The following conversation was an email duel between myself (the author of this website) and a friend of mine, obviously named Marty. He lost the argument. But I guess that is a matter of opinion. What do you think?
Marty --The bible is copies of copies of copies remember Jesus writing in the sand ?? "... he who is without sin..." that was added way later than the original copies by some scribe who thought it sounded good... the earliest known copies were written some 300 years after Christ's death. These were the texts that were later combined to make the book you own. This author started out as a literalist evangelical...because he was a literalist, he went to college to learn Greek to study the manuscripts...to better know God's truth. He learned, and then some. At this point the fundamentalists can all start blaming SATAN....the man wanted to learn!!!!! EVIL !!!!!!! he is thinking!!!! using his mind for something other than obedience to our group thought!!!! DANGER!!!!!!!! EXCLAMATION!!!!!!!!! Actually that is just my prejudiced interpretation of fundamentalists. We all know they aren't like that. they are worse. I saw this guy on the Daily Show....impressive His point is irrefutable....except for those that prefer to refute facts to stay comfortable with their already attained wisdom..... no, that doesn't mean you.
Jim --We are living in an era of "New Revelation" and "Worldly Enlightenment" regarding the holy Scriptures. We are living in an increased population of reprobates who have an interest in discrediting the Bible, and if possible, mutilating its contents. One man says such-and-such, and you automatically believe him, because you have a propensity to accept information that discredits the word of God. People in this evil and perverse generation are so much smarter with their "new intelligence." They think they are discovering "new" information about the Bible that generations before them had no aptitude to unearth. However, the only thing they are unearthing is their own arrogant wisdom that has been around since the original sin, and like Adam and Eve, they are making up their own truth as they go along. The moment they do, they forget they just forged it from their own insidious imaginations, becoming victims of their own belief systems through a spirit of unbelief.
Am I talking to you?
Marty --woooa there pardner... before you go gallopin off in the wrong direction....
That the texts are copies of copies is irrefutable and was understood in the time of King James... ever heard of the council of Trent? They had to sift through all of these texts to decide( this group of men) what was worthy of compiling into the Book. I heard about this stuff way back in the old days before I lived with Scottie and Jack....
...you don't really believe the original Gospels still exist do you?? you do realize that King James had stuff added to honor him, right?? this is all historical fact... this guy aint spinnin yarns and he aint claiming that Jesus is a myth....in fact the author said his studies took his faith in a different, richer direction. He just gave up on the fundamentalist absolutist faith of his youth... he put away that childish thing... He said that the majority of the inconsistencies were minor, but went on to show how the texts evolved with the times. Gutenburg put an end to it with his printing press. your response really did surprise me, no kidding I'm actually hoping you intended it as a parody of the fundamentalists. Again you judge something without reading it....a very bad habit. Break it. "insidious imaginations" nice alliteration, kinda poetic Jeff read the forward to the book, was intrigued and ordered a copy.
Jim --When people start condemning God's word and calling it the work of men, I always respond the same way. Instead of defending it (defending my own point of view), I just look around and see all this "stuff," and I ask, "Where did matter come from?" The answer is that it all came from God. Therefore, there is a God; that is easily established. Anyone who would argue with me about that, I will simply laugh in their face. If God can make all this stuff, then He must be wise. Therefore, He would respect anyone who would (ignorantly or otherwise) believe in Him and live with a clear conscience. Isn't that what I am doing? If He never bothered to communicate to us, it doesn't change the fact that He exists and that He is wise and capable of respecting our faith. If the Bible is not the word of God, it ironically says what God would have said had He wrote to us. It commands us to love Him and to love one another. If we do that, the Bible doesn't even have to be the word of God, because the creation itself being so immeasurably complex testifies that this is what we should do as our statement of humility in the presence of an almighty God. Any response other than love is arrogant, and if such people are judged harshly by their creator, they brought it upon themselves. They should have known. You don't need the Bible to tell you such things.
Marty --"Where did matter come from?" The answer is that it all came from God. Therefore, there is a God; that is easily established. Anyone who would argue with me about that, I just laugh in their face. If God can make all this stuff, then He must be wise.”
Like I said, your statements show that the creation, as observed, is a faulty argument (not the clear cut case so many presume it to be) for the existence of a loving caring God. Therefore, believers in a loving, caring God presume there was a creation prior to the existing model (and the other models such as the cretaceous period, the Mesozoic etc.) that was "perfect".
Therefore, the clear cut slam dunk evidence of a loving God exists not in any available model or visible order. There is no evidence. This view is proprietary to the realm of faith, where it belongs, and quite comfortably at that. It isn't the fault of skeptics that this realm so often proves unsatisfactory to the adherents of religion. Logic might be a bitch, but I don't believe it to be a false light.
That's all I'm trying to say.
Jim --Look at the creation as it is now and see your (uncaring, random, violent, etc.). Some of the characteristics of this creation are synonymous of God and some are of Satan. This is not a coincidence, since God cursed Satan and everything that belonged to him, yet many of the good things about His original creation reflecting His beautiful and perfect nature have been retained. Nevertheless, the world you see has been stained by sin. Do not make the misjudgment that God made it this way from the beginning, and don't curse God because of a cursed world. However, all things change, and some day everything will change, but the soul lives on. I write all these things in my book. Too bad you didn't read it.
Marty --I had been considering this for a while before you sent the email. I noticed you narrowed the creation down to its elemental state, matter ( and energy, which is of course, the interchangeable state of matter.)
I bring this up because it dawned on me one day that the creation, per se (wind sky critters stars etc) is often considered as proof of a wise, loving creator. That the creation is not evidence of this is proved by the need to explain the known state of the creation (uncaring, random, violent, etc.) as a result of human curiosity and rebellion. The Israelites had eve, the Greeks had Pandora.
Being neither religious or a humanist, I find these explanations to be self aggrandizing. Puny man, by his will, changed the order of existence. I'm not buying it.
By the way, I read an interesting article on nano-biotechnology where scientists are introducing DNA code into small nano-bots that can be used for various purposes. I'll find the article. It's in an accredited journal. The author stated that we will ultimately change the order of existence. Imagine that.
Jim --"Like I said, your statements show that the creation, as observed, is a faulty argument ... for the existence of a loving caring God."
You want evidence of a loving God? The evidence is all around you that there is a God, but you want evidence that He is loving? Are you still here? Did He strike you with a lightning bolt for making accusations against His character? The fact that He didn't is evidence that He is patient, and isn't patience a virtue of love? Now there is evidence that there is a loving God: He lets you rail against His character. If He were as evil as you paint Him to be He would have zapped you. So, you are wrong again. I serve a kind and loving God by evidence of my friend, Marty, who hates Him and continuously speaks evil against Him, though God has done nothing to provoke him into this hostile attitude, except to give him every thing he needs to live, so he may continue to spew his venomous profanity. " What did the creation look like -- not before the fall of Adam, but before the fall of Lucifer? I don't think it had your stated (uncaring, random, violent, etc.) attributes in it before sin entered the creation."
Marty --“Did He strike you with a lightning bolt for making accusations against His character? The fact that He didn't is evidence that He is patient, and isn't patience a virtue of love? Now there is evidence that there is a loving God.”
When I was a little guy, my neighbor's daughter was killed in a terrible accident. Her head was smashed like a grape. The darling adopted daughter of all the mothers in the neighborhood, she was just three or four years old and too young to spew venom at anyone, man or deity. Threats of violence, both temporal and eternal, have long been used by the "just" to cower the "unjust" into thought submission. It is one of the main reasons my Grandpa Marti had no time for religion or the religious. Mark Twain shared his view. Kurt Vonnegut just expects nothing else.
Jim --Pain and suffering is evidence for either no God at all or for a God that has no love. This is what you are saying. My sister died a far more horrible death than your little neighborhood girl. She died instantly, but Jeannie suffered migraines for a period of six excruciating months that would make yours feel like a summer breeze. Yet we both have different views about God. This is proof that what you believe is purely arbitrary, your conclusions are not based on logic as you assert. It bares no resemblance to fact, only that you huddle facts around the nucleolus of your beliefs like rocks around a fire ring to make it look factual. It also proves that what I believe is arbitrary, but what I believe is courageous and full of good will. Bitterness may surround my life, that is my fault, but it is not what is burning in my heart.
Marty --Stoke that fire, man. I believe that what burns in your heart is a desire for Truth. I have no doubts about your belief and your yearning for Him.
The point I was making about the death of innocents wasn't that God is evil, but that letting me continue to spew, while letting innocents perish seems arbitrary rather than loving. That is how I see life... random, arbitrary. I see no plan. Of course I could be wrong; I make no claim to Truth. If I am wrong, my Dad, my Grandpa and uncountable others will suffer without end, making the temporal sufferings of any innocent child seem almost bearable in comparison, almost. Were I to pray I would pray that I am not wrong. And not just for my hide. While my views appear rebellious and demented to you, they have become a comfort to me. I'm not waiting for happiness in heaven. Small pleasures will suffice. We have experienced a number of them. Jokes, laughs, photographs....even horrible Howard, who ruined our river trip, becomes a source of joy in the telling of that tale. Life is a treasure and I'm enjoying the ride. It's a short one. I think you mistake my constant questioning and inquiry for Dogma. I have no agenda, no Central Truth (other than the Great Law of Irony). I am a fluff of thistledown, rootless and insubstantial and without apology.
Jim --Why don't you forget about the Bible and just serve the God you know exists by evidence of His creation? Serve Him though your conscience; He will accept that. The reason you won't is that you don't want to be ruled by anyone, you don't want to feel any strings tied to you. You want to be a free bird. You don't want anyone telling you what to do. You want to have the first and last say about everything in your life. You don't want to submit to God. You are in simple rebellion, the most elementary principle of the world. You developed a sophisticated explanation to excuse yourself from the Lord's table, but it is nothing more than an excuse.
'Excuse me, Lord, but I think you are evil for sending people to hell forever.' You yourself said during this debate that people have tampered with the Bible. Maybe God didn't say this according to your own postulations.
'Excuse me, Lord, but the people who call themselves by your name are all screwed up.' If God hasn't cast them aside for their complacency and evil motives, then you shouldn't cast God aside because of them.
Basically, the reason you don't serve the Lord because you have no faith. You don't because you can't.
Have you ever heard this word before? I really
like it. It really describes the paradigm were living in.
anthropocentric (²n"thr…-p…-sµn"tr¹k) adj. 1. Regarding human
beings as the central element of the universe. 2. Interpreting reality
exclusively in terms of human values and experience.
anthropocentric (²n"thr…-p…-sµn"tr¹k) adj. 1. Regarding human beings as the central element of the universe. 2. Interpreting reality exclusively in terms of human values and experience.
Marty --yes I'm familiar with the term, and it accurately describes Christianity too Man, the center of all creation, made in God's image.
Jim --O'boy, here we go again. You just can't leave it alone, can you. "It describes Christianity too"? Okay, I will give you that one. I will not argue that man is God's masterpiece. I know you will have fun with that one. 'God is an idiot if man is the best he can do...' Yada, yada, yada. You have to look to eternity, and understand the value of man's free will to see the value that God has placed on man.
Marty -- the whole "free will" thing is a relative newcomer to Christianity thanks to the great evangelist, John Wesley and his Methodism movement. I know you aren't into history, so you will probably reject that.
Jim -- Calvin was an idiot who was trying to explain away his responsibilities as a Christian and blame God for everything he did, since he was predestined to do it. What a crock. God is big enough to override His own foreknowledge and deal with us as a human Himself. This is the majority of the language and dialogue both in the new and the old testaments. Outside a few candid verses that talk specifically about predestination, you would have to squint to see it in the rest of Scripture. What I see mostly in Scripture is God concerned about what we say and do. He has suspended His foreknowledge to care about our actions.