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July 22, 2009

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If I was an Atheist, this is what i'd as a Christian
======================================================

1. Explain the evidence for common ancestry via Endogenous Retroviruses. This indicates Genesis is wrong.

2. Explain the evidence for common ancestry via Chromosome 2 data. This indicates Genesis is wrong.

3. Explain the failure of four separate Near Death Experience experiments to pan out. Specifically, the placing of a marquee above an operation table which contained a secret sentence – facing up. No one got it right. Given the number of NDE’s which reportedly happen every day, someone should have got it right. This experiment would have proven dualism right.

4. How come even when NDE survivors do come back, they often don’t report a very Christian experience – sometimes coming back with tales of pluralism. This indicates Christian Exclusivism is wrong.

5. Given that the vast majority of humans that have ever lived, never even learned to talk, why did god bother to make them? “Estimations of chemical pregnancies or unrecognized pregnancies that are lost can be as high as 50-75%, but many of these are unknown since they often happen before a woman has missed a period or is aware she is pregnant.” - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

6. What was really meant by the much debated verse Mark 9:1 – “And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”

7. The Problem of Pain – Why do young children suffer from horrible painful cancers? (Note – this is not to be confused with the Problem of Evil – e.g. why did God allow the Nazis to hurt people – which is a much simpler question.)

8. Why doesn’t god heal amputee victims? Why are most miracles these days about relationships and finances?

9. Where have the Hollywood-style miracles gone? Where have the prophets gone?

10. Why doesn’t Jesus show up at debates?


If I was a Christian, this is what i'd as an Atheist
===============================================
1. Why is there something and not nothing (why does the cosmos exist?)

2. Epistemology: What is the nature of the laws of physics, logic, and reason? (Is Platonism true – how can a materialist’s philosophical framework somehow account for the apparent existence of platonic forms?)

3. What is the nature of human and animal consciousness? Is it merely a substrate-dependent epiphenomenon? And if so, how can we model it.

4. What are your reasons for believing in abiogenesis?

Back in my college days, when I was a Randite (or Objectivist, a devotee of Ayn Rand, who was an atheist) I attended some Randite lectures, one given by one Leonard Piekoff, who argued that

"To exist is to be something in particular".

I think this is an way of saying the law of excluded middle. As applied to God, this law would say that God is different from His creation. So ask the atheist how he believes in the existence of something. If he has a universal rule, then ask him to look for evidence of God outside his creation. If he does not have a universal rule, ask him why does he not have a universal rule.

>> Leonard Piekoff

i hate that guy

ToNy,

From your first list, you may want to consider striking the NDE questions.

For question 3, I can think of very few Christians who would argue for the validity of such experiences and I can come up with no Scriptural reason that such experiments should have succeeded (either your dead or your not).

For question 4, that seems as valid as saying that the content of our dreams should be used as evidence for or against the veracity of Christianity's claims.

jp moreland

I would ask. "When you look around at the world it's people and condition and also its wonder, and your own longing do you find your atheism a suffcient accounting?"

This would be question 1 of more.
D.

Damian, I would ask a similar question.. But in a particular sense the answer I would give to that question may satisfy my athiesm (if I were an athiest). On the other hand, the utter frivolity of such a view is so contradictory to the human experience, I believe it steamrolls any attempt at rationalizing such a view, especially in the case of morality.

ToNy,

Yes, there are some who argue for the validity of near death experiences (I did not claim otherwise).

However I still see no Scriptural reason that the stated experiments should have succeeded. Nor do I see any reason we should give the contents of an NDE any more evidentiary weight than the contents of a dream.

Tony I've read some of your posts before. Have you ever gone to Reasons.org ? They would have response's to your first two questions as well as others. They have doctors in Biology and Astrophysics. You can send them emails or phone their talk radio show.

Denis,

if dualism is true and NDE's are true, we would have expected the experiment to work. This would have been a VERY VERY powerful proof of dualism and it's unfortunate that it didn't pan out - i would encourage christian ER technicians to do more of them.

Doug,

many times. Though I haven't seen a good ERV debate worth mentioning - if you got one - forward it.

ToNy,

"7. The Problem of Pain – Why do young children suffer from horrible painful cancers? (Note – this is not to be confused with the Problem of Evil – e.g. why did God allow the Nazis to hurt people – which is a much simpler question.)"

If you don't know the answer to this question, you must not be a doctor or have any desire to be one.

ToNY,

While I can see why some would go down that path and explore NDEs, nothing about dualism or, more specifically, Christian doctrine necessitates their existence. I guess that's why I don't see how those questions fit within the context of your list (i.e., things a Christian must have an answer for to validate or defend their world view).

A bit in line with what Denis is saying, Tony, I think that bringing up NDE's is...... Let me back up a bit actually. I am loosely familiar with some dialogue in the realm of NDE's (I actually think Gary Habermas has done a bit in this area, strangely) and there are a few Christians that would 'go there' with you.

With that said im not sure why you place so much emphasis on NDE's and thier relation to Christianity. IMO NDE's (sorry for using 2 acronyms in a row) can be argued as pointing to something, though I havent exactly fleshed out what that something would be. I would also lump NDE's into the entire paranormal category. Given the nature of the paranormal and how little we know of it in its totality, you have to be very careful when discussing these things as proof's of specific claims.. IE, ghosts as proof that my late Grandmother is watching over my little sister.. You should atleast treat it with heavy caution. However I do think that ghosts & paranormal phenomena are proof of some realm well beyond our current understanding of it, which I would suggest points to a spiritual realm that in my opinion can be made sense of from a Biblical perspective. And I would initially cite the sheer volume of ghost "stories" from all cultures and & all times & all persons. I think its a bit irresponsible to outright dismiss every account (and I speak as one who dismissed the bulk of them untill i actually started look into it). But as I said earlier, I would approach that subject very cautiously given its extremely non-empirical nature. I do think though that this is a bit of a neglected subject, and I find it very interesting if you can sift past the bs


I suppose then I would ask you place such emphasis on NDE's?

I only do because JP moreland cowrote a book about them with gary habermas.

also because i thought the NDE marquee experiments were so astoundingly simple and beautiful, that there succesful completion would have really changed the world if they would have worked.

but they all failed last i heard

:(


ToNy,

While it may be interesting that a book was written on the topic and that people have experimented in the area, no point of Christian doctrine states that NDEs must or should exist.

Therefore presenting them as something a Christian must account for, as you have, makes no sense.

well jp moreland presented them as reasons to believe.

so here im presenting them as reasons i think they're not adequate.

But you can concentrate on the other 8 if you want

My answer to Greg's first question: I don't know why there is something rather than nothing. Maybe someday we'll find out. Maybe some day we'll learn that the very question is void.

"Either everything came from something outside the material universe, or everything came from nothing (Law of Excluded Middle)."

Wrong. Being physicists rather than theologians, cosmologists talk about the observable universe rather than the material universe. With this distinction in mind 1) the Universe might include more than the observable universe (no reason to assume one way or the other) 2) we know nothing (by definition) about the unobservable part, if any, of the universe - including whether it exists.

So, speaking to the second question, everything we can observe may have from something we can't observe (or just haven't yet observed). Maybe this something was supernatural but there's no reason to think so. After all, the observable universe runs just fine without supernatural intervention.

Before people learned that the iron we find in the ground was made in stars they probably assumed it required a special creation too since they could't make it or explain it's presence.

RonH

Actually, it's not because cosmologists are physicists that the talk of the observable universe rather than the material universe. It's because they're conservative.

Epistemologically anyway.

RonH... With all due respect, I think youve just articulated something that I find very difficult to understand. So perhaps I will take this opportunity to ask you to expand on it. You said the following:

"1) the Universe might include more than the observable universe (no reason to assume one way or the other) 2) we know nothing (by definition) about the unobservable part, if any, of the universe - including whether it exists."

And I agree with some of the untyped portions of what I gather you are saying, then, you said:

"So, speaking to the second question, everything we can observe may have from something we can't observe (or just haven't yet observed). Maybe this something was supernatural but there's no reason to think so."

?

Thats what I dont understand. It seems as if you almost admit that there is something significant that we have no clue about and therefore have on reason to assume one way or the other. And in the very next sentence you say that maybe this thing is supernatural, but we have no reason to think so?
Could you.... reconsile this apparent unknowable that we shuold not shift on either way with the latter statement that we should not assume in a particular direction, that direction being the supernatural?

Or are you saying that we should not shift either way under a purely "non-supernatural" (maybe theirs a better way to put that) framework? You suggest that all that we observe may have come from something we cannot observe. You also said that our observable universe is running just fine without supernatural intervention.
Im just having trouble understanding how on the one hand you can allow for the unknown in one sense, and yet deny it in another sense when as far as I know there is no discernable difference between the two unknowns. By your own admission this unknown could be utterly 'unscientific'.

Help me understand you, im not trying to sound evil at all. I promise! Just trying to sort this out.

Nor am I trying to assert that your being logically incoherent.

ToNY,
What was really meant by the much debated verse Mark 9:1

I’m not sure why this question is in your top ten tough questions but here are the typical options/answers considered by most Christians as to what Jesus was referring to by “kingdom of God”:
1. The transfiguration: which makes sense in that it is the very next thing that happens in Mark’s gospel.
2. The resurrection
3. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
4. The spread of Christianity in the early church
5. The destruction of the temple in 70 A.D.

The first view makes the most sense especially when compared to 2 Peter 1:16-18. Note carefully Peter’s words (who was there for the transfiguration): “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Hope that helps.

well it's in a lot of top 10 lists

even bertrand russell's

there's a million people who will dispute your interpretation above via a plethora of ways.

it's just that, for god's book, its a pity that its not clear...

or, as greg says, "one of my problems with christianity is that it's just not tidy"

Hi Counterstroke,

First, I noticed a typo: "So, speaking to the second question, everything we can observe may have COME FROM from something we can't observe (or just haven't yet observed).

It's late so I'll explain myself just a little more for now, anyway. There's a wikipedia article on Observable Universe. So try that.

Done? Ok. So there's this limit to what we can see. Beyond that limit there is, most likely, more natural stuff. It would be a strange coincidence for the limit of observation to be at the actual limit of the universe.

If we could see this unobservable stuff we might see the Big bang as part of an eternal cycle. Greg assumes it would not. (Unstated premise.) I say I don't know.

RonH

Greg assumes we WOULD not.

Greg also says (along with that) that no worldview is tidy, ToNy.
And indeed, none is.

I understand (that it is late, its getting late here too!) RonH and I am fimiliar with the observable universe as you cite. Nevertheless I often get hung up on statements like that because of what seems to be an apparent admission of sorts.. Maybe im wrong, or missing some context. Thats okay though. Perhaps in another discussion !

p.s I did notice that typo and I assumed that is what you ment in your corrected version.

>> And indeed, none is.

totally

RonH,
Go to reasons.org. Astronomers and astrophyicists (like RTB's Hugh Ross) make predictions about unseen things all the time, eg dark matter, that inform our understanding of the universe. That is also part of "science" (of course, depending on your choice of definitions--see C. John Collins book "Science & Faith: Friend or Foe" for various definitions of "science" and their use/misuse).

ToNy,

Regarding your position on NDEs, the problem is you are moving from saying the argument is inadequate to saying the position it attempts to support requires the argument. I see no reason for such a leap.

You've been attempting to use the lack of NDE evidence as an club against Christianity for at least 3 years now. So, rather than moving on to other points, I would prefer to disabuse you of that position.

I assert that even a total lack of NDE evidence would have no bearing whatsoever on the claims of Christianity.

Secondly, I assert that any specific experiences individuals have recounted of NDE experiences, if deemed credible, have no bearing on the claims of Christianity.

The only thing I am willing to cede right now is that, if deemed credible, NDEs could provide potential evidence of a soul. However, I do not believe it is would be a necessary evidence for Christianity.

well two EXTREMELY important claims of christianity are

The afterlife exists
Dualism is true.

The NDE experiments would have made these two claims a shut case.

But unfortunately they didn't pan out.

This of course does not mean that Christianity or Islam are false. But wouldaaa been great to have such a nice piece of data.

My Christian friend likes to argue that God is extracting the Marquee Experiment data in the mind of the NDE survivor, before re-substantiation into his body.

Whataevaa.

ToNy,

In other words, regardless of its lack of bearing on the actual claims of Christianity, you will continue to hold and advocate it as one of your pillars of unbelief.

Am I understanding you correctly?

no

Christianity actually claims

The afterlife exists
Dualism is true.

ToNY,

There is no doctrine in Christianity which requires NDEs to exist.

"I assert that even a total lack of NDE evidence would have no bearing whatsoever on the claims of Christianity. "

None whatsoever. This is similar to using Lucid Dreams as evidence for an afterlife, or arguably for atleast a soul. The absense of NDE's simply doesnt have enough force to knock down.. Anything. We know virtually nothing of an afterlife reality. Its very mortal to suggest that the 'spiritual world' would look identical to the physical world, even in the event of an NDE. Putting an asterik above the operating table? And when the results come up negative, we throw it all out? Very Disney Channel/Nicalodean/Hollywood assumption.

>> Its very mortal to suggest that the 'spiritual world' would look identical to the physical world, even in the event of an NDE.

well moreland claims NDE/OBE patients can view the physical world - from the spiritual

>> There is no doctrine in Christianity which requires NDEs to exist.

It's a vehicle by which to verify Christian Doctrine.

Unfortunately, there aren't many out there - which is one of the reasons i'm agnostic.

There are some good vehicles that speak of the existance of God - but not many for Christianity.

i can't really think of many instances in the bible where vehicles for a method of independent verificiaion were provided. Maybe Mathew 7 (hence my question 9). Maybe in Paul where 500 followers see him (though those people are dead).

ToNy,

You are completely off base on this one. There is nothing Scripture which indicates NDEs should exist.

If they exist, they could point to some aspect of our soulish nature, but could never be a verification of a specific Christian doctrine ... they could as easily support virtually any other world view with the exception of maybe of an atheistic world view or those favouring annihilation.

"It's a vehicle by which to verify Christian Doctrine."

Its also a vehicle to verify non-christian doctrine. Theirs nothing about NDE's that point towards christian exclusivity. Any theology that endorses an afterlife would benifit from a positive NDE. If anything, NDE's should diffuse the greater (the sheer existence of A God), rather than the speciffic, (the existence of a particular god.)

I was going to ask you another question but you answered it allready

>> ... they could as easily support virtually any other world view

ya that's true. especially since the vast majority of the planet believes in some flavor of dualism.

but the fact that (as greg said in the thread) there is "something and not nothing" supports a bazillion worldviews as well.

And if i was convinced dualism was true, I would convert to one of the exclusive religions. It doesnt make sense to convert to one of the inclusive ones, cuz you usually get a second chance anyway in those.

So if dualism is true, it's wise to put your chips on christianity or islam, or maybe a small handful of others.

Why is something here rather than nothing here?
Because nothing never existed.

Clearly, the physical universe is not eternal (Second law of thermodynamics, Big Bang cosmology). Either everything came from something outside the material universe, or everything came from nothing (Law of Excluded Middle). Which of those two is the most reasonable alternative? As an atheist, you seem to have opted for the latter. Why?

Again, nothing never existed. So there has always been some kind of existence. The universe is by definition everything in existence. And the law of conservation of matter and energy would have to come in to play in ways we yet do not understand.

The evidence is what we can currently observe in the universe.

Even in the Bible you start with something, the something being some One called God. Not nothing. Does this God exist? Then this God is part of the universe. Since the universe is everything in existence by definition.

Anything which is part of the universe is no god.

[I'm a theist, not an atheist, and I am a Christian. I remain a Christian for two reasons, One, I know God personally (John 17:3), Second, I know God because of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Romans 8:9. 1 John 5:9-12.)]

The Reverend Tim Keller ( Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC) asks these questions of unbelievers: Would you be happy if you found out that God really existed? And depending on the answer, why or why not? The response to those questions reveals a lot. I am convinced that many people don't really want to believe in God because they don't want to have to follow the 10 Commandments.

Might I remind you all that Christianity does has something to say about the afterlife.

And that the 'N' in 'NDE' stands for 'Near', not 'After'.

NDE's have nothing whatsoever to do what the afterlife.

I still have yet to hear of ANYONE other than Jesus and a few people whom He miraculously brought back to life reporting an After Death Experience.

As stated in most all of these comments NDE's expiriments prove nothing. Even if the "expiriments" went well it still holds no accountability to the soul. The soul is not to be expiremented with in my opinion. God told us we have one and it's going to go to one of two places when we die and thats up to us to dtermine the place. I think the expiriments were a waste of money and time. It proves nothing either way! Again this is just my opinion. I think Scientist trying to prove or disprove a human's sould in as close to impossible as you can get.

Tony,

Your first comment you posted. You must have that saved in a Word file or something. You posted that same exact "10 Questions" thing before. Come up with some new ones...

ToNy,

You are starting to contradict yourself.

In your original list you had 2 points regarding NDEs; one questioning why they haven't been empirically proven, one stating that anecdotal evidence from those experiencing NDEs indicates a non-Christian reality (i.e., if NDEs do exist, they point to something other than Christianity).

Therefore, based on your own words, it is highly improbable that if NDEs were proven that you would accept the claims of Christianity. And, quite frankly, if you did it would be a highly irrational decision since NDEs have no bearing on its claims to start with.

Tony:
Go to preterism.info/transfiguration.htm to get your answer on Mark 9:1

"Again, nothing never existed. So there has always been some kind of existence. The universe is by definition everything in existence."

But has the universe as we know it alwyas existed? It seems that even if you answer No to this question, something (God) has always existed, and not in violation with your previous statement that nothing (noun) has never existed. God is not locked inside the universe nor is he the universe. I think you would have difficulty reconsiling how a being trapped within the laws of this universe could create it. Maybe I misunderstand you?

PaulS

"The universe is by definition everything in existence."

How do you know this to be true?
How do you reconcile the cause-effect of a creator of the universe prior to the existence of the universe with this statement? Am I missing something here?

Louis that is essentially the same question i am asking!

Paul S, you said:

    (1) [...] nothing never existed.
By implication you are claiming that:
    (2) something has always existed.
When you claim that something has always existed, you are by implication claiming the infinite persistence of something. The presence of an actual infinite quantity leads to real-world logical inconsistencies.

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