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Honest Question for Atheists

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Truthfully, on the internet I think this probably goes on a lot, I think it has to be figured into the online equation.

In this context the potential for exploitation is ripe.

I admire your courage, I commend you for trying to raise awareness.

I started another thread about it. I do think it is important. I often forget how young people are online. It is easy to forget that. And just in the last few days I've seen posts from young people who are struggling in their faith. It's gotta be like shooting ducks in a barrel for predatory creeps. So I do feel the need to raise awareness. You are correct. The internet has changed a lot of things.

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I started another thread about it. I do think it is important. I often forget how young people are online. It is easy to forget that. And just in the last few days I've seen posts from young people who are struggling in their faith. It's gotta be like shooting ducks in a barrel for predatory creeps. So I do feel the need to raise awareness. You are correct. The internet has changed a lot of things.

I know, I saw that too!

I always err on the side of caution, apologize later if I need to. One can't build trust off someones word, I think religion does a great disservice by encouraging faith in words( basically it's ones own subjective opinion, there nothing sacred in that, if someone one is trying to convince of this; otherwise, I say run and run like hell. ) IMHO.

As parent we can do all the things that are suggested, put the computer in the family area, and monitor it .If something needs to be hidden why? If some question can't be asked at home why? If a mate can't see it why? I say we have to have our own backs. :tu:

It is an important aspect of being an atheist. :tu:

Edited by Sherizzle

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No it is not a game. Again I'm sorry you don't understand how academics can do this. But your description of what they are doing is to put it mildly--very empty. I don't think Karen Armstrong would be considered someone who is playing a game. I am sort of baffled the way you seem to be placing your insight on this above hers. I find that stunning to say the least. Frankly this is getting a bit boring because you don't seem to want to have a dialogue about religion, faith or God, you seem to only want to put down anyone who doesn't agree with you. And it's boring. So go on and say I'm "running away" or any other sort of childish attack you seem to enjoy making. But your post above is exactly why I prefer to discuss this with people who have an education and devotion about their beliefs.

Of course.
I would think this applies to you very much. You say things on these threads that are not backed up biblically. I agree that these "made up versions" of what the Bible actually says are surprising to many Atheists that do attempt to extend respect to believers.
I guess we must be using very different Bibles, since the times you've accused me of this you've ignored or belittled the verses I quoted. But then again I never actually attended seminary, so maybe that's it.
You are correct. I apologize. But to clarify I think most Atheists are not godless heathens and most Christians are not bible thumpers. That is not to say however that some Atheists are not evil anarchists who hate Christians and want to hurt them. They do exist. And it is not to say that some Christians do not relentlessly try to use the bible to try to prove issues in the world by using the bible as "proof" of what is the right thing to do. But they do exist. I would say a much larger number of bible thumpers exist than do "godless heathens" so your statement, while understandable, is comparing apples and oranges.
It sounds like you're trying to justify your disdain.
Well I am just going by my own experience so I again apologize. What I was wrote comes from my personal experience of dealing with someone like David Koresh. Not as extreme but very similar psychological profile. He used the dialogue about faith to have a "conversation." where we both could "learn from each other." But I never learned anything. What I found out later was that he had manipulated many women and even got me (fool that I was) to send money with the understanding that this is how God was helping him. I also found out that he was engaging in suspect activity in a chat room with teenage girls.

Only after I began to study religion academically did I realize that this guy was a con artist of sorts, using women's religious beliefs as sort of a hook, to start a dialogue.

Obviously if you're a victim someone must be a victimizer, and any decisions and choices you took must have been under some sort of duress. If you are so easy to manipulate how can we be certain that these "educated believer" friends of yours are not also manipulating you? How can we be sure you won't turn around tomorrow or next week and repudiate everything you are now presenting as the correct way, when you suddenly realize you are not happy with your decisions and now must find someone new to accuse of victimizing you? Being a victim is a hard way to live, especially for those around you who have to wonder when they get to become the hated victimizer.
When I said open minded I was addressing the issue of you saying that in a religious dialogue even if two people disagree, both can learn something from each other. I suppose that touched a nerve with me because it was the same sort of thing this chap said to me to begin talking online. I am suggesting that to have an open mind is not the same thing as having your eyes closed. Not everyone can contribute equally to a conversation. It is important for both sides to see the motivations of the other person talking.
It seems like you use one definition of open minded when it applies to you and a different one when it applies to those you disagree with.
It would be about manipulation. If for example I said I wanted to have a dialogue with a believer, but deep inside I thought they were a raging idiot for their beliefs, I don't think either side would benefit for their beliefs.
Correct, which is why I said it was important to assume that the person has reached their perspective through reason and consideration.
I suppose what makes the difference to me about an educated believer is that they seem to approach the topic from the point of curiosity. Uneducated believers seem to approach each conversation with the "answers." To me nothing can be gained by having a conversation with that person. Either the antagonistic atheist or the uneducated believer who "knows" she has the answers.
So, let's see, according to you an "educated believer" believes that what they have faith in is not actually true, and those who know who it is they are putting their faith are bible-thumping uneducated believers. Very open minded! :tu:

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Of course, that's exactly what I said. :unsure:

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Atheists, or at least me, don't do it so they don't have a moral code, I believe in the teachings of the bible and try to be a good person, but don't do it for any god. I am an atheist because I have seen no SIGNIFICANT proof god exists (no one say any of that "you're here aren't you" bull) but I am open minded and if I see something like oxygen being turned to gold, I will definently rethink my beliefs

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If Jesus had never existed, that'd be a valid point of view, but the fact is he did exist and has to be factored into the big picture.

For a start his arrival was foretold centuries before just as he said, - "All things about me in the law of Moses,the Prophets and the Psalms,must be fulfilled" (Luke 24:44)

And when he arrived he didn't skulk in some underground hideout, he travelled all over Israel for 3 long years in front of the people and the occupying Roman garrison, that's a lot of eyewitnesses - “I've spoken openly to the world..I said nothing in secret" (John 18:20)

And "Large crowds from Galilee, the Ten Cities, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him" (Matt 4:25)

And he pulled crowds of over 4000 and 5000 at two gigs alone (Matt 15:32, Matt 14:13)

He said straight out he was the Messiah, the Christ, the Superprophet and the Son of God (John 4:26, Matt 16:17,Mark 14:62)

Even the Koran written some 600 years later dare not deny Jesus was something special:- "Allah.. exalted some messengers above others and gave miracles to Jesus the son of Mary and strengthened him with the holy spirit" (Koran 2:253)

Against your compilation of fanciful stories:

I have found no historical reference to Jesus that couldn't be dismissed as second-hand hearsay. NOBODY wrote "I had breakfast with Jesus yesterday," or "I heard him speak at Joe's place." The ONLY such reference that I know of is Papias' quote that he had "the words of John ringing in my ears." In other words, we have an "ear-witness" to the existence of "John," presumably John the Apostle.

If John was real, we have the implication that Jesus was real. But that's all we have. In other words, it is reasonable to assume there was somebody who gave rise to the Jesus stories, but beyond that there is only speculation.

How reliable are the Gospels? The first definite historical reference to them is by Ireneaus in Book III of "Against Heresies" written about 186 AD. He names all four gospels and comments that Matthew was written for the Hebrews "in their own dialect." That's 150 years after Jesus was supposedly executed. Ireneaus quotes heavily from Matthew, throws in a few quotes from Mark and some from Luke - but no John. Ireneaus says John exists, but doesn't quote from that book - go figure.

There is a statement in Book I of "Against Heresies" that the Ebionites use Matthew and ignor the writings of Paul. This would have been written about 180 AD. Because of Ireneaus' later statement, it is reasonable to assume he was talking about what we call "The Gospel of Matthew." It's also testimony to the existence of some letters by "Paul."

A word about "quotations" from the gospels: there were other writings floating around in the first and second century AD. How can we know if a verse is from "The Gospels" or from one of them? First, we have to have enough to translate. One or two words won't do it. You pretty much need an entire verse. Second, you need some key words. If one version of a verse mentions "water" but the other one calls it "oil," then the two may be telling similar versions of the same story, but neither is quoting the other. That's how we know Ireneaus was quoting from Matthew - even though we don't have word-for-word translations, the keywords and the story match.

By use of quotations we can make a good case for the gospels having been a source for Justin the Martyr. Justin addresses his book known as "The Second Apology of Justin the Martyr" to "Emperor Antoninus Pius and his adopted sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus." That dates it to 147 to 160 AD. In the book is a reference to "Felix" as governor of Egypt. A later papyrus says that Felix became governor of Egypt on September 13, 151 AD, so we presume Justin was writing in 152 or 153. Justin wrote about the rich man getting into heaven. He described the Last Supper with such detail that it sounds like he was copying the story straight out of Matthew.

Justin quotes heavily from Matthew, throws in two or three quotes from Mark and about a half-dozen from Luke. There is one that might be from John: Justin says that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven, but the modern version of John says one must be born of water to enter the kingdom of heaven: the keyword "water" occurs in the modern Bible, but not in Justin's version. Was he quoting from John, or not? At any rate, I have no doubt that Justin had a copy of Matthew in front of him as he wrote, and probably Mark and Luke, too.

Later writers, such as Tertullian, recount the story of Marcion the Heretic. According to Tertullian, Marcion took a copy of Luke and edited it to conform to his own theology. He included some of the letters of Paul and thus created the first Bible. Marcion was excommunicated about 144 AD. He had been living in Rome for about two years, trying to convince church fathers that his was the correct theology. That would mean he was writing his Bible, using Luke as a source, in about 140 or 141. Did he actually quote from Luke? We'll never know: church fathers carefully destroyed the first Bible ever written.

Aristides of Athens wrote a treatise defending Christianity as a good religion, one worthy of acceptance and even adoption by Rome. He dedicated his book to the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian visited Athens in 125 AD, so that's probably when he received the copy. We have a copy of Aristides' paper. He praises Christianity and describes it in very positive terms. But Aristides never quotes from the Gospels. How does one write a paper of several thousand words describing Christianity without mentioning the gospels or giving a clear account of Jesus' life? If you want to know how: read Aristides' treatise. Aristides left us no evidence that the gospels even existed in 125 AD.

About 117 AD Ignatius of Antioch refused to renounce Christ and burn insense to the Emperor. He was sentenced to be torn apart in the Coliseum by wild beasts. Ignatius viewed this as a good thing: he was about to accept martyrdom and go to be with God. He wrote letters to the known churches begging them not to interfere. These letters were long, rambling monologues about how one must be steadfast in his faith. Thousands of words - and he never quoted from the gospels. Christianity existed about 117 AD, but there is no evidence that the gospels did.

Papias, Bishop of Hieronymous, wrote about having the words of John in his ears. BUT: we don't know when he wrote that. Various sources place it between 110 and 140. According to Christian tradition, Papias was a child when Paul and John founded the church at Ephesis. His parents would have been among the first converts to Christianity and might even be mentioned in Acts, if we only knew their names.

Papias said that "Mark" made a collection of Jesus' sayings. He talked to the "presbyters" (people who had heard the Apostles speak) and wrote down what they said. Papias lamented that there was no account of Jesus' life; the only thing available was this collection of sayings. Papias goes on to tell a story that does not appear in the Bible, a story which he credits to Jesus. Thus, there is a "gospel" story that isn't in the gospels. Do we know of any collections of Jesus' sayings that might date from the early first century? There is one: we call it "The Gospel of Thomas."

Clement of Rome (died 96 AD) was either the fourth or fifth Pope, depending on how you count Popes. He wrote a letter which is still included in some versions of the Bible, called 1st Clement (There's a second leter, called 2nd Clement, which contains a reference to the Marcion Heresy; it's safe to say that Clement didn't write it.). Clement tells the story of the woman who poured oil on Jesus. He says she poured oil on his HEAD. The modern gospels say she poured oil on his FEET. That's the closest Clement came to quoting the gospels. It was the same story as told in the gospels, but it wasn't a quote. Clement offers us no evidence that the gospels existed in his day.

So where are we? The Gospels definitely existed by 186 AD. The first solid evidence of a quotation from the gospels is Justin's in about 152 AD. Marcion may have quoted Luke about 140 AD, but the evidence has long been destroyed. Before that: only silence.

What happened between Aristides in 125 and Marcion in 140? The Bar Kochba Rebellion (132 to 135). I submit that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark were written between 132 and 135 to refute the claim that Simon bar Kochba was the Messiah. Luke was written shortly thereafter (after the Rebellion was put down?), but before 140, using Matthew and at least one other, now unknown, source. John would have been written after Luke.

There is additional evidence from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark which supports those dates, but I haven't finished developing it. More later.


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