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1
Apologetics and Theology / What happened before the Big Bang?
« on: May 04, 2020, 12:51:14 pm »
Our universe exists contingently otherwise it would not be 13.70 billion years old.  This inevitably leads to the reasonable question, "What happened before the Big Bang?" Some object to such an inquiry because they insist that time began with the Big Bang. But this conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time.

This reductionistic perspective is glaringly autistic for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterwards, entirely devoid of any kind of material occurrence. Which means that there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity, regardless of whether that instance is not in material time.
 
Accordingly, even if God is timeless outside of creation, his fashioning of the universe can be coincident with the inception of the cosmic singularity. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not outlandish because Hawking himself ends up making the philosophical argument that God can not construct the universe because the singularity itself is not in physical time.

Withal, even if we were to fully embrace this reductionist manoeuver all that follows is that God did not produce the universe at a specific moment in the stream of time. God's creation of the universe was, necessarily, simultaneous with the singularity ―they emerge together at the boundary of spacetime― and God created the universe by bringing into existence that singularity.
 


2
Apologetics and Theology / All just a conspiracy?
« on: May 04, 2020, 11:26:49 am »
"Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ's three year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity."  – Unknown

Let's highlight, then, how there is more historical evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Christ than there is for Microbes-To-Man evolution.  So much so, in fact, any denial of the historicity of Christ’s life, death and resurrection is comparable to denying the moon landing of 1969 or that Columbus landed in America in 1492.
 
In his book "The Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus", Michael Licona provides a list of scholars who attest to the historicity of Christ’s death and resurrection which includes Brodeur, Collins, Conzelman, Fee, Gundry, Harris, Hayes, Hèring, Hurtado, Johnson, Kistemaker, Lockwood, Martin, Segal, Snyder, Thiselton, Witherington, and Wright.

Concordantly, British scholar N. T. Wright states, "As a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” (N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993)), p. 26.
 
Even Gert L¸demann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, himself admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”(Gerd L¸demann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 80.)
 
These are just a minute sampling of the massive throng of scholars who all attest to the historicity of Christ’s resurrection - http://amzn.to/13MQiTE]
 
Prominently, in his book, “Justifying Historical Descriptions”, historian C. B. McCullagh lists six tests which historians use in determining what is the best explanation for given historical facts. The declaration “God raised Jesus from the dead” passes all these tests:
 
1. It has great explanatory scope: it explains why the tomb was found empty, why the disciples saw post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and why the Christian faith came into being.
 
2. It has great explanatory power: it explains why the body of Jesus was gone, why people repeatedly saw Jesus alive despite his earlier public execution, and so forth.
 
3. It is plausible: given the historical context of Jesus’ own unparalleled life and claims, the resurrection serves as divine confirmation of those radical claims.
 
4. It is not ad hoc or contrived: it requires only one additional hypothesis: that God exists. And even that needn’t be an additional hypothesis if one already believes that God exists.
 
5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. The hypothesis: “God raised Jesus from the dead” doesn’t in any way conflict with the accepted belief that people don’t rise naturally from the dead. The Christian accepts that belief as wholeheartedly as he accepts the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead.
 
6. It far outstrips any of its rival hypotheses in meeting conditions (1)-(5). Down through history various alternative explanations of the facts have been offered, for example, the conspiracy hypothesis, the apparent death hypothesis, the hallucination hypothesis, and so forth. Such hypotheses have been almost universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. None of these naturalistic hypotheses succeeds in meeting the conditions as well as the resurrection solution.

3
Science is not always based on the direct observation of phenomena.  In fact, more often than not, it's based on indirect observation.  It's how dark matter was discovered and it's the only way we understand gravity since we can't directly observe the force itself, if it even is a force.  For the longest we'd never seen an atom and we still can't directly observe them since they're tinier than a wavelength of visible light.  Yet, no reasonable person today would deny its reality or the reality of other such phenomena. 

In like manner, the fact that there are dozens upon dozens of fulfilled Bible prophecies constitutes irrefutable evidence for the existence of its author, Jehovah God.  One such example are the various prophecies concerning the ancient nation of Babylon:

History records how Babylon took the Jews into captivity. Yet, about 40 years before this happened Jeremiah foretold it. Isaiah predicted it some 150 years before it happened. He also foretold that the Jews would return from captivity. So did Jeremiah, saying that they would be restored to their land after 70 years. — Isaiah 39:6, 7; 44:26; Jeremiah 25:8–12; 29:10.

This return was made possible by the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.E. It was foretold by Isaiah nearly 200 years before it happened, and by Jeremiah about 50 years before it occurred. Jeremiah said that the Babylonian soldiers would put up no fight. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold that Babylon’s protecting waters, the river Euphrates, “must be dried up.” Isaiah even gave the name of the conquering Persian general, Cyrus, and said that before him “the gates [of Babylon] will not be shut.” — Jeremiah 50:38; 51:11, 30; Isaiah 13:17–19; 44:27; 45:1.

The Greek historian Herodotus explained that Cyrus actually diverted the flow of the Euphrates and “the river sank to such an extent that the natural bed of the stream became fordable.” Thus, during the night, enemy soldiers marched along the riverbed and entered the city through gates that had been carelessly left open.

“Had the Babylonians been apprised of what Cyrus was about,” Herodotus continued, “they would have made fast all the street-gates which [were] upon the river . . . But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city.”

Actually, the Babylonians were involved in drunken revelry, as the Bible explains, and as Herodotus confirms. (Daniel 5:1–4, 30) Both Isaiah and Jeremiah foretold that Babylon would eventually become uninhabited ruins. And that is what happened. Today Babylon is a desolate heap of mounds. — Isaiah 13:20–22; Jeremiah 51:37, 41–43.

Cyrus also restored the Jews to their homeland. Why would he do such a thing? The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains, “Cyrus, according to Josephus, heard of this prophecy of Isaiah delivered so long before; hence he was induced to do that which was so contrary to Oriental policy, to aid in restoring the captive Jews and rebuilding their temple and city.”

Indeed, over two centuries before, Jehovah had foretold of Cyrus: “All that I delight in he will completely carry out.” (Isaiah 44:28) True to prophecy, after 70 years Cyrus returned the captives to their homeland, in 537 B.C.E. (Ezra 1:1–4) An ancient Persian inscription, called the Cyrus Cylinder, has been found that clearly states the policy of Cyrus to return captives to their homelands. “As to the inhabitants of Babylon,” Cyrus is recorded as having said, “I (also) gathered all their (former) inhabitants and returned (to them) their habitations.”

Isaiah made a further startling prediction regarding Babylon: “She will never be inhabited.” (Isaiah 13:19, 20) To predict permanent desolation for a sprawling city occupying a strategic location was bold indeed. You would normally expect that such a city would be rebuilt if ruined. Although Babylon lingered on for a while after its conquest, Isaiah’s words eventually came true. Today the site of ancient Babylon “is flat, hot, deserted and dusty,” reports Smithsonian magazine.

It is awesome to contemplate the sheer magnitude of Isaiah’s prophecy! What he foretold would be the equivalent of predicting the exact manner in which a modern city, such as New York or London, would be destroyed 200 years from now and then emphatically stating that it would never again be inhabited.

In fact, Babylon remains uninhabited to this day despite the efforts, mind you, of Alexander the Great and Saddam Hussein to rebuild it.

4
Because of these unprecedented times we’re all living in, there can really be no doubt: our world is changing right before our very eyes. From a never before seen global pandemic, millions suddenly losing their jobs, the escalating tensions between global military powers and the ever growing civil unrest all these anxieties continue to incite it seems that each day brings us closer to the brink.

However, we have very compelling  reasons to be extremely optimistic about the future. How? Because our loving Creator is very much aware of what’s happening and, more importantly, has promised to never allow the world to be destroyed. “A generation is going, and a generation is coming,” we read at Ecclesiastes 1:4, “but the earth remains forever.”
   
In fact, our loving Creator has pledged not only to end all these agonizing problems we’re contending with but to restore the world to the paradise it originally was. There, everyone will enjoy perfect health as well as lasting peace, security, abundance and tranquility alongside family and neighbors who really love us. Revelation 21:3-5 offers us but one description of what life will be like then:

"“Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” And the One seated on the throne said: “Look! I am making all things new.”" -Revelation 21:3-5

Obviously, our Creator has things well in hand. But why has Jehovah God allowed things to come so far? When will he finally intervene to bring about this new society? How will he accomplish this? And, more importantly, what do we need to do to secure our place there?

   

5
Here are some I've used in the past to encourage those struggling with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness and hopelessness-

“God . . . works . . .  for the good of those who love [him].” -Romans 8:28

“God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name.” -Hebrews 6:10

"He [Jehovah] has said: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” So that we may be of good courage and say: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid." - Hebrews 13:5,6

"Trust in [Jehovah] at all times, O people.
Before him pour out your heart.
God is a refuge for us. " - Psalms 62:8

6
Jehovah's angel instructed Joseph "She [Mary] will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus." - Matthew 1:21 (Bracket mine)

"Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, before Abraham came into existence, I have been.” (John 8:58)

Jesus prayed, "Father, glorify me at your side with the glory that I had alongside you before the world was." -John 17:5

Obviously, Jesus didn't begin to exist when Mary gave birth to him. Accordingly, what was this spirit being's name in heaven before Jehovah God miraculously transferred him into Mary's womb?

7
For instance, יואל (Joel) means "Jehovah is God" while יהושע (Jesus) literally means "Jehovah is Salvation." So what does יהוה (Jehovah) mean?

8
Apologetics and Theology / Is the Athanasian Creed broken?
« on: December 27, 2019, 12:05:54 pm »
As I'm sure you're aware, Luke 1:36 states that Mary and Elizabeth are cousins and that John is six months older than Jesus, making John and Jesus second cousins. Luke 3:23 also informs us that John baptized Jesus when this one was about 30 years old, said baptism found recorded in Luke 3:21, 22.

Considering all these historical facts from the lens of the Athanasian Creed we have to ask:
 

1. Is John God's second cousin who is six months older than Him?

2. Why did God need to be baptized?

3. John saw God come down in the form of a bird and sit down on top of God's head?

4. Both John and God heard God saying to God, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased"?

9
Apologetics and Theology / Has the BVG Theorem been refuted?
« on: March 17, 2015, 09:58:10 pm »
"A new quantum equation developed by Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das, from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, shows it to be possible that the universe has no beginning, or end, and is in fact eternal." http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html

10
Problem of Evil / Why the spread of evil was unavoidable.
« on: October 11, 2013, 10:17:08 am »
One common misperception needs to be cleared up first. Many people think of Almighty God as the ruler of this world, the one who is in direct control of everything. “Not one atom or molecule of the universe is outside his active rule,” said the president of one theological seminary. Does the Bible really teach that?



Not at all. Many are surprised to learn what the Bible actually says about who rules the world. For example, 1 John 5:19 states: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the Evil one.”(WNT) Who is this Evil one? Jesus Christ identified him as Satan the Devil, whom he called “the ruler of the world.” (John 14:30) Now, does that not make sense? Satan is cruel, deceptive, and hateful—traits that underlie much of the suffering that people experience. Why, though, does God allow Satan to rule?



How would a loving and capable parent feel if he was publicly accused of lying to his children, abusing his authority over them, and withholding good things from them? Would he disprove those slanderous accusations by physically assaulting his accuser? Of course not! In fact, by reacting in such a manner, he might give credibility to the accusations.



This illustration helps to explain Jehovah God’s way of handling a challenge raised against him at the dawn of human history in a place called Eden. There God announced to the first two humans, Adam and Eve, a wonderful project for his earthly children. They were to fill the earth, subdue it, and turn it into a global paradise. (Genesis 1:28) Moreover, hundreds of millions of spirit sons of God were keenly interested in this exciting project.—Job 38:4, 7; Daniel 7:10.



Being a generous God, Jehovah gave Adam and Eve a beautiful garden home with all its delicious fruits. Only one tree was out of bounds for them—“the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” By not eating from this tree, Adam and Eve would demonstrate their full trust in their Father, recognizing that he had the right to decide what was good and bad for his children.—Genesis 2:16, 17.



Sadly, though, one of God’s spirit sons, motivated by the desire to be worshipped, told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit, she would not die. (Genesis 2:17; 3:1-5) Thus, this evil angel, Satan, blatantly contradicted God, essentially calling him a liar! Satan also went on to accuse God of withholding vital knowledge from Adam and Eve. Humans, Satan implied, should be able to decide for themselves what is good and what is bad. Simply put, Satan accused God of being an unfit Ruler and Father and implied that he, Satan, could do a better job.



By means of those cunning and malicious lies, the angel made himself Satan the Devil. These names mean “Resister” and “Slanderer.” What did Adam and Eve do? They sided with Satan, turning their backs on God.—Genesis 3:6.



Jehovah could have destroyed the rebels on the spot. But, as mentioned in our illustration, such issues cannot be settled by violent retaliation. Keep in mind too that when Satan challenged God, millions of angels were listening. In fact, a significant, but undisclosed, number later joined Satan in his rebellion, making themselves demons.—Mark 1:34; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6.



By seducing Adam and Eve into choosing independence from their Creator, in effect, Satan founded a family that was not truly independent but under his authority. Influenced, knowingly or unknowingly, by their “father,” the Devil, this family would choose its own goals and standards of conduct. (John 8:44) But would that way of life bring them true freedom and lasting happiness? Jehovah knew full well that it would not. Still, he allowed the rebels to pursue their independent course, for only in this way would the issues raised in Eden be fully settled for all time.



For over 6,000 years now, mankind has built a world system of things, trying all kinds of rulership and codes of conduct. Are you delighted with the result? Is the human family truly happy, peaceful, and united? Clearly, the answer is no! Instead, wars, famines, natural disasters, sickness, and death have plagued mankind, causing “futility,” “pain,” and “groaning,” just as the Bible states.—Romans 8:19-22; Ecclesiastes 8:9.



Still, some may ask, ‘Why has God not prevented tragedies?’ Really, that would be an injustice, and it would cloud the issue by making it seem that rebelling against God is without consequence. Hence, Jehovah has not been behind the scenes preventing all the crimes and tragedies that result, directly or indirectly, from disobedience to him.* Jehovah would never be party to the harmful lie that Satan’s system can succeed, that it has found the key to happiness! Nevertheless, Jehovah has not been indifferent to events. In fact, he has been very active, as we shall now see.



Those words of Jesus show that God has not been sitting idly by, watching events unfold. (John 5:17) Rather, since the rebellion in Eden, he has been very busy. For instance, he inspired Bible writers to record his promise that a future “seed” would crush Satan and all who stuck with him. (Genesis 3:15) Additionally, by means of that Seed, God would form a government, a heavenly Kingdom, that would bless obedient humans and end all causes of suffering, even death itself.—Genesis 22:18; Psalm 46:9; 72:16; Isaiah 25:8; 33:24; Daniel 7:13, 14.



As a step in the fulfillment of those wonderful promises, Jehovah sent to the earth the One who would become the primary Ruler of that Kingdom. This one was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Galatians 3:16) In accord with God’s purpose for him, Jesus focused his teaching on God’s Kingdom. (Luke 4:43) In fact, Christ provided a living preview of what he will accomplish as King of that Kingdom. He fed hungry thousands, healed the sick, resurrected the dead, and even showed his power over the natural elements by calming a violent storm. (Matthew 14:14-21; Mark 4:37-39; John 11:43, 44) Concerning Jesus, the Bible states: “No matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him.”—2 Corinthians 1:20.



Those who listen to Jesus and come “out of the world”—the system of things that is estranged from God and ruled by Satan—are welcomed into Jehovah’s family. (John 15:19) This global family of true Christians is governed by love, committed to peace, and marked by determination to eradicate any trace of bigotry and racism in its midst.—Malachi 3:17, 18; John 13:34, 35.



Instead of upholding the present world, true Christians support and proclaim God’s Kingdom in obedience to Jesus’ command recorded at Matthew 24:14. Think: Who preach the “good news of the kingdom” worldwide? Who have refused, as a worldwide spiritual family, to engage in warfare and divisive national and tribal disputes? And who let God’s Word guide their conduct, whether its lofty standards are popular or not? (1 John 5:3)



11
Apologetics and Theology / Do your worst!
« on: September 08, 2013, 04:47:37 pm »
The astounding implications of Godel's Incompleteness Theorem prompted me to put this syllogism together:

Definitions
D.1. All matter, energy, space, time and natural forces are bottom up phenomena that constitute the universe in its entirety.
D.2. All phenomena in the universe subject to its natural laws have a naturalistic explanation.
D.3. God is a living being who is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, not a force and not energy. (Per: http://bit.ly/1197U6R)
D.4 Information is that which is conveyed or represented by a particular arrangement or sequence that produces a specific effect.

Axiom
A.1. Per D.4, information is not matter, energy, space, time, or a natural force.

Theorems
T.1. Therefore, information is immaterial.
T.2. Therefore, per T.1 and D.1, information is not of the universe.
T.3. Therefore, per T.2, information originated outside the universe. (cf. Godel Incompleteness Theorem)
T.4. Therefore, per T.2 and T.3, information is a top down phenomena.
T.5. Therefore, per D.2, the origins of information do not have a naturalistic explanation.

Axiom
A.2. Per D.3 and D.1, God is not of the universe.

Theorems
T.6. Therefore, God is a being who exists outside the universe.
T.7. Therefore, per T.2, T.3 and T.6, information originated with God.



Since I just started learning Predicate Logic I would greatly appreciate your help rendering this into symbolic form. More importantly, I invite you all to find holes in it so that I can plug them up and make it internet-atheist proof (So do your worst!).

Thanks!

12
Trinity / Will the real Trinity Doctrine please stand up?
« on: August 10, 2013, 10:02:32 pm »
"God is not a God of confusion" we read at 1 Corinthians 14:33 (RSV). But, when it comes to explaining the nature of Jehovah God and his relationship with his Son, Christ Jesus, we get a whole lotta confusion:
 
1. Modalism


2. Latin Trinitarianism
2.1 Divine Life Stream Theories
2.2 Relative Identity Theories


3. Social Trinitarianism
3.1 20th Century Theologians
3.2 Functional Monotheist Social Trinitarianism
3.3 Trinity Monotheist Social Trinitarianism
3.4 Perichoretic Monotheist Social Trinitarianism
3.5 Group Mind Monotheist Social Trinitarianism


4. Mysterianism
4.1 Negative Mysterianism
4.2 Positive Mysterianism

And that's just the tip of the iceberg ...

So will the real Trinitarian Dogma please stand up?


Or are you ready to consider that the whole rigamarole is just plain false?

13
Apologetics and Theology / How Can We Identify True Religion?
« on: July 21, 2013, 05:59:46 pm »
There are tens of thousands of religions in the world. If God set these up for us to learn to worship Him properly, learn to love one another, and have useful, peaceful lives, we can only arrive at one of two conclusions: Either he failed miserably, or he didn't set them up in the first place and something else is behind them.


The question then becomes, is there one true religion and, if so, how can we clearly identify it? 

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