Reply to Bugbear: Why I believe in the Bible
[Some words I corrected for spelling & Grammer]
"I have been studying the Bible for almost 20 years….After graduating in History and Science comparing to the the Bible, I have have come to to the conclusion that the Bible cannot give you any reason to believe in it at all. So I wonder, why do you use the Bible as FACIT to your believes? I think that most people will do better off by thinking for themselves. Not using old Christian or Islamic propaganda to examine their beliefs. None of them are fact or a FACIT, to the world?"
**Not sure what you mean by "Facit" perhaps you meant Fact? or FACET? So I did not correct this.
Thanks for your response Bugbear, I think this question is worthy enough for a new topic since it didn't directly tie into my previous thread on Why I did not return to the Watchtower.
I want to start off by saying that the vast majority of the time when people ask these questions, they are not genuinely concerned, nor do they care about how I respond. Their minds and hearts are already set against any evidence contrary to their bias. I have no idea what your intentions in asking the question are, be that as it may...there will still be many lurkers who will want to know if you don't.
I will start off by first questioning some of the statements you made, then I will follow up with a brief explanation of why I believe.
- After graduating in History and Science comparing to the the Bible, I have have come to to the conclusion that the Bible cannot give you any reason to believe in it at all
Any specific examples I can respond to here? Its really hard to answer to broad brush generalizations against scripture that are not rooted in specifics. You said the bible cannot give you ANY REASON to believe it, well the bible says that the Earth is a circle, do you not believe that?
- I think that most people will do better off by thinking for themselves. Not using old Christian or Islamic propaganda to examine their beliefs
This is what I would like to respond to primarily.
I find it simply amazing when Atheists/agnostics live with the assumption that if somebody is a Christian, they do not think for themselves.
1- We all have assumptions about what we believe, nobody lives in complete neutrality. Our opinions are a result of many things including past life experience, authority's we trust, research compiled and yes Emotion. We don't live in a vacuum. Our opinions are not neutral, they are in fact influenced to some degree or another from others. So really there is no such thing as a true "Free Thinker"
2- If what you mean by not being a "Free Thinker" is that I don't draw my own conclusions, that is not true. I engage in Christian Apologetics on a regular basis. In other words, I don't just believe what I read, I test it. [Linguistically, Archeologically, Historically, scientifically, logically, and I test the scripture against itself for consistency. This is called the science of Hermeneutics]
As a Christian I strive not only to know what I believe, but Why I believe it. Yes I have read many secular books. I own and have read most of Bart Ehrmans publicans, some of Richard Dawkins books [including The Blind Watchmaker, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The God Delusion]
3- So now for the positive claims of Scripture. At the end of the day it all boils down to what convinces you. So put simply I am convinced of the claims of Scripture and I find them to be true for faith and morals. Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, they follow me."
that being said I strongly believe the REASON I believe isn't because of the many convincing arguments I have come across for Gods existence, its a heart issue. At the end of the day, God has changed me from a rebel who hated him and his law, to somebody who loves him and follows him. Not because of anything I did, but because of what He did.
That may not be the black and white answer you want to hear, but its the bottom line. Those who are not changed by God, will live in rebellion and will hate Him. Its really one or the other.
4- More tangible reasons for my belief in scripture comes down to: The messianic prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, scripture being firmly rooted in history as supported by archeology and textual transmission, Prophetic insights of Daniel coming to fruition [empires coming into existence after Babylon including Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome] , Most of all the way scripture describes the process of regeneration in the spirit perfectly described my experience into faith. [I would be happy to go into those details as well if requested]
In conclusion, we all have bias. Nobody on this earth is neutral when it comes to faith. This is true with Atheistic assumptions, Agnostic, Scientific presuppositions, or religious. We as humans draw conclusions based on past experience, authoritative influence, research, and most of all emotion. You simply cannot dismiss those as factors when it comes to bias. I find that many people do, and when they do, the only thing I can say is they are blind to their assumptions. To be blind to the reasons for why you believe something puts a person at a unique disadvantage when defending their position. I am certainly aware of my assumptions, and my bias. But I am consistent in my beliefs and my worldview. I test my beliefs with evidence and with scripture itself. I strive as a Christian to be consistent with myself and my outlook of the world.
I agree with you in that we all have biases.
And of course everyone is free to reject or accept anything as evidence as they see fit.
After all, people are the same in that they are all unique.
We bring our own background, upbringing, culture, preferences and way of thinking into any decision we make.
This means that people who really investigate and think about what they believe or not (like you) can still believe in God(s) and be religious.
While (some/many) people on both sides of the spectrum of belief might not be able to understand why the other side reached a different conclusion, they should not conclude that the other ones are necessarily stupid.
However, I must strongly object to the false dichotomy you proposed:
Those who are not changed by God, will live in rebellion and will hate Him. Its really one or the other.
To me this statement is equivalent to an atheist calling everyone who believes in God deluded or assume they are not thinking clearly.
Also, the statement is not true at all.
There is another option.
I was not changed by God. I begged Him to help me believe in Him.
According to your statement, I must now hate God. I don't. I simply do not have any reason to believe He exists.
I don't hate God at all.
If I ever see any reasons to believe again, I gladly will, without resentment.
No hard feelings towards God.
Does one really live in rebellion if the authority one does not obey does not really exist?
My behaviour might not always be according to (Bible) God's wishes, but that is not because I resist his authority.
It's because I have never been able to ever verify there even is such an authority to rebel against.
If that authority becomes clear, I'll gladly obey (if the demands are as could reasonably expected from a loving authority that has good intentions).
And of course, if I were not an atheist but a religious Jew or any other non-Christian religion, we would have this very same discussion.
If I were a Christian, I would have to have this same discussion with Jews, Muslims and many others. Regardless of which God one obeys, there is always another group claiming you live in rebellion against (their) God.
Those who are not changed by God, will live in rebellion and will hate Him. Its really one or the other.
I once saw a bunny with a pancake on top of its head, does that count?
Oh dear :
1) "scripture being firmly rooted in history as supported by archaeology and textual transmission"
As to Archaeology,read "Unearthing the Bible" please. As to textual transmission,if you have read Ehrmann I really do not see how you have the gall to say that. (He is by far the least of those who are true Textual scholars who will blow your claim out of the water).
2) " Prophetic insights of Daniel coming to fruition [empires coming into existence after Babylon including Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome] "
Daniel is not a prophetic book, written around 170 to 164 B.C E it presents things that were history as though it were a writer of centuries earlier making predictions, it is in essence a fraud.
Do your homework, your faith is simply that,believing things are true with no facts or evidence, apart from your own personal experience and feelings, which are no evidence at all, to anybody except yourself.
I believe the Bible ( a collection of ancient writings that were finally made "official" by some ancient dudes with ambiguous motives ) contains some wise sayings and some truths. So do most other ancient writings. So do Aesop's fables. So do myths from Native American tribes and Aboriginal tribes, African tribes, and South American tribes.
The bible has also been tampered with so much, that you may be better off listening to the oral traditions of the remote tribes of the Amazon, rather than basing your life upon the musings of the Council of Nicea.
Excellent thread, I'm in total agreement with Anders Andersen above. I do not hate God. I simply don't know if he exists or what he wants from me, and I desperately want to believe! I've asked him to reveal himself to me, to in essence "change me". I don't know how I could make it more clear to my what I desire in my heart.
I suppose that's why I find this site and everyone's comments so fascinating and why I continue to read here daily.
I want faith. I want to trust in God whomever he might be. I want to know the real "truth" but thus far no answers.
When I look around at the Earth I feel like someone had to have made this for me. When I see a sunset or sunrise or a mountain or the wonders under the waters of the sea (I scuba dive) I FEEL God there, but as for belief in a certain way of worship? That eludes me. That does not seem to be God's real intent for humanity.
There are thousands of religions, all claiming to be the "One true faith" or whatever, yet not ONE of these truly stands out. God has not made himself known to me, other than through the physical world around me in which I feel his presence. HE has not revealed to me "This is the way, walk in it." I feel none of that. I know now that JW are not the "true way", of that I'm 100% certain. But what way does he want me to follow? The only and best guess I have is that he wants me to follow my own conscience. Every human has one. Granted everyone's is different, but we all DO have one. To me this must be the only real "guide to truth" we have. So I try very hard to follow mine. I live by the rule: Do no harm. What that means to me is to not harm other people. Not to lie, not to hold grudges, not to be mean, to treat others with kindness and respect, etc.....
If at the end I come face to face with God I know that I will be able to hold my head up high in good conscience and say "I did what I thought was best. I gave it my all. I called to you and I didn't get any clear answers but I had a conscience so I followed that as that was the only moral guide I had. If that's not good enough then do with me what you will, but if you are omniscient then you know that I am telling the truth and you have nothing against me because you did not guide me."
So until God decides to "show me the way" I will continue on in my present way of living and believing for, what else do I have????????????????
At the end of the day, God has changed me from a rebel who hated him and his law, to somebody who loves him and follows him
Care to clarify which laws you follow? OT or only NT? Both have some pretty weird shit in them, or do you just throw out the ones you don't like?
To the OP, you were absolutely correct about my confirmation bias (I am a non believer in g-ds), so I read the OP, looking for something that would give me a reason to question my non-belief system. IOW, with an open mind.
It seems that you believe in g-d, 'just because'. In your own words: its a heart issue.
It's an emotional decision. Arguments based on another person's understanding cannot change your mind. I get it, which is why I do not argue about 'belief'.
In the end, your confirmation bias (which is based on a highly-charged, emotional life-choice) will always override 'facts' and scientific evidence. You can't prove g-d exists, and I can't prove a negative (there are no g-ds).
This discussion/debate/argument (depending on the players) invariably ends in a stalemate. Believers often appear to feel abused and victimized, and atheists sound frustrated and angry. Everyone loses.
Thanks for sharing. It was interesting to read, and a good insight into one believer's mindset. xx
You said the bible cannot give you ANY REASON to believe it, well the bible says that the Earth is a circle, do you not believe that?
Well no, of course we don't believe that. Because the Earth is not a circle. It's a sphere. These are two very different things. And had the writer of the book of Isaiah wished to communicate this he would used the Hebrew word for sphere in that scripture (Isaiah 40:22) instead of the word circle. But he doesn't. And we know he knew the word for sphere because he uses it (Isaiah 22:18).
I've also never understood why apologist cite this as something special or divinely informative. In 300 BC the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes used two shadows to not only prove the earth was a sphere - but he also predicted the diameter of the earth with an impressive degree of accuracy. And if a man in antiquity could do that then surely a divinely inspired book could, at the very least, use the correct word to describe the shape of our planet! Not to mention that apologists don't take "four pillars of the earth" or "cornerstone of the earth" literally. Apologist just cherry pick the parts of the Bible they think sound scientific and then ignore the rest that is demonstrably false. It's annoyingly dishonest.
More tangible reasons for my belief in scripture comes down to: The messianic prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, scripture being firmly rooted in history as supported by archeology and textual transmission
There is no archeological evidence for the existence of Jesus. Much less any prophecy made about him.
I also never understood why Christians try to claim this as evidence. It would be like me saying the Harry Potter novels are "fulfilled prophecy" because the predictions made in the first book are "fulfilled" in the fourth book. If we want to claim that something is a "fulfilled prophecy" then there are some very basic criteria we have to meet:
- 1.) We have to establish the prophecy was made BEFORE the event.
- 2.) We have to establish the event actually takes place.
- 3.) The event has to be specific enough to be falsifiable.
- 4.) The event must not be normative of something that readers of the prophecy could intentionally carry out.
For example, criteria number one would not be met if I handed you a cocktail napkin on which I had scrawled "On Sept 11, 2001 terrorist will bring down the WTC". Unless I had some way of proving I had written the words prior to 9/11 you wouldn't believe me when I said I had actually predicted the future.
The same is true of the Bible. The earliest version we have of the Old Testament is the Dead Sea Scrolls - which are dated to around 200 BC. So nothing before that can be established as prophecy. Because it's written several hundred years AFTER the supposed prophecies about people like Artaxerxes of Persia, Alexander the Great, King Belshazzar, etc. who were all long dead.
Also, all of the "prophecies" about Jesus are problematic because of the second criteria. That is to say, we can't be established he did anything the prophecies said he would do. There are no contemporary writings about him and no archeological evidence about his life or deeds. We don't even know if a Jesus of Nazareth was even a real person at all.
The third criteria is problematic for most Biblical prophecies. No time frame is given for when the prophecies will be fulfilled and most of the prophecies are so vague there are multiple ways to interpret them. And if a prophecy is interpreted post hoc to match later events - then it's not a prophecy. It's pin the tail on whatever we think fits. People do this with Nostradamus all the time. They try to retroactively figure out what he had predicted by looking at events between the time of his writings and now. The same is true of the Bible.
And the fourth criteria is problematic for a lot of the things Jesus said. Wars are normative - it's not a prophecy to say wars will happen in the future. The same is true of disease, earthquakes, and famines. It would be like me saying, "I predict that tomorrow the sun will rise" - it's not a prophecy to predict things that regularly occur.
If the bible was god true communication with mankind, then it turned out to be very ineffective means to communicate. Primitive email is much more effective, design by mere imperfect man. This website is more effective then Gods means to communicate.
Then, theirs all the confusion regarding this 'life saving message'. Currently there exists over 45,000 Christian denominations that profess they hold the truth. This is just Christians who hold the same belief that Christ is their messiah. Why so much confusion?
Then theirs the evidence of the written word, was it by man? or God? Looks more like a message to control man, a lot of arbitrary laws designed to keep the upper echelon in control of the common folk and the slaves. If you notice the rich upper class can beat there slaves,' just don't kill them', have multiple wives (adultery, ok'd by god), commit atrocities against there neighbors ( ok'd, by the big guy) take there wives and daughters as slaves, rape, theft and murder. Not called that in the bible, it was a Holy decree to rid the land of unbelievers. Sound familiar, ISIS is still using that very same decree.