I prefer love to hate because I like the way love feels much better than the way hate feels. This is because I am made in His image and likeness, and He (God) IS Love.

    yet you also state that;

    ‘Arrogance is a part of God, too.’

    In fact you since you hold that ‘all is god’, you also hold that hate, lying, murder, etc,,, are also part of your god. So which is it Bruce? Is God love or is He not? You cannot hold both views and remain logically consistent!

    ‘The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.’ – Jesus

    You want desperately to be able to say what is good and evil in the world Bruce, but you have forfeited that right by attributing evil to God. Thus when you say you ‘prefer love’, I say ‘So What???’ Hitler preferred hate and you have forfeited the right to tell him, or anyone else, that his views are any less valid than yours!!!!

  197. Bornagain and StephenB:

    It is totally pointless to continue this discussion. Neither one of you has the slightest clue what my spiritual perspective actually is. You are so stuck in your beliefs that good and evil are real and that pantheism is logically contradictory that you simply cannot understand what I am trying to convey. I would suggest that you read Conversations with God, but I don’t think that would do any good either. It really is time to agree to disagree.

  198. Vividbleau:

    I will admit that my Macbeth analogy may have overstated the case a little. I was trying to convey the idea that this physical existence is only temporary. It is but a place we visit from time to time and not our true home. It is like acting in a play. The play is not real, and when the play is over, we return to the place that is real.

    The play, however, has a holy purpose, which I have tried to convey above. And it is also true that each of us chooses the part we are going to play before we incarnate into a given lifetime.

  199. Bruce, even ignoring the complete moral incoherence of your position (which is VERY similar to the moral incoherence of atheism by the way). The fact is that pantheism breaks down on the scientific level as well,, just as atheism does. Where pantheism states that ‘all is god’ it does follow for pantheism to predict from that precept the transcendent origin of this universe, just as it does not follow for the atheists to predict the transcendent origin of the universe from their precept of a ‘eternal universe, or as Carl Sagan has said,,,

    ‘The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.’

    Thus not only does pantheism fail on the moral level, it fails on the most important scientific prediction that can be made by any philosophy,,, namely pantheism, like atheism, has failed to adequately address where we came from, as far as the science is concerned, so since it has failed in such a foundational way to tell us where we came from, I will hardly trust your philosophy to inform me on where I shall be going after I die!!!

  200. Bornagain:

    No, you are wrong. I have explained it; you have not understood it. There is nothing more I can say.

  201. –Bruce: “Neither one of you has the slightest clue what my spiritual perspective actually is.”

    But I do understand your spiritual perspective. You, I, and God are all the same person except that we are all different.

    –”You are so stuck in your beliefs that good and evil are real and that pantheism is logically contradictory that you simply cannot understand what I am trying to convey.”

    If we are the same person, then you are stuck in my beliefs and I am stuck in your beliefs. No wonder we are having problems.

    –”I would suggest that you read Conversations with God, but I don’t think that would do any good either. It really is time to agree to disagree.”

    From your author:

    —”There are no such things as the Ten Commandments.”

    Hide your wallet–and your wife–and your daughter.

    –”You are already a God. You simply do not know it.”

    Sure, Neale is God and he knows it. I am God, but I don’t know it. God is Neale and God is also me. That means, of course, that God knows that he is God, except that he doesn’t.

    If we look past the logical errors, we find that this doctrine is simply an old error [gnosticism] with a new name. Today it finds its expression in Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, and Dwayne Dyer. In my lifetime, I have confronted it hundreds of times. Young skulls full of mush, however, hear it for the first time and think that they are getting something new.

    —”Do not make the pathetic error of clinging to the old rugged cross.”

    That’s basically St. Peter’s speech to Christ right before he was rebuked as a devil.

    –”The atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.”

    In other words, “I am perfect in every way, I have never done anything wrong, and I need no improvement. Holy Egomania, Batman! And Bruce thinks that we are arrogant.

    —“Hitler didn’t hurt anyone.”

    How sweet.

  202. Bruce “I will admit that my Macbeth analogy may have overstated the case a little.”

    This doesnt change the fact that in your philosophy Hitler did not commit unpseakable crimes.

    Frankly Bruce I dont for a second believe you can consistently live within the confines of your philosophy. If someone were to murder , rape, torture your loved ones, or even your neighbors and friends you would be outraged.

    –Bruce: “Neither one of you has the slightest clue what my spiritual perspective actually is.”

    Actually I think they do. You stated it quite well in 176 and I thught you made some excellent points.

    Bruce “In philosophical and religious arguments, there are always assumptions, propositions taken as true without proof. However, they are seldom, if ever, identified as such. For example, several of you have attempted to refute my arguments by invoking moral law, or morality. That there is absolute morality appears to be a proposition taken as true without proof by most of you, since in your arguments, it is always simply assumed to be true. Now the logical problem with this approach is that you are attempting to use your own axiom to show that my views (eg., my brand of pantheism) are logically contradictory. This, however, is an invalid argument, since I made it quite clear that I don’t accept that axiom as true. You may believe that I am wrong, and attempt to persuade me of that, but the charge of logical inconsistency is incorrect.”

    In the end we all end up embracing certain assumptions, presuppositions etc. The question is which presuppositions are the most coherent. As Francis Schaeffer pointed out there are at least two tests that one needs to apply to ones worldview. The first is does it past the test of reason? Second can one consistently live within the confines of ones worldview?

    If we were to meet I could shake your hand. But what if instead I find out the address of your most loved and rape, torture and murder that loved one all the while making you watch. Would you make no distinction between the two actionns? Would one action not be more gratifying than the other? Really Bruce do you think you would not be outraged if I did the latter rather than the former?

    Only you can honestly answer and I dont expect you to do this on this forum, you have to much invested in the defense of your position. If you can answer honestly that you would be outraged, you would report it to the legal authorities, you would want justice and for me to be held accountable. If this be so your worldview fails because you cannot live it out.

    Vivid

  203. 203

    StephenB:

    Your taking quotes out of context and then twisting their meaning even further in order to ridicule what you don’t understand only makes you look foolish. I highly recommend that at this point you just give it up.

  204. 204

    Vividbleau:

    Jesus said turn the other cheek and love your enemies. Do you honestly believe that you can do that in all situations that you might conceivably encounter.

    We are all human. We all can fail to live up to our highest ideals. Whether or not I would be able to in any particular situation is, I submit, not a good test of the truth of those ideals.

  205. 205

    Vivbleau:

    Regarding understanding my spiritual perspective, it isn’t contained in any one of my posts. It is a whole system, which I have laid out in outline over the course of most of this long thread. For example, when I say I reject the “axiom” of absolute morality, that simply cannot be fully understood in isolation from the rest of my spiritual beliefs. It’s all of a piece, a whole.

  206. —Bruce: “Your taking quotes out of context and then twisting their meaning even further in order to ridicule what you don’t understand only makes you look foolish.”

    Your failure to specify which quotes you are talking about makes you look exceedingly foolish.

    —”Regarding understanding my spiritual perspective, it isn’t contained in any one of my posts. It is a whole system, which I have laid out in outline over the course of most of this long thread.”

    Why do you keep running and hiding from the issue. On the one hand, you claim that we are all the same person. On the other hand, you keep complaining that some person other than you is misunderstanding you. You need to address this problem if you ever expect anyone to take you seriously.

  207. Here’s a question for all you folks who believe that Hitler was an evil man because of all the suffering and death for which he was responsible.

    God, through a 9.0 earthquake off the shores of northern Japan five days ago, seems to have created an enormous amount of rather horrible death and suffering of a lot of innocent people, which may yet get substantially worse if there is a reactor core meltdown in one or more of those stricken nuclear power plants. How does God escape the charge of being evil as well?

  208. StephenB: “Why do you keep running and hiding from the issue. On the one hand, you claim that we are all the same person. On the other hand, you keep complaining that some person other than you is misunderstanding you. You need to address this problem if you ever expect anyone to take you seriously.”

    I have explained my spiritual understanding in significant detail already. Your question shows me that you have not really understood any of it. Frankly, I it seems pointless to try to explain it again. You have exhibited no real desire to understand my perspective and I see no hope that that will change.

  209. Bruce David,

    “God, through a 9.0 earthquake off the shores of northern Japan five days ago, seems to have created an enormous amount of rather horrible death and suffering of a lot of innocent people, which may yet get substantially worse if there is a reactor core meltdown in one or more of those stricken nuclear power plants. How does God escape the charge of being evil as well?”

    There are a few ways to deal with this. One, you would have to show that God “did this”. You can make the case from the Bible that, in fact, we did this. Clearly this was not God’s perfect plan, but by giving His creatures freedom He gave up always getting His way.

    But, you can go to the Bible and say, for example, that the great deluge was an act of God; His judgment on people. So God can and does cause pain and suffering.

    The problem is this: If God is real and truly responsible for these events, we must look at it from His perspective, not ours. The Bible doesn’t make any excuses about God’s right and authority to judge or do with His creation what He wants. Why? For the same reason that we readily accept that a judge and jury of our peers can send us to prison. They have the authority to do so.

    So, looking from that perspective should at least make you step back and think. And when we do step back and think, I suggest that what we’ll find is that God doesn’t really care about people dying. Why would He? It is not an ending. It is one phase of eternity, a passing from one stage to another. People are not annihilated—completely gone from existence in any form forever—they are on another plane of existence.

    As for the pain and suffering of those still here, the Bible says that God uses this to bring people to the knowledge of the truth. Pain and suffering are, perhaps, the greatest tutors that we all recognize and learn from. We as children were disciplined by our parents that loved us. It was not pleasant at that time, but we reap a harvest from that experience. And don’t forget the pain and suffering of Jesus. Pain and suffering is not an evil, but more like an unfortunate and unpleasant means to an end, one which God hopes will entail embracing Christ.

    “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,” Rom. 8:20

  210. 210

    Brent, I pretty much agree with everything you say, which is why I say that there is no such thing as evil. It’s all part of the Plan, it all is part of our spiritual growth, and none of it matters from the larger perspective of our perfect and indestructible souls (which is who we really are). It’s also what I meant when I said above that believing in evil is a function of taking this physical existence too seriously.

  211. Bruce, I didn’t read anything but your last two posts and therefore didn’t know your position fully. Sorry about that. If I can I’ll read more and respond if I have anything that I think may be useful.

  212. Bruce “Jesus said turn the other cheek and love your enemies. Do you honestly believe that you can do that in all situations that you might conceivably encounter.”

    Probably not but the difference here is that if I do not turn the other cheek I will still be acting consistently within my worldview. That cannot be said for you in the example I gave.

    Vivid

  213. Bruce, what concerns me most about your panthesism, is that it, as I stated yesterday, was completely inaccurate as to predicting the ex-nihilo transcendent origin of this universe. So as I also stated yesterday, I will hardly trust a philosophy that was wrong on the primary philosophical question of answering where we came from to tell me where I am going when I die.

    So Bruce, to further drive the point home. out of collection of Near Death Experiences of foreign cultures, the collections that are most consistently horrific are Buddhist NDE’s. And as you probably well know, In general, Buddhists are pantheistic in their view of God!

    Here is one study Bruce;

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    notes;

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before. All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’ while having a deep NDE have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ’3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    http://www.shroudstory.com/natural.htm

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life! – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355

    A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection? by Chuck Missler
    Excerpt: “You can read the science of the Shroud, such as total lack of gravity, lack of entropy (without gravitational collapse), no time, no space—it conforms to no known law of physics.” The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically. Dame Piczek created a one-fourth size sculpture of the man in the Shroud. When viewed from the side, it appears as if the man is suspended in mid air (see graphic, below), indicating that the image defies previously accepted science. The phenomenon of the image brings us to a true event horizon, a moment when all of the laws of physics change drastically.
    http://www.khouse.org/articles/2008/847

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as an observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences:

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

  214. Vividbleau: “Probably not but the difference here is that if I do not turn the other cheek I will still be acting consistently within my worldview. That cannot be said for you in the example I gave.”

    That still doesn’t invalidate my point, which is that it is possible for a human being to have a perfectly valid set of ideals and yet fail to live up to them from time to time. (Can you tell me in all honesty that you ALWAYS live up to your own, whatever they are?) In other words, I just basically disagree that our ability to live up to our ideals 100% of the time is a good test of their validity, or even whether we really believe them. Until we reach the level of mastery demonstrated by Jesus or the Buddha, it is still possible to be overwhelmed by our emotions and our conditioning.

    The test of whether I live up to my stated ideals in the situation you described above would be this: would I make the person who raped and murdered my loved one wrong? Or would I view him with compassion for the degree to which he had lost sight of his true Self. It would not be whether I wanted him incarcerated, because I most certainly would want to prevent him from doing it again to someone else. And I do not know how I would react were I ever actually faced with that situation, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that you don’t know how I would react either. I do know for a fact that there are people who believe that the death penalty should never be used, who had a loved one murdered by someone facing execution, and who nonetheless argue for the sentence to be commuted to life, so it is possible at least to remain faithful to one’s ideals even in the face of having a loved one murdered.

  215. —Bruce: “I have explained my spiritual understanding in significant detail already.”

    You have tried to explain it, but your explanation makes no sense to me, which is why I asked you this question:

    If we are all the same person, why do you complain that someone other than you is misunderstanding your position.

    —”Your question shows me that you have not really understood any of it.”

    My question shows that I understand the your position well enough to find a problem with it.

    —”Frankly, I it seems pointless to try to explain it again.”

    Frankly, it seems pointless for you to keep evading the issue.

  216. —Bruce: “Until we reach the level of mastery demonstrated by Jesus or the Buddha, it is still possible to be overwhelmed by our emotions and our conditioning.”

    Jesus said he came to save us from sin.

    You say that there is no sin to be saved from.

    If there is no sin to be saved from, then Jesus mislead us and was a false teacher.

    Yet you say that he was a good teacher.

    How do you explain that?

  217. Bruce,

    I haven’t read everything and may only be repeating things that others may have brought up, but . . .

    You said,

    the part of Christian dogma with which I take issue is the part where God is portrayed as judgmental, condemning, and punishing, which I see as a contradiction of His basic nature, ie., infinitely and unconditionally loving.

    A couple things stick out to me here. One, why do you choose the part of the Book that asserts God’s infinite and unconditional love and rule out the judgment and condemning part from the same Book? Why not flip-flop that? It makes as much sense. But, better yet, why not take both together? It makes the most sense.

    For one, the idea comes from the same Book, but two, especially if you say that you accept the unconditional love part, because the other necessarily follows. No person even, let alone a perfect God with perfect love and attributes, can love something and not hate its opposite. Love implies hate. If God loves good, He must hate evil. If God loves right action, He must utterly hate wrong action.

    God was not obligated to send His Son to die for the sins of the world. That is the love part. God will reject those who reject His Son. That is the hate part. God has made it abundantly clear that He doesn’t want to be separated from anyone, but that is ultimately our choice.

  218. Bruce “That still doesn’t invalidate my point, which is that it is possible for a human being to have a perfectly valid set of ideals and yet fail to live up to them from time to time”

    That may be your point but it is not the point I was making. For you to live consistently within your worldview you must acknowledge that I have done nothing evil or wrong yet you cannot otherwise you would not write this

    Bruce “It would not be whether I wanted him incarcerated, because I most certainly would want to prevent him from doing it again to someone else”

    If the person has not done anything wrong why should he be incarcerated? If his actions are neither good or bad why would you want to prevent him from doing it to another. By your own words you acknowledge your inconsistency.

    Vivid

  219. 219

    Brent, you wrote, “No person even, let alone a perfect God with perfect love and attributes, can love something and not hate its opposite.”

    That is simply false. The opposite of white is black. If I love white does that imply that I hate black? If I love women, must I then hate men? If I love sunshine, do I then hate the rain? It is entirely possible to love something AND its opposite.

    You wrote, “God will reject those who reject His Son.”

    With all due respect, that is not unconditional love. Unconditional means without condition. If God will only love us on condition that we not reject His son, then that kind of makes it conditional, doesn’t it.

    This is why I say unconditional love on the one hand, and judgement, condemnation, and punishment on the other are incompatible. To say that God loves us unconditionally and then assert that He would punish us is a logical contradiction.

    Note: Punishment and consequences are not the same thing. It is possible to love someone unconditionally and still set up consequences to help them to learn. The consequences God sets up are generally in the nature of “what goes around comes around”, or “you reap what you sow.” Sow hatred, and hate comes back to you. Sow love and love returns.

    Now, before we get into another long discussion here, there are some things you should know about me:

    1. I do not accept the Bible as the infallible word of God.

    2. I believe that the notion of Hell and damnation is something that was added later to Christian dogma, and was not in Jesus’ teachings.

    3. I hold that most of the arguments based on “reason” that Christian theologians use to justify Christian dogma are not proper use of reason at all, but rather are simply the invention reasons to make what they believe sound reasonable.

    You are coming late to this thread, and I have written expansions of all these assertions in various of my comments above, mostly in response to Bornagain77 and StephenB. If you really want to get into a discourse about belief, I suggest you read through this whole long thread first. If you don’t want to do that, I completely understand.

  220. 220

    Vividbleau: “If the person has not done anything wrong why should he be incarcerated? If his actions are neither good or bad why would you want to prevent him from doing it to another. By your own words you acknowledge your inconsistency.”

    You make the same mistake Bornagain makes. You assume that the only reason to accept or reject anything is that it is MORALLY good or MORALLY bad. It is entirely possible to have preferences, even very strong preferences, without attaching any moral judgement whatsoever. Do I choose vanilla over chocolate because chocolate is morally wrong? Of course not. I can prefer that people not suffer unnecessary pain without it meaning that I must believe in the existence of morality.

  221. Bruce “Do I choose vanilla over chocolate because chocolate is morally wrong?”

    Ok murder, rape, torture, etc is like ones preference for chocolate over vanilla. You prefer vnilla and I prefer chocolate so I should be incarcerated for that? After all your preferences are the reason you want the rapist incarcerated. Why the distinction?

    Bruce “I can prefer that people not suffer unnecessary pain without it meaning that I must believe in the existence of morality”

    However the torturer prefers that they suffer pain. Why should your preference overide the torturer’s?

    As to pain there is no real pain its all an illusion is it not?

    Vivid

  222. Bruce one other thing. I find it the height of arrogance that you would incarcerate someone because they prefer something you do not. Quite telling really.

    Vivid

  223. Bruce David, the grossest error you are making in your acceptance of your philosophy, at least from my perspective, is that you refuse to let reason, or reality itself, inform you on whether your philosophy is true or not. Thus when I mention that your philosophy failed to predict the ex-nihilo creation of the universe, this matters not one iota to you for you are not persuaded by anything other than what you want, and imagine, to be true. as well, your god that you have made for yourself reminds me a whole lot of those ancient capricious gods of the Greeks, Thor, Zeus and such, since they too were ‘arrogant’ at at times as you admitted your ‘god’ currently is!

  224. 224

    Vivdbleau & Bornagain:

    I’m done. You are both so far from me in your ideas of what reason is that it is like talking to a wall.

    Trying to have a discussion with either of you (or StephenB, but at least he had the grace to stop when it was obvious that communication had ceased) is like trying to explain to a Darwinist why the fossil record actually does not support Darwinism. You say something that makes perfect sense, and the response that comes back is such a non-sequitur that you don’t even know what to do with it.

    This is just too frustrating. I really am out of here.

  225. 225
    CannuckianYankee

    ‘Oh, running away are we? Come back here and take what’s comin’ to ya, I’ll bite your legs off.”

    In all seriousness, though, Bruce your input is appreciated. I think your frustration though stems less from others misunderstanding you than your attempt to describe a philosophy that has no congruence with reality.

    You states (parphrase?l How does God esape the charge that he is evil?’

    I’m glad you mentioned this, because it really is the crux of the matter, and it is the subject matter behind what is known as a theodicy – the challenge of reconcilibg a good god with the existence of evil in the world……

  226. 226
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce and others,

    This is why I mentioned in an earlier post that you might benefit from reading William Dembski’s own stab at theodicy, ‘The End Of Christianity: Finding A Good God In An Evil World,’ which is generally a response to the New Atheist charge that if God exists, He’s responsible for all the evil in he world. Therfore the athist theodicy is to charge that God does not exist. This atheistic view is truly incoherent because they don’t deny the existence of evil. It’s problematic because an atheist cannot be cob
    nsistnt in that view if Darwinism is the philosophy, which allows them to make the charge. Within Darwinism there really can be no good or evil, because Darwinism merely describes what is, and you cannot derive an ought from an is.
    Your theodicy then, is to say that there is no evil in the world, but this is no reconciliation with the fact that we do encounter real evil. so then you say that what we experience as evil is an illusion. This is very similar to the…

  227. Bruce “You say something that makes perfect sense, and the response that comes back is such a non-sequitur that you don’t even know what to do with it.”

    Bruce don’t run away when the probing starts to strike home.What is circular in what I wrote in post 221? You made the chocolate vanilla preference example as it relates to murder, rape and torture. Why does one of your preferences require incarceration and others don’t?

    Is it or is it not your position that pain, good, evil,and pleasure is all an illusion?

    Where is the non sequiter?

    Vivid

  228. 228
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce, others,
    (contining…)
    …philosophy of one Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science fame, who proposed the idea that human disease is illusory – it’s all in the mind. It’s also similar to Tom Cruise’s denial that mental illness actually exists. Such charges do not match with what we intuitively as well as scientifically know to be true.
    I would say that similar to the impossibility of deriving an ought from an is, your philosophy attempts to derive an is not from an is, and as such it doesn’t have hope of lending anything meaningful to our vey real existence. You might as go all the way and say that nothing exists, that all reality is an illusion.

  229. 229
    CannuckianYankee

    Bruce and others,
    One last observation:
    You mentioned the Japanese tragedy as an example for why if evil exists, God is responsible. I say that you are only seeing what is happening there from a one – sided perspective. Consider thet for over yt years Japan has been a peace lovibg country. In the bible there is never a promise that calamity will neve befall the just, However, all through scripture we read that through certin acts of righteousnes, cerain outcomes will derive in the midst of calamities, Now cinsider the worldwide response to this trajedy, and understand that in theis commitment to living peacefully, as many as 100 countries have come to theiraid, including some countries that consider them enemies. This to me is thetruework of God in a world of evil. His word is powerful with the insight that whoever sows peace will gain many friends.

  230. 230

    Bruce,
    The fact that there are acts in the world we identify as evil, and others we identify as good are enough to show us that good and evil truly do exist. That you change this around and say that there are outcomes I prefer and others I don’t is merely a game of semantics, and a very dangerous one at that.
    It’s dangerous because we who don’t hold your view have to trust that all those who do adhere to your philosophy intend good (or to side with your idiomatic trminology, ‘preferred’). But what happens if an adherent to your philosophy views it as an opportunity to do whatever they ‘prefer,’ the prefernces of others be damned. You can see how a person could justify just about any action and call it simply his/her own preference. If such a philosophy catches on you can see how this could and would lead to a very dangerous world.

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