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Biggest stumbling blocks with Christianity?

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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    Are you seriously telling me you'd only accept material evidence for the immaterial :lolwut:
    Simply it is very easy for me to argue against everything you have said, and I tried but my laptop decided it wasn't happy and turned off. So i shall just replay to this statement. Are you seriously telling me your only evidence is faith? I'm sure that will hold up in court. as the saying goes...

    Sorry if that was harsh but i have spent nigh on 8 hours trying to reply to people in a nice social manner and it keeps deleting it. so to put it simply I'm not in a very good mood. Sorry again.
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    (Original post by AGrumpyMole)
    If somebody who lives in, for example, The Arctic and they have never heard of Christianity, would they go to hell for not believing?
    A person's biggest issue certainly is sin and therefore anyone who has not dealt with sin in their life (by seeing that the solution has to come from a source which is not them... i.e God shown in Jesus) then yes the bible is clear people will face eternity away from God because of that.

    HOWEVER let me be clear, God will be just on that final day and therefore all in hell will be deserving, the bible places a HUGE emphasis on Christians to spread the word about Jesus 'to the end of the earth' and so it is partly our responsibility. If you feel hard done on their behalf then why not go and tell them is the kind of feeling.

    Also you yourself are not in the Arctic but live in places where you can really investigate the claims seriously and in detail, but are you willing?
    Matt
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    (Original post by NDGAARONDI)
    I think it's because, at times, how much focus certain aspects of Biblical laws are given. For example, you get atheist mickeys who suddenly clamour to the Bible when claiming homosexuality is a sin but then happily work on Sundays.

    I'm not sure why you mention free will earlier though. You're assuming it exists.
    I'd tentatively say that is because you've not really thought about why that difference might occur though, Jesus talks a lot about the law too, he often references the commandments in his teaching but instead of changing it validates what it says.

    I do admit that you cannot just edit the bits that you like, there are clear reasons why Christians don't carry out animal sacrifice for instance, clearly that was to be a picture for the waiting Jews of what God's REAL sacrifice would look like in Jesus, now we have seen that we don't need to do that anymore but are encouraged to share communion to remember the same thing.

    Things like this are common within the bible, where themes and issues raising in the Old Testament, are worked through in the New. For instance the people of Israel living in the land, they are promised it, they move into it, they reject God and are invaded and taken out as captives and then return... but when they return it doesn't seem to be the BIG exciting amazing return that they were promised...

    Jesus again helps us link these two things... they were not to wait for a physical land of Israel, but were waiting for their inheritance, which Jesus explains as the coming kingdom of God... i.e. life with God for believers both now but even more in the life to come.

    As i say this happens a lot where themes are drawn out!
    Matt

    Matt
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    (Original post by Sly Blade)
    Simply it is very easy for me to argue against everything you have said, and I tried but my laptop decided it wasn't happy and turned off. So i shall just replay to this statement. Are you seriously telling me your only evidence is faith? I'm sure that will hold up in court. as the saying goes...

    Sorry if that was harsh but i have spent nigh on 8 hours trying to reply to people in a nice social manner and it keeps deleting it. so to put it simply I'm not in a very good mood. Sorry again.
    First of all don't use the Richard Dawkins' School of Theology definition of faith which is widely mocked in academic circles.
    Secondly there's plenty of evidence for an immaterial, just not material evidence (which would be a contradiction of terms). The evidence is immaterial.
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    (Original post by miser)
    Specifically evolution and questions regarding the literal truth of the Bible.

    Science contradicts a literal interpretation of the Bible certainly, but depending on how lenient you are it does not have to. For example, in the latter parts of my Christianity I believed that God was likely to have used evolution as a tool rather than it being contradictory to his existence.
    I guess this refers to Genesis 1... which I'm not sure we are meant to be taken literally (I'm sure you could and it would lead to interesting discussions) but for me if you read Genesis the style of the opening chapter is very poetic and different to what comes quickly behind. It is like a microscope... first you get the 'heavens and the earth' then you zoom in a bit... zoom in a bit more... all the time first time readers are meant (I think) to be wondering what the coolest thing God is going to make is... and then it zooms in so tight... and we realise that it is us.. human beings!!!

    Very quickly in Genesis you get people and places and so you can go back historically and try and work out if they are true, but Genesis 1 just doesn't read like that.

    So if you say you used to have that kind of overlap in your mind that evolution was a tool... what has changed?
    Matt
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    First of all don't use the Richard Dawkins' School of Theology definition of faith which is widely mocked in academic circles.
    Secondly there's plenty of evidence for an immaterial, just not material evidence (which would be a contradiction of terms). The evidence is immaterial.
    Your immaterial evidence, please?
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)
    Your immaterial evidence, please?
    Man's insatisfaction with merely the material.
    Man's search outside of himself.
    Man's search for meaning, understanding, purpose.
    Man's search outside himself for truth, beauty, and goodness.
    Man's ability to transcend his environment.

    Any more? The very fact that you're on this website, challenging me, trying to attck or find truth; trying to find an understanding, is evidence in itself.

    EDIT: I'll admit that many of these are very, very closely interlinked which, again, is evidence in that they show a certain commonality across man.
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    (Original post by mattatca)
    So if you say you used to have that kind of overlap in your mind that evolution was a tool... what has changed?
    Matt
    What changed is that I began to question my beliefs instead of assuming them to be correct - what changed is that I decided I would give equal and honest hearing to the arguments against my position rather than just those for it. My faith was doomed after that.
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    Man's insatisfaction with merely the material.
    Man's search outside of himself.
    Man's search for meaning, understanding, purpose.
    Man's search outside himself for truth, beauty, and goodness.
    Man's ability to transcend his environment.

    Any more? The very fact that you're on this website, challenging me, trying to attck or find truth; trying to find an understanding, is evidence in itself.

    EDIT: I'll admit that many of these are very, very closely interlinked which, again, is evidence in that they show a certain commonality across man.
    I question religion to gain a greater understanding of it, not for personal reasons of dissatisfaction with life, but for interest's sake to understand people. As a rational person I would change my view when presented with evidence, this is the current reason I don't affiliate with an organised religion, because I saw evidence for the controlling nature of some denominations and evidence against a conventional "god".

    Your "evidence" could be evidence, but there are some problems.

    Firstly, they are horribly generic and could be considered "evidence" for belief in any possible deity, philosophy, and multiple concepts which don't even involve religion. They are not specific and do not point towards a creator.

    Secondly, they are probably explainable with neuroscience.

    In short, the above "evidence" seems to me like a feeble excuse to reduce the wonder of scientific nature to the mundane concept of creation.
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    (Original post by Hypocrism)

    Your "evidence" could be evidence, but there are some problems.

    Firstly, they are horribly generic and could be considered "evidence" for belief in any possible deity, philosophy, and multiple concepts which don't even involve religion. They are not specific and do not point towards a creator.



    In short, the above "evidence" seems to me like a feeble excuse to reduce the wonder of scientific nature to the mundane concept of creation.
    Except of course we're not attempting, in any way, shape, or form, to prove the existence of God. We're talking about the existence of the immaterial soul which is in no way a position only theists take. Pray, if you wish to quote me in future then please actually read what I'm arguing about so you don't make the same mistake again. And your pathetic attempt at scientism is worthy of contempt and mockery. Firstly, tell me where I mentioned only the natural world? I didn't. I was talking about art, liturature, poetry, oratory, etc. And neuroscience can't explain why these things are beautiful. It can explain how the brain receives the information, transmits it, and relates it but the area of the "why" is far removed.

    I question religion to gain a greater understanding of it, not for personal reasons of dissatisfaction with life, but for interest's sake to understand people. As a rational person I would change my view when presented with evidence, this is the current reason I don't affiliate with an organised religion, because I saw evidence for the controlling nature of some denominations and evidence against a conventional "god".
    As for this self rightous bit, let's pick it apart. You contradict yourself in your first sentence. " not for personal reasons of dissatisfaction with life, but for interest's sake to understand people. " I never said anything about dissatisfaction but none the less you seek outside yourself for understanding of something. The matieral alone doesn't pacify you.

    As for the rest of it I simply couldn't care less. I wasn't debating the existence of God, which if you'd bothered to read my post you would have realised. As for the claim to be rational I ask a question. How seriously do you take this issue? Do you go and read scholarly books and articles or do you read diatribes by Christopher Hitchens (who's arguments can be picked apart in seconds) and Richard Dawkins (and I won't even start with him) and when finished put them down with a good feeling of "knowing something". If it's the former then good for you. May I suggest a work such as Coppleston's History of Philosophy, the Summa Theologica, and anything by N T Wright?
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    Nothing major, although I guess it would be possible to trip over a gravestone in a churchyard...
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    Except of course we're not attempting, in any way, shape, or form, to prove the existence of God. We're talking about the existence of the immaterial soul which is in no way a position only theists take. Pray, if you wish to quote me in future then please actually read what I'm arguing about so you don't make the same mistake again.
    In this unduly attacking post you didn't understand my previous meaning, which was innocent and inquisitive: I equate the soul with the existence of a creator, since without a creator, the idea of a soul is not possible (in my opinion at least, I cannot see how one would argue for a creator-less soul), thus the existence of a soul would be evidence to me of a creator. This is why I'm talking about the immaterial evidence supporting or not supporting the existence of god - by extension from the soul. I talk about evidence for a "philosophy" or "concept" which includes theories as to why people may have such qualities, one theory would be the existence of the soul.

    (Original post by adamrules247)
    And your pathetic attempt at scientism is worthy of contempt and mockery. Firstly, tell me where I mentioned only the natural world? I didn't. I was talking about art, liturature, poetry, oratory, etc. And neuroscience can't explain why these things are beautiful. It can explain how the brain receives the information, transmits it, and relates it but the area of the "why" is far removed.
    You didn't mention the natural world - but in my view, which is that the attributes you believe derive from the soul derive from the evolution of the human brain, the soul is, as I said, a reduction in the amount of complexity and delight that we can get from investigating these fascinating human qualities. That's why it's relevant for me to make that comment, not anything to do with your specific post.

    Let me try it again. I disagree with your concept of the soul because in my understanding, that's a step down from the complex neurological processes that I believe ultimately underlie all human behaviour including the aspects you pointed out as your evidence. Neuroscience and evolutionary theory can, I'm sure, give a good explanation as to why we find certain things beautiful, if not now then in the future. Just because we don't understand it doesn't mean it is a supernatural concept.

    (Original post by adamrules247)
    As for this self rightous bit, let's pick it apart. You contradict yourself in your first sentence. " not for personal reasons of dissatisfaction with life, but for interest's sake to understand people. " I never said anything about dissatisfaction but none the less you seek outside yourself for understanding of something. The matieral alone doesn't pacify you.
    This "self rightous" bit was a response to your saying that "The very fact that you're on this website, challenging me, trying to attck or find truth; trying to find an understanding, is evidence in itself." My point was trying to explain to you that the reasons I ask these questions aren't because I am dissatisfied with the material world, or trying to search outside myself for meaning, but attempting to understand different types of belief and why people have come to live by them. You've read my post as an attack on your beliefs which it certainly is not, as a person with no defined beliefs I don't take personal prejudice.(But may I mention that such snappy responses are actually driving me away from your system of belief and do not add up with the values that I'm sure your religion is meant to go by in human interactions. Also, petty negs, which just demonstrate anger and insecurity, not love and understanding.)

    (Original post by adamrules247)
    As for the claim to be rational I ask a question. How seriously do you take this issue? Do you go and read scholarly books and articles or do you read diatribes by Christopher Hitchens (who's arguments can be picked apart in seconds) and Richard Dawkins (and I won't even start with him) and when finished put them down with a good feeling of "knowing something". If it's the former then good for you. May I suggest a work such as Coppleston's History of Philosophy, the Summa Theologica, and anything by N T Wright?
    Spirituality has only recently become important to me, and as such I haven't delved into long works yet. I'll admit to listening to debates involving Dawkins and Hitchens, however I ignore immature ad hominem attacks and the like (from both sides!) in favour of the reasoned arguments put forward, and the agnostic arguments of Dawkins are consistently more rational, logical, and convincing to me than theists' arguments against them, which all seem to boil down to, in the end, faith. And "faith" is not a good enough argument for anything to someone who does not share that faith.

    (Original post by adamrules247)
    I never said anything about dissatisfaction but none the less you seek outside yourself for understanding of something. The matieral alone doesn't pacify you.
    You said "Man's insatisfaction with merely the material." and that's what I'm referring to in this instance. The material world is indeed not enough for human life, but that in itself is not evidence for a soul, material or immaterial. In evolutionary theory, perhaps the existence of "Man's search outside of himself" was due to us developing intelligence in thought. Concentrating on the surroundings with "intelligence" would help us to survive by noticing how we can manipulate our environment with making tools, as our ancestors learned. Such an attribute arising in the species would constitute a huge advantage as it clearly did. Now we've developed this trait and one of its modern consequences (not meant in a negative meaning of the word) is that we look at the physical world that we have conquered and try to discover something more, because our evolutionary background wants us to keep on discovering new ways to survive even if they don't exist.

    Also, if there is no material evidence for the soul, I would in fact take this as evidence against the soul existing. This may seem counter intuitive, basing judgement on an immaterial concept on material evidence: however, if the soul exists, it would have an effect on the way we think, the way we act, and so on, and so will have a measurable effect that is not explainable with science. If it is explainable with science, does that not make it simply science, and we have found an explanation for that which previously required superstition? And if it does not affect the way we act or think, can it exist?

    Please respond without taking offense-that's not my intention at all-but with objectivity and thought, so that we can have a mutually interesting discussion that's not based on trying to trip each other up or insult each other.
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    E
    diatribes by Christopher Hitchens (who's arguments can be picked apart in seconds)
    Go on, then.

    In any case, as Hypocrism was sort of pointing out, the existence of the immaterial soul is a very necessary percursor to the existence of God, as it would indicate a dual nature of reality- the "material" and the "immaterial". As it stands, there's no reason whatsoever to believe that reality is anything other than material and reducible to observable and testable phenomena.

    Regarding art, and man's ability to conceptualize and share abstractions, well, these too can be explained with the scientific. Why we consider certain things beautiful depends entirely on the inner subtleties of our chemical and psychological makeup. We find things like symmetry, for example, aesthetically pleasing. Anything that we cannot currently explain does not mean you get to jump to substance dualism, and subsequently, God. That approach is nothing more than the "god of the gaps" take on things.
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    First of all don't use the Richard Dawkins' School of Theology definition of faith which is widely mocked in academic circles.
    Secondly there's plenty of evidence for an immaterial, just not material evidence (which would be a contradiction of terms). The evidence is immaterial.
    That is an incredibly ignorant statement, Firstly I was not using "Richard Dawkins' School of Theology definition of faith" I was using the Oxford dictionaries definition which is widely accepted as being accurate throughout Britain and to my understanding America, When in reference to the English language and since we are on a British website I would like you to respect this fact instead of feebly attempting to pick apart my argument with baseless statements. Lastly Evidence cannot be immaterial that would be like saying a man is guilty of murder because the police officer's gut told him that the man did it, the evidence of the police officer's gut is entire baseless and would not stand up in court. Simply you cannot use what you are trying to prove as evidence of it's own existence.

    Edit: I apologise for my attitude but as the bible says "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth".
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    (Original post by FrigidSymphony)
    Go on, then.
    Well let's turn to chapter 5 of God is Not Great. He starts the chapter with three quotes. I want to focus on two of them. One is by St. Thomas Aquinas which says "I am a man of one book". The second is by St. Ignatius of Loyola which says "I sacrafice my intellect to God". Now on a superficial level these appear as though Christians are saying they will allow their intellects to be dulled by their faith, etc, and this is exactly what Hitchens is aiming to do and to the average Hitchens fan who takes his word as Gospel it is a wonderful red meat with which they can chew on and then rant about. However let's look at it intellectually for five minutes. In other religious traditions to sacrafice means to simply give something to God. However, in Christian theology to sacrafice something to God means to offer it to God so that He might take it, make it holy, and then return it to you. THink of Christ's sacrafice on the Cross. He doesn't merely die, he dies and returns to life but gives the Eucharist to people and opens the gates of heaven. Or think of the story of the feeding of the five thousand. The boy sacrafices his bread and fishes to Jesus who multiplies them and makes them greater. So what St. Ignatius meant was that he wants to give his intellect to God so that God can make it Holy. Make it something greater that can be used for greater purposes. So far from a dimming of the intellect St. Ignatius is asking for his intellect to be made greater and brighter. A far cry from what Christopher Hitchens implied. As for the quote from St. Thomas, it's clearly taken out of context. First of all Catholicism is not a sola scriptura religion. Secondly if anyone does give minutes of research then they'll find that far from being limited in what he studied he in fact studied everything. The ancient greek philosophers, Christian ones, the CHurch Fathers, and even Muslim philosophers and theologians. What's more Aquinas firmly rejected that the Bible should triumph over science and reason. He clearly stated that where a scientific or rational truth contradicted the Bible then it means the Biblical interpretation is wrong. So again, what Hitchens was trying to imply falls far short of the reality. He is, quite frankly, willing to lie to back up his point.

    Another thing. Hitchens' only actual argument againt the existence of God, that he employs in debate, is this. Superficially it appears impressive however if we delve a little further we find quite how flawed it is. It is based upon nothing more than theological, philosophical and historical mistruths. First off the way he words it that Christians believed for 98,000 thousand years, etc. makes it seem like Christians believe that after Jesus came suffering magically disappeared. It didn't of course and no Christian believes that. Next there's the bit about heaven looking with indifference for 98,000 years. This is of course a theological misrepresentation of Christianity as no Christian believes that God is "changing" as it were; indeed it would contradict the whole notion of God. Plus it disregards the fact that Christians believe in a variety of historical and allergorical prophets and that God, in some way, shows Himself to others and allows them to experience Him. Indeed, as Alexander Lucy Smith puts it:

    (Original post by quote)
    This is deeply misleading. Before the Incarnation took place, which does of course represent God’s greatest act of love for humanity, God did care about humanity. Before he sent his Son, he sent the prophets, and he gave the law to Moses. These were acts of love. Moreover, even those, the vast majority, who were not Jews, were included in the love of God. He did not leave them in ignorance, but he gave them reason, and the ability to know what was good and true. Hitchens seems to think that we Christians believe that the time before the Incarnation was some sort of Age of Ignorance. We do not believe this, and we never have. Before Christ there was knowledge, there was insight and there was charity.
    Next good ol' Hitchens takes totally out of context the idea of Christ's passion. It is not the Father murdering the Son but Christ offering himself as a sacrafice.

    Lastly Hitchens tries to make out that God made a bad choice in choosing Israel. However his comment merely displays his ignorance. Not only was Israel geographically extremely well placed (the links with the Roman Empire allowed easy travel which saw as early as 100AD Christians in India), the timing was perfect as you had a population boom soon afterwards, and lastly Israel, unlike from what Hitchens asserts, was remarkably advanced. They were a hellenised culture, they were highly literate; being people of the Book, and were sophisticated monotheists unlike the crude polytheists who surrounded them which, in Richard Dawkins own arguments, shows them to be extremely advanced.

    So essentially Hitchens "arguments" are based on either one of two things. Either than he is genuinely ignorant and thus he shouldn't be taken seriously because he clearly doesn't know what he's writing about. Or he is willfully lying in which case because he is being dishonest we shouldn't take him seriously either. Either way he's a bad joke, one that can write well but a sophist none the less.

    In any case, as Hypocrism was sort of pointing out, the existence of the immaterial soul is a very necessary percursor to the existence of God, as it would indicate a dual nature of reality- the "material" and the "immaterial". As it stands, there's no reason whatsoever to believe that reality is anything other than material and reducible to observable and testable phenomena.
    Except very few metaphysicians would agree with you. You seem to think that atheism and materialism are the same thing. Which is of course nonsense seeing as there are atheists who reject materialism and Christians who embrace it.


    Regarding art, and man's ability to conceptualize and share abstractions, well, these too can be explained with the scientific. Why we consider certain things beautiful depends entirely on the inner subtleties of our chemical and psychological makeup. We find things like symmetry, for example, aesthetically pleasing. Anything that we cannot currently explain does not mean you get to jump to substance dualism, and subsequently, God. That approach is nothing more than the "god of the gaps" take on things.
    One example. And no, that doesn't explain it at all. There is no gap so don't bother wheeling out that pathetic argument. I think this is best rebutted by the atheist Terry Pratchett. In his novel Thief of Time the auditors of the universe (materialists) stop time and invade the disc. They proceed to go to the art gallery and in trying to find out why humans find the paintings beautiful they take them and reduce them to their most basic pigmants and are unable to find any patterns which would logically or rationally explain. This drives them nearly insane. I'm very much in agreement with G.K. Chesterton when he said "Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion, like the physical exhaustion of Mr. Holbein. To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits. " The reduction to chemicals is like saying that the ink and paper explain the meaning behind words.

    EDIT: My apologies for any spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, etc. I was extremely busy when writing this.
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    Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin
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    EDIT: I am a historian, and we rightly accept as overwhelmingly probable things which we cannot recover and investigate scientifcally in any direct manner, and yet most historians would not feel confident in accepting something which completely contradicted the observable rules of the world, even if quite well documented and attested, generally assuming that we are dealing with a mistaken or mythologised record of events. Of course, it is also possible that current scientific study can explain the occurence described in the past, and lead to a re-evaluation of the probability that it was accurately described. It is this type of thing that I refer to.[/QUOTE]

    You say you are a historian so please don't set such a high standard of proof on the text, what are you looking for from a text THAT old? Number of sources, outside evidence, sources from both sides of an argument, manuscript copies? What?

    Have you ever read the book 'The Case for Christ?'

    You'd be foolish to say that it doesn't stand up historically! It stomps on almost everything we have from the time... so are you wanting to rewrite all history?
    Matt
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    (Original post by adamrules247)
    The reduction to chemicals is like saying that the ink and paper explain the meaning behind words.
    Would it not be a better comparison that a need for communication is the meaning behind words. since that is what it comes down to fundamentally. In which case it does explain them. Psychology to the best of my knowledge explains reasonably well as to why people find things beautiful etc.
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    Please explain to me, the lack of evidence and logic behind the census which explains the birthplace of Jesus.
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    (Original post by miser)
    What changed is that I began to question my beliefs instead of assuming them to be correct - what changed is that I decided I would give equal and honest hearing to the arguments against my position rather than just those for it. My faith was doomed after that.
    THANKS FOR THAT! The way you way you say that is suggesting that everyone who is a Christian currently is mindlessly following... not people who have ever studied or thought through the arguments. I've questioned my beliefs in great depth and certainly found them in no way wanting... and so have many hundreds of thousands of people.

    I studied history and can say that from what I've seen the historical side of it is SO compelling... many scientists would hold strongly to claims made within the bible and see it being very compatable... I know either we are right or you are right... but I certainly don't think faith is doomed when you look into it!

    Matt

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