My recent adventure in Christian apologetics

November 9, 2017

In response to Tuesday’s blog post, which I shared on Facebook, I had an interesting exchange with Cory Markum, an atheist blogger and podcaster whom I first heard on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show. I blogged about that episode last year, and he “friended” me on Facebook.

He began with the following reply:

That’s great, but if [God] exists, he should have stopped the shooting instead of sitting idly by. If anyone else knew that something like that was going to happen and had the capacity to stop it, but didn’t, then we would all conclude that they are culpable for failing to act. I see no good reason to give God a pass, so the fact that God didn’t do anything to stop it, in my eyes, constitutes strong evidence that such a being doesn’t exist.

To which I wrote the following:

I see no reason to give God a pass, either, Cory. But I trust that God knows better than we do the myriad consequences of his intervening to stop what one of his free creatures chooses to do. Obviously, if God were in the business of intervening every time one of his creatures chooses to do something harmful, we would no longer be free, nor would we live in a universe governed by predictable laws. And God knows it wouldn’t be good for us to never suffer consequences of free choices.

But if you read my post, you know that we Christians believe in heaven. This is not pie in the sky to us; this is an essential part of how God balances the scales of justice and redeems suffering. Whatever happens in this world is a “light momentary affliction,” as the apostle says, in comparison to eternity. I know you don’t believe that, but I wish you did.

He replied:

I wish I did too, man. I’m extremely envious of those who are able to.

I’m curious…do you believe that we (or more accurately, you) will have freedom of this sort in heaven? If so, and if heaven is a place free of evil, doesn’t this show that it is possible for there to be free creatures and yet, no evil? And if such a state of affairs is possible, doesn’t it follow that a perfectly good being would opt for that world, rather than the one we have?

Notice here that Markum raises precisely the objection that Christian apologist Clay Jones discusses in his recent book Why Does God Allow Evil?: If heaven is a world in which free will and sinless perfection coexist, why couldn’t God have created this world to begin with—and spare us the pain and suffering? Markum continued:

Another thing… Maybe God couldn’t intervene *every single time* to thwart evil without rendering our freedom inchoate, but it doesn’t follow from this that he couldn’t stop *some* of the horrible stuff, *some* of the time. Take the Holocaust, for example. In my view, a world where the Holocaust never happened is a better world. Furthermore, a world in which the Holocaust never occurred is not a world where suddenly free will is nonexistent. So, therefore, I see no reason whatsoever to conclude that God had no choice but to allow the Holocaust to happen, apart from simply presupposing that God exists and that, therefore, there must be a reason that he allowed it to happen.

Makes more sense (leaving aside the other arguments for and against theism) given that the Holocaust did happen, to think that God doesn’t exist.

I then wrote the following:

As to your first point, yes, we will be free in heaven. But we will also have everything we desire. We will not be under the influence of Satan and rebellious human beings. Our faith, which is very imperfect on this side of heaven, will become “sight”: God will be as apparent to us as the laptop on which I’m typing this. We will know everything we need to know. We will have the hindsight of having lived in a fallen world, having suffered from the consequences of sin, and having experienced Final Judgment (and participating in it, according to scripture), which will teach us the folly of sin. In other words, we Christians are learning now (and we will continue to learn) how to live with freedom, yet not sin. As someone else has said, sin will be as avoidable in heaven as picking up this pen on my desk and jabbing it in my eye.

As for the Holocaust, Godwin’s law so soon?… But that’s fine. I get it. We have to deal with the greatest evil we can think of. Except I would say the greatest evil the world has ever known was the cross of God’s Son Jesus, which God transformed into the greatest good the world has ever known. I trust that he is doing the same with the Holocaust—using it for his purposes. In the end it will be clear that that he has governed our world justly and to his glory. Until then, we need to have epistemic humility: We can’t imagine a world in which the Holocaust didn’t happen. Would something worse than the Holocaust have emerged? Who knows? Humanity is very resourceful when it comes to doing evil.

Besides, you and I probably wouldn’t be here without WWII. Our parents would likely have never met. Or even if they had met and reproduced, we would be drastically different people if our parents and ourselves hadn’t been shaped by the events of that time. Just think: Maybe God wanted you, Cory, to be exactly the person you are today! There’s a butterfly effect in history. Only an all-knowing Being who transcends time can see the ripple effects of every seemingly small, insignificant event.

Besides, God did intervene: he used men like Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Montgomery, Patton, and millions of servicemen and -women and civilians to put an end to it. Thank God!

Another benefit of believing in the God that we Christians believe in is Final Judgment: No one gets away with anything. “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay” are very happy words for victims of genocide and other forms of evil.

To which he replied:

Your final judgment remark is interesting. Does one go to heaven because of their beliefs or because of their actions in your view??

I anticipated a trap that he was setting related to my belief in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. What comfort is “vengeance is mine” to victims of genocide if they themselves haven’t received God’s gift of eternal life through Christ? I wrote:

You already know my answer to that question. God will judge with perfect justice. If our actions qualify us for heaven, then by all means that’s the basis on which we’ll go there. But you already know that, as a Christian, I will say that none of will be so qualified. We’re all sinners. None of us is good by nature. This is why God sent his Son as our substitute, to accomplish for us what we are unable to accomplish for ourselves. And to suffer for us the penalty that we deserve to suffer.

God has graciously given us a means of salvation. I urge you to repent and believe in Jesus while there’s still time.

I guessed wrong. Markum didn’t go in that direction, as you’ll see in his response. But I do like what I wrote above, and I like my appeal for repentance and faith. As much as I enjoy verbal sparring, this isn’t a game to me. Ultimately I want Markum (and anyone else who doesn’t know Christ) to repent and be saved. I was praying that the Holy Spirit would work through my feeble words.

Markum replied as follows:

I’m sorry but, no, I didn’t know the answer, and I’m not sure I do even now. Presumably, if he’s just, he’ll do what’s just, but that’s not what I asked. I’m asking you what takes precedent over the other in your view: right beliefs or right actions? In other words, does a shitty person with the right beliefs go to heaven, while a good person with the wrong beliefs goes to hell?

*in your view*

I replied:

Sorry, given the little I know about you, I assumed that you were setting a rhetorical trap, since (I gather) you argue frequently with Christians, many of whom are evangelical just like me. If you’re genuinely interested in conversation, we can have a conversation.

This was my “high and inside” pitch to brush him off the plate. He said, “Not so much a trap as an attempt to highlight the way in which many of our intuitions regarding justice, don’t jive all that well with the ‘traditional’ view of Christian salvation.” I continued:

We are saved neither by our actions nor our beliefs; we are saved by God’s actions through his Son Jesus. For one thing, if you read the gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount, you’ll see that Jesus isn’t terribly impressed with our actions: His main dispute with the Pharisees, for instance, relates not to what they do—they were perfectly ethical people—but to who they were; their character. What mattered was the motives underneath their actions. They weren’t doing what they did out of a genuine love for God and neighbor, which from Jesus’ perspective is the main thing. What matters is our “hearts” (understood figuratively). This is why he says, using hyperbole, that anger is murder and lust is adultery: the same problem lies at the root of each. Unless or until we are healed there, it doesn’t matter what we do.

So, no, in that sense, “right actions” are irrelevant. And as Jesus tells the Rich Young Ruler, no one is “good” except God alone. So I suppose the “good person with the wrong beliefs” is strictly hypothetical, from a Christian point of view. Everyone has sinned sufficiently so as to deserve death and hell. “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” The answer, biblically speaking, is no one.

Moreover, we are not saved by right beliefs. The apostle James makes this point throughout his eponymous New Testament letter. Please read it. He implies that demons themselves, in a sense, have the “right beliefs.” They are not thereby made acceptable to God.

We are saved by faith, but even faith, biblically speaking, is a gift. We can’t muster it through will power or education; it’s received, but even this reception is made possible by the Holy Spirit. There’s no aspect of salvation for which we get to claim credit—as if we’ve accomplished something ourselves. It’s all grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph. 2:8-9.

But the object of saving faith is Christ alone, and what he accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection. As I indicated above, it’s only through his faithfulness to God, not our own, that we are able to be in a saving relationship with God.

While I was typing this response, he asked about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, a cannibalistic murderer that raped and murdered numerous men and young boys (he once drilled a hole into one of his victim’s heads and poured sulfuric acid into it to try and make him more docile), allegedly repented and converted before being murdered in prison.

Sooo Jeffrey Dahmer, in your eyes, and assuming he was genuine in his conversion, is righteously living in heaven right now?

You see what he’s doing here: He’s using the possible conversion of Jeffrey Dahmer to discredit the gospel: I’ve already said that we’re saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone and what Christ accomplished through his life and atoning death. In extreme examples like Dahmer, God’s prodigal grace violates our sense of justice.

I’m not sure I disagree with Markum! On the other hand, if the cross of Christ can atone for even Dahmer’s sins, there’s hope for me—and Markum! That’s worth celebrating!

So I replied:

“Assuming he was genuine in his conversion”? Sure. Does that offend you? If so, imagine how the sins for which you’re responsible—which are bad enough, I’m sure—offend God. The good news is that God has done everything necessary to purchase for you forgiveness and mercy if only you’ll turn to him!

Would you have God only forgive people who are “better than” Jeffrey Dahmer? That’s a pretty low bar. No one who understands the gospel takes comfort in saying, “At least I’m better than this other person!” We know ourselves to be sinners who need God’s grace at every moment, and it’s only on that basis that we are acceptable to God.

As I did when I invited him to repent and be saved, I wanted to put the ball back in his court. Forget about serial killers! What about you? Do you feel responsible for your own moral failures? The fact that you’re “not as bad as” notoriously evil people doesn’t excuse your guilt.

I’m reminded of something Tim Keller said about the perceived “narrowness” of the gospel: Secular people, he said, complain that our insistence that Christ is the “only way” to heaven is far too exclusive. From his perspective, however, the more popular alternative—that all “good” people go to heaven—is far more exclusive: Exactly how good do we have to be? “Mother Teresa good”?  Or will we take comfort in the thought that “at least we’re not as bad as” Jeffrey Dahmer?

My point is, if we really believed that our “goodness” made us fit for heaven, how many of us would sleep well at night?

I don’t know whether Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven. If he is, it’s only because his sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ—because God’s justifiable anger toward Dahmer’s sin was poured out on God the Son. If Dahmer is not in heaven, he’s in hell experiencing this wrath for himself.

Either way, I’m not ashamed that Christ’s blood is more powerful than the worst evil that men can do.

And that was the end. Our dialogue stopped at the point.

Thoughts?

100 Responses to “My recent adventure in Christian apologetics”

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    Wow, that’s some heavy dialog! Well done Brent by the way.

    One thing seems to get forgotten and that is that the Bible accounts for the beginning AND the end of all history. In the end, God closes the book, so to speak, on this chapter of His creation. Man never became perfect in this life. The world never really got better. Christianity never ruled the World. So what was it all about? My understanding is that “it was about” giving rebellious mankind a way back to God, before final judgement. Once God is satisfied that He has done that for all whom he chooses, He brings the story to a close. Jesus returns, conquers evil once and for all, sits in judgement over all mankind, and a new Heaven and Earth follow. That new Heaven and Earth is where our eternal joy will be found.

    Why does God allow evil? We chose it..

  2. Tom Harkins Says:

    Great stuff, Brent! Perhaps one thing more that could be said is, in fact we WILL be judged according to our works. Heaven versus hell is determined by faith, but rewards and punishments for saints and apostates will be based (at least in large measure) by how we lived our lives as Christians or as “lost” people. “To whom much is given, much will be required.” “He that does not know what is wrong but does it will be beaten with few stripes; he that knew and did it will be beaten with many stripes.” “Man shall be judged for every idle word.” “He that gives a cup of cold water to a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.” “Be wary about being teachers, because teachers will receive a stricter judgment.” Etc., etc. As you say, Judgment Day will “balance all the books.” Atheists look at only half the picture, and so miss the ENTIRE picture’s whole beauty and meaning.

    • Grant Essex Says:

      That’s kinda dark, Tom. I can’t think there will be punishment for those who are saved in Jesus Christ, after He has stood for us in judgement. The level of rewards; yes. Punishment? I don’t see that. Hope not anyway.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Well, I was thinking in terms of level of rewards for the saints and level of punishments for the heathen. However, it is perhaps of pertinence to recognize the poor fellow Paul referenced as having no rewards, “but he himself will be saved, yet so as one escaping from the flames.”

    • brentwhite Says:

      I agree that we believers are judged for our works in the way that you describe. In the context of the discussion, that wasn’t the kind of judgment Cory was referring to. After he becomes a Christian, we’ll talk about that. 😉

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        You are likely correct about his focus, but I think there is a perception on the part of our detractors that people should not get off “free” for doing heinous acts. They can be forgiven (just like us), but there will still be “consequences” to be taken into account, as I see it anyway.

      • brentwhite Says:

        I don’t disagree, but those consequences will still be wildly disproportionate to the sin. I doubt Cory would have been impressed that someone like Dahmer gets eternal life (only without rewards) while people who did far less harm in the world suffer hell for eternity. Of course, I have no idea whether Dahmer was sincerely converted. But there are plenty of murderers—members of the Manson family, David Berkowitz, and many others—who were converted in prison. Only God knows their hearts, but as I said, Christ’s blood is more powerful than the worst evil. If he saved me by grace, I won’t begrudge him saving others by that same grace!

        But it’s not unjust for God to do so. That was Cory’s concern: God’s grace is unjust. But he’s perfectly just, and that justice is demonstrated on the cross.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Agree.

  3. Gary Says:

    I am a former conservative Christian. I am also a former Christian blogger. As a Christian blogger, I used all the same arguments you used in this post to defend my cherished Christian beliefs against the attacks of atheists and other skeptics. However, one day I made the fateful decision to examine my beliefs following the following principle:

    I would examine the claims of Christianity in the same manner that I examined every other truth claim in my life. I would not assume anything to be true for which I could not find good evidence to support it. I decided to look at the evidence for Christianity with the mindset that my Christian beliefs COULD BE false and if I discovered they were false, I would abandon my beliefs.

    After thoroughly investigating the evidence for Christianity, reading the books of numerous Christian and skeptic scholars, I have come to the conclusion that Christianity is primarily based on assumptions, conjecture, and the belief in magic.

    Three-dead-brain-dead bodies do not come back to life. Ever. It is a medical fact. Magic is not real. No amount of magic (Christians call their magic, “miracles”) can bring a three day brain dead body back to life.

    I suggest you examine your beliefs in a similar fashion. Join me and other former religionists in abandoning superstition and embracing science and reason.

    • bobbob Says:

      Gary,
      science and reason? our science and reason? these have thoroughly shown to be fraught with wilful deceptions and outright gross misinterpretations. remember communism? that’s a product of our reason. how about the nuclear bombs of which we are so proud? products of our science? how about all the teratogenic chemicals that cause so much misery? science again. so your case that science will provide ultimate answers is flawed because it’s humans that do the work. your “consensus” will be flawed because we can never know everything, nor even enough, to really justify any solid error-free conclusions. and don’t forget, the early fathers of modern science were men who from their faith saw that we lived in a place subject to reasonalbe inquiry. why should 2+2=4? they are just ideas. numbers don’t have substance.

  4. Grant Essex Says:

    Gary, How has this change in “belief” effected your life? Are you more at peace…happier…..freer…..or what?? I ask this assuming that you were strong in your Christian belief before, and that may be a wrong assumption. Please expand.

    • Gary Says:

      Hi Grant,

      At first the loss of my cherished Christian faith was devastating. I was depressed. I had done everything I could to hold onto my beliefs, including reaching out to numerous pastors. I struggled for four months. At the end I felt like I was drowning. Multiple pastors attempted to rescue me, but it was too late. I no longer believed.

      After that initial shock and profound depression, I slowly came to realize that life does not end when you give up belief in the supernatural. I was sad that I would never see my (deceased) mother and grandparents again as I had believed as a Christian, but it really didn’t bother me that much that I would not live forever. I had one life to live, so I had better make the most of it. I didn’t immediately rush into a “life of sin”. I am happily married with two young children. I am a faithful husband and a good provider for my children. I still have a strong moral conscious. However, I do think I have become less judgmental since leaving conservative Christianity. I no longer see people in categories of “sinners” or “the unrighteous”, etc.. I see others simply as my fellow humans.

      I would say that at this point in time (four years later), I am no more nor less happy than when I was a Christian. I live for my children now, not for a god.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Gary, it may very well be that your are “not less happy” presently. For much of my ten years away, I wasn’t really, too much–though I did get that way, especially after my wife divorced me. But I wonder how you can be as dismissive as you are to the eternity issue. As you know from your time as a professed believer, the “terrible” teaching is that it makes a great deal of difference whether you subscribe to eternity or not. Eternity does exist–it is just a question of how you are going to spend it! Of course, that alone is not likely to persuade you, but it seems to me it should give you enough pause to be willing to reconsider the matter, as I ultimately did after ten years away. I can tell you that while I can’t say I am “happy all the time,” on the whole I am much happier now than I was. And one reason for that is, I know how this is all going to end up, and that is bliss forever for me. I just hope you will be open to reconsidering the matter. (See my comment about “magic” in that regard.)

      • Gary Says:

        Hi Tom. You said, “Eternity does exist”. I have examined this issue extensively and I no longer believe that there is any good evidence for life after death.

        I fear your god’s “eternal damnation” just as much as I will bet that you fear Allah’s “eternal damnation”. I will bet that you believe that Islam’s claims are nonsense, and therefore you ignore Islam’s warning that you as a non-believer will burn forever in the Muslim Hell unless you convert to Islam. I, on the other hand, believe that BOTH the Christian and Muslim claims are baseless nonsense/ancient superstitions, with no basis in reality.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        So many issues here…

        I live for my children too. I recall how I felt at the birth of each, and it was very much a “thank you God, this is amazing thing”. Not because I procreated, but because from that first moment I could see a unique divine spark in each one of these little people. As they have grown (I have 5 ranging from 51 to 29) that uniqueness has been confirmed. I can only explain the incredible reality of these unique, beautiful gifts in my life to a higher power. There is just too much spirit and personality; too much love and passion, to assign it to biology alone.

        As for man being wrong about “scientific fact”, it would seem to me that this is a better argument for a divine creator than against one. We seek to understand what may ultimately be beyond human reasonings. It’s an amazing journey as we slowly peel back the layers and layers of complexity involved in how this universe and all that’s in it work and interact. I am struck by how many of these scientists say that what they learn strengthens their belief in a creator.

        As for being judgmental, I will agree that it is one of the great pitfalls of religion. Jesus had much to say on this, and it’s sad that so many “fundamental Christians” fail to get it right. I’m thinking you might have been subject to such a group.

        In the end, each person must deal with God on a one to one basis. It’s rarely a one encounter and done kind of thing, but more often a lifetime process. I’ve got a hunch that God isn’t done with you. You look like pretty good soil to me.

      • Gary Says:

        I am more than willing to admit that there is evidence of a possible Creator, but the fact of the matter is that the experts in the field (cosmology and other sciences) have not reached a consensus on the necessity of a Creator for the beginning of the universe. Therefore I wait for better evidence. I accept that a Creator God may exist and I accept that science may once again surprise us and find that “something CAN come from nothing”. One only has to read the self-assured comments of Martin Luther condemning Copernicus’ “ridiculous” claim of heliocentricity to see that what we think MUST be true, isn’t necessarily the case.

        But have you ever considered the following, Grant: The evidence for a Creator God should not be assumed to be automatically transferable to evidence for Yahweh/Jesus. The evidence to me indicates that if there is a Creator God, he (or she) has decided to take a “hands-off” approach to the universe ever since he/she created it. The evidence that Yahweh/Jesus created the universe is very, very poor.

      • brentwhite Says:

        I️ don’t you know what a category mistake is, Gary. You still haven’t engaged my argument.

        Besides, not only does “something” contingent come from nothing, but this universe and our lives within it. Yet we’re the ones who believe in “magic”? That is a laugh.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        You’re absolutely right, once you decide that there must be an “Intelligent Designer/Creator”, you then must seek to find him. I was raised a Christian, but in my 20’s and 30’s I began a pretty exhaustive examination of the major religions. Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hindu, and to a lesser extent Islam. (I decided that Islam was a weak copy of the Judaeo Christian proceeders.) I won’t go into detail, but I satisfied myself on the subject both intellectually and spiritually. My experience was not unique, so you can pretty much fill in the blanks.

        You Gary are at the point of non-acceptance, or maybe even rebuttal. Where that goes for you will be a journey if I don’t miss my guess. I wish you good luck with that. I sincerely hope that the Holy Spirit will engage you, but you might want to engage Him first.
        Continue to engage with believers in a positive and mature way. I hope you will keep us posted.

        I personally don’t feel that I’m called to try and “bring you home” through this exchange. I like where you appear to be headed. If I see something that I think is important in your posts, I will jump in. I hope none of this sounds condescending, because I certainly don’t mean for it to be.

      • Gary Says:

        Thanks, Grant.

  5. Tom Harkins Says:

    Well! I know Brent will respond and his response will be better, and may post before this one does. (I see Grant’s just did.) Nonetheless, let me tell you that my experience is exactly the opposite of yours. I rejected Christianity after believing when young, but then deciding to try to believe it again, only to become thoroughly convinced of its truth.

    As far as “magic,” what do you make of the “Big Bang”? The entirety of the universe in a “singularity”? Anyone ever see that? Has it been repeated or tested? Does it even make sense? Similarly with each “magic” step along the way. If you don’t believe that “death to life” is possible, what do you make of life popping into existence out of inorganic matter? Also, how “illogical” is it to think that the universe carefully “advanced” to the miracle of the human race without any “guidance”? Believing that the Creator God can give back life to He who willingly gave it up is nothing in comparison.

    • bobbob Says:

      wow, i have considered all of what you guys have said and reported and i have decided to become Orwellianist, that is to say a Scientologist. Xenu, Zeegnu, whatever.

      JK 🤔😘

      but seriously folks, my arms are tired. there are lots of stories of people “converting” and reconverting back and forth but i have this to ask: the web of existence, the network of interactions not only between and among and within species, but among all the parts of creation is very delicate, intricate, elegant, beautiful, and it looks for all intents and purposes subject to reasonable inquiry, even from this remote bluish rock, how can it be an accident of nothingness? And it is said we have a problem with reality when we look at all this inter-connectedness and the probability that it all arose from nothing but VACUUM ENERGY, which is not nothing nothing (thank you F. Scheaffer) without some transcendant being behind that nothingness. murder is not the same as mercy. we have purpose.

      oh and well said brent. you da bomb.

      • Gary Says:

        For thousands of years, human beings watched the sun rise in the east and set in the west, day after day after day, and were certain that the sun revolves around the earth. It was soooo obvious!

        …until it was proven that what seems “so obvious” was wrong.

        Right now, there is a consensus among the experts that the universe did have a beginning, in the Big Bang. What caused the Big Bang, we do not know. The experts are divided. But before rushing to a conclusion that…”a god did it”…let’s wait for more evidence.

        However, even if the universe was created by an intelligent Creator, the evidence strongly suggest that whoever or whatever created the universe ordained that there NEVER be a violation of the natural laws within our universe. So it is possible that the supernatural created the universe, but the evidence strongly suggests that the supernatural does not operate in our universe. Magic is not real.

      • brentwhite Says:

        I strongly agree with Tom’s diagnosis that accepting “science and reason,” as you called it earlier—at least apart from God—risks the same “magical thinking” that you accuse us Christians of exhibiting. Earlier you appealed to your experience as a deeply committed Christian (right?) as the basis of your authority to tell us now that it’s really all nonsense. But as Tom points out, that road runs in both directions, and you must know that plenty of hardcore atheists have converted to Christianity. You might ask them why Christianity proved so compelling that it overturned their atheism. I hope you do! Or read their books—or something.

        While I was never an atheist, I have certainly grappled with many of the same questions you’ve grappled with. While I don’t know you at all, I doubt that your abandonment of the faith was as neat and tidy as you describe: not because I think you’re lying but because we humans are more complex than that. I never considered abandoning the faith because I’m not ultimately an evidentialist: God is unknowable, except what he reveals to us. And God revealed himself to me. That’s the basis on which I have saving faith. I know he’s real. I know the gospel is true. If I encountered an intellectual objection I couldn’t handle, I wouldn’t sweat it. I’d assume the problem lies with me. Who am I, after all? What do I think I know? Some humility is called for here: we’re dealing with mysteries beyond human comprehension.

        But if you want evidence, in my experience there are brilliant Christian thinkers who have answered any question we could ask at this point. There’s nothing new under the sun.

        Having said all that, I fear you’re making a category mistake here. By definition, science can’t pass judgment on anything beyond this universe of time, space, and matter. Therefore any scientific discovery of something behind the Big Bang will never answer the ultimate question, “Why is there something and not nothing?” Science demonstrates that contingent events NEVER come from nothing at all, yet if we accept your materialistic account of the universe, we would have to say that the beginning of the universe is one rather glaring exception to that rule. In logic, this is called “special pleading”—on a very large scale.

        Regardless, whatever science can show us about the cause of the event that (we believe at the moment) brought our universe into being is itself a physical phenomenon—because if it weren’t, science, by definition, wouldn’t be able to “see” it. Therefore we must ask ourselves, “What caused that event?”

        And all we’ve done—by appealing to an event prior to the Big Bang—is kick the problem upstairs. We haven’t solved it.

        That’s why I say you’ve made, or are in danger making, a category error when you appeal to some future scientific answer (talk about faith!) as the “final arbiter” of ultimate truth.

      • Gary Says:

        Hi Brent.

        You said: “I’m not ultimately an evidentialist: God is unknowable, except what he reveals to us. And God revealed himself to me. That’s the basis on which I have saving faith. I know he’s real.”

        I believe that this is why skeptics and Christians will never agree on the strength of the evidence regarding the truth claims of Christianity: Ultimately Christians base their belief in the truth claims of Christianity on feelings and perceptions. Feelings and perceptions are subjective. They cannot be examined for all to verify their accuracy. So here is my question:

        Some children create imaginary friends. To these children, their imaginary friend is very real. He/she provides emotional comfort and a sense of security. Good things that occur in the child’s life are attributed to the imaginary friend. Bad things are attributed to disobeying the imaginary friend.

        How do you know that your belief in Jesus is not the same phenomenon?

      • brentwhite Says:

        Oh, there’s plenty of evidence! That’s not ultimately why I️ believe, however. You didn’t respond to anything that I️ said about your so-called “science-based” argument. “Imaginary friend”? You’re not here for a serious discussion if you think that’s what we think God is. Don’t be a troll.

      • Gary Says:

        If you think I am trolling you by asking you if it is possible that the “presence” you sense resides inside you and moves/leads you to do things could possibly be a delusion, then it is time to stop the conversation. It is an honest, sincere question. Of course I know that you do not believe that you are in a relationship with an imaginary friend I am asking you if you can admit that it is POSSIBLE.

        If that topic is too disturbing for you then, yes, we should stop talking to one another.

      • brentwhite Says:

        While I’m happy to admit the possibility that God is an “imaginary friend,” I would, at the same time, have to wonder how I have an imagination to begin with! Then I’d have to say that my belief or lack of belief doesn’t depend on me anyway, since, from your particular materialistic point of view, I️ don’t have free will. I have no “mind” that is independent of the physical processes within my brain, which are themselves undirected sequences of cause and effect over which I have no control. So I’m not merely deluded about God, I’m deluded—as are you, I’m sure—that I️ possess free will.

      • Gary Says:

        In my view, existence is biological. There is no need to delve into the deep philosophical questions you have presented unless philosophy turns your crank. My personal view is that the Scientific Method is the best method, to date, to understand our universe and how it operates. Yes, it is possible that other dimensions of reality exist. Yes, it is possible that a better method to discover truth exists that we have not yet discovered. It is also possible that you and I only exist in the consciousness of someone else. But I ignore all these other realities. I ignore them not because I am certain that they are false, but because they do not have the track record of accurate predictions that science has accumulated.

      • brentwhite Says:

        You say there is no need to “delve into the deep philosophical questions you have presented,” except what I’m trying to get you to see is that you’re already knee-deep in philosophy. There is philosophy underneath your view of science. While I have an electrical engineering degree from Georgia Tech and consider myself scientifically minded, I don’t need to be an expert in physics or cosmology to know that science can never answer the questions that you say you’re confident science can answer.

        To imply that God doesn’t exist because science hasn’t “uncovered him” is like saying that gnats don’t exist because my butterfly net hasn’t caught any. Science is the wrong tool: It can only say anything about time, space, and matter; anything beyond that it can’t know. That doesn’t mean 1) that there’s nothing beyond time, space, and matter, and 2) that anything beyond science isn’t worth knowing.

        Good heavens, many of the best things in life are beyond the scope of science, yet you believe them—you’ve probably fallen in love with someone, for instance, whom you believe is incredibly beautiful. You can’t prove that person’s beauty scientifically. Yet you don’t deny that she’s really beautiful. (For that matter, just because you can measure physiological changes in your body that produce the euphoric feeling of “being in love” doesn’t mean that your love isn’t real—that it’s merely chemical reactions in your brain and hormones.)

        Needless to say, faith is more like falling in love than chemistry or biology.

        Science has nothing to say about beauty, ethics, justice, love… Nevertheless, you believe deep in your bones that one thing is “right” and something else is “deeply wrong,” perhaps even evil. Where did you get that notion? Not from science.

        So, you do philosophy all the time, and you accept plenty of things about which science has nothing to say. Moreover, some of these things are likely deeply important to you, even though they’re not subject to scientific inquiry. Why do you ascribe meaning to them? On what basis?

      • Gary Says:

        In my view, you are making things much more difficult than is necessary. I don’t need philosophy to understand why I am attracted and emotionally attached to my wife (in love). All we need to understand is biology.

        Now would you kindly answer MY question: Why do you assume that evidence for a Creator God is automatically evidence for YOUR god, Yahweh/Jesus?

      • brentwhite Says:

        Gary, you haven’t begun to answer my questions. You’ve ignored most of what I’ve written.

        Before I answer YOUR question, why is the question important to you? What’s behind the question. I can guess, but maybe I’m wrong.

      • Gary Says:

        You said, “Having said all that, I fear you’re making a category mistake here. By definition, science can’t pass judgment on anything beyond this universe of time, space, and matter. Therefore any scientific discovery of something behind the Big Bang will never answer the ultimate question, “Why is there something and not nothing?” Science demonstrates that contingent events NEVER come from nothing at all, yet if we accept your materialistic account of the universe, we would have to say that the beginning of the universe is one rather glaring exception to that rule. In logic, this is called “special pleading”—on a very large scale.”

        First of all, I never said that I have a position on the origin of the universe. I do not. I do not have a position on this issue because the experts have not reached a consensus on this issue. I am not an expert in the field of cosmology or physics. It is my position that educated people should trust the consensus position of experts in fields in which they themselves are not experts. So, when the experts reach a consensus position, I will accept the consensus position on the origin of the universe, even if that consensus position happens to be that the universe began due to an action outside the norms of the laws of nature (a supernatural cause), performed by a Creator Being.

        You, on the other hand, are not an expert in the field of cosmology and physics (as far as I know) yet you are speaking as if your views on the origin of the universe are accepted scientific fact. Who is being irrational, here?

        Do I have “faith” in science? Well, that depends on your definition of “faith”. If your definition of faith is: “trust in someone or something due to a proven record of accomplishments”, then yes, I have faith in science. If your definition of faith is: “the basis of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen”, then, no, I do not have faith in science. Science doesn’t “hope” for things to be true. We use the scientific method to formulate a hypothesis about some particular feature of our universe and then rigorously test that hypothesis. A particular scientist may “hope” that his hypothesis is correct, but science as a whole does not “hope”. Science is cold and harsh: It accepts what the evidence tells us, whether we like it or not. Science does not accept hope as evidence for things not seen.

    • Gary Says:

      At many points in human history, humans were CERTAIN that a universally held (but scientifically inaccurate) belief was true, for example, that the sun revolves around the earth. They were wrong. I will wait until the scientists reach a consensus on the origin of the universe before jumping to a conclusion.


  6. Though myself an agnostic with Buddhist leanings, I must sincerely applaud you for your openness, intelligence, patience and wisdom that was required to carry out such a fascinating and informative conversation. Superb!

    • bobbob Says:

      how can we, sitting on this third rock from the sun, after a mere 500 years’ worth of serious inquiry, claim to know what happened 14 bya? it staggers my mind. any observations we make now, are of phenomena that are ancient, with data that we just happen to see because we were looking in the right direction or dug a hole in the right place (and some goat herds or clouds didn’t pass through during the night). we can’t go looking for data; we have to wait for it to be revealed to us and we better not miss it. can we be certain that cosmic dataset is what we think it to be? this dataset has been traveling across great time and space. how do we know it is not altered?

      and what about the multiverse argument? has it fallen out of favor? or panspermia which doesn’t solve anything about the origins of life?
      how about all the information in a cell? not just DNA mind you, but all the organelles and the cell membrane themselves are great repositories of important data as are all the protein transport mechanisms. DNA can’t and doesn’t do it all.

      it’s fractal all the way down!! no matter which way “down is.”

      (i just made that up!!)

  7. Arkenaten Says:

    Referring back to the shooting at the beginning of the post.
    If your god will not intervene, and I agree with the premise that he would be quite a busy chap if he was called upon to sort out the naughty children every five minutes, how effective do think praying to your god after such an event will help? I presume such prayers would be along the lines of taking care of the dead, solace for the bereaved and most importantly to find some way to stop certain individuals from slaughtering others with guns.

    • brentwhite Says:

      From your tone, I’m guessing you’re not interested in serious dialogue. I’m “approving” this comment mostly in case someone else wants to pick up the mantle.

      Nevertheless, from a Christian perspective, God intervened to help these victims in the most powerful way possible: by coming into the world, suffering, and dying on a cross so that this gunman’s bullet would not separate any of these 26 dead people from God for eternity.

      Moreover, God can do the same for you, Arkenaten, if you’ll repent and believe in his Son Jesus.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        I am afraid I don’t understand this response and the relevance it has to the question.
        After every mass shooting incidence in the States) prayers are called for; encouraged and claimed( by some) to be effective.
        I am asking you if you concur that such prayers are effective.
        And I can add, how would you be able to judge their effectiveness?

      • brentwhite Says:

        God’s Word commands us to pray. I’m afraid I’m less concerned with the “effectiveness” of prayer than you want me to be. (God is in control, and the results are up to him.) Mostly, I’m amazed that God has made me his child through faith in his Son Jesus. I don’t deserve to be in a relationship with him; indeed, because of my sins, I deserve death, judgment, and hell.

        But here’s the good news, Arkenaton. There is one prayer that I’m certain God will answer with a resounding “yes” every time: If you sincerely repent of your sins and confess Jesus as your Savior and follow him as your Lord, he will save you. He will give you eternal life. He will make you his beloved child. When you do that, I’m sure that you’ll experience, as I have experienced, that God is faithful in giving us what we need. He will often answer our prayers. But whether he gives us exactly what we ask for or not, we trust that he knows best. Again, he’s in charge.

        God wants to save you. He’s offering eternal life to you right now. I hope you’ll take him up on his offer.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        So if your god commands you to pray, and one can presume that would include prayers after every mass shooting, how effective do you believe such prayers been so far? Presuming such prayers would include the things I mentioned in the first comment.
        Are you able to offer me a straightforward answer without resorting to apologetics once more, please?
        Thanks.

      • brentwhite Says:

        An estimate of the effectiveness of prayers for this mass shooting or any other event is impossible to determine. For one thing, I️ would have to know how many potential mass shootings there are every month, week, or day. Human freedom is a terrifying privilege, as I’m sure you can appreciate. But I don’t know any Christians who are hung up on that question. We don’t pray mostly because we want God to do things for us. If he does, that’s gracious of him, since we deserve nothing from him but hell. But he sent his Son Jesus into the world because he loves us, and wants to rescue us from that fate. In fact, he wants to rescue you, Arkenaton.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        So why do you believe there are almost always calls to prayer after such shootings?

        If he does, that’s gracious of him, since we deserve nothing from him but hell.

        I presume as a professional, you re fully aware that the Christian version of hell is simply a church construct, yes?
        Certainly the biblical character Jesus the Nazarene never spoke of it.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Flabbergasting! Jesus spoke of hell more than anybody! If you don’t know any more about the Bible and Christianity than that, you don’t have any grounds for contesting Christians’ beliefs on things like prayer.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        No, the character Jesus the Nazarene was a Jew. Born, raised and died a Jew.
        The Christian version of hell as you interpret it is a church construct and does not feature in Judaism.

        Jesus never mentioned hell in any of his supposed dialogues.

        If you are a Christian I am surprised you are unaware of this very basic truth.

        Would you like to respond to the comment regarding the apparent complete ineffectiveness of the call to prayer after every mass shooting?

      • brentwhite Says:

        Tom is exactly right, Arkenaton. Most of our doctrine of hell is informed by the words of Jesus himself in the gospels. Have you not read them? Please do!

      • Arkenaten Says:

        Yes, of course I have read the bible. What an odd thing to ask, under the circumstances.
        And I reiterate, the character Jesus the Nazarene did not mention hell. Ever.
        He was a Jew.
        There is no Christian Hell as you understand it in Judaism.
        And I truly am surprised you are unaware of this?
        Furthermore, how can you be sure that the words attributed to Jesus the Nazarene were actually spoken by him?
        Certainly his prayer and actions in the garden are obviously pure speculation as no one was with him to witness.

        So , no hell.
        And how are you getting on with a response regarding the complete ineffectiveness of prayer after each mass shooting?

        Don’t you think it would be far better to actually call for people not to pray and rather focus on some more effective and positive action?

      • brentwhite Says:

        I’ve already said what I wanted to say about the alleged ineffectiveness of prayer, Arkneton. It’s impossible to measure, as I’ve already said. We don’t know how many human beings contemplate mass shootings on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. For all we know, many more people than before are inspired to kill by mass shooting, so it’s a relief that even more mass shootings don’t happen.

        If you’ve read the gospels, refresh your memory and re-read Luke 13:1-5. In the wake of these kinds of disasters, Jesus warns you and me to repent “or the same thing will happen to [us].” In fact, we will face a far greater disaster when we stand before God in judgment. So please repent while you have time, Arkneton. Jesus loves you and wants to save you. As long as God continues to give you life, it’s not too late!

      • Arkenaten Says:

        The Templeton Foundation conducted the largest experiment to date. Are you aware of the results?
        In this particular case the results were measured. So on the basis that prayer has had zero positive effect and evidence suggests mass killings have increased why do you believe people are continually called to prayer?

        What exactly does the character Jesus the Nazarene want to save me from?

      • brentwhite Says:

        You’re being saved from God’s justifiable wrath toward you because of your sin, Arkeneton. I thought that was clear. Your sins have alienated you from a holy God. But he loves you and has provided a way for you to find forgiveness and peace with him.

        By the way, I notice your constant reference to the “character Jesus.” This makes your denial about his teaching on hell even more puzzling. But never mind… I suspect our dialogue is coming to a close.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        What justifiable wrath?
        What sin?

        By the way, I notice your constant reference to the “character Jesus.”

        While there was very likely some 1st century rabbi who was executed for sedition by the Romans, there is no evidence for the biblical character Jesus the Nazarene.

      • brentwhite Says:

        In fact, I heard one atheist apologist (I don’t remember which one) actually complain about Jesus’ teaching on hell as an example of his moral deficiency. I at least respected that he’d done his homework.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        As a professional I am surprised you would claim the character Jesus the Nazarene talked about Hell.
        If you study the texts you will quickly realise he never talked about it. Ever.
        He was a Jew.
        There is no Christian Hell in Judaism so why do you believe he spoke of your Christian interpretation of Hell?

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        It is difficult to argue with someone who simply says, “The Bible is just made up stories.” If you have read the New Testament, of course you would know it recounts Jesus talking about hell quite frequently. “For I say unto you, fear not those who can only destroy the body; instead fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” The Bible says that Jesus said that. So, if you are just going to say you don’t believe Jesus said the things the Bible says he says, how can we have any ground for dialogue?

        As far as the effectiveness of prayer, I have seen prayers answered on a number of occasions, but I won’t bother going into them because of course you will simply discount them as being coincidences. Again, you don’t leave any room for intelligent discussion if you simply choose to deny whatever is said to you. Prayer is a way of communicating with God (which you also reject–again, defeating conversation). He may or may not answer any particular prayer with a yes, but that is because he also knows millions of other things that are going on at any given time.

        So, that being said, I think I will close.

      • Arkenaten Says:


        If you have read the New Testament, of course you would know it recounts Jesus talking about hell quite frequently.

        No, sorry, you are mistaken. The biblical character, Jesus the Nazarene never talked about Hell. This is a Christian construct.

        That you are unaware of this suggests you do not understand your bible or the basic tenets of Judaism in this regard either.
        Remember, the gospels were written in Greek and eventually translated into English.
        There is your clue.
        May I suggest you study the text with the aid of a genuine un-biased scholar?

        We were specifically talking about the effectiveness of the calls to prayer after each mass shooting. And based on the evidence one can easily presume there will be more …. a lot more.
        What do you personally believe people prayed for and what evidence is there that any prayers were effective?

  8. Grant Essex Says:

    Brent, your wasting your time with this guy. He’s a troll. They like to stir the pot on Christian blogs. He’s traveling under the name of an Egyptian Pharaoh who tried to impose his own view of god, “Aden”, who was a variation of the sun god Ra.
    I doubt there is any point in engaging with him. He’s just messing with you.

    • brentwhite Says:

      You’re right, Grant. I know. Thanks!

    • Arkenaten Says:

      Not a troll, I assure you.
      If prayer was an effective measure then one would see positive results.
      As every call to prayer after each mass shooting has actually seen an increase in the number of such horrendous acts of violence it would suggest that prayer is complexly ineffectual and may even be having a negative effect.

      However, if you are able to produce demonstrable results to refute such a claim and offer any stats or evidence that show prayer genuinely works in any way then I am extremely interested in reading what you have , Grant. Thanks.

  9. Tom Harkins Says:

    Gary, I had a long comment going responding to yours and apparently lost it somehow. I will try again. (Sorry so long getting back, but I rarely do blogs over the weekend and have been very busy today.)

    Your response of “Well, I don’t know the answer to your questions presently, but, not to worry, science continues to progress, so I imagine I will be able to someday” is simply the traditional evolutionary “party line.” If you can’t answer the questions, you should just admit it. Your “faith in science” is just as “blind” as that of any Christian you claim has faith in God or the Bible. At least Christians have a “Magician”! Evolutionists, by contrast, have “nothing” to thank everything for.

    Evolution is scientifically bankrupt, not just contrary to scripture. Consider the Big Bang. It is contrary, first, to gravity. If you are familiar with black holes, the theory is that when mass in a star or dead star becomes of a sufficient density, it collapses in on itself and pulls along everything with it, including light. Thus, the singularity containing the entirety of the mass of the universe supposedly expanded at a phenomenal rate. In fact, according to John Gribbin, a Cambridge professor of astrophysics at the time, says the universe expanded 4 light years in the first 0.1 seconds. This is in the face of Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which says no force can accelerate matter beyond the speed of light. So, MILLIONS of times too fast! Also, the theory of increasing organization of matter as the universe progressed is contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says organization naturally tends to decrease over time. And life from non-life violates Pasteur’s law of no spontaneous generation. (Incidentally, that great hero, or “god,” of evolution, Charles Darwin, admitted in The Origin of Species–which I have read–that he had no clue how life could have originated.) Science is supposed to be about hypothesis, observation, and experiment. Yet, no one observed the “Big Bang,” nor can it be replicated by experiment. Same with the origin of life. Same with, basically, all evolutionary “stepping stones.”

    So, don’t accuse Christians of having their heads in the sand, oblivious to science. It is the evolutionists themselves who are guilty of that.

    • Arkenaten Says:

      So how did life originate, Tom?

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Well, God has always existed (again, you don’t agree, so….). He spoke the universe into being, and, as to man, he “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” That is all I have to say.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        So you are a Creationist?
        Based on what evidence do you make such a claim may I ask?

      • bobbob Says:

        the millions of bits of data needed to pull together even the most rudimentary cell argue against accidental, spontaneous, ex nihilo, auto-creation. let alone the trillions of trillions of data points needed to make a planet capable of supporting life as we know it. the probabilties we are talking about far exceed the postulated number of molecules in this or any number of universes, whether simultaneous or sequential. information cannot create itself, how would it do so, and biological information in our experience is remarkably stable. meaningful, species-generating changes in the information are exceedingly rare, rarely do they survive, rarely are they inherited, rarely are they neutral, or more importantly, benefical. way too many decision points. yeah i know that line about “well, it happened once,” meaning us. but that’s a non-point. same thing can be said of a transcendant creator: it happened once. either material is eternal or there is an eternal transcendance. either way, eternality is an inescapable characteristic.

        and don’t get me started on the so-called “laws of nature or phsyics.” we are not cosmic legislators, but merely artists, secretaries, observers. we don’t know whether things observed are still working all those billions of light years away. those things could be gone and we can’t know. we can’t know whether our observations of distant phenomena (in time and/or space) are some how distorted by our location to fit local manifestations of the observed laws. we just can’t know.

        i have heard the estimation that within a human cranium the possibility exists for more connections between neurons than there are postulated molecules. that’s a lot of power to be totally, randomly, spontaneously, from nothing-nothing, brought about.

        believe in Jesus or not. He died and rose to ensure you have that right. you have the right of first refusal, and of last refusal. but it’s yours and yours alone. nobody, not even He, forces you to choose any one way. love is not an accident of chemicals, but a choice. if you choose God’s love, great is the reward. if you choose against it, great is the consequence.

      • Arkenaten Says:

        So you worship a human blood sacrifice from 2000 years ago and this is your source for the origin of life as we know it.
        Fair enough.
        Now, do you have evidence for this claim or are you basing your assertion solely on faith derived from the unsubstantiated text in the bible?

      • Arkenaten Says:

        Oh, I forgot to ask. Are you a Young Earth Creationist or do you at least believe in ”Guided Evolution”?

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Great comment, bobbob! Too bad it is falling on deaf ears.

      • Gary Says:

        Imagine if bobbob had made the same argument against heliocentricity: “It is an obvious as the nose on your face that the sun revolves around the earth. We see it rise in the east and set in the west every day! Don’t let God-hating scientists tell you that the earth orbits the sun. They are just trying to destroy our faith.”

        No, bobbob. The overwhelming majority of scientists believe in heliocentricity because of the evidence. And the same is true of evolution. The overwhelming majority of scientists believe in evolution because of the evidence, not because they hate your god and holy book.

        The story of Joshua stopping the sun in the sky is a scientifically ignorant legend. The Hebrew story of Creation is just one of many hundreds of ancient Creation Stories, all based on a colorful imagination, not on any scientific evidence.

        Trust science, not ancient holy books.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Once again, Gary, you point to no evidence to dispute what either bobbob or I have said as to the evidence opposing evolution. The mantra “scientists say” doesn’t cut it, and particularly should not for someone such as yourself who supposedly rejected Christianity “based on the evidence.”

      • Gary Says:

        Imagine if someone claimed that the earth is flat and I responded, “That is wrong. The overwhelming majority of scientists say that the earth is a sphere.”

        “Prove it!” he says. “Don’t just appeal to authority opinion.”

        Seriously???

        Most educated people do not research in detail every subject under the sun. There is barely enough time in a lifetime to become an expert in ONE subject, let alone all subjects. That is why most educated people accept expert consensus opinion on subjects about which they themselves are not experts. If the experts are divided on a subject, most educated people take a “wait and see” attitude about that particular subject.

        -The overwhelming consensus of experts is that the earth is a sphere.
        -The overwhelming consensus of experts is that the earth orbits the sun, not the reverse.
        -The overwhelming consensus of experts is that evolution is scientific fact.

        If you choose to ignore expert consensus opinion, that is certainly your choice, but that is not what most educated people in the world do.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Yet again you decline to offer one word to refute bobbob or me. If you can’t do anything more than say, “Well, I just defer to scientists,” then you are on a shaky foundation indeed. And WHICH scientists are you relying on? Darwin’s super-gradual changes, or instead punctuated equilibrium? Those who said “Lucy” was the progenitor of the human race, or those who say there were multiple ascendants? Etc. All “lay” evolution believers say is that “evolution” is a “scientific fact,” without even knowing what the “content” of evolution is. Have you read Darwin’s The Origin of Species,” as I have? Have you read Gribbin’s “Genesis: The Original of Man and the Universe”? What scientific literature have you read for or against “evolution”? What “evolution” theories do you subscribe to in particular?

        Also, your contentions about the earth being a sphere and the earth orbiting the sun are not disputed by anyone (except possibility some lunatic fringe), whereas “evolution” is disputed by a substantial number of people. The difference is, “spherical” and “revolution” have been proven by irrefutable actual evidence and observations, whereas “evolution” has not. How do I know the latter? Because of all the well-accepted scientific laws, based on actual evidence and observations, that are antithetical to stellar and biological evolution, such as what bobbob and I have pointed out. You have not pointed to anything “scientific” to the contrary. So, bobbob and I are the ones actually proceeding by the “scientific method” here–not you.

        Finally, I find your “blind faith” in “scientists” somewhat ironic, since you are telling Brent, Grant, bobbob and me that we should “think for ourselves” as opposed to relying on “authority” (the Bible and the consensus of Christian theologians). Maybe you should do the same.

      • Gary Says:

        I am a physician. In the medical community, anyone who denies evolution is looked upon as ignorant and silly. Evolution is so well accepted among the members of the medical community and the broader scientific community that the issue is not even debated.

        To educated scientists and medical professionals, evolution is just as much a fact as is heliocentricity. Non-scientists who profess to know more about science and medicine (biology) than the experts in the field are seen as fools. (I am not calling YOU a fool, I am just telling you what educated professional think of Creationism.)

        I do not debate people on issues for which the experts are in near-unanimous agreement. I might was well be debating flat-earthers.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Okay, if you don’t want to debate with me, that is fine. But I point out just one more time that all you do is “appeal to the experts.” You don’t state anything you yourself have done to figure out the truth on these issues, as I have. (And I have studied physics, chemistry, and biology, and read Darwin, and an evolutionary cosmologist–how much “study” is necessary before you can be able to “critique” what the “scientists” say?) Also, if you want to “appeal to the experts,” why limit yourself to “scientists”? Why not rely on the expertise of theologians, the “learned” in their field? Your choice to only appeal to “scientists” is entirely arbitrary, as if study of mechanical systems was more likely to tell you how the universe originated than theology. And this despite the fact that neither you nor, according even to you, the “scientists,” have a “clue” as to how the universe got underway. It is at least just as likely that the Bible “has it right” on that score as the scientists (who haven’t a clue). Finally, in fact we “haven’t all day” to answer this question. How long do you think the scientists will take? I’m going to die, likely in the next 20 years, so, what do I do? Just take a chance on “meeting my Maker” while I refuse to consider what he says, due to “waiting on the scientists”? Not very smart, it seems to me.

      • Gary Says:

        “Why not rely on the expertise of theologians, the “learned” in their field?”

        If I want to know the latest teachings in Islam, I should consult an Islamic theologian. If I want to know the latest teachings in Christianity, I should consult a Christian theologian. And the same process for Hinduism, Mormonism, etc..

        If I want to know the latest Presbyterian position on a particular Christian teaching, then by all means, I should consult Presbyterian theologians. If I want to know the latest Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Baptist positions on the same Christian teaching, I should consult the top Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Baptists theologians.

        If I want to know what the original text of a particular passage of the New Testament said in the original language, in the oldest remaining manuscripts of that passage, then I should consult a New Testament scholar, not a theologian.

        And if I want to understand the composition and workings of the universe, I should consult a scientist, not a New Testament scholar, and not a theologian.

        A do not consult my plumber for dental advice. And people should not consult that local theologian for advice on cosmology and biology.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Gary, you have already said that scientists do not have the answer to how the universe began. That is the reason why perhaps you should consult those who have studied to determine whether the scriptures accurately portray the message they claim came from God which DOES answer that question. You impugn the scriptures because you are unwilling to accept the conclusion of those expert in that field who have concluded that the only likely explanation that can be given for the Bible is that it is, in fact, the revelation from God himself. Surely if God speaks, that supersedes any admittedly idle speculation of any “scientists.” (And, I might mention, you don’t persuade me of my own supposed incapacity to critique the “party line” of evolutionists.)

      • brentwhite Says:

        Well said, bobbob. Thanks.

    • Gary Says:

      “Your response of “Well, I don’t know the answer to your questions presently, but, not to worry, science continues to progress, so I imagine I will be able to someday” is simply the traditional evolutionary “party line.” If you can’t answer the questions, you should just admit it. Your “faith in science” is just as “blind” as that of any Christian you claim has faith in God or the Bible. At least Christians have a “Magician”! Evolutionists, by contrast, have “nothing” to thank everything for.”

      I did admit I don’t know. I also stated that EVERYONE should take a “wait and see” approach to the issue of the origin of the universe. We should all wait for better evidence. I am perfectly willing to accept good evidence that demonstrates that the universe was created by an intelligent Designer. What I am not willing to do is buckle under and accept the Christian position now because of the threat of eternal torture if I do not.

      Don’t you guys see the problem? What would you call any other organization which threatens people with punishment for leaving the group???

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Very interesting way of putting it (“leaving the group”). However, we are not dealing with any “human group” here. We are dealing with either submission to or rebellion against the Lord of the universe, the Creator God. He makes the rules, not us. As Paul said, “Nay, but who are you, oh man, to reply against God?” As it turns out, God is willing to forgive us even our rebellion if we “turn around” and stop rebelling, which forgiveness is made possible because God himself (through the Son, Jesus the Christ) paid the price by his death on the cross. It is only because of continued rebellion, despite that sacrifice, that anyone consigns himself to hell. God gives fair warning of all this, so nobody can blame God for the situation (and certainly so as to someone like you who has knowledge of all this).

        I guess your position is, how can God take such a position if there is no evidence of his existence? However, such is not the case. As Paul says in Romans 1, the creation itself gives evidence to the necessary existence of the Creator. I understand that you are not persuaded, but I have tried to show in my comment to which you respond that the “alternative” explanation of evolution simply does not withstand scientific scrutiny. Thus, I don’t think you have good grounds for disregarding the biblical explanation instead.

      • Gary Says:

        Hi Tom,

        I fully agree with you that if your god, Yahweh/Jesus, is the Lord and Master of the universe, I have no option but to do as he says or suffer the consequences. So if he exists, I am a fool for refusing to submit to him. But just because one being is more powerful than another, that doesn’t mean that whatever the more powerful being does is good, just, and moral just because he says so.

        I personally believe that if someone tells you how much he loves you; how much he has sacrificed for you; and then in the next sentence threatens to punish (torture) your forever if you refuse to love him back and obey his every command, that being is a sadistic monster. Can’t you see that, Tom? That isn’t love. That is blackmail. I will bet that for any other being other than Yahweh/Jesus you would agree with me.

        I can acknowledge that someone as I have described above is my (slave) Master but at the same time realize that he is evil. I do not understand how you can call such a being “good” and “just” and refer to him as “our loving Father”.

        You said, “As Paul says in Romans 1, the creation itself gives evidence to the necessary existence of the Creator. I understand that you are not persuaded, but I have tried to show in my comment to which you respond that the “alternative” explanation of evolution simply does not withstand scientific scrutiny.”

        I fully acknowledge that many people believe that there is good evidence for a Creator. I do not dispute this evidence. I believe that it is certainly possible, and consistent with modern scientific findings, that a supernatural Creator exists. But just because there is good evidence for a Creator does not automatically translate into evidence for the Old Testament Hebrew deity, Yahweh. A literal reading of the OT indicates that Yahweh could not pass an 8th grade science quiz.

        And regarding evolution: Probably 98% of the world’s scientists (including the overwhelming majority of scientists who are Christian) believe evolution is scientific fact. Only a very, very small fringe of mostly fundamentalist Christian scientists dispute the MOUNTAINS of evidence for evolution. So you may not agree with this evidence but to say that evolution does not “withstand scientific scrutiny” is a gross misstatement.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Gary, it matters not how many people subscribe to some theory. By the same analysis, we should never have stopped believing the earth was the center of the universe. Jesus himself said that, relatively speaking to the whole population, few would be saved. So, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest that a large number of “scientists” say they believe “evolution” is true. (I dispute your percentages, but that is beside the point.) All I want to do is to actually look at the theory and see how it lines up with scientific laws which have actually been tested and observed, not “count numbers” of who believes what. Do you yourself actually have any facts to dispute my comments? Or bobbob’s?

        As far as God being an ogre, In the first place, it actually does not matter what we think about God. Either he exists or he doesn’t. If he does, then it is foolhardy to disregard him. Second, one thing you are discounting is that every one of us has committed any number of “bad acts,” for which we actually DESERVE punishment. God is gracious enough to absolve us of that punishment based on his own incredible sacrifice. Third, what do you make of a God who is willing to suffer and die for us? Sound like an ogre to you?

        Although I don’t totally subscribe to all C.S. Lewis says on this point, nonetheless I think he makes a very good observation that those who choose God can’t be required to eternally cohabit with those who reject him. Taking a hypothetical, would you like to have to live in the same neighborhood with thieves, murderers, and rapists for all your life?

        Finally, when somebody tells you in advance what the rules are, you can hardly blame him when you suffer the consequences of your own decision not to abide by them.

      • Gary Says:

        You said, “when somebody tells you in advance what the rules are, you can hardly blame him when you suffer the consequences of your own decision not to abide by them.”

        This is certainly true. If I am the property of someone else, I should not be surprised if I am punished for disobeying my owner/maker (master). However, if there is a Creator, he (or she) gave me a thinking brain. So even though my brain tells me that the wisest choice for my long-term survival is to obey the master, my thinking brain also tells me that by any modern standard of morality my master is evil, unjust, and immoral.

        Can you agree with that, Tom?

        If Yahweh is who the Bible says he is, and if he has the powers that the Bible says he has, we should ALL fear him and obey him. But that doesn’t mean we have to like him, and that definitely does not mean that we must love him, and it most definitely does not mean that we must call this ogre “good”, “just”, and “moral”. So if the Bible is correct, Yahweh is all powerful and to be feared, but he is also an evil, unjust ogre/monster.

        So here is the next question, Tom: Does Yahweh exist???

        I suggest that there is no good evidence for the existence of Yahweh. Even if there is good evidence for the existence of a Creator God, this does not automatically translate into evidence for Yahweh. I believe that if there is a Creator God, which is a definite possibility based on current evidence, this Creator acted supernaturally to create the universe, supernaturally created the laws of the universe…and then left his creation alone to fend for itself within the boundaries of his laws of the universe…WITHOUT any further supernatural intervention. If there is a Creator, the evidence indicates that he has ordained that the natural laws of our universe are NEVER violated, and, he is either indifferent or enjoys the suffering and struggles of living creatures on this planet. That is what the evidence demonstrates to me. I see no good evidence that the ancient Hebrew deity, Yahweh, is an all-knowing (wise), all-powerful, just being. The evidence indicates quite the opposite.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Gary, if the Bible stopped with Malachi, then I might be tempted to agree with you as to the nature of God. (I probably wouldn’t, but I would see more force in your argument.) But there is the New Testament. God came down in human form and took upon himself the punishment for our sin. That seems very “loving” to me. He did not have to do that. He could have left us under eternal judgment for our rebellion.

        God is holy and just, so to be consistent with his character, he ultimately has to banish all who refuse to be that way. It is not that he is “seeking revenge” (though he would have the right to do so)–instead, under the “moral law” of the universe, sin has to be punished. But, quite amazingly, he decided to take that punishment in our place! What kind of “ogre” would do that?

        I don’t think God is “evil” to punish sin. As a comparison, if you have children, and someone were to rape and mutilate them, would you want that person to “walk”? You can’t love and protect those who are good without punishing those who are evil. Doubtless you don’t think you fall in that category, but in essence anyone who rejects what Jesus did on the cross is “thumbing his nose” at that sacrifice. God was willing to suffer and die for you, but you remain in rebellion anyway. I think it is not “immoral” of God to let you indeed live without him, since you don’t want him.

        Finally, I don’t agree with your position that there is no good reason to believe the Creator is Yahweh. Yahweh reveals himself to us in the Bible, which is an incredible book written over a 2,000 year period by several dozen authors who give a consistent view of God and his character and his interaction with mankind in history. There is no good reason to reject the Bible as being “evidence” that Yahweh exists. And which would you rather, anyway? A “clock winder,” who cares nothing about his creation and does not interact with it in any manner, or a God who is intimately concerned with his creation and wants to have a euphoric eternal relationship with mankind, but also wants them to have a choice about that relationship rather than forcing it upon them? I choose the God of the Bible.

      • Gary Says:

        And how can any being be “good” if he has unlimited power and knowledge but he allows thousands of little children, every day, year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia, die brutal deaths from starvation, disease, abuse, rape, and murder…but stands by and does nothing? Are you really going to claim that these hundreds of thousands of dead little children DESERVED IT because their ancient ancestors ate some of Yahweh’s FRUIT???

      • brentwhite Says:

        Why appeal to “hundreds of thousands” of deaths, Gary? If even one person died unjustly, and an all-powerful God failed to make it right, then that alone would call into question God’s justice. The good news is that God redeems all unjust suffering in heaven.

      • Gary Says:

        Tell that to the screaming little ten year old girl, writhing in horrific pain, as she is being raped and murdered!

        Can’t you see just how warped and evil your belief system is, Brent? There is NO justification for allowing little children to be harmed.

      • brentwhite Says:

        Human freedom is a terrifying gift. But if we’re truly free, and our universe is governed by predictable forces, then one consequence is that humans can and do get hurt. Perpetrators will be punished by God, and unjust suffering will be redeemed. A few moments in heaven more than compensates for the worst suffering on earth. Life at its longest is vanishingly short in comparison to eternity. That’s why I urgently appeal to you to repent and believe in Jesus while you still have time.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        And also consider, Gary, my commentary on the Apostle Paul in my earlier comment.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        I would like to revise one thing I said earlier. In the terms of the Parable of the Soils, I’m afraid that at the moment you are not GOOD SOIL. You are ROCKY SOIL and a sower of Tares and Thorns.

        Your purpose here is simply disruption. Nothing said has the slightest effect on you….. Of course, God allows you to reject Him and will continue that separation in eternity, because it’s your choice, not His.

  10. Gary Says:

    ” And which would you rather, anyway? A “clock winder,” who cares nothing about his creation and does not interact with it in any manner, or a God who is intimately concerned with his creation and wants to have a euphoric eternal relationship with mankind, but also wants them to have a choice about that relationship rather than forcing it upon them?”

    This issue has nothing to do with what I (or you) want, Tom. We are talking about: What is reality? If the Creator is nothing more than a “clocker winder” we have to accept the facts and not make up a “prettier” story.

    “Yahweh reveals himself to us in the Bible, which is an incredible book written over a 2,000 year period by several dozen authors who give a consistent view of God and his character and his interaction with mankind in history. ”

    If the Bible were as consistent as you believe, we wouldn’t have so many different denominations of believers. And who put the Bible together? Was it compiled in heaven and then dropped from heaven into our laps? No. Men compiled the Bible and the men who compiled (and canonized) the Bible made darn sure to only include books which agreed with their orthodox Christian positions. So it is not amazing at all that there is some amount of harmonization among the books.

    For the Bible to be evidence for Yahweh’s existence and supernatural powers, we would need some evidence of the supernatural acts of Yahweh in the Bible. Do you have any good evidence, (other than the ALLEGED eyewitness testimony found in the Gospels regarding people seeing a dead man alive again), for even one of the alleged supernatural acts of Yahweh?

    • brentwhite Says:

      Regarding denominations, Gary, Tom and I are of different denominations, yet whatever disagreements we have over secondary questions doesn’t affect our essential unity as brothers in Christ. Why? Because the Bible, as our ultimate source of authority is sufficiently clear for us to agree on the essentials. I would dare say that’s true for most Christians.

      I note the pejorative tone in your words “made darn sure.” The four canonical gospels of the New Testament also happen to be the earliest. Wouldn’t you say that the documents that are closest in time to the events to which they bear witness are likely the most reliable? The next earliest, the Gospel of Thomas, dates to around 150, at least 60 years later than even the most skeptical dating of John’s gospel.

      The resurrection of Jesus is historically well attested. Google, for example, “minimal facts resurrection.” Of course there are skeptics who disagree, but as someone who is committed to uncovering the truth, you’ll want to be well-acquainted with the best arguments. Habermas and Licona have written some good stuff on the subject. Here’s a great starting point, a podcast by Dr. Glenn Peoples: http://rightreason.org/2011/episode-042-the-minimal-facts-approach-to-the-resurrection/

      And check out N.T. Wright’s book, The Resurrection of the Son of God, which explains, among other things how incredibly unlikely the early church would have proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus unless he were actually resurrected.

      Wright takes a different line of reasoning, by the way, from the “minimal facts” approach. Both approaches provide plenty of evidence.

      But as I suggested earlier, I doubt that evidence alone is your stumbling block when it comes to Christian faith.

      Would you want to love and worship and live your life for the God of Christianity even if you were convinced, intellectually, that Christianity were true? If not, why not?

      • Gary Says:

        The majority of New Testament scholars do not believe that eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses wrote the four Gospels. Even conservative Christian scholar Richard Bauckham in his book, “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, admits this fact. Therefore we cannot be certain of the historicity of most of the content of these four books. Even Christian scholar NT Wright has said: “I don’t know who the authors of the Gospels were, nor does anyone else.” Why should anyone believe that a first century corpse, which had been dead for three days, came back to life and later levitated into the clouds based on this very weak, hearsay evidence? (Yes, I know that conservative Christians, once again, will refuse to accept expert opinion, but most of the rest of the educated world does.)

        The resurrection of Jesus is NOT well attested. The early Christian belief in a resurrection of Jesus, yes, the actual event, absolutely not. At most Christians have two independent sources of the Empty Tomb story and the Appearance Stories to the Eleven (Mark and John). And since John was written decades after Mark, making it possible that the author of John borrowed “Mark’s” basic Resurrection Story as a template for his Resurrection Story, it is possible that we have only ONE independent source for this stupendous, never heard of before or since, supernatural claim.

        Christians don’t believe that Mohammad truly flew on a winged horse to heaven based on his alleged personal EYEWITNESS testimony, so why should the rest of us believe the Christian claim of a reanimated corpse flying to heaven based on ONE definite independent source…a source who most experts say was not an eyewitness or an associate of an eyewitness???

      • Gary Says:

        By the way, I take this subject VERY seriously. Here is a list of the texts I have read, studied, and even reviewed, on this subject:

        1. “The Resurrection of the Son of God” by NT Wright
        2. “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses” by Richard Bauckham
        3. “Making the Case for Christianity” by Maas, Francisco, et al.
        4. ” The Resurrection Fact” by Bombaro, Francisco, et al.
        5. “Miracles” , Volumes 1 and 2, by Craig Keener
        6. “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus” by Gary Habermas and Michael Licona
        7. “Why are There Differences in the Gospels” by Michael Licona
        8. “The Son Rises” by William Lane Craig
        9. “The Virginal Conception and Bodily Resurrection of Jesus” by Raymond Brown
        10. “The Resurrection of Jesus” by Gerd Luedemann
        11. “Resurrection Reconsidered” by Gregory Riley
        12. “John and Thomas—Gospels in Conflict?” by Christopher Skinner
        13. “The Argument for the Holy Sepulchre” (journal article) by scholar Jerome Murphy-O’Connor
        14. “Israel in Egypt” by James Hoffmeier
        15. “The Bible Unearthed” by Finkelstein and Silberman
        16. “The Resurrection of Jesus in the Light of Jewish Burial Practices” by Craig Evans, (newsletter article) The City, a publication of Houston Baptist University, May 4, 2016
        17. “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?” by Jodi Magness, SBL Forum
        18. “Genre, Sub-genre and Questions of Audience: A Proposed Typology for Greco-Roman biography” (article) by Justin M. Smith, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland
        19. “Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus” by Asher Norman (not a work of scholarship per se, but it is endorsed by Talmudic scholars for its accuracy in presenting a Jewish perspective of Jesus and the Christian New Testament)
        20. “The Book of Miracles” by Kenneth L. Woodward

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Gary, you are simply mistaken as to what most theologians believe about the authorship of the gospels and the historicity of the resurrection. It seems that your view that you should rely on the experts and not try to contravene what they say is a one-way street, applicable to reliance on “scientists” only.

      • brentwhite Says:

        I like how you say, “Therefore we cannot be certain of the historicity…” when, in fact, the point of Bauckham and Wright’s books is to argue for historicity. Argue with them, I guess.

        Paul is an eyewitness of what he believes was Jesus’ resurrected body, so what he says, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 15 counts as a source, whether you “agree” with him or not.

        Most of what you say about sources is disputed even among critical scholars in academia, depending on one’s presuppositions. Determining dates and the extent to which one gospel depended on another—or better, the oral sources behind the events—is a highly speculative enterprise. Critical scholars have dated John earlier and earlier since the 18th century, so it’s likely an exaggeration to say that John was written “decades” after Mark. (Although I’m delighted that you appear to accept a very early date for Mark! I agree with you!) Regardless, I’ve never read any scholar argue that John borrowed his resurrection story from Mark. You’re also discounting Matthew’s report that disciples stole the body—a story that, Matthew says, circulates “to this day.” That’s an historical data point about the resurrection that’s independent of Mark and Luke. Matthew wouldn’t have included that detail unless he knew that people knew that that was being reported. It lends historical credence to the fact of an empty tomb. That obviously created some kind of a problem for opponents of the Christian movement.

  11. Tom Harkins Says:

    So, why do people “suffer and die,” at all “stages” of life, in this life, if God is real and “good”? I agree that it is a fair question, but the biggest part of the answer is to go where you decline to go–the “afterlife.” If Judgment Day and Heaven and Hell are real, then, as Paul says, “But these momentary and light afflictions are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.” If you have any familiarity with the life of Paul, then you could understandably be amazed at what he says in classifying his own sufferings as “momentary and light.” He suffered quite a bit more than you or I have or will. But he nonetheless thought it was “worth it” because he looked to the eternal reward–which lasts forever, as opposed to a 100 years, or however long or short anyone has on this earth. You have no standing to argue that God is evil if you arbitrarily choose to look at only “half the picture.” If you are trying to decide if God is good, then you have to take him on his own terms, not limit him to just this life.

    Also, if no one ever died, then no one could get on with getting into heaven. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” as Paul also says. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he says again. My Dad suffered in his final years, yet when it was coming near the end, he had one of my sisters tape him quote some scripture about the heavenly shores he was heading to, and pumped his fist in the air saying, “I’m READY TO GO!” And so am I! Of course, I would rather not have to suffer much, but to the extent that I do I will be looking to the God who will ultimately “make everything right.”

    • Gary Says:

      “So, why do people “suffer and die,” at all “stages” of life, in this life, if God is real and “good”? I agree that it is a fair question, but the biggest part of the answer is to go where you decline to go–the “afterlife.” ”

      I have thought of the issue of the Afterlife a great deal, Tom. I grew up a fundamentalist Baptist. I learned to fear Hell’s fires as a very young age.

      But the good news is this: Hell is a construct of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. The early Hebrews had no such concept. They had “Sheol”: the grave. That’s it. The belief in an afterlife and a place of torture gradually developed under the Greek occupation of Palestine. Read about this subject, Tom. It is very liberating! There is no Hell! It is a human invention!

      By the way, there is no “safe bet” when it comes to the Afterlife. You might say that I should become a Christian (again) just to hedge my bets. If I am wrong about Hell, I am going to suffer “unspeakably” for all eternity. But think about this, Tom: If Islam is true, you will burn in the Muslim Hell for all eternity! If Mormonism is true, you will spend eternity in complete darkness. No matter which exclusivist religion you choose, Tom, you are rejecting all the other exclusivist religions, and potentially setting yourself up for eternal punishment if you happen to have picked the wrong religion.

      So how many sleepless nights have you spent worrying about the Muslim Hell? None, right? You don’t worry about the Muslim Hell because you don’t believe that the evidence for the supernatural claims of Islam are any good. Well, Tom, that is exactly how I feel about the Christian Hell. The evidence for the supernatural claims of Christianity are just as poor (if not worse) than the claims of Islam and Mormonism.

      • brentwhite Says:

        Genetic fallacy, Gary. To say the concept of hell developed under Greek influence in ancient Palestine, even if true (again, I’ve studied these things at a graduate level and they are disputed even among critical scholars), says nothing about whether hell exists. Jesus affirmed that it exists, which is all that matters.

      • brentwhite Says:

        It sounds like your fundamentalist Baptist upbringing really harmed you, Gary. I’m sorry about that. But I can’t help but think that’s it’s distorting your view of God and the gospel.

      • Tom Harkins Says:

        Well, I admit to begging to weary of this debate, and in any event I have to head home for the evening. However. the reason for me being willing to give more credence to the Bible than the Koran and the Book of Mormon (or other sources) arises simply from reviewing those texts. The Book of Mormon, for example, is utter fantasy, if you have read any of it, like me. And there is zero archeological evidence to support its historical claims, quite in contrast to the case for the Bible. Also, the Bible is very coherent and consistent. In any event, it appears that neither of us will make any headway in persuading the other. I believe that my beliefs are consistent both with “true” science and the biblical record, and I have no doubts about God’s existence, which is borne out not only by the sources, but my own personal experiences. That’a all I can tell you.

  12. Gary Says:

    ” If you are trying to decide if God is good, then you have to take him on his own terms, not limit him to just this life.”

    Would you apply this same standard to the gods of Islam, Hinduism, and Mormonism? Would you accept that killing “infidels” is just and moral just because Allah says it is? No, of course not.

    Whoever the Creator is (if one exists), he gave you a brain, Tom. And my brain and I will bet your brain tells us that allowing little children to be tortured and murdered is evil. Therefore the being who has the power to stop this suffering, and chooses not to, is the epitome of evil…whether his name is Allah, Lord Krishna, or Yahweh/Jesus Christ.

  13. bobbob Says:

    Arkenaten,

    Sir, yes I am a creationist. but I am a unique one: because we are talking about things eternal no matter whether strictly material or transcendent in nature, I believe that things from our perspective are genuinely old, but from God’s perspective it’s all new: He’s eternal. So I guess you could say that I am an young-old creationist.

    As for worshiping a blood sacrifice, I do no such thing. I do not worship the blood, the cross, nor the ground upon which the blood was spilled. I worship the King. Look at it this way: Kings, as they were before democracy ran rampant, were sovereign over life and death. If the king wanted you dead you died. But what if the King decided that he was done with that mode of administering justice, that death was the only payment acceptable for transgressions, he then substituted his own life for all? That he, being king, could make that decree and offer his own life for all future transgressions, could he not?

    That’s what happened not quite 2000 years ago, but with the added thing of the King is now alive.

    And that’s the King, the Emmanuel King, I worship.


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