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Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point by RC Metcalf
Posted: 19 April 2007 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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Wow, I am amazed at how easily amused atheists seem to be with the sound of their own keyboards! I leave this forum for one day, to attend to the needs of my wife and three kids, and I’m accused of being “delusional and demented” before my return.

Believe it or not, I actually have a life beyond these boards. I’m more than happy to engage in a respectful conversation, but the flying ad hominems around here make me really suspicious that no one will truly rise to my challenge.

Kudos to :arrow: edge100 who was the only one who came close to asking reasonable questions. I’d love to answer them, but you’re going to have to narrow them down a bit. Evidence for the existence of God can be found in history, archaeology, science, philosophy, etc. So let’s ask a question that I might actually be able to respond to within a half hour or less. I still have a family and a life to attend to.

Just to give you a clue, I’m currently finishing up a book on the physics of the Resurrection. If it takes an entire book just to address this one topic, it will hardly be possible to give you the kind of answers I hope you are open to hearing in just a short blog post.  Fortunately, evidence that supports the Resurrection will, of necessity, support the existence of God and, indeed, the existence of the God of Abraham.

I notice you borrow Sam Harris’s list of rejected “gods.” If you’re serious about an answer, it would help me to know what you actually know about Zeus, Thor, Poseidon, and Ra. I don’t want to waste valuable time discussing these rejected deities if your only reason for mentioning them is that Sam referred to them. Remember, too, that it is impossible to completely disprove the existence of any god. I would, therefore, prefer to focus on the weight of evidence in support of the Judeo-Christian God.

Sincerely,
RC Metcalf

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Posted: 19 April 2007 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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I have another question for you Mr. Metcalf (my earlier one was an attempt to poke some good-natured fun at our friend Michael Patrick Leahy. I hope you will excuse my impudence).

Here is my question (and it is quite simple, requiring no further clarification):

Why would you worship a God who authored (or even inspired) Exodus 21:20-21 in which God indicates his approval of the notion that human beings can belong, as property, to other people, and (as if that weren’t enough) indicates that, as far as He is concerned, it is perfectly acceptable to beat a slave to death (just so long as they don’t die immediately from their wounds)?
Why would you regard a being who is so obviously morally depraved as worthy of worship?

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What do I care for a hell for oppressors? What good can hell do, since those children have already been tortured? And what becomes of harmony, if there is hell? I want to forgive. I want to embrace. I don’t want more suffering. And if the sufferings of children go to swell the sum of sufferings which was necessary to pay for truth, then I protest that the truth is not worth such a price.
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Posted: 19 April 2007 06:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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[quote author=“RC Metcalf”]
Just to give you a clue, I’m currently finishing up a book on the physics of the Resurrection. If it takes an entire book just to address this one topic, it will hardly be possible to give you the kind of answers I hope you are open to hearing in just a short blog post.  Fortunately, evidence that supports the Resurrection will, of necessity, support the existence of God and, indeed, the existence of the God of Abraham.

I doubt that you will heed my advice, but I would seriously advise you to not finish that book.  Of course, you believe it and will try to publish it, but even to try and use physics to explain a religious event is a major mistake.  It leaves you open to refutation on completely physical grounds (and I’m sure that a number of atheist physicists will more than rise to the challenge).  I can only view such an enterprise in the same light as books that I see on “the physics of Harry Potter” and so on (being a Harry Potter fan, and a physicist I’m grossed out by that particular book). 

Generalizing, I would say that you are making a serious intellectual and spiritual error.  You are looking for evidence in the material world rather than focusing on the spiritual states and conditions that are encoded in the symbolism of your religion.  If I recall correctly, this is something like the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

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Posted: 19 April 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“RC Metcalf”]So… any questions or comments that may seem appropriate for me… fire away!


[quote author=“edge100”]I suppose the first two questions would have to be:

1. What is the evidence for the existence of god?  Describe the evidence, explain your conclusions based on that evidence, and discuss alternate explanations (if any exist).

2. What is the evidence that, if we assume god exists, it is the God of Abraham?  Specifically, I’d like to know (a) the specific evidence for Yahweh’s existence and (b) the specific evidence on which your rejection of Zeus, Thor, Poseidon, Ra, and all possible other gods is based.  If possible, discuss why you have rejected each other god (i.e. why did you reject Zeus?  Why did you reject Ra?, etc).  A related question would be, given that you clearly accept Yahweh, why are the teachings of Judaism or Islam unacceptable to you?

[quote author=“RC Metcalf”]Kudos to :arrow: edge100 who was the only one who came close to asking reasonable questions. I’d love to answer them, but you’re going to have to narrow them down a bit.

You came here for a challenge, and edge100 responded. Do you say that you can not answer the questions even briefly?

[quote author=“RC Metcalf”]Evidence for the existence of God can be found in history, archaeology, science, philosophy, etc.

How?

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Posted: 19 April 2007 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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[quote author=“waltercat”]Why would you worship a God who authored (or even inspired) Exodus 21:20-21 in which God indicates his approval of the notion that human beings can belong, as property, to other people, and (as if that weren’t enough) indicates that, as far as He is concerned, it is perfectly acceptable to beat a slave to death (just so long as they don’t die immediately from their wounds)?

waltercat… Thank you for a reasonable question. I’m glad you don’t always toss out the insults as freely as I’ve read elsewhere. :wink: In reading some of your other posts, I could tell slavery was an important issue for you, so I hope you’ll find this helpful…

Slavery existed in several forms during the Old Testament period. In ancient Egypt, under the pharaohs, slaves lived in harsh conditions. The exodus, which is the account of Moses’ emancipation of the Israelite slaves from hard, forced labor under Pharaoh, occurred somewhere between the reign of Thutmos I (~1500BC) and Ramses II (~1300BC). I believe that most scholars date the exodus during the dynasty of Amenhotep II (~1446BC).  Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the God of Abraham instructed Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, the first “emancipation proclamation” in recorded history.

It was during this exodus period (40 years), when their travels led them to Mt. Sinai, near the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, that Moses received the 10 Commandments. This is recorded in the chapter (Ex. 20) prior to the chapter containing the verses in question. Clearly, the Israelites had experienced slavery in its cruelest form under Pharaoh. After the Israelites heard Moses’ proclamation of the 10 Commandments, which comprised a summary of the Old Testament Law, there were details that needed expanding upon, which we come to in Chapter 21.

Slavery had been common practice since long before the proclamation of God’s Law. Slavery had also deteriorated and seen abuse, as the Israelites witnessed in Egypt. At the beginning of Chapter 21, a pattern for proper treatment of slaves was set down. Notice verses 5 and 6… “But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”

Slavery when properly exercised, allowed the slave to participate in the affairs of the family with all the rights applicable to any other family member, except the right of inheritance. Sometimes individuals chose to become slaves due to poverty or debt. Today we call these people “homeless” and don’t do nearly as much for them as was done by many of the Old Testament patriarchs. (Granted, there are complicating factors like drugs and alcohol today, but the comparison is still valid.) Sometimes individuals chose to become slaves for other reasons, as in the example of Jacob, who chose to become a slave out of love for Rachel. (I review this in my book, so I won’t repeat it here.)

The purpose of the slavery-related verses in Chapter 21 was to set down laws that assured fair and just treatment of slaves.  Exodus 21:20 describes a situation in which the master has clearly overstepped his bounds by murdering his slave. The punishment was just recited in verse 12. Verse 21 spares the life of the master, because it is assumed that, since the slave lived, the master did not beat his servant with murderous intent.  Look at verses 18 and 19… a comparable situation occurs, regardless whether one is a slave or not. The same outcome ensues. The bottom line here is that God recognizes that humanity is capable of cruelty, and slaves are considered every bit as human as the next person, hence the punishments are identical.

This was hardly the case among 18th and 19th century slaves in Europe and America.  Slaves were actually considered subhuman by many slave owners, so it was easy to rationalize cruel abuses. When we think of “slavery” today, we typically think of it in the sense that it has been typified in recent history, hence the notion of slavery as an “evil,” (which it was in 90+% of the cases in the 18th and 19th centuries) is the notion we attribute to slavery “period.” Yet, it was not always that way, as I hope I’ve shown.  I go into this a bit more in my book, in case you’re interested.

All the best,
RC Metcalf

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Posted: 19 April 2007 07:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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KFD,

I have limited time, so I have to choose reasonable questions that can be answered in the time I have. I can’t answer them all. I chose waltercat’s question. Case closed.  This doesn’t mean I’m not open to other questions on another day, but I ask that they be succinct.

burt,

If God exists… in reality… and he created space, time, matter and energy… then the events we consider remarkable, such as the Resurrection, can be explained in light of the fundamental components of his creation, even if only in theory. I don’t intend to prove that the Resurrection definitely occurred… rather, I intend to provide evidence that increases the statistical plausiblity of its occurrence.

One can claim that I am guilty of “misplaced concreteness,” but that designation is of human origin and is applied by fallible humans. What I would suggest is “misplaced” would be your contention that Christianity is a “spiritual state encoded in the symbolism of my religion.” Concretely, what does that even mean?

All the best (and good night),
RC Metcalf

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Posted: 19 April 2007 09:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Here’s the thing, RC. . . the condemnation of slavery is not just important to waltercat; it’s important to any and all men of sane mind. Except for Bible-believers, apparently.

Just for a moment, if we were to strip away everything the Bible states about your god character’s repeated endorsement of slavery, and its differing rules for the ownership and abuse of Jew vs. Gentile slaves. . . at that point, if *I* were God, having ultimate power over when I laid down the laws for mankind—which would logically be long before my children have acquired an attachment to such a system—then I would very firmly state my abhorrence of slavery (in all forms) right from Day One, and demand that they abolish any existing system within X amount of time, else they be wiped from the face of the earth for visiting such an insult on their fellow man as to think they had a right to own  him, hit him, or use him sexually.

If God in fact believed (as he apparently did when he had himself born into the Jesus persona) that one should sell any and all that he owns in order to provide for those of lesser fortune, then he would have rightly demanded that these earlier tribes adhere to the same standard. He would have ordered them to sell their belongings rather than cast a fellow human beneath him.

Or are you suggesting his standard changed over time? Evolved? Are you saying that God depended on man for his cues to when it would ‘make sense’ to abolish slavery? Not that he ever did, by the way, and I mean EVER. Man had to right that wrong all by himself, revealing the truth—that being his overwhelming superiority over God.

And if you’re one to pretend that the Golden Rule covers this, give it up: Neighbors are people, while slaves are merely property, and Jesus did not admonish you to love your property  as yourself.


If slavery was such a familial arrangement, RC, so warm and cozy between master and slave (I’m envisioning the passing of Doritos, or going out bar-hopping together), then why is it outlawed today? Why is it that in all first world nations it’s considered unthinkable to own adults and children, regardless of the duration of that ownership? You can have employees, but that is not what a slave is or was. Or are you claiming it was purely an employment situation, and that all modern protections were in place, including avenues for the slave to seek reparations when wronged, sexually mishandled, robbed, beaten, or when suffering from ill health and lacking the means of paying for their own care. . . etc?

You gloss over the whole thing as if God is at the mercy of man’s need for household help. . . when we know very well he made an example of mankind in the Flood. Every man, woman, child, and even UNBORN child, was going against his law, at that time—everyone except Noah and his brood—and he destroyed the rest outright, down to the last ant and bunny rabbit. Why, then, if he didn’t in fact embrace slavery, would he simply play along with the wishes of these tribal men, during these very formative Old Testament times? Why not kick their idiot asses and tell them who’s boss?

I have the answer, and you know very well what it is: God endorses slavery because religion would not exist without this arrangement at its core. He doesn’t eschew slavery, he commands  it, and would not exist without it. The Bible is the Slavemaster’s instruction manual to his slave, full stop. This relationship is indivisible from anything else that blooms from faith. You are his slave, first and foremost.

I’m not personally acquainted with anyone who isn’t morally and ethically superior to God. After all, each soul brought into existence had to be placed  somewhere, and God made the decision to place them either on the dominant or the submissive end of the Master/slave relationship. Ditto for whether he placed them into wealth or poverty, health bodies or diseased one. How did he choose? In fact, how would you  choose? Since the souls were all brand spankin’ new, why did a new soul deserve to enter into a home where the owner would very likely beat or sexually abuse them? Are you suggesting that such things rarely happened? Are you suggesting he did it to ‘teach’ these little souls some important lesson?


Like all the others, your slavery apologetics are nauseating to civilized men. I’ll take your lack of response as a concession that you’re guilty of complicity in this disgusting history if slavery. Only those who have condemned your offensive god-construct are on a right path.

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Posted: 19 April 2007 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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OK, I had limited time myself earlier, so let me continue:

Evidence for the existence of God can be found in history, archaeology, science, philosophy, etc.

History: If history were to support your claims, then we’d find evidence of God (Jehovah), not just in the ancient Jewish and Christian sources, but in modern history too. We should have seen God in the 1900s, in the 1800s, the 1700s and so on. But what’s always the most common thing with these “spottings” is that they tend to have occured in ancient times, at a time when people were terribly ignorant. (If you think of it, there’s even less magic in the New Testament than in the Old Testament.)
But there’s very little God in World War 2. Ask any Jew. What kind of evidence do you see in modern history, to support your claims? Why is the history of God local history.

Archaelogy: If Archeology were to support your claims, then we should have found, maybe, som pottery belonging to God. But that’s not really happened, has it? Belongings to Jews and early Christians do not support claims related to the supernatural, even if they give support to some basic suggestions. A dry piece of wood is not necessarily the cross of Jesus. If you think of it, traces of the Berlin Wall would not be sufficient evidence of John F. Kennedy ever visiting Berlin. We would have to get the proof of Kennedy’s visit from somewhere else.

Science: How may I ask? Christians tend to cling desperatly to the idea that science can not say anything about God, and here you say that science is able to say something about God’s existance.

Philosophy: Again, how? You can not find evidence of God with the use of reason ot whatever.


Now, back in the days, people seem to have believed in God because they saw him. But your type of evidence is not that God appears in the clouds and speak with a deep voice so that everyone hears. It’s strange. The attraction of God is that he does things. Christians pray for him to intervene. And yet, he never does. He did so before. But not now.

This seems to suggest that he does not exist, and that the earlier belief was based on ignorance.

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Posted: 20 April 2007 12:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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[quote author=“RC Metcalf”][quote author=“waltercat”]Why would you worship a God who authored (or even inspired) Exodus 21:20-21 in which God indicates his approval of the notion that human beings can belong, as property, to other people, and (as if that weren’t enough) indicates that, as far as He is concerned, it is perfectly acceptable to beat a slave to death (just so long as they don’t die immediately from their wounds)?

waltercat… Thank you for a reasonable question. I’m glad you don’t always toss out the insults as freely as I’ve read elsewhere. :wink: In reading some of your other posts, I could tell slavery was an important issue for you, so I hope you’ll find this helpful…

Slavery existed in several forms during the Old Testament period….<snip>

All the best,
RC Metcalf

All of this smacks of rationalization of Biblical events with modern moral standards.  Slavery is slavery is slavery, no matter how you sell it.

But you see, all of this is irrelevant.  If god exists, and approves of keeping slaves, then so be it.  To me, the far and away more important questions are, how do we know god exists at all?  And if we accept god exists, which god is it?

[quote author=“RC Metcalf”]I notice you borrow Sam Harris’s list of rejected “gods.” If you’re serious about an answer, it would help me to know what you actually know about Zeus, Thor, Poseidon, and Ra. I don’t want to waste valuable time discussing these rejected deities if your only reason for mentioning them is that Sam referred to them. Remember, too, that it is impossible to completely disprove the existence of any god. I would, therefore, prefer to focus on the weight of evidence in support of the Judeo-Christian God.

I accept that the answers to my first questions are long, but the questions are, I think, central to the argument.  And my knowledge of Zeus,  Ra, and the rest is immaterial to this discussion; Sam wasn’t the first to use this line of thinking.  My reason for using them is exactly as you state; that they cannot be disproved.  I accept that there is little evidence for their existence, so ANY evidence, that cannot be explained by natural means, for the existence of a particular god would raise that god, in terms of probability of existence, above the rest.  To date, I have seen no such evidence in support of the existence of Yahweh that would suggest he is any more likely to exist that ANY “rejected” god.  Can you provide even a small morsel of evidence of Yahweh’s existence, from one of the disciplines you discussed, that does not lend itself to any reasonable natural explanation?  Similarly, can you discuss the reasons YOU believe that Zeus, Ra etc. were “rejected”?

I’ll also simplify my original question.  Jews and Muslims share your god, and believe as passionately as you do in the literal truth of their stories.  Muslims, while believing that Jesus was a prophet of god, also believe that those who do not become Muslims (i.e. follow the teachings of Muhammed) are destined for hell.  What is the evidence that Muslims are incorrect?

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Posted: 20 April 2007 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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There is just no percentage in reasoning with Christians, especially those who are enthusiastic enough to visit an atheist forum and beard us with their “perspectives”. I am now, more than ever, convinced that there is, indeed, “nothing new under the sun”.

Um, what did I tell ya? I told you what I was gonna tell ya. I told ya. And now I am going to tell ya what I told ya.

Of course, I sympathize with all those who hope to have a “constructive” dialog with religious nuts. And I mean nuts. Here we have a guy who wants to demonstrate for us that physics can explain the Resurrection. Well, we now see Metcalf wants to prove to us that God exists, that there is evidence, and that we should worship this God, just because He exists. Joad, of course, has the ready answer for that one, and will gladly take his lumps in Hell if it turns out that the physics is correct. Nevertheless, we all (including Metcalf) must contend with the fact that, so far, there is not a large physics literature devoted to sorting out the physical characteristics of God.

I further sympathize with all those who once believed, and found their way out of that jungle to the sunlight of unbelief. Naturally, because it happened to them, they may hold out some hope that they could steer our poor Mr. Metcalf away from his delusions.

However, we already know that dear Mr. Metcalf is zealous enough to present himself (and, I guess, his illuminating book) at the atheist forum, there to contend with a bunch of (to him) misguided unbelievers. It is rather less likely for him to go apostate than it has been for our successful escapees from the Theistic Asylum.

Good grief! Does it never end?

I appreciate your efforts, fellow atheists. I really do. Mr. Metcalf is, as I suspected from the beginning, dangerously delusional, not only about the nature of the universe, but about the nature of faith. As burt points out, with relatively little vapor this time, this is the wrong approach in the case of something one wishes to believe in. RCM does indeed fit my criteria for being demented, and I will not address him directly. Maybe I can have a word with his Invisible Friend, though. :D

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Posted: 20 April 2007 02:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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There is a certain amount of masochism involved in repeatedly engaging these people, isn’t there?  And yes, you did tell me so.

This is why I keep pushing the only question that matters: evidence for the existence of (a) god and (b) the specific god that one worships (Yahweh, Zeus, Thor, etc).  Everything else is, to put it bluntly, meaningless. 

I wont engage these people on discussions about evolution, for instance, for the same reason I don’t engage with people who think that gravity is caused by breakfast cereal; the discussion is, as you say, exactly that deluded.  I think the ‘physics of the resurrection’ bit is very similar, but I have to admit it’s a POV I’ve never heard before.  I suppose, however, if one makes the case that Jesus could have, based solely on the existing, measurable laws of physics, literally risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, one could make the same argument, on the same basis, for anyone else doing likewise (including Muhammed, or you and I).  If you argue that only Jesus had this power, you are, by definition, invoking a miracle, which is a non-starter.

Still, engagement on anything but the most fundamental questions is, I think, silly.  Every word of the Bible/Koran/what-have-you is valid (even the self-contradictory bits, and the bits that ignore basic observable laws of physics and/or mathematics), if they really are the word of the literal god.  There’s just one tiny problem, of course…

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Posted: 20 April 2007 02:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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[quote author=“edge100”]This is why I keep pushing the only question that matters: evidence for the existence of (a) god and (b) the specific god that one worships (Yahweh, Zeus, Thor, etc).  Everything else is, to put it bluntly, meaningless.

I am willing to engage these people, on only one condition: I will discuss with them (as waltercat urges) the ancillary properties of a specifically and wholly evil god.

As that old joke goes, a bigamist cannot have his Kay, and Edith too.

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Posted: 20 April 2007 02:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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The Christian posters on this thread seem very knowledgeable. I want to say thank you regarding your information of God and his law.  His law is very helpful, for example when someone tries to defend homosexual lifestyle, I can simply remind them that Leviticus 11:22 states that it is an abomination.., End of Debate.

I do need some advice from you , however, regarding some other elements of God’s laws and how to follow them

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans but not Canadians.  Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned by Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a women while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanness-Lev. 15:19-24.  The problem is how do you tell? I’ve tried asking but most women take offence.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord. Lev. 1:9.  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who iinsists or working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination-Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there degrees of abomination?  (IS there degrees..)

7. Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit I wear glasses, Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev.19:27. How should they die?

9. I know Lev. 11:6-8 that the touching of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary to go to all the trouble of getting the whole town togehter to stone them. Lev.24:10-16 Couldn’t we just burn them at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Lev 20:14)

I know you guys have studied these things extensively and can present your expertise in regard to God’s eternal and unchanging word.

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Posted: 20 April 2007 02:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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[quote author=“burt”]. . . [E]ven to try and use physics to explain a religious event is a major mistake.  It leaves you open to refutation on completely physical grounds (and I’m sure that a number of atheist physicists will more than rise to the challenge).  I can only view such an enterprise in the same light as books that I see on “the physics of Harry Potter” and so on (being a Harry Potter fan, and a physicist I’m grossed out by that particular book). 

Generalizing, I would say that you are making a serious intellectual and spiritual error.  You are looking for evidence in the material world rather than focusing on the spiritual states and conditions that are encoded in the symbolism of your religion.  If I recall correctly, this is something like the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.

I have a feeling that this thread will quickly grow to dozens of pages. But your statement above, burt, seems worth pursuing more than the others.

Burt, does Christianity truly rely on over-literal readings of miracle stories? If everyone else in church understands the proper place of myth in our lives, does that necessarily mean the death of that church? I don’t know. Yes, someone (maybe not you, for your own reasons) will refute RC’s published contentions. But couldn’t such a refutation be a giant step toward human understanding of myth v. history?

Maybe I’m naive after all, as mahahaha has recently called me.

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Posted: 20 April 2007 03:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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I would gander that even the most realistic theists still believe the actual miracle portion has to be taken literally, although I disagree.  I would even be so bold as to say that they will freely admit the purpose of the miracle is up for interpretation.

But that’s my own experience, not academia.

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