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lapwing wrote: So does this mean that you prefer to believe the accuracy of the parts of the Bible which, according to your interpretation, count against the truth of God's existence. On the other hand you prefer to distrust the accuracy of those parts of the Bible which provide evidence of God's existence?


No, I just don't see the reason why I should believe that the things written in the book are that accurate. And that even depends on what particular book of the Bible it is, who wrote it and when it was written.
I have no choice but not to believe many of the mythical stories told in the various books of the Bible.
There is a difference between saying that one king succeeded another and that a donkey spoke a human language even if both of them were to occur in the same book (not saying that they did).

lapwing wrote:
"and of course, what Christians say about him."
"That depends on the documents and what they contain."

What do these statements mean i.e what is it that Christians say persuades you that God does not exist, and how do you determine which historical documents are trustworthy.


They say things like he is part of a trinity of Gods, one of the members of this trinity was both human and divine, he is omnipotent, omniscient and beneficent towards humans, he wants our money, he accepts or does not accept gay people among many other things.
On the issue of the documents, since I'm not a historian, I defer to expert historians and the methodology they devised to sort out how to weigh the credibility of documents. I presented a nice starting point from Wikipedia in my response #40.

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I'm not sure what you mean by "mythical stories" with respect to the Bible.
If you mean you're not prepared to believe in accounts of miracles then does this not show you have a presupposition that God does not exist. If the Christian God exists as described by Christian doctrine then miracles are obviously possible.

"trinity of Gods" this is not Christian doctrine that believes that there is one God who exists as three persons: it is not considered as a trinity of Gods.

"he wants our money" God (as described in Christian theology) does not need our money to exist or act.

"Documents"
May I suggest a better method to evaluate the evidence for the existence of the Christian God. First ignore Christian attitudes or opinions on current ethical questions. All this proves is that people labelled as Christians have different views on such matters.

Rather I would use a working assumption that the "Christian God" exists as described and make use of accepted Christian theology that has been developed by many scholars over many centuries. Do not be distracted by differences between denominations on non fundamental matters such as infant vs adult baptism. Now use your wikipedia article and related knowledge to answer the question "how can I test whether this God, as described, actually exists". Key to this will be the truth, or not, of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Consult relevant books from both sides of the argument e.g. Bart Ehrman from the skeptic side and Josh McDowell from the Christian side. (I'm not saying these are the best sources - you can choose your own of course but do read from both sides of the debate) Try to investigate this with an open mind and be aware of your preconceptions. The question of God's existence is not unimportant. If you believe you don't have any preconceptions then you won't give yourself the chance of having satisfied yourself that you've done all you can to find the answer.

Note that when comparing evidence of Jesus' life with, say, Julius Caesar, it's not like with like. At the time of Jesus' death you could crowd his followers into one room: Jesus was not a major political figure like Julius Caesar.

NB: if you can find any neutral and objective sources then use those as well

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote:

I'm not sure what you mean by "mythical stories" with respect to the Bible.
If you mean you're not prepared to believe in accounts of miracles then does this not show you have a presupposition that God does not exist. If the Christian God exists as described by Christian doctrine then miracles are obviously possible.


No it doesn't. It simply shows that I'm being consistent. If I'm to believe animals talking in the Bible, why shouldn't I believe similar stories in other similar books?


lapwing wrote:
"trinity of Gods" this is not Christian doctrine that believes that there is one God who exists as three persons: it is not considered as a trinity of Gods.

There is one God who is actually three people? Sorry but this sounds incoherent.


lapwing wrote:
"he wants our money" God (as described in Christian theology) does not need our money to exist or act.

I didn't say he needs our money but, he seems to want it to act. At least according to popular Christians. Are you saying I should ignore such requests for money? How about offerings?


lapwing wrote:
"Documents"
May I suggest a better method to evaluate the evidence for the existence of the Christian God. First ignore Christian attitudes or opinions on current ethical questions. All this proves is that people labelled as Christians have different views on such matters.

If I ignore Christian attitudes or opinions, then why wouldn't I conclude that these differences are due to their different intuitions? This to me counts as another reason to discount intuition as providing insight into this God.


lapwing wrote:
Rather I would use a working assumption that the "Christian God" exists as described and make use of accepted Christian theology that has been developed by many scholars over many centuries. Do not be distracted by differences between denominations on non fundamental matters such as infant vs adult baptism. Now use your wikipedia article and related knowledge to answer the question "how can I test whether this God, as described, actually exists". Key to this will be the truth, or not, of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Consult relevant books from both sides of the argument e.g. Bart Ehrman from the skeptic side and Josh McDowell from the Christian side. (I'm not saying these are the best sources - you can choose your own of course but do read from both sides of the debate) Try to investigate this with an open mind and be aware of your preconceptions. The question of God's existence is not unimportant. If you believe you don't have any preconceptions then you won't give yourself the chance of having satisfied yourself that you've done all you can to find the answer.

Firstly, the previous tests that I've performed that would have at least provided points in favour of concluding that he exists have failed.

Would you consider differences on issues such as the trinity, predestination and hell as being fundamental issues?

I have investigated and concluded that I simply couldn't believe in the Christian God.


lapwing wrote:
Note that when comparing evidence of Jesus' life with, say, Julius Caesar, it's not like with like. At the time of Jesus' death you could crowd his followers into one room: Jesus was not a major political figure like Julius Caesar.

NB: if you can find any neutral and objective sources then use those as well



On the issue of Jesus, I see no reason to conclude that all that was written about him was factually accurate.

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"other similar books"
Which books do you mean? I wouldn't describe Aesop's fables as similar to the book of Numbers. Also, I don't see how this helps - books of fiction and historical fact exist. The issue is whether a particular biblical account is historical, or not.

"the Trinity"
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Article I of the 39 articles of the Church of England.
See also http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/wcf.htm#chap2

This doctrine is famously difficult to explain or understand so describing it as incoherent is not unreasonable - see http://www.frtommylane.com/stories/God/Trinity/saint_augustine.htm

There is a big difference between asking for money to support Christian work (1 Tim 5:18) and saying God wants your money. The apostles refused to be treated as gods (Acts 14:12-18)

"Christian opinions"
Different Christians can believe in the same God, but vote differently. It would be wrong of a minister to urge his congregation to vote in a particular way.

"fundamental issues"
It may be best to consult the doctrinal positions of the larger well established denominations e.g.

1. http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html
2. http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/wcf.htm
3. The Nicene and Apostles' creeds

You say you have investigated and see no reason to see the NT account of Jesus as factually accurate. How have you arrived at this position - have you looked at all sides of the argument?

"I couldn't believe in the Christian God"
Why do you think this way? Maybe you mean "I don't want to believe" since there is no barrier that prevents anyone from coming to faith in Christ. Of course, you have the right to make that choice.

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote: "other similar books"
Which books do you mean? I wouldn't describe Aesop's fables as similar to the book of Numbers. Also, I don't see how this helps - books of fiction and historical fact exist. The issue is whether a particular biblical account is historical, or not.


No not Aesop's fables but books like the Qur'an or Hindu holy texts.

lapwing wrote:
"the Trinity"
There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the Maker, and Preserver of all things both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Article I of the 39 articles of the Church of England.
See also http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/wcf.htm#chap2

This doctrine is famously difficult to explain or understand so describing it as incoherent is not unreasonable - see http://www.frtommylane.com/stories/God/Trinity/saint_augustine.htm

Do you understand it? Could it not be that people just think it is difficult to explain while it is actually incoherent?

Looking at the two references you posted, the first one is made up of just assertions that I don't think are coherent. It talks about three persons of one substance, power and eternity. Yet there is only one God.

Then the other example that was illustrated by the child trying to pour the ocean into the hole, that too is incoherent and a bad analogy since that is being compared to understanding concept of the trinity.

lapwing wrote:

There is a big difference between asking for money to support Christian work (1 Tim 5:18) and saying God wants your money. The apostles refused to be treated as gods (Acts 14:12-18)

How about all that talk about people robbing God if they do not pay their tithes? (Malachi 3:8)


lapwing wrote:
"Christian opinions"
Different Christians can believe in the same God, but vote differently. It would be wrong of a minister to urge his congregation to vote in a particular way.

I'm not talking about voting but about the God given intuitions.


lapwing wrote:
"fundamental issues"
It may be best to consult the doctrinal positions of the larger well established denominations e.g.

1. http://anglicansonline.org/basics/thirty-nine_articles.html
2. http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/wcf.htm
3. The Nicene and Apostles' creeds

Just looking at the Anglican link, I can already see places where other Christians and other denominations could easily disagree e.g the trinity, original sin, books considered canonical etc.

Also, does the fact that certain denominations are old or large imply that they are more accurate?


lapwing wrote:
You say you have investigated and see no reason to see the NT account of Jesus as factually accurate. How have you arrived at this position - have you looked at all sides of the argument?

Yes I have considered the two sides of the argument.


lapwing wrote:
"I couldn't believe in the Christian God"
Why do you think this way? Maybe you mean "I don't want to believe" since there is no barrier that prevents anyone from coming to faith in Christ. Of course, you have the right to make that choice.



No, I mean that I couldn't come to the belief in the Christian God. I arrived at it following my investigations. Telling me that it is a choice whether or not to believe is like telling me that it is a choice whether or not to believe in ghosts or not to believe that the sun is hot.

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"books like the Qur'an or Hindu holy texts."

I read the Qur'an a while ago and I don't recall any accounts of miraculous events apart from possibly in the accounts based on biblical stories. Hinduism is a complex religion whose followers are not necessarily theistic. There is no unversally accepted aunthoritative scripture. There are Hindu epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata inc Bhagavad Vita. However these may best be considered as epics rather than accounts of historical events. For instance, the historicity and dating of the Kurukshetra War is not at all clear. By contrast the Bible is firmly rooted in the history of the Jews and the Early Church.

"Do you understand it" (the Trinity).
The word understand depends on the subject - do you understand double entry book-keeping and do you understand the Trinity imply different meanings of "understand" although this is hard to accept by people who have a reductionist and materialist worldview. I see no reason why the nature of God should be easy to understand. The child trying to pour the ocean into a hole was just an illustration of the difficulty for men to comprehend God: it was not meant to describe God or the Trinity.

"robbing God" Mal 3:8
Again this is talking about the tithes that were commanded as part of the priestly sacrifice system of the Old Testament (e.g. Num 18:25-32). This system of sacrifices does not apply to Christians since Jesus made one sacrifice that was sufficient for all time (Heb 10:12). Jews do not perform such sacrifices since there is no Temple. It is better to use the NT for teaching on supporting Christian work.

To identify Christian fundamentals one ought to see where the doctrinal positions agree, not where they disagree. Larger, older denominations benefit from the longer time and effort by many scholars to develop doctrine.

"I couldn't come to the belief in the Christian God." Your usage of "couldn't" cannot mean impossible under all circumstances. It must mean you have decided not to believe in the Christian God i.e. the God whom Christians worship.
For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote: "books like the Qur'an or Hindu holy texts."

I read the Qur'an a while ago and I don't recall any accounts of miraculous events apart from possibly in the accounts based on biblical stories.


How about the account of the moon being split by Mohammed? Are we to accept those stories that are similar to those in Bible as also being true?

lapwing wrote:
Hinduism is a complex religion whose followers are not necessarily theistic. There is no unversally accepted aunthoritative scripture. There are Hindu epics such as Ramayana, Mahabharata inc Bhagavad Vita. However these may best be considered as epics rather than accounts of historical events. For instance, the historicity and dating of the Kurukshetra War is not at all clear. By contrast the Bible is firmly rooted in the history of the Jews and the Early Church.


So what is the clear dating of Adam in the Bible? Or is that just an account of what is considered a historical event? Also are you saying that those Hindus who consider those books as sacred texts don't believe what they contain?

lapwing wrote:
"Do you understand it" (the Trinity).
The word understand depends on the subject - do you understand double entry book-keeping and do you understand the Trinity imply different meanings of "understand" although this is hard to accept by people who have a reductionist and materialist worldview.


In what sense are their meanings different?

lapwing wrote:
I see no reason why the nature of God should be easy to understand. The child trying to pour the ocean into a hole was just an illustration of the difficulty for men to comprehend God: it was not meant to describe God or the Trinity.


Is there a reason why an adult wouldn't make such an analogy? I can understand that a child, with little knowledge of the earth and how many things work, could say something like pouring the ocean into a hole he dug but for an adult to say that and consider it seriously would be problematic. That analogy doesn't demonstrate a difficulty in comprehension unless you actually think that it is actually possible to pour the ocean into a hole just that one doesn't know the proper trick.

lapwing wrote:
"robbing God" Mal 3:8
Again this is talking about the tithes that were commanded as part of the priestly sacrifice system of the Old Testament (e.g. Num 18:25-32). This system of sacrifices does not apply to Christians since Jesus made one sacrifice that was sufficient for all time (Heb 10:12). Jews do not perform such sacrifices since there is no Temple. It is better to use the NT for teaching on supporting Christian work.


Okay so God no longer wants our money but preferred a human sacrifice. That too is something that I simply cannot accept.

lapwing wrote:
To identify Christian fundamentals one ought to see where the doctrinal positions agree, not where they disagree. Larger, older denominations benefit from the longer time and effort by many scholars to develop doctrine.


So you're saying that the Christian fundamentals are to be based on where the various denominations agree? Does this then mean that the positions of non-agreement aren't fundamental issues in Christianity? I ask because many of them disagree on a very wide range of issues. Also, I don't think age or size somehow means that a certain sect of Christianity is the correct one.

lapwing wrote:
"I couldn't come to the belief in the Christian God." Your usage of "couldn't" cannot mean impossible under all circumstances. It must mean you have decided not to believe in the Christian God i.e. the God whom Christians worship.


No it doesn't mean that I have decided not to believe in the Christian God, it means that for me to believe in the Christian God, I may as well believe that there are ghosts or that the sun is hot. It is simply that based on the way I form my beliefs, for me to believe in the Christian God would lead me to chaos.

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"the moon being split by Mohammed"
I'd forgotten that one - Surah 54:1-2 but it's in the passive voice so some commentators hold that it is God rather than Muhammad who splits the moon - and other commentators hold that it refers to an event in a future judgment, but written in the past tense to aid the imagination of the reader - one for the Muslim scholars.

"the dating of Adam in the Bible"
Well I would contend that the history of the Jews starts with Abraham, not Adam who represents the beginning of the history of mankind.

"are you saying that those Hindus who consider those books as sacred texts don't believe what they contain?"
I can't say what individual Hindus believe but are you saying that regarding these accounts as epics rather than historical undermines Hinduism?

"understand"
I "understand that the sun provides us with energy" could be different in meaning for an astrophysicist and a peasant farmer, though some might argue the farmer's understanding is more important.

"the child ocean example"
I think you're putting meaning into this story that was not intended: it's only meant to illustrate the difficulty of describing the Trinity.

"Okay so God no longer wants our money but preferred a human sacrifice."
Well I'm not saying that. "God wants our money" should be rephrased as Christians should consider supporting Christian work e.g. 2 Cor 9:7 "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  Read it in context though(of supporting the poorer church in Jerusalem).

I think you should list out the doctrinal agreements first before examining the diagreements - to get a proper perspective.

"It is simply that based on the way I form my beliefs, for me to believe in the Christian God would lead me to chaos."
That still sounds like you've decided not to believe - I'm not saying you haven't thought about the issues.
For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote: "the moon being split by Mohammed"
I'd forgotten that one - Surah 54:1-2 but it's in the passive voice so some commentators hold that it is God rather than Muhammad who splits the moon - and other commentators hold that it refers to an event in a future judgment, but written in the past tense to aid the imagination of the reader - one for the Muslim scholars.


Or Muslim apologist. My point is that if I'm to believe such stories in the Bible, I may as well believe these stories in the Qur'an.

lapwing wrote:
"the dating of Adam in the Bible"
Well I would contend that the history of the Jews starts with Abraham, not Adam who represents the beginning of the history of mankind.


Does this then mean that the parts before Abraham appeared on the scene aren't to be considered as being historical? How then should they be considered?

lapwing wrote:
"are you saying that those Hindus who consider those books as sacred texts don't believe what they contain?"
I can't say what individual Hindus believe but are you saying that regarding these accounts as epics rather than historical undermines Hinduism?


No I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that a Hindu believer may consider them as being true accounts while a scholar may consider them as being epics. In a way similar to how Christians may consider the Bible to be true accounts while non-Christians may consider the stories there to be traditional myths, folktales or similar works.

lapwing wrote:
"understand"
I "understand that the sun provides us with energy" could be different in meaning for an astrophysicist and a peasant farmer, though some might argue the farmer's understanding is more important.


By different in meaning, do you mean a difference in knowledge based on one's specialty? I ask because I think the astrophysicist can understand what the peasant farmer thinks and vice versa with of course the required training.

lapwing wrote:
"the child ocean example"
I think you're putting meaning into this story that was not intended: it's only meant to illustrate the difficulty of describing the Trinity.


And I'm saying that the perceived difficulty may be because the idea is actually incoherent.

lapwing wrote:
"Okay so God no longer wants our money but preferred a human sacrifice."
Well I'm not saying that. "God wants our money" should be rephrased as Christians should consider supporting Christian work e.g. 2 Cor 9:7 "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."  Read it in context though(of supporting the poorer church in Jerusalem).


Okay so giving money here is more of a recommendation rather than a command like in the Old Testament.

lapwing wrote:
I think you should list out the doctrinal agreements first before examining the diagreements - to get a proper perspective.


Most of those doctrinal agreements are disputed by one sect or another. I mean, the one thing I think that Christians can agree on is that there is a God and that there was a man called Jesus. Even the perception of Jesus is disputed or has been when one also considers the extinguished sects of Christianity.

lapwing wrote:
"It is simply that based on the way I form my beliefs, for me to believe in the Christian God would lead me to chaos."
That still sounds like you've decided not to believe - I'm not saying you haven't thought about the issues.


You're missing my point which is that I don't decide what to believe. My beliefs are formed based on some sort of evidence, reasoning and other internal processes.

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"I may as well believe these stories in the Qur'an."
Except that under one interpretation this (the moon being split) refers to a future event despite the past tense.

"the parts before Abraham appeared on the scene aren't to be considered as being historical?"
I'm going to think about this further rather than just rehash other peoples' views on a subject of much discussion. At this stage I will say that Gen ch1-11 is an identifiable section within Genesis. But note that the key historical event for Christians is the resurrection of Jesus. That doesn't mean that I don't believe in the historicity of  other biblical events but it is the case that if Jesus' resurrection was disproved then that would invalidate Christianity as the Apostle Paul puts it:

"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Cor 15:14 NIV

whereas it is not so clear as that when referring to other biblical events - and of course you must always realise that the Bible is a library of books written in different styles e.g Revelation and the gospels/Acts are very different from each other.

"a difference in knowledge based on one's specialty"
Their different backgrounds means that if, say, they wrote down their understanding of the sun, one should be able to distinguish them.

"Most of those doctrinal agreements are disputed by one sect or another."
I'm not sure what you mean by sects - just see what is common in the references I gave you. I think you may be surprised by the degree of agreement.

"I don't decide what to believe. My beliefs are formed based on some sort of evidence, reasoning and other internal processes."
This still doesn't make sense - are you saying you take no active part in the process of the formation of your beliefs - a kind of osmosis rather than personal thought?  If that is so then why do people have different beliefs?

For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote:

"I may as well believe these stories in the Qur'an."
Except that under one interpretation this (the moon being split) refers to a future event despite the past tense.


Okay if someone interprets it as having occurred, am I to believe it?


lapwing wrote:
"the parts before Abraham appeared on the scene aren't to be considered as being historical?"
I'm going to think about this further rather than just rehash other peoples' views on a subject of much discussion. At this stage I will say that Gen ch1-11 is an identifiable section within Genesis. But note that the key historical event for Christians is the resurrection of Jesus. That doesn't mean that I don't believe in the historicity of  other biblical events but it is the case that if Jesus' resurrection was disproved then that would invalidate Christianity as the Apostle Paul puts it:

"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1 Cor 15:14 NIV

So for you, it is the resurrection. Why should that resurrection be more believable than a talking animal? Do you also believe the gospel account that talks about other dead people that were wandering the streets after Jesus' crucifixion?

lapwing wrote:

whereas it is not so clear as that when referring to other biblical events - and of course you must always realise that the Bible is a library of books written in different styles e.g Revelation and the gospels/Acts are very different from each other.


Yes I realize that which is why I'm willing to consider that some books may contain proper accounts while others may contain more myths.

lapwing wrote:
"a difference in knowledge based on one's specialty"
Their different backgrounds means that if, say, they wrote down their understanding of the sun, one should be able to distinguish them.


Yes but this doesn't counter what I've said.

lapwing wrote:
"Most of those doctrinal agreements are disputed by one sect or another."
I'm not sure what you mean by sects - just see what is common in the references I gave you. I think you may be surprised by the degree of agreement.


By sect, I mean other people who consider themselves Christians but have certain doctrines that differentiate them from others who consider themselves Christians. The problem with those references like I said is that one could easily find other Christian sects that do not agree some of those statements.
Also as I already said, the degree of agreement with the doctrine of a certain sect doesn't make it the right one.

lapwing wrote:
"I don't decide what to believe. My beliefs are formed based on some sort of evidence, reasoning and other internal processes."
This still doesn't make sense - are you saying you take no active part in the process of the formation of your beliefs - a kind of osmosis rather than personal thought?  If that is so then why do people have different beliefs?



People have different beliefs for various reasons e.g different exposures, different attitudes to learning, different ages etc.
The part I take in the formation of the belief is one of seeking out knowledge in multiple fields that include the physical sciences for information about the natural world and the social sciences for information on how we think and possible errors in the process. And where possible, verify what is being claimed.

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"Okay if someone interprets it as having occurred, am I to believe it?"
Given that the Koranic text does not specify the moon being reformed, then it would seem likely that the interpretation that this is describing a future event is the most likely. As I said before, if you really want the answer to this question it would be best to examine Muslim scholarship based on reading the Koran in Arabic. I am not qualified to answer this question.

"Why should that resurrection be more believable than a talking animal?"
I was making the point that the truth of Christianity rests on the truth of the Resurrection. The story of Balaam's ass is not such a game changer - if this were disproved but the resurrection were proved, Christianity would still be valid, but not vice versa.

"The problem with those references like I said is that one could easily find other Christian sects that do not agree some of those statements."
I still think it's better to look for agreement rather than disagreement as a general principle e.g. fewer armed conflicts. Both the Apostles' and Nicene creed are used by a wide range of mainstream churches and if you examine http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM and compare that with the views of reformed Christians in the Westminster Confession you will find that the degree of agreement far exceeds the disagreement. What does the beliefs of "other Christian sects" (whatever that means) prove except that people adopt different views.

"People have different beliefs for various reasons e.g different exposures, different attitudes to learning, different ages etc." This looks like the nature/nurture debate. So are you saying that two identical twins brought up in the same environment are bound to have the exact same set of beliefs? In the end you make a decision e.g. when you vote in an election after studying the manifestos.Why are you so reluctant to own up to this.
For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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lapwing wrote: "Okay if someone interprets it as having occurred, am I to believe it?"
Given that the Koranic text does not specify the moon being reformed, then it would seem likely that the interpretation that this is describing a future event is the most likely. As I said before, if you really want the answer to this question it would be best to examine Muslim scholarship based on reading the Koran in Arabic. I am not qualified to answer this question.


I think that you are to some extent. My question isn't on what Muslim apologists have decided on, but on whether or not one is justified in believing it if their interpretation was that it had occurred.

lapwing wrote:
"Why should that resurrection be more believable than a talking animal?"
I was making the point that the truth of Christianity rests on the truth of the Resurrection. The story of Balaam's ass is not such a game changer - if this were disproved but the resurrection were proved, Christianity would still be valid, but not vice versa.


It may not rest on that particular story but the story is in the Bible along with many others. How does one decide on what to believe and what to discard? If one is simply discarding stories that they find incredible, they could eventually end up discarding the resurrection too.

lapwing wrote:
"The problem with those references like I said is that one could easily find other Christian sects that do not agree some of those statements."
I still think it's better to look for agreement rather than disagreement as a general principle e.g. fewer armed conflicts. Both the Apostles' and Nicene creed are used by a wide range of mainstream churches and if you examine http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM and compare that with the views of reformed Christians in the Westminster Confession you will find that the degree of agreement far exceeds the disagreement. What does the beliefs of "other Christian sects" (whatever that means) prove except that people adopt different views.


Why will that be better for me when my point rests on their disagreements?

lapwing wrote:
"People have different beliefs for various reasons e.g different exposures, different attitudes to learning, different ages etc." This looks like the nature/nurture debate. So are you saying that two identical twins brought up in the same environment are bound to have the exact same set of beliefs? In the end you make a decision e.g. when you vote in an election after studying the manifestos.Why are you so reluctant to own up to this.


No they're not. The way I see it, the decisions they have are on the methods they use to form a belief. e.g I form my beliefs based on science and evidence so telling me that I can simply choose to believe something contrary to evidence or in the absence of evidence will not work. A religious person forms their belief also on science and evidence only that they add on their supernatural beliefs which isn't really justified.

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lapwing

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I still maintain that what the Koranic text actually means is a prerequisite for discussing it. With a lack of consensus from the Muslim scholars I see no value in discussing it given your assumption which may be false.

"How does one decide on what to believe and what to discard?"
I don't think that discard is the right word. You may have meant "not regard as referring to a historical event".The simplest answer is refer to good commentaries e.g. the Tyndale series. Also use established techniques to evaluate the nature of a biblical text (exegesis) and there are plenty of textbooks that teach such techniques. So in the book of Revelation, it is made clear that what is described is a series of visions that John saw *in the Spirit". It is not intended to be factual. God is a spiritual being but we are material so from that we know it is not meant to be taken literally. The Resurrection is described as a historical event.

"Why will that be better for me when my point rests on their disagreements?"
Christianity is often attacked as a cause of war and strife but you prefer disagreement over agreement. Do you see that actually this is a symptom of the cause of human strife - the preference for strife over harmony. Looking at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM there is much more that I agree with than with which I disagree even though I'm a protestant.

"they add on their supernatural beliefs which isn't really justified."
I dispute your "add on". The universe was created by God and we are all made in God's image. God is not a spiritual appendix to the material world. This view is only not justified if you assume there is no God which has never been proved.
For by one sacrifice Jesus has made perfect forever those who are being sanctified.

"Those who are still afraid of men have no fear of God, and those who have fear of God have ceased to be afraid of men"
"If the world refuses justice, the Christian will pursue mercy"
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lapwing wrote: I still maintain that what the Koranic text actually means is a prerequisite for discussing it. With a lack of consensus from the Muslim scholars I see no value in discussing it given your assumption which may be false.


Okay. In that case, why don't we take a look at the Book of Mormon. It too recounts fantastic stories such as horses and chariots in the Americas, the absence of light for three days all over the earth after the death of Jesus, etc.
And the Qur'an talks about humans coming from a fluid issuing from somewhere between the "loins and the ribs".
Is one justified in believing these?

lapwing wrote:
"How does one decide on what to believe and what to discard?"
I don't think that discard is the right word. You may have meant "not regard as referring to a historical event".The simplest answer is refer to good commentaries e.g. the Tyndale series. Also use established techniques to evaluate the nature of a biblical text (exegesis) and there are plenty of textbooks that teach such techniques. So in the book of Revelation, it is made clear that what is described is a series of visions that John saw *in the Spirit". It is not intended to be factual. God is a spiritual being but we are material so from that we know it is not meant to be taken literally. The Resurrection is described as a historical event.


What do the commentaries have to say about stories such as the talking donkey or the turning of someone into salt?
How about the resurrection of others that occurred with the crucifixion?

lapwing wrote:
"Why will that be better for me when my point rests on their disagreements?"
Christianity is often attacked as a cause of war and strife but you prefer disagreement over agreement. Do you see that actually this is a symptom of the cause of human strife - the preference for strife over harmony. Looking at http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM there is much more that I agree with than with which I disagree even though I'm a protestant.


My points lie in the disagreements. I'm accepting that they're called Christians due to some shared beliefs just as Muslims whether Sunni or Shi'a are called Muslims due to shared beliefs. The differences show that there isn't really a way to know which doctrine is right.

lapwing wrote:
"they add on their supernatural beliefs which isn't really justified."
I dispute your "add on". The universe was created by God and we are all made in God's image. God is not a spiritual appendix to the material world. This view is only not justified if you assume there is no God which has never been proved.


You don't agree that these supernatural beliefs are added on? Now do you believe in witches, leprechauns or faeries? Why would you believe in your God and not e.g Brahman?