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  1. Paul had a pretty intense and personal experience of the risen Christ, after his Damascus road experience.
  2. On allegory, I have studied hermeneutics, and so I try not to take things allegorically when they are not intended. I think that all Christians should study hermeneutics - it's very important! Also, think about this: if God loves someone, but that person is misunderstanding part of his Word ... wouldn't he more likely try to correct their misunderstanding by speaking or appearing to them in other ways, rather than give up on them and stay far away?
  3. Hey Thomas, Thanks for wanting to discuss. It may surprise you to know that I have had experiences like what you describe as God's nearness, warmth, and "hug". The important thing to realize is that our own internal impressions and experiences can have multiple possible meanings. We have to critically examine what is going on, and have an open mind as to what is truly causing it. Here are a few thoughts I have about that: 1) You can be a Christian without having any of these warm feelings 2) People of other religions have spiritual experiences they describe as feelings of love, peace, joy, warmth. 3) People taking certain neurological stimulants can have these same kind of experiences. 4) Even atheists can have such experiences, through entirely secular versions of meditation. So how do we explain the fact that 4 different groups report similar experiences, yet their claims about God are mutually exclusive? These "spiritual experiences" - even though they can be very strong, and it is very easy to attribute them to God - are almost certainly due to other factors that are not God. Because all 4 groups have contradictory beliefs about God / their experience. A similar phenomenon happens with conversion experiences. I used to hear Christian testimonies that talk about peace washing over them when they prayed the sinner's prayer, and feelings of being filled up with joy - and I thought that was evidence that God was "really real." But have you ever listened to testimonies of conversion to other religions? I never had until recently. Muslims and Hindus describe similar experiences. Go watch some on YouTube. Finally, I'm not sure why you think interpreting the Bible allegorically has anything to do with God's nearness or existence. -> Many good Christians, even church fathers, have interpreted the Bible allegorically -> Jesus told parables, which are essentially allegorical -> You can be an atheist and interpret the Bible non-allegorically So it seems to not really be relevant.
  4. No, not really. Think about specifics here: plants need nutrients and water and sunlight. If you give those to a plant, they do well. Why? Because that's what they need to grow. That's all there is to it. Certainly not a very specific one. He just referenced "them that destroy the earth." This could be understood to be many things, and is very vague. It doesn't take divine inspiration to know that some people do bad things that are harmful to the environment, and to mention that in a writing.
  5. Evolution applies more at the species or group level, not so much one animal at a time, but I'll leave that aside for now. You ask: Why would nature react so well and look great when man takes care of it? Because that's the nature of care and goodness. If I have a houseplant and care for it, it will grow and look good. If I neglect it or actively harm it, it will wither and die. No big surprise there. You don't need God to see that or explain that. And any Biblical author could have known that just from his own experience. Again, this is easy to figure out on your own as a human. Just because there are some profound or nice or wise or deep or meaningful things in the Bible that you might not have thought of yourself... doesn't mean it is divine. The Bhagavad Gita says some very profound and lofty things as well. Have you read it? Do you believe that it is inspired by Krishna and that he is divine? Muslims are moved by the beauty of the Arabic language that they find in the Quran. Look it up - this is actually one of the arguments they use for it. Does that mean the Quran was inspired by God, because no human could have produced its literary form?
  6. How do 1,2, or 3 require God? They all seem to have perfectly natural explanations.
  7. I agree! I think it could be best to discuss in thread posts, that way others can benefit or interact as appropriate. Or view later for posterity. I do have a thought, though: Perhaps we should split logic, nature, and morality into their own separate threads. Each is its own topic and our posts will get huge if we try to deal with all 3 at the same time. In terms of "what happened?" nothing major or traumatic. It was like an iceberg that slowly cracked into smaller and smaller pieces over time. A doubt here, a suspicious thing there, an argument / counter-argument there, until eventually they all added up to where I would describe myself as more of an agnostic with Christian sympathies now.
  8. @Abdicate I didn't say that if God showed up I wouldn't believe. In fact, I said that I think I would. I was a Christian for almost 30 years. I had what I would describe as a very close walk with God. I worshipped and witnessed to others. @Walk Softly I actually used the "Presuppositional" approach that you are using in this very thread drawing from guys like Greg Bahnsen and Cornelius Van Til. I read "the practice of the presence of God" by Brother Lawrence and put it into practice. I read and memorized whole books of the Bible, including Romans and Philippians. I had an earnest love for the Lord within me, and a zealous desire to obey his teachings in every aspect of my life. It's not as though I am a hard-hearted cynic. I want to believe and would much rather be a Christian than not. That's why I'm posting on forums such as this one.
  9. In my analogy, that was him (the Father) sending someone (the Son) to buy an expensive ring (cost his life) to prove his love. But to us all that is just hearsay. It's a story, written down by people long ago. The writers of the NT themselves were almost certainly not the original disciples (who were mostly uneducated and illiterate, speaking Aramaic, and couldn't have written Greek even if they knew how to write). I have two answers to your question. One answer is that I would be very open to a miraculous appearance of a Being who manifested visibly and spoke to me audibly. Now, you might say that I could doubt even this. And you'd be right, it is possible to doubt the legitimacy of visions (and for good reason - visions can be mistaken or misleading). But I can tell you personally that I would be very open to such a thing, especially if it happened more than once with a continuity of personality between instances. A second answer is that maybe I don't know, ultimately, what would change my own mind. We know ourselves - and the future - less than we like to think. But God knows all things, and knows what kinds of things would convince me. And he is 100% capable of revealing the truth of his existence such that I would see that it truly is him. But he has chosen not to do so. This leads me to believe that either he does not exist or isn't really interested in a relationship with me, as sad as that is to write. Edit: @Abdicate, I did read your "proof," and I'm sorry to say it is ... pretty unconvincing. Israel has a story about how their God said they're special (most nations back then thought this about themselves and their own god or gods), and they're still around today as a nation. That doesn't mean their religious stories are real. They were dispersed and now they're back again. That doesn't mean their religion is true. @Called Out One I think that this post also serves as a response to your story about the bridegrooms. Let me know if you think your point is actually something different.
  10. But you're comparing a different thing here: perfection - in the context of a relationship that already exists, no less (i.e., they already believed in God). Vince (and myself, for that matter) are not asking for moral perfection. We are asking for an introduction, to start a relationship. Think of it like this: imagine there is a girl who is single. Some of her friends tell her that there is a guy who is really interested in dating her. This guy has supposedly met with and talked to other people about her. He even sent a friend of his to buy a really expensive wedding ring because he's that serious! Well, the girl is very excited at first. But days go by, and he never shows up for a date. Then months. Then years! He knows where she lives; he has her phone number; he is rich and has lots of spare time; he's in town, not away traveling. It would literally be the easiest thing in the world for him to introduce himself to her.... so why doesn't he? Eventually, what should the girl conclude? Either this guy doesn't really exist - maybe he's a made up story from her girlfriends - or maybe he does exist but just isn't that interested in her after all.
  11. @Walk Softly Hello again! You seem to be an intelligent, well-read and thoughtful individual who I would like to interact more with I've been gone for a few days and this thread has moved along quite a ways so I'm not sure if I should continue discussing things with you here, or a different thread, or PMs? Let me know what you'd prefer. In the meantime, I'd like to respond to some of your points in this thread regarding how you as a Christian have an absolute certain source of knowledge and truth that naturalists do not have. You have well thought-out critiques describing potential sources of error in the way we perceive and understand the physical world. But I don’t think that you can escape from them yourself! You claim to have a special avenue of knowledge that lets you rise above the naturalistic ways of knowing the world which you critique. But how do you get this knowledge and truth? Would you say you get it from the Bible? That comes to you through your eyes as you read it, and through your brain as you interpret the meaning of the words. You can’t escape the uncertainty of your brain and your physical senses there. Would you say that you have a mystical, “straight from God” internal source of truth (which I shall refer to as “SGIST” to keep it short ), then I would question these things about it: The source. Your SGIST could be your own feelings. Or it could be another divine / spiritual entity deceiving you. Or perhaps some psychological phenomenon where you experience thoughts or messages as coming from an “other,” even though they originate in one’s own brain. It could be any number of sources other than the Christian God. The accuracy. How do you know that you are receiving and/or interpreting these messages exactly, 100% correctly in your SGIST? In all other forms of communication that we know of there is always a layer (or two, or three...) of a receiving mechanism and/or interpretation where things can go wrong. What evidence do we have that your SGIST is any different? Would you say that you read the Bible, and that God’s Spirit bear witness inside you of the truth you read? That’s really just a combination of the Bible and SGIST, and subject to all of their respective uncertainties. I even suspect that your own critique of solipsism works against you, for similar reasons as I pointed out above regarding the Bible and SGIST. In summary, it seems that the very criticisms you raise against naturalism cut against you like a two-edged sword. I imagine you've thought about these things, and I look forward to hearing your response. Also, I would like to continue interacting with you about logic, morality, etc. But please let me know how you would prefer to do so
  12. That's jumping into an entirely different argument, which I'm happy to do later; but right now I just want to focus on logic. Then we can move onto other things like morals and biology, if that's okay.
  13. Hi there - I'm new to the forum here. Been a Christian my whole life but have many doubts recently so that I'd probably describe myself these days as agnostic with Christian leanings I wanted to interact with some of the points brought up in this thread and test out some ideas. I'll start, perhaps with the laws of logic. Your claim, if I understand it correctly, is to show that one cannot account for logic on an atheistic worldview. So all I would need to do is provide a satisfactory explanation for how it could work without a God or supernatural realm, yes? Here is my attempt at that: The Language Analogy: The laws of logic are similar to language. We use language to communicate between persons, yet we do not believe that there is a Universal Language “Thing” that exists independently of us. Language is something produced between entities for a pragmatic purpose. Logic is like a language between ideas, existing within our own minds, by which our brain compares and contrasts ideas. Brain Structure: Logic can also be accounted for as the structure by which our brains understand the world. Similar to color, which is how our brains are structured in a way that decodes light sensory information in a meaningful way, so too does our brain "decode" ideas in the context of our schema (to use a psychological term) and logic. I think that these satisfactorily account for logic, outside of appealing to God. What do you think?
  14. TomatoHorse


    Thanks everybody! In terms of what I am, I'm either a human or a sufficiently advanced Turing Test solution. Can you tell which?
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