Archive for the ‘Matters of Faith’ category

Apocalyptic Hypocrisy

05/21/2011

Today, May 21st, 2011, was supposed to be the beginning of the end according to Harold Camping and his followers. Obviously, they’re wrong, and we all know this, so I’m not going to waste time talking about that. No, what I want to discuss has to do with how Harold Camping is in, what Christians should consider, good company; like Jesus, Paul, John, Matthew, Mark, and the author of Revelation. There are two specific arguments I want to make: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Jesus tells his disciples: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (10:23). Jesus, when speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial, says, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:16; cf. Matthew 26:64).

The apostle Paul was the first New Testament author to reassure his believers that “the day of the Lord” will still take place any day, suddenly and without warning, like “thief in the night” even though more time has passed than what previously believed and even though some had died waiting (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). Paul also expected that some of the people he was writing to would be alive to witness the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15), including himself. Paul also writes:

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use things of the word, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. (1 Corinthians 7:29; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Romans 13:11)

(In the genuine letters of Paul, it’s clear he expected the end of the world to be at hand. This is one of the reasons why the Pastoral letters are believed by scholars to be psuedopigraphy (i.e., 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus).)

Elsewhere, we find the author of 1 John saying he knows it’s the “last hour.” He even expects to be alive when “the Holy One” comes (2:18,28). Still later we have the author of the book of Revelation repeatedly saying that the “time is near” or that Jesus will be coming “soon” (1:1; 3:11, 22:6-7, 10, 12, 20).

You might be thinking, “okay, fine, they were wrong too, but so what?” What about the mother that, terrified of the impending apocalypse, slit the throat and wrists of her and her daughter? What of the man who hung himself in a church today? What about the families that have given everything they have to Camping? And remember, these beliefs would have the same consequence 2000 years ago, so don’t try to fool yourself into thinking there wouldn’t have been any believers then who wouldn’t have done anything like we saw some believers do today.

Like I said: (a) if you’re upset with Camping, you have to be with the Jesus and the NT authors as well, and (b) you should be, therefore (a).

Advertisements

A Problem with Presuppositional Apologetics

03/14/2011

Below is an excerpt from an informal debate on Facebook between myself and a few others. One of the other individuals, the one included in the excerpt below, a man who calls himself Atom, hijacked the original debate, which was about why calling a Christian “not a true Christian” is a No True Scotsman logical fallacy, and turned its focus to presuppositions. Why? The purpose of this Apologetic is to effectively level the playing field between the Christian and the atheist by claiming that both the Christian and atheist hold presuppositions, “beliefs that governs all other beliefs, or the most fundamental commitment of the heart,”* and therefore neither can objectively weigh evidence to reach Truth. Unfortunately, if you accept what the Presuppositionalist tells you, they then begin spinning men of straw about the “nature” of logic and how the only way to objectively look at the universe is to assume the existence of their deity. Of course, this is a load of bull, as the excerpt down below will show.

My Original Question:

If two people can read your Bible and come out with different understandings, why did the supposed author of it fail to make it clear enough to avoid that from happening in the first place?

Atom’s Response:

This is just another example how you get out of it what you take to it. Your presuppositions effect everything you interact with. Just like how you think the bible is “bullshit” so all you see is bullshit… (sic)

My Response:

Actually, Atom, I never thought, like most atheists who were raised in religious households, that the Bible was bullshit until after I did my homework on it so it isn’t an arbitrary presupposition but a reasoned conclusion. Most never went into it the study of their preferred religion with the presupposition it wasn’t true. We went into it with the presupposition it was true and that we wanted to actually understand it. I wonder how, having the same presupposition that you did, the Bible is true, we could have come out of it with the conclusion that it wasn’t. Hmm?

And, not only did you not answer my question, you’re actually begging it. Why would your God create us to have presuppositions to misunderstand the very book we’re supposed to?

Ahem….checkmate.

* Definition courtesy of Apologist John Frame: http://www.thirdmill.org/newfiles/joh_frame/PT.Frame.VanTil.Glossary.html

Why Do Christians Hate the Anti-Christ?

09/11/2010

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is without a doubt the single most desired event among the Christian community, but according to biblical prophecy, before Christ can return the anti-Christ must reign. Seeing as the anti-Christ is integral to the return of Christ, why then, is he the target of universal Christian disdain and fear? Looking through history we see that many of the individuals who have been labeled the anti-Christ were also the recipients of great retaliation (necessary retaliation mind you) for example Nero, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Alistair Crowley, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and currently there’s even a minority who believe President Barack Obama is the anti-Christ (probably the same minority who think him to be a socialist, Muslim, illegal alien from Kenya). If Christians truly believe what they claim to, they should be doing everything they possibly can to bring the anti-Christ to power, not fight him tooth-and-nail prolonging an end they desire more than life itself.

RE: “Miracle” in Colombia Crash

08/16/2010

“Reading about this plane crash. Yes it was a miracle from God. But is not it strange. Some peoples see miracles right before their own eyes, And still don’t believe. They would rather give the credit to somebody else are something else instead of God! But listen to this. You didn’t do it, somebody else didn’t do it, something else didn’t do it. So evidence of the miracle on the plane points to God. God did it! And it does not matter what you say. What you think. Or what you believe. God still did it. The evidence of the peoples living who was on the plane. Proves that!” – Yahoo! User “Bible Teacher” (Unedited comment from the article)

This is a miracle? An elderly woman is dead and this is a miracle? A woman who probably had a husband, children, and grand-children is dead and this is a miracle?

Where was god before the plane crash? I’d be in agreement this was a miracle if the plane was about to crash and suddenly hovered a foot off the ground so all could safely get off alive.

If god were to play a game of ten-pin (that’s bowling), you would naturally expect god to obtain a perfect score of 300. Anything other than 300, unless it was intentional, would be impossible. There were a total of 131 lives on board this Boeing 737. If this truly were a miracle, all 131 lives on board should have survived but unfortunately that’s not what happened. We don’t see a perfect score, which would in this particular case be a 131. We see a 130. The fact is this was not a game of ten-pin. This was not a game period. Was god unable to muster the strength, or whatever it is god uses to go about his business, to save one extra life? Doesn’t god know everything? Even if god didn’t have the strength, or whatever it is god uses to go about his business, god, with his supposed omniscience, should have been able to devise a plan in which everyone survived.

Hypothetical’s aside, this is still no miracle. According to this article, 95% of all people involved in a plane crash survived. When you do the math, you’ll notice that 99% of those on board survived. Is 4% really a miracle? Even if 100% survived, it doesn’t mean it was some miracle. It’s happened before. Miracles are supposed to be miraculous because they never happen. What kind of miracle happens several times?

The “Power” of Prayer

08/13/2010

Far too many believe in the “power of prayer” when there is no reason, and more importantly, no evidence, to believe such a thing.  Studies have shown there is no advantage to prayer; meaning the odds of “success” are the same regardless of how much prayer is done, how many pray for it, and where the prayer is offered.  That is not to say that prayer is not completely without benefit.  Praying can be a very cathartic experience and provide those who are in need with a feeling of relief.  And no, the benefit of a catharsis does not prove a god is real.  Prayer is cathartic in the same way that young children and their imaginary friends are; both are ways of releasing pent up emotions.  Anyway, the lack of statistical significance in support of prayer does not mean that there is not a god; it just demonstrates the non-existence of a personal god. 

Unfortunately, logic does not sway those with faith when it comes to matters of faith.  That’s a shame and I’d like to ask those of you who buy into the notion of prayer a few questions so you can hopefully “see the light.”   Whose prayer would you answer: the prayers of an adolescent who wants her severe case of acne to clear up before school picture day or the prayers of another adolescent who lost her vision and wants it back?  Obviously, any decent, rational person would answer the latter.  Why hasn’t any god?  What would be stopping us from answering the prayers of both adolescents?  What’s stopping a god?  If you believe in prayer it should trouble you that your god won’t heal any of the amputees, the mentally challenged, or the blind but takes the time to make sure you’re “blessed.”  Would you take the time to make sure you were “blessed” while refusing to answer the prayers of the hungry, the sick, and the poor?

Survey: Most Americans say God Helps with Personal Decisions?

06/19/2010

Here are some highlights from the survey:

* 82 percent of participants reported that they depend on God for help and guidance in making decisions.
* 71 percent said they believe that when good or bad things happen, these occurrences are simply part of God’s plan for them.
* 61 percent indicated they believe God has determined the direction and course of their lives.
* 32 percent agreed with the statement: “There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands.

The survey found 71% of Americans believed that all of the good and bad are part of God’s plan.  I find this to be a bittersweet piece of information.  Good because at least a majority of worshipers acknowledge that if their god did create all there is, he is ultimately responsible for all of it.  Bad because why would these Christians worship a being that stood by and just let the Holocaust and other atrocities happen?  It’s like you and me loving an individual who always carries a loaded gun with his finger on the trigger ready before a moment’s notice to squeeze for our failure to abide by his wishes.  It’s blatantly sadomasochistic.

The survey also found 61% say God has determined the direction of their lives.  This is a double-edged belief.  If these people feel that God has directed them (whatever happened to the Christian belief in free-will?) then it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that God directs everyone’s lives.  When you believe that, then men such as Hitler and Stalin should be admonished for their crimes against humanity seeing as their lives were directed by God and not of their own accord.  I’m sure all of these people will then say this was not the doing of God but instead the doing of Satan.  But…that would directly contradict with the previous finding in the survey that good and bad are all parts of God’s plan.  Even if it was Satan, Satan is only following the direction and course that God has indicated for him, which 71% agreed upon.

According to the survey, 32% of Americans agreed with the statement, “There is no sense in planning a lot because ultimately my fate is in God’s hands.”  I don’t think I have to tell you how dangerous it is to believe planning is essentially a waste of time.  It is a drastic self-defeating outlook on life and aside from being self-defeating, it can be absolutely fatal.  I occasionally hear stories in the news about families with ill children who instead of going to the hospital to obtain the medical help that is needed for their ill children, the parents think it a better idea to leave their problems in the hands of their likely non-existent god.