23 December 2006

Ivan, Are You Okay?

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 5:42 am

Ivan’s comments mysteriously disappeared from a Jesus Creed post about Richard Dawkins. Ivan, if you’re still out there, what happened to you?


  1. My little atheitistic self is alive and well. Unfortunately the blog isn’t accepting my posts. Doublebad .


    Comment by Ivan — 23 December 2006 @ 5:57 am

  2. My post was going to be:

    I think Hitler was a Catholic.
    Never said Atheists were angels.
    I said it was “my” preference.
    Simply, Atheists have not run up the “highest” body counts. The high body counts are always, always connect with a religious idea,zeal or blessing.
    I have not have a “double standard” ,
    Genocidal maniacs? always human nature and sometimes some godly influence.
    Oh my friend, don’t think if Atheism can offer even something as remote as that its worth a shot? Might work a trifle than praying don’t you think?
    You put your trust into sky fairies.. its your business of course. I’ll put my trust in the substantive.


    Comment by Ivan — 23 December 2006 @ 5:57 am

  3. Thanks Ivan. I’ll go back to Jesus Creed and tell them what’s become of you. I won’t put your comment up over there, but I’ll let people know that your comment can be found here.


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 December 2006 @ 6:03 am

  4. Thanks Ktismatics. I am happy to make postings on my personal views if anyone is interested in hearing them. If not, its no biggie. I have plenty to do here. I suspect few people here would be happy to speak to an atheist . I may or may not have been “blocked” kind of Gallelio style. : ) If I can post tomorrow I might do, but if the general populace would prefer I didn’t its really fine. Thanks though for asking!
    and a merry Christmas to you all!


    Comment by Ivan — 23 December 2006 @ 6:14 am

  5. Looks like this got resolved. Here’s the email I got from Scot McKnight: “Well, I’m the only one who can ‘purge’ anyone and I haven’t done a thing.” So presumably his spam filter algorithm is retroactive to all comments identified as having come from a “spammer.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 December 2006 @ 8:01 am

  6. Appears to still not be accepting my posts. will try again a little later.

    This was my answer to the last very long post. (Just in case it doesn’t make it through the electronic mazFor the life of me, I can’t remember the source regarding Hitler’s beliefs. But I do remember the belief was that he was Catholic.I am sure I can find the reference if its important? Let me know.
    Point 2: I agree. Human history is bloody.
    Point 3. I think, or “understand, the religious body count is pretty high. Compared with those of atheist beliefs.
    as with point 2 lets just say its bloody?
    Point 4: double standard? Don’t have a clue what your on about, sorry.
    Point 5: Godly influence. I love semantic arguments. I don’t know what your on about again.
    Point 6: Atheism worth a shot? you say nay I say yes. We might never really know.
    Point 7: Reality vs. Substance or God verses substance, A subject I am bent on examining. Your answer is one of an academic. Your an academic aren’t you ? I appreciate you have faith in God and Jesus. I am sure your a very bright man who wants only good for the world. You probably have deep and good family values and wants what’s best for your children. Pretty much like me, Only I don’t think a sky fairy is going to save us at the end of the day. I think people will, and I have “faith” that science combined with good people will give us our best long term chance at survival. Yes, science gave us the atom bomb but also life’s best chance at continuation with quality. I wish you all the best in the continuation of your faith in a God.e!


    Comment by Ivan — 23 December 2006 @ 9:57 am

  7. Thanks Ktismatics for picking up on Ivan’s sudden tho temporary disappearance. Ivan, if you are still there, (or here) I’ve replied (convoluted and knotty unstring theory required!) at jesuscreed and am very happy to see the conversation has proceeded! it’s great to get a different perspective! Please do keep expressing yr views…


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 December 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  8. Merry Christmas!!!!


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 December 2006 @ 9:14 pm

  9. Hi Sam,

    I think I am an atheist beyond a shadow of doubt. I described myself as agnostic right up until about 11 years of age. The big thing I learnt this year, and I am not very educated, was how big the ultimate questions are. I didn’t really conceptualise the limits that science has to operate in. I don’t been testable methods etc, but the limits placed on observable horizons etc. Religious people will insert a God into this unknown abyss but for me, and its purely an uneducated mans “Gut” feeling, I don’t think we could and will find the ultimate answers, I just don’t think if we could it will be a thing such as the Christian God. In fact I would bet my eternal life, it won’t be any kind of “thing” such as could be imagined by religion.

    Hi Marc, I would certainly not call you a liar sir. But would you be ok explaining to me what happened? If this is not to personal a subject?

    Hi Van Skaamper, I hope you don’t mind if I do a separate reply to you? I just got in and you typed what looks like a lot to my very tired old eyes. If I get knocked back as spam I might have to reply a bit later.

    Best regards


    I am very sorry to post here again. On the original web site, for whatever reason, the dang message refuses to post. I am sorry. If this is annoying in any way don’t hesitate to let me know.



    Comment by Ivan — 24 December 2006 @ 9:45 am

  10. Dear Van Skaamper,

    Your first paragraph I don’t see eye to eye with you. I realise there were various regimes that were atheist and were totalitarian but this doesn’t mean that a world that evolves to atheistic thinking would by necessity be “evil”. We would need to give it a go now wouldn’t we? You would have heard before the old saying “For Good people to commit evil you need religion”. This I believe is fundamentally true. I don’t know why it happens but its been my lifetime experience that it does. I don’t agree at all that Nietzsche is my “prophet”. I rather fancy Debotten myself.
    I think our sense of “good” is irrespective of a belief in sky fairies. I don’t know enough about human psychology to explain myself well, I am a rather uneducated little human, but I believe its like that certain types of behaviour have a positive outcome for the group at large. I don’t see it as ‘subjective to modern civilized people. I don’t see your “creator” as imbuing any kind of subjective values. In fact the biblical “creator” is very evil don’t you think? You have read the first testament?
    Science may not be able to provide “peace” though I think I could argue it does, (all the same) it gives us quality of life. It gives us food to eat, clean water to drink and medicines that will double your possible lifespan say compared to middle ages times. People have generally been at there most miserable physically, in times when religions dominate and at there best at times science dominates. Van Skaamper, do you really,truly, want to go back to pre-scientific times? It gives us technology of a very great value my friend. Yes, but having wise decisions probably has not got any worse either. And when is the last time you saw an atheist fly a plane into a building? If you get my point? I think I can discern the world through your eyes, may Christians have this Jesus the apocalyptic prophet kind of view of the world. I tend to see it getting better myself. (for the most part)

    I wish you well sir in your beliefs in the occult. I hope your invisible friend helps you through life and that he makes your path through the world a little easier to tread. I’ll just go with science and my faith in humanity.

    Have a wonderful Christmas.


    Comment by Ivan — 24 December 2006 @ 10:19 am

  11. Greetings, Ivan,

    You seem to still be in denial. ;^) Any criticisms you level at believers in God can also be aimed at atheistis, as the last century amply demonstrates.

    My contention is that it doesn’t matter whether the world is dominated by people who believe in God, or people who don’t…because it’s human nature that’s the problem, not a belief system…and I think that any honest assessment of human history affirms this.

    Second, your claim that just because atheists have gone off the rails and run murderous genocidal regimes doesn’t NECESSARILY mean that an atheistic world would be evil could be just as easily turned around and said of a world run by theists (who, as we both agree, have their own genocidal baggage). You can’t can’t hold one group (or, set of groups, rather) accountable for its history and not another…unless you have a double standard. ;^)

    ““For Good people to commit evil you need religion”. This I believe is fundamentally true.”

    I think this is fundamentally bigotted, and again it displays your double-standard.

    Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot all committed evil (I would hope we agree on that). Since they were atheists, religion (by your definition) wasn’t to blame. Should we conclude then that atheists are inherently evil? They don’t need belief in God to be evil, so what then was the cause?

    The most plausible explanation for history is that all human beings have the capacity for evil, irrepsective of whether they deify a supernatural being, nature, a state, a political system, or Britney Spears (God help us all if the latter group takes over).

    “I think our sense of “good” is irrespective of a belief in sky fairies.”

    I happen agree with you. But that wasn’t my point. I agree that everyone has an innate sense of right and wrong, and, for the record, I think that’s a reason to believe in a Creator (as per C.S. Lewis).

    My point, however, was that without that Creator as the locus of an objective morality, your sense of good is only your own…mine is mine, and Stalin’s is Stalin’s…and they’re all equally valid. If Stalin thinks it’s better for his group to kill your group, you really have no means to argue with him about it. Your sense of good, the value that you ascribe to “a positive outcome for the group at large” is subjective, not objective. Stalin’s value of himself and his power at the expense of you and your group is equally subjective, and equally valid. Bang, you’re dead, and there’s no objective right or wrong about it.

    My point, Ivan, is that while I agree with and affirm your desire for world peace, global harmony, etc., atheism provides no means to objectively affirm and advocate such a morality. The reason why Neitzche is your prophet is that he saw this clearly, and the will to power (i.e., might makes right) is what will determine what’s valuable in a world without God, nothing else, no matter how we try to package or rationalize it.

    This, I believe, is what history tells us about atheistic regimes.

    Also, I think that if you re-read my statements about science, you’ll see I’m not saying it’s bad or that I would like to live without it…you must have misunderstood me.

    I was saying that science is a methodology, not morality. Science does not ascribe value, it measures and explains data. Science can be used by free moral agents for good or for evil (again, as history shows us). Science doesn’t bring peace or technology. Science is a means for human beings to deliver those things. Science is also means for human beings to deliver pain, suffering, torture, death, and despair.

    “And when is the last time you saw an atheist fly a plane into a building? If you get my point?”

    No, I don’t get your point. My point, Ivan, is that history is full of mass murderers, murderers, liars, embezzelers, tyrants, despots, and bad pop singers, both atheist and non, and the use of an aircraft isn’t a relevant distinction (again your double-standard).

    I don’t see any evidence for your faith in science as a deliverer (science needs corruptable humans to make it deliver anything), or in humanity (because all of human history denies it). I would say that it is you who is believing in imaginary and invisible things.

    My Sky Fairy gives objective status to our desire for ‘good’, for group survival, for the desire to aleviate suffering through technology and compassion. Your atheism cannot do this. My Sky Fairy was visible on earth, and continues to be visible to those who seek Him.

    Whether or not a global apocalypse awaits us, only time will tell. I think that as long as human beings are running the place, the odds are good, your misplace optimism notwithstanding.

    Best of luck to you, Ivan, treading your path. I’ll tread mine, and hopefully we’ll meet someday and share a drink or two, and more conversation.

    Merry Christmas!


    Comment by VanSkaamper — 24 December 2006 @ 8:34 pm

  12. Dear VanSkaamper,

    I am most certainly not in “denial”. I just have my own views based upon my own reasoning and life experiences. Of course non theist or theist based cultures can all either work out better or worse, my inkling is that the Atheist version would give humanity its best hope. Now we are going to see this eventually, as you would be aware of the falling away of Church attendances and the results of various world census. Christianity will die out. This is just the way the world of moving.
    No double standard really, Van, just we have some good history of religious people going nuts. We know that happens. But lets not get bogged down by evil vrs evil. We can’t change history can we?
    Atheists inherently evil? Now your just lost for an argument aren’t you sir? Nearly every Nobel prize winner is an Atheist. They don’t give Nobel’s for Evil? If they did Dr.No would have had one. Atheists on the whole, and these days many are in the science field, work hard to the betterment of the human condition. Yes you get your Mao’s but these in numbers make up what half of thousand percent??
    If the latter group takes over, you won’t need the help of an invisible friend. : ) Britney Spears? (I might even start attending church).
    Van, Thank you for such a detailed, well reasoned and clearly very educated reply. I disagree with you on almost every single point. I don’t for a second believe that human minds follow such clearly defined paths regardless of sky fairies or just a belief in humanity. What is the most fascinating for me, is how such an obviously smart person as yourself, and clearly your highly intelligent, can believe so strongly, so starkly, so completely in such an unsubstantiated thing as a Sky ghost or invisible friend.
    Van, we have wars now about whose invisible friend is the biggest? The insanity of religion drives decent men to achieve great evil. History is replete with the murderous terrorism of the Inquisitions, The slaughter of the Mayans, The industrial slaughter of Jews. etc etc. All in the name of one God or another. I see that science has provided the world with a new enlightment a new quality a new hope that only comes from abundant food and energy. We argue on here because you have a protein full stomach, a warm room and a computer to type. All the benefits of living in a scientific age. I don’t want to go all star trekky on you, but eventually, if world religions were to be phased out, my suspicion is humanity may have a fighting chance of losing barbarism to its history. We might even live for the day, we might even smile more and live that little bit better knowing that the eternal rewards are right here not some enthral notion of afterlife. We just disagree.


    Its Christmas day here and I have to see some family.
    a Merry Christmas to yours!


    Comment by Ivan — 25 December 2006 @ 1:20 am

  13. Marc,

    Its not about “changing each others minds” at least not for me. I can’t make somebody disbelieve a strongly and emotionally held belief anymore than Dawkins can. But I like seeing into other minds, and how they come to grips with things of an enthral nature. I don’t know if you have ever read Shermers work on why people believe weird things? My beliefs and assumptions of life the universe and personal hygiene probably appear nutty at best. Your beliefs appear, to me to be ‘interesting” I’d would like to hear more about how you rationalise it all, and especially, your personal interactions with your God. only IF its not to personal? It would be my hope, that we would all get to understand one another better. Maybe make a small on line friendship? who knows!

    Best regards


    Just tell me to get lost if you find my questions annoying in the slightest.


    Comment by Ivan — 25 December 2006 @ 1:32 am

  14. Ivan,

    I’m not annoyed in the least, just been busy with Christmas stuff.

    I’d link you the long story of my encounter with God, but Livejournal seems to be on the fritz right now. Therefore, let me give you the Reader’s Digest. (grin)

    I’m in church on a Wednesday night. I’m struggling with some issues, primarily trying to figure out what God’s doing and why He’s not coming through in regards to some financial issues. Meanwhile, I’ve got a throbbing pain going from my armpit down to the small of my back…and it’s annoying.

    The music is wrapping up and I basically challenge God silently: If He’s really interested in what’s going on, I want him to have the Pastor call me up (with no doubt that it’s ME) and for me to be healed.

    Now, let me set some context…

    1. This is the part of the service between the music and the official welcome. It’s not often that the sequence is interrupted.

    2. There are close to 500 people in the church this night. I’m in the back left area of the church. I am NOT rubbing my back or moaning about it and I have not shared with ANYONE else that I’m in pain. And as I said, I was silent while talking to God.

    3. The pastor has, in the past, recieved words of knowledge about specific needs. And he’ll often call up people by very specific symptoms…not “your head is hurting” or “you’re feeling ill” or things that apply to most rooms full of people.

    Less then one minute after I issue my challenge, the pastor grabs the mike and says that he needs to be obedient to God’s leaning. He says “there is someone here tonight, with a pain running from his right armpit down to the small of his back. God wants to heal you.”

    I had no choice but to go forward…and was the only one.

    He prayed for me and as his hand touched my side, there was a blazing warmth and the pain just vanished.

    Now…I’m NOT someone who does that kind of thing. I’ve not been healed by prayer before. It was pretty much one of the wildest things that has ever happened to me.

    So…if you believe my account, you have to ask:

    How did the pastor know about my situation? Like I said, I hadn’t talked to anyone. I’ve not been going there for long and he doesn’t know me.

    One could argue that I somehow willed the pain gone myself…but that still doesn’t explain the immediate answer to my divine challenge.

    That’s my most recent encounter with God. And again, I’ve been an atheist myself and I’ve had doubts since my walk began. But I can’t deny what I’ve seen in my life and the lives of others.

    Believe me, there are times it would be much easier to junk it all…but I can’t do that and stay intellectually honest with myself.


    Comment by Marc — 25 December 2006 @ 2:36 am

  15. Ivan,

    Merry Christmas! I hope my “ontology” quip in Scot’s blog was seen as jest (which was the intention) and not a jibe.

    I have a question for you though: You have several times referred to the concept of “evil” and good vs bad. My question is: how do you determine what evil is? Or what good or bad is? Before you answer quickly, let me just say that Van Skaamper is also trying to get you to see this. Let’s say, for arguments sake, that you get your wish and not only does the world become completely atheistic, but (miracle of miracles) it turns out that everyone stops murdering each other and the world is a better place. Why is this a good thing? Don’t get me wrong, I also think it would be a good thing if all hate and murder ceased to exist. But how do you know that such a thing is a “good” thing to happen, and not a bad thing? Since there is no objective, transcendant standard to judge this new world by, perhaps such a thing might be seen as “evil” by some, and they would argue such. Who would be right and how would you tell? And how would this be anything better than just “Ivan’s opinion”?


    Comment by Phil — 25 December 2006 @ 6:35 am

  16. Hello Ivan,

    “I am most certainly not in “denial.”

    Are you sure? ;^)

    You seem unable to accept the fact that atheists are capable of great evil, just like anyone else, and are, therefore, just as hopeless.

    You blamed religion for turning good people into murderers, but won’t explain what happened to Mao (read a bit about his personal life, BTW…he was an extremely twisted fellow), Stalin (ditto) and Pol Pot. They were all mass murderers, all of them, I believe, responsible for the deaths of 10’s of millions. (I heard Mao alone scored at 70 to 80 million).

    “my inkling is that the Atheist version would give humanity its best hope.”

    IMHO, you have yet to argue effectively to support this inkling. Atheism seems to produce very bad people, just like every other view. Why is that?

    “Now we are going to see this eventually, as you would be aware of the falling away of Church attendances and the results of various world census. Christianity will die out. This is just the way the world of moving.”

    We agree on this…except Christianity won’t die out. If the demographic trends hold, however, Christians won’t be your big problem, it will be Muslims. And, if Sharia is imposed wherever you live, my guess is you’ll probably miss the Christians.

    Western culture is based on the moral foundations of Christianity, flawed as its followers have been. Pluralism, and the value of the individual, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are codified in the US as being granted by God, not by men. In an atheistic world, one’s rights, and the value of ones very life depends entirely on other men, nothing more.

    You are right about the West abandoning this heritage. You see it as a positive, I see it as a negative…and so do many of my atheist friends who, though they don’t believe in God, understand that they’ve reaped the benefits of Christian culture (again, flawed though it may be…it’s still better than the other alternatives we’ve seen).

    My prediction is that the further away the West drifts from its Christian roots, the more decadent the culture will become, the more self-destructive we will be. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Islam is hoping to fill that vacuum, and atheists will be in the same boat as Christians and Jews if Islam succeeds in imposing its will on us.

    “We can’t change history can we?”

    No, Ivan, we can’t…but we can look at it objectively, which I don’t think you are doing. You seem unable to accept the implications of the fact that Mao and Stalin killed untold millions as doctrinaire atheists. And you can’t change that. You also don’t seem willing to come to grips with how that could have happened.

    The answer, as I’ve suggested, is that human beings are corrupt, whether they are persons of faith, or persons without it.

    What’s your explanation?

    “Atheists inherently evil? Now your just lost for an argument aren’t you sir?”

    No, I’m afraid you missed my sarcasm, Ivan. I was trying to solicit an answer from you. It was your glib and bigoted claim that it takes religion to make good people do evil things. You said you believed that to be true. Fair enough…it seems reasonable then to ask you to grapple with the fact (the ones we can’t change), that great evil has been perpetrated by men not under the influence of religion. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to ask you how this could be. Given the equation GOOD + RELIGION = EVIL, I’m asking you to also solve GOOD + NO RELIGION = EVIL.

    It seems to me it ought to trouble you just a bit that perfectly good atheists can kill tens of millions of their own people…if, in fact, they’re really ‘good.’

    The reality is that when you kill God, something else gets deified in His place. People, ideas, whatever.

    “Nearly every Nobel prize winner is an Atheist.”

    I believe many have been atheists, but I think you’re overreaching here, Ivan.

    “They don’t give Nobel’s for Evil?”

    Actually, they do. Yassir Arafat won a Peace Prize, and I haven’t taken the Nobel prizes seriously since that time.

    “Atheists on the whole, and these days many are in the science field, work hard to the betterment of the human condition.”

    The latest tally is that the ‘hard’ scientific community is pretty evenly split between theists, atheists, and agnostics. And there’s no doubt that most of them (of all three types, incidentally) work to improve the human condition. So do many other Christians, as a matter of fact. They’ve been the world leaders in charitable work in third world countries. In fact the Christian cultures are still the most charitable on earth. So both sides have some good things to which they can point, yes?

    “Yes you get your Mao’s but these in numbers make up what half of thousand percent??”

    I’m not sure what percentage of atheists yearn to be genocidal dictators. I’m also not sure about how many theists do either.

    One thing I can tell you, however, is that the capacity for evil exits in every human being, irrespective of their metaphysical views. I think that theists can rationalize evil by telling themselves that it’s what God wants (our friends in the jet planes, for example). I think that atheists can rationalize evil, because, in that view, good and evil are subjective. I don’t need God’s approval, I can make my own rules…because I have power.

    “If the latter group takes over, you won’t need the help of an invisible friend.”

    It’s a lovely dream, Ivan. I hope that waking up won’t be too unpleasant.

    “Van, Thank you for such a detailed, well reasoned and clearly very educated reply. I disagree with you on almost every single point.”

    Thanks…you’re welcome…and though you say you disagree, I’m still waiting for a substantive reply. I’m interested to you not only explain how evil comes to be perpetrated by atheists, and I’m also interested in hearing how you, as an atheist, define evil.

    You affirm a lot of good things that you have in mind for humanity (things on which we’d see eye to eye), but I don’t think that you have any way to justify those values that isn’t purely subjective and relative. A tyrant able to define good and evil on the basis of political expediency, who can be capricious because he alone is the final authority in a Godless universe–that person scares me as much as Ahmadinejad. One believes himself to taking orders from God, the other is simply acting like God himself. And when the bombs go off, the rifles are fired, and the heads lopped off, the end results are the same.

    “What is the most fascinating for me, is how such an obviously smart person as yourself, and clearly your highly intelligent, can believe so strongly, so starkly, so completely in such an unsubstantiated thing as a Sky ghost or invisible friend.”

    Thanks for the compliment…I guess…

    Perhaps you need to learn a little more about what I believe and why…if for no other reason than to understand why smart people believe such foolish things.

    I believe that God is a necessary being, that He’s the necessary ground for all thought and being, as well as morality; I believe that there’s ample historical evidence that He dropped in on earth, was killed and rose from the dead. Intelligent people both agree and disagree with me on this. More importantly, I’ve also experienced Him. It’s personal, it’s subjective, but it is real. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. ;^)

    The more you live life, the more you’ll see that intelligence doesn’t lead to uniformity of opinion…neither does it necessarily lead to a moral life, or anything else you and I would agree is ‘good.’ For example, did you know that the people who worked for Hitler in the concentration camps were more intelligent and educated than the average German? Strange, don’t you think? Why would you think that was? As for me, I think it’s for the same reason that Mao was Mao, Stalin was Stalin, and every other criminal has ever come into being.

    “Van, we have wars now about whose invisible friend is the biggest? The insanity of religion drives decent men to achieve great evil.”

    Almost…but again you ignore the wars and genocides perpetrated by atheists…again you leave that evil unexplained and unaccounted for (again the double standard. ;)

    How would you label the genocide of 90% of the Christians in the Soviet Union? In this case the issue wasn’t whose invisible friend is bigger, but only the very fact that you claimed to have an invisible friend. In this case it was atheists killing religious people. And it’s been repeated over and over in atheistic regimes. I appreciate that you seem to take comfort in idea of the *natural death* of Christianity, but can’t you see the hypocrisy in condemning the killing of theists by theists, but not that of atheists killing believers?

    It’s the insanity of human nature, not religion, that does this, Ivan. It explains why religion is perverted into a rationale for genocide, but it also explains why atheists do exactly the same thing.

    “I see that science has provided the world with a new enlightment a new quality a new hope that only comes from abundant food and energy.”

    You also seem to ignore the role that theists have played in the development of science, the establishment of democracies, the enablement of economic freedom, etc.

    You also continue personifying or anthropomorphizing science. Science is not a sentient being. Science can and has been used for good and evil in the hands of human beings. In fact the same guy who invented napalm also made ground breaking, life saving medical discoveries. Science is no panacea. It’s a force for good or evil depending on who is using it. Science cannot save us.

    “We just disagree.”

    Yes we do. But, good disagreements can be stimulating. Thanks for the discussion.

    Rest easy, Ivan.


    Comment by VanSkaamper — 25 December 2006 @ 9:32 am

  17. Looks like this rather idiosyncratic discussion may have run its course. It has resulted in the most pageviews to my blog ever. I hope you all have a happy Christmas, and perhaps we’ll cross paths again.


    Comment by ktismatics — 25 December 2006 @ 4:40 pm

  18. Ivan, I’m going to stop posting replies to you at the other site. Hop you do stick around here so we cam keep conversing. Today’s a bit on the busy side so if you’ll excuse me I’ll give you a reply tomorrow.

    enjoy your Christmans.



    Comment by samlcarr — 25 December 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  19. Oh thanks Sam, I just couldn’t seem to get the post to stick on the other site and Ktismatics, thank you for allowing me to post on your site. Your tomorrow will be your Christmas day, so don’t go turning your pc on. I am off for a week or two so should have some time to post.

    Merry Christmas to you all again!


    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 12:50 am

  20. Dear Van Skaamper,

    I don’t believe I am in “denial” at least my perception is that I am not. I am pretty sure ! : ) And I didn’t really mean to say Atheists can’t commit great evil. Trying to express my idea a bit better for you.. You know the incidents where you mentioned Atheist societies or countries that were murderous? The way I seem to see it, there were other factors also in play, for instance most were very uneducated closed of societies. If you could imagine a modern Atheistic Western style society that still is “open” and democratic, I don’t think the atheistic quality of that society would push it “off some moral ledge” I think and I emphasise I “think” it might have a better chance at peaceful outcomes than a similarly religious based one. We have lots of modern and ancient examples of God centred civilizations and to me, they all seem to lead to a violent path. Take the US and a very Christian Bush with Iraq as an example? (maybe a really bad one)
    VanSkaamper, I will take your advice and read up on Mao and the others (and I will do this) I can’t give you good replies on these people until I self educate myself a bit more. The quote I mentioned, was “for good people to do evil” it wasn’t meaning murder, but rather things of an evil nature. You and I both know this is unfortunately true. History is full of incidences.
    No VanSkaamper, “Atheism does not produce bad people” Humanity produces “bad People” of which a small proportion will end up atheists. Some of the greatest practical good the world see’s is a product of good atheist people, some not so good stuff also. Atheists from my experience, and I can only tell you from my personal experience, are on the whole rational and dedicated to finding ways of making humanity better. For me personally, I do a lot of charity stuff, others belong to organizations that do good works, and you got the “higher end” that also get the Nobel’s (mostly nearly always Atheists) who help mankind on a humungous scale. They do this not for the “eternal reward” of the Christian, but because they just simply want to do what is “good” in there subjective world.
    Yes I would miss the Christians, I don’t hate them or even dislike them Van, And I certainly would not want Sharia law. And I do agree with your point of this being a worry. But I don’t think Christians are going away any time soon. I have my own personal beliefs as to why and what might mark its decline.
    You don’t live really in a pluralistic society Van. (Do you mind me referring to you as Van? I was trying to find a way of being a bit more personal, but tell me if it offends? ) And Happiness is not a guarantee, I think though, the “pursuit” is if I understand your constitution? (and I might not.) God can’t guarantee this in any way,shape or form only people can. You mislead yourself sir.
    You could be right on Islam Van, but again, its only a gut feeling, I don’t think this will happen. Though I acknowledge it could, its possible. I have found through life, when one is open to believing the improbable, there usually isn’t a limit on what people are prepared to invest faith in. (Just a personal observation)
    Mao and Stalin did kill millions I agree with you Van. But religious based or influenced wars total 848 million people. Millions verses 848 million? Which group do you want your family to be in?
    Good + Religion “can” = Evil. Doesn’t “have to” it just “can” sometimes. Good + atheism = good outcomes for the “most” part Van, for the “most part” as does the former, I do totally acknowledge both can and do lead to evil on all kinds of scales.
    No Van, Scientists are split between Atheist and agnostics for the almost majority. There are Christian scientists I concur, but mostly, no.
    Christian cultures have to be the most Charitable on earth Van, they have a moral imperative when the very religious institutions don’t pay Tax. People like me on the other hand, pay Tax, a great deal, which a portion goes to “good works” and a big portion of my take home gets spent again on “good works”. In effect the atheist pays twice! I think Churches lose bragging rights in comparison. Just my view though sir.
    Van Skaamper, you are indeed a highly intelligent and well seasoned thinker on matters of God. I mean this in absolute sincerity. I have been not able to get computer time to do more than share thoughts and I would need a lot more time to give you replies worthy of the depth of your thinking. I hope I can, I will reply to the second half of your “reply” , sir, can you type!!
    I just have to think about it some more. Thank you for your replies I really do appreciate what your saying to me for a very uneducated man such as myself, your providing me with much in the way as food for thought. Its probably your Christmas day, I hope its an enjoyable one spent with family.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 1:41 am

  21. Dear Van Skaamper,

    I think the Biblical version of the Jesus story to be extremely improbable. I do believe Jesus may have existed, but I am of the belief that most of the legend of his life, is just that legend. I see Jesus as closer to a Ghandi type figure. Incidentally and off the point, I have to superhero models on my desk, Jesus is one and Einstein the other. I think highly of both. I just don’t confuse either one as “supernatural” ; ) I think there no and I mean zilch, “historical” evidence Jesus dropped in on earth.
    Van, what was your personal experience with Jesus? You mentioned but didn’t elaborate? Would you be willing to share or is this to personal a subject? I am very interested in the personal experience.
    I didn’t know that about Germans. The being more intelligent? Where did you hear this Van? I agree with you 100% when you say the insanity of human nature. (I’m trying to read up on this at the moment its of great interest to me) I agree also with most you have to say last paragraph and yes, I am a great Anthromorphic man.. I get carried away.

    Best regards Van



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 1:53 am

  22. You said: Perhaps you need to learn a little more about what I believe and why…if for no other reason than to understand why smart people believe such foolish things.

    I say: I am really interested in understanding you Van. I also don’t characterise your beliefs as “foolish” I just find the Christian religion odd to my way of seeing the world. I certainly do not think your a fool.
    The book I referred to was why people believe strange things, and it wasn’t honing in on religion. It covered my thinking as in as much as others. My “beliefs” in the world are as weird as anything probably to your goodself. I just wanted to make that point.


    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 2:11 am

  23. Defining Evil: evil is best represented in the human situation in the form of unprovoked hatred against and coupled with an aggressive impulse to cause harm to another person or group. Such hatred can be aroused from within the individual or group through jealousy, wrong teachings or due to unexplained extra-personal forces.

    Van this would probably be how I would describe Evil. Or words to this effect.

    Why Atheists commit Evil: There is probably such a myriad of reasons from mental illness to who knows what ! I don’t think I can give you an absolute reply of quality.

    As for you asking for a “substantial” reply, stay with me, My kids computer is down and we are sharing rather unfairly at the moment : ) I will try and provide you with better in the next week.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 2:18 am

  24. I think I am an atheist beyond a shadow of doubt. … The big thing I learnt this year, … was how big the ultimate questions are. … Religious people will insert a God into this unknown abyss but for me, … I don’t think we could and will find the ultimate answers, … if we could it will be a thing such as the Christian God. … it won’t be any kind of “thing” such as could be imagined by religion.

    The ultimate questions are big – very big! But my belief is not that God fits somewhere in the parts that we have yet to figure out but that everything is the way it is because God made it so. it is because you doubt that we will ever know that I felt that you may be more of an agnostic than an atheist.

    The fact that the universe appears to be rational to our tiny little brains itself is quite amazing to me. Although there is no telling, scientifically, whether it will continue to seem rational and if so or for how long! Science is just a tool, one of many, that help us to keep tabs on our environment and hopefully ameliorate some of the worse things that nature throws at us.

    As someone who uses a bit of science, to me it is the very structure, symmetry and asymmetry, the wonder of each little or big thing that always amazes. Whether I am looking at something alive like tiny diatoms to a bit bigger like a tardigrade, to small plants, a moss,or a fern, the wonder is intense! From tiny life to huge life the wonder is the same! Inanimately, when I go the other way, starting from the microscopic structure of rocks and heading out into what we can see of the universe, I am even more confounded. There was a recent false color composite at JPL from Orion that really looked like the work of a surrealist painter. I think all scientists, from the lowliest 2nd year student to the grizzled veteran of multiple publications, feel and wonder.

    Before experiencing God’s call, this was just one of those things that i tried to take for granted. Science may be a helpful tool that works out at a micro level but becomes increasinly erratic thereafter. But after realising that God is real, I know that science is not just one of those temporary tools. I have confidence that as we keep exploring we will find out how everything hangs together precisely because I believe that God has created it and continues to sustain it.

    For me it is very much of a backward integration.

    Incidentally, your understanding of evil (in the last response to Van Skaamper), “Defining Evil: evil is best represented in the human situation in the form of unprovoked hatred against and coupled with an aggressive impulse to cause harm to another person or group is a bit inadequate. You mention elsewhere that your heroes are Jesus and Einstein. I personally found that i did not know how much evil I had in me until I was forced to see myself in the light of Jesus. By embodying goodness and justice, Jesus made me realise that the evil that I recognised as such was only the final outworking of stuff that lurks within me.

    Since you are interested in personal stories, briefly, mine was that I was brought up in a Christian home but had no belief at all. In fact what stood out for me was the huge gap between theory and practice.

    Then one day i was quite casually reading the gospel of John and really getting into the story told there of the man born blind that is followed by Jesus talking about how he is the light of the world. I realised that here was a man for whom there was no contradiction between what he said about being love and what he did. There has been no looking back. That realisation made me immerse myself in this man.

    What would God look like? I don’t know. But Jesus is His Son.

    This has nothing to do with religion per se. Religion asks questions about ultimate things and asks us to search our experience for answers. Science is a very poor tool to use for this though eventually there has to be convergence, for if God exists then everything has indeed been made by God and science will also eventually have to so conclude if it is honest.
    Truth is something that is scoffed at in postmodern thinking, but if there is truth then science too must be a part of that.

    I entirely agree with your final point. God can not be imagined by us in any way. In fact that is why I can be so confident that He is not a figment of my imagination. If God exists, the only way to know is if God Himself communicates with us. That is precisely what i believe has happened in Jesus.


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 December 2006 @ 8:23 am

  25. I just read this string of comments: very interesting, well-reasoned, to the point, responsive, and civil. Perhaps this was as good a place as any to scroll out such an intense engagement. Carry on as long as you like.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 December 2006 @ 9:31 am

  26. Sam,

    Thank you for a wonderful answer. I did visit your web site earlier and I think I can imagine where you come from. Your story of faith reminds me much of an old friend of mine Peter, Thank you for sharing it with me.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 9:34 am

  27. Ktismatics,

    Thank you for allowing me to express a point of view on your web site,



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 9:36 am

  28. Ivan –

    My pleasure. My point of view isn’t that far from yours anyhow, except I’m more pessimistic. This was probably a pretty good place to have this kind of intense discussion with 2 or 3 other people. Jesus Creed is geared for quick comments made by a lot of people with only loose associations among the comments. Sometimes it’s a good idea to “take it outside.”

    John Doyle (author of comment #8 on the Jesus Creed post)


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 December 2006 @ 9:57 am

  29. Sam and Ktismatics and Van,

    I certainly know my limitations. I might have said before, I am not “highly educated” and certainly have little in the way of tertiary education. Its a long story but my parents died at one of those “pivotal” ages. None the less, I have these views and am very aware of people far smarter than myself with views 180 degrees different. I have for a long time been trying to reconcile what “you” see to what “I” see. Its absorbing to say the least. I am particularly interested in the personal aspect of peoples religious experience.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 10:28 am

  30. I thought everyone did a fine job of clarifying and defending his own position while trying to understand the others’ — if that hadn’t been true the discussion would have petered out long ago.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 December 2006 @ 10:46 am

  31. Sam,

    Its funny, Religion and myself got off to a bad start. My introduction to the Christian faith was through a rather well meaning Anglican minister back when I was in kindergarten. It was the way this guy began, which was explaining the concept of heaven to us that somehow sounded deceptive. I have no idea what it was now exactly that set my alarm bells ringing, but ring they did. Lots of kids played ball, raced, but a small group of us discussed the big things in our childlike way. I think the beginnings of my skeptiscm were born. A long time later, after several friends became “born again” and tried to influence me, I felt a further turn to atheists. I can definitely describe the final nail in my religious coffin, and that was late high school. This time another really enthusiastic “born again in a big way” Christian worked on me for over a year with “advertising material” comic book style I presume from his local church. He was telling me, Look even if you don’t believe “pretend” you do and it will happen. I couldn’t take the dishonesty any more. The problem I face in my middle ages.. really late middle ages, is now the intellectual challenge believing in documents such as the bible takes. This is why I liked to hear from people that don’t see this as a gulf and are able to find reason within. I’d really like to be able to understand it all at your level. Does that make sense at all?



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  32. Marc,

    That’s a quite intriguing encounter at Church. Marc what denomination was this? Does your Pastor often hear directly from God? By this, actual verbal type instructions? There are very few people that seem to make a claim of this, and if your Pastor does then this is very interesting indeed. Did the pain stay way? How is your back now? Has God ever directly spoken to you or issued you instructions?



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 1:46 pm

  33. Phil,

    I am still trying to answer your question on the judging of what is “good” verses “Evil” in the atheist dominated world. So far, each time ends up with me getting a brain ache. Can I take the question on advisement? And get back to you? Its just making me think is all.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 December 2006 @ 1:51 pm

  34. I agree with all of you, this is indeed a better forum – a big thanks to Ktismatics for hosting us here.

    Ivan, I’ve also heard a lot about heaven and perhaps even more about hell, none of which is in the least bit convincing. You may be surprised to find that there’s relatively very little about either in the bible and what there is is so variously interpreted that it’s obvious that we don’t really have much of a clue.

    Rather similar in many ways is the bible’s account of creation in the bible. Again, imo I have yet to see much interpretation that is convincing. Imagine squeezing billions of years of stuff into less than 800 words. Languge at its limits to say the least!

    Sometimes those of us who have ‘found religion’ can be the most irritating characters. Some people do indeed have earthshaking experiences of salvation.

    This was not my experience nor that of many others who have shared with me. Before I came to any sort of personal belief, I had visited many a revival meet and many a time raised my hand and even once ‘gone forward’ to make a personal commitment only to realise within a few days that nothing had changed!

    God seems to work differently with each individual person and I am personally convinced (controversially)that there are many true believers who respond to God’s voice, and therefore have a real relationship with God, but who don’t even realise that it is so.


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 December 2006 @ 6:24 pm

  35. Ivan,

    The church is a non-denominational mostly Charismatic church…that is, they believe that all the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as described by Acts and the writings of Paul are still active today and that God works in supernatural methods today. I’ve been going there since the summer (we moved into the area from out of state)

    My back has been great since that night, the pain has yet to return.

    The pastor has talked about his experiences hearing from God. He used to be much more cautious about acting on them, but he has found that what he hears tends to be scary acccurate, so as part of his faith, he tries to obey when he hears.

    I have not personally heard the audible voice of God. I’ve recieved strong impressions at times, but those are tough to prove and could be explained away as my subconscious mind cranking along. I therefore tend not to use that as evidence for other people.

    I personally believe that a major part of the Christian walk is learning how to hear from God and following His lead. It’s something that I need to exercise more.

    My church’s website can be found here, if you want to peruse it:


    Happy New Year if we don’t catch up again shortly. (grin)


    Comment by Marc — 26 December 2006 @ 10:32 pm

  36. Hi Marc,

    Forgive my ignorance, but is that similar to Pentecostal? I find your story really interesting. You know how I mentioned earlier, I can be a bit of a sceptic? This goes hand in hand in a way with both my atheism and how my particular mind tends to work. For all I know, you were touched by the one true God. I am certainly not some kind of amateur expert, it was your experience after all. But, can I tell you how my mind clicks in? I’m wondering.. if Marc was looking for a sign of God, Why wouldn’t God “speak” and I mean this most literally, to you directly? You may have noticed the many times it happens this way in the Bible. So why not now, and why not to you? Why does God go through a human authority figure such as the Pastor? Why not show you he exists by, as you were thinking it, healing your back right there in the pew and then fill you with a rapture of God or something? Why “that” particular way? In my mind, If I imagine even the Biblical God, which I think under sells the concept in a major way, I can’t understand him working on a personal level in that sort of “showmanship” way. Does that make any sense to you?

    Best regards


    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 12:51 am

  37. Hi Sam,

    You could very well be right. You seem to me to be a very different kind of person in regards to your Christian thinking. Have you found yourself in disagreement sometimes with your Christian peers? I couldn’t agree more with you on Genesis which has always bothered me. Arguing about God is one thing, but ignoring really established Science in place what was a 2000 year old “vision” of the Universe is folly at best. This was another thing that over the years bothered me and was characterised in a book entitled “telling Lies for God” which is pretty much what they were doing. I couldn’t imagine a God requiring this of people to drum up support. I don’t think its needed.




    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 1:02 am

  38. Marc,

    I looked at your Church link. It looks really similar to me to one of the big mega Churches that have opened up here in recent times. They seem to offer a mix of worship and entertainment.

    Ktismatics (is it John?) thank you for allowing us to use this page. Its enormously kind of you and boy ! it sure is an education. You write about some really interesting stuff.


    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 1:14 am

  39. Ivan,

    You ask some wonderful questions, I’ll give you that.

    I believe that God DOES want to work with us personally, but He also has His agenda, if you will…and that includes spreading his message of love and faith and the like.

    By healing me “silently” and without involving other people, that’s nice for me.

    By giving words of knowledge, which require obedience and faith to utter (because, quite frankly, who wants to be wrong?) and by having me prayed for publicly and healed, it demonstrates God’s power publicly to several folk:

    1. Myself, as the object of healing. Actually, the part that freaks me out more than that is the answer to my challenge via being called out.

    2. Pastor Jim, who is acting as the conduit. As he sees the fruits of his faith and obedience, he becomes a stronger messenger for God.

    3. The other people in church. Some might be believers who need to witness power to restore their faith. Others may be visitors who will be intrigued by what they see.

    4. It’s led to a pretty interesting conversation on the Internet, hasn’t it? (grin) Again…you have to decide if you believe that I’m telling you what happened accurately and if I’m right, what actually did happen…and how that might impact your own world view.

    When you look at the Gospels, Jesus did miracles for a few reasons…and one of the most important was to demonstrate God’s power so that people might believe. That’s why I think God healed me the way He did.




    Comment by Marc — 27 December 2006 @ 1:48 am

  40. Oh…I realized I forgot to answer a few other questions. (grin)

    1. Pentecostalism is an official denomination, while Charismatic usually is a label applied to a non-denominational church or a different denomination that has decided that spiritual gifts are active today. (such as Charismatic Catholics…they retain their primary Catholic practices but add the “sign gifts” as they are sometimes called…tongues, prophecy, healing, etc.)

    2. My church might be considered a “mega-church”, although they aren’t really that big. They do have modern music as opposed to an old lady on an organ and they do have many programs, especially for kids. But they do take their teaching seriously and I wouldn’t say that they forsake truth for entertainment.


    Comment by Marc — 27 December 2006 @ 1:55 am

  41. Hi there Marc,

    When I was referring to our Mega churches, your one is very much in the spirit of one, but it probably has more a kind of “village scale” to it. Mega churches might possibly be a local experience but they provide spirituality with an almost Theatre style delivery. I know they turn over millions of dollars here. Marc, did you ever see a movie called “Contact”? It starred Jodie Forster and came from a novel written by an Atheist scientist called Carl Sagen. It had a very thought provoking ending, where the Scientist has an experience that can only be related in an almost “religious experience” way. Its hard to relate your personal experience properly to someone who wasn’t at that moment in your particular body. But, I might say some things about in light of your earlier comments. Specifically, I don’t get the jist of how a Christian God works. Being human, I am probably not actually supposed to but I can at least point out where it doesn’t gel with me. I might go by your points if that’s ok? sort of stops my replying going for miles.

    1. You say God does want to work with us personally, yet rarely it seems that God does. Had you noticed in the Holy Bible how many times God doesn’t split hairs, and talks directly with various persons? Why not now? Why always to an “authority figure” often wearing ceremonial clothing and headwear, think Bishops, Cardinals etc, but almost never directly to the punters. I often wonder why this is?

    2. I think God healing you was wonderful, I just don’t understand why it had to be staged. Why wouldn’t God have healed you in the pew? Why “through someone” why not just speak to you directly? (I don’t have the answer here by the way, I’m just asking) if you get my point.

    3. I am sure many people were appreciative of the public nature of the healing. But I just don’t understand why it has to be done in front of an audience? Did Jesus always have an audience do you know?

    Your 1 to 4 points.
    1. I don’t know the possible explanation to this. I can guess mind you, Back pain is common so are headaches and achy joints, Its possible, the Pastor was overcome with a kind of wishful wanting (for lack of better description) Marc, had you ever heard of a case of say, Paraplegia or total blindness being overcome? Its not a trick question, I had been on the lookout for an unqualified miracle, Have you ever heard of something like this happening in yours or another Church?

    2. Pastor Jim seems like a very uplifting Pastor. I am wondering why God needs him as a conduit? For example, why couldn’t God put the congregation on a Godly “speakerphone” ? Why just Pastor Jim ?

    3. Your absolutely right. This could always be the case and Gods goal. But you would think there would be more efficient ways of doing this wouldn’t you?

    4. Marc, I sincerely thank you for telling of your experiences. It did sound like it deeply affected you and for the positive and that’s always a good thing!



    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 9:44 am

  42. Heya Ivan,

    Haven’t seen “Contact”. I’ve heard good things about it and probably should add it to my short list.

    I’m not going to go through each numbered point, as I’m supposed to be working now, but I want to reply to a few things, as they came to me while reading. So please don’t take offense. (grin)

    1. Jim himself claims to have seen reconstructive healings…for instance, fingers growing back. I hesitate to bring things like that up, because I can’t produce proof myself and fantastic claims seem like they would need fantastic proof. I have heard testimony from people in both this church and other churches I’ve been in regarding tumors and other conditions (requiring surgery) that were healed instantly and attributed by medical folk to “spontaneous healing”. Again, this stuff is often not trumpeted because the doctors seem to not want to look foolish…will they be accused of malpractice and the like?

    If you look, you can find people who will testify:


    How legit is this guy’s story? I don’t know, but it’s the character of God.

    Speaking of the character of God, He doesn’t work through just authority figures…priests and such. All believers are given all the authority of Jesus Christ, it’s just that we often don’t exercise it. But the Bible doesn’t talk about a priestly class, except in regards to the Jewish priests who ran the temple and the sacrifices that were ordained prior to the atonement bought by Jesus.

    Anyway, I need to scamper back to making Linux servers obey me. I’m glad we’ve had a chance to chat and I hope we’re both getting something out of this.



    Comment by Marc — 27 December 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  43. Hey Marc,

    Thank you for that link, I will have a look through and a read. I was sure it must have happened somewhere. I just had not before read anything about it.



    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 10:17 pm

  44. Marc,

    I had a look at that site you suggested. Its enormously hard to form an opinion on miracles without being a Doctor or having intimate details on the case at hand. So you really have to go with your feelings. While this could be one definitely, it also could be a number of other fairly ordinary type outcome. Marc, what I am on the lookout for, and you could maybe help me with this if you see anything that could be the case, is instances where someone has total blindness, for a number of years and has a totally spontaneous healing. Another, could be a spinal cord injury such as Paraplegia, being healed by miracle, basically the spinal column regenerating, Myelin sheathing restored etc. Cancer patients IE: those with lumps purporting to be cancer spontaneously healing are harder to qualify. You kind of need radiography or MRI and this isn’t going to be found online I don’t think.

    Marc, you know the last paragraph you wrote? What I meant was, You know how the bible tells the story of God? And you know how the Bible sets all the precedents for God? We know God speaks to people and does so many times in the Bible. Clear,enunciated language. We know also he send intermediaries, think angels. We also know he uses symbology burning bushes etc. He communicates directly, with language in the Bible. Why not now? This is what I try to understand, If God spoke clearly and gave instructions,offered challenges etc, tests of faith, why nothing now? Why does God work through something as subjective as “speaking to a heart” or in blessings, usually wealth or relationships with family.. people for instance often meet there future wives through Church and will call that a message from God which well it might, but what happened to the straight talking, communicating directly God? Why did he stop doing it this way do you think?

    Do I make any sense?



    Comment by Ivan — 27 December 2006 @ 11:20 pm

  45. Heya Ivan.

    You ask some great questions and I don’t have easy answers.

    I promise you, I will try and find some evidence of healing events that are as objective as possible. Give me some time to verify, ok?

    Here’s the thing about God’s communication. Even to those who saw him directly, He often required faith. Abraham waited decades to see his child born, long after Sarah was able to become pregnant. In fact, his lack of faith (a temporary fall) led to the birth of Ishmael through his wife’s handmaiden Hagar…many people point to this as the root cause of the friction between the Arab world and the Jews. The escaped Hebrew slaves saw the pillar of fire and pillar of smoke (which was God leading them) and they still griped and became disobedient. Jesus did miracles in the sight of thousands and then challenged people with difficult sayings and the same people fell away. In fact, the crowd that cheered Him entering Jerusalem as the Messiah demanded His crucifixion just a few days later.

    We’re a fickle people.

    For whatever reason, God likes us to have faith. And faith is often defined as the belief in what you have not yet seen. One argument I hear from some atheists (not saying you are saying this) is “Why the heck is God not writing His message in burning letters in the sky?” The responses to that are:

    1. Actual physical proof of God’s existence removes the need for faith. Although, as seen, that absolute knowledge of His reality doesn’t promise that people will obey Him. Or even take His good advice. (LOL)

    2. Many people would refuse to believe the proof, demanding something even grander…because, in their hearts, it’s not really about evidence. It’s about the knowledge that if God is real, they need to act on that information or be intellectually dishonest with themselves for the rest of their life. And some people who would be convinced think that Christianity calls you to a life that sucks…which, quite frankly, just isn’t true. Most of us are people who love life and love other people and enjoy having fun. Heck, I’ve got the instruction manual for my homebrew kit open in a PDF in another window. Did you know that Jesus, as His first public miracle, made a party better by turning water into wine? He also partied with some shady characters, because He loved them and He knew they needed to see God’s love in action. Sour hateful people have issues and are not the representatives that God needs in this world.

    3. Many would argue that the evidence is there if you look for it. Quite frankly, that’s up to each individual…some people need a very little bit to make the leap of faith, others need almost hard mathematical proof. The funny thing is, God will meet people after they make that leap of faith and He’ll start working in their lives in a very real way. I know, I know…that sounds like I’m saying “you have to jump in first, then God will reveal Himself”. And it’s partly true. But God’s will is also that all men come to him and I believe that He will shine enough light so that in the end, no one will have an excuse. And He’ll be merciful to those who had little to work with…the Bible says as much.

    Anyway, just because God doesn’t boom out with a big voice in the middle of every church service doesn’t mean that He’s not talking with many many people. In the Old Testament, we’re told to “Be still and know that I am God” and that God’s voice is the small, still voice in the middle of the raging storm. One could argue that the reason we don’t hear God is because, quite frankly, we never take the time to stop and listen. (big grin)

    Ok…let me work on finding you some EVIDENCE. That’s juicy stuff that I like myself, so it’ll be a nice challenge for me!

    Be well, Ivan.




    Comment by Marc — 28 December 2006 @ 4:32 am

  46. Marc,
    A very, very fine reply. I would like to consider it for a bit before responding. Don’t go spending hours trawling the web for a Miracle. We will come across them I am sure if they exist. I just wanted you to keep an eye out for such things if you do accidentally find one. I would love to have a good look at the details if they are available. But I am not in a hurry and you probably are spending a lot of time reading stuff on all these sites as it is.



    Comment by Ivan — 28 December 2006 @ 5:36 am

  47. Hi Ivan,

    I agree with all that Marc says above, a fine reply indeed. if I could add just one small point, Paul himself tells us that the logic of what Jesus did will look dumb to anyone. I don’t think that proofs such as miracles are going to swing sceptical people to faith. Whatever brings about a real encounter with Jesus and then how we will reapond to that is what counts.If I could weigh in on the question of miracles with my 0.02… I once did a series of 4 media coverage jobs for a friend who was a bit out of his depth, working with an American preacher that came annually to preach in India.

    A very professional group they were, doing live feeds of the meets and with a highly effective advertising campaign that worked well and there were anywhere from 80,000 to 400,000 attending each night! Most people came with an expectation that they would see some strange happenings and this was a specific part of the thrust of the advertising campaign.

    I had a very upclose look at how things functioned. Many of the ‘miracles’ that took place were well set-up fakes, but there were a couple of genuine ones in the mix.

    The preacher consistently worked on raising the emotional pitch. An atmosphere of urgency, and tremendous expectation and sustained emotion seem to me to play a very large part. A friend of mine who was a reporter sought out the ones who claimed healing and went to visit them in their homes a week later. He found that from that one night, of the 17 that he visited only two seemed to have had some sort of permanent change, still that’s two!

    On the other hand, having been in the medical field, I have seen three serious tumors that disappeared, two after prayer and one without any. I also have one close friend who had polio and a shortened right leg that he says God told him would be healed and when he went back to the doctor the leg length discrepancy of 1 1/4 inches was gone. he got rid of his raised shoes and now walks with a normal gait, even though the muscle mass is yet to fully equalise.

    I also know a number of people who have prayed for and been prayed over for healing who are yet to get what they are asking for. One or two have died along the way including one close friend was so stubborn that God would heal his kidney failure that he just did not cooperate with the doctors at all!


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 December 2006 @ 6:39 am

  48. btw jesuscreed (http://www.jesuscreed.org/?p=1825)finally awoke from its slumber and reposted a number of Ivan’s missing posts!


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 December 2006 @ 7:17 am

  49. Hey Sam,

    Its good my posts are on there I guess, durn pity I can’t reply to the repliers! Your comment on whether miracles would convince Atheists is a valid one, I tend to agree with you. I should mention that I’m not looking “at” Miracles for Godly proof myself, I’m just interested in the concept. The stories from India remind me of the big Evangelical performances you do see sometimes. I went to Billy Grahams in my teens and I remember it a lot like you describe the India events. (Perhaps without the healing?) I can’t recall.
    Your miracle stories were very impressive also. Much closer to what I was looking for. One thing though I would disagree with Marc on, he mentioned that (without looking back) that proof wouldn’t convince Atheists? I am not sure that this is correct. While you could imagine large swaths of Atheists in denial, most, and I would include myself in here, would be swayed by a Godly speakerphone style announcement. How could you not be? The thing I find very interesting on my personal level, is the many interpretations Christians have about God “touching” or entering or making himself known to them, means exactly. Many times not specifically here mind you, I hear stories of blessings and good fortune that to my eyes seem like the likely outcome of a life lived amongst Christians in white collar jobs in a first world country with no impending health crisis. It doesn’t look the quite the same through my eyes. Not to say though, it still isn’t some God given special intervention.



    Comment by Ivan — 29 December 2006 @ 12:17 am

  50. Sam,

    One more thing, Its really, really, really difficult to “test” in a scientific fashion for the effectiveness of Prayer. I only know of one double blind trial and it showed the incidence of Prayer actually caused harm. (The mortality rate went up a bit) but you can’t really gauge if somebody was praying or not.. well I don’t have to spell out to you the difficulties you could see this yourself being in the field. But you can’t really underestimate the danger people face relying solely on Godly intervention or alternate health remedies.


    Comment by Ivan — 29 December 2006 @ 1:21 am

  51. Hey fellas, I see Scot McKnight has posted the latest installment on the Dawkins book. Zero comments so far — very early am in the American Midwest.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 December 2006 @ 8:26 am

  52. Ivan,

    I’ve read about a few prayer studies myself. One issue is that you have no control whatsoever about people praying for sick folk regardless of whether or not they were in the “control group” or not.

    As far as people relying just on prayer…it reminds me of the following tale:

    There was a guy who lived in a cabin in the woods near a river. One day, while he was listening to his radio, there was an announcement that a big storm was coming and that people near the river should evacuate in case of flooding. He dropped to his knees and prayed, “God, please protect me from the flood!”

    Well, the storm hit and the river began to rise. The man’s neighbor drove by in his Jeep and yelled “Come on, you need to go!” But the man said “God will protect me!”

    The river rose and the man was forced to climb up on his roof. A helicopter sent by the rangers hovered near the man and a rope ladder was dropped to him. He refused to climb it, yelling “God will protect me!”

    The flood covered his house and he drowned. Next thing he knew, he was standing before the throne of God in heaven. Peeved he asked, “God, why didn’t you protect me?”

    God sighed and said, “Look…before you even prayed, I sent you the radio announcement. I then sent your neighbor and then a helicopter. That’s 3 answers and you ignored them all.”


    God gives us a brain, natural resources and relationships for a reason. People who ignore these things often reap pain and failure…but God’s intent is for us to be stewards of this world and to help each other get through it. He’ll help out as well, but he’s not some genie to be summoned whenever one has a hangnail.


    Comment by Marc — 29 December 2006 @ 3:32 pm

  53. Re: Dawkins, this is precisely the problem with this book. Dawkins, when he starts into morality, ethics, culture and specific issues like altruism or equality, is quite a bit out of his depth. The simple explanation is that the theory of evolution (which is what he knows) was never intended to be extrapolated indefinitely. The universe as a whole is not ‘evolving’ in any recognisable sense. In fact the possibility of stasis is inimical to the evolutionary paradigm!


    Comment by samlcarr — 29 December 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  54. Aristotle made a case for natural morality; he also believed that women should be subject to men and that non-Greeks were meant to be slaves.

    There are motivations other than morality for extending the boundaries of the in-group, most notably broader access to new markets and to new knowledge/skills. I haven’t read this particular book of Dawkins, but I’d be surprised if he said that the rapidly-changing moral zeitgeist is a “positive evolution,” since Darwinian evolution is directionless. I suspect he says either that the globalization memes are increasingly recognized as more culturally adaptive, or he uses non-scientific criteria to evaluate the relative goodness of moral systems — perhaps both.

    Studying genetic influences on human behavior seems like a perfectly respectable way to make a living. Unfortunately it’s not the science but the attitude that moves the books off the shelf. The marketplace encourages conflict; the bookstores don’t care who’s right or who wins as long as everybody’s sufficiently riled up to buy the book. It’s why the best-sellers aren’t necessarily the best books — just as the best moral code isn’t necessarily the most popular one.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 December 2006 @ 6:23 pm

  55. Marc

    I had heard that story before. I forgot how good it was. Thank you for reminding me of it!

    Ktsmatics.. I would just Lurve to comment. But the dang site won’t accpet my postings unfortunately.



    Comment by Ivan — 30 December 2006 @ 8:09 am

  56. Dear Sam,

    Look, I don’t know that your right here. I thinks one of Dawkins’s points is along the lines that he (Dawkins) is imminently qualified to talk about Morality, Ethic and even culture, as much as anyone else on the planet. I don’t see how anyone as insightful and intelligent as his goodself also can’t discuss issues surrounding altruism and even equality.
    He is a biologist (A rather imminent one) and about the closest thing to an expert on the theory of evolution that we have on this planet. Interestingly, its not considered a theory these days either, its considered factual. Further, the Universe isn’t so much “evolving” as winding down. Which is a kind of evolution when you think about it?



    Comment by Ivan — 30 December 2006 @ 8:22 am

  57. Ktismatics,

    I think I agree with your last paragraph. I tend to think there is “good” in any books that make one think. Be it the Bible or God delusion. The world could do with a whole lot more in the way of critical thinking.

    Just my 2 cents worth



    Comment by Ivan — 30 December 2006 @ 8:26 am

  58. For you.

    Dr. Wu of Chicago University argues that the evolution of the brains has slowed down lately. He says t´is understandable from a systemic point of vue.


    Now, if it has slowed down maybe it did not evolute in the first place at all.



    Comment by Odile — 30 December 2006 @ 10:39 pm

  59. Odile,

    Thanks for that link. It was quite interesting.



    Comment by Ivan — 30 December 2006 @ 11:21 pm

  60. Ivan, I agree that Dawkins is a very eminent evolutionist and I like the guy – his writings (and talks) are always interesting. The problem that I have is when a theory (it’s a paradigm but not anything other than the current working hypothesis) that seems to work well in one sphere is ad hoc applied to other areas where it has no support at all and for which it was not designed in the first place. I think that that is an example of poor science.

    His work on memes falls into this same sort of grey zone. it can’t be scientifically tested and so is not a hypothesis at all but it is an interesting idea!

    Your comment on the evolution of the universe is similar. evolution is not just another way of saying “things change” it is about adaptation to change and how that has happened.


    Comment by samlcarr — 31 December 2006 @ 1:53 am

  61. Saml,

    I thought that evolution is considered now to be factual ? There is enough supporting evidence to push it up the ladder. I think this may have come from the microbiology world and I understand this can be more than “adequately” tested. I don’t have an opinion much on his concept of memes. My comment on the Universe was a kind of joke. I wasn’t confusing physics with evolution.

    PS a happy New year to you all! for 2007


    Comment by Ivan — 1 January 2007 @ 1:02 am

  62. So I took a look over at Jesus Creed, read Sam’s last comment, then the one that followed it. “This guy reminds me of Ivan,” I thought to myself… and then I got to the punch line. Very good: you’ve outwitted the robotic censor.


    Comment by ktismatics — 1 January 2007 @ 7:44 am

  63. Hi Ivan, I suspect that you already are familiar with the methodology of science. Popularly, scientists may treat the theory of evolution as a ‘fact’ but in fact it can’t be that. The problems are many, most basically theories never do become facts even when they have been testably demonstrated over decades. Theories are always just theories. Kuhn analysed science from a bit of a sociological angle quite some ways back and his work has not been bettered yet. The ruling theory is what he called ‘the paradigm’, which right now is some sort of neodarwinism, and as long as it is the reigning theory it will be treated (in practice) as though it were fact. That’s just how modern science works. When a new paradigm comes along (and it will) there will be a period of contest and perhaps that will be followed by a revolution…

    One very good reason not to let ‘science’ (ever) fiddle with stuff like ethics, morality or society itself!


    Comment by samlcarr — 1 January 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  64. But Sam,

    Science doesn’t intrude on ethics or morality does it? I was trying to think of the last time it didn’t and came up blank? and Dang! I just accidently found some latest examples of evolution at work.



    Comment by Ivan — 1 January 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  65. Ivan, Science should not intrude on anything other than science. It is not science that is at fault here, rather some scientists would like to derive ethics, morality and even philosophy ‘scientifically’ and therein lies the rub…


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 January 2007 @ 4:53 pm

  66. But scientists can hold opinions can’t they Saml?



    Comment by Ivan — 5 January 2007 @ 12:40 am

  67. Of course scientists will have opinions! As scientists we can give a lot of weight to their opinions but what i don’t like to see is a scientist claiming to ‘apply’ science where it’s methodology is useless. A bit like thinking that a good astronomer must also be a competent astrologer!


    Comment by samlcarr — 5 January 2007 @ 12:56 pm

  68. Here’s a scientific study cited by Paul Bloom in Descartes’ Baby: “The psychologist Margaret Evans tested the children of Christian fundamentalists and the children of non-fundamentalist parents who endorsed evolutionary theory. She asked them to judge the likelihood of different accounts of where things come from — from human intervention, from God, or from evolution. Her central finding was that children were consistently more creationist than their parents; they were drawn to the God explanation even if the adults who raised them were not.”

    Is this legitimate science? What conclusions should be drawn from such a study? Here’s what Bloom says of the kids’ creationism: “This should not be taken as a sign of immaturity. It is not children who are unusual, after all. Throughout just about all of human history, some version of creationism has been the commonsense view. Given the argument from design, it is intellectually respectable… Dawkins has written that it almost appears as if ‘the human brain is specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe.'”


    Comment by ktismatics — 5 January 2007 @ 2:15 pm

  69. Yes, in many periods of History, Creationism has been the commonsense view. And many other things have been commonsense views. The sun revolving around the Earth The Earth being the centre of the universe and even tooth worms. All commonsense and commonly thought. But plain old wrong.
    Christian fundamentalists who “endorsed” evolutionary fact? Where do you find them exactly?


    Comment by Ivan — 6 January 2007 @ 1:16 am

  70. I just found and was reading the study. One thing I noticed, is the power of religious “indoctrination” of children to confuse them with known scientific fact. I personally think this is a handing a great injustice to the worlds children. Dawkins makes mention of it several times in his book. If you take Christianity out for a second.. and think of the indoctrination of say, Scientology or Hindu or Aboriginal religions you can see the down side. I think the world would be a way better place if religion wasn’t formally taught until
    ages 12 or 13. Then taught in a manner that would cover most of the common religions not just Christian one. I also noted in Blooms papers not a mention of Martin or Barresi’s work.

    Also… that comment I made on the evolution of the Universe? I notice a big scientific disagreement this week between Lee Smolin and Vilenkin. Smolin says yes, Blackholes prove a kind of cosmic version of evolution and Negative Vacuum Vilenkin says nay.. apparently.


    Comment by Ivan — 6 January 2007 @ 2:39 am

  71. Just back from holiday where there was no kind of internet connection (the best kind of holiday when you have a family!).

    Ivan, sure get back to me after you have taken advisement. Just be sure to take any advice you get with a critical mind.



    Comment by Phil — 6 January 2007 @ 7:44 am

  72. Always with a critical (and fair) mind.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 January 2007 @ 8:38 am

  73. Sorry, I too was out of town. Aruna (my wife) and I decided not to ‘indoctrinate’ our two. It is not easy! for one thing we are Christians, study the bible, go to church and have a lot of Christian friends… This environment itself does a fair share of ‘indoctrinating’. However, by going out of our way a bit to accomodate other viewpoints and by being properly critical of our own selves we hope that we have done something towards letting the kids decide what they would like to believe. probably won’t know the result for a few more years.

    I do think that it is very important to distinguish between religion and belief. Ultimately we do not believe in a religion, we do believe in God. the religion is a cultural-social manifestation and in and of itself is not anything to get excited about.


    Comment by samlcarr — 7 January 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  74. Dear Saml,

    That must have been mighty hard for you guys. As you remarked, The USA pretty much is permeated with Christian beliefs. When I was in school down under, we had bible classes called “scriptures classes” These were always in whatever the family faith was and the children never asked. The really serious ones were the Catholic classes, I was in Anglican. But even as a kid, it occurred to me how much more useful it would have all been if you got the opportunity to learn a little about a variety of faiths and even a bit of philosophy (which I would have loved!!) I wonder, if we embarked on this course whether society might be more tolerant? I have always wondered.



    Comment by Ivan — 8 January 2007 @ 8:18 am

  75. Ivan, a broad education is important but for me what was more important were my ‘heroes’. From my earliest days in school right through college there were certain teachers whom I greatly admired. Their example, the way they interacted, their sincerity and love of knowledge, perhaps most important – the pleasure that they took in leading us to discovery – these are the ones who shaped me and helped me to become what I am.

    All were honest and loving people who went the extra mile just because that was what gave them purpose and pleasure. Some were committed Christians but many were not!


    Comment by samlcarr — 8 January 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  76. Saml,

    You were extremely lucky to have had such inspirational teachers. I wish that had of been my experience!



    Comment by Ivan — 9 January 2007 @ 9:39 pm

  77. Ivan, sorry for the delay. I guess i was lucky with teachers and mentors but that does not mean that you can’t be! i recall somewhere that you mentioned Einstein. I do think that we can take inspiration from even ‘literary’ persons as long as they have expressed themselves enough.

    One of my present day heroes is the author and preacher John Stott. i ‘knew’ him from his books long before I met him and found (a bit to my surprise) that he was an even better person (in person) than I had imagined! Another ‘hero’ whom I wish I had had a chance to meet is C.S. Lewis. In both cases, i am a bit in awe of these men but that doesn’t stop me from disagreeing with them either…


    Comment by samlcarr — 11 January 2007 @ 2:13 pm

  78. Saml,

    On my desk right now, I have two “action figures” as ornaments. Figure 1 is Einstein and Figure two is Jesus. (for times you need a real super hero) ! My most “mentor like” teacher was my first high school science teacher. He kind of inspired me to take up a love of science reading. I had not heard of Stott before, why does he impress you sir?


    Comment by Ivan — 12 January 2007 @ 5:01 am

  79. Hey Ivan, it’ll be interesting to see if your alterego “Ross” gets booted from Jesus Creed. Surely you’ve discovered that long and frequent comments get flagged by the spamcatcher, and it seems that once you’re out, you’re out. Perhaps you can do this indefinitely: create a virtual identity, use it to express your opinion and to argue, get spam-caught, then activate a new identity. I wonder if Scot has figured out who Ross really is?


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 January 2007 @ 8:11 am

  80. Ivan, a funny thing about the gospel that Jesus preached and lived is how simple it is and yet how absurdly it is interpreted.

    What impressed me about John Stott is that he really takes living the gospel seriously. I first was attracted by the clarity of his writing but it was the man himself that i found to be very impressive. A bit like Albert Schweitzer in a way, but much more quiet as a person, Stott has earned many millions and is a very popular author and teacher (amongst christian circles) yet lives a simple life in solidarity with the poor. A consistency between theory and praxis being lived out like this is quite rare!


    Comment by samlcarr — 12 January 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  81. Hey Ktismatics,

    Yeah I was wondering how long I could stay under the radar. Where is a cloak of invisibility when you need one?

    Ross Ivan
    Ivan Ross
    Ross. I.
    Etc etc


    Comment by Ivan — 13 January 2007 @ 12:35 am

  82. Saml,
    That sounds a lot like he “lives” the life of Jesus. A very rare thing in the Christian world I think.
    A question for you Saml,

    Why do you think there are so many brands of Christian thinking? Why wouldn’t the bible spawn simply one church? Why wouldn’t there be widespread agreement on the word of God and not disagreement? Why Jehovah witnesses and Mormons and uniting and Catholics etc..You would think the one document of God could only be read one way wouldn’t you?


    Comment by Ivan — 13 January 2007 @ 12:40 am

  83. Ivan, that’s the question I have been asking fellow christians ever since…

    In one sense it’s inevitable because each one of us is an individual and each has only a personal faith. But we would like to do things in community. We should indeed, but it is also inevitable that our attempts to be in community in turn spawns organisations. The problem, to my mind, is mankind’s need to organise.

    In a very real way, the organisation of religion (any religion) is the biggest stumbling block to real faith. Organisations love to exist, they want to get bigger, control more resources etc. The organisation’s needs soon supercedes its raison d’etre.

    Beyond the general matters, they have to be unique in order to justify an exclusive membership – hence denominations and ‘theologies’ none of which have anything at all to do with any one person’d response to God.

    As a hindu friend recently commented, we go to religion to lead us to God. The religion instead grabs us and enslaves us to itself, effectively blocking our path!


    Comment by samlcarr — 14 January 2007 @ 11:36 am

  84. This post is going to scroll off the bottom of the page soon. You’ll still be able to get to it in the “Reflections” category of posts, which you can access at the right side of the screen.


    Comment by ktismatics — 15 January 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  85. So we all would be better off individually finding God and not bothering with churches then?


    Comment by Ivan — 16 January 2007 @ 8:21 am

  86. Ivan, my opinion is not a standard christian one but for what it’s worth, I think that God confronts each and every individual and the response is first and foremost an individual one.

    I certainly do think that we have to individually find God, or be found by Him…

    if one chooses to believe and follow God then one can worry about whether religion is or is not helpful. Most seem to feel that it is – at least for the shared experience and the presence of those who are further along the road from whom one can get some much needed help.


    Comment by samlcarr — 16 January 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  87. Ivan, have you read anything by Tillich? Again not a ‘standard christian’ at all but someone who has dug quite deep in his search for answers.


    Comment by samlcarr — 16 January 2007 @ 8:45 pm

  88. I have not heard of him Saml. What has he written that you would reccomend?


    Comment by Ivan — 16 January 2007 @ 10:15 pm

  89. I would recommend “Ultimat Concern” as a good starting point for Paul Tillich. It’s a transcript of an interaction with students at UC. Amazon has used copies available fairly cheap. Wikipedia gives some good biographical info but the discussion of his thought is weak.

    I thought you might find it interesting as he is an existential thinker and has a very good critique of religion. I don’t entirely agree with his philosophy or his view of Jesus but he is very stimulating to read.


    Comment by samlcarr — 17 January 2007 @ 9:11 am

  90. If you like a good tale and have not yet read it, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles are a great read. intended for kids but I still love reading them! These should be available in just about every library, especially after the first one (there are 7) was made into a movie recently.

    Lewis really disliked Tillich!


    Comment by samlcarr — 17 January 2007 @ 9:17 am

  91. Saml,

    I will most definetely get this to read.

    thank you



    Comment by Ivan — 17 January 2007 @ 9:31 am

  92. Hi Ktismatics,

    this has almost become a 1-1 so thanks for having graciously hosted our extended ramble…


    Comment by samlcarr — 17 January 2007 @ 11:08 pm

  93. My pleasure. Sam and Ivan: if you like I can send you each other’s email addresses and you can continue the conversation directly. If you both post a comment saying okay to this plan I’ll make it so. If you want, on the other hand, to keep the discussion potentially open to other participants, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you like.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 January 2007 @ 4:17 am

  94. Thank you also for allowing us to post on here also. I have really enjoyed it and I love the high calibre of discussion that your blog attracts. I have no problem with you passing on my email. Thank you.



    Comment by Ivan — 18 January 2007 @ 7:43 am

  95. I would not mind sharing my email address with Ivan at all. Still this is a comfy place to share ideas and it also helps to be able to point friends at something (while a string of mails is sooo boring) so if you don’t mind we’ll keep this conversation going here for as long as Ivan and you can stand it!


    Comment by samlcarr — 18 January 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  96. Okay by me. Please feel free to carry on — this way I can keep up with the conversation and jump in if I’ve got anything useful to say. I’ll also email you both tomorrow.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 January 2007 @ 10:48 pm

  97. Saml and John,

    One of the things that has bothered me about Religions generally is the kind of slippery slope that appears. Of the few Christian blogs I have visited and particularly the Jesus Creed, Ktismatics and several of the other connected ones appear to attract a really deep thinking, educated kind of Christian. But I think the more average type at least in my country, probably has a more loose collection of beliefs and would maybe not think much about a God more than once every 2 or 3 years, barring of course a major calamity. These types of people, and I have come to know a great deal, have this more elastic,expansive belief system. I know several who believe in re-incarnation, (This blended with a way strange Christian thinking) I know many who believe in angels, even “car park space angels” (I’m not kidding you) Some believe in witches and witch craft. I know more that think they can communicate with the dead psychic style. What I always fear, is, when you open the door to a kind of unsubstantiated belief such as a “God” (By Science I mean) you seem to open the floodgates for all kinds of irrational stuff. Mostly its harmless, but I see it turning nasty quite often, it could be argued that Nations afflicted with it, can go to war. What part of the Iraqi invasion could be put down to your presidents religious beliefs? It feels to me that we are never, ever far from the stage where we could burn witches. As you know by my postings, I’m kind of a public atheist, you would be amazed at how much spite and vindictiveness is aimed at me for my non beliefs. I’m getting now around 4 viruses sent to me a day with Anti-Atheist messages attached. Is it possible that religion can pull us towards an uncivilizing of society as we have gone down before in recent human history? I can’t tell you how much it unsettles me. I think this is the running theme behind Dawkins book. I might be wrong.



    Comment by Ivan — 19 January 2007 @ 6:41 am

  98. Ivan,
    As far as the Iraq war goes, neocon thinking is a sort of religious thing and did have a lot to do with how that war started though I don’t think that christianity played much part one way or the other.

    Still, you are right in that a lot of nasty stuff gets disguised as religion and sometimes religion itself can incite and inflame the wrong sorts of passions. I’m not sure how much of that is cause and how much effect. Seems to me that nutty people will be attracted to nutty things. The nutty things are not to blame!

    If you have a bible handy, just take a look at what Jesus has to say in a short parable in the book of Matthew (1st book of the new testament) chapter 25. I think that just about says it all. Religions are mostly man made, they are societal and cultural phenomena and most of them would cease to exist if there was no funding!

    Belief in God has to result in Godly behaviour, of the type that we see in Jesus, sacrificial love, a love of real justice…how many of us really have that? Only those that do should claim to believe, really believe, in God.

    This sort of love does not require sophistication, or deep study. My feeling is that God is quite able to bring about this sort of salvation sans religion or biblical knowledge or education altogether. i think that He is constantly at this with each of us…

    It would be great if Dawkins would just think this through a bit more deeply. The issue is not science versus religion. The issue is what is truth?


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 January 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  99. I think America would have gone to war in Iraq even if the evangelical Christians had remained neutral. There were enough other interests converging on the invasion: generalized rage at the Arab world after 9/11, specific rage at Saddam after he survived the first Gulf War, oil, perhaps even some legitimate concern over the Iraqi people’s subjection to a ruthless dictator. But America was first colonized by religious zealots, and a sense of divine mission has always been a force driving American foreign policy.

    Though I’m agnostic, I do believe that Christianity probably has had a net positive effect on Western culture. I also believe that modern science was a direct offshoot of the Reformation. Science is all about finding truths by getting beyond prejudices and authoritarian dictates and going straight to the evidence — just like Luther and Calvin.

    I would like to see atheists, believers, and anybody in between join forces in pursuit of truth and justice, love and peace. Whether God is or is not the end of all such pursuits, at least we can aim in the same direction.


    Comment by ktismatics — 19 January 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  100. Ktismatics,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Your absolutely correct with Sciences beginnings and wouldn’t it be great if we could all walk along the same path just for the benefit of humanity. I was not trying to “attack” religion to make it the root of all evil, but I’m aware of how for whatever reason, it becomes the rationality for an act that could be described as evil. You often here the Qumran described as a book of peace and I can assure you like the bible it really isn’t. Both books appear to have justifications for taking up the sword. And this in the main is what humans do. I agree with you that Christianity in the main is a force for good, I still personally have this view of Christians in general, But its slippery,slippery path. Look at the middle centuries.. in recent times look at Irelands Catholics and Protestants. They even both worshipped the exact same God but look at the resulting blood bath. I find myself being hyper aware is all.

    Good day Sir!

    You may be right on the Iraq war. My reading of religious involvement came from several things written in the press over here. Its probably really hard to say for certain without getting into your Presidents head. I suspect though, it had something to do with it myself. I read the Parable of Matthew. Saml, you make an excellent point. You mention God can bring this about sans religion.
    Why doesn’t he? This is off the track a bit, God is capable of making us any which way right? God also wants us to keep to a standard hence the concept of sin right? God can make a sinless individual if he wants.. think Adam and Eve.. Jesus.. most angels.. possibly even a saint or two.. So why make us faulty to begin with, why not turn us all out like Jesus? What’s in it for God to make us almost pre-programmed to sin ? And Saml, I would mention that I think many people throughout history had a deep and unabiding understanding of what God required, but still all the same did some pretty evil stuff. As above, I’m just hyper aware of what could happen.



    Comment by Ivan — 20 January 2007 @ 12:21 am

  101. Are you chaps experiencing the wild and cold weather I hear reported in the Northern Hemisphere?


    Comment by Ivan — 20 January 2007 @ 12:22 am

  102. I see nothing in the New Testament to justifywar. But now I’m thinking a little about the relationship of Christianity to Judaism. The Old Testament seems like a pretty provincial religion, concerned with tribal laws and fierce rivalries with neighboring tribes. Christianity added onto its Jewish roots a universal message and an evangelistic component that let it spread like wildfire. Kind of like the human offshoot from the primates, a set of species that’s very localized to certain parts of Africa. Some serendipitous set of mutations showed up on the ape DNA string that enabled our kind to extend our ecological niche worldwide. Likewise with Judaism and Christianity. Maybe there’s still a deeply-rooted war ethos that Christianity inherited from its Old Testament forebears, even as humans are still primates underneath all the cultural trappings.

    The weather here is great. I live on the Mediterranean coast of France, where it hasn’t rained since before New Year’s and where the temperature hasn’t even approached freezing all winter. I can’t speak for Sam, who’s on a different continent altogether. And I guess it’s midsummer down under.


    Comment by ktismatics — 20 January 2007 @ 7:58 am

  103. John,

    I didn’t realise you were in France. I thought you were in the US. My wife is French, I am travelling there this year for the first time!
    Her Parents are in Hossgor. I don’t know if the NT is really very “warlike” I kind of meant that people find what they need to find to justify all kinds of odd things. I am told its exactly the same with Muslims also.


    Comment by Ivan — 21 January 2007 @ 12:19 am

  104. Ivan,

    I really don’t know why God just didn’t make each of us unfailingly good. A common explanation is that He wanted us to be free to choose but I am not sure at all if that is it, or all of it.

    When i look at the old testament (OT), the part of the bible that we share with Judaism I am stuck by some interesting things. It seems to me that God picked Abraham and his offspring (the Jews) because these were potentially the worst of all the people. I don’t mean this in an antisemitic sense, it just seems to be true. He bound this people to a very strict legal and moral code – probably unmatched in its scope and content. He balanced the power structure between the priests and the royalty and reserved a corrective in the role of prophet and then proceeded to struggle with this exceptionally brilliant but also stubborn and wayward peoples for close to 2000 years. That sort of sums up the OT for me. But why He did this is a bit of a mystery. Perhaps if he had not, and Abe and Co had been free to develop as they wished, the consequences would have been disastrous for all the other peoples on earth?

    Just look at what that one tiny nation is doing to its neighbors now! Also witness the effortless worldwide influence that it has…


    Comment by samlcarr — 21 January 2007 @ 5:14 am

  105. Ivan,

    We’re American but we’ve lived in France 4 of the past 5 years. I think Sam too is an expatriated American. I looked up Hossegor: looks like a nice place, on the ocean just above Biarritz. How the heck did your French wife end up in Australia? I too am suspicious when the Bible says that God led the Israelis into battle and helped them slaughter the infidels.


    Interesting ideas. You certainly don’t get a picture of God picking the Jews for their intrinsic merit. Maybe you’re right: the OT obsession with the Law is an attempt to put some restraints on a creative but unruly people. It does seem that the OT — and the NT for that matter — spend an inordinate amount of time on morality. Maybe the Jews’ creativity is spontaneous, in the image and likeness of the creator, needing no exhortation to bring it forth. But maybe without some kind of discipline the creative urge turns to destruction.

    Freud’s version of the human psyche fits this interpretation of Jewish theology. The id is the spontaneous expression of urges and instincts; the superego is the voice of the Father who imposes external order (rules, guilt and shame, punishment, etc.) on the id’s undisciplined expression. The ego balances the two forces, internalizing the voice of the Father, sublimating the id’s drives into creative self-expression. Freud elaborated on ideas already expressed by Nietzsche, who was the son of a Lutheran minister.


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 January 2007 @ 7:48 am

  106. You know everyone keeps telling me my prophet is Nietzsche. John, what is your background? You seem to know a lot about a lot.. I met my wife on the internet. She was single and living in Paris. I think marrying an Aussie may have shocked the family. Do you live far from Hossgor?


    I had oftened wondered the same thing.. why “those” particular people?



    Comment by Ivan — 22 January 2007 @ 7:07 am

  107. Saml and Ktismatics,

    There is a guy over here that is a radio broadcaster by the name of Terry Lane. He is an oldish man (much like myself) and kind of considered as part of the Sydney Intelligentsia. I like his style, He always had unusual ways of looking at things that sounded so sage and profound. One day browsing a book store I found he had written a book and I just had to purchase it. The title was “God the interview” he imagined himself interviewing God, it probably was just himself processing his thoughts he was at one stage a Priest and now an Atheist. I wanted to quote a small part from this book and ask you your thoughts from Christian or agnostic Background.. I invite anyone else reading this to comment also.

    The quote: When I was a young man – a mere boy and a theological student at Churches of Christ College I had a disturbing experience. As part of my Pastoral studies our class visited The Kew hospital it was home to all sorts of people with mental disabilities. In some parts of the establishment there were people with severe Psychoses who were deluded and violent. In other parts there were children with downs syndrome who overwhelmed people both with their need for affection but willingness to give of themselves instantly. What I was not prepared for was a visit to a ward filled with hydro-encephalitic Children with heads so enormous that they were in fact larger than there bodies. These poor creatures seemed to have absolutely no awareness that there was anything going on around them although the nurses assured us they do respond.
    These utterly deformed children with their grotesque heads were to huge for there tiny muscles to move them, The nurses had to do everything for them. I learned 2 things that day.
    1. There were wonderful human beings who every day have to perform tasks that are heroic in nature. I tend to call it “love” These are unsung heroes of society.

    2. The second thing was never be to glib about affirmations of belief. After spending the morning in this disturbing environment we had a session with the resident doctors. “Gentlemen, do you still believe in God”? Could God have done this? Could God have permitted it? Was God not looking when it happened? Did someone sin? Was some punishment delivered onto the children?
    This was the day the seed of agnosticism was first planted in my brain.

    Saml what would you say to this experience? How is it rationalised in a Christian mind?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 January 2007 @ 9:43 am

  108. Ivan – The people who tell you that Nietzsche is your prophet probably don’t think very highly of Nietzsche. He’s sort of the poster child for evil atheism. I personally find his writings very stimulating, even though the man himself may have been rather unpleasant. It’s always hard to tell exactly what it is he believes. But I think that’s part of his point: you can see the same issues in any number of ways and each one seems right at the time. If there’s no God to tell you which one is right, then you have to decide, even if your decision seems arbitrary and unstable.

    Recently I told a friend that I can talk for 5 minutes on any topic. After 5 minutes all bets are off. I’ve got a smattering of background in various things — psychology, theology, healthcare, business — and I’m interested in lots more.

    I think your wife’s town is on the Atlantic coast near the Spanish border. I’m near Nice, which is near Italy — your wife probably knows where that is. So not too close.


    Comment by ktismatics — 22 January 2007 @ 10:20 am

  109. John, your one extremely bright cookie. Whilst I could never claim to come close to you in depth and insight I do have one thing in common, I read widely (and above my station)

    The funny thing with Christians and atheists I did notice, many unpleasant things are blamed on peoples atheitism rather than there humanity or lack there off.

    Where its possible to see religion underpinning the odd evil act, its not quite the same in reverse. If that makes sense?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 January 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  110. I agree with you. Atheists blame religion, believers blame atheism, but I think there’s just something about our species that keeps us from making the same mistakes over and over. I remember your list of terrible moments in history instigated by religion. Then comes the 20th century with Hitler and Stalin and Mao. I think behind all these catastrophes is a willingness of people with power to shape the world to their liking regardless of the consequences.


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 January 2007 @ 1:15 pm

  111. Ivan,

    evil is very terribly real. we see it almost daily in the lives around us. heart attacks, cancer, accidents, all sorts of catastrophic wrongs. The poor are worse affected but suffering is a general experience that wealth cannot aleviate.

    the major religions put the blame on man (Xtianity, Judaism)or on ‘being’ more generally (Hinduism, Buddhism) . the more powerful one’s religion makes god, the greater this problem.

    i don’t have a prescription for this ill. there are many things that i don’t know and cannot fathom and the existence of evil is certainly one of them. i know that God is both loving and just. Someday, perhaps, He will enlighten me about the what and the why.

    One thing that helps me through is that Jesus lived, experienced and felt the horrors. i know from His response that He did not enjoy it one bit. So there is a sense of sharing for this grief. If i am grieved, God is much more grieved.

    The question is what to do about it and the answer that I see in Jesus is “everything you can”. We have a problem, we have to be as much a part of the solution as we can.

    atheism or even hard agnosticism seem to me to be a bit of a cop out. that’s just the way it is, that’s how it has always been and that’s how it will always be. there is no hope here merely avaoidance. if this world is just like this as a part of a mechanistic universe, then why the angst? babies with swollen heads – so what, nature at work as usual!


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 January 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  112. So are you saying God can’t influence Nature? And what do you mean Atheists are a “cop out” ? Copping out of what exactly?


    Comment by Ivan — 23 January 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  113. Saml,

    I am having a slow brain day. Could you re-explain your post? I don’t understand it (and yes its just me)



    Comment by Ivan — 24 January 2007 @ 10:43 am

  114. 1. God is both loving and just.
    2. So there probably is a reasonable explanation for evil but I am not privy to what that is.
    3. God feels our pain along with us. That’s both in the nature of God and especially as God has chosen to suffer along with us – in Jesus.
    4. We have to recognise that evil exists and fight it to the best of our ability.

    Atheism seems to say that both altruism and evil are equally valid parts of ‘how things are’. The desire to avoid evil or even to identify certain things as ‘wrong’ is just as accidental, the species survives better that way and thats all there is to it. i.e. intrinsically nothing is either evil or good, it just is the way it is and if we are smart atheiists we won’t make such a big deal of it…

    I think that this is a very basic denial of man’s essential being. We don’t value ‘good’ and hate ‘evil’ (or even identify them as such) for purely accidental reasons but rather because there really is a good that is grounded in who God is and in what God has made us.


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 January 2007 @ 11:02 am

  115. Saml,

    I’m not sure I agree with that. But going back to the children born with hydro-encephalitic, Your saying this was an act of evil? Whose act? Its Gods evil isn’t it?


    Comment by Ivan — 24 January 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  116. Ivan,

    the idea that evil and good are all a part of God is found in some religions (like Hinduism and for example). As a follower of Jesus I don’t subscribe to that thought. From what I can see of Jesus He hated to see mankind and perhaps the world in this state. There are good things that we can appreciate but they seem to be outweighed by the nastiness.

    Disease of any sort falls into this category. So does man’s inhumanity to man! The bible seems to say that man chose this lot by rebelling against God.

    What Jesus specifically enjoins for His followers is to try to turn this evil on its head in our personal lives and actions. Of course this will not result in the cessation of disease, here the best that we can do is to try to advance our science to cure or perhaps prevent the worst of the ills. There is some sense that we can alleviate the suffering (to some extent) by being willing to share in others griefs.

    There is little, outside of Jesus, that we can do about the nasiness that resides within ourselves though!


    Comment by samlcarr — 25 January 2007 @ 8:41 pm

  117. Saml,

    So there are some pretty serious limmits on what God can actually do then?



    Comment by Ivan — 25 January 2007 @ 10:46 pm

  118. Saml,

    Focusing for a moment on grotesquely deformed children and putting human nastiness aside for a second.
    What do you suppose went on in that Kew hospital? Was it the work of God? If not, was it the work of some other evil force like Satan? Does it fit in the crap happens box ? Is God in any way involved? Does outcomes such as this impact intelligent design thinking? Is God powerless over certain things such as this? Does Gods holy powers have limits? Bear in mind, this problem the Children had wasn’t any “disease” as such.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 January 2007 @ 7:36 am

  119. If God didn’t actually create the material universe then he’s off the hook: it’s just raw nature blundering along as usual. Maybe God can fix things like hydrocephaly but it takes a long time and a lot of work by fellow sentient beings.

    Some evangelicals believe that all disease and death resulted from Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden. This would pretty much eliminate the idea of man evolving through survival of the fittest, I suppose.


    Comment by ktismatics — 26 January 2007 @ 10:33 am

  120. And some punishment for there sin ay.. Ktismatics?

    I thought Saml was of the opinion God did create and acts in the natural universe. I was just curious how people integrate that bad stuff in the God argument.



    Comment by Ivan — 27 January 2007 @ 1:52 am

  121. Ivan and John,

    sorry for the delay in getting back to you, it’s been an unusually busy couple of days.

    Yes, I do believe that God created and that God acts. I’m not certain that I have any kind of answer though for the things that are so obviously wrong with our world. Why entropy at all?

    However painful to God (must be much more painful than it is to us as we can so easily forget and it takes something like a “Kew Hospital experience” to remind us) God does seem to limit His intervention to a specific path that he has chosen though I am very vague as to the reasons for this.

    The redemption of this world (even universe?) seems to be being done in stages that for some reason most specifically call for mankind to find its way back to God.

    To my small mind it looks like a hard route indeed, but that is the way it is.

    That may not exactly be what you are asking. I guess your question is more along the lines of “is God responsible?” and “why doesn;t He do something about it?”…


    Comment by samlcarr — 27 January 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  122. And why laws on thermodynamics at all. I just wanted to focus in on Kew Hospital. I get tired of the “mysterious” ways of looking at things and wanted a specific and theoretical kind of answer. What’s in it for God to deform kids? Were they not deformed were they going to cause the end of the world or something? Why just not have them born in the first place. I can’t imagine a scenario that would be worthy of such cruelty. I just wondered what you thought Saml? As an atheist, I see it in random,mutation type event. I don’t imagine a God in this in the first place, but you do, and I was keen on hearing your rationality.

    And Saml, I wouldn’t say either that you have a “small mind” when you think about it, Gods plan of sacreficing his son, the only sinless guy wasn’t really in anyway a “fantastic plan” I’m not sure God does all that much better than us myself.



    Comment by Ivan — 28 January 2007 @ 12:25 am

  123. Well Ivan,
    I am reduced finally to analogy to clarify the limits of my thinking!

    Two people stand by the side of a road, preparing to cross. Vehicles are plying that road. One person (A)sees a gap and starts over, the other one (B);

    I. decides that it’s too dangerous and remains, but does nothing to interfere with A’s action…

    II. decides that it’s too dangerous, stays on the sidewalk and tries to tell A that it’s too risky.

    III. knows that it’s going to be fatal but steps across with A.

    The fourth scenario is that there is no B. A is strictly on his own.

    V. …B grabs A by the hand and steps out while modulating the traffic to prevent an accident.

    I. seems to me to be what philosophical Hinduism advocates (non-involvement).

    II. Is what many morality code religions profess.

    III. Is the JesusCreed.

    IV. Is where atheism and perhaps Buddhism take their stand.

    V. Pretty much includes all fundamentalism, Christian, Muslim or whatever.

    The question of whence the road, wither the vehicles etc. are largely the territory of philosophy/religion and now, it seems, science too.


    Comment by samlcarr — 29 January 2007 @ 10:06 am

  124. So God is responsible for what happened to those children?


    Comment by Ivan — 29 January 2007 @ 10:55 pm

  125. Ivan,

    Don’t know the answer to that one yet but i suspect not. I suspect that I am responsible for what happened to those kids. In spite of which, right now, in my field of vision, I’m at number III.

    But that’s geting into doctrine/theology/philosophy and i know that it’s pretty much futile to expect to be able to work it all out. I’d rather be practical, accept the forgiveness that I have in Jesus and start walking the hard road behind Him to try and do whatever little i can.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts, the few atheists I’ve talked to in some detail can’t reconcile their concern about the evil around them with their philosophical belief that it’s a necessary part of a mechanistic and somewhat random universe… perhaps very necessary for such random ‘mistakes’ are what drive evolution in the first place… tough luck kids.


    Comment by samlcarr — 30 January 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  126. Saml,
    I don’t know enough about it medically. But I suspect some kind of genetic susceptibility. But honestly I don’t know. What I am still curious about though is, I visit a lot of Christian sites from time to time, and I can’t tell you how many times people have professed the all powerful and miraculous nature of their God. Sometimes they even go all intelligent design on me. But always when you place a little piece of concrete reality in front, God is all of a sudden off the hook and its all the fault of sinful old man again. It makes not an iota of sense to me. And it hasn’t made sense for centuries and why we have “mysterious ways” etc. The more powerful your God is, the harder deformed kids are to explain. Yet it happens, and worse. I find it a joy to read Christian rationalisations on this topic. Deformed stuff.. snakes with dual heads, ducks without feathers happens randomly throughout the natural world and of course its going to happen to humans. But if you believe in this all powerful cosmic God who knows you down to the hairs on a sparrows head, you would think, Hey…why does he do this to innocent children? I await a Christian answer sir.



    Comment by Ivan — 30 January 2007 @ 11:25 pm

  127. Ivan,
    I surely don’t have any ready made answer. One thing I decided long back was that when i do get a chance i surely will ask God whether he couldn’t have come up with anything less traumatic!

    But then, paradoxically this is one of those very things that is convincing (to me) that God does exist and that he is a loving God.

    It is surely strange that we feel the pain as much as enjoy the pleasures of this life as acutely as we do. Things seem so delicately balanced, placing each of us on the knife edge of decision, faith or rejection?

    Free will is sustained. there is no overwhelming force driving us to God, it is strictly up to us to decide, without the evidence pushing us wholesale either into or out of God’s kingdom…


    Comment by samlcarr — 31 January 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  128. Sam, I liked the crossing the street metaphor. Mythic. I suppose if this were a play by Samuel Beckett both A and B would be waiting to cross without ever actually making their move.


    Comment by ktismatics — 1 February 2007 @ 7:54 am

  129. Ivan, that’s scenario VI, agnosticism!


    Comment by samlcarr — 1 February 2007 @ 8:05 am

  130. Saml,

    Can you explain the “loving God” thing to me again in relation to these children? How is it an example paradoxially?
    I presume it helps if your not one of the said children..I guess.



    Comment by Ivan — 1 February 2007 @ 8:37 am

  131. “If God lived on earth, people would break his windows.” (Old Yiddish saying)


    Comment by ktismatics — 2 February 2007 @ 11:11 am

  132. I heard another saying: If God didn’t exist we would have to invent her. On the other hand,if God did exist we would have to kill her.


    History records very little in the way of mental activity on the part of the mass of mankind except a series of stampedes from affirmative errors into negative ones and back again.

    Ktismatics and Saml,
    I am sorry for boring you both banging on about the children in Kew hospital. Christianity doesn’t make sense to me as you both know, sometimes I get mentally stuck on one of the speedbumps of life, in this case deformed children, and need to have this rationalised against all the “sayings” that we attribute to God the good and Good the love. In my head it simply doesn’t make sense, and Saml answers don’t help me much. Its the little things that keep me in the ocean of Atheitism.



    Comment by Ivan — 2 February 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  133. Guys, apologies for the silence, you will have to put up with me for a couple days till i get back into town…



    Comment by samlcarr — 4 February 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  134. No rush Sam I thought you were busy.



    Comment by Ivan — 4 February 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  135. Hi,

    sorry, just got back from a rather hectic trip and one without time for thought or good net access.

    Ivan, that God is good and loving I conclude only on the basis of Jesus. Whatever ‘explanations’ i may come up with for how the world is as it is etc. are strictly my own speculations. As you are inviting me to speculate let me give it a shot, tho the result will probably disappoint you as much as any of my previous sallies!

    As i know the world, it’s a strange mixture of good and bad. perhaps the balance is tilted a bit towards the bad side but then that is my opinion. Bad includes the deformed babies, death, loveless, purposeless life, as well as actively doing nasty things to one another. The good things are altruism, beauty, love, and life itself.

    From what I can garner from Jesus teaching He asks me to be thankful for the good things and to bear with the bad things while trying my best to make things as good and as less bad as I can. the question of why couldn’t the bad have been done away with seems to have something to do with mankind as a species continuing to be in rebellion against God. That is God has left mankind with a choice and each and every day we are exercising that choice.

    The story right through the bible can be summarised as: After many attempts to bring us back by talking to us have failed, finally God comes to us as one of us to show us that there is a better way, that He still cares and wants us back. i.e. It is still up to each of us to see that truth and to respond to it however irrational it may seem.

    as someone who appreciates a postmodern perspective, i am not that enamoured of rationality as the ultimate guide to truth. if i were not a follower of Jesus, with many other PoMo friends i might well doubt that there is such a thing as truth to be sought…


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 February 2007 @ 7:42 am

  136. Saml,

    I fully understand the need for Christians to be apologists for God, I don’t understand why you let him off the hook for every single incidence of evil in the world. What choices of man could possibly explain a hydroencephaletic child? I find your rationalisations irrational to my mind. It just doesn’t make any sense. I question big time, your assumption that mankind is “rebelling” against God I say we are doing the exact opposite, obeying God yet it doesn’t make a skerrick of difference with how the world unfolds.. its still random. Its still chaotic. Evil still unfolds, pointless evil, and great catastrophes still unfold that can only be the work of a loving God. I still for the life of me cannot see an aspect of “love” to do with a deity and human beings. It doesn’t exist .


    Saml, did you have a good trip? was it business or pleasure?


    Comment by Ivan — 7 February 2007 @ 11:54 pm

  137. Wow, this has been a long an interesting thread…

    Ivan, if you don’t mind my 2 cents… Why does the exisence of an hydroencephaletic child (or evil for that matter) detract from the notion of God, who is Holy and all Loving?


    Comment by inetebiz — 8 February 2007 @ 11:02 pm

  138. Ivan,

    seems like you are demanding that God follow your reductionist pattern for what is right and wrong! I’m not sure how causation can be attributed to someone who may not even be bound by time so the logic that you made it happen so you are responsible may not be relevant especially when the results that are being played out seem to be interactive – man acting ‘independently’ has and is shaping how things are worked out.

    that may seem like a cop out but that’s not what it’s meant to be, it’s an honest doubt. i have questions but i don’t know whether they are meaningful. still i do have the confidence that answers do exist – seek and you shall find, ask … someday!


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 February 2007 @ 4:33 pm

  139. Hi There Inetebiz,
    I didn’t want to stay down this track, But I was determined to try and understand a small piece of Christian thinking. OmnipitentGod verses bad things happening has been a discussion for centuries. When I read pieces of how Christians describe what they believe God to be, you can only come to the opinion he intentionally causes some things to happen. The Children in the Kew hospital was to me an interesting example. It wasn’t my original example but one of another chaps called Terry Lane. When rationalising this, people frequently mention the “loving God” and to be honest I don’t quite understand many of his “loving” acts. Particularly loving acts of nature. I was trying to find some answers so I could better understand.



    Comment by Ivan — 9 February 2007 @ 11:43 pm

  140. Saml,
    Well you may be right. But I would say to you, that this isn’t how Christians portray God in there advertising at all (being outside of time) they regularly and with great repetitively thank God for all the good things, rain after drought, or tornados missing houses as if God acts here and now physically in the same moment as us.He also clearly does Biblically too. So is God responsible for the Kew Children? If your going to say no he isn’t.. and God is divorced from causality, Then of what good is God to us? Of what possible benefit can prayer provide? Gods either of value to us or not your saying then he can’t interfere with stuff down here at ground zero?



    Comment by Ivan — 9 February 2007 @ 11:50 pm

  141. Ivan,
    can’t is a word that i am unqualified to use about God (or anything else for that matter). i’m trying to be a bit more modest in my own thinking, starting with what little i think i know and am really not too keen on extrapolating grand schemes of everything from that!

    God’s love (sorry to be stuck on this but it is mey starting point) is Jesus. Based on what Jesus said and did I assume that God can intervene if He wants to but that He does not generally do so as the main point of the story so far is that He wants us to decide, based on a fairly evenly balanced set of data, whether we choose to follow Him or not.

    I believe that He does care, even about the smallest of our misfortunes but, like any good teacher, does not always fall over Himself to give us the easy answer. But here i’m idly speculating…

    the challenge to me is in Jesus, am I going to follow Him or not? following does not, to my thinking, mean that i should expect Him to create a good parking spot … it probably does mean that if I take Him seriously and live a life oriented to justice, truth and love that i will end up where He did, in principle if not in actual practice, because i do believe that man (myself included) by and large much prefers darkness to light and we become very incomfortable when light is shone on our darkness.

    that, for me, is where the rubber hits the road, daily!


    Comment by samlcarr — 11 February 2007 @ 7:14 am

  142. Hi Ivan,

    You said that you don’t understand God’s loving acts, particularly God’s loving acts of nature. Hopefully I can unpack this for you. But realize, there are a couple of things working here. When we look at the essence of God we know that God loves, however, God’s love is not based on what he does, God is not loving because he loves. But rather God is loving because he is love.. it is about what he is, its about his nature. Jesus said (I don’t hesitate to quote Jesus to you because you keep a statue of him on your desk) that you can tell a tree by its fruit. That a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit, and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. That you don’t get both bad fruit and good fruit from the same tree… And it’s the same with God. God loves because he is love. And that whatever God does flows from his nature. So it about the nature of God, and remember that God has other qualities, for instance God is Holy and Righteous and we cannot ignore or over emphasize one of God’s attributes at the expense of the other. That all of God’s attributes work together, they are his essence and there is no contradiction or confusion in them.

    Now in the context of this discussion, when we look at the creation, the world we live in, its nature; what we experience here and now is not the same as it was when God created it. It is not the same because all of creation has been subjected to frustration and is groaning. So when we see disease and illness, we see things that are the outworking of the frustration that all of creation has been subjected. So now at this point you probably thinking all of creation was frustrated? All of creation was frustrated in the fall; and the fall is connected God’s holiness and justice. And again, let’s not ignore or over emphasize one of God’s attributes at the expense of another that is justice or righteousness at the expense of holiness, and holiness at the expense of love.

    I stop here in the spirit of keeping the discussion focused…


    Comment by inetebiz — 12 February 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  143. Saml,

    Can you explain the light darkness thing for me? I have heard some kind of similar thing said before by a Christian group and I am not sure I fully understand..can you give me an example?



    Comment by Ivan — 16 February 2007 @ 4:27 am

  144. Hi there Inetebitz,

    Are you saying God is an emotional reponse? I am not sure I understand. I also am having difficulty with the concept of letting God off the hook because the world now is somehow different to the world at first point of human habitation.. Its just not clear to me. I also would ask if you could rationalise the God that “is” love with the lovely unfolding of the Kew hospital infants? What would you then give to me as an example of say.. something evil? I can’t grasp your image of God with what I see as common reality.
    If that makes sense?



    Comment by Ivan — 16 February 2007 @ 4:33 am

  145. Inetebiz,

    I am very interested in the post you made to me about frustration and groaning and the resulting disease. I have never had anybody explain it to me this way. some questions:

    1. How did you come about this explanation? What made you start to think down this particular path?

    2. Saml, what do you think of Inetebiz’s comments?



    Comment by Ivan — 16 February 2007 @ 8:39 am

  146. Ivan,

    Justice, truth and love just about sums up Jesus teaching, that and the concept of sacrificial, self givingness. These are the characteristics that John opens his ‘story of Jesus’ with and he calls this “light”

    The opposite is what is called darkness; injustice, selfishness, and untruth.

    The Genesis story (1st book of the bible) is about man’s creation as God’s gardener and man’s subsequent disobedience resulting in “the fall” of man. Later in the bible it is stated that not only did man fall but he dragged the creation also into a state of falleness and the entire creation now ‘groans’ awaiting God’s redemption of the world.

    It’s a pretty good explanation for what we are and the state that this world finds itself in!


    Comment by samlcarr — 17 February 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  147. Saml,

    But wasn’t this just “2” people? And I think it was Eve that made the mistake wasn’t it? How does this translate to all of mankind being driven towards evil? This isn’t what I see at all.
    I don’t agree at all that we are waiting on some kind of God driven redemptive action, there are thousands of cases of Humans acting for the common good of us all irrespective of any religious influence.
    Saml, wasn’t Jesus’s actions one of inclusion and equality for the poor wretches of the day excluded from Jewish temples? The sacrefice was of Jesus getting murdered which really wasn’t him killing himself if you get my point? Saml where does Jesus say to “forgive yourself” in the bible?
    I think you lay a ton of blame on “man” but continue to let your God off the hook. Do you think God is in anyway guilty of committing design flaws in that we have this capacity of sinning?

    Whose computer committed Hari Kari last week.


    Comment by Ivan — 18 February 2007 @ 6:42 am

  148. Ivan,

    i can appreciate that you have a problem thinking that there may be something like free will but the bible story simply does not make any sense in a deterministic environment as far as man’s role is concerned. Man is set off in Genesis as special and as free to choose. One does not give someone freedom of choice and then nullify that choice. The action had and has consequences.

    In some sense germinally or otherwise we were all participants in Eve and Adam’s disobedience and we do so continue to be.

    Next, as far as the universe groaning and waiting for God’s redemption (inetebiz), this is specifically about the rest of creation – the part that has no choice. We humans are in the position of having seen Jesus and now are left with a choice, to follow or not…

    God will redeem the world and restore it (that’s predicted in the bible) but Jesus demand to His followers is to follow His lifestyle here and now, i.e. His actions, and as you so rightly point out that is indeed revolutionarily and iconoclastically proactive. there is no question of ‘waiting around’ for God to do His bit, in fact Jesus predicts that many people will precisely be too laid back and they will be the first to face God’s rejection!

    btw, In what way would it help if I were to blame God for everything?


    Comment by samlcarr — 18 February 2007 @ 11:28 am

  149. Hi Saml,

    Good explanation, thank you sir!

    I didn’t want you to blame God for “everything” as such.. I merely thought as God gets thanked for all and sundry if the outcome is a positive one, I had noticed that he never gets any kind of blame for the bad stuff. He is always cosmically off the hook. I had thought this was because people were frightened in some way. Interestingly, the only time I ever hear of people of faith getting angry and blaming the diety is the unfortunate occurrence of the death of a child.



    Comment by Ivan — 19 February 2007 @ 7:24 am

  150. Ivan,

    Sorry to hear that you computer went Hari Kari on you last week. I’ll try to respond to your questions as best as I can.

    First off, God is not an emotional response… we can be emotional with our response to God. If anything we understand God through logic, which is consistent with the Apostle John’s introduction of Christ in the Gospel, where he says that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2) and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

    John talks about the essential Word of God, Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God. In the original Greek the word used for “Word” is Logos, which is also used with respect to the MIND alone – reason, the mental faculty of thinking, meditating, reasoning, and calculating. In fact we arrive at the English word logic from the Greek word logos.

    As for letting God off the hook… again, let’s be careful not to play God’s love against God’s justice. It sounds like you are saying that a loving God has a responsibility in His love over things that happen in this fallen world like the Kew hospital infants. Why? What is it that you are expecting from God?

    Also, you said that you are interested in the explanation that I offered and wanted to know why I went down that path. The explanation I offered is fundamental to Christian thinking. The apostle Paul offers a discussion on these things in his letter to the Romans. Particularly, Paul discusses the fall, Eve was deceived, but it is Adam who credited with sin and Paul goes on to say that it is by Adam’s offence and disobedience that death and sin are introduced into the world; and Adam’s nature is passed down to all mankind because through the one, many were made sinners and judgment came upon all men. Paul also talks about the reign of death as it relates to the law of God, the transgression of which is death and that God’s law is not to be presumed to be the law of Moses because Death reigned from Adam to Moses and sin is not imputed where there is no law. Paul then continues in his discourse on the awesomeness of Christ’s works and how His righteousness and life is made available to all believers. In a like manner, through the righteousness and obedience of one, that is Christ as the second Adam, many are made righteous and this is the free gift that has come upon all. Paul then expounds on the greatest truth in the Gospel that grace and love is available through Christ, and is all sufficient and all effective to overcome the guilt of sin and death that Adam first introduced.

    Again, I’ll stop here towards the ends of being focused..

    Respectfully submitted


    Comment by inetebiz — 19 February 2007 @ 9:38 pm

  151. Hi there Inetebiz,
    I guess what I expect from a God, is that he lives up to the publicity. I don’t think he does at all. I understand your writings from John, But as I understand it, its thought that John hadn’t actually met Jesus. His writings are more geared towards how he “wants” God and Jesus to be rather than how they might have actually been. This has been my understanding anyway.
    In regards to Adam, don’t you think a lifetime of death for all humanity down through the ages for one sin a bit harsh? Seriously.. does this not sound more like a dictator than a God?
    Hey and don’t worry about taking the discussion of course, your a very interesting explainer!

    kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 21 February 2007 @ 7:15 am

  152. Hi Ivan,

    I just want to make of quick mention on your comment about John. John is one of the 12 apostles. John was known as the disciple whom Jesus loved and was one of three that was part of Jesus’ inner circle, who witnessed more than the others (of Jesus miracles, his transfiguration, his agony etc.) John writings are first hand accounts and are a testimony of the ministry of Jesus Christ on this earth. And please do not discount the importance of an eye witness first hand testimony, in our justice system the eye witness account and testimony of a murder is enough to gain a conviction.

    Onto the other matters, the term dictator has a negative connation of being a tyrant or a despot. God is not a dictator. God is an absolute ruler and does have absolute power but nevertheless you find that offensive. In previous parts of this discussion/thread you make a claim to atheism and at the same time you seem troubled by the presence of evil in this world, and argue that since evil exists that this is incompatible with the Christian God, thus there is no God or it at least this shows that what Christianity affirms about God is false.. (e.g. what has been publicized and that God is merely a dictator). I want to unpack this some more, but just beware, that my discussion is going to be very comprehensive because of all the issues that are at work here. So in that spirit my response will be in several posts… hopefully it will have some continuity and push the discussion along.

    See what happens when you tell me not to worry!


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:29 pm

  153. Ivan, the discussion at hand:

    Christians affirm that God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and all-loving. Therefore, reason says that since God is all-powerful, the he possesses the ability to terminate evil, and if he is all-loving, then he wishes to terminate evil; however, since evil exists, this means that God does not exist, or at least it means that the things Christians publicize or affirm about God are false. That is, even if God exists, since evil also exists, he cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving; therefore, Christianity must be false. So at best Christians, have a problem with evil.


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  154. The problem with the free-will explanation…

    Now, many will offer a “free will” explanation when answering the problem of evil, that in the context of biblical narratives, this approach states that when God created man, he wanted to grant him free will – a power to make independent decisions, even to rebel against his maker. Of course, God was aware that man would sin, but this is the price of granting man free will. By creating man with free will, God also created the potential for evil, but as the free will argument goes, since man is truly free, the actualization of this potential for evil can be blamed only on man himself. Those who use the free will argument add that the potential or even the actualization of evil is not too high a price for granting man genuine free will.

    To many, the free will argument sounds plausible and reasonable, it is an irrational and unbiblical theodicy – it fails to answer the problem of evil, and it contradicts Scripture. First, the free will argument doesn’t address the problem, but rather shifts the discussion from why evil exists in God’s universe to why God created a universe with the potential for such great evil. Second, many affirm that God is omniscient (all-knowing), so that he did not create the universe and humankind realizing only that they had the potential to become evil; rather, he knew for certain that there would be evil. Thus either directly or indirectly, God created evil.

    Now, we can distinguish between natural evil and moral evil – natural evil includes things like the Kew Hospital kids, earthquakes and floods, whereas moral evil refers to the wicked actions that humans commit. Even if the free will argument provides a satisfactory explanation for moral evil, it fails to adequately address natural evil. Some may claim that it is moral evil that leads to natural evil; however, only God has the power to create a relationship between the two, so that earthquakes and floods do not have any necessary connections with murder and theft unless God makes it so – that is, unless God decides to cause earthquakes and floods because of murder and theft committed by his creatures. Thus God again appears to be the ultimate cause of evil, whether natural or moral.

    Even if Adam’s sin had brought death and decay, not only to mankind but also to the animals, Scripture insists that not one sparrow can die apart from God’s will (Matthew 10:29). That is, if there is any connection between moral evil and natural evil, the connection is not inherent (as if anything is inherent apart from God’s will), but rather sovereignly imposed by God. Even the seemingly insignificant cannot occur without, not merely the permission, but the active will and decree of God. Christians are not deists – we do not believe that this universe operates by a set of natural laws that are independent from God. The Bible shows us that God is now actively running the universe, so that nothing can happen or continue apart from God’s active power and decree (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). If we should use the term at all, what we call “natural laws” are only descriptions about how God regularly acts, although he is by no means bound to act in those ways.

    God controls everything that is and everything that happens. There is not one thing that happens that he has not actively decreed – not even a single thought in the mind of man including the birth of the Kew Hospital kids. Since this is true, it follows that God has decreed the existence of evil, he has not merely permitted it, as if anything can originate and happen apart from his will and power. There is no creature that can make completely independent decisions, therefore, evil could never have started without God’s active decree, and it cannot continue for one moment longer apart from God’s will. God decreed evil ultimately for his own glory, although it is not necessary to know or to state this reason to defend Christianity from the problem evil.

    Those who see that it is impossible to altogether disassociate God from the origination and continuation of evil nevertheless try to distance God from evil by saying that God merely “permits” evil, and that he does not cause any of it. However, since Scripture itself states that God actively decrees everything, and that nothing can happen apart from his will and power, it makes no sense to say that he merely permits something – nothing happens by God’s mere permission. Since “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), on a metaphysical level, it is impossible to do anything at all in independence from God. Without him, a person cannot even think or move. How, then, can evil be devised and committed in total independence from him? How can one even think evil apart from God’s will and purpose? I do not need to “protect” God from something that he does not need protection from, and I happily acknowledge with the Bible that God has actively decreed evil


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  155. Hey that’s not fair…

    Now, you may be thinking or even want to challenge God’s right and justice in decreeing the existence of evil for his own glory and purpose. But, God as the creator has the right to do whatever he wants with his creatures. And not one of his creatures has any right to take an objection in the first place. The apostle Paul deals with this when he says: “One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” Romans 9:19-21).

    In fact, a person having difficulty accepting that God would decree the existence of evil implies that he finds something “wrong” with God making such a decree. However, what is the standard of right and wrong by which this person judges God’s actions? If there is a moral standard superior to God, to which God himself is accountable and by which God himself is judged, then this “God” is not God at all; rather, this higher standard would be God. However, the Christian concept of God refers to the highest being and standard, so there is by definition nothing higher. In other words, if there is something higher than the “God” that a person is arguing against, then this person is not really referring to the Christian God. Since this is the case, there is no standard higher than God to which God himself is accountable and by which God himself is judged. Therefore, it is logically impossible to accuse God of doing anything morally wrong.

    Jesus says that only God is good (Luke 18:19), so that all “goodness” in other things can only be derivative. God’s nature defines goodness itself, and since he “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), he is the sole and constant standard of goodness. No matter how moral I am, one cannot consider me the objective standard of goodness, since even the word “moral” is meaningless unless it is used relative to God’s character. That is, how “moral” a person is refers to the degree of conformity of his character to God’s character. To the degree that a person thinks and acts in accordance with God’s nature and commands, he is moral. Otherwise, there is no moral difference between altruism and selfishness; virtue and vice are meaningless concepts; rape and murder are not crimes, but amoral events.

    Now, since God calls himself good, and since God has defined goodness for us by revealing his nature and commands, evil is thus defined as anything that is contrary to his nature and commands. Since God is good, and since he is the only definition of goodness, it is also good that he decreed the existence of evil. There is no standard of good and evil by which we can denounce his decree as wrong or evil. I am not affirming that evil is good – that would be a contradiction – but I am saying that God’s decree for the existence of evil is good. For instance, in Hebrews 6:13 we see “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself.” In other words, there is no one to hold God accountable, and there is no court to which one may drag him in order to press charges against him. No one judges God; rather, every person is judged by him. (Other related Scriptures Job 9:3-12; Job 40:2-8; Isaiah 45:9-11 and Romans 11:33-36).


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  156. Back to the main point:

    So then it stands that the argument that (1) if the Christian God is all-powerful and all-loving, (2) if he is all-powerful, then he is able to end all evil, (3) if he is all-loving then he wants to end all evil, (4) but evil still exists, (5) then the Christian God does not exist. The argument is flawed in that premise (3), namely, in that the definition of love, wanting to end all evil. That is, by what definition of love do we know that an all-loving God would want to destroy evil? Or, by what definition of love do we know that an all-loving God would have already destroyed evil?
    If this definition of love comes from outside of the Christianity, then why must the Christian worldview answer to it? To form an argument using a non Christian definition of love would make the argument irrelevant as a challenge to Christianity. On the other hand, if we take the definition of love from the Bible, then the one who uses this argument must show that the Bible itself defines love in a way that requires an all-loving God to destroy evil, or to have already destroyed evil. Unless you can successfully defend premise (3), the argument from the problem of evil fails before we even finish reading it.
    Now, if you use a non-biblical definition of love in premise (1), then the argument is a straw man fallacy from the start. But if the you use the biblical definition of love in premise (1), and then substitutes a non-biblical definition of love in premise (3), then you commits the fallacy of equivocation. If so, then the most that his argument accomplishes is to point out that he has a non-biblical definition of love, but it would be completely irrelevant as a challenge to Christianity.
    On the other hand, if you try to use the biblical definition of love, then for your argument to be relevant, Scripture itself would have to define love in a way that requires God to destroy evil, or to have already destroyed evil. However, although Scripture teaches that God is loving, it also teaches that there is evil in this world, and that this evil is ultimately under God’s complete and sovereign control. Therefore, Scripture itself denies that there is any contradiction between the love of God and the existence of evil.
    For the argument from the problem of evil to stand, you must establish the premise, “The love of God contradicts the existence of evil,” or something to that effect. But Scripture itself does not affirm this premise, and if you try to argue for this premise with definitions of love and evil found in your own non-biblical worldview, then all you have done is to successfully show that the biblical worldview is different from the non-biblical worldview. Obviously, we already know this, but what has become of the problem of evil? Ivan are you pointing to the scriptural teaching about God’s love, then using a non-biblical definition of love that requires God to destroy evil, to form “contradiction” that proves God to be false or something other that the Christian God?.
    If a you want to challenge the Bible or hold the Bible accountable for what it says, then you must first let it define its own terms; otherwise, you are only challenging what the Bible does not say, which makes the objection irrelevant. The non-Christian must demonstrate why God’s love necessarily implies that he must or that he desire to destroy evil, or that it necessarily implies that he must have or that he desires to have already destroyed evil.
    To say something like, “Because a loving God would want to relieve suffering of the Kew Hospital kids,” does not help at all, since it only restates the premise in different words, so that the same question remains. Why must a loving God desire to relieve suffering? How does one define suffering in the first place? If you cannot define either love or suffering, or if you cannot logically impose your definitions on the Christian, then your premise amounts to saying that a God with an undefined attribute L must desire to destroy or to have destroyed an undefined E. But if he can define neither L nor E, then what intelligible premise do you have from which to construct an intelligible argument against Christianity.
    Also, be careful not to think “well God would want to triumph over evil.” Again, what is the definition of “triumph”? If God himself is the ultimate cause of evil, and if God exercises total and constant control over it, then in what sense is he ever “losing” to evil? So whatever you say, you are faced with the same problem, and it is impossible for you to establish that the love of God contradicts the existence of evil.


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  157. What does the Bible say?

    The Bible teaches about both the love of God and the reality of suffering, and thus it is legitimate to conclude that, from the biblical perspective, the love of God does not necessarily imply that he must destroy evil, or that he must have already destroyed it. Of course this may not be so from the non-biblical perspective, but again, this only shows that the biblical worldview disagrees with non-biblical worldviews, which we already know, and which is the reason for this discussion in the first place. But you still have not given me a real and intelligible objection.

    As long as you fail to establish premise (3), that the love of God contradicts the existence of evil, the Christian is under no obligation to take seriously the problem of evil as an argument against Christianity. In fact, since you have not defined some of the key terms, logically who can even understand the argument – there is no argument, and there is no real objection to answer.


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  158. One Step further…

    Now, with that said, I am even willing to take the argument a step further… let say that we buy into the premise for now; that is, for the sake of discussion, I will assume that the love of God somehow contradicts the existence of evil, while keeping in mind that this is something that Scripture never teaches, and you have not established.

    Now, one might argue that given the existence of evil, the Christian God cannot logically exist. In response, we have already shown that you cannot establish the premise that an all-loving God must necessarily destroy evil or desire to destroy evil. Having said that, notice that the premises of the argument do not necessarily lead to your conclusion in the first place; rather, very different conclusions are possible:

    1. The Christian God is all-powerful and all-loving.
    2. If he is all-powerful, then he is able to end all evil.
    3. If he is all-loving, then he wants to end all evil.
    4. But evil still exists.
    5. Therefore, God has a good purpose for evil.

    1. The Christian God is all-powerful and all-loving.
    2. If he is all-powerful, then he is able to end all evil.
    3. If he is all-loving, then he wants to end all evil.
    4. But evil still exists.
    5. Therefore, God will eventually destroy evil.

    Without immediately stating whether or not we think the above two arguments are valid or invalid, the point is that in a valid argument, the premises must necessarily and inevitably lead to the conclusion. However, in the argument from the problem of evil, the premises by no means necessarily and inevitably lead to the conclusion. Therefore, the argument from the problem of evil is invalid.

    Instead of using the reality of evil to deny the existence of God, the two revised versions above come to two different conclusions. Again, I have not said whether these two revised versions are good arguments, and I have not said that the premises necessarily and inevitably lead to these two conclusions; rather, all I am trying to show is that the premises do not necessarily and inevitably lead to the non-Christian’s conclusion, and this is enough to show that your argument is invalid.


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:51 pm

  159. Yea, so what’s the purpose in that?

    Now you may say that if Christians claims that God has a good purpose for evil, then Christians must also state and defend this purpose. However, I have yet to see someone who has been able to show me why the Christians must state and defend this purpose. The discussion is about whether the given premises necessarily and inevitably lead to your conclusion. Whether or not there is a good purpose for evil, and whether or not Christians can state and defend this purpose, is completely irrelevant. As it is, the Bible indeed explains at part of God’s purpose for evil, but again, it is not logically necessarily or relevant to the discussion.


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 8:53 pm

  160. And now for something completely contrary…

    Furthermore, we can say that the existence of the Christian God is in fact the logical prerequisite for the existence of evil. That is, evil is meaningless and undefined without an objective and absolute standard of right and wrong, good and evil, and this standard can only be the Christian God.

    When the non-Christian states that evil exists, what does he mean by “evil”? He may be referring to greed, hate, murder, rape, earthquakes, floods, kids like the one in the Kew Hospital and the like. However, on what basis and by what standard does one call these things evil? Do you call these things evil just because you disapprove of them? Any definition or standard of evil that we give without appealing to the Christian God and the Christian Scripture is meaningless.

    For example, if you claim that murder is wrong because it violates the right to life of the victim, we only need to ask why the victim has any right to life? Who gives him this so-called right? Non-Christians? Who says that there is anything as a right in the first place? Non-Christians have tried many arguments, but all of them have been exposed as foolish and unjustified.

    On the other hand, the Christian affirms that murder is wrong, immoral, and evil because God forbids murder: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6); God explicitly disallows it when he says, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). It is consistent with the Christian worldview to say that murder is evil and that the murderer must be held accountable, but the non-Christian can never justify the same claim. He cannot even authoritatively define murder.6

    Your claims that evil exists, and from that basis evaluates what Christianity says about God. You use something that you claim to be obvious (evil) to refute something that he claims to be unobvious. However, the existence of evil is not obvious at all unless there is an absolute, objective, and universal moral standard, and that we somehow know this standard, so that we make evaluations with it. Since you fail to establish such a standard, and since you fail to establish how you know such a standard, all your references to evil are meaningless and unintelligible, and your argument from the problem of evil has no effect against Christianity. In fact, on the basis of your worldview, you do not even know what your own argument means.

    When a person denies the existence of God, he has no rational basis to affirm the existence of evil; by logical necessity, our recognition of God precedes our recognition of evil. Unless the Christian God is presupposed, evil remains undefined. When you argue against Christianity by using the problem of evil, the argument is not fair, because you borrow the moral absolute of Christianity in the process of arguing against Christianity. Yet, you cannot refer to any natural or moral evil without implicitly acknowledging a standard by which to judge something as evil. If you acknowledge the existence of evil, then you must first acknowledge the existence of God, but if you already acknowledge the existence of God, then the argument from the problem of evil is pointless.

    I know that you are objective, and hopefully are truly grasping the discussion. At this point, you are probably trying to offer some workable definition of evil to rescue your argument. But remember I am looking to you for a justification for your claims and definitions.

    Well, I’ve exhausted the argument and hopefully have not abused the privilege of discussing this on Ktismatics blog…

    Respectfully submitted…


    Comment by inetebiz — 21 February 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  161. I just thought I’d toss in a comment to break this incredible run by inetebiz. How is that pronounced: eye-net-e-biz? eye-neet-biz? What does it connote, this mysterious monicker?


    Comment by ktismatics — 21 February 2007 @ 9:46 pm

  162. Inetebiz, Its going to take me days to read your comments!! Stay tuned would you? It will take me a little time to read and get back. My computer died a few days ago, just a motherboard problem, and I had a crazy acccident cycling yesterday and dislocated one arm!! I’m ok, but I am typing one handed and can only borrow a computer intermittently whilst mine is being repaired. But stay with me I will get back



    Comment by Ivan — 21 February 2007 @ 10:48 pm

  163. Inetebiz,

    I have two problems with God. One is the fact I have been an atheist for something like 40 years. I’m 49 years old and have been an atheist that long! The God question fascinates me, and I read a fair bit about it and some biblical stuff also, but I have not read it all I have to admit. Dawkins recently put out a book called The God delusion, commenting on this book is what got me here on Ktismatics in the first place, a big thank you to John again for allowing that.
    Dawkins described Christians and Atheists on a numbered scale and on this scale I am the equal with a Christian fundamentalist but in the opposite direction.
    I didn’t realise that about me until reading that. The trouble is I don’t have the intellectual background to fully support my own position I guess I am not the smartest tool in the shed here. But I would like to learn.
    The comments I may make about Biblical authenticity is from stuff I read that usually quotes “most Biblical Scholars believe” or “Its popularly thought” etc etc. It’s not ever me making up the quote it’s usually something I have read in something reputable.
    The other thing is of course what I call “Christian advertising” often in slogan form nearly always unchallenged. I take note of this stuff and apply it to the world I inhabit and very often it refuses to make sense. God is love is one such line.. another.. He gave his only begotten son.. etc.. They are lines of advertising that don’t make a whole bunch of sense to me.
    Let me read and understand all you have kindly typed out for me and I am immensely grateful to you for doing this. And maybe I might be in a position to properly reply to you tonight.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 21 February 2007 @ 11:39 pm

  164. Dear inetebiz,

    I just had a low fat hamburger (McDonalds) and might make a few quick comments on your quite magnificent reply!
    I don’t know that John’s writings are “first hand” accounts. I know Christians need for them to be, but as I understand it, it’s more likely they are not at all. In fact, it’s likely they were written by some one who has not personally met Jesus. Similarly to the famous Sermon on the Mount being no sermon at all just a popular list of Jesus wisdom. I’m not the expert, but I have read people who are and this is the “scholarly” view as I understand it.
    You mention that eye witness accounts are good testimony? I say, they are not. Many people claim to witness entirely different things witnessing the one account. There are numerous studies, I can get you them if you want?
    God is not a dictator? Maybe not exactly, but pretty much almost wouldn’t you have to say?
    I read and re-read your passages on argument and logic, and pretty much all of them make no sense to me. I might have to go into it later in detail; I might not have the time this exact moment.
    Eg; Evil exists so God can’t exist? He can’t be all powerful and all loving so Christianity makes no sense? The supposition is the thing that makes no sense. You’re kind of in a logic trap.
    You say, God was aware man would sin? Well apparently not sir. If he was going to be “aware” he wouldn’t have been so eternally peed off with Adam now would he sir?
    The actualization of sin can only be blamed on man? Get out of here!! How did that work? Are you not letting your God off the hook with this argument?
    I agree, directly or indirectly God did create evil.
    You say you happily acknowledge that God actively decreed evil. This is my point. By definition it’s not much of an example of love is it?
    You say in the next paragraph God has the perfect “right” to create evil. So this is the God you want to worship right? The one creating a whole big lorry load of evil… we going to “whorship” him are we?
    Suddenly.. Satan isn’t looking all that bad.
    You ask by what standard do I hold God to? Inferring that mine might be substandard. We have laws now that would imprison God if he were a person because of the danger he would pose to humanity. My standards are non Biblical. I have sense of justice and sense of right, I hold him to a simple basic human standard of common decency. I say, your God does not meet this elementary standard of good.
    You equate later moral goodness as meaningless unless measured against your God, I fully refrute that sir. Morals have little if anything to do with either your bible or your God.
    You mention Abraham, and swearing to himself God can only be accountable to himself? Your right, or otherwise God would be guilty of child abuse and aggravated cruelty. In regards to the story of Abraham.
    Most of comment 5 your back in the logic trap. I need to explain this a bit but can’t right now. (lack of time) can I get back to you a little later?
    In the question about my description of God and love,towards the end of 5, I mean love in the conventional sense. No “wordplay” I mean love as every Church and preacher and Christian keeps referring to God and love. The basic definition of the word. This isn’t a trick question.
    You can’t keep using the argument that the bible must “define” its own terms.
    Inetebiz, no one.. Literally no one knows what the bible “means” They never did.. its why a Jesus who lived without money now has a word that is interpreted as God wants you to be a millionaire. Its why he can say Thou shall not kill and we kill 4000 Iraqi’s. It’s why we have literally hundreds of different religions just based on the Christian one alone! It makes no consistent sense even to people expert in the field.


    Comment by Ivan — 22 February 2007 @ 3:45 am

  165. Further,
    You say: because the God of love wouldn’t want to relieve the suffering of the Kew children? No, Inetebiz, I say, a loving God would not have created this monstrosity in the first place.
    Last paragraph of 6.

    What the? Oh yes my friend there is a case to answer. You’re playing semantics with the key terms. You know the popular or common definitions used to describe moral states good evil and love. The terms are clearly defined sir.
    Paragraph 7.
    5. Therefore has a good purpose for evil? What? You mean, provide employment for Psychiatric nursing? What possible case in the cosmos could exist for God allowing unadulterated cruelty of the Kew children? Your answer Gob smacks me!
    Therefore God will eventually destroy evil? How about not creating it in the first blinkin place!
    Paragraph 8 Christians MUST state and defend that purpose because you’re the guys selling a religion! You can’t make crazy God is love statements without backing the statement up. Its not God making these claims, its Christians interpreting a very old book that may or may not having anything to with a God.
    Question 9 middle paragraph.. What basis do I call this evil? Little teeny tiny babies with heads bigger than a huge watermelon? I’d say we were off to a good start in describing evil. Of course I disapprove. What other possible view could a humanist with a conscience have?
    What in the dickens do you mean evil has no definition against scripture? Scripture has nothing whatsoever to do with good and evil.
    Can I move to the last comment.. Rescuing an argument? Justifying my claims? You haven’t answered my central point. Your Christian advertising does not correlate with the real world experiences. God is either incompetent or not omnipotent. I say to you, why do we find the God who must have created or designed your God and find something up the chain that has a conscience. Your God clearly doesn’t.
    Do I make any sense or am I ranting again?
    Forgive me if I ranted. Its the lack of time I have and computer hours whilst my one gets fixed its very frustrating!

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 22 February 2007 @ 4:05 am

  166. Hi all,

    Sorry for my absence and silence. Just got back late last night after a very exciting animal census where the most frightening part (for me) was being totally responsible for fifteen 18-year-olds!

    It’s going to take me a while to catch up on this fascinating discussion, and I hope inetibiz will not mind if i keep offering the ‘free will’ option…

    more later,


    Comment by samlcarr — 22 February 2007 @ 6:23 am

  167. Hey welcome back Samlcarr!

    Hey did you need a whip and a chair? bit like lion taming?



    Comment by Ivan — 22 February 2007 @ 6:58 am

  168. I just wanted to explain something.

    You would have heard that nursery story about the Emperor who went around unclothed? This story reminds me a lot about myself and Christianity. When I have visited about at various times different Christian websites I keep noticing something. You know that saying “God works in mysterious ways”? I tend to see a lot of really educated people doing a version of the Emperors story. And I just want to scream out sometimes.. “He is not wearing any clothes”! or “There isn’t really a God there, your listening to yourselves think”.
    Christians particularly work to understand and rationalise a God who doesn’t appear to be their. And if he was there, they try and rationalise why they have millions of dollars and polar opposites to Jesus yet still want to get into heaven.
    It’s just so odd.
    The Bible is replete with stories of God pulling up his shirt sleeves and parting oceans to save people, yet in modern times.. not a peep is heard. Christians are Christians because there families are Christian and there country is also. Muslims are Muslims for identical reasons yet clearly you both cannot be right. But you both indeed may be wrong.
    I have heard story after story of God “entering a life” or “blessing a life” etc which always boils down to the blessee being fortunate enough to live in a first world country with first world medical care, finding a church social group and a “mate” in that group and then having a kid. Which is great, but it’s nothing close to “evidence” of some kind of supreme intelligence. Does that make sense? God talks to peoples hearts in the same way as our little inside voice talks to us all, even us atheists. I am on a quest to find evidence.. Any evidence no matter how thin, Is there any real world, real life evidence of a God, other than “feelings” or feelings of the heart?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 February 2007 @ 7:38 am

  169. Ktismatics,

    Inetebiz is a way I registered in this site in order to tap into the spam api at wordpress.

    I stumbled into this thread and your blog recognized my user… for the record my name is Vince, I didn’t sign that to avoid confusion and didn’t want to create another user… sorry if this has caused some confusion.

    Also, if my contributions are problematic or become so, just let me know..

    Thanks again,


    Comment by inetebiz — 22 February 2007 @ 4:18 pm

  170. Ivan,

    I hear you about the computer problem… sometimes we don’t miss the water until the well runs dry..



    Comment by inetebiz — 22 February 2007 @ 4:20 pm

  171. Vince/inetebiz –

    You’re welcome to hang around as long as you like, or as long as other people on the thread have no objections. As you can see, it’s been a long conversation that started as a spamcatcher workaround.



    Comment by ktismatics — 22 February 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  172. Ivan,

    I hear what you are saying… especially in the brand of Christianity we see in our world at times. Unfortunately, too often we see proclaiming Christians that perpetrate the exact things you describe, however what they have is a form of Godliness with out the power of it. But I am encouraged that you are wrestling these things and that you are on a quest to find evidence of a God, that is more substantive than feelings or feelings of the heart. Please, do not stop demanding for substance and logic in your pursuit of the truth. Christianity does not demand or require that we check our brains at the door… (so to speak). In fact, God says “Come now let us reason together.”

    You claim that you have been an atheist for 40 years now… I am not sure what Dawkin’s scale is all about, but it sounds like you are dogmatic about it. You know from a logical perspective have you really examine what atheism is. Atheism is the doctrine or the belief that there is no God, or a disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings. So in your belief have you really examined the evidence that is before us? In order for you to say that there is no God, you would need to have complete knowledge of all things, that is complete knowledge of the earth and everything in it, complete knowledge of the universe and everything in it and complete knowledge of what is beyond the universe and its contents. For instance, if I were to say that there is no tea in China, I would need to know everything about China in order to conclude that there is no tea in China. I would need to know, what was planted in every field, what was in every cupboard, every draw, every warehouse etc. I would need complete knowledge of everything about China to know for certain that there was no tea there. Now in the same vane, if you arrived at the conclusion that you believe that God does not exist; that you are in essence claiming complete knowledge of all things. I don’t believe that you possess complete knowledge of the earth, and everything in it, complete knowledge of the universe and everything in it and complete knowledge of what is beyond the universe and its content; therefore you could not possibly know with any degree of certainly that God does not exist. In the least, you must recognize you limited knowledge and if you are honest with the facts you need to relegate your atheistic position to that of an agnostic.

    At the same time, if we lack total and complete knowledge of all things – how then can we say there is a God? We do not need to have total and complete knowledge of all things in order to conclude that there is a God; we merely require a little knowledge or evidence of the larger truth in order to reach such a conclusion. In keeping with our example, in order for me to conclude that there is tea in China, all I would have to do is obtain a little knowledge or evidence that there is but a single tea leaf in China. In the same way I challenge you to look for that piece of knowledge and find compelling evidence for God’s existence; and Ivan, if are is truly open minded and would proceed without bias, you too will be in a place where you cannot help but conclude that a belief in God is the only rational alternative to your current beliefs.

    So what knowledge or evidence do we have that God exists? God has revealed Himself through His creation, through the conscience of men and through the person and the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh (John 8:58) which is evidenced by his personal character, fulfillment of prophecy, his influence on history and his resurrection from the dead.

    And also Ivan, you made some general comments about not knowing about John’s writings and not being an expert as such, but that you have read people who are, and this is the “scholarly” view as you understand it. But the question I have for you is – have you, Ivan, gone directly to the source? Have you gone to the Bible and given these things fair treatment? I am not asking you to take my word for it, I am not asking you to take words of the experts, but rather I am asking you if you have examined the evidence? Have you taken the Bible on its value and perused these things that it talks about? Honestly, Ivan, you claim to have a statue of Jesus Christ, why? Who is Jesus to you? Who is the Jesus of the Gospels? Have you really examined the evidence of who he is? Here’s my challenge to you, if you are after the truth, then read the Bible for all it’s worth and deal with it and its content intellectually. I am not asking you to believe in fairy tales and the like and I am not asking you to check you brain at the door and I am not asking you to go after God with a blind faith.

    If you are so inclined to take up the challenge, then I would direct you to the Gospel of John… as a good place to start…

    I want to respond to some other things, but I’ll do so later…


    Comment by inetebiz — 22 February 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  173. Thanks John


    Comment by inetebiz — 22 February 2007 @ 6:27 pm

  174. Ivan,

    Onto the other matters, I am very frustrated by some of your responses… I want you to know that I recognize the reality and serious nature of evil. The subject of evil is not simply an intellectual parlor game, a cavalier matter, a whimsical or relativistic choice of looking a things a certain way. Evil is real. Evil is ugly.

    But logically speaking, how can you make sense of taking evil seriously — not simply as something inconvenient, or unpleasant, or contrary to your desires. What philosophy of value or morality can you offer which will render it meaningful to condemn some atrocity as objectively evil? The moral indignation which you express over wicked things which transpire in this world, like the kids at the Kew Hospital, does not comport with the theories of ethics which you espouse, theories which, at best prove to be arbitrary, subjective, utilitarian and relativistic in character. Based on your worldview, there is no good reason for saying that anything is evil in nature, but only by personal choice or feeling can you arrive at this reason.

    Anytime you base things on human reasoning or choices – you being relative to yourself or your culture. And my question is – Is there any logical coherence within the set of beliefs that you hold to? On one hand, you believe and speak about the kids at the Kew Hospital as wrong in and of itself, but on the other hand you believe and speak as though the existence of these diseased kids are wrong because you (and the culture) find something meaningless in their suffering. Are you saying that people determine ethical values for themselves, and implicitly say that evil is something based on the values which individuals (or cultures) have chosen for themselves?

    Please help me here…


    Comment by inetebiz — 22 February 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  175. Introductions first,

    Vince its a pleasure to meet the name behind the name ! I have to fly out the door, when I am back this evening I will give you a reply. Thanks for your well thought out comments and questions.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 1:17 am

  176. Hi there Vince,

    Thank you for your opening words. It is a bit of a quest for me, and a question of some life time interest. I appreciate your efforts in my education.
    I am not sure dogmatic is the exact word. Only that it’s a topic that’s occupied my thinking for a lot of years. I don’t have complete knowledge (obviously) of the entire world just really enough to underpin the foundations of my current thinking. Basically, I am looking for evidence of a God or something a little close to it.
    You speak of certainty? If I ask you if your certain a God exists, you might reply that for a very long time you have been “certain” I kind of the reverse of that coin, for no better reasons really other than lack of evidence I am certain as I can be that a God does not exist.
    I relegate my position to that of Atheist over the second option of agnostic.
    I don’t agree with your point of logic that knowing a “little” points or leads to a God. I say to you Vince there is no evidence at all that a God exists I want also to affirm to you my mind is open to reasonable evidence. It just needs to be reasonable not extraordinary as some Atheists require.
    Vince your quote about evidence and John 8:58 doesn’t really come close to evidence as I see it. Is it possible to look at a different example? Would you have another one?
    Who is Jesus to me? Good question. Vince I have read part of the Bible but find it of less use than you might think. I find more useful, educated people (way above my station) who understand it all better and study it for a living. I find that more of use to me. Having said that, I am still reading it. I have a Jesus action figure and also one of Einstein They both compete for space on my desk.
    I understand Jesus only as a man. A good man, who preached among other things a kind of equality. I don’t see him as a God figure.
    I can’t go after God or Jesus with “blind faith”. Its dishonest, and the core reason why Christianity so far has not appealed to me. I cannot “lie” to myself, I’m sorry Vince. I can’t do it.



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:28 am

  177. Vince,
    I don’t think you have some lax opinion of evil I am pretty sure you and I see it in a similar way.
    This sounds a bit stilted, trying to answer your questions in the same order you gave them to me if that’s alright?
    I think evil is evil in the sense of its effect on humanity. The Kew children are not intrinsically “evil” but if a God has some choice in having children being born deformed one would have to apportion a degree of evil to this God. Does that make sense to you at all? I don’t think we have to run this up against a Godly standard in order to deduce evil. Like pornography, we know it when we see it.
    Yes I think people and cultures can define evil. I don’t think its rocket science. (myself)

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:55 am

  178. Vince have you ever considered yourself, a world where there wasn’t a God?



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:56 am

  179. Ivan,

    Have I ever considered a world where there wasn’t a God? … Absolutely. I was guilty of the type of religion that I’ve heard you speak of, the type of being born and raised into it. In my youth my grandmother would come to spend the weekends with us. My Grandmother was a good Catholic and she went to church every Sunday. She would go regardless of anyone else going, and often times she went alone. So as a young boy I had compassion for my Grandmother and I would join her because I didn’t want her to go alone. The church was but a few blocks away and I would go with her, the walk was nice and if anything, she taught me to be consistent in things. Now, being raised as a catholic, I was required to go to catechism and go through the various sacraments. Baptism, Communion, confirmation and so on, however, my family was typical in the sense that church had its place and time, like Christmas, Easter, Baptisms, Wedding, Deaths, etc., so it wasn’t required for us to go to church every week. During the charismatic time of the 70’s I was in my caught up in the religiosity of things and started to become more and more involved in my religion of works. I got involved as an altar boy and by the time I was 14 I was serving mass on Saturdays and Sundays and was so committed that even would come out for the 6:00am daily novenas.

    As I become more and more devoted to my faith I started to get more and more involved with the things of religion. There was a neighbor, who started to have a big impact on my life, who was mentor of sorts. He was acting as the father figure in my life because at this time my father was out the door and heading for a divorce from my mother. This mentor figure had been raised up to the status of a deacon in the Catholic Church (a big thing at the time). He would be holy and righteous in and around church, church settings and the things of church. My relationship with him flourished and soon he started taking me to Wednesday night charismatic prayer meetings and he would educate me in the ways of life. I was so devoted, that people thought I was heading for priesthood.

    Eventually as I got older, my eyes began to open. First I noticed some hypocrisies portrayed by weekly church goers. Specifically, I would see people in mass once a week doing the God thing, and then they would walk out like nothing was ever said or happened. These people were unchanged and lived as a contradiction to the things that were being taught in the church. This blew me away. My eyes were opened a bit more when I began to see the abusive and oppressive things that my mentor friend was doing to his family; specifically, he would beat the crap out of his son and mete out some harsh punishments and what seemed like seemingly insane things. Then there was this priest who came to serve in our parish, and had molested a 13 yr old neighbor girl that I was friendly with. The girl came from a broken household and was a very promiscuous but nevertheless I was friendly with her and her report of what this priest had done was very disturbing to say the least. In addition to these things, I encountered lots of peer pressures, this combined with puberty really made me examine my faith. Then a friend of mine got into my ear about these things and reasoned me away from faith.

    With that I became very cynical and jaded about matters of religion. I looked at the whole package and decided that church was an organization that was looking for ways to control the minds of men, and the Bible and God and Jesus was just means towards those ends. So Ivan, not only had I considered a world where there wasn’t a God, I lived that way for over 25 years. I bought into the ideas of the excellence of man, secularism and such. I went to college, graduated, landed into my career and that eventually would lead me to starting my own business. I had become somewhat successful. A self made man, so to speak. I was basically a good guy, didn’t steal, cheat or rob, for the most part. I was self-righteous. I had more integrity than most of those about me. I was smarter than the average bear and could discuss religious matters and debunk most arguments that less then adequately equipped Christians could present to me. And when family members and friends became born again, I saw more of the same stuff that I’d seen from my religious days. I’d see these people, clinging to faith in Jesus Christ as born again believers, and yet they would live their lives licentiously and in a mockery to the cross. It all seemed like a major dupe, one that I was too smart for. And like you to some degree, with all the evil in this world and began to reason that if there is God, then he didn’t care, and if he did care then he was impotent and incapable of setting things right.

    So yes, I’ve been there… I’ve done it… So now you are probably thinking, so what changed… more to come on this…



    Comment by inetebiz — 23 February 2007 @ 6:13 pm

  180. Ivan,

    We can explore more evidence, but I need to understand more about what you said about Jesus. You said that he is a good man. So how do you know that? What are you basing that on?



    Comment by inetebiz — 23 February 2007 @ 6:26 pm

  181. Vince,
    Thank you for telling me of your background. That was enormously interesting and revealing. Vince, in what branch of Christian religion do you class yourself as now? Are you still a Catholic?



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  182. Hi Vince,

    Some time ago now, one of our more serious broadcasts, ran a program about Jesus. Some of my religious friends didn’t like it particularly, but it resonated with me as closer to the truth that perhaps the Bible portrays. In this program it treated Jesus as a “man” and ran through the central points of his life without the super natural. I think, and it’s only me thinking, they might have stumbled close to what the genuine article really was. Just a really decent man, upset that Jewish temples shut out many of the common people particularly people with illnesses.
    It’s my theory, there are two Jesus’. Jesus one, is the documentary one who was in all likelihood the real deal. Jesus two is the mythological one that the Bible gives all kinds of Godly powers to. This Jesus is taken “literally” by Christians and much of the western world. I think this Jesus is the one that could also be called “commercial Jesus” and has all the legacy of Christian commerce attached to, which interestingly today runs to some 60 billion dollars American.
    I expect in all likelihood Jesus one did exist (though the evidence is a bit flimsy) but almost certainly Jesus two is a man made creation.
    That’s kind of where I have been standing.

    Best regards



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:44 pm

  183. Vince,

    If you were from Iran, And your Iranian Grandfather was going to the mosque alone.. and looked a bit lonely, If you accompanied him and grew up one of the lucky ones with a PC would we be having this discussion about the truth of being muslim? I was just wondering.



    Comment by Ivan — 23 February 2007 @ 10:48 pm

  184. Ivan,

    No, that is absolutely impossible; especially in light of the way I became Christian — which is probably a good lead in to more of my testimony. You know, some people will tell you that something happened to them, a car accident, an illness, the loss of a loved one, the fear of getting old and dying, some financial hardship or something that God used to bring them to him. I don’t have that kind of story. My story has a history of events and things that I cannot refute or deny. These things were in the realm of weird. There was something working at in the deepest most inner core, something beyond me, beyond that small still voice in my head, beyond my conscience, that defied all logic and my existentialist experience of the world in the hear and now.

    One that comes to mind is when I was just took my business from part time consultancy to a full time one. At that time it had only been a couple of months into my business endeavors and I was already at the point where I had begun to exhaust various contracts that I had developed while I was gainfully employed. So faced with limited cash flow and a small runway of time, I set myself to the challenge of drumming up new business. This was definitely an acid test of sorts and something that I needed to do in order to have any success at my new business venture. So I started the sales cycle and developed several business prospects. The first one I developed was a small printing company a couple of hours away in Baltimore. So after the initial phone contact, I set out to Baltimore to meet with the powers that be, and spent the better part of the morning selling my wares. Afterwards, they took me to lunch (go figure) and then I was off on my way home. Now I didn’t know per se as to whether or not I had turned the prospect into a client, but I was nevertheless elated. I was elated because knew that I was definitely doing what I was made to do, I was in the zone, I was on standing on the pinnacle of success and I could taste it. And in that moment, something said to me, literally something said “Yes, you will be successful at this for a time, but this is not what you were called to do, this will last only for a while, after that you’ll do things you’ve been called to in the second half of your life.” Here I was driving north on interstate 95, the Baltimore City skyline is just over my left shoulder, I had this jazz station on the radio, and here I am celebrating, I was literally shouting “YES” when I got hit with this at my core. Something spoke to me very clearly, in a very plain way, and it struck me down to my core. Something external to me was communicating to me that I was in a place, at the start of the next chapter in my life if you will, that I was merely in the last scene in the first half of my life and that I was being prepared through these things, so that I may be able to fulfill the real purpose of my life, in the second half. I tried to get more information, and surmise what that next thing would be, what write a book, go into politics, what, but I was not given anything other than “just continue on and prepare.”

    Sounds kind of weird doesn’t it. So I persisted and surely success followed me. I can go on about more, but I’ll just share this one other “in the category of funny things” that I can no way explain but is essential to my testimony. Sure enough my business endeavors prospered and success followed me; I was able to buy into the American dream. I bought a nice executive home in a very attractive rural community, was able to add all the amenities that I desired I bought lots of toys and had lots of fun, I gave to the poor. I worked hard, and I was in a very good place. Now, again something spoke to my core, and said that I would be at the crossroads when I turned 40. It shook me at my core and I was left with the impression that my life no longer involved money or success and that I would be a teacher. Kind of weird huh.. Ivan, this was so real to me, I thought hmmm, teaching, well teachers don’t make that much money so I’d better be prepared and started paying down on my huge mortgage and aggressively reduce my debt load. It really shook me.

    I need to stop for now, my wife just got in and I need to sit with her. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back to this later tonight. But one quick question Ivan… How do you deal with the evidence of things that you cannot explain empirically? Because I know that whatever this was, this external something, it was something that I could not explain empirically. Did I think it was God? Yes and no. It certainly didn’t match to any worldviews that I possessed at the time or in the past, that’s for sure…

    Talk to you soon, friend…


    Comment by inetebiz — 24 February 2007 @ 12:47 am

  185. Hi there Vince,

    This is an interesting story. I don’t have explanations for everything being a reasonably normal kind of person with very average intelligence. But I find sometimes inserting God into things that are not easily explainable is a bit akin to the people that see a strange light in the night sky and have an automatic assumption of aliens. I think God is a terribly big leap to make with some very ordinary events.
    I would like to hear all your story but what you have told me of your background so far doesn’t seem a long stretch to your current beliefs in Christianity.
    Its not common, but not unusual at all. What is unusual is when you find rare cases of individuals that have your “Christian” experience but with an altogether different religion to the one that they culturally sit. For example, a neighbour that becomes a born again Hindu or Sikh or similar
    Becoming a strong Christian in a country like the USA is pretty common.
    I won’t comment anymore though as I am keen to hear the rest of your story if that’s ok? I can’t explain every non- empirical occurrence, but I can sometimes offer other more mundane explanations sometimes.

    Kind regards

    Say hello to the wife for me!!


    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 7:14 am

  186. Vince,

    Just at the end you asked yourself if you thought it was God? and you replied yes and no.

    What would have made it God and what would not have made it God?



    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 7:18 am

  187. Ivan,

    I answered yes and no because I had my presuppositions. See, when I examined the evidence I choose to go into the direction that seemed most probable according to the basic commitments of my heart; my presuppositions that shaped my world view. Remember, I threw away the baby with the bath water. God, Jesus Christ was at best the invention of men used to control the minds of men. So that position inclined me against a theistic worldview, especially the Christian worldview, because we’ve been there, done it, in the Catholic Church. In essence I was in a position, not much unlike you, where I demanded evidential justification for the existence of God but I did not give them fair treatment. Basically, my arguments were constructed without proper consciousness of the system of interpretation being applied to the evidence. As I examined arguments for the existence/non-existence of God as a way of explaining theses weird encounters, I purported a neutral objectivity. Objectivity in the sense that I believed I was evaluating the evidence in some neutral laboratory before arriving at the likely rational conclusion. But in reality I was really committed to control my interpretations of the evidences, and at best faith was something that pays homage to the facts.

    For instance, when examining the problem of evil, I found that as a skeptic, I had a larger problem with evil than those that believed in God. Namely, I could not logically justify the basis for the moral judgment of what is good and evil. You see, in my view humanity was nothing more than the lucky creature that evolved to the highest link in the food chain; that as men we lived in a relativistic and chaotic world of naturalism. And in that I had no foundation on which to build morality. My Grandmother (I’ll use her again) always said “It’s not supposed to be that way” and I would laugh at that because my relativistic world view made that statement seem funny to me. I knew what she was saying was real for her, but it was not real for me, simply because it didn’t matter to me. But when I thought more about it, it became apparent to me that as soon as I/we begin to say “it’s not supposed to be that way” what is it that we are really saying? We are saying that something is wrong, that somebody or someone has a moral obligation to me. In a relativistic world each view, when examined by itself it is fine and makes good sense. However, when I start looking at multiple views against each other in the same reality this is not always the case, especially in the event when the views are opposite to each other. Both views cannot make sense and be correct in the same reality. That’s dilemma. How does one make any sense? Which view is right? Who’s right? You see, no matter how real my moral structure is it was merely based on what I felt or desired, based on what seemed right, it was all arbitrary. Then I thought well, how does one make it matter and in the intelligence of modern natural science, I found that scientific data fell way far short of being able to provide the answers. And in the scheme of my naturalistic world view I concluded that it was impossible to make it matter. It was all chaos and arbitrary. But it wasn’t, it mattered and it was real. So what did I do, I controlled my interpretations based on what I was committed to even to the extreme of becoming an intellectual terrorist. I rationalized arguments based on some absolutes, then would mingle in my relativistic interpretations to reach my desired conclusions. One has to work pretty hard to deceive themselves.

    You said that becoming a Christian in a country like USA is pretty common but I am not sure that I agree with you. People in this country claim to be Christians, however, a majority are not. The USA is post Christian culture, a culture of death, materialism, greed, with super human secularist do as you will ethics. The USA is not accountable to an infinite, Holy and Righteous God in the person of Jesus Christ, even though many purport to be Christian. And to the extent that you are talking about ethnocentricities, I agree but it is something other than Christianity. I never heard the term born again used outside Christianity. How are you defining born again?


    I’ll tell Sher you said hi!


    Comment by inetebiz — 24 February 2007 @ 7:28 pm

  188. Ivan,
    by demythologising Jesus do you think that you are closer to the truth?

    One of the most authenticating things about the gospels for me is that they often agree on the big events but have myriad differences in detail. If you put the parallel passages side by side you will see clearly what I am talking about. Two broad approaches to the so called ‘synoptic problem’ have been the standard approaches of the last century and largely continue today.
    1. Harmonise whatever can be harmonised and ignore the rest (this is the approach of most fundamentalist / inerrantist readers).
    2. The scholars mostly go for various ingenious critical approaches to find which (if any) of the reports is more probably close to the original or oldest tradition.

    My own feeling, after almost a lifetime of trying firt 1 and then 2, is that we actually do have a number of independent witnesses who heard and saw things a bit differently and are firmly sticking to what they personally know. There is excellent textual evidence that the final authors of our present 4 gospels were very well aware of the other versions of the stories but insisted on reporting the ones that they personally could vouch for.

    Your earlier comment on John’s gospel falls into my second category and is a scholar’s supposedly critical and more historically sound approach to our texts but i really doubt that it will finally prove to be so.


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 February 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  189. Saml,
    I thought so Saml. I really have a strong feeling Jesus was 100% human. I kind of see him in a Ghandi type of way, still powerful and humanitys greatest influence, But not a God as such.

    Vince and Saml,

    I have to leave to visit someone today and will be gone forthe day. Will comment on Vince’s writings when I get back. Gives me a chance to really digest it properly also.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 24 February 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  190. Vince,

    What your saying is, you went with the feelings of the heart and not actual real evidence as such. Which is Ok, particularly when your going to run with faith but its not quite the same thing I am looking for if you understand? Vince you most certainly live in an overwhelmingly Christian culture. It may not all be the same quality as you might perhaps prefer, but your slap dang in the middle of one of the biggest Christian cultures on planet Earth.
    Vince I am not sure I fully understand your struggle with understanding the basic values that underpin a moral view. I don’t know how this lights up as “Christian” in your head. You know I’m not an expert !! But all I have read is that most people irrespective of any religion, including Athiests, all make the same roughly similar moral judgements when put to the test. We basically make almost identical choices.
    But I know I am not understanding fully what your saying, will print and re-read a few times.



    Comment by Ivan — 25 February 2007 @ 10:48 am

  191. Saml,

    Its kind of like this, I think that Jesus was important for mankind irrespective of the magic component. I also think that the Bible can only be one small fraction of the real story and I have some running theories on that.
    I expect, but don’t know for sure, that some of the Bible and maybe most of the bible is more about peoples “desires” for Jesus rather than straight out factual accounts. I think “John” for example, is probably all Johns “needs and wants” of Jesus and I think it’s apparent in the language John uses. I think, suspect actually, that the Sermon on the Mount is probably a collection of Jesusisms rather than an actual sermon.
    We all know the story of Jesus being born; we celebrate it in a literal sense each Christmas. I often think and wonder about what happened to him between the ages of say..6 or 7 and age 30? Did he know he was the son of God? What conduit of information started arriving in his brain say in his 20’s? Why would we have lost the biggest part of the mans life only to pick it up in his mid 30’s?
    I suspect Jesus was a very simple carpenter who after encountering John the Baptist, decided on a life on the stage so to speak, and he was very good at it. Good enough to get him killed in a rather embarrassing way at the height of his popularity. I suspect, but don’t know, that Jesus had a lot more to do with early Christian commerce than being a son of a God. But it’s just my thoughts.
    Saml, I get what your saying about the Gospels being authentic from several sources but had you ever considered the commercial side of the Lord and his work? Jesus and his disciples clearly did not work and we would have to sum mise that this large troupe of people were living off of donations and alms etc. If this could be the case, can you see how there would have been good motive to keep the show going? I was thinking, if I was a part of it back then and my “product” (Jesus) has gone belly up, first thing I would do is steal the body back. Could the Jesus story have another less glamorous but none the less interesting explanation?
    Had you ever considered alternatives? I mean just as a thinking exercise?



    Comment by Ivan — 25 February 2007 @ 11:08 am

  192. PS

    What got me thinking along this track was an article I read in one of them freethinking magazines. (Dang radicals) ! It mentioned that if we combine all the current Christian Churches we get a wealth count of some 80 plus Billion dollars.. I need to use caps.. BILLION dollars US. If we add in your smaller operators we could easily ad another 3 or 4.

    When did the Lord our Saviour become billions of greenbacks? How did this happen exactly? I kind of started working back and back and thinking how all those people lined up in all those towns to touch the Lords gown. I began to wonder, at want point were the shekals being offered up? At what point did it become a fledgling kind of underground business? When did it become a “going concern”? When did other people, the deciples and teachers and help etc become a working part of it? When did mammon become as important as the message?
    I was just asking myself these questions, do you guys think this is a bit crazy? How could we (you,Vince and myself) actually find out?



    Comment by Ivan — 25 February 2007 @ 11:18 am

  193. Ivan,

    Did you know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most well documented event in history? Evidence is out there. However, you seem to pick and choose those things that keep you content and in your current thoughts. Therefore, it seems futile for me to even I recommended to you some thing to read for that type of research.

    I want to challenge you into some thought… I know that you do not believe in God, but at the same time you seem to have a notion or some idea of God and what He should be like… as evidenced by some of the expectations you have when you say that the Christian God is not it (in these lengthy discussion here). Paint a picture for me… If there was a God he’d be like…

    I would be interested in these types of specifics… Is that God all powerful? Is that God all-knowing? Is that God all-loving? Is that God righteous? Is the God perfect? Is that God responsible for creation (in whatever context)? How would our world be different today if that God was? What other things would he be capable of?

    Also, if you would…

    Jesus taught in parables as a way communicating his messages and not everyone who heard these parables got their message and Jesus only allowed their meanings to be revealed to a certain few (if you are curious, read Matthew 13). Tell me, in the context of what you believe, why that would be so?

    I look forward to hearing from you soon..



    Comment by inetebiz — 26 February 2007 @ 12:01 am

  194. Radicals are good but their judgement is not necessarily right just coz it’s radical!

    From what little I know of the disciples of Jesus, they were basically rich folks who had to give up a lot to follow Jesus. So, that logic does not work for these guys.

    Secondly, the idea that especially the miraculous is later legend that has been spliced in to the original “good ordinary guy” Jesus is another red herring. If you analyse the texts carefully and critically you will clearly see the different strands that build into each of the first three gospel stories and these are original traditions from which one cannot excise what one does not like without losing the basic structure of the narrative. As I mentioned earlier, a whole century (an more) of christian scholarship has followed this path to no avail!

    John’s Gospel is particularly impossible to pick apart because his narrative is so continuous and flowing! Scholars have always found John to be the most difficult to critically analyse, it’s a take it or leave it sort of work where you either accept the whole or reject the whole.

    Having said all of that, I think Jesus’ gospel (His kingdom)is certainly antithetical to what we now call Christianity and particularly in its manifestation as church! Read through the sermon on the mount in Mathew 5-7 or the somewhat parallel sections in Luke 6 and 12 and the sense of what sort of a kingdom and ethic that Jesus was teaching will come through. Furthermore, in his controversies with the local religious leaders, which are a theme scattered thru all 4 gospels, you will see that He is clearly an anti-establishment sort of person.

    Organisations, religious or otherwise, have their own internal built-in logic of survival that supercedes all other considerations including what we think of why they should exist or the ‘original purposes’ for which they are formed.


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 February 2007 @ 5:37 am

  195. Hi there Vince,

    I probably should give you a good morning first. It’s my early evening here. Firstly, I don’t think the recording of the death of Jesus or much of the Bible has any great degree of evidence going for it. By this, I mean good documented historical evidence. My computer is still being fixed so I can’t give you the definite list right now unfortunately. There is evidence but not much of it.
    I don’t really “pick and choose” as such; I look for good verifiable evidence that people in the proper scientific fields dig up. I am honestly not as picky as you might think there just isn’t a lot of good supportive Biblical evidence out there.

    If there was a God what would he be like? This is hard, for I am as certain as I can be that this isn’t likely to be the case. If a “being” existed that created the universe, I would expect that being to be as unrelated as a prion is to say a human being. This being would have live outside of the concept of space, time and dimension. It would be impossible to communicate with and would be unrecognisable to us.
    Is that God all powerful? Impossible to say. Its power relation to us would certainly make it appear as such.
    Is that God all knowing? Very hard to say, but I would suspect a definite no. What we know at present of the laws of physics’ particularly information, its probably going to be no.

    Is the God perfect? I would need more information to decide this. The information that I have would conclude me to think No, this God would not be perfect.
    Is that God responsible for creation? I have to answer no as I don’t think there is a God in order for it to create the Universe. If your asking could a God create the universe ? My thoughts are no, a God couldn’t. But I would need a lot more information to really answer that obviously.
    I didn’t fully understand the last question, if he created the universe what other things could it do? I’m not sure, create more than one universe? Don’t know how to answer that one Vince.
    You asked me specifically about the parables in Mathew? I am not sure why this is so. I don’t know for sure if this is the words of Jesus and not someone else. I’m not sure if this is what Jesus said or someone wanted us to think Jesus said. Vince I will re-read Mathew again to refresh my tired old mind. Will read this tonight.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:03 am

  196. Hi Saml,

    About the disciples being wealthy, this in itself doesn’t nullify my theory, but all the same, where is it documented Saml? Is it specifically mentioned Biblically or is the idea derived from something?
    Saml, you’re probably right on the different strands of the Biblical narrative. I am so uneducated in this area. I do try and read a lot, and I have heard various dissenting views questioning who the exact authors were. It’s something I am still looking at myself.
    Regarding John, I have just read a few conflicting views about his part of the Bible. I understood it’s widely questioned and from the little I do know of it I can see why.

    Saml, If Jesus landed again on planet earth what do you think his impressions would be of the various Modern Churches, groups such as Amish or Brethren and the whole structure of our Priests and Cardinals etc. The wealth of the average modern Christian, the new wars fought in his father’s name.
    Would he be happy?



    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:16 am

  197. Vince,
    One other thing, If it were possible I think that a world with a “God” would be more interesting than a world without one. If I found out today one really did exist I would be quite happy about this information. I would not change a single thing about my life nor would I have regrets about anything in my life gone by. I am quite happy about my worldly behavour. It would be cool to know the big questions might actually have a chance at being answered! I have no real vested interest in ignoring new information or living in a kind of religous denial. I don’t fear at all the notion of a God. Even a Christian one.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 9:21 am

  198. Ivan,

    As far as getting to the truth about who Jesus really is, my advice to you is to personally interact with Him in the gospels as He is portrayed there by the gospel writers (who except for Luke really are anonymous!).

    I too wonder what Jesus would do if He were to come back a second time just as quietly as He did the first time round. I suspect that He would be just as harsh towards the christian religion as He was towards the Judaism of His time. The result ultimately may be one more crucificion or whatever the modern equivalent of that is (terrorist sitting without trial in Guantanamo perhaps?).


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 February 2007 @ 12:25 pm

  199. Hi Ivan,

    Good morning/evening… where are you from? How about you Saml?

    You said: “I don’t really “pick and choose” as such; I look for good verifiable evidence that people in the proper scientific fields dig up. I am honestly not as picky as you might think there just isn’t a lot of good supportive Biblical evidence out there.”

    Okay, so then who are they, what are they?

    What “proper scientific guy” did you find when dealing with the person and the work of Jesus Christ? How did he/they treat the eyewitness evidence? What did they have to say about the veracity of the Gospel accounts and the New Testament? What did they have to say about writings outside of the New Testament? How did archaeologists confirm or contradict that evidence? Did you investigate the claims of both camps?

    Beyond that you have these notions about Christianity as it is manifested in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and the motive and purpose of the Bible as propagating them over the past 2000 years. Have you scrutinized your theories in the light of what Scripture says? You know as Saml talked about analyzing the texts carefully and critically… Have you done so in light of your own personal theories as to the motive and origin of these texts? In what ways do they purport your theories? In what way don’t they? What kind of treatment did you (or your proper scientific guys) give the God claim? What about the psychology of the God claim? Who’s crazy here? What evidence do they give that support the God claim? What about the God claim in view of the Old Testament? What about the claim of the resurrection? Was it real or not? Does the medical evidence support it? What about the purported evidences around the 40 days the Gospel claims that Jesus walked on the earth after the resurrection? And of course you investigated both camps?

    You know what’s interesting to me Ivan is your notion of God. Again, I see a lot of myself in your thoughts. Prior to the revelation I received about the infinite God of the Bible, I thought the same. That reminds me of an old Tom Wait song, and in it he had a line that went something like this… There aint no devil that’s just God when he’s drunk. I thought that statement about God was probably truer than the other views I’v heard. In addition to that, my notion of God’s intelligence was very nice either, I thought that he would never understand the knowledge that we have, specifically like computer technology and the sort.

    But there’s forgiveness for that! Thank you Jesus!

    Talk to you soon Ivan,


    Comment by inetebiz — 26 February 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  200. Hi Vince,
    I’m a resident of India but have lived in a variety of places including about 8 years in Cincinnati. You can find out abit more bout me in my blog that’s linked on my name in these comments.

    I’m now a bit PoMo in my walk with the Lord but started out very standard, reformed, and evangelical (Presby no less!).


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 February 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  201. Hey Sam,

    Just looked at your blog… I’ll spend more time there… PoMo (Post Modern?) I must confess, I am a bit behind on these things… As you probably guessed from my posts.. evangelical, reform..



    Comment by inetebiz — 26 February 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  202. Vince,

    I live in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, Australia.



    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  203. Vince,

    I will have to answer some of what you ask when I get back I have a rather important Board Meeting to attend. A lot of the stuff I have regarding proof of the Bible is unfortunately on the dang computer being repaired! won’t have that until maybe Thursday.
    I am still looking at the Bible as best I can its a work in progress. As stated earlier, The Bible only takes you “so far” specifically, when so much of it has likely less to do with God or Jesus than you might think. Its about finding the authentic bits.

    You asked: What about the claim of the resurrection? Was it real or not? Does the medical evidence support it? As far as I understand, the medical evidence almost certainly cannot support it.
    I suggest its a fiction, with a motive yet to be adequately explained, but as written earlier, I have my suspicians.
    You asked: What about the purported evidences around the 40 days the Gospel claims that Jesus walked on the earth after the resurrection? There really is no evidence Vince. There are a lot of unverifiable claims with people that would have agendas. Its similar to the claims made by people for UFO’s. There really isn’t actual evidence as such.

    You asked:
    What kind of treatment did you (or your proper scientific guys) give the God claim? What about the psychology of the God claim? Who’s crazy here?

    I don’t know if anyones actually “crazy” here. All I am saying is I can’t lend beleif to “sky fairies” unless I have evidence of them. Regardless of the consquences to me with regard to Hell or a suffering afterlife.
    I don’t know that God has psychology,but if the bible were a literal look at God, them some treatment could be in order.
    As for the “proper” scientific “guys” some really smart people have looked at this subject in the light of modern day science and this is stuff I have read. So far there is no evidence to underpin a working theory or beleif in a God. I am sure my books are not going to be the last word on it,but so far this is what I am getting.

    You asked: And of course you investigated both camps?
    Vince, there really only is 2 ways of looking at it.

    One way: a very ancient book written by primitive people we don’t really know making a really big unsubstantiated supernatural and unlikely claim.

    or 2nd way: Law of Thermodynamics, All laws of physics as we understand them 2000 years later, no evidence of it ever happening again. Sober assessment of the worlds scientists.

    How else can we assess it?



    Comment by Ivan — 26 February 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  204. Ivan,

    Down Under, everybody that I’ve known that has gone to Australia has never returned… Are you homegrown or imported…

    Don’t be short sided my friend there are many ways to look at it. For instance historically, structurally, based on its content, based on it’s special characteristics, based on the impossibility in its account… just to mention a few. And of course let’s not forget the supernatural, speaking of which, I hope to get back into my testimony (if you’re still interested).

    Another question, did you ever contemplate the possibility of the Bible and its story as being absolutely true and in that event how you are going to deal with your guilt?

    I need to head out to a board meeting was well.

    Talk to you soon,


    Comment by inetebiz — 26 February 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  205. Hey Vince
    Apparently I look imported but I was born here in 1957.

    I always had suspicians the Bible might be either untrue, or bits of it untrue and very incomplete, that aspect hasn’t changed for me. I mentioned about my “position” to make it clear that I feel not an ounce of guilt or fear. This would be my position with or without a God. I don’t have regrets about my lifes conduct at all. I have my views of course on what constitutes evidence and at this point God so far has let me down. This is my view.

    Having said that, I a extremely interested in anything you can add to my perspective and any information you or saml can give me I hadn’t considered would be extremely welcome!

    I will even consider the supernatual.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 12:51 am

  206. Saml,

    With your comments earlier about the church, what do you personally do in regards to worship? Do you attend a church and why?

    Would the Christian faith be more authentic if we gave churches away altogether?

    How do you personally reconcile personal wealth and your faith? I ask this as we have now a new philosophy that says Jesus loves millionaires particularly.

    I have an odd issue at work with a Christian guy. (Christian with a greed ethic)



    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 11:16 am

  207. Vince,

    Why would I or should I feel guilt?

    Ivan the curious.


    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 11:18 am

  208. Ivan,

    You look imported, too funny, so what look are you sporting? The US is such a melting pot; we all have an imported look to some extent. I am third generation Italian.

    So based on the evidence, God has let you down. It sounds a bit less than atheistic… In your consideration you willingness to examine the supernatural, does that elude to you having or expecting an encounter with the supernatural? If so, read on.

    I have first hand testimony of the living Christ, and I know that the Christ who was slain on the cross has to power to save life today. I’ve experienced it, and I live in the presence of His Spirit. It’s like a hot stove, where you cannot know or appreciate its power until you’ve experienced it, actually felt it, put your hand on it and felt the awesome power of its heat. I could tell you about the power of a stove until I was blue in the face, but unless you’ve experienced it, you’ll never know with any certainty. It is the same as with a child, you may told that child until your blue in the face, not to touch the stove, because its hot and if they touch it they’re going to burn themselves. However, it’s not until they’ve actually touched it and have ran away crying with blistered hands do they really begin to know and understand the power of it heat (what was being described to them).

    It’s the same with Christ, unless you’ve experienced the power of Him, you’ll never get to fully know and understand. So Ivan, do you truly desire to know God? Do you desire to know the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the one who created all things according to His good pleasure, the one who condescended Himself, God of very God, who became flesh so that we may be reconciled to Him. Ivan if you truly want to know, then here’s my suggestion. Cry out to Him; ask Him to reveal himself to you. Here’s the way that you can do that, pick up the Gospel of John and read it over the next 30 days. Spend at least 10-15 minutes a day reading through it, if you want to read more then great, go as far as you need to. If you finish John before 30 days, then start over from the beginning, just commit to spending 30 days in the Gospel and in the effort. And in and around that reading, ask for an encounter with the living Christ, the Christ as presented in the Gospel of John. Ivan, if you truly seek him, and you seek him diligently and with all earnest and sincerity, then you too will encounter the living Christ! One of word of caution, what I am prescribing is not hocus pocus; it is not like some ritual or some deep dark incantation or anything like that. It’s about revelation. If you seek the LORD your God with all your heart and all you soul then you WILL FIND HIM there where you are.

    If you are not willing, then you blood be on your own head. If you are willing, then I would be happy to accommodate you in any way, and of course, I will intercede with prayer on your behalf.

    With God all things are possible.


    Comment by inetebiz — 27 February 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  209. Hi Vince,

    Apparently I look “English” (and sound so to) I got no idea how that happened, maybe same mother but different postman. I am athiest in total. When I say God let me down evidence wise, I meant had there been a God. Don’t mistake my position as being on the fence.


    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  210. Blood be on my head? Sheesh, this sounds heavy duty! Vince I can’t do that exactly. I can’t “cry out” to him this would imply he is real, when at this stage to me, its like crying out to an imaginary sky fairy. I just can’t do that. I need evidence he exists and even then if I found it, I woyldn’t be supplicating myself prostrate before him. I’m just not that scared.
    I have lived a reasonably good life I shouldn’t have to be “frightened” of his wrath.
    I can though, read the Bible as suggested and I have read those passages before. I don’t know if this is anything even close to the word of God or even “close” to confirmation that, a God exists.
    Your faith inside you decides all that for you in the absence of evidence, my brain appears to work differently with supernatural concepts.



    Comment by Ivan — 27 February 2007 @ 9:53 pm

  211. Ivan, as you read through the gospels (any of them) just notice how Jesus deals with ‘ordinary folks’ and how He relates to ‘the leaders’. This I have found practical and am greatly thankful for being one of the duped masses rather than one who is doing the duping!

    Besides I have plenty of problems of my own, my own sinfulness (imperfection both in action and inaction) for me to work on without having to bother too much about what other folks do and don’t. So, yes I do go to church, and there I try to use what gifts God has given me to help others, then I stay out of politics as much as I can.

    I do have hope that things will change. I can see God working on me to make me a better person and I am sure that He is doing the same across the board.

    Authentic christianity just means following Jesus and that can be done easily in poverty or with some difficulty if one is rich! Folks who believe that God is blessing the rich simply have not read, or choose to ignore, what the entire NT has to say. I’ve never had the ‘problem’ of being rich (financially) but on the other hand have not suffered great privation either.


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 February 2007 @ 1:18 am

  212. Hi Saml,

    Rich may be a problem for me, I got offered 20 million for my company yesterday. Bugger. Saml a lot of very dedicated Christians in Australia, coupled with a wave comming out of the US are making a stong argument that being a Christian doesn’t mean being poor. For what I understand about Jesus, it made a very great deal of difference. I just can’t for the life of me imagine a Jesus living a wealthy middle class life.
    Saml, Why do you still have to battle sin? Why can’t that be a battle you can win?



    Comment by Ivan — 28 February 2007 @ 9:00 am

  213. Ivan,
    Congrats, that’s really great news! Why would you want to sell your company in the first place – looks like you are doing quite well!

    i think in one sense tha gospel is money neutral, i.e. rich or poor should not really make any difference as long as one is doing what God is asking one to do. The key here is stewardship – whatever we have been given is God’s and we are just the temporary trustees, required to do what is best with what we have been given charge of.

    Practically though the rubber hits the road when we are unable to give it up when asked to. That’s a sign that the money/power/influence/status or whatever is more important to us than anything else.

    Some of the brothers and sisters I have respected the most have been rich. You may recall that I mentioned John Stott, another was Mr. John Pierce, who owned a software firm in Cincinnati way back in the 70s & 80s. the way these folks live is what is remarkable – the left hand does not know what the right hand is giving away!


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 February 2007 @ 12:31 pm

  214. FYI: Ivan seeks further Christian commentary on a discussion about justification for war at the Triple Digits post.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2007 @ 2:47 pm

  215. Ivan,

    That’s a fair amount of pocket change… don’t spend it all in one place. I agree with Saml, money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is the root of all evil.

    You position is somewhat fair weathered. When I look at the thrust of this conversation, you present yourself as one that is open minded and willing to examine the evidence. But every time I ask you to examine the truth claim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God you shrug it off and at best prove to be stubborn and unyielding in your views. This combined with your somewhat questionable and circular reasoning shows you are less then open minded and less than willing to examine the evidence. In fact, I am not sure what kind it is that you require. I would think that if there’s even the slightest chance that Jesus Christ is truly is the Son of God; you’d be willing to find out. After all it’s your soul that is on the line. You see Ivan, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and that the soul that sins shall die. And that because of your sin, the sin of you nature and the sin of your practice, you have become like one who is like a leper, and your best deeds of rightness and justice are like filthy rags in God’s sight; and you fade like a leaf, and your iniquities, like the wind, has taken you away far from God’s favor, hurrying you toward destruction. And that you do not call on God’s name and awaken and bestir yourself to take and keep hold of HIM; for He has hidden His face from you and has delivered you into the consuming power of your iniquities. That’s why you can’t believe.
    You see, God has presented His Law and his standard, by which he will judge men. That standard is his 10 commandments. The Bible says that if you are guilty of breaking one of God’s commands, then you are just as guilty as breaking all of them. So Ivan you think that you are a good person? How do you measure up to God’s standard? And when you stand before God, how will you deal with the guilt of being less than perfect in God’s Law? You might be thinking “well there aren’t any of us who are perfect in God’s Law.” And that’s right, for no person will be justified in His sight by works of the Law, because the real function of God’s Law is to make men recognize and be conscious of sin. The Bible says that the Law is our schoolmaster that leads us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. And thus, the righteousness of God has been revealed, the righteousness of God which comes by believing in personal trust and confident reliance on Jesus Christ, (for all who believe). Since we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus.

    You are surely without excuse… Here is what LORD God almighty says:

    “…hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.
    “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

    So that is what I meant when I said that your blood is on your own head…and yes it is heavy duty and YES it is a matter of life and death. And surely, I don’t want to see that happen to you because there is no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked.

    Let the truth be told,


    Comment by inetebiz — 28 February 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  216. I wasn’t about to Saml. We just had a series of offers this last couple of years and this was a particularly good one.
    Vince, that line “the love of money” is the one wealthy Christians put great emphasis on nowadays. Whilst it’s the literal wording is it the same as its spiritual meaning?
    Vince, I am genuinely interested in finding out about God. I am just not entirely sure about Jesus; I don’t for sure very much about him. You’re saying “find out” and I am trying by reading the only book on the subject, the Bible. It’s agonizingly slow for me to read. It also so far doesn’t seem to reveal the “truth” to me like it does for you guys. I can’t really help that. All I can do is simply read it.
    So Vince,
    God has basically turned his back on me then? This is why I can’t “find” him? What is the point of God doing that? Further, why the dickens doesn’t this fill me to the brim with fear? Oddly it doesn’t.
    You say I have broken one of his commands and so have broken them all? What kind of half assed justice is that from the God of love? Vince I have never committed the biggies.. Never murdered someone as have how many Christians through the ages?
    I don’t believe because I can’t see the aledged Gods evidence? Eternal damnation for that? Bit tough isn’t it?
    You asked how I would again deal with my “guilt” before God. By basically telling him your dang design was faulty! If you wanted me to be perfect, make me into a dang Jesus. Don’t make inbuilt faults then blame the product, he was the designer and should accept culpability.
    Vince, I don’t live a sinful and wicked life. I’m the Christian you get without Christ. I don’t sacrifice chickens and live in a sea of goat’s blood. I don’t worship at the alter of Satan or hurt people. I don’t like an LA movie star or take drugs. I live by most of Gods laws in a life that is decent and harmless. I do charitable works and I have mentored people. I live a life that “does no harm”
    Where you and I separate is in lending belief. I don’t lend belief in the supernatural unless there is some kind of basic evidence. I don’t find *as yet* that the bible meets my needs. You’re advocating I take a PASCAL’s wager approach and I can’t because it’s dishonest of me. You wouldn’t want me lying now would you?
    I can’t help it that the “punishments” you discribe are not “stick” enough to beat me along. Death doesn’t scare me not even eternal death I’m sorry about that.



    Comment by Ivan — 28 February 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  217. Vince,

    I guess what you have just said is a kind of religious legal disclaimer, and I appreciate that you need to say it in order to for fill your obligations as you see them with your God. I want to reply rather publicly that I hear and understand your warnings as to the fate of my soul.
    With that out of the way, do you really think that your God would hide himself from me? A guy previously had said this and I think he was a Calvinist. What would or could be in it for a loving God to do this to me do you think?
    Vince, in all honesty, how is my quest to understand the nature of life the universe and everything be categorized as “wicked”? What am I doing that deserves that kind of description? I mean, I may be very thick and more than a little mentally dense but how could the quest for evidence that makes sense to my God constructed brain be wicked?
    The modern church and the Christian faith are built upon pedestals of guilt and fear. It has been this way for centuries it’s always a “carrot and stick” approach. One of my many problems is that I am not very enamored with the idea of “Everlasting life” in any form whatsoever and I have difficulty in thinking that eternal damnation awaits anyone who has lived an ordinary but good life free of the really heavy duty sins. I didn’t kill innocent civilians in Iraq for instance as did some very good Christian soldiers.
    I just don’t feel the guilt nor do I feel any sense of Godly awe or wonderment.
    But I am going to continue on with my Bible reading specifically the stuff you and Saml recommend to me.



    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 4:43 am

  218. Ivan.
    i’ve been called heretical enough times that it has ceased to bother me. i really believe that Jesus is completely serious when He says what he does in Matthew chapter 25. So I just keep trying to be good and follow in Jesus’s footsteps and I’ll let god worry about the rest.

    My problem is that really there are definite limits to my being good and that really bothers me!


    Comment by samlcarr — 1 March 2007 @ 6:41 pm

  219. Ivan,

    I’ll try to address all your questions… Once again, here comes a mega post… I’ll start with your question on the love of money…

    There are many folks to who try to justify themselves with Scriptures like “the love of money” but when we examine them at the core of their actions, we see things that are very contrary. As far as the spiritual meaning is concerned, that one’s love of money (or whatever for that matter) fuels their ambitions, drive their motives etc. Therefore, as Jesus said “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24)

    More to follow…


    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  220. Again, Ivan, I am encouraged when you say “I am genuinely interested in finding out about God. I am just not entirely sure about Jesus; I don’t for sure (know) very much about him.” I guess the question is how determined are you really? Because, while you have a genuine interest in finding out about God, but you are nonetheless willing and refuse to believe by crying out to God, and if you did, you just might understand. Paul says: “What we speak of is not in words taught us by human wisdom but we speak in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Therefore, Ivan your reading of the Bible is agonizingly slow and does not reveal the “truth” because God’s Spirit is not leading you. Only God’s Spirit knows the mind of God and only God’s Spirit can work that truth into out hearts.

    As far as God turning his back on you, read what Scripture says (Isaiah 64:6-7), which is essentially what I paraphrased to you.

    You said: “This is why I can’t “find” him? What is the point of God doing that? Further, why the dickens doesn’t this fill me to the brim with fear?”

    It doesn’t fill you with fear because you have exchanged the truth for a lie. In the book of Romans Paul talks about justification by faith alone and “levels the playing field” (so to speak) by showing that the wrath of God is revealed (v1:18), not only in the written word but also in the providences of God; by showing, that all men are judged of God in the same way; by showing what sins we each are guilty of and that God’s judgment is executed upon sinners.

    That is, we see God’s wrath is revealed to us through discoveries, “that which may be known of God is manifest among them.” First, that the “sense of Deity” is imprinted upon men’s hearts and second, there is knowledge of God by what is confirmed in the light of God’s creation. Paul goes on to say that we are without excuse because, even though we know God, we do not worship Him, and instead, we have turned to idolatry— and in doing so, we neither glorify Him nor are we thankful. In our idolatry we worshipped the creature instead of the creator and the outworking of our idolatry is that the truth is forsaken and our errors are multiplied into many vain imaginations. Essentially our hearts are darkened and thus the world by wisdom does not know God (1Cor 1:21).

    Paul then talks about the spiritual judgments of God upon us for this idolatry – where God gives us up (v1:24, 28, 26) in the way of righteous judgment to the most wicked and unnatural lusts in the form of uncleanness and vile affections (v1:24, 26, 27), 2) to a reprobate mind (v1:28). In this sense, Paul says that we are blinded in that we did not retain God in our knowledge and in gainsaying the truth we are given up to a mind void of all sense and judgment. In verses 1:29-31 Paul lists several sorts of sins and various types of sinners are specified, haters of God and every other sin that perverts all that is right and in violation of all of God’s Ten Commandments. In short, Paul says we could never be justified before God by any of our works because they are bad and as black as the early Jews have portrayed them to be.

    I’ break here…


    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  221. Ivan,

    “You say I have broken one of his commands and so have broken them all?” Basically, I am quoting scripture which emphasizes that the law requires perfection and one transgression of the law is enough for judgment. “What kind of half assed justice is that from the God of love? Again Ivan, let’s not confuse God’s righteousness or justice with his other attributes.

    The justice of God – that God is just, means that God acts always according to His righteousness. In Biblical categories, when justice is spoken of it is never spoken of as an abstract concept or aspect rule or some law that exists above and beyond God to which God himself is bound to conform. But rather the concept of justice is linked constantly with the idea of righteousness and justice is based on the internal character of God. In theology we make a distinction between the internal righteousness of God and the external righteousness of God ,which is sometimes called the internal justice of God which is distinguished from the external justice of God, and what that distinction is about is this, that when God acts outwardly what he does is always right. He always does the right thing and in that regard he always does that which is in conformity to justness. This gets a little bit complicated because in the Bible the concept of justice is often distinguished from mercy or grace. Never pray for God’s justice, because if you do you just might get it, and if we are to be treated by God according to His justice we would all perish. That is why when we stand before God we plead that he would treat us according to His mercy or according to His grace, which is distinguished from His justice. And justice again defines his righteousness, whereby God never punishes people more severely than the crimes that they committed nor does God ever fail to reward those who are due a particular reward, but rather God always operates justly. That is God never does anything that is unjust.

    Everything outside the circle of justice is called non-justice. And there are different kinds of non-justice. If we speak of the mercy of God, the mercy of God is outside the circle of justice and it is a kind of non-justice. Injustice is evil, and an act of injustice violates the canons and principles of righteousness. If God for example, were to do something that was not fair then he would be acting unjustly and Abraham knew the impossibility of that when he mentioned to God “will not the Judge of all of the earth do what is right.” Because God is a just judge, all of his judgments are according to righteousness so that he never acts in an unjust way or he never commits an injustice.

    Now where people get confused is with the respect to the quality of mercy or of grace because grace is not justice, and we see that grace and mercy are outside the category of justice, but they are not inside the category of injustice. There is nothing wrong with God’s being merciful, there is nothing evil with His being gracious, in fact in one sense we would have to extend this, even though justice and mercy are not the same thing, justice is linked to righteousness. The reason why we need to distinguish them is that because justice is something that is obligatory to righteousness, but mercy and grace are always actions that God takes freely. God is never required to be merciful, He is never required to be gracious and the minute we think God owes us grace, or that God owes us mercy, we are not longer thinking about grace or mercy, our minds have tripped over that concept and we have confused mercy and grace with justice. Justice may be owed but mercy and grace are always voluntary with God.

    Now we keep the distinction between mercy and injustice in mind especially when we come to the doctrine of election, where God gives mercy not to everybody or he gives his grace selectively. Not everybody receives the fullness of God’s saving grace but when we hear that we think “well that’s not fair because some people receive grace and others don’t.” We say that there’s something wrong with that, well no, because some people receive justice at the hands of God and other people receive grace at His hands. We need to understand that justice of God is related to His internal righteousness. Again, that God always does what is right, his actions, his external behavior always corresponds to his internal character. Jesus put it simply, that a good tree produces good fruit and a bad tree produces bad fruit and that a good tree does not produce bad fruit and a bad tree does not produce good fruit. There is not corruption in the internal being of God, God always acts according to his character and his character is righteous altogether therefore everything that he does is righteous. That’s why we make that distinction between the internal righteousness and the external righteousness between his character, who he is and what he does and it is the same for us. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners, there is something flawed about our inner character.

    … I keep plodding..


    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  222. Vince,

    Not a mega post, more a Giga post!

    I need to read it several times.

    Vince what would be an example of getting Gods grace?



    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  223. Ivan,

    You said “I have never committed the biggies. Never murdered someone as have how many Christians through the ages?” Well Jesus said other wise when he said “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Matt 5:21-22. And be careful, you’ve said that you never committed the biggies, let’s not forget the first tablet of the Ten Commandments, the ones directed toward God, clearly, you have broken the biggies…

    You said “I don’t believe because I can’t see the aledged Gods evidence? Eternal damnation for that? Bit tough isn’t it?” see the notes above on Romans…

    Also you said “You asked how I would again deal with my “guilt” before God. By basically telling him your dang design was faulty! If you wanted me to be perfect, make me into a dang Jesus. Don’t make inbuilt faults then blame the product, he was the designer and should accept culpability.”

    We went over this before; Adam acted as a representative of the entire human race. With the test that God set before Adam and Eve, he was testing the whole of mankind. Adam’s name means “man” or “mankind.” Adam was the first human being created. He stands at the head of the human race. He was placed in the garden to act not only for himself but for all of his future descendents. God foreordained our relationship to Adam long before Adam fell. Because Adam fell, we became sinful in our nature. When President Bush declared war on terrorism, our whole nation was plunged into war, he acted on my behalf. Original sin is both the consequence of Adam’s sin and the punishment for Adam’s sin. We are born sinners because in Adam all fell. Even the word fall is a bit of a euphemism because it suggests an accident of sorts. Adam’s sin was not an accident. Adam didn’t simply slip into sin; he jumped into it with both feet and we share that same nature. Yet somehow you make the same assumption that many of us make when we struggle with the Fall, and that is, had we been there, we would have made a different choice. Why? Our nature would have been federally the same as Adams, we would have made the same decision as Adam. It is our sin, not Gods, therefore God is not culpable.



    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  224. Saml,

    What would be an example of a recent transgression? What was the limit?



    Comment by Ivan — 1 March 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  225. Ivan,

    Look at this, online both at the same time… this is a first.

    An example of God’s grace… Salvation… we have been saved by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus…

    I still have more to work on the giga post..



    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  226. Ivan,

    I continue…

    You said “Vince, I don’t live a sinful and wicked life. I’m the Christian you get without Christ. I don’t sacrifice chickens and live in a sea of goat’s blood. I don’t worship at the alter of Satan or hurt people. I don’t like an LA movie star or take drugs. I live by most of Gods laws in a life that is decent and harmless. I do charitable works and I have mentored people. I live a life that ‘does no harm.’”

    Ivan, don’t de deceived, because as Christians we know that our righteousness comes from Christ, as does our ability to overcome sin and death. It doesn’t come from ourselves, but is the outworking of Christ in us. If you lack perfection under the law then you shall be judged by the law. It simple, the wages of sin is death. The soul the sins shall die.

    You said, “Where you and I separate is in lending belief. I don’t lend belief in the supernatural unless there is some kind of basic evidence. I don’t find *as yet* that the bible meets my needs.”

    We talked about this above; but again, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

    You said: “You’re advocating I take a PASCAL’s wager approach and I can’t because it’s dishonest of me. You wouldn’t want me lying now would you?”

    No, I am not asking you to be dishonest, or lie or even peruse Pascal’s wager. When you examine Pascal wager, it is really existential in its offer. Given the obvious if you win the wager that God exists, then, you’ll get external happiness, and if you lose, then there’s really nothing to loose, from an eternal perspective and existentially you’ve countered nothingness, by embracing the Christian existence.”

    You said: “I can’t help it that the “punishments” you describe are not “stick” enough to beat me along. Death doesn’t scare me not even eternal death I’m sorry about that.”

    Ivan, Embracing Christianity for fear of punishment and eternal death is not enough to save one’s soul. There is no profit in it. It’s not about fire insurance. God is not a spiritual coke machine that when we drop our quarters in out comes blessings… No, the apostle Paul summed up the Gospel message best when he said, that it is repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. If we repent from our sins because of eternal damnation, then we’ve merely pursued repentance out of selfish motives, mainly to save our hides. Our repentance must be towards God. Repentance toward God is repentance of sin as sin. It is not repentance of this sin or of that sin, but of the all sins. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as of the sin of our practice. We abhor sin within and without. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of repentance toward God is a superficial repentance and in that we must look to Jesus Christ. We must look to Jesus, to the substitute, to the sacrifice, to the mediator, to the Son of God. “No man comes to the Father,” says the Lord Jesus, “but by me.” There is no faith in God except the faith in God that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no reconciliation made between you and God unless you believe in Jesus Christ. Attempt to come to God in any other way is again an insult to him—you cannot refuse his method of reconciliation and still be reconciled to God. Religion is Man’s way of reaching God, and Jesus Christ is God’s way of reaching man!

    Well, I think I got through one of your posts… but now as I scroll back and look at your other there seems to be a lot of the same stuff going on.. I’m sure you’ll come back with more questions…

    Talk to you soon,


    Comment by inetebiz — 1 March 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  227. Vince,
    Your Giga post is full of excellent and intelligent comment. I wonder if I could make a small request? Because the information you give is substantial and because I tend to need to read things a few times to understand and because I need to also read some of the Bible as promised to join this bit with that, I might not immediately comment.
    I have NOT lost interest in the discussion in fact exactly the opposite and yes I have tons of questions.
    To do you justice particulary to all the trouble and time you have gone to I need some time to reflect and consider. So if you don’t see a comment straight away I am still here just reading is all.

    Kindest regards



    Comment by Ivan — 2 March 2007 @ 4:06 am

  228. Ivan,

    sin is one of those commonly used but hard to define words that we christians toss around as though the meaning were common and plain!

    for me it is a spiral sort of thing or so I hope. what were once very troubling matters now seem less so but they have been replaced by others that i used never to worry about but now realise are stuff that has to be dealt with.

    Conviction of sin comes from getting to know Jesus better but as this is something like an infinite series, in an important sense I am now no less of a sinner and certainly no less in need of my Lord’s grace than when I started my walk with Him 31 years ago!

    As always, though I continue to be unfaithful and disobedient still He is forgiving and always faithful.

    To get more specific, right now, a bone of contention is my lack of forethought especially as far as my family is concerned. Too often I just forget to think of their needs and float along in happy selfishness.


    Comment by samlcarr — 2 March 2007 @ 5:35 am

  229. Saml,

    Honestly, you really don’t seem like that kind of guy. Saml how old are you?



    Comment by Ivan — 2 March 2007 @ 7:58 am

  230. Hi there Vince,

    Once more, many thanks for your detailed reply.

    1. Love of money: I think that I agree with your definition with the little I understand of the bible. But there are many Christians who have an alternate view as you would know.

    2. Determination to know Jesus: I’m quite interested in knowing about the man known as Jesus. I do however wish to look beyond just the bible, knowing the bible is the primary document. I think to “know” Jesus one would have to intelligently speculate beyond this one document.
    3. Spirit of God: Vince I am not drawn in “spiritually” to anything. On this level God is meaningless to me. I don’t right this aspect of people’s beliefs as being foolishness as per the Biblical quote. I don’t see it this way at all. But the thing is I can’t conjure up this aspect if it’s not in me and I can honestly say it never has been. I will need to know God on a different level unfortunately for me.
    4. Exchanging truth for lie: I have not bartered anything Vince despite how it may seem to your good self. I am looking for evidence and it’s a very black and white issue for me, it’s either there or it isn’t. Its there for you definitely! But I have an alternate view of the world that makes sense to me. I don’t agree that sense of Deity is on each and every heart. Man has sense of wonder and awe about the world, but some of us don’t associate this mental reaction with an imprint of God. As I understand it, Chimpanzees are understood to experience a very similar if not identical experience when looking at awe like scenes. It’s been documented that they appear to experience this at locations such as immense falls of water. I am confident it’s not God inspired. I suspect its part and parcel of the evolved primate brain.
    I don’t know if I fully understand Paul’s point exactly.
    I’m not sure many people “hate” God. I would suspect you could say atheists such as me have no particular feeling one way or another about a God.
    That must be a sin I know.
    5. Gods righteousness: What is that exactly Vince? How are the Kew children a product of eternal righteousness? God always wanted grossly deformed children? How can God’s justice be any worse than this? Why the dickens would you pray to such a deity? We would all perish? The “loving” God would kill us all? You don’t see the barbarism of your faith system do you Vince? Is it because you’re scared of God Vince?
    Vince how can our “inner character” be flawed if we are a construct of God and as you say God is always right? Basically we can never really be right can we? Again we are really up the creek because of our eternal internal programming? Does this sound crazy to you? (It does to me)
    6. Ivan commits the biggies: It kind of doesn’t bother me strangely. I find it difficult to understand a supreme master of the universe worried about my alleged sins.
    I saw the notes on Romans; it’s precisely this that that makes me feel you’re on the wrong track with regard to a supreme intelligence. I find the scriptures tend to work in an anti-religious way in my head is plainly does not sound right.
    7. Adam as a representative of the whole human race? You’re kidding me right? Adam whose partner made the one simple mistake and punishes mankind for an eternity? We know nothing in any detail whatsoever about Adams “sin” or the real circemstances. Vince you’re determined not to see fault with God. I have no evidence that God is beyond blame at this stage I can see a thousand things that look like Godly mistakes to me. I would start with the Kew children.
    If you weren’t so mired in fear you might be seeing things a lot differently Vince.




    Comment by Ivan — 2 March 2007 @ 8:38 am

  231. Dear Vince,

    I understand what your saying in the “embrace” of Christianity to save one’s soul won’t work, but all the same, this is in essence what formal religion requires of the individual.
    I understand the point you make of Jesus being Gods attempt to reach mankind, but you would think that maybe its long time for a second go. I think God could have done a whole lot better than use Jesus as the conduit. It’s been dang poor, half assed and short sighted attempt by the supreme ruler and intelligence of the universe.
    There must be dozens of alternate ways that would have born the required fruit than this attempt. Jesus was the best that could be come up with?
    Vince I don’t think circumventing Jesus as a way of knowing the Supreme Being would insult him in the slightest. Would you be insulted if someone came directly to you? I think you sell your God short.



    Comment by Ivan — 2 March 2007 @ 9:18 am

  232. Saml,

    Sin is a hard term to define? Not so sure about that, the word sin is basically a Hewbrew word and it literally means to miss the mark. The concpet being a sin is when we fall short of God’s requirement for us.



    Comment by inetebiz — 2 March 2007 @ 4:57 pm

  233. Ivan,

    You know Ivan, I wonder if your quest to know God is really just a way to justify your position. Have you really examined your motives? Because essentially, you are unmovable in your position. Also, I asked this question before to no avail, but here goes again. What evidence would work for you?

    The quote: “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” Well think about it, if God be true, then what are you? Biblically speaking, a fool who is one that is spiritually void.

    I didn’t say barter, I said exchanged… By refusing to believe the truth, you choose to believe a non truth…or a lie. In the same way, you say that there is this wonder that humans share with chimps, are you saying that this the “sense of Deity” that humans respond to? Is that a function of intelligence? Gee, I wonder why we don’t see chimps or any other animals for that matter, erecting altars and worshiping God or participating in any other form of worship.

    Also since you brought up this theory of evolution, tell me what was it exactly about the theory of evolution that convinced you that it was the truth. Was there one point, were there ten? Tell me about the evidence that you have personally seen that has built up your convictions about the theory of evolution? Would that type evidence be the same type of evidence that you require in order to believe in God? Remember exchanging the truth for a lie? Then, tell me in the evolutionary context about the Kew Hospital Kids? How does this fit into your world view? Are you angry at Mother Nature for their suffering? How does that work?

    As for as hating God, Jesus said, that he who is not for me is against me; in the belief business there is no neutrality. The Bible says that the carnal mind is enmity against God. This is the source of that hatred that Paul is talking about. Also, when you view God against the reality of the Kew Hospital kids (or other things that lead you to anger or argue against God), tell me if that’s hatred you are feeling towards God? If it is not then what is it that you are feeling in that?

    Again, Ivan, my faith is not built on fear, it is built on love, on the love that God has. One cannot understand the love of God without first knowing the wrath of God. Ivan what is more offensive to you, me calling you a criminal or a sinner? I am going to venture and guess a criminal. Because, when I accuse you of being a criminal, I can make that claim before the authorities, and if I can convince the authorities that you are guilty of breaking their law, then the authority has the power and the means to punish you for that crime, even unto death. The term criminal has real meaning to you doesn’t it? You understand the authority and its sovereignty and its ability to carry out justice or righteousness. Conversely, to call you a sinner is meaningless to you because you do not know or understand the sovereignty of the supreme authority, God. That He is the ultimate sovereign, and when his Laws are violated, He will through His means and His power carry out justice or righteousness. You know transgressing God’s Law, sinning, for which the wages is death. It is only when we recognize this reality do we begin to appreciate the gravity of the matter. Now, this is probably the fear that you are referring to, that you rationalize my faith in God. Obviously, I don’t want to perish (I don’t want you to perish either).

    Now, imagine that you are standing before a magistrate, who has found you guilty of breaking the law and is about to pass a judgment against you. And in fear of the sentence, you appeal to the judge based on his goodness and his love, something like this “Your Honor, I know that you are a good judge and a loving judge, please do not sentence me in that way, I can’t bear that punishment, I’ll never do that again, I promise, just please, give me a second chance.” Do you know what that Judge is going to say to you? He going to say “You are right I am good and I am loving, and because of that I am going to see to it that what you did never happens again…”. You see a good judge requires justice, if he didn’t then I would question his goodness. Imagine murders and rapist and the like, having there sentences removed based on similar appeals. Or better yet, what if judges acted according to their own capriciousness? Would that judge be good? Would that judge be carrying out justice?

    But, now image, that same judge who is obligated to justice, passing judgment for the full penalty, and then out of his love, gets up out of his seat, takes off his robes, and goes and stands in your stead to bear the penalty for your crime and you are in turn given the second chance. That’s what Jesus Christ is about, that God, in his infinite love, had compassion, and showed mercy and made a way for mankind. Jesus Christ came to this earth, God of very God, and was without blame, and he paid the price for my sins, for the sins of all who would believe. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. I had a debt that I owed that I could not pay, and Jesus Christ paid that debt, and thus has saved me from God’s wrath, from God’s judgment, from eternal death. It is appointed that all men shall die and then the judgment. God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. That is the love that I am talking about that builds my faith. Paul said in Romans, that “”Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?” and “…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”

    Christianity is not about formal religion. Religion is man made. Christianity is about the person and the work of Jesus Christ. It about being reconciliation with God, and God in His love has made a way through Jesus Christ. There is only one mediator between God and men that is Jesus Christ.



    Comment by inetebiz — 2 March 2007 @ 5:07 pm

  234. Good Morning Vince,

    You asked if I wanted to know God or was fortifying my position? That is a good question and I can only answer it by the heart. I want to know the answers to the big questions like the rest of humanity and maybe even a little more so. I have not restricted my reading list to just the Bible which I plod through, but many other types of books also; I am interested in coming at the question from a few different ways. For me, The Bible seems the least efficient way but I am reading it just the same.
    Of course I have a “position” right now; I’m an atheist because for me it’s a more honest stance than being agnostic. But it’s also a position I am prepared to alter if suitable evidence comes my way.

    You asked again what would be suitable evidence: Like UFO’s a close encounter of the third kind might be ideal. If God could talk to me directly as he has talked to tons of people in the Bibles past, would work a treat for me! Many people hear from God, Just apparently not me. Another thing could be an encounter of the second kind, say a code left in our DNA/RNA or… an obelisk buried on the Moons surface 2001 a space odyssey style! An orbiting Tablet with the 10 commandments… Something clearly unusual, something likely to make sense for humans 2000 years after the Bible. Just God speaking to us from the heavens would be perfect. I’m not picky Vince.
    Well I might be a “fool” Vince; I often remark that I’m none to bright! But in my opinion it’s not really by defining “foolish” to withhold belief in the supernatural for lack of evidence, some would say it’s an entirely reasonable position.
    Vince, since the dawn of man, we have had thousands upon thousands of Gods. We still do have at least a 100, you’re an “Atheist” to these thousand other Gods because you won’t lend belief to them, you have evidence enough for your one true God. Your atheist position on those others is reasonable; because there is no evidence we have elephant Gods and Gods of thunder etc. I’m just applying this rule one God further because I can’t see the evidence, does this make sense?
    The Chimp question, I suspect we don’t see them building churches because they are to busy feeding themselves. I suspect we didn’t have time either until agriculture took a hold and we had enough time over from foraging to even consider praying etc.
    Vince, I’m not a biologist, but I understand that Humans have a part of the brain that responds to awe of God. I believe that it’s quite possible that other primates share this centre in one way or another. Give chimps enough years and you might find them taking up Krishna.
    Evolution is a big subject Vince; I will try and answer this point by point if that’s ok?

    You asked what it was about evolution that convinced me it was true? I have been reading about this for a long time many different books. I am convinced it’s the truth because all current evidence, across many areas of science reveals it to be the truth. It’s called a theory I know but has not been one in any classical sense for half a century.
    We have physical evidence, we transitional fossils, we now have DNA evidence and we have micro biological evidence all of it collaborates and fits the theory. I am prepared to drop it in a heart beat if science uncovers something that works better but so far evolution seems to fit like a glove.
    Now how this works with the Kew Children, I am not sure, I’m not the scientist. I expect some kind of transcription error or gene abnormality causes this even but I am not the expert to answer that Vince.
    Am angry at Mother Nature? Not really. Just hope one day science can find a way to predict this kind of event before it happens.
    More offensive? Probably a criminal.
    Vince why would God have his sinless son take our punishment but only to happy to punish us generation ally in Adams case?



    Comment by Ivan — 3 March 2007 @ 1:25 am

  235. Ivan,

    Thanks for the reply.. more on the evolution thing.. So you have a firm grasp on evolution, please explain it to me, because I just don’t get it. There where what primates and then how did we get to humans? Or whatever, something in the sea that came out and what?

    Less than convinced about evolution,


    Comment by inetebiz — 3 March 2007 @ 2:19 am

  236. Hey Vince,

    I might not be the best person to explain it to you, I have a “firm” grasp in so much as an amateur can in the world of science. The best things written about it have been by British scientist and teacher Richard Dawkins, I have pretty much all his stuff and a number of others.

    Evolution is in its basic form is a kind of descent with modification. This modification contains a genetic inheritance. Its incremental and happens usually over largish time scales.
    All life on earth does indeed share a common ancestor. It helps to look at it like branches on a tree rather than steps on a ladder which is really an incorrect image of the idea.
    Humans didn’t come from Apes as popularised in many Sermons in many churches through the ages, our current Primates and ourselves diverged from a common ancestor millions of years ago. There is thought to have been 3 or 4 different sub human lines that branched and didn’t survive the journey. I don’t think its understood entirely why we made it, but our ability to occupy a broad ecological niche would have been a major point.
    Its easier nowadays to see our evolutionary path through the science of genetics. Our entire gene history is still there today and can be readily observed.
    Vince, evolution is a complicated and dynamic subject, I can suggest reading material if you wish? It won’t contradict the case for a supreme being if you still want to keep reassured by your faith. It happens to be the strongest idea of how life developed on planet Earth and is accepted amongst scientists with strongly held religious beliefs as with much of the Christian world as the best explanation we have at this time.
    Told you I would explain it badly!!

    Kind regards


    My regards to Sher.


    Comment by Ivan — 3 March 2007 @ 6:05 am

  237. Vince,

    i agree, sin is missing the mark. There are indeed a number of words for sin and the literal meaning of these words is quite plain. I meant that 1) i’m learning and it is a continuous and steep learning curve, what righteousness really means. Even with all that I still don’t have the cleares picture of ‘the mark’ and my idea of what sin i am to be working on will keep changing.

    In fact, the more I know, the more I know how short i still fall, how far i have deviated and how many times i step over the line and even that is only a partial idea!

    One thing I do know is that the more time I spend in obedient action, the less time i will have to be disobedient…


    Comment by samlcarr — 3 March 2007 @ 11:04 am

  238. Is it possible to not sin?


    Comment by Ray — 3 March 2007 @ 1:00 pm

  239. i doubt it


    Comment by samlcarr — 3 March 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  240. Saml,

    Is it at least possible, for a Human being not to sin?

    If you were to take a case of someone, born profoundly mentally unwell, maybe similar to the Kew hospital children or someone with a profound Downs syndrome, is it possible that their reduced mental capacity make them sinless?
    If not, what kind of sins would or could be attributable to someone in this condition?



    Comment by Ivan — 4 March 2007 @ 2:40 am

  241. Ivan,
    I wasn’t thinking about kids born mentally retarded or those who die young but the same answer goes for all – God is just! If I can see the injustice of punishing someone or even of branding someone for something that they did not do, I’m sure God will be that much more sure to do the right thing. That’s what is meant by “God is just” and this is only one of His ‘personality traits’. The way I get to decide that is based on Jesus and what I know of Him both in the bible and through personal relationship. It’s a bit crcular, but then that’s what i’ve got – lots of tautology!


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 March 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  242. Thanks Saml. I think I have it now.



    Comment by Ivan — 4 March 2007 @ 10:25 pm

  243. Saml,

    Just wanted to say thank you for all the very many questions I seem to have. You give me good answers that make a great deal of sense.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 5 March 2007 @ 6:30 am

  244. Ivan,
    I am thankful to have an interesting and thought provoking conversation with you! And, i am quite sure that there are many, many, Qs for which i don’t have answers and for which my answers will be inadequate/wrong. Someone called this process ‘iron sharpening iron’ – can be painful but it will be valuable too, for both of us I hope!


    Comment by ponnvandu — 5 March 2007 @ 11:09 am

  245. At a glance it appears that you seem to have a good perspective on evolution. As for the notion of evolution interfering with my belief in God, I know that if evolution be true, then it is of God and not independent of Him. So in that vane, I know that understanding the world as we know helps to reveal more about the creator. As evidenced in that fact that we do see a micro evolution if you will, specifically with the finches on the Galapagos. In that we see changes within finches that are part and parcel to the genetic programming available to finches. However, the stretch for me is when we talk about evolution at a grand scale, when we say we see an alteration in genetics to form the next branch on the tree, as you speak of. We do not see that in the example of the finches, because we start out with finches and end up with finches. We do not see any changes within finches that are not a part of the genetic programming already available to finches.

    On the surface evolution on a grand scale sounds plausible, that is to have some mutation in the genetic coding that could produce these branches you speak of, but when you try to map it or trace it out, there seems to be real problems. For instance, you have a water dweller, that produces an offspring that has something new in its genetic coding, and this new coding improves this creature’s ability to dwell on land. So this creature leaves the water, and does in order to survive. Sound good so far doesn’t it… but the problem is this, what is sex? Male? Female? Is it asexual? How does it reproduce? We know that it cannot reproduce with its ancestors, so how does reproduce itself? It creates a real dilemma. Not only that, all the literature that I’ve read to date falls short of dealing with this issue at any level, not to mention the scientific data or fossil record or otherwise, all the evidences fall shorts and is quite lacking.

    Now that is certainly a simplistic view, however, there are some more real complexities especially when we see the common ancestor theory that humans and apes share. Specifically, in the area of right-handed and left handed proteins. There is a real dilemma, because there’s no way to biologically bridge the two while maintaining life. So there are some real problems there…

    Any thoughts…



    Comment by inetebiz — 5 March 2007 @ 4:42 pm

  246. Hi Vince,

    Vince, while I know what the things are in the last paragraph, I’m not sure I understand your actual question?

    Evolution moves at a very slow Pace Vince, Humans have only been here quite recently measured in time. It’s unlikely we will see new species type event over this short of period. When the changes do happen, they are incremental and slow, they happen to the group at large not just an individual. There is plenty of fossil evidence just not an example of every single thing. This may happen in time, but we don’t have examples of everything.
    Vince, I might not be the best person to learn about this stuff from. Whilst I read a lot, I explain badly.
    I am willing to have a go mind you, but your best directed to books as it’s a difficult subject when you delve into it. People that are Christians love to give me stuff about Evolution to stump me! The truth is, I’m not an expert and I have to look up answers many times myself.

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 5 March 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  247. Vince,

    Are you referring to the old argument often voiced on “creation science” Websites? About why we have left handed proteins? Most of this stuff you can find the answers to on Science sites aimed at helping high schoolers with the School certificate exams. They discribe it in laymans terms which always suits me let me tell you! Let me know if you would like a site reccomendation.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 4:58 am

  248. Ivan,
    I agree with Vince as far as how science and faith can comfortably go hand in hand: “I know that if evolution be true, then it is of God and not independent of Him”. That’s about where I stand too but it seems to me that your atheistic scientists often have greater faith than do religious people.

    I say this coz many scientists act as tho if evolution were disproved (or sub, laws of thermodynamics, quantum mech …) that they would turn into shattered people! In fact I’ve seen this happen – a scientist will espouse a particular paradigm and passionately fight to see his position proved. when the ‘scientific community turns their back on that pet theory, the scientist is destroyed, excellent and dedicated researcher tho he/she may be!

    Yet, the fact is that science is in the business of building disprovable theories which should then be tested for consistency, efficacy, predictive value etc, in a competitive environment where other hypotheses are also similarly bing knocked around.

    So, why such angst? Looks to me like here we have just substituted science in that heart-space that humans usually reserve for belief/faith/religion…


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 March 2007 @ 11:56 am

  249. Ivan,

    Actually, there was a lecture on UCTV (University of California) that focused on the differences between primates and humans and their diseases and cancers. I was surprised to see that there are diseases that are inherent to humans and not apes because of biological difference in proteins. There was a very complex discussion on the right handed and left handed proteins as they related to each ones anatomy. The researcher was in the evolution camp, and he let his predilections taint his work. However, he said that it was a mystery as to how these proteins diverged from the common ancestor and there remains no plausible explanation.

    So in the scheme of things evolution is plagued with many of these mysteries and remains a theory at best. Even Dawkins admits that evolution has not been proven, although he adds a caveat “yet”, and goes further when he offers the idea that evolution is the most probable explanation. I think Dawkins is a strange bird, in that he seems to be talking more about philosophy then biology. Also, Dawkins departs from the evolution community on the group evolution of things.

    You know Ivan, you say that evolution moves at a very slow pace and that humans have been here quite recently (as) measured in time. Then why do you suppose we have such difficulty in tracing back. If humans have been here a relatively short time, for which we have a recorded history, one that show humans with a high level of intelligence, what happened to the set of human one increment before, that were not as intelligent, but almost as intelligent… It seems that we would be able to trace that history back a bit further.

    Also, I agree with Saml… that people have replace religion with science and it involves lots of faith, perhaps more blind faith then most are willing to admit.



    Comment by inetebiz — 6 March 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  250. Saml,

    I really can’t speak for them or recall an incident as you discribe. But I suspect, if the theory being demolished is ones life work well its got to hurt.
    I have had people before equate it with faith, But I don’t think its quite the same thing.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 10:29 pm

  251. Hi Vince,

    I follow you now! sorry. I don’t know of the problem and certainly don’t have the answer. I will try and look into though; Can I get back to you on that question?
    Yes Dawkins is an odd fellow.
    Vince, a lot of our pre-humans as it were, have been found in preserved bone but not a lot. One of the reasons is that the Earths crust is very dynamic and moves a lot. It’s no easy thing to find specimens. Having said that, enough evidence exists to pin this part of our past down. Its not theory in any classical sense.
    I am not sure at all people embrace Science in place of faith; I see them as two different things. People often hold faith in science to eventually provide some outcome, which sometimes happens sometimes doesn’t. What Some of science has done is “displaced” God in some parts of nature. This is a good thing, I would have thought for Christians and atheists alike.


    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  252. Saml and Vince,
    Would you comment on something for me? I don’t direct this at you both specifically.

    Christians believe in the Supernatural. To me it never looks all that different to witchcraft, recently on our news I heard of 2 men being murdered over allegations of witchcraft. Collectively these beliefs for me are quite extraordinary and yet Christians believe them with their hearts and refer to them lovingly as “gifts”.

    Yet, when you look at theories relating to science, you dismiss them as acts of faith and some Christians, Not you two gentlemen, look at it quite sneeringly. Why is one kind of faith “good” and “prized” yet the other, quite the opposite? Scientific faith usually has something concrete to go on, and frequently wins; Look at my favorite Antibiotics or X-Rays etc.
    Why is this so?


    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 11:14 pm

  253. Vince,

    Evolution isn’t “plagued” with mysteries. Not all the data is in, but enough is on the table now to understand the broad detail.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 March 2007 @ 11:17 pm

  254. Vince just to answer in slightly more detail.
    You asked: What happened to the earlier “humans” one or two steps back?
    Vince, a lot of fossil material has been found already but no where near the full picture. I understand some of the difficulties link to both movement of the Earths crust combined with bone remains needing to be untouched by predators and lain down in the right soil types. It seems to happen enough that Scientists keep unearthing new finds and some time new proto human lines. But there is still a lot of links in the chain yet to be discovered.
    You said: Evolution is plagued by mysteries and will always be a theory. Not really Vince. Whilst links in the chain still need to be uncovered, enough has been to make evolution as close a thing to a fact as we can get. Given the enormous time frames often involved, it’s unlikely we will be here as a species long enough to really know the full picture. But enough is “viewable” to feel confident.
    You said: Dawkins departs from the group on some evolution matters? I think he does on some things yes. But this doesn’t dampen the wider theory.
    You said: People replace religion with science? I don’t see it exactly as that, I wouldn’t phrase it that way myself. Science certainly illuminates the world, and in some minor matters displaced God, but I doubt he replaces yours and Samls highly defined faith at all. I see you both as strong thinking Christians.
    You asked: Left and right handed Proteins and Apes, No plausible argument? Actually there is. I just have to find it, I am sure it was linked in to something about the Earths early atmosphere. It’s in one of my books I will look the answer up and get back to you Vince.



    Comment by Ivan — 7 March 2007 @ 11:14 am

  255. Ivan,

    that’s just the problem with how science is publicly perceived. whatever be the evidence, however strong and however well supported by experimental evidence, a theory will always be a theory. if you think back to Newton, his ‘laws’ are intuitive and can still be ‘proved’ experimentally, only the difficulty is that we had Einstein come along and then Planck and then … P’raps even more to the point is the great battle that took place between Einstein and the QM crowd.

    However strong a paradigm, it only ‘exists’, in the sense of dominates, till the next hypothesis comes along or till the right experiment is performed to show its limitations. that’s just as true of the theory of evolution and I am rather dismayed that Dawkins is unscientific enough to give the public a different impression altogether. People like Dawkins are the ones with the strongest ‘religion type faith’ in what should just be viewed as today’s dominant theory.

    There are huge problems with the theory of evolution as it stands, many areas of untestability (so far) and there are fundamental questions which cosmology and the theory of the development of the earth itself have left unsolved. that’s great from a scientific standpoint – lots to explore, mysteries to be sorted out etc. but the truth is that 10 or 20 years down the line, I would hope that a much stronger paradigm comes along that better explains the observable reality, with fewer variables and better predictability. That is what is the essential excitement of science – figuring out how God actually did do things!


    Comment by samlcarr — 8 March 2007 @ 10:30 am

  256. Saml,

    I hear you but don’t agree with you specifically, in regard to Evolution itself. However, I do agree there are many things to learn about the beginnings of life and the universe, However I doubt personally, that this will lead to a God or Gods. Just my 2 cents worth.


    Comment by Ivan — 8 March 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  257. Ivan. for a change it looks like the shoe is on the other foot! Everyone was so dead sure that Ptolemy was right because for hundreds of years his system had proved perfectly workable so when Copernicus came along that had to be heresy! The whole idea that one paradigm ‘has to be right’ is essentially unscientific. The whole fun is in finding out how best to shoot it down and put in something better!


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 March 2007 @ 7:29 am

  258. Saml,

    I’m not saying one paradigm has to be right, I’m saying, the science of evolution looks to be the best answer for the story of life unfolding as this time. I’d bet, in 200 years it will still be the only game in town. I know Vince would like to play Thomas and put forward various minor objections, and I know some of the finer detail still is being debated, but the wider idea is still quite valid.
    I only find this subject debate worthy in that so many Christians appear utterly crushed somehow that there is a perfectly natural and unGod like rule of the story of life unfolding. I suspect, that eventually we will have a good working idea as solid as evolution to explain life starting on planet Earth. When this happens I can only imagine the feaces hitting the fan.
    But Saml I am all for fun! ; )

    Kind regards



    Comment by Ivan — 9 March 2007 @ 7:51 am

  259. Saml,

    A question: If for certain, God did not exist, How would you imagine your life being different?



    Comment by Ivan — 9 March 2007 @ 7:53 am

  260. Ivan,
    It would make a huge difference! For one thing I was heading straight for being a very bad egg! A decent IQ and no morals or ethics is a bad combo and that’s exactly what I was when Jesus grabbed hold of me. He still has a tough job to do and a i’ve got a long way to go but He is definitely making some progress!


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 March 2007 @ 10:13 am

  261. Ok Saml.


    Comment by Ivan — 9 March 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  262. . Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.

    Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty–above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution–or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter–they are not expressing reservations about its truth.
    In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as “an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as ‘true.'” The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.
    All sciences frequently rely on indirect evidence. Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists’ conclusions less certain.
    Saml, borrowed wording from another site. This is what I was trying to say about “just a theory” VS closest thing to a fact.


    Comment by Ivan — 9 March 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  263. Hey Vince,

    I don’t know if you’re still out there, but I wanted to let you know I have so far been unsuccessful at answering the question of right and left handed proteins in Apes. I trawled the books I had and for the life of me couldn’t find the bit I remembered reading. I looked also online with even less luck but I have asked at a science site and may get an answer. I found a small piece in James Watson’s book “DNA” which made the case again that both Apes and Chimpanzees and humans had a common evolutionary ancestor. Apparently it’s been confirmed that the split happened sometime in the last 5 million years. He also makes mention that Chimpanzees genetically have more in common with us than they do with Apes. About 1% of there gene line separates us from them. I was going to try and type the whole shebang out for you but its going to take some time, might be better if I lent you the book.



    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 3:31 am

  264. Hi Ivan,

    I’m still here. I’ve been busy with the DST changes coming this weekend. (DV) I’ll touch base early next week.

    Have a great weekend, you too Saml..


    Comment by inetebiz — 10 March 2007 @ 3:38 am

  265. Ivan, the theory of evolution is the dominant theory at present in that branch of science. As such we treat it as ‘fact’ till proven otherwise. This means that there should be two approaches amongst scientists 1) tweaking the theory through experiment to fine tune and elaborate its workings, 2) taking an overall view of the experimental evidence to see if any rival theory can be formulated/tested that does a better job or potentially might challenge parts or the whole of the current dominant theory.

    Unfortunately, the so-called Christian proposals (creationism and intelligent design) have not been formulated effectively as scientific theories – mostly trying to find some space for God to fit into whatever gaps are perceived in the theory of evolution.

    I find the approach of many of these Xtian scientists to be passionate but bad science and based on a wrong reading of the bible.

    On the other hand, the theory of evolution does have major problems. i expect that these problems either will be addressed, or in attempting to sort them out the theory will fail at some point and need to be replaced. It worries me that in science today, the very important job of finding alternatives (2) is being largely ignored!

    I see the bible and science as two somewhat overlapping areas of knowledge. As our understanding of both areas improves we will see how they do mesh with each other in the areas of overlap (assuming that both are discovering truth) but practically the areas of overlap are few and on the edges. One happens to be the story of creation that some people reading the bible are insisting on reading in a very unbiblical way. i’m sure that the concern for truth, that is a paramount concern for any follower of Jesus, will eventually win out!


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 March 2007 @ 5:58 am

  266. I am sure your right Saml.



    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 10:53 pm

  267. Though, Not about Evolution having “major” problems.

    Do you suspect the Bible is 100% true and correct? Is it the complete word of God? Do you think any bits of it might not really be the word of God ?


    Comment by Ivan — 10 March 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  268. Ivan, as far as evolution goes just as with any working hypothesis, we’ll have to wait and see how it pans out. Thousands of scientists doing work and analysing that work will have to decide evantually. The theory may slowly keep morphing, as it has been doing or perhaps something entirely new will burst forth, so we keep learning… On these grounds alone, constantly accomodating the bible to science or the latest scientific guesswork to the bible is a bit foolish, both types of study are in progress and have yet to reach an end point.

    The bible is a complex book covering thousands of years of happenings. I believe that the bible gives me truth on various levels and in various ways. 1) It is a story of how God is going about saving the world so it’s true as salvation history. 2) The individual authors record what they believe sincerely to be truth. 3) In my mind, as I read and study the bible, I believe that God communicates His truth to me. Most importantly, the story of Jesus life, work, death and resurrection is the key to biblical meaning and truth and with four gospels to work with, I’m pretty confident that Jesus communicates His self and His truth very effectively indeed and He is THE good news! Because of the self revelation (self disclosure) of who God is in Jesus, the bible also tells me what God requires of me and as I concentrate on Jesus, I think His teaching is both authoritative and clear enough.

    This does not make the bible exhaustive nor encyclopedic. It does mean that as a literary work, I have to get into the language and cultural context as much as I can in order to clearly see what the bible does and does not say.

    The more I study, the more I realise how much I have yet to learn, and as my understanding is limited, so too will be the extent to which I can absolutely say ‘this is truth’. Still, I think the major themes of who God is and what He has done are pretty clear, even to someone who reads for the first time and without a whole lot of background, and this is because, with the authors and their original audiences, we do share a common humanity and in translation a pretty fair linguistic understanding.


    Comment by samlcarr — 12 March 2007 @ 9:18 am

  269. Saml,

    When you say “both sides” are being studied, How does this relate to religion? We are not about to discover another bible and its never going to happen that the existing one will be modified will it?

    I appreciate that you find truth in the Bible, its a pity it can’t be tested and verified though. But I do understand it makes you feel good and probably safe also, and it seems to provide you with ample motivation to stay upon a good path. I guess I just find it odd you can’t just do it on your own without it.

    Best regards



    Comment by Ivan — 13 March 2007 @ 11:09 am

  270. Great questions! The bible does exactly the opposite to ‘making me feel good…safe’. The most discomfitting part is when I read about Jesus! What He demands sounds so simple (it is in fact) yet so hard for me to reach. That’s why I can’t do it on my own, I need to have God pointing out to me from His perspective where I have to improve/change. The bible is very inspiring and does give confidence on a different level – that I am not in this alone and that He is bent on helping me to be a truer disciple, but that feeling only helps a little.

    As far as testability is concerned, the test or experiment was Jesus Himself. He preached His message of God’s kingdom come, and lived it out, and we know where that ended up. Each disciple of His will follow that same path and will come to that same denouement with the world. It really is not a comforting thing to contemplate.

    How do you go about testing ethics and morals anyway? I might believe that its wrong to kill people but I hope you don’t expect me to test that out first!

    The message of the bible (going backwards thru yr Qs) is something that is not at all static. People tried to live out Jesus teachings in the first century and we have som of their experiences on record. They applied Jesus teachings and way of living to their world. We have to study afresh how to do that here and now.

    And then there is what we like to call theology, and that has been and is changing constantly too! the last word on this little bible certainly has not been written yet and I can’t see it happening any time soon!


    Comment by samlcarr — 13 March 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  271. Just ran into an interesting study of Jesus’s teaching by an atheist!

    I don’t agree 100% with his conclusions especially on John’s gospel but that’s a pretty objective and accurate summary of Jesus’s ethical teachings!


    Comment by samlcarr — 14 March 2007 @ 7:31 am

  272. Hey Saml,

    I am just about to go and look at that link. Saml, What do you expect the “afterlife” to be like? After Jesus was murdered, he came back with wounds that he showed Thomas, do you think a one legged man has one leg in heaven ?


    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 8:46 am

  273. Saml,

    That link wouldn’t open.


    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 8:47 am

  274. Ivan, sorry, it srrms to be working here. Here’s the full ref: http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/JesusEthics.htm


    Comment by samlcarr — 14 March 2007 @ 9:09 am

  275. Dang that was a good to read! Thanks Saml!


    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 10:20 am

  276. How would Heaven work out for still born children? What about traumatic death incidents? Mentally ill on Earth?
    If we see the soul as our re incarnated bodies how are we supposed to be physically in heaven? Could you recognize a loved one for instance?
    My most interesting one is this, During the 70,s I think, a new medical procedure was developed for people with chronic seizures, they use to slice their brains in half, and this worked so well with treating seizures that quite a few people had this done. A puzzling effect ensured in the years after, people developed two separate sets of consciousness in the one head. People literally would fight themselves; one arm would be reading a book and the other constantly pushing the book aside to watch TV. Did these people have twin souls? How would this play out in heaven?


    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  277. Hey Saml,

    Would you be able to discribe yourself? Age, where you live etc? I know so little about the guy educating me ?


    Comment by Ivan — 14 March 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  278. Ivan

    Your comment about the surgically split brain — believe it or not, my post today is directly related to this phenomenon. Tomorrow’s too, if my attention doesn’t wander off down some other alleyway.


    Comment by ktismatics — 15 March 2007 @ 11:44 am

  279. Ktismatics, I actually wondered whether Ivan had read your post before writing his response! Your development of this theme also reminded me of a Fitzgerald book – can’t recall the title yet tho.

    Ivan, heaven is one of those things that I am going to wait and see on. I think that just as language gets stressed when talking of things like creation, so too with topics like the ‘end of the world’, resurrection and heaven…

    our personalities are very interesting to think on, complex and difficult coz we’re a bit too close to the subject or object to get objectivity! the older division was spirit, soul, body, then we have mind, heart, feelings, thought, unconscious, subconscious with memory and perception all mixing in together at the same time!

    I would hope that all the confusion will one day end, we’ll be integrated and whole, in oneness with one another and at peace, I guess that’s what I wish that heaven could be!

    Self description: very average person but been to lots of different parts of the world and done lots of different things in my soon-to-be half century of life. Indian by nationality and now also resident in South India. Been a Christian in the sense of follower of Jesus for close to 30 yrs now but in that journey started out very conservative, right wing, and now am somewhere closer to a muddled middle roader.


    Comment by samlcarr — 15 March 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  280. Thanks Saml,

    Its good to know you!. I had not read Johns peice on split brain patients, will do so now, That was a strange and almighty coincidence!



    Comment by Ivan — 15 March 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  281. Ivan, one of the areas of the present theoretical framework for the origin of life that most bothers me is the earth’s atmosphere. I have a strong feeling looking at the available evidence, that the atmosphere has always been oxidising in nature. This makes the formation of life, according to current theoretical knowledge, pretty much an impossibility.


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 March 2007 @ 7:15 am

  282. Ivan, I do hope that your ‘little atheistic self’ is doing fine!


    Comment by samlcarr — 21 March 2007 @ 10:04 pm

  283. More than fine Saml! In the city of Koln and typing this in site of a cathedral worthy of a God. Just near the Dom Cathedral really beautiful and gothic. Saml, I am not sure what evidence your privy to, but I read all the current stuff and I can assure you there is no *controversy* other than the deliberately misleading one. Trouble is, I dont know why they need to do this but some people need an opening for God and get desperate to find one, even an invented one. I think arguments about oxididation run along the same ones about how its possible to prove a plane cannot fly. Somehow it did.. Cant type for peanuts on a european key board!



    Comment by Ivan — 23 March 2007 @ 11:04 am

  284. Ivan, really glad to hear that you are having fun. I haven’t been to Germany but the few medieval cathedrals that I have seen indeed are beautiful and worthy structures.

    I certainly am not looking for a place to plug God into the scientific theory! The theory only exists because we are trying to figure out what God did and is doing.

    I’m just coming back to areas in the current theory of evolution that trouble me from a scientific standpoint. if you will forgive my saying so, as far as the early atmosphere’s composition goes, ALL the physical evidence points to it being strongly oxidising. The idea that it was reducing runs something like an anthropic principle argument, to get from there to here, this must have been how it happened, and that is not good science!

    I personally think that some of the findings on the Archaea may slowly cause major modifications to the theories on how earliest life forms happened, but that’s just a thought.


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 March 2007 @ 9:31 pm

  285. Hey Saml,
    As far as I understand the science, and I think I do, there is no problem with oxidisation. I am not sure what journals your reading that I have not. Further, You may be trying to figure things out in a Godly framework, I on the other hand am still trying to find evidence of a God or Gods existing in the first place. So far I have seen nothing pointing to a deity. I am currently typing this from Paris, and I thought German keyboards were hard!




    Comment by Ivan — 25 March 2007 @ 4:04 pm

  286. Ivan, in my opinion the ruling paradigm is causing something like colour blindness. If you look at the theory of atmosphere evolution, the consensus is that the earliest ‘atmospher was H2 and He which were quickly lost for want of gravity, then outgassing from the interior produced an atmosphere. Just take a look at what various volcanoes are spewing out now and you will find a beautifully oxidising mixture coming out. so the supposition that things like methane (CH4) was in the early atmosphere is pretty much ruled out. Also, just look at our two neighbors, Venus and Mars, both have oxidising atmospheres and there is no question that photosynthesis had anything to do with that!

    There are claims that unoxidised iron sediments exist in very ancient rocks but the earliest dating on this is 2,5 billion years ago when it’s doubtfull that the earth had cooled down enough to allow outgassing to play much of a role and the evidence for these rare unoxidised sediments is far outweighed by masses of oxidised stuff in these and earlier rocks!


    Comment by samlcarr — 26 March 2007 @ 12:10 pm

  287. Hey Saml,

    Saml I have some really interesting information on early Earth chemical evolution. Unfortunately its about 8000 Klm away at home. I will get into a more detailed discussion with you on my return. I am borrowing a computer here in France and dont wish to monopolise the use of the ordinator. Give me about 10 days?



    Comment by Ivan — 28 March 2007 @ 10:36 am

  288. Hey, ake your time, I eagerly await…


    Comment by samlcarr — 30 March 2007 @ 8:04 am

  289. I eagerly await also. My host loves his computer time so its difficult and a little impolite to use it for long. Interestingly, the keyboard is a little different and cannot beleive the difference it makes in typing speed. Incidently, I think your a little incorrect in your claim of the earliest datings of rock material.

    The French family I am staying with mentioned to me that they are atheists also. Mon dieu! So very many of us.


    Comment by Ivan — 30 March 2007 @ 11:36 am

  290. It’s the AZERTY keyboard instead of the QWERTY. My wife figured out that there’s 19% different between the two — about proportional to the cultural difference between America and France. I think you could use it as a clue to a crime novel: typing errors in the ransom note would indicate an Anglophone criminal using a French keyboard.


    Comment by ktismatics — 30 March 2007 @ 12:05 pm

  291. John,

    I dont know if this is true, But I heard that all the letters that spell the word typewriter, are found on the first line of a qwerty keyboard. I was told that when typewriters were first invented they used this word as a demo. Everyone could find the keys easily and it stuck.

    John, France is quite beautiful. I love it here.



    Comment by Ivan — 31 March 2007 @ 6:33 pm

  292. Ivan –

    It works! Watch this: t-y-p-e-w… Never mind. I’m glad you like France. Maybe someday I’ll get to Australia.



    Comment by ktismatics — 1 April 2007 @ 10:12 am

  293. Should you ever make it John, email me first, I would be pleased to give you a tour if required;



    Comment by Ivan — 3 April 2007 @ 2:20 pm

  294. http://www.sirinet.net/~jgjohnso/apbio19.html

    Saml, does this site offer you the information in regards to your earlier question regarding oxidation? I am still not home yet and dont have access to my books. But was looking around the net a bit;
    actually reading it again it really doesnt will have another go.. bare with me.


    I think this one anwsers the question Saml;
    I can get into specifics a bit more on my return, I have a science library on just about everything; and its catalouged mostly, its just a bugger on my travels its not very portable. I read a quote some years back that there can be two types of knowledge, knowing something or being able to find the information on it. I tend to be in the latter group, but with the information in hard copy rather than a favourites list. Its inconvenient but the stuff seems in more detail.

    Hope this helps you in understanding evolution of our planet.




    Comment by Ivan — 3 April 2007 @ 3:18 pm

  295. Ivan, the second link is much better than the first but I am afraid that my questions remain. You will notice that the second article concentrates in its 2nd half exclusively on the question of how organics could have formed. Easier in highly reducing, bit tough in slightly reducing atmospheres. This is again the same thing, organics were formed so the atmosphere ‘must have been’ reducing. I am asking, apart from special pleading, where is there any evidence, geological or cosmological regarding this reducing atmosphere that then suddenly disappears?


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 April 2007 @ 5:12 pm

  296. PS, i can wait till you get back to your data, no hurry at all!


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 April 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  297. Saml,

    I thought it explained the answer ok. I have to fly out right now for an evening meeting, so dont have the time to really re read it right this moment. If I get the chance will look at it on my return or if I have too much emailing to do, when I get back.

    I will see how I go.

    I should maybe point out that I dont know if my information is actual evidence as such, meaning, know one was alive back then obviously and dynamics of the earths crust make sampeling difficult. at best its like to be a theory or an idea. The answer though, Its not likely to be related to cosmic sky fairys though I might have to warn you. Unfortunately we still dont have an opening for a God right at this moment.



    Comment by Ivan — 4 April 2007 @ 6:26 pm

  298. Ivan, I am not at all interested in finding some small niche into which I can squeeze in God’s necessity. That’s a game that ID is into. I think it is quite disrespectful of God to think like that.

    I am interested in being as critical as possible with scientific theories because if science is to do its job at all it will be only based on how honest, truthful and self-critical it is willing to be.

    Yes indeed the explanation in the article “sounds ok” but the problem is that it does not match the available evidence. When you get back and have some leisure, we can get into this a bit coz it points to biologists plotting a very strange course with the geological evidence and this is skewing the entire theory of the evolution of the earth itself in a wrong direction… But, let’s see what you think as we get into it later.


    Comment by samlcarr — 5 April 2007 @ 8:02 am

  299. Ivan, I just ran into an interesting article on Einstein’s views on God and religion. If you haven’t seen it yet here is the link in Time magazine


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 April 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  300. Hi Saml!

    Yes, I had read that article on Einstein as well as a number of others, he kind of pops up regulary in discussions on God. If you get a chance also, there is a really interesting debate between Christians and Atheists in the April 9th newsweek. If you can get your hands on a copy its quite a good quality debate from both camps.
    I love good debates.

    Saml, I dont think science has any kind of problem with not being self critical, I means its this way to distraction! I hard part in our internet age is picking through junk arguments and intentional misinformation. Its also tricky on the newer areas simply because of the greater amount of compexity.
    As I understand it so far, the science does follow the evidence in regard to early earth geological Chemistry.
    I dont have the time here to trawt through for the right information when its on my book shelf at home.
    Its just going to have to wait till I return, takes me to long here to read the required information and keep in touch with my kid;

    I look forward to following this through with you!

    Saml, whilst your obviously like looking at evidence and studying things scientific, had you ever thought about applying the same level of critical thinking to your religious beliefs? Why does it appear that you dont?



    Comment by Ivan — 6 April 2007 @ 5:01 pm

  301. Sam – Interesting piece on Einstein. The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’– cannot hear the music of the spheres.

    Ivan – How much longer are you in France? Are you staying in the northern part of the country, or will you pay a visit to the sunny Mediterranean?


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 April 2007 @ 5:37 pm

  302. Ivan, I don’t agree with you on biological science’s ability to introspect especially on the ruling paradigm. Where are scientific alternatives to the theory of evolution? If you take geology or astronomy, there are any number of potential theories being knocked around but I guess biology is somehow emotive and we get shortsighted and fanatical about it in an unhealthy way. Have you read Kuhn? I think I mentioned him somewhere back there…

    As far as being critical with my religion, that’s a different ball game. It’s not like science where one is dealing with a measure of objectivity coz I am trying to study myself and subject-object are mixed up already as John has been pointing out in his various recent posts.

    On a broader level, if you mean religion in a cultural sense, then you can count me in. I do not like “religion” at all!

    What is available for critical analysis is stuff like the bible and this is something that I find being critical with is actually a lot of fun.

    I had a major crisis of faith when I first started to swing PoMo and away from my evangelical roots. Surprisingly I found that I could appreciate Jesus better as a ‘liberal’ thinker than I had as a conservative one. Jesus remains, so I guess I too have to keep following Him.


    Comment by ponnvandu — 6 April 2007 @ 9:50 pm

  303. Sorry, I forgot that i was logged in to wordpress so my name has changed but its the same old blogger samlcarr speaking!


    Comment by ponnvandu — 6 April 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  304. Hey John,

    We are in Paris another 4 days and have travelled down south also. Been meeting my wifes parents for the very first time and now many of her old Parisian friends.


    Comment by Ivan — 9 April 2007 @ 11:57 am

  305. Saml,

    There have been alternatives to evolutionary science over the years, but I think pretty much everything else has crashed and burnt.

    Saml, has your Jesus got a beard?



    Comment by Ivan — 9 April 2007 @ 12:01 pm

  306. Ivan, Enjoy Paris and your in-laws and new friends. We have time…


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 April 2007 @ 7:29 am

  307. What was your crisis of faith Saml?

    Not all that really familiar with Kuhn, but just read a few things about him just now.



    Comment by Ivan — 13 April 2007 @ 5:35 am

  308. Saml,

    Just going back a step or two, I don’t see the Science of Biology as being especially emotive a subject. It has been over the last century to some Christians that some how see conflict with humanities beginnings and the Biblical discrepancies. There are scientific “alternatives” of a sort, if we give science a slightly more liberal meaning, you find this stuff all the time on creationist web sites as they try and find gaps to squeeze their God into. But the science can be really haphazard with all kinds of fictitious stumbling blocks, you would have come across this stuff from time to time? Darwinism, is still the best explanation for what we see going on at this point in time. I suspect it will be the ruling paradigm in another 500 years. I “suspect” anyways.

    I went to the Louves in France recently and was taken by all the Religious art depicting Jesus. A comment someone made recently was that we didn’t even know if he had a beard, his height,weight anything. Its interesting how these old masters saw him, and I wonder if everyone things of him in this way, hence my beard question. Has he got one Saml?


    Comment by Ivan — 13 April 2007 @ 5:47 am

  309. Saml,

    I wanted to get back to you on that question posed about atmospheric oxidization. First off, I consulted my books for information, and also did a little on line searching. There is information out there, I think reputable, explaining the beginnings and development of the early earth atmosphere. Trouble for me is, I don’t have the qualifications to really analyse it. Try as I might. I did also find various information and theories from people that posed your original question, they are a dime a dozen on various “anti Darwin” websites specifically with strong Christian affiliations. I found one that put the question in some detail and also was heavily referenced. This particular piece, didn’t come out with a conclusion that Darwinism is some kinda scientific fraud, it merely said that more study was needed in the field of atmospheric science. I am going to try through the week to speak to some people a little more expert and in the field so to speak, and see if I get a better answer. It didn’t seem at as clear that either Venus or Mars, supported the case either way. At least that’s how it seemed. While I was away, about 30 books arrived on all kinds of stuff. I have to get back with my reading program! Both my wife and I caught a terrible respiratory bug from France, we are sick as dogs. Long as its not that Antibiotic resistant TB. I hate to have Darwinism made that clear to me. ; )



    Comment by Ivan — 14 April 2007 @ 11:28 am

  310. Ivan, glad you are both back and had a good trip despite the infection. It may be viral in which case you will feel real bad but be ok without much treatment in a few days.

    Regarding physical appearances in the bible. It is a very key question (though you may not have thought so) as it goes to the heart of the ban on idolatry that is an essential part of Judaism. The fact is that we have almost no physical information on almost any biblical figure and that is deliberate. I do believe that beards were quite common in those times/areas but more for the difficulty of shaving, so ‘clean shaven’ would have been rare and only the rich could afford a close shave.

    As to length of hair and stuff like that there are a number of different opinions but mostly based on surrounding cultures as there is a dearth of physical representation of any kind from the Jews of Palestine. The short answer is that no one has a clue about Jesus’ appearance and what you see in art is pure imagination.

    Interestingly, a couple of Old Testament referrences that are considered to be prophecies of the messiah indicate; frailty, ugliness and very black skin, like this quote from Isaiah: “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”


    Comment by ponnvandu — 15 April 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  311. Saml,

    How would a simple word description become idolatry? Why couldn’t Jesus have just been outlined? Physically I mean? I have more than a Virus here dude, We are both on heavy duty antibiotics. We are as sick as!
    I suspect pretty much everyone then would be bearded (males I mean) but its funny that we don’t really know in this mans case. I see people commit emotionally to Jesus over here at least by people that see Jesus as the main character that played him in a stage show called Jesus Christ superstar. I have wondered if they saw him as the locally despised Middle Easterners whether it would change their view or not?


    Comment by Ivan — 16 April 2007 @ 12:23 am

  312. Ivan, that’s the essence of idolatry right there. We remake God into something, anything, other than what God really is…


    Comment by samlcarr — 16 April 2007 @ 8:31 pm

  313. Saml,
    Except we are not talking about a God, we are talking about a man named Jesus.



    Comment by Ivan — 17 April 2007 @ 10:58 pm

  314. Ivan, I was speaking generally. Whenever we do stuff like “see Jesus as the main character that played him in a stage show called Jesus Christ superstar“, i.e. Jesus is a tall, dark and handsome person full of charisma and with a wonderful voice to boot, that is idolatry because it is a false representation. In fact what it boils down to is that any ‘representation’, even a mental image, is idolatry precisely because it does not correspond, in fact cannot correspond, to ‘the truth’. If we were consistent we would not have pictures depicting Jesus isn our homes.


    Comment by samlcarr — 18 April 2007 @ 8:14 am

  315. Sam, your position regarding visual images of Jesus, the saints, etc. was part of the original Protestant Reformation. In their battles against the Catholics they went around destroying religious statues, chipping their faces off, etc. Medieval artists made a living on religious art commissioned by the Church. If you wanted to be an artist in Protestant countries you had to get a commercial patron or else sell your stuff in the marketplace. Rembrandt was a key transitional figure in Protestant Holland. His portraits of Biblical figures were kind of homely, wrinkled, careworn — ordinary people who happened to find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. I don’t know if Rembrandt ever painted Jesus, but I bet not.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 April 2007 @ 9:52 am

  316. Ivan, while the issue is one that is ‘typically’ about religion, I think the reality that it highlights has important consequences for relationships generally. Whenever I associate a mental image with a person, the person becomes frozen, trapped within my picture. A photo is a frozen moment in time. It was a true representation of something at some particular time but humans move in time, the picture refuses to age. It’s very timelessnes or more accurately, being frozen in a moment of time is what attracts us to it, but as we are no longer there the feeling of a connection is a false one.

    Text is somehow more neutral. Of course, the author’s character can perhaps be delineated a bit, but the text is what it is apart from that. We have been chatting for some time but i have no idea at all of what you look like. What we are sharing is the conversation and that is not trapped in mental images of one another.

    These mental images, if they exist, are a distraction from who we are as we converse. At the very least i don’t get the idea that I have you pegged. You are not entirely known and I have thankfully failed to categorise and characterise ‘you’. To that extent the truth wins.


    Comment by samlcarr — 18 April 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  317. Cripes John, is there anything in the universe you don’t know? Saml, some of us don’t have pictures of Jesus on the walls but we do have a little desk statue. It sits between Einstein and Astroboy. Saml, You could look at text similar way to the pictures couldn’t you? Cultural views move along at much the same pace I would have thought. Saml, your in India is this right? Have you found difficulty in being a Christian in such a country?



    Comment by Ivan — 18 April 2007 @ 10:30 pm

  318. Crap, I just knew I’d get pegged as a show-off when I started talking about Rembrandt. Rembrandt did self-portraits, so I guess he wasn’t too worried about idolizing himself.


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 April 2007 @ 10:39 pm

  319. Art is a fascinating study in how we deal with imagery. Like speech and text, art too is an expression that is not then dependent on it’s author and so creates its own horizon of meaning for the viewer to explore.

    When atttempting to capture the essence of a person in a portrait, a good artist has to look beyond the momentary and express in that one image a many dimensional whole, but as it is incomplete, it has to be in some form also a caricature.

    But this is going in a different direction to where I started and that was that treating a physical representation as real is always dangerous because images are static wheras persons are not. The static is then enlivened in our imagination with a horizon and a dynamic that is a creation of our own minds, i.e. not corresponding to the realith of whoever or whatever was actually represented. So, idolatry.

    Sorry, that sounds really constipated, but…


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 April 2007 @ 8:51 am

  320. Not constipated in the slightest. A really nice point actually Saml! John your not a show off at all.. How are you on salivary enzymes..? No googelling, promise?



    Comment by Ivan — 19 April 2007 @ 9:39 am

  321. Saml, looking on the bright side, at least your not a Christian in Turkey. That was a another grim bit of news.


    Comment by Ivan — 19 April 2007 @ 11:12 am

  322. Ivan –

    Salivary enzymes and no googling? How about gargling? How’s your case of “Napoleon’s Revenge” progressing? Fever down?

    Sam –

    From what I’ve seen I’d say you’re a strong advocate of incarnational theology. Not what the historical Jesus looked like, but more along the lines of Jesus’s saying: “where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst.” Can we see Jesus in one another, or — even harder — in ourselves? Still, as you’ve pointed out elsewhere, sometimes physical presence gets in the way.


    Comment by ktismatics — 19 April 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  323. I guess so, John. One thing is that after starting to think more PoMoish, I have got leary of all those easy categorisations. Immanuel is a very important truth but that doesn’t mean that i have a good handle on what all that may imply.

    I’m not that against physical presence, just that sometimes the images and perceptions can be misleading and can make us stay on the surface rather than being willing to get to the person and what’s actually happening personally, if that makes any sense at all. Sometimes too much perception can be a distraction, but that may just be my shallowness talking, i.e. I know I get to assuming that I do know when I don’t and should actually be digging in to find out.


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 April 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  324. Sometimes too much perception can be a distraction Yes, I agree. That was part of the discussion on Another Post, and it’s also built into the conversations through mirrors and speakers and telephones in Paris Texas.


    Comment by ktismatics — 19 April 2007 @ 9:57 pm

  325. As to ‘seeing’ Jesus in others, that’s to me the easy part. I can’t see God sacrificing His Son for a measly few that are marginally better at being sycophants than the rest!


    Comment by samlcarr — 20 April 2007 @ 10:02 pm

  326. Saml,

    Who is Jesus to you?



    Comment by Ivan — 20 April 2007 @ 11:14 pm

  327. Ivan, hope you have both fully recovered from whatever going away present Europe gave you!

    I’m not sure if this addresses your question. If it’s too vague, keep firing and I will try to clarify.

    Jesus! On one level Jesus is a great example but to me He is more than that. The message that He preached is such a strange thing. It is antithetical to anything any sane man would agree to, yet it is so obviously right. To have been able to live it out is even more amazing. I am not at all surprised that the Jews found Jesus to be against everything they thought of as messianic or even good.

    I met Jesus in the gospels. I know that here is someone who is speaking truth. The truth is mostly of an unpalatable king but it is nonetheless truth. Somewhere in the process of recognising the Jesus speaks truth I heard a personal challenge, “follow me”. I don’t think that for me this happened at any one particular moment in time, or at least I can’t pinpoint it. But somewhere along the way I met Jesus and responded with a yes.

    The Jesus that I met has not changed.

    I’ve done a fair amount of study. I became very sceptical as a reader. I lost all faith in ‘the church’. I don’t agree with most ‘theologians’. I’ve studied and admire so many men like Gandhi and Buddha. I can see something very special in these men. They too challenge me but are not in the same sense ‘good’. I don’t regard the bible as a sacred book.

    Yet, Jesus is the same person that I met so many years ago. He challenges me to follow and His message is also consistently the same. I can see Jesus in the people around me. He suffers with the suffering and He provokes the complacent and I think He does this ‘from within’. It is that very connectedness, that desire to be ‘at one with’ that is at the very heart of what He taught and ultimately also did.


    Comment by samlcarr — 22 April 2007 @ 7:58 am

  328. Thanks Saml. Would you believe we are both still ill?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 April 2007 @ 11:05 pm

  329. Ivan, I was reading recently that some rather unsavoury viruses, which used to be common only in the tropics, are now found in France. They have followed their vectors, mostly mosquitoes and are notoriously difficult to treat.

    The general result for these viremias is that one does recover on one’s own. Try the usual stuff like some vitamin C supplements (and some herbal teas are also supposed to be helpful), but as they say, seven days with medication and one week without…


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 April 2007 @ 6:46 am

  330. Thanks Saml. I have an aweful feeling my wife has got whooping cough, which can go on for a while. Whatever I had was milder, but on my second course of Erythromycin I can still feel the symptoms. Thanks though for your concern and wise advice.



    Comment by Ivan — 23 April 2007 @ 9:08 am

  331. Saml,

    you said you don’t regard the bible as a sacred book, how do you personally regard it? What is it exactly to you? You may turn out to be the most honest spiritual person (other than you John) that I have spoken to before. Its very refreshing.



    Comment by Ivan — 23 April 2007 @ 9:11 am

  332. I don’t think that we can or should generalise about “the bible”. it’s too vast in scope and composition and with so many authors covering a span of thousands of years.

    I think though, that having read all of it, I do have a general sense of honesty. Each author tries to tell the truth as he/she knows it.

    This I find especially true of the gospels and also of Paul’s writing in the New Testament. In fact it’s my belief that the variations that we see between the gospel accounts of Jesus are the result of stubborn authors who had each received a tradition of Jesus and refused to modify it in any way even when obvious contradictions exist with other traditions. The result is that I too am fairly confident that I am reading an honest account of Jesus’ words and actions.

    Still these are words on paper, so the text has to be read just like any other book and the more critically we read it the better!

    But if one goes to certain Old Testament books one can see how the original stories have been modified and sometimes with political intent. It is particularly obvious in the traditions about David and also Solomon. These are both very ruthless kings, yet we see them rather with their angst on their sleeves…


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 April 2007 @ 10:04 am

  333. Ivan, I hope you don’t mind but I mentioned you and this discussion in a post at my blog.

    The refs can be removed if you would prefer, I really should have asked you before putting it in, sorry.

    I have a question for you that bears on evolution: What do you think is a good definition of “life”?


    Comment by samlcarr — 29 April 2007 @ 10:58 pm

  334. Hi Saml,

    Look, Not at all Saml. Your fine. I don’t know what the official definition is exactly, but I tend to look at it being a genetic based organism, that is capable of reproduction, growth and ultimately decay. Does that work?


    Comment by Ivan — 30 April 2007 @ 11:39 pm

  335. Saml,

    I don’t understand how you find the bible an honest account of anything really, but especially Jesus. How can you decipher the metaphor from the mistake? not to mention the embellishments and the longing desire for the information to be seen as a work of some God? The Bible has just been through to many hands with imperfect replication combined with no original source material to validate any real part of it. Its next to useless now to “know” Jesus or understand a supreme being.
    An example is the well known story of Jesus and the woman brought before him for adultery. John 7:53-8:12 This is a brilliant story of Jesus, its just a dang pity its been made up. This was not originally in the Gospel of John in fact it isn’t part of any of the gospels. Its one of the many pieces of invented Jesus folklore from the ages. Its thought to be a margin story added by some anonymous scribe. Saml, just what part of the bible could we count on as authentic? How can you know someone from these stories?


    Comment by Ivan — 1 May 2007 @ 10:01 am

  336. Ivan, certainly there are problems with manuscripts. We have our earliest fragments datable to something like 130-140 and that’s a good 60 years after the oral tradition was commited to writing.

    Modern biblical scholarship has exhaustively followed a text critical approach. Bultmann is the most famous of these scholars and he came up with a technique called ‘form criticism’ that is still used today. You also have in gospel studies things like redaction criticism that attempt to get to the oral traditions that underlie the texts as well as try to identify the modifying forces on the ‘original’ oral tradition.

    I find these approaches inadequate to explain the gospels as we now have them. Literary criticism is much more likely to get at the truth than reductionist reconstructions. By that I mean that if someone hands me a book, my first action will be to try to read the whole thing. Then I can sit back and start asking questions. We can usually tell if there is one author, things like consistent style, vocabulary and the narrative construction will all hang together.

    The story of the prostitute is generally considered to be authentic but for all the wrong reasons. One of the legacies of form criticism is that we ask whether the content could have been difficult for the people of that day to digest, was it culturally acceptable? The prostitute stories along with tax collectors and other unsavories are thought to be authentic because they have been retained in spite of being embarassing!

    I find it likely to be authentic, though not likely a part of John’s writing (i think Luke is better but most probably this is a fragment of teaching not a part of any of the 4 gospels) simply because it otherwise fits with Jesus unique approach both to the law and to forgiveness. Yes it is circular, I admit, for Jesus is here consistent with the Jesus of these very same gospels.

    There have been many books written about ‘great’ persons. Buddha is a good example. In all cases, we look to the disciples to tell us something about the person. The differences between the gospels that have occasioned so much scholarly debate seem to me to be excellent evidence for 4 pretty independent authors recording the oral tradition from various of Jesus disciples to the best of their ability. it is also strong exidence against harmonisisng forces for the differences persist even when we can see literary (probably) dependence.

    It can be painful, but if you can, do get yourself a harmony. i like one by Reuben Swanson (The Horizontal Line Synopsis of the Gospels) and this one book is good enough to throw cold water on most of today’s gospel scholarships.

    Getting back to ‘the tradition’ and how it has survived, back then all teaching was oral teaching. All good teachers taught in small and memorable soundbites, (what we call pericopes) or risked their teachings being soon lost.

    Good teachers made their students memorise and memorise and memorise. Jesus is an exceptional oral teacher, and one cannot simply sit and invent a good teacher, either s/he exists or doesn’t. The same is true too of Buddha! I can’t imagine being stupid enough to think that some group of average Joes’ could invent the Buddha. For one thing the sheer iconoclasm would be suicidal! For another, one needs an exceptional thinker and an exceptional person to create and sustain such teachings.

    The sense that I get from the gospels is that each writier has done her/his best to put together whatever they felt were the authentic words and actions of Jesus. The various oral traditions were gathered and alternative readings should have become harmonised if these authors and their communities felt that they could modify the tradition in the ways that scholars today assume that they did. rather what we see is massive variation in detail for almost any saying or pericope of teaching.

    In one sense I like the embarassment argument and it is to me very strong evidence the Jesus teaching has been preserved quite well, it is also the reason why the church pays so little attention to Jesus teaching in the gospels, because the church could never have become what it is now if it had attempted to take Jesus teachings seriously.


    Comment by samlcarr — 1 May 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  337. OOPs, sorry, that was toooo long


    Comment by samlcarr — 1 May 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  338. But Saml,
    Nothing at all is preserved well. Nothing even starts getting documented for over a 100 years and nothing of that documentation survives. Nothing. The rest is riddled with inconsistencies, mistakes and alterations. Its impossible to know now what could have been something Jesus has said and what wasn’t. Its not clear at all what was said by the man. The story of the woman adulterer is strongly felt amongst scholars to be fictional, what else is? The scribes who copied the very early manuscripts were nearly always illiterate and paid to replicate. They replicated very badly as evidenced by the really early fragments. lines of information got repeated or omitted, and this was in the “early” period of 200 years already long past any living memory. So who the dickens knows exactly how much is correct? We do know however that mistakes total almost double the amount of actual words in the bible.
    Many changes were accidental due to periblepsis, but many more were intentional changes for political reasons. I guess some others were just “good yarns” such as the adulteress story. The only lesson to can get from the gospels is that largely, they appeared to be collected stories that don’t really back each other up all that well, and that scribes have tried altering over the ages to make them seem a little more consistent. Its impossible to know “Jesus” through these documents. They are a dogs breakfast now. Hey.. you didn’t write to much either!



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 12:23 am

  339. Saml,

    Many people have tried to critically examine the text. my point is that what these very many people have studied, is thousands of differing accounts of the texts and none of the “fragments” even close to being original. No one can possibly know which piece of text is the literal correct one. So we have this thing now accepted as a “word of God” which can’t really be.
    Saml maybe you can tell me which is correct?
    Mark says Jesus died the day after the Passover meal, John says it was before? Mark 14:12 John 19:14
    Luke indicates in his account of Jesus birth that Joseph and Mary returned the Nazareth just over a month after they had come to Bethlehem Luke 2:19 but you also have Matthew saying they fled to Egypt Matt 2:19 Or Saml, you could look at Paul in Gal 1:16 where he says he converted on the way to Damascus and not got to Jerusalem to see the apostles before him where in acts 9:26 says that’s the first dang thing he did. There are just so many discrepancies Saml. What is correct and what isn’t?


    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 12:49 am

  340. Saml,

    Are oral traditions worth the papyrus there printed on?

    just wondering



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 2:42 am

  341. Saml,

    You said: “The sense that I get from the gospels is that each writer has done her/his best to put together whatever they felt were the authentic words and actions of Jesus.”

    We don’t know any of this. We don’t know who these people really were, We don’t know that what they said is what they indeed did say. We don’t know what was changed over the centuries of what they said. We don’t know what honest mistakes were made by scribes. We don’t know what deliberate mistakes were made. We don’t know what translation errors were made. (and boy was it retranslated!)
    We know the stories don’t mesh we know there are a lot of differences. How can we know which is the authentic word of Jesus or word of God at this late stage?

    you said: “Jesus is an exceptional oral teacher, and one cannot simply sit and invent a good teacher” Well apparently you can if your a first century scribe. A whole lot of stuff appears “invented” in the Bible particularly most of John. At this late stage we have literally no idea how good or even what Jesus actually said to make a statement like this Saml. We don’t know how much was invented.

    You said: “In one sense I like the embarrassment argument and it is to me very strong evidence the Jesus teaching has been preserved quite well”

    How could we possibly know this Saml with well over 300,000 different versions of written biblical literature which clearly can not all be right specifically if much is contradictory.



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 3:08 am

  342. Ivan, I don’t see the manuscript as the real problem. In fact a multiplicity of sources can be very helpful and I tend to think that the textual critics have done a pretty good job. If you pick up a good greek NT like UBS’s version you will find an apparatus on each page that gives you the major variant readings and compares for you the manuscript attestations for each. It is usually quite obvious why one reading is preferred. For comparison, take the manuscript evidence for Shakespeare’s corpus, you may be surprised at what you discover!

    The variations between the gospels again, to me, point to authenticity rather than falsehood. I would have been much more sceptical of conflations and harmonisations that try to do away with problems. There are anumber of later manuscripts that try to do precisely this and these are rightly discounted.

    Where problems exist they are real problems! Certainly in a host of details we can see that ‘an event’ has been reported differently, and the question of which is true will arise. Either one of the writers could be right or both wrong.

    One policy that I follow is that each author should be given respect and his/her work taken as a whole before one starts picking it to pieces. Each outhor is obviously someone who has personally felt the impact of Jesus. As such these books are works of faith. Again, given the cultural environment this is encouraging for the standard for disciples is to accurately report the words of the teacher, this is a Rabbinic standard, rabi meaning teacher (of the law).

    You may look at Gerhardsson’s “Memory and Manuscript” a work that has been ignored for decades precisely because it scientifically attacked Bultmann’s form critical approach. A more recent and voluminous study by Richard Bauckham looks in some detail at ‘eyewitnesses’ and norms for transmiting oral tradition in NT times. You do have to remember that books were a tremendous luxury and so oral tradition and transmission were the only practical means of spreading any teaching.

    The NT should be read critically, the real problems faced, and finally acknowledgement made that the bulk of the tradition had to go back to a remarkable and original teacher who lived consistently with his words and who died for challenging the darker tendencies of the men in power.

    Whether the church that is supposed to follow in his footsteps has done him justice and whether the theology of the religion of christianity is an honest reflection of the historical Jesus are I think, the real questions.

    In the final analysis, you and I have to face this historical figure, and we can meet the real man Jesus in any of the gospels (yes even John), and decide what he means to you and to me.


    Comment by samlcarr — 2 May 2007 @ 6:43 am

  343. Saml,
    While not entirely related to your question on atmospheric oxygen, New Scientist has nice little article called “Breath of Life” worth a read if your inclined.



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 11:37 am

  344. Gee Saml,

    There is so much that I disagree with you on. Variations point to authenticity? Of what ? fraud? Christians can’t look at this book as the word of anything if there exists 400,000 plus versions of it, all different. I mean in many cases really contradictory different. I have no idea what much of it is meant to say. I love textual critics, but what the dickens are they being critical of? There is no where to go with this, older doesn’t mean more truthful, in fact all fragments seem to be equally full of faults. If only Gutenberg could have been just that bit quicker of the mark.
    I don’t know if I would offer my respect for each individual author simply because they had a faith they were trying to sell. Its clear that much of the gospels were committed to print some 4 or 5 lifetimes after the demise of Jesus. I am very sceptical about what truth they contain. I think the gospel of John is really the first one we can completely discard.
    Saml, you like the way Jesus dealt with the adulteress?



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 11:56 am

  345. You said:

    The NT should be read critically, the real problems faced, and finally acknowledgement made that the bulk of the tradition had to go back to a remarkable and original teacher who lived consistently with his words and who died for challenging the darker tendencies of the men in power.

    There are a few differences related in the manuscripts about this. How Jesus was in his “consistency” while in power. Will try and get you some examples.



    Comment by Ivan — 2 May 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  346. Saml,

    You said: The NT should be read critically, the real problems faced, and finally acknowledgement made that the bulk of the tradition had to go back to a remarkable and original teacher who lived consistently with his words and who died for challenging the darker tendencies of the men in power.

    Saml, How do we really know this? I mean really,really know it. You and I, I think a realists. I bet you don’t fully believe the various miracle stories and you probably have a sense of when things were being hyped a little at least. Where maybe I differ, I think a whole lot of the Bible is in fact closer to very dramatic fiction, written this way with the best of intentions. Saml, scholars have understood for a long time now that Mark was the first Gospel written and both Matthew and Luke used basically the first account to kind of get their stories straight. I suspect Mark may have the most literally honest version of Jesus, there are a few instances of Jesus not being seen in the best light. These are “corrected” in the other accounts to give us “wise Jesus” “saintly Jesus” “sagely Jesus” etc. All modifications of thousands of scribes over the centuries. So how can we possibly know who what this individual was exactly? I would also, draw your attention to Christian scholars before the advent of the formal bible, They couldn’t even agree on how many separate Gods existed let alone if Jesus was a divine figure. How can you or I know really someone from such a profoundly unstable platform as the Holy scriptures? Are we not better off following a person such as Ghandi that has some kind of historical integrity?


    Comment by Ivan — 3 May 2007 @ 9:27 am

  347. Ivan, in india we call Gandhi the ‘mahatma’ meaning ‘great soul’. I think that indeed he was a great soul but I have not met Gandhi, except in books or old newsreels. I can’t have a friendship with Gandhi.

    The only reason for looking more closely at the gospels than i would otherwise have done is to find out what I can find out about Jesus and the reason I do this is because Jesus is my friend.

    Knowing Jesus makes me want to know more about Jesus and this in turn encourages me to critically read the NT.
    Getting to your specific questions first on textual variants. The manuscripts can be fairly easily classified (based on similarities and differences) into broad families. Our good old King James version of the 1600s is a translation based on one family of texts (textus receptus or Stephanus), while from the late 1800s onwards a very different family of texts has been considered better (Westcott and Hort). The point for me is that I still love the King James version. The language is just superb and stylistically it wins hands down over any of the more recent transalations (i’m one of those kooks that loves 16C literature) and if one is really honest, the change of manuscript family has almost no impact on the meaning of the text. So, by and large, the existence of a great many variant manuscripts is not a negative factor. Things are a little busy today so I’ll start work on some of your other points tomorrow…


    Comment by samlcarr — 3 May 2007 @ 4:17 pm

  348. So Basically, your saying to me Saml, you can have a friendship with a literary Character that we have very little if any factual evidence about and almost nothing historically, but you couldn’t with a proven historical figure of some genuineness? Any ideas on how many different and contradictory documents your textus receptus was based on? Its a very mixed up little document Saml. Are you sure you know who Jesus allegedly was?


    Comment by Ivan — 3 May 2007 @ 11:25 pm

  349. Ivan,

    I didn’t start into this to find out more about just a ‘literary character’ and the point is that I need to be as soundly critical and scientific as possible in my apprach to the NT precisely because i am not interested in myth or legend but in the truth of Jesus.

    i am not arguing that the TR is a good or even reliable text. My point is that whatever textual critics think of it there is little practical effect in the meaning of the text for all those little or big variations. The insight and clarity of thought as well as command of language of those translators more than makes up for any weakness in textual science. In fact the changes in the English Language over the last 400 years are of much greater significance to understanding the KJV today than is the poor quality of it’s manuscript family.

    Your qustions on variations between gospel accounts require some proper thinking, so let me get back to you on how i do approach that and why it is in fact an exciting enterprise.


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 May 2007 @ 7:04 am

  350. Thats ok Saml. We just have a different kind of attitude about how we approach stuff like truth.




    Comment by Ivan — 4 May 2007 @ 10:51 am

  351. Hey Saml,

    I don’t think I am all that dogmatic with my dogma, but I would expect a few things sorted out before we made the book. I would think the issue about how many Gods there were or whether Jesus was the son of either of them, or part God / man or some incarnation, sorted well out before we made the book. But in fact it wasn’t, they didn’t even have full agreement on everything from Jesus’ mood swings to his parentage. I’m saying to you, that before I could worship or emulate or follow, I’d need the undisputed facts on something this big. In fact, my default position is pretty much like Bertrand Russell’s, “not enough evidence”. This is what I plan on telling a / either God if there turns out to be one or both. I am curious though as to how you come to your point of view? What do you know I don’t? Whats attractive about Jesus?



    Comment by Ivan — 4 May 2007 @ 11:20 am

  352. Ivan, take the blogosphere as an example. what do you know of your fellow travellers? identities can be created ex nihilo and ad nauseam. But if you sustain a conversation with one person for some time you will start to get a sense of who that person is.

    I don’t think we usually start out asking for proofs, identities will resolve as relationships develop and those who have created a ‘self’ to project will show their true colors as time and conversation keep going.

    here, e.g. there is no fixed point in time that i can pinpoint by saying “i believe in Ivan”, i don’t even really know whether you are pulling my leg or not…
    but when we have a corpus of stuff to work with, there would be quite a few things now that you would ‘confidently’ know about me and vice versa.

    By mentioning you to my friends, I take the risk that I may get laughed at if you turn out to be the pastor of a church in Western Nigeria… or whatever, but I’ll take that risk!


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 May 2007 @ 8:39 pm

  353. But you don’t really know anything factual. You have at best a “feel”. What if the words from the blog, were hand transcribed by a thousand scribes for hundreds of years, what if for social and cultural reasons they were motivated to make the accounts seem different. What if the Saml 2000 years later only had fragments of the copies from hundreds of years after and no originals, what if all the copies were different sometimes in a major sense sometimes minor, would Saml really know why Ivan was? You probably wouldn’t Saml. I think you wouldn’t have a clue. Is this not our reality?



    Comment by Ivan — 5 May 2007 @ 12:09 am

  354. should be “who” Ivan was.. sorry.


    sort of like an ancient scribe typo.


    Comment by Ivan — 5 May 2007 @ 12:11 am

  355. Let’s say this convo takes on iconic proportions and thousands of bloggers start cutting, pasting, quoting out of context, modifying without acknowledgement, rearranging the responses to make them fit a logical sequence…

    I would be much happier as a textual critic to have more and more material and all corrupted differently than just one surviving copy that i have to unquestioningly accept!


    Comment by samlcarr — 5 May 2007 @ 9:40 am

  356. I guess in at least one of the above scenarios, we know one is definitely incorrect. And, this is kind of what we have with our current piece of resource material the Bible. I don’t think you can “know” Jesus this way or anyone else. Hey, how are you up for starting something about Ghandi? You and I could be the first Ghandians. You like him don’t you? We don’t have to unquestingly accept anything. That would be to much like faith for me.


    Comment by Ivan — 5 May 2007 @ 9:55 am

  357. Yes, I like Gandhi, I like MLK too and the Buddha, definitely all iconoclasts and very brave persons who lived their principles out at great personal cost and for the benefit of the downtrodden.

    I enjoy reading about them and am inspired by their examples. Not one of them seem very keen on getting to know me though.


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 May 2007 @ 11:31 am

  358. Saml,

    That is an interesting statement. Sir, how do you perceive Jesus as being keen on getting to know you? I thought he was dead?



    Comment by Ivan — 7 May 2007 @ 9:40 am

  359. Ivan,

    yes, I agree, terribly irrational and most ‘unscientific’ of me. The thing is, there have been relatively few times when i have really felt a character ‘come alive’. Two of those instances would be Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings and Sydney Carton in Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities”. Still, in both of those instances what I am left with is a sort of renewable memory of a person, renewed when I reread the book, but with Jesus there is a qualitative difference where even without touching an NT or being reminded of a gospel pericope, the sense that this person, Jesus, is with me continues…

    I can’t explain it but that’s as close as I can get.


    Comment by samlcarr — 7 May 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  360. Thanks Saml.


    Comment by Ivan — 8 May 2007 @ 11:29 am

  361. ivan, getting back to your questions on reading the gospels critically, let me take a stab at it by telling you what i do.

    In the first place, i have read quite a bit of the scholarship to at least have an idea of the different schools of thought, methodologies and so on. To be frank, I am not impressed. I come from a literature background and imo most of our NT scholars will simply not pass muster. The basic problem is that they have confused the quest for history with the quest to understand a work of literature and they have usually allowed their sense of what is/is not historical to destroy the very works that they claim to want to understand.

    Now, having said that, there isn’t anything much in the gospels that we could call ‘great’ by literary standards. All 4 gospels are pretty workmanlike in style, presentation and content. Perhaps literarily GJohn is the best followed by GLuke but really there is not that much to choose between them.

    Luke, in a direct way, acknowledges that he himself is not an eyewitness but that he has done his best to sort out the various traditions to put a reliable account together. John also says the same thing but more implicitly and in a much more nuanced fashion.

    Surprisingly, you will find that historians and archaeologists are very respectful of these two writers (authors of GJohn and GLuke) as historical sources.

    What I can see when working with a harmony or parallel texts of the gospel passages indicates that there are numerous sources for the traditions that have been woven together. The case for literary dependence I find very equivocal and based on negatve reasoning. In other words, the idea that Mathew and Luke used Mark with Q and some other stuff looks to me to be weak. The existence of ‘Q’ itself is a bit better though still not conclusive. So, just as with any decent ‘book’ I let the text stand as it is and study each part first in it’s context before looking at comparisons. The comparison of parallel texts is very helpful but mostly not in the ways that scholars have sought to derive historical information from it.

    Overall, my impression is that of a very powerful and original teacher. One who’s ideas were only slightly understood in his time but whose teaching caused consternation and radical changes in his followers. That somewhat garbled memory of Jesus is what I see pretty well preserved in these 4 amateur gospels.


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 May 2007 @ 9:06 am

  362. Saml,

    I have a busy 2 days or so in front of me, But I want to pick your brain on this later.

    Saml, what books did you specifically read yourself, in your quest to understand the text more completely?



    Comment by Ivan — 9 May 2007 @ 1:41 pm

  363. Ivan, you’re asking for a summary of 30 years of ‘questing’! I’ll have to sit and narrow it down to the most significant few.

    Incidentally, i saw a podcast on CBC’s the Hour at http://www.cbc.ca/thehour/video.php?id=1563

    where Dawkins was talking mostly about his book. One thing struck me and that is that he has a rather pathetic faith in ‘reason’ as long as it’s based on evidence. This was in the context of some of his comments on politics…


    Comment by samlcarr — 9 May 2007 @ 2:02 pm

  364. Saml,

    Don’t go to trouble. I was wondering simply about the ones you found more significant. If you can’t remember that’s fine. I know your the type of guy to have looked into the subject well. I like Dawkins.. actually I love Dawkins. I don’t see his beliefs and structure pathetic at all. Hey, I recently discovered and use you tube a bit, I noticed that a few of Dawkins University lectures are on it. They are good to sit in on if your interested Saml?
    If I am slower than usual getting back to you Saml, its just a slightly busier time for me this month and next. I will reply, You might see a day where I don’t get back so quickly. Its only a short term thing. I really want to discuss this with you at length if you will let me.


    Comment by Ivan — 10 May 2007 @ 12:02 am

  365. No, probs on the busy and it’s a bit like that here too. I actually like Dawkins, he’s provocative but generally good. The Selfish Gene is one of my favourites.

    What is ‘pathetic’ is not Dawkins the scientist nor even Dawkins the atheist.

    It’s when Dawkins starts thinking that rational thought, evidentially based, will free humankind. People will agree on what is sensible and get on with doing it rather than being distracted by stuff like faith, God and religion.

    He sees faith as a blockage that once removed will result in a better world where humanity will scientifically cooperate without distractions. This is what Dawkins calls seeking the “Truth”… and that’s noble but simplistic, unrealistic and ultimately pathetic.

    I do hope no one convices him that he would make a good politician!


    Comment by samlcarr — 10 May 2007 @ 11:58 am

  366. Saml,

    You may be right, but geeze I would love to see Atheitism given a go. Has there ever been a time humnaity has suffered for want of being to reasonable.. to sane.. to rational?


    Comment by Ivan — 13 May 2007 @ 11:16 am

  367. By the way Ivan, I made a few comments about Status Anxiety under the Last Night in Nice Post. I enjoyed the book — thanks for the recommendation.


    Comment by ktismatics — 14 May 2007 @ 8:59 am

  368. I liked it also John. Hey did you read the Davies book yet?


    Comment by Ivan — 15 May 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  369. John,

    I have just finished a book called “Misquoting Jesus” which was facinating. Reading something now called Atheist universe. Its not bad. Also read Annie Proulxs book “The shipping news” which I just loved.


    Comment by Ivan — 16 May 2007 @ 1:04 am

  370. The Davies book is part of a parcel delivered to my in-laws’ house in the States. Instead of having them send it here, they’ll hold onto it until we move back to America. So it’ll be a couple of months more, I fear.

    I haven’t read “Misquoting Jesus,” but I read “Lost Christianities” also by Bart Ehrman. He talks about the various sects in the early church that got squeezed out by what would gradually take shape as Christian orthodoxy. Very interesting. The Atheist Universe I don’t know. I too liked “The Shipping News.”


    Comment by ktismatics — 16 May 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  371. Barts second book is quite a read. Its so very hard to look at the Bible in quite the same light after reading it.


    Comment by Ivan — 17 May 2007 @ 9:25 am

  372. Ehrman was another guy who said he didn’t have time to read my Genesis 1 book.


    Comment by ktismatics — 17 May 2007 @ 6:53 pm

  373. I’m not a textual scholar, for one thing my Greek is barely passable, but I would not put too much weightage on Barts’ crisis of faith. I have not read his books but I have waded through some of his articles in serious journals.

    Generally, from what I can see, the quality of textual scholarship is much higher than the quality of literary critics of the bible. For every doubt that Barts has brought up, the refutations have been quite convincing (in the few studies where I have looked at both sides) and in any case there really is not anything of an earthshaking quality to what Barts has brought out. In some cases he makes very good points and these should be taken into consideration.


    Comment by samlcarr — 18 May 2007 @ 2:04 pm

  374. Saml,

    Its not really cricket, describing this guys book as a “crisis in faith”. Seriously, what do we both know about his faith? He makes some very good points all the same and I think they are hard to dispute.

    The bible, like it or not, is laden with mistakes both small and profound. We have no clear idea of who authored most of it. We have no original manuscripts to know what originally was said. Of the manuscripts we do have, there are something like 200,000 differing versions.

    Some imply Jesus was a bloke, just like you and I, others a God. Some refer to Jesus being the normal birth product of the union of man and woman, others say his is born of a virgin.

    Some Parables that define who Jesus was, are non existent in all earlier Gospels, Some depictions of his anger excised as Winston Smith excised historical records in Orwell’s book 1984.

    How can anyone really “know” the truth of the history of Jesus with that much tampering going on? Its so very fragmented and so very influenced from so many different directions, that its impossible to know Saml, just impossible.

    I don’t know the implications to the authors faith, it doesn’t really say, But if your getting your Faith from the modern day Bible, you really have to ask yourself the question, whose thoughts really am I reading? I would bet my nose Saml that it isn’t anything of Jesus or of a God.


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 1:21 am

  375. Saml,

    Let’s talk “earth shaking” quality for a moment.

    If, in the Christian world our main piece of evidence is The Holy Bible and this is seen as “God’s word”, Gods *literal* word in most instances then even small changes should be Earth Shaking.

    The Parable, of Jesus dealing with the adulteress, is an example, it doesn’t appear in any of the early versions of the Gospels. The author, responds that it was a marginal story added by a scribe somewhere along the way. I call this Earth Shaking. How many times is that parable used to explain sage Jesus and its likely a fiction.

    What about some other big stuff?

    Mark 15:34 Eloi,Eloi,lema sabachthani”? “My God,my God why have you forsaken me? Doesn’t this quote from Jesus on the cross really say, I’m not really the embodiment of God on earth, but just a guy that is about to be killed. This quote changes according to the scribes that dominated the orthodoxy . You find the line changed in one Greek manuscript and several Latin ones.

    My point I guess,. If the Gospels are “sold” to us as ultimate truth by front line witnesses and are in fact enormously different accounts in the first place, but proof is out there that many of these were subsequently changed then changed again. And that many original translation errors and transcription errors keep repeating and compounding the errors, what are we left with 2000 years later?

    I think we have a first century Jacky Collins novel myself Saml. This is earth shattering isn’t it?


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 2:11 am

  376. Saml,

    From another book I am reading, they offer this little story:

    Suppose that: You are visiting the grave of US President John Kennedy at Arlington cemetery. The ground suddenly opens up and a man who looks just like Kennedy sits up and then walks away. Is it probable that,

    1. I am misperceiving that this is occurring.
    2. Someone is playing a rather ingenious trick.
    3. I am witnessing the filming of a movie.
    4. I am dreaming.
    5.Someone has slipped me an hallucinogenic drug
    6.The man wasn’t actually Kennedy himself
    7. I have fallen victim to a psychosis
    8. I am completely fabricating the story.

    Are any of these explanations more plausible than:

    9. There has been a complete reversal of the laws of nature and John F Kennedy has just been reanimated?

    What if statement 9 were not testimony from eye witnesses but written by first century people rooted in superstition and magic and passed down in fragmented writings. Isn’t this what we are looking at with the crux of the Christian religion? Isn’t 1-8 infinitely more likely to be the explanation.. maybe not 3.


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 2:27 am

  377. Saml,

    Your not a textual scholar as you rightly point out. What about these people that are and who can read these ancient languages. They are saying this stuff is fabricated in parts, misread in others, copied badly and changed culturally. These people are themselves Christians in the first place wanting to understand the real word of God.

    They are saying it isn’t.

    On what grounds should I not believe them?


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 2:31 am

  378. Ivan, good points indeed! In the first place, the amount of ‘textual evidence’ is massive. Most of it comprises late copied stuff that has a plethora of mistakes. But, a bit of it is considered to be properly ancient and a worthwhile source of data. This certainly is far from providing certainty about the reconstructed text as it stands today but most of the places where important variants would change the sense are noted in the footnotes of good translations. Old versions like the KJV did not have the benefit of all this research and are better used as literature than as good translations but even there one finds that where an English word is used that is not equivalently found in the Greek, the KJV italicises the word.

    There certainly is no attempt to make out a greater degree of certainty than actually exists. Though, I do admit that very few practicisng Christians understand anything much about the formation of our text.

    If you were to compare our evidence for Jesus with the evidence for almost any historical figure I think you will find that we do have much more than a bare minimum. Couple that with the real evidence of generations over millenia that believe in him and you do have to wonder. From this even if one dicscounts the part that ‘religion’ has played, the evidence is still impressive.

    But, I’m a very poor apologist mainly because I don’t myself believe in Jesus because of ‘the evidence’. I believe because of a relationship. Now, that could be a figment of my imagination, but if it were it would make conversation with others a sort of shared delusion and that looks unlikely.

    The person that I know is consistent with a lot of what I read in the gospels and that’s why i try to study the gospels.

    if I could give you incontrovertible evidence, would that make a believer out of you?


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 May 2007 @ 5:37 am

  379. Hey Saml,

    It would just have to be evidence for me to change my opinion from no God to one at least God.
    What evidence do you have?

    Saml, when we discuss this topic of Christianity, I don’t specifically target your good self. I understand your very well educated and have looked into the subject quite deeply, and I know your talking about a relationship, separate I think to the system I am talking about. In other words, I don’t think for a second your a crazy person. (your the a lot saner than myself)

    But if your sharing this belief with others, it could at least be *seen* as a kind of shared delusion. That is, with all parties agreeing to share the same imaginary concept. (Imaginary in my world I mean.)

    I think I am making poor sense this evening.

    You said: “But, a bit of it is considered to be properly ancient and a worthwhile source of data.”

    Trouble is I am not so sure now Saml. My understanding is this: Something may or may not have happened with a man named “Jesus”. We have no directly written records, No original eye witness testimony, Nothing even written about him until several hundred years after his death. Nothing written from any living at the time account.
    The information that was written, isn’t written by people who even lived in the time of Jesus. We have no evidence for any of the supernatural stuff from any secular record keeper alive at the time of Jesus. This point is worth re-reading. The written “evidence” for want of a better word is fragmented and conflicting, in some ways minor, in many ways quite major.

    This “collection” of information is copied and modified, changed whenever the doctrine or school of thought changes, sometimes just a word and the context completely alters,various Christian factions all vying for having the most truthful information. this keeps happening until block type is invented, then one version tended to largely get mechanically produced.

    So here we are, I have no idea what that document tells us now Saml. I really don’t.

    you said:

    “There certainly is no attempt to make out a greater degree of certainty than actually exists.”

    Saml I agree. If the very first “Christians” were unsure of how many different Gods existed, how the dickens do the latter ones know? If the very early “Christians” couldn’t agree on what Jesus actually was, how do the latter ones know?
    If the very early Christians couldn’t agree on the whole virgin birth how do the latter ones know? Do you see my point? What is it exactly we do know? Do you know?

    You said: “If you were to compare our evidence for Jesus with the evidence for almost any historical figure I think you will find that we do have much more than a bare minimum. Couple that with the real evidence of generations over millennia that believe in him and you do have to wonder. From this even if one discounts the part that ‘religion’ has played, the evidence is still impressive.”

    What evidence Saml? I don’t know of anyone alive at the time who recorded any evidence. If I could indulge for a moment?

    In the gospel of Matthew, it makes the assertion (Matthew I’m guessing) that when Jesus was nailed to the cross the saints did rise from the grave and entered into the streets of Jerusalem. Is this literal? Did grave actually open and several people who were dead climbed out and resumed their lives to the horror of their families one would suspect.

    Wouldn’t this incredible and extraordinary even be listed down some where by the Romans? If its true, and being in the Bible it must be, it surely would be one of the greatest events of all mankind, someone would have made a note? But no one did Saml. Could it be just another piece of first century man dealing with magic and superstition? Could we not apply the same scepticism to the entire book?


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 9:46 am

  380. Saml,

    The Holy Bible: Do you cast any of it out?


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 9:50 am

  381. The person that I know is consistent with a lot of what I read in the gospels and that’s why i try to study the gospels.


    What if what your actually studying is not the word of God or even the acurate life of Jesus Christ.

    Is it still worth anything to you if its a fictional account of someones life?

    I understand your point of seeing it as a “relationship” but what if its completely a fiction?
    Would it matter?


    Comment by Ivan — 19 May 2007 @ 10:28 am

  382. Ivan, if it (the new testament) turned out to be largely fiction it would make little difference to my faith.

    In fact in some sense it has to be ‘fiction’ (unconsciously) even if based on facts. The act of writing a short history of anything is a sort of fiction even tho we rarely acknowledge that as being so. It is one writer’s research, perspective, writing ability, limitations … all of which impinge in various ways on the ‘factuality’ of what’s being told.

    The idea that there is outright fiction is i think a fairly modern development. The best ‘pure’ fiction ‘lives’ on only if it is in some sense realistic enough to mimic truth!

    But beyond that, do i think there are factual errors? Yes i do, though not being in the best position 2k years on to really figure it all out. Certainly if we look at the gospels from the standpoint of modern historiography there will be a sense of frustration. Part of this though is I think part and parcel of studying ancient history at all.

    Another aspect is that if you were to compare the NT writings with anything contemporary you will find that it is pretty high quality stuff. There is not the obviously mythic writing of Greek tradition and we are much closer in genre to Roman history writing though nothing there comes in with this level of detail or ‘reality’. Even the accounts of miracles are pretty matter-of-fact in their reporting.

    A lot of archaological work that has been done in and around Israel is very supportive of what we have on record. All these are just indicators that the original authors did not intend to deceive. Unintentional mistakes and a lack of criticality are a cultural reflection if nothing else.


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 May 2007 @ 4:31 pm

  383. Ivan, the fact is that if i were to talk to you about black holes this would be just as much a ‘sharing of delusions’ as if i were to talk to you about Jesus. I think that i know some things but that is in fact a delusion. what’s ‘real’ is that i do think and i do think that i know.

    my point about evidence was that i am irrational. i don’t believe in Jesus because of the sort of evidence that science would look for. In fact i don’t know enough physics to believe in black holes either! that’s as far as the evidence can take me, the rest is a leap of faith, in scientists or in ancient writers.

    You have read someone who (Bart Ehrman) has experienced a ‘loss of faith’ (he now says he is an agnostic) because of his studies in textual criticism. That is by his own admission. The fault here is not with Bart, but with the way in which he was taught to believe. it indicates to me that he believed what he was told rather than thinking his faith through on his own.

    I so wish that each person would refuse to turn off that critical part of his/her brain when dealing with matters of faith.

    The standards of evidence that we apply to ancient texts are different. We have to start with what the author thought ‘truth’ meant. Certainly the authors of the NT are all believers first and historians second. Still, their view of truth precludes the sort of fictionalisation or creation of stories that many scholars would like to be able to make out.

    From a literary analysis of the gospels my view is that there are a number of witnesses each reporting what they know, what they have memorised, and each gospel writer is drawing from the witnesses that he knows. I think the evidence is that each writer insists on using his own sources even when they know that someone else has a different version. Now which (if any) of the parallel versions is closest to ‘the truth’ will depend on how one reads and indeed each scholar reconstructs this a bit differently.

    My personal conclusion is that while we are dealing with what each author believes to be authentic material, a modern version of a ‘historical Jesus’ is hard to construct even though the story is there, sometimes in too much detail! In fact that is part of what makes the study of the gospels as fascinating as it is for me…


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 May 2007 @ 5:27 pm

  384. Incidentally Richard Bauckham’s new book is out and you may find it interesting “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”. The scholar community is just starting to struggle with what he has to say and the results of the debate are eagerly awaited.


    Comment by samlcarr — 19 May 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  385. I think you hit the nail on the head with : They are believers first, Historians second.. for me that is in fact “the” problem.


    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 2:02 am

  386. Gee. Saml,

    For two people we sure look at the same thing differently don’t we?

    If you get a chance, have a read of Victor Stengers book God The failed hypothesis.



    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 2:06 am

  387. Saml,

    I don’t know the faith outcome of Bart Erhman, But I would like to ask you a question about the comment :

    (You have read someone who (Bart Ehrman) has experienced a ‘loss of faith’ (he now says he is an agnostic) because of his studies in textual criticism. That is by his own admission. The fault here is not with Bart, but with the way in which he was taught to believe. )

    Mr Erhman looked fairly serious to me. He appears to have been a dedicated Christian to study the Bible in a tertiary capacity. His interest appears to have led him to study the Biblical manuscripts in their original form, and he learned ancient Greek etc. He went about his faith how I would have liked to (if I was a Christian in the first place.) He took his education seriously to bring it out of the realms of Sunday school.

    This education, made him see the Holy Bible in a whole different light. What is wrong with his faith exactly? Isn’t this what human intelligence and understanding is suppose to do? He reviewed his opinion in light of new information, what is wrong with that? If we stick fast to unbending faith, ignoring our human sense of reason, are we doing a similar thing to the Church with people like Galileo? Isn’t human reasoning the path that got us out of the cave and desert, into the light with hairdryer,warm blankets and industrial manufactured food? Is “faith” not the biggest set of shackles you can give to the feet of humanity?

    Why do I feel your on the worst of paths Saml?



    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 2:32 am

  388. Ivan, one problem with people like Bart Ehrman and hosts of others is that ‘faith’ is tied to false impressions about the bible. One could generalise this to many religions the most extreme being Islam. In Islam, it is not only the Koran that is believed but the Koran as modified by the sharia.

    In Christianity similarly we have extra stuff like the creeds and doctrines like trinity which purport to clarify or summarise our understanding of the bible but which actually function much like the sharia does to define what orthodox or ‘proper’ faith is.

    It is doctrine that is then taught as Christianity. The individual Christian who fails to see that there is a distinction between these two things will throw the baby out with the bathwater when their faith in doctrine gets shaken or shattered by their deeper study.

    I much prefer an honestly atheistic or agnostic Bart to one who is living in denial/contradiction but i don’t agree that that is the only way to go!

    In any case, I am solidly with Pascal on this one, if god exists, what s/he thinks of me much more important than what I think of God.

    I also think you’re being a bit unreasonable with the NT authors. People only write about things that they are passionately involved with. The fact that I believe strongly in stuff that i blog about shouldn’t make it seem false to a reader. You take what is written and think about it. You may disagree or agree or like just a bit of it. That is not dependent upon how strongly I, the author, believed in what I said. Should i discount your atheism just because you seem overly biased in support of it?

    The bias of the writer and the bias of the reader both are important factors to keep in mind when critically reading any writing.


    Comment by samlcarr — 20 May 2007 @ 7:50 am

  389. Saml,

    I’m not a “biased Atheist”. I am atheist simply because there *is no evidence* support a contrary opinion. Show me the evidence and I will show you a backflipping former atheist. I am not biased against evidence, I just don’t see any.

    You speak of the passion as a positive thing where I see it different. Its the passion of wanting and needing to believe in a God that makes these first century believers in superstition such poor sceptical thinkers. This is why we have such incredible accounts of patently impossible things written up as factual,literal accounts. Its just crazy.

    I understand your view on Pascal, I just prefer to wait for the evidence myself.

    Saml, Its the doctrine taught as Christianity that is the problem. It shouldn’t be doctrine if there is 300,000 differing versions of it. It shouldn’t be doctrine unless it separately collaborates the story, It doesn’t. It shouldn’t be doctrine if its written by men like you and I and altered through 20 centuries. Its the very doctrine that’s the problem. When we end up with a document that makes no sense to our culture if practised literally, If its replete with mistakes, if it has no secondary back up historical source and it doesn’t, shouldn’t we treat it as bath water?



    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 9:26 am

  390. Saml,

    When you talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ, is your view of him the classical one? You see him as part God, and his resurrection was literal event ? You see him as physically alive today? When you die you expect he will answer the door chimes of the heavenly gate? Do you have any divergence to the classically Christian image of Jesus?


    Comment by Ivan — 20 May 2007 @ 9:41 am

  391. Yes, these are some ‘typical’ Christian myths. I actually have no idea at all about these things. As far as Jesus goes at the very least he is someone special. The life he lived in conflict with his culture and with the authorities of his day is in fact prety well attested and certainly to have the impact that he has had leaves him in a bit of a unique position.

    I personally have experienced the living Jesus. As far as how exactly he ended up being still alive despite dying is I think a mystery in the bible too, all doctrines notwithstanding. So, he is still alive and able to communicate but exactly how I don’t know. I also don’t know about stuff like ‘the trinity’, not that I was not at one time a puzzled signatory to that doctrine too!

    On the nature of God, naturally or supernaturally, again I have no information other than that I believe that God does exist.

    There has been a lot of speculation on these points and that may be natural but the fact that some of it is brilliantly argued now doesn’t do much for me personally.

    I generally think that as far as the earliest witnesses go, I tend to give them more weightage as they were close to the events and these events had a remarkable effect on these very ordinary men and women.

    Paul is in my opinion a brilliant thinker and has also studied the sources rather more critically and in more depth than many of his contemporaries. Again of the writers of the NT the author of John’s gospel stands a cut above the rest. As a careful investigator I think Luke too has done an excellent job.

    What we have in the N.T. as content is also very interesting for the gospels concentrate on something like just three years of Jesus travels, teachings and doings. Within this itself the material has been very carefully selected to give us the gist of who Jesus was and what he taught. Importantly, a lot of attention is paid to his death and then to the empty tomb and his subsequent meeting of various persons.

    There is no very clear biographical stuff, it’s almost all action packed and mostly written in a rather dry style yet in spite of that the man springs to life and it’s such an unusual life that the idea that he has been created or even doctored up defies the obvious reality.

    People who think that these authors were creative geniuses really have not paid attention to the actual writings as these are of relatively poor stylistic quality and so obviously ‘cut and paste’ together from various diverse sources. The conspiracy theory is probably more improbable than most of the miracles that cause so much offense to modern readers.

    One has to account for this evidence and though I’ve done a fair bit of reading i am yet to see anything that beats Jesus being mostly who and what the documents say he was.

    Ockham’s razor at work again…


    Comment by ponnvandu — 20 May 2007 @ 3:23 pm

  392. Saml,
    I don’t know what you mean by obvious reality, when it is anything but obvious and clearly cannot be reality.

    There is a real reason why people who study this stuff come out at best agnostics.

    One has to account for the evidence? What evidence are you talking about Saml? There is no evidence. The Bible itself is evidence of a basic human need nothing more, it doesn’t even match up historically.

    We have no evidence of a God. We have no real evidence that Jesus did exist. This is the wash up of Ockhams Razor.



    Comment by Ivan — 21 May 2007 @ 12:15 am

  393. Saml,

    Do you know the whole Trinity story is thought to be based on yet another typographical error?


    Comment by Ivan — 21 May 2007 @ 12:16 am

  394. Saml,

    We both seem to live in a Universe, that doesn’t indicate much in the way of a God. As I understand it, the universe is steadily winding itself down. Sometime in the next 15 billion years its expected to be a dark and cold place. Our sun, is expected to wink out sometime in the next five billion years, firstly expanding to encompass much of the present solar system, this will cook the Earth and then it will freeze. Its going to do this because this is what happens when a star exhausts its nuclear fuel. Its going to happen regardless of a God.

    Life on our planet has unfolded according to laws of nature. It seems to be doing this unhindered or helped by any type of God. It seems to science that life developed along rather arbitrary lines it certainly does not look anything like a “design” as such.

    Disasters happen, as does evil and any number of random events that unfold as if there wasn’t a God involved. Certainly it takes some doing, to even imagine involvement of a God of the Christian bible.

    I am still looking for evidence Saml, but my best guess is I will die without sighting it. I mean by this, even the smallest bit.



    Comment by Ivan — 21 May 2007 @ 10:06 am

  395. Saml,

    “If” {Paul is in my opinion a brilliant thinker and has also studied the sources rather more critically and in more depth than many of his contemporaries. Again of the writers of the NT the author of John’s gospel stands a cut above the rest. As a careful investigator I think Luke too has done an excellent job.}

    Wouldn’t the stories have been the same?

    Mark 14:12 says Jesus was crucified the day after the Passover meal yet John says before?

    When Luke says Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth just over a month after they had come to Bethlehem Luke 2:39

    yet in Matthews they fled to Egypt Matt:2:19

    Or Paul saying he did not go to Jerusalem yet in Acts he did??

    There are thousands and thousands of different discrepancies. Which are right which are wrong? How can Paul John and Luke be careful investigators and critical thinkers when they can’t even agree on a simple diary of travel?

    I don’t understand Saml, truly I don’t.


    Comment by Ivan — 21 May 2007 @ 11:05 am

  396. Ivan, let me get to your specific discrepancies next. I still owe you a booklist too!

    Ivan, the ‘natural laws’ of the universe, the universe itself (matter and energy), and the wonder of life are all themselves evidence. The way I see it what you are looking for is not there. There is indeed enough evidence but it doesn’t seem like evidence to you.

    It’s a similar case with the new testament. What i see as evidence doesn’t seem so to you. Still, i can only try to tell you what i see.

    What i know of human genius, take Shakespeare as an example, can create lifelike and authentic seemiing characters. But, a less brilliant writer will struggle to convince. Yet, a bunch of quite mediocre writers according to you, have created a most startlingly alive person that has stayed alive for over 2,000 years now, don’t you think that that is really weird? It’s either exceedingly strange or this person really exists.

    Just a while back you gave some possibilities, 9 of them
    1. I am misperceiving that this is occurring.
    2. Someone is playing a rather ingenious trick.
    3. I am witnessing the filming of a movie.
    4. I am dreaming.
    5.Someone has slipped me an hallucinogenic drug
    6.The man wasn’t actually Kennedy himself
    7. I have fallen victim to a psychosis
    8. I am completely fabricating the story.

    Are any of these explanations more plausible than:

    9. There has been a complete reversal of the laws of nature and John F Kennedy has just been reanimated? and these are all common sense options.

    You eliminated #3 yourself for 2k years ago. Now what would happen if two or three people witnessed the same event? 1,4,5, and 7 get eliminated.

    #2. Someone is playing a rather ingenious trick, #6.The man wasn’t actually Kennedy himself, and #8. I am completely fabricating the story – or #9, are left.

    It seems to me that being common sense options these questions would have been asked and answered 2k years ago, especially if so much depends upon not being duped. What was at stake was at least rejection by the religious authorities, rejection by one’s family, outcaste from society, perhaps jail and torture and being considered mad…

    I have little to gain or lose either way as my faith is not dependent particularly on the answer!

    But I come back to a bunch of mediocre guys who may have got carried away, but by whatever stretch of the imagination were absolutely incapable of creating or even polishing up Jesus to turn him into a living human being.


    Comment by samlcarr — 21 May 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  397. Ivan, a book that i liked from one of the greatest textual scholars is “The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration” (4th Edition) Bruce M. Metzger

    Other books that i would recommend include Richard Bauckham’s (cited somewhere above)Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, any of C.S. Lewis (especially The Four Loves, God in the Dock, Studies in Words, Mere Christianity, The Narnia Chronicles (7 of them) and Christian Reflections. John R.W. Stott’s Christ the Controversialist, and Basic Christianity. The Two Horizons by Anthony Thiselton. Leon Morris’ Commentary on John in the New International Commentary of the New Testament series. Stephen Neill’s Jesus Through Many Eyes, and The Interpretation of the New Testament 1862-1961. Reuben J. Swanson’s The Horizontal Line Synopsis of the Gospels. C.F.D Moule The Origin of Christology. D.M. Baillie’s God was in Christ. I.H. Marshall’s I Believe in the Historical Jesus, and New Testament Theology: Many Witnesses, One Gospel. Then any of the works of Miroslav Volf and Noam Chomsky.

    I could go on for a bit more but if you’re looking to putting up a library, this would be a good place to start…


    Comment by samlcarr — 21 May 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  398. But Saml,

    Why is it, that scholars all agree that none of the inner circle were actual direct witnesses to the event?

    How then do we accept the accounts when not only were they not witnessing it, the account itself appears re-written?

    Further, Which account do you accept when all of them are different?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 12:18 am

  399. Saml,

    Thanks for that booklist. Though, they may help me to find God, it may be through the unexpected quarter of my death through the act of my wife killing me. This would be because I have ordered another load of books so soon from the last lot.

    Give me a weeek or two and I will order some. Saml, which would you start with?


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 12:24 am

  400. Ivan, I think that a few of these authors should be available in a good library or perhaps from church libraries, so that’s the best place to start. I’d hate to be responsible for any marital discord!

    Certainly C.S. Lewis, John Stott, Noam Chosky and Miroslav Volf may be available to read and then if you really like them you can think of buying.

    As far as eyewitnesses go, Bauckham’s book breaks new ground but it’s really pricey and being newly out used copies are not much available yet.

    Give me a day or so for me to brush up and i can try to get to your specific questions. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as dealing with contradictory reports in the NT so it should be fun!


    Comment by samlcarr — 22 May 2007 @ 5:45 am

  401. Saml,

    I have to disagree with you again. The “Natural” laws of the Universe are not evidence of a God of any kind. I mean, I wish it were that simple! We have no evidence of a God in anything nature offers.
    Saml, there is No, as in none, zilch,zero evidence of the supernatural and your talking with someone who likes to look for this. If you have anything concrete to give me I would be delighted to take a look at it. There is a possible Nobel prize in it for your goodself and I always wanted to find out what the dinner is like.

    As to the NT, I realise that you see this document as evidence, I am not sure as to what your standard is on this kind of thing. I don’t have an emotional attachment to this document and I like to think I look at it rationally. I don’t see it as evidence.

    Saml, There is a lot of people out in the world that knowing tell lies for God. There is a geologist called Ian Plimer who wrote a book titled “telling lies for God” . Plimer was just sick of Christian folk misrepresenting geology to various flocks and decided to do something about it. I have been in literally hundreds of conversations with Christians of various groups, standing up for what is the position of science. I have been astounded at the lengths people will go to in denying the biological facts of Darwinism, to peddle and sell all kinds of shonky science. They do this with the best of intentions but at the end of the day its deception for God.

    I background this, to relate how I see the resurrection story of the Bible. As you know, there are several stories of the dead being re-animated in the Holy Bible. Also, several stories of people living to around 1000 years of age. I expect, as a Christian, these are meaningful “truths” to your goodself, But I read these stories with the background of over 2000 years of science.

    Its incredibly unlikely, early man lived past about 70 years on average. Its incredibly unlikely that Human bodies can be revived some days after their death. Its also, Incredible, that events of this magnitude, and dead people walking is one of life’s biggies, would have come across the radar of some secular scribe in these ancient cities.

    The thing is, Saml, they didn’t. Not one official record keeper ever even noted the name of Jesus. Not one. No one living in that time ever reported a single dead guy walking. None of the supposed “multitudes” ever recorded anything like a coberating record. Nothing exists. Absolutely nothing.

    This sends off my warning bells Saml, I see good people telling fantastical tales to sell an unbelieving world on how the apocalyptic prophet managed to get himself killed. It was one very big advertising blunder to get over. A risen Christ sounds just the perfect answer! What are the chances that everything we know about the human cell is wrong? What is the chance a man lied? What is there of any evidence to make a decision? Is it any wonder faith is sold as a premium product? At the end of the day what else crosses the gulf of understanding? I remain an atheist.


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 10:41 am

  402. I am going to get those books Saml. Just don’t breath a word to the wife. I was almost killed this week for buying:

    1. A radio operated model helicopter. I think the wife got annoyed by my flying it indoors and buzzing her head in the office.

    2. Then I bought a little model of a ballistic missile. It plugs into my computer and I can “launch” one at the wife.

    She couldn’t see the funny side. (I shouldn’t have written her name on the side of the missile.)


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 10:50 am

  403. (It seems to me that being common sense options these questions would have been asked and answered 2k years ago, especially if so much depends upon not being duped. What was at stake was at least rejection by the religious authorities, rejection by one’s family, outcaste from society, perhaps jail and torture and being considered mad…)

    Saml, I don’t think this was the case. MANY people practised Christianity at the time, they were just looked at by the orthodoxy as Christians look at myself now. (not good)

    Its really hard to say Saml, but I could speculate? Nothing much in written form exists for some 4 generations of people after Jesus was on the cross. Documents start appearing, and we see the earliest documents pertaining to the Gospels.

    The issues as I see them:

    1. The gap is huge. And none agrees much as to who or what Jesus is/was.

    2. The documents appear to not match each individual account.

    3. No one know who wrote them to this day.

    4. Its agreed that none of the authors witnessed anything.


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 10:58 am

  404. sorry 3 was, No one knows to this day who originally wrote the original documents.. really.


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 10:59 am

  405. I am not so sure Saml. It depends on what you mean as “living” They have gone to enormous lengths to portray Jesus in a certain light, this is evidenced in multiple scribal changes. Jesus is portrayed in the first Gospel as a very angry and irritated person. This has been scribally changed to a very kind person. I would call this “polish” for want of a better term.

    If you mean living as in “speaks to your soul” this is I guess a different thing. But I would suggest very subjective.

    Its quite within the bounds of reason, to suggest his image has been massaged some by well meaning followers, and a great many legends and exaggerations included. This is entirely reasonable, as opposed to the dead rising.


    Comment by Ivan — 22 May 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  406. Ivan, by ‘living’ I meant someone who is a ‘real person’ lives, moves, talks, does things that make sense, a recognisably unique individual. Sorry for the confusion!

    Would you believe that there are quite a number of scholars of 16C, 17C English literature who don’t believe that Shakespeare is a real person but may have been a pseudonym for one of the other good writers of that time? But, regardless, even if ‘Shakespeare never existed it doesn’t make Hamlet any less of a great play does it?

    I agree that we don’t know much about the original authors. John’s gospel is deliberately anonymous. There is some evidence that Mark may have written Mark and Luke may have written Luke-Acts but in a sense it doesn’t really matter.

    What does matter is whether the writers fabricated stuff or if they inherited traditions that had been fabricated. For this, I think that the internal evidence goes strongly against it. In the first place, literary dependence has been hard to prove. In the second place when reading the parallels together one can see that each writer works with fairly independent recollections of the same events.

    I see a lot of evidence that Jesus made his disciples memorise all the important stuff. The differences in reportage strongly resemble this e.g. key words will remain the same but the other stuff that ‘holds it together’ comes out variously.

    On the whole, though, if you take each gospel as a unit and read it, you pretty much find the same Jesus stepping out of the pages at you, or at least this has been my experience.

    These are four books that in language, style, theological opinion, writing ability, length, even content, are all different – obviously 4 writers who did not at all collaborate on the story, yet Jesus is Jesus and this goes back to what sort of a person Jesus must have been, for it certainly can’t be attributed to the nonexistent ‘genius’ of these writers.


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 May 2007 @ 7:30 pm

  407. The wordpress spamcatcher is refusing to allow me to post this comment. I’m going to try numbering the paragraphs and putting it here. As you read, do try to read it in the numbered order!

    2)Would you believe that there are quite a number of scholars of 16C, 17C English literature who don’t believe that Shakespeare is a real person but may have been a pseudonym for one of the other good writers of that time? But, regardless, even if ‘Shakespeare never existed it doesn’t make Hamlet any less of a great play does it?

    1)Ivan, by ‘living’ I meant someone who is a ‘real person’ lives, moves, talks, does things that make sense, a recognisably unique individual. Sorry for the confusion!

    3)I agree that we don’t know much about the original authors. John’s gospel is deliberately anonymous. There is some evidence that Mark may have written Mark and Luke may have written Luke-Acts but in a sense it doesn’t really matter.

    6)On the whole, though, if you take each gospel as a unit and read it, you pretty much find the same Jesus stepping out of the pages at you, or at least this has been my experience.

    5)I see a lot of evidence that Jesus made his disciples memorise all the important stuff. The differences in reportage strongly resemble this e.g. key words will remain the same but the other stuff that ‘holds it together’ comes out variously.

    7)These are four books that in language, style, theological opinion, writing ability, length, even content, are all different – obviously 4 writers who did not at all collaborate on the story, yet Jesus is Jesus and this goes back to what sort of a person Jesus must have been, for it certainly can’t be attributed to the nonexistent ‘genius’ of these writers.

    4)What does matter is whether the writers fabricated stuff or if they inherited traditions that had been fabricated. For this, I think that the internal evidence goes strongly against it. In the first place, literary dependence has been hard to prove. In the second place when reading the parallels together one can see that each writer works with fairly independent recollections of the same events.


    Comment by samlcarr — 23 May 2007 @ 7:39 pm

  408. Sam –

    I retrieved your original comment from the spamcatcher. WordPress acknowledges the problem. Apparently there’s been a vast increase in spam and they’ve retuned the catcher to be pickier. But apparently it’s trainable: by overruling its decision on your comment hopefully I’m “teaching” it to regard samlcarr as a valid commenter. I too have become suspect apparently, so I’m going through the same teaching process with my own comments.


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 May 2007 @ 11:49 pm

  409. Saml,

    I read your piece and in the numerical order you suggest.

    I think to me, it makes a difference that the subject matter is written coherently. I understand your point with Shakespeare, and you can say that the Bible has qualities about its writings, many atheists agree with you here. The difference I see, is that we are looking for a much higher meaning and truth from it and it can’t clearly be this under the circumstances that you describe here.



    Comment by Ivan — 23 May 2007 @ 11:50 pm

  410. Saml,

    Yesterday, My Wednesday, I had to visit some clients up in an area we call “The Blue Mountains.” Whilst up there, I visited my second wife’s Grave site. I noticed that about 3 rows down, another Grave had been opened. I don’t know the reason why. If you were with me and had noticed it also, would your first reaction have been that the deceased person had risen alive from that grave? What would you have thought?


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 2:04 am

  411. Ivan, evidence and the epistemology especially of testimonial evidence is an area that I am only now slowly starting to dig into and it’s fascinating.

    It seems that Bayesian analysis is good for this but being only a rudimentary statistician I’ll give you what I understand thus far.

    Courtroom testimony is good enough for jurisprudence and deals with pretty much everyday complexes of events and can be corroborated with or disproved by the relevant physical evidence.

    Ordinarily, if I’m in a new town and lost and ask someone where the station is, I would trust their directions unless i followed through and the station was not there. Here I am assuming that the person is one who is probably a local as there is a thousands to one chance that she is, i’m assumiing that strangers to the town are the exception. I’m also assuming that almost any locqal will know where the station is relative to where we are and will give reasonably clear directions. The result is a generally high probability of ‘truth’.

    When dealing with odd, strange, or unusual events, there are two main categories. Something that happens rarely but is plausible with a large population of events (struck by lightning) and the sttrange stuff that ‘doesn’t compute’ (UFO sighted).

    With either of these we look for corroboration, even when it seems mundane (friend claims to win a big lottery) and sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t. But if there are multiple witnesses and there is no reason to suspect that they are collaborating on a hoax, our tendency is to say well, maybe, but that’s so odd that i’ll just file that one away for the time being.

    This, evidentially, is pretty much where the gospels leave us. There were multiple witnesses and it’s unlikely that there was some huge conspiracy going on, but that’s about it and the rest depends on how you or I choose to deal with the unusual…


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 5:51 am

  412. Saml,

    This isn’t quite so, let me explain.

    Jesus was alive, nailed to a cross, died, put into a cave then was “resurrected”.

    Lets look at what we have:

    4 Gospel accounts, by people who are thought by experts in this area, to have not been witnesses.

    We have mention of other people witnessing it, but not a single piece of evidence to back this up.

    We only have whoever wrote the gospels, “word” that the most spectacular piece of reversal of Earths physical laws had happened.

    Pretty much that’s it isn’t it?

    We have no back up literature of any kind from people that were alive during this era that supports the unwitnessed Gospel. This is a bit strange isn’t it?

    How can we have cohobating evidence for Ramses 11 or King Philip 11 of Macedon or Philip 111 Arrihidaues, or 100 other people born way earlier than Jesus yet nothing of this guy that wakes up from the dead. Why Saml?

    Primitive first century man, thought God resided above the cloud tops. We know this is not true 2000 years later. But a primitive, superstitious man would imagine a God figure rising up in the air and through the clouds. Isn’t this what we are really reading about, an unsupported mythological story based on early Jewish prophecies?

    This didn’t really happen did it Saml? We can use Baysarien methods of analysis, but at the end of the day, the probability that this is a factual event, its trillions to one isn’t it Saml?


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 8:16 am

  413. “The difference I see, is that we are looking for a much higher meaning and truth from it and it can’t clearly be this under the circumstances that you describe here”

    Why so? I don’t look at the bible that way and I don’t see any necessity to do so. This is a collection of writings from the ancient Near East. As historical data it is one of the primary sources for what it claims to report. The accuracy of each writer will have to be individually judged and the accuracy of reporting on each event recorded will also have to be judged. In some cases we do have corroborating evidence at least for the peripheral stuff, like geographical locations and this has not been found inconsistent in most cases.

    The sources, on the whole, look pretty good and most historians accept that there is a basis of truth being reported ‘as far as we can now make out’.

    I think that we just have to treat these narratives as just that – literature/historiographical sources. Why try to put them in some sort of a ‘special’ category?


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 8:25 am

  414. “How can we have cohobating evidence for Ramses 11 or King Philip 11 of Macedon or Philip 111 Arrihidaues, or 100 other people born way earlier than Jesus yet nothing of this guy that wakes up from the dead. Why Saml?”

    This is an odd statement indeed. You have four stories written by 4 different authors regarding this person’s existence but you choose to ignore this and want to have more evidence? have you looked at your sources for the persons that you mentioned (or for anyother ancient characters!) and compared that with the N.T.?

    The evidence of the gospels and the rest of the NT (some of Pauls writings are known to well predate the gospels) you may well question, but do you really think that these sources should be ignored?


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 9:36 am

  415. Hi Saml,

    Hey , what time is in your country right now?


    I have to try and obtain some copies of the books you suggested earlier. Right now, my information is just limited to what I have read to date.

    The point I was making, when you get real genuine people, you tend to get good historical information in a number of areas. You also get them in secular areas.

    On top of this, we frequently get archaeological evidence on top.

    With Jesus, we don’t. We have the gospels certainly, but amongst scholars, these documents certainly don’t appear solid. It would be almost certain that we would have some evidence, somewhere of Jesus specifically if the gospels were a true account.


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 11:07 am

  416. (In some cases we do have corroborating evidence at least for the peripheral stuff, like geographical locations and this has not been found inconsistent in most cases.

    The sources, on the whole, look pretty good and most historians accept that there is a basis of truth being reported ‘as far as we can now make out’.)


    This just isn’t the case and it is also another alarm bell as to authenticity. There is no archaeological evidence at all and there really should be.
    Most historians, report nothing of the kind Saml. In fact most see the picture as seriously wanting.


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 11:12 am

  417. The evidence of the gospels and the rest of the NT (some of Pauls writings are known to well predate the gospels) you may well question, but do you really think that these sources should be ignored?

    I wouldn’t say ignored exactly.

    I don’t think we should see it as evidence of a God.
    I don’t think we should look at Jesus as anything but a simple man
    I don’t think we should view the Bible as a plan for living life.
    I think we should stop referring to it as “Gods word” until we establish whether there is a God, Whether that God is Christian, and until we decide which bit is actually the bit that was supposed to be that Gods word.


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 11:17 am

  418. Ivan, you are tangled up too much in Christian theologising! Let’s, for the sake of our discussion, just dump all that stuff – it doesn’t make any more sense to me than it does to you!

    I’m willing to start with the bible as a collection of writings by various authors each of which will have to stand or fall on its own merits.


    Comment by samlcarr — 24 May 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  419. That’s fine Saml. I only explain it, to explain evidence short falls. There is quite a bit when you look into it.

    Saml, There are a number of Prophecies written in the bible, none of which have come true. I am thinking specifically of the second coming that was promised to happen during the first disciples lifetimes. As it hasn’t, and as each new generation think its going to happen at the end of their life time because of the worlds wickedness etc.. do you have a view? When can we expect the rapture?


    Comment by Ivan — 24 May 2007 @ 11:45 pm

  420. Saml,

    If it doesn’t make sense to you, are you saying them we discard the Bible?

    Do I make any sense to you in my point of view?

    Do you see that there is a lack of evidence regarding the existing of a God, specifically, the normal Christian version of God?

    Ktismatics, made mention of a God that lives apart from the physical universe and has no interaction with it. I don’t know that its possible to know of or find evidence for that kind of God. It certainly would not be worth worshipping.


    How do you reconcile the random indifference of the Universe and its effects on life and the thinking of people who believe in a Christian God?


    Comment by Ivan — 25 May 2007 @ 12:26 am

  421. Ivan

    not a lot of stuff really ‘makes sense’ to me including both xtian theologising and the current state of science. I see far too much pride and unwarranted confidence on both sides and that really worries me.

    I don’t in fact see any ‘lack of evidence’ for the existence of God (quite the contrary) but here i do think that this is an all-or-nothing sort of thing that each individual will have to contend with.

    Do you see any evidence for the existence of Life?


    Comment by samlcarr — 25 May 2007 @ 8:09 am

  422. Of course Saml. Specifically you and I are evidence for this.

    Explain what you mean re- unwarranted confidence?

    You mentioned a contrary opinion regarding evidence for God. Could you share that with me? What is the evidence on your table?



    Comment by Ivan — 26 May 2007 @ 12:46 am

  423. Saml

    Your convinced on the existance of a God. What makes you so convinced?


    Comment by Ivan — 26 May 2007 @ 12:49 am

  424. Can you explain that “all or Nothing” view you have?


    Comment by Ivan — 26 May 2007 @ 12:57 am

  425. I’m willing to start with the bible as a collection of writings by various authors each of which will have to stand or fall on its own merits.


    Jesus predicts all kinds of things in the scriptures. Particularly the end of days. Now this was supposed to have happened 2000 years ago and gets updated by the century, mainly by Christians always convinced it will happen in there own life time.

    As its not happened, is this another bit we could add to the bathwater?


    Comment by Ivan — 26 May 2007 @ 8:21 am

  426. Sam,

    One of the hallmarks that rings out loudly for me in debates about the existence of God, is getting around the randomness of life. For me this specifically, comes to the fore when the discussion revolves around the Christian version of God and the qualities often assigned to him. There isn’t a day goes past that I don’t see a reference to “the God of Love” or a mention of Jesus dying on the cross for “my sins”. I don’t understand either of these statements in any meaningful way.

    I’m turning 50 this year, and I feel like I have seen a lot of life and the randomness that strikes at the heart of life. The best I have heard Christians come up with is either God working in mysterious ways or that God has a grander plan or some kind of equality happens in heaven.

    I think its mysterious, because it is unexplainably random. I can’t see a grand plan that would explain a fraction of the things I have seen in life. I cannot imagine a heaven that would have levels of pleasure or quality that rewards the pious or the suffering. I just don’t see it.

    I have known some truly wonderful people, people of abundant love and faith in God. Oddly, everyone of these people suffered horrible and debilitating deaths. All with protracted levels of suffering, I feel haunted by them to this day. Yet, I see people like “chopper” a recently released prison inmate, imprisoned for multiple murders some of which there wasn’t the evidence to hold him, I see his blessings of good health, I see his new book has made him a millionaire. I read about a serial rapist in the UK that one that countries biggest lottery.

    I see some of the most “devout” nations wiped out by a Tsunami, I see little Sophie that was burned in a fire and disfigured beyond recognition at age 6, one year later crossing the road is hit by a car and is now paralysed on top of her other horrific injuries.

    What God organises outcomes like this? Why bother to pray when you or I could be that next person?
    The universe appears to me as indifferently random. Its random on the big scale and its random on the micro scale. Nothing about it makes sense in the context of a God, Nothing in even a microscopic sense makes sense in the system of a Christian God.

    I need it to make sense.



    Comment by Ivan — 27 May 2007 @ 1:17 am

  427. Ivan,

    Sorry, but this has been one of those weeks! I have been sort of checking out Ktismatics daily but not really having the time to do much with it though the stuff being discussed is really fascinating, the same with jon erdman’s theos project…

    I do agree with you. The standard formulations of God, especially in Christian theology just do not help very much. They make ‘sense’ to folks who do not try to think things through very much but for those who refuse to stop being critical the contradictions become glaring and can result in the loss of faith.

    What we fail to realise is that this theologising is all human thought and it’s quite unfair to blame God for this. The bible does make gramnd statements but the bible is quite clear that these are the opinions of individuals. The number of times we see God speaking in the bible are clearly marked off and always show that God is the unusual, the unexpected, the unpredictable…

    Secondly, all human systems of thought (including Dawkin’s atheism) want to be able to explain ‘everything’ and this is both prideful and silly. Agnosticism is a cop out but in a sense a healthy dose of recognising that we know too little to pontificate would be a good thing!

    Contrast this with what critically ‘the bible’ proposes. Many of the uncertainties are left as such, but Jesus life itself shows us what authentic living becomes when we realise and respond to God.

    For me one important realisation was that I could not ‘think my way’ to God. Because God is ‘other’ I will always have to wait for God to make the connections.

    It’s foolish really to try to argue our way to a conclusion, but with Paul I am interested in dismantling our philosophical constructions to see what lies underneath,

    and I am really enjoying this discussion with you.


    Comment by samlcarr — 27 May 2007 @ 8:10 am

  428. Ivan, you said “I have known some truly wonderful people, people of abundant love and faith in God. Oddly, everyone of these people suffered horrible and debilitating deaths. All with protracted levels of suffering,…”

    It’s strange but rarely acknowledged that this is precisely what Jesus says will happen. He promises his followers authentic lives but lives filled with troubles, rejection and probably ‘unhappy’ endings.


    Comment by samlcarr — 27 May 2007 @ 4:08 pm

  429. And its strange Sam, that if no God existed, this would also be the same set of random outcomes one would expect really. Again, one wonders the point of worship.


    Comment by Ivan — 28 May 2007 @ 12:24 am

  430. Ivan, if God does not exist, then randomess is what we are about. Because we are ‘alive’ we may try to affirm ‘life’ as good and anything that is antilife as evil, or perhaps as we are the products of randomness, we may choose to value the random itself. George Bush Jr. could be a hero!

    Seems to me that we would not really have any cause to call one set of events good, or better than another set of events.

    Nothing inside of me finds this acceptable. In fact the very fact that you find that there is no ‘fairness’ about good folks ending their lives in ignominy and suffering is what I am now talking about – why does this bother you?

    Jesus on the other hand says that because God exists and because God is good we can live authentic lives dedicated to goodness, nothing random about it at all. It is what one does with one’s life, not how one suffers, that is what authentic (‘abundant’ to use John’s word) living is all about.

    The people that you mention would be proud that you remember them as being good people, faithful people, loving people – children of their Father.


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 May 2007 @ 8:04 am

  431. Saml,
    It bothers me in so much as some were people I loved and others it just seemed an unfair end. “Abundant living” though, Saml, is not the Biblical way. In that particular cult, you deny yourself now for heavenly rewards. I don’t think its a better life.

    Jesus says God exists but offers no evidence, no beneficial outcomes, no nothing really when you think about it. Its like the garden tended by the invisible gardener, maybe its just grown that way. Maybe there never existed or was a God.

    Every observation I have made in my fifty year life, screams to me that we are alone and on our own. I find this rather empowering myself though it will upset many a Christian. They like their security.



    Comment by Ivan — 28 May 2007 @ 9:42 am

  432. Ivan, “abundant” is referrenced with regard to Jesus’ own life – executed at about 33, but what a life!


    Comment by samlcarr — 28 May 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  433. Sam –

    Jesus on the other hand says that because God exists and because God is good we can live authentic lives dedicated to goodness, nothing random about it at all. It is what one does with one’s life, not how one suffers, that is what authentic (’abundant’ to use John’s word) living is all about. The people that you mention would be proud that you remember them as being good people, faithful people, loving people – children of their Father.

    I thought that was poignant.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 May 2007 @ 7:01 am

  434. So did I.


    Comment by Ivan — 29 May 2007 @ 9:14 am

  435. Sorry, folks, i really took a break there!

    So, getting back to the questions that got a little left behind… and i will pick up on these in the next post.

    Mark 14:12 says Jesus was crucified the day after the Passover meal yet John says before?

    When Luke says Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth just over a month after they had come to Bethlehem Luke 2:39
    yet in Matthews they fled to Egypt Matt:2:19

    Or Paul saying he did not go to Jerusalem yet in Acts he did??


    Comment by samlcarr — 3 June 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  436. There’s tremendous confusion when trying to get the 4 gospel accounts of the happenings around Jesus crucifiction to agree. What I see happening is that up to this point the teacher has had his disciples with him, teaching and training them in the ways of his kingdom. Now, all of a sudden, they are very much on their own and scared to boot, keeping their heads down and just trying to get by.

    It’s therefore obvious that confusion reigns and this is incidentally an authentic confusion that comes through in the gospels very, very, clearly – another sign that the accounts have not been forced to fit some preconceived mold.

    I see one aspect of John’s gospel as a sort of ‘filling in the gaps’. Most agree that this is the last gospel to come to written form and there is evidence that he is familiar with some form of Mark and shares strands of tradition with Luke too though there is no literary linkage.

    What we have then in John is a lot of concentration on Jesus preaching and teaching around Jerusalem (while the other three concentrate more on Galilee), with an emphasis on his teaching to the ‘inner circle’ of his disciples and some specific controversies that Jesus was involved in with the other religious leaders. There is also some ‘insider’ information in John as far as the opposition to Jesus is concerned – a mole’s voice can be heard here and there.

    In other words John is definitely and consciously interested in fleshing-out the picture of Jesus that he feels is somewhat incomplete in the synoptic type of tradition. One of the things that one notices immediately is that there are aspects to chronology in John that are from a very different perspective to that of the synoptics. The ‘cleansing of the temple’ is placed late in Jesus ministry by the other three but somewhat at the beginning in John. I think this is deliberate.

    John is therefore not providing a chronological account, rather he is showing up the key ingredients to the clash between Jesus and the other religious leaders that culminates in the crucifiction. Interestingly, though, there are aspects of chronology that come only from John’s gospel including the important information that Jesus ministry lasted three or more years.

    Another factor with John is that his account is solidly based in Palestinian realities wheras the other three gospels seem to be aimed much more at diaspora and gentile readers.

    The account of the ‘last supper’ in John is obviously recounting a different meal than the one where on the eve of passover(in the synoptics), Jesus announces his ‘new covenant’.

    Except for a hint in Luke (of the 4 cups) the other gospels do not take into account that ‘the passover’ is a complex 7-8 day festival. The indications are that John’s referrence to passover eve point towards Jesus crucifiction taking place as the passover lambs are sacrificed in the temple. The referrence in Mark is so nonspecific that I am hard pressed to see a real contradiction here, though I would not be at all surprised to find one!


    Comment by samlcarr — 3 June 2007 @ 6:52 pm

  437. Sam,

    I seem to need a different type of truth than you need to be understanding of Christianity. I think I understand your thinking in a different light these days.
    I keep thinking my disagreement is more linked to the way Christians in a general sense portray the Holy Bible to the facts of the document I hold in my hand from time to time.

    I specifically see “John” as a whole different kettle of fish as you do, I also have enormous difficulties circumnavigating the various difference (and there are many) with it being a book of some kind of literal truth.
    It just doesn’t resonate as anything of a roadmap, instruction book, code for living as so many people see it.
    I think you have to have a very forgiving eye to its many inaccuracies and I am a less patient man than your good self.


    Comment by Ivan — 4 June 2007 @ 8:40 am

  438. Ivan, it is an ancient source material. A respect for the author and what the author was setting out to do are very important to me in getting the most out of a piece of writing. it’s no different if one is reading Homer e.g. One does not assume that everything is fact and one doesn’t assume that everything is fiction. The first thing is to let the text speak for itself. Then you can be critical with it but always remember that the author did not set out to satisfy 21C critics. They have a story to tell and are telling it, as best they know how.

    Actually I absolutely agree with you that John’s gospel is a “a whole different kettle of fish” to most other writing in that time. Philo sometimes comes close as does Origen but there is still a world of difference.

    My question to you would be, what would it have taken to inspire the writing of these four gospels?


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 June 2007 @ 10:03 am

  439. Saml,

    Now this isn’t really true. Firstly, we don’t know who the original authors were, or when exactly they lived, and what they actually saw. Even a cursory inspection of the Bible this just hits you right up front.

    We are “expected” to see this document as 100% factual. We are expected to take its information quite literally. Is there a church in the world that doesn’t?

    They have a story to tell Saml, its a story of several accounts of “something” that nobody appears to have actually lived through and witnessed. The Gospel of John, is simply a sales manual. Really nothing of substance.

    Saml, How about if they are telling a story and telling it honestly, there could be a little honesty about who these people were and what legend they are really trying to write about? What’s wrong with a little honesty?

    What would it take? I would suggest a collection of primitive superstitious illiterate people. I would say they invested much in the way of understanding the traditional Jewish teachings. I would imagine they were very “suggestible” seeing great magic and such in animal sacrifices and goat entrails. I would suggest they were hanging out for a good prophet that they could invest in. I imagine also, they were not short on embellishing the story. Put all this together and you get the four gospels.


    Comment by Ivan — 4 June 2007 @ 11:22 am

  440. Saml,

    I guess it gets down to what we accept of the information. I know you often talk about Jesus in a more philosophical way, but the Christian description that has been sold for the last 2000 years really is one of literal truth. The Bible is talked about as if written by God and if you take issue with facts it can then *morph* into the divine inspiration of God or similar.

    I have a lot of respect for Science and mans ingenuity with respect to science and technology. Its interesting to me how these accomplishments are belittled when measured against Godly versions. I guess I don’t like seeing this. I think its kind of cool that a God can invent a disease and man can then invent a remedy. For me Saml, I have to measure a story about deceased people rising out of their graves against what we understand about the laws of thermodynamics. I try and weigh up popular Biblical stories with what we know as the fact of evolution. I measure historical and palaeontology discoveries with Biblical history and note a difference . I find the Bible short on facts and much of it improbable to an enormous degree at least to my mind and understanding. Its always possible that everything we know of human anatomy and the laws of physics could be wrong, but I wonder if it is Saml? Is it not entirely greater the possibility that these early, primitive men misunderstood?


    Comment by Ivan — 4 June 2007 @ 1:49 pm

  441. Ivan, to some extent you are mixing apples and oranges and coming up with peaches. That sounds trite but it isn’t. People aren’t any dumber or smarter today than they were 10k years ago. That is a myth that has been propagated throughout history. If you look at any of the great old civilisations you may even conclude that they were far ahead of us in many respects…

    And, this is not about technology. 50 years ago we communicated by letter, through a postal system, it took weeks, today its nearly instant; the internet, sms, email, and sat phones. This doesn’t make letter writers less intelligent than internet users.

    The miraculous has always been odd, no less so 2000 years ago than now. This seems to be your main sticking point, that there are stories of miracles in the bible. So there are, but that doesn’t mean that the folks who wrote down these things were stupid because they believed them.

    It looks to me that you are in fact demanding something like a heavenly voice that you can hear plainly saying “I’m God, I exist, Jesus is my son etc.” for your expectation that a 2,000 year old collection of stories about a hebrew prophet should be pristine, error free, lacking contradictions and so on is exactly the equivalent of hearing a voice from on high.

    Your idea of honesty is also something that i find impractical. Take a modern day phenomenon like the sighting of UFOs. Say there are a number of simultaneous reports coming from one area and one timeframe, you would assume that these folks have seen ‘something’ wouldn’t you? That doesn’t mean that an alien invasion took place or anything else, but a number of folks saw something strange and reported it.

    There is therefore a difference between what is reported and how that is interpreted. 5,000 people were fed, somewhat mysteriously. what the disciples saw is that there wasn’t any food readily available and Jesus starts it off by blessing a tiny portion and sharing it out. These are the ‘facts’. How they are interpreted by the writers of the stories is also there. One can reject the explanation without having to reject ‘the facts’.

    Similarly, all four gospels record ‘the fact’ that the day after the crucifiction, the tomb was empty. This is the fact. There is no one who says that they saw Jesus walking out of the tomb. There are then reports that he is seen, recognisable and apparently alive, by various people and over a brief period of time. This I think, you can accept if you believe in the person now, you would reject otherwise as preposterous or perhaps give a psychological explanation of mass halucination or some such. Either way there is no real reason to doubt that the body was missing, is there?

    To be frank, if I heard such a heavenly voice, as you pointed out earlier, my first thought would be that I was hallucinating, so even God’s direct speech would prove futile…

    But what we in fact do have is an authentic ancient record, perhaps riddled with mistakes, human error showing up on every page, but inspired by a great person, a great human being, for without that you would not have this sort of a record.

    if you look at what you say, that looks a heck of a lot more improbable to me that such a collection of weird and hard to believe stories would have lasted out the parchment on which they were written let alone get copied thousands of times as they have been.

    These are ordinary people, that’s obvious if one studies their writing style. They are no scholars nor do they show any exceptional brilliance, yet, the person that they speak about is believable, he is remarkable, he is very human and he is also very extraordinary and these conclusions can be reached by anyone who critically but honestly allows him/herself to really listen to the story.

    For a moment, if you can kick off the fact that ‘most christians’ argue for inerrancy, and instead of dwelling on the obviously miraculous, and instead concentrate on this character, whose teachings are so startlingly different, yet can strike such a deep chord in the hearer. Teaching that demands that we first be human with each other, teaching that demands that we think more highly of those that we are least alike to, than of ourselves – I could go on, but this is certainly not the chance creation of a few mediocre writers of tall tales…


    Comment by samlcarr — 4 June 2007 @ 3:56 pm

  442. If you look at any of the great old civilisations you may even conclude that they were far ahead of us in many respects…

    I don’t think so Saml. Do you think we should ad courses to the current required for a medical degree on how to cast out demons? Maybe we should ad stuff onto agricultural science courses covering why crops fail due to instances or moral decay?

    No the internet doesn’t make betters writers, though it does make writing accurately reproducible. In fact, word for word. They didn’t have it even close to this Saml.

    This seems to be your main sticking point, that there are stories of miracles in the bible. So there are, but that doesn’t mean that the folks who wrote down these things were stupid because they believed in them

    Well it might do Saml. I mean multiple instances of the dead rising.. walking on water… people turning to salt.. Is this not primitive superstitious belief? And its not my only sticking point I might add. Its just one of them.

    your expectation that a 2,000 year old collection of stories about a Hebrew prophet should be pristine, error free, lacking contradictions and so on is exactly the equivalent of hearing a voice from on high.

    Only in so much as that God’s “chosen people” really demanded this of him and he delivered apparently. What is wrong with me requesting similar? What is wrong with me expecting accuracy with the inspired word of God? What is wrong with me requesting it be the same collection of stories with agreed dates and facts?

    UFo’s ? Yes. But this doesn’t mean what they saw was the same basic interpretation. But we are talking dead people climbing out of graves. A lot of them actually. Right down here on the ground and there should be some kind of historical account other than the Bible. Certainly on something so huge.

    The loaves and the fishes? We have absolutely no information about what might have happened, other than the biblical account that “chose” to look at it as a miracle. Where are the testimonies of all the people partaking of that meal? There would be some kind of secular record somewhere of this amazing event? Could there be a second explanation a more plausible one? Extremely likely Saml.

    there is no real reason to doubt that the body was missing, is there?

    I expect it was missing Saml. I expect the body was stolen. I expect many people “thought” they saw him. I expect emotions were running hot that day.
    I would expect a single secular account from the “multitudes” had it really came close to happening. I would also expect the disciples to have had there stories “right” each is different as if each were not really there but maintaining a “story” or advertising pitch.

    Which heavenly voice Saml?

    I understand how you see it as “inspired” reading Saml. Many,many people do. I am trying to separate the inspiration from the probable facts of what happened on the day.

    which they were written let alone get copied thousands of times as they have been.

    Its a miracle of sorts that so many people abandoned reason, in favour of “faith”. I guess there is no prize greater than religious “comfort”. This does not make the parchments “true” of course. Just mass copied and in over 400,000 cases copied differently with different sentences and meanings. It doesn’t add to the body of opinion of it being an accurate document.

    Yes Saml, they were ordinary. They were mostly illiterate. They believed people could be inhabited by devils and that God wanted frequent offerings of burnt Goat flesh. This is precisely why I see the need for a very great deal of scepticism.

    The thing is Saml, I am not even sure that the “teaching” is even all that great to begin with. I think I would be arguing with Jesus all the dang time. Men bring before him the adulterous woman.. he deals with it with sage,Jesus wisdom.
    “For he who has sinned” I would be asking… errr…guys.. how come you brought me the woman your going to stone but let the man behind? He was alright was he? Oh… a man.. right he couldn’t have been a party to adultery then could he.. Saml, Why does Jesus make gaffs such as this? What happened to his message of equality? There are many more such instances, and I question the value of those “teachings”.


    Comment by Ivan — 5 June 2007 @ 12:17 am

  443. Ivan, I’ll let you deal with the teaching of Jesus as you get into reading a gospel or two. i really hate the prooftext approach which cuts and pastes it’s way to trying to make sense of things.

    You can see the teacher most clearly when analysing the structure of the teaching that we have in the three ‘synoptic’ gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). Look at how it’s organised into small soundbytes. These in turn have turns of phrase, alliterative repetitions and striking metaphors that fix these bits firmly in one’s memory, and then there are the parables!

    Look at the teachings, not one is a full ‘sermon’, not even the so called ‘Sermon on the Mount’ of Matthew chapters 5 to 7.

    Obviously, these memorable little bits have stuck in the hearers’ minds and then been thematically spliced together by the authors. Now, with John there’s a whole different technique. He does pick up some of the same traditions but by and large his way is to follow a ‘sign’ (usually miraculous) with a ‘discourse’ that utilises a theme from the sign. He has a prologue, then there’s an introductory period of interaction with John the Baptist and picking up his first few disciples and then we have sign-discourse, sign-discourse till the ending where Jesus takes on his challengers in their own backyard, the temple in Jerusalem, and that seals his fate.

    This fate, I have to say, is the most interesting thing. I think you will agree that Jesus died, probably violently, and probably at the hands of the Romans. He was charged basically with treason, though Pilate did not believe the charge, buit executed nonetheless, as something worse than the two common criminals who accompanied him.

    You say that you don’t find anything very remarkable in his teaching? Well, whatever it was that he did, it was nasty enough, threatening enough, that he had to be silenced.


    Comment by samlcarr — 5 June 2007 @ 11:48 am

  444. Sam,

    I read in one of the texts that make up the Bible some wording in a phrase, that indicated Pilate didn’t really want him executed. It was the crowd getting rowdy that caused the execution. Pilate washed his hands of it. I thought the passage was their to lay blame at the feet of the Jewish people? I will find the bit if I can again.
    I don’t find his teachings and the Bible’s various lessons all that remarkable myself. Its interesting, but I don’t feel it talking to me like it does for yourself.

    Saml, given the manner of his demise, and the fact it was a kind of common criminals death, and as you said with a couple of others, Would it not have been embarrassing for the disciples? Could that have been some kind of motive to steal the body later and create the myth of a resurrection? Could they have tried to save the face of the teacher?
    Which version of the Bible do you read?


    Comment by Ivan — 5 June 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  445. Yes, the texts indicate an anti-Jewish leadership bias as opposed to a ‘racial bias’. I think that you will find that this bias is quite consistent throughout the gospels.

    But the historical validity of the picture of Pilate is very consistent with the mandate of a Roman governor. The charges that were brought forward are that Jesus has broken Jewish laws (deserving death) and at the same time that he is a subversive, a terrorist, who is opposed to the Romans. On the first charge, pilate has no interest and on the second he is not convinced…

    Of course the cross is a great embarassment, but the basic argument against them stealing his body, and it’s a very strong one, is that these are Jews. Dead bodies are ‘unclean’. This is not just a casual uncleanness but is considered very nasty and then necesitates some really unusual rituals for cleansing.

    How serious an offense this is can be guaged by the fact that the purity of the spring water to be used in the cleansing ritual required that children be born and bred specifically to transpot the water from the spring to the temple! Not to mention the “Red Heifer”!


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 June 2007 @ 9:06 am

  446. Sorry, missed this Q. For reading I like the language of the King James Version. For study, the NIV is ok as is the New English Bible but most of the time I use some software that allows comparisons of the translations and the original languages. I don’t know Hebrew so stuff like Strongs and Youngs concordances get used a lot…


    Comment by samlcarr — 6 June 2007 @ 9:09 am

  447. Hey thats very interesting Sam.



    Comment by Ivan — 6 June 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  448. Hey, Sam, what software do you use?


    Comment by Ivan — 6 June 2007 @ 12:11 pm