Just wanted to get a feel for how I'm doing here. This is a series of responses to a Facebook post by my sister-in-law, my other sister-in-law, me and some random friend of theirs.

Terri L :
was wondering the other day what it would take to convince unbelievers that there is a God. Will they believe when the rapture takes place? What will they think when millions of people just disappear from the Earth? I just keep praying for them, that God will open their eyes to His existence.

Me: It depends on how and why they arrived at their unbelief. For me, it's a complete lack of evidence or evidence to the contrary, combined with contradictory scriptures and a bunch of illogical assumptions on the part of religious dogma. If I could see just one piece of evidence for a god or gods, then I'd be open to some kind of belief. Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for me, no theist has ever presented me with anything approaching evidence. There is, however, a lot of circular reasoning and blind faith, neither of which is fulfilling to me.

If millions of people suddenly disappeared from Earth, I'd first look to see if there was any rational explanation. Most likely there would not be, and so I'd have to look to the irrational for answers. However, this has never happened before, and even though Christians have been waiting for over two thousand years, it hasn't happened yet. Every generation thinks it will, but Jesus is still a no-show.

Me: I like to ask theists if they believe in Thor, or Kokopeli, or Zeus, or Anansi or Horus. Probably not, and the same reasons why you don't believe in Horus or Thor is the reason I don't believe in YHWH, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, Shakti or Xenu.

Tambra T.: What happened to the body?

Me: What body?

Tambra T: The buried one that disappeared despite heavy guarding by people who didn't want to give His followers the chance to say He was resurrected?

Tambra T: FYI circular reasoning and blind faith are not fulfilling to me either. There sure is a lot of that out there. I do not subscribe to that.

Janet D: in one of my classes, there were 3 people who said they don't believe in God. when asked how come they don't believe in God, he said, how could he believe in something that he doesn't see. Romans 1 and Psalm 19 would have been good if it was okay to share some scripture.

Terri L: Tim: You should read the Bible and see if you can disprove God. I think you'd be surprised at what you find. And I find it interesting that people will have enough "blind faith" or faith to believe in the THEORY of evolution, and yet they can't or won't believe in God, even though if you look around at that world there is plenty of evidence that Someone had to make it. You love to go out at night and look at the stars. Do you really believe that the constellations just formed that way naturally? That the shapes that are so beautiful just happened to come about? Just wondering.

Me: Terri, I don't have to disprove your god. That's not my job. As a believer, it's your job to prove to me that your god exists. You're the one making the assertion. I'm just rejecting your assertion. The idea that atheists have some responsi...bility for proving that any god or gods exist is ludicrous. How could I possibly find evidence of the lack of existence for something? If I told you there was a ceramic teapot floating in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, amongst the litter of the asteroid belt, would it be your responsibility to prove me wrong? Hardly. It would be my responsibility to prove that the teapot did exist, by giving you evidence. Otherwise, you'd be well within reason to reject my assertion.

Constellations are merely shapes that we've associated with certain arrangements of stars. In most cases, the actual distance between those stars may be quite great, and their shape changes over millennia. In fact, for many of those constellations, they don't even really look like what they've been associated with. This is why different civilizations throughout time have associated differing objects and people with those asterisms.

I see nothing in nature that suggests a creator. In fact, when I look around I see a universe that looks precisely as it should look if there was no creator.

In any case, my beliefs are not at issue here. It's my rejection of your assertion that there is a god, and that your particular God is that god, and that he had a child via a virgin who died and came back to life. You haven't made that case.

Me: Tambra, like Terri, you seem to be asking me to make the case for your religion for you. When I say I don't believe in your God, it's a weak argument to come back with a missing piece of key evidence. It's akin to the people who say that th...e lack of evidence for a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll is proof that Lee Harvey Oswald was not a lone gunman.

But I'll play along. Anyone who watches enough CourtTV could tell you that bodies disappear all the time. The fact that we haven't found Jimmy Hoffa isn't proof that he was resurrected. There are probably hundreds of explanations for a missing body that don't have anything to do with the supernatural, beginning with the possibility that there never was a body to begin with.

The question, really, is why do YOU believe the accounts of a series of theo-political treatises written decades after the supposed event? After all, your scriptures say that you're supposed to be prepared to offer "reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).

Like Terri, you have failed to realize that the burden of proof is not on the disbeliever, but on the believer.

Me: Janet: Telling someone who doesn't believe in your god to read the Bible is like telling someone who doesn't believe in Scientology to read "Dianetics" or telling someone who doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet to read the Book of Mo...rmon or Pearl of Great Price. For that matter, it's like telling someone who doesn't believe in mermaids to read Hans Christian Anderson. Before you can ask me to read your Bible as proof of the Christian God, you have to prove to me that the Hebrew scriptures are based on factual events, and not a series of myths and fables compiled by semi-nomadic Bronze Age animal herders. Then you have to prove that the Christian scriptures are the actual account of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, and not theological propaganda. Thousands of greater minds than ours have failed to make that case, thus the modern field of Christian Apologetics. Two thousand years of argument have failed to even establish, beyond a doubt, that Jesus was one, real historical figure. That's even taking into account that history, as a soft science, has such low threshold for "evidence."

So, what do you think? How did I do?

Views: 431

Replies to This Discussion

Yeah, I'm not hoping to convert them. These women will both die as fundamentalist Christians. I have no doubt. I just wanted to shed a little light on their ignorance. Neither of them has any kind of theology or philosophy background, other than Southern Baptist Sunday School, so I've got the advantage. Eventually I'll say something that makes them cry, and they'll give up and say "We'll pray for you."

I'm just trying to keep the facts on my side and let their own words and scripture work against them.
Thanks for the link.

John Dominic Crossan said, "The problem [with the Testamonium Flavianum] is that Josephus' account is too good to be true, too confessional to be impartial, too Christian to be Jewish."
She finally got to Josephus:

Tim: This is from a secular source. There are writings other than the Bible that prove that Jesus was an actual man here on Earth. Josephus even thought he was the Christ. The following passage appears in the Greek version of Antiquities... of the Jews 18.63-64, in the translation of William Whiston:

3.3 Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

My response:

I was actually waiting for you to bring up Josephus, and the passage you're referring to is called the Testimonium Flavianum. It's highly disputed for many reasons. The first is that Josephus remained a Messianic Jew until his death. If he believed, as is implied by this passage, that Jesus was the Messiah, it's reasonable to assume that he would not have continued in his Jewish faith. The second is that this passage is only known through a reference to it from Eusebius, an early Christian theologian who wrote in the Third and Fourth centuries. I like the way another Christian theologian, John Dominic Crossan, put it: "The problem here is that Josephus' account is too good to be true, too confessional to be impartial, too Christian to be Jewish." As one of the preeminent historians of the First Century, one would expect that Josephus, if he believed Jesus really was the long-awaited messiah, would have written more than a one-off casual reference which includes such a perfect little precise of Jesus' life, seemingly wrapped in a bow for later Christian writers. In fact, all of the extant versions of Antiquities of the Jews are from Christian sources, meaning they are not out from under the shadow of possible, even probable, forgery.

Even if Josephus' Testimonium Flavianum is considered genuine, it's still from the late First Century, and is not a first-hand contemporary account. No one is disputing that there were people who believed in Jesus in the late first century. After all, if there hadn't been believers in the first century, then there wouldn't be believers in the Second Century, and so on. All the Testimonium Flavianum proves is that Josephus had heard of Jesus, just as he had surely heard of other traveling apocalyptic preachers of the early First Century.

You get points for research, though. I was hoping you'd come across that.
Funny, I thought the same thing. We both predicted the arrival of Josephus, and it happened. Are we prescient? Does this prove that we can tell the future? No. It just proves that they're all working from the same playlist, and for the most part, so are we. I knew to trot out Eusebius when she threw me Josephus. It's all been done before.
It's been almost a full day, and none of them have responded. I'm hoping that's the end of it, and they have bowed to my superior sophistry. ;-)
Just be carefull... I had a similar discussion with my sisnlaw and it almost caused a big rift in my otherwise tightly nit family.
Honestly, one of them could "rift" all she wants, and neither I nor my wife would be that upset. The other one is a big wimp. She's not likely to make a stink over it. She'll just pray harder. She's good at compartmentalizing that way.
Doing fine Froggy. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure they've got plenty more zingers for you like the missing body. They're just biding their time.
You were great. Your head didn't explode (mine would have) and you didn't track the idiots down and slap them (I'd have wanted to). You stayed on point, you didn't accept false premises and hence enter into peripheral debates, and you somehow managed to address them as if they were reasonable, sane people.
Well, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and the good ones always make a point of saying that you should not allow theists to put you on the defensive. All the holes are in their arguments, so there's no need to offer any evidence or justification for our side. All we have to do is point out that they haven't made their case.

My two sisters-in-law are relatively sane people, and reasonable as far as fundamentalist Christians can be reasonable. There hasn't been any response in almost two days, so I figure they either gave up, or they're reading up, or they had to go talk to their pastors.
That's why I said, they are reasonable insofar as a fundamentalist can attain any sense of reason. They're reasonable within their frame of reference.
I got a new response. A different friend of hers posted this gem of condescension:

Gina K: Hey Tim! (big smile). Read all your words and just wanted you to know that Jesus died for your sins AND he loves you!




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