The 2nd Great Christian Argument | INFJ Forum

The 2nd Great Christian Argument

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, Nov 30, 2008.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I went across the internet and asked probably dozens upon dozens of Christians the same simple question...

    Why would you let a 2,000 year old book dictate your morality?

    Many simply answered they chose to because they could. Others said they accept it purely on faith. Some argued that they accept it based on subjective experiences, such as how they were raised, miracles they had seen in life, or how their life had improved by accepting the faith. Some chose to accept it because they feared what would happen if they rejected it and were wrong. Others chose to accept it because they felt they couldn't deal with the "despair" of a world without God. Some couldn't even conceive of world consisting of morals without the Bible.

    After a long, long while I came across some Christians who provided what I consider to be the four arguments of Christianity which serve to some as proof of its authenticity.

    Argument #1

    The Empty Tomb

    If there was not an empty tomb, then the Roman soldiers would have simply provided a body and crushed Christianity long before it could spread.

    Argument #2

    Extra Biblical Historians

    Some ancient non Christian historians have made accounts of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Many of these historians were largely skeptics of Christianity and made arguments against it which have been used as tacit proof of Christ's existence. Some of these historians were Thallus, Tacticus, Serapion, Pliny the Younger, Suetonis, and Josephus.

    Argument #3

    The Disciples

    The argument is often made, that the disciples would not go out into the world where they would face persecution and death, and preach a lie.

    Argument #4

    The Prophecies

    It is argued that Jesus fulfilled certain prophecies established in the Old Testament for the Messiah.

    Keep in mind that these four arguments are the total sum of Christian logic as proof of the authenticity of the religion. For around 2,000 years, the entire Christian faith has rested on these premises, and for nearly 2,000 years, the most scholarly Christians have sharpened these arguments for the sake of defending their faith.

    I'll let anyone who wants to challenge these tenets do so before I come in with my own insights as to the shortcomings of these arguments. I only ask that anyone who comments in this thread remains civil and tolerant, regardless of whether you are Christian or not Christan.
     
    #1 Satya, Nov 30, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  2. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    This should prove interesting.
     
  3. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    They don't get their morals from the bible.
     
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  4. OP
    Satya

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    Huh? :m075:
     
  5. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    It's a good point certainly. I've never known many Christians who act with the morals of Jesus. Only my grandfather (an INFJ), and a Jehovas Witness guy I met.
     
  6. OP
    Satya

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    Oh! I've heard that argument before. Usually from moderate Christians shunning fundamentalist Christians. For example....

     
  7. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    Moderate christians don't tend to follow what jesus said either. They tend to think acting politely and obeying the government makes them good christians.
     
  8. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    The bible is morally contradictory, wherever they get there morals from it isn't the bible (or they must be very confused).
     
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  9. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    I wouldn't say the Bible (specifically the New Testament, since you say 2,000 years old) dictates my morality to a great extent. I believe the basics of morality are instinctual, and most have clear evolutionary advantages to explain their innateness. The Bible is therefore redundant on many of these points, and we already have a knack for determining whether the moral advice found in the Bible makes sense.

    Your question doesn't segue well to the arguments you list, anyway. The arguments are for the authenticity of the historical accounts of Jesus's life in the Gospels, and do not translate to arguments for the correctness of Jesus's moral teachings, or even for the validity of the rest of the Bible. Considering the convoluted history of the assembly of the Bible, I don't think that the arguments extend properly to cover much beyond the Gospels themselves.

    I would add the many cases of claimed "personal experience," including some presumed miracles witnessed by crowds, such as the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Even the Shroud of Turin provides an intriguing, though not essential bit of evidence.
     
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  10. OP
    Satya

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    I was actually quite surprised that nobody took the route you suggested. Namely to argue that Jesus's teachings were correct. Probably because of the way I phrased the question. I was asking them about the book, not the teachings. When the topic has been broached, it becomes quickly evident that most of the ideas Jesus taught had existed for hundreds of years before him. Concepts like to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" were first recognized by thinkers like Aristotle. All too conveniently to be coincidence, much of the New Testament's teleological conception of design and purpose follow the naturalistic theories ascribed to Aristotle. Take for example, Paul's gender role arguments which have lead to the greatest headache when it comes to topics like homosexuality and feminism.

    That of course leads to a question of the Bible's authenticity. When you are trying to argue metaphysical naturalistic points of view, but people argue that the teleological point of view is the "correct" and "ordained by God" point of view, you are forced to contend with the authenticity of the source that makes that argument.

    Personal experience falls under subjective evidence, and that has little to do with objectively determining the authenticity of the Bible or why some people choose to use it as the primary means of determining their morality. Awhile ago, a good share of people in a town called Salem personally experienced the presence of the devil and witchcraft. They witnessed, sometimes in groups, things that did not actually happen or were not supernaturally caused. Mass hysteria and collective hallucination from naturally occurring events are not uncommon in human history.
     
    #10 Satya, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  11. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    Let's get this straight then: you are looking to debate/debunk the four main arguments that you listed, and the question about morality is more a launching pad than the focus of your arguments. Correct?
    I await your comments on the four arguments.
     
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    Satya

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    The question was the launching pad. I wanted to know why people would let an ancient book dictate their morality. The answer I tended to receive was that the Bible is the infallible word of God and thus any other point of view is inferior and wrong. So in order to argue the merit of my own position, I first have to argue that the Bible is not the infallible word of God. The only way to really do that is by challenging its authenticity.

    Normally I would do so by citing the history of Christianity and the violence and oppression over the centuries instilled by the religion in order to demonstrate the calamity and tragedy of "God's will". However, most Christians simply reply, "Well those weren't true Christians." A rather convenient way to rewrite history.

    So since I can't argue the fruits of the religion, I am forced to challenge its origins. Hence the four arguments and why I intend to point out their shortcomings. It would be virtually impossible to debate/debunk them since they have a 2,000 year history of facing scrutiny and are still in use today. So this really only amounts to a discussion of a 2,000 year old argument. In essence, this is the limit by which I can critically analyze this topic without adopting the theology to argue the theology.

    I already have my scrutinies typed up from earlier discussions. I simply want to see if people can come to the same conclusions that I did.
     
    #12 Satya, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  13. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    there's arguing the fruits, arguing the origins, and of course, you COULD argue the doctrine.
     
  14. OP
    Satya

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    It is hard to argue the doctrine without adopting the theology to argue the theology. Doing so tacitly implies that you accept the Bible, but just have a different interpretation of it. From experience, I can say that a good share of Christians will simply dismiss you as being "closed minded" or "uninformed" if you try to discuss doctrine from outside the context the theology's point of view. As some Christians seem to like to put it, "You don't know what I believe, so we have nothing to discuss."

    It may just be me, but I often sense a great deal of malice coming from the Christian religion. As if some Christians can't rest until they have instilled fear, guilt, or humility in everyone who doesn't share their point of view. I think it is often reflected through my own writing on the topic.
     
    #14 Satya, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
  15. Shai Gar

    Shai Gar Guest

    I've been able to argue the doctrine with jehovas witnesses without them kicking up a stink about it.
     
  16. Morpheus

    Morpheus Community Member

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    My take as an atheist to those arguments:


    Yes it'd certainly seem like that. If there was no empty tomb you'd think that these followers of christ would be ridiculed and even hunted. At least untill a time would come when the local rulers (romans in this case) would find it beneficial for them to unite the people under a common belief system. Oh wait, that's exactly what happened. Only long after the supposed resurrection was christianity really taken seriously outside a small, cultish circle of people.

    Josephus's authenticity is very questionable. The historical Josephus was not a christian, yet this supposed document of his describes Jesus as the true messiah and a wise man ("if it be lawful to call him a man") who performed many miracles. This is not a non christian source, and it is most likely a forgery.

    Other historians mentioned merely mention "christ" (which, as far as I can remember, means "The anointed one", nothing more.)


    People do things like this all the time. This argument presumes things about human nature that simply are not true. There have always been cult leaders widely regarded as crazy. Surely you wouldn't accept this as an argument from people who see UFOs and speak to fairies on daily basis?

    Also, the Disciples coud have been mistaken, they were just people.

    It truly is a mystery. How would it ever be possible to write a book in which the main character fulfills profecies established in another, way older book.


    But seriously, I don't believe biblical morals dictate anyone's world view nowdays. Some christians believe they get their morals from the bible, but they are still cherrypicking only the nice parts (haven't seen many stonings in western world lately), and to do that you need another source for morals, since you need an opinion of right and wrong to be able to choose between good and bad parts.
     
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    #16 Morpheus, Dec 1, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2008
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  17. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Sorry for a bit of necro on the thread here!


    A very good question to ask them. Morality can easily be achieved through a secular argument...and a secular argument has the added advantage of being revisable as the ages progress. When an omnipotent being that threatens to send you to hell is in charge, you really can't revise!


    An empty tomb proves little...only that the body wasn't where they thought it should be (100 other reasons...more believable ones...that it could have been empty). Just because it coheres with the argument that Jesus raised from the dead doesn't mean that he actually did.

    Plus, I doubt the Roman soldiers had any clue that Christianity would dominate Europe just a few hundred years later!


    I'm not knowledgeable on these historians, or really the history of the time outside the happens of just a few years earlier (Julius Caesar, his death, and the war between Augustus and Mark Antony), but from what I've heard, no extra-biblical historian actually documented anything about a Jesus of Nazareth's actual life, only the following he gathered afterwards.

    You INFJs understand how corrupt people can be from what I understand! There's many psychological reasons why they would have gone into the world.

    Plus, the Buddha's disciples went forth and preached what happened with him, and several other religions claim the same thing. Can't Buddhists claim that Buddhism is the right religion and the Buddha ascended into Nirvana, etc, for the same reason?

    Once again, coherence =/= causality. Just because he seemed to fulfill some (vaguely stated and easily interpreted in many different ways) prophesies...which he could of gone out of his way to purposely understand those prophecies and then do them anyways...doesn't mean he's the person described in the Old Testament as being the savior.


    I in no way mean to be hateful at all of Christianity, and completely respect the views of Christians, but the religion has a lot of gaps and philosophical problems in my point of view. My favorite being that you can't understand God's ways, but somehow we can understand what he wants from us and that he is omnipotent/omniscient, etc. The entire concept of God seems very counter-intuitive (not the psychological intuitive!) when you look at the world.
     
    #17 Duty, Dec 24, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2008
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  18. efromm

    efromm Hiding In My Shell...
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    Your arguing with faith. Faith is a lie. It's what others tell you to believe until you build your own faith based on what others think. Faith is a dangerous thing because it makes people believe their own lies. How many people have been persecuted because of that faith? On both sides. We have many records other than the bible that contradict each other. And can be stretched to make truth. Christians are just closer to the Jews than they want to admit. And I would argue that Christians get their morality from the jews. If you look at their moral background it is very simmiliar to christians.
    Arguing with church people is like arguing with a meth addict. Nobody believes what they say and they need their next fix. Spent my life arguing with people who hated me for my religion. People are the problem always have been.
    It seems that man likes to control other men. The bible and religion in general gives them that control over us and we let them. I always thought I was here to make mistakes and learn. If they only have four reasons you were talking to wanna bees. Get a real bible thumper on your ass. You better pack lunch and a dinner it's gonna be a long night.
     
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    #18 efromm, Dec 24, 2008
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  19. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    Satya, when were you going to continue with this?
     
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  20. OP
    Satya

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    I was demotivated since Marc did such a pretty good job of making the counterarguments. Duty has really pounded in the final nail. I might suggest the Swoon Hypothesis for the empty tomb argument. And when it comes to the disciples, I would add Jonestown as proof the kind of mentality that follows in a personality cult when it comes to what actions the disciples would have taken. But the extra biblical historians don't really talk about Jesus Christ when he was alive, or seem to refer to him indirectly. And when it comes to the prophecies, there seems to be just as much evidence to suggest that the New Testament was written to make it look like Jesus conicided with them as there is that he actually did.
     
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