Opinion

Where is Christianity headed? The view from 2019

For 400 years, Christianity has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the Enlightenment, but it is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. Image by Bernd Thaller/Creative Commons

(RNS) — As 2019 begins, the world is becoming more religious, not less. Faith from diverse traditions grows as population expands throughout most of the Global South. Last year, nearly 50 million more Christians were added in Africa, making it the continent with the most adherents to Christianity in the world, 631 million.

In the U.S., a narrative of religious decline and growing secularism is now culturally popular. The percentage of “nones” — those claiming no religious affiliation — is growing, particularly among millennials. But what are the deeper trends and challenges, beneath the headlines, that are likely to shape the future of faith?

White U.S. congregations are withering. From 1991 to 2014, the number of white Protestants declined by a third, a trend that will continue as they age: Though 20 percent of Americans are 18 to 34 years of age, only 1 in 10 white Protestant congregations reflects that in their attendance. As a result, more than half of U.S. congregations now have fewer than 100 members. Hundreds will close this year.

Where there is growth in American Christian denominations, it is driven mostly by nonwhites, whether Catholic or Protestant, evangelical or mainline. Over the past half-century, 71 percent of growth in Catholicism, for instance, has come from its Hispanic community. In the Assemblies of God, one of the few U.S. denominations to show overall growth, white membership slightly declined while nonwhite membership increased by 43 percent over 10 years.

Multiracial congregations are also expanding to draw 1 in 5 churchgoing Americans, and surveys report a higher level of spiritual vitality among them compared with racially homogeneous congregations.

Globally, thanks to dramatic geographic and demographic changes, Christianity is recentering its footprint and becoming a non-Western religion. For 400 years, the faith has been molded by the largely European culture that came out of the Enlightenment. But today its vitality is coming from emerging expressions of Christianity in Africa as well as in Asia and Latin America.

These new influences are raising new questions about the relationship of the individual to the community, rational versus nonrational pathways to perceiving truth and the interplay of the spiritual and material realms.

As the yearning for authentic spiritual experience moves from the head to the heart in this new environment, spirit-filled communities are flourishing. Today, 1 of 4 Christians in the world identifies as Pentecostal or charismatic, with Pentecostalism growing at roughly four times the rate of the world’s population itself.

The popular image of Pentecostals as television preachers extolling a prosperity gospel and flitting around on private jets obscures the real causes for much of the movement’s explosive growth: small Pentecostal communities among the marginalized in the Global South that are providing empowerment and social transformation.

In wealthy Western countries, a strong spiritual driver is the visible impact of climate change. After centuries of a Western Christian cosmology that empties the material world of spiritual value, care of creation is becoming a foundation of Christian faith and practice, as Pope Francis proclaimed in his prophetic encyclical “Laudato Si’.” Saving the Earth has become a spiritual calling.

But the West, particularly the U.S., has to open its eyes to startling developments in the rest of the world.

President Trump, surrounded by many evangelical leaders, holds up an executive order that he signed during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on May 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The “Trump Effect” has undermined the integrity of Christian witness in America in the eyes of the global church. Most non-American church leaders can’t believe the public support given to President Trump by some conservative U.S. church leaders and cannot understand the deafening silence of others.

Trump’s own statements have scandalized the non-Western church, in referring to African nations as “s—hole countries” and in proclaiming an “America first” policy that sounds in many places like a theological heresy that puts the Bible second.

American Christianity across all traditions faces the imperative of de-Americanizing its witness if it is to have any global integrity.

The world won’t give any credibility to versions of the gospel that baptize American power, wealth and global reach with notions of spiritual blessing, especially under the leadership of Trump.

It is also essential to confront culture wars in the church at home and abroad. The division in the church over ethical understandings of sexuality will persist for decades, since no action of a denominational general conference, synod, assembly or council will change the sexual orientation of its members. While the church in the Global South mostly holds to strong conservative views on this matter, diversity also exists there and will slowly grow.

The key question ahead is whether the core of the gospel is declared to be at stake in these differences over same-gender covenanted partnerships, and divide us, or whether they will be seen as ethical and pastoral challenges that should not undercut the unifying call to follow Christ’s mission in the world.

Meanwhile, “belonging before believing” is reshaping pathways of discipleship. The thirst for authentic community, evident in the appeal of Taize to young people and countless other small initiatives, demonstrates a need to rethink how we welcome others into our faith or tradition. The demand that outsiders first adhere to specific beliefs expressed in creeds or confessions is giving way to inviting them first to explore and share in worship, reflection and service. Eventually this will alter traditional ecclesiology and understandings of discipleship.

If there is a theme in what lies ahead for the church as we enter a new year, it is that the white Western Christian bubble that has powerfully shaped Christianity for the past four centuries is now beginning to burst. Future expressions of Christian faith will be shaped by its interactions with non-Western and nonwhite cultures. This will present challenges to the established church in the U.S. but may hold the keys to its revitalization.

(Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, whose latest book is “Future Faith:Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century,” served for 17 years as general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.)

About the author

Wesley Granberg-Michaelson

The Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson served for 17 years as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America and plays an active role in ecumenical organizations.

192 Comments

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  • Where is Christianity headed? To the new reality as noted before in this updated Apostles’ Creed:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2019 (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • Most people don’t care about religion in college, but go back to Church as they get a little older.

    Atheism has been stuck on 5% since the seventies. That number will only decrease as the White Liberal elitists flood our country with Mexicans and barbaric Muslims.

  • World Christian leaders who “cannot understand the deafening silence of others” are, in part, being misled by the poor coverage of religion in general in the U.S. since several mainline Protestant denominations, Catholics, and ecumenical groups have frequently taken positions and actions against Trump administration policies and behavior.

  • So, is 2019 the year that Church wants to go back and talk about “Hey, this stuff is the Golden Rule—-or—–it’s a fraud”?

  • Christianity is indeed growing in Africa and other third world illiterate civilizations, as it loses millions of followers in literate educated countries such as the United States. Wonder why?

  • When you are in college you spend your weekends partying and don’t think about Church at all. Once you get out and you are ready to start a family, you quickly come to the realization that religious gals make better wives and mothers than feminists and bar flies. Not everyone, obviously. There are folks such as you who have never grown out of the mindset of a college freshman, that is of course presuming that you actually went to college (LOL).

  • There are at least two main reasons. First, as noted above, non-church-goers look at the hypocrisy of a religion that refuses to help the poor, the widows and orphans, the sick, the hungry, refuses, in a word to love their neighbors as themselves. They see the wealth of the church and the poverty all around and know that is not what Jesus said. And second, most Christians no longer believe the Bible to be the Word of God. We cede arguments about the origins of universe as if Science has all the answers, when in fact Science has many more unanswerable problems in the “natural” universe explanation. Why? Because we are told that the Bible says the universe was created in 6 literal days, 144 hours. So rather than look foolish and espouse something that is obviously not true, and rather than do the work to understand what the Bible really says, we say “oh, that’s just an allegory” or some other rationalization.

    The questions to the natural (self-caused) answer to the universe include a) how does matter and energy form from nothing in the Big Bang? b) how does life begin from inanimate matter? c) how does an information system (DNA) develop by itself? d) how does intelligence and reason develop from instinct? e) why do we have an inherent knowledge of and desire for what is right and for justice to be done? f) why are love, patience, forgiveness, selflessness and generosity better than hate, haste, revenge, selfishness and being miserly? g) why is a life lived being grateful the key to being happy? h) why, if there is no God, would it matter at all how I treat my neighbor? When you really stop and look at the astounding size of the universe, the crush of the length of years since it all began and the mind-boggling number of people who exist now, have ever existed, or ever will, it is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that, without a God, our lives matter in the least. . I feel so much pity for all the people in this world who live each day with no hope. And faith, hope and love are the greatest gifts of all (1 Corinthians 13). If you don’t have those, life becomes unlivable.

  • unfortunately, “several” mainline denominations taking positions against Trump and his policies is not the majority. I do not understand how anyone can look at our president and see a Christian man. He has said “I’ve never done anything wrong, so why would I need forgiveness?” I mean, even if you put aside the corruption, the womanizing, the fear-mongering, the bullying and take an average “good person” trying to do right in the world – we all need forgiveness. There is no one righteous, no not one.

  • Have you ever read the book or seen the movie “the Case for Christ”? Very interesting read. Movie was good too.

  • Vlad: Hey DonnieBoy this “Mark Connelly” he doing good work for my Research Agency now. He follow your example how to tell many lies good.

    Donald TRump: Pootie Baby my love, they won’t let me build wall and now I’m so SCARED. I shut down government but now everyone blame me for what I do. So UNFAIR to get responsibility for my own actions. It’s TERRIBLE. Now it’s getting really HOT over here on me with Mueller going to impeach my ass too. I need trip to Moscow and be safe there. You help me please please?

    Vlad: Good job with shut down democracy government DonnieBoy. You learn teaching from Russia school good. No problem for come to Moscow. We make apartment below my penthouse for you and big babushkas keep you warm and your small hands busy yes and Mark Connelly service you on knees as usual. I handle Melanoma divorce for you and no problem Russia-style with my big bare chest on hers. Soon we break America and build great Russiamerica together, then soon break EU. We start with Brexit ha hardly need help and take over Europe next.

  • No, and I don’t intend to waste any more time on a bogus religion as all religions are. To wit one more time:

    The Great Kibosh of All Religions:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • yes, you have to be particularly careful about what you read if you want to be a good atheist. Ask CS Lewis, a one-time atheist. I can tell you have spent a lot of time wrestling with this. A little more won’t hurt, right? A 2-hour movie? Strobel asked all the hard questions. He was an atheist too.

  • another question for you: what do you do with someone who, in every way is known as an inspirational teacher, a revolutionary in non-violent change, who took existing practices (love God, love your neighbor) and brought them to the next level – but also claimed to be God? No one has ever suggested Jesus was crazy. The enemies of his day accused him of being possessed, but no one since has. You say there was no Easter. How do you explain the empty tomb? Why did the Romans or the Jewish authorities not produce a body? How do you explain hundreds of people meeting him after the crucifixion, perfectly healthy, but with holes in his hands, feet and side? How do you explain the fact that 10 of the remaining 11 apostles chose death rather than admit what they were preaching was a lie (only John having died of old age despite numerous attempts to kill him)?

  • People in the US think they’re too smart for God. They’re grown arrogant. Not a surprise. You can read in Romans 1 about this tendency.

  • And you don’t have a clue do you that every one of your arguments in no way proves God at all? But let’s take one of your most ignorant arguments. That if there was no god, why would it matter how I treat my neighbor. Let me tell you, since I left the church, I TREAT MY NEIGHBOR BETTER, BECAUSE I’M NOT SUCH AN ARROGANT AHOLE CLAIMING I TALK TO THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE GOD. Just like, since I don’t believe in something without any evidence, I’m going to now go out and rape and kill. Please listen yourself. You sound like a 5 year old.

  • I didn’t say those questions prove the existence of God. Just establishing a baseline that Science has a lot of work to do. If you want to prove the existence of God, we’re not going to get very far. I can give you a lot of evidence that there is a God. I have enough historical proof that I am satisfied, and I was a history major. I have enough philosophical proof that Christianity is the best way of life (love God, love your neighbor, faith, hope and love, etc.) that I am fully confident. And yes, I have had a personal visitation that did get my attention, not to mention how God has transformed (and continues to transform) my life.

    You are spot on about how most Christians come off. I have been one of those. One thing I noticed recently is that Jesus, Paul and the other disciples, while they said “go make disciples of all nations” and similar, how they did that was exemplified in 1 Peter 3:15 – “always be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have, but do it with gentleness and patience.” No, we are not going to get very far if Christians start every conversation with an atheist by saying “hey, you’re going to hell.” Not to mention all the false preachers getting rich while sleeping around and ignoring the poor. I cannot answer for hypocrites within the church. If there were no hypocrites in the church, all churches would be empty.

    But you are here and I gather from that, interested in arguing the point. I am very sorry you had an experience in the church or in life that led you out of the church (though I imagine you may not be). The question is, does that mean there is no God? Isn’t that the question the entire country is asking now? If all this hypocrisy pervades the church, can any of it be true?

  • But I have MORE proof on the side that at least the Christian God does NOT exist. How? If somebody was selling you a car and said, this car runs perfect, this is a great car, this car will never let you down- trust me I’m honest. You believe the guy and buy the car. Then the car proceeds to break down. EVERYTHING the car salesman told you turned out to be wrong. Would you still believe him? Of course not. I can give you dozens of examples of Christians claiming things that not only NEVER happened- but in most cases were totally wrong. Healings? The return of Christ? Changed by this Holy Spirit? Signs and Wonders? on and on. how about, you are a new creation in Christ Jesus. Tell that to all the Christians who watch the same amount of porn as the heathen. Or divorce rate- exactly the same. Yeah, when you really look at it without those Jesus goggles. You say, man, was I deceived by a load of bullshit.

  • Latin America since the Spanish Empire has been Christian and always a poor relative of the Western world. It is now catching up with its own Reformation with the rise of non-Roman Churches and a renewal of faith.

    Africa, parts of Asia and a revival in parts of the former Soviet Union are definitely areas of new growth. Christianity from its beginning has bounced around between a middle eastern and western religion. The old western colonial empires is what gave it a real impact via the west on Asia and Africa.

    The decline of religion in the US in part comes the mass media’s disrespect for religion, reluctance to portray Christianity in a positive light with middle America and the media control by those who have little knowledge or experience with most of Christianity.

  • If you’ve read or listened to some of the many false preachers in this country, I can’t help you there. A lie is a lie. When Christ was tempted in the desert, Satan quoted scripture to him. People have used the Bible to justify slavery, crusades, suckering poor people to give up their life savings, building walls along southern borders of “free countries” and on and on.

    But that does not mean the Bible is false or there is no God. I can tell you, I had a lot of trouble believing the miracles, healings etc. The question at the heart of Christianity is, who is Jesus? If he was just another dude, as full of sin and hypocrisy as the rest of us, then yes, it’s all lies. But he claimed to be God. His followers thought he was God. His enemies accused him of saying he was God. Either that is true and he was God, or it’s false and he was a liar, deluded, evil or insane. If you believe the teachings of and about Jesus, it is hard to suggest he was any of those things. He was humble (except for claiming to be God), kind to the poor, challenging to the rich and powerful, wise, forgiving, compassionate and brave (voluntarily going to his death, among many examples). But if he truly was / is God, then healing the sick, walking on water, raising the dead become easy to explain.

    What about the resurrection? If he was not raised from the dead, where did his body go? The Romans and Jewish priests never produced one. The disciples all (except John) chose death by execution rather than admit they were lying. Hundreds of people (500 at one time) saw him alive after being crucified.

    What about personal transformation? No, it almost always does not happen instantaneously. If it did, there would be no faith. You’d just say “I want what he has.” But sanctification is real. I am an example of that. I am embarrassed to tell you the things I used to do, much of which I continued to do after becoming a Christian. But I have slowly excised much of that sinful behavior from my life. I still have miles to go, of course. Paul, Peter and the other disciples are also examples. Les Strobel (Case for Christ) is another more modern example.

    John Stott has an excellent book called “Basic Christianity”. I highly recommend it. $8 on Amazon ($3.40 on Kindle). What have you got to lose?

  • 1. Actually, Jesus was a bit “touched”. After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today’s world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J’s gospels being mostly fiction.

    2. Jesus was never put in tomb. So where are the bones???
    According to Professor JD Crossan’s many exhaustive studies, they still are a-mouldering in the ground outside of Jerusalem or were eaten by wild dogs and are now cycling through nature’s recycling system.

    3. Addressing the inauthenticity of the post-resurrection sightings of Jesus of Nazareth.

    -The empty tomb myth

    Mark 16:1-8 = Matt 28:1-10 = Luke 24:1-11
    (1b) John 20:1,(2-10),11-18

    Originated by Mark and copied by M, L and J and historically nil after rigorous analyses for number of attestations, time of publication and content. For added details:

    see Professor Gerd Ludemann’s analysis in his book Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 111-114 and http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb275.html.

    –The disciples on the Emmaus road

    Luke 23: 13-35 Historically nil. See Ludemann’s book, pp 409-412. Note: Emmaus can no longer be located.

    — Revealed to Disciples

    1Cor 15:5b,7b
    (2) Matt 28:16-20
    (3) Easter Night 2.3.1 (3a) Luke 24:36-40
    (3b) John 20:19-21

    2.4 (4) IgnSmyr 3.2b-3

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb018.html and the following from Professor Luedamann:

    “Matt 28:16-20 The description of Jesus’s appearance is minimal, as attention is focused on the content of Jesus’ message to the Eleven. Luedemann notes:

    that “the historical yield is extremely meager.” He accepts the early tradition that various disciples had visionary experiences, most probably located in Galilee, and that these experiences led to the founding of “a community which preached the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as the Messiah and/or the Son of Man among their Jewish contemporaries.” [Jesus, 255f.]

    Luke 24:36-53 The emphatic realism in the recognition scene that begins this appearance story mans “one can hardly avoid seeing this as a thrust against docetism. Evidently in this verse Luke is combating the same challenges to the bodily reality of Jesus as Ignatius, To the Smyrneans 3.2, does at the beginning of the second century.” Luedemann concludes, “The historical yield is nil, both in respect of the real historical event and in connection with
    the visions which were the catalyst for the rise of Christianity.” [Jesus, 413-415]”

    –Rev 1: 12-20 (a reboot of Daniel 7:13)

    And then there is this:

    “Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll branded Revelation “the insanest of all books”.[30] Thomas Jefferson omitted it along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time, he “considered it as merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.” [31]

    Martin Luther once “found it an offensive piece of work” and John Calvin “had grave doubts about its value.”[32]

    –Appearance to James et al

    1 Cor 15: 7a

    /4/ and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, /5/ and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. /6/ Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. /7/ Then he appeared to
    James, then to all the apostles. /8/ Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb030.html- i.e. historically nil.

  • And the apostles choosing martyrdom? Most of these stories fail rigorous historic testing.

  • I would have voted for her as well.

    Anyone who voted for that human throwback on the golden throne is who should be embarrassed.

  • I’ve given you the link before, it’s in the Wiki. Do a search for Mainline Protestants and most links agree who they are.

  • I am sure you would have.

    As a student of psychology you know that by the time someone is 18 to 20 years old 98% of their personality is fixed. That means if we know the personality by observation we can in a probabilistic way make some educated guesses as to what he or she would do in a given set of circumstances.

    For example, an individual who is gullible and has a strong tendency to fabricate versions of reality that are self-serving – for example touting that the Episcopal Church is still “mainline” – would likely vote for Hillary.

  • I was speaking to my friend from Guatemala not long ago and he said that the Catholic church is dying there because they don’t help anyone. The Evangelical church there is thriving though because they actually exhibit the love Jesus said we should have for the poor (see Matthew 25:31-46). Wouldn’t it be a kicker if it really is easier for a camel to get through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to get into heaven?

  • I love it! Good research! Most atheists I speak to have never really read the Bible. I used to be perplexed at the myriad of really smart people who say God doesn’t exist. I really worry to fret that one day Science would be able to say “aha! see, there is no God!” But the more they discover, the more convinced I am of the opposite. Stephen Hawking said that life on other planets was either extremely likely or extremely unlikely. And the only reason he had that it was extremely likely is that it exists here.

    It’s really on that, love and forgiveness, that convinced me of God initially. Christians have done such a poor job understanding the Bible and how to read it that most lost the ability to explain it properly, and therefore you get people believing in the creation of the universe in 144 hours. But I know for a fact that love and forgiveness is inarguably the best way to live life. As I’ve done more research, I’ve found enough evidence that there is a historical God, the truth of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. There is a lot in the Bible that is hard to understand, hard to believe. But faith, hope and love are not among them. What do you have faith in, if not in the unseen? What do you hope for, if not life after death? How can you love if it’s all just chemicals and electricity?

  • Yes, some of the apostles’ deaths are legend, but quite a few are historically verified. And by the way, I don’t know how you could read Matthew 21 and 22 and see the wisdom Jesus displayed, and think that he couldn’t have argued his way out of being executed. He chose that path. Strange behavior indeed for someone who claimed to be God.

  • Only Matt 21: 31 c, is historic. None of the passages of Matt 22 are historic. e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 695.

  • It has been demonstrated that it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle if it is first lightly greased.

  • The Gospels are the most reliable historical documents in ancient history by a multiple, even if you don’t consider how long it is from the time the event being described to the time the documents were written. Homer, Aristotle, Sophocles – the handful of writings we have of them are from centuries after they died. There are 5843 authenticated copies of the new testament, some dating to within 30-40 years of the crucifixion. The letter to Corinthians you mentioned may have been written just a few years after, based on an event that it purports happened within months and is saying “hey, these guys are all still alive. if you don’t believe me, ask them.”

    I noticed you didn’t touch my other posting. What do you have hope in, RC?

  • It is all about rigorous historic testing. As starters, peruse the studies of Professors Crossan and Ludemann . Let us know when you finish. Such studies for example conclude that only 10% of the NT is authentic .

  • “The Gospels are the most reliable historical documents in ancient history by a multiple, even if you don’t consider how long it is from the time the event being described to the time the documents were written.”

    That is an untrue statement. That’s why religions are based on faith.

  • I will do you one easier.

    Religion no longer has the peer pressure effect in the developed world it used to.

    In Europe the old state established churches lost all authority in their entanglement with the government for centuries,

    With mobility, people are more likely to not be living in the same communities as their parents. They are less moored to the community institutions such as the local churches. Communities also become more religiously mixed. Churches also have less ability to guilt/strong arm people into attendance. “I didn’t see you at church last Sunday.” doesn’t have the same effect it used to have. Add to that the increasing frequency of interfaith marriages and you have a recipe for just not caring about religion from a practical standpoint.

    “why, if there is no God, would it matter at all how I treat my neighbor? ”

    So you are a sociopath who needs a divine leash to keep from harming others. Everyone who has some measure of empathy and connection to other human beings could answer that question. The fact that you even ask it speaks poorly of your ability to make moral judgments and decisions.

  • So if you did not believe in God, would you run amok and harm your neighbors?

    Because I do not believe in God but I have no desire to do such things. I do not need a system of divine reward / punishment to guide my actions with others. I look to how my actions affect others in the here and now. Which is what moral thinking entails.

    I see many Christians try to justify immoral conduct by claiming its God’s word. They confuse following arbitrary religious dictates with morals and values.

  • Ironic how Romans 1 discussion of the insolent, arrogant, and slanderers seems totally appropriate in describing such arguments.

  • Crossan and Ludemann, bless their hearts, are nothing but Target-Practice for Christian high-schoolers these days.

  • 10%? I’ve seen figures as low as 2%. Most historians do not doubt the veracity of the New Testament using historical sourcing from the 40,000+ copies, counting Greek, Latin and Syriac over the first few centuries after the crucifixion. Looking at when are where the documents were found, historians can trace back and determine whether documents have accuracy or not. Then there are the extra-biblical writings that quote the New Testament, with some 300,000 sources. Yes, only about 50 complete New Testaments remain, but most of the documents contain all the Gospels.

    Further, the inconsistencies in the Gospels act as unintended collaboration. Eyewitness accounts should vary on details but have the main facts consistent. How many women went to the tomb? How many angels were there? What was written on the sign on Jesus’ cross? If the stories all matched, one would assume a single source. Just the fact that it was women who first went to the tomb adds credence, given that in that culture, women were not regarded as reliable witnesses. If that was not what actually happened, why not make up something more believable?

    I’m curious – what do you make of Paul? Some consider him as having “re-written” who Jesus was. Do you accept his life story as written in Acts and in his letters?

  • Obviously , you have not perused rigorous historic testing of the NT.
    Again get back to us when you finish. Include Professor Crossan’s review of Paul in his book In Search of Paul.

  • Some of Professor John Dominic Crossan’s studies for you to peruse after you finish to high school:

    •Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (Harper San Francisco 2001)
    •The Birth of Christianity (Harper San Francisco 1999)
    •The Jesus Controversy : Perspectives in Conflict (Trinity Pr Intl 1999)
    •Who Is Jesus? (Westminster John Knox 1999)
    •The Essential Jesus (Book Sales 1998)
    •Who Killed Jesus? (Harper San Francisco 1996)
    •Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (Harper San Francisco 1995)
    •In Parables : The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (Polebridge Press 1994)
    •The Historical Jesus (Harper San Francisco 1993)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification (online)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Independent Attestation (online)
    •Common Sayings Tradition in Gospel of Thomas and Q Gospel (online) Who Killed Jesus?: Buy at amazon.com!
    •Seminar: HJ Materials & Methodology (online)
    A Closer Look at the Mustard Seed (online)
    •Was Jesus Buried? (online)
    •Alchemy and Accuracy (online)
    •A Review of John Dominic Crossan’s The Birth of Christianity (Harvard Theological Review 2001, reproduced online)
    •Danny Yee’s Book Reviews: The Historical Jesus (online)
    •Simple Choices? A Response to John Dominic Crossan
    A Search for Paul,

    Some of Professor Gerd Lüdemann’s studies also available for your perusal:

    •Jesus After 2000 Years : What He Really Said and Did (Prometheus Books 2001)
    •The Great Deception : And What Jesus Really Said and Did (Prometheus Books 1999)
    •Virgin Birth : The Real Story of Mary and Her Son Jesus (Trinity Pr Intl 1998)
    •What Really Happened to Jesus : A Historical Approach to the Resurrection (Westminster John Knox Pr 1996)
    •Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity (Westminster John Knox Pr 1996)
    •Resurrection of Jesus : History, Experience, Theology (Fortress Pr 1995)

  • No, many of my best friends are atheists or agnostics. They are good, genuine, nice people. And as you say (and I said), many people have used God’s Word to justify horrible actions. You’re right too – if you take a commandment out of context, you can use it to harm people. Take our last attorney general citing Romans 13:1-2 as justification for separating families at the border as a deterrent to having poor, oppressed people come to this country. It is poor policy indeed when first, he is the one making the policy and second, if he had read just a little further, he’d have gotten to Romans 13:9-10 “…all (commandments) are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Of course, Paul simplified Jesus’ summation of the Law, which includes the part about “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul”. This is vitally important, and gets to your first question. The basic difficulty with loving our neighbor is that (to quote Jerry Seinfeld) “people are the worst”. Sure, in general, when I’m in a good mood, I try not to be a jerk. But what I’m working on now is to try to see each person as God’s child, given His grace and mercy, same as me. When I remember to do that, it becomes much harder to cut someone off in traffic, or pass by a homeless person without offering help.

    Of course people can do those things without God. But do we? Left to our own choices, people will act selfishly most of the time. Selfishness is the basis of nearly all sin (or “strife” if you prefer a less religious word). See James 4:1-2. At its core, a Christian SHOULD be selfless.

  • sorry, I did not mean that to sound like a troll. Just asking what gives you hope? What would you do if science found a way for us to never die, to never grow old? Would you take it? What if science could prove that there is no such thing as love, that we are all just chemicals and electric impulses?

  • RC, you can point to a few skeptics. I can point to hundreds, thousands of scientists and historians who will say the Biblical story is real and true. From Genesis (read Gen 1 again with the notion of a “day” being an unspecified period of time and most of the verbs in it being in the imperfect tense – see if you can find in there the Big Bang, the creation of the earth’s atmosphere, Pangaea and evolution), the Great Flood (the Bible does NOT say the entire planet was flooded, but “all the land”, which, archaeologists will tell you, it was), to Exodus (check out the video “Exodus: Patterns of Evidence – the entire notion that the Israelites were never in Egypt is based on a misunderstanding of one verse that put them there at the time of Rameses instead of 200 years before where there is an abundance of evidence, including Egyptian sources that describe the ten plagues), Jericho, Ur, Nineveh, the Temple of Solomon (the Bible has been used over and over as an incredibly accurate roadmap by archaeologists) and yes the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Then look at the philosophy of Christianity, as a way of life. Love God, Love your neighbor – on these two rest all the Law and the Prophets. Faith, hope and love. Forgiveness. Find the documentary “As We Forgive” about the Rwandan genocide and what happened when the government released thousands of convicted murderers back into society. Powerful.

    Then look at the millions of people from the first days after the resurrection to today who claim to have met Jesus and had their lives transformed by it. Paul, Peter, Thomas Aquinas, Francis of Assisi, Mother Theresa. Look at the skeptics and people who were actively working against Jesus who became some of his greatest supporters. Paul, Augustine, CS Lewis, Les Strobel.

    What, in your own experience, makes you so sure there is no God?

  • I think if you ask my friends who have known me for a long time, they would say I’m a nice guy. My family too. I would tell you, even today, I can be a real bastard sometimes. Honestly, aren’t we all like that? Jesus taught that there was more to following the law than not murdering, not stealing and not committing adultery. He called us to seek perfection (Matthew 5:48) as God is perfect. And we do that by starting with being humble, admitting our faults and our need for forgiveness. The Sermon on the Mount is really an amazing speech. It is the heart of Christian living, or it should be.

    Of course you are right about peer pressure. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing right? Our minister has never once preached on keeping the Sabbath. Yet, “man was not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man.”

  • For starters:

    Why would your god allow the following:

    Strong circumstantial evidence that there is no god (or did they all die as martyrs?)

    Number of your god’s creations who died horrible deaths from the following diseases:

    1. 300,000,000
    Smallpox

    2. 200,000,000
    Measles

    3. 100,000,000
    Black Death

    4. 80,000,000–250,000,000
    Malaria

    5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
    Spanish Flu

    6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Plague of Justinian

    7. 40,000,000–100,000,000
    Tuberculosis

    8. 30,000,000[13]
    AIDS pandemic

    9. 12,000,000
    Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

    10. 5,000,000
    Antonine Plague

    11. 4,000,000
    Asian Flu

    12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

  • When you finish high school, a recommended reading list:

    From the studies of Professor John Dominic Crossan:

    •Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (Harper San Francisco 2001)
    •The Birth of Christianity (Harper San Francisco 1999)
    •The Jesus Controversy : Perspectives in Conflict (Trinity Pr Intl 1999)
    •Who Is Jesus? (Westminster John Knox 1999)
    •The Essential Jesus (Book Sales 1998)
    •Who Killed Jesus? (Harper San Francisco 1996)
    •Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (Harper San Francisco 1995)
    •In Parables : The Challenge of the Historical Jesus (Polebridge Press 1994)
    •The Historical Jesus (Harper San Francisco 1993)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification (online)
    •An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Independent Attestation (online)
    •Common Sayings Tradition in Gospel of Thomas and Q Gospel (online) Who Killed Jesus?: Buy at amazon.com!
    •Seminar: HJ Materials & Methodology (online)
    •A Closer Look at the Mustard Seed (online)
    •Was Jesus Buried? (online)
    •Alchemy and Accuracy (online)
    •A Review of John Dominic Crossan’s The Birth of Christianity (Harvard Theological Review 2001, reproduced online)
    •Danny Yee’s Book Reviews: The Historical Jesus (online)
    •Simple Choices? A Response to John Dominic Crossan

  • And when you finish perusing those studies, some added recommendations:

    Some of the studies of Professor Gerd Lüdemann:

    •Jesus After 2000 Years : What He Really Said and Did (Prometheus Books 2001)
    •The Great Deception : And What Jesus Really Said and Did (Prometheus Books 1999)
    •Virgin Birth : The Real Story of Mary and Her Son Jesus (Trinity Pr Intl 1998)
    •What Really Happened to Jesus : A Historical Approach to the Resurrection (Westminster John Knox Pr 1996)
    •Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity (Westminster John Knox Pr 1996)
    •Resurrection of Jesus : History, Experience, Theology (Fortress Pr 1995)
    •Gerd Lüdemann on the Secular Web (online)
    •Gerd Lüdemann’s Homepage (online)

  • So you aren’t really willing to defend your own point here. Fair enough. It was a rather silly one to make. I chalk it up to the tone deaf attitude many newly minted Christians have towards those who do not share their religious beliefs.

  • “Of course people can do those things without God. But do we? ”

    Yup. Frequently. We are left to our own devices. People will act well or badly with or without belief in God.

  • John’s gospel is historically nil and relying on a Jewish fortune teller in the 21st century CE is not too smart.

  • Why stop at plagues and mass deaths? You could add cancer, parkinsons, dementia, war, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados. So in short, you’re saying “human suffering”. I don’t know if I can satisfy your question. I have in my mind. I like imagining what things might be like if the opposite was true. What if there was no death? What if pain and suffering didn’t exist?

    First, I don’t view death as a bad thing if a) you are a believer, b) you have never been told, c) you are young enough not to be responsible for your decisions, or d) you have kept God’s commandments even if you weren’t a Christian. There may be other categories I am overlooking. I have found the Bible makes it plain that God “grades on a curve” to use a gross and perhaps clumsy analogy. My grandfather called his own demise “graduation day”. I liked that.

    I think it is equally apparent that God has eternal punishment planned for a) people who have distorted His Word to their own temporary (earthly) benefit and/or to the detriment of innocents (think abusive priests, jet-setting embezzling preachers, those who used the Bible as justification to do evil – Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, slavery, etc.), those who lead others astray, those who heard the truth and turned against God (again, there is a curve here – I don’t know how many people hear the truth in American churches these days). For someone who dies and is an enemy of God, that is terrible. But I trust that God is Just and Merciful.

    In the end, we all will shuffle off this mortal coil one day. Whether you’re a Christian or not, everyone has to know on some level that no matter how long your life is, it is just the blink of an eye. I like the idea that it is because we die that it matters how we live.

  • Bred, Born, Live, Die and Recycled. That is it. No god, no heaven, no hell. And hopefully we did some good before going belly-up.

  • I’m saying there is a difference between being “good enough” and striving for perfection. I would be a fool indeed to try to assert I never mess up, make people angry or do something terrible. It’s called “being human”. I believe I can honestly state that I am more patient, more generous, kinder, more peaceful than I used to be. And I 100% credit that to my trying to follow the example set forth by Jesus.

    Answering your comment above too, yes people do frequently do right by each other. But we also frequently do wrong by each other. Look at the world around us. America has less faith than ever, and I would say is in a bigger mess than ever. War, disease, climate change, terrorism, mass shootings, the largest wealth gap in the world (and growing), fear and bigotry running rampant. Left to our own devices, man’s heart will turn to evil. We are basically selfish creatures. And yet, we are capable of great good, made in God’s own image.

    You can always find a non-believer who is a “nicer person” than a believer. The question is a) are they good people all the time? I think we know the answer is no. No one is. And b) are they better people today than each one was yesterday? The answer SHOULD be that the believer is actively trying to achieve perfection (which is started by humbly acknowledging our need for God). A non-believer is more likely to say “hey, I’m a nice guy, why do I need to do more?”

    There is a subtle but important difference here Spuddie. I don’t deny you have a lot of solid points though.

  • “Look at the world around us. America has less faith than ever, and I would say is in a bigger mess than ever. ”

    The world around us is in less of a mess than in years/centuries past. Wars of aggression between nations is a rarity. Genocide of all types gets world attention as it happens, Imperialism is dead. The world is becoming more connected. We are living in safer times from each other than we ever had.

    When religion was a more dominant force in the developed world, we had far more atrocity on a grander scale. The more secular we have become, the more free we have become as well. Its telling that when religion entangles itself with the state we have oppression, decay, ignorance and atrocity. There was never a “golden age” or more moral time from the past. Quite the opposite. The more religious we were, the more savage we were to each other.

    “Left to our own devices, man’s heart will turn to evil.”

    We are left to our own devices. We don’t all turn to evil. Religion has always been great at getting good people to do evil things.

  • But there is a major difference between the two: For you it is simply “common courtesy’, but for the Christian, they are living for something objective and divine.

  • But we have no reason for it if there is no God. We’d have no reason to even be alive. To say otherwise would be intellectually dishonest.

  • I see your point, but there actually is no proof that religion is tied to the “moral decline.” Nice try though.

  • Oh, like the Big Bang? Like our entire universe came out of nothing? Oh yeah, great example! Thanks for sharing Mr. Hertzer.

  • Every government entangled with a given religion has attacked freedom and democracy. All theocracies are authoritarian states.

  • Define “entangled.” There are countries today that aren’t authoritarian but have prominent religions.

  • Of course we do. Because we are generally not psychopaths. We have connections to other people.

    If belief God is the only reason you do not go out and harm others, seek professional help. You are clearly lacking in the basic empathy the majority of the population of the world possesses.

  • It is not a common courtesy. It is right and wrong. It is what we do because we are not psychopaths. Christians are not any more moral than anyone else. Nor do they try harder than others in that department. Religion never made anyone act well. But it sure justifies a lot of people acting badly.

  • Both religion and irreligion can justify someone acting badly. I do very much agree with most of your points here.

    However, if there is no God, nor an objective, eternal standard to live up to, how can right and wrong exist? Do they even exist?

  • I know exactly what you’re getting at, but let me flip the script back at you so you can see my perspective:

    If “not being psychopaths” and simply “connections” are the only reason you don’t harm others, then you have a problem. None of those reasons, nor any other you may have as an atheist, are OBJECTIVE reasons to be nice to people. If there is no God, then kindness is kind of a social construct and nothing more. You’re living just to be respectful, but in the end you will die and none of your actions will have made a difference. See what I mean?

  • Even with belief in god humans through religion have shown that there is no standard right or wrong. The best we humans can do is have ‘doing good yo others’ as an objective standard. Does doing A hurt others? Yes? It is morally wrong. Religion creates morality on a case by case basis. Why are only non believers criticized on your book?

  • You obviously are one of those Christians who only listens to what your pastor tells you. NOBODY I know with an iq over 100 believes that the universe came out of nothing. If you want to study it, you will find that to be the case. It’s like when I was in church and they always said, well, if we came from Monkeys- why are there monkeys…hahaha. Because THAT’S NOT HOW SCIENCE EXPLAINS IT. Just like there really is no such thing as NOTHING. But talk about stupid. I bet your favorite argument to prove God is the cosmological one right? Now how did I know that? Because, that proves how dumb you are. If everything has to have a cause……….wait for it. then who created God? Right, check and mate. Still time to get your GED and stop believing in the invisible man in the sky.

  • Not even close to true. If you need God to tell you right from wrong, you are apparently unable to comprehend moral concepts. A psychopath on a leash.

    Religion doesn’t create or define morality. It creates shorthands for it. A social construct.

  • That was silly.

    ” and simply “connections” are the only reason you don’t harm others, then you have a problem”

    Connections are not “simple”. They define us. How we connect to humanity is one of the most vital things to one’s being. What shapes us, what we seek from life.

    There is nothing objective about religious dictates. They are arbitrary by their nature. “God says so” is as subjective as it gets. Based on your whim and interpretation. Almost always self-serving and amoral

    The objective reason to be nice to others is because we function better when it is done. Its not a social construct. Its a social contract. A tangible and objective thing. Reciprocity is not a religious concept.

  • There is no objective or eternal standard in religion. It is arbitrary, subjective and changes over time. It is not a standard either. Right and wrong are not defined by your version of God or anyone else’s. They are defined by the people around you and how you act among them.

  • Where did the universe come from? Answer that question first, THEN address my other points.

    No, I do not rely on the cosmological argument nor do I only listen to what my pastor says. I only listen to the Word, and my pastor is simply the man whose job is to help present it to me.

    We actually need there to be something eternal for us to exist in the first place because… wait for it… that’s how science works. Your ad hominen isn’t very effective.

  • Actually, having a God is the only way you can truly comprehend morals, because as a theist you see things as having eternal consequences, not just doing them so you can please society for no legitimate reason.

    Secondly, we’re talking about God, not religion. I have problems with religion myself, but it’s important to note that the two aren’t the same thing.

  • Quit bringing up religion.It has nothing to do with this. We are talking about standards, and we are talking about God. Religion is another animal.

    “The objective reason to be nice to others is because we function better when it is done. Its not a social construct. Its a social contract. A tangible and objective thing. Reciprocity is not a religious concept.”

    How is it “objective”? Better yet, what does the word “objective” or “absolute” mean to you? It seems we have different definitions.

  • LOL! Magic decoder ring fallacy.

    If religion is the only way to comprehend morality, why do so many people act immorally in the name of their faith?

    Why are religious people even more likely to argue against morality in favor of arbitrary rules?

    Because you are incorrect.

    You are not talking about morality. You are talking about acting out of self-interest. Fear of punishment and reward. You are actually arguing against moral thinking.

  • I do definitely see your point. I absolutely agree that asking whether or not something hurts others is a great standard for whether or not we should do something, and I wish everyone would take that advice of yours. However, despite how beneficial this may be to ourselves and our relations with other people, it is still subjective because we would be the ones to invent that rule. Ergo, your idea of objectivity is still subjective.

  • Of course it does. You are claiming religion defines morality. God is subjective and defined through religion and sect. Religion sets the standards you claim.

    If you can’t be bothered to understand the definition of objective and absolute, then you should not make arguments about where the adjectives are employed. 🙂

  • They aren’t more likely to be immoral. No one said that. No one has proven that. People have used both religion and irreligion, theism and atheism to do bad things.

    Spuddie, I didn’t say that religion is the only way to comprehend morality. I DO NOT believe that.

    I said GOD is the only way to comprehend morality.

    I am not against moral thinking, but I believe there is a better reason to be moral than what you are presenting. You are saying that it’s good to be moral because of others, but i’m saying that doing it for God is a better reason because it affects us for eternity as well as on this earth.

  • Religion is just the rules! It is NOT the same as God! God is eternal, but religion is a human construct. I know my definitons of “absolute” and “objective”. NEITHER of them mean “social constructs invented by men.”

  • Okay. I see your point. First let me say thank you for engaging civilly!! Second, I can see your point about the subjective nature of that morality. I would submit that it is demonstrable that saying god is the objective source of morality involves just as much subjectivity. What is considered right and wrong varies on interpretation of what god intends. Fortunately humans, even with god, often find their way to realize morality involves treating others well.

  • How would you say that God being the objective source or morality is also subjective?

    Oh by the way, not only non believers are criticized in the Bible. Jesus made sure to cover all the bases when he called out the RELIGIOUS LEADERS of the time for being massive show-offs.

  • Since your version of what defines God is going to be different from others, how is it not a social construct invented by men?

    Your proof of the existence of God is the same as mine. None. Your belief is not based on such things but faith. Faith promulgated and defined by social constructions like religion.

  • You’re suggesting that since we have different truths, there is no truth. This is wrong. We can still have different interpretations, but only one of us can be truly right. I get what you’re saying though, and what you’re only able to prove is that religion is a social construct. Not God.

  • Well my point is that even with belief in god we have no concrete set of morals. It varies over time and place. Even during 2000 years of a Christian god we have seen changes in what is considered good and bad. We get the same results without god. That’s all. That doesn’t even take into account differences among religions.

  • “We can still have different interpretations, but only one of us can be truly right.”

    Not necessarily. It all depends on what we do with it. At the end of the day we are judged by our actions towards others.

  • Could you please expound on this point? I know that God has always wanted is followers to do the Ten Commandments. It’s a little confusing when you say that the Christian God has no concrete set of morals. Could you please provide an example of this?

  • Well we discussed homosexuality before. Not every Christian agrees on whether it is moral or not. God did not set that out clearly. Per the Bible killing is wrong. But of course Christians have realized there are certain times they deem it moral. Many Christians believe tattooed bodies are immoral and that god is clear on that. Many other Christians do not believe that. Other religions see tattoos as part of their religious practice. It is impossible to know what god really commands regarding tattoos. Divorce? Catholics still do not allow it at all yet other Christians relish it. I could go on and on.

  • By our actions. By how we are remembered. By how we want to be remembered.

    Did you leave the world a better place after you’re gone or a worse place?

  • So, do you ever consider the possibility that maybe some of those Christians are completely right on what God says about certain things? Because in my honest opinion, it sounds like you’re moving the goalposts when you say that instead of some Christians knowing what God wants, that Christianity per se doesn’t have concrete morals. It is possible that Christians have different interpretations but it might not change the fact that there is a concrete set of morals that many Christians don’t know about.

    To rephrase: We may have different ideas on what truth is, but it doesn’t mean that the real meaning doesn’t exist.

  • Oh okay. I am not moving goalposts; you are. You are positing that there exists an objective morality from god that humans do not know. That might be true.

  • Here’s my question to you:

    Why does it really matter? We can live a self-indulgent life without any consideration or thought of others and die comfortably and peacefully. That (in a universe without a God) is no worse than the life of a doctor who considers the needs of others but is poor and dies alone.

  • I think many Christians do know what God really wants. Most Christians I meet believe in pretty much the same thing.

    What I mean to say is that God certainly does have a concrete set of morals, regardless of what you or I believe. We might have different interpretations, but the facts don’t care whether I am right or not.

  • But that doesn’t mean that religious people are in any better position to discern morality than nonbelievers.

  • I’m not quite sure on how to answer that, because it seems believers and nonbelievers have different ideas- and different presuppositions– on what morality is.

    Often, I’m told that if God is the only thing that’s keeping me from being a criminal, that I need to seek mental help. I know this makes sense from your point of view, but this statement contains the presupposition that being moral for men is a better reason than being moral for God. That’s what’s funny- and I mean genuinely funny- about talking to someone with a different belief system. Believers and nonbelievers place value on different things, and from these things arise the framework of their beliefs.

  • He does. God says for slaves to obey their masters. That’s moral,right? hahahahahahaha dumbshit. A so, do you do what the bible tells you to do when your child comes home drunk- kill him by stoning him to death? You don’t? Why not? It’s moral to kill your child- GOD SAYS SO. Col 3:22 and Deut 21:18. Yeah, unlike you, I’ve actually read the bible.

  • Christianity is dying, because people today have morals and don’t believe that owning slaves and murdering your children like the bible says is acceptable isn’t in the year 2018. Read Col and Deut if you doubt what I just said.

  • Existentialist now? Why does it have to matter?

    Do you want to be despised or remembered poorly?

    People who are not psychopaths don’t bother to ask such questions. Thry apparently need threats and promises out of self interest to guide them.

  • God doesn’t make threats and give promises out of self-interest. Quite the opposite. He gives me a life that I need to live, not the one I want to live.
    Isn’t it intellectually dishonest to just put your head in the sand and ignore the fact that, if there is no God, then your life is meaningless? Ever watch Rick and Morty?

  • Ok ok, quit gloating over nothing.

    Yes, slaves obeying their masters is a moral thing.That is something you can find in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The logic doesn’t apply to the verse in Deuteronomy 21:18, since it’s Old Testament Law.

    Yeah, unlike you, I actually know the context of the Bible.. HAhAHaha*snort*yuk yuk yuk yuk (Trying to imitate your obnoxiousness)

  • I didn’t say slavery was moral. I said that slaves obeying their masters is moral. If I was a slave right now, I would be pleasing God by serving my master. That doesn’t mean that my bondage is a moral thing. And don’t make stupid ad hominen attacks like that. They’re highly ineffective. Also, you’re still referencing Old Testament laws. Still doesn’t apply, sorry.

  • That works for you. Great. Your problem is largely the tone deafness of not realizing not everyone shares such opinions or needs to.

    “Isn’t it intellectually dishonest to just put your head in the sand and ignore the fact that, if there is no God, then your life is meaningless?”

    Hardly. The evidence of God’s existence is the same for both of us. None whatsoever. You have faith. Believe in the absence of evidence. It works for you. It is not necessary for anyone else. You are more than welcomed to your beliefs here. If in your mind it prompts you to act well towards others, well its better than nothing. Your grasp of moral thinking is a bit off. So in its absence I guess self-interest is most important if it gets you to beneficial effects.

    Where you go wrong is expecting everyone else to have it as well. They don’t. People don’t have to agree with your ideas. People have plenty of reasons to be moral besides self-interest and immature rewards/punishment. It comes from being a human being with connection to other human beings.

  • No one “needs” do do anything.The entire world we live in is temporary. Nothing should make any difference.

    No, I don’t need “self interest” or “immature rewards/punishment” for me to be moral. You completely misunderstand. I could accuse you of the same thing.

    Which is greater: Being moral because you a “human being” with connections to others, or because there is a God who seeks to have an intimate relationship with His creation, and wants you to show others the same love He shows to you?

    If asked whether you should be moral for people or for God, I know you would answer “people” every time. This, on the surface, seems like a very selfless thing to live for, and I know you take pride in that, but is it really better than doing it for something eternal? Something that doesn’t just stop when we die? THAT right THERE is where I could accuse you of being feeble-minded for not seeing the real value, but I have not and will not make this kind of insult.

    You may scoff at the idea of being moral because of God, but, when you actually think about it, it’s the BEST reason to be moral and is massively superior to the former.

    And no other reasons actually matter or have any significance. You can’t give me a good reason to be moral. I would highly recommend watching Rick and Morty, which clearly expresses this truth that our existence is totally insignificant.

  • “Nothing should make any difference.”

    That is a statement of a person with no regard for the impact they have on the lives of others. You always make a difference one way or another on others. We do not live in a vacuum. There are concerns beyond personal self-interest. You are arguing from the POV of a sociopath. Someone who does not value nor understand human connection.

    “No, I don’t need self interest”

    If you worry about how God is going to judge you and little else, you are exclusively arguing from a POV of self interest.

    “I could accuse you of the same thing.”

    Hardly. I gauge my behavior and moral compass on the effects on others, not on eternal bliss or agony. Not self-interest, its global interest. I mentioned leaving the world a better place than where you found it. That is not self-interest or self-serving.

    The person who is not relying on fear of punishment or desire for reward is the one acting moral.

    As for God’s personal relationship, it works for you, but it is not necessary for anyone else. Your arrogance and ego is demanding that all people must do as you feel. It is not a moral nor respectful position.

    “If asked whether you should be moral for people or for God, I know you would answer “people” every time.”

    Wrong question. Framed like a sociopath who can only understand self-interest.

    You should be moral because it is the right thing to do.

    Because it leaves the world a better place when you do.

  • On the subject of human suffering, or “evil”, there has to be a real choice if there is free will. The Bible teaches that God has allowed us free will, but that He has a plan for reconciling us to Him when we choose to do wrong. I think it is rather amazing that so much of what is attractive and easy at first is bad for us, while so much of what is hard at first is good for us. Think of junk food vs eating healthy, or exercising vs being a lump. More the point, think of reconciling with someone who wrongs you vs ignoring them or getting revenge. It’s much harder work to work towards forgiveness and a healed relationship.

    Tony Dungy, the NFL analyst and former Colts’ coach, has a son who can feel no pain. I believe that makes him a leper. At first, one might say “wow, that sounds great! No pain!” But that doesn’t mean he can’t do himself harm – just that he doesn’t know when he is. Pain is the great teacher.

    And when we have free will, there have to be consequences for our decisions. They might come immediately, or they might come in the next life.

  • I disagree – left to our own devices, when someone acts in a way we don’t like, we tend to react poorly first. When someone makes another person angry – takes something that the other thinks belongs to them – that person will usually either a) fight back or b) ignore it, sweep it under the rug. Either way, you have a broken relationship. The harder road is to work toward forgiveness. Unless you have an on-going relationship with someone (family, friend, business), you have no reason to chose forgiveness. That’s how you end up with Hatfields and McCoys, Catholics vs Protestants, Japanese vs Koreans, Israel vs Palestine. Unforgiven wrongs are like carrying around acid in a metal container (Desmond Tutu).

    You are right to say that religious people have started as many of these feuds / bloodbaths as anyone else. But that does not mean that the fundamentals of Christianity are wrong, just that the people who are supposed to be practicing them are flawed and human.

  • “Unless you have an on-going relationship with someone (family, friend, business), you have no reason to chose forgiveness”

    All people who are not sociopaths have such relationships with the people all around them. Most even can conceive of responsibility to people they never met. To the world around them. You are arguing from the POV of people who have no connection to humanity at large.

    Your arguments about morality undermine any credibility of understanding what morality is.

  • I’m sorry Spuddie, but that is not how life works. People break relationships all the time. Parents and children refuse to speak to each other. Husbands and wives end up divorcing, or in abusive relationships or even murdering each other. That does not make someone a sociopath. It makes them human. In fact, the more contact we have with individuals, the more likely we are to step on their toes.

    I am not talking about how people get along, doing nice things for people in need. I’m talking about what do you do when someone acts selfishly, steals, murders, sleeps with your wife, assaults your child, drives drunk and kills someone you love? Life is messy. Life without forgiveness is messier.

  • None of this refutes my point.

    Sane people have relationships with the people around them. Mostly just by contact in one form or another Sociopaths don’t. They lack the empathy to even care that people share the same desire and dislikes as themselves.

    Empathy, altruism and reciprocity isn’t the inconvenience to existence either. In most cases it confers benefits for all involved. People are more than capable of thinking about those outside themselves without prompting or outside guidance of a supernatural sky daddy.

    Self-interest “That’s bad I don’t want that to happen to me”
    Morality: “That’s I don’t want that to happen to anyone”

    Self Interest: “If I do this, I will be punished/rewarded”
    Morality: “If I do this, it will make things better/worse for us all”

  • “You should be moral because it is the right thing to do.”

    This is where your argument exposes its weak point. Right and wrong do NOT matter if they are not absolute. Otherwise, you’re just doing the “right” thing to please society.

    No Spuddie, I’m not a sociopath and you know it. I was like you once. I did things simply because they helped others, but I learned that there is a greater reason, a reason that not only effects yourself and others on this earth, but also in eternity.

    It seems you really aren’t grasping this obvious truth, but with God, I do not act moral because I fear God’s punishment or because I want to avoid hell, i do it out of LOVE. Unconditional love. Love that is greater than whatever you can find. For example, in society, we are told that if someone murders a member of our family, we have every right to not forgive them. God does not say this. He wants us to forgive everyone regardless of what they’ve done. So as a Christian, you have a better sense of morality than someone who says morals are subjective.

  • You said “sane people have relationships with the people around them”. That is simply not true. Every day people choose to end relationships with people around them, often people they used to be close to. Without an example to follow, people will choose the easy way and either seek revenge, which is terrible for all parties involved and for society around them, or simply end the relationship. Without a reason to choose love over hate, most people will reflexively choose the easier path. People are lazy and self-interested.

    Objectively, forgiveness and reconciliation are better than hatred and revenge. Left to our own devices, most normal non-sociopathic people choose to end relationships or to hate someone who wronged them. Most people will do the minimum they have to, or as much as they can get away with legally without regard to right or wrong. “As long as no one gets hurt.” But speeding, or driving after you’ve had one or two drinks, or just one quick text while you’re on the highway may not cause an accident every time, but if you roll the dice enough, it’s going to come up snake-eyes eventually. Similar to doing drugs or looking at pornography – you may not see who you’re hurting, but you are hurting people.

    The point is, Christianity, unique among all ways of life, calls for not just a legalistic “I’m doing good enough and my good outweighs my bad”, but a striving for perfection, for following the perfect example in the life of Jesus. It calls for us to acknowledge that we all fall short of that mark. We all need forgiveness because no one is perfect, not one (except Jesus). In order to truly reconcile a relationship, payment must be made. That is how you know someone is sorry for what they did. If I wreck your car and just tell you “sorry, it won’t happen again” that probably won’t go very far. But if I buy you a new car with my own money, or give you my car, you’d know I was sorry. That is what the Bible calls “atonement” and is the reason Jesus died – as the atoning sacrifice to reconcile us to God.

    Now if your goal as a Christian is to get into heaven or to avoid going to hell, you have a very basic and incomplete knowledge of what it means to be a Christian. (It is OK as a start, but hopefully one develops a better sense over time.) The goal of a Christian life is simply to live in relationship with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Getting into heaven when we die is a by-product of that.

  • As you have pointed out – there might be a spirit or a force called “God” where we can find truth. But there are many manifestations of how that Truth is represented – i.e., there are so many religious beliefs that have grown out of so many cultures. We have no idea what God thinks/feels about homosexuality. There is not even agreement on whether he is clear within one religion (Christianity)! It makes more logical sense to believe that a god would actually have no rules with regard to sexuality at all. Man has come up with rules to govern sexuality in order to control people. That makes more logical sense. An omnipotent, omniscience God would most likely be concerned with more important things!

  • Well, I certainly agree that God has His mind on a lot more important issues. It’s not something I talk about often, because it’s very inconsequential when compared to other things.

    However, simply because there are different interpretations of the truth doesn’t mean the truth isn’t clear enough. There will always be people with different interpretations, regardless of how specific you make your words. Many atheists will say that the facts or evidence speak for themselves, but the truth is we all look at the same information with different worldviews.

  • The truth is not clear at all with regard to sexuality. It isn’t even clear on killing for “god’s” sake!

  • The Bible is not the only representation of what “god” commands. There are literally billions of people who have other sources for god and his morality. Why is that hard to comprehend? Humans existed thousands of years before the bible was ever even conceived of.

  • Not a good argument. At all. The Bible isn’t compatible with other sources claiming to be God. If you believe in God, then you have to decide which source to trust. You obviously can’t expect all sources claiming to be God’s words to be true.

  • That is a bad argument. But illustrates my point that god’s intentions truthfully cannot be known and is completely subjective. Just depends on what religion you choose.

  • No, you’re the one making a bad argument. God’s intentions exist. You can have a belief about what they are, and I can have a belief about what they are. But nothing we believe change the fact that God’s intentions are absolute and depend on interpretation.

  • the only trigger warning is that with such flippant pop psych mark connelly is likely shooting himself in the foot . not that he shouldn’t be used to that by now .

  • Once again, you’e not understanding what the Scripture actually says. Come back to me when you can answer the beginning of the universe question.

  • Nobody knows how the universe began. That is the obvious answer. Now if you do, please share your evidence of how the universe began. BTW, how does it feel to be 5 billion years old and be able to move through time and space? rofl. Wake up man.

  • God does not condone slavery, and there is no evidence of it. Even if slavery WAS moral, you would be very much incorrect because morality isn’t based on what you and I think. It’s based on what God thinks.

  • Saying “nobody knows” doesn’t answer anything. That actually makes the Big Bang theory lose all its credibility because there’s no proof that it happened. By all logical postulates of science, an eternally existing thing would have to exist for the universe to have been created. In addition, it is scientifically defensible that any force/process must have been causated by an already existing force, either equal to it or larger than it. That’s proof enough that we’ve been designed by an Intelligent Creator.

  • You’re a special kind of stupid aren’t you? rofl. Saying nobody knows is an honest answer. Something most Christians don’t know anything about- honesty.

  • So you agree, it’s scientifically defensible that ANY force must have had a cause. EXACTLY. ANY FORCE……WAIT FOR IT DUMMY—–GOD IS ANY FORCE. YES, SO WHO CAUSED GOD. CHECK AND MATE. PLEASE GET YOUR GED.

  • Well Dick, if you actually think I’m stupid, then it truly takes one to know one.

    Yes, saying “I don’t know” is an honest answer. I agree with you on that. However, your basis for honesty is just a social construct, whereas mine is an absolute standard. Sorry, but that doesn’t hold up logically.

  • So if God needed a maker, then what are you suggesting instead? What is your counter-claim? Oh that’s right, you don’t have anything other than “I don’t know.” By the way, I am a high school graduate and have an Associates Degree. Get off my frickin case.

    Listen Dick, since you don’t know absolute jack about philosophy as it applies to creation, allow me to quote Aquinas explanation in his First Way: Argument from Motion

    Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

    Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

    Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

    Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

    Therefore nothing can move itself.

    Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

    The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

    Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    TL;DR You either believe in an infinite set of causes (which doesn’t hold up logically because you have to explain the existence of each cause of energy), or you believe in the logically defensible position of a First Cause that has its own energy, uncaused by other objects. Any other way of thinking will get you nowhere. I really think you should get your GED. Or at least graduate from preschool.

  • But this does: Back in the 80’s, I was a talent agent at one of the largest Christian talent agencies in the country. I represented many famous celebrities that were Christian and It was my job to book them for personal appearances. I worked with all of the biggest ministries in the country including The 700 Club, Jim Baker, Oral Roberts, pretty much all the mega churches and organizations. One of my clients, a very popular singer, was asked to appear on the Richard Roberts Television show. You may remember him as the son of Oral Roberts, the guy that said if you didn’t send him enough money, God was going to take him out. Anyway, Oral Roberts, Richard Roberts, and ORU, are a Christian bunch that believe in something called “seed faith”. In fact, many of the largest churches and most of the Evangelists who you see on TV belong to this group including Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Ken Copeland and many others. They basically teach a biblical interpretation that says, God will reward you by how much you give. So if you send in a $100 donation, God will bless you back with $1,000. Shows such as The 700 club even run short human interest stories giving examples of people sending money to Pat Robertson and then a check suddenly appears in their own mailbox. A festivus miracle! Of course this is a total scam, because all of these churches, and I have personal experience dealing with them, NEVER will send you any money. Anyway, so the Richard Roberts show keeps calling, but of course they won’t pay my singer’s normal fee (why does this surprise me) and expect her to appear for free. Finally, I have had it up to here with this b.s. and I ask the producer a question. I say, so you believe in seed faith. That if I give say $100 to “God’s work”, God will return to me 10 fold, or perhaps 100 fold. Yes, brother Moore he says to me. I then say, you know, I have an idea for you. Instead of having my artist appear for free, or even for her normal fee of $5,000, why don’t you pay her $10,000? That way, not only will she bless your audience, but you will then get back a minimum of $100,000 for your efforts. There was a moment of silence, then a curt response. Mr. Moore, I don’t find this conversation amusing and I don’t appreciate your sarcasm. The call ended. A week later I got called on the carpet by her manager for my “bad behavior”. A few years later and after witnessing many more such inconsistencies, I woke up and realized that fundamentalist Christianity no more represented the teaching of Jesus Christ, than me believing that I could play golf like Tiger Woods. Good story though, and I have so many more, I just may write a book someday.

  • Dick, as a Christian myself, I find that kind of teaching disgusting and repulsive, and I totally support you for calling them out. What those people advertise is a fake brand of Christianity. They care about nothing except their money. Just look at Joel Osteen. He asks that everyone tithes and gives to the poor when he’s got a brand new hot tub in his backyard.

    Mr. Hertzer, I can assure you that this is not the true fundamentalist Christianity. Like you said, their teachings do not reflect Christ at all and it’s sad that people’s lives have been ruined by people they thought were good. I do not represent these kinds of people or their kind of gospel.

  • So if God needed a maker, then what are you suggesting instead? What is your counter-claim? Oh that’s right, you don’t have anything other than “I don’t know.” By the way, I am a high school graduate and have an Associates Degree. Get off my frickin case.

    Listen Dick, since you don’t know absolute jack about philosophy as it applies to creation, allow me to quote Aquinas explanation in his First Way: Argument from Motion

    Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

    Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

    Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

    Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

    Therefore nothing can move itself.

    Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

    The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

    Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    TL;DR You either believe in an infinite set of causes (which doesn’t hold up logically because you have to explain the existence of each cause of energy), or you believe in the logically defensible position of a First Cause that has its own energy, uncaused by other objects. Any other way of thinking will get you nowhere. I really think you should get your GED. Or at least graduate from preschool.

  • There is a great book you should read. It’s a classic. End Times by Pastor Chuck Smith. google him. He was a very big deal when I was dumb and stupid like you are. He in fact was responsible for the whole Jesus Movement of the 70;s He also predicted that Jesus would return no later than 1988. Yeah, not exactly a guy you want to trust with your salvation. it’s on page 35 were he says for certain Jesus will return no later than 1988. Funny, he never repented for being a false prophet.

  • I have read the book End Times. Back when I was dumb and stupid like you are, I also falsely assumed that people relied on him for salvation.

    But now that I am aware of the truth, I know that Jesus is the only one to rely on for salvation. I also know that even the Christians with the purest intent in their hearts make mistakes.

    I’m not sure why you even mentioned Chuck Smith. Despite what you may think, he was a phenomenal pastor and preacher. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that he started the Jesus movement. I go to a Calvary Chapel church so I am aware of his ministry when he was still alive.

    Again, why do you mention this? If you’re trying to discredit him, you’re failing horribly. My faith in Jesus is NOT reliant on whether or not Jesus returns in 1988, 2088, 2069, or any time in the future. So what if he’s wrong about his prophecy? All Christians might have different beliefs in theology. Is that sin going to change his entire credibility? Is it the “Reverse Card”? Absolutely not.

    Also, I would actually do some research about what a “false prophet” is. A false prophet is someone who deliberately tries to mislead people from God, according to the New Testament. By the fruits of his ministry, I have no reason to believe he is one.

    Funny that you haven’t responded to any of my research pertaining to the Five Ways by Aquinas. All you’ve done thus far is make personal attacks and not give me anything tangible to debate logically on. Got anything credible? Because nothing you’ve said to me fits that description.

  • How can he be used to something he’s never done before? And even if you were right, it takes one to know one.

  • I JUST GAVE YOU A CREDIBLE FACT. THE BOOK TITLE WRITTEN BY CHUCK SMITH, END TIMES. WHERE ON PAGE 35 HE SAYS JESUS HAS TO RETURN NO LATER THAN 1988. That is a FACT. HE WAS WRONG. AND HE NEVER REPENTED FOR THIS AND BEING WRONG. I WAS THERE. THOUSANDS LEFT HIS CHURCH AFTER DEC 31, 1988. THE FACT THAT YOU STILL BELIEVE IN A PERSON WHO WAS SO BLATANTLY WRONG PROVES TO ME THAT YOU AREN’T INTERESTED IN KNOWING THE TRUTH. I PITY. YOU.

  • FURTHERMORE, YOU DON’T KNOW that Jesus is the only way to salvation. You were taught that by men like Chuck smith who didn’t even know how to interpret the bible correctly. The whole End Times thing we now know was false theology- taught by Chuck Smith. You don’t KNOW anything. All you KNOW is how to avoid the truth. BTW, I challenge you to google Lonnie Frisbee. Yeah. He’s the guy that was responsible for the tremendous growth of Calvary Chapel. And yeah, he was real anointed of God. He also died of aids because every Saturday night he would go get drunk and high at Gay bars and have homo sex. Then on Sunday, he would give alter calls and thousands would get Saved at Calvary Chapel. Praise the Lord for that gay anointing bro, WAKE the hell up man.

  • “…and this everyone understands to be God.”

    in the middle ages, everyone understood that to be god . in the 1700s the deists understood god to be a … something . maybe an intelligence that set the whole universe into motion and then left it alone . in modern science, there is a complete neutrality as to whether there is an intelligence or not . many simply hold that there is no physical evidence one way or another .

    the aquinas proofs for the existence of god convinces today only if faith intervenes . and that is not what now is meant by science .

  • According to observable evidence, we know that God is God because he is all powerful and made our universe. And we don’t even need the Bible to come to that conclusion. Either approach you take, you need faith to believe it.

  • I do know that Jesus is the way to salvation. You cannot say otherwise if your answer to the beginning of the universe is just “I don’t know.”

    Again, attacks on a person. Not very representative of God Himself, so I’ll just ignore that.

  • Dick, none of that is relevant. You haven’t given me a single relevant fact as of yet. And what do you mean “believe in”? Do I believe that Chuck Smith existed? Yes, of course.

    The truth is something I have always been interested in knowing. And since you reduce this philosophical argument to just attacking people who represent the church, I pity you even more.

  • you have moved into a circular argument : “Either approach you take, you need faith to believe it.”

    you do not need faith to say ‘we don’t know.’

  • But saying “I don’t know” isn’t an actual answer to the question. It may be very honest, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

    Furthermore, what if you considered the possibility that some people do know, but you don’t? You cannot be fully certain. So yes, even that may take some faith.

  • you do love the circular argument .

    when one says that they don’t know, they are mean that to them there is no evidence convincing on the issue . that is not faith . it is a simple position .

  • Do you have a main point? You’re saying the best way to answer the question… is to not answer the question. No, I’m definitely not the one making a circular argument.

  • i am saying if one does not know the answer to a question, one simply says that . surely you are not suggesting that if one does not know, one should make up an answer, are you ?

  • I am simply saying that “I don’t know”, regardless of how honest it is, actually isn’t an answer to the question. It’s a good response if you really don’t know, but if you’re trying to get somewhere, that phrase doesn’t do you any good.

    And by the way, you haven’t explained your disagreement with Aquinas’ Five Ways. In what way do you mean “intervention by faith”? How does this not line up with logic? What is your rebuttal?

  • You “KNOW” the way to the one true God, rofl. Let’s see, so do 1.8 BILLION Muslims. BTW, they say YOU are going to hell. Funny, if you would have been born in Iran- you would have a 98 percent chance of being Muslim. But since you were born in the US, where you were taught Jesus- I’m going to guess you are a Christian and not Muslim. Funny how that works, lol. Wake up man. And you DON’T KNOW. IN FACT DIPSHIT. THE BIBLE EVEN SAYS YOU DON’T KNOW. READY? Math 7. Yep, the bible says many will think they are going to heaven but will be deceived. Do you even realize how stupid you sound. Learn the bible man. YOU DON’T KNOW.

  • Chuck Smith, the founder of the cult Calvary Chapel told thousands of his followers that he KNEW Jesus had to return before Dec 31 1988. Yeah, HE KNEW TOO. wake up.

  • NO, you have FAITH. Do you even know what you believe? You believe the bible on FAITH. Even most Christians I know are at least honest and will admit that to me. Not you. Because you live in delusion. Very sad bro.

  • But… you are claiming that I should listen to an authority that you also claim isn’t true. Sorry, but that bit of ignorance right there is why I’m just going to ignore your entire paragraph here.

  • I do have faith, yes. I will never be ashamed to admit that. In fact, anything you believe requires faith. Sorry, you can’t claim that I have no delusion when you have no direction yourself. Get the plank out of your own eye first.

  • the story is told of thomas aquinas that he stopped writing toward the end of his life and when asked why he answered ‘the only things worth writing, cannot be written’ .

    in that line, yes. sometimes there are no answers and the only answer to a question is to admit that one has none .’

  • I very much agree with that, and those words of Aquinas contain a lot of truth in them. There are many good things that cannot be written but rather experienced to fully enjoy them. That’s a good point.

    And, even though Aquinas’ 5 Ways is demonstrably in line with logic, science and reasoning, that means that by his own words, it is insignificant. We don’t need to prove God’s existence, and it’s rather silly to think you can write everything down when you’re talking about an all-powerful, transcendent Being who made the universe. God is just, there. He is existence. Self-evident, might I be bold to say. So doesn’t that make the atheist’s demand for proof of God’s existence that much more ridiculous?

    I agree wholeheartedly with your logic. Thanks for sharing.

  • it is not a question of rebuttal . it is a question that aquinas combined two different realms : that of philosophy–the search for knowledge by the light of natural reason–and that of theology–the study of life and morality by the light of revelation .

    in the middle ages that was an understandable approach to take . it is not an approach that satisfies most people today . i take it that you like it . good .

    just don’t expect it to be something that others find intellectually rigorous or useful or even remotely true .

  • You can connect theology to the TOPIC of Aquinas’ Five Ways, but his evidence is ENTIRELY philosophically and scientifically sound. You don’t need theology to believe Aquinas’ words. It’s basic facts. It is in fact a very intellectually rigorous, useful, and true position to take. Can you give me proof that Aquinas’ words aren’t fully scientific?

  • Dick, are you sure you’re quoting the right verse? I memorized Hebrews 13:8 when I first became a Christian. Not sure what this has to do with an old, obsolete Old Testament Law.

    You don’t “know” anything because you don’t know the truth. You haven’t given me any solid proof of your position at all.

  • I was right. You didn’t want to read what Hebrews 13 8 says. So I’ll do it for you. Hebrews 13:8 New International Version (NIV)
    8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. That means JESUS/GOD wrote the bible for us and his trruth NEVER CHANGES. IT’S THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER. EVEN JESUS SAID, I DID NOT COME TO DO AWAY WITH THE LAW.. Also, God is referred to as THE WORD. And in HIS WORD, GOD SAYS to KILL YOUR FUTURE WIFE ON THE WEDDING NIGHT IF SHE IS FOUND TO NOT BE A VIRGIN. KEEP TRYING TO TELL US HOW GOD IS MORAL. Unless you think that’s a good idea? Oh, you probably do. Wake up man. The bible was obviously written by men and not by God. How cannot you not see? I know why. Because your eyes have been blinded. But hey, let’s go find some sluts this weekend and stone them to death. God would be well pleased bro.

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