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u/karmaceutical · 11 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

Awesome, thanks for waiting, I appreciate it. First off, I am neither a pastor nor classically trained in any way regarding this stuff, just another guy searching for the truth (although I bet I'm a little older so maybe I have been through some of the questions you have).

Before I jump in, I want to kind of set the stage a bit, if you don't mind. First, what does it mean to be a Christian or to be a follower of Jesus? Does it mean believing in a worldwide flood? Does it mean believing in a Young Earth Creation? Does it mean we can't believe in evolution? I think you will find that Christianity tolerates a wide variety of viewpoints, even though specific denominations and adherents may not. There are some things that are pretty central to Christianity, what we might call Mere Christianity, which falls along the lines of the Apostle's Creed. Whenever you hear critiques of Christianity, it is nice to go back to this foundational belief set and see if the critiques actually chip away at the bedrock (which is expressed in the creed) or just at the periphery. I find that they rarely do.

Second, when we look at stories written in the Bible, I want to state that it is wrong to just pick and choose what to believe but it is right to pick a consistent model of interpretation and apply it. This means that I don't have to take things literally (like the "trees clapping their hands" when alluding leaves brushing together in the wind) but I do have to be consistent. We should also read the Bible with the genre of each book in mind. Obviously the poetry of Songs of Solomon should be treated differently from a letter of Paul or a book of laws like Deuteronomy.

Let me try now and respond to some of your specific problems.

> However many Creationists say that I have to believe in a literal interpretation

As William Lane Craig says, the creation story allows for "all manner of interpretation". Even the great church fathers like St Augustine discussed how the world possessed potencies created by God that would unravel over time. The Catholic Church has explicitly said "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation". So, I think this is an example of something that is on the periphery. Believing in evolution (or not) isn't central to being a Christian. The only part of evolution that would be unacceptable to the Christian would be that it is wholly unguided which is a metaphysical questions which Science, in principle, could not discern.

> Noah's ark

There are a lot of ways to address this. Are you open to the existence of miracles? Did the writer of Genesis mean the whole world or the known world? Are there far fewer "kinds" of animals (which Genesis refers to) rather than "species"? Is the believer committed to a global flood and not just a flood of the known world? I think answers to these questions invite a number of responses that give Christians a broad spectrum of beliefs.

> Evolution

As I mentioned before, Theistic Evolution is a commonly accepted belief. I happen to think that evolution is both wildly improbable and did happen. I believe it was guided or superintended by God.

> God is omni benevolent, omnipotent and omniscent then how can evil be allowed

This is a really big question to which there are several responses, all of which combined, IMHO, make a pretty strong case that we would actually expect there to be evil. The first and foremost response is the Free Will defense. It wouldn't do justice to the problem for me to try and rehash the arguments here, so I have linked to another place where I have discussed this issue and I am happy to discuss further if you follow up with more questions.

> Why is it that a woman is "unclean" for longer if they have a baby girl than if they have a baby boy? That seems a bit sexist to me.

I don't know, but I generally believe that the law of the OT was created to allow a society to survive. Because of Free Will, mankind had to progress. We learned. We weren't ready for everything all at once. This is one of the areas where I struggle the most (I have 3 daughters). If anything, it pushes my position on Biblical Inerrancy. And even if I had to abandon that doctrine, it wouldn't mean that I couldn't still come to believe in Mere Christianity.

> science and logic seem to be so in favour of atheism

Here is where I am confused. I have found Christian Theism to be eminently more consistent with the data of experience and our logical understanding than atheism and naturalism. On Atheism there is ultimately no foundation, everything is just a giant brute fact. The Universe just exists for no reason at all. IMHO, Atheism and Naturalism are permeated with philosophically undercutting problems.

If you get a chance, I would highly recommend you read two things, one by a Christian philosopher and one by an atheist philosopher. I would be happy to purchase you a copy of the latter's book if you cannot afford it yourself. The first is available in PDF and is Alvin Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism which shows that if Naturalism and Atheism are true, one cannot rationally believe in them, because one must admit that our mental faculties are selected for survivability and not truth. The second is a stunning book by the widely regarded atheist thinker Thomas Nagel called Mind & Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Reality is Almost Certainly False. Before you do anything else, I would read these two books, really dig down and spend some time with them, looking up terms and making sure you understand the arguments. I think you will find, like I did, that the atheist, naturalist philosophical stance is only superficially superior, and that there are great, unworked faults that lie at the center of a matter-first model of philosophy.

> when I pray, I feel nothing

I'm right there with you bud. I don't recall ever feeling the direct presence of God when praying. I feel God mostly in his discipline of me. Hebrews 12:16 "because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son."

My belief in God is only loosely supported on what most people could call an experiential event. I believe in God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. I am just straight up convinced.

Please feel free to ask any more questions you might have!

u/n_orm · 9 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

Now I'm no expert on the Kalam but I know there's a two volume series, V1 the philosophical argument and V2 the scientific evidence. (

I believe timeless and immaterial are due to time and matter being created at the big bang. Causeless (I think) is due to the problem of an infinite regress (

Personally relate-able (again I'm no expert on this argument) is explained in Reasonable Faith:

>“First, as Richard Swinburne points out [in The Existence of God], there are two types of causal explanation: scientific explanations in terms of laws and initial conditions and personal explanations in terms of agents and their volitions. For example, if I come into the kitchen and find the kettle boiling, and I ask Jan, “Why is the kettle boiling?” she might answer, “The heat of the flame is being conducted via the copper bottom of the kettle to the water, increasing the kinetic energy of the water molecules, such that they vibrate so violently that they break the surface tension of the water and are thrown off in the form of steam.” Or she might say, “I put it on to make a cup of tea. Would you like some?” The first provides a scientific explanation, the second a personal explanation. Each is a perfectly legitimate form of explanation; indeed, in certain contexts it would be wholly inappropriate to give one rather than the other. Now a first state of the universe cannot have a scientific explanation, since there is nothing before it, and therefore it cannot be accounted for in terms of laws operating on initial conditions. It can only be accounted for in terms of an agent and his volitions, a personal explanation. Second, the personhood of the cause of the universe is implied by its timelessness and immateriality. The only entities we know of which can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects, like numbers. But abstract objects do not stand in causal relations. Indeed, their acausal nature is definitive for abstract objects; that is why we call them abstract. Numbers, for example, cannot cause anything. Therefore, the transcendent cause of the origin of the universe must be of the order of mind. Third, this same conclusion is also implied by the fact that we have in this case the origin of a temporal effect from a timeless cause. We’ve concluded that the beginning of the universe was the effect of a first cause. By the nature of the case, that cause cannot have any beginning of its existence or any prior cause. Nor can there have been any changes in this cause, either in its nature or operations, prior to the beginning of the universe. It just exists changelessly without beginning, and a finite time ago it brought the universe into existence. Now this is exceedingly odd. The cause is in some sense eternal and yet the effect which it produced is not eternal but began to exist a finite time ago. How can this be? If the necessary and sufficient conditions for the production of the effect are eternal, then why isn’t the effect eternal? How can all the causal conditions sufficient for the production of the effect be changelessly existent and yet the effect not also be existent along with the cause? How can the cause exist without the effect? One might say that the cause came to exist or changed in some way just prior to the first event. But then the cause’s beginning or changing would be the first event, and we must ask all over again for its cause. And this cannot go on forever, for we know that a beginningless series of events cannot exist. There must be an absolutely first event, before which there was no change, no previous event. We know that this first event must have been caused. The question is: How can a first event come to exist if the cause of that event exists changelessly and eternally? Why isn’t the effect co-eternal with its cause? To illustrate: Let’s say the cause of water’s freezing is subzero temperatures. If the temperature were eternally below zero degrees Centigrade, then any water around would be eternally frozen. If the cause exists eternally, the effect must also exist eternally. But this seems to imply that if the cause of the universe existed eternally, the universe would also have existed eternally. And this we know to be false. One way to see the difficulty is by reflecting on the different types of causal relations. In event/event causation, one event causes another. For example, the brick’s striking the window pane causes the pane to shatter. This kind of causal relation clearly involves a beginning of the effect in time, since it is a relation between events which occur at specific times. In state/state causation one state of affairs causes another state of affairs to exist. For example, the water’s having a certain surface tension is the cause of the wood’s floating on the water. In this sort of causal relation, the effect need not have a beginning: the wood could theoretically be floating eternally on the water. If the wood begins to float on the water, then this will be a case of event/event causation: the wood’s beginning to float is the result of its being thrown into the water. Now the difficulty that arises in the case of the cause of the beginning of the universe is that we seem to have a peculiar case of state/event causation: the cause is a timeless state but the effect is an event that occurred at a specific moment in the finite past. Such state/event causation doesn’t seem to make sense, since a state sufficient for the existence of its effect should have a state as its effect. There seems to be only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to say that the cause of the universe’s beginning is a personal agent who freely chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation “agent causation,” and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present. For example, a man sitting changelessly from eternity could freely will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have freely brought the world into being at that moment. In this way, the Creator could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. By “choose” one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that he freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning. By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist. So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: through the free will of a personal Creator. On the basis of a conceptual analysis of the conclusion implied by the kalām cosmological argument, we may therefore infer that a personal Creator of the universe exists, who is uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and unimaginably powerful. This, as Thomas Aquinas was wont to remark, is what everybody means by “God.”

Edit : Sorry for text wall!

u/TooManyInLitter · 3 pointsr/ReasonableFaith


The most foundational belief in Christianity, and in all the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), is that Yahweh/YHWH/YHVH, God, or Allah, is that "God" exists and there is the only one true revealed God (monotheism) - or monotheistic Yahwehism. As this is also the core of the Tanakh (Judaism), Bible (Christianity), and Qur'an/Koran (Islam); questions concerning the source of, and the validity of, this monotheistic Deity belief would raise significant doubt as to the Holy Book's validity as the word of God/Yahweh/Allah and to the very foundation of these belief systems. These core scriptural documents also establish the precept and precedent accepting predecessor society/culture holy scripture and documentation of revealed Yahwehism and integrating and propagating core attributes and beliefs (though with some variation and conflict with peripherals). Yet, within the Holy Scriptures of predecessor Babylonian, Ugarit and Canaanite, and early Israelite religions/societies/cultures, the evidence points to the evolution and growth in the belief of the monothesitic Yahweh Deity from a polytheistic foundation of the El [El Elyon] (the Father God/God Most High) God pantheon. Yahweh (one of many sons of El) was a subordinate fertility/rain/warrior local desert God whom, through a process of convergence, differentiation and displacement (synthesis and syncretism), was elevated from polytheism to henotheism (a monolatry for Yahweh; Yahweh is in charge, there are other Gods to worship) to an aggressive monolatrist polytheistic belief (Yahweh is the most important God, there exists other Gods but worship of these other Gods is to be actively rejected) to, finally, a monotheistic belief system (there is and, somehow, always has been, only Yahweh) as documented in the revealed holy scriptures of these religions and cultures that directly influenced and/or became the Biblical Israelites.

For ones edification, here are some physical archeological and linguistic anthropological evidential sources documenting the development and growth of monotheistic Yahwehism/Allahism from a historical polytheistic foundation of revealed holy scripture to the monotheism of early Biblical Israelites:

  • [The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel]( by Mark Smith<br />
  • The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts by Mark S. Smith
  • A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
  • The Religion of Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel) by Patrick D. Miller
  • Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches by Ziony Zevit

    Traces of the foundational polytheistic (many many gods, El is in charge) belief, and it's evolution into a man-driven politically and militarily motivated monolatry for Yahweh (Yahweh is in charge, acknowledgement of other gods) to monotheistic Yahwehism (where Yahweh is and, somehow, always been the one and only god “There is no god but Allah”/“You shall have no other gods before Me"), litter the Torah and Old Testament of the Bible which survived editing and redaction. To a lesser extent (as it is based upon already redacted material and with better editing/explicit rationalizations already included) the New Testament and Qur'an also show linkages to this foundational polytheistic belief. Given that the tradition of monotheistic Yahwehism is the essential foundation of the Abrahamic Religions, this falsehood propagates to any/all doctrine/dogma/claims based upon this foundation - rendering these religions, at best, demonstratively invalid; and nominally, morally and culturally reprehensible.

    With the dubious claim of monotheistic Yahwehism that the Abrahamic God is based upon, and that serves as the most essential foundation of the Tanakh/Bible/Qur'an narrative, then any claim that the Tanakh/Bible/Qur'an is valid as a source for any "truth" or "knowledge" concerning Yahweh/Allah, and, Jesus the Christ, is at best, highly questionable and suspect, and nominally, completely "non-truthful."

    Additionally, presuppositional apologetics, as based upon the Christian God and Christian Faith, and having the position of monotheistic Yahwehism as the source/author of knowledge and the absolute standard for facts/logic/reason/science/morality/etc., is shown to be invalid as a result of the fully dependent, essential, and foundational tenet of monotheistic Yahwehism having been shown to be fallacious, fundamentally flawed and refuted. To argue against, or refute, the position of the fallacy of monotheistic Yahwehism, and to support of presuppositional apologetics, the burden of proof will be to provide credible evidence or proof of the existence of monotheistic Yahweh Deity against the presuppositional position of the null hypothesis {that supernatural deities do not exist} as exemplified by the agnostic atheist baseline position,
    and against the argument against monotheistic Yahwehism via yahweh's polytheistic origin narratives as exemplified by this gnostic atheist held position that was presented above against monotheistic Yahwehism.


    So how does the above very long argument do against the use of presuppositional apologetics against the agnostic atheist and the gnostic atheist (who holds a knowledge/evidience based position against monotheistic Yahwehism which undermines the basis for presuppositional apologetics) unbelievers non-believers? [The word "unbelievers" sometimes carries with it the implication that there is something against which to have "not" or "the opposite of" belief. This would represent a strawman position as the baseline atheist position is that there is nothing against which to have belief.]
u/josephsmidt · 6 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

&gt; Are atheist borrowing from the Christian worldview?

Yes! And hear's how: theists philosophers since Plato and Aristotle have painstakingly done the hard work to show that logic, morality and even science are justified in a theistic framework. However, most atheists just assume/adopt this same logic, morality and science without going back and painstakingly working out if atheism can justify these same hallmarks of theism.

One reason they are wrong to assume is the much of the greatest philosophers of all time have admitted materialistic atheism cannot justify these things, from Nietzsche to Kant to recently Nagel. (So this is not an isolated admission) Nietzsche even went so far as to confess:

&gt; only if we assume a God who is morally our like can “truth” and the search for truth be at all something meaningful and promising of success. This God left aside, the question is permitted whether being deceived is not one of the conditions of life.

So yes, atheists just adopt while being ignorant of their own worldview's incompatibility with these principles that can be justified by theism. But ignorance is bliss I guess. :)

u/Proliator · 1 pointr/ReasonableFaith

&gt;How is the knowledge of what a person is intrinsic? Also, how do you know that you, yourself, are a person, from an epistemic standpoint?

It's just the general definition for what you are. You know that experience and you know how it manifests externally. That is how you can define what a person is.

&gt;How would you assert that you are the specific creature that was made in God's image?

Because the Bible doesn't say creature, it says man, a specific creature.

&gt;Not trying to poke at things, but wouldn't an even simpler explanation be that they are "soulless" (can't think of a decent word at the moment), but still appear to have a mind? Similar to AI.

Not at all. How is it simpler that they would be different? That you are the only person with a "soul" despite everyone being created by God? Wouldn't that just be special pleading?

Remember the simplest explanation is not "the simplest to implement", it's not about whats simplest to make happen when you already know intrinsically consciousness can happen. Rather the simplest explanation is the one that makes the fewest assumptions.

Assuming everyone who looks and acts like you has a mind, which you know you have, is one assumption.

Assuming everyone who looks and acts like you, does not in fact has a mind is one assumption. This also assumes you're now the only one with a mind. So that's two. Then you assume that for other's its a facsimile or AI. That's three. etc.

&gt;I agree with that, but the problem is what humanity is. How do you know you are the creature that God was referring to?

As above, the Bible does not use "creature" it uses "man", as in "mankind".

&gt;So then what is the point of believing them over not?

They're necessary for understanding the external world.

Before we were grounding all belief. To do that we grounded fundamental beliefs in ourselves, which makes sense as we are the ones that hold belief.

Now we've jumped to a scope beyond ourselves. These are the beliefs that are foundational to understanding the external world, but not necessarily foundational to ourselves or all belief in general.

&gt;Are there any books in particular or online summaries that would relate to this certain aspect of PBBs?

I read Plantinga's book "Warranted Christian Belief" awhile back and I believe that starts to dig at those topics. This goes into some depth but it is written in more accessible language.

A more formal treatment by him would be his paper "On proper basicality" but it's an academic philosophy paper so it might be hard to digest. There's also "Is belief in god properly basic?", another paper of his but I can't find a link that isn't behind a paywall.

You can check out this list of some of his work. He addresses many of the questions you've been asking. Reformed epistemology is as good a place as any to jump into this.

William Lane Craig also talks about it occasionally, but I don't think he's written something specifically in regards to it.

u/ses1 · -5 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

I would dispute the 13% as there are other surveys that give different percentages.

Maybe they are like Thomas Nagel in they don't want there to be any such person as God. I read that in an interview of him and thought that was a very curious statement; especially from a philosopher.

Or perhaps they desire autonomy and think God’s existence threatens it.

Or maybe like Antony Flew some will eventually "follow the evidence wherever it leads"

When I talk to atheists or agnostics they seemingly reject God more on emotional grounds than on intellectual. And they seemingly want absolute certainty for God's existence otherwise they feel justified in rejecting theism. But there isn't much in life that one can be absolutely certain of, so that is special pleading.

u/Ibrey · 11 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

No translation can be perfect, and scholarly works dealing with biblical texts will often adapt their chosen translation as needed, if not translate everything afresh. That said, most experts consider the New Revised Standard Version to be the most accurate translation overall. The New Oxford Annotated Bible and the HarperCollins Study Bible augment this translation with excellent notes and introductions based on the latest scholarship.

Another translation of similar high quality, though often overlooked, is the New American Bible, Revised Edition. All editions of this translation include the same notes (which the copyright holder will not allow to be omitted), including online versions.

If the meaning of a particular verse is in question, it may be helpful to consult the New English Translation (NET) Bible, which features extensive, detailed notes explaining the translators' choices, with references to relevant scholarly literature.

A word of caution about one highly popular translation: the New International Version contains numerous highly questionable translation choices with no basis in the text in order to smooth over difficulties for Evangelical doctrine. My favourite example, until it was taken out in a recent revision, was the verse where Jesus calls the mustard grain "the smallest of all seeds," which the NIV rendered "the smallest of all your seeds" to make Jesus imply that he knows better due to divine knowledge of botany. Others would include the softening of a comparison between man and other animals in Ecclesiastes 3:18, presumably to exorcise the spectre of Darwinism; 2 Samuel 21:19 and 1 Kings 4:26 are quietly made to match up with other parts of the Bible; and the terrible prospect of salvation after death is eliminated from 1 Peter 4:6 with language that makes clear that when the author wrote that the gospel was preached "even to the dead," he really meant that even some people who are now dead heard the gospel while they were alive. There's a lot of subtle monkey business with the vocabulary to preempt non-Evangelical interpretations. The same Greek word is correctly translated "tradition" wherever it appears in a negative context, but "teaching" wherever it appears in a positive context. Similarly, the doctrine of justification by faith alone is shored up by translating the same word "works" wherever it appears in a negative context and "deeds" wherever it appears in a positive context. Many more examples could be cited.

u/Repentant_Revenant · 1 pointr/ReasonableFaith

I would add the other two books in Plantinga's trilogy on Warrant as well.

Warrant: The Current Debate

Warrant and Proper Function

Also Whose Justice? Which Rationality? by Alasdair MacIntyre

I've heard that Charles Taylor is a must as well.

u/tuffbot324 · 5 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

As far as apostles dying for a lie, I don't think critical historians really agree with this apologetic/traditional claim. Possibly a few apostles died, but I think most of these claims are later legends.

I haven't read it yet, but Professor Moss of Notre Dame has a book on the subject you might be interested in;amp;qid=1373556152&amp;amp;sr=8-1&amp;amp;keywords=the+myth+of+persecution

u/throwawayaccount94 · 2 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

We have 4 things written 30+ years after an event, based on oral stories, that all say the event happened differently. It isn't a fact, because we don't for sure know it happened. We don't have video evidence, we don't have living witnesses. I can write something saying 30 years ago my friend was Batman, doesn't mean it's a fact.

I suggest you look at these two books.

u/031107 · 0 pointsr/ReasonableFaith

Yeah, I would just tell people that say "Jesus did not exist!" that there are no credible scholars that hold that position. You can direct them to Bart Ehrman who isn't a Christian or theist but thoroughly refutes arguments that Jesus didn't exist. Here's his book on the subject -

So you believe evidence that characters of Biblical actually existed gives credibility to the Bible and Christianity? Cool. I'd agree.

u/PeripateticPothead · 1 pointr/ReasonableFaith

&gt;Here is another debate book between an apologist and a counter-apologist.;amp;qid=1373127972&amp;amp;sr=8-1&amp;amp;keywords=god+loftus

Do you know if it's any good? The user ratings + the unknown authors has me not-excited. :-/