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Old 09-07-2019, 08:17 AM   #1
awareness
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Default Nuclear Testimony

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Hello,

I have been mentally out of the LC for a little over a year now, and found this forum about half a year after that, and have been lurking pretty much ever since. But background first.

My parents came from a very conservative Mennonite family, and as such I was born in Mexico. We moved once to Canada when I was about 4, back to Mexico at 6, and then back to Canada since then. Churches were changed even more often, and as a result the first 10 or so years of my life were dominated by various Christian denominations and organizations, until finally my parents found something different.

The Local Church felt so fresh, so full of excitement and life, and I was hooked. I went to all the Young People conferences, SSOTís and meetings for most of my teenage life, and served in the childrenís meetings for a long time too. In all honesty I saw nothing wrong with most of it, the teachings, the practices, the beliefs, Witness Lee, etc.

As I grew older, small things began bothering me about the LC. An example that stands out to me is the denial of the existence and legitimacy of mental illness during a YP conference from someone I thought I respected. How much women were suppressed also bothered me quite a bit. This was never more directly addressed then when a sister shared to the point of tears her frustration with her peers in university. Her issue was that they wanted careers and postponed marriage for it. I cannot imagine the amount of self loathing and indoctrination it takes to have such a skewed and strong view on how a woman should live her life, it blew me away.

Regardless, I managed to sweep these concerns under the rug, I mean if it is God ordained, its God ordained right? I was mostly content and there was no reason to upset that.
The real strain arrived when it came to faith in a God itself.

Science has throughout my childhood been something I was fascinated with, I ate it up as a middle/high schooler. Even now despite being an engineering student I enjoy learner more about the natural world. As Iím sure some of you can relate, this often conflicted with a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially creation. I managed to postpone what would eventually happen with stopgaps like the ďgap theoryĒ with regards to the age of the Earth, among other things. The doubts I had still remained relatively weak, but the cracks were there.

I still remember that night vividly. I was browsing the internet and fell down an internet rabbit-hole on the validity of the Bible scientifically and based off of historical record. The openness that the subject matter was discussed with was something I had never encountered before, but I couldnít stop reading. It sort of shocked the sort of jaded way that I had always looked at the bible away. The whole book, creation, Noahís flood, Moses, treatment of women, of other cultures, it all looked so different. Really looking at it and seeing how it fit into our modern understanding of how the universe and life began, stuff that I was aware of but would always mentally try to blend in with the Biblical account, it just made so much more sense standalone.

I donít know if any of you have had that experience, but the damn really broke that fast. I went in with few but nagging doubts and near absolute faith in the LC and then later going to bed with my entire worldview broken and shattered into a million pieces. I was physically sick for several days after, but after I felt so liberated. No anxiety over whether I was living the ďSpiritĒ all the time. No more concern over some of my high school friends spending eternity in hellfire. I donít really know how to say it but the world just felt so fresh and vibrant without being pigeonholed into a Biblical worldview.

Its been over a year since then, and I have yet to find a reason to change my mind. I feel that Iím less likely to judge others that I previously would have, Iím still not a terribly adventurous person, but I feel more willing to get out of my comfort zone and to get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds and places.

Until I found this forum about 6 months ago, I maintained in my mind that if Christianity contained any validity, that the LC was its truest and most valid form, but after finding out about its history and controversies, and becoming further disillusioned with its practices and principles even that concept has shattered for me.

I still attend Sunday meetings every now and then to stay in touch with certain people, and I plan on making a full break eventually when I feel brave enough, but for now I am happy.

I understand this forums general perspective and attitude towards atheism, so I will most likely just be chilling in Alternative Views out of respect for the main forum. Hopefully I can be of some contribution to the discussions that happen there and perhaps even here.

For the record, I still respect those who maintain their faith, and even recognize that for many it gives them purpose and can be a positive force in their lives, and as far as I can see, this is a pretty great community. And who knows, Iím young, Iím only 19, thereís a lot of life yet ahead and my views could change long term, but for now I feel Iíve made the intellectually honest decision and am content.

Thanks for this community and for reading,

Nuclear
Goodness you young whippersnapper, it took me til my thirties to come to similar conclusions.

Thanks for your introduction. Looking forward to discussions on AltV's.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

If you're curious about arguments for Christianity versus Atheism you should check out this book which does a great job of summarizing Christian apologetic arguments:
https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Have-Eno...gateway&sr=8-3

Interestingly, one of the co-authors who has recently passed away, Norman Geisler, was involved in critiquing the writings of Witness Lee.

The other co-author has a youtube channel with videos of him visiting college campuses and answering questions from students skeptical about Christianity:
https://www.youtube.com/user/TurekVi...rt=p&flow=grid

It's unfortunate but not surprising that the local churches have little or no apologetics resources, but there are actually a lot of good reasons to believe in Christianity that are out there.
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:07 PM   #3
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

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If you're curious about arguments for Christianity versus Atheism you should check out this book:
https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Have-Eno...gateway&sr=8-3

Interestingly, one of the co-authors who has recently passed away, Norman Geisler was involved in critquing the writings of Witness Lee.

The other co-author has a youtube channel with videos of him visiting college campuses and answering questions from students skeptical about Christianity:
https://www.youtube.com/user/TurekVi...rt=p&flow=grid

It's unfortunate but not surprising that the local churches have little or no apologetics resources, but there are actually a lot of good reasons to believe in Christianity that are out there.
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

Atheists don't have faith - not the faith as in "contending for the faith." That's what makes them an atheist.

Actually, a real in life atheist doesn't even know they are atheist. They live life without even considering needing supernatural answers.

And being one that is caught up in supernatural answers I understand. Life is complex enough already, without invisible otherworldliness added to it.
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Old 09-07-2019, 02:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

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I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

Atheists don't have faith - not the faith as in "contending for the faith." That's what makes them an atheist.

Actually, a real in life atheist doesn't even know they are atheist. They live life without even considering needing supernatural answers.
There are many kinds of atheists. The book title perhaps refers to positive atheists who will take the extra step to assert that there is no God. What you described is agnostic or weak atheism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negati...sitive_atheism

Even then the book will make the argument that the evidence for Christianity is so overwhelming, it takes faith to ignore.
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Old 09-07-2019, 03:54 PM   #5
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There are many kinds of atheists. The book title perhaps refers to positive atheists who will take the extra step to assert that there is no God. What you described is agnostic or weak atheism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negati...sitive_atheism

Even then the book will make the argument that the evidence for Christianity is so overwhelming, it takes faith to ignore.
When in Florida I had a long term friend who was an atheist, only he didn't bother with any of it. He had no interest in any religion or lack thereof. He made no profession in any of it, including atheism. He said he had no need for it.

Yet oddly, I suppose, in his life, actions, words, etc., he was more Christian than most Christians I've known.

I think you're talking about the New Atheists, like Dawkins.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

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If you're curious about arguments for Christianity versus Atheism you should check out this book which does a great job of summarizing Christian apologetic arguments:
https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Have-Eno...gateway&sr=8-3

Interestingly, one of the co-authors who has recently passed away, Norman Geisler, was involved in critiquing the writings of Witness Lee.

The other co-author has a youtube channel with videos of him visiting college campuses and answering questions from students skeptical about Christianity:
https://www.youtube.com/user/TurekVi...rt=p&flow=grid

It's unfortunate but not surprising that the local churches have little or no apologetics resources, but there are actually a lot of good reasons to believe in Christianity that are out there.
I appreciate the resources that you've provided, but I have encountered Tureks' apologetics before, in fact one of my roommates has a copy of "Stealing from God" which I have read some of.

I found I disagreed with him on several issues, such as his explanation for eternal punishment, and what I feel is a great misunderstanding on what materialism means, among others. I plan to read more as its been a while and I admit my memory of the specifics elude me, but it failed to change my mind then, I don't think it would now.

I like what Awareness said on the subject of atheism, that for a lot of us religion, spirituality, the supernatural, God, etc. doesn't cross my mind most of the time, and I feel no desire for anything supernatural in my life or a need for it. As far as I have seen, every event in my life and leading up to it has been better explained supernaturally than it could have been naturally.

Not to mention finding out the why and the how directly rather than relying on faith is so much more gratifying and beautiful in my opinion. If you've ever seen Bill Nye in a debate, he gets so excited over the aspects of the universe that we don't understand, when you would think that this is something that would stumble him. But its not like that, its a chance for discovery, for learning and growth, and filling it with a convenient supernatural explanation without really looking into it feels so lazy and pale in comparison.

Something doesn't require a purpose, or a creator to be beautiful. It simply is, and its marvelous.

Sorry I'm a little long winded, I don't really have that many people in my personal life I can discuss this stuff with, it just feels good to speak honestly.
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:33 PM   #7
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Hi Nuclear,

I am a scientist myself. I got my PhD in Chemical Engineering and am currently working as a scientist. I can at least understand your questions about the accuracy or veracity of biblical accounts. Recently, I found very interesting series of youtube videos that provided a strong discussion in support of biblical account of creation, contributed by prominent scientists. Here is the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jrw...ruU7I8saDogw3o

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:03 PM   #8
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If you've ever seen Bill Nye in a debate, he gets so excited over the aspects of the universe that we don't understand, . . .
The astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is also a resource for joy in the cosmos. He has a show call StarTalk on National Geographic. I've seen most of them. He's a total joy. He also did a follow up on Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980 PBS) called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a milestone documentary, also on National Geographic. He often has Bill Nye the science guy on his shows. StarTalk most often ends with Nye speaking of the wonders of science and nature.
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:59 AM   #9
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Hi Nuclear,

I am a scientist myself. I got my PhD in Chemical Engineering and am currently working as a scientist.
And we know that how? You could be a troll Bible believer ; a young earther plant ; so forth and so on.

I came out of a Christian cult. I know how Christians lie to support their convictions. Even some early church father advocated it.

Anyway, watching your youtube link it's obvious that's it's Christian believers presenting the videos, not balanced by scientists.

From what I've seen so far they are creationists, and Intelligent Designer's.
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:36 AM   #10
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

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Hi Nuclear,

I am a scientist myself. I got my PhD in Chemical Engineering and am currently working as a scientist. I can at least understand your questions about the accuracy or veracity of biblical accounts. Recently, I found very interesting series of youtube videos that provided a strong discussion in support of biblical account of creation, contributed by prominent scientists. Here is the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jrw...ruU7I8saDogw3o

I hope this helps.
Its unfortunate that these scientists come from the Institute of Creation Research, or the ICF for short. Ultimately they are an apologetics organization attempting to use science as a front to legitimize their "research." In reality their findings and conclusions are rejected by the greater scientific community and only provide unaccredited programs for students in, you guessed it: Christian apologetics and creation research.

Its a dishonest form of acquiring knowledge. One goes into research with a conflict of interest, data will be cherry picked, and any conclusions reached are forced into a biblical worldview regardless of what the actual conclusion is.

I prefer going into this sort of thing without any pre-set conclusions in mind, and if the data points toward creationism or a God, then so be it. It simply hasn't yet.
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:07 AM   #11
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Its unfortunate that these scientists come from the Institute of Creation Research, or the ICF for short. Ultimately they are an apologetics organization attempting to use science as a front to legitimize their "research."
It's the 17th c. and 18th c. modern day "Gap Theory," ; G.H. Pember to local churchers, but there were others earlier than Pember that pushed the gap theory.

Back then geologists revealed that the earth is much older than Biblical tradition held ; James Ussher clocking the Bible back to creation on Sunday October 23, 4004 BC.

So inerrant Bible believers knee-jerked, and in order to prove the Bible true, cooked a gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2, and claimed the geologists were discovering that earlier creation.

I watched the youtube : Origins "Evolution's flaws," and that is exactly what they were doing.

While the truth is, the Bible manuscripts reveal that the Bible is far from inerrant. It also comes out of the bronze and iron ages, when they were completely ignorant of all the Scientific Revolution has discovered.

So these Origin Christians on youtube are being made ignorant by holding to the ancient Bible writings. And doing so more than imply that to be a Bible believing Christian requires that you be ignorant ... like the many non-educated early primitive Christians.
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Old 09-08-2019, 01:19 PM   #12
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Hi Nuclear,
I am a scientist myself. I got my PhD in Chemical Engineering and am currently working as a scientist...
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And we know that how? You could be a troll Bible believer; a young earther plant ; so forth and so on.
We know the same way that we know that our new friend Nuclear is not an atheistic, Bible bashing troll, or awareness' alter-ego....we simple read what they post and take them at their word. Sorry Harold, alternative views to your alternative views are more than welcomed over here, and nobody deserves the troll tag after only one post. Down boy!
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Old 09-08-2019, 02:09 PM   #13
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We know the same way that we know that our new friend Nuclear is not an atheistic, Bible bashing troll, or awareness' alter-ego....we simple read what they post and take them at their word. Sorry Harold, alternative views to your alternative views are more than welcomed over here, and nobody deserves the troll tag after only one post. Down boy!
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Hahahaha .... not fair. You know more about Unregistered than I can know. But do you know if he or she is actually a scientist?

The link provided was obviously biased, and not the view of other scientists, as claimed.

But okay, let's give Unregistered the benefit of the doubt ... and see if he or she comes out to provide credentials ... if we can trust that.

There's plenty of "experts" on the web, presenting fake credentials. Maybe that doesn't happen on LCD and AltV's. Cuz we hold a higher standard than the open web. We've got Untohim vetting who posts.

And thanks for the compliment, of Nuclear being my alter ego.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:59 AM   #14
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Default Re: Nuclear's Testimony

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Hi Nuclear,

I am a scientist myself. I got my PhD in Chemical Engineering and am currently working as a scientist. I can at least understand your questions about the accuracy or veracity of biblical accounts. Recently, I found very interesting series of youtube videos that provided a strong discussion in support of biblical account of creation, contributed by prominent scientists. Here is the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jrw...ruU7I8saDogw3o

I hope this helps.
I watched the first 5 1/2 minutes, to the point where one of these "prominent scientists" said that pattern-matching shows us intelligent design. This is like a total insult to my intelligence. I'd rather read Dawkins (whom I disagree with).

How does pattern matching show intelligent design? It's intuitive, he says. No, it is not. It is 'intuitive' if you WANT to believe that God made it and ALREADY believe that God did it. But it's in no way objective evidence, much less proof, for intelligent design. So these two "prominent scientists" are having fun reassuring themselves and their already-believing audience. But the fact that they fall back on such a transparently weak trope is "evidence" to me that me that they've little to nothing in the bank. They've got their own custom TV studio and little or nothing to say. I just wasted 5 1/2 minutes.

Fortunately for me I'm already a believer. But if I was on the fence I'd probably say, "Forget these people." Really. It's embarrassing.

When I was a kid I took baths (today I take showers), and when I'd pull the rubber stopper, all the soapy water would start to move to the drain. Inevitably a 'funnel' would appear. Like a swirling cylinder of air in the midst of the water, right above the drain-spout. Fascinating. I'd wave my hand through it, and it would disappear into random air bubbles. Then it would spontaneously re-appear! Now, here was a structure, an actual physical structure - who designed it? The water molecules did, trying to follow gravity's pull, and escape down the drain. They spontaneously self-organized to move more water faster out of the tub and down the drain. No different from a hurricane or a tornado funnel -- it's called a "self-organizing dissipative structure", where an energy gradient forms a temporary physical structure.

Seeing form, and structure, and saying somehow this "proves" or "shows" an intelligent designer is just poor argumentation. I might have followed this up until about 5th or 6th grade.

I believe because I choose to believe. I want to believe. But I don't pretend my choice is somehow superior to someone else's. To me, people who feel uncomfortable that others have made choices different from theirs show a fundamental weakness in their own decision-making. People don't have to think exactly the way I do for them to be "okay" in my book. No, sorry - if you can't learn from others, how can you teach others? I as a Christian was told by Jesus to take the "last place" and that seems rather appropriate here. People remember what Christians have done to non-Christians over the past 2,000 years, and yes, that includes the last 40-odd years in the LC too. A little humility is in order.

Earlier on another thread I wrote that I saw "God's smile" in a fern. Should I be threatened if Richard Dawkins does not?
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:47 AM   #15
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Earlier on another thread I wrote that I saw "God's smile" in a fern. Should I be threatened if Richard Dawkins does not?
But intelligent design must be true, cuz Jesus shows up on toast. Check out Cheese Jesus :

https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...h=517&dpr=1.13
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:38 PM   #16
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I need to go back to that one. When I read 30 years ago it seemed above my pay grade! What was his purpose for writing The Abolition of Man?
I can't say, But given he accepts the Tao, I think he's advocating universal values.

Give it another read. Might be below your pay grade now. And let me know what you think. From what I've read it's his most debated book.

I know Christians love Lewis. I understand. But his private life didn't reveal what Christians would expect from him by what he seems in his writings, and preachings.

We owe some of his books -- Narnia and the like - to J.R.R.Tolkien, who convinced Clive Christianity is a mythological system, using the same symbols, archetypes, and motifs, as olden ones. Maybe it was him that introduced Clive to the Tao ... I don't know.

Whether that's true or not, it opened Clive up. It's perchance why we like him. He uses it to speak to our inner needs.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:06 AM   #17
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I prefer going into this sort of thing without any pre-set conclusions in mind, and if the data points toward creationism or a God, then so be it. It simply hasn't yet.
I'm not interested in the Creation/Evolution debate, same with Noah's Ark and "Where were the dinosaurs"? The universe is what it is, including both a Bible and dino bones, among other things. Whether God exists or not doesn't seem provable either way.

Instead, here's I hang my proverbial hat, for lack of a better term. God, and a benevolent and kind and powerful God, personally interested in me, seems like a better lot than "chance" or "fate" or whathaveyou. But again, not something that I can make conversation about with others, so whether "God" really exists, and cares, is not something I can push in public discourse.

But here's where I stand: did Jesus exist? Clearly he believed in God. "He trusted in God, let Him (God the Father) save him (Jesus) now". (Matt 27:43; cf Psa 22:8).

But did Jesus actually exist? Or is it all just a story, fabricated out of thin air, concocted from dreams? A historical will o'the wisp? To me, that's where the rubber meets the road. Or doesn't.

I'll answer it this way: Did Julius Caesar exist? Did George Washington? How do you know? Witnesses. Records. Accounts. Was Caesar's "Gallic Wars" a fabrication of later centuries, or a true (ish) contemporary account, i.e. a 'witness'? Did Washington really cross the Delaware river that cold icy night? We 'know' things because of the interlocking witnesses. Multiple reinforcing testimonial cross-referents, as it were. They're established, more-or-less, as 'facts' when we get enough trustworthy (verifiable) voices saying that it was so.

So with Jesus' life there are several gospels. The fact that they don't always agree strengthens the witness for me. Did Judas hang himself or burst his bowels open in the field? Can't be both. But the fact that there are disparate voices tells me that there are multiple, separate, independent witnesses. The gospels were written apart, yet still they show remarkable conformity given that. So we have multiple, convergent testimonies of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Then what of Paul? Did he exist? He writes that he knew the Twelve. And the "Acts" by Luke confirms this. Did Peter, James, John, exist? Seems to be a lot of witnessing here. Very, very hard for me to imagine that someone made all this up long after the fact. Then we have Polycarp, who says he saw John. Was he a liar, too? Or a forgery? Then we have Irenaeus, Clement... multiple witnesses, very early. Didache.. the very early documents pile up.

Something had to have happened back there, for all this to have arisen. We 'know' that there was a Jerusalem with a temple and so forth. Suddenly there are all these Christians, saying Jesus rose from the dead! True or not?

I don't know. But I believe. If Jesus didn't exist I would wish that he had. If he didn't raise from the dead I would wish His Spirit were with us. So I believe, and confess, and go on acting "as if" because that's what is most real to me. It's possible that all these 'witnesses' (Gk: martyrs) were as fogged by wishful thinking as I am... mass, independent yet convergent delusions of some sort, stretching over decades. (But there are a LOT of early witnesses...)

Btw, the fact that the Jews' writings don't witness to Jesus doesn't mean anything - actually it's an argument from silence. The Jews didn't acknowledge anything they didn't agree with. If you were a 'minim' you were outcast and never mentioned. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who everyone knows existed, (independently corroborated) didn't get mentioned by the Jewish writers because he was a 'minim' - a traitor to their nation. So the Jews not mentioning someone in their histories is quite reasonable.

Probably something happened back there in the desert. If Jesus didn't rise from the dead on the third day, then I'm wasting my time. But so be it.
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Old 09-12-2019, 02:16 PM   #18
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Instead, here's I hang my proverbial hat, for lack of a better term. God, and a benevolent and kind and powerful God, personally interested in me, seems like a better lot than "chance" or "fate" or whathaveyou. But again, not something that I can make conversation about with others, so whether "God" really exists, and cares, is not something I can push in public discourse.
I've given this some thought in this way as well, it would be nice to have someone on my side, someone benevolent, caring and powerful, or at least the perception of it. I played with the idea of a God who basically set off the whole thing, but having him being one who cares is not something I see, so its not a notion that I'm gonna spend any time on personally. So yea, its not really worth debating or even discussing.

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But here's where I stand: did Jesus exist? Clearly he believed in God. "He trusted in God, let Him (God the Father) save him (Jesus) now". (Matt 27:43; cf Psa 22:8).

But did Jesus actually exist? Or is it all just a story, fabricated out of thin air, concocted from dreams? A historical will o'the wisp? To me, that's where the rubber meets the road. Or doesn't.

I'll answer it this way: Did Julius Caesar exist? Did George Washington? How do you know? Witnesses. Records. Accounts. Was Caesar's "Gallic Wars" a fabrication of later centuries, or a true (ish) contemporary account, i.e. a 'witness'? Did Washington really cross the Delaware river that cold icy night? We 'know' things because of the interlocking witnesses. Multiple reinforcing testimonial cross-referents, as it were. They're established, more-or-less, as 'facts' when we get enough trustworthy (verifiable) voices saying that it was so.

So with Jesus' life there are several gospels. The fact that they don't always agree strengthens the witness for me. Did Judas hang himself or burst his bowels open in the field? Can't be both. But the fact that there are disparate voices tells me that there are multiple, separate, independent witnesses. The gospels were written apart, yet still they show remarkable conformity given that. So we have multiple, convergent testimonies of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Then what of Paul? Did he exist? He writes that he knew the Twelve. And the "Acts" by Luke confirms this. Did Peter, James, John, exist? Seems to be a lot of witnessing here. Very, very hard for me to imagine that someone made all this up long after the fact. Then we have Polycarp, who says he saw John. Was he a liar, too? Or a forgery? Then we have Irenaeus, Clement... multiple witnesses, very early. Didache.. the very early documents pile up.

Something had to have happened back there, for all this to have arisen. We 'know' that there was a Jerusalem with a temple and so forth. Suddenly there are all these Christians, saying Jesus rose from the dead! True or not?
This I feel is one of the most historically interesting aspects of Bible scholarship, and I for one am woefully un-knowledgeable regarding the subject.

Whereas the old testament for the most part can be dissected and regarded as accurate or not using scientific study, archaeology, etc, its more of an account of Christian mythology then anything else. It sets a pretty solid foundation for the Christian worldview and understanding a lot of what exactly that entails. However from a historical perspective (at least to my very limited knowledge) suspect in its accuracy.

I believe a man named Jesus existed, and that in many circles he became a much followed and revered prophet sort of figure. And I believe the general structure and account of his life: rising as a very influential speaker, his baptism, rebuking of the general Christian establishment of the time, and death. Beyond that, and especially the supernatural and divinely related is myth and legend to me.

But that's why I kinda want to get into Biblical scholarship, if for no other reason than an intense curiosity for it. Who were the authors of the gospel, and what/who were their sources? Were the accounts of resurrection first hand, or the result of embellishment by oral retelling? Did he have any impacts in other areas of the world or was his arc an entirely isolated event at the time? And so, so much more.

As far as I've heard Asimov's Guide to the Bible is a really good place to start for some amateur scholarship, lauded by Christians, atheists and agnostics alike, so I'll see if I can get a copy of that, and if you have any extra suggestions, I'd be super interested in those.

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Originally Posted by UntoHim View Post
We know the same way that we know that our new friend Nuclear is not an atheistic, Bible bashing troll, or awareness' alter-ego
-
I hope that what I've said isn't regarded as Bible-bashing, and I feel like immediately going to that sort of label is really counter-productive to conversation and open thought on the subject. The Bible has been undoubtedly the highest-impact collection of works on the modern history of humanity. Everything from language, scholarship, the rise and fall of empires and their belief systems has been touched by its reach. Its influence reaches to every individual that has ever been in contact with Christianity, which constitutes many, many people. Its an important work and should be treated as such. However non of this necessitates that any of it be divinely inspired, moral or true, and it is my hope that discussing the Bible in all of these aspects isn't seen as an attack on it, but rather objective analysis (to the best that any of us can be objective).
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Old 09-13-2019, 10:18 AM   #19
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Default Re: Nuclear Testimony

I brought this from the open forum. Hope I got the formatting right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
I think the poster Trapped also expressed frustration on this forum at having 'conversations' with a silent God.

In my case, post-LC, I tried a number of other groups. Some were extremely fundamentalist - women wore head coverings, didn't speak in church, etc. Eventually I just wasn't getting better. My anxieties, frustrations, inadequacies, shame, just wouldn't go away. I was a shame-based and fear-based human being trying to pretend that I was 'godly' and it was so miserable!

Eventually I just quit. I actually got into science. I wasn't militantly atheist, or even openly atheist, but certainly I became agnostic. Just wasn't in the mood to pretend any more. Life is too short. If God doesn't want to talk with me, I'm not going to talk with God.

But eventually, God came back into my life. It's pretty amazing to me, looking back. Little by little I just became 'aware' of God. I don't know how to put it. God's presence came back.

It's a journey, I guess. Anyway, I don't judge anyone, wherever they are in their journey today. Theirs is just as real to them as mine is, to me. But I recommend people like Dawkins and Hitchens and anyone who tries to think. Ravi Zacharius is actually pretty good. Another one I like is Neils Bohr the physicist. There are a lot of good thinkers out there. You can really learn a lot.

But I'd like to come back to Nuclear's testimony. And about learning to think critically.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuclear
Science has throughout my childhood been something I was fascinated with, I ate it up as a middle/high schooler. Even now despite being an engineering student I enjoy learner more about the natural world. As Iím sure some of you can relate, this often conflicted with a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially creation. I managed to postpone what would eventually happen with stopgaps like the ďgap theoryĒ with regards to the age of the Earth, among other things. The doubts I had still remained relatively weak, but the cracks were there.

I still remember that night vividly. I was browsing the internet and fell down an internet rabbit-hole on the validity of the Bible scientifically and based off of historical record. The openness that the subject matter was discussed with was something I had never encountered before, but I couldnít stop reading. It sort of shocked the sort of jaded way that I had always looked at the bible away. The whole book, creation, Noahís flood, Moses, treatment of women, of other cultures, it all looked so different. Really looking at it and seeing how it fit into our modern understanding of how the universe and life began, stuff that I was aware of but would always mentally try to blend in with the Biblical account, it just made so much more sense standalone.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
I donít know if any of you have had that experience, but the dam really broke that fast. I went in with few but nagging doubts and near absolute faith in the LC and then later going to bed with my entire worldview broken and shattered into a million pieces. I was physically sick for several days after, but after I felt so liberated.
I've shared this before, that my anecdotal observation is that the LC loses young people in droves, not merely to purchasing LSM materials and going to LSM-sanctioned meetings, but to Christian faith. And I believe this is because they repress critical thought. They avoid problem-solving. Just call "O Lord Jesus" three times and all your problems will disappear. When I was there, we were specifically told not to think. "Just exercise your spirit, brother" meant, Loudly repeat whatever ministry snippet was in front of us. Suppress, avoid, deny. Suppress, avoid, deny. "Let's all call on the Lord"...

This leaves the young ones quite unprepared for life, which for many of us involves trying to think. You know, actually facing things. And being around others who think critically. Even when one does, in the LC (going to college for example) religion is not included. "The Ministry is always right" is the default non-thought mode. One papers over and ignores the 'cracks' in the thought-world system, and puts nagging unanswered questions into the closet, where they don't truly shut up, ever. Eventually, one day the person decides to face things and pretty much right away they realize it's all a sham. It's a make-believe system with no true objective basis that they can find. And so out they go.
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:03 AM   #20
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Default Some is missing, some is wrong.

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Science has throughout my childhood been something I was fascinated with, I ate it up as a middle/high schooler. Even now despite being an engineering student I enjoy learner more about the natural world. As I’m sure some of you can relate, this often conflicted with a literal interpretation of the Bible, especially creation. I managed to postpone what would eventually happen with stopgaps like the “gap theory” with regards to the age of the Earth, among other things. The doubts I had still remained relatively weak, but the cracks were there.

I still remember that night vividly. I was browsing the internet and fell down an internet rabbit-hole on the validity of the Bible scientifically and based off of historical record. The openness that the subject matter was discussed with was something I had never encountered before, but I couldn’t stop reading. It sort of shocked the sort of jaded way that I had always looked at the bible away. The whole book, creation, Noah’s flood, Moses, treatment of women, of other cultures, it all looked so different. Really looking at it and seeing how it fit into our modern understanding of how the universe and life began, stuff that I was aware of but would always mentally try to blend in with the Biblical account, it just made so much more sense standalone.

I don’t know if any of you have had that experience, but the dam really broke that fast. I went in with few but nagging doubts and near absolute faith in the LC and then later going to bed with my entire worldview broken and shattered into a million pieces. I was physically sick for several days after, but after I felt so liberated. No anxiety over whether I was living the “Spirit” all the time. No more concern over some of my high school friends spending eternity in hellfire. I don’t really know how to say it but the world just felt so fresh and vibrant without being pigeonholed into a Biblical worldview.
Here's the problem with the phrase "a Biblical worldview" as I see it. Some of the Bible is missing, and some of it's wrong, and some is corrupted. So what view should one take from the Bible?

Missing: When they found the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, there was a verse in Psalm 145 that had long been missing that was found, and re-inserted in the "modern text", including, ahem, the RecV. The reason they knew it was missing was that the Psalm was an 'acrostic' with each verse starting with a new letter in sequence. But there it was in the DSS. This shows that the text has been remarkably well-curated if the 2,000 year-old DSS and the medieval copies agree so well, but one can't be too sure that some other bits aren't missing. We just don't know. So a bit of circumspection might be in order, in formulating and holding one's views.

Wrong: I already covered the fate of Judas in another post. He's listed as dying in two different ways, which doesn't seem possible.

Corrupted: I toted around the KJV for years as proof of my "orthodoxy". One day I read the verses from 1 John 5 aloud in my study group, and everyone looked at me blankly. Evidently this section was called the "Johannine comma" and most modern versions don't have it. Someone in the Middle ages tried to "prove" the trinity concept biblically and inserted it into the manuscript. Again, this is the exception not the rule. But corruption exists. Older texts have remarkable agreement. But there's evidence of deliberate corruption in at least some variants (e.g., KJV).

Another case is with Jewish historian Josephus. His text mentions that Jesus was the Christ and was seen on the third day, risen from the dead. "Most scholars currently incline to see the passage as basically authentic, with a few later insertions by Christian scribes." Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, page 249. Paula Fredricksen.

http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm

The text was probably corrupted by later Christians who wanted independent textual witness that Jesus was Christ and resurrected on the 3rd day. Of course any textual narrative, when copied by hand over centuries, will endure some unintentional corruption. But the question is, how much deliberate corruption was done at the hands of Christian apologists? I see two cases, outlined above. There may be more, some even egregious. So circumspection is in order.

That's all I'm trying to say here. A "Biblical worldview" doesn't mean that you have to believe that every single word is literally true. Some fundamentalists work that way, and I feel bad for their children who must put up with such nonsense to survive. Just to cite one case, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has produced a sea-change in Biblical studies, but other than supplying one verse to the RecV, it's had no discernible impact in the LC. If that's what's meant by the phrase above I agree. But there are Biblical worldviews that differ greatly from the LC variant. Some are quite obliging to scientific methods.

I remember serving in a children's meeting, and the elder's wife scoffed, "Everybody knows dinosaurs didn't exist" and I was like, "Huh!?" But of course I didn't say anything because in the LC one didn't profitably argue with the elder's wife.
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Old 09-19-2019, 07:48 PM   #21
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Default Re: Some is missing, some is wrong.

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
Here's the problem with the phrase "a Biblical worldview" as I see it. Some of the Bible is missing, and some of it's wrong, and some is corrupted. So what view should one take from the Bible?

Missing: When they found the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, there was a verse in Psalm 145 that had long been missing that was found, and re-inserted in the "modern text", including, ahem, the RecV. The reason they knew it was missing was that the Psalm was an 'acrostic' with each verse starting with a new letter in sequence. But there it was in the DSS. This shows that the text has been remarkably well-curated if the 2,000 year-old DSS and the medieval copies agree so well, but one can't be too sure that some other bits aren't missing. We just don't know. So a bit of circumspection might be in order, in formulating and holding one's views.

Wrong: I already covered the fate of Judas in another post. He's listed as dying in two different ways, which doesn't seem possible.

Corrupted: I toted around the KJV for years as proof of my "orthodoxy". One day I read the verses from 1 John 5 aloud in my study group, and everyone looked at me blankly. Evidently this section was called the "Johannine comma" and most modern versions don't have it. Someone in the Middle ages tried to "prove" the trinity concept biblically and inserted it into the manuscript. Again, this is the exception not the rule. But corruption exists. Older texts have remarkable agreement. But there's evidence of deliberate corruption in at least some variants (e.g., KJV).

Another case is with Jewish historian Josephus. His text mentions that Jesus was the Christ and was seen on the third day, risen from the dead. "Most scholars currently incline to see the passage as basically authentic, with a few later insertions by Christian scribes." Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, page 249. Paula Fredricksen.

http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm

The text was probably corrupted by later Christians who wanted independent textual witness that Jesus was Christ and resurrected on the 3rd day. Of course any textual narrative, when copied by hand over centuries, will endure some unintentional corruption. But the question is, how much deliberate corruption was done at the hands of Christian apologists? I see two cases, outlined above. There may be more, some even egregious. So circumspection is in order.

That's all I'm trying to say here. A "Biblical worldview" doesn't mean that you have to believe that every single word is literally true. Some fundamentalists work that way, and I feel bad for their children who must put up with such nonsense to survive. Just to cite one case, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has produced a sea-change in Biblical studies, but other than supplying one verse to the RecV, it's had no discernible impact in the LC. If that's what's meant by the phrase above I agree. But there are Biblical worldviews that differ greatly from the LC variant. Some are quite obliging to scientific methods.

I remember serving in a children's meeting, and the elder's wife scoffed, "Everybody knows dinosaurs didn't exist" and I was like, "Huh!?" But of course I didn't say anything because in the LC one didn't profitably argue with the elder's wife.
Thanks for the tip on "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." I think I'll put that on my future life reading. My reading load is full up right now.

"SerenityLives" has me reading a very sweet book : "The Forgotten Creed." The basis of the book is Galatians 3:28 : "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (ESV) ; no ethnicity, no race, no gender ; "All are Children of God in Christ." This creed, the author, Patterson, says, Paul borrowed from an earlier baptism liturgy, meaning this is how earlier Christians than Paul saw concerning being in Christ. It's really beautiful when you think about it.

And concerning the Bible being questionable, due to meddling down thru the manuscript copies, I hope you continue your studies. There are more variations in the manuscripts of the NT, than there are words in the NT. Yes, a lot of them are innocent human error. Scribes are human too.

But then there are deliberate changes, besides the Johannine comma in 1 John 5 -- again scribes are human -- there's also the adulterous women (throw the first stone), and the last 12 verses in Mark. Also, almost half of books attributed to Paul are disputed. Most scholars consider them pseudepigraphal.

Bro aron, you might want to add to your reading list : "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture."
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Old 09-20-2019, 05:07 AM   #22
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Default More on 'Biblical Worldview'

In Jesus' day, there were Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem, both with "Biblical worldview" but quite different from each other. And out in the desert were the Essenes, who'd withdrawn so that they could be alone with their Biblical worldview, which was different still.

This continued upon the spread of Christianity: some in the Corinth church apparently didn't believe into the resurrection from the dead, to hear Paul in 1 Cor 15:12. Some Jerusalem disciples remained Pharisaic with their legalistic requirements per Acts 15:5: "You must be circumcised".

Now, having said that, I suppose one who doesn't believe in God can simply reject a Biblical view in any shape or form. But to reject God simply because their past Biblical worldview engaged imaginary schema with little critical basis is perhaps to sell oneself short. I think the LC really set themselves up in this regard. They insisted on such monolithic and implausible schema that many of their children leave, where they not only reject the LC but also God. When they get the conceptual rug yanked out everything's gone, except implacable and resolute denial.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:02 AM   #23
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Default Evidence

Anything that makes a claim must have some evidence that it's in fact so. I asked earlier, how does one know something's actually fact and not an imaginary figment? How to know Julius Caesar really crossed the Rubicon, or Hannibal really took elephants across the Alps? Are these myths, or historical facts? My answer is to look for witnesses to the claim, which themselves are vouchsafed for legitimacy by other witnesses, which are themselves proved reliable by similar means, and so on. There should be, as it were, an overlapping network of claims, a "chain of testimony" that can ultimately persuade one that it's more likely to be so, than not so.

Many witnesses don't make a fact. Many witnesses can all be biased, or deluded. My case in point is the Mormon faith. There are perhaps millions of adherents, but this doesn't over-ride the fact that there's no credible DNA evidence that the Native American tribes were in fact the "lost tribes of Israel" as Joseph Smith claimed. Any dispassionate investigation into Mormon claims and they fall apart quickly. One Mormon believer had these kinds of questions which he directed to the LDS Church Authorities and it was titled the "CES Letter". Somewhat like the Jo Casteel letter on Facebook, it caused a stir.

https://zelphontheshelf.com/the-mill...he-ces-letter/

My point is this: asking one to believe something, like the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, should have some compelling reasons beyond, "If you don't believe then you will be in torment for eternity." Or, "Accept our religion or we'll burn your village down." I don't have any problem with questioning religious claims. As I said earlier, I think it's helpful for my faith to converse often with the likes of Richard Dawkins. Is God tough enough to handle critical inquiry? He made us with brains - why not use them, occasionally. Or try, anyway. Talk to someone who doesn't believe what you do. Why do they hold their ideas? Are their ideational bases more solid than yours?

Here's a typical response to the CES Letter from the within the Mormon community. "It's too long. Why bother". Like the Full-Timer who says, "I sense death, so I won't read it. It's against WL, so how could it possibly be true?"
Quote:
Originally Posted by LDS Member
For a couple years I had an office at UCLA in a building called Engineering IV, a much nicer building than the utilitarian name might imply. My office and those of most I dealt with were on the fourth floor, but many mornings I would first ride the elevator up to the fifth floor to look out a large floor-to-ceiling window toward the southwest. Now and then the haze was light enough that I could see the ocean. There were no classrooms or lecture halls in this building, only offices and lab space, but it was a public building on a public university campus, so the hallways were open to the public, and we were told not to kick any strange people out, just call campus security if there was a problem.

I never saw any strange members of the public in the building, but one day I came upon a manifesto of sorts pinned to a bulletin board. Someone had done the favor of laying out in a dozen typed pages of Descartes-like reason and observation that we academics in our ivory tower were all wrong about thermodynamics. Work-heat equivalence, second law of thermodynamics, heat conduction? A bunch of fables passed along from teacher to student since Joule, Carnot, and Fourier.

I made a copy for myself, thinking it would be an interesting exercise sometime to identify where the errors were that led to such conclusions, but I never found the necessary conjunction of time and interest to dig into it. It’s probably still lying in a box in the attic packed when we left Los Angeles fifteen years ago. I still think it would be a mildly worthwhile intellectual exercise to analysis it, but I strongly doubt there would have been any value at all in debating its author, for either myself or him.

Pulling up the 84-page CES letter, I find its author did not once invoke Galileo, so it has that going for it.
This is someone who had an office in UCLA Engineering building, supposedly intelligent, educated, and successful. But the attitude is "why bother, I'm too busy." Well, what if that screed you took off the bulletin board and tucked away in your boxes and never read, got published in the physics journals and the author got a position at Caltech? Would you read it then? The writer notes the semi-ocean view from his building on the campus, yet never attempts to address the issue at hand. You know, the reason he's writing this reply.

This is similar to the response by Minoru Chen to the Jo Casteel letter on Facebook: "All this has been answered before". No it has not - it's been evaded, obfuscated, denied and covered over. MC's "it's already been answered" is supposed to be an answer? Or, "the letter is too long, too complicated, why bother". Yes, you have given your entire life to something that shouldn't be examined or defended on its merits because why bother. Or the subjective fall-back, "They have a bad attitude". And you don't?

I know this thread was on Nuclear and their unwillingness to accept a "Biblical worldview" versus a scientific one, but my reply here is that the Biblical worldview can be subject to the same skeptical inquiry that every other view gets. If it doesn't survive, too bad. If Richard Dawkins wants to chat with you some morning and you're afraid to let him in, what do you base your life on? Or Jo Casteel or whomever. Or the LDS Church with the CES Letter. If your faith survives it will be stronger and better for it. If it doesn't then it probably shouldn't.

The Roman Church tried the same tactic with Galileo and Luther, as the LDS church and the LSM Local Church later tried with their questioning and skeptical members. "We're big, powerful, well-established and have a lot of money. Who are you? How dare you critique us?" Or, "How dare you critique God' oracle? Who are you?" Or, "It's too long, all they do is whine and complain. I can't be bothered to stoop to reply." Okay, enjoy your comfy status, and don't bother to stir. Wave goodbye as your disillusioned members exit in droves.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:09 AM   #24
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Default Re: More on 'Biblical Worldview'

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
In Jesus' day, there were Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem, both with "Biblical worldview" but quite different from each other. And out in the desert were the Essenes, who'd withdrawn so that they could be alone with their Biblical worldview, which was different still.

This continued upon the spread of Christianity: some in the Corinth church apparently didn't believe into the resurrection from the dead, to hear Paul in 1 Cor 15:12. Some Jerusalem disciples remained Pharisaic with their legalistic requirements per Acts 15:5: "You must be circumcised".

Now, having said that, I suppose one who doesn't believe in God can simply reject a Biblical view in any shape or form. But to reject God simply because their past Biblical worldview engaged imaginary schema with little critical basis is perhaps to sell oneself short. I think the LC really set themselves up in this regard. They insisted on such monolithic and implausible schema that many of their children leave, where they not only reject the LC but also God. When they get the conceptual rug yanked out everything's gone, except implacable and resolute denial.
My Chinese wife dropped it all. She went back to her cradle beliefs, or non-beliefs ... atheism. When our son died, she went to a spiritual reader, to get in touch with him. She was told that he had work to do here, finished it, and had work to do in the afterlife. That provided comfort during her grieving period.

And I have a very good friend from Jr. high days, who lived with me back in the day. My mother took her in for about a year. For the record I never 'knew' her in the Biblical sense, and have never -- tho friends of mine did, before the LC and afterwards. After I got the boot she considered me a serpent. Five yrs later she and her husband got the boot just like me -- for the same reason : Lee MOTA. After she left the LC she dropped it all. And she's bubbly happy all the time. Let's face it, the supernatural world is hard and a lot of work to keep up with. It's suppose to bring happiness, but instead can get you down. Isn't this natural life overload enough?

But most that I know, don't drop it all. Like me, they try to find other believers to meet with. If that doesn't work then they start dropping things. But I'm here to tell you, whichever you do, it ain't easy dropping the local church. From what I've seen there's like a deprogramming period, that may take years ... with thousands of questions, doubts, and all, plaguing you.

And dropping all that may result in dropping God. Otherwise it could drive one crazy.

I don't see it as a big deal to drop God. After all, the same needs and impulses that drew you to God in the first place, still exist. Those will still plague you. In the end God is much harder to drop than the LC. If you do He'll likely be back.

Then, like the differing Biblical worldviews, as you say, during Jesus' day, what shape will your worldview take, Biblical or otherwise? Like this postmodern age, everyone's will be different. I find that to be true for exLCer's that I know, and have known, too. They go ever which way.

I still love them, no matter what, atheists or not (even to in the LC loving each other was forbidden as soulish -- I guess I've dropped that ... thank God).
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:16 AM   #25
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Default Re: More on 'Biblical Worldview'

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And dropping all that may result in dropping God. Otherwise it could drive one crazy.

I don't see it as a big deal to drop God. After all, the same needs and impulses that drew you to God in the first place, still exist. Those will still plague you. In the end God is much harder to drop than the LC. If you do He'll likely be back.

Then, like the differing Biblical worldviews, as you say, during Jesus' day, what shape will your worldview take, Biblical or otherwise? Like this postmodern age, everyone's will be different.
I will try to answer this in my next post.

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The basis of the book is Galatians 3:28 : "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (ESV) ; no ethnicity, no race, no gender ; "All are Children of God in Christ." This creed, the author, Patterson, says, Paul borrowed from an earlier baptism liturgy, meaning this is how earlier Christians than Paul saw concerning being in Christ. It's really beautiful when you think about it.
The phrase, "There is neither Jew nor Greek" doesn't efface all ethnic or cultural distinctions. It just means that both Jews and Greeks can enter into God's family, God's house. Some kids are fat, some are stupid, some are lazy, but they all are God's children, and all loved equally by God. Likewise, some believers in Jesus are Jews and some are Greeks, some are male and some female, some are slave and some free. But they all believe. Star differs from star in glory. It's okay. Really.

Witness Lee tried to teach that we all should be "exactly identical, with no differences whatsoever". But that doesn't look like God's creation to me. Some stars shine brighter than others. A faceless white-shirted and black-tied proletariat doesn't look like God's family to me. Sorry.

Jews are Jews and Greeks are Greeks and males are males and females are females. But nobody should be proud of what they are, nor scornful of any others. But if someone wants to erase all distinctions then they're on the wrong path.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:34 AM   #26
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Default Evidence, part 2

I've made the point that I don't defend "God" as a teleological position of itself, but what I defend is my faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the glories which followed. If God didn't resurrect Jesus from the dead on the third day, then I've fallen prey to mass delusion or hoax and God's existence (or not) becomes moot point. Likewise, if Jesus actually rose from the dead, then the answer's settled to my satisfaction.

John 20:17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

I say that if Jesus rose from the dead, then God is not only real but is known.

Okay, then, where's the proof of Jesus' resurrection? Where's the evidence? I'll now provide my reasoning. I've already established (to my satisfaction) that most scholars, Christian and not, have adduced the existence of a man 'Jesus', and a man 'Paul'. There's simply too much secondary literature around the nascent Christian movement in the centuries that followed. Someone existed and something happened, for all this mass of literary accretia to assemble itself. If Jesus were an absolute 100% literary fabrication it would be quite impressive. Easier for me to think that a bunch of people (like Paul) were convinced of Jesus' Messiah-ship and went around and gained converts and established various congregations.

Pliny the Younger, for example, writes of the Christians in the year 112-113 CE. And Pliny is attested by other witnesses, and believe me [!!] he's no Christian!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_..._on_Christians

For a group following a non-existent person to be that widespread and established in 80 years is less plausible than that someone - Jesus - actually existed. Similarly a person 'Paul' is attested to, in epistle and Acts, and most objective viewers, even non-Christians, think that he actually existed - how else could the faith be spread so far and so firmly? Easier to imagine a Saul the Pharisee from Tarsus being converted and becoming Paul the Apostle to the gentiles, as documented in the NT, than: A) he was a purely literary creation; and B) some other unknown and un-named person(s) did all that heavy lifting and proselytized so widely and successfully.

Like I said earlier, there are also secondary apologetic Christian witnesses like Clement, Irenaeus, Polycarp, all testifying of each other, and Paul, and the Twelve. And of course Paul and the Twelve (i.e. the NT) testify of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So to imagine that all of this was manufactured whole-cloth some centuries later is less plausible than imagining that the faith, and the faithful, actually existed.

But I'd like to focus in on one apostle: Peter. Did he exist, or was he merely a literary creation? If he was drawn out in so much detail and it's all lies, I'm very impressed -- I've been taken by a hoax but I daresay it's a good one. You have massive detail in four Gospels, in the Acts, the letters of Paul, and the letters of Peter. All fake.... wow, very good. I've been snookered by what is probably the forgery of all time. My bad.

Or, Peter actually existed. And Peter, of course, testified to Christ's resurrection.

Now I come to this: it is easier for me to believe in the existence of Peter the Galilean fisherman than to believe that he was a made-up literary creation. And he testifies that he saw Jesus alive from the dead. Now, that is not in and of itself "evidence" per se, which is why it's called faith. And if someone doesn't believe then they obviously have their reasons. But I believe: I review the NT, in toto, and the secondary literature, such as Pliny, Josephus, Polycarp, Irenaeus, etc and see enough confluence of "witness" that I believe.

Others feel comfortable with "no God" or a different God, well I'm fine with that. I don't think faith is something to be proved in some Descartes-like fashion. Either one believes or they don't. But I think it's worth taking the time and effort to understand, and actually sift through the documents, in the face of others who think differently, and who also sift. Ignoring or pooh-pooh-ing (or threatening) everyone who doesn't agree with your faith doesn't seem very robust.

And there's a great mass of literature to sort through, much of it emanating from the "Second Temple Judaism" era. Late Antiquity, as it were. Daniel Boyarin is another example I use besides Dawkins. The Christians and Jews both don't like him because he doesn't "toe the line" in either camp. But boy does he know his primary source material! You could do worse than hang out for a few hours with Boyarin, whatever your disposition. Whatever you hold dear, he can wreck it in a heartbeat. And I love the guy. He makes my Christian faith so ... enjoyable. Maybe I'm perverse that way, I dunno. But if you survive Boyarin it really puts a bounce in your step.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:55 AM   #27
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Default Re: Evidence, part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron View Post
I've made the point that I don't defend "God" as a teleological position of itself, but what I defend is my faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and the glories which followed. If God didn't resurrect Jesus from the dead on the third day, then I've fallen prey to a hoax and God's existence (or not) becomes moot point to me. Likewise, if Jesus actually rose from the dead, then the answer's settled to my satisfaction.

John 20:17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

I say that if Jesus rose from the dead, then God is not only real but is known.

Okay, then, where's the proof of Jesus' resurrection? Where's the evidence? I will provide my reasoning. I've already established (to my satisfaction) that most scholars, Christian and not, have adduced the existence of a man Jesus, and a man Paul. There is simply too much secondary literature around the nascent Christian movement in the centuries that followed. Something happened there. If Jesus were an absolute 100% literary fabrication it would be quite impressive. Easier to explain that a bunch of people (like Paul) were convinced of Jesus' Messiah-ship and went around and gained converts and established various congregations.

Pliny the Younger, for example, writes of the Christians in the year 112-113 CE. And Pliny is attested by other witnesses, and he's no Christian!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pliny_..._on_Christians

So for a group following a non-existent person to be that widespread and established in 80 years is less plausible than that someone - Jesus - actually existed. Likewise we have 'Paul' attested in epistle and Acts, and most objective viewers think that he, or someone quite like him, existed - how else could the faith be spread so far and so firmly? Easier to imagine a Saul the Pharisee from Tarsus being converted and becoming Paul the Apostle to the gentiles, as documented in the NT, than: A) he was a purely literary creation; and B) some other un-named person(s) did all that heavy lifting and proselytized so widely and successfully.

Like I said earlier, there are secondary apologetic Christian witnesses like Clement, Irenaeus, Polycarp all testifying of each other and of Paul and the Twelve. And of course Paul and the Twelve testify of the resurrection. So to imagine that all of this was manufactured whole-cloth some centuries later is less plausible than that the faith, and the faithful, actually existed.

But I'd like to focus in on one apostle: Peter. Did he exist, or was he merely a literary creation? If he was drawn out in so much detail and it's all lies, I am very impressed -- I've been taken by a hoax but I daresay it's a good one. You have four Gospels, you have the Acts, and you have the letters of Paul, and the letters of Peter. All fake.... wow, very good. I've been snookered by the forgery of all time. My bad.

Or, Peter actually existed. And Peter, of course, testified to Christ's resurrection.

Now I come to this: it is easier for me to believe in the existence of Peter the Galilean fisherman than to believe that he was a made-up literary creation. And he testifies that he saw Jesus alive from the dead. Now, that is not in and of itself "evidence" per se, which is why it's called faith. And if someone doesn't believe then they obviously have their reasons. But I believe, and confess, and attempt to live my life as if it were true. I take the NT, in toto, and the secondary literature, such as Pliny, Josephus, Polycarp, Irenaeus, etc and see enough "witness" that I believe.

Others feel comfortable with "no God" or a different God, well I'm fine with that.
My problem is : I wasn't there. For all I know, as some has claimed, Jesus had a twin.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:15 AM   #28
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Default Re: Evidence, part 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by awareness View Post
My problem is : I wasn't there. For all I know, as some has claimed, Jesus had a twin.
Or, he got carried off in a space-ship and is returning on the Halle-Bop Comet. Oops, sorry, someone tried that.

Seriously, the great mass of literature is well established. That's why I stay away from people like Witness Lee, who don't have any peers to vet their ideas. You really don't have to be that obscure to follow Jesus. Everything is in plain sight. "Nothing has been done in a corner" said Paul. ~Acts 26:26. Obscurantism is not attractive spirituality. Don't let people pull you into dark holes.
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Old 09-20-2019, 06:33 PM   #29
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Default Re: Evidence, part 2

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Originally Posted by aron View Post
Or, he got carried off in a space-ship and is returning on the Halle-Bop Comet. Oops, sorry, someone tried that.
Well where did he go after the cloud? If he broke into the speed of light he wouldn't be out of the Milky Way galaxy yet. So where did he go? It was easy in their minds back then. Heaven was just above the dome over the flat earth. Maybe that was just a literary device ; Legend if you will.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
Seriously, the great mass of literature is well established.
Yes, tons of literature. Not just the Dead Sea Scrolls, but other finds, like the Nag Hammadi finds. We finally get to hear from the Gnostic's themselves, and just from the early church fathers. We get a peak into how they thought back then, and believed. And more importantly, a look into their fantastical imaginations ... which reflect upon how the gospel writers thought ... and upon the writer of the book of Revelation. It's all similar.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
That's why I stay away from people like Witness Lee, . . .
Same for the church fathers. Why should we lean on their authority :
"As early as the second century, Justin Martyr first advanced a theology that saw both Christianity and Platonic philosophy as aspiring toward the same transcendent God, with the Logos signifying at once the divine mind, human reason, and the redemptive Christ who fulfills both the Judaic and Hellenic historical traditions."
~~Tarnas, Richard. Passion of the Western Mind (Kindle Locations 2876-2879). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aron
Don't let people pull you into dark holes.
It's the rabbit holes that I try to avoid.
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