How many times am I going to here this as a response to Christian posts? As long as they exist?
I want to establish to everyone reading this right now that Christianity and it’s premise is very different from other religions. I will come full circle on this later.
“The definition of religion is a controversial and complicated subject in religious studies with scholars failing to agree on any one definition” -Wikipedia
Oxford Dictionaries defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.
There is a lot of western bias in defining religion. I am in a religion course right now in college and my professor took the first 5 weeks of class to go over what religion really means. A number of scholars have pointed out that the terminology used in the study of religion in the west derives from Judeo-Christian tradition, and that the basic assumptions of religion as an analytical category are all Western in origin.
Daniel Dubuisson, a French anthropologist, argues that the idea of religion has changed a lot over time and that one cannot fully understand its development by relying on consistent use of the term, which “tends to minimize or cancel out the role of history”.
“What the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name ‘religion’ is … something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history.”
George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian says that religion does not refer to belief in God or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to “a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought … it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.”
The scholars of philosophy of religion see the definitions of religion tend to suffer from one of two problems:
they are either too narrow and exclude many belief systems which most agree as religious, or
they are too vague, wide, generic and ambiguous, suggesting that just about any and everything is a religion
Thus given all of this it is pretty much a nothing sandwich to ignorantly make the claim “religion is a tool to divide us”. That is such a vague blanket statement that is being applied to any and all things in the world that involve anything remotely close to what we think of as religion. Extrapolating your “religion” definition outward (requiring generality) will lead you to the conclusion that things you normally wouldn’t consider religion could be thrown under that definition, thus making the statement too vague and unreliable. Minimizing your definition of religion to be more strict will ultimately exclude certain ways of spirituality as presented, leading to the conclusion that you cannot cover all of the religions you wish to demonize.
There is also this idea that is somehow floating around here that just because a religion can be used to divide people, that it’s somehow automatically not true. This is just foolish.
ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF can be a tool.
And guess what? If there really is a group of men that control the world in various ways, THEY ARE GOING TO USE EVERYTHING THEY CAN FOR THEIR PURPOSES. Duh, right?
So let’s just assume for a second that Christianity is 100% true, the Bible is all true. Can the (might I remind you they are proven Luciferian) ritualistic child molesters use the Bible in ways to discredit it?
Yeah… they can…
So let’s just stop right there, there absolutely is no logical connection from
Can be used for evil -> to -> is inherently wrong
That much is fact. You cannot take point A and say because B then C. It just does not work. Now I hope we can agree on that much. You don’t have to concede your atheism based on that, just please recognize how general a statement that is, and stop chucking it around wildly when people of faith make posts here involving religion.
You’re not enlightened, woke, illuminated, or above anyone in any way shape or form by vomiting that phrase. The only thing you can say is that they use the religion for evil, not that it is wrong. You are not taking down their entire belief with such a dumb statement, you are instead making a fool of yourself, demonstrating an ignorance of the truth of how each and every religion is a CASE BY CASE BASIS of truths and lies and working out philosophically, logically, and many other ways whether they hold up or not. I argue that no faith stands up to the scrutiny except Christianity.
But here’s the thing; Christianity, for the purposes of this conversation absolutely cannot be interchangeable with what the world on the surface perceived as “Christianity”
It is for this very reason you will have plenty of Christians that choose not to use the label “Christian”. They go out of their way to separate themselves from the corruption that the world sees as representative of Christianity. The best way I can summarize this, is that “modern Christianity” is not synonymous with the Bible.
Mega churches are preaching the prosperity gospel. I will be the first to say don’t go to them. They ARE AGENTS OF SATAN. Destroy the system from within, I mean why the hell wouldn’t you if you were Satan? You act like things can’t be tampered with and corrupted. And when I say that, don’t start typing about how the Bible is all corrupted. I will demonstrate things to you that you ought to know, atheist or Christian alike. As atheists, you should know the reliability of the Bible is absolutely unparalleled in history.
The Catholic system and church system has resulted in many pedo related things as you know. Again, find where the Bible promotes that? I can give you a verse that utterly condemns it:
Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Now, that being said you CAN say the Bible is not true, separately, which is an entirely new discussion to be had. However you guys have some pretty terrible arguments for why it’s not true.
I have been slandered in the comments and heavily downvoted for things that once pressed on, you guys have no logic or actual substance of argument. Almost no one here has proposed anything substantial in the way of discrediting my ReLiGiOn.
Consider the following statements:
-The Bible says that God helps those who help themselves.
-The books of the New Testament were written centuries after the events they describe.
-Cleanliness is next to godliness is in the Bible. According to the Bible, the earth is flat.
-The earliest New Testament manuscripts go back only to the fourth or fifth centuries A.D.
-The Bible teaches that the earth is the center of the universe.
-The English Bible is a translation of a translation of a translation (etc.) of the original, and fresh errors were introduced in each stage of the process.
How many of these statements do you think are true?
The answer is that all of them are false. Yet these false impressions persist in the minds of many, and misinformation like this produces a skeptical attitude toward the Bible.
How can you be sure that the Bible is the same now as when it was written? “The Bible has been copied and translated so many times! Haven’t you ever played the game where people sit in a circle and pass a sentence from one person to the next until it comes back around in a completely distorted version? If that could happen in a room in just a few minutes, think of all the errors and changes that must have filled the Bible in the centuries since it was first written!”
There are three lines of evidence that support the claim that the biblical documents are reliable: these are the bibliographic test, the internal test, and the external test. The first test examines the biblical manuscripts, the second test deals with the claims made by the biblical authors, and the third test looks to outside confirmation of the biblical content.
I. The Bibliographic Test
A. THE QUANTITY OF MANUSCRIPTS
In the case of the Old Testament, there are a small number of Hebrew manuscripts, because the Jewish scribes ceremonially buried imperfect and worn manuscripts. Many ancient manuscripts were also lost or destroyed during Israel’s turbulent history. Also, the Old Testament text was standardized by the Masoretic Jews by the sixth century A.D., and all manuscripts that deviated from the Masoretic Text were evidently eliminated. But the existing Hebrew manuscripts are supplemented by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint (a third-century B.C. Greek translation of the Old Testament), the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Targums (ancient paraphrases of the Old Testament), as well as the Talmud (teachings and commentaries related to the Hebrew Scriptures).
The quantity of New Testament manuscripts is unparalleled in ancient literature. There are over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, about 8,000 Latin manuscripts, and another 1,000 manuscripts in other languages (Syriac, Coptic, etc.). In addition to this extraordinary number, there are tens of thousands of citations of New Testament passages by the early church fathers. In contrast, the typical number of existing manuscript copies for any of the works of the Greek and Latin authors, such as Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, or Tacitus, ranges from one to 20.
B. THE QUALITY OF MANUSCRIPTS
Because of the great reverence the Jewish scribes held toward the Scriptures, they exercised extreme care in making new copies of the Hebrew Bible. The entire scribal process was specified in meticulous detail to minimize the possibility of even the slightest error. The number of letters, words, and lines were counted, and the middle letters of the Pentateuch and the Old Testament were determined. If a single mistake was discovered, the entire manuscript would be destroyed.
As a result of this extreme care, the quality of the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible surpasses all other ancient manuscripts. The 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls provided a significant check on this, because these Hebrew scrolls antedate the earliest Masoretic Old Testament manuscripts by about 1,000 years. But in spite of this time span, the number of variant readings between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Masoretic Text is quite small, and most of these are variations in spelling and style.
While the quality of the Old Testament manuscripts is excellent, that of the New Testament is very good–considerably better than the manuscript quality of other ancient documents. Because of the thousands of New Testament manuscripts, there are many variant readings, but these variants are actually used by scholars to reconstruct the original readings by determining which variant best explains the others in any given passage. Some of these variant readings crept into the manuscripts because of visual errors in copying or because of auditory errors when a group of scribes copied manuscripts that were read aloud. Other errors resulted from faulty writing, memory, and judgment, and still others from well-meaning scribes who thought they were correcting the text. Nevertheless, only a small number of these differences affect the sense of the passages, and only a fraction of these have any real consequences. Furthermore, no variant readings are significant enough to call into question any of the doctrines of the New Testament. The New Testament can be regarded as 99.5 percent pure, and the correct readings for the remaining 0.5 percent can often be ascertained with a fair degree of probability by the practice of textual criticism.
C. THE TIME SPAN OF MANUSCRIPTS
Apart from some fragments, the earliest Masoretic manuscript of the Old Testament is dated at A.D. 895. This is due to the systematic destruction of worn manuscripts by the Masoretic scribes. However, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls dating from 200 B.C. to A.D. 68 drastically reduced the time span from the writing of the Old Testament books to our earliest copies of them.
The time span of the New Testament manuscripts is exceptional. The manuscripts written on papyrus came from the second and third centuries A.D. The John Rylands Fragment (P52) of the Gospel of John is dated at A.D. 117-38, only a few decades after the Gospel was written. The Bodmer Papyri are dated from A.D. 175-225, and the Chester Beatty Papyri date from about A.D. 250. The time span for most of the New Testament is less than 200 years (and some books are within 100 years) from the date of authorship to the date of our earliest manuscripts. This can be sharply contrasted with the average gap of over 1,000 years between the composition and the earliest copy of the writings of other ancient authors.
To summarize the bibliographic test, the Old and New Testaments enjoy far greater manuscript attestation in terms of quantity, quality, and time span than any other ancient documents.
II. The Internal Test
The second test of the reliability of the biblical documents asks, What claims does the Bible make about itself? This may appear to be circular reasoning. It sounds like we are using the testimony of the Bible to prove that the Bible is true. But we are really examining the truth claims of the various authors of the Bible and allowing them to speak for themselves. (Remember that the Bible is not one book but many books woven together.) This provides significant evidence that must not be ignored.
A number of biblical authors claim that their accounts are primary, not secondary. That is, the bulk of the Bible was written by people who were eyewitnesses of the events they recorded. John wrote in his Gospel, And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe (John 19:35; see 21:24). In his first epistle, John wrote, What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled concerning the Word of life . . . what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also (1 John 1:1, 3). Peter makes the same point abundantly clear: For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16; also see Acts 2:22; 1 Peter 5:1).
The independent eyewitness accounts in the New Testament of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ were written by people who were intimately acquainted with Jesus Christ. Their gospels and epistles reveal their integrity and complete commitment to the truth, and they maintained their testimony even through persecution and martyrdom. All the evidence inside and outside the New Testament runs contrary to the claim made by form criticism that the early church distorted the life and teachings of Christ. Most of the New Testament was written between A.D. 47 and 70, and all of it was complete before the end of the first century. There simply was not enough time for myths about Christ to be created and propagated. And the multitudes of eyewitnesses who were alive when the New Testament books began to be circulated would have challenged blatant historical fabrications about the life of Christ. The Bible places great stress on accurate historical details, and this is especially obvious in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, Luke’s two-part masterpiece (see his prologue in Luke 1:1-4).
III. The External Test
Because the Scriptures continually refer to historical events, they are verifiable; their accuracy can be checked by external evidence. The chronological details in the prologue to Jeremiah (1:1-3) and in Luke 3:1-2 illustrate this. Ezekiel 1:2 allows us to date Ezekiel’s first vision of God to the day (July 31, 592 B.C.).
The historicity of Jesus Christ is well-established by early Roman, Greek, and Jewish sources, and these extrabiblical writings affirm the major details of the New Testament portrait of the Lord. The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus made specific references to John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and James in his Antiquities of the Jews. In this work, Josephus gives us many background details about the Herods, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the high priests like Annas and Caiaphas, and the Roman emperors mentioned in the gospels and Acts.
We find another early secular reference to Jesus in a letter written a little after A.D. 73 by an imprisoned Syrian named Mara Bar-Serapion. This letter to his son compares the deaths of Socrates, Pythagoras, and Christ. Other first- and second-century writers who mention Christ include the Roman historians Cornelius Tacitus (Annals) and Suetonius (Life of Claudius, Lives of the Caesars), the Roman governor Pliny the Younger (Epistles), and the Greek satirist Lucian (On the Death of Peregrine). Jesus is also mentioned a number of times in the Jewish Talmud.
The Old and New Testaments make abundant references to nations, kings, battles, cities, mountains, rivers, buildings, treaties, customs, economics, politics, dates, etc. Because the historical narratives of the Bible are so specific, many of its details are open to archaeological investigation. While we cannot say that archaeology proves the authority of the Bible, it is fair to say that archaeological evidence has provided external confirmation of hundreds of biblical statements. Higher criticism in the 19th century made many damaging claims that would completely overthrow the integrity of the Bible, but the explosion of archaeological knowledge in the 20th century reversed almost all of these claims. Noted archaeologists such as William F. Albright, Nelson Glueck, and G. Ernest Wright developed a great respect for the historical accuracy of the Scriptures as a result of their work.
Out of the multitude of archaeological discoveries related to the Bible, consider a few examples to illustrate the remarkable external substantiation of biblical claims. Excavations at Nuzi (1925-41), Mari (discovered in 1933), and Alalakh (1937-39; 1946-49) provide helpful background information that fits well with the Genesis stories of the patriarchal period. The Nuzi tablets and Mari letters illustrate the patriarchal customs in great detail, and the Ras Shamra tablets discovered in ancient Ugarit in Syria shed much light on Hebrew prose and poetry and Canaanite culture. The Ebla tablets discovered recently in northern Syria also affirm the antiquity and accuracy of the Book of Genesis.
Some scholars once claimed that the Mosaic Law could not have been written by Moses, because writing was largely unknown at that time and because the law code of the Pentateuch was too sophisticated for that period. But the codified Laws of Hammurabi (ca. 1700 B.C.), the Lipit-Ishtar code (ca. 1860 B.C.), the Laws of Eshnunna (ca. 1950 B.C.), and the even earlier Ur-Nammu code have refuted these claims.
Quotes from Former Atheists:
Jim Wallace, former cold-case homicide detective, assistant professor of apologetics (Biola University), once vocal atheist:
“If skeptics were willing to give the Gospels the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ they are willing to give other ancient documents, the Gospels would easily pass the test of authorship”
Frank Tippler, mathematical physicist, cosmologist, joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University:
“When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics”
Alister McGrath, theologian, scientist, Anglican priest:
“Atheism, I began to realize, rested on a less-than-satisfactory evidential basis. The arguments that had once seemed bold, decisive, and conclusive increasingly turned out to be circular, tentative, and uncertain.”
“Christianity offers a worldview that leads to the generation of moral values and ideals that are able to give moral meaning and dignity to our existence”
Rick Oliver, member of American Federation of Herpetoculturalists, California Science Teachers Association, and New York Academy of Science:
“I remember how frustrated I became when, as a young atheist, I examined specimens under the microscope. I would often walk away and try to convince myself that I was not seeing examples of extraordinary design, but merely the product of some random, unexplained mutations”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008), Russian writer, winner of 1970 Nobel Prize in literature. Reveals life under the the state atheism and communism of the Soviet Union:
“Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened”
Antony Flew (1923-2010), once leading atheist philosopher, part of analytic and evidentialist schools of thought. Strong advocate of atheism, criticizer of the idea of life after death, free will defense to the problem of evil, and the concept of God. 2003 signer of the Humanist Manifesto. Converted to deism in 2004, held to an Aristotelian notion of God:
”It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”
“I now believe there is a God…I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”
“…we have all the evidence we need in our immediate experience and that only a deliberate refusal to “look” is responsible for atheism of any variety.”
Francis Collins, geneticist respected for discoveries of disease genes and leadership of the Human Genome Project. Director of the National Institutes of Health. Author of numerous books on science, medicine, and spirituality:
“I believe God did intend, in giving us intelligence, to give us the opportunity to investigate and appreciate the wonders of His creation. He is not threatened by our scientific adventures.”
“The God of the Bible is also the God of the genome. He can be worshipped in the cathedral or in the laboratory. His creation is majestic, awesome, intricate and beautiful – and it cannot be at war with itself. Only we imperfect humans can start such battles. And only we can end them.”
Peter Hitchens, well-known English journalist, author, and brother of anti-theist Christopher Hitchens:
“I thought this gesture [burning his Bible] was a way of showing that I had finally rejected all the things that I had been brought up to believe, and I went on to behave for the next 20 years of my life exactly as if I didn’t believe in him [God], and that’s how I discovered in the end that what I had rejected was right.”
“The current intellectual assault on God in Europe and North America is in fact a specific attack on Christianity – the faith that stubbornly persists in the morality, laws, and government of the major Western countries. . . .The God they fight is the Christian God, because he is their own God. . . .God is the leftists’ chief rival. Christian belief, by subjecting all men to divine authority and by asserting in the words ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ that the ideal society does not exist in this life, is the most coherent and potent obstacle to secular utopianism. . . . the Bible angers and frustrates those who believe that the pursuit of a perfect society justifies the quest for absolute power.”
“…when it comes to the millions of small and tedious good deeds that are needed for a society to function with charity, honesty, and kindness, a shortage of believing Christians will lead to that society’s decay.”
Philip Vander Elst, freelance writer and lecturer of over 30 years in politics and journalism. Works for Areopagus Ministries:
“So, confronted by all these facts and arguments – philosophical, scientific, and historical – I surrendered my sword of unbelief to God, and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life during the hot, dry summer of 1976. In the years that have followed, I have never regretted that decision, despite many ups and downs and trials of my faith.”
Craig Keener, leading scholar, professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, expert in Christian Origins:
“I thought that atheism was “smart.” When my grandmother argued for a first cause, I replied by postulating an infinite regression of causes (my arrogance left me unaware that my response violated modern physics!) Yet unknown to me, my father’s mother, sister, and the sister’s family were praying for our family. When I was 13, reading Plato raised for me the question of life after death, but Plato’s answers did not seem adequate. I began to realize that only an infinite Being could guarantee the hope of eternal life. Yet if such a Being existed, there seemed no reason why that Being would care about me, even if that Being were perfectly loving enough to give life to some. I was incurably selfish and undeserving of a loving Being’s attention; it seemed to me that if I pretended to love, it was only for the self-serving purpose of getting that Being’s attention. Yet shortly before I turned 15, I began to secretly cry out, “God, if You are there—please show me.”
What do so, so many testimonies have in common?
Reaching a place of humility and calling out to God to reveal himself. Now if you do this with a hardened heart, for example praying for God to reveal himself to you with the expectation that nothing will happen, then you can go prove Christians wrong, you won’t be met with God’s love likely. You must come from a place of humility. As if to say “god I don’t know if you’re real or not. I don’t know what to think about all of the conflicting things I’m feeling but I’m going to just throw myself upon you and put my trust in you, pleas reveal yourself to me” or a variation thereof, but ultimately keeping Jesus in the equation, since biblically Jesus is God.
A refusal to open your heart will result in you being atheist your whole life. You may open your heart to humans, to plants, to their animals, to spirits and principalities, but you will harden your heart when it comes to God.
Pray for Jesus to reveal himself to you with all your heart. Put your trust in him and you WILL be saved.
Stop equating all religions, and wrapping them up in a blanket of generalized conspiracy statements that are also true about many other things.
Stop acting like Christianity is similar to other religions, it’s really not. In all other major religions the focus is on man and his works, what he does with his life and how he is, “the way”, etc etc. Christianity stands out in that it is not about woman reaching up to Gods standard, it is recognizing that that is impossible, (place of humility in comparison to God) and that he is the only way for you to be saved, Jesus.
The minute you put your faith in him you are SEALED with the Holy Spirit, one of the persons of the triune Godhead. The Holy Spirit then begins to work in you to try and conform you to the image of Christ. This is sanctification, and never ends as long as we are alive. When we die, that is glorification, when we are finally departed from our flesh nature part of our being, and receive glorified bodies, the same as what Jesus appeared to his disciples in after he rose from the dead. We could probably fly, walk through walls, and more.
The Holy Spirit will never leave you, you cannot be separated from Gods love. Becoming a Christian means you put your faith in him and align your will with his. You choose to be part of Gods family, then he adopts you into it, and will never leave you. You may leave him, but God is always right there for when you come back to him.
God will not “straighten out” those who are not his children. Atheists, you choose not to be in Gods family so God will not spiritually guide you and conform you to be better. Part of a Christian “walk” is that you encounter things that purposely are meant to strengthen you in your relationship with God. That could include many hardships. God doesn’t promise us the world, because we are in this world but not of it. Our minds are set on the things above, not on the treasures of the earth, which are transient, and will ultimately be destroyed or corrupted. Build up your treasures in heaven, where thieves do not come to steal, where the air doesn’t corrupt it, where only peace and love in Jesus exists. Pure joy in Christ. God gives us small glimpses of that joy on earth if you’re a Christian. I’ve felt them. But it’s nothing compared to what is next.
Take the leap of faith, or don’t, it’s up to you. But don’t sit here slandering us for trying to follow Christ, someone we should all be able to agree was a fantastic model of excellence in human life.
The “Gospel” is not to be a good person. That comes with love for Jesus and what he did for us. This is the gospel:
1 Corinthians 15 1 ¶ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 ¶ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: