"To all you
Cliff Walker's discussions with a loving Christian
First of all, for a person who claims to be a critical thinker, you are most uncritical. Your thought is definitely driven by bitterness rather than in coherent or logical thought. You certainly do not know your history. The scientific method for which you so ardently adhere to did not come into creation, at least in the refined manner in which we use it today, until the 18th century. I would say, and I would bet that most 'critical thinkers' would agree, that most 'historical' or 'scientific' documents written before the 18th century would be pre-scientific in thought and content. By modern scientific terms, the works of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler would be considered pre-scientific, not to mention that of Archimedes and Ptolemy. Yet these great thinkers (and I happen to be referring to astronomy in this instance, a great love of mine) are revered and treated with understanding and understood in the light of the times in which they wrote. I willing to bet you do to, yet, you do not allow such for the Bible. Strange. I thought you were a critical thinker.
You write that the Bible is in error on things that are verifiable. What 'errors' that are verifiable? Verifiable by whose standards? The Bible claims to be a theological book, more than a historical book. That Jesus existed there is no doubt. There is not one shred of evidence that you can produce that disproves any of His claims. You simply make that choice. Jesus claims to be the Only Unique Son of God. I choose not to believe.
You talk about internal discrepancies. What a convenient excuse! I am watching very closely the Tim McVeigh trial. There are certainly discrepancies in the testimony of the witnesses. They are very clear. However, all the discrepancies in the world cannot take away the awful fact that a bomb at the Federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, mysterious left leg or not! You can point out the discrepancies of the Bible till you are blue in the face but you cannot disprove the very basic Gospel facts.
You have very strange presuppositions. You are very inconsistent in your logic. I suspect that you have set up arbitrarily the presupposition that there is no God/god and you will go at any lengths to disprove it.
I would like to see you prove one verifiable 'forgery' in the Bible. You cannot do it and let me enlighten you. You don't know anything about ancient authorship. Paul tell us in Romans 16 the name of his emanuensis or secretary. In the ancient times, people hired professional secretaries to write their works or letters for them. Sometimes, as Paul was forced to do because he was in prison, an author would give his secretary a great deal of freedom to compose in his name, depending upon how well he believed his secretary knew his mind. Special circumstances prevailed between teacher and student. If a student of a special teacher composed a work and believed that he had so reflected the mind of his teacher that he could put the name of his teacher to the work, then it was a work of honor to do so. That may be a 'forgery' in our modern terms, but this goes back to what I stated before. The Bible is pre-scientific. It is totally unfair to judge the Bible or any ancient document by our scientific methodology. We cannot judge the Bible or any ancient document by our modern literary standards. It is unfair and the true literary scholars do not do this, nor do I hear true scientists doing this. They understand. They are true critical thinkers. You are not.
Let me give you an example (I can speak to every one of your supposed errors). Let's talk about women in the church. First, there were no churches in the New Testament as we think of church buildings in our day. The church was done in the home. As reflected in the New Testament, the church was an emerging entity that had to wrestle with many social issues, but had to do so in order of importance. The New Testament does not speak to the abolution of slavery, although the implication of that thought certainly are there. The culture of the New Testament was a patriarchal society. In Roman society, a man had absolute say in his home. He could even have his son put to death. He could disown his son completely. However, if he adopted a male as his son, he could NOT disown him. An adopted child could not be disowned. So when Paul called believers in Jesus the Adopted children of God, He was saying that once a person believed in Jesus, they belonged to Him forever. With the church in the home, a conflict arose in certain house churches. The wives in the home were arguing with their husbands, disputing his authority in his home, and in front of the church. In another locality, he forbid them to teach because of the pagan setting in which the churches resided. They sounded too much like the women who spoke at the oracles -- the Sible, I believe is the correct designation. So Paul said to those Christians in that locality that the women were to keep silent, i.e. they were not to argue with their husbands in the home. Furthermore, in a day when women were mere cattle, the New Testament is very enlightened in comparison. Jesus had women followers. He spoke to women in public, a thing a Jewish man was not supposed to do. He spoke to a Samaritan woman, which was a real no-no. He saved a woman caught in adultery from stoning. Paul ordained the woman Phoebe as a deacon and entrusted her with delivery of the Epistle of Romans. Divorce is a simple matter, when we realize that Paul, and the the Gospels, were speaking to Jewish groups which held differing opinions on divorce. There were many different Jewish groups, and many of these Jews became Christian, and carried their background with them into their new faith.
Your ignorance on biblical history and culture, as well as the history and culture of ancient times is appalling.
In my letters so far, I have been attempting to set forth to you my presuppositions. I will continue to do so. I am making my very clear. I don't know if you can.
First of all, for a person who claims to be a critical thinker, you are most uncritical.
That's a first!
(Heh heh heh!)
The Critical Thinker is the name of a magazine which I currently edit, but I did not name the magazine. I also sat out on the vote when I was elected to this position. However, I do not remember calling myself "a critical thinker" in our conversation or anywhere else. Philosophically, I am an Atheist and a Humanist and a Skeptic and a Freethinker. (Perhaps you've been depending too much on that magical "eye of faith" you told me about earlier?)
Your thought is definitely driven by bitterness rather than in coherent or logical thought.
Here comes the personality assessment and the peek into my emotions and motives. Imagine! I can barely keep tabs on my own emotions and motives, but this man, who probably doesn't even know what color my eyes are, knows my motives and emotions.
Why did you resort to name-calling and character assassination? Do you simply lack a reasonable response to some of my questions? (Does this behavior harken from overuse of that magical "eye of faith"?)
You certainly do not know your history.
Unless you're using that magical "eye of faith" again, you don't know what I do or don't know about history. The standard final exam in a first-year history class involves more discussion of history than we've covered in this discussion, but you know for certain that I don't know history -- er, "your history" (whatever that means).
This is what is so sad about holding discussions with people whose outlook is faith-based: they almost inevitably carry their faith into the realm of reality, and make speculations about reality that are no more reliable than their speculations about the ineffable.
The scientific method for which you so ardently adhere to did not come into creation, at least in the refined manner in which we use it today, until the 18th century.
I "ardently adhere" to some "scientific method"? When did I say that?
(Another presupposition from the magical "eye of faith" again?)
Am I to take this as an insult like the previous comments were intended? If so, when did men start practicing medicine using the micro-organism model of disease? pre-or post-eighteenth century? And which is more reliable at killing off an infection: antibiotics or blood-letting? Which is statistically more effective at controlling schizophrenia: thioridazine or chains?
I would say, and I would bet that most 'critical thinkers' would agree, that most 'historical' or 'scientific' documents written before the 18th century would be pre-scientific in thought and content.
You enclose the phrase critical thinkers in quotation marks, indicating a change in meaning from what the phrase normally means; therefore, I cannot comment because I do not know how you intend this remark to be understood by the reader.
By modern scientific terms, the works of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler would be considered pre-scientific, not to mention that of Archimedes and Ptolemy.
However, the bulk of the work by the above-mentioned involved observation and reason. Even Pythagoras (who later was alleged to have been born of a virgin and to have been a god) used reason, rather than faith, to discover and discuss his environment.
To me, the four most important human advances in the past millennium were: 1) the micro-organism model of disease; 2) the return to the heliocentric model of the universe (which pre-dates Jesus, but was later suppressed by his followers in favor of the more Biblical flat-earth model); 3) Thomas Paine's model of democracy in the form of a representative republic; 4) Einstein's model of relativity and the speculations which came out of that school.
In light of this, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by pre-scientific. Science has always been with us, and so has faith. I do not see things as being either pre-or post-scientific as much as I see things as being either faith-or reason-based. It is important to acknowledge both, to be sure, but I think the faith-reason dichotomy has had more impact on human history than has the advance of science. In fact, most scientific advancement has resulted reason has prevailed over faith. (Although I am skeptical of Nikola Tesla's claims about where some of his ideas came from, I do not consider those claims to be a valid reason to suppress Tesla's ideas. Tesla's ideas stand or fall on the same grounds that anyone's ideas are judged.)
Yet these great thinkers (and I happen to be referring to astronomy in this instance, a great love of mine) are revered and treated with understanding and understood in the light of the times in which they wrote. I willing to bet you do to, yet, you do not allow such for the Bible.
The Bible is a document which discusses its own times and was written by men. It is not to be used as the basis for governing my life.
This is my only complaint: they want to use the Bible as The Infallible Guide for my life and our culture. No! No way! Today, these cretins succeeded in making it illegal, in Oregon, for two women to make a life commitment to one another and to thereby receive the spousal benefits and tax advantages which their married heterosexual peers take for granted. Why? Because they read Leviticus 20. 13 and Romans 1. 26-7 but they do not read I Samuel 20. 41 ("until David exceeded"? Wha!?).
It is not I who treats the Bible as something other than the biased and erroneous tract that it is. If the Bible held the same influence on Americans as, say, Homer's Iliad or Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, then I would not waste my time discussing Bible fictions in public. Unfortunately, way too many people tell me that the Bible is the final word on morality and spirituality, and is to be used as a guide for them running my life.
For a seemingly innocuous example, all the U.S. coin and currency that I spent today -- every dollar of it -- carried the unrepresentative and unconstitutional message "IN GOD WE TRUST" on it. Really!? No, not me! I, for one, don't trust that guy! And this is America, not Iran. What a disgrace to the ideas and work of our Founding Fathers!
If large groups of stupid people wanted to teach astronomy that is uniquely
pre-Copernican, and present those ideas as fact in our science classes,
or if they were to resurrect the pre-Pasteur models of medicine in our
hospitals, I would oppose that as well. (I vehemently oppose and expose
the modern addiction treatment industry on my Recovery
I willing to bet you do to, yet, you do not allow such for the Bible. Strange. I thought you were a critical thinker.
Aha! It's that "Straw-Man" again, folks! He's "willing to bet" something about me, and then denounces the "me" which exists only in his mind -- but he does not describe the Me which exists in the time-space continuum.
(Are your thoughts "definitely driven by bitterness"?)
You write that the Bible is in error on things that are verifiable. What 'errors' that are verifiable? Verifiable by whose standards? The Bible claims to be a theological book, more than a historical book. That Jesus existed there is no doubt. There is not one shred of evidence that you can produce that disproves any of His claims. You simply make that choice. Jesus claims to be the Only Unique Son of God. I choose not to believe.
What? Earlier, you said you do believe the claims of Jesus.
As for verifiable errors, they are legion. I gave you a few in my last response.
As for evidence disproving the claims of Jesus, it is on the one making the claim to back it up. Logically, you cannot disprove a negative; we went over that before. I can, however, cast serious doubts that the Jesus of the New Testament fits the Old Testament description of God or Messiah. Historically, I can cast doubts that a Jew named Jesus said and did many of the things described in the New Testament.
I have spent much of this discussion doubting the words of the New Testament, but you keep going back to this "Jesus" character as if you and I are talking about the same fellow. We aren't even close on this. I have no direct experience with any "Jesus"; all I can go on is sketchy, unreliable, inconsistent hearsay. But I do have several copies of the New Testament, and I can experience the New Testament directly.
I am watching very closely the Tim McVeigh trial. There are certainly discrepancies in the testimony of the witnesses.
How did you get a seat at the McVeigh trial?
However, all the discrepancies in the world cannot take away the awful fact that a bomb at the Federal building in Oklahoma City killed 168 people, mysterious left leg or not!
That a bomb destroyed the Murrah Building is not being disputed: the question concerns McVeigh's role in the explosion.
You can point out the discrepancies of the Bible till you are blue in the face but you cannot disprove the very basic Gospel facts.
I cannot disprove any facts. Facts are facts.
However, the Gospels make many claims which are clearly not factual and the Gospels make many other claims which are mutually exclusive. For you to use the phrase "Gospel facts" is to state what you are trying to prove (and is a contradiction of terms). This fallacy is called "Begging the Question."
You have very strange presuppositions.
You keep stating that I make presuppositions. Point out some of the presuppositions I have made, and then describe what makes them strange.
My presuppositions are this: Things exist. Things have characteristics. What's so strange about those as presuppositions?
You are very inconsistent in your logic.
Please map out some examples of my logic and then show me how it is inconsistent.
I suspect that you have set up arbitrarily the presupposition
that there is no God/
You suspect incorrectly about me. (What else is new, Cliff?) I told you that I spent several years trying to prove the accuracy of the Bible and the existence of the Bible's god(s), and could not. There came a moment when I realized that I had better wake up and smell the coffee -- and get on with my life.
I would like to see you prove one verifiable 'forgery' in the Bible. You cannot do it and let me enlighten you. You don't know anything about ancient authorship.
There you go, again, making absolutistic pronouncements about what I do and don't know about the subject of history ("you don't know anything"), yet he doesn't know me or my educational background. He doesn't know how many hours I've spent studying, but pronounces with absolute certainty that I don't know a thing about a certain subject. A word-count of our entire dialogue does not come to 30,000 words -- fewer words than one would find in a medium-sized magazine article -- yet he makes this adamant assessment of my education.
He makes statements about me while clearly lacking knowledge of the facts about me, yet he wants me to agree with him regarding questionable subjects?
You see, folks, this is what can happen when somebody does most of his looking through that "eye of faith" rather than using the reasoning capabilities which are unique to the human mind.
As for forgeries, there are plenty of works by bona fide scholars which make this case much better than I could parrot their ideas here. Most commentaries have a section discussing the historicity of each book, including a discussion speculating on who really wrote the book. If your responses to me are any indication, I can just imagine how you would respond to the claims and deductions of professional scholars. I don't think it would make any difference because you seem already to know the truth.
Their claims make much more sense and seem much more likely than the alternatives:, that during Biblical times such miraculous events occurred as the talking ass, the floating axe head, the sun standing still, the plagues of the golden hemorrhoids and related disasters, a Jew claiming to be God and gaining a popular following in his home country, a "Pharisee of Pharisees" and student of Gamaliel actually forgetting the rules to making a simple qal-va-homer analogy, etc. As a long-forgotten man is alleged to have said during the Dark Ages, "It is easier for me to believe that two men would lie than it is to believe a witch would fly up the chimney on her broom."
Paul tell us in Romans 16 the name of his emanuensis or secretary. In the ancient times, people hired professional secretaries to write their works or letters for them. Sometimes, as Paul was forced to do because he was in prison, an author would give his secretary a great deal of freedom to compose in his name, depending upon how well he believed his secretary knew his mind. Special circumstances prevailed ... [yeah duh, yeah duh, yeah duh...]
I knew that: This is used in demonstrating that Geo. Washington did not compose the piece from which the forged prayer was based. This is used in demonstrating that Abraham Lincoln did not compose the letter written to Mrs. Lydie Bixby. The existence of these documents raise important questions because both contain very religious sentiments allegedly by two men who otherwise expressed no religious sentiments whatsoever.
Is this supposed to prove that Paul didn't write Romans? (Paul probably did write Romans; very few scholars dispute the authenticity of Romans 1-8, Corinthians, and Galatians, but that's beside the point.) Nevertheless, if a clever forger wanted to convince educated and knowledgeable people that his writing was actually that of Paul, he would likely use this motif similar to the way Paul did in those writings agreed to be Paul's.
If a student of a special teacher composed a work and believed that he had so reflected the mind of his teacher that he could put the name of his teacher to the work, then it was a work of honor to do so.
So, then, it's okay that Simon Peter did not compose the work known as the Second Epistle of Peter? We can presuppose that Peter would have been honored that his name was attached to such drivel? Of course, then, we can then dismiss the testimony of the Ebionites out of hand, because it was customary and therefore perfectly okay to do what we, today, call forgery. Never mind that the testimony of the Ebionites is more consistent with other Middle-Eastern writers of the times than are the Epistles penned by the wannabe followers of Simon Peter.
I think not. Even back then, Paul (or somebody) warned, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." And again, Paul (or somebody) expressed the following concerns: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." What's this about "another gospel"? Were people concerned about such things as forgeries and other forms of phoniness back then? It sure looks as if they were.
We don't have the luxury of being able to examine an "original" Paul, like we can with the works of Paine or Twain and Picasso and Warhol. We can only make educated guesses as to the authenticity of any of the works alleged to be Paul's because every word of it is hearsay.
I do know that when I was studying for the ministry, I was completely blown away when I could find no commentary on II Peter which made an adequate argument in favor of Peter being the author, and most commentaries readily admitted that Peter probably did not write it. Not so with many of Paul's alleged works. This discovery punched a big hole in my ability to -- in truth, from the heart of my heart -- continue believing or teaching that the Bible was the Word of God or that it was reliable or useful for finding truth.
It took a full five years to recover from my years of faith (or attempts at faith). A dozen years more have passed since I recovered, and I am now very skeptical regarding the claims of any religion or religious document. I now see that I was trying to force the Bible to be true; I found myself willing to "go at any lengths to prove" it was true (to mock your words). At the time, life as I knew it would unravel if the Bible was not true.
When I decided that I need to be honest and to stop forcing the issue, my life did unravel as I knew it. It wasn't fun. I still regret having had to go through that experience. You can have every material possession and advantage I now have and will ever have if you can find a way to remove those years from my live as if I had never lived them.
This is why I don't walk up to people on the streets and try to change their faith. The experience was positively horrifying for me, and I didn't have a career or a marriage on the line. I had nothing but my dignity riding on the matter. Now I think before I act: What if this guy is a preacher and preaching is the only thing he knows how to do to feed his family? What if that woman is a preacher's wife and would scandalize her family and her husband's career if she saw through The Light? What if faith in Jesus is the motive some poor fellow uses to stay off drugs? And what if faith and religion is the only approach someone knows? how would such a person adjust, later in life, from a faith-based outlook to a reason-based outlook such as the one my atheistic father taught me as a child?
The only times I enter into discussions is when people write me at Critical Thinker or when people are making pompous political pronouncements to public servants. And no one has to read our magazine or watch our television show or log on to our WEB page unless they want to. (On the WEB, we subscribe to RSACi and we have our rating cranked all the way up -- everything but the pictures. No one can blame me for leading any sheep astray.)
I must never have been a Christian because the New Testament teaches people not to sacrifice one's faith for the truth. I sacrificed my faith for the truth.
It is totally unfair to judge the Bible or any ancient document by our scientific methodology.
We don't have to go that far to find fault with the Bible; I never said we did have to go that far.
Be that as it may, the Bible has been judged and found wanting. I'm not the only one who has done this.
Your ignorance on biblical history and culture, as well as the history and culture of ancient times is appalling.
Again: you don't even catch on to the irony of what I say much of the time, yet you make emotionally-charged, absolutistic pronouncements about my level of education -- without even knowing me and without reading enough of my words to fill a Time Magazine article. These behaviors alone are enough to discredit anything else you say about sketchy and debatable topics such as ancient history.
You would have thought God (of all people) could have figured out a way to enlighten these poor, back-woods ancients on such crucial matters as women's dignity or the micro-organism model of disease, but no: he played right along with it the stupidity of the times. Now that the Bible is written in stone in the minds of many Chrisitans, why doesn't God give us a revised revelation to clarify these important matters? Why are we stuck with having to trust this unreliable collection of writings for guidance toward salvation? Is this not a cruel joke, on God's part, at the expense of mankind? No. Men foisted this hoax on thier fellows. Too bad there is no hell where such men go when they're done.
Divorce is a simple matter, when we realize that Paul, and the the Gospels, were speaking to Jewish groups which held differing opinions on divorce. There were many different Jewish groups, and many of these Jews became Christian, and carried their background with them into their new faith.
So, does God allow men to obtain a writ of divorce? or does God say that all divorce is adultery? Or, is divorce permitted for some of us but not for others of us -- based on the background we carry with us into our new faith?
I think this is important to know, considering that the Bible says I will forever be roasting in my own juices as punishment for committing the sin of adultery.
In my letters so far, I have been attempting to set forth to you my presuppositions.
I guess --
Presupposing is better than thinking ...
I am making my very clear. I don't know if you can.
Right. I doubt if I can.
I am two weeks away from setting down and reading word for word all that you have written. I confess that I have been responding to only snatches of what you have written, and at the same time, as I said, laying out clearly my own presuppositions. I read more of your letter to me tonight, and I am wondering. You are presenting yourself as both very intellectual and knowledgeable about the Bible, among other things, and a plain man and ignorant, a lay person. Which are you? I say to you that the Bible speaks on the simplest level and at the same time speaks on a very deep level. The Bible says simply, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only unique Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall never perish, but will have eternal life. The Bible says, For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that is not of yourself but the gift of God, not of your own efforts, so noone can boast. The Bible says, All have sinned and fallen short of what God expects of each of them. Very plain, simple language. Simple words with a simple appeal. To go further, the Bible assumes that a person who wants to go further and deeper will do so with the eyes of faith. Why would they want to go further without believing? It would not make sense. I understand the very basic tenets of Communism and Fascism but I could not read their documents and doctrines with their 'eyes' or their 'faith outlook.' I don't believe the way they do. And I don't want to believe they way they do. If I by chance decided to read their material, I would do so with a very critical mind. This is you when it comes to the Bible. You say you are reasonable, you think you are reasonable, but you reek with hatred and bitterness.
You have been reading the King James Version of the Bible, which is not a good. The New Testament Greek was, for years, believed to be 'Holy Spirit' Greek, a special language, because it was so different from classical Greek (Homer, etc.). But when archeologists found the every stuff of ancient Roman society, personal letters, household records, it was the same language as the NT. That is, the New Testament was written in the language of the everyday person. We do not speak 17th cent. English. We speak 20th cent. English. You need to read a version or translation of the New Testament that is in our English, such as the New American Standard, which, by the way, is based on a scientifically based Greek text. We have so many different English texts of the Bible because the English language is a terrible language to translate any other language with. The Bible is not the problem, the English language is. (If you were really as knowledgeable about the Bible as you say, you would know that there is no such word as 'Jehovah' in the Bible.)
How was Jesus a fraud? He died and He arose. The resurrection is the key to all the claims of Jesus, and all the claims of the New Testament and the Bible. If Jesus arose from the grave, then everything He claimed for Himself and for God is true. Again THE RESURRECTION IS THE KEY TO ALL OF THIS. I cannot prove to you that the resurrection happened. I can state as supporting evidence the fact that many people claimed to have seen Him, some claimed to have touched Him; pragmatic fishermen who had fled and hid, suddenly stepped boldly out and proclaimed His resurrection, not fearing for their lives; the church was born, people's lives were changed. My life was changed. I have sought to love people and help people all my life. I can name thousands of decent, Christian people who do nothing but give love and help to their fellow man. You can try to deny that, but the evidence is there. Sure, the church is a human, flawed institution, and it surely shows how human it is. But it has done a tremendous amount of good to all, and to you. You tell me where our Western law came from, or the Bill of Rights, and see if you can be really honest about it. I agree that there should be no manditory prayer in schools, but I also agree that Christianity -- which is the issue, because other faiths and religions are not being banned in the way Christianity is -- should have as much freedom as atheism or agnosticism in its expression. In the nursing home where I used to work, 90% of the people went to church and sang the old hymns. I like to sing and one day I was singing the old hymns, and many of the old folks were enjoying this, hearing me sing in the halls as I did my work; but one person, one of the 10% who did not want to have anything to do with God, complained, and because of that one person, I was told that I could not sing hymns in the halls. You tell me if that was just and reasonable. Who was deprived? Who lost out of just a little bit of joy in the last days and weeks of their lives? The real sad part was that the person who complained was a worker, a person who spent only 8 hrs a day at the facility. It wasn't her home, just her work. How selfish and heartless.
Now, about the New Testament. It does not claim to be of divine origin. 2 Tim. 3:16 speaks of the OT. The verse you quote from Revelation is based on the habit of the Apocalyptists of adding to each other's works. They were rather free about it (you really don't know your history). The 7 or so writers of the New Testament did not know they were writing Scripture. They were writing letters and epistles to their fellow Christians, seeking to meet some need among them. There were alot of Christians writings produced during the time, and shortly after, the writings of the New Testament. But it was God working in the hearts and lives of His people that narrowed down the 27 books of the New Testament as the inspired word of God. These 27 books are based on 3 criteria: 1) They all agree with the salvation by grace through faith, and not of works; 2) they are all written by an Apostle or a close associate of an Apostle; 3) they are useful to the church. These three criteria were at work in the church consciously and subconsciously. It took over 200 years before the church finally recognized that these 27 books were the inspired word of God and no other books.
The gist of what I am saying is that the New Testament must be 'judged' and interpreted based on its claims and its characteristics: it is an ancient document and it is a theological document. You already have one strike against you when it comes to understanding the New Testament within its historical and cultural context. In New Testament times, there were no atheists.
I will write back soon. I sincerely hope you found your cat. And I hope that you managed to renew your relationship with your fiance. I am proof that the best is yet to be. I was married for 19 years, the last 10 of which were very depressing and bitter. But now I am remarried to a wonderful Christian lady and I can say that I have never been happier. I pray that this would be so for you too. I know what it means to be depressed and lonely, and my heart does go out to you.
I am two weeks away from setting down and reading word for word all that you have written. I confess that I have been responding to only snatches of what you have written
But you sure seem to know, with what appears to be absolute certainty, my level of education. That's quite a stretch for someone who now admits he hasn't read very much of the fewer than 30,000 words which have transpired between us thus far. Do you say this about everyone who disagrees with you on sketchy and uncertain subjects such as ancient history and textual analysis? Is it possible that someone who disagrees with you, who also has advanced degrees in Roman or Hebrew history and who has taught these subjects longer than I have been alive, is it possible that you would say of that person, "Your ignorance on biblical history and culture, as well as the history and culture of ancient times is appalling"? Would you say that of someone who had expressed the same opinions as I have?
I read more of your letter to me tonight, and I am wondering. You are presenting yourself as both very intellectual and knowledgeable about the Bible, among other things, and a plain man and ignorant, a lay person. Which are you?
Must I fit into one or the other of your two possibilities? (I don't like either of your choices, considering that one is described in derogatory terms.) What is preventing me from being much, much more than you think? Could it be that the New Testament trains its followers to think in dualisms? yes and no? black and white? true and false? either-or? saved or lost? educated and ignorant? "fer me er agin me"?
* "Did you eat?"
** "No. Did You?"
I live in a world which is full of "maybes" and which can be seen, properly, from a wide range of perspectives. This does not mean that anything goes. Some things are highly probable, other things are unlikely to the point of absurdity; many things are cut-and-dried.
When I lived in Mission Beach, one of many Bohemian sections in San Diego, the winos and Indians would stand on the electrical transformer holding up a stolen Gideon's and shouting, "The B-I-L-E, That is the book for thee!" While humorous and insightful, the word of a wino is not enough for me. I need more. Thus, I grab as many different views on this crucial subject as I can, use my experience and my education and my intellect, throw in some emotion and some of what Jung called "psychic energy", and go for it, doing the best I can with what I've got. Of course I need to bring emotion into the discussion: I think this stuff might still be a very dangerous threat to our lives and our liberty, as it was during the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages and during the New England Colonial period.
I'm doing this for me. Others may watch if they want, but this it my game; I play it with all I've got -- like it or not. Having done it for so long, now, the local Atheist Center has entrusted me with the task of editing their magazine and representing their causes on the Internet. While this gives me a much stronger motive for doing this and affords me access to more material than I would ordinarily have available to me, I still do this for me.
I say to you that the Bible speaks on the simplest level and at the same time speaks on a very deep level. The Bible says simply, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only unique Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall never perish, but will have eternal life. The Bible says, For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that is not of yourself but the gift of God, not of your own efforts, so noone can boast. The Bible says, All have sinned and fallen short of what God expects of each of them. Very plain, simple language. Simple words with a simple appeal.
And I say that this sounds, on the surface, like so much drivel that I hear from religionists every day, promising eternal life (or whatever) in return for my loyalty to the Mother Organization. It seems so patently absurd that I do not feel sorry for people who fall for it without investigating further. I cannot explain human credulity.
To go further, the Bible assumes that a person who wants to go further and deeper will do so with the eyes of faith. Why would they want to go further without believing? It would not make sense.
Precisely what I said above: the question is, "Is this stuff true?" To investigate further by using the "eye of faith" is to preclude discovering anything but an affirmative answer to that question. In other words, the "eye of faith" presupposes the basics without questioning any further. With very few exceptions, all religious documents want you to suspend critical judgement.
I understand the very basic tenets of Communism and Fascism but I could not read their documents and doctrines with their 'eyes' or their 'faith outlook.' I don't believe the way they do. And I don't want to believe they way they do.
I don't want to believe the way Christians do either; it's a pathetic and untruthful way to live. I have seen through The Light. If what I have is darkness (it isn't) then I prefer it.
If Fascism is patently absurd and amounts to exploitation of the masses, then someone who agrees with it and supports it probably came to that belief without much critical examination. In other words, they examined it through the "eye of faith." Other possibilities are that they confessed to the doctrine at gunpoint, or that they would have been ostracized from their communities if they did not go along, or that they were raised with these ideologies as children and know no other way of seeing reality (it's lot like they cannot learn).
You have been reading the King James Version of the Bible, which is not a good.
I own several versions of the Bible, but usually stick to quoting the King James because I can get the electronic text of the King James for free. Other versions I would need to pay for or type by hand.
Occasionally, I will throw in a verse unique to the King James for fun, or to point out that everyone, including Paul, has relied on inferior translations at one point or another. The classic example in when Paul botched the "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" passage from the Septuagint. I'm sure you've compared this one with the Masoretic, which tells how undignified it is to leave a human cadaver -- made in the image of God -- hanging on a tree. So give the poor sucker a proper burial before sunset. Paul obviously didn't have a Masoretic version available, so he based his entire argument on a mistranslation in the Septuagint. Oops! He also seems to have forgotten some crucial and very basic Pharisaic principles regarding justice: Would God place additional curses on a dead man simply because his executors refused or neglected to give him the dignified burial that is due any human? Would any just god curse someone simply because of the mode of his death? (The Volcano God of the Old Testament might do these things, seeing that he routinely killed thousands of uninvolved people simply because someone, for example, pissed against a wall or barbecued a team of oxen or conducted a census. However, this passage, which Paul the Quisling got completely wrong, reveals a rare, more humane side of Jehovah.)
(If you were really as knowledgeable about the Bible as you say, you would know that there is no such word as 'Jehovah' in the Bible.)
"If this, then that."
You take my musings and my humor, then you make pronouncements about what I do and do not know.
As George Carlin once told a friend of mine: "Such logic! Such Law!"
Using your logic, though, I could make the case that the word Jesus isn't in the Bible either, since the Bible wasn't written in English. If this becomes an issue, though, then where is our means for communication? If you can discredit my entire education for sarcastically using a maligned pronunciation of a name, then we don't have much to talk about. (I doubt you'd recognize comedy or irony if the entire night club audience was laughing directly at you.) You say "toe-may-toe" and I'll say "tuh-mah-tuh" and Terry, being from Kentucky, will always call them "may-ters." After that, then let's call the whole thing off.
The transliteration Jehovah is one of several ways the tetragrammaton has been pronounced in English, and this pronunciation has been around since the early 1500s. This pronunciation is still somewhat popular. I remember reading this pronunciation in more than one translation of the Bible. Like it or not, this pronunciation is not going to go away. There is a major sect of Christianity named after this pronunciation. I will continue to use this pronunciation whenever I can get away with it because it subtly reinforces my point that theistic scholars cannot even agree on the correct pronunciation of God's name. (And where does that leave us ignant laymen?)
If some are correct in saying that we are free to supply our own vowel points (and presumably an exclamation point or two), then "Y-H-W-H" could conceivably become "Yoo-Hoo-Wah-Hoo!" This bray accurately reflects my sentiments regarding Jehovah of the Old Testament.
How was Jesus a fraud? He died and He arose. The resurrection is the key to all the claims of Jesus, and all the claims of the New Testament and the Bible. If Jesus arose from the grave, then everything He claimed for Himself and for God is true.
If Jesus rose from the grave, how is he superior to Elijah, who allegedly never died in the first place? or Melchizedek who allegedly existed but was "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life"?
If Jesus rose from the grave, how is he more qualified than the child who was allegedly revived by Elijah? How is he superior to Samuel, who allegedly came back to rebuke Saul? Why should he attract my attention more spectacularly than the corpse of the son of the Shunammite which touched the bones of the prophet Elisha and was allegedly revived? And where did Moses and Elijah come from in the transfiguration story? What about Jarius' daughter? the widow of Nain's son? Lazarus? Tabitha? Eutychus? The dead saints waltzing around in Mt. 27. 52-3? Where did they come from? The dead. Where did they go? The Bible is silent except in the case of Jesus who, the Bible says, levitated up to the firmament in a pre-scientific fashion.
Since Jesus, being dead, did not raise himself from the dead, why should we give him any credit for this alleged feat?
And why should I pay special attention to Jesus in light of all the other mythological gods and goddesses and their sons and daughters and nephews and pets who, we are told, beat the rap of death? Is the testimony regarding these other mythological gods to be given any less scrutiny than the stories about Jesus?
As Paul allegedly said in I Corinthians 15. 14-5, "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up..." So then, Paul was aware of the possibility that the claim for Jesus' resurrection could be fraudulent. He went so far as to say that if we teach the resurrection as truth, and it did not happen, then we are false witnesses -- frauds.
Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. If he was Messiah, he would have fulfilled the Messianic prophesies and his country would have, at minimum, been restored to its state of autonomy and independence. However, this not only failed to occur during his regime, Jesus was executed by the Romans for his troubles and his country was wiped off the face of the map within a hundred years. His people were then scattered throughout the planet -- a handful of Jews having recently established the nation of Israel notwithstanding.
Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah, and John flatly denied that he was Elijah. If John was the fulfillment of the Elijah prophesy, then why is not the Messianic period now in place as predicted in the Elijah prophesy?
Much of what Jesus is quoted as having said is probably a far cry from anything he actually said -- assuming he even existed. Much of what he allegedly said were not the words of a Jew, unless your knowledge of Judaism comes by studying people like Paul the Imposter and the Jesus of the Gospels. Much of what Jesus is quoted as having said makes no sense unless the world was going to end within the lifetimes of the listeners.
Jesus was not the Messiah; he was anything but the Messiah. His predictions that the world would soon end never came to pass. ("Hey, Jesus! Paul? We're still waiting!")
Finally, Paul abuses the word witnesses when including himself ("we"), because he never knew Jesus while he was alive.
I can state as supporting evidence the fact that many people claimed to have seen Him
Paul says that many claimed to have seen him, but Paul was writing to people who could not corroborate with Paul's so-called witnesses. Enough scholars have made realistic arguments challenging the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Peter, and John, that we cannot hang our hats on that testimony.
My life was changed.
What does this say? My life was changed when I joined the Atheist Center and began to proclaim boldly what I used to keep fearfully and securely locked in my closet.
I have sought to love people and help people all my life. I can name thousands of decent, Christian people who do nothing but give love and help to their fellow man.
That's all fine and well; I can name thousands of decent atheists. But if the resurrection did not occur, then y'all "are found false witnesses of God," as Paul said.
I can also name atheists and Christians who have done despicable things to their fellow-men.
I can also see how it would be in a Christian's best interest to do good before men, so as to bring credibility to the Christian cause. Jesus (allegedly) concurred when he (allegedly) said: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." This before he (allegedly) turned around and said (in the same sermon): "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."
Most atheists I know do good because they think is the right thing to do or because they want to do good things and to help their fellow man. (And no atheist needs to wonder whether to do good in public or in private.) I spend twenty to twenty-five hours per week helping Americans who are oppressed and even jailed for their refusal to believe in the Twelve Step deity. (I am saddened that no Christian has joined me in this effort; this could give our cause much-needed credibility and momentum.) I do this because I think it's right and because I think it needs to be done and because I love my country and because I don't want the history revisionists to get away with calling America a "Christian nation."
Sure, the church is a human, flawed institution, and it surely shows how human it is. But it has done a tremendous amount of good to all, and to you.
At what cost? my freedom? my dignity? my citizenship? the lives of my fathers? the estates of my fathers?
You tell me where our Western law came from, or the Bill of Rights, and see if you can be really honest about it.
Joseph Lewis and several others make a very good case that the Bill of Rights came directly from the mind of one Thomas Paine. Nothing resembling the Bill of Rights emanates from the Bible or from Church history, but the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights contain verbatim the ideas of Thomas Paine and also contain spelling idiosyncracies common in Paine's known writings and rare in those of Jefferson and the others.
Whenever there is any progress, the Church is always the last to come around and stop opposing the change. After that, the Church inevitably gives credit to their god for the very progress the Church initially opposed. Finally, when they can get away with it, the church representatives engage in history revision to make the church appear to have initiated and endorsed the change all along. (Mark my words: The Church will try to do this to Jack Kevorkian when it finally comes around and admits that several Bible heroes fell on their swords to hasten an inevitable and otherwise painful death.) The Church has even been known to reinterpret and retranslate its own "Word of God" to bring His message more in tune with the times. ("Can you say, 'New International Version'? Sure you can!")
I agree that there should be no manditory prayer in schools, but I also agree that Christianity -- which is the issue, because other faiths and religions are not being banned in the way Christianity is -- should have as much freedom as atheism or agnosticism in its expression.
Gimme a break! The other sects dare not even try the stunts which Christianity routinely gets away with in America.
Remember, atheism, agnosticism and skepticism are variations of a lack of faith; do not equate atheism, agnosticism, and skepticism with faith or religious belief. Atheism is the absence of theism, not necessarily the denial of it.
Do not use this stunt in trying to stump for "equal expression" when our Constitution prohibits the establishment of Religion. Anything the government establishes must, by definition, lack religion; it must be secular, or atheistic. This frees our citizens to pursue faith as they see fit, if that is what they want to do, or to not pursue faith, if that is what they want to do.
In the nursing home where I used to work, 90% of the people went to church and sang the old hymns. I like to sing and one day I was singing the old hymns, and many of the old folks were enjoying this, hearing me sing in the halls as I did my work; but one person, one of the 10% who did not want to have anything to do with God, complained, and because of that one person, I was told that I could not sing hymns in the halls. You tell me if that was just and reasonable. Who was deprived? Who lost out of just a little bit of joy in the last days and weeks of their lives? The real sad part was that the person who complained was a worker, a person who spent only 8 hrs a day at the facility. It wasn't her home, just her work. How selfish and heartless.
Why is it so tempting right now to tell you that you sound so stereotypically Christian here?
Was this a private nursing home or was it supported with public funds? If it was supported with public funds, then someone was a captive audience to your evangelizing at my expense. The church got yet another free ride from me. Why is it so important to preach your message, in song, to those who (apparently) already believe?
Most atheists and others, who cringe when we hear those awful hymns against our will, are afraid to object to anything Christian. We know all to well just what will happen if we even say something about it. So, then, how do you know that everyone was telling the truth when they said they liked it? How do you know they weren't simply fearful of the social consequences of publicly objecting to the Church's habit of getting a free ride?
This is why I do not hesitate to write the Transit Company each winter and complain about the religious hymns and carols which are literally blasted, at a very high volume, into the bush shelters. I am a captive audience in that being inside is much preferable to being out in the wind and the snow, but I am also paying for the shelter and its maintenance through my taxes, and therefore supporting yet another evangelism effort -- evangelizing a vastly overheard and under-challenged message that I think is not only false but derogatory and down-right dangerous. (Do you think they'd print my letter to the editor? Not!)
Fortunately, our Constitution protects me from having to hear this at public expense and from having to pay for its propagation. Unfortunately, our public servants and representative decision-makers often work for an "Authority" much "Higher" than the citizens who elected them and the Constitution which they have sworn -- on a Bible, no less -- to uphold while on duty.
Now, about the New Testament. It does not claim to be of divine origin. 2 Tim. 3:16 speaks of the OT. The verse you quote from Revelation is based on the habit of the Apocalyptists of adding to each other's works. They were rather free about it (you really don't know your history). The 7 or so writers of the New Testament did not know they were writing Scripture. They were writing letters and epistles to their fellow Christians, seeking to meet some need among them. There were alot of Christians writings produced during the time, and shortly after, the writings of the New Testament.
Nice try.: Second Peter 3. 15-6 equates Paul's writings with scripture: "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."
What is this business about "other scripture"?
But it was God working in the hearts and lives of His people that narrowed down the 27 books of the New Testament as the inspired word of God. These 27 books are based on 3 criteria: 1) They all agree with the salvation by grace through faith, and not of works; 2) they are all written by an Apostle or a close associate of an Apostle; 3) they are useful to the church. These three criteria were at work in the church consciously and subconsciously. It took over 200 years before the church finally recognized that these 27 books were the inspired word of God and no other books.
In other words, they took a vote. I get it.
(But they still can't agree as to who wrote what.)
You already have one strike against you when it comes to understanding the New Testament within its historical and cultural context. In New Testament times, there were no atheists.
None at all!?
How do you know? Did you take a poll? If so, how do you know they were all telling you the truth?
Since an atheist is simply somebody who lacks a god-
I sincerely hope you found your cat. And I hope that you managed to renew your relationship with your fiance.... I know what it means to be depressed and lonely, and my heart does go out to you.
Thank you for the lovely sentiments. The cat came back and is now an indoor cat until further notice. I endure enough pain right now without having to go through that again -- for a while, anyway.
The Christian woman I grew up with and wanted very much to marry and to grow old with, who spent the past 20 months trying to convince me that I'm the man, appears to have ceased all contact with me. As much effort as I spend pondering and discussing the nature of truth, I've decided I have no business hanging with her.
Whatever it was that I did to hurt her, either back in high school or more recently, I cannot say. I wish I knew. I wish I could tell you I learned something from this, but I didn't even get that much. I will say this, though; she got me back and she got me good. I never invested this much in anything before, certainly not a relationship of this caliber, only to have it suddenly and without explanation withdrawn from me.
I have not been this much of an emotional basket-case since the months after I left the Church.
I am well-acquainted with the Cognitive therapies, and this has prevented the situation from becoming much worse. Although I have reconciled the meaning of this experience and also my response to it, many of my body functions have shut down. I do not sleep much and wander the nights looking at the moon when it bothers to shine.
As for loneliness, I am very accustomed to solitude. I really don't know anything else, and probably never have. As a former student of the Cognitive school of thought, I have a firm grasp of unconditional self-acceptance. This makes it much less painful to be alone, and also shows me that I can be alone in a crowded bar or church and completely alone in the arms of someone I think I love. At least I'm not sitting here feeling lonely and wondering where the love of God could have gone...
Now, I've talked about setting down presuppositions. Let's begin at the beginning. First, the ontological question. What is? What exists? You say, All that exists is what I can apprehend by my five senses. Pretty small world. Ahem. You say that what exists is the knowable world, etc. I say that two things exist and only two things -- the creation and the Creator. You deny the existence of the Creator (and alot of creation, by your own stipulations). If a Creator exists, then is would logically follow (and I know I am speaking in the Christian tradition) that man has a spiritual dimension so that he can have a relationship with his Creator. You deny the spiritual dimension of man. On what basis? Just because you deny your spiritual nature does not mean that man does not have a spiritual dimension. Scientists have estimated that over 70 billion people have existed in the history of humanity. I would be willing to bet that there have existed in the history of humanity less than 1 billion true atheists. I am trying to be fair. I truly believe that there have been less than 100 million true atheists in the history of humanity. The vast majority of humanity has believed or exercised their spiritual dimension, and this puny minority has denied the existence of such a dimension. I wonder who is right and who is wrong. Chew on that for a while. I am very interested to here your explanation.
As that bumper sticker says: "One-hundred trillion flies can't be wrong:..."
(And what did Mom used to say about everybody jumping off a cliff?)
Meanwhile, at one point, Einstein was the only person to understand or see Relativity. What a puny minority he was! (I wonder who was right and who was wrong.)
This fallacy is an "Appeal to Authority" -- in this case, the authority of masses -- as if a popularity poll determines what is and is not true.
Wake up and smell the coffee!
(Do you hear me?)
You seem to be having an argument with yourself; you certainly are not quoting me or accurately representing my views in your attempts to denounce me. You don't even display an accurate understanding of what constitutes atheism, so I cannot respond to your denunciation of your own fantasy. Challenge atheism, the simple lack of a god-belief, and I will respond; challenge something I have said, and I will respond. Do not ask me to respond to or explain falsehoods.
This fallacy is called the "Straw-Man" and I've addressed it several times before.
You also presuppose the existence of God while arguing your case for the existence of God.
This fallacy is called "Begging the Question."
If you are willing to have a real dialogue with me, I would be willing to respond. I cannot respond to your "refutations" unless they are denunciations of, or challenges to, claims I have actually made.
WOW, I didn't realize we were so sensitive. Forgive me for assuming that since I wrote a message to anyone in the Atheism site in the sub-site called Critical Thinker, I might believe that those responding might just be critical thinkers -- not critical in the sense of criticism, but critical in the sense of logical, sequential, rational, objective thinkers who use the scientific process as a way of approaching life.
Name calling? because I called you bitter? Come now. I thought we were made of sterner stuff. Let me list some of the terms you have used in your correspondence: cretins, baloney, spew forth, concoction, perposterous, despicable, fraud, loser, and these are only a few of the terms from one letter. And you are calling me a name-caller?
Wow, I called you bitter and I got a torrent of words. I believe a good psychiatrist would say, 'Well, Cliff, he must have hit a nerve.' Name-calling??? Character assassination??? Just because I said you were bitter??? Bitterness (to me) is simply unresolved anger and/or hatred that has been internalized. I believe a common sense person reading your letters would draw the same conclusion that I have drawn -- this person is bitter, bitter towards God, bitter towards God's people. Of course, the question is Why?
You mentioned 30,000 words, yet literary critics say that one must have at least 50,000 words of an author with which to compare a document suspected of 'forgery' and make accurate judgements. But you declared 2 Peter a 'forgery' in your last letter. Compared to what? To 1 Peter, which certainly has less than 20,000 words in it? Those scholars who declare 2 Peter a forgery have made this same mistake, so you have some illustrious company.
As to these scholars, I've read their books and listened to them speak in person and shook their hands, whether it was such conservative scholars as F. F. Bruce or Bruce Metzger, or 'liberal' scholars such as James Robinson and Elizabeth Fiorenza, with whom I have spoke, and whose works I admire. The definitive work on the historicity of the books of the New Testament is Donald Guthrie's work, New Testament Introduction. I also understand the religious traditions from which they come, and the presuppositions which guide their scholarly thought and their writings. I have disagreed with them and I do disagree with them, and I have good scholarly bases on which to do so.
You say, "Science has always been with us." Please define the term 'science' as you are using it. The point I have been making to you from my first letter on, is that there is no dichotomy between faith and reason. They are dependent upon each other. There is no reason apart from faith. If you are in some sense a normal human being, and I assume you are, there is so much in your life, so much knowledge that you accept simply by faith, that you have not reasoned out, grasped by reason, or observed. You simply accept that stuff by faith. Again, you say you have reasoned out that you have a brain. How can that be? You have never seen your brain (unless you are like my friend who was an epileptic and had open brain surgery and was allowed to see her brain; if you are, I am humble enough to eat crow), you have never felt your brain, you have never heard your brain. You believe you have one and are using it. Faith! If you appeal to the fact that science say you have a brain or that everyone else has a brain, that is a faith assumption. You believe that science is right, or you believe because the majority rules. Same goes for dreams or even thoughts. You assume you think, therefore, you assume you think you are.
Presuppositions are the pillars of any person's thinking, those basic guiding principles that lie at the basis of a person's reasoning. Are you afraid to reveal yours? Apparently so. My belief that Jesus was the Son of God and died on a Roman cross to put to death my sin and the sin of the world is very sound reasoning to me. I look at the world I live in and I know there is something very wrong with it. What is wrong? 4 teenagers kill an elderly couple in cold blood. What is wrong? Men want to marry men, and women women. What is wrong? Bosnia, Zaire, Oklahoma City, lust, greed, murder, hatred, anger, bitterness -- WHAT IS WRONG? Is God doing this? No. Is man doing this? Yes. Why? Because there is something wrong within him. His 'heart' is wrong. God made us to live our lives inside out. So, when the inside is darkness, the outside is darkness. That is what the Bible means by sin. Something other than God is in control of the inner life of man. Only God can change human hearts. He does this by removing the sin and giving life. You resent all of this. And I know why. Because the Bible says the center of sin is the letter I. You want to live your life the way you want to live it, not the way God wants you to live it. So, as long as you continue with this life view, as the Bible says, 'you are dead in your sins.''
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