Friday, June 6, 2008

Debunking christianity


In this post I would like to promote another blog which I have just been reading. It is called Debunking Christianity (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/) and it seems to be high quality posts. Here is the authors (there are several different contributors) own description of their blog:

"This Blog has been created for the purpose of debunking Evangelical Christianity. We are ex-Christians, ex-ministers, and even ex-apologists for the Christian faith. We are now freethinkers, skeptics, agnostics, and atheists. With the diversity of our combined strengths we seek to debunk Christianity."

The reason I stumpled upon this blog was that I was investigating the birth date of Jesus Christ. In a lecture I listened to recently I heard that historical records indeed confirms that there was a census in Bethlelem. However, the census was not in year 0, but in 8BC, and it was only for Romans. And I thought that Jesus was born in year 0?

Apparently this is not the only problematic detail concerning the birth of Jesus, I qoute again from debunking christianity. The authors deserves alot of credit for the fact that they have extensive references to other texts, including the bible.

"Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, if Luke is taken literally, according to E. P. Sanders [The Historical Figure of Jesus (Penguin Press, 1993, pp. 84-91)]. What husband would take a nine-month pregnant woman on such a trek from Nazareth at that time when only heads of households were obligated to register for a census when the census would’ve been stretched out over a period of weeks or even months? But if he did, why did he not take better precautions for the birth? Why not take Mary to her relative Elizabeth’s home just a few miles away from Bethlehem for the birth of her baby? According to Luke’s own genealogy (3:23-38) David had lived 42 generations earlier. Why should everyone have had to register for a census in the town of one of his ancestors forty-two generations earlier? There would be millions of ancestors by that time, and the whole empire would have been uprooted. Why 42 generations and not 35, or 16? If it was just required of the lineage of King David to register for the census, what was Augustus thinking when he ordered it? He had a King, Herod. “Under no circumstances could the reason for Joseph’s journey be, as Luke says, that he was ‘of the house and lineage of David,’ because that was of no interest to the Romans in this context.” [Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Putting Away Childish Things, (p.10)]. The fact is, even if there was a worldwide Roman census that included Galilee at this specific time, there is evidence that Census takers taxed people based upon the land they owned, so they traveled to where people lived."

27 comments:

Dan said...

Don't forget the counter for that website called Debunking Atheists

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you for the comment Dan, and showing me, and my readers, this webpage.

Anonymous said...

Ja, det är många frågetecken
Josefs träd (den stammen i norra Israel om Mose lag är rätt).
Egypten och tog intryck och fick lära sig en del (som andra invandrarungdomar också får).
Rätt stort bluff som människa/Aliens.
Kunde religion och en del vetenskap (ritade i sanden tex inför steningen av kvinnan - som Pytagoras mm)

Jag tror det är en Aliens helt enkelt (han är inte odödlig)

Många bluffar som har följt i detta = ulf ekman tex (jfr åkte till usa och sen hus för 6,6 milj när tidningen dagen skrev protester från medlemmarna och då stiftelsereglerna etc = står ju att om man lämnar allt och följer evangeliet). Det har ju inte denne bluff gjort (inte lärt ut rätt kanske 50% - jag dåligt insatt men absorberat tillräckligt).
Skulle inte leva en sek till

Buridan said...

Re: the Debunking Atheists website.

The premise of such a website seems a little silly to me. How exactly do you debunk an atheist? It's analogous to creating a website dedicated to debunking a group of people who don't believe in three-horned, purple, polka-dotted, flying elephants that live on Neptune.

Dan, if the above confuses you, try reading a little Bertrand Russell. I would suggest the following article by Russell in which he lays out his famous "Russell's Teapot" analogy. It's a good start…

http://www.cfpf.org.uk/articles/religion/br/br_god.html

Great site by the way Anders!

Dan +†+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan +†+ said...

Sorry about that I thought that comment was from debunking Christianity, my mistake.

Buridan,

Remember I am debunking atheists (not atheism) all the time at my blog with great difficulty at times and sometimes with ease and most of the time we all have great fun doing so.

One salient weakness that atheists is the problem with the meaning of life. According to our (Christians) worldview, life has objective meaning (God grants the universe meaning and value). We are made in "His Image". We fulfill our destinies by rightly responding to God's overtures, which he has made in nature, conscience, and Scripture. Every step in history is moving towards it's providential fulfillment of justice and peace.

Atheist or even broader of atheism offers no such framework for meaning. All meaning is absolutely subjective. Meaning of life must be given by individual accounts. You only have well-cultivated subjective experiences. To atheists humans are not valuable in themselves because of anything objectively significant in them, but by attributing value to them subjectively. If this is so, there is nothing in this philosophy to stop other subjects, (such as racists), from projecting evil qualities on the invisible people. Atheism rips apart the ancient covenant between subjective feeling and objective factuality.

For fun:

You just have been debunked,

Insert Ace Ventura

buridan said...

Dan,

I see you're new at this game. As I suggested, a good starting place for you is Russell's essay "Is There a God?"

Best of luck to ya.

Dan +†+ said...

"I do not find that on the average those who had religious beliefs were happier than those who had not."

True, but pointless observation. Salvation has nothing to do with happiness. I posted about that exact subject already HERE.

"According to the physicists, energy will be gradually more evenly distributed and as it becomes more evenly distributed it will become more useless."

This is the point I was making, as in the meaning and purpose of life.

"Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny."

BTW that is called Free Will, a gift from God.

I still stand by my previous response.

Bart said...

Free will and Christianity are mutually exclusive. If a God is omnipotent, and omniscient, then he knows the entirety of time.

If, at the moment of creation, he knew the date and method of the destruction of creation (revelations) then he knew every action you were going to make. Since he created you, and knew what you were going to do, then you have no free will, you are merely filling the prescribed role your life plays in his creation.

If free will truly exists, then prophesy is impossible. What if Mary chose to have an abortion? What if the anti Christ decides to be a nice guy? What if Judah decided not to turn on Jesus? What if Pilot decided to release Jesus?

If prophecy is true, there is no Free will. If there is free will, prophecy is impossible.

Dan +†+ said...

Predestination vs. Free Will - Is It One or the Other?

Why not both "I believe that God directs history. However, I do not believe that He micro-manages history. In other words, I think God places people in history so that His will is accomplished. This includes putting His followers, in addition to those who oppose Him, at strategic points in history. The Bible encourages us to use our free will to choose good over evil."

buridan said...

You're misunderstanding Dan's point. The problem is god's omniscience. If god is all-knowing (infallible foreknowledge), then freewill is impossible. The argument runs like this:

If all your future acts are known by an omniscient being whose knowledge of such acts is infallible, there's nothing you can do to prevent those future acts from happening. If it was possible for you to prevent those future acts from happening, i.e., by choosing to act differently from that which the omniscient being already knows, the omniscient being's foreknowledge of your future acts is in fact fallible because its present knowledge of your actions would be false.

buridan said...

That should have been - "You're misunderstanding Bart's point."

Sorry

Bart said...

Heh buridan, when I read your first post I was a wee bit confused.

Free will vs determinism is a real sticky point for theists. Dan wants us to believe that god doesn't micro manage people, but he has set a complex plan in motion that involves thousands upon thousands of tiny steps to fall in place for the plan to work out.

My question to dan at this point would be, these 'people in history' that god has placed, they don't have free will? Only the dregs and unimportant pawns in the great game have the greatest gift of Free Will, but important figures in history have their life scripted?

What an odd, arbitrary schizophrenic god you have.

Dan +†+ said...

That should have been - "You're misunderstanding Bart's point."

Aww, I thought someone was in agreement with me.


Yes he uses evil people and saints to do 'His Will'. Jesus indicated that He chose the apostles for God's work and that it was not their own choice, true.

"The Bible indicates that God does use evil people to accomplish His purposes. Paul indicates in the book of Romans that evil Pharaoh was "raised up" to demonstrate God's power. Paul goes on to say that God chose Jacob over his brother Esau, and that He chooses to have mercy on some people over others.

There are many verses that specifically state that people have free will to execute their own choices. (Deuteronomy 30:19,Joshua 24:15)

It is obvious that the Bible teaches both concepts."[Godandscience.org]

You have free will always, in the event that God needs you to fulfill some event in history he will strategically place you there. He just doesn't micro manage every aspect or decision of your life.

Bart said...

Ah, so your saying that your god is not omniscient or omnipotent. How could he be? He doesn't know your actions until you do them. Why worship a being with such limitations? What other limits do you place on him?

Dan +†+ said...

Bart,

"Ah, so your saying that your god is not omniscient or omnipotent."

You have totally lost me now. How do you derive that from what I said?

God honors the free will until he needs to nudge things to His Will

Clear?

Bart said...

Its quite simple Dan.

If a god knows everything, then everything is predetermined. If everything is predetermined, there is no free will.

Ill give an easy example.

Does your god know what im going eat for breakfast tomorrow?

If he does know, then I only have the illusion of free will. The choice was made for my meal on the first day of creation.

If he does not know, then he is not all knowing. If he is not all knowing, he is not all powerful. Therefore he is not a god.

rasmussenanders said...

Thank you all for an interesting discussion.

I agree with buridan and bart in their claim that it is contradictory to believe in God's omniscience and free will at the same time.

If you say that he only manages macro-history is to claim that macro history is not a result of micro-events or micro-history. There are an infinite number of examples to show that these cannot be dissociated.

I do not believe in free will, but for different reasons...

Bart said...

Anders! I'm sorry for my rudeness! I was going to check up on Debunking Christianity, and found your site by happenstance. I read a few of your articles and plan on coming back to read more.

When I saw Dans comments, I felt compelled to respond to them. Most arguments about Christianity end up with very long, windy arguments. While I enjoy a complicated argument, I've always felt that the very foundation of these arguments is false (such as the free will contradiction) and the best way to argue them is to just stick to pointing out the simple fallacys that cause the whole card house to fall.

I read in another post, that you are a brain researcher. I'll look through your writings for posts on free will. Its something I've been struggling with for the past year. I read the study where it was shown that decisions are made for the conscious mind by the subconscious. Consciousness is just a thin veneer that covers the whole of the brains process'. This is where I struggle. I understand how chemicals can effect the way the brain works, and how everyday experience can change how the subconscious guides the conscious brain. Are these chemicals me? Is the subconscious me? Consciousness is mostly controlled by the subconscious, but I'm not a mindless automation, choices I make have real consequences on me and my environment. How can this not be free will?

Dan +†+ said...

Bart,

"If a god knows everything, then everything is predetermined."

Just because God stands outside of space/time doesn't mean he is controlling every single move. He has even changed His mind based on something someone does or says.(Exodus 32:14,Judges 2:18)

What would the purpose of prayer?

I can't explain it any simpler then I already have.

Bart said...

Easy dan, there is no purpose to prayer. Its been shown clearly that it has no effect on the real world.

I just want to hear it clearly from you. Does your god know everything, or does he not know everything. It very nearly sounded like you just admitted that your god doesn't know everything, but I don't want to put words in your mouth.

As for explaining, you haven't explained anything. You've been giving contradictory statements.

Dan +†+ said...

"Does your god know everything"

YES! All knowing and all powerful

Does that mean he is pulling your strings to tell you to eat corn flakes instead of fruit loops? I don't believe so.

buridan said...

Dan,

It's difficult to tell whether you are intentionally missing the point here to skirt the dilemma or simply failing to understand it.

It's about FOREKNOWLEDGE (infallible omniscience) not god's providential hand in the affairs of human beings. Whether or not god is the great puppet master in the sky is completely irrelevant. It's not necessary for god to be the author of every or any human action for such actions to be determined or predetermined. The fact that any being, godlike or otherwise, could be infallibly omniscient precludes freewill.

Your insistence on repeating the varying degrees of god's control in human affairs is entirely beside the point.

Dan +†+ said...

Buridan,

"Your insistence on repeating the varying degrees of god's control in human affairs is entirely beside the point."

How so? The subject is about free will correct? Just because God has read the ending of the book doesn't mean the book doesn't exist or won't play out. If I were to watch you walking into the street, but I am too far to warn you of the truck coming, just because I can foresee the event that will play out doesn't mean the truck won't hit you. You are making absolutely no sense to me. Now, if you feel you should simplify it for me then do so because you lost me.

How do you equate foresight with the non existence of free will?

buridan said...

"You are making absolutely no sense to me."

That much we agree upon. You've also answered my question. I really should know better...

David Pratt said...

Just because God knows something is going to happen, i.e. you'll eat corn flakes tomorrow, doesn't mean He has caused it to happen. God has intervened providentially in human affairs but foreknowledge doesn't equal causation.

Dan +†+ said...

Well said Mr. Pratt, Amen.