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As an atheist, this is something I enjoy, so don't bust my balls. I like things to be logical and consistent, I don't find that in any religions, especially christianity. Christian believes their bible is the inspired word of god. How can that be if there are contradictions in the bible. To me, it is totally illogical for a god to inspire a book containing contradictions.
Christians will deny that there are an contradictions int the bible. When contradictions occur they we say to get the right understanding one has to go back to the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic. If that doesn't work, they say you interpret a verse in the context of preceding and following verses, or interpret a verse in its historical perspective. If that doesn't work, they say to have faith in the illogical will be one day understood.
That's all a bunch of crap. If a christian god exists, he would (logically) make his will clear and simple to understand. Following is a clear biblical contradiction, I challenge any christian to refute, without playing word games
Isaiah 45:7 (kjv)

I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I the lord do all those things.

Is this verse not simple, clear, and direct. God says that he creates evil - there is no wiggleroom for misinterpretation that I can see. Now, contrast this verse with -

                         Habakkuk 1:13 (kjv)

Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity...

Is this verse not simple, clear, and direct. Again, I see no wiggleroom for any other interpretation. These two verses clearly contradict each other. Are there any ex-christians out there that can explain how these two verses do no contradict each other, from a christian perspective? I could never believe in an illogical god, much less, an incompetent god!

Tomm 5 Mar 23

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They will claim that these are two different kinds of "evil" (the first one mentioned is more like adversity or "testing", the second really meaning evil). Yes apologetics will go that far and further.

The interesting thing to me is that if I were a christian, I would believe god created evil; he certainly created the environment for evil to exist. If god did create evil, why should anyone be punished for doing evil? much less, be infinitely punished. Further, if god created evil, evil must be, logically, part of god's infinite beingness. It's all just ridiculous and absurd.


Exactly !
Why are we punished for being a part of his plan ?


The bible itself says that god is not the author of confusion, yet he wrote the most confusing book in existence! The opposite of confusion is clarity. Why didn't we get a clear book? I mean, if we were to leave a book of instructuon to our children, and their eternal destiny depended on it, wouldn't we want it to be clear?!?!



The 1st inconsistency is allowing the 3 letters thing o d be unchallenged as a referent without object is impossible to debate the existence of nothing....every attribute alleged to be embodied by the central character of the fiction book KING JAMES bible is both false and irrational....omnipotence is obviously impossible

I agree completely with your reply to my post. But, I can only have a discussion with christians if I concede the existence of their god, so they can explain, to me, the inconsistencies, irrationalities, and unfairness of a christian god. Why do I care? I don't know, I like a intellectual challenge, but the christians but neither do atheists.
I haven't found any atheists that can articulate a reasonable interpretation of humankind's conscious existence, devoid of the existence of any god. I won't accept the seeming universal atheist belief that existence is what it is; and all we can do is unquestionable accept it. I don't know for a fact, but I think most atheists believe that we (humankind) evolved into conscious existence through the process of evolution. I don't! As I understand it, most people believe that nothing existed before the Big Bang, Hawking being a notable exception. If it is true, our evolution to self-conscious awareness came from the nothingness of non-existence. How utterly illogical is that!
In short, I enjoy theological discussions in hopes that those discussions will lead to new understandings. If I only contemplated my own thoughts, without challenge, there would be no catalyst to advance my thoughts.


OK, I’ll give it a try. If, on a rainy Monday afternoon, I write in my diary “It’s raining.” I would be telling the truth. If later that week, on Thursday, the sun is out and I write in my diary “It’s not raining.” I’m also telling the truth. After I die, somebody picks up my diary and reads it, they’re going to see me making two diametrically opposite statements that were both true.

The Bible was written by at least 40 different authors over hundreds of years, so there are going to be different perspectives that are separated by time and place. But that doesn’t mean that there could not be some truth in all of them.

Reason is a powerful and useful tool, but it is not all there is of us. We are much more complex than simple logic. Our dreams at night are clear evidence of that. When we wake up, the dream looks nonsensical but it was meaningful to the subconscious or it would not have occurred.

Myths (religions) are our collective waking dreams. Believers and non-believers alike are making an enormous error when they try to understand them as literal instructions to be followed logically. They are instead, abstractions of meaning, that are to be embraced loosely like viewing an abstract painting. You can enjoy the color and movement, and the images and feelings it evokes in your mind, but if you keep trying to see it as a representation of a concrete object, it will always appear as a complete and useless failure.

Religion is a social art-form. Religious literalism is a deadly error, whether practiced by those who believe they believe, or by those who believe they don’t believe.

skado Level 9 Mar 23, 2019

If you think of the concept of "God" as a personification of the totality of reality, then suddenly all those seeming contradictions appear perfectly true. Reality is exactly like that isn't it. One day reality is being nice to you and giving you what you need, and the next day it's being totally evil. And of course, we are better off to appreciate the good and weather the bad as best we can. It's all true from some perspective.

That is very good and true perhaps. But it is entirely beside Tomm's point, because all of that is very true if you regards the bible as mythology, in the same way that you view the stories of Zeus or Balder, then you may enjoy and benefit from seeing it as part of humanities collective dream, to be interpreted allegorically, or as a dream-time route to deep emotional understanding, but that is not religion. To be religious means by definition that you take your own texts as sources of literal truth, and do not view them in the same light as other mythologies. And religion is what Tomm addresses.

One of the greatest falsehoods peddled in the world is that of so called sophisticated theologians who talk of the great allegories among their fellows, but never bother to mention the issue of interpretation at all when preaching to the followers in the pews.

What you say makes sense. But, I can't get past the christian belief is that the bible is the inspired word of god. And, thus, the questions remains: Does an all-knowing god inspire different authors to contradict each other. If that is true, all interpretations of the bible would be subjective and thus useless, as they are anyway.
I enjoy discussing christrian conundrums with christians recognizing I can't convince them, and they can't me. I like to know how christians rationalize their understandings, when their understandings are, from my perspective nonsensical and contradictory. Here's another example.
Most christians, especially those who call themselves christian apologists, believe that there is no god-presence in hell. First of all, the christian god is omnipresence, so by definition his presence must logically be in hell. But, if that isn't enough proof, David clearly says in psalms 139.8 that god's presence is in hell.
I enjoy talking to anyone who sincerely believes in what they believe. It often leads to some interesting thoughts. For example, I recently talked with a JW. I especially enjoy talking to JW's, mormons, and christian scientists. Anyway the JW told me something I thought was interesting. She said that one JW belief is that god can choose not to know something. It's absurdly ridiculous but she used bible scripture to support that belief. Anyway, I like to know what people believe, and why they believe it.

Well stated!

Christian belief is not monolithic. There are many Christian beliefs. So yeah, it’s interesting to talk to people who are living with high dissonance and play the Socratic inquirer for them, and I do think that can be productive for all concerned, if done with patience and compassion. But they don’t represent all Christians. There is no one single way to be a Christian or any other religious brand.

I don’t see a lot of difference between absolute confidence in one’s interpretation of religious text on the one hand, and absolute confidence in one’s understanding of the definition of the word religion. I accept that you define the word for yourself that way, but you don’t get to define it for me or the world. And the evidence won’t support you if you claim there is a scholarly consensus that agrees with you. There isn’t.

If Tomm is talking about religious literalism, then I don’t disagree, but if he assumes the same of “religion” at large, then he misses the answer he claims to be seeking.

And... a loving minister might understandably not want to pull the rug out from under people who depend on a literal interpretation to make their worldview work, even though he, himself doesn’t believe that way. A more constructive approach (for a minister) might be to allow the individual to learn at their own pace.

@skadoTrue we are both free to define the word religion as we wish . But there is more to it than that, because if you take the mythic relativist view of religion, then all myths are equal and all can be used equally, but with that the one thing that religion has to offer, from which all its other offerings such as tribal community and moral certainty, stem, goes away. Because what defines religion is the view that its world model and morality, is, both exclusive to its members and specially privy to the authority of god/gods, giving thereby its members extra authority on all matters in turn, and raising them above those not included. Without that there is simply no value to be had from religion, and you may as well study your myths from history books. It maybe that there are many people in the religious world who do see their religion as no more than any other mythology, but I very much doubt they are a large number, in fact in the pews tiny.

Yet more importantly, they are not the issue since they do not by virtue of that, fall into any of the evils of religion, which I am sure are what TOMM was addressing. For that type of religion would be harmless, the real harm of religion comes from the belief that you have a specially privileged access to gods wisdom, not owned by others, entitling you to regard your views and morality as being above those of others, even though you may not be aware you do so. And since that is the point at which religion truly makes a difference, I feel that it is by far the best point to draw the line between religion and mere cultural attachment to a social group.

Do you suppose that if religion were to disappear, that people would stop acting privileged and morally superior?

@skado No but the need that some people to feel morally superior, would have to have a morallity justified on an equal playing field with all other ideals, it could not be used to support superstition and ultra conservative Bronze Age systems, be used to obtain money and power from them without proof, ( You may say they deserve it if you wish.) and it would not create a pool through which the fundamentalist swims sheltered by the widespread idea that beliefs unsupported by reason are respectable; indeed ultra respectable.

Would mass ignorance alone not be sufficient for those injustices to survive?

@skado Do you refuse to put a fence round the cesspool because people can always fall into another one ? And mass ignorance is best abolished by education, to which religion is the main opponent politically, and if only because of the time it wastes, QED.

I refuse to fence myself out of the central territory of my own culture just because ignorance has created a cesspool somewhere within its boundaries. It still seems to me that we’re just arguing about the definition of religion here, rather than about any real differences about the harmfulness of superstition and corrupt institutions.

You say: “It maybe that there are many people in the religious world who do see their religion as no more than any other mythology, but I very much doubt they are a large number, in fact in the pews tiny.
Yet more importantly, they are not the issue since they do not by virtue of that, fall into any of the evils of religion, which I am sure are what TOMM was addressing. For that type of religion would be harmless...”

Looks like you are saying that any type of religion that is not destructive doesn’t qualify as religion. You have decided that harmless religion is not religion, but you still call it religion.

I’m every bit as opposed to ignorance and corruption as you are, whether it’s found in religion, or government or business. But I don’t think the best approach is to then define religion and government and business as inherently evil, and set about trying to abolish them. Whatever humans do, some of them, maybe even an overwhelming majority, will do poorly. It is that poor execution that is the enemy, not the entire sphere of doing.

@skado Quite the contrary. I define religion in the mainstream way, and do not think that a tiny minority on the fringe of it, who cling to it out of sentiment for lost culture, are of much consequence when addressing it. In any case I regard all culture as potentially a source of superstition and error, the great weakness of religion is that it is a cultural phenomenon, and like all culture can therefore be equally successful at promoting falsehoods as truth. All culture therefore has to be regarded with suspicion. My main reason for being devoted to science as a philosophy as much as a method is that it is anti-cultural. The most important step that anyone can take in life, is to recognize the value of trying to outgrow the culture into which they were born, it is not completely possible but the effort can only be rewarding.

Science is culture.

"The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization (including practices of political organization and social institutions), mythology, philosophy, literature (both written and oral), and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society."

"One of the earliest articulations of the anthropological meaning of the term "culture" came from Sir Edward Tylor who writes on the first page of his 1871 book: "Culture, or civilization, taken in its broad, ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."

"Religious people believe that God dictates these universal values; agnostics and atheists believe that universal values are inherent in the 'human reason'. These transcendental values are the source of human beliefs that guide humanity towards social and ethical rules and to the observation of nature (Iaccarino, 2001a; Stent, 1974). In other words, science is deeply rooted in metaphysics, and there is no conflict between religion and science. Moreover, although the language of science is often specialized, and thus inaccessible to nonspecialists, science and culture are not different entities: science is part of culture, and how science is done largely depends on the culture in which it is practised."

“Science is part of culture. Culture isn't only art and music and literature, it's also understanding what the world is made of and how it functions. People should know something about stars, matter and chemistry. People often say that they don't like chemistry but we deal with chemistry all the time. People don't know what heat is, they hardly know what water is. I'm always surprised how little people know about anything. I'm puzzled by it.”
― Max Perutz []

“Science is an integral part of culture. It’s not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It’s one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition.”

Science, an essential part of culture:
Ignoring the fact that science is an integral part of human culture is a serious error if we want to overcome humanity's problems."
"Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini expressed a principle which could become, along with the appeal from Monod, a second motto for science's role in the twenty-first century: “At the dawn of the third millennium, scientists claim their right to intervene in a field, which was once considered to be under the exclusive competence and jurisdiction of philosophers and churchmen: the field of values.”

@skado It may be true that science is to a degree just another culture and is infected with many of the evils of culture, it is after all a human construct and could hardly escape being human. But it is certain that the real good and value in science, its practical value above all others, and the thing which makes it possible to say that it supersedes all other cultures, is the fact that it provides a challenge to the great, indeed overwhelming, mass of received folly which is generally described as human culture.
I do not like using quotes like this, but if you wish to use quotes and find them amusing here goes.

“Science at its best is an open-minded method of inquiry, not a belief system.” Rupert Sheldrake.

“A voguish fad sees science as only one of many cultural myths, no more valid than the myths of any other culture. There are even a few vocal fifth columnists within science itself who hold exactly these views, and use them to waste the time of the rest of us.” Richard Dawkins.

And here's one from someone who is often seen as one of Dawkins protagonists.

“Science is not 'organized common sense'; at its most exciting, it reformulates our view of the world
by imposing powerful theories against the ancient anthopocentric prejudices” Stephen J. Gould

Do you feel that art is folly? Is beauty folly? Is style folly? Are manners folly? Are delicious recipes folly? Is the rule of law folly? Is tolerance of those unlike us folly? Is tool-making folly?

@skado Good list.

Tool making is sometimes harmful sometimes not, leaded petrol from example, was I think you will agree, not good, neither are bombs and swords, but smallpox jabs certainly are.

Rule of law is generally good, but there can be exceptions, no one would say that the laws which build concentration camps are to be mindlessly respected.

Recipes are often neutral sometimes fun, but no one would say that the vast number used to deliberately fuel sugar addiction, especially among the poor, are good things and among humanities greatest works. ( They are also just a sub-set of the arts, see below.)

Manners can be good, but formal manners can often be the sticking plasters which violent and unfairly divided societies, used to cover injustice and violent oppression, the most mannered societies are often the most cruel, while truly caring societies, if such things could exist, would not need them.

Beauty comes for the most part from nature, and is inherent in us because we are animals, so does not really belong here.

Art and style can be wonderful especially if treated as games, and not seen as a source of truth, (especially so called, artistic truth) . But they can also in some ways, especially art with a capital "A", be another form of religion, and are perhaps the greatest of all the evils afflicting humanity. For humans, the word art means using the tools and the skills they learned for presenting and spreading their ideas. There may be some good in this, for if we use all our talents skills and tools to help them, then our ideas will spread more easily and be more fruitful. Yet even so the arts will always be a greater friend to the liar than to the honest, for they work just as well for an untruth which needs them more, as they do for the genuine, making no choice between them and spread untruth as well as good. Will it not always be then, that the deceiver and the tyrant know this, and the false and the vicious will always be the first to reach for these tools? Certainly the biggest investors in the arts have always been the great religions and political tyrants. Part of the problem being that not only are the arts a subculture where the skills of hyper-stimulating human emotions are practised, enabling them to sell anything, however evil, without any checks from objective truth. But the arts self promote creating their own subculture and the artistic truth idea, and since there is in fact no link between the arts and objective truth, the artistic truth idea can the be borrowed and used to validate anything. The concentration camp and the gulag were born on the drawing board and in the editors office. Many people especially in the modern urban world have no contact with anything which does not come to them through the channel of the arts, be it fine arts, broadcast media, or advertising, they have lost therefore any chance of even contacting an objective reality of their own, we are, to borrow from the art of film, sleepwalking into the "Matrix" and it is a matrix of our own making. One of the other great effects of the arts of course, is that by over-stimulating the emotions and senses artificially, they can make it seem that all beauty comes from culture, and blind us to the fact that beauty is part of our own inner evolved nature, and evolved to be part of our relationship with nature as a whole. The fact that you include beauty as a benefit of culture is proof of how far in to the matrix we have sunk already.

Tolerance is hardly valid since it is only the opposite of intolerance, which is almost entirely a product of human culture, including of course the arts.

Well I'm glad that you can see some good in culture.

@skado History is as the saying goes, written by the winners. And since we are cultural creatures living in a cultural environment controlled by people who are culturally successful, and culture itself controls even those who think they control it, we are therefore bound to over estimate the value and goodness of culture. Culture is a living thing which evolves, and what it evolves to do is to exploit humans, the most successful cultures are those who can manipulate humans the most successfully., Cultures which can get people to die, slave and kill for them the most, win over those that can't. Yet especially it is the things which seem like the bests bits, which have to be distrusted the most, the best bait always covers the most deadly hooks. The finest arts are used to draw people into the temples where the most evil of crusades are preached.

Do you think there's any hope of changing that situation for the better?

@skado Yes I do see hope, but first it is needful to outline the problem clearly.

Richard Dawkins famously was the first to propound the idea that religions are infections of the mind which grow, reproduce and evolve, just like organic diseases. I think that he failed however to see the extent to which that is true of all human culture, and the way in which a culture is able to evolve to improve the way in which it does that. When two cultures merge, or one is absorbed by anther, sometimes without conflict but sometime in the most violent way such as by physical conflict and imperialism; the winning culture will often then absorb parts of the other. But of course it will always take the best bits, which means the bits which enabled the loosing culture to most successfully infect other minds, and the parts most used by the dominant humans within it. This is very like bacteria exchanging genes, or sex in plants and animals. Successful cultures therefore gradually gain more powers which they can use to control people and to compete for that control with other cultures.

At this time there are many cultures competing for territory, or in other words control of humans. For example American capitalist imperial theist culture, is in sharp conflict as we all know with Islamic medieval capitalist culture, and socialist culture, though there are many others.

At some stage in human development, the biological and evolutionary ground work needed for the development of human language and culture had been completed, and since that day most of our growth and evolution has been of a technological form, language and culture being themselves only technologies in the broadest sense of the word. Nor would I think that many would argue when I say that it is technology which has created almost all that we have gained since then. It is a fashionable worry for many people, that the new computer technology might prove to be dangerous to the human mind. Especially in danger are the minds of the young. Who it is thought, will be easily seduced into an alternate world, where they would loose all contact with what is called objective reality. Yet, the people who attach themselves to this new fashionable “worry” miss something vital, and are at least ten thousand years too late. Since humanities really serious loss of contact with reality may well have occurred long centuries ago, soon after we first began to do no more than tell tales around the camp fire. If culture is a disease of the mind, it is an intellectual infection to which humans have no pre-evolved resistance in our biology, for evolution has no foresight and only works retrospectively.

There is a common theme in the popular imagination, especially expressed in science fiction, which sees human technology as ultimately a threat, in these fantasies powerful robots will one day turn on their human masters and make themselves our rulers, misses the same point, that the dominance of technology over humans, takes place not in a distant future, but in fact took place long ago, when we first gave life to our so called human cultures, which are the most powerful technologies of all. Though it is hard to recognize that they are robots, because their parts are many and stored apart in brains, books on film and in computers etc . When for example armies march far across the world to prey on the far distant lands of strangers, who could never realistically be an economic threat to the individual soldier or their communities. They do so of course, sacrificing life and committing murder, not at the command of princes or tyrants, but ultimately at the orders of their cultures; in whose hands those tyrants and princes are themselves but puppets. The culture machine, which can evolve itself by natural selection and mutation, which does not recognize the control of any human, neither ruler nor thinker, has inherently neither pity nor morals, and in the end no rationality of its own but for its endless consumption of the human mind.

Technology develops both faster and cheaper than biological evolution, and this is surely to a large extent the secret of human success. But there is one all important down side to this, that, the one and only important thing for which nature and biological evolution have not equipped us, physically or mentally, is the consequences of our own technology and its products. In some spheres of human life this is widely recognized, we all know for example, what the consequences of an appetite designed for an animal living a simple gatherers life out on the hungry plains of Africa, can have on our health, when modern farming and trade mean that we can have easy access to as many calories we want when we want. And we should remember that language and culture, in all their aspects, are not only our most important and powerful technologies, but they are also the most inclined to evolve like disease organisms and run away the fastest, since they are composed entirely of ideas, which cost virtually nothing to create. And since culture evolves it too has no foresight, its only purpose is the blind evolved purpose of infecting and dominating more human minds, which most modern cultures being at the end of long competitive evolution are very good at. Yet they will keep on doing it and using every resource it until the end, no mater what the long term consequences to the environment or even if they are driving themselves and the humans they infect to extinction. They will still expend their human ammunition and material resources in fighting one another, and flying expensive planes into expensive buildings, as the environment falls apart and all their human resources die.

Yet the wonderful, helpful and hopeful thing is that we have an inoculation available against these infections, and it is called reason, philosophy and science. Because these sub-cultures especially science are those which demand an attachment to objective truth. And they are cultures yes, that is why they are effective inoculents, if we can get enough people to take the jab. Just as Cowpox was the end of Smallpox. Yet science is not apart and different from the arts either, in fact it exists in the arts in the form that we call “taste” and I do not out of hand reject the idea of objective taste, because taste is in the end, only itself the realization, that all good and worthwhile truth must be found in first hand experience, and contact hopefully with things outside of our human cultures, in other words real taste and science are the same thing. Because, and this is perhaps the part which is most difficult for many people to appreciate, and maybe for many but not all, it needs to be realized that the cultural and artistic 'cultivation' of the higher emotional sensitivities, 'aesthetics' if you like, and the cultivation of reason, especially science, are not, as is sometimes thought, ultimately different things or in conflict with each other, but in the end the same quest for objective truth. I see no other route forward, but that we learn once more to value objective truth, not only in natural philosophy but in all other parts of our lives and especially our arts and cultures.

@Fernapple I am not knocking Arts and Culture they are very important. The unique thing about science is that it has objective measurement and processes to recognise reproducible facts and conclusions. I am sorry but the capacity of Arts and culture to progress science is very limited . This does not mean that we should not develop all three as much as possible. Science gets as close to the truth as possible, many times without reaching it, but there are no objective truths in arts and culture. This does not demean any of the tree. Your analysis is lengthy but good. Thanks for joining science group. What do you think (answer inside science group. of the simple model of science.

@Mcflewster Agreed I have always felt that way about science and the arts. Yet the view that good taste in the arts is the same as the adoption of objective truth is at least original to me, though I have always thought that art was only good, in so far as it told usful and objective truth anyway. Can not like your comment as the button is not working.


Man created gods in his own image.
Of course those images are going to be spectacularly flawed.

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