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A Simple Letter back from a Christian
Posted: 20 September 2006 06:39 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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First off I would like to say long days and pleasant nights to each of you who will be reading this.  I hope that this includes Mr. Harris because I would warmly enjoy his impute and considerations as to what I say.  Yes we may disagree, very much so indeed, but, it is always good to step in the shoes of others.  Am I wrong?  You will quickly find that this review is a Christian’s response to the small letter by Mr. Harris.  I would like it to be understood that I hold neither anger, hatred, nor hostilities against either you who agree with him nor the chap Mr. Harris himself.  Of course I would like to point out that Mr. Harris seems to often call me and people like myself stupid.  Not that you, Mr. Harris, are calling me stupid.  My beliefs yes, but me, I dont think you are trying to insult me.  Of course, I don’t think of myself as being stupid, but because of my worldview I am being labeled as being stupid.  Interesting.  Yes, I am a Christian.  I hold a Christian worldview in comparison to the humanist worldview that is proposed by Mr. Harris and that company.  What do I mean by saying that I have a Christian worldview?  I mean that I have, through logic, reason, and, might I add (though you wont agree with this deduction), inspired revelation, that GOD is who He says He is through Jesus Christ.  I believe, as Mr. Harris points out, that I believe the Bible is the inspired word of GOD.  I was not always a Christian, in fact most of my life I was not a Christian.  I read works on most of the major religions and philosophies through both high school, undergrad, and Master’s Degree in Educational Theory.  As of right now I am going through the local ARP church/seminary to gain my second Master’s degree, this time in Master’s of Divinity.  That is, to become a minister (as soon as I get through the “ten year plan” of school!).  As such, I would consider myself both a Christian and an educated one at that.  Some might disagree, but I digress.  I admit too that I haven’t been a Christian long, probably five or so years give or take a temporal coordinate for you sci-fi fans.  And furthermore, just so that anyone might hazard to guess, no I do not chew tobacco nor do I drink Mad Dog 22 while going to the local drag racing track.  I don’t even know where the local drag racing track is and I probably couldn’t find it even if Google helped me!  With that all together explained, I wish to begin examining the book by Mr. Harris.

Now, to begin with, in the introduction of Mr. Harris’ work, he seems to indicate that all Christians on the fundamentalist side of the equation all seem to be intolerant and critical of others especially when those others are critical of their religion.  You seem to, in your book, make every single Christian out to be someone who is holding a torch ready to burn down anyone who disagrees.  That is very much a discrimination, but alas I do not think that is how you see it.  Then again you also seem to say that every one of us who is a Christian is an idiot, blinded, and a fool.  I don’t think that I am.  Further, I myself do not feel threatened by your works that I have read, I have an opinion about what you have written and about your ideology, as you will surely see in this response, but, I do not feel the need to go out and burn books or what not.  You bite your apple as you see fit.  To begin with, on this point I must admit that I do tend to be, shall we say, fired up by debate and discussions.  I enjoy a good debate and discussion, and while I might get overzealous at times, I never strive or allow myself to “name call” or even to threaten.  What you believe is your worldview, and what I believe is my worldview.  This is what I live by, that is what you live by.  I think that if we DON’T allow a discussion from our worldview point of view out in the open, then we are making a great disservice to ourselves and to the world itself.  Even more so, if I prevent you from expressing what you truly believe out in the open or you strive to prevent me from expressing what I truly believe, then that definitely is censorship and oppression.  This is, for better or worse, a free society and we should be allowed to express ourselves in the open.  Not violently, of course, because violence is again another form of oppression, but through intellectual debate though we both may be on opposite extremes of the debated belief.  In other words, I am not afraid of criticism toward my beliefs nor am I threatened by criticism toward my beliefs.  Nor, even more so, do I think that those who think differently, though I disagree with them, should be met with violence or hatred or anger.

So before I begin on specific issues outside the Bible itself, let me say something about the Bible.  Yes.  I trust the Bible.  I believe that, through thousands of years of writings, from Moses who wrote the Torah through Paul and John and the other writers of the New Testament, GOD inspired these writers to make up what we through the canonization call the Bible today.  This does not mean that the Bible is perfect, nor does it mean that the Bible gives cliff notes so that we the reader understands every nuance of the Bible.  There are many, many passages in both Testaments that I will admit freely that I do not understand fully.  And again, I doubt many of the writers understood clearly either at times.  No.  Humans did write the Bible, and humans, such as the prophets, did not know fully what they were writing through the passions and the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s be specific shall we?  You say, well the Bible shows Jesus Christ as a violent retribution against the sinners of the world.  Yes.  Yes the Bible does.  You say, how does this show love?  It shows love because it gives us a clear view of the punishment that, as myself as a Christian, believes there will be toward those who turn their backs upon GOD by turning their backs upon Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, as any king, this universe is His and we can either trust in Him and follow what He says because He says what He says so that we do not receive the punishment that we deserve (because we are all sinners, ergo, we all rebel against GOD and against Christ).  Do you not receive punishment from society when you rebel against society?  Did you not receive punishment from your parents when you rebelled against them?  Yes, for your parents, they still loved you, but they allow you to make your choices for good or ill.  Just as you sin against your parents and receive a reward when you do good or you receive a spanking when you do ill, so too, in the end, when all is said and done, receive either the reward (through trust in Christ) or the punishment (through the rejection of Christ).  Do you believe me?  No.  Just because you do not believe me doesn’t make it 100% on your part, nor does it mean that I am perfect in wisdom on my part.

Then you wish to point out several broad points of view from the study of the Bible.  You bring up Deuteronomy, you bring up the Gospels, you bring up Paul’s letters.  Really.  I wonder to myself though if you have, I am sure you have of course you wouldn’t be writing such books as you do if you didn’t!, study what and why the Bible says it does?  Do you just see the paper and the words or do you strive to see an undercurrent of information?  Do you take what is written and just see it for what you want it to be, inadequate and foolish, or do you try to…shall I say…step into the Christian’s shoes to see why the Christian (and I do not point to any particular group of Christians, I myself am Methodist and my Seminary instruction is through the ARP church).  I wonder how many studies have you gone through to see the importance of the Torah, the Prophets (Former and Later prophets), the Writings, all that make up the Old Testament?  Are you familiar with such names as Meredith G Kline who wrote Kingdom Prologue, Walter C Kaiser Jr who wrote The Messiah in the Old Testament, as Norman L Geisler who wrote A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, or even Charles L Feinberg who wrote The Minor Prophets.  Then again, I doubt I would remember or recognize as of right now any books by humanists about the Jewish religion and the Jewish Canon.  Ok then.  What about studies of the New Testament and Early Church history?  Have you read the work The Real Jesus by Luke Johnson or Hebrew Christianity by Dr. Arnold G Fruchtenbaum (a Messianic Jew by the way) or The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John F Walvoord or, lastly, Church History by Everett Ferguson.  Just as you study your humanism, so too did I.  And now that I look back I see an arch in history, as the humanists strove to create utopian from the Tower of Babel to today’s humanist manifesto, I see the foundation to be faulty.  Then as a Christian, I too through educational processes and explorations and discoveries, have studied my path over the past five some years (I am in my thirties right now) of being a Christian.  I wonder if you would step into my shoes and try to see what I believe and why I believe what I believe?  Or will you dismiss me as an uneducated chap who doesn’t know his left from his right?

What about morality then?  You say that objectively speaking we as a society can create our own moral?  Who is to say that that is true?  What is perfect about society that society can create a utopia?  Can society create a utopia?  Society has been trying to do this throughout the history of man.  Hellenism was a very humanistic thought pattern that preached “tolerance” (like you say you do) but really it was not tolerant in and of other ideas that might reject the Hellenistic ideologies of humanism, such as the Hellenistic slavery of the Jews during the Inter-Testamental period of the Bible as history.  Again and again society tries to create utopians one way or the other, through yes religious beliefs (such as, say, the Essenes) or through ideologies (such as Communism), but, in the end, society is always doomed to fail because society (despite what you the humanists strive to teach) is fragile because men are imperfect.  And as men are imperfect, so too is any man-made structure.  This reminds me of the promises that the Snake told Adam and Eve (and I’ll speak about creationism in a second).  He promised to the first mother and father that they too could be like gods.  That is a utopian seduction that humanists and many other beliefs, including some sects of Christianity I might add, strive to aim toward.  I firmly believe that man cannot create his own utopian because man is flawed, man is, as the Bible would say, sinful.  Man is imperfect.  Man is fallen.  You can preach pretty ideologies and theologies, but, like London’s Bridge, it will sooner or later come falling down because man cannot be his own god because man is as faulty as shifting sands under a house.  Well you might chime in and say that the belief of what is spoken of in the Book of Revelation at the end is a utopian.  The difference is that that world, the perfect world, is based upon a clear and precise vision and touch and feel of GOD in the center of the New Kingdom through Jesus Christ.  A changed world, on GOD’s accord not man’s “goodnness” because man isn’t in himself good, he must be changed, he must become a new man and follow the Cross toward goodness.  You do not believe that.  Of course.  You believe that man is good and that man is capable of doing good things with himself and his world.  This idea was preached about even before Jesus came to this earth.  And, if GOD doesn’t return soon, so too I am sure it will be preached again until He does indeed return. 

Another point that Mr. Harris makes is against the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution debate. I spent most of my life believing in evolution because that is what the biology teachers and the chemistry teachers in both high school and in college told me.  During college of course I began reading as much about evolution as possible.  I was dogmatic in its belief just as I see that many of you, then again you are humanists, are also dogmatic about evolution…as well as to be expected, Mr. Harris.  Just as you say I may preach my beliefs, so to do evolutionists preach their beliefs.  You are just as fundamentalist about your humanism as I am, I would wager, about my Christian beliefs.  We are just, ironically enough, on opposite sides of the pole…so to speak.  I didn’t start believing in Intelligent Design after I began a Christian and after Christians shouted into my ear that it was correct.  Ironically enough, I began studying Intelligent Design before I became a Christian (through a deistic point of view, not specifically a Christian point of view).  For me, I saw the universe, and the immensity of the universe, from superstrings to superspace, and I saw a Design by Intelligence.  As I became a Christian, I began studying such works as Ross and Stoke (Stoke being a recent one mind you) and I cannot help but agree with the idea and the ideal of Intelligent Design.  This is not me being “afraid of science” or “hiding from science” or whatnot.  This is making an intelligent decision through the careful study of two worldviews (and evolution is as much of a worldview as creationism, both take faith to believe) and deciding through careful reason and careful deduction that Creationism through Intelligent Design makes the most sense and makes the most logic.  Does this mean that Genesis has all the answers?  Of course not.  Does this mean that Genesis was even written to confront Evolution?  No!  This is a matter of faith and faith in ID has the most logic for me.  I say this through using science, historiography, and educational process of reasoning. 

Yet another point comes to mind is the consideration and the belief that all Christians seem to want to go out and beat homosexuals and women who have had abortions upside the head with the Bible.  I don’t.  I am firm in my beliefs but I have never condemned anyone or insulted anyone who has acted contrary with what I believe in.  For me, yes, I admit that I disagree with the lifestyle and with the choice.  From personal study I have seen that there is detrimental effects of both the lifestyle and the actions.  That does not mean that I look at those such individuals as enemies or as heretics that need to be crushed.  Not in the least.  I do strive to live my life through Christ, I do strive to give love toward those that I know and I have known plenty of people who are gay and plenty of women who have had abortions.  Both groups of individuals that are my friends know that I am a fundamentalist Christian and that I hold a fundamentalist Christian worldview but that doesn’t stop me from being friends with such individuals.  Not that I consider myself Mr. Politically Correct of the year, mind you, but I do strive to care for everyone, no matter what.  Yes you can disagree with the life style that a person behaves in and you can emphatically disagree with the taking of a child’s life, but you do not have to be a jerk about it.  And I strive not to be one when dealing with anyone, not just homosexuality and the abortion issue.  Still I shall say that both issues are important to me when dealing with politics.  And those who know me know this, no matter who they are.  Yes, I do vote for republicans who tend to wish to protect marriage and yes I do vote for republicans who are pro-life.  This is call democracy.  You vote for the candidate that you feel best suits your worldview.  You might say then that I am imposing my beliefs on others, well if you think about it, when you vote for someone who is liberal about the marriage issue or who is pro-choice it could be said that you as well are imposing a set of worldview beliefs by your voting choice.  This doesn’t mean that you are a villain in my eyes, it just means that through the voting system you are making your decisions based upon the worldview you hold.  Simple.  Worldviews.

In the end, it comes to the matter of faith.  What are you going to stand upon, what foundation are you to live by?  Humanists have faith in humanity.  Hence humanism must adhere to the strengths and weaknesses of humanity,  because humanity is humanity's god.  Humans worshiping humans, from the Greek Hellenism worldview to Humanism today, it is the same point of view.  What it sees of humanity, what it judges in humanity, and what it hopes to see one day in humanity.  I, on the other hand, have faith, through the process of reason and reasoning, through the powers of deduction and contemplation, have faith in GOD.  I cannot see GOD, though I can see His shadow in the workings of my life.  I can not touch GOD, but I can feel His hand holding me through the bad times I may go through.  I cannot hope to hear, this side of eternity, GOD speaking back to me physically, mouth to mouth, ear to ear, but I trust in what I know through my senses, through my mind, through my soul.  When I look at the world, I may not understand it, heck, I don’t even understand all and every single page of the Bible, but that is fine by me.  There is peace, there is security even in the worst of storms, because I trust in a greater cosm, in a larger universe, in a universe that is moved and issued forth through Intelligence and through Design.  That this same ID that created black holes, galaxies, universes, super-strings and quarks, is the same One who is living in me, who shines through me, who makes me compassionate, who makes me care, who makes me see and do what needs to be done in whatever time I have in a short life as it is.  You have faith in what you perceive, what you think you perceive, I have faith in the invisible.

I hope that you will read all that I have written.  I do not think you will agree with me; however, I at least hope you will have respect for me as I have had respect toward you, showing why I disagree with you but not try to insult you.  I have tried to not make this letter a vendetta style of a letter, but instead an explanation of who I am as a Christian looking toward you, a humanist.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Pleasant days and long nights to you.

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Posted: 20 September 2006 07:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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In the end, it comes to the matter of faith.

If this is what you believe, then you have missed the point of Sam’s book entirely.  In the end, it comes down to evidence and logic.  There is no evidence for intelligent design.  In fact, there is strong evidence against it.  There is no evidence for god (feeling his shadow in your life is not evidence of any worth, because it is not something that can be shared with others - for all I know you have indigestion).  In fact, there is strong evidence against “him”.  God is not needed to explain anything.  On the contrary, the existence of god adds complexity rather than reducing it.

Here is my challenge to you.  Re-read the bible, in its entirety.  Closely.  Ask yourself as you are reading it, whether it (a) makes sense, (b) sounds like a divine work, and (c) describes a loving, omniscient, omnipotent god of the sort that merits worship.  I was a Christian, until I performed the exercise above.  Now it is clear to me that the ethics of the bible are actually worse than humanism, which puts minimizing the suffering of others above arbitrary beliefs and punishments with no obvious logic behind them.  Humanism is not the worship of people - it is the application of logic to ethics. 

The bible - including the new testament - makes claims that NO ONE believes including good christians.  How many children have been killed recently in the name of the bible for disparaging their parents?  Have you been treating your slaves well?  We will be a much healthier society when we are brave enough to step up and take responsibility for our well being rather than relying on faith (that is, belief despite the total absence of proof) to save us.

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Posted: 21 September 2006 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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FranklinBR,

You seem like a nice, educated person. I hope one day you’ll see a wider perspective of the world.

It truly is amazing when the view is unobstructed. Either you didn’t really read the book or what your parents have taught you still has a firm grip on your thinking.

Best of Luck!

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“All religions are valid, NONE are literal.” -Joseph Campbell

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Posted: 21 September 2006 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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follyoffaith, in his fine restrained post, said: Here is my challenge to you. Re-read the bible, in its entirety. Closely. Ask yourself as you are reading it, whether it (a) makes sense, (b) sounds like a divine work, and (c) describes a loving, omniscient, omnipotent god of the sort that merits worship

I would like to add a suggestion to that: Read the bible in a modern English translation rather than, say, the King James Version. The marvelous poetry and soaring rhetoric of the KJV obscures the real substance (or lack of substance) of the material.

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Posted: 21 September 2006 06:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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To both of you, pleasant days and long nights. 

Yes I have read through the Letter and have read through, a while back, the End of Faith by Mr. Harris.  I understand your position and I understand what and why Mr. Harris writes what he writes.  His views are nothing new to the human debate over the state of the meta-cosm and where man stands within the meta-cosm.  I understand your desire for there not to be a god, for there not to be any center but yourself and the gospels that you believe in, human “reason” and human “logic”—which, ironically enough states that man is the center of his universe, and thus his god.  The arguments provided by Mr. Harris have been in the world for quite some time from the Greek Hellenistic ideologies toward humanism to modern philosophy’s ideologies toward humanism (through such writers as Mr. Harris himself and other humanists/atheists such as B. Russell).  As the saying goes, nothing new under the sun.  There has always been men wishing to place themselves, through the guise of what they considered to be logical and ethical, at the center of the universe because that is where it is safe…you have nothing to wonder over, you have no actions with consequences, you can feed the mind as much as you want on what you want to perceive and hear while tucking the soul away under a rug, under the bed, or in the closet. 

Yes I have read the Bible through and through.  Do I understand everything that goes on in the Bible?  Of course not.  Do I have contemplation of faith and of reasoning when I read works such as Deuteronomy or Daniel or the Gospel of Matthew or the Book of Revelation?  Yes.  I also realize that the Bible is not the end all and the know all of who GOD is and what GOD’s place through the metaverse—that is, through the sheer endlessness of the mystery of the universes upon universes from where we stand to smaller than the super-strings to larger than super-space itself.  I also realize that though the Bible is GOD inspired, it is also written by men who had their own culture in the back of their mind (that is, the culture that Moses’ knew and experienced and thus had an influence to what went on in the Torah that he wrote in comparison to that which Matthew knew and experienced when he wrote the Gospel of Matthew).  For example, as I pointed out, I think, Genesis 1-2 were not written to confront the genesis of humanism, evolution, instead it was written to show the Jewish people at the time of Moses and into the future that it was GOD who created the universe and it was man who brought the universe to fall out of free will and freedom of choice. 

Toward what folly had to say, I see that there is as much evidence that an Intelligent Designer created the universe as much as I trust that Monet painted the paintings that I have seen or that an Intelligent Designer created the universe as much as I trust Michelangelo sculpted a sculpture of David.  I do not know Monet nor did I ever meet Michelangelo, but, I know that these are their works and by their hands.  Yes, you might say, this goes back to the watchmaker debate.  We both know that debate well, so I think what I just said clears up how I view creation without cutting and pasting every point by point on both sides of the equation about the watchmaker debate.  Continuing.  Yes there is no “specific evidence” for GOD, that is a faith issue, faith that is come to through reasoning, considering, inspiration, and examination of the world and the universes of universes.  When you look at the universe, you see a tiny planet with you on it in the midst of eternity.  That is all.  There is nothing more.  Nothing beautiful, just “laws,” nothing inspiring, just “nature” working.  I would have to say and challenge that by seeing that by seeing that there is an Intelligent Designer one is able to see the fullness of the beauty of eternity, from all that is smaller than the super-string to all that is greater than super-space.  That throughout the very nature of the meta-cosm, you are able to see that there is Someone standing there, Someone personal, Someone who asks for you to follow Him through the storms, through the mysteries, through the chaos, and through the heart and the soul.  Ironically just as the world has nothing eternally here (i.e. the idea that you can’t take it with you), it still…through nature…shows that there is grandeur by there being a GOD.

I think one of the problems with humanists critiquing the Bible is that most humans, and sadly many, many who call themselves Christians today, do not know how to read the Bible.  To most people, believers and nonbelievers, the Bible is something that is akin to a modern history book, that is, they come to the Bible thinking what they are reading is an A->B sort of reading you would find in most historical writings.  That is not the case.  There are multitude of centuries between the writers of the different portions of Scripture and the Bible we have today.  The Bible can, in a sense, be considered a hypercube, maybe a tesseract, you open it up and multitudes of dimensions come rolling out at you.  For example, the cultural bias and cultural norms of, say, Moses who wrote the Torah is different than the cultural bias and cultural norms of, say, the Gospel of Luke.  Both inspired individuals, Moses and Luke, but a different world-setting for each individual writer.  There are also historiographical importance that must be understood, such as why exactly is the Book of Proverbs or the Song of Songs shaped as they are and what message they might have given to the listeners then (the target audience) and to we who read it now.  Another point that many fail, both believers and nonbelievers, is when they look at works such as the Gospels and think they are reading what we call today’s biographies.  This is not so.  Not only are the works of the Gospels aimed to different individuals, such as Matthew to the Jews and Mark to the Romans, they are also written not as biographies per say but as theological examinations of the arch of Christ Jesus’ life.  To read the Bible fully one must be able to understand not only the why and the how of the writer and the world the writer lived in, but also to see and understand how the Holy Spirit uses what we read now to teach us about the here and now.

Actually, concerning what the chap 3n7r0py said about my parents, they never really have controlled what I believe and how I believe.  Most of my life after middle school and through most of high school, was quite secular.  I turned my back upon the church, not that I can really say I was a Christian up to that time.  In fact, I was very much against the church due to the circumstances that I was in at that time.  During the time I read works on Hinduism, atheism (such as the before mentioned B Russell), Taoism, and other such ideologies and philosophies.  I comprehended what I was reading, but none gave the answers that I was seeking.  I also dabbled in the occult, Wicca and ceremonial magic, throughout my undergrad years.  Strangely enough, which might seem humorous today, I even gave in front of an audience at one of my undergrad schools, a dissertation concerning why and how I believe in evolution and humanism!  That was for my Biology II class from what I can remember.  So it isn’t as if I haven’t stepped into your shoes (and I say that generally, not that I know you and know exactly point by point what you believe outside of what I see here or what I read in the works by Mr. Harris).  But there were no answers.  There was no calm.  No peace.  No wisdom.  Nothing was found in all my searching and questing.  And to be honest, my parents could have, until the past fifteen years themselves, were secular “Christians” that is they held a secular worldview through the inspiration of what Mr. Harris might consider calling liberal Christianity.  It wasn’t until I had to come face to face with fate, with reality, with reason, and face to face with inspiration, that I began to study and examine what the Bible truly said…not through any particular denomination, this was a study on my own accord of the Bible through reading as much variation of works that are out there.

Finding out what the Bible and what I have learned through the Bible took several years.  I would have to say that it took a while to actually say emphatically that I am a Christian, and through the past five or so years, I’ve struggled to see what GOD wishes me to see not just in human history, or theological history, but psychologically to myself, sociologically to myself and the world around me.  Coming to Christ and saying with solid foundation that I am a Christian took me through many storms, many struggles, against myself, against the albatross around my neck (i.e. the philosophies and theologies I had clamped upon before hand).  Through free will, through reasoning, through intelligent deduction, I came face to face with faith and through faith, GOD through Christ.  Note that no on forced my conversion, nor did anyone badger me with pamphlets or hitting me upside the head with the Bible!  This was done out of my own accord, out of my own choice.  Now I wont go into explicit and intricate data and information as to how this all worked out because I am quite sure that you don’t want to spend the next hour or two reading my own personal biography!  Needless to say that though I am converted through logic and faith, through being able to touch the seen and the unseen, this doesn’t mean that I have all the answers to all the questions that plague the minds of man as we look up to the starry sky.  The Bible isn’t a point by point dissertation as to why you should believe in GOD.  The Bible is GOD inspired through men who wrote the works in their own particular culture at their own particular time in history with their own norms and mores in mind.  One must let the Bible speak for itself and, most of all GOD, through an open mind and an open heart.  This is what I am at peace with.  I don’t understand it all; however, I have faith in growing comprehension.

Again, in the end, it is by faith.  Just as you seemingly have faith in “human reasoning” and in science, thinking that these are the end all to understanding the vastness of the realities upon realities, I disagree.  Through examining science, biology, astronomy, etc., which I studied as a layman, (which I admit in full), I do see that there is something more, Someone more.  Through science through history I do see and I do comprehend that there is something more than just the limitations of science and the limitations of human perception (i.e. the five senses)…and through logic and faith, I see that this Someone is GOD through Christ.  I take the leap of faith.  And I have landed in faith.  And I make my stand in faith. 

Long days and pleasant nights to you.

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Posted: 21 September 2006 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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And a quick note to Ted Shepherd, actually I tend to read the New King James version, I have also read the Messianic Jewish’s The Complete Jewish Bible (OT and NT), along with several other translations.  I tend to use the different translations to help me through the studies in Seminary both in the OT studies I have gone through already and through the New Testament studies I am going through now.  I find a great deal of substance and amazement, especially from my intrinsic study of the Messianic Jewish theological examination of the Bible!  Very interesting!

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Posted: 21 September 2006 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I guess the question i have for you Franklin, is the one this forum has asked of many others:

Why Christianity? Why not Judaism, or Islam, or an eastern religion? What about the inconceivable possibilty of one man rising from the dead make Christianity seem more viable than the other world religions.


One other thing. You state the humanists seek to replace god with man, and thereby turn man into a god. Humanists seek to place emphasis on the material world, and they put people (man) at the heart of that. It is very similar to your conception of god, excep rather than understand that people created god to symbolize them, you believe god created man.

Man created god in his own image.


Adam

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Posted: 21 September 2006 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Hoorah!

Finally another poster more verbose than myself is found in FranklinBR!

Noggin

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Posted: 21 September 2006 09:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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It’s clear that you are not going to change your opinion any time soon, so I won’t try.  But a few points in response to your last post:

1) It’s not that I don’t want god to exist, it’s that there is no evidence of god.  Do you believe in Zeus or Osiris?  Why not? 

2) Just because I do not believe in god does not mean I think I am the center of the universe.  Why does there have to be a center?  That is a conceit of the religious. 

3) Logic and evidence are used by humans but they exists indepenedent of us.  Can god both simultaneously exist and not exist?  Can god think of a question so hard that he can’t answer it?  These are not questions that depend on the existence of mankind to answer.  The sun and earth (and gravity, etc.) exist whether we are here or not.

4) By your definition of “evidence” (as used to back up your belief in intelligent design) we may equally conlcude that mankind was designed by aliens as by god.  When you see a sea shell on the beach, do you think it was put there by the hand of god or aliens?  If you believe evidence supports ID, I won’t be surprised if you ignore the waves, just feet away.  Just as you can watch the ocean waves throw out debris, we can watch evolution in action.  A very real example of this is drug resistant bacteria.

5)  Nature does not require god to be beautiful.  Nor do you.  I don’t believe that god helped you accomplish all the good things in your life.  I think you accomplished them on your own.  A belief in god may have given you strength, but I know that (like me) you can find strength without it.

6) If you let the bible speak for itself, you will find that belief in the bible limits one’s growth, not enhances it.  I am free to learn more as science progresses our understanding of the universe.  I am free to be better, that is more ethical, than the bible.  You are bound by the verses of the bible, and knowledge and ethics that are more than two thousand years out of date.

I wish you luck and happiness, and hope that one day you will see through the contraditions, false reasoning, ethical blind spots, and harmful aspects of the bible.  If you think you can’t be happier or better than you are now, with a belief in god, you are wrong!

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Posted: 21 September 2006 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]Jesus Christ is the King of Kings, as any king, this universe is His and we can either trust in Him and follow what He says because He says what He says so that we do not receive the punishment that we deserve (because we are all sinners, ergo, we all rebel against GOD and against Christ).  Do you not receive punishment from society when you rebel against society?

Does the flock bear any responsibility for what the Shepherd does when he comes again? (Luke 19:27) No? Then absolutely shut up and let the rest of us live our lives the way we see fit. Yes? Then the Shepherd is not as all-powerful as you would have me believe.

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Posted: 21 September 2006 10:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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For some minds, there is just no hope.

Confronted with past beliefs, civilizations, faiths, gods and devils…

He still can’t come to terms with his own. Once again, no one can make you “wake up”, you have to do it on your own.

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Posted: 21 September 2006 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”] I understand your desire for there not to be a god

Actually, Frankbr,  I don’t think many on this site desire for there not to be a god.  We just think that it’s most likely he doesn’t exist.  It would be a load off of my plate if I could be sure that there were an absolute plan for my life, but which plan?  There are tons of guidelines out there for living ones life under the various plans many different gods have for me.
For most of us here, desiring for there not to be a god is kind of like desiring for there not to be a zeus or a yog-sototh for that matter.

I like walking my own path, thank you very much.

By the way, I appreciate your eloquence, and am pleased you come to the debate without fury and invective (something that is sometimes difficult for me, sorry to say).

 

and hey! 3n7r0py!  Like the name!  I’ll bet that you continue to increase!

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Posted: 21 September 2006 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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FranklinBR, some interesting words you’ve given us, but I’m always waiting to hear what was that one BIG thing that made you go over to the faith side, sorry I didn’t read anything remotely convincing.  Perhaps you are so earnest in becoming the center of the universe (as you wrongly accuse atheists of doing . . . we realize our own profound insignificance), that this attachment to “god” is the closest universe centering experience you can find.  You’ve definitely succeeded in doing that Franklin.

You did mention being able to “touch the unseen” - actually we can all do that quite easily by simply closing our eyes.  Are you sure you weren’t touching the same elephant that those 6 blind Indians are so famous for touching?

Bob

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Posted: 21 September 2006 12:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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FranklinBR wrote:

Yes. I also realize that the Bible is not the end all and the know all of who GOD is and what GOD’s place through the metaverse—that is, through the sheer endlessness of the mystery of the universes upon universes from where we stand to smaller than the super-strings to larger than super-space itself. I also realize that though the Bible is GOD ...

Hi, just a quick note here.  I highlighted a paragraph (above) that is representative of your style of written expression.  Not to pick too terribly, but each time you ALLCAPS the word GOD like you do, I picture you midstream in thought, you know, rationally making some point… and then the outbursts keep popping up.  Sudden punctuated bursts of Terrets Syndrom-type shouting in the form of “GOD!!”  It just makes you appear like you have a facial tic in your keyboard that’s all.

I was wondering if it is really necessary to allcaps the word ‘god’ like you do.  I enjoy your message, but I am starting to find humor in the allcaps god usage which kind of detracts from what you are trying to say.  If you have to use the allcaps, I understand.  I’ll look past it.  Just sayin’.

Noggin

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Posted: 21 September 2006 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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[quote author=“FranklinBR”]I didn’t start believing in Intelligent Design after I began a Christian and after Christians shouted into my ear that it was correct.  Ironically enough, I began studying Intelligent Design before I became a Christian (through a deistic point of view, not specifically a Christian point of view).  For me, I saw the universe, and the immensity of the universe, from superstrings to superspace, and I saw a Design by Intelligence. As I became a Christian, I began studying such works as Ross and Stoke (Stoke being a recent one mind you) and I cannot help but agree with the idea and the ideal of Intelligent Design.  This is not me being “afraid of science” or “hiding from science” or whatnot.  This is making an intelligent decision through the careful study of two worldviews (and evolution is as much of a worldview as creationism, both take faith to believe) and deciding through careful reason and careful deduction that Creationism through Intelligent Design makes the most sense and makes the most logic.  Does this mean that Genesis has all the answers?  Of course not.  Does this mean that Genesis was even written to confront Evolution?  No!  This is a matter of faith and faith in ID has the most logic for me.  I say this through using science, historiography, and educational process of reasoning.

Are not these two beliefs (Christianity and ID) just different aspects of the same belief in God? I don’t see how a theist can not believe in ID since creation is always the first story of any religion. You also claim to believe creationism over evolution after careful reason and deduction. When evolution is supported by an extensive fossil record and careful genetic analysis while creationism is only supported by weak analogies to watchmakers and dead painters, how can you claim that both are simply a matter of faith?

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Posted: 21 September 2006 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Greetings and salutations.  I hope you are well today.  Thank you for your reply and your questions.  I would have to say the following in respect toward your posts toward me. 

By camanintx:
Are not these two beliefs (Christianity and ID) just different aspects of the same belief in God? I don’t see how a theist can not believe in ID since creation is always the first story of any religion. You also claim to believe creationism over evolution after careful reason and deduction. When evolution is supported by an extensive fossil record and careful genetic analysis while creationism is only supported by weak analogies to watchmakers and dead painters, how can you claim that both are simply a matter of faith?

1) Intelligent Design in analogy to watchmakers and dead papers.  I would humorously like to point out that there are Shakespearian plays that have, through some historical and literary interpretation, believe that they might not be written by Shakespeare.  You have to, interestingly enough, take in faith that these works are written by Shakespeare.  But you do not know 100% that they were, that what you are reading is by Shakespeare or by someone else?  His mother?  Sister?  Brother?  Uncle?  Next door neighbor two houses down?  When you look at Macbeth you have to say, fairly surely, that you see this as Shakespeare’s work through faith.  So what does this have to do with watchmaker?  Or a dead painter?  You have to have faith that a specific person created the watch.  You have to have faith that the painting you are seeing is by Monet rather than either a false painting that wasn’t painted by Monet or a forgery of one of Monet’s paintings.  That the watch, so the point goes, did not create itself nor did the parts just “naturally” come together through chance while maintaining a degree away from the forces of chaos (that is, disunity and the idea that matter breaks up rather than comes together). 

2) No I would say that Intelligent Design is not the same as Creationism.  Intelligent Design says that the universes and all that make up the universes was constructed artistically speaking (if you want to be romantic about it) through a higher being, an Intelligent Design.  That there was an outside source to, for example, make the Big Bang happen.  That this was not just some “natural” or more exactly meta-natural event.  Or just dumb luck!  Instead, all the meta elemental forces that would bring about the Big Bang all the way to the creation of man was constructed with a reason and a why and a how by a Who.  Creationism, then, as a natural leap of faith mind you, takes the ID idea a step further.  That the one who is the Intelligent Designer is the GOD (I use the all capital letters in respect toward Yahweh, a religious connotation and respect consideration, for me at any rate) of the Bible, that is, the same GOD whom we see in Genesis through Revelation is in fact that specific Intelligent Designer.  Now remember, you do not have to be an ID to be Creationist because ID looks at it case scientifically while Creationism looks at it through religious lens. For me, I went from Evolution (both macro and micro evolution) to ID to Creationism.

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By CanZen:
FranklinBR, some interesting words you’ve given us, but I’m always waiting to hear what was that one BIG thing that made you go over to the faith side, sorry I didn’t read anything remotely convincing. Perhaps you are so earnest in becoming the center of the universe (as you wrongly accuse atheists of doing . . . we realize our own profound insignificance), that this attachment to “god” is the closest universe centering experience you can find. You’ve definitely succeeded in doing that Franklin.

You did mention being able to “touch the unseen” - actually we can all do that quite easily by simply closing our eyes. Are you sure you weren’t touching the same elephant that those 6 blind Indians are so famous for touching?

3) To go into what fully brought about conversion and belief and faith within me would probably be the size of Stephen King’s The Stand.  I doubt anyone would wish to read that much!  Maybe it would be easier to say what wasn’t a factor in my conversion might bring about an easier way for you to understand why I am a Christian?  First off, I would have to say that I wasn’t “scared” into becoming a Christian.  That is, I wasn’t beaten upside the head with hell or the antiChrist or demons et cetera.  Fear was not a factor, Jerry Falwell wasn’t hiding in my closet ready to say “boo” until I gave my life to Christ.  At least I hope he’s not in my closet.  I might check before bed.  Anyhow.  Secondly, emotions were not a big factor into becoming a Christian.  I didn’t think to myself, being low and lower, that “my life is ruined and I needed a savior so Jesus Christ must come into my life and He will be my prosac.”  What was a factor?  Well using the tools that I had been given in the study of historiography and education, I systematically examined OT and NT both inwardly and outwardly (i.e. in the source material and outside the source material).  I saw there was reason to believe in GOD. 

I then looked at the sociology of the human race (from the earliest of groups all the way to now) and saw the flaws and saw the hopes and saw the pains and saw the wishes.  Further reason to believe in GOD.  The unseen hand, to use a coined phrase.  Then I looked at the psychology of humans, from myself, to those I knew, both Christian, Wiccan, and other, then I looked at individuals in history, from Abraham of Genesis to Alexander the Great to, well, you get the idea.  I saw that this flaw and I saw this hope in the changing-but-remaining-the-same society of the human race.  From there I trusted that there is a GOD outside the forces of history, human nature, societies from the most archaic to the most advanced, and that this GOD is the same GOD that I see and witness from careful deliberate study of the Bible.  Yes there are leaps of faith, yes there are climbing the mountains of faith, and it is not an “exact” foci because, quite honestly, you should always continue to explore, to examine, to see the seen and to hold close the unseen.  This is a bit simplified but I hope that this might give an idea of my process?

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By switch:
Actually, Frankbr, I don’t think many on this site desire for there not to be a god. We just think that it’s most likely he doesn’t exist. It would be a load off of my plate if I could be sure that there were an absolute plan for my life, but which plan? There are tons of guidelines out there for living ones life under the various plans many different gods have for me.
For most of us here, desiring for there not to be a god is kind of like desiring for there not to be a zeus or a yog-sototh for that matter. I like walking my own path, thank you very much.

4)  Concerning the center of the universe.  Maybe I need to clarify that.  I do not wish to make it sound like I think that all of you who are humanists are filled with hot air that makes you hover above the ground like some kind of Gary Larson comic strip character.  If I have insulted you or anyone here by my wording toward that, then let me say sorry right now!  What I mean is that you look toward yourselves, or toward what you can see and touch in society, what you think you see in society and what you hope to see in society.  By saying that you see yourselves at the center of the universe I mean that you find and believe that human nature, human life, is the end all to all that there is…at least perceptively by your five senses.  The world is what you see the world is, nothing more matters because you cannot perceive anything greater than the extension of your five senses.  A Christian is a believer in GOD/Yahweh through Christ Jesus who is the One who is at the center of the perceived physical and spiritual reality and revelation (something that the humanist denies as existing or, if it does, it is immaterial).  That GOD enters into human history through His plan and interact with us through our own Free Will (that is, we choose to either accept Him as who He is or deny Him as who He is or change Him into what we hope that He is).  This does not mean, as I’ve said before, that the Bible holds every single answer known to man.  We must take a leap of faith, we must pick which road we walk upon–the road of discovery or the road of “Vanity Fair.” The long and narrow road of a godly worldview or the road of a worldly worldview.

And of course this does focus now on free will.  You can walk your own path.  You can make your own decisions.  And I am not here to belittle you or box you in the head with my Bible until you agree with me.  The reason I come here is, I hope, that I can have the freedom to respond to what Mr. Harris has to say in his book.  Anyway I would think you’d be glad to have me here so that it wont seem like Mr. Harris is preaching to the choir (so to speak!).  I come here in peace.  I come here with no disrespect for any of you.  For you see I too have free will.  I too make my own choices.  I make my own decisions.  I make my own actions.  I too have perceptions, and through those perceptions I perceive that there is something greater, and I take a leap.  I perceive that there is something there, and again I take a leap.  I perceive that this something is a Someone, and another leap.  I perceive that this Someone created all that there is from super-strings to superspace…and beyond both sides along the cat’s cradle of size…and thus I take another leap.  Through leaps, through intellectual and spiritual discoveries, narrowing the perception down to a foci, to a specific point, I see that the point is the cross.  That the history of mankind, in this little corner of a little solar system in a little galaxy in a little universe of infinite others, I see that mankind is significant, through hope and prayer and grace and strength.  And again, I say, the answers to all the riddles known and unknown, seen and unseen, focuses down to the point and that point is the cross–not that I understand myself and the scheme of this small universe I live in.  But I know that there is Intelligent Design to this creation, to this masterpiece, and that this ID is the Yahweh of the Old Testament and the New Testament.  And that this Yahweh, larger than size itself, sees me, says that I am loved, and that I have significance even if I cannot understand or will ever understand.  That is my free choice.  That is the choice chosen, in such small words.

And anyway, I don’t think I’d care much for a yog-sothoth.  Too messy.  Have to clean up all the slime! wink

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By deldotvee

Does the flock bear any responsibility for what the Shepherd does when he comes again? (Luke 19:27) No? Then absolutely shut up and let the rest of us live our lives the way we see fit. Yes? Then the Shepherd is not as all-powerful as you would have me believe.

5) Yes actually I do believe that we are responsible for our actions whether we are Christian or not.  But more exactly, specifically talking about Christians, I do believe that we will be judged by our actions and by our attitudes.  The Bible does actually teach that the believers will be judged by what they do in this life.  Will our actions and our deeds and our thoughts pass through the fire of judgment?  Will it be like wood or like gold, will it burn up in judgment (not hell, mind you, just judgment of action) or will it make it through the fire and be seen for worth?  Again this goes back to free will.  I do believe that the Shepherd is all powerful.  But.  But, as even an arm chair theologian might say, GOD does not want robots.  GOD wants us to be who we are and choose to either follow Him or not follow Him.  You cannot make someone love you, no matter how much you may put the proverbial gun to someone’s head.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Through freedom of action through freedom of decision, we make our stand and we either continue to stand or we fall to the ground.

Now are we responsible for what the Shepherd Himself does?  Interesting question.  Do you make your child rebel against you?  Or does the child rebel on his own accord?  Let’s think about it this way.  Your father says he will spank you if you hit your sister.  You do it anyway.  Are you then innocent and he guilty because he spanks you?  Or.  Your father says you will burn your hand if you touch the hot stove.  You do it anyway.  Is he guilty because you burned your hand?  As a Christian I believe that it is actually merciful to know that GOD reveals Himself and what the outcome of not only human history but also each of our lives are through making our choices through our GOD given free will.  We know that Biblically speaking, we will be judged for what we do and how we act not just toward our self but toward others and, ultimately, toward GOD.  GOD doesn’t make us rebel nor does GOD make us sin….we do that easily on our own even if you were right, there is no god, we would still be imperfect beings and we still die as individuals and as society.

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By follyoffaith
1) It’s not that I don’t want god to exist, it’s that there is no evidence of god. Do you believe in Zeus or Osiris? Why not?  2) Just because I do not believe in god does not mean I think I am the center of the universe. Why does there have to be a center? That is a conceit of the religious.  3) Logic and evidence are used by humans but they exists independent of us. Can god both simultaneously exist and not exist? Can god think of a question so hard that he can’t answer it? These are not questions that depend on the existence of mankind to answer. The sun and earth (and gravity, etc.) exist whether we are here or not. 4) By your definition of “evidence” (as used to back up your belief in intelligent design) we may equally conclude that mankind was designed by aliens as by god. When you see a sea shell on the beach, do you think it was put there by the hand of god or aliens? If you believe evidence supports ID, I won’t be surprised if you ignore the waves, just feet away. Just as you can watch the ocean waves throw out debris, we can watch evolution in action. A very real example of this is drug resistant bacteria. 5) Nature does not require god to be beautiful. Nor do you. I don’t believe that god helped you accomplish all the good things in your life. I think you accomplished them on your own. A belief in god may have given you strength, but I know that (like me) you can find strength without it.  6) If you let the bible speak for itself, you will find that belief in the bible limits one’s growth, not enhances it. I am free to learn more as science progresses our understanding of the universe. I am free to be better, that is more ethical, than the bible. You are bound by the verses of the bible, and knowledge and ethics that are more than two thousand years out of date.

6) You are right.  Then, further on, I believe you are wrong.  You are given nature and you are given the universe.  You are given yourself and all your faults and all your hopes.  You are given societies, no matter what “philosophy” the society binds or tries to bind itself through.  You are given love.  Birth.  Death.  Rainbows.  Star light.  Moonbeams.  Galaxies spinning.  Yes, GOD is not standing right before your eyes.  He isn’t waving a big sign in your face telling you that you have to believe right here and right now or He is going to make you believe right here and right now.  That goes against the very gift and the very curse of what I have mentioned is free will.  As Elijah found Him, He was not in the fire or the waves or the winds.  He was a whisper.  A murmur.  A sacred romance.  Calling out to him.  Calling out to me.  Calling out to you.  You have the cross.  You have all of creation.  To deny there is a greater love, a greater wisdom, a greater call not just in this life but in eternity and the spans of eternity’s waves, you, like you point out, are missing the waves for your feet. 

Again, what I mean center of reality I mean as I described earlier.  Not saying you are an egotist or that you sing hymns to your hubris.  Nor do I think that you have a gold statue in your bedroom of yourself and that you bring it pizza and beer every evening!  What I mean in the sense that you focus on only what you feel human society can be and you yourself in that society (i.e. the humanist utopian idea that has been around for ages but that never has worked).  GOD-centered reality, as I myself try to live my life as, is where I focus upon Him and not myself.  I focus on His strengths, knowing that I am weak.  I focus on His wisdom, knowing that even if I have a thousand degrees, I still know naught.  There’s always something over the horizon, to use a cliche phrase.  We are more than animals, we are more than just mere primates.  We have something more than just what we may say is human intelligence or human reasoning.  What we have is a soul.  An eternal seed.  We cannot see this seed.  We cannot touch the seed.  Then again, how many atoms have you touched today and actually perceived of as you touched them? 

Logic and evidence and reason are given to us so that we may see that there is Someone greater than we are ourselves.  We are given perception so that when we go through every nuance of that perception, there will be something greater that is to be discovered when we realize that we are limited.  That our small, finite lives, is a part of a passion play that this world in fact is only a small part (but still a necessary part because I believe that we are love though we are also given the freedom of choice to love back).  Yes when we die the sun will still be shining and the planets will still be circling the sun.  Our solar system will still be churning in a small arm of a small galaxy that is in itself spinning as a part of a small but still very large (to us) galactic cluster.  And so on.  But we matter.  We matter because GOD created us from the first cells that would be you and I, despite the struggles for our minds to come to terms with the complexity of the mystery of life so that we may reach beyond our perceptions toward His eternal truths that we find or I firmly myself believe we find in the Bible.

Does that mean that the Bible isn’t limited as you say?  No.  The Bible is limited.  Yes the Bible always gives the “God’s eye view” of situations whether it says the Name or not.  But this doesn’t mean that He takes cliff notes out and shows us “this is what happened here” nor does He flip a few pages and then ay “and that is what happened there.”  He gives you history, from the Torah through the Gospels through the Letters, but a theological history…that is, a history bestowed upon by a theological narration.  Again you are right, the Bible is made up of different authors and writers over a period of several thousand years.  From Moses and the Torah to the letters of Paul, time does make its way down the stream.  But time is connected.  Time is bound together.  Time is a puzzle waiting to be solved.  GOD shows Himself through the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament and then GOD shows Himself through Jesus Christ who is the Word of GOD, who Is GOD, of the New Testament.  He gives you what He gives you.  But.  But.  He lets you decide whether you will dine upon wisdom’s bountiful feast or you will turn away from the feast for a mere sandwich.  Your soul hungers; however, you have the very real choice to either feed it or let it starve, give it water or let it dehydrate. 

Because we have a soul, because we have the spark of eternity in us…not as some New Age Dr. Phil or Oprah guru might suggest, but instead, as to what we are shown in the Bible…or at the least, to make things more reasonable here, what I perceive that I see and read and study and explore from my Bible studies…we have possibilities beyond our full understanding.  Possibilities that we must explore and obtain not through focusing and thinking that we are good and fail to see our faults.  Possibilities through expressing something more than just groveling before some king or president.  But possibilities that comes through a share of love and care and intimacy from the eternal one that we see by going through to Him through Jesus Christ.  But also possibilities that are missed, that are pushed aside, that are placed into old boxes in the attic out of desire for what the world may give to us through what are the good times and the bad.  For me, though, here and now, I follow and discover much through the free will of choosing to follow GOD despite the fact that I will say quite clearly I do not understand every detail that I see and read and pray and examine.  For my soul, I strive to give the living water and the living breed of life, as one who might be familiar with the Gospel of John would understand.

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By Guest (don’t know your name, chap, but here you go!)
I guess the question I have for you Franklin, is the one this forum has asked of many others: Why Christianity? Why not Judaism, or Islam, or an eastern religion? What about the inconceivable possibility of one man rising from the dead make Christianity seem more viable than the other world religions. One other thing. You state the humanists seek to replace god with man, and thereby turn man into a god. Humanists seek to place emphasis on the material world, and they put people (man) at the heart of that. It is very similar to your conception of god, except rather than understand that people created god to symbolize them, you believe god created man. Man created god in his own image.

7) Good question.  Boy. This reply back is huge.  Anyway.  Why Christianity?  Why not Judaism?  Why not Islam?  Why not Buddhism or Shinto?  Well.  I have indeed read works on those and several other world religions.  In fact I did a great deal of study through my undergrad career and through my first master’s degree.  The second one is going to be in a Master’s of Divinity from the seminary I am going to.  It is a complicated process.  I will give you that.  You see the world around you and you see believers, sincerely or not, in this world you are standing in.  I read several works on Shinto and I have read the Koran, among other works of world religions.  I learned much.  I contemplated much.  Do I feel that there is enough evidence for me to weigh upon Christianity instead of Hinduism?  Buddhism?  Taoism?  Paganism?  Gnosticism?  Yes.  Not that the “yes” comes easily.  I would hazard to guess that to climb the road of what I feel is the road to truth, total truth, truth found in Christianity through freedom of will to choose whether or not to perceive that truth, is a long and hazardous road.  There are many tears.  Fits of doubt.  Fits of anger.  Then again there are times of euphoria.  Times of pleasure.  Times of awe.  I would have to say that through the evidence I read for and against Christianity, and even works somewhere in between, I would say that the evidence does indeed demand a verdict.  What, in the end, am I going to believe in? Trust in?  Find life, true life, in?  And I say that the answer was, and is, in what I discovered about the truth of Christianity, not the religion (going to church, going to Sunday school, Catholicism, Methodism, Baptism, etc.) but the Christianity of relationship between the infinite of GOD through Christ and the finite in me here and now as I type all of this while at the same time being eternal myself because I have a soul.  The evidence weighed heavily, I found, on the foundation that Christianity is held upon.  The verdict is belief, for me.

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Finally…
Well I hope I have answered some of the questions you have given to me?  Again I have tried to be civil about how I answered because I wish not to be thought of as only being here to badger you.  I only seek an audience so that I may reply to Mr. Harris’ work.  I wish you all a jolly good day and a pleasant evening and a wonderful weekend. 

My hands are tired from all this typing. 

I think I will head to bed now! 

Good night!

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