Sunday, June 03, 2012

Where Jesus goes… [updated]

Mainstream reaction to Brian Tamaki’s church continues to amuse me. Stuff reports Brian Tamaki’s latest “revelation”:

Bishop Brian Tamaki has raised the stakes with his Destiny Church followers, exhorting them to leave behind houses, jobs – even family members – to join him at a "City of God" he is building in South Auckland.
    At the church's annual conference in Rotorua on Friday night, Tamaki spent his entire two-hour sermon talking about how God had told him to build the city and why his followers had to lose their "parochialism" towards their home areas, even if it meant leaving behind loved ones. 

Keeping Stock quotes “an expert in cults” who  sees this as sinister:

Cult expert Mark Vrankovich said the speech was designed to "soften up" Tamaki's followers and the real pressure to move to South Auckland would come with one-on-one sessions with local pastors.
"Saying that the church family is more important than your physical family, that you must go with the spiritual family, is a classic cult idea…”

With the help of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible’s “family values” page, I feel obliged to point out that it is also classic Christianity. To whit:

  • Jesus says that his disciples must hate their families (mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children) and themselves. Luke 14:26
  • Families will be torn apart because of Jesus. Matthew 10:21 Luke 12:52-53
  • Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. Matthew 10:34
  • If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must abandon everything, including your family. Luke 14:33
  • Jesus will reward men who abandon their wives and families. Matthew 19:29 Mark 10:29-30 Luke 18:29-30 Luke 21:16

It’s true that cults are destructive, dangerous and sometimes suicidal.

And it’s also true that the line between a “cult” and a religion is nothing more than the number of your supporters.

So the basic question is: why is it only Brian who is treated like a nut?

UPDATE: But there’s more:

[Cult expert Mark] Vrankovich was also concerned that Tamaki appeared to be encouraging people to sell their homes. “They’ll be pressured to give the money from the house sale to the church, and they’ll never see it again.”

Pressure!? I’ll bet they don’t experience anywhere near as much pressure as Ananias and his wife, both of whom the Bible says Peter and his god literally scared to death for not forking over all of the money they made when selling their land.  Acts 5:1-10

This sort of bloodthirsty, disgusting nonsense to which all christians subscribe, makes Brian look like a piker. Or a copycat.

Or is that christians don’t actually care to follow their own rules because they know they’re bollocks…

Labels: ,

51 Comments:

Blogger Lucia Maria said...

Why?

Because he is.

Because he would use those passages literally rather than relying on the tradition of the Church to interpret them.

The Bible didn't just drop out of Heaven - it was put together by the Catholic Church, who should be the one to determine how to interpret it.

6/03/2012 06:16:00 pm  
Anonymous the drunken watchman said...

Two Lawyers & Ethics

Two lawyers had been stranded on a desert island for several months.

The only thing on the island were lots of tall coconut palms that provided them their only food and liquids.

Each day one of the lawyers would climb to the top to see if he could spot a rescue boat coming.

Finally, one day the lawyer yelled down from the tree, "WOW, I just can't believe my eyes. There is a woman out there floating in our direction!"

The lawyer on the ground was most skeptical & said, "You're hallucinating, you've finally lost your mind."

But within a few minutes, up to the beach floated a stunningly beautiful woman, face up, totally naked, unconscious, without even so much as a ring or earrings on her person.

The two lawyers went down to the water, dragged her up onto the beach & discovered, yes, she was alive, warm & breathing.

One of the lawyers then said to the other, "You know, we've been on this God forsaken island for months now without a woman.

It's been such a long, long time ... so ... do you think we should ...
well ... you know ... er ... screw her?"




"OUT OF WHAT???

asked the other.

6/03/2012 08:02:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

Lol, wouldn't be a good objectivist blog without a Christian bash from time to time. Of course completely missing the point that the Bible has to be read with the author and their circumstances in mind, along with the time and place in which it was written.

Taking single verses out of context may make the objectivist feel better but as a method of study it is largely pointless.

I'm always amused that so called "rational, independent minds", are raging atheists because a russian lady told them to be.

6/03/2012 10:53:00 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Jesus says that his disciples must hate their families (mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, children) and themselves."

This is an example of hyperbole, and that is obvious to anyone who takes a bit of time to honestly investigate scripture rather than simply look to justify their prejudice against it by dismissing statements out of context. I guess that's what politics is all about though, right?

The Bible repeatedly teaches respect for parents. Jesus' point was about prioritizing God first, then other things will fall into place. You cannot love God and neighbour as oneself as Jesus commands if you prioritize something above God in your life. For example, if you prioritize money above God, you will end up exploiting and using people to gain money, which is failure to keep God's law which demands love for God and neighbour as oneself. If you put family first you will also end up violating that law.

I cannot be bothered addressing the rest. Trying to reason with a man looking to justify error and prejudice against the Bible is a waste of time.

I find it disappointing that this stupidity takes place on a libertarian associated blog. I thought you guys were smarter than that. I nonetheless staunchly support your right to talk bollocks.

6/04/2012 01:42:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it disappointing that this stupidity has been accepted for two thousand years and countless billion lives have been wasted and their hopes crushed by insane bullshit, guilt, and twisted lies.

PC was quoting references for his statements and this is totally different to taking stuff 'out of context'. It is rationally and evidentially illustrating his sources.

As for 'relying on the church to interpret these passages'.... what can I say? Any rational philosophy which was making a bona fide attempt to explain who we are, what is our purpose and the nature of existence would not talk in riddles and half truths which can be mangled and reassembled any way that suits the power hungry.

Faith is the exact opposite to an enquiring mind and it arises when a mind is either to stupid or lazy to enquire about reality, or it has been so conditioned by fear as to make it impossible to think clearly.

Dave Mann

6/04/2012 09:48:00 am  
Anonymous Richard said...

It's just this sort of Christ-hating Objectivist claptrap that led to the exodus of Christian libertarians from the Libertarianz Party and its ensuing disintegration. (Don't believe me? - the Libz website hasn't been updated in over 6 months.)

As for Brian Tamaki: "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

6/04/2012 10:17:00 am  
Anonymous Simon Tuck said...

Destiny is a cult. But 'Objectivism' isn't too far away from being a cult either.

6/04/2012 10:45:00 am  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

Interesting responses:

@Lucia Maria:

My question was: "Why is it only Brian who is treated like a nut?"
Your answer: "Because he is."

Which leaves unspoken the status of your Jesus, whose pronouncements differ in no degree or detail from those of Brian that are adduced to call him a cultist.

"The Bible didn't just drop out of Heaven - it was put together by the Catholic Church."

Indeed. And your catholic church decided it wanted these passages included to which I refer above--along with all the other barbarism, such as Jesus' criticism of Jews for not killing their disobedient children as required by Old Testament law. (See Mark 7:9-10 for the criticism. See Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21 for the requirements they were said to be failing.)

Which is far scarier than anything Brian's ever had to say.

@Jeremy Harris: "Taking single verses out of context ... is largely pointless."

Indeed. Which is precisely why I invite readers to investigate the full context in the links provided. Have you done so yet?

@Unknown: "The Bible repeatedly teaches respect for parents. Jesus' point was about prioritizing God first, then other things will fall into place."

Really. Things such as hatred of your family? Because "if any man come to [Jesus] and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be [his] disciple." "For [he is] come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."

This is some interesting prioritising you're doing there, sport.

@Richard: "It's just this sort of Christ-hating Objectivist claptrap that led to the exodus of Christian libertarians from the Libertarianz Party."

Really? So we should feel love for a hate-monger in order to sow peace in the party? What claptrap. When I see anti-human nastiness I'll call it as such.

@Simon Tuck:

"Destiny is a cult."

But nothing Brian says is different in either kind, degree or source to Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Muhammed, Moses or Jesus. The only difference between him and them is is the number of his supporters.

"But 'Objectivism' isn't too far away from being a cult either." Interesting accusation. And I just love how you back it up with evidence.

But even if were true, that doesn't alter the nastiness of what the Ungood Book says.

6/04/2012 12:45:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

What Brian Tamaki is advocating is definitely a cult-worshiping, which is miles apart from what other mainstream christians are preaching.

My late father was a Minister of the Free Tongan Methodist Church and he never preached anything close to what Bishop Tamaki is currently doing. Tamaki is moving towards Jim Jones territory.

6/04/2012 01:15:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

As others have said above, your selective quoting, with no effort to understand the context and meaning behind those words are not worth the time to refute on this blog.

However, the point I challenge you to consider is that if you firmly believe you correctly interpret the negative parts of the bible, why do you not also then pay equal attention to the clealry positive parts, and at the least realise you have to offer up a clear reason why those parts can simply be ignored?

The basis for Christian life, amongst other things is the following of the 10 commandments which have, among other things, a special commandment for honouring parents.

Jesus goes further and offers the "great commandments" that teach the love of God and love of neighbor as fundamental to living a Christian life. Such sentiments preclude "hating" in the sense that you interpret the above texts.

6/04/2012 02:10:00 pm  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@ZenTiger: Yes, Zen, I've "selectively" quoted. That is, I've selected what the Bible says Jesus says that almost exactly parallels what Brian says. Who's only reading his Bible, probably, just with more thoroughness than many others are.

"I challenge you to consider is that if you firmly believe you correctly interpret the negative parts of the bible, why do you not also then pay equal attention to the clearly positive parts."

Frankly, there are very few clearly positive parts, and those you would consider fit that bill are being taught weekly at Sunday Schools and in pulpits. I figured I'd help do what little I can to help fill the gap. (For instance, I'll bet you don't hear in Sunday School that Jesus says you are required to stone your children to death for swearing?)

"The basis for Christian life, amongst other things is the following of the 10 commandments which have, among other things, a special commandment for honouring parents."

Yes, the Bible is riddled with contradictions. So let me see how you resolve the contradiction between hating your parents and honouring them--and reconcile it with your insistence on previous occasions that the New Testament pronouncements of Jesus supersede the desert-dwelling pronouncements of the Old.

But if you want to challenge me, then I would challenge you to consider that if you accept that Book as the Word of God, then you yourself have no choice whatsoever about accepting both the negative and the allegedly positive--both the barbaric and the allegedly life-affirming.

Unless that is you do have some other standard by which you decide which bits are negative and which bits in the Bible are positive and which aren't. Do you, for instance, regularly violate the second commandment not to draw pictures "or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" because you think it's just stupid? Or do you refrain from stoning adulterers to death--or stoning your children to death for swearing--because your own standards say that's just wrong.

In which case, you certainly have better standards than that savage Abraham who is revered by three religions; and if so you should realise that's a standard--an ethical standard--that you've acquired from somewhere other than the Bible.

In which case, it's clear your Book is not your ultimate source of ethics.

And if that is the case, welcome to the real world.

6/04/2012 03:31:00 pm  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@Falufulu Fisi:

Then perhaps mainstream christians should read their Bibles better.

Or else openly abandon it as a barbaric, anachronistic tract undeserving of worship or reverence.

6/04/2012 03:33:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

(For instance, I'll bet you don't hear in Sunday School that Jesus says you are required to stone your children to death for swearing?)

Chapter and verse, please.

6/04/2012 04:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

Objectivism is a form of demonic possession. Still, Christians and Objectivists can be political allies.

6/04/2012 04:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

In which case, it's clear your Book is not your ultimate source of ethics.

It's clear that *our* Book is the ultimate source of *your* ethics. Ayn Rand was a Christian.

6/04/2012 04:45:00 pm  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@Richard: Yes, of course she was.

And black is white, war is peace, and the Bible contains whatever Lucia Marie says it does.

6/04/2012 04:59:00 pm  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@Richard: "Chapter and verse, please." Already supplied above: Ex.21:15, Lev.20:9, Dt.21:18-21, for which failure to so stone your Jesus berates the Jews and the Pharisees in Matthew 15:4-7 and Mark 7:9-10.

6/04/2012 05:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Richard

I've read your link which asserts that Objectivism is a form of demonic possession and, frankly, I have rarely read such rubbish.

It reminds me of the great Spike Milligan who said "My father was a great man. He told me so himself. He said "Iam a great man", and you can't argue with facts like that, folks."

The fact is that that your so-called 'God' and his arch enemy 'Satan' are BOTH figments of your sick imagination... so any arguments from one about the other are just so much onanism.

I am not an objectivist ('coz I don't really know enough about it to call myself one even though I have read Rand. But I know auto reinforcing self-delusion when I encounter it.

Dave Mann

6/04/2012 05:50:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

As I said Peter, you need to reconcile the apparent contradictions, because you might find there are less than you wish.

For example, when faced with many quotes from Jesus suggesting love, you focus on the one he uses, almost hyperbolically talking of "hate". Whilst some say the point was made simply to shock his audience, there is also the very real possibility that the words chosen suffer from a loss in the translation:

Numerous Greek scholars have added their combined years of study to the discussion to testify that the word “hate” (miseo) in Luke 14:26 does not mean “an active abhorrence,” but means “to love less.” E.W. Bullinger, in his monumental work, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, described the word “hate” in Luke 14:26 as hyperbole. He rendered the word as meaning “does not esteem them less than me” (1968, p. 426). W.E. Vine, the eminent Greek scholar, said the word miseo could carry the meaning of “a relative preference for one thing over another.” He listed Luke 14:26 under this particular definition (1940, p. 198). Lastly, A.B. Bruce, in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, stated that “the practical meaning” of the word “hate” in this verse is “love less” (n.d., p. 575).

Add to all this the fact that, with His last few words, Jesus Christ showed honor to His mother, and made sure she had a provider (John 19:25-27). The simple meaning, then, of Jesus’ statement in Luke 14:26 is that a person must be willing to sever ties with his or her family if those ties hinder the person from following and obeying Christ. And blessed is the man who puts service to Jesus above all else.

6/04/2012 08:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Christian LIbz said...

PC, why is the Libz not attracting strong followers, since the Libz has been around long enough for people to take an interest in its philosophies?

There is only one reason, and that is, if the Libz remove objectivists from its party membership, then people will come. Objectivists are the barrier to people joining or endorsing the party. How about you and some of your fellow objectivists leave the party and establish your own Objectivist party? Leave the Libz to the likes of ScottLiberty and young guns like Luke Howison to run the Libz. I'm sure that they'll attract people to the party.

You objectivists have been there too long and not able to increase the membership in the party. There must be a reason and it doesn't take anyone to be a rocket scientist to figure out why? If you objectivists can't figure out why, then it is time that you (and other objectivists) vacate the party, because you're all to blind & stupid to see why.

6/05/2012 09:05:00 am  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@Christian Libz: How about you work out instead why you wish to worship something so monstrous?

6/05/2012 09:38:00 am  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@ZenTiger: Yes, yes, yes, love is hate, black is white, war is peace.

You know, you folk have had 1800 years to make up apologetics for the Bible's absurdities, and the best you can really do is argue it's so complicated no-one can understand it--and that its plain words mean something other than the plain words. The net result being a book you've so drastically tortured it will say virtually anything you'd like it to say--or, conversely, a book so mired in contradiction and bogged down by lack of any clarity that it's really worthless as a reliable guide to anything.

(Which means, if you do choose to follow what you think are its precepts, you really are choosing between parts you favour and parts you don't, your standard for so choosing being something outside and apart from the Bible itself. And if you have such a standard, you aren't and don't need to be reliant on a book of myths written by pre-millennial desert-dwellers. You can simply begin your study of morality with that standard.)

You say for instance your Jesus is reported to have "shown honour" to his mother; presumably then you choose to ignore the time when his mother and brothers reportedly wanted to see him and he dismissed them saying, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" (Matthew 12:47-49, Mark 3:31-34) Or when Jesus' parents begin the long trip back to Nazareth, the twelve year old Jesus stays behind, without even asking for their permission. Mary and Joseph search for him for three days and when they finally find him, Jesus doesn't apologize. Rather, he blames them for not knowing that he was doing his real father's business. (Luke 2:43-49)

And what of honour to other mothers? You presumably also ignore the time Peter and his partners (James and John) reportedly and with his full permission abandoned their wives and children to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11); or that he reportedly wouldn't even let his followers bury their dead parents or say farewell to their families before abandoning them. (Luke 9:59-62, Mark 8:21)

And remember that the actions and teachings of your Jesus were supposed to supersede those of the Old Testament, including the out-of-context commandment to "honour."

And if his last moments are your guide, then why not focus on his realisation his allegedly heavenly father had forsaken him? Which is fair enough, really, because perhaps by then he'd figured out that if his allegedly heavenly father were real than as an example to parents everywhere and to save the world from himself, he had just had his own son tortured and killed. (Luke 3:16) And that "He that spareth not his own son" shouldn't be trusted by anyone. (Romans 8:32)

6/05/2012 09:59:00 am  
Blogger twr said...

"...so called "rational, independent minds", are raging atheists because a russian lady told them to be."

Do you *really* think that's the only reason people are athiests? Because someone told them to be? That's a bit like, oh, I don't know, believing in something that's patently a fairy story because a magic book says so.

6/05/2012 11:46:00 am  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

Do you *really* think that's the only reason people are athiests? Because someone told them to be? That's a bit like, oh, I don't know, believing in something that's patently a fairy story because a magic book says so.

Read my post twr, I spoke solely to the atheistic motivations of objectivists. I find objectivists just as enthusiast in their Randian worship (and de facto atheism) as the world religions are in the worship of a Diety the objectivists so despise.

6/05/2012 04:47:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

*enthusiastic

6/05/2012 04:48:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

Ok, I read your post again and as a consequence I'd like to further point out that if you actually did "...read with the author and their circumstances in mind...", you'd have to be even more batshit crazy to believe a word of it. Two thousand years ago, there might be some justification for falling for it as there was no better option, but in this day and age, we have alternative answers for how the world works and it's ridiculous to perpetuate something that should stay in the past where it belongs.

6/06/2012 08:33:00 am  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

we have alternative answers for how the world works

We have a good understanding about how 4% of the mass of the Universe works, and even grappelling with this 4% leaves us with holes in the origins of the singularity which led to the big bang, the failure to reconcile the micro and macro through a unified theory, the inconvience of infinity showing up constantly in equations relating to quantum mechanics and the physics relating to black holes, to name but a few.

Atheism is a nonsense, with such large unresolved fundamental issues at hand. The only rational positions to hold are agnoticism or theism.

As a graduate of the science department at UoA (admittedly biology) and a former atheist I didn't arrive at Christianity through whimsy and caprice.

6/06/2012 01:14:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

It is *irrational* to use theism as a fallback when a hypothesis with far more evidence isn't complete. If you don't like the scientific explanation in its current state, the only other possible position is "I don't know", not "I like this one so I'll believe it despite there being zero evidence for it versus any other completely made up explanation".

It's like saying "I have a hole in my trousers, so I'll go out wearing a pair made of chicken wire instead."

6/06/2012 02:12:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

Incidentally, as a biologist, how would you respond to Dobzhansky's "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" comments?

6/06/2012 02:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Dolf said...

Jeremy

How did you rationally (without whimsy and caprice) go from:

1) We don't know everything now, but someday we may

to:

2) We Don't know everything now, therefore God did it?

6/06/2012 02:52:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

It is *irrational* to use theism as a fallback when a hypothesis with far more evidence isn't complete. If you don't like the scientific explanation in its current state, the only other possible position is "I don't know", not "I like this one so I'll believe it despite there being zero evidence for it versus any other completely made up explanation".

I'm glad you admit agnosticism is the only reasonable belief given the current state of the scientific evidence.

So, for me, after coming to this conclusion I had to decide between agnosticism or theism, and then if I believed in theism which, if any, of the religions were true. After a process I began at 25 about 5 years ago now, I considered arguments scientific, philosophical, moral, historical (and then after becoming a Christian personal) and came to the conclusion Christ was exactly who he said he was. I have made the right choice. My life has been irreversibly improved.

Incidentally, as a biologist, how would you respond to Dobzhansky's "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution" comments?

I believe the Universe is 13.7 billion years old and that Christianity and evolution are not incompatible.

Jeremy

How did you rationally (without whimsy and caprice) go from:

1) We don't know everything now, but someday we may

to:

2) We Don't know everything now, therefore God did it?


Because I don't accept the premise of your first point. The history of physics has been such that at the point of each great discovery we uncover more problems. Einstein's equations have led to the current problems reconciling gravity and quantum mechanics, the discovery of the expansion of the universe led to the big bang and the problem of origin and the initial singularity, the study of the movement of stars and galaxies led to the problems created by dark energy and dark matter.

On each occasion we discover more mysteries to be explained. It's good and proper to explain and study them but to me scientists often act like socialists, i.e. one more tax rise for welfare and poverty will be solved, for the scientists - one more solution to big problem and we'll have explained away God. To me it's a problem of finite brains trying to explain a infinite problems/myseteries, firstly and secondly a lack of acknowledgement of the fact that science is the study of the natural and the question of God is a supernatural question.

6/06/2012 05:09:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

I think we're sidestepping the elephant in the room here.

It would be interesting if you could tell us which bit of evidence for a god convinced you more than all the evidence against?

I'd also like to know how you decide which bits of the bible are correct and which aren't, and what's the difference. Obviously you've decided that bits of Genesis are incorrect, but there's just as much support/evidence for them as there are for most of what it claims Jesus did.

6/07/2012 09:02:00 am  
Anonymous Dolf said...

Jeremy

Sorry if it sounds like I'm attacking, as that is not my intention, but you are the only person I have ever talked to that switched from atheist to christian.

I would like to understand your thought processes, because you seem to contradict yourself.


I believe the Universe is 13.7 billion years old and that Christianity and evolution are not incompatible.


As a christian you are required to accept the whole bible in one bite, you can't cherry pick your own version (2 Tim 3:16).

Genesis is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. Just look at the order in which things happened, for example.

As a christian the bible is your final arbiter on knowledge and wisdom.

How do find any compatibility?

As to your more direct point on rejecting my first premise:

You accept that we can know some things (I take it as read that you go to a doctor, for example) but you reject that we can know others. Where do you draw the line? When do we know enough? When should we stop? Shoud we not have stopped already?

What is your yardstick to know that we know what we know?

You reject sciences ability to acquire absolute knowledge, yet quote that knowledge as absolute?

You say the earth is 13.7 million years old, but how do you know that?

6/07/2012 09:06:00 am  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

Dolf I haven't found you attacking at all, quite the opposite, not suprisingly this isn't the first online conversation I've had about this and this blog has been, by far, the most civil.

For me the confusion comes from a distinction that was a product of America in the late 19th and early 20th century - that the Bible must be taken literally, it is a recent occurence. For example Thomas Aquinas stated, "The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false." For 1900 years it was the position of the Church to regard the Bible as true but not literal.

Generally atheists (formerly myself) have issue with three things in Genesis (in the main), the world being created in 6 days, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the age of the Earth of 6,000 years.

Taking these in turn; the 6 days of Creation can be interpreted in many different ways. Moses is ascribed as the author of Genesis in about 3,000 BC but this will never be known. If he (or proxy) witnessed the Big Bang and history of the Universe through visions he could have described eons as "days" given that was his vocab at the time, alternatively he could have received 6 vision over six days and on the seventh he rested, etc, etc. Once the literal interpretation (remember a recent occurence) is removed many explanations become possible.

As for Adam and Eve, I think it is entirely possible that at some point approx 100,000 years ago God inspired two humans to have "self awareness", to be "made in His image". Modern biology has shown us that there is in fact a Database Adam (and I believe from memory a Database Eve) from which all modern humans outside of Africa carry the DNA of. Original Sin is inherent in all humans as God respects our freedom (as an aside the source of my belief in freedom) and gives us the providence to choose or not choose him, Genesis communicates this fact.

Finally the age of the Earth as 6,000 years was the addition to the King James Bible by an obscure priest approx. 300 years ago, it is largely irrelevant and a fiction of his own.

Secondly as to rejecting your premise, I believe that when we have a hypothesis that fits all the observable evidence then we should regard that as fact. I don't reject that there are things we can know. My point was that in the history of Physics at each point we have made great discoveries it has been complicated by higher order problems, I see this trend continuing up until this day and I am of the belief that it will continue and is a function of trying to understand an infinite Universe, which is likely within another infinite state with finite minds.

@twr, I find the arguments about the lack of Objective Morality without God the most convincing, on this both atheists and theists agree. The extend of the historical record around Christ is also powerful and far exceeds many in Antiquity including powerful rulers. Scientific arguments around the nature of the Big Bang, the overwhelming odds of life, the naturally occuring patterns and language and frankly the improable/impossible things you must believe if you do not accept creation/design of the laws, are a few of the Scientific facts I'd cite as evidence. I find a number of philosphocial arguments around the nature of who God must be if He exists are in keeping with life and to the exclusion of all other the nature of the Christian God.

6/07/2012 01:23:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

"...For 1900 years it was the position of the Church to regard the Bible as true but not literal."

I can think of a Mr Galilei and a Mr Copernicus who would disagree with this claim.

If, as you say, the bible can mean anything you decide you want it to mean, then how can you base any rational world view on it, and how can you justify some people making it the centre of their entire lives?

One obvious example is the life after death issue, which most people would agree the bible unequivocally supports. What evidence of any kind is there that this fundamental claim is true?

It sounds like you have given yourself the choice of the scientific explanation, or an explanation based on a book that you have admitted is so vague as to be useless.

6/07/2012 03:19:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

I can think of a Mr Galilei and a Mr Copernicus who would disagree with this claim.

There are zealots as with any ideology/belief. I think the reformation was due in no small part to a movement away from strict interpretation and a movement back towards open interpretation of the Bible, in particular establishing connection between God and Man without the toll gate of the Catholic Church.

I didn't say the Bible can mean whatever you want it to mean, it communicates principles and truths that are beyond contestation in the view of the Christian. A Christian (the hint is in the name) bases his life on Christ's two commands, "Love God with all your heart, mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself". Understand the role of the Old and New Testament, the new replacing the old.

One obvious example is the life after death issue, which most people would agree the bible unequivocally supports. What evidence of any kind is there that this fundamental claim is true?

One line of evidence is the work done by the Near Death Experience Research Foundation. Which has completed thousands of interviews with people who have had experiences and found them to be uniform accross age groups, cultures, geography etc. and record numerous "out of body experiences" in which people experience; peace, extreme understanding of Universe around them, hightened consciousness during medical loss of consciousness, an overwhelming desire to stay in the "out of body state", witness events (later confirmed) in rooms other than that in which they were unconscious, people blind since birth describing sight, etc. When revived many changed their lives markedly to focus on; family, interpersonal relationships, goals outside of work.

http://www.nderf.org/

6/07/2012 04:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A quick internet search can show many sites that point out that the Bible is merely plagiarism of earlier cultures and their myths i.e there is no truth but an intention of allegories/parables/ metaphor
e.g. http://www.truthbeknown.com/christmyth.htm

Peter

6/07/2012 04:15:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

And a quick web search can show many sites refuting those claims which I've heard many times before.

6/07/2012 04:50:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

So how does it work then? We know through meticulous research that your personality and memories are contained within your brain, and it can be affected by all sorts of physical changes. So how does your personality and memory survive (ie an afterlife) when your brain is physically eaten by worms or burned up in an incinerator? Please explain where the electrical impulses that make up *you* go to.

6/08/2012 09:06:00 am  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

At current it can't be explained, in the same way science cannot currently explain consciousness. You believe consciousness exists right?

6/08/2012 11:52:00 am  
Anonymous Dolf said...

Jeremy

So if science disagrees with the bible, the bible is viewed as figurative, but not always?

So what is your standard? When do you pick science and when do you pick the bible?

Could you apply your logic to the following three examples:

1: Jonah swallowed by a whale?
2: 3 hours of darkness during the crucifiction?
3: the resurection of Christ?

Do you pick science or the bible, and why?

Some of these are fairly fundamental to a christian, and also quite well disproved by science.

6/08/2012 12:13:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

Of course I see some evidence for "consciousness" (assuming it doesn't have some other niggly scientific definition), and there are testable repeatable ways of determining where it resides and how to remove it. Neither of these is possible with "life after death".

If it's a choice between choosing a scientific option of "there isn't life after death", and a theistic "there is", the absolutely masssively overwhelming majority of evidence is against it, and it's simply impossible to choose to believe in it using logic.

6/08/2012 01:42:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

@dolf, your argument has moved now from origins and the book of Genesis to the question of miracles, which by their nature are a suspension of the natural laws. On your point regarding Jonah, I have to admit I don't know the science relating to surving for extended periods within large animals. On points 2 and 3 obviously to be a Christian one must believe that God suspended or amended natural law on the afternoon Christ died (and three days hence) when blackening the sky, ripping the temple shroud and during the ressurection. I personally believe in miracles and have witnessed, what I consider to be, one myself.

@twr, you've missed my point, the work of the nderf shows that many people have experienced out of body experiences when clinically unconsiousness or even medically unresponsive (i.e. dead) before revival. The workings of those experiences and the workings of consiousness are both similarly not understood.

In the same way you see repeated, testable evidence for consciousness, the uniformity of those experience indicates repeatablity and possibly even testability if we were to go around putting people in near death situations purposefully.

6/08/2012 03:04:00 pm  
Blogger twr said...

Scientifically, experiments where people recount "this is what I dreamt" really don't cut the mustard when it comes to *proof* for a claim as fantastical as life after death.

There is no *hard* evidence for it, which one would expect if it happened to billions of people for millenia, and there's no explanation whatsoever offered for how it is supposed to happen.

The contra-argument, where we see every day people dying and apparently not continuing to exist as a sentient being in any way, plus all we know about how the human body works pointing to the requirement for cells and electrical activity for consciousness seems quite believeable by comparison, even if there are holes in the detail where we have to say we don't know for sure but are working on it.

If one was to come in to the debate cold, the balance of probabilities of it not being true are so compelling that you would have to say it's not until some new information is presented.

If, as you claim, you arrived at theism by disapassionately weighing up all the available evidence, surely this is a deal breaker?

6/08/2012 03:32:00 pm  
Anonymous Dolf said...

Actually jeremy, I've merely been taking your own argument further.

The argument is: if you have a standard that you use to reject certain passages in the bible as myth, then your ultimate standard is no longer the bible, but your own reason, or whatever you want to call that voice of common sense.

And that argument is the same for genesis,matthew, or revelations

The only problem is, you are not consistent.

Since rejecting any part of the bible is heresy, you are more of an inconsistent atheist than a rational christian.

6/08/2012 03:40:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

@twr, they are quite clearly not dreams, as dictated by the scientific fact that when electric activity in the brain decreases or ceases dreaming/experience ends yet of the thousands of people interviewed they report that not only did activity continue, it increased, they retained the memory of it - at a time their brain was inactive, and across cultures, age and geography there was a remarkable uniformity.

@dolf, obviously I disagree with your conclusion and will only say that if you are correct it puts me in the same class as such other notable atheists as Thomas Aquinas and CS Lewis.

6/09/2012 10:09:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did the miracle you witnessed have anything to do with you graduating from a science course with thinking ability like you've shown here?

6/09/2012 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

An anonymous insult, how ballsy and classy of you.

6/11/2012 08:49:00 am  
Blogger Peter Cresswell said...

@Jeremy Harris: Agreed. Nothing wrong at all with intelligent insults, but insulters should at least have the balls to put a name to them.

6/11/2012 10:15:00 am  
Blogger gregster said...

@Jeremy Harris. Dear boy, look at this, of yours;

"We have a good understanding about how 4% of the mass of the Universe works, and even grappelling with this 4% leaves us with holes in the origins of the singularity which led to the big bang, the failure to reconcile the micro and macro through a unified theory, the inconvenience of infinity showing up constantly in equations relating to quantum mechanics and the physics relating to black holes, to name but a few."

It was religionists who invented the singularity - the big bang, and the mainstream mathematics that has followed, has posited all sorts of absurdities, and is purely theoretical.

"4%" huh? So - you know the size of the universe? And I say there is only a reasonable understanding, not a good one. Have you not heard of the nonsense of dark matter? Black holes? Etc

"the failure to reconcile the micro and macro through a unified theory"
That is simply because the first principles are vastly wrong.

The inconvenience of contradictions between one theory and another theory, both grounded on primitive superstition is unsurprising, I agree.

And back to the 4% - why would the other 96% be different in any way at all?

6/13/2012 12:59:00 am  
Blogger Jeremy Harris said...

It was religionists who invented the singularity - the big bang, and the mainstream mathematics that has followed, has posited all sorts of absurdities, and is purely theoretical.

The singularity was the logical conclusion from the discovery in 1929 that the Universe was expanding.

"4%" huh? So - you know the size of the universe? And I say there is only a reasonable understanding, not a good one. Have you not heard of the nonsense of dark matter? Black holes? Etc

It's as simple as measuring the effect/properties both Dark Energy and Dark Matter has related to gravity. In the first case measuring the energy required to overcome gravity's natural tendency to reserve the Big Bang after the energy from it dissipates, and secondly measuring how Dark Matter interferes with the gravitational motions of large bodies in space.

"the failure to reconcile the micro and macro through a unified theory"
That is simply because the first principles are vastly wrong.


True, so hardly an endorsement for the omnipotence of Science.

The inconvenience of contradictions between one theory and another theory, both grounded on primitive superstition is unsurprising, I agree.

I'm not really sure what you're getting at here.

And back to the 4% - why would the other 96% be different in any way at all?

Well it may not be, however given that we don't currently understand it is a logical conclusion that it will operate differently than that which we do understand.

6/14/2012 05:20:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Respond with a polite and intelligent comment. (Both will be applauded.)

Say what you mean, and mean what you say. (Do others the courtesy of being honest.)

Please put a name to your comments. (If you're prepared to give voice, then back it up with a name.)

And don't troll. Please. (Contemplate doing something more productive with your time, and ours.)

<< Home