REPLY #54 TO|
Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
Italicized/emphasized comments prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).
(R) Your web page is very interesting, though I would have to disagree with most of it. From what I have read, your objections to the Bible and evidence of evolution come from a misunderstanding of them.
(MB) My opinions on religion and evolution derive from many years of extensive study of all sides of the questions. Since I have obtained the evidence prior to reaching my conclusions, and since I am a man of genius-level intelligence, I must admit to being somewhat at a loss to understand how I could have misunderstood anything. But, since I'm always open to new evidence and argument and consider truth to be more important than other concerns, let's hear what you have to say...
(R) I in no way want to offend you,...
(MB) I assure you that you will not offend me no matter what you might say. Please feel free to speak your mind.
(R) I just want to tell you the truth of God's love for you.
(MB) Which God? If I may assume that you are referring to the God of the Bible, my skepticism does not derive from never having heard any or all of the stories about him. It's just that stories themselves prove nothing and there's no independent evidence upon which to base a belief in that God (or any other God) or to blindly accept the stories as read.
(R) The fact is that Jesus Christ was a real person.
(MB) That is not an absolute certainty. However, I'm willing to accept that he did live -- but as a mortal man and not as anything more.
(R) You can look Him up in any encyclopedia.
(MB) I can also look up any number of other mythical figures in any encyclopedia, to include King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, and the gods of many other religions.
(R) We also know that Jesus claimed to be God.
(MB) Not true. Jesus repeatedly referred to God in terms that make it quite clear that God is somebody different from and greater than Jesus himself. For example, see Matthew 19:17 and 27:46, and John 5:30, 6:38, 7:16, 14:28, and 20:17.
(R) Now there are three things you can do with this. You can believe that Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
(MB) Actually, there's a fourth. I can understand that the stories written about Jesus may well have been a prime example of historical revisionism. Since the Gospels were written decades after the death of Jesus by people who never saw or knew him directly, it is very possible that many of the things attributed to Jesus were either invented or embellished. C.S. Lewis' logical error was in presupposing the divinity of Jesus when he popularized the "liar, lunatic, or Lord" argument.
(R) It is a fact that Jesus was crucified for claiming to be God.
(MB) Since he never claimed to be God, that's not true, either. When he is brought before Jerusalem's high priest and does not deny that he is the Messiah, Jesus is charged with "blasphemy", which, under Jewish law, was punishable by stoning. However, Jesus was crucified by the Romans. Why? Because he was accused of treachery toward Rome for (supposedly) claiming to be King of the Jews. Romans wouldn't have cared if Jesus had merely claimed to be God since they did not worship the Jewish God.
(R) If he were merely lying, would He be willing to die for it?
(MB) Why not? Any number of zealots (religious and non-religious alike) have viewed martyrdom as the ultimate act of devotion to the cause.
(R) Would He go through the pain of being whipped, beaten, hung on a cross for six hours with nails through his hands and feet for a lie? I don't think so.
(MB) Why not? If Jesus really *was* God, would any human-imposed punishment have had any real effect on him? This brings up an interesting question. What was it that died on the cross? If it was just a man, there could have been no effect on the sins of Mankind. But, how could it have been a divine being? By definition, God can *not* die!
(R) So maybe He was a lunatic.
(MB) That is a possibility that must be given some consideration.
(R) But if He was, why did prominent scholars of the first century refer to Him as a teacher and rabbi?
(MB) Because he *did* teach and preach and gained a significant following. Anybody else who did likewise would also have been referred to in those terms. Those terms are no indication of divinity.
(R) How was He able to gain such a large following if He was just a babbling fool?
(MB) How does any charismatic figure gain a large following? Does anybody who gains the ears of others qualify as being "divine"? Remember, also, that the Jews were under the occupation of the Romans during Jesus' life and were waiting for the arrival of a new leader who would free them. Therefore, they would be even more susceptible to persuasion by any new charismatic figure.
(R) All you have to do is read what He said in the Bible and can tell He is not some lunatic.
(MB) I *have* read the Bible and, as a result, have not arrived at that conclusion.
(R) The only other option is that He was Lord. He displayed miracles and fulfilled prophecy fortolded hundreds of years before.
(MB) Did he? There is no evidence outside the Bible of any such miracles. Also, the Old Testament of the Bible contains no prophecies that can be shown to apply to Jesus. How can you fulfill prophecies that do not exist? Now, there are instances related in the Gospels where Jesus is claimed to have done something "in fulfillment of prophecy". However, since Jesus was well-versed in Scripture, he certainly could have selectively done particular things in order to claim retroactively that the Old Testament had foreseen them. This technique is not unknown among modern-day "prophets", either.
(R) God is so loving that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for mankinds sin. For your sin and mine.
(MB) If God is omnipotent, why couldn't he just wave his hand and eliminate all of the sins of mankind? Instead, the life and death of Jesus resulted in the deaths and persecutions of untold millions of believers and non-believers over the following two millennia. Did God really do mankind any favor?
(R) He took our place on that cross so that we didn't have to.
(MB) Given the previously-discussed problem concerning who or what actually "died" on the cross, I'd say that any benefits of the crucifixion of Jesus are still an open question.
(R) Jesus loves you and is waiting with open arms to accept you. By acknowledging your sin and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will have everlasting life with Him.
(MB) On what basis do we know this for certain? And, what about the billions who have never heard of Jesus and/or who are devout believers in other deities? Is it reasonable to think that they will all be condemned?
(R) I know what you must be thinking right now. "Here is some weirdo Christian trying to convert me over the Internet."
(MB) I wouldn't call you a "weirdo". I have no doubts that you are sincere in your beliefs. But, why should your telling me that "Jesus is my Savior" instantly convert me away from the conclusions reached from a lifetime of study? There are many questions that Christians must answer successfully before they can posit their beliefs as being correct or as being any better than those of any other religious or non-religious belief system. Can you shed some new light?
(R) But you don't have to put your brain on a shelf to become a Christian. It makes perfect sense when you put some research into it.
(MB) I *have* put in the required research. I am confident that I know the Bible and the history of Christianity better than the vast majority of Christians. I am not predisposed to non-belief, but I can't honestly reach any other conclusion based upon the available evidence.
(R) I'm no fool. I know the arguments for evolution and creation.
(MB) So do the Creationists, but they still continue to believe and push their nonsense. In fact, members of the Institute for Creation Research are required to sign an oath in which they state that the Bible is always true and must always be accepted if there is any conflict between it and science. This is not the objective and rational method of inquiry. It's nothing more than an admission that their minds are already made up. It makes no difference whether or not the evidence does not support them. They have abandoned their intellects in favor of their blind faith.
(R) I hope you will write me back so we can discuss this further. Ask me some questions. Let us debate! I promise to have an open mind if you will. I don't promise to have all the answers, but I hope to help you in your search for truth.
(MB) Here's the start! I always have an open mind and am willing to accept anything that can be demonstrated to be a superior explanation. I hope you understand that the requirements for rational decision-making are stringent. Emotion plays no part in deciding what is right and what is wrong.
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