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Aug 06 2008

Chuck Colson’s insecure little God

If you haven’t clicked over to the Zondervan blog to read Chuck Colson’s extended reply to Kazim, by all means do so. It’s really quite something, a rhetorical mishmash chock full of logical fallacies, false premises, and poor argument structure. One of Christianity’s bestselling apologists mounts some of the most amateurish defenses of the faith I’ve ever seen. Quite often — no doubt used to writing almost exclusively for a Christian readership who unquestioningly accepts all he says — he just asserts things without backing them up, or, if he does, with feeble sound bites that may seem like obvious conclusions to him, but won’t to anyone who thinks about them for longer than a picosecond.

I’ve been replying to a lot of points in the comments over there, but for this one specific passage, I’m posting my reply here, with only slight copy editing so it reads like a blog post and not a comment. I hope Zondervan has the integrity to leave my comments and those of other atheists up, and doesn’t do the Uncommon Descent insta-delete thing. Whatever they choose, I’m posting this one bit here, as I think it’s an important one. Because in this passage, Colson makes an embarrassing mistake in arguing for his God that, unfortunately, doesn’t paint God in a very flattering light. Indeed, he unwittingly makes his God into a rather pathetic and weak figure.

Colson starts:

You’re making the assumption that for God to be God, or for you to believe in Him, He must reveal Himself by giving us evidence which by reason would establish His existence. But why should the God who created everything that is explain Himself? What would compel such a God to do that?

Gosh, what about that crazy little thing called love? Over and over Christians try to tell us that God is love, that he loves us and wants a personal relationship with us, etc. etc. And yet when God is asked, entirely reasonably, to reveal his existence to us unambiguously, suddenly we’re the jerks! This is kind of hard to swallow in light of the fact this God purportedly sentences anyone who doesn’t believe in or worship him to his satisfaction to eternal torture in Hell!

Ironically, just a few paragraphs earlier, Mr. Colson asks rhetorically…

Is not the capacity for love, though you cannot see it, something which can be objectively (though not scientifically) measured?

Yes, it is (though Colson’s confused on his terms — the ways in which the emotions of love manifest in observable behavior are something science can study). And I would suggest that one measure of the capacity for love is that one does not deceive the object of one’s love, that one does not hide that which should not and does not need to be hidden, that one treats the object of one’s love with generosity, kindness and above all, respect.

It is not an act of respect — let alone love — to condemn someone to a horrible punishment simply for doubting your existence when you have categorically refused to reveal your existence. That you are a universe-creating deity is irrelevant to the issue. If your argument is that God, being God, doesn’t owe anybody anything, because HE’S GOD, SO SHUT UP, then why should human beings with reasoning capacity respond to that kind of arrogant disrespect with love and respect ourselves? To do so would only be a dishonest love borne out of fear. Mr. Colson is arguing for God as nothing more than a tyrant, an authoritarian thug and despot. Is this really the message he hopes will persuade atheists?

So in reply to Mr. Colson’s question, “But why should the God who created everything that is explain Himself?” my response is simple: If God really loved us, he would.

Yet Mr. Colson goes on with more arguments in favor of God’s authoritarianism and privilege, as if these were praiseworthy qualities.

A God great enough to create the heavens and earth, and all of life in it, is a God who has no obligation to explain why He created us. In fact, He has a good reason not to. I believe it was Aquinas who argued that if God could be known to us by reason, we would take Him for granted; He would be no different than the tree that one could see from one’s office.

Well, I would argue that God does have such an obligation, especially if the penalty for not being a member of his fan club is eternity in the lake of fire. If God did not want to have any obligations to us, then he should have left us as mindless as amoebas, and not given us the capacity to think and reason, which naturally tends to instill in us feelings of self-worth.

But I cannot imagine who would consider this silly point of Aquinas’s to be a “good reason” for God’s not revealing himself. It is hardly the case that any person alive holds all of the things they know to exist on some sort of even plateau of worth. Any parent knows that their own children exist; unless they are really horrible parents, that fact certainly does not mean they are as indifferent to their children as they are to a tree.

And doesn’t it seem curiously insecure of God to worry about being “taken for granted,” when, just a moment ago, Colson was arguing for God’s being so magnificent and so glorious and so divinely important and powerful and magisterial in his universe-creating awesomeness that the very idea of revealing himself to us puny humans was simply too far beneath his notice to be anything but absurd? Haven’t I seen this before? Oz the Great and Terrible, was it? Bluster, bluster, bluster…but pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

I’d suggest in future, Colson should consider amending his apologetics so that he doesn’t make the rather devastating mistake of following up a bout of “God’s too big and awesome and important to reveal himself to mere mortals,” with, “But really…he’s scared you’ll ignore him!”


PS: If you’re inclined to leave comments of your own at the Zondervan blog, do remember these basics, please, about which I shouldn’t have to ask. Be civil and polite. Keep your language clean. And restrict yourself simply to refuting the points you think need refuting, in detail, without telling Colson you think he must be “some kind of fucking idiot for believing all that crap!” (Civility! From me! Russell must be beaming with pride!)

39 comments

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  1. 1
    Zurahn

    There are two serious problems I still have you didn’t mention1. Where is he getting the information about what the god is if it’s faith-based (I guess you can just make things up given you don’t need a reason)2. If it’s from the Bible, doesn’t that qualify as evidence if you believe it to be true? Or, if you believe the Bible, at least God talking to people, ascending to heaven, walking on Earth in different forms is the least bit contradictory? Cain and Abel had some pretty serious Godly affirmation, as well as those supposed witnesses of Jesus ascending to heaven for all to see (though I can’t seem to find this specific passage. If someone can refer me to it, it’d be appreciated).By the way, what is with the idea of ascending to heaven? It’s referring to people visibly seeing it happen, so where is he going? Heading into the stratasphere, while impressive, isn’t really what people seem to have in mind when talking about Jesus.While you covered it thoroughly, Martin, and correctly, I think it can lead to an unnecessarily extended path to nowhere to argue God’s supposed will or desire. Apologists can get long-winded talking about nothing and come off to the layman as even when the real problem lay before the issue ever comes up, that being how do you establish the God that requires faith in the first place? Faith? Circular argument, isn’t it?If it’s all faith, wouldn’t it be easier to have faith that God doesn’t care whether you believe in him or not?Now I’m just rambling, so I’ll cut myself off.

  2. 2
    James A. Brown

    It’s a curious argument: “God can’t just show himself to us. That’s cheating! Oh yeah, and God has shown himself to us via Jesus, Nature, and the Bible.”

  3. 3
    tracieh

    >You’re making the assumption that for God to be God, or for you to believe in Him, He must reveal Himself by giving us evidence which by reason would establish His existence. But why should the God who created everything that is explain Himself? What would compel such a God to do that?That quote is just weird. How many times have we heard Christians say that we have to believe in god or we'll suffer for it–or miss out on a reward? Or that we're already missing out on so much because we don't know god?How can someone justify a statement that basically indicates that they have no idea why anyone would expect god to make it reasonable for a person to believe in His existence? Let's examine:>You’re making the assumption that…for you to believe in Him, He must reveal Himself by giving us evidence which by reason would establish His existence.How is that an "assumption"? Don't we generally believe in things because it's reasonable to believe in them–based on evidence? Should we believe in things which are unreasonable to believe in, instead? I'm baffled.But for Christians to generally assert that SO MUCH rides on the ability to believe, and then to have someone ask, "What would compel such a God to do that?" is really ridiculous.If I'm a god, and I set a high bar that can only be attained by belief in my existence, what would be my thinking in then making sure that one can only believe in me if they are willing to be unreasonable about their assessment of the data? It's especially cruel when that same god endows us, supposedly, with "reason" and sets up our entire survival on our capacity to reason in the life/the world.Make reasonable creatures. Put them in a world where they must survive on their reason. Tell them they must believe in me. Then make belief in me unreasonable.Oh yeah–THAT makes sense!

  4. 4
    tracieh

    >In fact, He has a good reason not to. I believe it was Aquinas who argued that if God could be known to us by reason, we would take Him for granted; He would be no different than the tree that one could see from one’s office.Where do you even go from here? When a Christian is willing to admit that belief in god is unreasonable…WHAT can I say to that? I agree. However, it helps me not at all to understand why the Christian believes or why I should follow suit."Ah, if belief in god was reasonable, then he wouldn't be god!"How clever.Chuck: "I have garlic in my kitchen to keep away vampires."Tracie: "But there are no vampires."Chuck: "See how good it works?"

  5. 5
    tracieh

    More to the point, Chuck appears to be actually saying that if there were not vampires, it would make no sense that the garlic works in keeping them away. And since there are no vampires where there is garlic–that proves the existence of vampires.Ta-da!That’s quite a trick.

  6. 6
    tracieh

    Zurhan:Hat tip. You are so right on. Here and in your reply to the prior blog post. If god is unreasonable, then nothing about god can be reasonably extrapolated. Whatever comes out of Colson’s mouth about god being X or Y because it makes any sort of sense to him is just as valid/invalid as anything anyone else claims.God is a wreath of pretty flowers…which smell bad.

  7. 7
    Martin

    Another less long-winded response to Mr. Colson’s “God cannot reveal himself” statement I could have made is that, according to Scripture, this is what God is supposed to have done quite explicitly in the case of Paul’s revelation on the road to Damascus in Acts. Saul of Tarsus was not merely a nonbeliever but an active persecutor of Christians, and God revealed his existence to him to only unambiguously but rather forcefully. And yet it’s supposedly unreasonable for modern atheists to request the same degree of revelation.Zurahn, you’re right that you can just end up spinning around in a rhetorical cul-de-sac when arguing some of the basic flaws in Christian apologetics (such as their tendency to argue “it’s all based on faith,” only to follow that up with a whole host of tortuous “proofs”). But I think it’s still useful to point out the errors in their thinking, even if they don’t quite get it.

  8. 8
    tracieh

    Martin:You’ve probably heard/used this before as well, but in the OT, many people saw god or crazy god-proving miracles (contests even between god and other gods, or his acts of god-power in Egypt or in front of the Hebrews).But none of this appears to have forced anyone to follow god–as they Hebrews were contstantly being punished for falling away and/or worshipping other gods–despite all this “proof” and all these miraculous manifestations right before their eyes.Jonah tried to run away from doing what god asked. And others defied god by hiding idols or taking booty from a sacked enemy’s livestock when god said kill everything in sight and let nothing live.Why, suddenly, is manifestation some how in conflict with free will or following god?If I understand Christianity correctly, then it’s not just about believing in god–doesn’t the Bible say that even the demons believe and tremble?Salvation is about obedience, not belief in existence. So, what is the mystique invovled in this cosmic hide-and-seek that is suddenly so all-important even though it never mattered an ounce in the past in-so-far as determining who was righteous and who was not?

  9. 9
    arensb

    I’ve submitted Colson’s “The more important question is why would God create us?” paragraph to FSTDT. That thing’s just a mental train wreck.Ao0 (apropos of nothing), the Out Campaign icon in the sidebar is a 2094×2066 image that’s being scaled down by the browser, which results in ugly jaggies (under Firefox, at least). I’m sure there are smaller and prettier versions out there.

  10. 10
    Innovative Defense

    Nr Miller, Luke 12:47-48 is part of a parable. If you don’t know what is a parable, let me give you a definition that the bible gives us.Mark 4:10-12 – 10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that“they may indeed see but not perceive,and may indeed hear but not understand,lest they should turn and be forgiven.”The purpose of a parable was for an important point to be made to the believers, but non-believers would not be able to understand. That way, if one can’t understand… they can’t be forgiven.

  11. 11
    Martin

    arensb: Funny, I thought I’d just used the code offered on the Out Campaign page for the graphic. Oh well, I’ve gone back and grabbed the code that’s up there now, which does appear to be different, so hopefully the image looks better.

  12. 12
    arensb

    Martin: much prettier, and 80% smaller, too. Thanks!But yeah, these things happen.

  13. 13
    Nr Miller

    Apologist, wrong topic area, theres no need to spread this argument over every post come on back to the proper area. :)

  14. 14
    diegox

    I think apologist has indeed made a good point, in fact I think he made a better point than Coulson. Instead of saying that God doesn’t reveal to anyone because he’s so great and powerful (wich I think is an extremely childish argument), apologist says He doesn’t reveal Himself to teach us a lesson: That we must believe in Him regardless of the complete lack of proof about His existence because it is a test that we must pass in order to get saved (Jesus revealed Himself to the twelve, but the rest of humanity will have to believe in Him just on faith). However, this argument is still terribly flawed. Why would this God create such an amazingly complex, vast and beautiful universe, from wich we are a negligible part, wich is ruled by this set of complex and well defined physical rules wich (as far as we know) are impossible to break, give us the intelligence, the curiosity and the means to investigate and to some degree understand such universe, but still not leave the slightest trace of His existence in it, except for some (fairly small and simple) book written by people claiming to have heard God Himself dictating its content? Why would God creat this vast universe, put us in it, and then ask us to disregard it completly?.

  15. 15
    skelliot

    Hey Guys!I tried to find an email address for The Atheist Experience but didn’t have any luck. Anyway I thought this would interest you.http://skelliot.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/education/Your site is blocked at my college because it is tagged as “Occult”Skelliot.

  16. 16
    arensb

    Shorter Colson:”`I refuse to prove that I exist’, says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith you wouldn’t love me’”"Ah”, replies Michael Behe, “but the bacterial flagellum is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It proves that you exist, and therefore, by your own logic, we can’t love you”.”That was easy”, thinks Behe, and gets his ass handed to him in Dover.

  17. 17
    Innovative Defense

    Diegox, God showed himself in many ways to Israel during the old testament. His promised land then worshipped him, but as soon as things got bad again, they stopped trusting God and began rebelling again. God kept doing this, and then stopped. What was the point if people, no matter if God showed them signs or anything of the sort, still rebelled against Him. This is why he did one final thing… because everyone was going to rebel him more and he wanted to easily be able to forgive them, he sent christ to die and take the punishment for all the rebellion and sin of all that would believe in Him. No one has ever seen God, only God the son. I am content with being in God’s presence in Heaven when I die. We all have faith in something, whether it be a belief in something or a disbelief.

  18. 18
    Martin

    This is why he did one final thing… because everyone was going to rebel him more and he wanted to easily be able to forgive them, he sent christ to die and take the punishment for all the rebellion and sin of all that would believe in Him. God: “Hmm. I’m an all powerful, perfect being, and yet somehow it bothers me that not every single one of these mortal beings I created wishes to worship me slavishly. D’oh, maybe I shouldn’t have given them minds and the capacity for independent thought and action. I know! I’ll go down to Earth in human form, then sacrifice myself to myself, and that’ll mean I’m not longer angry with people any more over all the mistakes I made in creating them.”Like I said: insecure little God. Fortunately, he’s only imaginary. But we all still have to put up with this religion that’s grown around him, don’t we?

  19. 19
    Innovative Defense

    Check out my video on my page that I postedhttp://innovationapologetics.blogspot.org/

  20. 20
    rogerdr

    “No one has ever seen God, only God the son.”Apologist: do you honestly believe that we who comment here haven’t read the Bible? Yes, I’ve heard this before, but it’s patently false by many passages in the Old Testament (regardless of being upheld by others), and what’s more is a puzzling slip since it has nothing to do with the subject. Still, I have to thank you. Since finding these free-thought websites, I have been happy to come across at least one instance of the Bible’s inconsistency per day, and you have kept up that tradition nicely.

  21. 21
    Innovative Defense

    The old testament times that “God” was seen was the pre-incarnate Christ. Since the New Testament tells us that “God the Father” cannot be seen, it was the pre-incarnate Christ (God the son) that was seen. So I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion of biblical inconsistency.Grace, Jeremy

  22. 22
    diegox

    Apologist: I define faith as “the belief in a certain assertion or a set of assertions are true regardless of the evidence (i.e. empirical experience) available”. My position is that I don’t and won’t believe in ANY assertion if there is no evidence to back it up. In other words, if someone claims something is true, I won’t take it as true just because he says so. First I will check if someone has already investigated the subject, and see what evidence can he/she provide on it and make my own conclusions based in this evidence. If the evidence available is not conclusive, or the subject has not been yet investigated, then I could search myself for a way to proof or disproof this assertion by observation of the world. Anything that exists must interact with the rest of the universe in some way (and no, I don’t believe this on faith either, I believe this based on experience (i.e. evidence)). Take the following as an example: There’s evidence that the table in my kitchen exists because I can see it. But, if you think for a moment, you could argue that this may not be enough evidence of the existence of the table, because what I’m seeing could be, for example, an image of a table projected in a screen, and not a real table. Then I would say, “Well, if it is an image it should not behave as a real table in every way” or in other words, there must be a way to discern between the two possibilities. That way would be to make an experiment. One possible experiment could be to move to another point and try and see if when changing my point of view the table appears to be flat (like an image on a screen). Another “experiment” I could make could be just get near the table and touch it to see if it feels as I expect a table should feel (because I’ve encountered other tables in my life and I know to some extent how should it feel). At this point, I have three pieces of evidence here, first I can see the table, second, I changed my point of view and it behaved consistently as a real table, and third I touched it and it felt just like a table. I can conclude then, with very reasonable level of confidence, that it is, in fact, a table and that it exists, because I can interact with it in a number of ways (notice I cannot be absolutely sure about this, and so I must continue making experiments to CHALLENGE my hypothesis. But if every experiment I do backs my hypothesis then it gets stronger and stronger, and if I build up a body of evidence vast enough, then it becomes very unlikely that the object in study is not a table. But don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying that I can prove something exists only if I can touch or see it. It is still possible to prove something exists even if I (or anyone else) can’t interact directly with it. There are some physical entities that interact extremely weakly with the rest of the world, but we still can prove its existence because it still interacts (weakly) with something that interacts with something else, that interacts with yet something else, that interacts with me, so to speak. You must be extremely careful, patient and clever to be able to detect it, but it is possible. So after this, I hope I made my point clear enough that I don’t accept anything on faith. Now, continuing with your post, you wrote: “God kept doing this, and then stopped. What was the point if people, no matter if God showed them signs or anything of the sort, still rebelled against Him.”So you are saying that God, knowing past, present and future of the universe He created, and having also created men and obviously knowing their nature and every aspect of their existence, didn’t foresee this would happen? Then he doesn’t seem to have known very well His own creation. This doesn’t seem to make any sense because it contradicts all that you assume God would be. So the God that created (according to you) this amazingly complex and vast universe made such a huge mistake? Any normal human with a minimum experience (even at that time) could tell you that the rebellion was very likely but this all-knowing-been-creator-of-the-universe could not.Then you wrote: “This is why he did one final thing… because everyone was going to rebel him more and he wanted to easily be able to forgive them, he sent Christ to die and take the punishment for all the rebellion and sin of all that would believe in Him.”If He really wanted to forgive them, why bothering in sending Jesus (ehem, himself) in the first place? He could just have forgiven them anyway without making such a fuss. Anyway I don’t see how the suffering and death of Jesus expiate the sins of the hole humanity, neither I see how would that be beneficial. So, all the killers, rapists, etc. would have gone to heaven (as long as they believed in God) without even regretting their actions, let alone mending them? But those who lived worthy lives but did not happen to believe in Him, or believed in another deity where hopelessly condemned! Sorry, but I don’t see how an intelligence so great and subtle as to create this beautiful and vast universe could have thought such a simplistic, narcissist (not to say immoral) thing. Finally, even if I granted to you this last two arguments, there is still a fundamental problem with God. There not a single piece of evidence of His existence. Many apologists argue that the Bible itself is a proof of the existence of God. I’m sorry, but I don’t think that particular book is proof for anything. To begin with, you would expect that a book written by God Himself would, at least be self-consistent, but it is not. It has countless contradictions. To me, it seems that if God existed (wich I don’t believe) He would have nothing to do with the God described by the “holy book”.I have a more reasonable explanation for the bible: it was written by men (common men) and many, many of them, thousands of years ago. Everyone of whom had their own views of what God and religion should be, and their own moral codes. This men didn’t have any information about how the world worked at the time so, to them, what they were writing made perfect sense. Today we know better.Sorry for the very long response, but I thought it was necessary.Finally I want to apologize in advance to anyone who reads this for my grammar, I usually don’t write in English (and to be sincere, I don’t write very well in Spanish either).

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Adrael

    diegox: “So you are saying that God, knowing past, present and future of the universe He created, and having also created men and obviously knowing their nature and every aspect of their existence, didn’t foresee this would happen?”THAT, my friend, is precisely one of the many reasons why I think the idea of an All-Everything god is abso-freakin’-lutely pants-on-head retarded. I will never understand how Christians can blab on and on and on about how their god is an infinitely complex, ineffable, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent entity… then turn around and have him behave like nothing more than a perverse, seriously F’ed up celestial Dumbledore. Powerful, knows a couple of cool tricks, but exhibiting behaviour curiously similar to that of humans.One moment he’s an esoteric force that we could never hope to comprehend, the next he gets “angry” that you don’t put your expletive deleted into the correct slot. First he’s the alpha and omega, the end-all and be-all who can see everything that is, was and will ever be; then all of a sudden we find out that he got all emo ’cause he tried and tried but we just weren’t that into him, so he took his ball and went home.The examples are never-ending: took him six day to create the world, had to rest on the seventh, chariots of iron zapped his powers, his morals seem to evolve along with humanity’s(slavery was all right back then but not now, polygamy was cool in the ol’ days, not so much nowadays, he doesn’t need sacrifices anymore, etc.) and about 1,000 more of those. You get the idea.Why can’t everyone see the 500 trillion huge red flags that are screaming “MAN-MADE!, IT’S ALL MAN-MADE!”?. Are we really that stupid as a society that we haven’t been able to figure out that the creators and rulers of the universe in the mythologies of pretty much all cultures seem to act like people of that particular period in time?. Is it truly that hard to understand that all signs point to to the fact that gods came from the extremely-lacking imagination of primitive people.Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but all of the omni-bullshit was a more or less recent invention of those “sophisticated theologians” nobody can shut their traps about, right?. You know, douchetards like Augustine and Aquinas. I know(or at least think I do) the ancient Hebrews already had the whole “oooh, he can do anything and knows everything” deal but the G-man was still sort of like a guy, no?. I mean, he had a personality and could do things like hang around in a mountain and throw hissy fits. He wasn’t the incomprehensible being(I should really finish this, I’m running out of synonyms and ways to describe it without repeating myself) today’s clergy paints him as. I’m not even going to go into the mind-boggling stupidity of a deity who supposedly sets absolute morals but keeps changing his bloody mind. Unbaptised babies go to hell!!… just kidding, but they stay in limbo… merely joshing, they’re all right. Honestly! Double-yoo-tee-eff? I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of self-delusion necessary to believe such things. I could take a bowling ball dropped from the top of skyscraper to the head and be reduced to a drooling pile of flesh and bones and I’d still have a hard time buying into this crap.Sorry for the rant, but after reading Apologist’s posts, I had to do it. Otherwise my brain would’ve tried to escape through my nostrils in protest.P.S.: ¿de dónde eres, diegox? =P

  25. 25
    arensb

    Nice rant, Adrael. +1 internets to you.

  26. 26
    tracieh

    Bravo diegox! No apology needed for your English. It is excellent.

  27. 27
    tracieh

    Adrael:>Why can't everyone see the 500 trillion huge red flags that are screaming "MAN-MADE!, IT'S ALL MAN-MADE!"?.Indoctrination. By teaching a child, from the time it's an infant, that X is normal, that child will be hard pressed to grow up and decide X is _not_ normal.Luckily, as the world becomes smaller (from an information perspective) it will become incrementally more difficult to cloister children away from information.Christians are, literally, conditioned NOT to ask about certain things. And if nothing prevails upon the child to "ask"–the child will likely not ask.As an example, when I was in college (and a Christian), I first met people who claimed the Bible was man-made. When I began to ask about it at church, you can't believe the level of ignorant responses I received. After I left the church, people met with me to try to "bring me back into the fold." I asked them, "How do you know the Bible is inspired?" I had, since, learned that the "inspired" books were simply books the church picked out and said, "Thou art part of the new canon!," and it was so.One person told me we know the writings are inspired because they are all written by apostles.They are not all written by apostles. So, really, she _doesn't_ know why she believes the books are inspired.One person (the preacher) said, "I have to have faith that god was involved in guiding the men who put this book together."So, he doesn't know why he believes it's inspired, either. He just chooses to believe it.I have spoken to very few Muslims. But I will never forget one conversation I had where the adherent told me that the Koran itself is evidence of god. The fact the book exists means that god had a hand in it. I see no difference between his argument for his book, and my preacher's argument for the Bible.You can get into all sorts of details, with the Muslim telling you "The Koran says X, and it couldn't possible have that in it if it weren't a product of god," and the Christian make the same sorts of claims for his Bible.But my point is this: Before I asked the preacher and the other church member about why they thought the Bible was inspired, they hadn't looked into how the canon was produced and directed and created. They didn't know.Here is a fundamentalist church–a church who believed in the inerrancy of the Bible as god's word-for-word message to mankind. And I assure you that the two people I spoke to weren't unique. NOBODY in that church had a clue about the history of the Bible canon! We treated that book as god's authority–and we had no idea how it even came into our hands and WHO was responsible for labeling it "the Word of God." The CRUX of our religion–and we were ALL completely clueless about the information on how it was made.HOW is it possible? Shouldn't we have been the ones who knew the facts about the Bible like the back of our own hands?As a Christian, _THAT_ told me just about as much as I needed to know. I'd never heard any sermons on "How we got the Bible canon." I'd never had a class on "How we got the Bible canon." The closest I got was a series by Josh McDowell, who claimed it was inerrantly copied from the original texts, without flaw. And it only took 30 minutes in the University library to debunk that. But it took me YEARS to THINK OF trying to debunk it!That's the power of indoctrination. It's VERY effective.

  28. 28
    arensb

    TracieH:Indoctrination. By teaching a child, from the time it’s an infant, that X is normal, that child will be hard pressed to grow up and decide X is _not_ normal.I’ll just add that it need not be active indoctrination. Rather, I suspect it suffices that everyone in the community accept X as normal. If a child grows up someplace where everyone eats dinner at 6:00, then that’s just The Way the World Is Supposed to Be.I understand that that “everyone believes the things I do” is one of the top reasons Guy Harrison was given for why people believe in the god they do (I haven’t read the book yet; this is what he said in an interview with, I believe, DJ Grothe).I think we’ve seen some of this in recent US elections: if you look at a map of how each electoral district voted, you’ll note that cities tend to be more liberal, and rural areas tend to be more conservative. I suspect that this is because if you live someplace like Manhattan, you can’t avoid meeting gays, Indians, middle-easterners, Jews, artists, Christians who interpret the Bible differently from you, and, well, the whole spectrum of human diversity.Oh, and you reminded me of Laurie Anderson’s The Salesman:“And I used the word Bible in the title of this book because the first really strange stories I remember hearing were Bible stories. And these stories were completely amazing: about parting oceans, and talking snakes. And people really seemed to believe these stories. And I’m talking about adults. Adults, who mainly just did the most mundane things imaginable: mowing their lawns and throwing potluck parties; they all believed in these wild stories. And they would sit around and discuss them in the most matter-of-fact way. So in a way I was introduced to a special local form of surrealism at an early age and so there was always a question in my mind about what’s actually true and what is just another art form.

  29. 29
    Innovative Defense

    Check out my blog about the canon of scripture. I have a link to a page about it on the right hand side.http://innovationapologetics.blogspot.com/I am also researching the topic still.

  30. 30
    arensb

    I wrote:Oh, and you reminded me of Laurie Anderson’s The SalesmanIt strikes me that even though this is primarily a spoken piece, it might be good intro music for one of the shows.I assume that the admins can see my email address, so if you like, send me the name of an iTunes store account, I’ll see if I can make the “Gift” option work so I can give you a copy of the track.

  31. 31
    diegox

    Adrael: I’m from Argentina (South America).Thank you Tracieh, excellent comment you too!!You wrote:”Luckily, as the world becomes smaller (from an information perspective) it will become incrementally more difficult to cloister children away from information.”I agree with you on this, but I think that not only the availability of information will make it easier for people to abandon religion, but the possibility of making contact with other people who can support them in the transition. I think one very important reason for some people not to change their minds about religion, is their fear (conscious or not) of rejection by other members of their community (let’s be frank, converting to atheism doesn’t exactly improve your popularity) Specially taking into account all the dissuasion mechanisms religion has to prevent people from doubting. Doubt is a great sin. The moment a doubt arises, most people will discard it instantly and even feel guilty because of the great sin they have just committed. And in catholicism (by far the most important religion in my country) there is another mechanism for preventing people from doubting: confession (I don’t know if confession or anything similar exists in protestantism). Because doubting is a sin, you must confess it to the priest. So the priest is in excellent position to dissuade this person of the doubts he/she could have at the early stages. I think not many people will have the courage and determination to face all of this alone. I congratulate you for being able to convert. I don’t know if I would have been able to do so much in a highly religious environment. I was born in a loving atheist home (well, my father is an atheist, but my mother is somewhat “spiritual”), however my parents always gave me and my brothers the freedom to choose what we considered best.

  32. 32
    Tommykey

    I think we’ve seen some of this in recent US elections: if you look at a map of how each electoral district voted, you’ll note that cities tend to be more liberal, and rural areas tend to be more conservative. I suspect that this is because if you live someplace like Manhattan, you can’t avoid meeting gays, Indians, middle-easterners, Jews, artists, Christians who interpret the Bible differently from you, and, well, the whole spectrum of human diversity.Arensb, that reminds me of a quote attributed to some Manhattan liberal (whose name escapes me) who couldn’t believe that Nixon won the election for president, because “I don’t know anybody who voted for him.”Having once been a Catholic, I get the impression that a lot of Catholics only go to church because their parents and their grandparents did. To them, it’s just one of those things you’re supposed to do. The Catholic Church maintains its hold on people because so many milestones in their lives are related to the Church, baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, etc.

  33. 33
    rogerdr

    That’s funny, apologist. I’ve never seen “pre-incarnate Christ” in the Bible before, but I’ll let it go. After all, you seem to be writing so much more into it that it’s hardly the Bible anyway.

  34. 34
    Innovative Defense

    rogerdr, If you want more information on “pre-incarnate Christ” I will give you a few links or passages from the page below.Other than that, the Bible says “God the Father” cannot be seen. Since scripture must be harmonized, and we know God the son could be seen, it was the “pre-incarnate Christ.”Entry by Matt Slick (Apologist):”Basically, in those places where God was seen in the Old Testament, it was the person of Jesus; that is, it was the pre-incarnate Word that was seen. It was not the person of the Father that appeared in the OT because Jesus said that no one has ever seen the Father (John 6:46). Yet, God Almighty was seen (Exo. 6:2-3). For the Oneness people, this is a problem since God was in the mode of the Father in the Old Testament and to them, it had to be the Father.John 6:46, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.”Exo. 6:2-3, “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: 3And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”Num. 12:6-8, “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”See also, Exo. 24:9-11; Gen. 17:1; 18:1; 19:24 with Amos 4:10-11; Acts 7:2.God was seen in the Old Testament, but it was not the Father. It was the Son, the pre-incarnate Christ. Therefore, the Son existed at the same time as the Father in the Old Testament.”Hope that helps

  35. 35
    arensb

    Apologist:I see what you did there:1) Assume that the Bible is inerrant and doesn’t contradict itself.2) Post a bunch of Bible verses that don’t support your point.3) Profit!^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Restate your assumption in the form of a conclusion.

  36. 36
    Innovative Defense

    No its quiet accurate. Many verses in the bible tell us God the father can not be seen. The only way he can be seen is in a vision or a dream.Since places like Genesis have God being seen (not through dream or vision), we know from the bible God the Father cannot be seen. We also know God has three persons: God the father, God the son, and the holy spirit. Since the holy spirit can not be seen, we are left with God the son (Jesus). It must have been God in the form of “God the son” in the bible that God is seen, since it cannot be God the father or the holy spirit.We called it the “pre-incarnate Christ” because it was before Christ came down as fully human. It logically makes sense when you go through it logically.

  37. 37
    Stephen

    I find this invented doctrine of a “pre-incarnate Christ” rather amusing. It sort of renders the whole nativity story silly and irrelevant. Worse, it’s self-refuting. Tautologically, the Christ couldn’t have become incarnate for all of those people to see and interact with him before becoming incarnate. Not only is Apologist making up doctrines that aren’t in the Bible and claiming they are (also known as “lying”), he’s making up stuff that’s pretty blatantly self-contradictory, then claiming, “It logically makes sense when you go through it logically.”Indeed it does make sense, Apologist: The Bible contradicts itself, and you’re too illogical to notice.

  38. 38
  39. 39
    skelliot

    I don’t want to sound like a typical web nerd…but seriously…cry more. People disagree with each other over many things. Just because some disagrees with your bat shit crazy beliefs doesn’t mean you have to take it on board (even though you SHOULD).Apologist, what you are saying is “Because no one will believe me and accept my word as true, I’m gonna pack up my balls and leave.”What you need to do is think reality and question your current belief system.Skelliot

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