Creationism and the Great Debate


My apologies to those of you who are light years ahead of me with regard to the great debate – Old Earth vs. New Earth Creationism. I must confess, I have not been terribly interested in this topic UNTIL NOW… For our experts following TWW, please bear with me during the next few posts, and for those who are ignoramuses about creationism like myself, I hope the information I'll be sharing will familiarize you with what’s going on and what I believe is at stake – that being CHRISTIAN LIBERTY.

In yesterday’s post, I introduced you to Ken Ham, who appears to be the self-appointed spokesman for Young Earth Creationism. Since coming to the United States, this high school science teacher has made quite a name for himself. His B.S. in Applied Science has taken him quite far.

Today I will be featuring a debate that took place between Ken Ham, Jason Lisle (Ham’s associate with an earned Ph.D. is astrophysics), Walt Kaiser, and Hugh Ross.

Allow me to share some biographical information about the individuals who are debating Ham and Lisle.

Hugh Ross is a Canadian-born Old Earth Creationist who is also an astronomer and astrophysicist. His academic credentials are impressive. According to his Wikipedia article,


Ross “earned a BSc in physics from the University of British Columbia and an MSc and PhD in astronomy from the University of Toronto; and he was a postdoctoral research fellow at Caltech, studying quasars and galaxies. Ross was the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society.”

Ross is also a Christian apologist who established Reasons To Believe, a ministry that promotes forms of Old Earth creationism known as progressive creationism and day-age creationism. Given his extensive background in astronomy, it should not be surprising that he believes science teaches an old age of the earth and old age of the universe; however, he rejects evolution and abiogenesis (the development of living organisms from nonliving matter).

Walt Kaiser, Jr., is the the Colman M. Mockler distinguished Professor of Old Testament and former President of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary located in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, which is the main campus and headquarters for the seminary. He retired on June 30, 2006. Kaiser earned his A.B. from Wheaton College, his B.D. from Wheaton Graduate School, and both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Mediterranean studies from Brandeis University.

“Previous to his appointment at GCTS he was academic dean and Professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he taught for more than twenty years,” according to Kaiser's Wikipedia article


He served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1977. In addition, Kaiser received the Danforth Teacher Study Grant and is a member of the Wheaton College Scholastic Honor Society.


The Wiki article also includes the following biographical information about Kaiser:

“Prior to coming to Gordon-Conwell, Kaiser taught Bible and archeology at Wheaton College and taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in several capacities. In addition to teaching in the Old Testament department, he was senior vice president of education, academic dean, and senior vice president of distance learning and ministries. Kaiser currently serves on the boards of several Christian organizations.

Kaiser has contributed to such publications as Journal for the Study of Old Testament, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Christianity Today, Westminster Theological Journal, and Evangelical Quarterly. He has also written numerous books, including Toward an Old Testament Theology; Ecclesiastes: Total Life; Toward an Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching; Hard Sayings of the Old Testament; Communicator's Commentary: Micah to Malachi; Leviticus in The New Interpreter's Bible; Exodus in the Expositor's Bible Commentary; The Messiah in the Old Testament; A History of Israel; and co-authored An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning.”


To understand both New Earth and Old Earth Creationism, I want to share an outstanding resource called the “Origin Views Comparison Chart”. This chart also explains Theistic Evolution as well as Naturalistic Evolution. Did you know there is such a theory as “theistic evolution”? Apparently, Ken Ham and the Duggars have never heard of it. They erroneously think that if one believes in evolution, (s)he must be an atheist PERIOD!

Francis Collins, an evangelical Christian, is a proponent of theistic evolution or evolutionary creation, which he terms “BioLogos”. As Dee has previously discussed, Collins is “an American physician-geneticist (MD/PhD), noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP) and described by the Endocrine Society as "one of the most accomplished scientists of our time", according to his Wikipedia article


With these introductions out of the way, let’s get on with the great debate – Old Earth vs. New Earth Creationism. The debate is moderated by John Ankerberg. FYI – YouTube will not post videos longer than 10 minutes, so the debate has been divided into three segments. I have watched all three installments and highly encourage them. These videos are unable to be embedded, but the links work.


Well, the weekend is here, and we want to lighten things up. Here are two good old boys discussing the Creation Museum.  Enjoy!



Yabba Dabba Do


Lydias CornerGenesis 24:52-26:16 Matthew 8:18-34 Psalm 10:1-15 Proverbs 3:7-8


Creationism and the Great Debate — 63 Comments

  1. Do you have more of a biography on Lisle? He sounds like an interesting man, being one who is both an astrophysicist and a YE apologist.

    In the churches I used to attend, Ken Ham is widely praised and considered the authority on creationism. For this reason, I’m glad you’ve been profiling other scientists who have differing views on creation yet still find God in it all and have faith in Christ. I also appreciate your insistence that this is a secondary, non-salvic issue.

  2. Please stop framing the question in this way. There is NO debate anywhere in the scientific community between an earth that is 4.5 billion years old and one that is supposedly less than 10000 years old. The “debate” doesn’t exist, anymore than there is a “debate” between scientists and flat earthers or those who believe in geocentricism.

    For a scientific refutation of all the creationists arguments for a young earth, please read here, it’s a good start.

  3. Hi Karlton

    The majority of Christians, according to some stats, believe that that the earth is old. Almost all Christian scientists believe that as well. My husband and I are also believers in an Old Earth. If you read this blog, you will see that I advocate strongly for an old universe. I am trying to reach those stuck in churches that demand an adherence to a YE perspective.I believe that such a demand is unbiblical and almost cult like.

    My husband and I left a church that had such a stance. Our current church is filled with people who believe in an old earth and are scientists/professors at UNC CH and Duke. We have clearly presented the evidence for an old earth and have taught classes in churches in which we advocated for this. We are trying to shine a light into the darkness in this area. My husband was Young Investigator of the Year for the American College of Cardiology so we understand the science world better than many who look in from the outside.

    Karlton, Christianity is compatible with science and we, along with many, many others are spreading the word. You are most kind to provide our readers with some resources. Please click on Francis Collin’s name or Hugh Ross’s Reasons to Believe under out blogroll. Collins is one of the greatest scientists of our generation and is a theistic evolutionist.

    Also, I am a creationist in the sense that I believe that God created the heavens and the earth That He is the Uncaused First Cause. However, that does not negate evolution as some. Christians will claim. For example, the Bible says He created man out of the dust of the earth. That could mean He used the elements present and could have done so over a long period of time.

    In other words, He created but how He did that is a mystery and what he used in this process is also a mystery. We believe that God gives humans the ability to observe and experiment and that science is a means of natural revelation.

    Finally, you are correct. There is NO debate on the age of the earth among scientists. The issue is primarily a spiritual matter and many of us are advocating that the Bible allows for an old earth.

    Once again, that you for keeping us on our toes. Please feel free to comment and give links that you think might be helpful.

  4. I can’t believe Ken Ham is still around. I remember his “Answers in Genesis” segment on our local christian radio as a kid. Thanks for giving a tour of this sect of Christian “thought”, I know it’s out there but, like the author, have very little interest in dissecting any of it myself.

    As an aside, wikipedia is a terrible citation. I was torn whether or not to even mention it because most people outside of academia/research based fields use it freely. But to those of us who are within those fields I must say – it hurts your argument. I know it takes a little extra time to hunt down actual sources but you cannot trust wikipedia at all. Nope. Not even a little. The end. Thank you for including where you got your resources but yikes… wiki is not to be trusted.

  5. Hi ho

    I agree with your concerns about wiki but we always check their stuff with secondary sources before we post. Sometimes it does an excellent job of simplifying a bunch of info. If you like, I would be happy to give you some resources to check on the accuracy of what we have written. Just let me know which ones you are most concerned about.

  6. Hello Dee,

    Thanks for the greeting and great commentary. I can see where my first line might have been a bit aggressive, it wasn’t meant to come across that way LOL.

    I am an atheist and have been for roughly 20 years, prior to that I was a born again, evangelical Christian and specialized in Christian apologetics. While I am certainly not going to try and convert anyone, I would like to play devil’s advocate a bit.

    Don’t the YECs have a point when they say the it is logically inconsistent to treat some parts of the bible as literal, especially things considered necessary to Christian orthodoxy such as the virgin birth and resurrection of Christ while at the same time taking those inconvenient parts which seem to conflict with modern science and interject meaning into the passages which isn’t there?

    I am fond of a quote from Walter Martin, a great Christian apologist who said “To ‘paraphrase’ means to put into words other than the author intended; if you paraphrase me, that’s ok, if you paraphrase someone else, that’s ok, but you have to have a lot of gall to paraphrase God the Holy Spirit…I can say it better than He said it…I think that’s going out too far on a limb”

    It seems that a verbal plenary view is the only logically defensible position for the interpretation of scripture. what do you think?

  7. Karlton

    You are most welcome on this blog. I have lurked and commented on for about 4 years. Firstly, I need to let you know that I had extensive foot surgery yesterday and am on a goodly amount of pain medication. If you don’t mind going slow with me for a few days, I should be able to answer you more extensively and coherently in a few days.

    I read the survey this week that said atheists know more about religion than most people in a particular religion, which means that you most likely will be a thoughtful, well versed commenter and I will need to be on my toes!

    You are an atheist who used to be a Christian so I am assuming that you are familiar with Christian terminology.We Christians believe that God is omniscient, all powerful, eternal, omnipresent, etc. Man is finite. Hank Hannegraaff, who is Walter Martin’s successor, said that God explaining himself to us is akin to us explaining ourselves to a mollusk. In other words, we exist in three dimensions, God presumably exists in many more and there will be much that is difficult to understand.

    We believe that there are two types of revelation: Biblical and natural. One of our guest posters did a good job of discussing this issue. Here is the link.

    The Bible is not meant to be a scientific text. Instead it is the story of man and man’s relationship to God.There are certain events that define the faith. For example, Paul said that if the resurrection is not true, then we believers are fools. The basics of the faith center around God as creator, man’s fall, the Incarnation,the Resurrection and man’s redemption.

    God used a number of devices to convey His story to limited human beings. Parables (the pearl of great price), analogy (Jesus is the Rock). God also explained creation to a primitive people. I have often said that, even in heaven, we will still be the created, not the Creator. Therefore, our ability to fully understand the creation of a universe by an all powerful, infinite God will be limited.

    I assume that you are a bit like me.Have you ever contemplated the universe and tried to imagine something that is infinite, be it an eternally expanding and contracting universe, an infinite number of universes, etc.? It is a mystery, whether or not you are a God believer or not. Perhaps God’s account of the creation was a literary framework meant for general understanding, not scientific accuracy.

    OK, the 15mg of hydrocodone has just kicked in and I fear I am beginning to wander. If you don’t mind, let’s leave it there for now. I would be quite interested in your response to me. Although I fear you may think I am simplistic, I am glad that you have taken a moment out of your life to comment here.

  8. Dee

    There is nothing I enjoy more than friendly debate with an intelligent, articulate and friendly host, pain medication not withstanding.

    Let’s talk about creation i Genesis for a moment alongside, say the virgin birth.

    Tell me for example, how do you know that God wasn’t being literal in Genesis about 6 days for creation? How did you decide to make that determination? It wasn’t told as a parable, nor does it appear to be a metaphor or even poetic. It stands as a straightforward account of an event. Quite similar to the virgin birth of Christ.

    Certainly the possibility of a Jewess minx, telling a fib to her husband about why she isn’t a virgin is a far more plausible explanation of how Mary got pregnant. But still you believe the virgin birth story and not a literal interpretation of the creation story.

    Change of subject..yes, I think anyone of any intelligence and curiosity spends quite a bit of time thinking about the universe, M-theory, aliens, origins of life, and a host of other amazing things. The difference, I think, is that I can be amazed, in awe, overwhelmed and yet, neither the beauty of the universe nor my lack of understanding of how it came about cries out for a creator. I am perfectly content not knowing. Maybe someday we will have those answers, I’ll probably be long gone, but the majesty and mystery of the universe is not diminished one iota by the absence of a creator…in truth it is even more amazing without one.

    I honestly don’t think atheists are better versed in Christianity. Depending on the area of the country I might be persuaded that atheists are better versed in a wide variety of world religions and that conservative Christians probably have more depth in their own theology than others. After years of debating both within and external to the Church, I have found just as many atheists who could not give rational answers for their atheism as I have Christians who didn’t understand their own belief systems and needed it explained to them before we could debate.

    rest up, take a nap and when you’re felling better grab a keyboard.

    Eagerly awaiting your reply.


  9. Karlton and all of our readers,

    Dee wants me to express her apologies for not reponding yet; however, she has been having modem problems which will hopefully be fixed tomorrow. She promises she will be in touch soon. Pray for her because she has been experiencing a great deal of pain this weekend following her foot surgery.

    I have just arrived home from our family farm, and although I have internet access there, I did not take my laptop this weekend. We are in the midst of harvesting our cotton. I was able to follow most of the comments with my Blackberry, and I will be responding to specific comments soon.

    Welcome to our new readers! Thanks for responding so thoughtfully, even though you may disagree with us or other commenters. We firmly believe that we can discuss these matters with civility.


  10. Ouch, Dee!

    While praying would be a bit out of character for an atheist, I empathize and hope you have a speedy recovery!!

    If you like, in lieu of a prayer, I’d be happy to send you a nice bottle of wine and a good book to help pass the time! Just tell me where to send it.


    Get Well Soon!!!

  11. A pastor friend of mine posted the following on his facebook page last week:
    “Interesting student invite from a college to teach on creation and evolution. I think God is more concerned we take care of the earth than we figure out how old it is and how God did things.”

    I agree. Our view of creation/evolution DOES matter in the in way that it influences our thinking and our faith. It may be a fascinating study. But those who are insisting on one view over the other as a test of Christian faith are ADDING TO THE GOSPEL. I believe that on that day of rejoicing when we all get to heaven, those of us who figured it right aren’t gonna care one whit about gloating over those who argued the other view. And that goes for the mode of baptism, the role of women in the church, views of aeschatology, and all the other nonessentials that respected scholarly theologians have developed opposing views on. Let’s dress the earth and keep it, study the wonder of creation and accept that other folks just might have a different view of how it started, but they’re still Christians!

  12. I am almost afraid to chime in, as I really hate getting flamed and I am not the most tender and gentle in putting my thoughts into words. Having said that, here goes. Apologies to all if I muck things up for others.

    In my opinion, I can 100% believe in many parts of the Bible as related fact and understand other parts as related myth. I loathe the fundamentalist doctrines that say it can’t be done, or it shouldn’t be done. Fundamentalist atheism included.

    The Bible is the story of God revealing himself to flawed, normal people. They were amazed. They shared the story. It eventually was written down. Do I believe the Creation story was recorded faithfully as the writer had received it? Yes. But assuredly the writer was recording stories he heard, marvelous stories that touched people’s hearts and left them with a sense of awe and wonder. Can I believe the author recorded truly what had been passed on to him without believing in a literal 6 day creation? Absolutely and logically too. Even for those who believe God showed Moses directly what went on in the centuries/millenium before his own time, Moses could have only used his own Bronze Age vocabulary and experience with which to relate what had been revealed to him.

    I believe the Virgin Birth as a miraculous event, because not only do I not automatically rule out miracles, the stories themselves were recorded relatively contemporaneously, esp. compared to the theorized time that passed between Creation and the writing of the Pentateuch.

    Finally, though, my faith rests on personal experience, mystical experience that no one can ever take from my reality. To the fundamentalist this is heresy, yet this revelation came while calling on the name of Jesus! My Pentecostal brothers and sisters would totally understand.=) Add to that every answered prayer, every mystical moment of sensing the love of God for me, every word of encouragement from impersonal sources that hit the spot for the deepest unspoken longings of my heart- yes, I am a Christian.

    But I am NOT a fundamentalist. To anyone raised in the fundamentalist faith, it was always required to believe every word as historical, scientifically, dogmatically, no contextual or linguistic analysis allowed plain as an ignorant farm hand understands it or you’re not a real Christian! To a fundamentalist, it is one way to read the Bible only or you’re damned.

    But fundamentalism is a relative newcomer to Christianity, an American invention at that, and I don’t plan to let them stop me from living for Jesus and believing in an old earth and modern scientific accomplishment.

    Okay, I admit I am no scholar, just an amateur theologian. I am certainly no scientist either. I probably should have just kept my mouth shut, but my words are out there now. Be kind, Karlton!. I mean you no harm. I am not asking you to agree with me in any way, shape or form.

    I would like it if you would acknowledge that Christians don’t have to be fundamentalists to be “real” Christians. But of course that may not happen. My fundamentalist in-laws certainly won’t give me that grace! Why should you? =)

  13. Dear Shadowspring,

    First off let me say I adore the name of Shadowspring…great choice!

    I would pose a question though on your personal experience. It pretty much goes without saying that your experience of Jesus, is most likely a function of geography. Had you been born on the Ganges river you would be proclaiming a personal experience with Lord Ram or Lord Shiva, if instead you place of birth was along the Nile, your visitor would have probably been the god Osiris. My point being, people’s religious persuasion and their visions seem to be driven by geography far more than any other factor.

    This is one of many reasons why I cannot give them any real credence. It does not mean that the experience was not real or meaningful, simply that to say one religion or another has some sort of objective truth based on the fact I had an experience just doesn’t seem to wash with reality.

    Let’s say, optimistically that the gospels were written 40-60 years after the events which it recorded. Someone writes in a letter that 40 years ago there was this young girl who was married to a man named Joseph. Her husband discovers that she isn’t a virgin (a stoning offense by the way) and the young girl offers as a reason that an invisible, being, God himself, impregnated her and she never ever cheated on him or slept with another man…honest Joe…really! Now you accept this poor girl’s reason, as credulous as it is and build an entire belief system around it…and this doesn’t strike you as being a bit gullible?

    Honestly, you think a magical super being impregnation is a more likely candidate for the truth than a young, scared girl, afraid of being stoned to death, making up a story for her new husband?

    I’m not trying to pick on you, really…but can you honestly say that belief in a virgin birth story, especially given the circumstances, is reasonable or rational?

  14. Karlton,

    I absolutely believe in the Virgin Birth. For me, it’s a matter of faith. However, I have really appreciated your comments, and I hope you will continue to follow our blog. I love your respectful attitude!

  15. Hi Karl

    I am a bit laid up still. You made me laugh so hard yesterday when you offered to send the wine and book. I was thinking about how wine would react with my pain pills. I am loopy without all of this stuff! You were most kind to offer.

    I think I amy not have expressed myself clearly on Saturday. Of course you can see beauty and contemplate infinity without it leading to a belief in God.As I have mentioned, I have read extensively on for over 4 years. I even get their updates emailed to my computer.

    I do not have preconceived ideas on what an atheist might believe and how he/she might conduct his/her life. I would imagine there is a great deal of diversity. I have found that many atheists are extremely well versed on talking points of Christianity. And there are many atheists who are very nice-you are an example of one.In other words, I respect you and know that you used to be an evangelical and you have walked away from the faith for thoughtful reasons.

    I was trying to make a different point, albeit ineptly. You made the comment that appeared to say that we must take the Bible at face value, all of it literally and that we cannot pick and choose what is literal and what is figurative. I mentioned the idea of infinity, eternal, omnipresence, omnipotent which are bound up in what we believe to be God. Both you and I have finite minds and infinity is somewhat beyond what we can grasp.

    Assume that God is Creator as is contended by us Christians. His Word or Bible is something that needs to be apprehended by those throughout time and in all cultures. How does God tell all of the world throughout al of time how He created? We certainly cannot fully understand it so He tells us a story that gives us a framework to know that he created the heavens and the earth within the parameters of time.We know He intended for the animals, birds, etc. to appear.

    Karl, as you can tell if you have read this blog, we contend for an old earth and universe. We also agree with you that there is no debate. We believe that evolution is compatible with the faith. Francis Collins has done a good job outlining his belief in both evolution and the Bible.

    If God is who we believe He is, then He is also the author of language. Just as we use parables, analogy, history, allusion, etc. in order to tell stories, so does God. Just as we dislike being thought of as unidimensional, God does as well. I have a lot of friends who are left brained-they like the equations, scientific texts, etc. I am right brained and like poetry such as Robert Frost and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, allegory such as Kipling’s “Just So” stories, Star Trek, mysteries, etc. God’s language is made up of all of these.

    This is about all I can handle for now. But, I am so glad you are here and challenging us to think. One question off subject, what book would you have sent me and why? I love to read.

  16. That’s an excellent question…I’m torn actually. My first inclination was “Skeptics and True Believers” by Chet Raymo, followed by another of his called “When God is Gone, Everything is Holy”. He does a wonderful job of blending science with faith, I’m sure you’d appreciate it.

    However, in a lighter and maybe more accurate assessment of your tastes I think I would have actually sent you my copy of “Hamlet – Prince of Denmark; The Revised Klingon Edition”.

    It is actually a scholarly side by side translation of Hamlet – Prince of Denmark in English and Klingon. It was done by a group of linguists who had formed the “Klingon Language Institute” as a side project.

    The real question is what kind of wine?

    The offer is still on the table .. just tell me where to send it.

    Thank you Dee and Deb – I hope you take great pride in your blog, you’ve done an awesome job!

    More theology in the morning!

  17. Shadowspring

    You did an awesome job of going through your experience and beliefs. I could sense the depth of your spirit in that. Thank you.

  18. Nickname

    I agree with all of your points but one. It matters for eternity if young people leave the faith because Christian faith is tied to YE beliefs. If YE is maintained as a personal view, I have no problem. When it becomes a public matter with the likes of Ken Ham accusing OE proponents of heresy and this leads to kids leaving the faith, then I will fight this viewpoint with every breath that I have.

    I used to believe that this was a matter of differing interpretations. I used to believe that both viewpoints were allowable in the faith. That was before i saw YE proponents acting ugly to OE in a class. That was before I had one of their local leaders tell me that he would never allow anything but the YE perspective be taught in church. That was before i saw a friend of my daughter walk away from the faith because he believed he had been lied to and therefore threw the entire faith out as a lie

    .I used to believe that both sides were equally complicit in treating one another poorly. Well, no more. The majority of ugliness that this woman has seen has been on the side of the YE types. Who throws the words heresy around? Who show precious little concern about the faith of our kids so long as their peculiar doctrine is preached?

    I used to be interested in a moderate view on this issue. No longer. The kids are too important.

  19. Dee,

    I agree, and it is exactly for those reasons that I treat YE and OE with equal disdain. Any type of dogmatic, belief system which requires that you check your logical and reasoning facilities at the door is a terrible thing to impose on our children. I dream of the day when the world can conceive an entire generation free of those ancient trappings. It will be a welcome day in my book.

    The closest I’ve seen so far is a branch of Judaism called Humanistic Judaism, they celebrate all of their cultural richness and history but at the same time they have jettisoned belief in the supernatural…I think its a wonderful blend of religious tradition with modern ethics and knowledge.

    Here’s a short snippet from one of their web pages…

    “Humanistic Judaism differs from secular or cultural Judaism in that it is congregational in form and substance. Jewish education, holidays, tradition and life cycle events are the foundation of Humanistic Judaism. While the important role of God in Jewish history and tradition is recognized, and spirituality is greatly valued, Humanistic Judaism holds that supernatural authority should play no role in human affairs; the branch is non-theistic in observance and content.”

    Here’s a link…

    If this came off as a bit aggressive, I apologize, it wasn’t meant that way. I simply haven’t had my coffee yet πŸ™‚

  20. Karlton and Dee,

    Thank you for the kind words. =)


    I have given great thought to that reality, that God would have revealed Himself to me in my time of great need, because of His great mercy, and the reality that I was calling on the name of Jesus(rather than Allah or Lord Vishnu, for example) has very much to do with the time and place of my life. This is why I have great respect for the sincere faith of my Sikh, Hindu and Jewish neighbors. Where they also are worshiping Divine Love, Righteousness, Goodness, etc. we are both in love with the same Diety.

    As to my personal interpretation of these seemingly incompatible facts, it matters little to anyone but myself, though I will share it here. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, as I believe the Bible teaches. I also believe that Jesus is (how to put it?) a Real Entity, not a doctrine. So, if someone is in touch with the Divine and knows him by any other name, I think God is very generous-hearted and will sort it out all out in the afterlife. I am not a dogmatic fundamentalist who believes that God’s gracious love is so stingy that it’s only for people who were born at the right times and in the right places.

    On the other hand, I do think all will meet Jesus one day, and for most it will be a day of great joy. My faith says he is the judge of all men, but also that every mouth will be shut, no one will have a word of complaint against God on that day. I think that is because His mercy and grace are so amazing. In my experience, I would say God’s holiness is Absolute Goodness- not pettiness, touchiness, no ill will at all. In the presence of that Absolute Goodness I was very aware that I was not any where near THAT good, not on my best day.

    And yet, this Great Goodness adored me! I have never felt so loved in my life before or since! Knowing the truth about me, God still LOVED me! Just thinking about it leaves me speechless IRL, and it is exactly this experience that I believe will silence everyone in His presence.

    The “ministry” Paul said we had was this” to tell the world that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, and is no longer counting men’s trespasses against them. If you care to know where (since you are from an evangelical background, not because I am trying to convince you my thoughts should be yours! πŸ˜‰ that is from 2 Cor 5:17-19.

    So as far as my evangelical faith, it is not “turn or burn” but God has already reconciled you to Him, He adores His creation, and if you don’t believe me now no problem for me, because you WILL meet him face to face and on that day you’ll know for yourself what I meant! It is not my job, as I see it, to convince anyone of anything, but to share my experience when relevant, Christ’s love at all times (falling very short of this but giving it my all!) and to share the scriptures when anyone asks.

    There are people who will not feel that acceptance in the presence of Christ, but it is not the vast majority of humanity. It is those who have rejected completely all kindness and tenderness and goodness, who live only for personal power and gain and use others cruelly to get what they want. Some of their activities are described in Rev 22:15 “who love and practice falsehood, practice magical arts, engage in human sex trafficking, idolaters”. As to these terms, I am not well versed in Greek, but I don’t think idolaters means all those who practice other religions. I think (but it really matters only to me) that it means all who use religion for personal power and gain and use others cruelly to get what they want in the process. Even so, I don’t think Mercy is withheld from such people if they want it but rather since mercy was so abhorrent to them in life, it remains abhorrent to them and is a torment to them when the come face to face with Mercy. (C. S. Lewis idea that hell is locked from the inside, if you will.)

    AS to the Virgin Birth, I do believe it as a matter of faith, but you have to admit that if Mary were just another scared lying teen, it is extremely unlikely that her child would have gone on to be such a remarkable Person! I mean what are the odds of that? So I hold on to my faith in the remarkably unique Person of Jesus Christ, the Divine God Man, and my logic as well. Works for me, anyway. =)

    Well, with all this committed to writing, on the internet no less, where it can be seen by everyone and will live on as long as technology allows for it, you will understand as a former evangelical that i have really put myself out there in this conversation. My fundamentalist family members would disown me outright, and I would be branded a heretic for leaving behind the “walk the aisle or burn forever” way of believing.

    Interestingly enough, what I thought were all original thoughts of mine are not that at all! Gregory A. Boyd is a theologian who puts into words well what I had only hypothesized (dare I use that word for spiritual matters? =). I really like his stuff. Well, I have written more than enough to hang myself, and my hope is that Dee and Deb, tikatu and others will still accept me in Christian love, though they may think me loopy in my faith. Peace and good will to all.

  21. Why would you want to go to church and hear about it when you can go to the park and just ride it?

    LOL! Gotta keep ’em entertained.

    “Shadowspring,” haven’t I seen you on Ruth’s blog? Small world.

  22. Thank you shadowspring for that great answer. I have another question, which I’d like to ask..think of it like a survey question if you like…

    Do you think that a law which requires the stoning to death of a person who wears cloth made from two different materials is moral?

  23. Shadowspring

    We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. During our times of searching we may need to wrestle with difficult issues. Our friend, Karl, will be asking us some very hard questions. But they are good questions, nevertheless. Frankly, Shadowspring, I would rather have an honest person,such as yourself, stating some thoughts and concerns than many people in the pew who swallow what they are fed and never ask the right questions.

    Except for the hardest of the hardliners, most Christians do not believe that you have to confess Jesus verbally to go to heaven in all circumstances. Before anyone loses their lunch, I am referring to those who die in infancy.Most believe the infants go to heaven. What about the mentality handicapped?

    Let’s make it even harder. How many Christians would really sell all they have and follow Jesus? We all shake our heads at the rich young man who came to Jesus and walked away without selling everything. Look at the brouhaha that has erupted with Francis Chan doing precisely that. Mark Driscoll and gang thing he is nuts.

    Shadowspring, even though I believe a bit differently than you do, I still think what you say is important. We would never reject you based on your thoughts. Be like a Berean. Study and think and ask God. He loves those who seek after him.

  24. Karlton,

    One thing is for sure, I am glad to be born at this time in history! It’s hard enough being a woman in 21st century America…

    There are other parts of the Mosaic Law that I would have picked to puzzle over. The wearing of a single fabric was pretty easy to keep, and at least not sexist. =)

    I think Jesus best answered the question on the morality of stoning for any reason when he was confronted with the woman caught in adultery. Which is another reason I have so much more hope for humanity than the religion I was raised with.

    The judge of all mankind is the same man who took upon himself the sin of the world, that we might be made righteous in him. He is the same man who said to that woman, “Does no man condemn you? Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The fact that Jesus in in charge and calling all the shots at the end of days is very encouraging to me. =D

  25. Dee,

    Thank you. Life is fluid, and my life is no different. Things I believe today I may not hold to tomorrow, and vice versa. When I was 20 I had all the answers, the questions came later! 0.0

  26. Hi Karl

    If you don’t mind, I would like to jump into this discussion. I am feeling a bit better. About 15 years ago, I had a crisis of faith when I discovered that the story of the woman caught in adultery was not in the earliest manuscripts. I began to wonder what else i didn’t know. So, I set off to find answers to my questions. I read the atheists-Dawkins, Harris, Ehrman (well, he calls himself a happy agnostic but I digress). I read about other faiths. I wanted to understand all of the difficulties of Christianity and i was fully prepared to leave the faith if answers could not be found.

    However, I had a working premise. I am not the brightest bulb on the block. If I had a question about something that seemed contradictory, I guessed that others have had the same questions through the ages and had even found answers to said questions. There are many brilliant people who are Christians and I found it hard to imagine that all of them were deluded.

    I can say that most of my questions have been answered and I am stronger in my faith for having gone through this search.I was raised in a non-religious home and found my faith during an episode of Star Trek when I was 17. However, my faith has deepened since I began my quest over the past 15 years.

    I find it interesting that you think we are a product of our parents and culture in our choice of faith. Yet Christianity is a Middle Eastern faith which has transcended most cultures over time. My son’s dearest friend is Lebanese, the son of Lebanese Christians who immigrated to the US about 30 years ago. Their family in Lebanon has been Christian for many generations.

    There is a church called Mar Thoma. It is from India and was started, according to their tradition, by the disciple Thomas who traveled to India to bring the Gospel. Interestingly, one of their saints is Pontius Pilate, who, according to their beliefs, converted to the faith after the Resurrection and followed Thomas to India. Christianity seems to transcend many cultures and seems to have appeal to populations throughout the centuries.

    You posed an interesting question. Is it moral to kill a man who wears a garment that is made of two different materials? Because you used to be an evangelical, I will make some assumptions of a base of knowledge that those outside the faith would not have.

    As you know, context is key. There are many verses which sound bizarre when taken by themselves. When this was written, the Jewish people were functioning in a theocracy which meant God assumed the same functions that many government agencies would have today. In others words, He was the CDC, the FBI, the sheriff, the court system, etc. Here is what I learned from several sources. If you Google Leviticus19:19 you will see it combined with other verses to give it context.

    In this particular instance, wool was being combined with linen. However, in this combination, it makes for a very poor material-causing it to shrink and warp out of shape. People spent their hard-earned money and were essentially getting ripped off.Basically, the weavers were defrauding their brothers and knew they were doing so.

    Secondly, this material was used by pagan priests in their religious ceremonies. The Jewish weavers were probably trading with them and supplying them with the clothing to be used during religious celebrations. So, they were not only disobeying their brothers, the were also helping out pagan priests.

    Now, these guys had the option to leave the Jewish faith and become pagan. They chose, instead,to stay and disregard Gods commandments. Perhaps death seems harsh but these guys were disobeying laws that made sense in the context of their culture.

    So, was it moral? I believe God is the author of morals that Christians and Jews follow. Within that context, I think it is moral and understandable.

  27. Karlton

    Somehow I skipped over your morning comment. You do not come across as rude or arrogant. Your points are well taken. You claimed that both YE and OE require one to check his brains at the door. I understand that in regard to YE. Could you please tell me how it applies to OE?

  28. You claimed that both YE and OE require one to check his brains at the door.

    Well then, that pretty much covers everyone.

  29. Morning all,

    First and most important, what did you think of my book selection for you Dee?

    I am flabbergasted that you would find that “moral”, really? Regardless of the circumstances, the death penalty, stoning no less, for wearing the wrong pair of pants!!! Do you believe it is moral that a woman in present day Iran can be stoned to death because her husband finds her not a virgin on her wedding night? But you can, with a straight face say that stoning a person, murdering them for wearing pants made with two types of cloth is the action of a moral being?

    As far as faith being tied to geography. Maybe I should clarify a bit. I don’t think it is geography per se, but rather a person’s religious beliefs are overwhelmingly tied to the beliefs of the parents, relatives, close friends etc. What I am trying to say is that there is very little evidence that choice of religion is based on logical reasoning or any type of evidence. If you look at the data it seems to point overwhelmingly to the fact that what you believe is what you were raised to believe, yes there are always exceptions, but in general its a true statements.

    Christianity certainly isn’t the only religion to spread… Islam has also spread to all parts of the world, in almost equal numbers..does that make it the right one?

    To show that a person’s religion is not based on reason or any type of honest investigation, take a look at this Wikipedia page

    It lists hundreds if not a thousand or more different religions, each with different theology, claims of miracles, etc. In order to make a logical, rational decision as to which one is correct a person would need to examine, and research the claims of all of them. But what typically happens is that people believe “their” religion, the one they were raised with. Even though every Christian will tell you that making the wrong decision has eternal consequences, none of the actually behave as though that was a true proposition. I dare say that 99% of the people in any religion know very little about their own, let alone all the other religions of the world. You may have been given a tootsie roll by your parents, you may eat one every day, you might truly believe that it tastes better than anything in the world, but until you pick up that almond joy, you really will never know.

    more later πŸ™‚

  30. Karl

    This issue has nothing to do with the wearing of polyester pants (although I know some fashionistas who might advocating stoning for such a fashion faux pas), It has to do with people ripping off their brethren and supporting the pagan priests. Also, said hucksters could have left the fold of the faithful and joined in with any pagan religious tradition they so desired. These laws were for consistent, deliberate offenses usually involving screwing ones brother. They could leave; they didn’t. The people didn’t want them there. My guess is that very few people,if any, were ever put to death over this issue. Once again, this has nothing to do with wearing lousy pants and everything to do with hurting one’s brother.

    I agree that many people know very little bout there faith and are there by default. But just because this is true does not mean the faith is not true.Also, I know many, many people who have considered other religious paths. Remember, we are the Woodstock generation and were told to question authority.

    As for Islam, I don’t think I said that Christianity is the true faith because it has spread to all parts of the world. I intended to say that Christianity is appealing to all cultures throughout time which is the reason for its success. I would concur that Islam has been successful in this venue as it presents an alternative to a unique Christian faith.

  31. Dee,

    You are reading into the passage what is doesn’t say. In the Leviticus version of this “guideline” is also a command against planting mixed seed in a field and permitting your cattle to interbreed. It seems pretty clear that the commandment is against mixing certain things.

    To imply the “real” reason God had on his mind is a bit presumptuous wouldn’t you say? But let’s assume that you’re correct, for the sake of argument, does that make stoning someone any more moral?

    Even in a society with limited means, I think that stoning was certainly not the least humane way of killing…actually its a lot closer to torture than anything else. These are not the commands or actions of a moral being in any sense of the word.

  32. Karl

    I certainly am giving you indigestion!

    Do you have any idea how awful the pagan practices in that area were? They would do infant sacrifices by placing the infant in the iron arms of an iron idol which was heated, burning hot and roast the infant alive. They also practiced human sacrifices, usually women who were tortured, raped and then their veins and arteries ripped open to drain the blood over the idol. These weren’t some nice guy pagans running around drinking and whooping it up. When these supposedly Jewish men were weaving cloth to sell to the priest for their horrendous ceremonies, they were guilty of treason against the commandments of God. Treason is punishable by death even today.

    The following I cut and pasted because it says succinctly what I want to say.

    “The “prohibitions” against mixed fiber cloth and sowing a field with two different seeds weren’t even prohibitions for the Jews, let alone Christians… at least not literally.

    The passage comes as a seal on a list of the highest and most exalted moral instructions (a recapitulation/elaboration of the Decalogue). The culminating passage reads: “I am the LORD, *keep* my commandments. You shall not yoke together two kinds of livestock; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment of two kinds of thread mixed together.”

    These last 3 injunctions … aren’t! They’re ancient agrarian proverbs that just mean don’t mix things that don’t mix, in this case, the laws of God with the customs and laws of heathans.

    Consider: no person in these times needed to be told not to do these things: yoke an ox and a donkey together and they fight or go in circles; sow a field with two different crops at the same time, and you’ll waste at least one of them and probably ruin both since they mature and ripen at different rates and you can’t harvest them independently at different times; weave a cloth with some threads of wool and others of linen and it will wear and shrink unevenly ruining it. Everyone knew these things and none would do them. They are proverbs on the order of “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and “Don’t count your chickens until they’ve hatched.”

    Finally, I am not sure what kind of killing would be more humane. Those days did not have nice lethal injections to put someone to sleep and then stop the heart. Traditionally, the Jews wished to be buried with their body parts intact so cutting off a head wasn’t considered a good thing. Poison in those days involved tremendous pain. Actually, I can’t believe I am sitting here trying to figure out a humane way to kill a human being thousands of years ago. I guess that it is difficult to decided what the “nice” way it is to do such a thing.

    I still believe that God is very, very good. I am not saying I understand every last bit of my faith but there is enough I do and I am convinced that He is who He says He is. In the end, I think that God has answered enough of my questions for me to follow Him. Also, as shadowspring said so well, I have sensed His presence in my life which adds credence to the things I have studied. I know that such a thing is not convincing to you but it is to me.

    I often wonder why some come to the faith and stay and others do not. It is simplistic to say that everyone who stays in a blithering idiot and does not understand the Bible. There is more and I think it has to do with the Holy Spirit giving grace and understanding to those who want to understand.

    I don’t think God drags people kicking and screaming into His presence. He allows us to live the way we wish and discount Him if we wish.

    I bet as an atheist you find this all rather subjective. But, is it? Perhaps it is subjective combined with objective that gives rise to faith.

    Well, I bet you have some more proof of why the faith is illogical. I hope I don’t continue to disappoint you.

  33. Dee,

    I have lots of things that I think it require a lot of mental gymnastics in order to believe they come from a loving God.

    The quote above makes a statement that they aren’t injunctions. It’s a nice thing to say, but based on what evidence? As a simple minded person, reading it certainly sounds like an injunction. I doubt the shepherds, fishermen and farmers of 2000+ years ago would have understood those subtle nuances like your friend seems to, not to mention that the same injunction is also found in Deuteronomy as well as Leviticus, but lets move on πŸ™‚

    You never told me how you liked the book suggestions I gave. Where they that bad?

    The Old Testament, clothing choices aside, offers many examples, not only of death penalty offenses, but look at the atrocities committed by the order of God. Genocide, infanticide, rape, torture and the list goes on and on. This surely cannot be the workings of a moral, compassionate, loving God, not in any sane sense of the word.

    OK, I vented, I feel better now. How about a completely novel question for all?

    What makes someone worthy of worship? If a being appeared in the sky tomorrow, and could perform whatever trick you asked of him. Does that necessarily make him worthy of your servitude and worship?

  34. Karl

    I was interested in all of the books you mentioned. I’m sorry that I forgot to say something. I have not read any of them but will read one book that you suggest. My Kindle is filled with about 15 books that “need” reading and I am happy to add one more.

    I saw some stunning views when I was in Alaska. There were times my breath was taken away. Blue sky, snowcapped peaks, whales jumping. Worship is like that. A breathless connection and acknowledgment of beauty and magnificence often beyond words.

    God does not perform tricks. He is the creator of the heavens and earth. Far beyond my imaginings. Yet He loves His creation and He particularly loves us. He dwells in us by His spirit and is the lover of my soul. That love is real to me although I bet you think it is some sort of religious delusion. However, if this is a delusion, I don’t want to be cured. But i am willing to explore it with you.

    I do not feel “obligated” to worship Him. Instead it is something that comes from deep inside, like a song which is born from a grateful heart. I know you feel free as an atheist. I want you to understand that I, too, feel free as I ponder Him. Somehow, in Him I have my being and feel at peace.

    One time, when my 3 year old daughter was very sick with a malignant brain tumor, I cried myself to sleep. I woke suddenly,in the middle of the night, out of a dead sleep and felt surrounded by warmth and light. His presence was palpable. In fact, all I could say was “thank you.” Once again, I am sure you think I was deluded but it was real then and i remember it now, man years later. For me, the presence of the Almighty is reality. But, this is not something I can prove to you. It just is.

  35. I guess what I was getting at, wasn’t so much the desire to worship as much as it was that He commands us to worship. Does even omniscient power give a being the right to command worship?

    The feelings you have are no less real and no less powerful to you, than the feelings a Hindu has worshiping his God, or that a Mormon feels in worshiping theirs, or a Wiccan theirs. Since they are all the same and each person claims them as proof of their divinity, then in truth, logically, none of them can be used to prove anything. Certainly if there was a God only his followers could claim such feelings. Wouldn’t you agree?

    What seems much more reasonable is that these experiences are common to all mankind. They need no supernatural explanations. Even those of us who do not believe in the supernatural experience the same feelings.

  36. Karlton

    Do you prefer Karl or Karlton? I know that other faiths have similar feelings. There seems to be something built into man to cause her/him to seek after a God. I understand the concept of memes and have read Valerie Tarico’s thoughtful explanation of the view of the atheist/agnostic. But, just like faith, memes require faith as well.

    I do not use my own personal experience to justify that my faith is real for anyone else. I have read extensively and have come to the conclusion that Christianity answers my questions in a more complete manner than any other faith or lack of faith. Whoops, I know that the second half of my last sentence is a no no in atheist lingo. But it is the best way that I can express my conclusion so please forgive any lack of empathy for your position. I don’t mean to be thoughtless but I want to explain my own journey.

    I do not worry about others. They have the freedom to choose their own path. If God is who His Word claims He is, I believe He is loving and just and that He will do what is right and good. Naive, huh?

    For myself and myself alone, this I know. I am a sinner. I am often self centered, judgmental, unloving, unkind, thoughtlessly angry, impatient, self serving and more. I have guilt for things I have done and not done. I only speak for myself in this admission. I believe in a gracious God who has sent His Son to redeem me. I have found freedom from my inadequacies in this faith. I also believe that one day I will stand before Him and that which I have done and not done will be revealed-a kind of forced review of my life. For me, I am glad that I will have Jesus standing beside me as I face God, the Father.

    In HIm, I have found freedom and hope.I have joy as I contemplate that one day all will be made well. I know that this view of faith is not the case for you and I respect that. I also know that you may find me hopelessly naive but that is who I am, for better or worse. I know that loving God causes me to want to do good and avoid doing harm to others. I also know that you, as an atheist, have the same wish without God. I am comfortable with that.

    But I want you to know that I am willing to entertain any question or criticism of my thinking or my faith. Unlike many I do not hide from the FreeThinkers and I often find such questions stimulating and challenging. However, I fear I am doomed to disappoint you. I have read the atheists and I have read Valerie Tarico and have even corresponded on two occasions with her.

    Much of what you express I have read on the site.Do you frequent that site? I read it at least 4 times a week. I do not think I keep my head in the sand. I often read the critiques and then read from Christian theologians to see if there are alternative ways to look at common criticisms. In other words, I read both sides. But, as it says in Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, I have gone over to the other side and may be too far absorbed.

    I appreciate your willingness to communicate in a kind an respectful fashion. I have not always been well received when I have voiced my thoughts at certain atheist sites, however benignly. But, I understand that many have been hurt by religion and that is reason enough.

    Best wishes

  37. Dee,

    Isn’t that interesting that belief in religion has you convinced that you are a sinner, self-centered, judgmental, unloving, unkind, thoughtlessly angry, impatient, self serving person…along with the baggage of associated guilt.

    What I see when I talk with you is a considerate, gentle, intelligent, articulate, passionate, thoughtful, fearless, generous person with noble sensibilities and overwhelming sense of empathy towards other peoples problems and concerns.

    That is one of the main things that I have against all religions in general is that they destroy a person’s sense of self. They riddle a person with guilt in order to manipulate and control them, to make them dependent on something outside of themselves for their self-esteem.

    You don’t need to find freedom from your “issues” what you need, if I may be so bold, is to realize that there is no “sin” you are not “unworthy” there is no yoke from which you need to be freed…in that you will find your greatest freedom.


    Never been to, and I guess Karl is easier…Karlton sounds too much like my mother is angry at me for something…you know “Karlton George Kemerait, get over here right this minute!”..:) LOL

  38. Karlton,

    I have to say that my sense of self was greatly enhanced by my faith in Christ. Like far too many people in the world, I grew up in a very unhealthy environment. Without going into any detail, like all unloved children I grew up believing I was unlovable.

    After my amazing experience(s) as a teen, I came to understand that God valued me very highly, adored me even. And since I understand the gospel to mean that the Holy Spirit indwells mortal men who seek him, there were now two new pegs in my mind on which to hang the notion that I might be in some ways lovable or respectable: God declared me lovable, and this amazingly lovable God deigned to inhabit my spirit. Two great new truths that lifted my head up out of the gutter (almost literally!) and gave dignity and worth to me.

    After many years of following Jesus, I came to believe that what God called good no one should dis, and that included myself! I came to understand that even my weaknesses were transformed into strengths with the help of a little self-control and moderation, doused liberally with Christian love.

    For my neighbor to be loved as I loved myself was not such a bargain for my neighbor in my early years. But as I have come to appreciate the good that God (through biology) placed in me intrinsically, added to the good He generously pours out through me by His Spirit, I think my neighbor will not come off too poorly if I love him as I love myself.

    Which is not to say that I have somehow mutated into the Divine Goodness we call holiness, but I am closer than the day I first met up with it in person. =) Onward and upward!

  39. Shadowspring,

    The point I was trying to make, and maybe I didn’t do a very good job, is that now you self-esteem is dependent on someone else. You feel worthy because you came to learn, or someone told you, that god loved you and you desperately want to believe that someone finds you lovable and valuable. What I was trying to explain is that you must find that value within yourself, it cannot be given from the outside. The fact that god or your parents or your neighbor or your spouse loves you or doesn’t love you should have no effect on your self-esteem.

    Let’s say, just as an example that tomorrow someone can provide irrefutable proof that there is no supernatural, let’s just pretend. What are your options? If you believe them, then you lose your reason for feeling good about yourself, your self-esteem was tied to an outside source that has now gone away or no longer exists. You other choice is to put your fingers in your ears and say “na-na-na” loudly and ignore the proof that was provided because you can’t stand the thought of how you would feel or how you would deal with life without it. I know, because I was in that situation for many years.

    You need to derive your self-esteem from inside yourself. You need to realize that there is nothing wrong with you and that the way other people treat you or think of you is THEIR problem, it is not a result of some failing in yourself.

    Just a few thoughts from someone who’s been there. πŸ™‚

  40. Karl

    I fear that I did not clearly express myself. Actually, I have no guilt now because I have been forgiven. I believe that all people, except for sociopaths, have guilt for things done and undone. We are human and fail. Sometimes we hurt others and sometimes we cannot fully make amends. I am glad that I can put this guilt on Jesus and I am forgiven. That is freeing. In fact I do not spend my day being concerned about these issues and am free to love and care for others.

    I am glad that you think I am a nice person. But we all put our best face forward, don’t we? We all desperately want to be thought of as nice and good. Deep down inside we all look for approval from others. Even the most secure will admit that. But most of us know the real story. The nice is mixed with the not so nice. For me, I get a double deal. Forgiveness and love both given by Jesus.

    This freedom has caused me to make some stands that have caused others to not think highly of me. Guess what? I don’t really care. I know who I am and am secure in my relationship with others and God.

    So today I face the world with optimism and security.Christianity has offered a solution. I have a way to deal with guilt, I no longer have guilt, and I am deeply loved by a Savior and my family and friends.

    And what better way to demonstrate that security than to put my thoughts and concerns out on the web so that a nice guy like Karl can challenge me?

  41. Karl
    Please consult Francis Collins’ book, The Language of God. Since he is the world’s leading expert on the human genome, soon to be Noble Prize winner (according to all) and a believer in the virgin birth, he might have an idea.

  42. My point being…God is not flesh and bones, hence no DNA. Is our sinful nature transmitted through the male or female? It raises a fair number of interesting theological issues. So then the virgin birth isn’t one miracle it seems like it must be several at least. If God has no DNA then Jesus DNA is the same as Mary’s DNA and hence the question of Jesus’ divinity? If His is not Mary’s then how is he fully human, and if not how could he have experienced and for that matter been a valid sacrifice for our sins. Did he have a sinful nature? Who did it come from? If he didn’t have a sinful nature could he truly have experienced temptation?

    So many questions, so little time.

    Maybe we need an “ask the atheist corner”

  43. “What I was trying to explain is that you must find that value within yourself, it cannot be given from the outside. The fact that god or your parents or your neighbor or your spouse loves you or doesn’t love you should have no effect on your self-esteem.”

    This is your personal dogma. I reject it outright. You have no right to tell me what I “should” or “shouldn’t” feel, believe, or value.

    It very much feels as if you are putting me through The Four Spiritual Laws of atheism, trying to cause me to doubt my self and my reality so that I will then be forced (by what you believe is the beauty of your superior logic) to assume your dogmas as the only possible creed to live by.


    Since it appears you are not engaging in dialogue with me as a means to understanding my unique experience of life, but are merely seeking to “convert” me to your way of thinking, I am bowing out. Communicating with you has, for me, become the internet equivalent of being civil to the Jehovah’s Witness at the front door.

    i had not intent in trying to convert you, but your only motivation for being here appears to attempt to convert me. Bummer, and goodbye. SS

  44. SS,

    I have no intention of converting you. If you ask my personal opinion I think everyone would be better off without belief in the supernatural, but my purpose on this blog is just to generate questions for discussion, play devil’s advocate and see what type of reasoning is behind other people’s belief systems and to share ideas.

    Maybe a better way, watch out I’m going to make a suggestion here, to know the mind of other people is simply to ask them and not make assumptions about their intent.

    The “advice” I gave had nothing to do with trying to convert you or anyone else. It was simply a statement of fact, one even Lucy with her 5 cent psychiatry sign would agree with. Self-esteem should always be derived from within and never be dependent on an outside source.

    Is your self confidence and sense of reality so frail that you feel they are at risk if you stay and talk? I’ll miss your input, but the choice is yours.

    – chao –

  45. Karl,

    I don’t think it is reasonable to say self-esteem must come from within. Even from an evolutionary standpoint – we are social creatures evolved to work in groups. This implies we will tend toward some kind of externally focused group motivation, such as feeling ‘worth’ something as evaluated by those around us.

    Even more so, the ‘worth’ of something involves someone or something to give it value. A tree is just a tree, but it can be of great value to the birds living in it, or of very little value to the developer wanting to put a house where it stands.

    I think our ‘worth’ or ‘self-worth’ is a complicated interaction with what our culture tells us is valuable (externally defined) and what we discover we happen to be able to do or be. I can learn to be content with what I am able to do even if it is not something deemed particularly valuable by my culture, but even this is usually a learned response drawn from a culture that values the individual for intrinsic reasons.

    One source of a culture’s valuing of the individual is religion itself. Especially the Judeo-Christian ethic which you benefit from even without embracing it directly. The Biblical teaching that we are each created by God special to Him and of great importance to Him forms the basis of our strong cultural sense of the worth of the individual. I dare say your own ability to find self-worth ‘independent of another’ is in fact derived from that cultural component, which is itself something you learned from others – meaning it is not truly self-derived.

    I think there is likely no better way to fulfill the need to feel worthy, to feel worth something, than to find that worth in the creator Himself. If our sense of worth comes from God, from the fact He saw fit to sacrifice Himself for us, then we no longer depend on any other human element to create our sense of worth. We are then free to be as conscience dictates, to act and be according to that worth we find in Him.

    I find it a very freeing thing. I am not worth something because of what I can do, or what I know, or how I look, or what I am successful at. I am worth something because God says I am worth something. And in that I can rest. The worth God gives can’t be taken away, can’t be lost. Not if one understands who God is and what He offers.


  46. Dee,

    I can see the point that you are making and to some extent I agree with it. Yes, our self-esteem can certainly be influenced by our environment, maybe more so when we are younger and trying to develop our self-esteem as we have no internal frame of reference to measure against.

    What I was suggesting was that as adults, in order to have a positive sense of worth which is stable, it must be based on our sense of our own intrinsic value. We must feel that we have value independent of the people or environment around us.

    While I enjoy you friendship, for example, if tomorrow you kick me off the blog, I wouldn’t crumble into a suicidal heap who thinks I am worthless to the world because you don’t like me anymore. A simplistic version I know, but trying to make a point.

    There seems to be a relationship between codependency and low self esteem from a psychological viewpoint. Here’s a short quote from a WebMD article..

    “As an adult, a codependent person has no sense of self, Weiss tells WebMD. ‘Their whole life is spent in wildly swinging arcs to meet others’ expectations. If you’re nice to me, I’m a good person. If you look at me funny, I’m a bad person. I don’t know who I am. I am incredibly dependent on other people to tell me who I am.’ ”

    Couldn’t this also be true of a relationship with God? Maybe even more so from my perspective since without any evidence, God is likely an imaginary friend to begin with, thus we can have whatever relationship we like with Him.

  47. Oriensbelt ,

    so sorry…I didn’t notice that you aren’t “Dee”, not sure who I insulted by doing that πŸ™‚

    The comment above was a response to your comment, not Dee’s

  48. Hi Karl,

    The mix up is not a problem for me at all. I am honored that my comments could be confused with hers.

    To the point however: I don’t see codependency as applying to a relationship with God. God as defined in scripture is not like an imaginary friend in that one can’t just arbitrarily define Him. The scriptures give us a fairly clear view of the basics of who He is and we learn about Him through them. Further, and more importantly, as one develops in relationship with God one becomes very aware of and secure in who ones ‘self’ is. The Holy Spirit helps us to see what we are and what we are not, and the constant interaction with God allows us to grow into a far better person than we could ever be without Him.

    I am sure from your perspective this seems odd – as to you this relationship must be a fiction. But that would be central then to the difference in our beliefs. And something not provable one way or the other. Nevertheless, whether you are right or I am right,then end result of my relationship with God is that I am quite a different person than I was 43 year ago when I began this journey. Even than I was 20 years ago. God has given me the strength and grace to deal with many difficult issues, both personal and social.

    But to the issue of self worth, and the issue of ‘worth’. Of course one should not be so dependent on anothers opinion that we crumble if rejected … another human that is. But supposing God is a real being, and He is the creator of all that is and decides our fate in all ways – do you suppose it makes sense NOT to care what He thinks?


  49. Orions Belt/Karl

    First, OB, I was just about to write the same sort of thing. You beat me to it and did a better job than I would have! Thanks.

    Karl, I understand the imaginary friend thing quite well. I see it quite frequently in atheist circles. It is a way to demean a profound experience that has been held by many people of differing cultures, rich and poor, intelligent and limited, powerful and weak throughout time. Are all of these people deluded, crazy, simpletons, unevoloved? Are the atheists truly the “brights” as Dennet, I believe, wishes atheists to be called?

    I respect you, Karl, and would never refer to your lack of belief in a disrespectful fashion. I deeply believe in the freedom of all men choose an explanation for life that is meaningful to them. I profoundly disagree with your beliefs but I would not call you “psychotic” for example. When you use the word imaginary you are reducing my belief to a childhood game, something to be discarded when I grow up to be a big girl.

    Why is it good to derive my esteem from God? I need you to pretend from a bit to understand my paradigm. If God is Creator, He understand me. If He is the lover of my soul, then He loves me even when i do not care. If the Creator of the Universe calls me His daughter, then I am secure in my relationship. It is trustworthy, steadfast, understanding, unchanging. It runs deep, infusing my being.God is steady and does not change from day to day. He would never kick me off His blog or defriend me for example.

    I am waiting for the Flying Spaghetti Monster explanation next. You see, I get what you are saying. Yet, no matter how much I ponder, read others, etc I still have belief which grows deeper with each passing year. Why is it that some, like yourself, can walk away and others, like myself, find my faith deeper with each passing “proof” of no God? Such a quandary…

  50. If someone came to me looking for a job which required a fair amount of responsibility and maturity, would I give it to the person who, in the course of the interview, asserted that Zeus (or Elvis for that matter), was indeed alive; that he could sense his presence daily, that he answered his prayers and guided his actions, that they had a special personal relationship and that he and Zeus had very real conversations where he could hear his voice?

    I wouldn’t, and I think it is a safe assumption that most, if not all people would immediately marginalize such a person, and maybe try to get him some help if possible. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I am not mocking the people who hold the belief, any more than I would laugh at the person who could hear Zeus’ voice and claimed that Zeus loved him. I think most Christians would feel the same way toward him. For me, and most others who value reason, there is no difference between belief in Zeus, Elvis, Unicorns and God.

    Even between most Christians and the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, there are fundamental differences in the definition of God and Jesus, if He really existed, certainly only one of those definitions could be correct. If the Christian God is the “correct” one, then all the others must be incorrect, wrong, imaginary beings, yet their followers all claim the same “experiences”, personal relationships and conversations. I think those experiences are much more likely to be the result of the processes of our psyche then they are to represent any type of external reality.

    You may wonder why I care one way or the other, I mean the guy who hears Zeus’ voice, sad as that is, doesn’t cause me any harm and maybe it makes him happier in the end. So where’s the problem?

    We live in a world where people use their holy scriptures to justify flying jets through buildings, and to cut off the heads of those who believe differently

    We live in a world where stoning women to death because they have brought shame on their families by “allowing” themselves to be raped is considered God’s judgement.

    We live in a world where one of the largest religious institutions tells its followers that using birth control is against God’s will in countries where most children starve to death and the population is riddled with the AIDS virus.

    We live in a world where thousands die every year and the threat of nuclear war looms because a group of people truly believe with all their heart that God gave them the land they occupy.

    We live in a world where groups of conservative Christians try to supplant a decent science education in public schools by teaching the stories of goat herders from 4000 years ago in its place.

    We live in a world where morals and ethics are driven by ancient beliefs and superstitions, where people cannot or choose not to move forward to a more enlightened society because they believe it runs counter to the commands of their God(s).

    We live in a world where religion based intolerance and hatred has been raised to the level of genocide such as in war in Bosnia-Herzegovina between the Roman Catholics, Muslim and Serbian Orthodox.

    While many religious people are kind and innocent of these types of atrocities, there are many who are not, and those people make it impossible to live in a global society and flourish. Unfortunately it is the extremist who is following most literally the dictates of their religion. It is the extremist who is actually applying, without modification, what his religion teaches.

    Are there other reasons for conflict and war, of course! Are there bad people who will do bad things without religion (atheists included), of course. But religion, the belief in an omnipotent deity takes the possibility of reason and compromise off the negotiating table. No Israeli, for example, who believes that the Land of Israel was given by God, will ever, ever compromise on his right to be there. He believe’s it was given by God, man has no say in the matter. We cannot survive in a global society with that type of attitude.

    It is the moderates that I hope someday to be able to convince. Holding on to these beliefs when all reason and logic cries out against them is not just a matter of personal right to belief. It has serious repercussions. It is the moderates who could step up to the plate and publicly jettison the idea of the supernatural and make a big difference. If enough people did that, pressure and help could be brought to the those to far gone to be reached by persuasion.

    Keep the history, keep the social outreach, keep the good things that you find in the scriptures, but jettison the idea of the supernatural, make it possible to change how we live, to find compromises, to adjust our values, morals and ethics and mostly to change how the world grows up.

  51. Hi Karl

    I actually see you making some rather major mistakes. You believe that belief in the supernatural sets the stage for departure from reason, sets the stage for great evil. In reality, the stage is already set for departure from reason, and the stage is already set for great evil. The reality is that it is faith in God through Christ that actually softens and significantly reduces these natural tendencies in those that follow Him – though I can understand how that sometimes may not be obvious.

    Secondarily, all religious expression, all faith in the supernatural, is not the same. Christ allowed for no option in terms of physical force being used to promote faith in Him. He allowed no option for hostile words or hostile emotions in support of Him. Those who do so are in direct contradiction to His teaching and one simply can not justifiably blame any violent action done by someone to promote or protect faith Christ on their faith – they are in direct violation of it. Christ told us to turn the other cheek. He told us to love our enemies. To pray for those that hurt us. To treat others how we would like to be treated. He said if we are forced to labor, we should labor twice what we are forced to do. That if someone speaks ill of us, we should speak well of them. Nothing you list as a problem with faith in the supernatural can actually be due to someone believing in and following Christ. It is due rather to their failure to do so.

    This is not true of the other major religions which form the basis for the examples you put forward to justify your belief that faith in the supernatural is the problem. For example, in Islam there are reasons it is ok to fight, even kill for God.

    If a religion allows justification for hostile action, then the evil that already exists in men will find expression there. And even if a religion does NOT allow justification for hostile acts, the evil that already exists in men will find reason to ignore their own teachings.

    And, not to put too fine a point of it, even if religion is banished, people will still find justification for gross evil. Witness the slaughters of the major communist uprisings of the past, and the oppression of those same governments on their people.

    The problem is in people Karl, not religion or belief in the supernatural. People will pervert even that which is good so they can get what they really want. That is why they (we) need a Savior. We really can’t help ourselves. And we need God’s influence in our lives to truly change.


  52. This is the part that I hate in conversations between convinced atheists and convicted believers. It boils down to who has commited the worst atrocities.

    I believe that men are born with a selfish propensity. In other words, taking care of number one. Communism was such a grand idea. We would all live together in harmony, each one sharing with another so that we would have no “have nots.” Yet the lovely scheme resulted in a government that terrorized its citizens. The leaders had their nice penthouses, fancy cars, and fancy vacations. My relatives were starving to death and had to get out from under that regime. They found freedom along with a better standard of living in this country even thought they worked in the textile mills and leather factories.

    Animal Farm’s oft quoted “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” fits the bill quite well. The atrocities committed by dedicated atheistic regimes matches anything you can come up with for religions.

    Men use atheism and religion for their own ends, usually quite self-serving. What some have done in the name of Christianity is atrocious. That, however, does not mean that such people were living the mandates of the Scriptures.For example, over at, they post arrests of pastors who have been found to be pedophiles. Yet, it is a well known fact that people disguise their evil propensities and go into situations in which they can perform their evil deeds. There are just as many pedophiles hiding out as youth coaches. Does that mean that sports leads to disgusting perversions?

    Christianity gives me a reason why there is so much pain and suffering in the world. Men and women are intrinsically selfish and will seek out ways to indulge their ego driven nature. Some will hide out in religion and others will hide out in philosophical naturalism.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all “just get along.” We could make John Lennon’s “Imagine” our national anthem. Just get rid of religion and all the bad people will go away. Then, all the “good” guys with all of their intelligent solutions will win the day. There will be no more war, poverty, abused children, and the “world will live as one.” And you think that those of us who believe in a God are deluded?

    Unlike you, I believe there is a sin problem. Men and women think that they can “solve” all the pain and suffering in the world. I don’t think so. I think all men find a way to enhance their positions on this planet and will do so at the expense of others.

    You have a losing battle. A majority of mankind will seek to find God. The only way to attempt to stop it is to impose a totalitarian regime and shoot and kill all the God believers. Wait. The Romans tried that and the Christian faith flowered. The Soviets tried that and the faith blossomed in Russia. Even some of the Politburo hid their faith in God. The Chinese have tried and have just about given up. House churches flourished in a county that stressed atheism and imprisoned and killed those who would profess such a doctrine.

    Could it be that you are the one who refuses to see that mankind throughout the ages has sought to find God, believes there is a God and will do so until the end of time? Why doesn’t the world buy your argument if it is so logical?

    Here is the difference between you and me. I would hire you to work in my company although you are an atheist. Unlike you, I respect your freedom to choose your path in this world. I also believe that atheists are dangerous as exhibited by the totalitarian, atheistic regimes that have harmed and killed millions.

    But, I don’t judge Karl on the backs of his Soviet brothers. I believe that Karl needs to be judged on his own merit. In fact, I kind of think you are a “nice guy” atheist and that we could even be friends and respect one another. I also think you might like Orion’s Belt who is a gentle soul and a God believer.

    Peace does not come from the enforcing of ideologies. I am a firm believer in separation of church and state. But, I do not believe said separation means that only atheists have a say in government. we all do and we must learn to work together and stop talking past each other.

  53. Dee,

    Sorry I’ve been a little under the weather lately…

    It is not a balance sheet of who has the worst atrocities on their side, but typically when you have an atrocity with a religion base, it is just that…religion or belief in a religious premise is the cause of the problem or at least fuels it.

    On the other hand, typically, atrocities committed in a non-theistic regime are not occurring because the inhabitants are non-theists and value reason and logic, anymore than it is because they all have brown eyes or are under 6′ tall. The lack of belief in the supernatural isn’t fueling the problem, its what you mentioned later, bad people, desire for power or control or money.

    Notice I said typically in both cases there are always exceptions.

    My premise is that typically, atheism and certainly humanism is based on reason, critical analysis, and compassion. There is no extreme of those things which can cause a person or justify a person acting badly. Belief in the supernatural, however, though it has many good things associated with it also can be and historically has been interpreted (and not incorrectly), to commit atrocities.

    I would hire you to work in my company and I believe that everyone has the right to their own set of opinions, but they do not have the right to their own set of facts.

    I think, Dee, another issue with religion is the mindset it creates. For example, your website is a wonderful forum for discussions of opinions and beliefs…a search for truth, if you will. But typically, Christians, and I’ve asked more than a few, even if shown facts on a subject, if the facts contradict their belief system, they will refuse to change their beliefs. That attitude is contrary to learning and advancing, the “search for truth” is a true search because it treats certain things as sacred and untouchable in spite of evidence.

    You asked why, if my logic is sound, so many people over the world continue their search for God. But I think that’s a fairly easy question to answer. Critical thinking does not come easily, as you know it is work…sometimes hard work. People like to believe they have control, having “answers” that are eternal, the promise of life after death, having a community of like minded people, being loved are all psychologically very satisfying, fulfilling ideas. People are naturally drawn to what is pleasing, especially if it is also the easier path to follow (i.e. requires less work).

    That’s how they get there, I think the answer for why they don’t change is similar but even more difficult. When I changed my beliefs (over time), I did not want to lose my friends, I didn’t want to believe that all my years of study were for naught, I didn’t want to admit I was wrong, especially to others. My ego, my sense of self was intricately tied to my faith. If I gave up my faith I was frightened, what would be left? It is not an easy process.

    You probably understand the concept of witnessing to someone, you often get to a point where you need to stop and (to use a phrase from my distant past) allow the Holy Spirit to work on them and change their mind. While I don’t believe in spirits (holy or otherwise) any more, the underlying principle is sound. People will work at resolving cognitive dissonance over time, they can’t help it. It seems the brain doesn’t like holding onto contradicting ideas. Some will resolve the dissonance by giving up their faith, others will try to compartmentalize it and still others will close their eyes and outright reject the facts which contradict their faith.

    I’m sure that Orion is a nice person and I never said contrary. Sometimes this medium can seem harsh simply because it is so sterile. I come from a background, even as a Christian of debating and critical thinking, for me, saying a person’s idea is stupid (I try to never use that word) or irrational is simply a statement of fact and does not imply dislike or disrespect for the person themselves.

    Finally, in terms of governments and a believer’s right to be involved. I fully support it. In fact I have recently argued quite vigorously that because a person happens to be a Christian AND wants to government to legislate marriage as between a male and female is NOT a separation issue. The basis for a person;s beliefs, whether religious or humanistic is beside the point, they have a right to petition the government to make laws which will change society to suit their liking. The only time I have an issue with church/state is when a government supports or appears to support religious entities and when a church or religion (not a person) attempts to wield governmental control or influence our laws.

    phew πŸ™‚ … back to bed LOL

  54. Hi Karl

    For what it’s worth, I prayed that you would feel better. I am also up for sending you a bottle of wine as well:) Thank you for writing a comment even though you are sick. After this I plan to write a comment on your blog.

    So the atheists have a lock on reason and logic? Once again I have to disagree. I bet there are just an many logical people on the side of deism as there are on atheism. How else can you explain men like Francis Collins? Even Hitchens admires him as evidenced by his recent series on coping with his esophageal tumor in Vogue.

    Reason and logic does not prevent atrocities. For many communists it made sense to eradicate God believers and those who believed in a democracy because it made logical sense that the world would be a better place without them. Kruschev famously eradicated a starving village because there were no resources available to feed the hungry people. So, it was better to shoot and kill them in order to better allocate resources.

    As you know, Singer has famously advocated for the morality in disposing of handicapped people who drain our resources. He also has said that a child can be killed up to a year after birth if the parents decided that it is to much trouble to care for them.

    All of these sound logical and reasonable given limited resources.

    The same goes for compassion. Why is compassion limited to humanism? God believers understand that each human is valuable as do humanists. They base their belief that God is the author of life and that person is a dearly beloved child of the Almighty. Each person’s worth is not predicated on whether they contribute to society. It is not based on a utilitarian view of man.

    Have you ever read Henri Nouwen? He was a highly educated priest who decided to live and sere the seriously mentally handicapped people of L’Arche.
    Here is an amazon link

    He said that he learned more from the simplicity of these folks then he learned in years at university. Don’t get me wrong. I love education. Both my husband and I have advanced degrees.But education merely opens ones eyes to the possibilities of love and service.

    I have a pug dog named Petunia. She was seriously abused for 4 years. Her legs was pulled out of joint, her eyes were infected, and she was quite sickly. She was afraid of humans, cowering in a corner.She was not housebroken and was too afraid for a long time to be trained. Logically it would make sense to put her out of her misery. But, for some reason, not logically, I saw potential in her. So we tore up our rugs, put down wood floors, and began a two year process to win her over. Today, she loves people and has recently learned to play games with her sister pug-Lilly.

    She taught me much about long-suffering and unconditional love. What would one less dog in this world have mattered? Heck we are all going to die and be annihilated. She wouldn’t even be around to remember me since she will most likely die before me. Once my family dies who will even remember Petunia?

    I believe that there is more to faith than cognitive dissonance. You seem to put all of us in a box and say that we just want for it to be true so we believe it. Could it be a whole lot deeper than that? Could it be that there are confident people who were doing quite well in this world without who found truth and reason in faith? I certainly could list quite a few candidates and so could you.

    I, along with many others, have honestly sought the truth. If i was convinced that this faith was in error, i would give it up.I have plenty of friends outside of the faith. I have family members who are not believers.In some ways, it would be a whole lot easier if it wasn’t true.

    I understand that it was hard to give up friends and years of allegiance to a faith you no longer hold. But, you claim to have fund freedom in recognizing there is no God. Could it be that others have found things just the opposite of you? They have found answers and freedom in Christ.

    Eventually we will all die. Once again I am grateful that I will die with the hope there is more, with the hope for justice, with the hope that one day all tears will cease,and that I will live on in eternity. I do not follow this faith because of a promise of the world to come. I follow it because it offers answers that make sense. It provides a comprehensive world view that plays out true as i walk through this journey.

    i respect that you have been here and have rejected my premise. That is your right. But I do not think that atheists are brighter, more logical, more systematic, more compassionate and more with it, than the God believers.

    BTW I was pleasantly surprised that you think Christians have a right to participate in the public square. Some of the atheist intelligentsia believe we are all a bunch of child abusers who have forfeited our rights to vote, etc.

    Now I am on to leave a comment on your blog. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.