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What if you "know" that god does not exist

Discussion in 'Struggles by Non-Christians' started by Martin Moe, May 27, 2017.

  1. Ph413

    Ph413 New Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    True. My problem is that I assumed that he lives in a Christian environment so I thought that, if he would to research God, then it would be much easier to do it through Jesus Christ. I think you are totally right. There are a lot of religions and, of course, because they are different at their core beliefs, then there has to be ONLY one that is correct, there cannot be two different religions that have the same beliefs. So, either there is only one correct, or NONE is true.

    Generally, first it would be polytheistic vs monotheistic religions. I'll just speed up things here and assume that he will get to the fact that, if any religion is to be true, it's going to be monotheistic one.

    Now, it gets to this. Judaism vs Islam vs Christianity. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all share the God of the Old Testament. That is their common ground. Islam teaches that New Testament has been corrupted and therefore, denies what was said about Jesus in NT. Christianity says that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Judaism denies both. So, at the core of the differences in these three religions is who they think Jesus is. At this point, we get back to what I wrote before and from studying the evidences, we can surely say, that what we know from Christianity (NT) about Jesus is what really is true (New Testament dates very early after crucifixion, it is written by eyewitnesses or by those who recorded their testimony, textual criticism says that the New Testament was handed down with great accuracy and evidences for the ressurection confirms that Jesus was God incarnate). But that still is for Him to find out
  2. zephcom

    zephcom Well-Known Member

    United States

    Interesting. Much of your information does not correspond with information that I have gathered. First of all, it is not really settled that we need a single God. While this, admittedly, gets a bit far fetched it may be entirely possible that universes are nothing more than grade school science projects for beings who we would naturally refer to as 'God'. Our universe -could- be laying in the closet of a God-child who has already forgotten he made the project for school. Of course that is far fetched, but the idea of multiple Gods has a certain charm.

    And we would not necessary be expected to limit a search for the correct religion to just major religions. It could well be that a minor or obscure religion is the 'true' religion.

    But most interesting to me is your comments about the NT. -Parts- of the NT date relatively early after Jesus walked the earth. The seven books most scholars will attribute to Paul would, by the fact of Paul's death in 60 AD, be dated before then but after he converted in approximately 45 AD.

    Most likely all the rest of the N.T. is usually dated in the last half of the First Century with the possibility that some date even into the first part of the Second Century (Revelation, for example). If Jesus died in 33 AD, that gives us ten years after Jesus lived as the earliest possible date for any book in the N.T. and over seventy years for the last book. In an age where there were no recording devices, and extremely likely no one was there taking shorthand while Jesus taught, we have a really difficult time declaring everything in the N.T. is true.

    And actually, textual criticism indicates HUGE amounts of errors in the N.T. One scholar (Bart Ehrman) says that even though there has never been an accurate count of the amount of variations in the N.T. it is safe to say that there are more variations than there are words in the N.T. It is also correct to say that likely 99 percent of those errors are scribe errors and amount to little consequence. But the remaining one percent is still a rather large amount of errors which -do- amount large consequences.

    And my final comment is that -if- the Resurrection of Jesus confirms that Jesus was God incarnate, what should one make of Lazarus? God incarnate also?
  3. essentialsaltes

    essentialsaltes Stranger in a Strange Land

    Legal Union (Other)
    Certainly I agree that's true, but this reflects only on religions, not on the existence of gods.
  4. Ph413

    Ph413 New Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Sorry for not being able to respond earlier. Ok, so let's look at polytheism. Polytheism is the view that there is more than one god. These gods come from nature or were once men, who became gods. As such, they are contingent and finite. Universe is eternal. We know that everything had a beginning and that it didn't exist eternally. Polytheism teaches the exact opposite. Therewore, polytheism cannot account for the existence of the universe because there are no transcendent beings. All things, including gods, come FROM the universe, they do not exist apart from it. Just by looking at this, which is a very important thing regarding the universe itself, we can determine that polytheism cannot account as the right way.

    Regarding the minor religion thing, that could be true. But let's be real, if any religion is to be true, it has to be at least videly known (since, from beginning, people were following that one religion). Therefore, we cannot say that a religion of a unknown African tribe is the right religion since it is only known to them. Now, I tried to make a "list" of religions and this is how it goes:

    - Atheism, Agnosticism (not actual religions ofc)
    - Panentheism
    - Deism
    - Finite Godism (found in some reformed Judaism and Zoroastrianism)
    - Pantheism (found in Hinduism, Taoism, some Buddism, New Age, Paganism, some Unitarian Universalism, Christian Science, Scientology)
    - Polytheism (found in Hinduism, Mahayana Buddism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Paganism, Mormonism)
    - Monotheism (found in Judaism, Islam and Christianity)

    If any religion is to be true, it's got to be found in this list and since multiple religions hold the same views (like monotheism, polytheism etc.), if we find that one view cannot account for what we can find out about God looking at the universe, creation and moral laws, than we can reject entire view and, in the same way, reject all religions that hold it.

    Now, looking at the New Testament and the number of copies we have. If we take, for an example, Homer's Iliad, which has the biggest authority over ancient writings. Illiad was written at around 900 BC and earliest copy we have is at around 400 BC, so we have a 500 year gap between when it's actually written and the copy we have. We have around 2200 manuscripts and the readings agree about 95%. If we look at the New Testament, we have over 24000 copies (with original language and translations combined) which is astonishing amount compared to the ancient writings. And because textual criticism is based on the existing manuscripts, the more manuscripts we have, the more precisely the original text can be restored. Therefore, having many copies doesn't make it less valuable, it actually helps us figure out what the original message was. I think that J. Warner Wallace was talking about this as well in his book / video presentation Cold Case Christianity.

    And for the end, Lazarus issue. I think that you missunderstood me. If you look at the story of Lazarus, you can clearly see that he was resurrected BY the power of Jesus, NOT by the power of himself. What I meant was this: If Jesus resurrected from the dead (which is the biggest miracle of all) than that would approve his divine power and therefore confirm that he was God incarnate. Now, look at this from the story of Lazarus:

    Jesus says in John 11:11 - After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."
    Then at John 11:23 - Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
    And now, in John 11:40-44 the most important part:
    Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
    So, here we see that Lazarus didn't resurrect on his own but by the divine power which came from God.
  5. zephcom

    zephcom Well-Known Member

    United States
    There is no need to apologize for not responding earlier. These forums are here to be used as time permits. The real world always takes precedence over forums.

    You are right when you say that polytheism is the view that there is more than one god. Then you proceed to qualify those gods in a manner which the definition does not allow. Multiple gods who are exterior to the universe would still be polytheism. Two or more gods, no matter how one defines them, is polytheism.

    That is the problem those Christians in the second and third Centuries who desired to elevate Jesus to Godhood faced. They had too many Gods to be monotheistic.

    Actually any religion -could- be the real one. And that includes dead and forgotten religions. There just isn't anything about God that we know from the universe or morality which even requires a religion, let alone that it has to have lots of subscribers.

    Textual Criticism can tell one much about documents like the Bible. It can provide educated guesses about which variations may be the oldest. It can provide data which suggests something has been added or subtracted from the texts we have. It can tell us whether the same person authored different texts or not.

    What it can not do is recreate the original texts of the various books of the Bible. There is simply too much hand copying between the original documents and the existing copies of the Bible which are centuries newer than the original documents.

    Short of a miraculous archaeology discovery of the original documents we will never know for sure what the original writings actually said.

    And to the issue of Lazarus. You have pretty much quoted the applicable passages. I suggest they don't mean quite what you want them to mean. Certainly Jesus was there. Certainly Lazarus was resurrected because of Jesus. The real question is whether the POWER to resurrect belonged to Jesus or to God.

    I think if you look again at the passages, you will see that Jesus gives the glory for the resurrection to God, not the Son of God.

    I will reprint it here for convenience:

    40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

    41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

    The resurrection of Lazarus was a demonstration of the authority of God, not Jesus, so that those standing there would believe the Father sent Him.

    But the more critical thing is that, if one believes the Bible, Jesus did NOT resurrect Himself. The Father resurrected Him. There are numerous passages which say this so rather than list them all, I will provide a link which does list them:

    24 Bible verses about God Raising Christ

    So we are back to the question, if the resurrection of Jesus confirms that Jesus is God Incarnate, what about Lazarus? He was raised from the dead through the same power Jesus was...God the Father.
  6. Ph413

    Ph413 New Member

    Eastern Orthodox
    Well, regarding the Gospels, let me copy here something I've found that can illustrate how the writings can actually be restored:

    "Let me illustrate how such a test can be made. It will help you see how scholars confidently reconstruct an original from conflicting manuscripts that are centuries removed from the autograph.
    Pretend your Aunt Sally learns in a dream the recipe for an elixir that preserves her youth. When she awakes, she scribbles the complex directions on a sheet of paper, then runs to the kitchen to mix up her first batch of “Sally’s Secret Sauce.” In a few days, she is transformed into a picture of radiant youth.
    Aunt Sally is so excited she sends detailed, handwritten instructions to her three bridge partners (Aunt Sally is still in the technological dark ages—no photocopier or email). They, in turn, make copies for ten of their own friends.
    All goes well until one day Aunt Sally’s schnauzer eats the original script. In a panic she contacts her friends who have mysteriously suffered similar mishaps. The alarm goes out to the others who received copies from her card-playing trio in an attempt to recover the original wording.
    Sally rounds up all the surviving handwritten copies, 26 in all. When she spreads them out on the kitchen table, she immediately notices differences. Twenty-three of the copies are virtually the same save for misspelled words and abbreviations littering the text. Of the remaining three, however, one lists ingredients in a different order, another has two phrases inverted (“mix then chop” instead of “chop then mix”), and one includes an ingredient not mentioned in any other list.
    Do you think Aunt Sally can accurately reconstruct her original recipe from this evidence? Of course she can. The misspellings and abbreviations are inconsequential, as is the order of ingredients in the list (those variations all mean the same thing). The single inverted phrase stands out and can easily be repaired because one can’t mix something that hasn’t been chopped. Sally would then strike the extra ingredient reasoning it’s more plausible one person would mistakenly add an item than 25 people would accidentally omit it.
    Even if the variations were more numerous and diverse, the original could still be reconstructed with a high level of confidence with enough copies and a little common sense.
    This, in simplified form (very simplified, but you get the point), is how scholars do “textual criticism,” an academic enterprise used to reconstitute all documents of antiquity, not just religious texts. It is not a haphazard effort based on guesses and religious faith. It is a careful analytical process allowing an alert critic to determine the extent of possible corruption of any work and, given certain conditions, reconstruct the original with a high degree of certainty."

    Regarding Jesus being resurrected by the Father, that is true. However, we must include that Jesus actually claimed to be God. For an instance, in Mark 14:61-62:
    61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?
    62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
    Son of Man is the connection in the Book of Daniel 7:13-14:
    13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
    14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

    Also, we can find connections with Old and the New Testament regarding the attributes of God. For instance:
    Isaiah 44:6 "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
    Connection in Revelation 1:17-18 17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

    Psalm 9:7-8 7 But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8 And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
    Matthew 25:31-32 31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
    Mark 2:5-12 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? 9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? 10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) 11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. 12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.

    Psalm 31:5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
    John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    1 Samuel 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
    John 5:25-29 25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 26 “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
    John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

    Also, there are verses like John 10:30 I and my Father are one.
    Matthew 16:15-17 15
    He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

    I think that, from this, we can conclude that, even though Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Father, Jesus actually is God.
  7. zephcom

    zephcom Well-Known Member

    United States
    Let me recommend a book which will provide you far more insight into Textual Criticism than your illustration does:


    It is a layman's book which lays out the abilities and inabilities of Textual Criticism by a respected scholar. Most Christians will tell you to avoid him because they don't like his conclusions. Regardless of whether one likes or dislikes his conclusions in the examples he presents, his explanation of Textual Criticism is one of the best I've found. He willingly provides information about arguments which disagree with him along with his conclusions.

    Once you have read it, you will understand why your simplified explanation is not correct. The biggest issue with your explanation is that it is testable. IOW everyone who has a copy of the recipe will be able to determine whether it is correct or not by simply making the recipe and eating it. If it doesn't work, they know their recipe is wrong.

    Whether one has the correct wording of a NT document is not testable. One can not simply try the various variations until one finds a variation that 'works'. They all 'work' because no one knows for sure just what the original meant to convey.

    As to your Bible references, which you conclude means that Jesus is God Himself, fall far short. First of all, there is no language I'm aware of in which the meaning of 'father' and the meaning of 'son' allows anyone to think they are the same being. This 'understanding' is only found in Christianity and appears to have been done to avoid having a polytheistic religion.

    There are passages in the Bible which could be understood to convey some form of divinity on Jesus. The Father/Son relationship is one of those. However fathers and sons are ALWAYS considered separate beings.

    I suggest that the best you have accomplished is arriving at the possibility that Jesus is -a- God. But as soon as you do that, you become polytheistic.

    As an interesting aside, one of your Bible verses concerning Jesus' nature also highlights the issues with Textual Criticism. That verse is Matthew 16:15-17. Textual Criticism says that those verses were added much later to Matthew's Gospel. The wording is different. The style is different. Even the placement in the document is weird.

    Textual Criticism is unable to say who made the changes or even exactly when. But it is extremely likely that those verses were not in the original document. Personally, I think they may have been added about the same time as the Holy Roman Catholic Church came into existence in the Fourth Century and they needed a hook to hang their papacy doctrine on.

    Another of your cited passages, John 10:30, has an interesting twist to it also. Look at how two different Bible translations handle that passage:

    The NIV:

    "I and the Father are one."

    The Message:

    "I and the Father are one heart and mind.”

    They have two completely different meanings. The NIV can easy be understood that Jesus and the Father are one being. The Message can only be understood that the Son and Father share their thinking and feeling.

    I'm not competent to say which is accurate. But I do know that the publisher of The Message hired an independent panel of Biblical scholars to review every word in The Message for accuracy to best of their ability.

    To the credit of the NIV, they have several places where they note that there is differences of opinion concerning passages. The end of Mark is one such place where they note that the oldest and best documents end with verse 8. But they continue to include the extra verses.

    The question arises about why, if Textual Criticism is able to determine the precise recreation of the original documents, do our Bibles continue to have these problems? First, it is the truth that Textual Criticism is unable to recreate the original documents.

    But the second reason is likely a much more practical reason. Christians like the way the Bible is now and become angry if publishers attempt to make it more accurate.
  8. Gottservant

    Gottservant God loves your words, may men love them also Supporter

    You knew! Imagine if people said "I don't believe in dreams"! It wouldn't change people having dreams, but they might miss out!

    Seriously, belief is contingent on belief - if you want to tie a knot with your beliefs, go ahead, just don't complain when you get the consequences.

    I'm not trying to rubbish people who believe in nothing, but they are not making life any easier, for anyone - basically!
  9. ToBeLoved

    ToBeLoved Well-Known Member Supporter

    People want to be God. That a sperm and an egg in 9 months form a baby with life a brain, fullly functioning is only something mankind through science has been able to copy.

    Mankind isn't the original creator of anything. Mankind uses what God put here and thinks they are all that and a bag of chips.

    I think some have the mental capacity to think that things like the solar system and stars have been explained and understood by science, but who created them?