An open letter to Richard Dawkins: What have you got to lose by debating God’s existence with me this weekend?

(Richard Dawkins is in Sydney this weekend so I issued this challenge to him on the Christian Today website) 

Dear Professor Dawkins,

51C2WO1QhpL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_Apologies for writing you another letter (remember The Dawkins Letters?) but you just don’t seem to be responding. It’s so funny how we don’t talk any more. Anyway, I hope you are well and fully recovered from your recent bout of illness (I would tell you that I prayed for you but I realise what a triggering effect that can have so I will just keep that one silent). But it’s good to hear that you have recovered well enough to be able to travel and speak in Australia.

I have just discovered that you are due to be in Sydney this coming weekend, on a kind of antipodean tour – after playing to packed out theatres in New Zealand and elsewhere in Australia. I guess you undertook this after the cancellation of the third global atheist convention in Melbourne that was due to take place in February. Apparently it was cancelled because of ‘lack of interest’.

Richard Dawkins speaks at Christchurch, New Zealand
TwitterRichard Dawkins speaks at Christchurch, New Zealand

This is hardly a surprise. Given that you and your fellow atheists keep telling us that atheism is not a ‘thing’, a ‘philosophy’, or indeed anything but ‘the lack of belief in gods or God’, it always struck me as kind of weird to have a conference focusing on what you don’t believe in. After all, you don’t believe in fairies and yet you don’t have an a-fairiest conference? You don’t collect stamps (do you recognise all the memes your followers keep repeating on the internet?) and yet you don’t have a ‘non-stamp collectors conference’.

Of course you and I know that the simple mantra ‘atheism is not a belief, its just a simple lack of belief‘ is nonsense. That’s why you can go on your tours and play to packed out theatres telling audiences what they want to hear from their prophet – ‘there is no God!’

Remember when we met up in Stornoway on that ‘last stronghold of the gospel in the UK’, the island of Lewis? I listened to your talk the following night, and what struck me was the revivalist tone. Your announcement that ‘there is no God’ was greeted with rapturous applause by those who get really excited about what they don’t believe in. In many of your talks in the US the emotive reading of the opening paragraph of the chapter in The God Delusion which mocks and caricatures the God of the Bible, is greeted in the same ecstatic way. I swear I can hear a few ‘Amens’ and ‘Hallelujahs’.

In some ways this is reflective of the televangelists you profess to despise. People in Sydney are being asked to pay anything from $57 to $160 to hear you say what they want to believe. It’s a nice gig if you can get it! It seems that there is money in atheism as well as religion. I recall the late, great Christopher Hitchens agreeing to debate with me in London. It eventually didn’t go ahead. Why? Because of money. The church that asked us wanted to know our price – mine was a return train ticket from Scotland. His? Two first class plane tickets from New York and $50,000 (later reduced to $25,000 when his agent discovered that the church was ‘a charity’). It seems that ‘the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil’ – including atheism.

Richard Dawkins
ReutersDawkins has been challenged to a debate in Sydney this weekend.

However, I see that there are still tickets available in Sydney, so let me make you an offer that will help you sell out (the venue). Let’s have that debate you keep refusing. Remember how you said that you would debate the archbishop of Canterbury (I believe he has a wedding on), the pope or the Chief Rabbi, but never someone like me – a mere Scottish Presbyterian pleb? Well things have moved on a wee bit…I became moderator of the Free Church – would that be enough status for you? Or perhaps you should consider that your own reviewer wrote on your own website that The Dawkins Letters was the ‘best of the flea books’. So why not debate with me? I’m free in Sydney next Sunday and Monday evenings – and I won’t cost a penny: I’m happy to speak about my beliefs for free. What do you have to lose?

The principal of Oak Hill College, Mike Ovey, was a rather brilliant man, who sadly passed away last year. In my eyes he went to glory; in yours he went to nothing. But he left behind him some rather good writings and insights. One of these was his analysis of what he called ‘colonial atheism’. I thought of this when I heard you were coming to the ‘colonies’ to spread the ‘good news’ that there is no God. I wonder if you are that kind of imperialist thinker who believes that they alone have the truth and have a solemn responsibility to pass it on to the unenlightened natives? Or are you prepared to discuss, engage with and defend your beliefs?

The advert for your show says that you are ‘revered for unapologetic appraisals of critical thinking and equally unapologetic takedowns of religion’. Your followers may revere you but it is somewhat easy to take down a straw man caricature that you yourself have set up. This is a bit like people paying to watch a football match with only one team – its not difficult for that team to win. If you want to be, as your advert says, ‘a staunch ongoing opponent to the waves of irrationality that continually plague the public sphere’, then why not allow some rational opposition? Is it not a bit irrational to refuse to engage in rational discussion with those who don’t share your views? And boring?

Anyway, glad you have recovered. The Lord has given you more time. I’ll keep the diary free…and look forward to getting your agent’s call.

Yours etc.

David

Salvation Came Through Richard Dawkins

On Writing the Dawkins Letters

I thought this from Monty Python was appropriate…

 

96 thoughts on “An open letter to Richard Dawkins: What have you got to lose by debating God’s existence with me this weekend?

  1. What part of the word ‘believe’ does Dawkins not understand? How very nice for him to ‘know’ the ‘fact’ of the non-existence of any Supreme Being!

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  2. ” How very nice for him to ‘know’ the ‘fact’ of the non-existence of any Supreme Being!”

    Dawkins very specifically and intentionally says that he is a 6.9 on his scale of disbelief and that he can’t say categorically that “god does not exist”.

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    1. Please enlighten as to the precise scale to which Mr Dawkins refers. Is it a scale of 0-7? Perhaps 0-10! Perhaps 0-100!!

      Whatever it is, if he is, as he declares, an “a-theist”, then he accepts as a fact that there is no supernatural Being – to Whom, in the English language we accord the nomencaltuer “God”. If he has even the slightest doubt with regard to his oft-declared position, then he is, in fact, an “a-gnostic” – one who is unsure. That is xcertainly not the position that he portrays in public. Surely Mr Dawkins is not deceiving his many followers!!!

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      1. “an “a-theist”, then he accepts as a fact that there is no supernatural Being ”

        No, atheist mean no belief in a god. It is not the positive claim that a god does not exist.

        An A-Theist is one without belief a god. (as in Asexual, Amoral). Agnostic means without knowledge of a god.

        One can be both agnostic and atheist. The 2 are not mutually exclusive.

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  3. Amazing, and you seriously expect a positive response from such an open letter with this tone?

    Why would someone such as Dawkins ever consider engaging you?

    I’ll tell you what, as you believe you may have been slighted by Dawkins and your position and your arguments are so watertight, why not have a simple open discussion with me? n your blog … or even mine?

    I realise I have absolutely no status in this arena , so there might not be much in it for you and certainly zip for me but now that you are somewhat of a big wig in your Church and had over a million views last year was it? – it would at least garner some attention from your followers.
    I have no formal qualifications in the areas of history or theology and thus should be a walk over.

    So what exactly was the debate you wished to have with Dawkins?

    I’ll take on the challenge.

    I only ask that:
    We agree to absolute honesty.
    Agree to answer every relevant question directly with no hand waving and no philosophical blather that may obfuscate and muddy the waters.
    And we also agree to accept and run with current consensus of recognised scholars etc ( archaeologists, historians paleontologists etc) across the relevant fields.

    Are you game?

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    1. No – I don’t expect any response – although he will read it…Dawkins is a coward.

      And no I can’t have a simple open discussion with you – because you seem to be incapable of that. But feel free to continue to ask me any relevant questions and provide any arguments for your case. You keep jumping from subject to subject and are full of ad hom and ignorant assertions…but feel free to continue to troll me..

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      1. You accuse me of ad hom and yet you state in your opening sentence that Richard Dawkins is a coward!

        Of course you can have a simple open discussion with me.
        The question is are you willing to be honest and straightforward?
        Based on evidence so far I would suggest you would be incapable of such a simple thing.
        But I would love to be proved wrong.
        Why don’t you post your intended opening statement to Dawkins here on your blog and we can discuss it.

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      2. I have no intended opening statement for Dawkins! But you can read the Dawkins Letters. You don’t do honest…you do Google….you have your beliefs and then cherry pick quotes that back them…come back once you have done some serious scholarship and show some evidence of being willing to think!

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      3. And this from someone who doesn’t ”do” ad hom?
        Based on your blog, ”Serious scholarship” seems pretty much up for grabs as you have your own views as to what you believe, which often flies in the face of what is accepted by mainstream scholars and historians and archaeologists.
        And why would I need to go and do any serious study to discuss with you the evidence for God?
        Surely you as a minister must have more than enough evidence to demonstrate your case?
        I won’t say you are afraid to discuss these issues as you sound confident to the point of arrogant, but I am curious as to why you refuse to engage me on this topic.

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      4. Yawn….GIven that I allow you to post numerous posts on my blog and spend (waste) time responding to you its clearly not true that I refuse to engage with you…but now I’m of to work…have a good day..

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    2. @Arkenaten I was glad to read your response especially the comment as regard to the tone of the article. As I was reading it I was wondering how the author expects Dawkins to engage with him when he spends a great deal of the “letter” mocking Dawkins I have no idea.

      I also don’t see any evidence of ad hominem in your comment, but plenty in the OP.

      For the record, I am no fan of Dawkins – I thought his book on atheism was very weak, and it failed to turn me into an atheist (which according to Dawkins’s introduction makes me a “died-in-the-wool faith-head”) !

      But I respect your comments here and don’t think you got anything like a reasonable answer.

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    1. Given that every believer in God is in some sense a creationist this would mean that Dawkins would never debate anyone – which is pretty well where he is at now…only talking to those who agree with him – such clear and rational thinking!

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    2. Hello again, Mark,
      keeping up with reasons Dawkins gives for not debating seems to be quite a task! As David points out, a blanket ban on debating-creationists means that he can refuse to debate with any believer since all Christians are in some sense, creationists. This decision might yet prove to have been a short term fix that backfires since the Dawkins credibility is under fire from other atheists.
      This is from p. 14 of John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism: ‘Dawkins and his disciples have embellished Darwinism with the cod-science of memes – units of information that compete for survival in a process of natural selection like that which operates on genes. But memes are not physical entities like genes. No mechanism has been identified whereby memes could replicate themselves and be transmitted within or across cultures. Lacking any unit or mechanism of selection, the theory of memes is barely a theory at all. The idea of memes belongs in an obsolete philosophy of language. … As insubstantial as phlogiston, memes are posited only in order to bolster the belief that evolution can explain everything.’
      I suspect however that Dawkins has given up on the evolution-explains-everything model and the ban continues for his protection, well, from having to debate. I can hardly blame him for that since I don’t think quickly enough on my feet myself but what do I know? Here I am writing about the death and resurrection of Jesus deep in the depths of someone else’s blog comment pages and there Dawkins is on a grand tour of adulation getting out his message while he’s still box-office enough.
      I’d debate David if I were you, Richard, because people are still going to want to hear that even if people accept John Gray’s analysis of the new atheists.
      Yours,
      John/.

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      1. “the belief that evolution can explain everything”

        At no point has anyone ever said that evolution explains everything.

        The evolutionary algorithm (reproduction, change, selection) is applicable to many fields, however and demonstrably works in finding solutions to problems. Be it in biology, computing, electronics, drug discovery etc…

        Evolution is the explanation for diversity. It is NOT an alternative to creation. It explains biological diversity, it is true regardless of how life started be it natural or by a god.

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      2. Actually Dawkins has said that the believes that evolution can explain everything. And has been criticised by atheist and theist alike for so doing.

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      3. Really? He said that? I’d be interested to read a transcript of this or a link to a video where he said it. Do you by chance have such a link?

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      4. I have not seen a video, Ark,
        where Dawkins has said that Evolution explains everything. I’ve heard him charged with saying that by sources you would not recognise as authoritative but I’m happy to put forward again the quotation that Stooshie queried.
        From p. 14 of John Gray’s Seven Types of Atheism: ‘Dawkins and his disciples have embellished Darwinism with the cod-science of memes – units of information that compete for survival in a process of natural selection like that which operates on genes. But memes are not physical entities like genes. No mechanism has been identified whereby memes could replicate themselves and be transmitted within or across cultures. Lacking any unit or mechanism of selection, the theory of memes is barely a theory at all. The idea of memes belongs in an obsolete philosophy of language. … As insubstantial as phlogiston, memes are posited only in order to bolster the belief that evolution can explain everything.
        Gray’s atheist agenda is rather different from that of the New Atheists so, no doubt he will be answered. In the meantime I see no reason to doubt what he says, particularly since it confirms what I hear from elsewhere. If I might venture to suggest a comic book analogy: ultimate origins are the Evolutionists’ kryptonite.
        Yours,
        John/.

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      5. John, as the question was directed to David, I am curious why you are answering on his behalf?
        Do you believe he needs a minder or has he authorized you to speak for him?

        So, no direct quote from Dawkins then?
        I suppose until you verifiable evidence for the claim then it can be dismissed with impunity and regarded as yet another silly piece of nonsense that a evangelical such as you feels they need to dish out in the absence of any evidence to support their supernatural claims, yes?

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      6. Ark,
        I am a bit disturbed that you should categorise a quote from John Gray as ‘yet another silly piece of nonsense that a evangelical such as you feels they need to dish out.’ I know that he is no friend of New Atheism but he also has harsh things to say about Christianity. I did not realise that he was persona non grata enough for him to be labelled as an ‘evangelical’. I don’t think that that’s what you meant, but it does suggest that you didn’t read the two previous posts that David was referring to.
        You will surely someday have to recognise that the way you handle secondary sources casts a great deal of light on how you would deal with primary sources, should you ever admit them to exist.
        As for Dawkins’s own mouth saying something akin to Gray’s evolution-can-explain-everything accusation. During the course of a Dawkins/Lennox debate which David already referred to — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zF5bPI92-5o — Dawkins said that Darwin explained the origin of life. Since Evolution is by definition the development of life and cannot be an explanation for its beginning, Dawkins was at best a little bit careless with his definitions.

        Yours,
        John/.

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      7. Hi, Andrew,
        John Gray does have an agenda and putting down the New Atheism — as well as the Christianity that spawned it (his view) — is part of it. However I’ve come across the evolution-explains-everything idea before. It is a Thing, as they say, and Dawkins stands accused of it. (I did hear that he has abandoned Social Darwinism and the notion that Evolution itself evolved.)
        I agree with you that evolution ‘is not an alternative to creation’ which for a six-day Creationist is something, I admit. In my view, God built phylogenetic relationships right into his creation in order, as you say, to give diversity but also, to allow stability, feeding and healing.
        Yours,
        John/.

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  4. It’s because you are not important, David.

    Dawkins has easily “beaten” everyone that has been put in front of him – mainly because unlike many Atheists, they don’t know what the stronger arguments in favour of God truly are. 🙂

    Sorry David, but you have done nothing to show that you are a worthy scalp in the fight against murderous death-cults like Christianity.

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    1. I agree that I am not important and I agree that that is his motivation – he is very much of a snob and a bit of a racist. Dawkins rarely beats anyone in debate which is why he shies away from any serious debate (unlike Hitchens). Would you like to send me a link to the people he has beaten in debate – or did you just make that up?! I note your unbiased and factual comment about ‘murderous death cults’ – somewhat ironic coming from someone who beliefs in a faith that has caused more deaths than any other!

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    2. I’ve been trying to understand your post, Brian,
      Yes, I get how the murderous death-cult accusation can arise from the simplistic religion: bad/secular: good message and the notion that faith is a virus. The danger with such an escalation is that it can easily get out of hand. John Gray finishes his chapter “The New Atheism: a nineteenth-century orthodoxy” (Seven Types of Atheism p. 23) with an insightful paragraph: ‘Throughout much of the twentieth century, terrible violence was inflicted in the service of secular faiths. In contrast, the organized atheism of the present century is mostly a media phenomenon and best appreciated as a type of entertainment.

      And I can understand the boast that Dawkins wins every debate because creating a bubble from which all dissent is excluded seems to be frighteningly easy to acheive these days. What would bother me if I were on your side is that you think that Dawkins’s victories were ‘easy’ for him. What! he’s never had a worthy opponent? The ease of his victories rather cheapens them, don’t you think? Outside the bubble, it’s the failure of Dawkins to do his homework, leading to defeats that were far too easy for him, that stands out.

      What I don’t understand is who the ‘they’ are in ‘they don’t know what the stronger arguments in favour of God truly are.’ I assume you mean Dawkins’s ‘important enough’ debate opponents with whom he ‘easily’ wiped the floor but again that really cheapens the putative Dawkins victories. Be that as it may, unless his wikipedia entry is mistaken, Dawkins became an atheist when he realised that Evolution provided a better explanation for the way things are than the simplistic Natural Theology/God-of-the-gaps explanations he’d been brought up with. The tragedy of Richard Dawkins is that — unlike many Atheists — he seems never to have seriously considered the possibility that the convenience-god that he once needed to explain the way things are, is not the God who made everything the way they are, phlyogenetic relationships and all.

      Yours,
      John/.

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  5. Goodness me! I didn’t realise that atheism put so many bums on seats. I wonder how much he gets paid for each “lecture” – probably more than a Scottish Free Church minister gets paid in a year (or even two years).

    But what interests me is whether or not he has anything new to say which he has not already said in his delusional book. Have there been any great new breakthroughs in atheistic thought which he needs to communicate to his acolytes?

    I would have thought, “There is no God: you are born by chance, life’s a pain, and then you die” pretty much sums up his philosophy. What more need be said?

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      1. Goodness me David – you make your living by preaching to the converted don’t you?

        Why – when as a minister you play host to weekly gatherings of the converted – do you begrudge the occasional speaking tour by Dawkins where the majority of those who attend may comprise those you wish to describe as his “converted”?

        Dawkins’ criticism of religion (all religion David, nut just yours) is just a tiny part of what he speaks about. Have you seen any of the numerous discussions that Dawkins and Krauss have given?

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      2. Yes – I do it in a church that is for that purpose….in a religious context which Dawkins professes to despise. In other words he is a hypocrite. I also preach to many who are as yet unconverted – and in public arenas I much prefer to have debate/discussion rather than a monologue. His current tour of Australia and New Zealand has nothing to do with science (I have now read several reports) and everything to do with anti-religious rallies. His purpose is to make money out of the gullible faithful, shore up his own declining image, and above all stir up hatred towards religious people.

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  6. What? No mention of the Israeli massacre of innocents at the Israel/Gaza border yesterday?

    Maybe atheists are entitled to question the existence of a righteous God based on the Christian silence on what the “Chosen People” did on the 14th May.

    A god was in evidence at the border but it looks like – with the gassing of an eight month old girl among the 58 dead and 3,000 injured – that it was Molech.

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      1. I know that the Creator God in the person of Jesus chose to give up His life rather than send avenging angels to crush His enemies.

        What happened at the Gaza/Israel border was that 62 civilians were slaughtered and 3000 injured, something that is inconsistent with the life of Jesus Christ Himself. No other so-called democratic nation in the world would behave in such a callous and brutal manner and if objecting to the life of an eight month old baby being extinguished makes me prejudiced then I admit that as a human being and as a Christian I am prejudiced.

        Moreover, if supporting that callous slaughter, by way of silence and a catty remark about prejudice, makes you godly then I fervently wish to be ungodly.

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      2. Apparently 50 of the 62 were not civilians (according to Hamas). I’m still not sure why a clash on the GAza border between Palestinians and the Israeli Defence force has anything to do with Jesus – I doubt either were claiming him on their side! Your logic seems a little convoluted! I share your horror at the life of an eight month old baby being taken away (and wonder why that baby was taken to such a dangerous and violent situation?) but do not accept that no other democratic nation would do such a thing (have you forgotten the wars that the UK, US, France etc have been involved in. You are aware that each year our ‘democratic’ nations slaughter millions of babies in the womb….?

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  7. His current tour of Australia and New Zealand has nothing to do with science

    Nothing that you preach about has anything to do with science either, but at least Dawkins has that option if he so wishes, and is well qualified to do so.
    All you have is … well … faith, I guess, right?

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    1. I suspect, Ark,
      that you do Dawkins a disservice by the comparison you make here. I read The Selfish Gene when it came out and I found it fascinating. Although I did buy and read a couple of Ethology classics after I was out of Science, I missed out on reading The Extended Phenotype but I think I’d have enjoyed it also. For the present it will have to remain on my someday/maybe list.
      However, if Dawkins was to take up the ‘option’ which you say he has to lecture or preach Ethology on this tour, he would come up against some problems. Discounting the fact that he is being paid to ‘play to the gallery’ — all above board — and that the paying audience are not turning out to hear about niche construction or genetic load; Dawkins majoring on science might have to face tiresome questions about whether or not ‘work’ on memes should be published in peer-reviewed journals (and if such publication makes the idea scientific.) Dawkins, to be fair has left much of that behind him, even distancing himself from some applications of his idea; but it remains a moot point whether he has also put science itself behind him for the needs of his celebrity.
      Besides all that, a lot more work would need to be done before the charge that faith is fundamentally unscientific can be made to stick. I don’t think either you or Dawkins can do that, only I suspect that he knows more about the difficulties than you do.
      Yours,
      John/.

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      1. I am amazed how, as a fundamentalist Christian, the extraordinary lengths you are prepared to go to in an effort not only to justify your wholly presuppositional supernatural faith-based wordlview, but also to discredit genuine sceptism of your position that has its roots firmly in evidence-based reality.

        Why don’t you once and for all dispense with all this waffle and simply offer up contemporary, verifiable evidence for your claims and we can all be happy?
        Seriously, John, how hard can that be for you?

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      2. Believe me, Ark,
        if I were a fundamentalist, I would not be offering you the opportunity to treat of the Acts of the Apostles as historical fiction in the task of satisfying yourself that Luke’s record of the eyewitnesses cannot be falsified.
        You did notice that I did go some distance to absolve Dawkins of some things that have been levelled against him? No? Well read what I said again: he has distanced himself from the ‘science’ of memetics even although he invented the idea of the ‘meme’ (which I personally find to be a useful— if not very scientific — concept).
        If you constructed ‘wholly presuppositional supernatural faith-based wordlview‘ by yourself, I’m impressed. That rather sums it up, although my admiration is tempered by the thought that if you knew what ‘presuppositional’ means, you wouldn’t accuse me of going to extraordinary lengths to justify it.
        As for discrediting Dawkins’s scepticism: doesn’t he do that himself when he doesn’t give the same care and attention to Christian Theology as he obviously did and maybe still does in Ethology?
        Given your obdurate refusal to accept as contemporary anything that has ever been questioned by anyone with a degree, I’d say that it must be right off the Moh scale of hardness to provide contemporary, verifiable evidence that you will even deign to look at. Nevertheless, in spite of your repeated refusals to do what a real sceptic would do, I offer up again for your consideration, the ungainsayable eyewitness testimony that Jesus rose from the dead, as recorded in the New Testament. Go on, do the hard yards.
        Yours,
        John/.

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      3. As for the contemporary evidence for the biblical character, the Lake Tiberius pedestrian, Jesus of Nazareth:
        I am still waiting for you to provide a even a single scrap, and I suspect I will very likely be waiting for ever.

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      4. I’m afraid you’re guilty, Ark,
        both of double counting and exaggeration. You have been presented with evidence. Just because you rejected it does not mean that it was not presented to you. Furthermore, those authorities that you allude would be surprised at your gross overextension of their deliberations. Not ‘even a single scrap‘ of evidence? Putting forward a thesis that Matthew wasn’t actually written by Matthew, for example, does not, in fact, leave the evidence box scrapless, especially now that you’re questioning if Jesus ever existed.
        Come off it.
        Yours,
        John/.

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      5. Contemporary, verified evidence, Ark?
        Certainly. We’ll keep it brief.
        1 Corinthians 15:5-9 contains a list — of eyewitnesses to the Resurrection — that is at the same time, a record of verification and itself, for as long as those mentioned were alive, a verifiable account. not only does this text meet your criterion, Ark, it seems to have been written, primarily to meet it.
        Here is the 1 Cor. list of eyewitnesses:
        1. Cephas [Peter]
        2. the twelve.
        3. more than five hundred … at one time.
        4. James.
        5. all the apostles.
        6. Paul … the former persecuter of the church.

        I know this isn’t what you wanted, but have the good grace to admit that it’s what you asked for.

        Yours,
        John/.

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      6. Also, I do have a post up at the moment regarding this complete lack of evidence. It seems to be attracting a modicum of interest from former Christians. Maybe you would like to pop over and explain to them why your claim of valid,verifiable evidence is not simply the vacuous nonsense of the indoctrinated faith-inclined?

        I am sure you would receive some interesting and robust dialogue?

        A couple of visitors to my spot are former ministers so your dialogue would not be solely with heathen plebs in the cheap seats.
        How about it, John?
        Want to test your mettle and show some of this evidence you are so keen on?

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  8. Contemporary, verified evidence, Ark?
    Certainly. We’ll keep it brief.

    Sorry …. fail.
    Neither contemporary or verified.
    You can’t actually use the bible to try to prove the bible. You do know this I hope?

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    1. What happened to evidence, Ark?
      Yes, contemporary — [1 Cor. 15:6] — Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. What evidence do you have to the contrary?
      Yes, verified — [1 Cor. 16:21] — Paul signed his own letter even though the bulk of it was written down from his dictation by someone else. What evidence can you show that you know the difference between ‘verified’ and ‘verifiable’? An admission that you’d been careless would have left you with some moral right to go on about verification — though that gets thinner every time you wriggle out of attempting to falsify the records at the crucial point — but I can’t recall when you’ve asked for verified evidence before. It’s always been ‘verifiable’ and then you write: ‘still waiting for contemporary verified evidence.’ Pity.
      No, I said: ‘for as long as those mentioned were alive, a verifiable account’ and that is not ‘use [of] the bible to try to prove the bible. On the other hand the way the works of different authors of the Bible, support one another is evidence in its own right. (falsifiable rather than verifiable of course, but you should have worked that out for yourself.)
      Yours,
      John/.

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      1. They do not support each. Much of what they write is simply plagiarized.
        You know that the gospel of Matthew contains over 600 verses from Mark, some almost verbatim.
        Why on earth would an eyewitness bother copying someone else when they supposedly had their own story to tell?

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      2. Thank you for pointing to the flaw in my mutual support argument, Ark,
        naturally the text written first does not make use of any writing that came afterwards. You do however manage to cover up your minor triumph with a major gaffe: for what you describe as ‘almost verbatim [simple plagerism]’ is ‘support.’ And when it stretches to ‘over 600 verses’‽ well, that is major support.

        I have to confess, Ark, that asking me, ‘Why on earth would an eyewitness bother copying someone else when they supposedly had their own story to tell?‘ is like running a rabbit before a greyhound. The temptation to chase down any ‘Why?’ question of this nature is almost overwhelming but duty calls; I ought not treat a rhetorical question as though it were an exam essay title.

        Matthew’s humility to simply copy Mark — if that’s what happened; I’m not convinced — is explained in a text in Acts which rebukes the long answer I’d like to give with its simple demonstration that testimony is not the witnesses’ story but rather the story of the one to whom witness is borne. See Acts 1:7f. – ‘He [Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

        Yours,
        John/.

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      3. Your hand-waving disingenuous nature is becoming extremely difficult to address, especially when I have to deal with such David deleting my comments and generally behaving like a complete ignorant arse-hat.
        I suspect that before long you will be telling me that Moses was a real historical character, and also Noah.
        Trying to have even a vaguely sensible conversion when having to deal with such idiotic nonsense is more than frustrating. Of course it would all be worthwhile if Number One Censor was not such an anal retentive and let comments ride so all could view and judge for themselves the veracity of your untenable claims.

        And there you go again, quoting Acts.
        For the love of the gods, you do so enjoy your historical fiction do you not?
        However, in the meantime all I can do is recommend in the vernacular that you Have sex and travel, John.

        Yours.
        Ark.

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      4. Ark – I don’t post all your numerous posts – I probably post far too many of them though. Any that are pointless, rude, and off the point – I don’t bother with. You are free to post whatever you wish on your own blog and people are free to read it.

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      5. Okay, Ark,
        I worked out your parting comment but I’d no idea what hand-waving disingenuity was until I looked it up. Ouch!
        In my defence, I did think your question was rhetorical and I really do confess to an inordinate desire to answer why?-questions of that nature. However, because you asked, here is an answer to ‘Why on earth would an eyewitness bother copying someone else when they supposedly had their own story to tell?

        1. Because Matthew was by trade a tax-collector, used to making careful copies and Mark’s first ministry experience was as an assistant proclaimer — [Acts 13:5] — in other words, a story-teller.
        2. Because Mark is allegedly Peter’s Gospel written down by Mark after Peter’s death and Peter saw things that Matthew never saw.
        3. Because there were many sayings and stories that everyone — including Matthew, Mark and Peter — knew in the same often-repeated form, so that it makes perfect sense that Matthew should copy Mark verbatim or vice versa.
        4. Because many of the verses that show enough similarity to be considered copies of one another, also have detail differences that go some way to telling the narrator’s personal story.
        5. Because the verses copied from Mark — if that is what happened — do not hinder Matthew’s overall concerns to present Jesus as the new Moses and as the King.
        6. Because repetition of someone else’s words was considered to be giving honour rather than plagiarizing.
        7. Because the message is more important than the messenger.

        If this still looks like hand waving, I can only apologise.
        Yours,
        John/.

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  9. Arkenaten, I think you are being a bit unreasonable. Note the word ‘reason’ in unreasonable. I have been following this conversation with interest and I think that for you to sum up the beliefs of Christians as ‘vacuous nonsense’ is not ‘reasonable’. What is your ‘reason’? Mr Kilpatrick has, very reasonably I think, presented you with evidence. You say the evidence has to be verifiable. But, to be fair, I don’t see you engaging with the evidence at all. I’m not sure you even acknowledged it. I find that to be like a denial really. If the evidence he provided to you is ‘vacuous nonsense’ then you could easily, by ‘reasonable’ evidence based, logical argument prove that it is not verifiable. Because the evidence Mr Kilpatrick presented to you is in real time, rooted in historical events, the testimony (a legal term!) of supposed eye witnesses, you would have to give verifiable evidence that Jesus didn’t exist, didn’t perform miracles, didn’t rise from the dead, didn’t appear again to eye witnesses. Surely the logical, intelligent, reasonable authorities of the day could have easily proved that the ‘eye witnesses’ didn’t exist or were mentally ill because they were all hallucinating or something. Then there are the non-Christian accounts about Jesus and the followers of ‘the way’. So you cant just sweep the evidence away, without engaging with it honestly. That would be a lot of work for you because you would have to get out ancient history books, explain the continuous story that runs through the bible which unifies it. For example, you would have to reasonably explain, provide verifiable evidence, for the mention of a virgin with child, and a physically abused figure ‘pierced for our transgressions’ in Isaiah, 7,9 & 53, written I think around 700 years BC, and the mind blowing fulfillment of these prophecies in the ‘so called’ eyewitness accounts of Christ. Other places in the bible too, like psalm 22 and many many other prophecies spanning centuries. I don’t believe you are honestly engaging with the evidence Arkenaten. Because maybe to you it sounds like ‘vacuous nonsense’. But to say that isn’t disproving it, that is just an opinion. Saying that the evidence is vacuous nonsense without investigating it is only indicating that you don’t really want to know the truth. Now can we look at your scientific evidence which proves…? Actually what does it prove? Starting at the beginning, there was a ‘big bang’. Using your own criteria for evidence/proof, i.e. ‘verifiable evidence’, can you provide some verifiable evidence of the big bang. Eye witness accounts would be a good start.

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    1. Sorry, Martha, I missed this:

      Then there are the non-Christian accounts about Jesus and the followers of ‘the way’.

      While there are most certainly accounts of Christians, (followers of the way) I am particularly interested to read the non-christian accounts of Jesus of Nazareth.

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      1. Hi Arkenaten, hope you are having a nice day, wherever you are! Us Christians have to be gracious of course, even if through gritted teeth. You say you are particularly interested to read the non-Christian accounts of Jesus of Nazareth. I think you might want to choose your words more thoughtfully because you don’t seem interested at all! From the beginning of this discussion (I hope we can call it that), you don’t seem to be a truth seeker at all. I wonder if you came onto this blog to taunt Christians? Then you make sweeping statements, like “not a scrap of evidence” and many more which are so vague and sweeping . You were presented with evidence, which you side stepped. The only thing you alluded to were the similarities of the gospels.
        A negative statement! Just because they are similar doesn’t ‘prove’ they are untrue. I think your entire motivation is to pick holes in the Christian faith. You are not engaging intelligently or sincerely. Am I right? Now I am not going to provide you with any sources of non-Christian evidence of the existence of Jesus, because it would be a waste of time. If you really wanted to know the truth about the claims made by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament you would investigate the claims and the evidence and the non-Christian evidence. But you seem to be only interested in pick-pick-picking at Christians and taunting and ridiculing. That is coming from someone who bases their beliefs on “current consensus” of “recognised scholars” across “relevant fields”. Consensus changes, scholars are recognised today their opinions superseded tomorrow, fields relevant today irrelevant tomorrow. You are a disciple. A disciple of such people. They make the snowballs and you throw them at Christians. Hitler and Nazism were voted in by popular opinion for goodness sake! Are you really worth even this amount of time? John Kilpatrick was very gracious to you, spent a long time engaging intelligently with you and you dismissed him. You were looking for an argument, not a discussion. I thought you wanted ” no hand waving and no philosophical blather that may obfuscate and muddy the waters”. You yourself muddied the waters because you wouldn’t stick to the point. Jesus dealt well with people like you, in just a few words. People who tried to set him up with questions designed to invoke answers that could then be used as weapons against him. Sorry! Not taking the bait. To be gracious to you, I should pray that God will soften your heart, give you ears to hear his voice, have mercy on your rebellious ways and reveal Himself to you, grant you repentance like every other Christian, and bring you into the family of God. I might just do that! In any case Christianity is unique in that you can be a child of 3 or 4, a sweet little girl with Down’s syndrome, an uneducated labourer, or a university professor with 4 degrees. God makes himself known to the individual because he deeply and fully knows each individual. Now I would prefer to hang on the word of God than hang on every word that you hang onto from self-professed, transient so-called experts. You’ve got a mind of your own. Use it!

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      2. I think you might want to choose your words more thoughtfully because you don’t seem interested at all!

        I have been fascinated with Christianity since I first discovered that Moses was a fictional character while doing research for a novel. So yes, I am interested. Very. And if you have any of the evidence you claim then, please, present it.

        You were presented with evidence, which you side stepped. The only thing you alluded to were the similarities of the gospels.

        No, Martha I am afraid nothing that has been presented to date is regarded as evidence, but only hearsay. The bible cannot be used as evidence for the bible.

        A negative statement! Just because they are similar doesn’t ‘prove’ they are untrue. I think your entire motivation is to pick holes in the Christian faith.

        The Christian faith has done a much better job of this than I could ever do.

        ….I am not going to provide you with any sources of non-Christian evidence of the existence of Jesus, because it would be a waste of time. If you really wanted to know the truth about the claims made by Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament you would investigate the claims and the evidence and the non-Christian evidence.

        The only possibly sources, but most certainly not contemporary evidence you might cite would be Josephus and Tacitus.
        If you know the history behind these two pieces then maybe you might like to re-think your approach?

        John Kilpatrick was very gracious to you, spent a long time engaging intelligently with you and you dismissed him.

        Having engaged John for some time now I suspect he is not quite as gracious as you might believe – though to his credit, he hides it very well. Perhaps you should ask him?

        Jesus dealt well with people like you, in just a few words.

        Did he really? And how do you know this for a fact? How much study outside of the gospels have you ever tried to do?
        What can you tell me about how much scholars now consider we can reliably consider were the actual words spoken by the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth?

        You wish to malign my approach yet Christianity has been behind some of the most heinous crimes in human history and you would expect such vile actions to be simply swept under the carpet?

        Again, Martha, present the evidence you have for your claims and I give you my word I will look at them with as much an open mind.

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    2. Using your own criteria for evidence/proof, i.e. ‘verifiable evidence’, can you provide some verifiable evidence of the big bang. Eye witness accounts would be a good start.

      This wasn’t a serious closing remark I hope? I take it that you have at least researched some aspects of the BBT, yes?

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      1. To reply to your second remark…… You set up the critera for ‘truth’ as being verifiable evidence. There were other conditions mentioned. Honesty was one, current consensus another and a few other rules of engagement you started with. I took the discussion back to the beginnings…of everything! A good place to start I think. So it’s BBT versus “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth”. I asked you what is the verifiable evidence for the BB because this is what you seem to look for in your arguments. But you turned that question back on me by questioning my ignorance/knowledge of the BBT. You didn’t answer the question, but you “obfuscate and muddy the waters”. The inclusion of the letter ‘T’ alludes to the fact that you agree it is a theory. There is no viable evidence for the big bang. So let’s visit the beginnings again. “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth”. Wow, this is not presented as a theory! This is a simple, very bold and extremely profound STATEMENT. Where is the evidence you ask!!?? The evidence is right under your nose. You are standing on it. The heavens and the earth and all that’s in the earth exists!!! You yourself are evidence. Aha…you say! But it’s not proof that there is a God. Many would disagree with you (might I include God himself in the many, if I could be so bold). But let’s see where the BBT takes us. ” In the beginning there was a big bang when……”you finish the sentence, you’re the expert (of course maybe there was a big bang when God made the earth!!! Who knows? There was no-one there. )
        But even if the BBT meant Big Bang Truth, it wouldn’t even necessarily exclude the existence of God. I quote you when you talk of the ” lengths you are prepared to go to in an effort not only to justify your wholly presuppositional supernatural faith-based wordlview, but also to discredit genuine sceptism of your position that has its roots firmly in evidence-based reality” You mention “worldview” and “evidence based reality”. The BBT is NOT evidence based reality. Your “worldview” “presupposes” the BB. And actually…..is this what it is? A “worldview”?? I thought it was only science. Can science claim to branch out to unknowable realities and then verify their claims by “common consensus” and “recognised scholars”? And you fall for that!!! Who recognises the scholars? They recognise each other!!! Anyhow, somehow logic evades even those with the most letters after their name. Shame. Getting back to beginnings, cos we can’t move forward if we don’t settle that. Apparently Moses wrote those words in Genesis. You might be interested in Moses, he was literally in with the Pharaohs. But he never said I believe, or this is my opinion, or anything like that . It is just a statement, “in the beginning”. So where did he get this idea from? Well there is something significant missing from your worldview. God. So, the bible is claiming that God spoke to humankind. If God is not visible to us, which he is not, how did anyone come to the conclusion that he even exists. Weird! Hmm. The bible claims that God spoke!!! First to Adam& Eve first man and woman and of course you really do need a man and a woman to procreate so let’s not even go there. So we have to agree that there must have been a first man and woman.The bible claims God spoke to Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Elijah, Jonah, Paul etc etc. The bible promises a messiah right from the beginning of the bible. Jesus came. We have accounts of his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection and teachings and prophecies etc etc etc. Some of his prophecies have been fulfilled and some not yet. So there you have it, the bible claims God revealed Himself, the created order pre-supposes there’s a God who made it, no excuses for not believe that sorry, He revealed himself in creation, to Moses, to many others, in Jesus Christ and wait for it, the Holy Spirit who was sent at Pentecost and who…do you know what…I’m tired. I don’t know if I’m wasting my effort and my time here. I have work to do. But Arkenaten, I hope you are really interested to know. Do you really know the meaning of the word ‘truth’? You speak of ‘vacuous nonsense’. The worldview you speak of is the epitome of vacuous. It has no sure beginning, it gives a meaningless existence based on chance, it has no destiny. That is tragically negative. I’m getting away from this conversation, back to reality. Beautiful, meaningful, strengthening, joyous, deep, wide and eternal reality. Hope you find it. No, not hope in nothing. Pray to God, you will find it.

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      2. Apparently Moses wrote those words in Genesis. You might be interested in Moses, he was literally in with the Pharaohs.

        There really is too much for me to address in this comment, Martha, I’m sorry.
        However, Moses is not considered to be a real historical character. Even as far back as Martin Noth, who considered he was a composite, and thus, most certainly did not write anything in the bible and did not lead any Exodus as portrayed in the bible either.
        And this is not opinion but based on archaeological and textual evidence that furnishes us with a completely different account of history.
        And a history that is, by and large, recognised by most scholars across all relevant fields. It also includes most Rabbis these days as well.

        A little investigation on Google will bear this out in no time.
        I can also supply numerous links to accredited people and sites if you still doubt me.

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      3. Martha – I’m afraid you are wasting your time with Ark – his modus operandi is to use Google and cite ‘authorities’ who are considered to be ‘accredited’ because they agree with him. He doesn’t really know what he is talking about and refuses to listen to anyone who does not already agree with him. He is the type of atheist fundamentalist who cannot conceive that he could be wrong. Moses, as you know, is considered to be a real historical character. Ark knows nothing about this – but all that matters for him is that because he does not want Moses, or Jesus to exist – then they must not. And then reach for Google.

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    3. @Martha.

      I must apologise in case you feel I have not addressed the body of your comment and simply ignored it.

      I did , in fact, address pretty much all of it as best I could but David deleted it almost immediately.
      In essence, I raised the subject of biblical veracity regarding your assertion that I did nor address the so called evidence and asked if you therefore consider the entire bible inerrant?

      I hope, at least, David releases this comment.

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      1. The whole question of God’s existence can be summed up in a simple question. Has God revealed Himself to humankind? Yes or no? If yes, how? You have been given the evidence; creation, scripture, Jesus. I have no more to say

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      2. In fact, you have not really said anything, Martha but unfortunately demonstrated the effects of indoctrination, willful or otherwise.

        If you wish to understand the ”Big Bang”
        I suggest you read a science paper, where it will probably discuss things like background radiation etc expansion and contraction of the universe and will probably mention Georges Lemaître and Edwin Hubble among others.

        Oh, and lemaitre was a Catholic Priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven.

        Seems like a pretty good recommendation to me?

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    4. “Using your own criteria for evidence/proof, i.e. ‘verifiable evidence’, can you provide some verifiable evidence of the big bang. Eye witness accounts would be a good start.”

      Eye witness accounts aren’t always the best evidence. Even in court, scientific evidence would tend to be taken over an eye witness. (Think of a paternity test and a man claiming he’s not the father but a genetic test saying he is).

      As for the big bang, the galaxies are measurably moving apart. Using fairly simple maths (no more complex than tracking a ball) it’s a trivial task to trace that movement back to a single point. Not only that, but the Big Bang predicts that there will be background radiation. And, we found it.

      Interesting point. The Big Bang was a mock name given to the theory by Fred Hoyle who rejected it because he thought the universe was eternal.

      In reality, the big bang was neither big, nor did it make a bang. Indeed, it’s not really one event. Technically it’s still happening and we are in it.

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      1. The paternity test is an eye witness account. You “see” the results, the results are visible evidence. How can you have an eye witness to an impregnation! You are muddying the waters with pointless illustrations. The question ultimately asked here is “Does God exist”? The one time event or the continuing event of the BBT really has no relevance at all.

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      2. When dealing with astronomers, Andrew,
        ‘eyewitness testimony’ has a whole new resonance. I suppose the discoveries of the expanding-universe redshift and of the background radiation could both be termed verifiable eyewitness accounts.

        Fred Hoyle, on the other hand, was an astronomer — and a writer of Science Fiction — with a long term opposition to the concept of ultimate origins; e.g. of Life, of Time, and of the Universe. As you say, he is famous for coining the ‘Big Bang’ label but he was also in his day the best known proponent of the Panspermia notion of life spreading through the universe. (Interestingly enough, the late Stephen Hawking — whose work on black holes, etc. put a nail in the coffin of Hoyle’s steady-state universe convictions — has also, more recently, given a boost to Panspermia but his advocacy of that was more due to his romanticism than to his science.)

        The universe having a beginning means that life also must have a beginning so Hoyle’s attempts to avoid the origin question were both nulified by the one discovery. Philosophers have a habit of telling us mere mortals that we’ve got it wrong but it strikes me that David Hume’s argument against miracles would also rule out ultimate origins and that that was what Hoyle was trying to avoid, or something like that. When astronomers search for planets in the Goldilocks Zone — where everything is ‘just right’ — they ought to include presence of life as a necessary precursor for the evolution of life.

        Yours,
        John/.

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      3. Martha

        “The paternity test is an eye witness account. You “see” the results”

        They are scientific evidence based on DNA and the rules of inheritance. They are far more reliable than someone saying “It wasn’t me, honest”.

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      4. John

        ” background radiation could both be termed verifiable eyewitness accounts”

        Except that the experiments to find it are repeatable and it was predicted by the theory

        “The universe having a beginning means that life also must have a beginning so Hoyle’s attempts to avoid the origin question were both nulified by the one discovery. ”

        I completely agree. I just happen to accept that life most likely started through natural processes

        ” they ought to include presence of life as a necessary precursor for the evolution of life.”

        I’m not quite sure what you mean, but I do agree that evolution is something that happens on living things and is not the explanation for life itself.

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      5. @ Stooshie

        …and is not the explanation for life itself.

        This is the point where everyone arrives at ”I don’t know” ; a perfectly legitimate and honest statement that, unfortunately the likes of John and every other theist I have ever engaged will then usually rush to fill this gap with ”God did it!” or some such.

        And of course, this is where the midden hits the windmill and the fabrication and disingenuity begins.

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      6. Everyone arrives at ‘I don’t know’, Ark?
        Well, if you say so, but in my experience, there are plenty of people who think it’s cool to say that Evolution created Life.
        I love the way you rush to say we say, ‘God did it’ just in case we don’t. Be careful. One day someone will say something quite different from what you expect them to say — possibly even the very opposite — and then what will happen is up to you.
        Yours,
        John/.

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      7. John,

        “there are plenty of people who think it’s cool to say that Evolution created Life.”

        Evolution is the explanation for diversity. It is not the explanation for how life started. Evolution is true regardless of how life started.

        We certainly have some good hypotheses about how life started and evidence is growing for natural explanations, but we don’t actually know.

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      8. Sorry, Andrew,
        I got a little distracted there and besides I should have specified that those most likely to spout nonsense about Evolution giving rise to itself or the like are not scientifically trained. (Albeit that the occasional prominant Ethologist has misspoken in the heat of debate and given Darwin more credit for working out the origin of life than he is due.)
        Ark is of course right that I’m going to say, ‘God did it’ but then since that is true about what we know and what we don’t know, there’s neither fabrication nor disingenuity about it.
        It seems to me that life is basically just organically catalyzed fire and that Genesis 2 gives as natural a division into materials and process that you could wish for. Evolutionary Developmental History — ‘A false history …’ you might say, ‘If God created everything in six days.’ I don’t care if you call it that, it’s not fake history — has a single start which gives it its unity. It also happens to have in its state of (created) maturity, a combination of flexibility and stability that allows for the replenishment of the earth and the continued existence of one Race of Humanity.
        Dawkins says that if such a creation order were true then it would constitute a massive fraud on God’s part. I think that he got that from Creationists so I have the delicious prospect of receiving condemnation from both sides.
        Yours,
        John/.

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  10. Good morning Arkenaten. I had promised I wouldn’t reply and I probably should listen to David Robertson’s advice and not waste any more time. I spent too much valuable work time yesterday trying to appeal to your sense of reason and I don’t want to spend time today. I really have to pay attention to my work and this certainly will be my last reply. In any case, this is someone else’s blog and I don’t want to hang around too long. But your most recent question was so near the real heart of the whole matter “And just whose/which god should we be asking about?”. By the way thank you for the list of scholars and sources you recommended to me to develop my education. But, interesting as an expanding universe is, such knowledge is not necessary for a meaningful life. I have no hesitation in vouching that the study of theology and proper study of the Bible itself is an incredibly intellectually robust subject, and not just one subject, for a thorough study would take you into many “relevant fields” as you call them. Such a study would not even be achievable in the whole lifetime of even the greatest minds because it would include , off the top of my head, ancient languages, ancient Near Eastern studies, archaeology, history, anthropology, philosophy as well as hermeneutics. Not for the unintellectual! Of course, not every Christian need engage at this level. As long as someone at least has the basics to get them started they then have a foundation on which to build. The Christian faith is a relational faith really. This is the place to start and, because communication is the basis for all good relationships, speaking what’s on your mind is the premise to start from. I suspect you will immediately change premise and take the conversation to a completely different subject. But because your question was so good and so on point, I thought I would give it a go. So I thoroughly recommend you take the question to God himself.

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      1. Seeing as you have addressed me personally Ark, if I may shorten your pseudonym, I will reply. But you didn’t respond to my last suggestion! Now maybe you are far more spiritually perceptive than you give yourself credit for because you’re again beating around the right bush. What I said was Christianity, as well as its potential for being incredibly intellectually robust and far reaching, is essentially a relational faith and, seeing as the basis of all good relationships is communication, then that is the premise from which to start. Your other very good and very relevant question was the one alluding “to which/whose god” are we referring to. My suggestion was ‘ ask that question of God himself’ . If you would call such a gesture ‘prayer’, then yes, I would recommend prayer. But I can’t vouch for your interpretation, or anybody else’s, of the word ‘prayer’. Now please don’t go switching premise again! Stooshie didn’t even back you up last time! Stick at this point. You’re far closer to God than you think! Best.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe you would be able to describe in detail exactly how one goes about having a relationship with your god.
        And I’m sorry if the lack of capital upsets you but every other religion has a proprietary bent towards their god as well.

        Why would you think Stooshie should ”back me up” regarding anything?

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  11. Ark, I’m trying to keep you at the point you yourself took the conversation to, before we move on to something else. I have no intention of moving on to something else if you dismiss my recommendation that you address the question re. which/whose God, to God himself. To the God I claim to be there! If there is a God surely He would be able to answer you in a way that you would have no doubt about His identity. As regards details, how much detail do you want? How could I describe in detail how one goes about having a relationship with anyone, let alone God? So no, I couldn’t describe that in detail. But to be fair to me, I did give you pointers more than once! I will repeat myself again and say that any relationship is built on communication. Any relationship always has a starting point and the starting point is communication aka speaking. Has God started the conversation already? I would definitely say ‘yes’ but I take it you are of the camp that would say ‘no’. So for me starting the relationship means replying to what I think God has said, and for me it was hearing about Christ. But for you, starting the relationship would mean starting the conversation. So if you are interested in having that relationship you need to ask God to reveal himself to you. So the ball is therefore in your court. Best.

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    1. Ark, I’m trying to keep you at the point you yourself took the conversation to, before we move on to something else. I have no intention of moving on to something else if you dismiss my recommendation that you address the question re. which/whose God, to God himself.
      To the God I claim to be there!

      Fair enough. I accept this. To this end I would appreciate if you would present your argument demonstrating the bona fides of the god you consider is the creator of the universe.
      I’ll leave it at that for the moment to allow you to compose your thoughts and present your case.

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      1. Ark, you use legal terminology. Is my opinion on trial or my God? I have not recommended to you to speak to the God I consider to be the creator. I have recommended you ask your question of the God that is. If God is God, he does not need a mere mortal to defend him. What is though being tested is your willingness /unwillingness to actually ask Him whether he exists Himself. If He exists, whoever He is, He should be able to respond to you. If He doesn’t exist, or He is indeed another God than the Biblical God then you will know whether He exists and who is is. I cannot help you. I am not a mediator between God and man. If you are looking for an airtight case for God then what do you want me to produce? God Himself?! Can I really go into a back room and bring Him out by the hand? Do you think Christians are so stupid to believe in an invisible God with no evidence? God is a personal, relational God, not a lump of evidence I can show you in my hand. Do we only believe in what we have seen? Can we not believe also in what we have heard? The faith of Christians is not in a vacuum. It is a faith of substance. I am not providing you with evidence. I am offering you a method. It requires action on your part, simple action that you are unwilling to carry out. What is evident is your lack of faith. If you are truly interested in the relationship with God then I suggest you speak to a pastor, a good one, because there are unfortunately lots of bad ones. I’m sure David Robertson can point you in the right direction. But if you are only interested in pursuing Christians to defend their case because you are ‘so sure’ their faith rests in ‘vacuous nonsense’ while at the same time, you accept blindly the opinions of the likes of Dawkins et al, then you will conceivably spend your whole life doing that. And literally keep going around in the same circles. Your problem is a problem of trust. What/who are you trusting in? That is your God or your God substitute. I don’t see one atheist on here defending you or backing you up yet several Christians have spoken kindly, patiently and persistently to you. I would not like my wellbeing and the direction of my life to be in the hands of Richard Dawkins or any of his ilk because when you are at your most needy, militant atheists will be nowhere to be seen.

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  12. If God is God, he does not need a mere mortal to defend him.

    The term ”God” is not a proper noun, Martha and Hindus, Muslims, Jews , and even certain Christian denominations, such as the Christadelphians, will view your definition differently, and I guarantee that each will consider their understanding correct and everyone else’s wrong.

    What is evident is your lack of faith

    Absolutely correct. I do not have faith and neither do I believe in faith. I have trust in many things. I trust the pilot of the aircraft I am flying in. I trust the mechanical soundness of my car most times!) These are all based on previous experience and the knowledge that under normal circumstances someone would not climb into a pilot’s seat if they could not fly an aircraft.
    But as you would likely understand the term faith – belief in things unseen, and unevidenced ( simple term) usually related to the supernatural, then I am sorry, the answer is no, I most definitely do not hold any stock in such things.

    you accept blindly the opinions of the likes of Dawkins et al,…

    I accept the opinions of such people on matters they are qualified to speak upon and usually only when they have evidence to support such claims.
    Evolution for example. Or in the case of people such as Katherine Kenyan and William Devers, archaeological evidence that has been peer reviewed and thoroughly vetted.

    It is unfortunate that when I have asked you to support your case you have tended to deliver what amount to almost a sermon.
    I have always, always been open to evidence ( still am!) and it was because of the complete lack /em> of evidence that I came to realise that a character like Moses was simply a work of historical fiction. And I never questioned his existence for nearly 40 years. Not once, ever. Not until I felt the need to do a little historical research for a novel.

    So all I can say is that if you are happy with your beliefs then fine. For me, a person who
    requires a little more truth than simple acceptance of such works as the bible or the qu’ran, then I took a different path.
    Maybe you will too one day?

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    1. Oh, and one more thing Ark. You say you won’t believe anything not backed up by evidence. But even if you don’t believe what I call the truth i.e. God’s word, has it ever occurred to you that you might actually be believing lies? I hope my tone in places hasn’t been unnecessarily acerbic. I sincerely mean the best for you.

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      1. Of course what one is told may well be lies.
        This is why, for example, we have the scientific method to test claims.
        And why science usually corrects itself as it goes along.
        One reason we know the world is not flat, that the earth is not the centre of the galaxy, why evolution is fact, why people who suffer from epilepsy are not possessed by demons, why there are no such things are witches or wizards etc etc.
        Science.
        As mentioned regarding Kenyan, Devers, and other archaeologists and their claims.
        Science.
        We know that the biblical tale of Joshua and the conquest of Canaan as described in the bible is false. As is the tale of Noah’s Ark . They are simply Jewish foundational myths. And most Jews recognise this to be the truth, by the way
        It is as I also mentioned why we know that Moses is a character of historical fiction and why Adam and Eve are simply myth, the latter thanks to >Christian, France Collins and his amazing work with the human genome project.

        And also why when the late Ron Wyatt claimed to have found chariot wheels on the floor of the Red Sea it was quickly shown to be nonsense, yet a great many people, and especially the more fundamental Christians sadly, still believe it to be true.

        The question you pose regarding lies is very pertinent. So I would likewise ask you the same question.
        How do you know that much of what you currently believe regarding the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth is not lies?
        Can you tell me?

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  13. Ark, God as opposed to ‘god’ as you write, is referring to the ‘supreme being’. ‘god’ can mean anything! You do not have faith, but don’t apologise to me for that! You say that if am am happy with my beliefs then fine! Obviously it is not in the slightest bit fine with you if I or any other Christian are happy in their beliefs, because you spent an awful lot of time on this discussion petulantly spouting off about Christians believing “vacuous nonsense” without a “scrap of evidence”! The question of whose/which ‘god’ is actually a different discussion in case you didn’t know. If as you say, “you took a different path”, then what on earth are you doing hanging around a Christian website??!! As for me taking the same path as you? Not a chance, my life is too valuable to keep going around in the same old circles. Dawkins is of the camp that are “always learning but never coming to the knowledge of the truth”. Sadly Ark, you seem to be of the camp that are never learning nor never coming to any real knowledge never mind knowledge of the truth. For your sake I hope it would/will be different some day.

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  14. Ark, actually, because one cannot edit the posted comment, can I soften my last comment a little as on reflection it was a little bit too insulting? I said you are never learning nor never coming to any knowledge. That was rude and I couldn’t possible know if you were ever coming to any knowledge so I apologise for saying that and hope you accept my apology. But I stick with the rest of the sentence, that you are ‘never coming to the knowledge of the truth’. That is my opinion based on the way I have seen you handling this discussion. ‘Reason’ is missing from your argument as far. I hope someone can teach you to be ‘reasonable’. It is a very important quality and its evidence is the point at which the militant atheists get most angry. Best

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    1. Martha, I flatly disagree with everything that is based on supernatural claims, and religion falls into this category.
      I cannot prevent you from believing whatsoever you wish, and I consider your beliefs are through cultural influence rather than any sort of revelation or evidence.
      History and science and a myriad of other things support this.
      But you should be allowed to believe what ever you want, providing as Jefferson once said, ”It doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg” ( or something like this! )

      And this attitude should be extended to everyone else.
      And especially children.

      Let me try to illustrate the point with a little more clarity.

      My mother is a devout Christian. Anglican.
      She belongs to a St Mary’s church in England, attends several times a week, helps the vicar and is fully involved with many aspects of church life.
      And yet I am an atheist.
      Go figure? Odd wouldn’t you think?
      But Mum does her thing and I do mine.
      She never preaches or makes sermons to others and she has never once alluded that she believes her eldest is going to Hell because he’s an atheist!
      I suspect she probably leaves it in the hands of the god she believes in.

      And this is how I believe it should be. You want to believe. So be it.
      But let people find out what they want to believe on their own.

      Make the material available – ALL material so people can evaluate and judge the evidence for themselves, look at the pros and then decide based on the very best available evidence.

      To my mind this is the most scrupulously honest way to approach religion and science.
      So teach it in schools. ALL religion, or as much as the school can handle.

      Did Mohammed fly to heaven on a horse? Did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? Did Moses actually lead 2 million people out of Egypt, cross the Red Sea, and invade Canaan slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in the process?
      You tell me.
      But what ever you tell me, especially if you want to declare it fact then you ought to have at last some pretty good darn evidence to back up such claims.

      There are hundreds of religious blogs and the couple I read are hosted by outspoken and somewhat political/militant preachers/pastors.

      David often comes across in this vein. Not always, but certainly when he interacts with me. Perhaps I need new deodorant? 🙂

      He writes well and is passionate about his beliefs – nothing wrong with this per se – but he can also come across as arrogant, aggressive and oft times simply dismissive of any view that challenges his religious faith-based claims without providing evidence to support such claims.
      And when I use the word evidence I mean what the dictionary tells us.
      So I will do my best to take such people to task – as he does with people like Dawkins – when I feel he makes unsubstantiated faith claims.

      In an era that values free speech etc if one wishes to post in an open forum and declare what one writes is fact and truth then such facts and truths should be able to stand on their own two feet .

      Religious claims by and large are presuppositional built on a foundation of faith and do not stand up well to honest scrutiny at all.

      I am always open to be persuaded otherwise.

      Regards

      Ark.

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  15. So after all this argument all you have to offer me is that I should emulate your description of your mother, whom I don’t even know, instead of just being myself!! You have obfuscated the entire discussion to the point that I don’t even know the original question that you even asked! What was it again? Prove to me there is a god and which god is it? Something like that??

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    1. There is absolutely no intended obfuscation I can assure you.
      I don’t say you must emulate my mum. But I do believe this is how it should be, as I stated.

      My point, however, is the same as it always is. Namely:
      If you wish to claim what you believe is truth and fact and want to Spread the Word, and especially to children, then you should have the integrity to defend such claims with evidence .
      And evidence that can be supported.
      I have mentioned archaeological evidence as an example that refutes such claims as the biblical Exodus as an example.
      No Christian I have ever interacted with, ever – my mother included – has been able, or even willing for that matter, to provide a single scrap of verifiable evidence to support a single foundational claim of their religion, and yet the claim is always that it is truth and fact.

      Prove to me there is a god and which god is it? Something like that??

      Yes, something like this. No matter how it is phrased everything I’ve written (here and elsewhere) boils down to evidence.

      And I reiterate, with David’s leave of course, you are more than welcome to present whatever evidence you have that you feel supports your claims.
      So far you haven’t presented any.

      Regards.
      Ark.

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  16. Ark. This question you keep asking is sending you around in the same circles. Your question” Prove to me there is a god and which god is it? is a subjective question about an objective reality. Can you see this is an impossible/unreasonable question?
    kind regards
    Martha

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    1. Although I quoted you I generally do not use the word prove or proof when it comes to religion. That would be nonsense. Sorry if I confused you.
      Proofs are generally reserved for mathematics.
      In fact, how could anyone prove that Yahweh exists?

      And by the way, I am perfectly okay with deism – I am not a deist but it is moot as far as I am concerned – if this is what you wish to settle on?
      Though I expect as a Christian you will likely push for the god of Christianity and the revealed aspect.

      All I am asking you to provide is evidence to support your claims , and especially the foundational tenets of your faith. I am not asking you to … ”prove that God(sic) exists”
      If you were to quote biblical text then there should be something outside of the bible to support such claims.
      The raising of Lazarus, Feeding of the four and the five thousand, the Saints rising from their graves at the time of the crucifixion etc etc. You see what I mean, I’m sure?

      As a further example.
      You consider the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth to be your god – part of the Triune, which includes the Holy Spirit and Yahweh.

      To this end, please provide a single piece of contemporary evidence for the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.
      If it is non-christian contemporary evidence, even better.

      That would be a start, and might help you to actually grasp what I am trying to convey.
      Regards
      Ark

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  17. Hi Ark

    I have not forgotten your questions but the debate is heating up on the other topic and I haven’ t got the brain energy to devote myself to two topics (related!!) at the same time

    Talk/write aka ‘communicate’ later

    Martha

    Like

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