OPINION PIECE: Baptism

Hi ya’ll- this site’s been a bit dead for a while, and so while I’m piecing together the final draft of an essay on the biblical basis for logical reasoning, I thought I’d post this school paper as a hold over.  Please note this is strictly my opinion, and my interpretation of scripture.

            Baptism is the most important sacrament in the Christian faith.  It is the only one common to all denominations, and is consistently affirmed by scripture as necessary (if not sufficient) for salvation.  However, it is most frequently performed by sprinkling holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Why is this incorrect and why does this matter?

 

            In Acts 2:38, Peter commands all the converts to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This command is repeated again in Acts 10:48, making reference to “the name of the LORD.”  Name singular, LORD singular.  Many tri-baptists use Matthew 28:19 where Jesus commands them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  This was not a command to use a formula, but to use a name.  And what is that name?  Jesus, coming from the Hebrew name “Yeshua”, meaning “Salvation.”  It’s common sense- you can’t be saved without salvation!

 

            Why is full water immersion important?  Well, just like every other Christian sacraments, it’s a metaphor.  It is symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection; Christian act it out to symbolize their own death, burial, and resurrection through Christ.  Romans 6:4, in laying out the plan of salvation, it is written “Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism.”  A corpse is not buried by sprinkling dirt on top of it.  By changing this, the symbolism of the baptism is effectively destroyed.

 

            Baptism is a Christian’s first commitment to the Christian faith.  By stripping baptism of it’s meaning, the newly created Christians lack a foundation to build on.  Without the solid rock of Christ to build on, their faith is left on shifting sand and the slow slide to relativism is inevitable.  

            Baptism is the most important sacrament in the Christian faith.  It is the only one common to all denominations, and is consistently affirmed by scripture as necessary (if not sufficient) for salvation.  However, it is most frequently performed by sprinkling holy water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Why is this incorrect and why does this matter?

 

            In Acts 2:38, Peter commands all the converts to “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  This command is repeated again in Acts 10:48, making reference to “the name of the LORD.”  Name singular, LORD singular.  Many tri-baptists use Matthew 28:19 where Jesus commands them to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”  This was not a command to use a formula, but to use a name.  And what is that name?  Jesus, coming from the Hebrew name “Yeshua”, meaning “Salvation.”  It’s common sense- you can’t be saved without salvation!

 

            Why is full water immersion important?  Well, just like every other Christian sacraments, it’s a metaphor.  It is symbolic of Jesus’ death and resurrection; Christian act it out to symbolize their own death, burial, and resurrection through Christ.  Romans 6:4, in laying out the plan of salvation, it is written “Therefore we are buried with Him by Baptism.”  A corpse is not buried by sprinkling dirt on top of it.  By changing this, the symbolism of the baptism is effectively destroyed.

 

            Baptism is a Christian’s first commitment to the Christian faith.  By stripping baptism of it’s meaning, the newly created Christians lack a foundation to build on.  Without the solid rock of Christ to build on, their faith is left on shifting sand and the slow slide to relativism is inevitable. 

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Kalam Cosmology and Agent-Causation

By far, one of the commonest sort of objections to the Cosmological Argument I see, is that the cause of the universe need not be God.  This is a big intellectual problem for some people.  As for me, I have a handful of arguments that tend to suggest that the famous “first-cause” simply has to be God.

You see, this sort of problem only comes about when we refuse to expand the Kalam Cosmological Argument and leave it hanging peculiarly at “Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence”.   That’s a really vague sort of conclusion for an amazing argument which claims to demonstrate the existence of God, don’t you think?  Actually, that is the precise reason why I and many others abhor the thought of presenting the Kalam Cosmological Argument alone without any extrapolation or expansion.  William Lane Craig does exactly what I do with it, and expands it.  Unlike me, however, Dr Craig does not include his expansion in with the argument proper.  I add on a massive string of minor premises and subconclusions in order to arrive at a familiar sort of conclusion which more or less reads “Therefore, something exists which is so suspiciously similar to the Christian God as to make non-theism implausible.”

Here is the Expanded Cosmological Argument:

“1 Everything which begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.

1.2 The universe began to exist

1.3 Therefore the universe had a cause for its existence

2 The universe is primarily the expansion of time, space and matter

2.1 Therefore time, space and matter were caused.

3  An effect may be no greater than its proper cause

3.1  A thing may not cause itself to exist

3.2 Therefore the cause of the universe is eternal and immaterial.

4  If the cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal, then the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

4.1 The cause of the universe was non-temporal, and the effect was temporal.

4.2 Therefore the cause of the universe was a free-agent.

5 The difference between nonbeing “in reality” and being “in reality”, is an infinite difference

5.1 The difference between nonbeing “in the mind” and being “in the mind” is an infinite difference

5.2 The free-agent in question created something from nothing, and it follows that it conceived something from nothing

5.3 To create something from nothing is an infinite power, and to conceive something from nothing is an infinite act of conception or knowledge.

5.4 Therefore the cause of the universe is an eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent mind, which can properly be called God.”

Now, I’m no fool.  I knew that premises 4, 4.1, and 4.2 are absolutely crucial to the argument as they make the leap from a rather unknown cause to an agent-cause.  Indeed, they require a good bit of explanation on my part.  It is, however, my policy to not include any explanations or answers to objections to posts within the posts themselves.  I instead wait for people to object, and then answer their objections.  It saves me a lot of work.  It has recently come to my attention, through communications with a certain member of William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith Team, that the aforementioned permises may not be valid.  Very well then, I shall have to explain them.

First, imagine a glass of frozen water.  The cause of the water’s freezing can be said to be subzero temperatures, an entirely non-personal cause.  Important: Causally prior to the universe, there was no time.   If the subzero temperatures were in existence from eternity, or “atemporally”, then the frozen state of the water would have always been there.  Without time, the effect would have to coexist with the cause.  Where the temperature is below zero, the water is frozen.  When there is no freedom or choice involved, and also no time, but only objects and laws or sufficient conditions which act upon them or not, the cause exists in the same atemporal state as the effect. 

But that’s not how it is, is it?  We know for a fact that causally prior to the universe, there was an atemporal cause for the universe, and yet the universe does not exist in the same state of timeless-ness!  Here we have an instance of an atemporal cause giving rise to a temporal effect.  There are two types of causes for things: causes which are people, and causes which aren’t people.  An atemporal impersonal cause would have to coexist with its effect atemporally, yet we know that the atemporal cause of the universe does not coexist with its effect (the universe) atemporally.  Therefore, the atemporal cause in question could not be of the sort which aren’t people.  Therefore, the cause of the universe was a person.

 However there is a second way to formulate (4):  there are only two sorts of things which can exist immaterially and non-spatially:  abstract objects and minds.  An abstract object (as opposed to a concrete object) are things like numbers, natural laws, and facts.  They aren’t made of anything, and they can only reside in a mind, otherwise they don’t exist.  They are not like concrete objects, which are like stones, chemicals, and physical things.  Unlike concrete objects, which are capable of existing in causal relations, abstract objects are causally effete.  They cannot cause anything.

Minds, like abstract objects, exist immaterially and non-spatially.  They aren’t made of “stuff”, and they don’t really have a specific location.  Before I get blasted for making assumptions, I’m going to admit that I am indeed aware of the fact that I am operating under the assumption of dualism, the notion that one part of a person is their body, and the other part their mind or soul or what have you.  I will defend that position later, but not here.  For now, I will not defend, but rather accept for the sake of argument the notion that the mind is immaterial.  Now, even though the mind is immaterial, it is capable of existing in causal relations. 

Since the thing which was the cause of the universe was immaterial, it must have been either a mind or an abstract object, but since (being a cause) it was obviously capable of existing in causal relations (and by obviously, I mean most obviously…) it had to be a mind and not an abstract object.

The rest of my Expanded Kalam Cosmological Argument follows very convincingly and logically once the key premise that creation was an instance of agent-causation is accepted.  The above two arguments acheive the goal of demonstrating the validity of said premise, thus leading directly and clearly to the inevitable conclusion that the cause of the universe was an immaterial, eternal, omniscient, and omnipotent mind, which can be properly called God.

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Refutation: “Logical Analysis of the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God”

the_press_thinks_youre_an_idiotI HAVE FOUND AN obviously illogical analysis of the Cosmological Argument on someone else’s blog, and surprisingly, it is well organized, grammatically correct, and the author has excellent command of literary conventions.  This is good.  Usually, when e-atheists attempt to dissect a theistic argument, they won’t be nearly so clean and neat about it.  Of course, many are, but this is the first I’ve seen on a blog.  Unfortunately, he got the argument wrong, so it’s no wonder he was able to refute it.  I’ll commend him in this regard.  He was able to refute a faulty and illogical version of the Cosmological Argument.  NOTE TO INTERNET ATHEISTS:  I’m not trying to be condescending, but if you find yourself able to refute a famous theistic argument that’s been around for millenia, invented and propagated by Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates, and expounded by philosophers of every culture regardless of religion, chances are you misunderstood or misrepresented the argument.  Yes, it will likely be possible for you to refute recent arguments concocted by wannabe-apologists, but when you claim to have refuted a 2,000 year old argument of classical philosophy, you ought to be careful.  Ask yourself: Am I reallyso much smarter than every other philosopher of the last couple centuries that I alone have found the problem with “x” argument?  Why has no-one else in the last 2,000 years seen this contradiction/problem/fallacy?  If I don’t have an answer to the last questions, why is it that people much smarter than me have confidently presented “x” argument over the years as if nothing were the matter?  These questions make one thing obvious to the honest atheist, either he is a very great snob, or  a very great fool, or the Christian philosophers are all very wicked liars.

 The only reason I call his article obviously illogical is because he sets out to analyze the Cosmological Argument, but actually analyzes an illogical convolution of it that he got from the the GeoChristian Blog.  I shall have to email the GeoChristian himself and inform him of what he has done (inadvertently so, I’m certain, as he seems respectable enough).  However, our little e-atheist here has done what a philosopher would call a “misrepresentation” of an argument.  He claimed to refute one thing, which he calls the Cosmological Argument (mistakenly so), but actually refuted another thing (not the “real” cosmological argument)

http://pseudoastro.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/logical-analysis-of-the-cosmological-argument-for-the-existence-of-god/

To begin, however, I must state as a matter of simple fact, that I have done a better job explaining the Cosmological Argument than has the GeoChristian.  I mean no insult to him.  Perhaps he did not orient his article to adorable little e-atheists with telescopes, I don’t know.

At the start, he misrepresents the major-premise of the argument as “Everything needs a cause”.  This is patently absurd, and he tarnishes his own image by proposing to analyze a Cosmological Argument and then throwing forth this madness.  Any idiot can see that this premise lends itself necessarily to an infinite regression of causes, which is plainly illogical.  (If you happen to not be familiar with deep, mysterious, and complicated philosophical terms like “illogical”, because you just so happen to be a silly little e-infidel who plays around with telescopes but tries to talk like he’s played around with Voltaire, you should read my post on the Argument)Actually, the major premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is, “Everything which begins to exist must have a cause”.  Not only is this assertion intuitively plausible, but it is also reinforced by every last scientific observation of any event in the history or future of the universe.  And that’s not an exaggeration.  I mean literally everything we have seen begin to exist has had cause for its existence. Chairs, tables, stars, cells, animals, anything that begins to exist, you name it, it has a cause (for the above: craftsmen or factories, nebulae, mitosis or meiosis, and reproduction, in that order).

Secondly, he says this.  Mind you, he’s not a philosopher, but an astronomer.

“From a philosophical argument, there really doesn’t need to be an explanation for why something exists.”

Actually, there does.  It’s called the Principle of Sufficient Reason, and it is the foundation of the scientific method.  Note how astronomy is also a science! 

Does he want me to prove the principle of sufficient reason?  I’m not exactly sure if I can.   Go out and look at things though.  Black holes, cheap labor, trees, Bill Clinton, antidisestablishmentarianism, you name it.  You will be able to find a reason for their existence if you look for it.  That’s a strong deductive argument, if I’m not mistaken (I’m not mistaken, mind you) Especially if everything one goes out to find turns out to have sufficient reason for its existence, and one is rendered incapable of finding anything which exists just ’cause. (This is exactly what will happen if you go out looking for pointless objects which haven’t even the slightest reason for existing, so don’t bother)

Now, dearest Mr Cosmo-Doubt says there doesn’t need to be an  for why something exists.  Tell me, when he looks through his telescope and sees an image of the Tau-Ceti system through the lens, what does he think?  If there really doesn’t have to be a reason for something to exist, any attempt on his part to conclude that the cause of the image in his telescope is the actual Tau Ceti system is entirely without warrant.  After all, his glimpse of the system doesn’t mean the system actually exists!  It could exist for no reason at all, according to Uglyface McPoopnose! (I ran out of clever names)

Everything which exists has sufficient reason for its existence in and of itself (which is to say, in its nature), or not in and of itself (which is to say, something else).  In other words, when you have something which exists, it either exists because it is in its nature to exist, or because something else made it exist.

He goes on to say, later on in his article, that something could exist “just ’cause”.  Indeed, I would agree, in a sense.   But not really.  I agree with his statement, but not what he means by it. He really hasn’t a clue what that sentence means.  A thing may exist because it is in its nature to be existing.  What this means is that it is impossible for it notto exist.  It exists in every possible world.  But you can plainly see that he does not mean this.  But that is the only option he’s got!  Aside from saying a thing which exists has an external cause for existing (Arrrgh! This be what he’s trying to avoid, lad!) he can only say the above.  There is no other option.

Besides, if things don’t need to have a cause to just mosey on into existence, what’s to stop a giant tiger from “beginning to exist” right in front of my face at this precise instant?  God knows it can’t be needing a cause!  Otherwise we’d be theists!

Or, God forbid, what’s there to stop God from existing right in front of me at this precise instant, hm? If our astro-skeptic maintains that there does not have to be an explanation for something’s existence, I can simply claim that God happens to exist right here in my room, and if he asks me to prove it (explain His existence) I’ll just say He exists just ’cause, so I don’t need to justify my belief, and be done with it! 

So, our little atheo-naut has two choices: thing’s need explanantions, or they don’t.  Either way, I can be right.

I’ll stop there, if you don’t mind.  I don’t need to do a point by point refutation of his entire article, sentence by sentence.  I undermined his major-premise and thus blew his whole essay out of the water.  I’ll sum it up. 

1.) He got the Cosmological argument wrong, that’s not what it actually says.

2.) He was wrong about causation, and he really believes in premise 2 of the Kalam Cosmological Argument deep down.  It’s fundamental to his field. 

3.) His assertion that things don’t require suffiecient reason for their existence is contradicted by mainstream science and metaphysics, and its everyday application leads to obvious absurdities.

4.) If he agrees with the principle of sufficient reason, God’s existence follows logically through the Kalam Argument, and if he disagrees with the principle, un-justified belief in God is warranted to the believer.

So he’s wrong four main ways at least…lovely.

-Payton

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Letter to ‘Answering Christianity’

Hello everybody!  Sarah here.  When I was gathering references for my article on the Trinity, I came across this little gem of a site: Answering Christianity.  Although I initially thought that it was a Christian site, it didn’t take long to find that no, it was run by a Palestinian Muslim named Osama Abdallah.  I was reading his arguments, and found his use of scripture so confusing, I had to write a Very Long Letter.  I apologize to you for the schizophrenic organization, and will be inserting notes, explanations, and links through out in italics.  If a response is received, I will post it here as well.

Dear Osama Abdallah,

My name is Sarah.  I’m a Christian, and I stumbled upon your site while looking for some information on the Trinity.  When I realized that your site was not an endorsement of Christian beliefs, I continued to surf around it, interested in what you had to say.  While I respect the effort you clearly put into this site, many of the Scriptural verses you site in support of your ideas shocked me in the mind-bogglinginaccuracy with which you used them.  I am going to simply go through a few sections of your website, and comment on any inaccuracies I see.  I hope you will respond to my claims- I’d like to know what you have to say.

 

On your page “The New Testament confirms that only Peter witnessed the crucifixion”

(http://www.answering-christianity.com/nt_confirms_apocalypse_of_peter.htm) you site verses from Matthew 26 in support of your statement.  The problem is, Jesus wasn’t crucified in Matthew 26.  He hadn’t even been tried yet!  In Matt 27:32-55, the crucifixion and death is outlined.  Nowhere is Peter mentioned.  The 3 women who later discovered the empty tomb are listed as being there, a man called Simon of Cyrene is there, but Peter wasn’t.  In fact, the verses you site are confusing, and don’t make sense in trying to prove your point.  After Jesus was captured, Peter was hiding for fear of being caught too, and denied knowing him.  This happened the night before Jesus’ trial.  I’m not sure how you thought that this was the crucifixion, but it isn’t.

 

Also on that page, you say that since the Gospel’s are narrated in the 3rd person, they are not very reliable.  Now, while it is true that modern scholarship places doubts on Matthew’s authorship of his Gospel, just because they were written in the 3rd person does not make them any less reliable!  The Gospel’s are basically a biography of Jesus.  They are not so much testimonies of what the disciples saw, as they are a record of what they said they saw.

 

Also (and I cannot stress this enough), John is a common name.  There are 2 important Johns in the NT- John the Baptist and John the Apostle.  They are not the same people.  John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, and was beheaded by King Herod, and was the John whom you cite as an example of 3rd person narration.  This is not the case.  The man

who wrote the Gospel of John was John the Apostle, a disciple of Jesus.  We know that John wrote the Gospel which bore his name, because he is never mentioned by name in it (he is referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”), despite being prominent in the early church.  This would be hard to explain if he didn’t write it, but it makes sense if he did.  It also linguistically matches the other letters we have attributed to him.

He addresses this explanation later on on his website, but never adequetly explains this- he just shows some verses relating to John the Baptist and says that the Bible was written by Constatine in 300 AD.

 

I have an NIV study bible, with study notes, and your claim that it admits “that the Bible is corrupt and the original manuscripts had been lost” is not true.  Also, assuming your assertation is correct, and the NT was written by Constantine around 300 AD, what’s the point in quoting Jeremiah, a book written 900 years before then, to prove that it is corrupt?  Wouldn’t they both be corrupt and meaningless?  Jeremiah 8:8 is one of many references to the hypocrisy of those practising Jewish law, twisting the words of God around to suit their own purposes.  That’s why believe that redemption through Christ was necessary. 

 

The ‘fiction’ which carm.org references is the Apocrypha, the 14 books of what is essentially Jewish myth found in the Catholic Bible.  These books were rejected in the Reformation for not having enough historical fact in them to be included.
Referring to this page 

 

While we admit that, due to the fact that part of our book has been kicking around since 1446 BC, there has been a little percolation in the wording.  Even in the NT, whose earliest writings date from around 40-60 AD, have a few differences in the various copies.  This is partly do to the fact many of the copies had to be made from memory.  Christians were persecuted for about 300 years, and many early copies of the holy books were burned or otherwise destroyed during this time period.  However, in comparing the various copies to the other copies, what’s really amazing are how few ‘errors’ there are in the texts.  Almost without exception, the ‘errors’ people admit to are the addition or altering of a few words which do not change the overall meaning of a specific verse, and could be expected with a book being transmitted orally and translated back and forth from Aramaic to Greek for several hundred years.  The exception to which I speak are the last 11 verses of Mark and John 7:53-8:11, which do not appear in some of the earliest manuscripts.  That’s it.

Scroll down to section 8 to see the section this is talking about.

 

You also say that there are no hard claims in the Bible that Jesus is the creator.  I beg to differ.  In the very 1st chapter of John, verse 1:3, it says “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

This is not the exact page I was referencing here, but I couldn’t find it again.  It’s hard to navigate.  In my search for the right page, I found he discussed John 1 here and here.  Peruse them at your pleasure.

 

Also, as for the scandals concerning Christian ministers, we as Christians are deeply

ashamed of them and recognize our own Bible verse warning us of being taken in by false prophets, and those telling us that the devil’s followers will come disguised as righteous men as in 2 Cor 11:14-15.  But then we look at the other religions track records, and see they are just as shameful as we sometimes are.  Do we really want to get into whose

religious leaders are ‘more evil’?  Really?

Here is the page this refrences. It also fails statistics FOREVER, but I didn’t want to quibble the numbers…I probably should have.  I just couldn’t be bothered because by this point I was getting a bit burned out.

 

Now, when we say that the Gospel wasn’t recorded until 150-300 years after Jesus, what we mean is, the earliest copy of the whole book we are talking about cannot be found until 150-300 after Jesus’ life.  Remember the part where our religion was being persecuted within that timeline and many original documents were destroyed? 

 

Now, the reason why we don’t believe the ‘gnostic’ Gospels that you put so much faith in is because they 1) Don’t agree with each other, nor with the traditional Gospels 2) Frequently weren’t gospels, and were instead collections of sayings, and 3) Contained mythical elements not found in the other gospels.

Many of the articles on their website cite gnostic or uncanonical texts, or the banning of said documents, as evidence that the Bible (and therefore Christianity) is corrupt, incorrect, and just plain wrong.

 

In Hebrews 5:7, Jesus’ prayer to be delivered from death was granted in the form of the Resurrection.  How could he have been ‘made perfect’ if he did not first have to be re-made?

Here.  A nice read, if you have the time to stare at it in utter bewilderment.

 

In http://www.answering-christianity.com/authors_gospels.htm, under the heading The Book of Acts, you contradict yourself.  Either Peter witnessed the crucifixion or none of the disciples did- which is it?  Actually, you’re wrong on both counts- the apostle John saw the events, as detailed in John 19:26 (remember, since the apostle John wrote the Gospel of John, he is referred to as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.  Why John chose this manner of referring to himself we can’t be sure of, but we can be sure that the saying refers to John.)

 

Jesus did not only bow down to God when he was desperate- he is seen many times in the Gospels going off by himself or with his disciples to pray, and giving thanks to God.

Here, about half way down.  Interestingly, does not address the fact that Jesus did teach his disciples to pray and humble themselves before God, often with physical symbols such as lowering their head, or beating their chest, nor does it establish what’s so important about formally bowing down.

 

Without getting into Isaiah 53 right now, since you have clearly heard that before, I’ll mention some other verses regarding the resurrection.  In Psalm 16:10, it is prophesied, “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”  It was an ancient Jewish belief that a person’s soul only hung around there body for 3 days

after death; after that, they were really dead.  This is why Lazarus’ resurrection was so shocking to those who saw it- he had been dead for 4 days, and had begun to decay.

I’m not certain this was the page I originally read, but it seems close enough.

 

Reading your section on the Gospel of John, I realize that there is nothing more I can really add to this except for the fact that the John in the verses you quote IS NOT John the Apostle, the apostle of Jesus, but John the Baptist.  That is a really important fact.  Your entire argument falls apart because of it.  Even a child with only the most rudimentary of Christian theology could tell you your argument is completely flawed.
As of this writing, the link to this section is broken.

 

The word gospel does not simply mean a book in the Bible- it means ‘good news’ and refers to a specific style of book in the Bible.  The “Gospel of 1 John” is NOT a Gospel, but a letter, written by the apostle John to the early church.  We assume that John wrote the letter because the style matches that of the Gospel of John, both in language and in

theology.  We also have to trust tradition a bit more then you do because our religion is 1)600 years older then yours and 2)Many of our early documents were destroyed, so the memories of the early church members supply some of the details such as authorship.

 

The Apocalypse of Peter could not have been written by the actual apostle Peter, because in Chapter 3 it references the “4 Esdras”, which was written at about 100 AD.

 

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, what Paul means is that since divorce is expressly forbidden by Jesus, if one partner in a marriage converts, and the other doesn’t, they still must remain married.  Since they are still married, even if the wife doesn’t believe herself, she will still participate, to a certain extent, in her husband’s sanctification, and thus become, to a certain extent, sanctified herself.  The same logic applies to their children.  And, as verse 16 outlines, since you can’t know when some one will be saved, you can do the best good in trying to save your spouse by remaining married and being a light to them, showing them the value of salvation, after which, if they convert, they will be fully sanctified as well.

This page.

 

Paul’s letters WERE NOT direct revelations from God Almight in their entirety- that is NOT what inspired means.  They were communications with the early church, and written sermons extrapolating some of the finer details of Christian life which Jesus had not hammered out during his 3 year ministry.  It is not surprising he would tell the leaders and members of the church certain favors he might need of them, or to tell them who he was

sending to see them.  He was evangelizing from Arabia, through Asia Minor and what is now Turkey, all the way to Italy.  He was one of THE driving forces behind the early church’s spread, and it is partly because he was able to get people (such as Mark) to come help evangelize with him.  He had a remarkable network of contacts, and new how to get the job done.  So, while the theological portions of Paul’s letters are especially inspired by God, there are parts which, while also valuable and inspired by God, are also Paul “doing his job”, and calling in favors of church members. 

He has alot of pages on Paul being an uninspired conman, but this is the one that I reference here.

 

Now, you will point to this being a contradiction of 2 Tim 3:16- it isn’t.  The Scripture referred to in this passage is primarily the OT, since portions of the NT had yet to be written.  What the point of that passage is, is that you can’t just pick and chose parts of the OT as inspired, and leave behind the minor prophets as crack pots, for example.  And

although there may be nothing theologically significant in Paul asking for someone to find his cloak for him, it was still the will of God that this happen, and he was still doing and writing things in the spirit of God.  You could consider Paul’s asides useful in teaching about obedience, or even just about the history of the early church.  Therefore, 2 Tim 3:16 is not contradicted by Paul’s little non-theogical requests.

Mr. Abdullah talks about 2 Tim 3:16 here, which is why I specifically brought it up.

 

Jesus himself preached to the sinners and gentiles, and called them more righteous then the hypocritical Pharisees and Jews, who kept the letter of God’s laws but did not keep the spirit.  It is established throughout the Gospels that Jesus came “first to the Jew”, and then to the gentile, so that everyone could worship the same God who ruled over them.

I apologize profusely, but I can’t quite remember nor find the page which I am referencing here.  It was basically saying that Paul was a hypocrite for preaching to sinners by taking a Jesus quote out of context.  Again, I’m sorry I can’t find the exact reference.

 

I know I have only covered a fraction of the writings on your website, but I don’t want to take up too much space.  I apologize for the slightly schizophrenic topic jumps through out this letter- I was writing rebuttals as I read and navigated through the materials on your site.  I’ll write a longer letter regarding the Trinity later- this was just about your use of Scripture.  If you don’t know the difference between John the Baptist and John the Apostle (I’m sorry, but that was what bothered me so much it prompted me to write this letter) no Christian will ever listen to a word you have to say.

 

Sincerly yours,
Sarah

 

I’ll keep you updated on any responses to this letter.  Until then!

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Refutation: Circularity of Objectivism

bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbI RECENTLY CAME ACROSS a part of a Debate about Relativism on Philochristos where the Subjectivist attempted to refute objectivism and support subjectivism as the better explanation of morality.  Though I admire the depth of the subjectivist’s speech, and the lengths to which he was able to go to try and defend his position, I will only respond to the Argument from the Circularity of Objectivism at the bottom of the post.

 

The crux of the problem with objectivity is its circularity:
Q: What is immoral, objectively?
A: It is X
Q: How do you know?
A: We feel in our minds that some things are right and some are wrong.
Q: But, Culture #2 feels that X is moral.
A: Humans can sometimes be wrong and it does not take universal agreement to know that something is objective.
Q: Well, how do you know YOUR view is right?
A: Because we feel in our minds that X is immoral.

 

He brings up the objectivist defense of saying societies and cultures can be mistaken about objective values.  I have to wonder why he presents this in such a way, because the argument not only rests on two gigantic misunderstandings, but also seems to miss its mark here.  He seems to think that because the objectivist claims that X is immoral because “we feel it in our minds” and another culture claims that X is moral, that objectivism is circular.  On the surface, this makes sense.  If the objectivist only thinks X is immoral because he thinks it’s immoral, it would seem that he’s being quite circular, right? Actually, no.  The very example dialogue itself rests upon two distinct misconceptions.

1: That the objectivist “only” believes X is immoral because…

There is no one single reason to be an objectivist.  There are many.  In this way, by presenting the objectivist as having only one argument with the specific intent of demonstrating his circularity, the subjectivist has committed the fallacy of begging the question.

2: That the objectivist believes X is immoral “because”…

This is a scarcely noticed assumption on t he part of the subjectivist.  He does not understand the objectivist/absolutist’s very position here.  Objectivism includes in its definition the idea that objective moral values are absolute and irreducible, which is to say, intuitive.  The very idea is that human beings know moral values intuitively, and that no further reason is necessary, or even possible.  Quite literally, it is the objectivist’s position that “the buck stops here” with regard to moral facts.  This is not an argument from the gaps.  It is the natural outcome of applying the Leibnizian Principle of Sufficient Reason.  Suppose you are given a variable A.  You may set out to explain A by saying A=B.  This plainly explains nothing, so you go on to say that B=C=D=E=F=G=H=I=J=K etc…  One begins to notice that no matter how far you go, you will not have explained anything, because you have not implemented any objective values.  However, when one says that K=2, you have implemented an objective value and thus explained all the letters, including A.  To apply my example to the subjectivist’s example dialogue, simply replace “Variable A” with “Action X”, and replace the objective value of 2 with the objective value of evil.  The argument is at once revealed for what it really is; a total misunderstanding of the nature of objective value.

One more thing before I get to the point about the Subjectivist’s Dialogue being misguided.  While I was busy reducing the enemy arguments to Algebra, which makes me happy, I remembered a debate-ish thing about the Resurrection on Facebook which I had with some atheists.  Strangely enough, after about the 100th post (it later went to about 400 posts) we had stopped talking about the Resurrection, and begun talking about truth, the will, the “soul”, and naturalism, because I had inadvertently brought them up in a brief defense of miracles.  I realized that one of my posts about the moral argument is rather relevant to this discussion.  It uses bigger words, mentions the Transcendental Argument (ignore that reference), is substantially ruder, and is laced with venom and condescension.  Don’t let that distract you from how awesome I am.

 

 

Post #54

Patrick Julius replied to your post5 hours ago

 If something is good because it follows God, then God is good because God follows God. Similarly, if something is good because it is pink, then pink is good because it is pink. The statement “God is good” is vacuously true under any system in which good is equated with following God.


Post #59

You wrote21 minutes ago

If by saying “God is good” you believe you’re making a vacuous statement, you are affirming the transcendental argument. Do you know of the Christian theological tool called the Euthyphro Dilemma? I would research it if I were you. Also, when you ask what God is, what necessarily follows next is God’s “nature” or “essence”. It is His definition, per se.

Suppose I make the query: “What is God?”

One may say, “God is good”, or perhaps “God is almighty”
But are these things necessarily vacuous? Of course they are! Just as vacuous as saying “people are personal”! If you ask what something is, and are able to give an answer which is not vacuous, it is certainly known that you have asked what a contingent thing is, and explained it in terms of a Necessary Thing. It is impossible to explain a thing in terms of itself, and not be making a vacuous proposition. If you try to explain a thing, it is always possible to explain it in terms of itself and give a vacuous explanation, and sometimes possible to explain it in terms of something else. If something is explainable in terms of something else, it is contingent. Now once thing A is explained in terms of B, is B explainable in terms of something else? If it is, then A still has no meaning. A will not attain meaning/value until it is explained by something with absolute value.
Eg: a=b, b=c, c=d, etc… Unless one of those ends up looking like d=2; a, b, c, d, e, f, g or what have you will all be meaningless! Unless one of them is explained in terms of an absolute value such as 2! Since 2 is not explainable in terms of anything else, any proposition about 2 is vacuous, and thus 2 must be Necessarily Existant. Likewise, all such propositions are meaningless unless explained in terms of something whose only explanations are vacuous. Therefore, until you have Something which cannot be perfectly explained in terms outside Itself, you can’t explain anything. To summarize: The Transcendental Proof of the existence of God is that without Him you could not prove anything else.
 

 

Here’s where I get to the point about the dialogue being misguided. The root of the problem lies in the main point of the Subjectivist’s Dialogue.  He claims that Culture#2 makes a claim contrary to the claim of Culture#1.  To apply my example again, we can see that C1 makes the claim that A=2, and C2 makes the claim that A=3.  Again, the mathematicization of the argument reveals its nature.  It does nothing to defeat objectivism, suprisingly enough, because both C1 and C2 believe that A has absolute value.  Both claim that A is a number.  Both are objectivists.

We must remember that when the objectivist claims that different cultures may be mistaken about moral values, he does mean that his culture could be mistaken as well.  Whether or not he could be mistaken is irrelevant to his position.  As long as he is mistaken about something objective, his position as an objectivist is valid. 

Here we can see that it is not the objectivist who cannot explain his position, it is the subjectivist.  When asked to explain A, the objectivist says that A=2, and thus explains A.  Our little pet subjectivist here then asks him to explain 2!  It is abundantly clear that 2 explains itself, and that the subjectivist’s demand is thus misguided. 

But what about the subjectivist’s position?  What if you ask him to explain A?  He claims that A=B=C etc.  Clearly, he has not explained anything.  He says that A=B, and when asked what B equals, he says B=A!  In fact, in the one great irony of this argument, it is subjectivism which is demonstrably circular!

-Payton

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Original Sin

What is original sin?  While to many Christians this may seem an obvious statement, it is a concept not held in most other religions.  It is not found in Judaism, our ‘mother’ religion, or Islam, our younger cousin, nor in any other main stream religion.  It is based off teachings from Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corintians 15:22.  It is the tenet that, since Adam sinned, and we are his offspring, we inherited this same propensity to sin.  The first place to look, in examaning this issue, is the original sin itself.  Some have ridiculed it- “What?  Why would ‘god’ condemn people to death for eating a piece of fruit?”  What the Bible actually says, in Genesis 2:17, is “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”  Is this a condemnation, or a warning?  It is quite popular among atheists nowadays (and indeed, thenadays as well) to construe this as God attacking humans quest for knowledge.  To them, the original sin is an intellectual sin.  This isn’t so.  This tree’s name is rather misleading, for until Adam and Eve ate of it, evil existed in only two sources; God’s mind and Satan’s rebellion.  Everything God created on Earth was good, including Adam and Eve.  There was no evil to know, until they committed it.  The immediate consequence of their sin was shame- the lasting consequence was death.  The reason for this is, that if one is in perfect accordance with God’s will, one is perfect and cannot, therefore, die.  But since children learn from their parents, and traits are passed down to them, they were raised up in sin, and taught their own children to sin, and so on, and so on.  In this way is the Original Sin of Adam still felt to this day.

-Sarah

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The Trinity at One

THE TRINITY

Having recently completed a mini Comparative-Religions offered at my school, I’ve realized that many concepts I had thought to be shared and understood in most, if not all, religions, or at least in the Abrahamic faiths, were in fact unique to Christianity.  In light of this discovery, my next few posts will be dealing with sin, the afterlife, and the nature of God.  And what of God’s nature is more important to Christianity than the Trinity?

To explain the Trinity, I will be borrowing from the content of Vox Dei‘s argument against the Problem of Evil by eliminating Omniderigence (Which is to say, the purported trait of God foreordering all things) This is a brilliant article, which can be found in the fifteenth chapter of his book, “The Irrational Atheist” in which he points out the factual errors found in the “New Atheist’s” books.  The whole thing can be found online for free from his website, but be warned- he doesn’t really get to the point of his book until the fourth chapter.  The first three chapters are really just him patronizing Dawkins (“wrong”), Hitchens (“drunk, and he’s wrong”), and Harris (“so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness”).  Once he gets around to it though, the depth of his research is amazing and an invaluable resource to anyone trying to argue with the “new” atheists.  But back to my point…

Imagine that you’re a game designer, creating a virtual world populated with AIs.  You are in complete control of the world- you can read every line of code when ever you want to, see the very “thoughts” of your creations at will.  You create your own AI character in order to change the movements of your programming.  Your avatar is completely digital- it would be ridiculous to assert it’s flesh and blood.  And yet, it is in every sense you, since your will is in control of it’s AI.  You and the avatar act in complete sync.  You are both undeniably distinct, and yourself much “greater” then the avatar, but at the same time you are exactly the same.  You can also act apart from your avatar, whether through subtly tweaking lines of code in the NPCs, influencing the conditions in your virtual world, or by just causing the NPCs to act in accordance with your designs.  Your influence can’t be directly observed or noticed by the NPCs, but it is there.  That is, in a sense, how God works.  He is all at once Heavenly Father, creator of the world, Jesus Christ, God made Man, and the Holy Spirit, acting through believers.  It’s not a perfect metaphor- it can’t account for the Ascension, the Love between the Father and the Son, or the fact that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are each distinct in will.  But at the very least, it’s not the usual heresies (I’m looking at you, water-ice-steam-one-substance and the “I’m a father and a son and a thought but I’m one person” metaphors).

-Sarah

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