There is no default position

In any serious discussion, everyone needs to participate.  All people bring an opinion into every discussion and everyone needs to support it.  Most people understand this, but sometimes someone comes to the table under the impression that their view is correct by default.

Some people like their worldview is ‘ground zero’, so to speak.  Some of the more ‘evangelical’ type atheists, for example. Adding anything, such as God, departs from that default ground zero.  However, in any discussion there is no default position, since once a proposition is offered, there are only three options, and two of them must be defended.

You can agree with the view.  If someone says “A is true”, and you agree A is true, there is nothing more to discuss.  Enjoy the weather.

You could also deny the idea.  Someone says “A is true”, and you disagree, your position of skepticism does not protect you from defending your denial.  Neither the one affirming, or the one denying A is correct by default.  Since before the claim is made, there is no position at all, there is nothing to defend.  But once A is offered in either direction, no one is correct by default.  Even a denial is a position.

Here’s why denying A offers no privilege.  People hold beliefs.  They don’t not hold beliefs, or hold non-beliefs.  I’m not even sure it’s possible to not believe something in the sense the Atheist advances the idea.  For example, when my daughter doesn’t turn in her homework claiming the dog ate it, the teacher either believes the dog ate it, or the teacher believes the dog did not eat it.

I think the only condition where someone lacks a belief, or doesn’t believe something, is when they haven’t been introduced to the idea.  In the above example, before my daughter did or didn’t turn in the assignment, her teacher lacked belief in a reason for her future failure to turn it in.  It could be said that the teacher lacked belief in why the assignment was missing.  However, once she introduces “the dog ate it”, the teacher begins to form beliefs.  It can not be said that she begins to form non-beliefs.

So how does this apply to the theological debate involving the Theist and Atheist?  The Atheists are attempting to deflect responsibility for defending their beliefs.  They argue that because they don’t hold a belief (in a god) they have nothing to defend.  They believe it serves to take the pressure off them in the discussion.  To witness just how evasive the Atheists are willing to be, just ask the yes or no question: Does God exist?  The Atheists who prefer to use the “non-belief” rhetoric, will not answer with a yes or no.  The will answer be highly deflective, resembling something like: I lack belief in any god.  Or, I hold no belief in the existence of any god.  Every so often you’ll get one who will answer with an unambiguous ‘no’, but good luck trying to get a reason that doesn’t blame the Theist.

It will prove difficult if not impossible to persuade the Atheist to tell you what they do believe about God.  To be sure, the Atheist does hold a belief.  The belief is: God does not exist.

The only one with nothing to defend is the person who says they haven’t made a decision either way.  Here you are neither affirming or denying A, and thus are offering no position, and have no burden of proof.  It is only this soft-Agnosticism which bears no burden.  But this is not what the majority of Atheists are saying though, is it.

Comments

  1. The position from the affirmative is not that god does not exist, it’s that there are no gods. This nuanced position is an important point.

    From the affirmative, you dismiss Allah, Shiva etc, as a comparison, they don’t exist, or you don’t believe in them, or there are no gods but yours etc.

    We dismiss your supposition for precisely the same reasons you dismiss the possibility of the other 3k gods.

    My personal position is an argument from mass imperfection, if you care to know the reasoning behind my premise.

    • I hear that alot, that you dismiss the God I believe in for the SAME reasons I dismiss others. This actually isnt true. Not even a little.

      And if it were true, then you and the other vocal atheists here would be able to offer those reasons. However, all I get from you people is “I dont have to tell you”.

      But by all means, why do I reject other gods? HINT: Ive posted it in the past.

      • “Not even a little”? I guess I’m confused John, why?

        I dismiss Shiva for the vacuum of evidence as to her existence, which is precisely why you god is dismissed. These supernatural entities have not shown themselves to anyone not willing to use their mind for anything other than a monumental leap of blind faith.

        And, read my post, I dismiss your god from the position of mass imperfection. So I did tell you.

        I have read your posts on other gods, but what you seem to always skip over is that you were born into a christian dominated country. That’s the bulk of why you believe in this god over the other many thousands.

  2. There is no default position

    I don’t understand why you still seem to have a problem with this concept, John.

    If I come to you asserting that unicorns are real, it is my burden to prove that assertion. You are free to not accept the assertion by simply stating that there is no evidence to support my claim. Enjoy the weather. Why do you think it would then be necessary for you to assert that NO unicorns exist and then try to prove their non-existence?

    They don’t not hold beliefs, or hold non-beliefs…

    … just like my hobby of not collecting stamps – “hold non-beliefs” is nonsensical.

    The Atheists are attempting to deflect responsibility for defending their beliefs.

    It’s not about my beliefs at all. I’m merely evaluating your claim.

    Do unicorns exist, John? Yes or no – take a stand. I’m willing to wager you’d say “no”.
    Based on your argument here, John, it is now required for you to PROVE that unicorns do NOT exist. Good luck with that.

    • Z

      if you come in claiming that unicorns exist, you should offer some reasons why you believe they do. If I take umbrage with that, I dont just say “not good enough, harumph”, I give my reasons why I think your ‘evidence’ is faulty.

    • By your reasoning people who deny the moon landing and holocaust are justified in saying ‘not enough evidence’. Dont you think they should have some reasons of their own?

    • BTW, if you ask if I think unicorns exist and I say no, its not unreasonable for you to say “why not?” Now I could proceed like you do and shout “I DONT HAVE TO TELL YOU”. or I could give you some reasons, like a normal person interested in a discussion.

      • It’s easy to presuppose that unicorns exist, isn’t it? After all, they have been written about for centuries and everyone knows in their heart they exist.

        As for not believing the moon landing or the holocaust, I suppose it always comes down to what is considered valid evidence. Idiots who deny climate change and evolution do it all the time.

        I give my reasons why I think your ‘evidence’ is faulty.

        Me too, but religious folks refuse to critically examine their holy texts.

        BTW, I’ve never shouted “I DON’T HAVE TO TELL YOU”.

        I’ve given you clear and concise reasons why. I do not accept the bible to be a reliable source for history (or morality), and all you’ve ever replied with is “SMH”.

        • Clear and concise? Never. Your go-to response is that it’s not your job to tell me why you think I’m wrong, I must keep arguing until your convinced.

          You have dismissed things I’ve said with the usual atheist pashaw, but nothing along the lines of clear and concise reasoning.

          But no, you don’t have to presuppose unicorns don’t exist. That’s your problem, you think everything some religious person believes and the things they don’t is some unwarranted presupposition.

          • I’ve told you repeatedly that your bible is flawed and unreliable. (and that’s all you’ve ever tried to present as evidence)

            You just keep pushing it through, piling on assertion after assertion, trying to present one assertion as evidence for the last assertion. You refuse to critically examine the ridiculous claims it makes. Then, when all else fails, you get upset and go on the offensive.

            Then you proclaim that everyone else has presuppositions. Then you babble on about how everyone else must defend a position that you think they must take. You even proclaim that non-believers only reject the supernatural because they’re biased against it. You really are incredible.

            • so you think offering the unsubstantiated claim that the bible is “flawed and unreliable” qualifies as “clear and concise” reasons why you dont accept the bible? SMH

              • There you go again with the “SMH”…

                Yes, we’ve discussed all these issues before – go back and read your own blog pages again if you like.

                Bible accounts of earth origins in Genesis: obviously wrong
                Noah’s Ark story: obvious fabrication
                Virgin birth story: unsubstantiated
                Resurrection story: unsubstantiated

                And on and on it goes…
                The bible is flawed and unreliable.
                It makes a lot of claims that can and must be believed through faith alone.

                …and since this is all you have ever presented as evidence for your god-claim, it has been determined that your assertion is unreasonable and illogical.

                As for your common rebuttals, “But look at how many people witnessed…” and “Why would they lie?” does not add any credence to the stories. “But it’s a collection of books” doesn’t make them any more reliable either.

              • You saying it’s “obviously wrong” is not the same as demonstrating that it is in fact wrong.

  3. There is no default position

    I don’t understand why you still seem to have a problem with this concept, John.

    If I come to you asserting that unicorns are real, it is my burden to prove that assertion. You are free to not accept the assertion by simply stating that there is no evidence to support my claim. Enjoy the weather. Why do you think it would then be necessary for you to assert that NO unicorns exist and then try to prove their non-existence?

    They don’t not hold beliefs, or hold non-beliefs…

    … just like my hobby of not collecting stamps – “hold non-beliefs” is nonsensical.

    The Atheists are attempting to deflect responsibility for defending their beliefs.

    It’s not about my beliefs at all. I’m merely evaluating your claim.

    Do unicorns exist, John? Yes or no – take a stand. I’m willing to wager you’d say “no”.
    Based on your argument here, John, it is now required for you to PROVE that unicorns do NOT exist. Good luck with that.

  4. I will prove difficult if not impossible to persuade the Atheist to tell you what they do believe about God.

    And this statement perfectly illustrates why your position is disingenuous and untenable.

    First: you use a presuppositional sentence and include a pronoun.
    .
    Second: you offer no evidence to support the existence of this god you refer to.

    So therefore the default position most certainly is one in which there is no evidence whatsoever of any gods.

  5. Since humanity has always looked to the heavens for answers, and nearly every culture/society has believed in a higher power, I’d say the default position is: God exists.

    • T

      I think you’re right. Since the beginning of recorded history, there was virtual universal belief in a god(s). Since Atheists have always been in the minute minority, they should be the ones providing the arguments, really.

    • So T,

      Your “default” is the majoritorial fallacy? And to boot, you are allowing these other gods, now and through all recorded history to play on the same field, or have the same weight/values, as your god? You have just put yourself in league with the Zoroastrians, Yazidis, and Westboro Baptist church, and every member of every inquisition, and the KKK…..

      And John, no matter what you think we “should” do, the onus to provide something beyond your faith and bible, as proof from the affirmative, lies squarely with you. Some of us have spent more than enough time outlining why your god doesn’t exist, or couldn’t possibly, and specified why what you offer as valid explanations/proofs, don’t qualify.

      Go all the way back in history and see that argumentation, the art of rhetoric, and the process of inquiry, scientific or otherwise, requires of the claimant, the burden of proof.

      Trying to further your suppositions because we are a minority, and suggesting that because we are that somehow changes this process is really desperate, and dishonest.

      Why not simply say that your proposition requires faith, and all of its blind leaps, and be done with it?

      • Nash, I’m saying that if there’s a default position, which you can see I’m not convinced there is, it’s that a deity exists (who would need to be discovered. I don’t think that a particular one is self evident and would require some kind of revelation.

        • So if this entity is “self-evident”, are you suggesting that yours, or any other one for that matter, takes faith as the primary medium for belief?

          Without revelation that engages an individuals personal senses, isn’t it quite inappropriate to expect me to believe in yours, or anyone else’s very subjective explanation for such an event?

          For example, over the years I have met people like yourself from a variety of different faiths. They were die hard believers, some had, or could claim some kind of personally revealing revelation, while the majority had, had no such experience. Yet others still made an even larger leap of faith that the folks who could claim some quality of revelation, because they had experienced no such event. The folks who claim to have had such a personally sensory engaging moment, are for lack of a better word, more fervent than the folks who simply believe on faith alone. Should either one of these groups be taken more seriously over the other, or have their faith measured as being more relevant than a citizen who has none?

          The only time I discount any of these experiences is when they are used as proofs. Personally, unless your insane, I could never object to someone’s personal beliefs via faith from revelation. Yet we live in an age where this faith, either from just faith, or faith derived via revelation, is used to manipulate social, and political policy.

          And I can’t be just a passenger while that unfolds.

          • Nash

            Maybe one of us is misreading the other. I’m saying that a deity existing is I think fairly self evident. Which deity, not so much and requires revelation from them.

            I’m not asking you to be convinced that the God I am convinced exists does on the basis mere self-evidence. I’ll gladly discuss that. Here, broadly speaking, it tends to be a time waster with people like Ark because he is so skeptical that no bit of evidence even qualifies for him. Essentially he has designed and defined his view to be so correct that nothing will ever count.

            When I speak of revelation, I’m not talking of personal feeling based experience like mormonism or new age things. I mean like the tangible experiences the authors of the OT, NT, and other religious texts. Those need to be examined and critiqued and tested.

            • Maybe I am not understanding your use of “self-evident” in this context.

              Could you specify your use of the term? When I read it, I am under the impression that “self-evident” can only reference the purely subjective values placed on sensory experiences when coupled with revelation. But you seem to be saying that revelation, and self evident are actions only found in the reading of the bible, is that correct?

              How does one “examine, critique and test” your “tangible” experiences whilst reading the bible?

              I have read the bible from the age of 8 to now, and even while I was a believer, nothing revelatory or self-evident unraveled for me. I can’t reference my experiences as “tangible”. And I wonder if I could do that, would I offer those faiths and beliefs as “proofs/evidences to others of the existence of my deity?

              • Something that is self evident is something that is obviously true once it is understood even if someone could deny or gainsay it. 2 and 2 is four is self evident once you understand what addition is and how many two and four is. Even though someone could figure out a way to deny that doesn’t make it not self evident.

                Revelation would be the deity actively making itself known, ie miracles/supernatural events and/or blunt communication.

              • “I’m saying that a deity existing is I think fairly self evident”.

                So to be clear you are saying that a deity existing is as self evident, as 2+2? If so I think this is the crux of our differences.

                Reading the bible, and arriving at 2+2, and treating it as self evident proof/evidence, is legitimately mired in subjective extrapolation through and through. To say otherwise is beyond intellectual dishonesty. Hence christianity has arrived at many more than 4, if adding 2+2. If reading the bible rendered such self evidence, and that self evidence was claimed as absolute, and as perfect as 4, the world would not have thousands of denominations and sects, it would have 1.

                The bible is not mathematical. It is fraught with the ills of the men who wrote it, and burdened by time, and is not the work of a perfect, infallible deity.

              • Nash. I’m not saying the bible is self evidently true, that needs to be reasoned/argued/investigated. I’m saying that a God exists is self evidently true. Discovering which one relies on revelation and investigation.

            • the tangible experiences the authors of the OT, NT, and other religious texts. Those need to be examined and critiqued and tested.

              The texts have been critiqued and have been found wanting by all except idiotic biblical innerrantists.
              There was no global flood]
              Snakes and donkeys don’t talk
              Dinosaurs did not exist with humans
              Evolution is fact.
              Moses is fiction
              And people don’t walk on water or come back from the dead.

              If you believe they do then provide verifiable evidence.

              • Bingo, Ark – John constantly misses this point.

                • “Historical” accounts in Genesis – examined and debunked. Adherents believe it by faith, not evidence.
                • Noah’s Ark story – examined and debunked. Adherents believe it by faith, not evidence.
                • Virgin birth – examined and debunked. Adherents believe it by faith, not evidence.
                • Resurrection story – examined and debunked. Adherents believe it by faith, not evidence.

                Adherents clearly do not understand what constitutes evidence. Just because people wrote it down a long time ago does not mean it’s true. Just because those people who wrote it a long time ago felt inspired to write it down does not make it true. Just because a lot of people supposedly witnessed these alleged events and they wrote it down does not make it true. Just because you choose to believe it does not make it true.

                People have believed in many gods over the years – mainly because they didn’t know any better at that time. Some people today still think that they need to pray for rain, health or a bountiful harvest – or make “sacrifices” to appease the gods. Today we know better. A good number of us anyway… some still cling to some rather ridiculous beliefs.

              • Debunked? No. Dismissed a priori because your worldview precludes it? Yes. There’s a difference.

      • Nash,

        Your “default” is the majoritorial fallacy?

        My argument reflects a variety of scientific studies which confirm that belief in God is completely natural.

        Dr. Justin Barrett, researcher at the University of Oxford, says, “The preponderance of scientific evidence for the past 10 years or so has shown that a lot more seems to be built into the natural development of children’s minds than we once thought, including a predisposition to see the natural world as designed and purposeful and that some kind of intelligent being is behind that purpose.”

        He continues, “Children’s normally and naturally developing minds make them prone to believe in divine creation and intelligent design. In contrast, evolution is unnatural for human minds; relatively difficult to believe.”

        He further supports this conclusion by referencing anthropological studies which show that “in some cultures children believe in God even when religious teachings are withheld from them.”

        Another University of Oxford researcher, Professor Roger Trigg, said that religion was “not just something for a peculiar few to do on Sundays instead of playing golf. We have gathered a body of evidence that suggests that religion is a common fact of human nature across different societies.”

        [1]

        [2]

        And to boot, you are allowing these other gods, now and through all recorded history to play on the same field, or have the same weight/values, as your god?

        I agree with John. No particular god is “self-evident.” There must be some type of revelation. I accept the revelation of Jesus Christ. It makes the most sense to me. And though I can – and have – offer good reasons to believe in Jesus Christ, I can no more prove His divinity than I can prove that the sun will rise tomorrow. Of course it takes faith. Don’t be an idiot.

        • T, even Barret’s three sentences do in no way prove the existence of a deity. Trig’s two sentences provide even less.

          Barret is equating a “feeling” of design from children to there being a supernatural deity, and then you are using it to “prove” a god. You hopefully realize that someone’s feelings don’t qualify as evidence. You also hopefully realize that for every Barret you bring into the conversation I can produce 10 cultural anthropologists, evolutionary psychologists, historians etc who will use “sciency” stuff to shoot down Barret’s desperate assertions, right?

          It’s funny that you think a belief in a god as being natural, or anyones feelings, supports the very different, and as of yet exceptionally different supposition, that a god exists.

          And to think that since every North american indigenous people had a creation story, in fact almost every indigenous people world wide had/has a creation story involving the supernatural in some way……………….ask John, they’re all in hell. Through all time every last person who lived before jesus is burning in a pool of molten sulphur, and everyone who lived during or after, yet lived outside of the immediate 300 miles around Jerusalem, is also in hell…………so their “natural “feelings”, their innate supposing of something in the cosmos, either happened at the wrong time, or it was of a more simplistic, and dare I say, “natural” way, that landed them in hell, cuz jesus, and they did it wrong, they shouldn’t have been born 5 thousand years ago.

          And you still make conflated, self serving claims about inerrancy/perfection?

          • Nash,

            Perhaps you’re having trouble following along.

            The science I quoted is not intended to prove the existence of a deity. Only to prove that belief in a deity is a natural part of the human condition – and it is.

            • I will admit that at times threads like this are difficult for simpletons like myself to follow.

              But thanks for your help. Can you clarify this for me though: As a non-theist, you now posit that I am going against nature, or natural laws, “AND” the bible, christianity etc?

              • No. But I am saying that I don’t believe you started life as an atheist. If anything, you started as a believer in some higher power. I’m simply answering the question: Is there a default position.

                I suggest, and science supports, that the default position is: a higher power exists. That doesn’t mean a higher power actually exists, though I believe one does. It simply means that there is something in the human mind, soul maybe, that says, or at least wants to believe, there is a higher power.

                And I never said you were a simpleton. You’re arrogant, but not stupid.

        • @T.
          The problem here, Dickhead is that you do not understand the difference between agency and deity

  6. paynehollow says:

    I don’t think you’re using self-evident in the correct sense.

    How specifically is the existence of a god “self-evident…”? You and Terrance appear to be appealing to “because the majority has always thought so” but, as Richard pointed out, that is a fallacious appeal and not an appeal to self-evidence.

    Looking at your 2+2=4 analogy: If someone understands the notion of a creator god and understands the reasoning why some would assume such a god, I don’t think it “self-evidently” follows that everyone would find it self-evident, even understanding the thought process.

    Self-evident, MW: evident without proof or reasoning

    Evident, MW: clear to the vision or understanding

    One can understand the logic, “everything had to come from some thing and the only ‘something’ capable of creating everything would have to be a creator god…” without thinking it clear to the vision without proof or reasoning. Indeed, the repeated requests that you offer something to prove your beliefs is evidence, is it not, that your belief is not self-evident?

    As to the central thrust of this post, that there are no default positions, it seems that you have often argued that there are exactly default positions when it comes to Christianity, and that liberals and others who self-identify as Christians are outside the loop precisely because they fall outside the default positions of your preferred more evangelical positions. Am I mistaken?

    ~Dan

  7. paynehollow says:

    ? I muddy the discussion by providing specific definitions and asking for a CLEARER definition from you for the terms you’re using?

    I don’t believe you are using “muddy” correctly, either, since I’m being more precise, more clear, not less. But as you wish…

    I’d never want to let clarifying questions get in way with dogmatic faith.

    ~Dan

  8. Debunked? No. Dismissed a priori because your worldview precludes it? Yes. There’s a difference.

    No, John – debunked.

    I didn’t dismiss the stories before examining them.

    I didn’t approach the stories already concluding that they were true or not true.
    That’s the difference between the skeptic’s process and the adherent’s process.

    I evaluate what is presented and then reach a conclusion.

    You, on the other hand, already concluded it is true and try to make everything fit based on that conclusion. That’s what we call confirmation bias.

    • sorry, z, that’s not what happened. I didn’t start as a christian.

      However I’m open to learning. Can you point me to where this has all been debunked?

      • If you didn’t start as a Christian then please explain what it was that caused you to alter your worldview and accept Christianity as fact.
        What caused / was the catalyst that caused your conversion?

      • I have two simple questions for you before we move forward with this conversation, John.

        1. Since you keep insisting that you we’re a follower until adulthood, what was it specifically that convinced you that the bible, in its entirety, was true?

        2. Is there anything that could be presented to you that could convince you otherwise?

        • Z
          I couldn’t tell you one specific thing. What I can say is that when you remove all the extra hurdles and extra requirements and examine the bible as you would any historical work, you see that it is reliable. However, skeptics, and yourself admittedly, place higher and nearly unscalable burdens on it solely because it’s a religious text. That’s a large bias that you wouldn’t countenance in any other context.

          Of course things can be presented to that would convince me otherwise. I read counter views all the time. I have Dawkins, Harris, Nagel, Ruse, Dennet, Shermer, Ehrman and others on my shelf and Kindle. I actually read them. I don’t shelter myself from opposition. Why do you think I’m always asking you to give me some reason to doubt? You just wont.

          • I appreciate your sincerity, but your reply doesn’t really answer anything.

            …examine the bible as you would any historical work, you see that it is reliable.

            No it most certainly is not, and that’s why it’s not taught as history in a classroom outside a church.

            Skeptics put your religious claims to the exact same test they put any other claim.
            Skeptics do not accept “faith” as evidence.

            As for considering anything else, you sound rather committed to your beliefs and would be biased against anyone opposing them. My question was really pretty straight forward. Yes or no – is there anything that could move you from your current belief?

            • There are plenty of histories tjat aren’t taught in classrooms. Atheist activists have had bibles removed from schools, not advances in science and knowledge of history.

              And I gave a yes. I said that before too. I’m not emotionally attached to my Christianity. I don’t NEED to be. I won’t lose family or friends and I won’t feel like my life has been a lie. I believe it because it think it’s true.

              • “Atheist activists”… quite amusing.

                No, it is self-evident that snakes and donkeys don’t talk and we don’t teach bible stories as history in classrooms because we know it just ain’t so.

                I believe it because it think it’s true.

                I’m actually more interested in trying to grasp why.
                Why do believe the creation story told in Genesis is true?
                After all, the person that wrote it wasn’t there! We must take the author’s word for it. They feel that they were inspired to write that as fact and you believe them. Why?

                Why would you not ask why I should take their word on faith alone?
                Again… faith is not evidence.

              • I agree that donkeys and snakes don’t talk, in their natural states. However, the bible doesn’t teach that donkeys and snakes just happen to talk as a matter of practice. There was a divine intervention. This is where your bias interrupts your ability to have considered that nuance.

                You keep saying “faith is not evidence” as if anyone here ever said it was. Ever heard of a strawman?

  9. So now I guess we must accept animals in their unnatural state. In order to assert “divine intervention”, you must first address the assertion of the “divine” existing in the first place.

    Wow, you have a great habit of missing the point of the comment.

    The main point of the comment is to ask you why you accept what some author wrote about as true just because they said it was true. What evidence is presented by the author?

  10. I couldn’t tell you one specific thing. What I can say is that when you remove all the extra hurdles and extra requirements and examine the bible as you would any historical work, you see that it is reliable.

    What hurdles, what extra requirements ? And why is it a requirement to remove them before the bible is considered reliable?

    • For example, ark, you require only secular scholars, that there must also be multiple attestation by only secular writers contemporary with the event, you disallow anyone who believes the accounts, you disallow anyone who you don’t like personally, and nothing in the NT or OT counts for anything about anything.

      That’s not the kind of criteria actual historians use to determine the historicity of things. Just people like you.

      • There are no contemporary accounts from any quarter, not just secular.
        Don’t you know this?

        Because a secular scholar will not have a preconceived bias, They will simply follow the evidence.
        I wouldn’t be happy with a Hindu scholar or a Muslim scholar either. And neither would you, for that matter, so don’t get all high and mighty and hard done by with me.

        Modern historians do not consider there is any validity in supernatural claims; for Julius Caesar, Augustus or any ancient or modern figure including your man-god, Jesus of Nazareth.These are the real historians.
        Not Sunbeams for Jesus like Norman Geisler, Habermas,Licona Albright, and their ilk.

        This is what you are failing to grasp because you are ignorant of how modern science in this area works.

        • There are virtually no Contemporary accounts for ANY ONE’S life 2000 years ago. This isn’t a special circumstance.

          You’re utter delusional if you think secular people have no bias.

          I know how science works, but you clearly don’t understand how discovering HISTORY works. 2 different fields nitwit.

          • 1.So why do biblical historians not give and credence to the supernatural claims of other ancients or even modern day claims?

            2. No, you don’t understand how science works otherwise you would acknowledge that the Exodus and the Pentateuch were fiction.

            3 Both Z an I are still waiting for your explanation as to why you converted as an adult and what was the evidence that convinced you?
            Are you scared to tell your story for some reason?

            • Ark, you’re wrong when you say biblical scholars don’t give credence. You refer to the fringe skeptics of the field.

              The fields of science and history are not done the same way.

              • What! Are you of your rocker?

                List one christian biblical scholar that gives any credence to the supernatural claims of Hinduism and Islam.

                Genuine history does not take notice of supernatural claims. Neither does science.
                Period.

      • Ark requires secular scholars because Ark is a poor debater, seemingly unaware of the “genetic fallacy.” Ark suffers from delusions of grandeur, and reading his stodgy babble is becoming a rather dreadful task.

        It’s pathetic, really. Watching him debate, I mean. It’s rather like watching a quadriplegic swim the English Channel.

        • Lol… Name a single biblical scholar that will acknowledge the supernatural aspects of Islam.
          You really ought to go back to bible study, Terrance. You are embarrassing yourself even in front of your fellow Christians.

          • There are no supernatural events in the Quran, nitwit. It’s all in the Hadith, which is not scripture in Islam and written long looong after Muhammad’s death. The Gospels were written withing the same generation as the people who were alive when Jesus was. You should feel embarassed, but you dont.

            • Did I mention the Qu’ran? Besides, isn’t the Qu’ran supposed to be revealed text from Allah?
              I would call that supernatural, wouldn’t you?

              The Gospels were written withing the same generation as the people who were alive when Jesus was.

              Jesus who?

              So, are you going to be a wallflower indefinitely or are you man enough to tell your story and also provide me with one biblical scholar that will accept supernatural events from any other religion.

  11. Maybe my comments and questions were too complex. Let me simplify it.
    Let me use small words and shorter sentences.

    Let’s analyze history as described in the bible.
    Let’s begin with chapter 1 of the first book in the bible. “In the beginning…”

    First question: Where did the author get this information?
    Second question: Why should I believe your answer to the first question?
    Third question: How does anyone go about proving this to be true?

    I’ll give you my answers after you give me yours.

    • Z

      This is how you try to get a civil discussion going?

      I know your answers and they’re juvenile.

      • This is how you defend you belief of the bible?
        Seriously?

        • No, it isnt. I haven’t offered a defense. You two are literally wasting my time.

          • I stated that the bible is flawed and unreliable.

            You said that was an “unsubstantiated claim”.

            Then to stated that “saying it’s “obviously wrong” is not the same as demonstrating that it is in fact wrong.”

            I am now trying to go about proving to you that it is obviously wrong by examining the very first section of the book.

            I don’t think you’re a total moron, John – I’m trying to grasp why you accept the stories in Genesis to be actual history when there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Period.

            Idiots back in the day might be excused for accepting this bullshit as true, but there is no reason (other than blind faith) to accept this as a historical fact. I just want you to explain to me WHY you believe the author of Genesis when the author has no other source than the voices in his head. That’s all.

            • So if you’re trying to prove it wrong, why are you asking me questions? Just do it.

            • Ark,

              Look! It’s your long-lost brother Z! And who says the nature vs. nurture debate is undecided! You’re both a couple of morons! Score one for nature!

              Like you, Z doesn’t realize that he must support his assertion that the Bible is “flawed and unreliable.” He expects everyone to just accept his views, or prove them wrong. Ridiculous.

              • Hey, Dickhead. Of course the bible is flawed. Ask Mike Licona!

              • Mike Licona’s speculation regarding Matthew 27, even if true, does not indicate a flaw in the Bible, only in man’s interpretation of the Bible.

                Of course, I wouldn’t expect a lamebrain such as yourself to detect the nuance. Per usual, you have brought nothing to this or any discussion on Sifting Reality but sanctimonious bullshit awash in insipid insults. You are the most arrogant atheist or liberal to visit Sifting Reality to my recollection, and judging by your contributions thus far, it is hilariously unwarranted.

                You should have known better than to poke the bear.

  12. paynehollow says:

    Okay, John, I’ve left it alone this long, but this really is becoming an embarrassment to Christianity – even conservative Christianity.

    The point of your post here is that there is no default position. You rightly stated, ” All people bring an opinion into every discussion and everyone needs to support it.”

    Your words.

    Not only that, but they’re your words and people, from Ark to Z (like that, fellas??) all agree with you on that point. IF you’re going to talk about a topic, you can’t presume that your position is the default position, you really need to defend your position.

    Amen and amen, we all – pagan, liberal, conservative, Christian and other – can agree to your very words, John. (and isn’t that something like a miracle in itself, my non-believing friends?)

    But then, when people ask you a reasonable question, you do the very thing which you denounce in this post: You opt out of defending the point, of answering reasonable questions.

    Look, we all should be able to agree that historic documents are all sources of information. We learn about Julius Caesar and Jesus Christ in historical documents. The fact that they are ancient documents does not, in and of itself, mean that they are not reliable.

    Agreed?

    Now, skeptics and many Christians can agree that, at the same time, just because something is an ancient document does not mean that it is by default reliable and all claims factual. No one takes the miracles of Caesar as literal history, even though they accept many of the facts around the miracle as likely accurate facts.

    None of us here take the miracles attributed to Mohammad (Allah splitting the moon, for instance) as being likely. Not a single one of us. Why not?

    It’s a reasonable question, John. You do not take Islamic, Caesarian or other miracle stories in other literature as literal, but you do for biblical miracles. Why is that?

    This isn’t an accusation, it’s a question. Maybe you have some rational reason for accepting some miracles in ancient texts but not others, but we don’t know because you have opted to NOT defend your position, contrary to what you say we should do in the first paragraph of this post.

    The point that the skeptics (and many Christians) would make is that we don’t accept miracles in ancient texts as being likely because 1. We have no evidence to suggest they are factual, as opposed to just part of the writing style of the day; 2. Mixing fact and fantasy WAS part of the writing style of the day.

    Now, to the skeptics, I would point out the flip side of this: That just because a story contains miraculous events does not dismiss the events in the story. We don’t deny Julius Caesar just because his story contains an unlikely miracle. Rather, historians rationally strive to separate the likely fact from likely fiction. We can do that with the Bible, as well as with other ancient literature. I would think that you could agree to this.

    How about it, John? Are you prepared to answer reasonable questions and just “support it” as you say in your post that reasonable people should do?

    If not, please just quit writing, because truly, your actions here are embarrassing. It would appear that even you recognize this, given the point of this post. Perhaps you’re just blind to it when you’re the one doing it?

    ~Dan

  13. @Dan

    Remarkable, isn’t it? John is so quick to complain about the fact that we all have beliefs and that we all need to explain them, yet when pressed to explain his he is strangely silent. When asked what supernatural claims outside of the bible he accepts as true he is strangely silent.

    Christianity is complete and utter bullshit. Donkeys and snakes don’t talk. “Divine intervention” is not an explanation. Historical accounts in Genesis are pulled out of thin air. “Divine inspiration” is not an explanation. It’s the equivalent of a parent saying “Because I said so.”

    As to your “flip side” statement, I don’t dismiss the entire story if there happens to be an alleged miraculous event. It is reasonable to accept that there once lived a man named Jesus Christ. What has not been proven, however, is the narrative that he was god incarnate. I’m sure John would dispute this point, but I don’t dismiss a claim because it is supposedly supernatural – I dismiss it because of a lack of evidence to support the claim.

    Meanwhile, Christians will keep insisting that their holy text is evidence when just isn’t.
    And that’s why all of these conversations never go anywhere.

  14. paynehollow says:

    Z, you said…

    Christianity is complete and utter bullshit.

    Followed by…

    Donkeys and snakes don’t talk. “Divine intervention” is not an explanation. Historical accounts in Genesis are pulled out of thin air. “Divine inspiration” is not an explanation. It’s the equivalent of a parent saying “Because I said so.”

    Just a point of clarification: The latter (talking donkeys, historical genesis, etc) is NOT Christianity. It is part of some portions of fundamentalist flavor of Christianity, but their human failings do not cover all – or even the most vital parts – of Christianity.

    To be fair and clear.

    Z…

    As to your “flip side” statement, I don’t dismiss the entire story if there happens to be an alleged miraculous event. It is reasonable to accept that there once lived a man named Jesus Christ.

    And this is my point about historians. The text is there and is worthwhile and meaningful in many ways. We do not need to take every part of a text literally in order to recognize the 1. historically significant, 2. possible factual or likely factual, and 3. interesting philosophically parts of the story. On this, you and I could agree.

    And John would agree probably… for all other texts except the Bible.

    But why is that?

    We may never know, since he is unwilling or unable to defend his own position.

    His silence is damning and embarrassing.

    ~Dan

    • @Dan

      Please don’t try to cherry-pick the parts of the bible you agree with or don’t agree with. Whether literal or figurative, all “flavors” of Christianity tout their holy text as inerrant. You can’t just shrug off parts of it and say it’s “not Christianity”.

      To be fair and clear.

      But we can agree on the fact that John is unwilling to defend the bullshit he believes is true.

      • Z

        All that’s happened is you come in telling me I’m wrong. I ask “how so”. Then you say it’s not your job to tell me why I’m wrong that I have to defend my beliefs. Thinking back, when have I asserted something really. You made the claim that I’m wrong, so without assertion, just give me evidence.

        • John, please tell me where on this page have I said “it’s not my job”?

          I have tried over and over and over to analyze with you the very text in your holy book that you assert to be true in an effort to show you why your belief in it is flawed, but you refuse.

          Also, you cannot seem to grasp the concept of a claim. Me stating that your claim is unsubstantiated is not a claim in itself.

          • Bull. You haven’t analyzed anything. You just reject it and say it’s obviously not true. That is not analysis, it’s opinion.

            Stating (claiming) Genesis is clearly false, is not the same as proving or even arguing that it is false.

            • Okay – let’s try analyzing it together again, shall we?

              Why are we to believe the author of the first book of Genesis?
              Was he there? Clearly not, so he wasn’t a witness to it. Agreed?
              Was he divinely inspired? Yes? Well, by whom? Really? How would one prove this?
              What would stop anyone from writing anything if all they had to say is that they were “divinely inspired”?

              That, in a nutshell, is why your book of Genesis is not reliable.
              Is that not enough of an argument for you?

              • Moses has a record of public and conspicuous interaction with God. Rhetorically, how could he gain such a following if what he was writing was observably false when the people he was writing to were there to say “this never happened”.

                In the same way, you could not have a group of followers very long if when you wrote that they were witnesses to things that didn’t happen.

                Because of the confirmation from God concerning Moses, one could be sure he was a reliable source.

              • In a nutshell you could only reject the bible in the manner you do if you already presume atheism.

  15. paynehollow says:

    No, not all flavors of Christianity tout their holy text as inerrant.

    “Inerrancy” as a doctrine is unbiblical, irrational and not a necessary staple of Christianity. My church, for instance, does not subscribe to it as a doctrine and, indeed, reject it. And we reject it for exactly some of the reasons you touch on: It makes it unneccessary for its adherents to defend anything rationally because, “the Bible…”

    “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it…” leads to an arrogance and an irrationality that is not Christ-ian and, ironically, not biblical.

    Inerrancy, many would argue, is a modern invention, becoming defined and pronounced not until the 18th century or so. Even according to some conservative believers…

    http://www.rightreason.org/2009/errantly-assuming-inerrancy-in-history/

    Inerrancy is not a given, in Christian circles, it just isn’t’.

    Do you understand this, now?

    ~Dan

    • Also, Dan also thinks Christianity is bullshit which is why he’s rejected the bible and reinvented his own version.

      • paynehollow says:

        This is, of course, demonstrably false.

        That I find your opinion about some aspects of Christianity does not in anyway mean I disrespect Christianity.

        For instance, I think your intellectual cowardice in refusing to answer reasonable questions to be unbiblical, irrational and un-Christian, but that is not a rejection of Christianity, just a rejection of your bad behavior.

        Fortunately, John does not speak for Jesus or the Bible, just his “own version…”

        So, does this mean that you’re doubling down on refusing to answer reasonable questions, John? I mean, are you seriously criticizing Z for not doing something you’re not willing to do yourself?

        ~Dan

  16. “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it…” leads to an arrogance and an irrationality that is not Christ-ian and, ironically, not biblical.

    That actually made me laugh out loud – thanks.

    Ever since its origins, follows of Christianity (like any religion) have touted their holy texts as sacred and true. To speak against the written word was blasphemous and punishable.

    Buuuuuut, if one can rationally dismiss some of the claims made in the bible, then it would stand to reason that one could rationally dismiss any claims made in the bible. This casts doubt on the entire message of a savior and the need for salvation. This undermines the very essence of the belief.

  17. paynehollow says:

    That is what the fundamentalists believe, it is true.

    I disagree.

  18. paynehollow says:

    I strive to believe and honor all truths, wherever I find them. Surely we could agree on this?

    I am a Christian because I believe the teachings of Jesus as found in the Bible. I believe that his Way of love, grace, mercy and justice, his teachings about simple living, about ending oppression with powerful, peaceful means, his teachings about siding with and for the “least of these” to be compelling and powerful truths, and thus, I believe.

    I don’t, however, treat the Bible as a magic book, as “inerrant” as always-literal history or otherwise make claims about the Bible that it does not make itself. And, to be sureand factual, “the Bible” makes no claims about “the Bible…”

    ~Dan

    • I agree on finding truths, but I’m certain we can also agree that the bible has been clearly shown to be an unreliable source for truth.

      One can believe in love, grace, mercy and justice as well as morality and civility without looking to the bible for it. (As much as most Christians would strongly disagree)

      • paynehollow says:

        Some Christians would probably disagree. I have no data to make a guess as to whether “most” Christians would disagree.

        I do not disagree. One CAN believe in love, grace, mercy and justice, etc without looking to the Bible. I would not make that suggestion and, just as importantly, The Bible does not suggest that one can only find support for love, grace, mercy, etc, only in the bible’s pages. Indeed, the Bible teaches that these sorts of things are obvious in a variety of ways.

        So, if some Christians disagree with the point, they do so in contradiction to the Bible, ironically again.

        ~Dan

  19. paynehollow says:

    Here, Z asks reasonable questions, and my answers which I am prepared to give…

    Why are we to believe the author of the first book of Genesis?

    “Believe” how? I mean, clearly, the Genesis stories represent a fascinating bit of anthropological history. Did the author/authors write it in a modern style of history-telling? We have no reason to think so. Is there rational reason to insist on it as literally factual history? Again, we have no reason to think so.

    Nonetheless, these are interesting stories passed down from antiquity and we always do well to educate ourselves about these stories. We just don’t want to do so blindly, treating something as science or history when clearly it isn’t written in that style.

    Was he there? Clearly not, so he wasn’t a witness to it. Agreed?

    Clearly, the people who passed down the Genesis stories were not there at Creation, or at least most of the stories passed on. These by all appearance are myths passed down from generation to generation, explaining for the people of the time, their origins… but not in a historical or scientific manner. Why would they do that, when that style of writing did not exist? We don’t expect them to communicate in English because English did not exist and we don’t expect them to pass down stories in a modern scientific or historic style because that style of storytelling did not exist.

    Was he divinely inspired? Yes? Well, by whom? Really? How would one prove this?

    No one can prove that any of these stories – or any stories from any faith tradition – are/were “inspired by God/gods/allah/etc.” That’s just a simple fact. “Inspiring” is something humans identify onto a text, artwork, etc.

    Some humans long agreed amongst themselves that, to them, this human collection of 66 books were “inspired” writings. We certainly can’t prove or demonstrate that God literally inspired them, though. It is a human agreement/assessment, not a factual statement.

    What would stop anyone from writing anything if all they had to say is that they were “divinely inspired”?

    Not sure of the meaning of this question. If you’re saying we should trust anyone in antiquity (or today) simply because they said, “I was inspired by God…,” I would say , no, absolutely not. In fact, I’d be wary of many if not most people who claimed for themselves that they were inspired by a god.

    That, in a nutshell, is why your book of Genesis is not reliable.
    Is that not enough of an argument for you?

    I would posit that, for those who claim that Genesis must be considered to have been written as a fairly literal history, that those people and their opinions are not reliable on their own. But Genesis is a text, a collection of passed down stories. I’m not sure that it is correct to say that the text itself is “not reliable,” just that a specific interpretation may or may not be reliable.

    We don’t dismiss the Julius Caesar narrative(s) simply because there is a mention of miracles in it/them, we just recognize the genre and time it was written in, that it was not uncommon to mix fantasy and fact and take any fact claims with a grain of salt, especially ones that appear to be fantastic or mythic in nature.

    That doesn’t mean that Genesis is unreliable, just that we need to recognize its genre and time.

    ~Dan

    • Wow, Dan, you must be a politician with that answer.

      That doesn’t mean that Genesis is unreliable, just that we need to recognize its genre and time.

      Wrong.

      The fact is that the claims made in the text are either true or not true. “Passing down” of stories is irrelevant. “Genre” is irrelevant. We examine the claim and clearly determine that there is no evidence to support the claim that the author’s words are true. There is no reason to consider this as historical fact. Period.

      There has been a constant mention of Julius Caesar and miracles. Please expound on any accepted historical record of any events involving Julius Caesar and the supernatural.

      • Z

        The stuff dan likes is true, the stuff he doesn’t is metaphor.

        • And you John, are a blatant hypocritical ignoramus ass of the first order.
          You are a disgrace even to conservative Christianity. If you stood next to( the late) Ron Wyatt and Ken Ham you would even make them look almost normal.

      • paynehollow says:

        From Suetonius’ report of Caesar at the Rubicon…

        As he stood in doubt, this sign was given him. On a sudden there appeared hard by a being of wondrous stature and beauty, who sat and played upon a reed; and when not only the shepherds flocked to hear him, but many of the soldiers left their posts, and among them some of the trumpeters, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, rushed to the river, and sounding the war-note with mighty blast, strode to the opposite bank. Then Caesar cried: ” Take we the course which the signs of the gods and the false dealing of our foes point out. The die is cast

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2012/09/historians-reject-the-bible-story/

        The reality of Caesar and the likelihood of the facts about his purported stories are not undermined by the inclusion of a miraculous being. It’s just a common trope of the time. We don’t judge historic writers by modern standards, nor should we expect texts coming from different cultures and times to always be written in a modern style. It’s not rational or good literary criticism.

        ~Dan

  20. paynehollow says:

    Genre doesn’t matter?!

    Does that mean we dismiss Aesop’s fables as “unreliable” because they speak of talking foxes? Does that mean that we dismiss Shakespeare’s Hamlet as “unreliable” because it speaks of ghosts?

    Of course genre matters. That is textual criticism 101.

    John, if you can’t answer like a man, give up these childish and silly little snipes. You’re just being an embarrassment to yourself and your community. If you soil your underwear in public, do you just keep shitting and pointing to it proudly?

    Grow up.

    ~Dan

  21. @Dan

    Does that mean we dismiss Aesop’s fables as “unreliable” because they speak of talking foxes? Does that mean that we dismiss Shakespeare’s Hamlet as “unreliable” because it speaks of ghosts?

    Er, one problem with your analogy, Dan – Aesop’s fables and Shakespeare’s Hamlet were never preached as true and factual history.

    @John

    Moses has a record of public and conspicuous interaction with God.

    Oh, look – another assertion. Please supply evidence for this claim.

    In a nutshell you could only reject the bible in the manner you do if you already presume atheism.

    Wrong again. I presume nothing. Claims without evidence are worthless.

  22. paynehollow says:

    Z…

    Aesop’s fables and Shakespeare’s Hamlet were never preached as true and factual history.

    Which is why I said what I said… Your problem is not with Genesis, it is with those who would treat a mythic writing as a literal historic and/or scientific treatise.

    Genesis is not “unreliable,” those who take it in the wrong genre are.

    ~Dan

  23. I believe you’re the ONLY Christian here who takes the accounts in Genesis as mythic.
    EVERY other Christian treats it as recorded history.

    • Z

      He also thinks the war passages are mythic as well as the miracles of the OT. Like I said, you and Ark would feel right at home at Dans church, they don’t believe anythjng in the bible. Except for love your neighbor, that’s somethjng Jesus really said. But everything else is just a human interpretation.

      • The war passages as per the Pentateuch and the conquest of Canaan are mythic. This is what science is for.

        But you go hang with Ham. It is about your level of intellect and integrity.

  24. paynehollow says:

    Z…

    I believe you’re the ONLY Christian here who takes the accounts in Genesis as mythic.

    While it may seem that way here on this blog, this is far from the truth in the wider world. Again, my whole church (as far as I know) takes it to be myth. As do many other Christian scholars.

    John…

    you and Ark would feel right at home at Dans church, they don’t believe anythjng in the bible.

    Of course, this is patently false. We believe ALL of Jesus’ teachings, including many of the ones that you don’t take literally. We are, after all, Christ-ians.

    We love the Pauline letters. We love the prophetic teachings of the OT. We love the wonderful stories – myth or no – found in the OT. We love the poetry of the bible and the heart-shattering lament.

    That we don’t take parts of it to be literal history – that is, that we assume that it is written in a different genre than the ones you assume it to be written – does not mean that we “don’t believe” the Bible, any more than the fact that you reject as metaphor parts that we might tend to take more literally mean that you don’t believe the Bible. People of good will sometimes disagree, no need to demonize them, or attempt to.

    And I’m quite sure that Z and Ark would be right at home at our church, because we try to treat all newcomers as beloved family, welcoming them in.

    This is, after all, one of Jesus’ teachings.

    ~Dan

    • Dan, do you have a blog?

    • “As do many other Christian scholars.”

      Which, despite repeated requests, you still haven’t provides any names or links or really any hard evidence at all to support this position which you present as fact. Why?

      • paynehollow says:

        Are you serious, Craig, that you don’t know any Christians who do not take Genesis literally? You’re unaware of their existence?? Seriously? If so, no wonder you all have a hard time understanding others – you must surround yourselves with an echo chamber of fellow similar believers.

        But okay, NT Wright does not take Genesis literally…

        http://biologos.org/resources/multimedia/n.t-wright-and-pete-enns-what-do-you-mean-by-literal

        Probably nearly all the members of my church, including every seminary educated member (some 20-30 people, at least) do not take it literally.

        So, there’s a start, but there are, of course, many, many others.

        Are you saying you are unaware of this? That is hard to believe.

        ~Dan

        • Dan, did Craig say he didn’t know any, or that he doubts the veracity of your use of the term “many christians”.

          • paynehollow says:

            ? So, you suspect that he knows many Christians don’t take Genesis literally, but he doubts that it’s “many Christians…”? Or are you saying that those Christians – men and women who’ve dedicated their lives and work to God and trust Jesus and the Way of Grace – who dare disagree with your unprovable opinion that Genesis is literal history are not actual Christians?

            If the latter, what arrogance and gracelessness. Shame on you.

            If the former, that doesn’t really make sense, feel free to explain.

            Here’s another writers expression of the “Genesis Problem” you all have. But he’s probably not a Christian, right?

            http://www.thetruthproblem.info/figurative.html

            ~Dan

        • Dan,

          You said. ” many christians”. That is clearly a claim of fact and as such it is reasonable to ask that you provide proof, you know , “hard ” evidence. One link and simply asserting “me and a few friends do” is not nearly enough to support your claim.

          • paynehollow says:

            Again, Craig, I’m asking you: Do you doubt that there are many Christians who do not take Genesis literally?

            I’ve provided ~30 instances (80 or so, if I expand that to nearly everyone in my church, which is a safe bet). How many is “many…”?

            I think it is fairly safe to say that all liberal Christian theologians – and probably most Jewish theologians – take Genesis not literally. Do you doubt that?

            I’m just not certain of what you’re asking for or why. Are you asking, “I’d be interested in hearing what some of these Christians think about it, what their reasoning is… can you provide a link to some of them?” Then why not ask that? But if you truly doubt the existence of Christians who don’t take Genesis literally, I’m just wondering if that could possibly be true?

            I have many friends at the progressive Highland Baptist, Highland Presbyterian, Harvey Brown Presbyterian, Crescent Hill Baptist churches (amongst others) and I think I can safely say that their churches tend to have members who do not take Genesis literally. That’s probably 400+ people. I work for PCUSA’s headquarters sometimes and I think it’s safe to say that most of the folk there are not Genesis literalists. That’s another 100 or so.

            I haven’t seen many simple, easy links online to “theologians who believe in figurative genesis…” but that does not mean that they don’t exist, just that in some circles, it’s just not up for serious debate. I am sure with some research I can produce more articles to theologians/christians who do not take Genesis literally. As could you.

            But what’s the point? Do you truly doubt that the claim? Or are you hinting that they aren’t Christians if they don’t take it literally?

            ~Dan

        • Dan,

          I apologize, you actually said “many other Christian scholars.”. I am sure you realize that the standard English language definition of the word “many” does not mean “one”. I am also sure you realize that the ole link (to the “many” Christian scholars) didn’t actually say conclusively that Genesis was “myth”, nor did it say conclusively that the events weren’t historical. It really didn’t address much other than a semantic issue.

          So, I am waiting (patiently and reasonably) for you to provide ‘hard” proof of your fact claim that “many other Christian scholars.” support your hunch.

          While you’re at it can you please explain why my suggesting that the fact the a position has been held by the vast majority of Christians throughout history is a logical fallacy, while you suggesting that “many (unnamed, and unverified) other Christian scholars” support your hunch that Genesis is “myth” is not.

          • paynehollow says:

            sigh.

            Recall the setting:

            Z stated…

            I believe you’re the ONLY Christian here who takes the accounts in Genesis as mythic.

            I responded, that I am far from alone.

            I did not make the appeal to numbers (as you imply), I was directly and clearly addressing Z’s comment. As a point of fact, there are many Christians who would agree with me. I, being one man, only know a limited number of people and fellow Christians – and many of them are from my more conservative background – and yet, I can cite hundreds of people I personally know who would tend to agree with me. I am not the “ONLY Christian…” who believes this. And certainly, beyond the people I know, there are many others. I’m not defining “many,” I’m not saying “the majority of Christians…” I’m just stating a fact and it is a fact.

            That was a simply point of fact addressing a specific comment.

            Facts, Craig, Facts. Now does that deal with your question?

            Do you understand where you erred, now? In assuming I was making an appeal to numbers, you assumed wrongly.

            ~Dan

            • So, you can’t provide evidence for your fact claim about “many scholars”, and you expect me to blindly accept “I know some people ” as “hard” proof. I seems as though you are now denying that you said what you said, or at least that you didn’t actually mean it.

              Does 2 really equal “many” in your world.

              BTW, based on a bit of research it appears that Wright doesn’t provide the support you think he does for your hunch, and I suspect that you would vehemently disagree with him a on Biblical authority. Of course that would take more than a quick google search, and I suspect you wouldn’t be interested in actually reading and critiquing his book on the subject.

              • paynehollow says:

                Craig, are you striving very hard to be a prick? Do you purposefully dodge questions that would make a respectful conversation possible?

                Fact: Many Christians – scholars included – don’t take Genesis literally.

                Fact: I’m not defining “many,” if you truly want to quibble about “is 500 not ‘many-enough'” feel free to quibble, but it will make you look all the more the prick.

                Fact: I was not appealing to numbers, and your innuendo to that effect is false. An honest man would admit the error.

                Fact: In context, I was factually answering a point Z raised, that I am not alone in thinking Genesis is best understood as not a literal history.

                Those are all the facts of the conversation here.

                I repeat: DO you truly not believe/know that many liberal theologians and Christians (and others, not liberal) don’t accept the Genesis as literal history approach?

                What is it you think that “liberal Christian theologians” think on the topic? Do you really think Barth, Borg, Yoder, Marshall, Neihbur, Moltmann, McClaren, McClendon, etc, etc, (and, yes, NT Wright) all think Genesis is best understood as literal history?

                Stop being an ass and answer questions. The Inquisition is soooo Middle Ages. Conversation is two way, at least between adults. Act like one, not some snotty-nosed middle school bully.

                /Rebuke ended.

                ~Dan

              • Dan
                I’m sorry I thought that asking you to finally present evidence to back up your claim of fact was not an unreasonable request. Perhaps you’re just uncomfortable with doing what you so often demand of others.

                As to answering your questions , I’ve answered well over 100 of your questions (elsewhere) in addition to answering your big gotcha question earlier in this thread. Unfortunately you have chosen not to acknowledge my answers, while continuing with this fiction that I won’t answer you. It’s just not true.

                I will say that doing lengthy detailed responses from my phone is difficult, and I don’t always have access to a computer to give you the answers when you might want them. This is not a dodge, but simply the fact of my life right now. So if you think that impatience and name calling will help motivate me to take the time to satisfy your demands on your time frame, so be it.

                Who would have thought that a simple request for sources to support your claim of fact would have gotten you so worked up.

            • So, you can’t provide evidence for your fact claim about “many scholars”, and you expect me to blindly accept “I know some people ” as “hard” proof. I seems as though you are now denying that you said what you said, or at least that you didn’t actually mean it.

              Does 2 really equal “many” in your world.

              BTW, based on a bit of research it appears that Wright doesn’t provide the support you think he does for your hunch, and I suspect that you would vehemently disagree with him a on Biblical authority. Of course that would take more than a quick google search, and I suspect you wouldn’t be interested in actually reading and critiquing his book on the subject.

              I also took a look at your other link and other than misrepresenting the view of “literalists” and arguing against that straw man it was great.

              Again, you made a claim of fact, it is completely reasonable to ask you for actual evidence to back up your claims.

              • paynehollow says:

                Craig, if I claimed that cars can go pretty fast, do I need to back that up, too?

                What if I claimed that many hungry people really like food?

                One need not provide data when one makes a claim that is so obvious.

                ~Dan

              • paynehollow says:

                Tell you what, though, I’ll do some research to find links to the obvious (which surely you must know already – you can’t possibly be this ignorant) IF you get John and your side to answer the much more reasonable questions asked of you.

                John states that he changed from an agnostic/atheist to a believer and it has been asked that he NOT just assume he doesn’t need to provide support for the claim, but that he actually bring something support the claim: Why DID he personally change? What convinced him?

                Or how about the claims that Genesis is rightly understood as science and modern history? How about providing some actual support for that claim? WHY should it be considered literal history? You all don’t do the same for other fantastic claims from other faith traditions in their sacred texts, why do you take the Bible’s stories as necessarily factually historic but not Islamic stories containing miracles?

                On what basis do you reject the one and not the other?

                Answer some hanging questions to your side and I’ll do the research to demonstrate the obvious. If you want, I’ll find some data that shows that automobiles can go very fast, too.

                ~Dan

              • Can you at least admit that your position, that the OT is mostly myth, is a minority position?

              • paynehollow says:

                Of course, it is. Never said otherwise.

                Or at least, it has been. I suspect within a generation or so, it will no longer be. Bullying, non-answers and “cause, the Bible…” just aren’t cutting it as much as it used to.

                Can you at least admit that I was NOT appealing to numbers in my statement and that the claim was false and unsupported by reality?

                No, of course not.

                ~Dan

              • OK, Let’s start with your actual words that precipitated this little problem. You said “As do “As do many other Christian scholars.”. Let’s examine this a bit.
                1. Since your original response was referring to your beliefs, it seems as though your “many other” presumes that you are a Christian scholar. Or it could be a poor choice of words.
                2. You have made a claim of fact, you are asserting that “…many other Christian scholars.” agree with your position that Genesis and the bulk of the OT are myth and are (at best) loosely based on some nugget of fact somewhere.
                3. You have been adamant that you provide documentation when you make claims of fact.
                4. I merely asked you for documentation (or as you ask for ‘hard” evidence) to validate your fact claim.
                5. You have provided 2 links.
                6. Given the bulk of what NT Wright has written about the authority of scripture and after actually reading the brief piece you linked to, it seems as though his issue is with the semantics of “literal”/’mythic” not with the historicity of the events. He quite clearly affirms creation Ex Nihilo, while being non committal on the literal 24 hour day aspect. I see nothing that explicitly supports your point that much of the OT is not factual. In addition his views on the authority of scripture are nowhere close to yours, so I’m not sure that an out of context Wright piece really makes your point.
                7. Your second link, mis-characterizes what most folks would agree is a “literalist’ position, and essentially argues against a straw man from there. Again, not too helpful to your cause.
                8. You appeal to a number of anonymous people who you claim to know as if those folks constitute “hard” evidence of anything. Given the fact that they are anonymous, it would be impossible to determine if they are actually “Christian scholars”.
                9. You appeal to the PCUSA HQ in Louisville as if it is a) monolithic and b) entirely staffed by folks who are both Christians and scholars.
                10. Your appeal to the PCUSA is also not helped by the fact that this is a denomination that ordains atheists, has promoted events denying that divinity of Christ, promoted the concept of “justice love” (essentially that it’s OK to sleep with anyone at any time), and refuses to consistently enforce it’s own polity. Again, not a helpful reference.

                As to your questions I have allegedly dodged. It seems that the most pressing one is “Are you not aware that there are people who don’t believe in a literal Genesis?”. Of course I am aware that there are people who believe this. However, you quite clearly said that “…many Christian scholars” agreed with you. So, I am trying to keep your focus on your actual literal claim.

                You also suggest that you are not appealing to numbers, yet you quite clearly use the term “many’ in your claim. Usually the term “many” indicates a large number. So, given your own words, it seems reasonable to conclude that you are appealing to numbers. Further, by appealing to “many Christian scholars” you are also appealing to authority. Both of those are things that you criticize in others. Further, your suggestion that your point of view will prevail in the future as also an appeal to numbers. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t (as you do) automatically dismiss these types of appeals as irrelevant or logical fallacies. But the weight I would assign to those types of appeals is proportional to the number and stature of the people cited. As you have not provided anywhere near a compelling number of “Christian scholars” of any stature, your claim rings hollow. If you can produce some evidence, then I will evaluate it as I have evaluated the two links you have provided.

              • Dan,

                Despite your impatience and false claims, here are the answers to every specific question I can find since my comment from 10:09 on 10/30. This leaves me about 60 or 70 questions from mid October to the 30th which I was in the process of answering, but lost. As with the other 100+ questions I’ve answered, I will answer them again, it might take a while.

                But, here are all the current direct questions I found. Perhaps you could try this sometime.

                “Are you serious, Craig, that you don’t know any Christians who do not take Genesis literally?” I do, but none of them are “many Christian scholars”
                “You’re unaware of their existence??” See previous answer.

                “Probably nearly all the members of my church, including every seminary educated member (some 20-30 people, at least) do not take it literally.” Not really a question, but are you really saying that 30 people represents “nearly all” the members of your church?
                “So, you suspect that he knows many Christians don’t take Genesis literally, but he doubts that it’s “many Christians…”?” You said “many Christian scholars”. Other than that see the previous answer.
                “Or are you saying that those Christians – men and women who’ve dedicated their lives and work to God and trust Jesus and the Way of Grace – who dare disagree with your unprovable opinion that Genesis is literal history are not actual Christians?” I’m saying that as they are anonymous, there is no “hard” evidence that these folks are either “Christian’ or “scholars”. You have provided no evidence to demonstrate either, therefore it is impossible to draw any conclusion based on what you have offered. So, can you provide “hard” proof that every anonymous person you refer to is both a “Christian” and a “scholar”? Before that, you would need to provide definitions for both terms as well as “hard” evidence that your definitions are correct, and then you would need “hard” proof that these folks meet your objective criteria as both “Christian”s and “scholar”s.
                “But he’s probably not a Christian, right?” Based on your link I have no criteria to evaluate whether the author is a “Christian” or a “scholar”. So, the answer is, I have no idea. His dismantling of a straw man doesn’t give me much hope that he is either.
                “Do you doubt that there are many Christians who do not take Genesis literally?” No.
                “I’ve provided ~30 instances (80 or so, if I expand that to nearly everyone in my church, which is a safe bet). How many is “many…”?” Actually, you haven’t. You’ve maid unverifiable claims using anonymous individuals. Further, you have not provided “hard” proof that these people a) exist, b) are Christians, and c) are scholars. You also haven’t defined what you mean by the terms either.
                “I think it is fairly safe to say that all liberal Christian theologians – and probably most Jewish theologians – take Genesis not literally. Do you doubt that?” This is a vast sweeping unsupported generalization. So, while I don’t doubt that you believe this to be true, I doubt that you can provide “hard” proof that it actually is true.
                “Then why not ask that?” Because I’m asking you to provide “hard” proof of your claim of fact.
                “But if you truly doubt the existence of Christians who don’t take Genesis literally, I’m just wondering if that could possibly be true?” I’m wondering why you don’t provide evidence of your claim of fact. I never said anything about the existence of the people you anonymously refer to, I am questioning that existence of “…many Christian scholars” that agree with your “myth” view of the OT.
                “But what’s the point?” The point is, that you should be prepared to back up your claims of fact just like you expect others to do.
                “Do you truly doubt that the claim?” Yes, I doubt that there are “many Christian scholars” who agree with your view that the majority of the OT is myth. That’s the claim you made, and in the absence of “hard” proof I doubt it.
                “Or are you hinting that they aren’t Christians if they don’t take it literally?” No. Although I’d suggest that the PCUSA pastors who are atheists probably wouldn’t count as “Christian scholars”. I wouldn’t dream of making some sweeping general claim that anyone who doesn’t take Genesis literally is not a Christian.
                “Now does that deal with your question?” No, because you specifically claimed “…many Christian scholars” agreed with you. Once you provide “hard” proof of your actual claim, which would deal with my question.
                “Do you understand where you erred, now?” No. You appealed to “…many Christian scholars” which is clearly an appeal to both numbers and authority, yet you have provided no “hard” proof that there are any “Christian scholars” that agree with you.
                “Craig, are you striving very hard to be a prick?” No, I’m striving to get you to provide “hard” proof of the claim of fact you made. That may annoy you, but diligence after the Truth seems like a good things.
                “Do you purposefully dodge questions that would make a respectful conversation possible?” No, while the circumstances of my life sometimes make it difficult to answer all of your questions as quickly as you would like, I do answer them. I’ve answered over 150 of them recently, and you seem to pretend as if this isn’t the case. But as of now I’ve answered/ or am answering every one of your questions in this recent conversation. (I had another 50 or so answered, but they got lost somehow and I’ll have to start over, but I wanted to deal with these first)
                “DO you truly not believe/know that many liberal theologians and Christians (and others, not liberal) don’t accept the Genesis as literal history approach?”. Again, you are making a claim of fact; provide “hard” evidence to prove your claim.
                “What is it you think that “liberal Christian theologians” think on the topic?” I haven’t presumed to speak for all “liberal Christian theologians”, you have. Further, you’ve presumed to speak for them without providing “hard” proof.
                “Do you really think Barth, Borg, Yoder, Marshall, Neihbur, Moltmann, McClaren, McClendon, etc, etc, (and, yes, NT Wright) all think Genesis is best understood as literal history?” What I think isn’t the issue, you made the claim, now provide “hard’ proof. So far, you haven’t demonstrated what NT Wright thinks about the veracity of the events recorded in Genesis, just that he has a problem with terminology. Further, since you’ve thrown out NT Wright as the best source you have, does he agree with your view on the authority of scripture as well?
                “Craig, if I claimed that cars can go pretty fast, do I need to back that up, too?” You were adamant about backing up claims of fact when you make them, why go to so much effort to avoid doing what you say you do>
                “What if I claimed that many hungry people really like food?” Ditto.
                “One need not provide data when one makes a claim that is so obvious.” Really, I’ll have to save this one, this is truly rich. So, as long as it seems obvious to you, you exempt yourself from the same burden of proof you demand from others.
                “”
                Or how about the claims that Genesis is rightly understood as science and modern history?” I’ve never made either of these claims, so I see no reason to support a claim I have not made.
                “How about providing some actual support for that claim?” OK, “ How about providing some actual support for that claim?”
                “WHY should it be considered literal history?” Because, no one has offered any “hard” proof to consider it anything else. Because “many Christian scholars” consider it to be literal history. If those reasons are good enough for you, then you really can’t argue that there not good, can you?
                “ You all don’t do the same for other fantastic claims from other faith traditions in their sacred texts, why do you take the Bible’s stories as necessarily factually historic but not Islamic stories containing miracles?”
                I don’t have the time or want to spend the effort of going down this rat hole, but I’ll say this. There is enough confirmation of the veracity of the Biblical record that I am comfortable in extending the benefit of the doubt to the rest. On the other hand, there is virtually zero evidence that the Koran or BOM are similarly accurate, so I’ll tend to be more skeptical of them. It seems as though you are using the existence of what you call “fantastic claims” as a reason to doubt the veracity of any record of said claims. Are you really suggesting that you doubt all of the “fantastic claims” made by ancient texts?
                “Can you at least admit that I was NOT appealing to numbers in my statement and that the claim was false and unsupported by reality?” When you can explain how appealing to “many” “Christian scholars” is not an appeal to numbers and authority, I’ll consider it.

                Questions answered.

              • I wanted to respond to you providing a list of liberal folks who you claim agree with your position.

                1) Simply providing a list of names doesn’t prove anything.
                2) You are presuming that these folks agree with your “the OT is a myth” hunch.
                3) Simply presuming, doesn’t actually make things so.
                4) I could easily provide a similar list of folks who disagree with you, which would accomplish absolutely nothing.
                5) You still haven’t actually supported your fact claim.

  25. paynehollow says:

    I don’t write as often or as deeply these days, but yes, I do. I won’t link to it since I don’t know how John feels about that, but it’s called through these woods and it’s at blogspot.

    I’ve moved away (somewhat) from the more political and “religiousy” topics to more philosophical and artsy/poetic junk instead.

    ~Dan

  26. paynehollow says:

    I didn’t purposefully unlink it. I just have had difficulty with the technology for whatever reason.

  27. Ok John,

    Here is a short list of why I do not accept the bible as proof or evidence, or even as bad evidence, or proof for any deity.

    1) It was written by men. Fallible, joe’s like you and I.

    2) It was written by un-special/un-unique men.

    3) It was written, mostly by men who were self appointed, or appointed by self-appointed men.

    4) The bulk of it was written well after the life of Jesus by errant, inept, unqualified, self appointed, and un-special men.

    5) It has been collated, edited, redacted, etc by these same, un-unique special men, many of which could claim nothing special about themselves and were in some instances very obviously writing, collating etc to gain power etc. They had agendas.

    6) The first to do so was Josephus, so why so little on Jesus? Nothing of quantity or quality.

    7) The last was King James. From start to finish, just men, through two councils of Naicea, etc, etc.

    8) What was apocryphal to some men, wasn’t to others, for 1600 years.

    9) The problem of the gnostic texts.

    10) The lists of the lineage of Jesus back to Adam/Moses is radically different in Matthew and Luke, odd because it seems like the NT would be a bit more reliable than the OT.

    11) The bible is both circular, and wholly insulated, begging the reader to never go outside of it for answers to anything and everything.

    12) What happened to Mark 16?

    13) The Q source issues.

    14) The NT was only even moderately assembled into what you would sort of recognize more than 300 years after the death of jesus.

    15) The mass suspension of a plethora of nature’s laws regarding a great many different things, from animals talking to how rainbows work, to people living hundreds and hundreds of years, etc.

    16) Asa did not raise an army of 580k Israelites.

    17) The Earth is not a disc.

    18) Grave errors regarding cosmology, and geology, and biology.

    19) The bible has ample opportunity to graduate from no morality, or sociopathy to something better, but doesn’t, and never apologizes.

    20) These references/answers to Mcdowell’s work go, insofar as I know, unanswered. The Jury Is In: The Ruling on Josh McDowell’s “Evidence”.

    21) The obvious, lengthy, and unyielding academic/scholarly war being waged between minimalists and maximalists, and a number of christian denominations/sects.

    22) Most of the major denominations of christianity squarely place some books/passages of the bible as partially or wholly pseudoepigrapha(ical).

    23) This: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/08/26/40-problems-with-christianity/

    24) This: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/09/29/8-things-your-pastor-will-never-tell-you-about-the-bible/

    25) A List Of Biblical Contradictions: http://infidels.org/library/modern/jim_meritt/bible-contradictions.html

    These:
    26) 1. God is satisfied with his works
    Gen 1:31
    God is dissatisfied with his works.
    Gen 6:6
    2. God dwells in chosen temples
    2 Chron 7:12,16
    God dwells not in temples
    Acts 7:48
    3. God dwells in light
    Tim 6:16
    God dwells in darkness
    1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
    4. God is seen and heard
    Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
    Ex 24:9-11
    God is invisible and cannot be heard
    John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
    5. God is tired and rests
    Ex 31:17
    God is never tired and never rests
    Is 40:28
    6. God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
    Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
    God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
    things
    Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8
    7. God knows the hearts of men
    Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3
    God tries men to find out what is in their heart
    Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12
    8. God is all powerful
    Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
    God is not all powerful
    Judg 1:19
    9. God is unchangeable
    James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
    God is changeable
    Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
    Ex 33:1,3,17,14
    10. God is just and impartial
    Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
    God is unjust and partial
    Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12

    27) 24. Robbery commanded
    Ex 3:21,22/ Ex 12:35,36
    Robbery forbidden
    Lev 19:13/ Ex 20:15
    25. Lying approved and sanctioned
    Josh 2:4-6/ James 2:25/ Ex 1:18-20/ 1 Kings 22:21,22
    Lying forbidden
    Ex 20:16/ Prov 12:22/ Rev 21:8
    26. Hatred to the Edomite sanctioned
    2 Kings 14:7,3
    Hatred to the Edomite forbidden
    Deut 23:7
    27. Killing commanded
    Ex 32:27
    Killing forbidden
    Ex 20:13
    28. The blood-shedder must die
    Gen 9:5,6
    The blood-shedder must not die
    Gen 4:15
    29. The making of images forbidden
    Ex 20:4
    The making of images commanded
    Ex 25:18,20
    30. Slavery and oppression ordained
    Gen 9:25/ Lev 25:45,46/ Joel 3:8
    Slavery and oppression forbidden
    Is 58:6/ Ex 22:21/ Ex 21:16/ Matt 23:10
    31. Improvidence enjoyed
    Matt 6:28,31,34/ Luke 6:30,35/ Luke 12:3
    Improvidence condemned
    1 Tim 5:8/ Prov 13:22
    32. Anger approved
    Eph 4:26
    Anger disapproved
    Eccl 7:9/ Prov 22:24/ James 1:20
    33. Good works to be seen of men
    Matt 5:16
    Good works not to be seen of men
    Matt 6:1
    34. Judging of others forbidden
    Matt 7:1,2
    Judging of others approved
    1 Cor 6:2-4/ 1 Cor 5:12
    28) 59. Seed time and harvest were never to cease
    Gen 8:22
    Seed time and harvest did cease for seven years
    Gen 41:54,56/ Gen 45:6
    60. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart
    Ex 4:21/ Ed 9:12
    Pharaoh hardened his own heart
    Ex 8:15
    61. All the cattle and horses in Egypt died
    Ex 9:3,6/ 14:9
    All the horses of Egypt did not die
    Ex 14:9
    62. Moses feared Pharaoh
    Ex 2:14,15,23; 4:19
    Moses did not fear Pharaoh
    Heb 11:27
    63. There died of the plague twenty-four thousand
    Num 25:9
    There died of the plague but twenty-three thousand
    1 Cor 10:8
    64. John the Baptist was Elias
    Matt 11:14
    John the Baptist was not Elias
    John 1:21
    65. The father of Joseph, Mary’s husband was Jacob
    Matt 1:16
    The father of Mary’s husband was Heli
    Luke 3:23
    66. The father of Salah was Arphaxad
    Gen 11:12
    The father of Salah was Cainan
    Luke 3:35,36
    67. There were fourteen generations from Abraham to David
    Matt 1:17
    There were but thirteen generations from Abraham to David
    Matt 1:2-6
    68. There were fourteen generations from the Babylonian captivity
    to Christ.
    Matt 1:17
    There were but thirteen generations from the Babylonian
    captivity to Christ
    Matt 1:12-16
    69. The infant Christ was taken into Egypt
    Matt 2:14,15,19,21,23
    The infant Christ was not taken into Egypt
    Luke 2:22, 39

    29) 108. Christ is equal with God
    John 10:30/ Phil 2:5
    Christ is not equal with God
    John 14:28/ Matt 24:36
    109. Jesus was all-powerful
    Matt 28:18/ John 3:35
    Jesus was not all-powerful
    Mark 6:5
    110. The law was superseded by the Christian dispensation
    Luke 16:16/ Eph 2:15/ Rom 7:6
    The law was not superseded by the Christian dispensation
    Matt 5:17-19
    111. Christ’s mission was peace
    Luke 2:13,14
    Christ’s mission was not peace
    Matt 10:34
    112. Christ received not testimony from man
    John 5:33,34
    Christ did receive testimony from man
    John 15:27
    113. Christ’s witness of himself is true.
    John 8:18,14
    Christ’s witness of himself is not true.
    John 5:31
    114. Christ laid down his life for his friends
    John 15:13/ John 10:11
    Christ laid down his life for his enemies
    Rom 5:10
    115. It was lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death
    John 19:7
    It was not lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death
    John 18:31
    116. Children are punished for the sins of the parents
    Ex 20:5
    Children are not punished for the sins of the parents
    Ezek 18:20
    117. Man is justified by faith alone
    Rom 3:20/ Gal 2:16/ Gal 3:11,12/ Rom 4:2
    Man is not justified by faith alone
    James 2:21,24/ Rom 2:13
    118. It is impossible to fall from grace
    John 10:28/ Rom 8:38,39
    It is possible to fall from grace
    Ezek 18:24/ Heb 6:4-6, 2 Pet 2:20,21

    I guess we could make this list longer, but it would be pointless. You continued to ask for specifically why I am forced to dismiss the bible as proof or evidence beyond historical fiction. Well here is a snippet of why that is.

    • Nash, the funniest thing about this list is that I know for a fact you didnt read the surrounding passages and neither did the idiot who compiled them.

      • John, we have all read the bible, we all have heard the tired arguments for context, or history, or cherry picking, etc. Yet that does nothing to help you “prove” that the hand of god is responsible for such a fallacious, and erroneous collection of rubrics. In fact it does the exact opposite, because it doesn’t work in your favor whatsoever that you have to address the issue at all. If the book presented as even “near” perfection, this would be a non issue.

        And if you are claiming context for all of them, or cherry picking for hundreds of passages, and this has been your position previously, how many rubrics need to be presented before that dead dog is put to rest?

        Two of those links are from christians, one a pastor. Their lists couldn’t possibly be simply dismissed because they didn’t read the passages around them.

        These rubrics cover 4 different themes, they come from the NT and OT.

        The funniest thing here is that I knew that all we would get in response is a one liner about being an idiot, and that you wouldn’t, because you couldn’t, address any of the points like 1-22.

        • As time allows, I’ll do a few:

          1. Infallible does not guarantee incapable, as in, incapable of accurately recording events. If this were the case, you could not put so much religious-like faith in scientists and their findings. Yet, you do.

          2. That’s a very subjective and self-serving opinion that has no value in determining the validity of their work. They are “un-special/un-unique” to you. How special and unique must one be for his work or discoveries to be of value? Is it the work or the person who did it that matters? That is, does the person need to be special for the work to be, or does the work determine the unique and special quality of the person doing it? Chicken or egg?

          3. Kinda like the founding of our nation. What’s the point here?

          4. The bulk of what? The NT? I’d say ALL of it was written after Christ’s ascension into heaven. Again, so what? And what do you consider “well after the life of Jesus”? How recent a work would you require not to fall into your ambiguous span? The fact is most of it, if not all, was written within a generation of Christ’s ascension into heaven, with some of it (Paul’s stuff) written as near as two or three years after.

          5. This is a standard charge by non-believers, but comes with little support. The newest discoveries of manuscript copies have been older than what was already in hand and show no alterations of any significance whatsoever. And the charge that the compilation was done to serve any agenda other than compiling the best sources of God’s revelation is also without serious support. Too many “Da Vinci code” accusations about the Bible’s creation have been too easily swallowed by those fearing Scripture is actually true.

          6. The fact that Jospephus, or any other ancient historian, didn’t record their history to your approval means nothing. However, what mention there is should at least be counted as evidence in favor of the faith, not against it, if one is honorable in their research. Sure, it would have been nice of Joe would have given us more, but he wasn’t recording the life of Christ, was he?

          7. Not sure of your point here unless it is once again to presume that mere men are incapable of great things. Pretty convenient how you decide this as it suits your purpose.

          8. Another, “so what?”. That some books and manuscripts were not included in the final compilation only means that some didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. You would put nefarious reasons for that having been so without any hard proof that it was so indeed so. Sounds like desperation to me.

          9. Yet again, so what? You seem to think that anything not included in the final compilation is noteworthy. Why is that if not to provide you license to reject the possibility of God’s existence?

          10. This link, if properly provided here by me (as I also have been having tech problems at this blog) is an example of the many explanations for the discrepancy you find so problematic. Again, you seem to demand that all things must be done your way in order for you to believe. Life doesn’t work that way and one must consider the author’s intent at least a little in analyzing for reliability.

          11. So you hold the fact that the Bible is self-contained and complete against it? Convenient. Yet, it teaches us to use reason which thus encourages going outside it. How do you account for that?

          OK, I’m out of time for now, but I’ve at least gotten to half of the first twenty-two. So far, it seems like you seek excuses for not believing, not legitimate reasons. We’ll see how the rest goes later, if I am able. Could be a few days before I can do more.

          • Marshall,

            1) You are off to the slippery slope, and end with a red herring. Infallible, and inerrant are not my words, they are yours. How could you consider Josephus, or 90% of the bible to be perfect, if the writers weren’t present for the actions/environment in which they were writing about? This, first and foremost makes them incapable, on top of being fallible.

            2) Not chicken or egg at all. For instance, you are just another average sinner, but now I tell you to add a book to the bible about the works/life of jesus, maybe his relationship to M. Magdalene, or maybe harder still i need you to go back 4k years and answer some tough questions about some horrendous issues of your immoral god. You will go about this the same way those before you have won’t you? Well that process has fabricated a book that on every single issue it purports to be “truthy” about is either purely subjective drivel, or completely wrong.

            3) Uh-Oh, another red herring! Here’s a quick question: Who is claiming inerrant perfection at the Constitutional Convention? Who then, or now claims the country or the Constitution as “perfect”? Where is the cult of “Constitutionality”? All a rhetorical exercise of course. Can you not address the glaring issue that you have invested your entire being into a text that self appointed, fallible, average joe’s with agendas put together over the course of centuries, and were wrong at every turn?

            4) Are you saying that no matter how long after the life of christ, no matter what, or who, you are going to buy into it, hook, line, and sinker? Why? Would you qualify the works in a better light if they had been written by jesus himself, or those who were with him directly? So would I. This would certainly be a more legitimately trusted set of sources, no? Well why aren’t they written this way? Again, complete absence of perfection.

            5) It takes a fantastic leap of utterly blind faith to suggest that the plethora of average, fallible, self appointed men, before, and after Constantine, not only recorded the previous record correctly, but they acting only selflessly for Marshall, and all of humanity, and his future leaps, were acting under the supreme power of a perfect being.

            6) My approval? Are you fucking kidding? Marshall, where is the PERFECTION? it has nothing to do with my liking, this is below average apologetics.

            7) Of course you are not sure of my point, it’s because you believe without question, so fervently, that insanity and imperfection are taken as sane and perfect. So you are claiming that every single man who is responsible for the assembling of your bible, is perfect, and appointed by god and acting on his accord? Nope. You are saying that men are capable of “great” things. Two very different propositions. We know that you can’t produce anything that even remotely suggests that these men were great, perfect or appointed by your god, so you in fact have to simply suggest that the whole of the process was indeed divine, or the whole supposition falls apart……the very definition of blind faith.

            8) Actually the desperation is yours and yours alone. That without even blinking you accept that these fallible, not chosen by god, self appointed men to assemble the book that you would live every dimension of your life by, without hesitation, is pure cognitive dissonance.

            9) Noteworthy is not the issue is it? The issue is that these imperfect, unchosen men, edited, and then redacted the whole of the bible for 1k straight years. Where is the hand of god in such a process?

            10) Done my way? Are you purposefully missing the point about the vacuum of perfection outlined by this very small list? These discrepancies of which there are thousands more, are of course coming from the mouths and, stories, and minds, and hands of un-divine men. There is no “discrepancies”. There is only flawed men producing flawed material without any thought to decent, and basic editing in the end to at least some semblance of cohesiveness. To just say “so what” repeatedly says to me that your god gave no thought to how poorly his message was being disseminated, or he was ok with horrific composition skills. Which is odd when considering this god knew in advance that this bible would come out so poorly, if he really is as omniscient as the claims make him to be.

            11) Marshall I was a christian for a long time, in 3 different denominations. And for all of my questions, I was never once told to seek guidance outside of the bible. And to boot, I have never heard anyone but the Jesuits at Boston College ever make that “un-official” suggestion. Not once. Not even Dr. Craig would argue away this point by not self referencing the bible to prove its own perfection. And by the way, referencing other bibles doesn’t count. As another example of the vacuum of circular reasoning, this very blog only ever uses the bible to prove its own awesomeness. I mean what other texts are you suggesting to non theists to prove the perfection and absolution of the bible?

            12) Excuses for not believing? Just more arrogant drivel Marshall, I’ve come to expect better.

        • So nash, you’re saying it’s not possible for you to be cherry picking out of context?

          • Absolutely I am not cherry picking, context or otherwise. This is a very wide array of rubrics, a huge cross section, which is intentional on my part, so as to avoid contending with the cherry picking claim that was sure to come no matter how many passages were included.

            John, this book seems imperfect. I listed a good amount of reasons, and then somewhat redefined them a bit in the response to Marshall. If the claim is perfection via the divine hand of god, I’m afraid that it requires more than just a few blind leaps to make it infallible for me. You asked why we dismiss the bible as evidence, and I provided a very few examples of my argument of mass imperfection.

  28. paynehollow says:

    This is why, in part, the Rule Book Approach to Biblical Understanding is a failure. If it is supposed to be read as the Work of one Author, whole and consistent, then it fails on a simple rational basis.

    If on the other hand, the Bible is a scattered collection of ancient writings/stories passed down from a variety of humans in a variety of settings across centuries to express a variety of ideas and ideals, it becomes much more rational to look at it and take it for what it is, rather than what some people want to make it.

    And John, Richard is right. Simply dismissing the list because “the source(s) are ‘idiots’…” does not deal with the questions being raised.

    Why not deal with the questions being raised? Then you’d be more credible and less embarrassing to the church you represent.

    ~Dan

  29. paynehollow says:

    Do you mean that I think that the Bible is perfect? Self-evident or otherwise? I think that’s the wrong question to ask.

    I think it is a collection of writings that some of us humans have agreed are inspired, but does that mean that I think God made those humans write perfect words? Perfect stories? No, I don’t think that is a good way to view the Bible.

    The psalmist, for instance, wrote about a hatred for their oppressors, expressing outrage at their oppression. The psalmist prayed to God that he wished God would just bash in their baby’s heads. Does that mean that I think God inspired that writer to rightly say that it is good to bash in babies’ heads? No. It’s a man suffering oppression expressing genuine frustration and outrage about injustice. God can handle us expressing that sort of outrage, it’s normal, it’s human. But it doesn’t mean that, yeah God’s gonna bash in babies’ heads.

    The psalmist is writing something that appears to be the equivalent of the Blues, in this case, and should be understood as that genre. Taking it that way, it makes some good sense, is understandable, something we can identify with. But, to try to make it a moral guideline and we can see a human teaching that has become atrocious.

    My point is that the Bible is text. Text is text, “inerrant” or “perfect” are not appropriate words for text. It’s when you point to a text that is written in a figurative style and say that it should be understood as literal science or history that you have a problem. It’s the human interpretation that is good or bad, perfect or imperfect.

    One man’s opinion.

    ~Dan

  30. For the bible to be declared the word of god, we need proof other than the bible that meets some legitimate, and objective criteria as evidence. There is none. The bible is self referencing.

    For the bible to be considered divine and perfect, it would have to be at least perfect, as opposed to abhorrently imperfect, and earmarked by nothing more than imperfect men.

    If the bible is proof of your god by your very low standards which require several exponential blind leaps of faith, then the Icelandic Sagas, hieroglyphs of Egypt, the Vedas of Hinduism, and the Torah and talmud prove that christ was not the man you make him out to be.

    Can you not see the very obvious biases, and faith required to consider your bible the perfect word of your god?

  31. paynehollow says:

    Richard asked…

    the bible for you is not “self evident” perfection?

    Now that I have a bit more time, let me try this again:

    What does it mean, to you (atheists and/or conservatives) that a book is “perfection” (self-evident or otherwise)?

    What is a perfect book?

    I don’t think the question makes any sense, generally speaking.

    Now, if you have a math book that claims to teach basic addition, but does so wrongly, or a history book that claims to teach literally factual history but doesn’t, or a science book that doesn’t teach actual science… then, you could clearly say, “No, that is not a perfect book of history, as it gets some basic timeline and factual points wrong…”

    IF the book is claiming to be a factual history book.

    But some facts to keep in mind:

    1. The Bible no where makes one single claim about itself – there are zero claims in the bible about the 66 books OF the Bible, as a collection.

    2. Given that, then it is just as clear and just as factual to point out that the Bible makes no claims to “perfection” of either The 66 or “scripture” in general. Not one time.

    3. Again, factually, the Bible makes no claim that any of its stories are told in a modern scientific or historic style. Nor has God told us that we should take it that way.

    These are all just basic reality facts.

    So, it doesn’t make any sense to say The Bible is not “perfection,” as it is meaningless because the Bible doesn’t claim to be perfection/perfect/without error. Not one time. Further, where someone could theoretically say the Bible is mistaken/imperfect is not in the Bible itself, but in the claims of humans about the Bible, contrary to anything the Bible teaches. That is, IF the Bible were to claim it is a factual history book with no factual historic mistakes, I think it is fairly easy to demonstrate that it fails at that, as a point of demonstrable fact. But that is a human, extrabiblical claim. So, we can say those people who make those claims are not perfect, but you can’t lay that on the Bible itself.

    Make sense?

    ~Dan

    • Yes Dan, of course that makes sense. The issue though is that its perfection and infallible nature are propagated, and claimed by the large percentage of christians the world over, and very specifically the ones on this blog. It’s so perfect in fact, that it qualifies as proof of the divine. To be honest of all the christians I have met, known, and conversed with, or read, you are the first to argue such a perspective. And although it gives me a little bit of hope, all polls show that not only are you and I in the minority position with regards to the literalness, and perfection of the bible, our numbers are shrinking while those addicted to the Bronze Age insanity of it, continue to grow.

      The bible is not perfect to me obviously, and I have never made such a claim, and it may seem rhetorical to you, but we can clearly see that others in different denominations sects very much disagree with both of us.

      If the book was written by god through men, it’s a terrible job through, and through. No one would use such poor advertising/marketing skills/materials in any other arena to convince people of divine perfection. It just wouldn’t fly. Well unless you are willing to embrace the bible through varying degrees of blind leaping of course.

  32. paynehollow says:

    Well, seeing as how the Bible makes no claims, period, much less any claim to have been written by God, none of us have any reason to insist that it was.

    Of course, I do know that the majority of Christians tend to think of it that way as “perfect,” “inerrant” “writ by God,” or other claims that the text just does not make of itsef – or at least the most vocal ones, the ones you will read most about, will make those claims. But assuredly, there are many out there who don’t insist on that at all.

    As you point out, rightly, the problem is that if you try to take it as some perfect, literal, God’s-own-words kind of document, then it does start failing rationally and morally across the board. As I’ve noted repeatedly, I grew up conservative and was taught the Bible by conservatives and it was a direct result of them teaching me the Bible and teaching me to take it seriously that I had to abandon any notions of “inerrancy” or “perfection” or literality in the sense they (I) spoke of… it just doesn’t hold up to the Bible’s own words and actually would undermine the more dominant themes found in biblical morals and “teachings… Or so it seems to me, and the Christians I’m familiar with, which do number in the 100s, but not the millions, to be sure.

    I think the problem with admitting that the Bible is not “perfect” from their (my former) point of view, is that it sort of takes all the winds out of their sails… they can no longer claim to have “the authority” to denounce and proclaim the way they’ve (I’d) grown accustomed to. Indeed, I have heard more than one conservative Christian say that “if Adam and Eve aren’t literal history, pretty much just as told, then NONE of the Bible makes sense and we may as well abandon the faith…” And, from their perspective, there is some sense to that. None of the bible – as they’ve come to believe it, culturally – stands very well on its own if they can’t claim to speak as if it were literal and factual on (sort of) all points.

    Be assured, despite Craig’s grumblings, there are many out there like me.

    ~Dan

    • “Be assured, despite Craig’s grumblings, there are many out there like me.”

      Well done, you whine and bitch that I don’t answer your questions, so I do. Instead of even some basic acknowledgement of that fact, this is the best you can do.

      It misrepresents my position, it misrepresents your position, it doesn’t provide any “hard” proof to back up your claim of fact.

      Again, well done.

  33. paynehollow says:

    Craig, again, you are being a prick. I personally know hundreds of Christians who are like-minded. That you do not believe it or whatever it is you think does not affect that I happen to know “many” Christians who agree with me on this point.

    Do you understand that?

    I had not seen any answers from you (again, this is a problem with this approach to nesting responses way up past the latest batch of comments), and will check them out, but at a quick glance, it seems like basic dodging of the actual questions.

    First of all, have you read any liberal/progressive-minded Christians and they’re thoughts on a literal Genesis?

    Secondly, are you familiar with their positions?

    Thirdly, do you really think they agree with you and think Genesis is best understood as literal history?

    Of course, there are many progressive minded Christians who agree that at least parts of the OT, specifically the older parts, are best understood metaphorically/figuratively/mythically, not literally. How many is “Many…”? I don’t know the answer to that question.

    But the fact is, I can point to fellow believers I personally know who agree with me on this point. That they may not have a website talking about their position is not evidence that they don’t hold the position.

    Do you understand that?

    ~Dan

    • Craig, does the bible prove the existence of your god?

      I ask rhetorically of course.

      The only thing you have are blind leaps of faith.

      Why not just come out and embrace that it’s all you have?

      • No one insists the Bible proves God’s existence, but only that it stands as legitimate evidence for it. You and yours insist that because it isn’t perfect by your standards, that it then does not qualify. This is insipid and self-serving as even legal evidence and testimony does not have to be absolutely perfect to qualify as legal evidence and testimony. Of course, this only concedes your point about imperfection, but does not suggest agreement that it is imperfect as far as what it is meant to do.

        • “Legitimate” for you and I has two different definitions. One is a common usage, accepted by a great many in a number of different fields. The other is slippery, and only used by those seeking to use it subjectively but insist that they are using it objectively.

          And once again, not “my” standards”. no matter how many times you say it, it will never carry more weight.

          Are you saying that the bible is “partially, or somewhat” perfect”, as opposed to absolutely? Hah!

          What is it meant to do? it is meant to be used only by believers who are inherently biased to believe in mass imperfection. Remove the bias/faith and you are on your way to legitimate objectivity.

          • Nice try, Nash. My use of the term legitimate is itself legitimate. The subjectivity here is yours as your subjectively dismiss it as illegitimate because you don’t like it. But regardless of your own personal fear of reality, it is indeed a collection of books recording events of history. On its own terms, just looking at it objectively, it cannot be otherwise. The issue is whether or not it is fiction or testimony of actual events. It is not fiction, nor intended to be. Now, one must decide if he finds Scripture compelling and convincing on its own. If not, is it absolutely without merit as a testimony of events, or is it just a matter of how accurately it has reported those events. But as it is not fiction, it stands as a testimony and one’s job is to evaluate it and weigh it against any contradicting testimonies. That’s how these things work. That’s how evidence and testimony works in courts of law.

            “Are you saying that the bible is “partially, or somewhat” perfect”, as opposed to absolutely?”

            I’m saying that it perfectly represents what it means to represent as far as a revelation to us regarding God and His interaction with His creation, and of His will for us. This is also what it is meant to do. Reveal His will, His nature and His interaction with His creation.

            “Remove the bias/faith and you are on your way to legitimate objectivity.”

            What an incredibly subjective and biased thing to say! One needn’t believe the testimony of Scripture in order to objectively concede that it is indeed a legitimate testimony/evidence for God’s existence. One can be sincere in their testimony in a court of law and no one, especially the jurors, are forced to believe. Testimony of one person is only one piece of evidence. Scripture, even considering the numbers of authors of the 66 books, stand as one piece of evidence at worst (if not the number equal to the total number of authors). If you need more evidence, that’s fine. But your fearful dismissal of Scripture as evidence is merely your own subjectivity and bias. It is not objective and open minded.

            • The predictable end game is nigh.

              I state a number of independent reasons why the bible is at best just a fractured, several degrees removed from the life of Christ, recounting of countless unproven, or flatly wrong things, and the best you can offer is that I am fearful? When the list is taken as one whole reason, I dismissed it at 12 as ludicrous.

              Guess what Marshall, your assessment is subjective extrapolation based on delusion, and it would not hold up in a court of law as evidence, no matter how many times you say it or how legitimate you “feel” the historicity of the bible is more than fiction, bad fiction at that.

              Please prove that it “perfectly represents what it means to”.

              • Of course it would stand up in a court of law, up to the point where it can be successfully refuted and rebutted by contradicting testimony and evidence. Anyone, such as yourself, you simply dismisses it has no standing against it, for dismissing alone has no value.

                More later.

    • “Craig, again, you are being a prick. I personally know hundreds of Christians who are like-minded. That you do not believe it or whatever it is you think does not affect that I happen to know “many” Christians who agree with me on this point.Do you understand that?”

      First, nice name calling, you know it’s the mark of a Christian.

      Dan,

      The problem is that you are not defending your claim of fact. You claimed that there are “many Christian scholars” who agree with your view on the OT. The fact that you claim to know hundreds of anonymous people who you claim agree with you does not prove your original claim to be true. I do understand your new claim, and while I personally think you are exaggerating both the numbers and the degree of agreement with your hunch, I suspect that you believe it to be true. The problem is, you have not provided “hard” evidence for your original claim, nor for this different claim.

      Perhaps, the problem is not with me asking you to provide “hard” proof of your claim, perhaps the problem is you don;t have any and it’s easier to obfuscate that admit that you could have possibly overstated.

      • paynehollow says:

        Craig, after some looking, I have not found many online sources of liberal Christians talking directly about the topic. But the absence of easily found data online does not mean that it does not exist or that there are not those out there who’d agree with me.

        And yes, I can cite many of my progressive friends as they do qualify as biblical scholars. They are not published on the topic, but as I personally know them to not take Genesis as literal history, I happen to know their actual position. That you don’t know them does not mean they don’t exist.

        Again, do you really think that progressive Christians treat Genesis as literal history? Are you unfamiliar with the some of the basic notions behind “liberal Christianity…”?

        But here’s a chance to show me wrong, Craig: Do you have any data, Craig, that supports the notion that liberal Christian scholars think Genesis represents literal history?

        ~Dan

        • Dan,

          So, after all the dodging and name calling and obfuscation, your answer is that you can’t find “hard” evidence to support your claim of fact. All you have to offer is “I have some (anonymous) friends who I consider to be Biblical scholars who I claim agree with me.”. Great, but given your absence of actual “hard” evidence to support your claim of fact I think that I don’t need to add anything else.

          Of course, now you want me to do your research for you. Perhaps a list of Christian theologians and scholars who disagree with you might help.

          I know you’ll probably call me more names for pointing this out, but as long as your going to make claims of fact, I’m going to point out your failure to back them up with “hard” evidence.

          • Richard Nash says:

            What a howl! Such inane and trivial, arrogant infighting amongst followers only continues to qualify the wealth of history of imperfection. Jesus H. christ Craig, where is your humility? Has it been wholly enveloped by your hollow smugness?

          • paynehollow says:

            The fact is, Craig, I DO personally know many progressive types, including scholars, who do not take Genesis to be literal history. That is a simple fact. Whether or not they have something printed on the internet does not take away from the reality.

            And the fact is, that not taking all of the Bible as literal history is part and parcel of Liberal Christianity. So your silly “who are they?” questions are just that, silly.

            If you have evidence that there are liberal Christian scholars out there who do insist on a literally historic Genesis, feel free to provide the evidence. Otherwise, just stop being a prick. You’re embarrassing yourself and your faith community.

            ~Dan

            • Dan,
              It would appear that you are being a little dense. No one is denying that you know people who could possibly, by some definition, be called Biblical scholars. Further, no one is denying that you believe that they agree with you. So what? I also personally know a bunch of folks who could be considered Biblical scholars (you know folks with doctorates and seminary professors etc.) who will state categorically that Genesis is historical. Again,so what. None of this has anything to do with whether or not you can provide “hard” evidence to support your claim of fact. So, far you haven’t. You’ve thrown out random names, and anonymous “Christian scholars”. What you don’t seem to get is that these random anonymous ‘scholars” don’t meet the “hard” evidence standard you demand from others, nor do they square with your assertion that you provide “hard” evidence when you make a claim of fact.

              As I see it you have a couple of choices. You could admit that you overreached in your initial fact claim. You could recant your claim of fact and say that it is your unprovable opinion. Or you could continue on the path you are on.

              At this point, it’s clear that you haven’t been able to offer any “hard” evidence to support your claim. It’s clear, that you’ve chosen to ignore multiple questions I’ve answered, as well as questions I’ve asked.

              So, I see no profit in continuing until you choose a different path.

              • paynehollow says:

                Craig…

                You could admit that you overreached in your initial fact claim. You could recant your claim of fact and say that it is your unprovable opinion. Or you could continue on the path you are on.

                And yet another possible option is that you admit that, of course, there are Christian scholars who don’t hold Genesis to be literal history and that you were being a bit of a prick.

                But I doubt that’s going to happen. Let’s hope, though, that you are man enough to admit a mistake.

                ~Dan

            • Dan,
              Perhaps if you were to carefully read my comments,you would not make such unfounded statements. I have not denied that there are some Christian scholars who don’t hold Genesis to be literal history, so for you to pretend otherwise shows either negligence in reading or willful mis-statement. My problem is that the claim that you actually made was that there were “many Christian scholars” who agreed with your position. Yet, you have failed to provide evidence of “many” you have provided two links, which as I pointed out don’t provide the 100% support you assume they do. You have asserted that “I know some people who I claim are “Christian scholars” and they agree with me”, but you expect me to take it on faith that these anonymous people are a) Christian, b) Scholars and c) Exist.

              So,by all means, continue with your name calling and your double standard. Please continue to insist that when you make a claim of fact that you back it up with “hard” evidence. Please continue to act is if I am somehow the cause of your lack of “hard” proof. Please continue to insist that I don’t answer your questions, while you answer all of mine.

              Or, you could just admit, you over stepped, that you can’t provide “hard” evidence for your claim of fact, and just move on. But for some reason it must seem more productive to you to ignore the reality of your situation.

              • “Similarly, if you “know” a “fact,” but can not demonstrate it or prove it, then you don’t really know it. It is an unsupported and unsubstantiated opinion.”

              • Richard Nash says:

                Craig, How eloquent. You have just perfectly written a two sentence summary of what your bible/belief system is!!! “Unsubstantiated opinion” based on leaps of faith. Or “self evident”……………

              • paynehollow says:

                And Craig, I can demonstrate it. My pastor, my fellow church members, other Christians I know who’d agree. That I can’t point to it on the internet is not the same as not being able to prove it.

                So, again, the ball is in your park. Feel free to point to where no Christians are who think Genesis is not literal history.

                ~Dan

              • “So, again, the ball is in your park. Feel free to point to where no Christians are who think Genesis is not literal history.”

                Let’s get this straight, you expect me to prove something that I have never claimed, while you won’t prove something you actually literally did claim.

                One clarification. It seems that the heart of your claim is that it is factually correct that the virtually all of the events recorded in Genesis did not happen in the way that they are recorded, is that in fact your position? Further, it seems that your position is that the fact that you can claim that some unknown number of anonymous people agree with you is somehow proof that your underlying hunch (that Genesis/the OT) is myth, is this correct?

  34. paynehollow says:

    Marshall…

    But regardless of your own personal fear of reality, it is indeed a collection of books recording events of history. On its own terms, just looking at it objectively, it cannot be otherwise. The issue is whether or not it is fiction or testimony of actual events. It is not fiction, nor intended to be.

    Do you speak for the authors on this or on what basis do you make the claim “it is not intended” to be considered anything but factual history?

    What is your source for that claim and is it authoritative or just something Marshall is claiming with no basis or authority to support said claim?

    The facts of the matter are this, objectively speaking:

    1. The Bible makes no claim that the OT is recording factual history.
    2. It certainly makes no claim that it is recording factual history in a literally factual, modern style of history telling.
    3. It is a modernist imposition that SOME make that insists “it’s supposed to be taken as literal history because, well, WE take it that way so we can know it is, because we say so, and we say so because, well, it just REALLLLLY seems that way to us…”

    IF you have any hard data to support that it is intended (by God??) to be taken as factual history, by all means, present it.

    If not, then have the intellectual honesty to say, “I have no data to support it, but it seems clear to me, Marshall, that it’s supposed to be taken that way…”

    Step up, son, or back down.

    ~Dan

    • For the love of Pete Dan,

      It’s “SELF EVIDENT” don’tchya know?

      Marshall say’s that the bible is “legitimate” evidence, good enough for court and jury……..although I am not sure what the charges are beyond misrepresentation, unless I’m being charged for “Disorderly Context”!

  35. No worries Dan,

    Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, and Franklin, Adams and Washington were theistic rationalists, or out of the closet deists. Which was easy during the post Enlightenment Age of Reason, and they did not take literally the Genesis idiocy either, amongst all other claims of the supernatural order as well.

    A fact that the evangelical talibanis hate to contend with.

  36. paynehollow says:

    Craig…

    Let’s get this straight, you expect me to prove something that I have never claimed, while you won’t prove something you actually literally did claim.

    You asked, apparently seriously, “Do many liberal Christians (scholars and otherwise) REALLY not take the Genesis as literal history?” This suggested to me that…

    1. You don’t think that “liberals” and “Christians” goes together
    2. You don’t think there are “many” liberal Christian scholars
    3. You don’t think Christians (scholars or not) actually believe that Genesis might not be taken as literal history.

    All three are rather silly positions to take. When I asked directly for clarification, you did not do a good job of clarifying, as I still don’t know what your point was in asking the question. So yes, I’m turning it over to you, as the point I made was quite clear and demonstrable (unless you want to quibble about the meaning of “many…”).

    Craig…

    One clarification. It seems that the heart of your claim is that it is factually correct that the virtually all of the events recorded in Genesis did not happen in the way that they are recorded, is that in fact your position?

    No, not exactly. It is my position that the stories in Genesis were written in a pre-modern history-telling time period and that they read like figurative, not literal history (not in the modern sense). So, it is my position that we have no reason to assume that they are literal history. None. And that we have plenty of reason to presume that they are not.

    Was there some guy named Adam who “married”/mated with a woman named Eve? It’s possible, but we have no evidence – at all – of it. Were Adam and Eve “the first two people…”? No, we have no evidence of there being such a thing as “the first two people…”

    Is it possible that there was a great flood? Sure, very possible. Did the waters cover the world? No, it just couldn’t have happened and there is no evidence for it. Did “all the animals of the world” travel to the middle east to climb in a boat? No, it just rationally couldn’t have happened, there is no evidence for it and we have no reason to presume this is a literal story.

    Get it?

    Further, it seems that your position is that the fact that you can claim that some unknown number of anonymous people agree with you is somehow proof that your underlying hunch (that Genesis/the OT) is myth, is this correct?

    No, the proof is that I know them, I can identify them. You could travel to Louisville and meet them. They exist in the real world and I know this for a fact. Whether you believe it or not is meaningless and rather infantile on your part.

    Understand?

    ~Dan

  37. So, you still expect me to prove something I never claimed, while you can’t/won’t prove something you did claim.

    As to your “clarification”, it seems as though you are suggesting a distinction without a difference. So, if I may try again. Are you suggesting that it is factually correct that the events recorded in the OT did not happen? Or are you suggesting that some of the events happened but were not recorded accurately? I know what your opinion on the style of the writing, I’m trying to understand what opinion you have on the events that were written about. You’ve commented on “the stories”, but not on the underlying events or lack thereof.

    As to your last, you still seem to be claiming that the existence of these people (about who we know nothing) somehow substantiates your underlying claim (that the OT is “Myth”). While I have no doubt that you know people, and that some or all of these people may or may not agree with your opinion on the OT, the mere existence of these people and your assertions about what they believe do not provide evidence that your underlying opinion (that the OT is “myth”) accurately represents reality.

    In the same way you appeal to these (hundreds/thousands) of anonymous people, I too can point to numerous people who take a completely opposite approach to the OT. I could start with the pastoral staffs at the various churches I’ve attended (all with advanced degrees in theology, many Dr’s among them), I could go on with folks like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Spurgeon, Sproul, Martin, MacArthur, Piper, Zacharias, Pearcey, and on and on. Yet your response would be (as it has been previously) “Appealing to numbers is a logical fallacy.”

    The fact remains, that you made a clear simple claim of fact, and you haven’t provided any “hard” evidence to back up your claim.

  38. Oh, I know you think Wright helps your case, but given his opinion of the authority of scripture, I fail to see how you can make any sort of case that his semantic argument really proves your point.

  39. paynehollow says:

    Prick.

  40. paynehollow says:

    Or perhaps you are just an idiot that doesn’t understand my words, instead of being intentional a jerk. Or perhaps you’re just a lying and twisting because you are a lying twisted person. I rather doubt it, I think you’re probably being unintentionally obtuse.

    Regardless, I’ve played that game long enough.

  41. Well, look at that, Craig.

    I guess a person CAN read another person’s writing, conclude that he’s dense or dishonest, and express that conclusion in no uncertain terms, all while following Christ’s Way of grace and humility.

    Who knew?

    • i wonder if jesus is as passive aggressive, and arrogant as either craig or bubba…………..

      I mean for the love of jesus h. christ, where is your humility?

      • ….looking for where you complained about Dan calling Craig a prick for expecting Dan to live up to his own standards…

        • OK, so I’m the passive aggressive, arrogant, prick, jerk, idiot lying, twisted person just because I expect Dan to live up to the same standards he demands of others.

          Simply pointing out the uncontrovertible fact that Dan expects me to provide “hard” proof of a claim I did not make, while refusing to provide “hard” proof of a claim of fact that he literally actually did make seems like a fairly reasonable thing to do. Especially with Dan demanding answers and “hard” proof from everyone else.

          I could ask for “hard” evidence that I’m lying and twisting, but I suspect that won’t be forthcoming either. Just like answers to questions that get asked of Dan, never seem to be forthcoming, or responses to the answers that Dan so petulantly demands. Dan continues to insist that I don’t answer his questions when I have answered well over 150 of his questions in the last couple of weeks, but hey I’m the one who’s lying.

          This is one more of those times when Dan has the ability to end this with a slam dunk. All he needs to do is live up to the standards he demands of others and provide “hard” evidence that his claims are factual. But, alas, I suspect all we’ll get is more of the type of love and grace shown by Jesus. Or more name calling.

  42. Dan, I notice that, once again, you write how reject a worldwide deluge because “it just couldn’t have happened,” but I will remind you of the medical impossibility of a man surviving being scourged, crucified with nails driven through his hands and feet, and being impaled evidently through the heart and a lung — to say nothing of his enjoying a pleasant seven-mile walk with friends approximately 48 hours later.

    If you ever applied to the New Testament your attitude toward the Old Testament, you would have to deny the Resurrection outright.

    As it is, in your most recent comment on the Discussion thread, you insinuate that the Resurrection isn’t crucial to your faith.

    I believe in a salvation by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus. I simply do. And by that, I don’t mean merely affirming that Jesus was magical or that he was god or he did miracles – even the demons can affirm that – but I mean that faith in Jesus is intended to mean faith in Jesus’ Way that he taught, the way of grace, love and forgiveness, and NOT the way of judgmentalism, religiosity or magical scripture.

    Never mind that NO Christian describes Jesus as “magical,” here you minimize the claim of Jesus’ deity and resurrection, and — surprise! — you’re not as clear as you could be here, about whether Christ’s deity and resurrection are even essential doctrines for saving faith in Christ.

    Instead you write, “I mean that faith in Jesus is intended to mean faith in Jesus’ Way that he taught” — pointing to His ethical teachings even though Christ Himself taught that He is the “I Am,” the Resurrection and the Life, who came to give His life as a ransom for many, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin, and whose death and resurrection was necessary for the fulfillment of Scripture — “magical” Scripture evidently making necessary a “magical” Jesus, at least according to the Teacher Himself.

    I’m not sure how one can affirm the New Testament doctrine of salvation by grace through faith — salvation apart from works — when that faith is in ethical teachings. It’s like saying you’re saved through grace apart from the law, through faith in the law, and it’s no less coherent defining the law as the Decalogue or the Torah, than it is defining it as the teachings of a first-century rabbi who affirmed the Torah and clarified its true standards.

    But then, there are a lot of things about your beliefs I don’t understand, like how you believe the Bible is “the Word of God” only as an “honorific term which [you] might mean metaphorically but definitely not descriptively,” but how that doesn’t stop you from invoking the phrase to reassure others of your high view of Scripture.

    One thing I do see quite clearly is that, because of what you write, you really have no business objecting to people concluding that you’re not the Christian you claim to be — and on top of that, I suspect that true honesty on your part would only confirm that conclusion, which is perhaps why you obfuscate.

    You affirm that the Bible is the Word of God*, and you affirm that we’re saved through faith in Christ*.

    * – By “the Word of God” you mean nothing in particular. and by “faith in Christ” you mean faith in Christ’s ethical teachings rather than the Person of Christ.

    It would be nice if your writing on the most important aspects of orthodoxy didn’t have to come with asterisks. At a minimum, it would be nice if you made those asterisks explicit.

    • There are only asterisks bubba because you view the bible, and world through the lens of a zealot.

      • Nash,

        You’re the most transparent atheist on this blog. You weren’t always an atheist, and ya know it. But some bad luck came your way, perhaps some really bad luck, some really shitty things happened to you or those you love, and now you’re full-on asshole when talking with those who’ve managed to keep their faith.

        You’re transparent, Nash. So transparent it’s ridiculous. You blame God because your life hasn’t been all poodles and teddy bears…And ya know, I won’t speculate as to the exact cause. I don’t know you. Perhaps you have a good reason to hate God. You might. I don’t know. But you have no reason to treat those who still believe in Him like dirt, and that’s precisely what you do on this blog. And that is pathetic.

        • More preposterous arrogance from you T?

          Bad luck? Is that a biblical summary?

          Full on asshole? Biblical summary?

          I blame god? Hate god? More claims heaped on old claims for which you lack any authority, and twaddle away with zero proof or evidences……

          This is the oldest and most desperate type of apologetics, born from a weak mind that can no longer either stifle the discourse, or reason their worldview without blind faith. And when the arrogance, and incessant bullshit of a line of inquiry is called out for being inane, that to you is being treated like dirt? Asking where someone’s humility can be found, is you getting treated like dirt? My comments were very specific. Yet you must inflate them to something else as the only means to an end, which as usual must be hyperbolic by nature.

          And to think that asking where your humility might be found, when the lack thereof is in fact an epidemic amongst evangelicals/fundamentalists, is just bizarre to be so offended. And your only debasing position is to call me an asshole, and play the persecution card?

          No one here gets treated like dirt, but preposterous, unfounded ideas and beliefs get called out, especially when they are inane/insane, grossly unprovable assertions. I have never called out an individual or attacked anyone’s character, but if you can’t distinguish, or choose not to separate the wheat from the chaff, I can see where the confusion might lie.

          By the way, if I am so transparent, why is your previous post wrong on every count?

          • Nash,

            You say it’s wrong on every count. I doubt it. But still, you are an absolute jerk to every believer on this blog. You begin every conversation with the assumption that you’re the smartest guy in the room. Look at your reply. Smug. You spend three paragraphs being an arrogant putz but you never actually answered the implied question: [W]hy are you such an ass if not an outright hatred of God?

            Or, are you so blinded by arrogance that you don’t see yourself as being an ass?

            • Still playing the offended card?

              I ask where is your humility, and this is your response?

              I universally ask more questions of yourself, John etc, only to have 99% of them not answered. Just dismissed out of hand because they will almost universally paint you in a negative light.

              Is asking questions really so offensive?

              At least Marshall made an attempt above to address the use of the bible as quality evidence. But your’e just here trying to be offended because the pride of the fundamentalists on this page gets in the way of constructive discourse. The arrogant disdain for common decency and the continued dogging of Dan by these “christians”, is absurd.

              And when I equate such pride as being antithetical to what Jesus preached, you just can’t stand to have the oceans of contradictions pointed out, whilst still playing as if I’m just mad at your god.

              Perhaps you should ease the vacuum in which you live your life? not even Dr. Craig belittle’s himself with perpetual name calling.

              zeal·ot
              ˈzelət/Submit
              noun
              noun: zealot; plural noun: zealots
              a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
              synonyms: fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical, young Turk, diehard, true believer, activist, militant; More
              historical
              a member of an ancient Jewish sect aiming at a world Jewish theocracy and resisting the Romans until AD 70.
              noun: Zealot; plural noun: Zealots

              Why not just own it, and the numerous leaps of faith that are incumbent upon you to so staunchly stay so fixed in your suppositions?

              • Nash,

                Are you having trouble following along again? I don’t care if you discount the Bible. I don’t care if you discount the existence of Christ. You can believe whatever you want to believe. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m not really taking part in this discussion.

                No. What pisses me off is the way you treat people. You can disagree with them without being a prick. Or, haven’t you mastered that quality yet?

              • Only your over bearing sense of self and ego T allow for you to be so pissed off at something so trivial.

                The humility may be found on your other cheek.

                If being called out for being zealous in your beliefs pisses you off, then one can only surmise that you are in the wrong place.

              • Nash,

                Perhaps you’re a social moron who doesn’t know how to talk to people without sounding like a big dink.

              • Perhaps you could do something, anything, but play your tired, self victimizing, persecution excuse card?

              • Nash,

                I’m bored with this. Why can’t you just admit that you’re a prick? I admit to being a prick to anti-lifers, and I’ve apologized for it. I accept responsibility for my surliness.

              • Don’t let your magnanimous ego lead you down the path of boredom T!

                You’re being surly right now.

                And I have already forgiven you for it.

    • Bubba,
      I wish I had saved the quote from Dan, but I didn’t. I find it interesting that he recently indicated that the reason why he believes that the OT is myth, is just what you pointed out above. He can’t accept anything that his Reason can’t grasp. Global flood, “Couldn’t happen.”, God creates the universe out of nothing in 6 days, “Couldn’t happen”, God communicates his story accurately through human writers, “Couldn’t happen.”. Of course he will affirm that God can do anything He wants, He just wouldn’t do the things that Dan’s Reason finds problematic.

      • “He can’t accept anything that his Reason can’t grasp”.

        You have just summarized the primary issue at hand Craig.

        While you openly will accept the impossibilities of all you claim by happily making blind faithful leap after leap, you will all gladly ostracize someone for using reason, their mind, and senses that your god seemingly gave to them!

        Don’t let reason scare you, it’s really not that bad.

        Maybe a quick study on the methods in which fundamentalist christianity has violently forced itself on other flavors of the faith for not being zealous enough?

        The Puritans/Pilgrims and Quakers come to mind……

        • You continue to err in presuming that believers like Craig, John, Bubba, Glenn and others of us, accept Christ and the existence of God due to some kind of leap of faith. Reason, real objective, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may reason, confirms our faith.

          Maybe not pretending that incidents of unChristian behavior by those calling themselves Christians suggests anything of value in discussions of why one believes wouldn’t so damage your credibility.

          • Marshall, faith can not be used to “confirm” reason. Well, except to those burdened by making such blind leaps, and then trying to “reason” the leap away via cognitive dissonance. Your statement/proposition allows you to bargain, and maneuver as if you have a reasoned leg to stand on, when in fact your suppositions are built solely on faith alone. This continued pseudo intellectual escalation of the wayward use of reason is just a house of cards waiting for the slightest legitimate reasoning to come along and blow it over.

            Why not just trust your faith? Do you really need so much bloviating to outline the “legitimacy” of your faith by trying to force it through the filter of reason?

            • Wow. Talk about bloviating! First of all, I did not say faith confirms reason, but the opposite. Then, at the end, you insist we ONLY trust our faith. But that contradicts your charge against us, forcing us to be what you need us to be in order to justify your desperate hope for the non-existence of God.

              No. We have our faith, sure. But our faith is confirmed by reason and the application of it with regard to what is or can be known. The charges you level against such as myself is far more appropriately applied to someone like Dan, who pretends he reasons when questioning every position we take on any issue on the table. “By what authority?” “On what basis?” are favored questions he levels at every point his position is found wanting. HE reasons that we are fallible and thus, because we are, we always are or too likely to be to know with certainty anything, particularly that which conflicts with his preferred interpretations.

              In the same way, atheists like yourself abuse the concept of reason to demand evidence of such quality never in demand for any other purpose of determining likely truth. And example would be our recent discussion regarding the Bible as evidence. You ask for evidence for what we believe but won’t accept the Bible as evidence. The Bible is a collection of testimonies and as any law student can tell you, testimony is evidence. But for those like yourself, the question is how many witnesses giving testimony is enough? As long as you need to believe there is no God, there is no number that is large enough to compel you to change your mind.

              And what of the Bible otherwise? Do we as believers insist it is the be-all and end-all of evidence? The concrete, slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it evidence and proof you demand? No. Never do. But it is evidence.

              And is it replete with the number of flaws those like yourself would like to believe is true? Not that YOU’VE been able to defend with the same level and quality of counter evidence you demand of us. Yet, you believe weak dismissals are evidence of reason.

              And then there is the examples of miracles. You reason that because there is no proof, aside from witness testimonies that you write off as lies or idiocy, miracles do not happen. Science cannot measure them, so your reason that science proves against them. But WE reason that the very nature of miracles, that they are events that defy known rules of physical science, CANNOT be proven EXCEPT by personal witness or the testimony of reliable witnesses.

              The problem here is that YOUR reason is just a dismissal. It does not prove against faith. The best you can say is that because you weren’t a witness you can be justified, therefore, in suspending belief. I can buy that. That’s reasonable. But to say that because such an event that defies the rules of nature cannot be measured or recorded it could not have happened is not reasonable.

              WE, on the other hand, reason that if it is reported that over 500 people saw Jesus walking about in the pink after hours of torturous beatings leading to an agonizing death, and the reporter challenged listeners to question those witnesses still living…well…that’s a pretty compelling testimony. Slam dunk? No. But reason cannot simply dismiss it without dismissing reason first.

              This is just the tip of the iceberg as regards where reason truly resides in discussions of He in Whom we have faith. You question, we respond, you accuse us of mental gymnastics. Typical, but not reason on your part.

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