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Does God exist? (1 Viewer)

do you believe in god?


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MoonlightSonata

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This thread is for discussions about whether God exists.

I created a similar thread a long with the same title but I eventually deleted it because it became a monster. I am reluctant to recreate this thread, however such discussions about God are encroaching on a number of different topics and should be contained.

I strongly suggest that anyone taking part in this thread read the Fallacies section of the argument guide.
 

MoonlightSonata

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In my personal capacity I now post a number of important atheistic/agnostic counter-arguments from the old thread, to bring the discussion up a notch and to save having to repeat them. (Rebuttals are taken from www.talk-orgins.org.)

Arguments against theism

Why you cannot use a religious text to prove God’s existence
Rebuttal: The first cause argument
Rebuttal: The design argument
Rebuttal: My religious text is scientifically and historically accurate
Rebuttal: Prophecies prove the accuracy of my religious text
Rebuttal: First law of thermodynamics claim
Rebuttal: Creationism explains what science cannot

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Why you cannot use a religious text to prove God’s existence

The claim here is that the religious text (Bible, Quran, etc) proves that God exists. This argument makes the fallacy of begging the question (or circular reasoning). When the argument is set out clearly this becomes obvious:

How do we know God exists?
God exists because the Bible says so.
Why should we believe the Bible?
Because the Bible is the word of God.
How do we know God exists?
God exists because the Bible says so.
Why should we believe the Bible?
Because the Bible is the word of God.

How do we know God exists?

(etc, ad infinitum.)

You cannot use the conclusion you are trying to prove (that God exists) as one of your premises. The premise “the Bible is the word of God” already assumes the truth of the conclusion.

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Rebuttal: The First Cause Argument

Claim:

Every event has a cause. The universe itself had a beginning, so it must have had a first cause, which must have been a creator God.


Response:

1. The assumption that every event has a cause, although common in our experience, is not necessarily universal. The apparent lack of cause for some events, such as radioactive decay, suggests that there might be exceptions. There are also hypotheses, such as alternate dimensions of time or an eternally oscillating universe, that allow a universe without a first cause.

2. By definition, a cause comes before an event. If time began with the universe, "before" does not even apply to it, and it is logically impossible that the universe be caused.

3. This claim raises the question of what caused God. If, as some claim, God does not need a cause, then by the same reasoning, neither does the universe.


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Rebuttal: Design Arguments

Claim:
Complexity indicates intelligent design.

Response:
1. This is an argument from incredulity. Complexity usually means something is hard to understand. But the fact that one cannot understand how something came to be does not indicate that one may conclude it was designed. On the contrary, lack of understanding indicates that we must not conclude design or anything else.

Irreducible complexity and complex specified information are special cases of the "complexity indicates design" claim; they are also arguments from incredulity.

2. In the sort of design that we know about, simplicity is a design goal. Complexity arises to some extent through carelessness or necessity, but engineers work to make things as simple as possible. This is very different from what we see in life.

3. Complexity arises from natural causes: for example, in weather patterns and cave formations.

4. Complexity is poorly defined.

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Claim:
Intelligent design has explanatory power. It accounts for a wide range of biological facts. This makes it scientific.

Response:
1. Merely accounting for facts does not make a theory scientific. Saying "it's magic" can account for any fact anywhere but is as far from science as you can get. A theory has explanatory power if facts can be deduced from it. No facts have ever been deduced from ID theory. The theory is equivalent to saying, "it's magic."

2. "Intelligent" and "design" remain effectively undefined. A theory cannot have explanatory power if it is uncertain what the theory says in the first place.

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Claim:

Life looks intelligently designed because of its complexity and arrangement. As a watch implies a watchmaker, so life requires a designer.


Response:

1. Nobody argues that life is complicated. However, complexity is not the same as design. There are simple things that are designed and complex things that originate naturally. Complexity does not imply design; in fact, simplicity is a design goal in most designs.

2. In most cases, the inference of design is made because people cannot envision an alternative. This is simply an argument from incredulity. Historically, supernatural design has been attributed to lots of things that we now know form naturally, such as lightning, rainbows, and seasons.

3. Life as a whole looks very undesigned by human standards, for several reasons:
  • In known design, innovations that occur in one product quickly get incorporated into other, often very different, products. In eukaryotic life, innovations generally stay confined in one lineage. When the same sort of innovation occurs in different lineages (such as webs of spiders, caterpillars, and web spinners), the details of their implementation differ in the different lineages. When one traces lineages, one sees a great difference between life and design. (Eldredge has done this, comparing trilobites and cornets; Walker 2003.)
  • In design, form typically follows function. Yet life shows many examples of different forms with the same function (e.g., different structures making up the wings of birds, bats, insects, and pterodactyls; different organs for making webs in spiders, caterpillars, and web spinners; and at least eleven different types of insect ears), the same basic form with different functions (e.g., the same pattern of bones in a human hand, whale flipper, dog paw, and bat wing) and some structures and even entire organisms without apparent function (e.g., some vestigial organs, creatures living isolated in inaccessible caves and deep underground).
  • As mentioned above, life is complex. Design aims for simplicity.
  • For almost all designed objects, the manufacture of the object is separate from any function of the object itself. All living objects reproduce themselves.
  • Life lacks plan. There are no specifications of living structures and processes. Genes do not fully describe the phenotype of an organism. Sometimes in the absence of genes, structure results anyway. Organisms, unlike designed systems, are self-constructing in an environmental context.
  • Life is wasteful. Most organisms do not reproduce, and most fertilized zygotes die before growing much. A designed process would be expected to minimize this waste.
  • Life includes many examples of systems that are jury-rigged out of parts that were used for another purpose. These are what we would expect from evolution, not from an intelligent designer. For example vertebrate eyes have a blind spot because the retinal nerves are in front of the photoreceptors. Orchids that provide a platform for pollinating insects to land on, the stem of the flower has a half twist to move the platform to the lower side of the flower.
  • Life is highly variable. In almost every species, there is a spread of values for anything you care to measure. The "information" that specifies life is of very low tolerance in engineering terms. There are few standards.
4. Life is nasty. If life is designed, then death, disease, and decay also must be designed since they are integral parts of life. This is a standard problem of apologetics. Of course, many designed things are also nasty (think of certain weapons), but if the designer is supposed to have moral standards, then it is added support against the design hypothesis.

5. The process of evolution can be considered a design process, and the complexity and arrangement we see in life are much closer to what we would expect from evolution than from known examples of intelligent design. Indeed, engineers now use essentially the same processes as evolution to find solutions to problems that would be intractably complex otherwise.

6. Does evolution itself look designed? When you consider that some sort of adaptive mechanism would be necessary on the changing earth if life were to survive, then if life were designed, evolution or something like it would have to be designed into it.

7. Claiming to be able to recognize design in life implies that nonlife is different, that is, not designed. To claim that life is recognisably designed is to claim that an intelligent designer did not create the rest of the universe.

8. As it stands, the design claim makes no predictions, so it is unscientific and useless. It has generated no research at all.


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Rebuttal: My religious text is scientifically and historically accurate

Claim:

My religious text’s accuracy on various scientific and historical points shows its overall accuracy.


Response:

1. The accuracy of the text is not remarkable. All of its accurate points can be explained by simple observation of nature or by selective interpretation of scriptures.

2. Accuracy on individual points does not indicate overall accuracy. Just about every thesis that is wrong overall still has some accurate points in it.

3. Claims about accuracy assume that the purpose of the religious text is to document scientific data. There is not the slightest indication that the text was ever intended as a scientific textbook. It is intended to teach people about God; even those who claim scientific accuracy for it use it with that intent.

4. Specifically, the Bible is not entirely accurate. If its value is made to depend on scientific accuracy, it becomes valueless when people find errors in it, as some people invariably will.

5. If occasional scientific accuracy shows overall accuracy of the text, then the same conclusion must be granted to the Bible, Qur'an, Zend Avesta, and several other works from other religions, all of which can make the same claims to scientific accuracy.

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Rebuttal: Prophecies prove the accuracy of my religious text

Claim:

The religious text contains many prophecies that have accurately been fulfilled, proving it is a divine source.


Response:

1. There are several mundane ways in which a prediction of the future can be fulfilled:
  • Retrodiction. The "prophecy" can be written or modified after the events fulfilling it have already occurred.
  • Vagueness. The prophecy can be worded in such a way that people can interpret any outcome as a fulfillment. Nostradomus's prophecies are all of this type. Vagueness works particularly well when people are religiously motivated to believe the prophecies.
  • Inevitability. The prophecy can predict something that is almost sure to happen, such as the collapse of a city. Since nothing lasts forever, the city is sure to fall someday. If it has not, it can be said that according to prophecy, it will.
  • Denial. One can claim that the fulfilling events occurred even if they have not. Or, more commonly, one can forget that the prophecy was ever made.
  • Self-fulfillment. A person can act deliberately to satisfy a known prophecy.
There are no prophecies in religious texts that cannot easily fit into one or more of those categories.

2. In biblical times, prophecies were not simply predictions. They were warnings of what could or would happen if things did not change. They were meant to influence people's behavior. If the people heeded the prophecy, the events would not come to pass. A fulfilled prophecy was a failed prophecy, because it meant people did not heed the warning.

3. Specifically, the Bible contains failed prophecies, in the sense that things God said would happen did not (Skeptic's Annotated Bible n.d.). For example:
  • Joshua said that God would, without fail, drive out the Jebusites and Canaanites, among others (Josh. 3:9-10). But those tribes were not driven out (Josh. 15:63, 17:12-13).
  • Isaiah 17:1-3 says that Damascus will cease to be a city and be deserted forever, yet it is inhabited still.
  • Ezekiel said Egypt would be made an uninhabited wasteland for forty years (29:10-14), and Nebuchadrezzar would plunder it (29:19-20). Neither happened.

4. Other religions claim many fulfilled prophecies, too.

5. For Christians, divinity is not shown by miracles. The Bible itself says true prophecies may come elsewhere than from God (Deut. 13:1-3), as may other miracles (Exod. 7:22, Matt. 4:8).

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Rebuttal: Rebuttal: First Law of Thermodynamics Claim

Claim:

The first law of thermodynamics says matter/energy cannot come from nothing. Therefore, the universe itself could not have formed naturally.


Response:

Formation of the universe from nothing need not violate conservation of energy. The gravitational potential energy of a gravitational field is a negative energy. When all the gravitational potential energy is added to all the other energy in the universe, it might sum to zero (Guth 1997, 9-12,271-276; Tryon 1973).

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Rebuttal: Creationism explains what science cannot

Claim:

Cosmologists cannot explain where space, time, energy, and the laws of physics came from.


Response:

1. Some questions are harder to answer than others. But although we do not have a full understanding of the origin of the universe, we are not completely in the dark. We know, for example, that space comes from the expansion of the universe. The total energy of the universe may be zero. Cosmologists have hypotheses for the other questions that are consistent with observations (Hawking 2001). For example, it is possible that there is more than one dimension of time, the other dimension being unbounded, so there is no overall origin of time. Another possibility is that the universe is in an eternal cycle without beginning or end. Each big bang might end in a big crunch to start a new cycle (Steinhardt and Turok 2002) or at long intervals, our universe collides with a mirror universe, creating the universe anew (Seife 2002).

One should keep in mind that our experiences in everyday life are poor preparation for the extreme and bizarre conditions one encounters in cosmology. The stuff cosmologists deal with is very hard to understand. To reject it because of that, though, would be to retreat into an argument from incredulity (fallacy).

2. Creationists cannot explain origins at all. Saying "God did it" is not an explanation, because it is not tied to any objective evidence. It does not rule out any possibility or even any impossibility. It does not address questions of "how" and "why," and it raises questions such as "which God?" and "how did God originate?" In the explaining game, cosmologists are far out in front.
 
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xeuyrawp

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Ok.

The most compelling argument for theism:

The Cosmological Argument: Also known as the 'watchmaker argument'. It's slightly different from the first cause argument in that the first cause argument can be surpassed by the believe that god had an autoGenesis of himself. From where comes God can simply be answered that there was nothing for God to not exist in.

-- If you come across a watch sitting on a beach, you know that there was a watchmaker who put it together. You know there was a person who moulded the cogs. You know that there was a person who mined the metals. You know that the watchmaker, miners, and the person who moulded the cogs were born from parents. These parents came from other parents, who came from bacteria, which came from earth, which came from something, which came from something. The cosmological theists ask 'Whence comes that something?' Logically, something comes from something, so our universe must be created by god.

The best rebuttal lies in Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, where it is illustrated visually and textually. Hawking says that the event of the Big Bang essentially started time and space. If time and space were mapped in X and Y axes, with time and space increasing at any rate, the result would be some sort of cone. Since the Big Bang occured in one minute place, of which there was no time, there would be an infinitely small tip to the cone. However, he says, the time-space cone does not reach an apex at the Big Bang event, but rather a rounded shape. He says that the early beginnings of the Big Bang meant that things had to 'speed up' from 0 speed (remember that speed is a result of moving within a time) to more than 0 speed. Because there was no time, time could not simply start with the explosion of matter. He says that because of this curvature, it is impossible to ask 'what was before' -- the curve, he says, would disprove the universe being instantly created.

I downloaded a lecture by him, and he says that the beginning of the universe should be thought of less like a bomb going off, and more like a balloon being inflated and exploding. The Big Bang was the balloon exploding after it had something funky happen. I think the analogy is very similar to life on Earth; whilst there is a lot of evidence to show that life almost exploded onto the Earth, many scientists believe that there were simply just perfect conditions for the murky swamps and radiation to create a lot of life at once.
 

Nesty

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you can't prove that god is real or fake... the questions just keeps going round and round no matter how hard you think about it.. personally i hate religions.. so god doesn't exist in my world
 
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xeuyrawp

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Nesty said:
personally i hate religions.. so god doesn't exist in my world
That's pretty idiotic. Disbelieving in god because you hate religion is really not an argument at all.
 

Wilmo

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While I'm preparing my anti-thesis to moonlights anithesis, i thought I'd respond to what's going on here already.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the person is idiotic. Ignorant is more what i'm thinking.

Is it fair to say that because I've never been to China and experienced being there that China does not exist? It certainly doesnt exist for me. But if i were to meet some Chinese people or even people who had been to China, could i still ignore the fact that China might just be there?

In the same way, your argument that God does not exist for you seems a bit silly. Would God cease to exist because you have never seen him or experienced his presence before? What if God were to send someone to you, like an angel... or even just someone who he has revealed himself to and can testify to his presence? Could you still ignore the the fact that God might just be real?


Say I went to China one day, and then i was put on trial for rebelling against the authority of the country. Would my defence hold up if i were to say "I shouldnt be blamed for rebelling against the Chinese authority because i didn't believe that China even existed let alone had any power!" I sincerely doubt it. And what if the Judge were to say "How can you not have know China existed?! You have seen Chinese people before! You have met people who have BEEN to China. China will exist whether you like it or not!" What excuse can I have?

Likewise... What if one day you were to stand before God in judgement because you are guilty of rebelling against him? Could you argue that you shouldnt be held accountable because you didn't know God existed and that you were rebelling against him? And what if he were to reply "How can you not know that I exist?! Have I not sent people to you who come from me, who know me and have experienced my presence, to warn you that I do exist. How can you claim that I did not make myself known to you?!" What excuse will there be?


So i guess what i will try to argue in the future is that it is not up to me to prove to you wether or not God exists. Because if God exists, which i am convinced that he does, he will not cease to exist just because you do not believe that he exists. But I stand before you as a child of God, through the redemption of Christ Jesus, to say God has revealed himself to me and I have felt his presence and I am absolutely convinced of his existance. Whether you believe that or not does not change a thing.

My only hope is that through the words that I say and through the life that I live you may see me and say "There is a man who has been changed by the presence of God!" And through this I pray that God may reveal his existance to you.
 

spell check

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that is a stupid argument, because if you had never heard of a country and someone tried to tell you it existed, you probably wouldn't believe it unless they could prove it to you somehow. obviously people who had been to china would be able to prove that china existed. and since people who believe in god can't prove in any way that there is a god, you shouldn't believe them just because they say it

imagine all the crazy stuff you'd have to believe if you believed everything people told you even if they couldn't prove it.
 

gerhard

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ive got a question about christianity/monotheistic gods. Ive never really understood this, im sure christians must have some sort of answer for it since it seems like such an obvious problem.

Firstly, God is omniscient. He knows everything, he is outside of time. he knows the past and the future.

Secondly, I have free choice to accept god or not. My future is not pre-determined, I can make my own decisions.

But how can I have a free choice if god already knows what Im going to do? God knows the future, he surely must know what I am going to do and if he does then I wouldnt have free choice. If he doesnt know what Im going to do, then he isnt much of a god.
 

Not-That-Bright

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The difference being, that despite the fact that I can get heaps of information on china.. .it's nothing that's really all that special. I mean the existance of china doesn't destroy any logic like the existance of god does.
 

_dhj_

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And besides, if you don't want China to exist in your mind that's your choice. China won't exist for you. Fair enough.
 

withoutaface

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Wilmo: Strawman. You're attacking atheism when you should be attacking agnosticism. And you've done nothing to explain why you believe so firmly that God exists, besides that about 10 people have allegedly been sent telling that he does.
 
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Wilmo

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SashatheMan said:
i have a Question i wanted to ask.

Why Does God Want Us To Worship Him?

ok so you believe that he exists, and that he created us in someway or another. But why would he "test" our faith or make us go to church and prey.
I'll answer you first because you asked a good question :)

There is an awesome Christian pastor from the U.S. called John Piper who is very into this idea called Christian Hedonism (hedonism meaning living for pleasure, so christian hedonism is find our pleasure in the pleasure of God)

Here's a couple of little phrases Piper uses to explain it:

The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy himself forever

What this means is that God does everything for his own glory so that he can enjoy himself forever. This is interesting because it shows that God can satisfy his goal of glorifying himself by himself. He doesnt need us to do that. BUT he created people and gave them a chief end too...

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying him forever

To this end God created us... to gloryify himself. That is why God wants us to worship him. Piper has another saying that says "God is most glorified when I am most satisfied in Him." What that means is that God gets the most glory when I understand that i have nothing else besides him and what he has given me.

Worship is the act of glorifying God. And this is the heart of worship... to find yourself satisfied in God.


Now on to the next part of your question:

Why does God test our faith? Because by that testing our faith in him comes out stronger. Its like weight training for you muscles. Why do you keep putting heavier weights on as you grow stronger? So you grow even stronger!

Jesus taught us that we should trust in God and only in Him. We cannot love other things more than we love God. Sometimes God takes away the things we didn't realise we were putting before him and we're like "Why?!" But when you come to the realisation its because your faith wasnt fully in God you can see why and are glad he tested you.

It's kind of like the process of purifying Gold. When you get it out of the ground there are impurities in it. Because of this you must refine it in the fire... and refine it again and again until it is as pure as can be.

Or even discipline is an example. If you truly love your child, you will punish them when they do the wrong thing so they understand that it is wrong and wont do it again. That is the purpose of testing. The Lord disciplines those he loves :)


Why do we have to go to church? Church isnt a building, its the gathering of Christians. It is where people who worship God gather together. You dont have to go to church but the bible is very clear in its warnings about not gathering.

One analogy is that the church is like hot embers. If you leave smouldering coals over night in the morning there will still be enough heat to light the fire. BUT take one ember out of the fire and it goes cold very quickly. So it is with Christians. God designed us for community. Take yourself away from that and you will quickly go cold!

Church is also an important part of worship. Piper says that because God is abundant love, his love overflows into us. But because God is so abundant in love, his love fills us up and it overflows from us to! Church is a place where people who are satisfied in God gather and encourage one another in love. That is why it is important for Christians to go.


Why does God want us to pray? Because a one sided relationship is no fun!!!! God speaks to his children in a variety of ways, like through the bible and through his Spirit. Prayer is the way God has given us to speak back to him! Christianity is all about having a relationship with God, and God has priveledged us to be able to talk to him anytime!

God gave us his Son to talk to us and now he delights to hear us when we talk to him. Prayer is a very important part of our relationship because it keeps us close to him. Imagine if you had a friend who you spoke to all the time, yet they only spoke to you when they were in trouble or needed something.

But prayer is not like that. Prayer is God's gift to us. It's like he's saying "I am your best friend! You can talk to me any time about anything you want. I will always listen because its my pleasure to know that we can talk openly and honestly with each other :)"

That is why we pray.

spell check said:
that is a stupid argument, because if you had never heard of a country and someone tried to tell you it existed, you probably wouldn't believe it unless they could prove it to you somehow. obviously people who had been to china would be able to prove that china existed. and since people who believe in god can't prove in any way that there is a god, you shouldn't believe them just because they say it

imagine all the crazy stuff you'd have to believe if you believed everything people told you even if they couldn't prove it.
I'm confused sorry. How can the people from China prove to me that China exists? The only way they can prove it is by me going to China with them. In the same way I cant prove to you that God exists even though I've experience his existance. What I'm trying to say is that you may think I'm crazy because I believe this, but I encourage you to go check it out!

I'm quite sure you could believe some crazy stuff if you just believed what you heard. But i'm not saying "Believe what I say..." I'm saying "This is what I believe... Go check it out for yourself"
 
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xeuyrawp

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SashatheMan said:
hey guys. i argued alot and i thought like another member here, i propose you watch a entertaining video about why i am an athiest.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3593866248238036452&q=a hepful hand

please watch this, if you have cable internet and tell me if you like it and what you think
Thanks for that, mate.

They raise an interesting point about credentials at the beginning of the clip.

My history on film tutor, last semester, started a tute with 'My name's Marnie TE Hughes-Warrington. I got first-class honours in my Bachelor of Education at the university of Tasmania, where I acumulated X, Y, Z awards. I got called to do read for a Rhodes Scholarship in Oxford, where I wrote my D.Phil. thesis on Collingwood, which is a best-selling book on historical education. I've written several other books on historical thinkers, historical theory, and history on film, and am the NSW head of the Rhodes Scholarship preliminary selection commitee.'

The point was to show that credentials (in this case, films that start 'Based on a true story', and documentaries with PhDs speaking) are easy to flash and have different impacts on different people. Some people have gotten over any kind of credential ('Actual events depicted'), and some embrace Dr. Bloggs, who conveniently loves to call himself 'Doctor'.

But yeah, that's an interesting clip. I would love to plan on doing something about Egyptology and the Exodus. Then again, modern Christians dismiss a lot of OT as not relevant to them. :rolleyes:
 

wizard146

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It concerns me that a lot of people here seem to want to prove religion right. It seems to me that religion is definately something that needs something more then human logic to be believed. I think that this is faith- something given to man by God that enables him to know, believe and trust him and his word, the Bible.

Other than that:
PwarYuex said:
Then again, modern Christians dismiss a lot of OT as not relevant to them. :rolleyes:
Well, not really 'not relevant'. The entire OT points forward to the coming of Jesus, and Jesus fulfills the promises and prophecies of the OT.

Since you're talking about the Exodus I'll use an example from that. Before the Israelites left Egypt they ate the Passover meal (Ex 12). They had to slaughter a lamb or a young goat, 'a one year- old male without any defects' (Ex 12:5), cook it a certain way and put its blood on their door frames. This shedding of blood would ensure that the Israelite families would be kept safe from the plague of death that would that night strike the Egyptians.
Similarly, when Jesus was killed he had no sin (or no defect) (2 Cor 5:21). The shedding of his blood on the cross ensured that those who believe in him are kept safe from the plague of death that will strike all those who do not accept him.

See how the events of the OT foreshadow, and point us to, the life and significance of Jesus? It doesn't mean that we consider the OT not relevant, but that we now have the fulfillment, not just the shadow, of those events.

BTW Wilmo, brilliant post! Thanks for that, very interesting.
 

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