Reddit reviews: The best christian bibles

We found 34,000 Reddit comments discussing the best christian bibles. We ran sentiment analysis on each of these comments to determine how redditors feel about different products. We found 11,418 products and ranked them based on the amount of positive reactions they received. Here are the top 20.

Top Reddit comments about Christian Books & Bibles:

u/TooManyInLitter · 2 pointsr/atheism

> How did you come to the conclusion that God doesn't exist?

The person making a positive claim assumes the burden of proof. Your Christian friend rejected the null hypothesis that {supernatural deities exist} and accepted the alternate hypothesis that {supernatural deities exists}. What evidence is there to support/justification of the null hypothesis and accept the alternate?

Ask your friend to please present the reasons they believe in the God Horus. If you have evidence to support Horus as your God, evidence that is verifiable and falsifiable, or a philosophical argument that can actually be shown to be linked to a natural physicalistic causality-limited universe, evidence that is not an emotional or feeling based subjective experience based upon confirmation bias from prior knowledge of what your "God" image may be, please feel free to present it.

How is that justification for belief in Horus coming along?

I don't think the Christian believes in Horus. And this is the basis for the atheism worldview.

It's not so much the evidence that one can provide (unless you will accept the 'lack of evidence' as evidence) for atheism. Rather it is such an overwhelming lack of any credible evidence that one can identify, or is put forth by others, to support a belief in supernatural deities. One cannot justify rejection of the null hypothesis that {supernatural deities do not exist} and accept/justify/support the alternative hypothesis that {supernatural deities do exist}.

It is possible to argue that this same position can be used for a theist to justify their belief structure over other differing theistic positions, as many theists claim that they believe based upon a feeling or emotion and/or have Religious Faith (i.e., religious belief without evidence) that supernatural deities are real and that their religious belief in supernatural deities is correct.

However, this position of Religious Faith for their own religious worldview is often the same reason they do not subscribe or believe in many other theistic worldviews - there is no evidence to support belief in the supernatural deities of other religious worldviews; they do not have Faith in other supernatural deities. For example, do adherents to any of the following example supernatural deity triads accept or propose belief in the existence of the other triads listed to which they do not have Religious Faith (or belief without evidence)?

  • Egyptian: Osiris, Isis, Horus<br />
  • Canaanite – Early Israelite: El the Father God, Asherah the Wife/Consort (depicted as a Serpent), Baal-Hadad
  • Hindu Trimurti: Brahma - the Creator, Vishnu - the Maintainer, Shiva - the Destroyer
  • Olympian Greek Religion: Zeus, Athena, Apollo
  • Roman Capitoline Triad: Jupiter, Juno, Minerva
  • Sumerian: Anu, Ea, Enlil
  • Babylonian: Shamash, Ishtar, Tammuz
  • Christianity: Yahweh, Holy Spirit, Jesus

    Related statement concerning the belief in "God": We are all functionally atheists, there just is no evidence to justify support of one, or more, (depending on mono- vs. poly-theistic beliefs) supernatural deity(ies) than a Christian, a theist does.

    &gt; Return and repent before its too late. Death may be around the corner...

    Pascal's Wager? But let's take that self-serving piece of shit statement at face value - What is the purpose of an infinite eternity in Heaven?

    Why? Or better, why strive for Heaven?

    What is Heaven? According to Christianity, heaven is the purpose of all things. Heaven is the reason we live. Heaven is the reason Christ came and the reason he died for our sins. Heaven is the motivator of all of the apostles. Nothing is more important than heaven. Family, love, money, all of these things come second to heaven. [Source]


    What is the purpose of Heaven? Heaven is life in its perfected state. We, as creatures of God, are not designed to live in an imperfect world. We are designed to live in a world free from the corruption of sin. We are designed to live in the presence of God where we are free to worship, socialize, and discuss. This life is only a temporary existence. Heaven is where we can exist forever. The day heaven’s gates are opened is the day we begin our lives, not here on earth. The purpose of heaven is to provide a place for us to live. [Source]


    What is the purpose of living for eternity in a perfected state with God? In a perfected state with God to provide all it would be Eternally Perfect (and ultimately, Undifferentiated) Bliss, all there is to be known would become known; eternal life in Heaven would quickly become static, unchanging, unremarkable and boring spent in worship of God. Eternal life is ultimately pointless and without merit.

    The real question is: Ultimately, what is the difference between heaven and hell?

    Nothing. Against an infinite eternity, Heaven and Hell are interchangeable.


    Here are some suggestions for Christian debate topics:

  • The actions attributed to God in the bible are all of a positive morality
  • Yahweh is and always been the one and only true God
  • The purpose of an infinite eternity in heaven and why that purpose is good for those in heaven
  • Evidence to support the mind-body dualism of a soul
  • Evidence to support that the Christian God is the creator of the universe and still intervenes within the universe in a meaningful way
  • Present a coherent definition of God and show how free will is possible (or impossible) under that construct
  • Evidence to support the resurrection of Christ that is non-Biblical
  • Why has prayer never resulted in the healing of an amputee to include at least one healed and fully finctional bone joint?
  • How the conclusion of the parable of the Ten Minas concludes with a positive morality:

    Luke 19:27 But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them — bring them here and kill them in front of me.

  • Genesis 3 (if you are a Genesis literalist) - Justify Christian morality against the Serpent (or Adversary) giving humankind morality (knowledge of good and evil) when God/Yahweh had decreed that humankind was not to have morality (forbid humans to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil).
  • Why the divine or inspired word of God and Christ and the Spirit was so directed and appropriate for a small low-population tribe of desert dwellers with it's late bronze age/early iron age society applies to today's society.
  • Why the overwhelming majority of Christians, in the one true religion for the one true and only God, seem to be only located in geo-political-socio-groups that they were born, and indoctrinated, into rather than distributed throughout other regions where other religions are prominent.
  • Does God have free will?
  • Why worship a God, Yahweh/YHWH, as the one true and only mono-theistic God when all historical documentation shows that Yahweh did not start out as anything more than a subordinate desert rain/fertility/warrior god to the Canaanite/Ugarit people that would later become known as Israelites (and hence to Jews and from there Christians and Muslims). During the period that Genesis and Exodus (1450-1410 BCE'ish) were (supposedly) being written, represented a time when the religion of the region was still in convergence, differentiation and displacement (synthesis and syncretism) of the polytheistic triad of the most prominent Canaanite and Ugarit Gods: El (the father God), Asherah (goddess, wife or companion to El), and Baal (storm/rain God, son of El) [though there is reference in Ugarit documents to Yahweh also being one of the sons of El] to the monolatry of the storm/rain God Yahweh and from there to monotheistic worship where Yahweh took the supreme position. References to Gods that predate, and are contemporary to, Yahweh can be found throughout the old testament.

    More online references with discussion the origin of the monotheistic God of Israel:

  • Israelite Religion to Judaism: the Evolution of the Religion of Israel
  • The Origins and Gradual Adoption of Monotheism Amongst the Ancient Israelites
  • The evolution of God
  • Ugarit and the Bible


  • The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel by Mark Smith
  • The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts by Mark S. Smith
  • A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam by Karen Armstrong
  • The Religion of Ancient Israel (Library of Ancient Israel) by Patrick D. Miller
  • Religions of Ancient Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches by Ziony Zevit

u/WorkingMouse · 2 pointsr/Christianity

&gt;Not familiar as I probably ought to be. I know that there were other homo species -possibly at the same time as humans. I think I heard something about interbreeding at some point, but maybe that was just speculation?

To be honest, I'm not exactly an expert on the specifics. However, Wikipedia provides as always - If the article and the numerous citations are to be believed, they're considered separate species as mitochondria genetic data (that I could explain further if you like) shows little significant breeding. However, there is indeed some evidence of limited interbreeding.

&gt;This is fascinating stuff!

I'm glad you like it!

&gt;To clarify: do all the primates share the same mutation which is different from the mutation in other creatures, ex. guinea pigs?'

Precisely! Mind you, I believe there are a few changes which have accumulated since divergence (since if they don't need the gene once it's "off", further mutations won't be selected against), but the crucial changes are indeed the same within primates - and those within guinea pigs are the same within guinea pigs and their nearby relatives (I believe), but different from those from simians. Amusingly, because mutations occur at a generally steady rate, the number of further divergences between the pseudogenes (no-longer-functional genes which resemble working copies in other organisms) in different species will give hints at how long ago those species had a common ancestor (this, and related calculations, are termed the "genetic clock").

Nifty, isn't it?

&gt;I guess I don't see why it would be demeaning to be patterned after other homo species which were adapted to the environment we would inhabit. Maybe I'm way off here, but it seems like the case for common ancestry could also point to a common creator. (obviously it is outside the bounds of science to consider that possibility, but philosophically, it might have merit?)

I have indeed heard that before; the suggestion of a common creator as opposed to common descent is a fairly common suggestion, pardon the pun. The typical arguments against fall first to traits which can be considered "poor design" in pure engineering terms, even if they're traits that are now needed. I can point to the genetic baggage of the human eye compared to that of the cephelopod (nerve fibers over vs. under the retina), or the human back (not great for walking upright), or further traits along those lines which suggest that we're still closer to our origins. Indeed, we can also look at things like the pseudogene involved with vitamin C above as unnecessary addons; genetic artifacts which hint at our descent.

While this additional argument, I will grant, is better at addressing general creation then special human creation, we can also look at repeated motifs. For example, the same bones that form our hand also form a bird's wing, a whale's flipper, a dog's paw, a horse's hoof, and all the other mammalian, reptile, and avian forelimbs - though sometimes you need to go to the embryo before you see the similarity. When taken alone, that may suggest either evolution or design; it would make sense for a creator to reuse traits. It becomes more stark when you consider examples that should be similar - for example, the wings of the bat, bird, and pterodactyl, despite using the same bones, have vastly different structures, despite all being used for the same purpose (that is, flight).

The way that my evolutionary biology professor phrased this is that "design can explain this, but cannot predict it; evolution both explains and predicts." This idea - that natural observations may be explained or excused (begging your pardon) in a creation model, but are what are expected from an evolutionary model - is the major point I wish to make in this regard. And, I shall admit, perhaps as close as I can get to "disproving" special creation; it tends to approach unfalsifiability, if I understand it correctly.

&gt;If I recall correctly, this is the position of Francis Collins / BioLogos. It's possible, but I have a few concerns. The first being that I think animals do have souls. If that's correct, ensoulment doesn't help make sense of the theology.

Yup; ensoulment as special is less compatible in that case.

&gt;It would also mean that (at least at some point) there were other creatures who were genetically equal to human beings, but didn't have souls. Cue slave trade and nazi propaganda -they're human, but they aren't people. It would have been possible (probable?) that ensouled humans would breed with the soulless humans -and that just seems . . . squicky.

Point taken; even if you were to claim ensoulment for all humans existing at a specific point and thereafter, there can be...negative connotations.

&gt;So, for now, it's a possibility, but it seems to be more problematic than special creation.

To be perfectly frank, I'm not really equipped to argue otherwise. As an atheist, my tendency is to end up arguing against ensoulment, as it's not something we can really draw a line at either. Still, I figured I'd put it out there; I'm a little delighted at your dissection of it honestly, as you brought up things I'd not yet considered.

&gt;Like I said, the genetics is fascinating, and I am naive to much of it. Short of becoming a geneticist, could you recommend a good book on the subject of human genetics and common descent? I took basic genetics in college, so I was able to follow the discussion about chromosomes, telomeres, etc. But I would like to know more about the discoveries that have been made.

Oooh, that's a rough question. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful question, but I rarely read books aimed at laymen dealing with my specialty; most of my information comes from text books, papers, and profs, if you take my meaning. Which in the end is a way for me to provide my disclaimer: I can provide recommendations, but I've generally not read them myself; sorry.

Having said that, I'm not about to discourage your curiosity - indeed, I cannot laud it highly enough! - and so I shall do what I can:

  • Why Evolution is True is the one I generally hear the best things about; due to the possible audience, it is partially written as a refutation of intelligent design, but it also gives a lovely primer on evolutionary science - and compared to some of Dawkins's texts, it's more focused on the evidence.
  • I have a copy of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters on my bedside table right now - largely unread, I'm afraid. Basically, it takes a peek at one gene from each of our chromosomes and explores its relevance and its evolutionary history. It's by no means comprehensive; we have hundreds of thousands of genes, and it looks at twenty-three. None the less, It's been an interesting read thus far.
  • Similarly, Your Inner Fish explores the human form, and where it comes from; it looks at various structures in the human body and draws evolutionary parallels; this one is more heavily focused on common descent in relation to humans.

    I think I'll hold off there for the moment. The latter two are focused more on humans, while the former is about evolution in general. I'm sure there are more books I could recommend - Dawkin's The Greatest Show on Earth has been lauded, for example. I tried to stick with texts which were at a slightly higher level, not merely addressing the basics but delving a little deeper, as you noted you have a measure of familiarity already, and those which were related to humans. I hope they help!

    It's not an alternative to books, but Wikipedia does have a fair article on the topic (which I linked near the very top as well). And believe it or not, I do enjoy this sort of thing; you are more then welcome to ask more questions if and when they occur to you.
u/GunnerMcGrath · 3 pointsr/Christianity

First of all, I applaud your courage to seek the truth even if it leads you to a place that requires humility. God loves you and is clearly drawing you to himself! The word "faith" in the New Testament means "to be pursuaded by God." He is the one creating the desire and belief in you even as it develops, how cool is that?

Now, in reply to your comment, a lot of people have differing opinions of exactly what a "literal" interpretation even means. My best explanation would be to say that everything that the Bible says happened, actually happened, exactly as it says... regardless of whether the author of the passage actually meant for it to be taken literally.

A simple example:

Most of Jesus' teaching is through parables, or stories that have representative meaning. Sometimes he begins them "Suppose a woman has ten silver coins..." but sometimes he begins them like "There was a man who had two sons." Now, in my view, a literal interpretation of Jesus' teaching would be that this man and his sons actually existed, because of how he phrases it. But there is good reason to believe Jesus is making up this story to illustrate a point, and this would be generally understood by his audience, much like beginning a story "once upon a time" indicates that this is fiction, even though your literal words are saying that this story happened. Think about most fiction you read; rarely if ever does it explicitly state that it is fiction -- usually it just says this stuff happened and you are supposed to understand that it didn't.

So... there are parts of the Bible that are believed by many Bible scholars to have been written with the intent of teaching a principle but not to be a literal, historical record of fact. There are MORE parts of the Bible that are certainly standard written histories, and many of these stories have fantastic and miraculous elements. So I am not saying that you can't take the Bible at face value, because most of it is absolutely meant to be read that way.

But there are parts that are written about the beginning of the world, and for reasons I won't get into explaining here (you can research if you're interested), many who know this stuff better than you or I ever will are convinced that they were written to illustrate the truth that God is the creator of everything, but not written to describe exactly what his specific method and timeline was for creating. Similarly, there are visions people have of their future which are written in an extremely metaphorical way, much like dreams represent true ideas but not literal ones. When I dream of my teeth falling out, it means I'm stressed about something, but not specifically about my teeth falling out. So many of these predictions were not thought to be literal representations even by the people who had the visions or made the predictions.

The good news for you, as a person investigating faith, is that these interpretations do not really have to have significant impact on your journey at the moment. Your focus should be on the love of God for humanity, and the (historically factual/literal) accounts of Jesus' life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Get to know God and spend time reading the Bible, with the Holy Spirit guiding you, before you draw your line in the sand about what kind of interpretation you insist on being correct. That would be like me placing a million dollar bet on a baseball team to win the world series before I'd ever even seen a baseball game.

You have been given some good book recommendations already. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is an extraordinary book that spends a fair amount of time just pondering logically the likelihood that God exists at all. It gets more specifically into Christianity later in the book.

There are also two books by pastor Timothy Keller that you may enjoy: Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical and The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. These again are more about the arguments for and against God's existence which you may or may not need at this point in your journey.

But of course, the most important of all is simply the Bible. The Gospel of Mark may be a good place to start because it is a historical record of Jesus' life written for the Romans, and therefore explains a lot about the Jewish customs that they would not have understood. But any of the four gospels are a wonderful place to begin.

Enjoy your journey, and I encourage you to take that leap of faith and ask God to show you the truth, even if you are not yet sure he even exists. I would pray such a prayer every day, or every time you begin reading anything about God. He is already drawing you to himself but prayer is a practice that brings our wills into alignment with his, and so when we pray for things that he already wants to do, he tends to show up even more significantly so your faith will grow.

u/onemanandhishat · 1 pointr/TrueChristian

Bible Reading:

Most important thing when choosing a Bible: pick the one you'll read. It doesn't matter if you prefer it because of how the cover makes you feel, if that will make you read it, then that's fine.

Most issues with translations only kick in when you find passages that are hard to understand and you want a sense of what the original writer was saying. Then something like the NLT may be less useful, because it paraphrases more. The one thing I'd say is that I wouldn't recommend a full paraphrase version like The Message, because it has a lot of the writer's own interpretation. It has its value, but not for regular study.

If you want an easy to access but still good for Bible study translation, then the NIV is a widely used version. With your background in mind, howevr, the ESV might be usable for you. It's a widely respected translation that is considered good for serious study because it gets closer to the original language than the NIV, with some sacrifice for ease of reading. It's not something I'd necessarily recommend for someone new to Christianity, but given that you grew up in a Christian family, you might not find the vocabulary as daunting.

Regarding annotations: feel free to skip them. They are intended to aid understanding, but are not part of God's word. Therefore they are not essential reading, although if you want help understanding a passage they may be useful. If you find the length of the Bible challenging, you may want to consider a Bible reading plan - it will give you a structured approach that just makes it all feel a bit more manageable. If you want to manage the whole thing in a year (4 chapters a day), then try For The Love of God by Don Carson. If that's too much you could give one of these a try. One popular approach is to just alternate reading Old Testament and New Testament books (e.g. read through Matthew, then Genesis, then Mark, then Exodus etc), and then, because the New Testament is shorter, starting over while you go through the 2nd half of the Old Testament. That one's good because it doesn't matter how much you read each day to fit the plan. But reading plans are just a tool, if you want to just sit and read, that's also great, reading whole books in one go has its benefits even. Whatever works for you.

Other resources:

There are many, many Christian books available. But if you want a couple of easy recommendations try:

  • The Cross-Centered Life by CJ Mahaney, it's super short but nails the essentials of the Christian life. Likewise Humility: True Greatness by the same author, also short.

  • Mere Christianity by CS Lewis - it's a good one for the atheist mindset, as CS Lewis was very talented at explaining Christian ideas in a way that makes logical and philosophical sense.

  • Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Mike Reeves - I confess I haven't read this one myself, but I love the author and I've heard him speak on this topic, and it really opened my eyes to explain the Trinity, which is one of the most mind-bending Christian teachings, yet it changes everything in an amazing way. Really worth checking out. Can also send you a link to his talks on it, if you prefer an audio option. He does some great church history stuff that warms my heart as well. We can learn a lot from those who came before us, and can shed light on our struggles and encourage us with their wisdom.
u/OmegaPraetor · 6 pointsr/Catholicism

First of all, welcome back, brother. I am especially touched that your fiancée would even suggest to find a Catholic Church. (As an aside, you're not a convert; you're a revert since you're already baptized into the Church. I thought maybe you'd appreciate that factoid.)


&gt;I am looking for information about your Church, whatever you think is important to know.

There is a lot to know and many here would recommend a million and one things to study, especially since it sounds like you enjoy a good intellectual pursuit. I'm not going to discount others' recommendations, but I do want to highlight one thing: learn more about Jesus first. Find out what He taught, who He is, what His disciples and closest friends said about Him, what the Old Testament said about Him, etc. To that end...


&gt;I am looking for recommendations for a Catholic-approved version of the Bible, geared towards someone who appreciates philosophy and prefers something close to the original translations, or the most accepted by the Church.

First thing to note, all Catholic Bibles have 72 books. Protestants have 66. If you can't get a hold of a Catholic Bible, a Protestant one will do for now until you do get around to buying a Catholic one. Now, as for Catholic Bibles, if you speak/read Latin you can't go wrong with the Vulgate Bible. It's a Bible that was translated by St. Jerome who was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; he had the original manuscripts -- some of which are lost to us today -- so his translations are widely accepted as authentic and faithful.

There's also the English version of the Vulgate Bible known as the Douay-Rheims. It's an almost word-for-word translation of the Latin so the English will sound archaic to our modern ears. It's not as frustrating as, say, reading Shakespeare but it's pretty close. I personally prefer (and currently use) a Douay-Rheims Bible that has the Clementina Vulgata beside it. It's essentially Latin and English side by side. You can find one here.

If want one with plain English, the New American Bible Revised Edition would suffice. (If you use this website, let me know. I have a discount code from my last purchase.)


&gt;I know nothing of the culture or norms of the Church, or what to expect as a new member.

One major rule to remember is that you can't receive Holy Communion until after you've gone to Confession. Given your situation, I would recommend setting up an appointment with a parish priest so he can give his full attention to you and your needs.


&gt;I do not know how to introduce myself to the congregation

There's usually no need to introduce yourself to the congregation since parishes tend to be big. If you would like to formally introduce yourself, however, give the parish priest a call and set up a meeting with him. It would also be a great chance to speak with him about your situation and get some pastoral guidance.


&gt;or tell a good Catholic church from a lesser one

Many here would recommend a more traditional parish. If that's not available, I'd say any Catholic church would do. If you're unsure about a particular church's standing, just give us the details on this sub. I'm sure someone here would be able to double check for you.


&gt;I know nothing of the Saints or the miracles, or what has been confirmed by the Church and what hasn't.

These are things you can learn later on. Focus on Jesus first. Rebuild your relationship with Him. Start with the basics; if you don't, you might burn yourself out. There is A LOT to learn about the Faith. Some say it's a lifelong endeavour. :P


&gt;I am also looking for a reading list to explore Catholic philosophy beyond those you typically encounter in standard philosophical reading, such as Aquinas or Pascal.

Hmmm... this depends on what sorts of things interest you. A good one that lightly touches on philosophy is Socrates Meets Jesus by Peter Kreeft (anything by this guy is pretty good, by the way).

A book that may be more pressing to your current situation is Why Be Catholic? by Patrick Madrid and Abraham Skorka, Why We're Catholic by Trent Horn, as well as Why I am a Catholic by Brandon Vogt. (They might need to work on a more original title, though :P) Since you have an Evangelical background, Crossing the Tiber by Steve Ray might be helpful (although it can be a bit dry; also, it mostly deals with the Church's teaching on Baptism and the Eucharist) as well as Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn.

You can never go wrong with classics such as a collection of C. S. Lewis' works, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, The Seven Story Mountain by Thomas Merton, and Confessions by St. Augustine.

If you want a historical examination of Jesus and the Early Church, a good place to start is The Case for Christ by Brant Pitre, The History of the Church: From Christ to Constantine by St. Eusebius, and The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin. I'd like to thrown in Jesus, Peter, and the Keys by Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren, and David J. Hess. This last one pertains to the Catholic claim regarding the papacy (and which I think is one of the strongest arguments in favour of the Catholic Church being the original one that the Lord founded).

Finally, there are YouTube channels you can follow/binge watch such as Bishop Robert Barron and Ascension Presents. Also, an amazing video about the Catholic Faith is a series made by Bishop Barron when he was "just" a priest called Catholicism.

I'm sorry if that's overwhelming but you raised some good questions. :P Anyway, I imagine it may be a lot right now so take it slowly, don't dive in through all of it at once. Find a local Catholic church, call up the priest, set up a meeting, then take it from there. And remember, you can always pray; God's always willing to talk with you.

u/amdgph · 0 pointsr/DebateReligion

You're throwing a bunch of stuff out there that I don't have the time to respond to at the moment. I'm about to go the gym then I'm going on a weekend trip. I'll just respond to your points quickly.

  1. It isn’t a God of the gaps argument. A God of the gaps argument is one that makes a gratuitous inference to God. Again, think the ancient pagans who used the gods to explain various natural phenomena they didn’t understand.

    This is completely different from the reasoning of the ancient Greeks (i.e. Aristotle), who using reason and observing reality, came to the conclusion of a prime mover; or Aquinas, who came to believe in the existence of pure actuality. Arguments from necessity, first cause, design, morality, etc -- all start from what we do know and conclude that God is the best explanation for certain features of the universe we observe.

    Take the Kalam Cosmological argument for example. The theist does not say “I don‘t know what caused the universe to exist so God did it”. Instead, he reasons about what it means to be a cause of the universe (i.e. spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused and powerful) and arrives at the conclusion that a being like God is the best answer.

  2. I'm telling you that we have very good reason to believe that the gospels are authentic and reliable accounts of Jesus' life. The internal and external evidence strongly point to the gospels being written by Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. For example, all manuscripts we possess correctly attribute these books to them. The writings of the Church fathers, Christian leaders who lived (mostly) in the generation succeeding the Apostles, are also unanimous about their authorship. Furthermore, the gospels also satisfy multiple criteria of historical authenticity such as early multiple attestation, dissimilarity, embarrassment, historical congruence and semitisms. Now, if the gospels are authentic and reliable accounts of Jesus' life then personally, that's game, set and match. The testimonies of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John strongly point towards a Christian conclusion and alternative naturalistic explanations fail to provide a reasonable, compelling and complete explanation of the events. If you want to go further and seriously look into this for yourself, I recommend reading N.T. Wright's magisterial study The Resurrection of the Son of God.

  3. They are still contingent beings within the universe. Again, totally different.

  4. The success of Epicurus' argument rests on God not having good reasons for allowing evil to exist. If God doesn't have good reasons for allowing evil to exist, then this argument disproves God's existence as all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good. However, if God does have good reasons for allowing evil to exist then that argument fails because it would show that God and the existence of evil are not logically contradictory.

    Anyway, I believe that God allows evil to exist in order to preserve our free will. Although free will makes good possible -- love, honesty, courage, selflessness and compassion, it also makes evil possible because it can be misused. In the end, in order to make good possible, trade-offs had to be made.

    As C.S. Lewis said on the subject:

    &gt;“God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong, but I can't. If a thing is free to be good it's also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating.

  5. Why is there a necessity for God? Gosh, I don't even know where to begin. I'll broaden that question to why I believe in God though and give you a quick answer. Let's just say that given the way things are in our universe and looking back at our history, I cannot not see a God behind it all.

  6. The same holds for the Christian God? Substantiate that claim, explain it in detail.

    I'd also want you to explain why/account for Christianity has considerable drawing power -- why so many atheists have and continue to convert to Christianity due to the weight of the evidence, be it philosophical, scientific or historical. Here's a quick laundry list of serious atheist intellectuals who converted to Christianity C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesteron, Alasdair Macintyre, Thomas Merton, Malcolm Muggeridge, Mortimer Adler, Edward Feser and Leah Libresco.

    I also wonder why Anthony Flew, the world's most influential atheist in the 20th century, converted to deism in 2004. Particularly, I wonder why he came to believe in the God of Aristotle, a God that possesses the attributes of immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence. I also wonder why he also ended up developing a great respect for the Christian religion saying:

    &gt;I think that the Christian religion is the one religion that most clearly deserves to be honoured and respected whether or not its claim to be a divine revelation is true. There is nothing like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like St. Paul…If you’re wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat (There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed his Mind, 185-186).

    and on the Resurrection...

    &gt;The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It's outstandingly different in quality and quantity (Flew Interview with Gary Habermas, 2004).

    Enlighten me.
u/MagicOtter · 21 pointsr/Catholicism

Former fedora atheist here. For a long time, I felt like I belonged to the "skeptical, rational, atheist" tribe. But at one point I became disillusioned with the crowd, and realized that I no longer want to be part of it. I started looking for alternatives, groups I'd want to be a part of, and I settled upon Catholicism. I first approached it from a purely secular perspective, as a serious and reliable institution. But I ended up accepting the faith and God as well.

Here's my progression, what drew me in more and more:

I. The intellectual life. I was always fascinated by science. It was interactions with promoters of dishonest creationism (usually evangelicals) that originally pushed me towards rejecting religion and to become a militant atheist.

Then I read a book that changed how I view the relation between Church and science: God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. I now follow @catholiclab and similar profiles on Twitter, which post interesting facts about Catholic scientists. It's simply astounding how this information is completely absent from contemporary popular culture.

II. Just on an emotional level, feeling "closer" to Catholics. It helped that my family is Catholic. On YouTube, I've watched many videos by Bishop Robert Barron, Fr. Mike. They are very lucid and reasonable in addressing contemporary issues. I'm sure there are many others.

I'm also reading biographies of martyrs who died persecuted in modernity by revolutionary ideologies. My TODO reading list includes books by Thomas Merton, Joseph Ratzinger, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.

III. The aesthetics. I'm subscribed on Twitter to profiles like @Christian8Pics which post a lot of inspiring imagery. Familiarity breeds liking. I also listen to music on YouTube: liturgy, Medieval chants, Mozart's Requiem, Byzantine chants (usually Eastern Orthodox).

All these sideways might seem very strange to a Catholic convert or someone raised Catholic who stayed Catholic. But if someone is immersed in a materialistic, mechanistic and atheistic worldview, there's no available grammar or impulse to even take God or the life of the Church into consideration.

IV. Actually knowing what theism is all about. The "god" dismissed by popular atheist debaters is a caricature of God as understood by classical theism and the actual tradition of the Church. So is the "god" argued for by Intelligent Design proponents, biblical literalists, fundamentalists.

I read 2 books by Edward Feser (Catholic) and David Bentley Hart (Eastern Orthodox) to finally become comfortable with this very simple point. The books I read are, in order:

By Edward Feser:

  • The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism

  • Aquinas (A Beginner's Guide)

    By David Bentley Hart:

  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies

  • [The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss] (https://www.amazon.com/Experience-God-Being-Consciousness-Bliss/dp/0300209355)

    Each author has his own biases, which might trip the reader up at times (Hart is biased against evolutionary psychology for some reason). But these books produced in me a fresh view of where to begin seeking for God. They gave me the confidence to proceed.

    Atheism always addresses "god" as if it's simply one entity among others, part of the natural world, for which one ought to find physical traces and then one simply "believes in the existence of god" (much like you'd believe there's a car parked outside your house, once you look out the window and observe it's there -- meaning it could just as well NOT be there).

    Creationists just muddy the waters with "god of the gaps" and "Paley's watch" style theories, which simply postulate "god" as an explanation for why this or that aspect of the natural world is a certain way, a tinkerer god which molds the physical world into shape, or which created it at some point in the past.

    This has nothing to do with how God is presented by the authors I quoted, and they go to great lengths to make this point.

    I started by understanding that there needs to be an ultimate answer to certain metaphysical questions which, by definition, can't have a physical answer (e.g. "why does there exist a physical world in the first place?"). There's a qualitative difference between physical questions and metaphysical ones, and the gap simply can't be breached by adding more layers of physicality. Hart makes this point very well (he differentiates between the Demiurge that deists, atheists and creationists discuss, and God as the "necessary being" of classical theism).

    The ultimate metaphysical cause is "necessary" because it's simply a necessity for the physical world to have a non-physical cause which keeps it in existence. If the only thing that existed was a quantum field that didn't produce any particles, or a single proton that always existed and will always exist, the "necessity" would be exactly the same. Nothing would change even if it turned out our Universe is part of a Multiverse.

    Then, through reasoning, one can deduce certain characteristics of this ultimate answer, which ends up forming the classical theistic picture of God as a "necessary being" which continuously creates every aspect of the physical universe. Feser is very good at explaining this part and especially at underlining how tentative and feeble our understanding of the unfathomable is. He also explains why it has to be a "being" rather than an unknown impersonal cause. It's a humbling experience.

    But as Bishop Robert Barron stated in his interview on the Rubin Report, philosophy only takes you halfway there. Looking back, the existence of God simply makes sense and is a no-brainer. Faith doesn't have to do with "accepting that God exists with no evidence". Faith is about what you do once you realize that the existence of God is an inescapable conclusion of rational thought. What do you do once you realize that He exists and is conscious of us? You have to go beyond the impersonal, and engage, interact. Here's where prayer, the liturgical life and spiritual exercises come into play.

    Unlike conversion, faith isn't a one-time historical event, it's a daily effort on one's part to drive one's thoughts towards the infinite and the ultimate cause of everything. This requires individual effort, but it is not an individual venture. One has the entire tradition and life of the Church to guide you: selfless persons who dedicated their lives to help people like you and me.

    Here's how Feser, in his "Last Superstition" book, describes the various ways of conceiving of God:

    &gt;To understand what serious religious thinkers do believe, we might usefully distinguish five gradations in one’s conception of God:

    &gt;1. God is literally an old man with a white beard, a kind if stern wizard-like being with very human thoughts and motivations who lives in a place called Heaven, which is like the places we know except for being very far away and impossible to get to except through magical means.

    &gt;2. God doesn’t really have a bodily form, and his thoughts and motivations are in many respects very different from ours. He is an immaterial object or substance which has existed forever, and (perhaps) pervades all space. Still, he is, somehow, a person like we are, only vastly more intelligent, powerful, and virtuous, and in particular without our physical and moral limitations. He made the world the way a carpenter builds a house, as an independent object that would carry on even if he were to “go away” from it, but he nevertheless may decide to intervene in its operations from time to time.

    &gt;3. God is not an object or substance alongside other objects or substances in the world; rather, He is pure being or existence itself, utterly distinct from the world of time, space, and things, underlying and maintaining them in being at every moment, and apart from whose ongoing conserving action they would be instantly annihilated. The world is not an independent object in the sense of something that might carry on if God were to “go away”; it is more like the music produced by a musician, which exists only when he plays and vanishes the moment he stops. None of the concepts we apply to things in the world, including to ourselves, apply to God in anything but an analogous sense. Hence, for example, we may say that God is “personal” insofar as He is not less than a person, the way an animal is less than a person. But God is not literally “a person” in the sense of being one individual thing among others who reasons, chooses, has moral obligations, etc. Such concepts make no sense when literally applied to God.

    &gt;4. God as understood by someone who has had a mystical experience of the sort Aquinas had.

    &gt;5. God as Aquinas knows Him now, i.e. as known in the beatific vision attained by the blessed after death.

    What I've been talking about is at #3. Atheists and creationists are debating #1 and #2. #4 is a gift to be accorded by grace, and is what people strive for in their spiritual life. #5 is the ultimate goal of the Christian life.
u/Repentant_Revenant · 4 pointsr/TrueChristian

The "problem" you seem to have is something that every Christian on earth struggles with - the disconnection between knowing something in your head and knowing it in your heart.

This is something I struggle with - there's a stark difference between being intellectually convinced of the existence of God and actually feeling like He exists.

There's a difference between knowing "Yeah, yeah, God loves me." And actually feeling the incalculable, unrestrained love of God.

There's a difference between knowing theologically that you're forgiven and actually feeling forgiven.

It's a difficult hurdle. Fortunately, God is there to help you.

God sends the Holy Spirit to us so that we can experience the presence of God, so that our knowledge of Him can drop down from our head to our heart.

For a long time, I sought an experience. I'm an extreme skeptic, so I'm always incredibly doubtful of any of the miraculous stories I hear from others. At the same time, it's because of this doubt that I so desperately wanted to experience God for myself.

I decided that, if I were to take God seriously, I would need to do whatever I could on my end to "press into" God and leave the rest up to Him. This meant that I would go to the front of the church during worship, or ask people lay hands on me and pray for me. As a skeptic and an introvert, these were huge steps for me. And many times, I wouldn't have a tangible experience with God, and I would get disheartened.

However, there have been a number of times now when I really did have experiences with God.

God lives in you. You have the Holy Spirit inside you; Christ Himself lives in you. However, for whatever reason, God sometimes gives us strong, palpable experiences and awareness of His presence, whereas most of the time we're not aware.

As someone who was originally skeptical of the "charismas," or of personal encounters with God and His Holy Spirit, I now urge you to pursue relationship with God.

That means spending time in prayer. I grew up always praying in my head with my eyes open, because I knew that God could still hear my prayers. However, I've discovered more and more that the act of going in my room, closing the door, kneeling, and praying out loud is richly rewarding. That's how people prayed throughout the Bible. I think that it helps me to connect that I'm praying the God of the universe, rather than just thinking to myself and projecting my desires.

For me, personally, walks alone and in nature have brought me closer to God. I'm someone who's always been deeply affected by nature - even in my doubt, I see the hand of the Creator in His Creation. And some of my encounters with God have been when I've been on a walk alone, not in a church.

Nonetheless, Christian community is extremely important. The Bible affirms repeatedly the importance of the church. If you're not already, try to attend church regularly and get involved with a youth group. I'm incredibly introverted, and in high school I would have thought I'd never be involved in a social group like that. However, our desire to know God should be higher than our desire for personal comfort. We need Christian friends and community surrounding us - people who will love and encourage us, people we can confide our sins and struggles to, people who will pray for us.

Worship is also incredibly important. I didn't used to sing in church. In fact, I went to a Christian school, and I would often remain seated during chapel worship. I was a Christian, but I thought that worship just "wasn't the way I connected with God." I thought that other people who are into praise music can connect with Him that way, whereas I connect with Him in other ways. While it's true that some people connect to God through certain channels more than others, we are all called to worship. I was making worship about myself - What can I get out of it? - instead of it being about God. Ironically, the more you make worship about God and not about yourself, the more you're bound to actually get out of it. This is one of the radical truths of Christianity - the more you give up of yourself, the more you truly are yourself. The more you live for others and for God, the more you're truly alive. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Lastly, I must mention that good sermons and good books are really helpful, especially if your mind works similarly to mine. I mentioned in another comment Mere Christianity and The Reason for God - I consider them both must-reads for any Christian, but especially the one struggling with doubt. There are other good books, some specific to a particular doubt. (For instance, if your doubt has to do with the relationship between Christianity and science, then The Language of God is a must read.)

As far as sermons go, I really recommend Timothy Keller. If you have a smartphone or mp3 player, you can easily get podcasts for free.

I'll be praying for you. Feel free to PM me with any additional questions, or any particular doubts.

u/Jaagsiekte · 1 pointr/NoStupidQuestions

Humans are different in many respects but we also share a lot of conserved traits. For example, humans being mammals we, like all other mammals, produce milk to sustain our young, we also have hair/fur like other animals, and we also have internal reproductive organs including the uterus that we use to gestate out young. If you go back a little further you see that humans share a lot of characteristics with other animals - we all seem to have four limbs, two eyes, two nostrils, one heart, two kidneys, lungs, a liver, etc. We share all these things because all animals share a single common ancestor. That ancestor was a tetrapod species. Go back even further and you see that we share some pretty interesting and old traits that date back to our earliest common ancestor that was a vertebrate aquatic animal - thats why humans and fish both have backbones (vertebrae). You may be interested in the book Your inner fish, which was also made into a PBS documentary. "Why do we look the way we do? Neil Shubin, the paleontologist and professor of anatomy who co-discovered Tiktaalik, the “fish with hands,” tells the story of our bodies as you've never heard it before. By examining fossils and DNA, he shows us that our hands actually resemble fish fins, our heads are organized like long-extinct jawless fish, and major parts of our genomes look and function like those of worms and bacteria. Your Inner Fish makes us look at ourselves and our world in an illuminating new light. This is science writing at its finest—enlightening, accessible and told with irresistible enthusiasm."

But you are correct in your observation humans have a lot of unique characteristics, even among the primates. First we share a few of the traits that primates have - opposable thumbs, forward facing eyes, good colour vision, long gestations, few offspring per litter, and it takes a long time for us to reach sexual maturity. But we do know why we have some of our unique traits.

  1. Loss of hair: either hypothesized to be a adaptation to living in hot environments which enables use to cool or hypothesized to be a part of sexual selection (individuals with less hair were more likely to mate and so over generations humans became less hairy simply because thats what we thought was 'sexy') or it could be some combination therein.
  2. Bipedal stance: this one is a bit more tricky since the first bipedal apes evolved about 3-4 million years ago. Lucy is an australopithecine hominid that lived just over 3 million years ago and would walk on two legs. We also know that the upright stance preceded an increase in brain size by about 2 million years. So what drove Lucy, or Lucy's recent ancestors to become upright bipedal apes? It could be because the forests were receding and tall grasslands were taking over. Walking on two legs enabled us to see over the grass. It could be that walking upright freed our hands for other tasks like carrying, using, or making objects. Maybe there is a reason we just don't know about because this change occurred so many million years ago.

    Finally, our big brains even though they may seem like a single trait have enabled us to do things that no other species has been able to accomplish. It enabled us to diversify in a way that no other species could. Other species might have a few unique combinations that allow them to be really great at a few things but humans have taken another approach, be ok at a lot of things. We decided to take the "jack-of-all-trades" route...and there are a few other species that have taken this strategy as well. Most of these species are the ones that live right along side us as "pests" - rats, mice, racoons, pigeons, and crows are some great examples of species that have learned to do things a bit differently. Instead of focusing on one single skill or trait be good at a bunch of different things. This is especially important skill to have when you live in an environment that is rapidly changing. Species that live in stable environments are more likely to become very selective in what they do, what they eat, or how they live. But if you live in an environment where your food sources change rapidly, or the environment changes quickly then you best be able to deal with a bunch of different problems. Humans quickly became that species. The species that was able to exploit any habitat, the species that was able to eat just about any kind of food, the species that no longer was constrained by any particular ecosystem. We could go anywhere and do anything and we would survive. This comes at the cost of being very good at one thing, like swimming or flying.

    Finally one of the reasons why a single species can't be good at everything (e.g. why we can swim like a tuna, fly like a bird, dig like a vole, or run like a cheetah) is because each trait is a trade off and comes at some kind of cost. For example, in order to attain the mass of an elephant you need to able to eat tons of food each day, which simply isn't possible for an animal living in the Arctic where food is scarce. There is no single best species and you can't really create a super species either.
u/Aitikulta · 0 pointsr/RedPillWomen

Was it your SO? Was it your own choice?

We have 3 small children and I currently work full time in a nursing job. I was trying to do it all caring for my patients at work, being a mom, being a good wife, keeping up with the housework and all the kids activities and schooling. I found it was impossible to keep in top of it all and suffered a nervous breakdown a few months ago. My husband was the first to bring up me being a SAHM but I didn't initially want to as I was worried we wouldn't have all the vacations and frivolous things we currently can afford. My therapist then brought up the same thing and asked me if I was happy right now with my 1 vacation and year and frivolous things. The answer was no and neither are my kids and husband. We sat down and ran the numbers and we spend 50% of my salary on childcare and we were about to hire a maid so that would've taken more of my salary. The decision was easy.

How did it impact your life? Do you consider your financial stability is great on your SO's salary?

I'm not quitting for another 6 months, we need to make sure we have all our debts paid (credit card and line of credit) so all we will have is out mortgage. Things will be tight but the kids have been so happy since I've been off work. The house is in order, my husband only has to focus on his career and my kids can spend more time with me as I'm not struggling each night to get a days worth of chores (laundry, dishes, lunch and dinner making) done in a 2-3 hour period. Vacations are off the table as are pricey meals out and things like mani-pedis, but at the end of the day my marriage is stronger and so is my relationship with my precious children. Yes our finances are strictly on my husband but when the kids are older and don't need me as much we have talked about me getting a part time job that I can do when they are in school and still be home to pick them up from the bus.

Do you have any concerns about the future?

The future is never a given so I am trying to do the best by family and husband that I can in the present. If finances or health scares caused me to need to work again, I would in a heartbeat but for now this is the best for husband and kids.

Please tell me a bit about your experiences.

I head back to work in a few weeks and I'm dreading it but I have an end game in sight and a wonderful husband who supports me. He loves that I'm currently at home. He said coming home to a happy wife, clean home and happy kids is the best feeling as it makes him going to work worth it.

My biggest fears about staying at home are:

-SO meets another woman who contributes financially

I think this is a common fear for SAHW because their spouse us surrounded by other women 24/7. If you're keeping up with the housework and other necessities, taking care of yourself physically and mentally and are satisfying him physically I don't think there's anything to worry about. He chose you because of who you are as a person and if you keep up your end of the bargain he will too.

-SO leaves me and I have no savings /work experience

The future is never certain but if you trust him to marry him and he the same to you I think you will be fine. You just need to keep working on yourself and the house like it's your job, because it is. Don't fret over maybes, or you will drive yourself crazy. If he's a good man he will take care of you.

-Be poor

Money may be tight and that's a real consideration but if you are both smart with your spending and have a budget than it won't be that bad trust me. I highly recommend Dave Ramseys book "The Total Money Makeover" it changed our lives. I also can't say enough about Dr.Lauras book "In Praise of Stay at Home Moms".

Links to both books (both has a slight religious slant but as an agnostic I had no issue)



u/Optimal_Joy · 1 pointr/DebateAChristian

Love is the single most important Universal Truth that is common to all of humanity. Everybody is born innocent and pure, with the capacity to Love. We are NOT born as sinners. We only become sinners once we develop an ego. Children are NOT sinners. The whole purpose in life is to learn to suppress the Ego and become like an innocent child again. This is the whole point of the example that Jesus gave us. The new testament presents God as Love.

The most important thing in the Bible, the main message of the Bible is this:

Matthew 22:36-40
New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The very fact that I'm writing this message to you and you are reading this message of Love, is all the proof you need that God exists and is real. "God" wants you to know, that all that matters is Love. Keep Love in your heart, make every decision in your life based on Love. Agnosticism is based upon fear, the polar opposite of Love. Choose Love, man, just choose Love!!! This message of Love, has been brought to you directly for you, from God. This is not a joke. In this very moment, as you are reading this, God has touched you and wants you to know that God is within your heart at this very moment, with you, right now and always is there, no matter what, all you have to do is remember that God is Love. So any time you feel Love for another person, be it your parents, relatives, friends or anybody, that is God shining through YOU. Any time you receive Love from another person, that is God. That is all that God is, it's very simple and pure. This is the basis of Christianity, if you have Love in your heart, then you are being like Jesus Christ. Don't let other people over-complicate it for you with religious dogma, traditions and other fundamentalist nonsense.

Just as you have no doubt that Love is Truth, believe that God is Truth, because they are One and the same exact thing. If you have Love in your heart, then you have God in your heart. "God" is just another word for "Love". Don't get stuck on the semantics.

What is the absolute proof of Love? Can science detect Love? If so, then it can detect God.

Alcohol is only "evil" if used to an excess. Lots of things can be evil. Ethanol has lots of valuable and useful purposes. You can use it to disinfect a wound (painful, but effective), mouthwash, gargle, soothes a sore throat, in small, infrequent quantities there are health benefits. "Evil" is merely an intention to do harm. Anything can be used for "evil". A screwdriver is just a tool, you can use it for good or you can stab someone in the neck with it, if the intention is to be evil, then it's evil, if you are defending your life, then even killing another person isn't evil. So you need to be aware of the context, and the intention behind things and actions.

Why Christianity? Because Jesus gave us a perfect example of how we should live our lives, full of Love and compassion towards others. That is not to say that all other religions are wrong. In fact, there is much spiritual Truth, knowledge, and wisdom to be learned from other religions. For an intelligent person such as yourself, you can find a lot of valuable answers from the teachings of Buddhism, for example, which is NOT in any way in conflict with being a Christian. Buddha was a very enlightened master and you will find great peace in reading about him.

The Old Testament is loaded with crap, throw most of it out if you want. That's not at all representative of what God is according to Jesus Christ.

As a Biomedical Engineering major it is CRUCIAL that you read this book:

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins
If you don't know who the author is, check this out:

Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950), is an American physician-geneticist, noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project (HGP). He currently serves as Director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to being appointed Director, he founded and was president of the BioLogos Foundation.

Here is another book:

The God Theory: Universes, Zero-point Fields, And What's Behind It All

[Video] The God Theory

Now do you believe that if you ask God for answers, they will be given to you? Is this not the proof you wanted? How can you deny that you've asked and now you've received? You can't deny it. You asked God to prove that he is real to you and this is it, right here, right NOW.

u/TweaktheReaper · 7 pointsr/latterdaysaints

I am listening to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity right now and in it he goes over exactly this. Basically he says that saying one should do something because it's "good for society" or because it's "nice" is redundant and gets someone absolutely nowhere when trying to explain why someone ought to do or be something.

Instead this commandment to be good goes back to two things: The first is that God and Christ are good and all knowing, so when they ask you to do something it isn't as though they haven't thought through "why". And secondly, because God and Christ are good and something of them is within us (made in His image, as it goes) then that means there is something good within us that is worth respecting and nurturing because it is divine in nature. I like to call that goodness empathy, because without it we lack the ability to empathize, even with things we've not experienced.

Going off the second point, empathy is the best way to explain goodness for its own sake to anyone without a spiritual background. Empathy allows us to metaphorically experience the lives and situations of others without having to actually do it, and to some degree feel as they do in those situations. Because of empathy and the ability to feel as others do, we can discern the need to not do things to others, because it could cause a stir in us called guilt, or shame, or sometimes we can even feel the pain we inflicted on them, but within ourselves. Barring some kind of emotional perversion (read: sadism or masochism) we typically would not willingly desire to put ourselves in a state of discomfort, so ergo we should not put others in one either, lest we should feel that shame, guilt, or pain all over again. This is the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Without empathy the golden rule holds no weight, and empathy is by this premise something of a spiritual nature so it should be heeded.

To address your specific grievance, you must also consider the eternal nature of our lives. You're not inherently incorrect when you say that our lives are inconsequential in the scope of eternity, in fact I'm inclined to agree with you. However in the context of a spiritual progression, and one outlined by He on most high, it would be prudent to heed all what He has told us. We are told He loves us, that He created us all, individually, and that we are all, individually, the most precious to Him. We are also told that this life is simply a step in our journey, and the things we learn here and leave with are certainly not inconsequential because mortality has allowed us the ability to progress far beyond a spiritual form would ever allow.

Knowing this and operating under this premise, it is only logical to treat everyone well because we are all precious in His eyes, and to do everything we can to better ourselves because this is the greatest opportunity to do so. If you were given a kitten by someone you greatly respected, whose life and well being was in your charge despite it having its own free will, would you not cherish it (even if only to prove to whomever gave it to you that you cared as much as they did)? And if you were given the opportunity to go study under the greatest mind in whatever your chosen field is for the span of several hours, would you not soak up every single word they uttered? We need to be kind because we need to extend a certain amount of respect toward the work God has done to create us, as we are His children and He created us this way, such as we are, and He's proud of that. And we need to use that kindness and practice it here as mortals, because mortality is one of the greatest gifts of all.

Sorry for the wall of text, but this is pretty intense philosophy we're exploring here. I would also highly recommend either reading or listening to Mere Christianity, as C.S. Lewis is far more eloquent in explaining these things than I am since he was an educated philosopher, and I'm just a 24 year old trying to figure life out =)

u/[deleted] · 15 pointsr/exjw

It's a bunch of gobbledygook about the generations and the kingdom and all of that. It's all nonsense. In my humble opinion, you need to de-indoctrinate yourself to fully remove these types of fears. Not sure if I've shared this post with you before, but here's what I did personally:

Take some time to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.

Read Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman

Also read A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Next, learn some actual science. For example - spoiler alert: evolution is true. Visit Berkeley's excellent Understanding Evolution Website.. Or, if you're pressed for time, watch this cartoon.

Read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

Read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

Learn about the origin of the universe. For example, you could read works by Stephen Hawking

Read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Learn about critical thinking from people like Michael Shermer, and how to spot logical fallacies.

For good measure, use actual data and facts to learn the we are NOT living in some biblical "last days". Things have gotten remarkably better as man has progressed in knowledge. For example, watch this cartoon explaining how war is on the decline..

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Another great source is the youtube series debunking 1914 being the start of the last days.

Another way to clear out the cobwebs is to read and listen to exiting stories. Here are some resources:


Here is a post with links to a bunch of podcasts interviewing JWs who've left

Here's another bunch of podcasts about JWs

Here is a great book from Psychotherapist and former JW Bonnie Zieman - Exiting the JW Cult: A Helping Handbook

I wish you the best. There is a whole world of legitimate information out there based on actual evidence that you can use to become a more knowledgeable person.

You may still wonder how you can be a good human without "the truth." Here is a good discussion on how one can be good without god. --Replace where he talks about hell with armageddon, and heaven with paradise--

To go further down the rabbit hole, watch this series.

Here's a nice series debunking most creationist "logic".

Start to help yourself begin to live a life where, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, you'll "believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible."

u/demilobotomy · 1 pointr/Christianity

&gt;I'm open to both the idea that god exists and that the bible is true. I am open to it.
But there is not sufficient evidence, and so I do not believe either of those two things.

I understand this completely, trust me. I was raised in a secular household and was an atheist most of my life (most of my comments on reddit are discussing religion so I feel like I mention this in every comment, haha).

I think the biggest thing for me is defining sufficient evidence. It's not a question that lends itself to unquestionable, empirical evidence. On top of that, some answers to the question require not just acknowledging the answer but living it (religious piety and devotion). It's not an easy problem to solve (if it can be solved at all).


&gt;I've done just that, and now I am an atheist.

One thing I've realized about atheism is that it's pretty easy to align with, since it doesn't make any bold claims. I'm not saying belief systems need to make bold claims to be valid - that would be ridiculous. I'm saying atheism basically says "We know how works, and we don't know how works, so we'll keep trying to figure it out and see where it goes." There's nothing wrong with that (and in no way should we ever discourage research and the pursuit of knowledge, regardless of religious affiliation).

But, at the same time, I think that when atheists are looking at the questions that religion tries to answer, the evidence used isn't right for the problem. Knowing how the universe works doesn't contrast or disprove a designer of the universe, or a metaphysical realm. The fact that the universe exists means that a metaphysical realm is very likely - it just might be "empty" nothingness. An atheist looks at scientific discoveries as a replacement for god(s), but a religious person looks at these discoveries as an explanation of how god(s) did it. My point is that the truth that is resonating for atheists (or at least most of it) also resonates for religious folks, including Christians. We just have our own spiritual, metaphysical aspect in the picture as well.


&gt;Who says I need to get far? Who says I haven't? And what do you mean by getting far?

When I say "getting far" I just mean exploring religion beyond lightly reading the texts while constantly fighting rolling your eyes. I meant actually giving them a chance, even if you end up deciding they're all nonsense. With a question like this, "getting far" is extremely subjective and all I can do is give you my own take on it.


&gt;Let's say we didn't know what 2+2 evaluated to. If one religion gave the answer 72, another 42, another 620, is that in any way valid? No, just because we might not have a naturalistic answer to some questions doesn't mean that religion is valid.

I think understand what you're saying, but math isn't necessarily good example. Math is a constructed language to describe its real physical counterparts. We defined what "2" is and have thus defined what "4" is, in the sense that it is "2 + 2" or "1 + 1 + 1 + 1." The system very accurately describes the mathematical components of the universe, but the actual language of math is arbitrary. It is metaphysical in a sense, but it is mapped to a physical reality.

In the case of religion, the physical mapping is literally the universe. At least, it is in a way (and it depends on which religion you're talking about). Religion doesn't try to provide a language to discuss an existing system inside of the universe, it tries to explain the universe itself and the context of humanity and life within it. On the other hand, in a similar way to math - it explains self-aware humans as having souls and our gifts that put us above other animals as gifts from God. We are self-aware with intelligence and morality either way, regardless of whether or not you view them as God-given or as a result of pure natural evolution. In the case of religion, though, these aren't necessarily just arbitrary man-made ideas to explain physical realities. There is a potential that they
are the system. Does that make sense? This particular answer was a little stream-of-consciousness-esque.


&gt; Could you provide a demonstration? I do not believe this to be the case.

This is an answer that has been written as books for a reason - it's long. I have a blog and am planning on writing a page on this eventually, but in the meantime I don't want to look like I'm dodging your question. So here's something I wrote in another comment:

&gt;Here are some of the examples of questions that, when I approached them with an open mind to the possibility (however small it was to me at the time) of a supernatural or external being, they made sense in that context.

&gt;* Why are we so far above animals in terms of intelligence and self-awareness?

  • Why did life appear in the first place? The amount of chance chemical combinations required for an amino acid alone is pretty impressive. I understand given an arbitrarily long amount of time it's possible. It just doesn't give a stronger (or weaker) answer than religion, to me. I'm not denying evolution, I'm just skeptical about it happening on its own from the point of no life to life.
  • Why do we have altruistic tendencies and a moral system? We know what we should do even if nobody is actually doing that. This awareness is another thing that separates us from other animals.
  • How is the universe such a fine-tuned system containing (IMO) irreducible complexity? The fact that there are observable and repeatable laws that govern the universe is pretty impressive. That it would happen by chance seems implausible to me.
    If there is a Creator, what kind of Creator would that be based on observing the universe that it created? This question is more for addressing current world religions or attempting to connect (or recognize the inability to connect) to a Creator. I think the universe has elements that point to design, and I think the Creator would need to be a personal God based on how human beings (and other social animals to an extent) interact and function psychologically.

    If you're interested in how I came to faith through reasoning it out, I highly suggest
    [The Reason for God](https://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism/dp/1594483493?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;
    Version=1&amp;entries*=0) by Timothy Keller. Another great book that helped me and that also discusses the perception of science and faith being at war is The Language of God* by Francis Collins. He's the leader of the Human Genome Project and has some good input for questions like Christianity and evolution.


    One final thing I feel the need to say is that you're not going to wake up one morning and be 100% sure of God's existence, or any god's existence. It's called a "walk of faith" for a reason, and it's a complex answer to a very complex question. But just because it's not "easy" to believe doesn't mean it directly contradicts scientific evidence or all forms of logic, it's just that once you honestly don't believe in the supernatural it's hard to wrap your head around it. But that particular aspect doesn't reflect the validity of the supernatural answers, it's a result of our limited perception confined to the physical universe.

    Regardless of what you land on or if you even take any of this to heart, I wish you the best of luck with this journey (or, if you don't budge, I wish you luck with your life as it already is). :) If you want to talk to me more about it, you're welcome to do it via commenting or personal message if you'd prefer.
u/pjsans · 3 pointsr/AskAChristian

&gt;I suppose to get right down to it, one of the major things that make me unsure about the Bible is because of how it can be so misinterpreted.

I think that this should make you unsure about people, but not the Bible. People twist things, and in fact we are told that people will twist Scripture within the Bible. Beyond that, even people with good motivations are imperfect thinkers. You, myself, and everyone else, when we approach the Bible, we bring with it our own baggage. Our understanding, our lives, and what we think now affects how we read the Bible. This is normal, but we need to recognize it in order for us to get around it and try to see what the Bible actually says (I'll mention this kind of stuff more below). Even with this in mind, this doesn't have any affect on the trust-worthiness of the Bible itself.

&gt;Of course, one of the biggest things we hear about is that homosexuality is a sin. I don't know how many places it's been mentioned, but the only thing I recall about it is the very famous line "Man shall not lie with man as he does with a woman" or something along those lines.

I referenced a few places where homosexuality is brought up, but I'll link them here. The Leviticus passage (which is what you just referenced) is not the only one.

Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:8-11, and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

&gt;But while I was trying to learn and understand more about the Bible, what's real and not etc, I have also read several times that this line was something that was difficult to translate from its original texts, and that it originally referred to "sexual satanic rituals" with large groups of people

This is indeed a route people try to go. On nearly every topic you are going to have people telling you things that seem convincing on both sides. I would recommend looking into hermeneutics techniques (how to read, interpret, and understand the Bible). I'll talk more about this in a bit.

For this specific text, I don't think it holds up. I assume that this case is made because Molech is mentioned in the preceding law. Here is that section:

21 You shall not give any of your children to offer them[b] to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

The whole chapter is Leviticus 18. The first tip of hermeneutics I'll give you is "Context is King." Always check for context.

This chapter is one long list of things that the Israelites are not commanded to do and which the other nations will be condemned for (this along with the fact that they are restated in the NT are why I think they are still binding).

The law concerning Molech is either in regards to sacrificing children to the false god or dedicate them to him, likely as temple prostitutes. Either way, it does not mean that the following verse is related to Molech, and if it is then we could say the same thing about bestiality, but this (I think you would agree) is obviously sinful. Taken even further, you could argue that incest was okay, but again, this is obviously not the case.

The idea that the immediate context indicates that this is talking about temple sex worship or orgies (I think) is unfounded and it doesn't take the context of the chapter as a whole into account. With that said here is a link to a debate between James White and a guy who holds this view that you are talking about. To be upfront, this is probably the best defense of homosexual acceptance I have ever heard, and he even made me think his arguments were valid for a moment...but as the debate went on and the more I thought about it the less sense it made.

Maybe you'll come away with a different conclusion though.

I'll also link this response post by Preston Sprinkle (who does a lot of work in this with nothing but love). He addresses this concern in point 2. Lastly, here is a short video by John Piper on the topic.

&gt;It's one of those things that make me unsure of what to believe from the Bible.
It's concerning because I keep coming back to thinking "How do any of us know what is really right from the Bible?"

It takes time. My advice to you would be "don't panic, take your time." I have had foundational shifts in my thinking change because of what I realized the Bible was teaching. This is a part of growing and maturing in the faith. Sometimes it can be painful and exhausting but it is worth it and it will help you in the long run.

I think that looking into how to do hermeneutics will be helpful. I'd recommend How to Read the Bible for All its Worth. I'll link a couple of videos that might help as well. Exegesis and Hermeneutics (its a bit choppy, but it has good content). You'll also want to be aware of two fancy-pants words: Exegesis &amp; Eisegesis. Rather than explain those in-depth, I'll just link to this 3 min. vid by Francis Chan that explains the concepts (these are also brought up in the other vid).

The key thing you want to look for is consistency. Is what I believe consistent with this text? the context? the Bible as a whole?

Here is a clip about the textual variants issue I was talking about. I recommend the whole thing, but you'd have to order it.

&gt;I don't want, or plan to give up on my faith, but I'm afraid that even with me believing in God, and that he will save me, I can't help but wonder if he really will save me, or if he even saved departed loved ones who believed in God, but still did small things that seem to sound like they were sinful.

I would again recommend reading Romans 8. And also let me reassure you that we are not saved by our good works or by a perfect understanding of doctrine. We all err in one way or another. Salvation is a gift, we are saved by grace through faith. If you truly wish to seek God, to do as he says, and to love him then there you should take comfort in that. God recognizes that we are not perfect, he has taken that into account. This is the reason he sent Christ. Don't let the fact that you are confused keep you from rejoicing in God. Confusion does not negate salvation.

u/brtf4vre · 4 pointsr/Catholicism

If you are coming from an atheist background I think you should start with some more foundational material before checking out the Bible. The Catholic Church is the sole keeper of the complete truth that has been revealed by God to humanity.

However, like other truths, new conclusions can build upon previous knowledge. Just like modern mathematics has built upon Gauss and Newton and Pythagoras etc. If you did not understand geometry it would be difficult to understand calculus. If you just started reading about calculus but had no concept of finding the area of a rectangle you might not understand calculus or assume you are being expected to just accept calculus as true using "blind faith". In the same way, God has revealed to us that we should not murder people (10 commandments), and the Church was able to build upon that foundation the conclusion that abortion is a sin since it is ultimately the killing of an innocent human (murder). If however, you just read somewhere that the Church opposes abortion but had no knowledge of the 10 commandments you might not understand why that conclusion was made and instead assume it is just some arbitrary religious teaching.

The foundation you need to first establish is that God exists, and this can be known (in the same way you can know 1+1=2) through reason. Even Aristotle was able to know this. The most famous proofs of this are St Thomas Aquinas' "5 ways". There are many resources including books and good YouTube videos exploring this topic, I would recommend Answering Atheism as a good start, or if you want to try a college level, more rigorous book, check out Aquinas for Beginners. Check out this quick 17 minute video for a great start.

So that is where I think you should start, and after you convince yourself that atheism is false you should come back here to learn why the Catholic church is God's true church.

To address a few other things. First, the Bible is not a book in the commonly used sense of that word today. The Bible is actually a collection of books written across a wide time range in different genres. So a more accurate question would be: "do I have to take the library 100% literally? The answer is of course no. That does not mean the Bible is not 100% true, it just means that the truth is not 100% conveyed directly via literal interpretation. Some evidence would be this quote from Jesus "If any man come to Me and hate not his father and mother...he cannot be My disciple" which seems to be in direct contradiction with the 4th Commandment "Honor thy father and mother". So if the Bible is 100% true, and things that are true cannot lead to contradictions, then at least one of the quotes must have some other meaning than the literal text. So how do we know what is the case here? That is what we have the Catholic Church for, so again when after you convince yourself God exists you should come back here to understand why you should trust the Catholic Church to interpret these questions and more.

If you are specifically concerned that becoming Catholic means you have to literally believe the universe was created in 6 days I can assure you the short answer is no, you do not need to believe this.

1 more thing Ill add it about the word "faith". A common atheist position is that religions are based on blind faith with no evidence. This is not the Catholic definition of the word. Faith is not about making true/false claims. Evidence is REQUIRED for True/False claims. Now not ALL evidence is in the form of scientific experimentation, but that does not mean the Church requires you to just hold certain things as true on "faith alone" with no evidence. Instead, think of the word confidence. The latin roots are "con" "fide" which means "with faith". So faith has more to do with confidence or trust than true/false certainty. An example might be that we use reason and logic as evidence to know God exists, or historical testimony as evidence Jesus rose from the dead. Then, knowing these things as true, we have faith that the teaching God has revealed are true and in our best interest in things we should do. There is no way to proof scientifically whether or not we should steal something, and if we are even in a situation where we are tempted into doing that we may think that we should do it because we really want to or don't think we will get caught or whatever. Faith means trusting in God's recommendation to not steal things even if we think it would be a good idea or seemingly justify it to ourselves.

u/MisanthropicScott · 5 pointsr/DebateReligion

&gt; Once again, the only way that natural selection could make the transition between point A and point B more likely would be for each individual step in the process to cause the organism to be more fit than the previous mutation.

B was never a goal. You're looking at the events that happened and assuming that they were pre-ordained and directed. If you could rewind the clock, A might just stay A. Or, A might evolve to C. B is merely what happened; it wasn't planned. There may have been millions of other things that could have, but didn't, happen.

&gt; I'm not ignoring natural selection, I am just saying that in order for natural selection to 'guide' the gene from point A to point B [snip]

There was never an intent to do that. B was a random place.

Do you think that Homo Erectus was saying "Now, I need to get myself a more advanced larynx for more complex speech. And, I need a bit more brain power so I can think about writing some shit down. Then, I will finally be able to invent and drive a Lincoln Naggravator?

No. Perhaps homo erectus was saying "Ooo! Look at me. I've got fire. I've got stone tools. I'm the king. I'm the best. I must be created in god's image. I must be the purpose of the universe!"

But, from where we stand today, people think he was just a stepping stone to becoming us. But, his species was around for maybe 8 or 9 times as long as we've been around. And, homo erectus didn't render the planet virtually uninhabitable as we are doing.

But, the point is that nothing in evolution was directed in any particular way other than for survival. If we could reset the clock to 7 million years ago, it's extremely unlikely that we'd evolve again. (And the world would be a better place, IMNSHO.)

&gt; Let me try to spell it out for you here.
&gt; Imagine that the initial genetic sequence is A, and the genetic sequence that we are aiming for is B. I will represent the process of going from A to B with the following line:
&gt; A - - - - - - - - - - B

But, there were numerous other possibilities, including the most likely that A just stays A.

A - - - - - - - - - - C

A - - - - - - - - - - D

A - - - - - - - - - - E

A - - - - - - - - - - F

A - - - - - - - - - - G

A - - - - - - - - - - H

A - - - - - - - - - - I

A - - - - - - - - - - J

A - - - - - - - - - - K

A - - - - - - - - - - L

A - - - - - - - - - - M

A - - - - - - - - - - N


The fact is that what you call B could have been anything. Then you look at what actually happened and assume it was a goal. It wasn't. It didn't have to happen at all. It's more likely that what you call B is really K and all the other letters of the alphabet and many more didn't happen to actually happen. When you realize that, you realize that the likelihood of getting to B is irrelevant because B is just another random place, as A was. And, the whole thing could have ended at A. The chambered nautilus and horseshoe crabs are relatively unchanged after hundreds of millions of years. These are the successful species on the planet.

&gt; 1&lt;2&lt;3&lt;4&lt;5&lt;6&lt;7&lt;8&lt;9&lt;10
&gt; Each step much give more fitness to the organism than the last

Exactly so. But, none of them are special. And the end point that you call B could just as easily be called 11. In 10 or 100 million years, we could be at a point 273 steps farther along and all of them would be incremental changes that made the organism more fit for whatever random conditions existed at that time and none of them would be special as you make B sound.

&gt; Ultimately, each step in the process would have to be beneficial (which is highly unlikely)

No. It's extremely likely that the ones that are beneficial survive. The others are weeded out. So, each of those unlikely steps just happens to make the organism more fit. When a parasite loses an organ because that function is now performed by the host, that is more fit. When a bird loses its ability to fly over time, as the flightless cormorant of the Galapagos did, it is more fit in an environment with fewer predators. It's solid bones make it heavier, allow it to dive deeper, etc. But, that particular B is just a random point on the line. The flightless cormorant still has vestigial wings and still uses feet to propel itself underwater rather than using wings as flippers in the way that penguins do. So, it is not perfect. And, perhaps the evolution is not complete. Perhaps we're looking at step 7 rather than your point B.

So it is with us.

Perhaps, if we manage to survive the difficult time we've created for ourselves, we will evolve stronger backs and better knees that don't give out on us with age. Perhaps we're not point B either. Perhaps we're point 3 or 342 along the way to becoming a species smart enough not to kill ourselves off and well evolved enough not to have back and knee pain anymore.

More likely, in my own personal opinion, we will not survive for very much longer. More likely, in my personal opinion, we are at some point along the way and have hit a bad mutation that makes us more likely to eat out our resource base, destroy our own habitat, and die out without ever reaching some point that you might call B.

&gt; Another common semantic issue is what 'evolution' exactly is. Is it merely 'change' over time? Or is it the introduction of novel new formations and functions within organisms that didn't exist prior. Apparently this Lizard's cecal valves were enlarged muscles that already existed within the organism. It is true that the lizard adapted, but untrue that it had novel new functions or structures that didn't exist prior.

Well, by your new standard, your larynx is still fish gills and your arms and legs are still the fins of lobe finned fish and your inner ear bones are still the jaw bones of fish. By your standard, nothing about us is really new either. We're still basically just like coelacanths.

In fact, as we evolved from lobe-finned fish, we are still in that taxa. For the same reason that humans are still apes and humans are still mammals because we evolved from both, we are also still in the taxa sarcopterygii.

BTW, Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin is an excellent read. I highly recommend it. It is not vitriolic in the way that Dawkins can be. It just explains evolution. It says nothing about religion and does not attack it in any way. I think it would help your understanding tremendously, if you're willing to actually learn a bit more about the science behind evolution.

&gt; What evidence do you have to show that each individual step was beneficial? That each tiny mutation of a single nucleotide was beneficial? That every single example of evolution involved massive positive changes that were composed entirely of many tiny genetic mutations of one or two nucleotides that were always positive or beneficial to the organism?

We've found numerous intermediate stages that creationists have denied would ever be found. Basilosaurus, Ambulocetus along the way to whales. Feathered dinosaurs with simpler feathers that would only provide warmth not flight, etc., etc., etc.

(to be continued, over the size limit for a post)

u/love-your-enemies · 30 pointsr/Catholicism

There is a person in the Bible who says to Jesus, "I believe. Help my unbelief!" (you can find that story and the context of the phrase in Mark chapter 9). I always thought that was a profound sentiment, and it's a phrase I think about whenever I experience doubts.

I would say that most or all Catholics probably experience doubts about the faith at some point in their lives. I wouldn't let concerns about whether you could believe in God hold you back from Catholicism if you really thought you wanted to join the Church.

There is a somewhat famous Catholic, Blaise Pascal, who even said that unbelievers should basically "fake it till they make it"; they should basically try living as a faithful Catholic and see what it does to them and their thoughts. He thought that if someone regularly went to Church and tried praying to God, that they might start to feel a connection with God, and that would make it easier to believe, and that they might actually start believing it all. After all, why should we expect someone to believe in God and find it convincing if they never give it a shot? The only other way to acquire any amount of belief at all, that I can think of, would be through some kind of convincing argument.

I think that idea from Pascal makes sense. If God really does exist, then it would make sense that trying to reach out to God in some way would probably do something. God has not promised everyone a miraculous sign or proof of His existence, but you also never know how God will choose to react to people's prayers and inquiries. All you can do is try and not expect too much since we know that even for the best Catholic saints in history, a lot of them only got vague visions at best (edit: after thinking about this more, I realize in the bible it does say to pray expectantly. so maybe "don't expect much" is wrong, too. i still need to understand all this stuff better myself, it seems). I am Catholic and I can say I've never even experienced anything like that. I pretty much believe because I have studied some Catholic apologetics and I was convinced by the arguments, but also because I was raised Catholic and I have practiced the religion for a while now, and I have sometimes felt a connection to God in a kind of esoteric or abstract way. I think more proof about this stuff would be great. But we are not entitled to proof.

Maybe apologetics would help you to believe. Since you studied science, maybe those kinds of logical arguments would help you. There are plenty of options. One option that comes to my mind is this book by Ed Feser. I know a lot of people here like Peter Kreeft; I did a quick search on Amazon and found this book by him. I know Kreeft has talked about the beauty of Catholicism before so maybe his writings will appeal to you. Some other names you could look into would be C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton.

I actually fell away from Catholicism for a bit in my college days, and came back through Protestantism and some Protestant philosophers. I was very influenced by William Lane Craig, who has a lot of great apologetics works. You could check out writings and podcasts on his website or one of these two books: 1, 2.

I probably don't have any good advice to offer about the situation with your boyfriend. I have very little relationship experience myself. Maybe if one day you do really get into Catholicism, and learn more about it, you could debate theology with him and see if you can convert him. I think that Church history is a good way to try to convert people. In my experience, a lot of Protestants never even think about the fact that the Catholic Church claims to be the Church established by Christ, and that the Bishops today have been ordained by previous Bishops, going all the way back to the original disciples of Christ through a process known as Apostolic Succession. In addition to stuff like that, there is also the fact that the transubstantiation of the Eucharist is a concept that existed in the very early Church as well, and the Catholic Church is the only Christian Church which has preserved this tradition.

I ended up writing a novel too. Anyway, good luck to you. Feel free to reply and ask questions if you want any more info from me. I was happy to read your story.

u/tazemanian-devil · 4 pointsr/exjw

Here's another side of the coin. Not necessarily to drag you out of the cult, but just some very awesome, beautiful truths. If you've seen me post this before, i apologize. I don't like to assume everyone reads every thread.

Take some time to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.

Read Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman

Also read A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Next, learn some actual science. For example - spoiler alert: evolution is true. Visit Berkeley's excellent Understanding Evolution Website.. Or, if you're pressed for time, watch this cartoon.

Read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne

Read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

Learn about the origin of the universe. For example, you could read works by Stephen Hawking

Read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Learn about critical thinking from people like Michael Shermer, and how to spot logical fallacies.

For good measure, use actual data and facts to learn the we are NOT living in some biblical "last days". Things have gotten remarkably better as man has progressed in knowledge. For example, watch this cartoon explaining how war is on the decline..

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Another great source is the youtube series debunking 1914 being the start of the last days.

I wish you the best. There is a whole world of legitimate information out there based on actual evidence that you can use to become a more knowledgeable person.

You may still wonder how you can be a good human without "the truth." Here is a good discussion on how one can be good without god. --Replace where he talks about hell with armageddon, and heaven with paradise--

Start to help yourself begin to live a life where, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, you'll "believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible."

u/DJSpook · 2 pointsr/AskAChristian

&gt; That's really implausible. What makes you think any of it is true?

That's a great question! I believe in Christianity for reasons including personal experience, the lack of cogent arguments against it (an area I've studied for some time, and that's not meant as a challenge against you or anything, though I'm happy to answer your questions and objections), the historicity of the Biblical documents (archeologically, especially those of the New Testament and the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Nazareth), the remarkable ability of theism to best explain a wide range of the data in human experience (such as the possibility of our having reliable cognitive faculties and their deliverances, the beginning of the universe, the existence of objective moral values and duties, the "fine tuning" of the initial conditions of the universe for the development of intelligent life and our exorbitant means of observing the world around us, the fact of widespread religious experience, the implausibility of the development of conscious agents from inorganic matter, the irreducibly of certain instantiations of biological complexity to any naturalistic incremental evolutionary mechanism, the existence of regularity and a bias in nature towards simplicity and aesthetic features (which I am happy to elaborate on), the possibility of change (the actualization of potentials and the nature of hierarchical causal series), and a great deal more that space does not permit me to detail).

&gt; It's also a very anthropocentric way of looking at the universe, which has been around billions of years longer than we have.

I don't think so; rather, I think it is a very God-centric way of looking at the universe. I don't believe we were the entire reason God created the universe, and I do believe that it exists for His glory.

&gt; You're suggesting that God created the universe so that we would come into existence on one planet in it,

No, the creation of the cosmos was not entirely done just so that human beings would wind up in it--that would make it a rather inefficient means of creating us. Rather, God has no shortage of paint, and He exercised His creative power here for a lot more than just humans. Luckily for us, we get to be a part of it and observe the living painting He made and praise Him for it.

&gt; for a tiny fraction of the time, so he could save us from punishments he devised?

This is a caricature of Christian theology. God didn't create everything just so He could "save us from punishments he devised". I commend you to read the Gospels and C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity for a better understanding of the Christian system of thought, because the understanding you've presented is in fact confused in many ways.

God created mankind not so that we could be punished, but rather so that we could participate in the wonderful thing that is life and bring glory to Him by living for Him and enjoying Him and His creation. However, we rebelled and continue to rebel against Him and this purpose and bring evil into the world each and every day--perversions to His creation. It is this evil that warrants punishment, punishment which God has done everything in His power to try and save us from by living a human life in the person of Christ and brutally and tortuously dying after resisting all temptation so that we could be vicariously redeemed through Him. By living a perfect life, He did what no man has ever done and so further warrants the right to say what should happen to those of us (all of us) who fail to do the same (which He, by virtue of living perfectly, demonstrated is possible)--and yet His choice, when given even more right to condemn us, is to show us mercy and save us by allowing us redemption before Himself! Hence, His sacrifice and offer of salvation is the greatest example of mercy and love mankind has ever known.

And so He allows us to choose Him, and loves us enough to respect our choice to reject Him and live apart from Him if we so choose (which is what hell is--separation from Him that is chosen by the individual).

&gt; I don't. Thomas Aquinas died 800 years ago and knew nothing about modern neuroscience or psychology. We have a natural tendency to believe whatever we're taught growing up.

I think it's more than just a "tendency to believe whatever we're taught growing up", because virtually all human beings throughout history and in the modern day have believed God exists. And, when you ask them, they will explicitly adduce to you reasons for their believing in His existence--so attributions of human belief in God to uncritical acts of will or psychoanalytic theses seem to me implausible and uncritically formulated or accepted themselves, for they are conceived of without making any account of the individual's reasoning with respect to the question they purport to answer. And Aquinas's sentiment has been repeated throughout the history of philosophy by the most eminent atheists and theist thinkers alike up until the modern day--not that I think that we should reject the ideas of people in the past out of what philosophers call "chronological snobbery", an uncritical bias in favor of contemporary thought by virtue of its being contemporary.

Thanks for the exchange so far, I hope I've helped you understand what I believe and why a bit more. Please note that I do not intend in writing this to sound condescending, so if it comes off that way my apologies.

u/astroNerf · 3 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

&gt; How do we explain that we all seem to know what is right and wrong?

We are all descended from ancestors who lived in small groups. Cooperation and empathy were crucial adaptations for living in small groups. Typical people (that is, people with empathy) are capable of recognising the emotions of others, and instinctively respond to those emotions. Morality is something built on top of this, and is informed by what we know about human behaviour and human experience. And, there's a lot we don't agree on, but the basics (things like killing and stealing) people do.

Check out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

&gt; Why do we all look for and want meaning if this is a meaningless world?

This is a great question, one that I've not encountered before. I don't think the world is meaningless at all. If you believe that the only meaning possible comes from a deity, then certainly, I can understand why you might think that a godless world would be meaningless. But, we're intelligent beings capable of making value judgements. We are more than capable of assigning our own meaning to things.

I would argue that for our species, our sense of self-worth is tied to our understanding of our purpose. As social beings, we have evolved to be happy when we belong to a group, fulfilling some role that is important or unique. Life can be tough, but it's made better when we know that our struggle has some compensating benefit - being a parent can be really challenging, but people still do the 2am feedings because they know that there is a child that is relying on them. I'm not happy unless I accomplish something, or solve a problem, or make someone's life just a little bit better. If we did not derive meaning out of raising children or being cooperative and social with other members of our species, it would likely be that we would not have survived this long.

&gt; How can we know what is true? If our brains have evolved to ensure our survival and not necessarily tell us what is true... how can we be sure of anything?

We test things. We build models of reality in our heads, and we run simulations to predict the outcomes of our actions. If we find that the outcomes closely match what we predict, we can be confident that they are correct insofar as they produce accurate predictions: someone once said that all models are wrong, but some are useful..

So, we care less about ultimate truth, and are more interested in relative truth. What do I mean by this? Well, imagine for a moment that this reality is just a computer simulation, one so good that we don't know it's a simulation. The best we could hope to do in such a case is to understand the rules of this simulated reality. The rules might not be the ultimate rules of the reality in which the simulation runs (say, the laws of physics governing the computer that's running the simulation.)

I don't have absolute certainty in most things. At best, I have varying degrees of confidence, based on justification. For the things of which I'm very certain, I can point to the reasons why I think what I think and I can explain why those reasons are sufficient - invariably, this has to do with things like empiricism.

&gt; How do you as an atheist defend the fine-tuning argument? The chances of a world existing with life, even existing at all, is incredibly low. Did we really just get extremely lucky?

Incredibly low, perhaps. But consider the number of habitable planets in our own galaxy, and the number of galaxies in our observable universe. The statistics of large numbers allows for the rare to become common.

It's also worth pointing out that if the gravity of Earth was a bit stronger or the Earth was a bit closer or a bit farther away from the Sun, perhaps a different life would have evolved here, and that different life would be remarking how the Earth is perfectly suited to that life. This is exactly what Douglas Adams was talking about with the parable of the sentient puddle. We evolved to fit this environment - not the other way around. We look the way we do because nature has taken the "clay" and pressed it into a people-like mould, and a cheetah-like mould, and a sequoia-like mould, and so on.

&gt; What do you think is the best argument against Christianity?

Probably an utter lack of any credible evidence for any of its supernatural claims.

Also too, when you learn how the bible came to be as we know it today, it becomes very difficult take the claim seriously that it is inspired by a deity. Karen Armstrong's book A History of God is an excellent read that shows how the character of Yahweh evolved over time, beginning as a provincial war god before being promoted by the Yahwist cult, supplanting other deities in the Canaanite pantheon, before large chunks of what would eventually become the Old Testament, were re-written as though Yahweh had always been the one true god - it really strains credulity. You can see a video summary of the key parts of the book here.

u/mrdaneeyul · 7 pointsr/Christianity

Hey, welcome to the sub. :)

First off, you have the right attitude (more than many churchgoers, it seems). You want to understand and wrestle and have it be real. Good news: you're on the right track. Faith is hard, at least most of the time. I'm sorry others looked down on you for asking questions and trying to figure things out; they were wrong to do so.

I agree with what others here are saying: Genesis is probably not the easiest place to start, and you'll get even more bogged down in Numbers or in Chronicles. Start in one of the Gospels. I saw Luke suggested, and I'll throw in John. Luke's writing has more details, and John's might be easier to read.

Starting in the Gospels has a purpose: Jesus is really the major focus. There's a lot to gain from reading his words firsthand, and seeing his actions. You might find it a lot different from what the culture says about him. Take your time and soak it in, and I think you'll find him pretty compelling.

After that, Paul's letters are pretty great. Philippians might be a good one to read first, though they're all really short and won't take long.

I might also suggest reading a different version of the Bible. The NRSV is accurate, but can also be archaic and difficult to understand. There are a lot of debates over Bible versions, but don't sweat them for now; I'd suggest the ESV or the CEB (if you want to study deeper later, the NRSV might be better then).

You'll probably want to find a church. This can be hit-and-miss, depending on so many factors. You won't and shouldn't fit into a church that looks down on you for struggling with faith. To start, even though it might feel silly, talk to God about it. Doesn't have to be fancy, just a conversation asking him to help you find a good church. Visit a couple, and see if they try to follow the Jesus you read about in the Bible.

(And if you're in the Dallas area, let me know... you can visit ours! :D I know a couple other great churches in the area too.)

If you're looking for more resources, it depends on what you're interested in.

  • www.biblegateway.com if you want to read the Bible online. Tons of versions (again, I'd go with CEB or ESV). I find it harder to read online, but it's good to have on-hand anyhow.
  • I second Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. It's a great read with some heavy concepts explained simply (Lewis was fantastic at this).
  • For the Resurrection (central to Christianity), check out Willaim Lane Craig's books, The Son Rises and Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, and, for a debate, Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?
  • For the creation story, Reading Genesis 1-2: An Evangelical Conversation is a must, as there are several viewpoints on Creation (another reason starting with Genesis might be difficult).
  • For doubt, I recommend Disappointment with God.
  • How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth is a good one for... well, pretty much what the title says it's for.
  • Along the lines of Mere Christianity, try G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. It's free, but might be a bit harder to read.

    BUT... don't go crazy. Start with the Gospels and maybe Mere Christianity, and go from there.

    If you have questions about what you're reading, feel free to come to this sub or /r/TrueChristian and ask. To be fair, there will be several opposing opinions on more controversial issues, which is a double-edged sword sometimes. But most everyone is welcoming, kind, and happy to discuss anything.
u/NapAfternoon · 2 pointsr/NoStupidQuestions

You mean like heart, liver, kidney?

Its probably not going to be a satisfactory answer but they are shaped they way they are because they have always more or less been shaped that way. For example, the basic structure of the heart hasn't changed much in...well 500 million years. I suggest reading the book your inner fish which really explains how many of the features we have today are simple modifications on a theme that was well established over half a billion years ago. The age old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it" applies nicely.

Of course there is variation, and variation arises through different selective pressures. For example, take a look at the heart of different animals (ignore the spider): they all have chambers, they all pump blood, and they all have a similar structure. A basic structure modified to meet the unique demands of those species. A blueprint that has been slightly modified over time. Each new iteration of the "heart" is shaped to fit the needs of that species based on the selective pressures its ancestors encountered. It would be impossible to explain each iteration and its unique function, for that we would need to consider the unique environment, life history, and evolutionary history of that species. All these factors coming together to create organs which function for that animal. The basic blueprint isn't tampered with too severely, because the underlying function and and basic physiological mechanisms are conserved across species. All hearts need to pump blood, that is the underlying function of the heart. Moreover, the basic physiological mechanisms that allow a heart to beat and the types of cells that make up heart tissue are conserved. What changes are the number and orientation of chambers. The reason why the number and orientation of chambers changes is because the ancestors of those species encountered unique obstacles and pressures that favoured these slight changes. Why are the organs shaped the way they are? Evolution.

Edit: Maybe an analogy would help. Its really easy for evolution to tweak what has already been designed. You design a chair...but now you want a bench...take the same chair and just stretch it out, or copy and paste. Using this technique you are more likely to end up with a functional product at the end of the day that is user friendly. Something that resembles the original but with slight modification. Drastic changes in design can result in disasters, so its better to just work with what you have and go from there. Evolution works in a similar way. You have a heart that functions well with two chambers. Its fairly easy to modify that and make four chambers by splitting the two that already exist in half. But to restart and create a whole new way of pumping blood is inefficient and risky. Its like trying to take the blueprint for that chair and modify it into a bean bag...not going to work. We are more or less "locked in" to the blueprint we have. Slight changes can work, but total rewrites aren't going to happen. So the organs are shaped the way they are because their shape helps fulfill their function. Their function, being determined long ago, with very few changes has resulted in a conservation of form throughout the ages and across species.

u/EsquilaxHortensis · 6 pointsr/DebateReligion

To be honest -- and I promise that I'm making this as not-a-copout as I can -- my feeling is that if you're even taking the position that the entirety of the Bible is authentic and accurate, there's such a gulf of understanding between us that trying to bridge it would be well outside of the scope of a few posts.

I'll try to summarize as best I can, here.

Old Testament: The Torah was not given to Moses by God. Large portions of "God's laws" existed in other cultures before even the Jews claim that they were given to Moses. Like, word-for-word, verse for verse, verbatim. Sometimes with minor changes. The Law is clearly not entirely divine in origin, if any of it is (personally, I think I see the hand of God in places in Deuteronomy, but I'm not sure). Similarly, a great deal of the OT is founded upon pre-existing myths from other cultures in Mesopotamia. We're able to discern several different agents at work in the text, including people who clearly have very different conceptions of God, writing at different times, as well as any number of redactors. In some cases, it's pretty clear that the final version of the text was based upon a later writer completely failing to understand the original writer. In some cases, multiple incompatible versions of stories were combined into the text serially by redactors who clearly had no idea that the text was supposed to be "perfect". Check out the stories about how David met Saul, for example. Also, a lot of the traditional interpretations of things came about when the Jews noted the many flaws, inconsistencies, and absurdities in the Torah, and invented all sorts of amazing (and often ridiculous) explanations for them.

For more on this, I cannot recommend highly enough James Kugel's How to Read the Bible. It's written by a very intellectually honest orthodox Jew, which is very valuable to me because it's as unbiased as possible while still being sympathetic and open to the theist view. No joke, I will buy this for you in a heartbeat if you send me an address. It will radically transform and improve your understanding of these things.

As to the Gospels, you ought to be able to find any number of websites describing its inaccuracies and contradictions. Of course, there's a strain of fundamentalism that insists, through astounding intellectual dishonesty, that there are no contradictions. To assert this, one must use a definition of "contradiction" that would be prima facie absurd in any other context. The differing accounts of Jesus' birth, the date of the Last Supper, and so, so much more. Also, many of the accounts of Jesus' life are clearly, shall we say, modified to make the points that the authors cared about, such as Jesus's genealogy falling into nice round numbers that it actually didn't. Also, a lot of details seem to have been invented after the fact to give the impression that Jesus fulfilled prophecies that he likely didn't (As a Christian this doesn't bother me; I don't see the OT as inerrant, so it's not surprising to me that many of its prophecies were wrong). For example, the narrative wherein the family has to travel for a census (never happened) so that Jesus could be in the city that prophecy said the Messiah would be born in (he probably wasn't).

For more on this subject... I like Marcus Borg. Actually, this book by him and N.T. Wright does a great job examining such matters from multiple perspectives, as it's written in a format where they disagree with each other and give their own takes on things. Borg represents (IMO) rational but honest scholarship taken too far, whereas Wright represents a more traditional but still informed perspective. This book covers many important topics, such as many of the miracles, the nativity, the resurrection, and so on. If you want to be able to defend yourself against atheist attacks, buy this book if only for Wright's sections. But read Borg's, too. They'll open your eyes to so much.

Okay, now let's talk epistles. The wikipedia article on the subject of the Pauline Epistles is a great jumping-off point. For a more in-depth treatment, I really liked Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted though it definitely deals a lot with the gospels as well.

I'd like to make two more points in closing. The first is that there's just no reason at all to think that the Bible is accurate and authentic in its entirety. None. It doesn't even claim to be. It can't. It wasn't fully compiled until hundreds of years after its constituent parts were written, therefore it logically cannot be self-referential. When (not) Paul wrote that all scripture is God-breathed, he couldn't have been including the books that hadn't been written yet. Also, as you'll see if you read Kugel's book, much of scripture is clearly not inspired. Some would argue that it's still the book that God wanted us to end up with, but that raises the question of why there are so many different versions. Some bibles have books that others don't. Some translate things in contradictory ways to others. There is just no way to suggest that there's some kind of special force watching out for this book; we'd first have to posit that there's a single "right" version and then ask how we know which that is.

Secondly, consider so many of the things in the Bible that are, to put it mildly, inconvenient. Are iron chariots God's Achilles heel (Judges 1:19)? Why didn't any contemporary writers (including the other gospel authors) say anything about the zombie horde that broke loose in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:52-53)? Oh, and let me tell you a story:

God made the world and he saw that it was good. Except, it wasn't. So he decides that he's going to kill everyone except for one good guy and his family. So two (or seven) of every kind of animal gets crammed into -- well, we'll skip this part, you know it. But anyway, afterward, God realizes that he's made a huuuuuuge mistake and promises not to do it again.

And that is where rainbows come from.

u/Valendr0s · 2 pointsr/atheism

Here's my subscription list in YouTube in alphabetical order:

  • C0nc0rdance - dedicated to cutting through scientific hype and helping the laymen understand the real science behind the hype. Not so much anti-religion as pro science.

  • cdk007 - Evolution explanations. General creationist lie busting. Try his "Logic of Religion" Series.

  • DarkMatter2525 - sort of a humorous site, he pokes fun more than most, but he exposes some fallacies.

  • DonExodus - His older stuff is better IMO, but still a very solid channel.

  • dprjones - some good stuff here, he's more up on the YouTube drama than some of the others.

  • Evid3nc3 - Some interesting, "how I became an atheist" stories. But the real gem of this collection has to be: A History of God part 1. Which is essentially a book report on the book "A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam"

  • GreatBigBore - His newer stuff is way off base of his older stuff... He used to do critiques of creationist/atheist debates, creationist papers, and religious propaganda, pointing out every logical fallacy he can find. Try the "God's Quality Control 2.0" series.

  • Jon LaJoie - not religiously related, but HILARIOUS nevertheless, you needed a break anyway - start with everyday normal guy and keep the laughs coming.

  • National Center for Science Education - The group trying very hard to keep Evolution in schools and Religion out of them. Dr Eugenie Scott is probably one of my personal heroes.

  • NonStampCollector - very funny, has lots of biblical contradictions in here. He loves em. Funny guy. But if there is a hell this guy's goin there unless god's got an infinite sense of humor too...

  • Philhellenes - If there was an atheist church, this would be the pastor. Warning, it can be a tear jerker... Science Saved My Soul. Deliberately uses religious tactics to invoke emotions in scientific minds to great effect.

  • potholer54 - Another personal hero. Former science news correspondent, destroys creationist arguments with his huge hammer of justice. Also has Potholer54debunks.

  • ProfMTH - again, older stuff is amazing. His "Brief Bible Blunders" series was really good.

  • QualiaSoup - Now we're cooking with fire. This guy is who you're looking for. He destroys religion's base arguments. He decimates every argument with his soft accented voice. Putting faith in its place is where I'd start.

  • A single video by smsavage32 - Was Jesus a Myth? - very enlightening.

  • TheraminTrees - Here's the brother of QualiaSoup. Deals with the psychological effects of religion. Amazing two guys here, can't go wrong with them. I'd suggest Atheism as congruence and Transition to Atheism for his personal story.

    To recap, almost everything in TheraminTrees and QualiaSoup's channels are just amazing. Watch them and have your mind grapes soar. I wish I could watch Science Saved my Soul again for the first time. That was such an experience - I envy you.

    edit I didn't include Thunderf00t, as he's not in my subscription list, so I will now. He used to be far more diplomatic and focused on education. He's become too frustrated and focused on YT politics. If he could make more like this and less like this, he'd get back on my list.
u/edvol44 · 2 pointsr/Catholicism

Invite them! It might go well! My immediate family was happy that I am commited to God, my extended family, not so much. My uncle asked me why I on Earth was converting and I very excitedly tried to tell him every reason. That didn't go so well, but now they just don't talk about it. Interestingly, the uncle I thought would be most against it was not opposed, and since we two are the only conservatives in the family and I even like Patsy Cline and Hank Sr., we get along ok. That whole branch of my family used to be Catholic but all left the church when they got super liberal. I wish they could have been at my confirmation because maybe they might have seen what they missed.

I'm at the point now where most people can't win a theological debate with me, or even get to a draw, and that makes things awkward sometimes. I also need to improve my polish a bit. I usually like to leave the door open as though I might convert to their denomination if they can prove to me why I shouldn't be Catholic, which I would if they could, but they can't, or haven't yet and I would be shocked if they could. An Orthodox or copt might have the best chance, but I doubt it. An even better way is to not mention that you're Catholic, get them to agree on everything besides the pope and mary, etc, before dropping the Catholic bomb. That approach can bring people in pretty well and I have gotten fairly decent results from it. Give your own testimony, it is your experience and is thus unassailable. Get everything that Scott Hahn has written, he is great, and converted from your background. Rome Sweet Home in particular might be helpful. it is about $3 on amazon. Read it first, get your dad to read it, if you think it is a good idea, and ask him to tell you what is wrong in it and why. Do all of this with love and charity! Do not get too worked up. It may be your soul and his and your mom's that are at stake. Use your dad's fear to get him to read it. Be as faithful and as good of a son as you can be. Honor your father and mother. When they see the love and faith with which you live your life, that will likely be the impetus to bring them home and what will get you their acceptance. Remember that it may not be overnight. Are they worried about the pope being the antichrist? I have a pretty good thought on that if you want.

u/matthewdreeves · 2 pointsr/exjw

Hello and welcome! Indoctrination in most cults can leave a person bitter about the world around them. Learning the actual facts about reality, the universe, and humanity is a good way to counter those negative feelings in my experience. Not sure how much of this applies to you, but here are my recommendations for de-indoctrinating yourself:

Take some time to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.

Read Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman

Also read A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Watch this talk from Sam Harris where he explains why "free will" is likely an illusion, which debunks the entire premise of "the fall of man" as presented by most Christian religions.

Watch this video on the Cordial Curiosity channel that teaches how the "Socratic Method" works, which essentially is a way to question why we believe what we believe. Do we have good reasons to believe them? If not, should we believe them?

Watch this video by Theramin Trees that explains why we fall for the beliefs of manipulative groups in the first place.

This video explains why and how childhood indoctrination works, for those of us born-in to a high-control group.

Another great source is this youtube series debunking 1914 being the start of the last days.

Next, learn some science. For example - spoiler alert: evolution is true. Visit Berkeley's excellent Understanding Evolution Website. Or, if you're pressed for time, watch this cartoon.

Read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

Read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.

Watch this series where Aron Ra explains in great detail how all life is connected in a giant family tree.

Learn about the origin of the universe. For example, you could read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

Learn about critical thinking from people like [Michael Shermer] (http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things?language=en), and how to spot logical fallacies.

For good measure, use actual data and facts to learn the we are NOT living in some biblical "last days". Things have gotten remarkably better as man has progressed in knowledge. For example, watch this cartoon explaining how war is on the decline.

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker.

Watch this Ted Talk by Hans Rosling, the late Swedish Statistician, where he shows more evidence that the world is indeed becoming a better place, and why we tend to wrongly convince ourselves otherwise.

I wish you the best. There is a whole world of legitimate information out there based on actual evidence that you can use to become a more knowledgeable person.

You may still wonder how you can be a good human without "the truth." Here is a good discussion on how one can be good without god. --Replace where he talks about hell with armageddon, and heaven with paradise--

Start to help yourself begin to live a life where, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, you'll "believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible."

u/tonytwobits · 3 pointsr/Christianity

I am at 3 years and counting. I am now 24. I am in the same boat as you in some ways. I NEVER thought that I could be an atheist and was incredibly involved in the church. I fully believed it and VERY much enjoyed it. Youth group, men's group, worship team, mission trips the whole works. But now, like you it is hard for me to imagine being swayed back.

For a while I wanted it to be true. After a while that began to fade as I realized how much bigger the world is without the god of the Bible. I am so much happier now. I guess a better way to describe it is I am much more satisfied and feel much more fulfilled about my life. I know it is a bit cheesy and dramatic, but this video had a big effect on me as I became an atheist. One line in particular addressed this feeling of wanting god to be true:
&gt; Could it be that someone promised us something so beautiful that our universe seems dull, empty, even frightening by comparison?

At first that is kind of how I felt. I was promised heaven. I was promised that I was going to live forever with the creator. However, another part of the video addressed this and is one of my favorite lines:

&gt;We were told long ago and for a long time that there was only the Earth—that we were the center of everything. That turned out to be wrong. We still haven’t fully adjusted. We’re still in shock. The universe is not what we expected it to be. It’s not what they told us it would be. This cosmic understanding is all new to us. But there’s nothing to fear. We’re still special. We’re still blessed. And there might yet be a heaven, but it isn’t going to be perfect. And we’re going to have to build it ourselves.

I know that I will never be as sure about my atheism as I was about my Christianity. But I have learned that is a good thing. It was un-healthy how sure I was in Christianity. Nobody can honestly be a true gnostic atheist and that is ok.

I will say however that I can be pretty sure that the god of the Bible is not god, but to say that I am 100% sure that there is no god is a irrational statement to say.

I did a lot of studying as I was becoming an atheist. Honestly I know the Bible better now that I ever did as a Christian. The more I learned the more unsure I was about Christianity.

There is a book you might like. It is called a A History of God. I am reading it right now and it is very good and I recommend it.

How do you feel now as a atheist? About life? About yourself? I am just wondering because I wonder if it was some of the same things I felt. I like talking to people as they are changing their world view in one way or another :)

u/HmanTheChicken · 2 pointsr/Catholicism

Well, a first point is that as Catholics we believe we can know God's existence through reason:

&gt;&gt;The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certitude by the natural light of human reason from created things; "for the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" [ Rom 1:20]; nevertheless, it has pleased His wisdom and goodness to reveal Himself and the eternal decrees of His will to the human race in another and supernatural way, as the Apostle says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days hath spoken to us by His Son" [Heb 1:1 f].

(From Vatican I)

As such, nobody has any excuse for not believing, and they're ultimately accountable to God for it:

&gt;&gt;18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who [d]suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is [e]manifest [f]in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [g]Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like [h]corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

(Romans 1:18-23 NKJV)

But you're right, people don't have the time to read through the arguments, and either way, we shouldn't believe on the basis of arguments. Paul said this about his preaching for example: "And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of [b]human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Our faith is compatible with reason and supplemented by reason, but it's ultimately known supernaturally, as Vatican I says.

So if someone asks us about our belief in God, unless we have the time to look through the arguments, we'll need another method. (btw, for good philosophical arguments for God, Edward Feser is really good - https://www.amazon.com/Aquinas-Beginners-Guide-Guides/dp/1851686908 you can get this really short book pretty cheap) Part of it is recognizing that atheism has no legs to stand on. If God doesn't exist, what can we base anything on? Where would we get morality, logic, etc. ? They'd be evolutionary developments and preferences, not absolute truth.

But then you could simply say - you know about God because of supernatural revelation, the Holy Spirit testifies, etc. you don't need arguments. As St. Paul said again: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) If you think about it, a lot of what an atheist believes is also known without argument. My atheist relatives have never seen the earth go around the sun, or that the earth is round, but they believe it. Why? Some people who they trust said it. That's how we get most of our knowledge really, and that's not a bad thing. We trust the testimony of the Apostles in Scripture and Tradition that God is real. Hope that helps.

u/Bilbo_Fraggins · 1 pointr/Christianity

This is at least partially true, we all too often explain rather than deduce. However, it also means we have reason to trust extrinsic evidence over intrinsic evidence, and demand our beliefs converge as closely as possible with the findings of science, which is name we've given to the best set of tools we've created for removing bias from our understanding.

If any religion was true, it should be increasingly convergent over time, not increasingly divergent. See also the problem of inconsistant revelations.

I'm not a Christian because no evidence has been proposed that makes Christianity exceptional, and lots has been proposed that makes it wrong in it's traditional formulations. See for example the lack of an historical Adam, which is highly damaging to the Pauline view of Christianity.

Also, the Bible is just plain wrong on the first 13 billion years of the universe, the first ~247,000 years of the human species, the first at least 47,000 years of socially modern humans, the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the grand united Davidic kingdom(though there was likely a local Davidic Kingdom, whose size and power are still debated as new evidence appears), and just about everything else before the 8th century BC. It's clear from textual clues the historical David was pumped up to justify the political ambitions of Josiah (who, you'll recall, "just happened" to "find" the Deuteronomic books that were "lost".) From then on it's a heavily biased book, demonizing the acts of certain rulers and glorifying others, in ways that don't seem to fit the historical record. The stories it contains condone misogyny, genocide, homophobia, slavery, etc as we should expect as the natural writings of the wisdom of desert dwellers in 8th to 4th century BC. (For more, see The Bible Unearthed, which despite being 10 years old has aged quite well. The only debated part in the journals has been just how small the Davidic kingdom is, but no one is arguing for the grand united Davidic kingdom as seen in the Bible.)

The Bible is not all bad of course, some of the writers had lofty goals like social justice and care for the poor in mind. But it certainly doesn't read like the perfect revelation of an almighty God. Most scholars would happily agree with me, and seek to increasingly mystify the Bible. (See Borg's Reading the Bible Again For the First Time for one of the better examples.)

You'll note William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga, though accomplished philosophers, both heavily lean on the "internal witness of the Holy Spirit" for their own belief. Once again, this is introspection, and devalues the religious experiences of every other religion out there.

If there were other evidence that led us to think any of this might be true, I'd be happy to go that way. But so far, I have not found any. The best argument that takes all the evidence into account is Spongs, given in Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and A New Christianity for a New World. Like many modern theologians, he has retreated into a panentheistic view of God, who is out there but outside of the reach of our understanding, and demotes all holy books to the writings of humans trying to understand this being. This at least is cogent, though once again it mostly boils down to mistaking introspection for facts.

I've written before on what it would take for me to believe, and as you'll see if you read it, it's pretty much "convergent evidence". Right now, no religion has that, and each one says they are justified based on introspection.

Science converges based on an external reality, religion diverges based on biased introspection and mutual competing claimed "revelations" that clearly aren't.

And that is in a nutshell why I'm an atheist. (At least that's what I tell myself. ;-)

(Sorry for the preaching, but it was just about the perfect setup ;-)

u/SilouansSong · 2 pointsr/Catholicism

Hi there. I started converting a couple months ago, so I can still remember when I was harboring some of your questions. In particular I had a large intellectual hurdle to get past, so I've done a fair amount of reading and research.

  1. Yes. My personal, amateur summary of is that God is that which exists outside of the world of contingencies; by definition God is the first mover. As others have mentioned, look into Thomas Aquinas's Five Ways proofs for the existence of God. Philosopher Edward Feser recently released a book that is intended to expound to a more lay audience the philosophical proofs for the existence of God.

  2. My outline for conversion was the following:

    a. Getting to religion: Proof of God.

    b. Getting to Christianity: Proof of Bible.

    c. Getting to Catholicism: Proof of Catholicism.

    For a, I'd done spiritual seeking about a decade ago and through a mixture of contemplation and meditation had arrived at a personal understanding of the existence of a God, but, due to my insistence on forensic evidence of God, I'd closed myself off to even entertaining the notion of choosing any religion's explanation of God. (This insistence on affirmative, worldly proof of God I have since realized is addressed by the wealth of philosophical arguments discussed by theologians, many of them members of the Catholic Church.) So, I believed in a God, but I was convinced that human reasoning inherently couldn't work out an understanding of anything about God (namely, whether His character matched one religion more closely than another), because human reasoning works within the bounds of the universe, but God comes before the universe.

    On b, the long story short is, a couple months ago I read the Bible just to know what it said, not for religious conversion. But I realized that if what it said was true (and obviously I knew many people in the world believed it to be true), then this was God's revelation to mankind what human reasoning couldn't have figured out on its own (which is where I had been stuck in (a)). So the question became whether there's sufficient evidence to believe the Bible is a true account. The most convincing argument I've seen was in a comment somewhere else on this subreddit: the vast majority of the apostles--that is, the eyewitnesses to Jesus, and who either authored the Gospels or were the primary source for the writer of the Gospel--died on behalf of their beliefs, and even the simplest game-theory game, the Prisoner's Dilemma, shows how most people crack in an even less risky proposition (that is, only one other co-player, instead of eleven others).

    c. So why the Catholic Church? My view is, the truth of anything is most confidently arrived at by getting as close as possible to the source of the matter. The Catholic Church is the very first church, and its priests have been ordained in a line of succession leading all the way back to the apostles, who were ordained/empowered by Jesus ("apostolic succession").

  3. Not educated enough on Descartes, sorry.

  4. Being a recent convert, I experience pretty regular instances of doubt in part due to so many decades of ingrained thoughts outright dismissing religion. One thing I do is even entertain the notion--OK, say I doubt it and want to be done with this. But I realize that knowing what I know now, I couldn't go back. More generally, it's nice to know that all of us experience doubt. And I find especially helpful a line of a man in the Bible who, when told by Jesus that his son could be healed by belief in Jesus' power, proclaimed, "I believe; help my unbelief!" So, it's the acknowledgement that we can believe but still would appreciate reassurance or conviction to assuage any doubt that arises.

  5. Maybe this will change as I get deeper in, but right now my primary intention is living in accordance with God and His commands, which from a pragmatic point of view I recognize brings good to the world. The hope is that the consequence of these choices and acts will be being with God, but the intention behind them isn't because I want a reward.

    As I said, I was in similar shoes as yours a couple months ago, so if you have any questions or want to throw ideas around, I'm glad to keep chatting, and feel free to PM me. I may have found online articles or books that might answer some of your questions.

u/keenmedia · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt; Science has always been a way to understand God better for Christians.

has it? Or have Christians been forcing their 'worldview' on others for 2,000 years claiming to have special knowledge about the mysteries of existence and life after death with no other evidence than a book and their own personal 'revelations'. For most of that time, their claim to absolute truth was absolute and unchallengeable. The advancement of sciences in the areas of physics, biology, astronomy and chemistry, especially in the last 200 years, have been able to explain many of the mysteries that confounded our ancestors, and have transformed our lives in tangibly positive ways. Take leprosy: People in Biblical times thought leprosy was a sign of sin against God, and so you were 'unclean'. Of course nobody believes that anymore (to his credit, it seems Jesus didn't buy into it either). According to wikipedia: In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy, which is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. It's one example but I'm sure you can think of many more. The church has lost so much ground to science that there are only a few little islands of mystery from which to they try to claim authority and justification for their philosophies, such as:

&gt; the Bible is kind of like an ethical cheat sheet, from an omniscient God who actually knows the answers
&gt; even those who didn't hear about God know what's right &amp; wrong

and you have your own theory:

&gt; God started things off, realized natural selection was a great way to set up a diverse planet, and probably intervened a bit in the ape -&gt; human transition.

Now, you are basically saying that the differences we perceive between a human and a chimpanzee are actually the direct result of a deliberate intervention, at a specific time in the past, by a creator god (from outer space), who engineered the development of our culture, giving us laws, clothing, marriage, and possibly music and mathematics. It's an interesting theory, but whats the motivation?

&gt; man is different from the animals

This is the central issue. Logically, if we are animals than either animals have souls (and we should all be vegetarians, or burn as murderers), or humans do not have souls (and there is no eternal life for believers). This is a catch-22 for a bible believing christians and meat-eaters. Maybe you can say animals do have souls, but God said we can eat them so its OK. This is kind of like saying God is an asshole who arbitrarily makes up the rules as he goes along (which is a solid theological position - just ask Job: the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away).

I think to separate ourselves from the animals is to deny the truth of what science has shown us about ourselves. For Christians, science may be just a way to understand God better, but for the rest of us it is a way to understand reality better. Of course Christians want there to be no conflict between faith in the Bible and reality because no philosophy can exist without being rooted to some degree in reality; otherwise it is just a fantasy.

Let me back up a second. You said you believe the Bible is true and historically accurate, and I won't ask you what evidence you have for believing that. I used to believe as you did, that the Bible is true, and so is evolution but that somehow there is no conflict and the two work together - that somehow there in the whole mix of life evolving naturally, God intervened and sent Jesus to fulfill his mysterious plan so that we can all live forever in heaven. I just didn't want to accept that all those people (including my family) could be wrong; they are obviously sincere in their beliefs. For several years I found various ways to explain it all without accepting a 'naturalistic worldview', and all that implies including a very high probability of there being no life after death. I might still believe in the Bible if I hadn't started reading science books and watching BBC documentaries... yep Attenborough offered me the red pill and i took it.

If you can pretend for a moment you were born in Africa or Asia, in some remote tribe with no written language. You wouldn't have any reason to trust in a book you could not read; everything you know about the universe has been explained to you by those around you, those who came before, those who were close in the beginning. This is the same experience as any animal that learns how to hunt or fly or build nests from their parents.

The book I mentioned, Our Inner Ape documents the social behavior and societies of bonobos and chimpanzees, written by noted primatologist Frans de Waal who has studied these unique primates for decades. It's a fascinating read and may surprise you to see how many behaviors people tend to think of as uniquely 'human' are, in fact, shared by our closely-related ape cousins. In fact, de Waal shows, all major traits are shared, including language, toolmaking, and the full range of emotional states. Within the ape societies, the apes have their own standards of 'right' and 'wrong' behavior that they enforce in the same ways we do: shunning some, rewarding others, punishing the worst offenders. They learn from each other, and pass on skills to their offspring.

Evolution, as I understand it, is the theory that explains how more efficient/adapted forms emerge from the natural processes of entropy and diffusion. The theory explains how natural processes have driven our biological development, and also why men have nipples. Biological evolution is a special case; Evolution itself is a law of Nature, at a more elementary level, in the realm of Physics or Math.

All of our languages, customs, art, music, and every other thinking pattern has evolved through these same natural processes. Basically, I'm describing Memes. Have you ever thought about Christianity as a Meme? Of the Catholic Church as an organism whose main goal is to ensure its own survival? We have been and continue to evolve, quite rapidly, both biologically and culturally. Every individual and every idea wants to survive, but not everything gets successfully passed to the next generation. Every meme and species is only one generation away from becoming extinct. Adapt or die. This is why the mainstream church is becoming warmer to the idea of evolution, why the Vatican apologized for Galileo - survival of the religion is more important than orthodoxy.

The line between science and philosophy and religion get blurred with evolution because it answers, quite elegantly, the 'big' question: where did we come from? For this reason, it is a threat to all memes based on the idea of a 'creator god' because it nullifies this concept directly. Indirectly, it has the potential to erode the foundations underneath many religions. But I don't think the ideas of evolution are really a threat to you, me, our standards of morality, our way of life or anything else. The victims are a literal interpretation of the Bible and belief in a 'creator god'. Why not let it go? If you had never read the Bible, would you really be a less moral person? really? If not for that one book all people would know nothing but evil and be totally selfish to each other? Is this one book worth deliberately lobotomizing yourself? You'll go crazy trying to reconcile it; do you want to end up like Ray Comfort or Ken Ham?

A couple other interesting books you might enjoy if you feel like taking the red pill:

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind

Your Inner Fish

Sorry for the novel, kind got caught up in it :)

u/Happy_Pizza_ · 1 pointr/Catholicism

I actually deconverted from Catholicism in college. I'm a revert.

I never got into into the party culture. I'm really against drinking and doing drugs, and I've always been skeptical of sex outside of a committed relationship and those morals stuck with me even after I deconverted from Christianity. What I did encounter was a lot of intellectual arguments against religion that I couldn't answer. However, what I also eventually discovered was that most of those objections had been heard before and responded to, at least in some manner.

So, here's my semi-comprehensive list of apologetics apologetics resources that I've accumulated over the years.

IMHO, the following books cover all the essentials very well and are probably must reads. You can buy used or online copies of them relatively cheaply, under 20 dollars if you're in the US. Check out Trent Horn's Answering Atheism, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civ, Mere Christianity by CS Lewis (you can probably get Mere Christianity at your at public library), and What is Marriage? Man and Woman a Defense for defending the concept of natural marriage. You should also read How to Argue which is a free pdf. I haven't researched abortion apologetics as extensively as other areas but I know Trent Horn has some books on those.


I'm not going to say you should read all of my remaining recommendations but I'm putting the rest out there for you so you know they exist.

Now, no list of apologtics is going to cover every argument about Christianity so I would also recommend some online resources. www.reddit.com/r/Catholicism is an amazing forum. It has tons of Catholics who are way more knowledgable and experienced that me who can answer questions and stuff. You may or may not have heard of it ;). I also recommend William Lane Craig's site: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/question-answer. Again, Craig is a protestant so don't look to him for a defense of Catholicism. However, he's good when it comes to defending the basics of Christianity from atheism. Catholic Answers is good. Fr Barron is good. Strange Notions can be good, I link to it in my last paragraph.

The exact relationship between faith and reason was my biggest stumbling block on the road back to Catholicism, so I have some good recommendations on that topic. I recommend the papal encycle Fides et Ratio and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civ. Plantinga's book Where the Conflict Really Lies is also popular and uses evolution to make an interesting argument against materialism. Plantinga's not a Catholic so I don't know how well they would square with Catholic philosophies like Thomism, but, yeah, he exists. He also wrote this giant essay on faith and science, which was helpful. The book God and the Philosophers is pretty good too, it's an anthology of different Christian philosophers and talks about how they converted to Christianity.

Some comprehensive (but expensive) books by non-Catholics include The Blackwell Companion to natural theology by William Lane Craig (not a Catholic). I've heard good things about Richard Swinburne's apologetics trilogy The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason. Swinburne is Eastern Orthodox, just for the record.

I want to give a special shoutout to Edward Fesser. He's a secular atheist philosopher who converted to Catholicism. You can read his conversion story here. He also has a blog that you can google. Fesser also wrote a bunch of books that are highly recommended by people on this sub, although I haven't read them.

u/nullp0int · 17 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Let's dismantle your friend's arguments:

&gt; Because something can't come from nothing...

Prove it. If he can't, his argument already falls apart. People assume that "something can't come from nothing" is a fact, but what evidence backs this up? Every single human being has been surrounded by "something" for every instant of his or her existence. Not once has any person experienced absolute "nothing". Thus any statement about the properties of "nothing" (besides being self-contradictory, as "nothing" cannot have properties) is complete and total Making Shit Up. This is begging the question.

&gt; ...there had to be a being intelligent enough to create it

If something can exist without prior cause, then clearly prior cause is not always needed for existence. Therefore the demand that the universe have a prior cause is unreasonable. Furthermore, the universe is not a "thing" - it is the set of all things. Assuming that the whole must have the characteristics of its parts is the fallacy of composition.

&gt; Because god exists outside of science, he doesn't need a scientific explanation.

"Outside of science" is a nonsensical statement. Please define or stop using this. Also, this is special pleading.

&gt; The chances of abiogenesis occurring is 1 in 10^40,000. Most statisticians agree that these chances are far too improbable for such a thing to occur that it's essentially impossible.

This is Just Plain Wrong. The chance of abiogenesis occurring is not 1 in 10^40,000; people who think so are basing their beliefs off junk science and junk math. See: here for details. By the way, the whole "most statisticians agree..." is a ploy by your friend to hide the fact that he just pulled a random unsubstantiated number (10^40,000) out of the air and expects you to accept it.

&gt;Nearly all genetic mutations are big and negative...

Again, Just Plain Wrong. See this and this. Your friend needs to do a little more research.

&gt; ...therefore evolution having mutations that are small and positive is nearly impossible.

Your friend is showing his ignorance regarding evolution. Mutations are neither positive nor negative without context. A mutation which is helpful under certain circumstances is harmful under others. See the previous two links for more.

&gt; Everything in nature seems perfectly designed for human beings.

Yep, cancer, natural disasters, predators, odorless toxic gases, plagues have all been perfectly designed to suit human beings. Toss your friend alone and naked into the wilderness and see how far that "perfectly designed" environment takes him. Better yet, toss him into the 99.99999999% of the universe that is not Earth and see how long he survives.

Furthermore, saying that "everything looks designed" is self-defeating. Ask your friend to show you an example of something which is not designed. Let's say he suggests X. Point out that, according to his beliefs, God did in fact design X, thus your friend has demonstrated an inability to tell the difference between things that are designed and not designed. In addition, if literally everything around us is designed, then he very concept of being designed loses all meaning (in the same way that theists like to say that good without evil loses all meaning).

&gt; There's no way to explain that/the complexity around us with mutations.

Again, does not understand evolution. He should read this before making more ill-informed statements.

&gt; There had to be a creator.

Even if this were true (it's not, given that every single thing your friend has said above is utterly wrong) - but even if this were true, there's nothing that says that this creator is anything like human notions of "God".

u/luvintheride · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

&gt; As if science has stopped investigating the origin of life. It hasn't.

I still subscribe to science research journals, and keep up with advances in microbiology. The more evidence that comes to light, the more it supports that this world has a Creator. Do you know that Darwin's "small change" thesis has all but been proven false? Even Richard Dawkins has admitted that publically. Large changes are required for speciation. Please take a look at this 2 minute video and tell me in honesty, what is more likely? That this incredibly efficient, delicate and precise nano-engine formed "naturally", despite entropy and harsh conditions, or that it has a designer.


&gt; You're confusing baseless speculation with inference based on physical evidence.

Don't you know that Einstein's detractors scoffed at Relativity "based on physical evidence" ? It wasn't until an eclipse and the transit of Mercury until they started believing in relativity. That's "verifiable evidence". As you look at the fossil record, always keep track of what is actual versus inferred, and you'll save yourself from falling for a lot of lies and speculation.

&gt; Because we absolutely did NOT get broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and headed cabbage from the same plant, no, sir.

Thanks for that link, but I have no trouble with cultivars and variations in traits. Evolution makes claims of species and creation (abiogensis) itself. Please be more precise when you categorize your knowledge, and stop lumping things together. You don't believe that blondes, brunettes, giants, midgets, blacks, and whites are separate species do you ?

&gt; Like I said, feel free to propose a testable explanation for why all life on Earth is related by varying degrees that's better thsn evolutionary theory.

Well, I believe that every atom in this entire universe was created and is actively sustained at every moment by the will of God. All of space-time is just one continuous thought of His infinite mind. His mind is greater than this entire universe. He is able to change things here like we change things in a video game. You might be wondering why He allows so much evil to happen. There is good reasoning for that if you are interested.

To get to understanding the logic behind a Creator, you have to study the logic of actualities, contingencies and potentials. Atoms are contingencies, which means they are dependant on "something else" to create and sustain them. Dr. Ed Feser's book "Five proofs for God" goes through that and other sound logic tha points to a Creator. The logic of these arguments have never been refuted in the history of mankind's greatest thinkers.

Of course, that just gets you to deism. You'd have to study more philosophy and history to realize that Christianity is rationally true. Rationalism is just one side of the coin though. God wants everyone to realize His presence with their entire mind and hearts (love, appreciation, etc).

&gt; Please notice that inference can always be improved on, which is a feature inherent to the scientific method.

Great, so you realize that "scientific consensus" is often wrong. There is a big difference between verifiable facts and consensus. While scientific opinion has been changing embarrassingly for 2000 years, I found that Christian doctrine has not changed. Real Truth is always true, so after 30 years of being a skeptic, I slowly realized what is more reliable.

u/love_unknown · 7 pointsr/DebateReligion

I have a couple of things to say. Nothing philosophical, really—you've looked at the philosophical disputes already, and ultimately I think what you need to make up your mind is time, contemplation, and journeying. Don't think this is something that you need to determine instantly; if there is a God (as, I think, the best evidence indicates there is), then he must be compassionate and certainly is not displeased by someone who deliberately takes the time to figure things out and pursue truth with an open heart.

You're 17. Do you have any plans to go to college? If so, do the institutions you're looking at offer any philosophy of religion courses? Self-study is great, but sometimes coming at an issue in an explicitly academic context helps people really determine and refine what they think.

I, for one, cannot imagine the God in whom I believe sending such a sincere seeker of the truth to hell. Christians believe that God is love, that love is God's very essence (and indeed, if they are correct, the philosophical arguments over at /r/ThroughAGlassDarkly should establish that one of God's characteristics is being all-loving). If you have the time, I'd recommend picking up the book The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, a marvelous exposition into contemporary Christian thought regarding heaven and hell. In short, heaven is the condition of living in love, and hell is the condition of living without love—those who live in love presently on earth are already in an 'anticipated heaven,' as it were, while those who have surrendered to their own selfishness have already descended into a hell of their own making, a prison of their own subjectivity. I can't say for sure, obviously, but from this and other posts you don't strike me as someone whose concern for the satiation of subjective urges outweighs the longing for objective truth.

God is just, loving, and merciful. If you love others and act according to your conscience, I don't think you have reason to fear. Yet by no means cease from exploring. Read widely. If you're at all interested in Christianity I would recommend picking up C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, any popular-level work by N. T. Wright, and perhaps Ratzinger's God and the World or any papal encyclical issued since 2005. If for now you're just trying to wrap your head around the question of whether God exists, I would suggest that you continue to study independently, and plunge headfirst into life, being open to ideas, to people, to new experiences. The reality of God is apprehended not just in philosophical argumentation but also experientially; if in your journeying it becomes evident to you that there is something more, something greater than the hum-drum of everyday life or the experience of material satisfaction and transient happiness, then perhaps you will understand that God is out there, and that he loves you.

u/MegaTrain · 1 pointr/DebateAnAtheist

You have quite a few misconceptions about evolution. I am a former creationist myself, and everything finally "clicked" for me reading Jerry Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True". If you are serious about your questions, I'd encourage you to read it.

My answers to your questions:

  1. Evolution doesn't have a "goal" in mind. Changes happen naturally (mutations), but they will only stick around in a population if they are adaptive in some way (better for the creature). It's pretty cool that evolution eventually produced us, but this was not inevitable in any way, nor an "end goal" of evolution.

  2. Not sure if you are looking for a literal crocoduck or something, but we have tons of transitional fossils (in a way, all fossils are transitional). Coyne's book talks quite a bit about evidence of whale evolution, where transitional fossils are very clear.

  3. Physics is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is simply a description of how things work, it's not a set of rules imposed from someone else that matter has to obey/follow. So it didn't have to "be in place" before anything.

  4. In our view, Earth appears to be very well suited to support life (us, specifically). But this is actually backwards, we were shaped (by evolution) to be perfect for life on this earth. It's like a puddle saying "this is an interesting hole I find myself in, it fits me rather neatly, doesn't it?" (courtesy of Douglas Adams). Regarding life on other worlds, space is pretty big, so lots of people expect to someday find a planet somewhere else out there that could also support life. The fact that we don't yet have the technology to find them doesn't mean they aren't there.

  5. If you want to be precise, the Big Bang was more like a very rapid expansion of stuff, but I don't have a problem describing it as an explosion, as long as you don't use that analogy to make other unwarranted assumptions.

  6. Some other primates do have sharper teeth and claws. How a particular trait in a specific creature evolved is mostly speculation, but I could see situations where higher intelligence would be an evolutionary advantage over physical prowess.

  7. I used to be a Christian. I am an atheist now because I examined my faith in great detail, and concluded that it didn't hold up to scrutiny. I am open-minded though, if we see evidence that suggests that God is real, I'd be willing to consider it.

  8. To borrow from Matt Dillahunty: I want to believe as many true things, and as few false things, as possible. So the only thing that would make Christianity more attractive is if I had any reason to suspect it was actually true.
u/Naugrith · 4 pointsr/Christianity

The Bible is a collection of different texts, each one written by different people at different times for different reasons. The concept of "history" wasn't even invented for much of the period of writing, and our modern understanding of genres is only loosely connected to the genres present and recognised at the time. Much of the Bible was never written to be interpreted literally in the first place, it is intended to be read as allegorical, theological, poetry, apocalyptic, prophetic, metaphorical, or parables.

In addition much of scripture was written in one way by the author and later interpreted by the community of the faithful in another sense as well, as people saw that while the writer couldn't have known the deeper meaning of his words, the Holy Spirit can use those words to show later readers a more profound truth. In interpreting the texts, historically the Western Church has considered four general 'Senses' in which any passage can be read. This is an artificial division, but still helpful. These senses are: Literal, Allegorical, Moral, and Anagogical.

The literal sense is not just a 'plain reading' as some conservative evangelicals would understand it, but covers the sense of the text after being interpreted according to sound, consistent rules, called 'exegesis'.

The Moral sense involves the moral lessons that can be derived from the text, that interpretation which leads us to act justly.

The Allegorical sense is when we look at the text and derive a more profound understanding of how it points us towards Christ, and towards God.

The Anagogical sense (from the Greek: anagoge, “leading”) is the sense of the text that points to realities and events in terms of their eternal significance.

For example, the story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea can be interpreted Literally, as a story of God's rescuing of His People in the past, it can be interpreted Morally as an instruction to us today to trust in God's provision during times of trouble. It can be interpreted Allegorically as a sign or type of Christ's salvation and of Baptism, and it can be interpreted Anagogically as pointing towards our final rescue and God's leading us out of this world into the Promised Land of the New Heaven and the New Earth. All four senses can be used on the same passage, though not every passage can be interpreted in all four senses.

This is all to say that the Bible cannot be taken at 'face value' but must always be interpreted. A book I always recommend as an essential starter book is How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee. It gives a good summary of the different genres present in the Bible and how to read them to get the most out of them.

However this is only a starter text. Some would say the bible is so complicated and based on such ancient ideas that are so difficult for modern readers to understand that only certain people are qualified to interpret them, and we must submit our own understanding to that of the Church. Others would say individual 'lay' Christians are capable of interpreting the scriptures correctly but such interpretation requires much serious study, understanding of context and secondary books to guide us. Others would say that all any reader needs is the Holy Spirit and God will ensure our understanding is correct, so we don't need to study at all.

Personally I think both the former and latter extreme positions are flawed, and I think with long study, willingness to learn, serious discussion with other Christians, humbleness, and faith any individual can interpret the scriptures correctly. However we should never be so arrogant as to think that our own understanding is always correct, or that there is not something we can learn from the wider Church and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Nor should we be worried when we don't understand something. While full and accurate understanding of scripture is helpful, it is not essential for salvation, only faith in Christ. A full understanding of the deeper lessons of scripture will often come later, after many years living in faith. If you can't understand something now, just put it to one side, and have faith in God that he will help you to understand it when you're ready to do so.

u/I_Flip_Burgers · 3 pointsr/facepalm

&gt; Dinosaurs contradict creation theory.

Possibly. But many branches of Christianity do not endorse YEC.

&gt; Evolution contradicts 'god made humans to be above all others', since our ascendance is based on (essentially) chance.

For some this is true. But again, many Christians are theistic evolutionists.

&gt; Other planets and the nigh-certainty of extraterrestrial life contradicts 'god made earth/the entire universe. The (measurable!) Big Bang theory already does that though, of course.

I don't see the contradiction unless you mean that it contradicts that God made the universe specifically for human beings. In that case, this is a point of contention that was shared by many early natural philosophers, even non-Christians. The Ptolemaic geocentric system of the universe was valued because it put human beings at the center (among other reasons). But, this seems to be a problem less about Christianity and more about human importance in general.

&gt; If Christianity is not the first religion, it suggests that people will make up origin stories to comfort themselves, and Christianity is just one of them. This is of course a different branch of science (anthropology I think?), but a valid one afaik.

Good point. There is a reason why anthropology has one of the lowest proportions of religious people of the scientific disciplines. But, a religious person could argue that people generate origin stories so as to fill a God-instilled void in themselves (I am not making this argument, I'm just saying that it is a possible one).

&gt; Furthermore, if God made the world and everything in it, why would he a) make other religions; and b) let people carry on for thousands of years without knowing about God, and in fact believing in the wrong gods. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Good point, but this is venturing beyond science into theology.

&gt; Now I agree every single one of those points can be refuted if you try hard enough. The point is though, you have to try.
In order to refute the points above, you have to decide that the first christians were flat-out wrong in taking the bible factually and that it was always meant to be allegorical.

Good points, and this is why some Christians have such difficulty with certain scientific discoveries. If one holds a literal interpretation of the Bible, it is much harder to reconcile modern science with Christianity. But, is this a flaw in Christianity itself or a flaw in certain human doctrines about Christianity? Personally, I do not see logical inconsistency with people who adjust their doctrine according to new scientific discoveries. In the book I linked, several of the authors discuss how Christianity helped shape modern science, but the inverse can also be true; science can help shape Christian theology. Isaac Newton, who is "Mr. Science" for many and often used as the posterboy for atheism, invoked the concept and several attributes of the Christian God to explain several of his scientific findings in his Letters and General Scholium. But, he also made theological arguments about the nature of Christ and the timeline of Christ's return based on his scientific beliefs. Adapting one's beliefs according to new evidence is never a bad thing in science or theology.

&gt; I could also bring up the fact there are other religions in the world today, and THEY all claim to be the only one. Or the fact that kids who are taught things at an early age internalise them. Or the fact that there is no such thing as a miracle with evidence and that they haven't happened since the advent of portable cameras.

These are interesting arguments, but again, they are theological (or at least philosophical) ones, not scientific ones.

&gt; There are other arguments of course. But I think it comes down to this: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The claim of an omnipotent being in the sky watching us, leaving us entirely alone, and judging us when we die is an incredibly extraordinary claim with an equally extraordinary amount of evidence and logic stacked against it - and frankly, not much for it.
If you, claiming to believe in science, can see all the evidence and still believe in God...there's a problem. They are mutually exclusive.

Here, you hit on the primary conflict that people perceive between science and Christianity. How do we find truth? In post-Baconian natural philosophy/science, evidence is seen as the gold standard for establishing truth. But, what is evidence? For a data scientist, evidence might be a statistically significant difference between two populations. For an evolutionary biologist, evidence might be certain aspects of the fossil record. In general terms, one may consider evidence to be the end result of an inductive line of reasoning or a correctly predicted outcome from a hypothetico-deductive reasoning. But, as it turns out, even these last two are not "proof" in the traditional sense (see The Problem of Induction and Hypothetic-deductive model Discussion. Many Christians also see evidence of God in nature. Francis Collins, for example, is a brilliant scientist who played a pivotal role in the Human Genome Project and is the director of the National Institutes of Health, and he sees evidence for God in evolution The Language of God. Does Collins offer evidence? You may not think so, but it is worth thinking about how his account is fundamentally different from "scientific evidence." Evidence is not a bad criterion to use for establishing truth, but there are many kinds of evidence, and very few forms of evidence provide logical proof. Now, I am not trying to discredit the value of a scientific approach for understanding truth; of course, such a method has proven to be incredibly useful for understanding and manipulating our world. However, I am suggesting that science, at least in the eyes of many people, does not hold sole authority over truth.

&gt;I don't deny the profound effects christianity has had on the human race, including the development of science, literature, art and contribution to law and government. I just don't think it's real, nor do I think it's possible to logically reconcile belief in god with science

The great part about this debate is that you alone have sole jurisdiction over your own beliefs, and I certainly am not trying to convince you to think in another way. But, it is sometimes worth thinking about why so many people see science and Christianity in a different light.

I certainly understand the insistence that science and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible, but I hope that I have given you a few points to consider. If you are interested in this topic, it may be worth reading more about the relationship between science and Christianity. It's a great opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and to avoid falling into the historical fallacies that both Christians and non-Christians are prone to.

u/The_New_34 · 31 pointsr/Christianity

As a Catholic, I can assure you Catholics ARE Christians. Mel Gibson is a Catholic... sort of. He's a Sedevacantist.

Man, call yourself a Christian! I would also recommend looking into the Roman Catholic faith or the Eastern Orthdox faith (we're the OG Christians, lol).

Yes, get a Bible, but DON'T read it cover-to-cover. Once you get to Leviticus, you'll be like, "What the actual f--- is going ON here?" Start with the New Testament, specifically one of the Gospels. I personally love the Gospel of Luke because of how it portrays Mary, but the Gospel of John is quite good, too. It's very symbolic and is perhaps the one you could study the deepest.

if you're finding it hard to understand some of the New Testament of the Bible (the part with Jesus, the letters of Paul, and the Book of Revelation,) I would recommend buying the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. It's an actual, readable Bible that contains commentary throughout. The version I linked is only for the New Testament. The Old Testament analysis is still being compiled, but it's almost done.

Also, listen to Scott Hahn's podcast where he breaks down various sections of the Bible.

As for reading materials outside the Bible, I can highly recommend Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis, Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, and Chesterton's other work The Everlasting Man.

Oh yeah, PRAY! Just have a conversation with God! Talk to him about anything you want! Pray to God, ask the Blessed Mother for intercession, or any of the saints

If you're confused about the various denominations of Christianity, Here's a basic flow chart.

Here's the Nicene Creed, which is a mash-up of what (most) Christians believe

Also, I highly recommend the Podcast Pints with Aquians! It's an analysis of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, who's life mission was to combine faith with human reason and prove that it was not unreasonable to believe in God, but perhaps it is unreasonable to not believe in God.

I, along with everyone on this sub, will be praying for you! Good luck on your faith journey!

u/Why_are_potatoes_ · -2 pointsr/Christianity


&gt;As I am very new to the faith, I was wondering if I could receive some advice/answers from people here. What would the best writing be to look at for talks through various denominations. Do I need a specific denomination? What other Christian works would be good to read in order to gain a better understanding of the relationship with God and general Christian concepts (I have already ordered a collection of C. S. Lewis’s works as a start).

Well, I would of course want you to join the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Some great resources, in general, include Bishop Barron (anything by him, he's fantastic), Peter Kreeft's works, and Scott Hahn's works. C.S. Lewis, who was highly influenced by Tolkien and Chesterton, both Catholic, is a fantastic starting point. [This] (https://www.amazon.com/Why-Be-Catholic-Important-Question/dp/0307986438) book, [this] (https://www.amazon.com/Lambs-Supper-Mass-Heaven-Earth/dp/0385496591) book, and [this] (https://www.amazon.com/Catechism-Catholic-Church-Complete-Updated/dp/0385479670) Catechism aregreat reading resources. I'd recommend getting a kindle if you don't have one so you can do what I did and just pour through tons of books. If you have a past with Orthodoxy, check out the Orthodox Way by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware as well as the Eastern Catholic Churches. [This] (https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/057803834X/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;amp;qid=1493667291&amp;amp;sr=8-1&amp;amp;pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&amp;amp;keywords=origins+of+catholic+christianity&amp;amp;dpPl=1&amp;amp;dpID=41bsQ2nPSxL&amp;amp;ref=plSrch) book, as well as the other two parts of it, are very interesting as well, and include part I, the Crucified Rabbi, part II, the Catholic Paul, and part III, the Eternal City. Sorry for the boatload of information; Bishop Barron, overall, is the best place to start. You can find him on YouTube.

I'd also recommend that you go on the sidebar to each and every denominational subreddit and ask them why they think they are the True Church. The one thing I can't recommend enough is to not make a grocery list of doctrines you like and then pick the denomination that suits you best. That isn't how Christianity works; there is one Pillar and Bulwark of Truth, one Body of Christ, and one Church-- the next step for you is figuring out which one it is. You'd probably want to start with Catholicism or Orthodoxy, the two Churches that can directly trace their roots back to the Apostles, yet sadly one split from the other in 1054.

If you haven't yet, get a good, solid Bible (preferably one with the original canon, not the Lutheran one) and start reading the Gospels prayerfully, as well as the Epistles. For the epistles especially, keep in mind the audience of the letter and the context. For the New Testament, the Ignatius Study Bible is incredible; however, the Old Testament has yet to come out. You can get a bundle deal on Amazon with the Catechism and a Study Bible.

God bless, and we'll keep praying for you on your journey!

u/aquinasbot · 1 pointr/atheism

&gt;You claim that your god interacts with the physical world in response to prayers and according to his "plan" to influence people and events and yet have never shown any proof of the truth of such a claim nor have you even advanced a theory on how such an external supernatural action would occur outside of physical laws.

There are those who may say they have proof in the experiencing the miracles or answered prayers themselves, but I do not believe I'll be able to provide you with "proof" that God interacts with the world. What would that proof look like anyway?

&gt;On top of that, you claim that wine and bread literally transforms into blood and body of Christ. Not allegorically, not metaphorically, literally. This claim is easily disprovable and hurts your credibility. As well, the claim that blessings, confession, sacraments, adoration or any of these ceremonies has a basis in reality is absurd and has zero evidence to back it up.

Yes, I do believe that at the words of consecration from the priest, the bread and wine literally, substantially, truly become the body and blood of Christ.

The claim is easily disprovable in what way? Do you want to take the bread and wine and examine it? We assert that even under a microscope, the bread and wine will still look like bread and wine.

The doctrine of the Real Presence states that Jesus is present under the appearances of bread and wine. So any testing would still reveal that bread and wine are still present.

Even Jesus' own followers left him after hearing him say that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, it is not surprising that those not of the faith would scoff at it. It is a scandalous claim indeed.

&gt;Spirital as it pertains to biological as well as life-after-death. You say a lot about what the afterlife is like and what the parameters for attaining it are without any basis of proof aside from stories from ancient illiterate shepherds who had no idea how reality worked. You have zero actual knowledge of souls, sins, resurrection, afterlife, etc. and yet you make many claims about them and call these claims "truth".

This depends on what you mean by "knowledge." Are you suggesting that the only way of attaining knowledge of something is to prove it scientifically?

This proof you are seeking is nothing something we've ever claimed that we've had. These things you mention (sins, resurrection, afterlife, etc.) are things we believe de fide divina et ecclesiastica (of divine and ecclesiastical faith).

As far as the soul, I think there is room for discussion about the evidence of the soul. Intentionality comes to mind.

Also, you said that our basis for proof comes from:
&gt; "stories from ancient illiterate shephards who had no idea how reality worked

This is a genetic fallacy

And to suggest they "had no idea how reality worked" is an absurd claim.

&gt;Again, you say this and yet your church makes many claims about knowing precisely this. Belief is irrelevant, evidence is relevant. You can believe what your books say all you want. Even if everyone on Earth believed something that was untrue, say that the Earth was flat (coughthebiblecough), it doesn't make it true.

Belief is not irrelevant and knowledge of something being true is not solely contingent upon seeing scientific proof of it.

For example, you rightly believe that there are other minds apart from yourself. But it is impossible to prove this scientifically. Does it make the belief unwarranted? No, it is a properly basic belief.

Also, the bible does not attempt to tell us how the material world actually is. It's not a science book. There is nothing in the bible that says the earth is flat. What you would most likely refer to is where, in the Bible, it means the "four corners of the earth."

&gt;I have enough evidence to reject it in favour of the null hypothesis for reality with a little help from Occam. The null hypothesis would be that there is no unseen, spiritual world and the only world that exists is what we can detect with our own senses and scientific measurement. Since we have seen exactly zero evidence that contradicts this or supports a magical spiritual world, the only possible conclusion is that magic doesn't exist.

You're starting point is that the only "proof" you'll accept is scientific. The entities in question are not empirical, thus the scientific method is of no use for determining the reality of the after life.

So if your criteria for determining the reality of the after life is that it must meet the standard of scientific proof, you're making an assumption that that's the only proof that is acceptable.

If there is intentionality, a will, I think it's compelling evidence of something "other wordly" that has power over the material world. When I move my leg, I willed my leg to move. This is a good starting point for understanding the spiritual as it related to the biological.

&gt;They aren't credible to anyone unless you already accept their truth a priori. They're about as credible as Homer's Odyssey or any other story devised by man.

Do not treat the Bible as one single book, first off.

Secondly, if you treat the New Testament, especially the Gospel accounts, as you would any other historical document, you may find the historical reliability of the gospel accounts on the resurrection of Christ are quite compelling. See here for quick reference.

For a more in depth look, see here.

&gt;In sum, you use the word "truth" in reference to your claims, yet there can be no truth without evidence.

Are you talking about scientific evidence? Because if you are, then this is simply not true.

You can arrive at truth without scientific in many things, in fact, you have to. Take for example mathematical truths. You cannot prove these with science because science must presuppose them.

You can arrive at logical truths without scientific evidence. You can also know things are true, such as someone is beautiful, without scientific evidence.

u/Holophonist · 1 pointr/dataisbeautiful

&gt;I don't need to. The assertions is that a physical thing can't create another physical thing. That is demonstrably untrue. You're placing restricting characteristics, not me.

It's not that a physical thing can't create another physical thing (even though it would actually be a physical thing creating a physical thing out of nothing), it's that the werewolf, a physical thing, would have nowhere to be while creating the universe, and no time to do it in.

&gt;If a wearwolf doesn't exist, it can be whatever definition I'd like. Just like your god.

No this is idiotic. The word werewolf has a definition. You can't just change the definition however you'd like. If you can, then the conversation is meaningless because you'll just change it to be exactly like god, and then we're not talking about werewolves anymore.

&gt; I would need to know why you think anything is likely in order to demonstrate why my wearwolf is likely. You would have to present your argument for why god is likely to have created the universe. I can then replace god with anything, and the argument will probably not change, if it's any of the popular ones. To be clear. Any argument I present would be a straw man of whatever you actually believe God is. I don't know how else to explain this.

Wrong. What I have to do is show why a werewolf is less likely to have created the universe than god, and I have. You don't seem to have anything to say in response.

&gt;It is informed. Not sure that infants have developed morals, but I'm sure you have a well thought out argument on why slavery and genocide are cool.

I never said slavery and genocide are cool, I said you have an infantile understanding of religion.

&gt;They're equally likely within the context of an argument for the likelihood of any being creating a universe. I personally don't think the likelihood of either is even measurable. If you say god is likely, because of reasons. I could replace god with a wearwolf, and the reasons wouldn't need to change.

Yeah you keep saying this and it's not true. You get that you're supposed to be making an argument, right? All you're doing is repeating that they're same over and over, and not explaining how. Prove to me that they're the same likelihood. Why are you saying anything else? All you should be doing is proving that, or taking back what you said.

&gt;If a being needs to be capable of creating a universe to create a universe, then that is the only characteristic necessary for creating a universe. Adding additional requirements only makes it harder to prove. My wearwolf can be both a wearwolf and have the ability to create a universe. That ability wouldn't make it less of a wearwolf. It could possibly be more likely, because the characteristics of a wearwolf can be found in nature. Whereas the common characteristics given to a god are found NOWHERE. So what seems like a bigger stretch? But again, if you assert that additional characteristics are required to be capable of creating a universe, the onus is on you to argue that assertion.

The fact that there were men and wolves in nature absolutely does not make it more likely that a werewolf created the universe, because NOTHING about men or wolves would indicate that they can create universes. In fact, we know so much about them that it makes it way less likely. God, being defined as an all-powerful metaphysical being is much more likely to have created the universe, because nothing about the nature of god, as is traditionally defined, prevents it from doing so.

&gt;A omniscient god would know. Otherwise, we could start with any that is measurable and predictable, and work our way towards a reasonable conclusion.

An omniscient god would know what?

&gt;I don't have an argument to present unless you give me your reason for believing a universe creating being is likely at all. Then we can discuss why a wearwolf is as equally as likely as a that being. I have no idea why you think what you think, and I'm not going to guess from a wiki page.

You're very confused. I'm not proving to you that god exists, I'm proving to you that it's more likely that god created the universe than a werewolf. The fact that there is a long line of argumentation for god is itself evidence, because there is no corresponding argumentation for a werewolf creating the universe. If you have some, feel free to present it. Since you flippantly dismissed the fact that I gave you a wikipedia page to introduce you to apologetics, here are some books:





u/Underthepun · 3 pointsr/Catholicism


For philosophy and general Aquinas, you have to read Aquinas - A beginners guide by Edward Feser. We recommend this one a lot around here. The first couple chapters can be a bit dense if you have little philosophy background, but trudge through it and the rest of the book will immensely improve your understanding of the Catholic view of God its the basic underlying philosophy.

For a treatise on the Catholic understanding of the synergy of faith and reason, check out Fides et Ratio by Pope St. John Paul II. It is a bit dry, but it's short-ish.

Ok something more fun and autobiographical, I think Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain is a very enjoyable read and a modern Confessions (St. Augustine). He writes so well and is extremely bright. This book nurtured by newly found faith more spiritually than intellectually, which was really what I needed (and need more of!).

There are some great writers in the Catholic blogosphere that have helped me understand things better too. My favorite is the website for America Magazine, the official U.S. Jesuit magazine. They post a lot of really good and thought-provoking articles. The next is Marc Barnes Bad Catholic, who is a younger writer that understands Catholic life in the modern culture. Edward Feser's blog is really great for new atheist smackdowns and Thomist critiques of everything. He's a bit polemical at times though.

That should get you started.

u/zeyus · 1 pointr/exjw

Awesome, it's great you're so proud of her!

Haha knowledge that leads to everlasting boredom! Book studies were the worst, I always felt super obligated to study extra hard because there were so few people that often nobody would answer!

Don't be so sure that your family will keep abandoning you, it's possible sure, but there's always hope! Often they're surprised that you can leave the witnesses and live a normal, or even better than normal life (of course there's always the "blessed by satan" get out clause) but they do expect people who leave to get aids and die from a heroin overdose.

It's easy to prove them wrong! Either way though, you have your own family to look out for and you can learn what not to do!

On to the suggested reading. I've mentioned many on here before but I don't expect everyone to be aware of it all so here goes:

Reading (I have a kindle and love reading, but they're all available for ebook and in paperback)

u/jssdvdmcgrady · 1 pointr/DebateAChristian

You have reached the very foundational elements of the faith that are a very large part of why I am a christian, or at least remained a christian once i sought out what the bible had to say about these exact questions.

So philosophically or more so existentially, the truth of why or what it all means has to be an open playing field so to speak. Fatalism, Nihilism or forms of Pessimistic thought have some implications that seem unpleasant or off putting to some, but ultimately hold water within their own logical frame work. Just because an idea is initially off putting does not make it wrong. The difference between those schools of thought vs. Christianity is that they are not built on a foundation upward, but rather a foundation is kind of the conclusion drawn out from an evolving argument. Christianity has a much higher burden in terms of it's foundational consistency.

Instead of being the product of reasoning, Christianity is a product of ancient documents ranging in literary style from history, poetry, theology, personal letters, and prophesy. Out of those documents a cohesive understanding of the universe and the existential impact of that understanding form the religion. That means the documents have to be the source and need to have not changed over the years to support new philosophies. (at least if you're rational)

So if Christianity is true, then the best way to test it would be to examine the most accurate understanding of these ancient manuscripts alone. That's everything from fields of archeology, historical and textual criticism to (what we are touching on in this thread) doctrinal and theological cohesiveness. Do these ancient manuscripts actually form a cohesive philosophy, without the aid of reasoning from a foundation outside of the documents? Also the documents examined have to be the most original copies of these documents along with the most accurate understanding of the way the original authors and readers would have understood them?

It's no easy task and definitely not something to exhaust on reedit. I hope i've given you a better understanding of some deep theological ramifications of biblical christianity and the kind of philosophical impact they have on hypothetical questions. I will now answer your questions, and the answers will no doubt seem trite and unhelpful. But i think i've reached the end of what i can say to a stranger on the internet, having no clue what background you have in biblical study and no idea where to start:

&gt;So the point of Christianity is to glorify God? And if you fail to do this you suffer in hell for an eternity? This seems like a rather conceited concept does it not?

yes it does seem like that within the framework of human interaction and affections. So the way this idea works is not something to understand within the framework of human interaction and affections. God is not human and so again, it's an open playing field. The question is, does the answers the bible gives make any sense?

&gt;So god is willing to punish those who have absolutely no control over whether they survive long enough to reach an age where they could even possibly understand Christianity? Or do you mean he will only punish the babies that would have never become christian?

I have no idea if either of those are true but the plausibility that they remotely could be is built off the theology (a study of the nature and character of god) in the bible. The biblical documents do not flinch in their explanations of seemingly paradoxical ideas. Paradoxical ideas crop up everywhere in the search for understanding meaning, morals, or truth in reality, it's up to you to judge what you think about the answers the bible gives.

&gt;So god is responsible for saving you from a punishment he himself created? The way you depict it makes it sound like what you do is irrelevant in regards to being saved, by this reasoning, is there even a point to try and do ethical actions, since regardless of what you do, you are already saved or damned.

I can defiantly say "trying to do ethical actions" has nothing to do with being saved or dammed. And as far as the seeming paradox of god creating the punishment (what exactly this punishment is is debated between christians) that he himself saves you from? The ultimate purpose is that he gets more glory if he did it this way then just created beings already perfect and ready for eternity with him.


Some book ideas about what I talking about.

Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist answers how God's Glory works for our benefit from the bible.

The Reason for God answers some of the seemingly off-puting or paradoxical ramifications of biblical theology.

u/MJtheProphet · 4 pointsr/atheism

There's a lot to answer in this simple question. Here's something I've written before that might help, as it gets to the roots of the Abrahamic religions.
Which Bible are you reading? If its one of the millions of Bibles in the US, then its likely an English translation, and it isn't actually describing the god worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For that, we have to go back to the Canaanite religion, which we've learned about from clay tablets found at the Ras Shamra site. The Canaanites were polytheists who worshiped a great number of gods. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were primarily followers of El Shaddai, "God of the Mountains", another name for El Elyon, or "God Most High". El Elyon appears to Abraham in human form at one point. Jacob is described as asking El Elyon to become his elohim, or primary god, in order that he might receive special protection. He also climbs a ladder to heaven and speaks with El Elyon in person, and later even wrestles with El Elyon.

Its also not the god of Moses. Moses was a follower of Yahweh, the war god of the ancient Israelites. Yahweh wasn't a Canaanite god, but he also wasn't a monotheistic god. In the (likely mythical) story of Exodus, the Israelites even note after gaining their freedom "Who among the gods
is like you, Yahweh?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?." (Exodus 15:11) It helps the verses make more sense to get the full context; upon reaching the promised land, the Israelites stray and worship other gods. That seems silly in today's version; why worship Baal or Asherah when you know that there is only THE LORD? But when you realize that Yahweh was just the war god, as Ares was to the Greeks, it makes more sense. Once you're no longer in a time of trouble, why not worship Baal (god of fertility and storms) or Asherah (the mother goddess) instead of Yahweh (god of the armies)? And its a lot more obvious why the Old Testament god was so obsessed with blood and death; he was the war god, like Ares.

Yahweh didn't become the primary god of Israel until the reign of King Josaih, a strict Yahwist, in about 640 BCE. This was the period of the Deuteronomic reforms; it was at this time that the book of Deuteronomy was "found" in the temple, supposedly a new book of law written by Moses that placed Yahweh above all other gods. However, its rather convenient timing and the linguistic signature indicate that it was actually a forgery, created for political expediency. Even here, though, there is still evidence of polytheism, in the Ten Commandments themselves. "6 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 7 You shall have no other gods before me." (Deuteronomy 5:6-7)

Only in about 600 BCE, when the Israelites were exiled into Babylon, did the monotheistic god appear. An author known as Second Isaiah had his words appended on to the original Isaiah, the book of Leviticus was authored, and the history of Israel was rewritten to say that El Elyon and Yahweh were the same god, and that this god was the only god. The other books extant at the time were rewritten to make it look like there had only ever been one god of Israel. So despite the story saying that this god has always existed, he only appears in the archaeological record 2600 years ago.

A very different picture appears when you know where all the stories came from, and put them in their proper historical context. The Old Testament just screams polytheism, even through the multiple rewrites and translations. I recommend A History of God by Karen Armstrong for more details. Or, you can find a good summary on YouTube from Evid3nc3.


You can find obvious parallels to the biblical creation story in the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation myth. It probably dates back to the 18th to 16th centuries BCE. The myths of the ancient Near East have their oldest expressions in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian beliefs, which date back to around 2500 BCE. So there were about 2000 years of religious traditions before the monotheistic god appeared.

Christianity first showed up around 51 CE, with its earliest known writings being the Pauline Epistles. You might note that this is 20 years after the supposed events related in the Gospels, and that Paul didn't say when Jesus had lived; we have no writings that mention Jesus that were authored during his supposed lifetime, or by anyone who ever claims to have met him during his life. This is rather suspicious, considering he was supposed to be perhaps the most famous person around at the time, based on the Gospel accounts.

I'm not as well versed in Islamic history, but the basic facts are these. Muhammad, who is considered by Muslims to be the final messenger of god's word, lived from around 570 – June 8, 632 CE. He began receiving visions that he thought were from god in 610 CE, and wrote them down as the Quran. He then transitioned from trader to religious, political, and military leader, and began the history of conquest that Islam is known for.

u/digifork · 2 pointsr/Catholicism

Get Your Questions Answered

So you have been to Mass but you have some serious questions about the faith that need to be answered before you can consider joining, so now what? Now it is time for you to learn about the Church! The Church has published a book called the Catechism of the Catholic Church (abbreviated as CCC). You can buy a copy just about anywhere or you can read it for free online. The CCC has all the basic teachings of the Church and an index in the back.

As good as the CCC is, it can be dense to read. Another great resource is called the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is also available for purchase or it can be read online for free online. It contains most of the information in the CCC, but it is organized in a question and answer format. I highly recommend it.

In addition to the CCC, you will find a ton of good information on catholic.com (warning: don’t go into the forums). Also, for converts I find it helpful to read other peoples conversion stories. There is a series of books called Surprised by Truth which contain the testimonial of converts. Also, the book Rome Sweet Rome is the true story of how a Scott and Kimberly Hahn came into the Church despite them starting off as militantly anti-Catholic Protestants.

In addition to those books, here are some other books I recommend.

  • The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth
  • The Essential Catholic Survival Guide
  • Catholicism All-In-One For Dummies

    If you prefer videos, the Catholicism Series by Bishop Robert Barron is excellent and a video series called Symbolon. These video series are a bit pricey, so before buying ask you parish if they have them available to lend out. Also, many parishes have subscriptions to Formed which allows you to watch these videos and many more for free.

    If you prefer audio, the website Lighthouse Catholic Media has many talks you can download and listen to.

    If you listen to radio in the car, there may be a Catholic radio station for you to listen to. Catholic radio is a good way to learn the faith. You can check to see if there is Catholic radio in your area at the EWTN website.

    In addition to everything listed above, you can always as your parish priest questions. Many parishes also have adult education programs which cover many topics. See your parish bulletin or contact the parish office to see what they offer.

    As always, you can ask questions here on /r/Catholicism.
u/Jen9095 · 1 pointr/Bible

I recommend "The Harper Collins Study Bible". It's NRSV, with all the footnotes, nice introductions before each book, etc. I'm also a fan of the ESV. Please avoid King James (KJV and NKJV)

Also, I highly recommend How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. This is written for Christians, so it might be a little dense (I haven't read it for 10 years). But it is an excellent tool for learning how Christians (especially Christian leaders - theologians and pastors / priests) read.

I will point out one major thing, since you're so new to the topic. There are two basic approaches to reading the Bible. One is more academic and the other more experiential. Neither is right or wrong, and as a Christian, I think it's important to do both. But sometimes you'll notice people will kind of make it seem like you should only do one or the other. Here are details of each:

Read it, meditate on it, let God speak to you through it, try to apply it to your life, put yourself in the story - General method used by Christians when they read the Bible every day and pray. This a daily practice recommended in most Protestant denominations, often called "devotions" - Catholics and Orthodox might use approaches that are more about daily rituals / prayers, but Protestantism grew out of the Enlightenment and the idea that people could and should read for themselves, but unfortunately that also tended to lead to a rejection of ritual / tradition.

(Aside, in case you don't know, there are three major branches of Christianity: Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. Many people hear about all the Protestant denominations like Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, even Amish and don't realize that they are all grouped together under "Protestant" because they grew out of the Reformation. Church history is a subject that can explain how these groups arose.)

Understand the historical context, use literary analysis (some books of the Bible are letters, some are poetry, some are allegory, so they should be read differently), and developing a cohesive theology (a set of beliefs that fit together and don't contradict each other). Some people find this approach to be offensive / showing a lack of faith since you aren't "letting God interpret / guide you."

Ultimately, the best approach, used by Christian leaders, combines the two into one process. The book I recommended explains this process and quite a bit more. It's meant for Christian leadership, but might give you a good understanding of the Bible and how to approach it.... or it might confuse you with it's technical jargon. Anyway, here's the basic process. Read to understand these things in this order:

  • What the passage meant in its original time and place (historical, literary)
  • What universal truths it teaches about God and the world (theology)
  • How to interpret it for our modern life / your personal life (experiential)

    Hopefully this gives you some structure for approaching the topic.

    I also agree with several people here about where to start:

  • Genesis for creation, the fall, and God choosing the Isrealite - these tend to be the Old Testament sunday school stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, etc
  • Gospels = Matthew, Mark, Luke, &amp; John, they all told the story of Jesus. Many people really like John. He tells the story of Jesus from a more approachable perspective - less Jewish ideas because he was trying to appeal to a broader audience. This is the book where you hear ideas like "Jesus is the light".... everyone can understand how important light is in a dark night, without needing to understand the Jewish traditions that predicted Jesus and stuff. But it also makes John a bit more poetic and sometimes cryptic. Luke was more of a "just the facts" type.
  • Acts tells about the early church. It's important to realize they weren't "Christians" with a different faith than "Jews" - they were originally just a sect of Judiasm.

    Finally, here are the most common areas of study if you want to learn about Christianity:

  • Biblical Studies - most of the stuff I mentioned above, basically ancient languages, how to read the Bible, etc
  • Theology - basically like philosophy. But philosophy is about the nature of humans, while theology is the nature of God. This is where you get the great debates (What is the Trinity? What is the nature of God? Why did Jesus "have to" die? What is atonement?)
  • Church History - Basically everything that's happened for 2,000 years. Includes theological debates that led to church splits.
  • Other categories: Christian ethics, missions, ecumenical studies (Christians studying other Christians and working together), leadership, etc. Most of these are more about how the church works today. At this point, I think you'd be more interested in the first three.
u/LurkingSoul · 3 pointsr/Christianity

Seems to me you are already at step 1: desiring a relationship with God. Prayer is a great place to go next. Praying can be as simple as talking to God. Reading the Bible can also be a form of prayer! Want a place to start? Look up what today's readings are in a church calendar, and pray about them.

You may feel more comfortable following a more structured style of meditation, such as praying the Rosary to meditate on the life of Jesus.

Also, I don't know if it is Sunday where you are or if there is a church near you with a mass today, but I recommend making one if you can. There may be one in your area you can make weekdays in addition to Sundays, or you can try to go next Sunday and the following Sundays.

Read about the lives of the Saints! Some of them have gone through a great deal, you are not alone. Their lives are full of inspiration and demonstrate how the Holy Spirit works through us. I recommend the Laudate and IBreviary apps. (Former has many things including saint of the day and interactive Rosary, later has the Liturgy of the Hours.)

There is a wealth of Christian philosophy and in general philosophy is interesting and useful so I will also recommend a bunch of philosophy. I also recommend this introductory guide to Aquinas. Lastly, I will pray for you. I hope this was useful to you. God Bless!

u/Ibrey · 7 pointsr/Christianity

Some key concepts and interesting facts:

  • The deposit of faith comprises not just the Bible, but also sacred tradition. Traditions that have been passed down from the days of the apostles are as authoritative as the Bible.
  • Catholic Bibles contain 73 books rather than the 66 you're probably used to, with longer versions of Daniel and Esther. The difference is known to Catholics as the deuterocanon, and to Protestants as the Apocrypha.

  • The Catholic hierarchy derives its authority from apostolic succession. Each bishop has been consecrated by another bishop, who was consecrated by another bishop, who was consecrated by another bishop, in a line going all the way back to the twelve apostles, and they have inherited the teaching authority of the apostles.
  • The Pope is a bishop specially elected to succeed to the place of the apostle Peter, whom Jesus named the head of the apostles and the rock on which he would build his church. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome because that's where Peter was bishop when he died.
  • The body of bishops, when united with Peter's successor as its head, is infallible. That is, the Holy Spirit will prevent the bishops from teaching an error in faith or morals as binding on the faithful. The Pope individually can also make infallible pronouncements. This doesn't mean that the bishops are free from sin, or that they are infallible on other subjects like physics, economics, or geography.
  • The Eastern Orthodox Churches believe almost all the same stuff as Catholics and also have valid apostolic succession, but deny that the primacy of the Pope is anything more than honorary. The Anglican Church claims apostolic succession, but Catholics reject the validity of their orders due to changes in the ordination rite in the 16th Century.

  • A saint is anyone who is in heaven. The Church declares some people to be saints after a rigorous investigation, but this isn't meant to imply that no other people are saints.
  • Catholics honour the Blessed Virgin Mary above all other saints for her special participation in Jesus' mission of salvation. It is Catholic dogma that she was conceived free from original sin, remained sinless her entire life, and was assumed body and soul into heaven. (Note that she didn't ascend of her own power like Jesus, but was assumed.) However, this doesn't mean she didn't require salvation by Jesus.
  • People have reported Marian apparitions going all the way back to 40 AD (when she was still alive!). The Church declares some of these to be "worthy of belief," but they're considered private revelations no matter how many people witness them, and do not add to the deposit of faith. Catholics are not required to believe in them.
  • Saints can pray for people on Earth. When Catholics pray for the intercession of saints, they're not asking a saint to make some direct intervention of their own, but to pray to God on their behalf.
  • Catholics do not worship the saints, nor Mary, nor anything other than God as the Trinity.

  • The Mass is not just an hour or so of worship music, prayers, and a sermon, though all of those are included; Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is re-presented (not represented) in the Eucharist. It is the same sacrifice, in that it is offered by the same person (Jesus), it has the same victim (Jesus), and it has the same effect (the remission of sins).
  • The doctrine of transubstantiation holds that when the priest holds the bread and wine over the altar at Mass and says the words of consecration (in which moment he acts in persona Christi), they cease to be bread and wine and become the actual body and blood of Jesus, although to the senses they remain indistinguishable from bread and wine.
  • A consecrated host is often publicly displayed for purposes of Eucharistic adoration, a practice which became popular around the 14th Century. Since the host is Jesus, it is right to worship it.
  • If you visit a Catholic Mass, you should know that non-Catholics normally aren't supposed to receive the Eucharist.

    Further reading:

  • Catholicism for Dummies
  • Rome Sweet Home
  • New American Bible
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
u/BeenBeans · 65 pointsr/Catholicism

Hi there! Also a former raised-Catholic-but-not-really-former-atheist/agnostic revert here.

There are numerous - almost endless - amount of resources out there, regarding the Church. (Considering the age of the Catholic Church, it's not surprising.) If you had more specific topics you were looking for, I'm sure people here would be more than willing to point you in the right direction.

For more general sources by platform:



  • There actually is a "Catholicism for Dummies".

  • Mere Christianity is a classic read for all Christians. It is not explicitly Catholic, but it gives a good foundation.



  • Father Mike Schmitz does a great job of explaining things concisely and with enthusiasm.

  • Bishop Robert Barron is also extremely popular on social media among Catholics. Great content.



  • Catholic Stuff You Should Know is one part goofy banter and one part reflections/discussions on Catholicism. I listened to them regularly when I had 1+ hour commutes each way :)

  • Catholic Answers is also a well-known podcast among Catholics. Haven't listened to them yet, but I always hear good things!



  • Regarding mass and its structure/meaning. Here is a link to a USCCB page that breaks down the mass structure and explains the significance of each section/prayer

  • On how to pray the rosary. Learning the rosary can be a big hurdle for neophytes, but it would still be fruitful to begin with perhaps just one decade.


    This subreddit is generally good at giving solid answers and advice, if you had specific questions/doubts/inquiries. It was actually probably quite an instrumental player in my reversion to the Church. And like you said, head to confession ASAP! Welcome back home, friend.
u/dblthnk · 1 pointr/DebateAnAtheist

Hi r1mmer, welcome to the community!

It looks like you have gotten some pretty good responses here but let me try to put the answers more concisely:

The Bible fitting together: There are three main issues here.

-One, the argument is fundamentally flawed because anyone can add to a common theme in a semi-coherent way as long as he read the preceding books. Even if there were no contradictions, there doesn't need to be an external omniscient guiding hand for the next guy down the road to read the previous books and write a little more without contradicting them.

-Two, the current composition of the Bible are the accepted books, chosen by church elders out of many candidates. Of course they would exclude the books that don't fit. (I believe others have linked some sources for this.)

-Three, the contradictions are there if you take a deep breath and think critically about them. A good example to start with is the crucifixion and what it meant. In the first Gospel written (Mark) a distressed and confused Jesus cries out to God about being forsaken and dies. In the last Gospel written (John) a calm and collected Jesus commends his spirit to God and dies. The stories are different and the meanings are different. I would highly recommend reading this book for all the details.

On a side note here, if someone argues that the Bible is infallible, I like to use the contradictory numbers of horse stalls for Solomon's horses. It's a number and much harder to defeat with the typical tactics like reinterpreting meanings, although they certainly try (It clearly says stall, not the number of horses lol.) Here are a bunch more numerical contradictions.

Starting year for our calender: This one is pretty easy. Starting dates for calendars all over the world throughout time are retroactively applied to an important event in that various culture at that time. Winning a great battle, forming a nation, the fictional birth date of a deity are all starting points that have been used after the fact. Just because Jesus was important to a culture 500 years after he supposedly lived doesn't mean anything spectacular actually happened at the starting date of the calendar they invent. That needs to be verified using other evidence. Here is the wiki link.

Morality is arbitrary: These are always the funniest arguments from Christians because when it comes down to it, everyone forms moral beliefs the same way regardless of specific religion or lack thereof. It comes down to cultural expectations and personal taste. The fundamental basis of morality is rooted deep in our psychology in universal, innate, evolutionarily derived psychological systems. Each of us may innately favor one more than another, like respect for authority over empathy, or even lack some of them altogether in rare cases. Our culture fills in the specifics over these systems and there you go. The question you should be asking your Christian friends is why they are attracted to the themes of love and forgiveness in their faith. If you didn't value those things to begin with, you wouldn't be drawn in. And why can there be so many different takes on morality from the same book? If you have little empathy and a lot of respect for authority, slaying the infidel is easy, but much harder to do if you have much more empathy than respect for authority. Jihad being a actual religious fight or an internal struggle are radically different interpretations derived from the same book (sorry, drifted into Islam for the example there) and the difference is in the person.

u/davidjricardo · 6 pointsr/Reformed

Kudos to you for wanting to diversify your reading list. Reading or listening to only one person is always a dangerous thing, no matter who that might be. I've made a bunch of book recommendations on this sub in the past. Here are a few I think are a good fit for you specifically. In general, I'd also highly recommend all of the works by the authors listed.

  • Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition by Jamie Smith. This is always my top recommendation for the young person looking for more depth. It's a quick easy read best digested in small parts. It does a great job of providing an overview of the Reformed tradition that is accessible, theological, and pastoral. It's aimed at those who have a 'come-to-Calvin' moment from within other theological traditions (Smith was Pentecostal) but would benefit everyone.

  • Chosen by God and/or The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. Sproul is simply the best at explaining complex theological concepts in an easy to understand manner. These are his two best books in my opinion, but anything he has written is worth a read.

  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This is a satirical work where Lewis describes temptation from the vantage point of a junior and senior demon. The discription may sound odd, but it is full of insights into the state of mankind. Given your comments about temptation, I'd call this one a must read. Lewis was a master communicator, consider Mere Christianity as well.

  • Deep Down Faith by Cornelius Plantinga. This one is a devotional aimed at young adults, but an excellent explanation of Reformed Faith. Highly recommended.

  • Knowing God by J.I Packer - This is a classic book that, in the words of Elizabeth Elliot, "puts the hay where the sheep can reach it--plainly shows us ordinary folks what it means to know God." I don't know that there are many books that every Christian needs to read, but this one is definitely on the list.

    Lastly, I'd encourage you to read through some of the Reformed Confessions. Begin with the Heidelberg Catechim and the Belgic Confession. If you want a more modern approach, I'd encourage you to also read the Christian Reformed Church's Contemporary Testimony Our World Belongs To God, too.
u/JW_Skeptic · 1 pointr/exjw

I'm 38 now, but I woke up when I was almost 30. I felt the same way; that I had to start over again on a worldview. When I went back to college, I took every single class I could think of that the Watchtower Society would frown upon. For science, I took anthropology (emphasis on human biological evolution), astronomy, biology, geology, and earth history; lecture and lab for all classes. I also took anthropology of religion, magic, and witchcraft. I took an advanced upper level English course with an emphasis of ancient mythology. I took four philosophy classes, intro to philosophy, logic in practice, critical thinking and composition, and philosophy of religion. All of this served as a foundation for a secular worldview.

First and foremost, you need to learn how to think and not what to think. This is where philosophy comes in. An Introductory Philosophy class at a local community college is a great start. Logic, particularly informal logic and logical fallacies should be learned first. Identifying logical fallacies is what will help you differentiate between good information and bad information. The reason the Watchtower Society admonishes against higher education, is because a critical thinking component is generally a standard part of a General Education guideline. A first year college freshman will learn the intellectual tools necessary to recognize the logical fallacies, rhetoric, and deceptive tactics used by politicians, advertisers, and religious authorities, such as Watchtower. If you can't take a philosophy class, search YouTube for "Philosophy for beginners" and then search "informal logic for beginners". Once you have a full understanding of logical fallacies (which is part of informal logic), you will become dismayed of how much Watchtower uses them, and how JWs are oblivious to this. You'll see it in politics and union propaganda as well, so there are other benefits too. On a side note, this video was shown in my Introductory Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion classes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69F7GhASOdM There are striking parallels to waking up from the JW religion and Plato's Allegory of the Cave. Going back into the cave is not an option.

With the background of learning how to think, topics in science, and everything else comes a lot easier. Although courses in anthropology, biology, and earth history (which includes history of life on earth) do teach evolution, the basics of biological evolution can be found on YouTube by searching "evolution for dummies". Once you understand what it is, then look at the evidence for evolution. This is an important second step, because unlike Creationism, there are tons of evidence for evolution. This is where the "aha" moments comes from. I recommend this article by the Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/her/evolution-and-natural-selection/a/lines-of-evidence-for-evolution I also recommend the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. He goes into detail the five pillars of evidence for evolution; comparative anatomy, genetics, biogeography, and embryology. This book is found in most public libraries, so you can check it out for free get it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne/dp/0143116649 Also, check out the Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism series on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnJX68ELbAY&amp;list=PL126AFB53A6F002CC

Understand that learning all of this is not easy. It takes time and patience. But the payoff in the end is well worth it. It's not like going to a meeting and hearing the same recycled drivel over and over again. I'm still not refined on a political position. All I can say is that I do not identify with any party because doing so obligates me to defend that platform. I like certain things from each party, and I vote accordingly. However, you can take an online "what political party am I quiz" to get a sense of where you are.

u/tolos · 0 pointsr/philosophy

I spent my whole life in a Christian family; I was home-schooled until I came to college, with Bible verses and stories just about every day. I would have called myself a decent Christian then, and I'd have to say that I lived a good god-centric Christian life.

But then I came to college. And it wasn't the transition of going to college, but that time in my life, because soon before I went to college I too started having doubts about Christianity. One of my best friends and I decided that we were going to search for TRUTH (as we called it) and answer all challenges brought against Christianity. We had this idea that there was absolute truth out there somewhere, and we were going to find it. The first thing we decided, however, was that we would explore with an open mind, do enough of our own research that we wouldn't have to take someone else's word for granted, and that above all else, no matter what we learned we would strive for the truth of the matter, even if that meant no longer believing in Christianity -- though that seemed unlikely at the time.

I spent a long time learning, spent an incredible amount of time day and night when I first began, and I'm still learning new things to this day, directly and indirectly related to my original search. I remember being overwhelmed when I first started because there were so many topics! Christianity is a big subject, where do you even begin? Church history, the different denominations, "the trinity" issue, proofs of one form or another about the existence of God, literary analysis, ancient near east history, flood/global geology, evolution, original sin, the specific interpretation of words from ancient languages, questions about who authored what book and whether it mattered -- and later additions, why some works were included in the Bible and some weren't, "miracles," and on and on. Some of those I haven't researched much at all, and I probably never will, but it turned out that I didn't need to. But I did spend hours and hours and hours learning about these things, and I came to my own conclusions that I feel I can justify without just taking someone else's opinion as authority (as in, no research on my part).

I started out with The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict and Mere Christianity and they seemed to have a lot of really solid facts. Until I started doing my own research. See some of the commentary on infidels.org about that Josh McDowell book. I encourage you to read some more about the ontological argument. A recent look at what the Bible says happened, and what history says happened (they don't always align) is covered in several places, e.g. The Bible Unearthed and the NOVA episode based on that. One of the biggest things I learned was in my ethics class at college, were I had a very good teacher explain how absolute truth just doesn't work (There are more qualified people than myself which can discuss that). Although there are many many reasons I am no longer a Christian, this was one of the big ones.

I guess what I'm trying to say with the above is that it's important to do your own work; come to a conclusion that you can defend, even if it's one you don't really like. I think I would always have doubts about the things I believe if I didn't do that. The answers I found did not lead me to a nice happy peaceful belief in an afterlife. That's gone. Sometimes I have panic attacks about that, but it's gotten better over the years. I think feeling lost and confused is a normal step in the process of having your beliefs torn apart. Recovering from that takes time, and lots of thought. A lot of other people have similar feelings, it might be worth checking out.

Let me just leave you with this Neil deGrasse Tyson quote:

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things
like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a
rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love,
they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world
than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You'd be
surprised how far that gets you.

u/Pope-Urban-III · 12 pointsr/Catholicism

You are baptized, so you're Catholic.

  1. To rejoin the Church you start attending Mass on Sundays, you can go to confession, and you talk to the priest. You'll probably have to go through RCIA before you can receive Communion (and you'll be confirmed).

  2. You'll find that the church stances depend on the core beliefs and practices; it depends on what you mean by stances. Some things are matter of faith - we are required to assent to the teachings that all killing of the innocent is absolutely evil, etc. Does that mean we do it well all the time? No. It is absolutely useless to try to convince the Church to change on those things, so the best way to take them is to say, "I do not see how this can be, but the Church says it" and ask God for insight. As you learn more about the Faith, you start to see how everything fits together, and how "necessary evils" that the Church forbids are often the result of other evils that the Church also forbids. (Note that this has to do with beliefs of the Church; ideas of specific churchmen are in a different level; being Catholic doesn't mean you have to support a specific economic idea, even if some do. It's more about keeping the Truths of the Faith in view.)

  3. The Church has not split in any major way since the Orthodox wandered outside into the garden, where they seem happy to remain. There are factions inside the Church who are grumbling at each other - the way to understand this is that the Church is a family which includes everything that goes along with it - the devoted children who believe Dad is basically God, the rebellious teenagers who don't want to listen to Dad because he's not cool (but will call to be picked up late at night when they're worried), the Mom who loves Dad beyond belief but can't understand what he's doing, the Grandma who keeps talking about how it was in her day, and so on. Remember that anyone who says "The Church says" or "You must say" needs to back it up with the Magisterium. The way the Church works is that we trust in the Authority of God, who manifests His Authority through the world; if you have a question you ask your pastor; if he's wrong, God will let you know in time. Becoming more Catholic than the Pope is not recommended - knowing the Truth the Church teaches is good, but if you cannot see how something said applies, it may be your understanding that is missing. Living in the Church is much more about those around you and trying to be Christ to them than determining the exact doctrinal specifications - salvation is a process not a checklist.

  4. I would recommend reading some books - Rome Sweet Home is good, as is No Price Too High. You can also start going to your local parish, and get to know the pastor. After Mass, tell him you're interested in the faith and would like to go to dinner or something at some point. You might find a rare grouchy priest, but God will look out for you. You may also want to see if there's an FSSP parish nearby, they'll do the older form of the Mass, which can be quite beautiful and often strikes people differently.


    You will meet bad Catholics, good Catholics, extremely holy Catholics, racist Catholics, altruistic Catholics, annoying Catholics, intelligent Catholics, dumb Catholics, reddit Catholics, traditional Catholics, and more. The Church on earth "the Church Militant" has many imperfections, many people working out their salvation in fear and trembling. We are called to be loving to them as Christ would be loving to them, which is what He wants us to do. God so loves everyone that He wants to share the joy of this love with us, and the way to do that is to sacrifice for others as Christ sacrificed for us all.
u/Shoeshine-Boy · 5 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Personal research, mostly. I'm a big history nerd with a slant toward religion and other macabre subject matter. I'm actually not as well read as I'd like to be on these subjects, and I basically blend different sources into a knowledge smoothie and pour it out onto a page and see what works for me and what doesn't.

I'll list a few books I've read that I enjoyed. There are certainly more here and there, but these are the "big ones" I was citing when writing all the comments in this thread. I typically know more about Christianity than the other major faiths because of the culture around me.

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years - Diarmaid MacCulloch

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - Karen Armstrong

The next two balance each other out quite well. Hardline anti-theism contrasted with "You know, maybe we can make this work".

The Case for God - Karen Armstrong

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins

Lately, I have been reading the Stoics, which like Buddhism, I find to be one of the more personally palatable philosophies of mind I have come across, although I find rational contemplation a bit more accessible to my Westernized nature.

Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters - Translated by Moses Hadas

Discourses and Selected Writings (of Epictetus) - Translated by Robert Dobbin

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Translated by George Long

I'm still waiting on Fed Ex to deliver this one:

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B. Irvine

Also, if you're into history in general, a nice primer for what sorts of things to dive into when poking around history is this fun series on YouTube. I usually watch a video then spend a while reading more in depth about whatever subject is covered that week in order to fill the gaps. Plus, John and Hank are super awesome. The writing is superb and I think, most importantly, he presents an overall argument for why studying history is so important because of its relevance to current events.

Crash Course: World History - John Green

u/AdmiralAardvark · 5 pointsr/Christianity

I've posted about it before, but an accompanying book I really enjoyed and found helpful was How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. It goes through and explains the different types of genres of literature found in the Bible, and the different ways to understand them. From the back of the book it says,
&gt;"In clear, simple language, it helps you accurately understand the different parts of the Bible - their meaning for ancient audiences and their implications for you today."

I found it to be really helpful and an easy read, I would definitely recommend checking it out!

edit: The authors of this book really like the TNIV translation of the Bible, probably because they helped with that translation, but, like a lot of people in this thread are recommending, the ESV is really a great translation and the ESV Study Bible is awesome! I like this book for the descriptions of the genres, but the translation recommendation is definitely a little biased and not why I am recommending the book.

u/FaxRahCozy · 1 pointr/Christianity

Tl;dr: pastor, bible, catechism, mere Christianity and other books, the bible project, and other podcasts.

You should really consider talking to your pastor or a pastor at your church. Either go up to one and ask for a meeting, or go through the church email address or whatever contact method you have. Many protestant churches have membership or intro classes that explain these difficult,but important topics, and the Catholic church and orthodox church have formal classes. Reading the bible is Great, it is the most important thing to have besides a saving relationship with Christ. but having someone mature who can help you and lead you is immensely helpful,it's why they're there. A lot of these things are difficult to understand, and reading the bible often leads to more questions before it answers them. Find a teacher (or a few) that you trust to help explain them,then see of they line up with scripture as you grow more acquainted with it.

Catechisms are also helpful. They cover the basics in a question and answer format. There are also lots of podcasts that talk about this stuff as well. Books, videos, everything. C.S. Lewis is famous for explaining faith well, mere christianity is a great start. I have found the bible project youtube channel to be particularly helpful when reading and trying to understand the bible. It gives outlines of the books and helps frame the confusing language in an understandable way. John piper has a podcast "ask pastor john", but these are from one very specific view on Christianity called Calvinism and are very specific. Keep that one in your back pocket for now. Hope that helps supplement the answers here and give you direction. I've definitely had the confusing times where I don't know where to begin,I hope this makes that a smaller period of time for you. Pm me as well if you want additional resources.

u/jebei · 3 pointsr/atheism

I've had a similar obsession with the bible over the years. It made no sense to me when I was part of a church but everything opened up once I realized it's one of the best insights we have into the ancient mind and I find it fun to read now.

The top response to this post says the god of the Old Testament is the same as the god of the New but that's because they are looking at it only as a religious text. Looking at it as a historical document you can clearly see a progression over time from a Polytheistic War god at the beginning who demands blood sacrifices to a Monotheistic vengeful god of a chosen few. The New Testament is clearly written with Greek/Roman influences and a kinder god that was changed in ways to better fit and grow in that society.

If you haven't read it already, a good first book on the subject is Who Wrote the Bible by Friedman. I like The Bible Unearthed by Finklestein and Ehrmann's books are good too. There are dozens of other good overviews that show the Bible's progression from ancient campfire stories to the form we see today. After reading a few, I don't see how anyone can seriously believe the Bible is the unerring word of god.

I know I'll never convince my family members that Christianity is wrong so I've focused my efforts to get them to understand the bible was written by man. Even if we grant them that a god actually spoke to Moses and Jesus is his literal son neither man wrote the words in the book. Later men took the stories and wrote them down. The books of the Torah were finalized 600+ years after Moses is supposed to have lived. The Gospels were written 50 years after Jesus is said to have died. These writers were not gods and to say they were divinely inspired is a cop-out. They interpreted what they heard but these men were also products of their times. They practiced blood sacrifice and accepted slavery nor did they have a fraction of our understanding of the world. It's why you can't take the book literally.

There may be truths in the Bible but you have to look behind the words to find them.

u/samisbond · 1 pointr/AtheistBibleStudy

The high God of Israel was accompanied by lesser Gods at the start of creation.^1

|Job 38:4-7
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?|
Tell me, if you have understanding.|
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!|
Or who stretched the line upon it?|
On what were its bases sunk,|
or who laid its cornerstone|
when the morning stars sang together|
and all the heavenly beings^a shouted for joy?"|
^a Heb sons of God|

The Israelite religion is heavily based off of the pantheon of the Canaanites:

Excerpt from HarperCollins with added notes:

&gt;“By a remarkable act of theological reduction, the complex divine hierarchy of prior polytheistic religion was transformed into the authority of a sole high god in classical Israelite religion. YHWH…was not, however, the only god in Israelite religion. Like a king in his court, Yahweh was served by lesser deities, variously called “the Sons of God,”^a “the host of heaven,”^b and similar titles. This “host” sometimes fought battles of holy war…^c and were also represented as stars…^d These lesser deities attended Yahweh is heaven…^e Another category of divine beings consists of the messenger gods or angels. The angels carry Yahweh’s messages to earth…^f In later biblical books, the sons of God and the angels merge into a single category and proliferate…^g ”^2

The high God of the Israelite religion by no means served alone. This triple hierarchy (YHWH, the Sons of God/heavenly host, and messenger gods/angels) “derives from the earliest structure of Canaanite religion.”^2

The differences: the Canaanites worshiped El and his wife Asherah as the high gods. YHWH took on most of the traits of El, and Asherah was no longer worshiped, “although there are hints in some texts that she was worshiped as a goddess in some times and places.”^2 While El was highest authority in the pantheon, some the children of El were prominent deities. On the other hand, the sons of God in the Israelite religion are “demoted to a class of relatively powerless beings.”^2

On the subject of polytheism, the text also seems “to acknowledge that gods of other nations exist.”^2 Each nation has its own God that it worships, "but Yahweh is Israel’s god and is the greatest god.”^2 See Deuteronomy 32

Deuteronomy 32:8|
When the Most High apportioned the nations,|
when he divided humankind,|
he fixed the boundaries of the peoples|
according to the number of the gods|

as an instance of God "delegating authority [to the heavenly beings] to govern other nations". ^3 The Israelites would then originally be monolatrists, meaning they worshiped one high God without denying the existence of others. Re-read the First Commandment

|Exodus 20:2-3
|I am YHWH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before^a me.|
|^a Or besides

for a different understanding of God’s commandment. This is by far the greatest difference in my opinion between the early Israelites’ understanding of God and modern Jews and Christians.



|^a see Gen 6:2-4; Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7; Psalm 29:1 (list here)

|^b see Deut 4:19, 17:3; 1 King 22:19; 2 King 17:16, 21:3, 21:5, 23:4; 2 Chr 18:18, 33:3, 33:5; Neh 9:6, 24:21; Isa 34:4; Jer 8:2, 33:22; Dan 4:25, 8:10, 1:15 (list here)

|^c see Josh 5:13-15

|^d see Judg 5:20; Job 38:7

|^e “I saw YHWH sitting on his throne, with all the host of heaven standing beside him” (1 King 22:19)

|^f see Gen 28:12

|^g “a thousand thousands served him” (Dan 7:10)

Works Cited:

|^1 H. W. Attridge, ed., The HarperCollins Study Bible, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), p. 13, annotation to 6:1-4.

|^2 Ronald Hendel, "Israelite Religion, God and the Gods", The HarperCollins Study Bible. H. W. Attridge, ed., (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006), p. xliv-lv.

|^3 B. M. Metzger, ed., The New Oxford Annotated Bible, (New York: Oxford UP, 1991), p. 261, annotation to 32:8.


Further Readings:

"Israelite Religion", HarperCollins Study Bible

A History of God by Karen Armstrong

Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott Friedman.

Canaanite religion (Wikipedia)

u/themsc190 · 8 pointsr/GayChristians

Welcome! We’re glad you’re here as well. It’s a great community, and I’ve grown so much from it. And I’m so glad folks in your new church are so friendly!

In terms of resources, I’d definitely encourage you to check out the Resources page over in /r/OpenChristian. Reading the Bible is tough, but there are ways to make it a little easier. I’d recommend an academic study Bible, like the Harper Collins Study Bible or the Oxford Annotated Study Bible, which have notes to contextualize and explain confusing concepts. (Be wary of some study bibles, because lots of them just promote fundamentalism under the guise of scholarship.) My suggestion on where is start is the Gospel of Mark, which is the oldest story of Jesus that we have in the Bible, and it is short, just about the length of a short story. If you try to read from front to back, it’s easy to get bored or lose track. Most Bible reading plans actually recommend jumping around!

I’ll highlight a couple resources from that list that you might like. If you’re interested in queer readings of the Bible, QueerTheology.com has a weekly podcast that’s just like 7 minutes long, which is a good place to get introduced to some techniques for reading the Bible as an LGBTQ person.

Two books that might interest you are Jennifer Knapp’s Facing the Music and Vicky Beeching’s Undivided, which are memoirs from lesbian Christians who were in the Christian music scene and subsequently came out.

If you have any more questions or want any more recommendations, feel free to ask or PM me! Peace!

u/distantocean · 4 pointsr/exchristian

You might want to check out Khan Academy, which provides entirely free online courses on a huge range of subjects.

On evolution, Stated Clearly is an outstanding series of videos that break it down very simply and straightforwardly (and they're made by an ex-Christian whose education about evolution was part of his reason for leaving the religion). If you're interested in a book, the best I've seen -- and in fact maybe the best popular science book I've ever read -- is Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It would certainly be enough to help you decide if you'd like to read more.

If you're interested in neuroscience and the brain you might want to read How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker or The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran, both of which are wide-ranging and accessibly written.

Finally, you can just search for "best science books" (or similar phrases) -- you'll find plenty of lists out there of the best books of all time, the past year, the past decade and so on. You can't go wrong just reading the top few, or if there's an area you find yourself more drawn to you can focus on that.

Above all, focus on the positive and enjoy the process of learning about these things, because it's an absolutely fascinating world out there. Have fun!

u/discipulus_eius · 7 pointsr/Christianity

God bless you! :) I love how you have shared your testimony.
I'm a young Christian guy and, unfortunately, struggle with porn and masturbation as well. So I do relate to your troubles there.

As someone who is new to the Christian faith, you might find this book REALLY helpful:

It is called "Mere Christianity" by C.S Lewis, who, fun fact, is also the auther of the "Chronicals of Narnia" fiction series.

C.S Lewis was a devout Christian and has wrote many great books on the Christian faith. I would also reccomend his book "the Screwtape Letters" which is a book about demons. And it might help you with temptation, as you shall realise the spiritual reality of what happens whan you go through that tempation.

You also mentioned that your parents are Catholic, so they might appreciate that you learn Theology from the renowned Theologian,
Thomas Aquinas: https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Aquinas-Selected-Writings-Classics/dp/0140436324/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&amp;amp;ie=UTF8&amp;amp;qid=1473988742&amp;amp;sr=1-1&amp;amp;keywords=thomas+aquinas




Thomos Aquinas is not only one of the greatest philosophers of Christianity, but one of the greatest philosophers PERIOD.

Just by reading, you can really learn a lot about the nature of God, what it means to
pray, how to properly interpret Scripture, understanding your
sexuality, the proper use of meditation etc.

Just reading one book can inform you a LOT.

I say this because, a lot of times, new Christians ask how or where
they can learn more about Christianity. Which is funny because the
answer is right in front of them. :) You learn more about religion
just as you learn more about everything else iln life. Through books.

Anyways. God bless you in your newfound relationship with Him.
May you grow in faith and find righteous abstinence from sin.
Pray for me as I shall pray for you.

Deo Gratias! +++

u/katsuhira_nightshade · 4 pointsr/AcademicBiblical

Academic Biblical studies encompass a very broad range of subjects, but I'll try to cover a bunch here. In my opinion, though many people who frequent this subreddit may protest, the best overall introductory text to Higher Criticism of the O.T. would be R.E. Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible?. Although Friedman holds a number of fringe views and the vanilla Documentary Hypothesis has overall fallen out of favor (though there has been a recent revival of it), this is definitely the best-written and most entertaining introduction to the basic theory (I read through the entire thing in about 3 days). If you're looking for more on DH after that, Joel Baden's book, The Composition of the Pentateuch, is much more scholarly and explains the logic behind source division using numerous test cases (providing both the original Hebrew and translation).

For literary studies, just start with Robert Alter. I'm not really sure if this falls under the category of "academia" or is what you were looking for, but it's certainly an interesting analysis of how the Bible (both as a whole and by source division) tells its stories.

The only book I've read on the foundation of the Bible in the mythology of surrounding cultures is Tim Callahan's The Secret Origins of the Bible, which wasn't written by a scholar, but the author sources just about everything he writes; think of it as a Wikipedia for Biblical mythology--not entirely trustworthy, but fine for reference and finding further information. This one's also the only book on this list that has information on the New Testament as well.

Finally, make sure to check AcademicBiblical's wiki! It has tons of resources including videos, articles, etc. that can help you out.

I don't really know of any good books for Hebrew language since I've just been studying it in school my entire life. If you do seem to find a good book/course though, make sure that it's in biblical Hebrew and not modern Hebrew, as a lot of the language is very different. Having studied Arabic myself though, I can tell you that it'll give a significant leg up in learning Biblical Hebrew. For example, the way that words are constructed by fitting 3 letter roots into certain formulations is the same in Hebrew, and the vocabulary of the two languages are often close cognates. Once you've learned Hebrew, it's much easier to pick up Aramaic (I know that as well), but if you're just learning it to read Daniel/Ezra, it's not worth learning the whole language; the grammar is practically the same and the words are also similar enough, so at that point it's easiest just to fake your way through it with knowledge of Hebrew and and good translation to check against (NJPS, NRSV).

u/Erra-Epiri · 3 pointsr/pagan

Šulmu, /u/KlingonLinux! I gotchoo on "Canaanite" and Israelite (they were more or less the "same" people religio-culturally for most of Antiquity, and definitely genetically/ethnically) and Punic/Phoenician (Iron Age Levantine ["Canaanite" and Israelite peoples and so on] peoples abroad throughout the Mediterranean as far West as Southern Spain/the island of Ibiza and North Africa) sources, awīlu.

Some necessary clarification : I routinely put "Canaanite" in scare-quotes, because there was no definitive, proto-national much less national identity for so-called "Canaanites" in the way that Israelites and Judahites eventually had by the 1st millennium BCE, and the people of Syro-Palestine during the Middle to Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age would overwhelmingly identify and operate by clan, by tribe, or by city-state before calling themselves and operating as Knaʿni (Ugaritic, meaning "people of Canaan"). "Canaanite" religious forms consonantly varied quite noticeably by city-state, in ways that, say, Egyptian ones did not, even taking into account "alternative" (but not competing) Egyptian local theologies and so on. Speaking in perhaps excessively general terms, there was a State religion overarching the regional ones in Egypt which, in effect, bound them together as a cooperative dynamic unit. "Canaan" as such had no such large-scale, cohesive "religious infrastructure" of Egypt's much less Mesopotamian Kingdoms' and Empires' like, and it didn't "help" that the exceptionally powerful Egyptian Empire of the Late Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Periods and contemporaneous Mesopotamian and Hittite Empires were constantly vying for control of the North Sinai and Syro-Palestine. The economic centers of "Canaan" were, indeed, frequently subservient to Egypt throughout Bronze Age history, with Egyptian Kings investing governors and mayors of its own throughout "Canaanite" territories following the Thutmosid Conquest, much to the personal danger of said governors and mayors (who were neither particularly liked nor trusted by their Levantine subjects nor by Egyptian officials) and much to the cantankerous chagrin of the Levantine peoples living under Egyptian Imperial rule. Which is to say nothing of Egyptian-mandated relocations of restive Levantine people and so forth.

Furthermore, Hebrew Biblical literature intensely confuses what "Canaanite" even means in a religio-cultural sense, using the term simply to inveigh against religious beliefs and conventions, regardless of actual origin, Deuteronomic Jews did not wish to see carry over from their ancestral religion(s)/culture(s) and from neighboring religions/cultures (e.g., Mesopotamian and Egyptian religions/cultures. See Leviticus 18, Deuteronomy 7, and Ezekiel 23 as but three illustrations of the aforementioned) into newly-minted Judaism and what had then become the Israelite-Judahite "national" identities (primarily in politically-motivated defiance, it should be noted, of their later Master, the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which had made of the internally-fractured Kingdoms of Israel and Judah satellite states through rigorous opportunistic military conquest and serious economic and political strong-arming, beginning with the great and cunning King Tukultī-apil-Ešarra/"Tiglath-Pileser" III). A few scholars and especially many would-be Revivalists not academically-trained frequently, unwittingly hang their understanding of "Canaanite" upon all this confusion -- and the latter not in anything like a Jewish context nor through a Jewish hermeneutic, either, while still treating iffy Jewish accounts embedded in Scripture entirely too literally, which makes it an even more weird and defunct confusion.

Now, it's very important to form a baseline understanding of the historical circumstances of the Near East concerning "Canaan," what came out of it, its influential neighbors, and religio-cultural receptors. I know it feels like unnecessary drudgery to many people, but the religious tidbits don't make much sense and their use in/continued relevance to Modernity can't be adequately evaluated without learning and understanding their historical contexts, which is where a lot of would-be Revivalists go very wrong, in my opinion -- especially since "Canaanite" and other non-Kemetic ANE religious Revivals are still very much in their formative stages and aren't being led by people with necessary, thorough backgrounds in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. For this, I recommend beginning with Donald B. Redford's Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Marc Van De Mieroop's A History of the Ancient Near East: ca. 3000 to 323 BC, Amanda H. Podany's Brotherhood of Kings: How International Relations Shaped the Ancient Near East, and Mark Woolmer's Ancient Phoenicia: An Introduction. They're not short texts, apart from Woolmer's that is, but they will give you a decent, fairly comprehensive understanding of the circumstances of the ANE.

Concerning "Canaanite" and Israelite, etc., religious details and developments, just about anything by Mark S. Smith, Rainer Albertz (namely, this massive text he co-authored with Rüdiger Schmitt), Daniel E. Fleming, and Dennis Pardee are quite sound.

Stories from Ancient Canaan, 2nd Edition edited by Mark S. Smith and Michael D. Coogan is probably where you're looking to start vis-a-vis "Canaanite" religion(s), as most people like to get at the mythic material first and foremost. After that, I would definitely recommend picking up The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Biblical Resource Series), along with Pardee's Ritual and Cult at Ugarit (Writings from the Ancient World) and Nicolas Wyatt's Religious Texts from Ugarit -- there should be a free PDF of the latter still floating around the nets somewhere.

While William Foxwell Albright has since become outdated in areas, his works are nevertheless necessary, now "classic" reads. Of particular use and importance is his Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: An Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths

Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan by John Day and the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Second Edition are handy, but relatively scarce and expensive.

Tryggve N. D. Mettinger is a much-beloved scholar of mine, though be aware that in The Riddle of the Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East -- one of the very few decent and comprehensive texts in ANE "comparative religious studies" -- wherein he addresses a few major Levantine Gods like Ba'l-Hadad, he unfortunately demonstrates a very poor comprehension of Greek, so if you ever pick that title up please do remember to take his interpretations in the chapter concerning the Phoenician God Melqart with a metric ton of salt.

Aaron J. Brody's Each Man Cried Out to His God: The Specialized Religion of Canaanite and Phoenician Seafarers was a short, widely-accessible, and enjoyable volume; he covers quite a few lesser-known and under-explored elements of Levantine religions therein.

It sounds like a lot, I'm sure, and there's so much more to read and discuss beyond all these, but hopefully this will provide a decent springboard for you into the crazy, wonderful world of Levantine religions.

I hope this helped, and if you need anything else on this, or concerning Mesopotamia and Egypt, feel free to ask anytime.

u/Seekin · 1 pointr/atheism

One great place to start is the Talk Origins Archive. Their "Guide to Creationist Claims" is also very good.

Also, the /r/atheism Wiki has a pretty good section on Creationism that's worth checking out.

There is plenty of evidence of large scale changes over geological time in the fossil record of many lineages. I'll let you research the sites I've linked (and hopefully many others you find yourself from credible sources) rather than linking to any specific ones.

I'm not sure what /u/OldWolf2642 has a specific problem with, but judging by his "humans &lt;&gt; apes" statement I think he's simply trying to point out that modern H. sap. did not evolve from other modern apes. We all (H. sap. are simply one example among several species of modern ape) evolved together from a common ancestor. He's right about that but his phrasing might make it seem as though macro evolution isn't part of modern evolutionary theory - IT IS. It's just that some of us feel that the the terms "micro-" and "macro-" evolution are used as an excuse for creationists to acknowledge the easily demonstrable (on a human timescale) case of natural selection within a species and still be able to dismiss larger scale changes over larger time frames. But, in fact, the terms are often used to distinguish research in some fields from research in others. The phrases are perfectly acceptable. But, as many have pointed out, "macro-" is just an unavoidable consequence of "micro-" happening over long periods of time. The creationists' ploy, here, is comparable to saying "I accept the existence of this glass of water, but refuse to acknowledge the "oceans" you people keep going on about". It's all the same thing, just on different scales.

My personal favorite books laying out the case for all sorts of evolution are:

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne


The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

But the /r/atheism Wiki has a great list of Recommended Reading and videos. Many of these are about atheism generally, but they include good stuff on evolutionary theory as well.

Keep studying and have a blast!

u/KolaDesi · 5 pointsr/DebateReligion

&gt; I'm happy to discuss, but's it's not a part of OP's topic or debate.

I knew, but since you appeared friendly and I can't comprehend how an atheist can convert to any religion, I thought to take the chance and ask.

&gt; It was the combination of everything (science, logic, experience), which is what Bayesian logic requires.

Funny how science and logic (not experience, of course) brought me on the opposite side. What's up with Bayesian logic? I've never heard that argument.

&gt; If you really want to know, watch the following testimony. His experience was a lot like mine, except his was much longer : https://youtu.be/FEZJ6zaa_iY

Not gonna lie, I watched only a half. It was interesting, but nothing suggested that he wasn't dreaming and fitting his dream into a specific narrative, helped by his upbringing. Afterall he was raised Catholic, then rejected religion (but still believed new age religions, astrology and other quackery) and then had a Christian experience? How odd...

I'm still hoping to hear an experience that can be replicated by a second, third, fourth, tenth person and can be consistent in its description. The idea of a loving god sounds awesome, but I still haven't find a good reason to believe it's true. Yet I always hope to find an experience (what better proof than evidence, no?) which can convince a skeptic.

I don't know if you've read my other comment under yours, but I'm quite accustomed to people experiencing divinities in their lives, and they all happen to experience the most relevant "person" of their religion. I've never commented them but one, and the girl was firm that her calculations (cherry picked and wrongly summed) made sense. They were calculations. It was practically a math problem to be solved. And yet she rounded these calculations to make God happen. Oh well.

&gt; I recommend starting with this book if you are serious : https://www.amazon.com/Five-Proofs-Existence-Edward-Feser/dp/1621641333

Judging by the comments, they appear the usual rational explanation given by western philosophy, such as the cosmological argument and so on. If that's so, have you read the counter arguments about them? What do you think about them?

u/i_make_song · 3 pointsr/TrueAtheism

The Bible is a collection of small works written by many people from a select variety of cultures over a period spanning many (many, many, many) years. Each separate work was frequently changed intentionally and unintentionally (in insignificant and significant ways), and as I understand it we actually don't have any of the original manuscripts. There is a ton of physical evidence for the frequent changes to various manuscripts because we have so many copies. The Biblical manuscript page of Wikipedia does a much better job of explaining this.

So even if we had perfect translations of the existing bajillion manuscripts (we don't) it wouldn't matter because they aren't the original manuscripts. I don't think it's very likely that they had any sort of otherworldly knowledge on them, but hey anything is possible right? It's just not very likely. I think a better exercise when debating is pointing out clearly immoral passages that cannot be interpreted in multiple ways (try 2 Kings 2:23).

Any serious historians (including Christian historians) do not believe we have an inerrant Bible. Although that sure seems to be the rhetoric coming from the religious right.

Some translations are also much more academically rigorous than others. Rupurt Murdoch literally owns the NIV translation and the NIV translation is overseen by only 15 people. You can interpret that however you would like.

I personally recommend the The New Oxford Annotated Bible. I have it in Kindle format (basically a DRM protected PDF) as it's a fantastic translation. As I understand it is the translation most often used by biblical scholars.

The Bible is actually fairly complicated compilation of writings with all of the different sources and languages that are complied together, but it's a fairly interesting story.

I'm by no means an expert on this stuff, but I've tried my best to be as accurate as possible. Someone let me know if I've slipped up somewhere.

Honestly, the topic is extremely deep, and my interest in the bible has become almost nonexistent over the past few years.

I've debated with countless "the Bible is the inerrant word of God" people with pretty solid evidence and points and it all seems to be that these people use circular logic. I'm not saying they're unintelligent (they're actually quite intelligent) they seem to be clinging on to an improbable belief or in some sort of delusion/denial state.

I think a better question is who decided these people literally talked to "god", and how did they determine what was canonical? Why couldn't I just write a new chapter of the Bible today?

Sorry if my rambling is incoherent.

u/shockwolf85 · 1 pointr/Bible

To become a better person takes intentionality, meaning you have to make a decision to make a change every time something new and unwholesome presents itself to you regarding yourself. The Bible is certainly a plumb line on major things to do to become a better person, but it's also full of pictures of individuals who showed the way for being amazing people.

I've found that the more I study leadership, psychology, emotional intelligence, etc., the more I see a blue print for it in the Bible, in particular, demonstrated by Christ himself.

If you want to be the best version of yourself, study servant-based leadership. Jesus was a servant leader. The apostles learned from Jesus how to be servant leaders. Servant leadership is the mortal granularity that made the gospel so transformative and helped it spread like a wildfire. If you are essentially having to "sell" a new religious belief system in the 1st century, you've got to be able to believe the salesman as well as the integrity of the product, right? The product is salvation and the sales pitch is a new way of walking in freedom and living a wholesome, abundant life. Christ's leadership model did just that.

If you want some good reads on leadership, check these out, and then read the new testament chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Keep in mind, you don't need a title or position to be a leader -- that's what servant leadership is all about.

"Spiritual Leadership" by J. Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence For Every Believer (Sanders Spiritual Growth Series) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0802416705/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_u.ZhDbPEN8952

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity https://www.amazon.com/dp/0060652926/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Ma0hDbTCSG70T

More leadership for business and for life:

"The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" by John C. Maxwell: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition) https://www.amazon.com/dp/0785288376/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_cc0hDbRCMAGMZ

"The 5 Levels of Leadership" by John C. Maxwell: The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential https://www.amazon.com/dp/1599953633/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_6c0hDbK4RV56Y

u/DenSem · 1 pointr/TrueChristian

I can't speak for the general population, but from my experience there seems to be a shift in understanding moving from "Genesis is literal" to Genesis is an awesome picture of what happened, written in practical language people of the day could approach and understand.

I believe in the big bang (and that God caused it), and that the 6 days of creation were not "days" (it has been almost 14 billion years after all), but more like a musical "count off" to the main point of the whole story: humanity and our relationship with God.

I love science. It simply explains the "what" and "how" of creation. Theology provides the "why".

For miracles, I believe they happened in the Bible. If you move in the right circles you can see (and experience) that they continue to happen- but then you get labeled as extreme and weird- even in Christian groups. It's always interesting talking about them- it's like there is a weird hushed tone you have to talk in because it's so counter-cultural and off the grid.

Hope that helps!

Edit: If you're interested there are a couple great books you may enjoy. The language of God written by the head of the human genome project and The Genesis Enigma. Both address how the Bible is scientifically accurate when read correctly.

u/LadyAtheist · 5 pointsr/atheism

What the heck, I'm in the mood to toy with a troll on a Saturday night.

"People assume evolution is true because they say it's the most logical thing to believe, but I believe that intelligent design is more logical if you examine the evidence with no presuppositions."

First, scientists don't assume anything, and people who have gone to actual schools rather than Christian schools have learned the scientific method and possibly even proven evolution to themselves in a laboratory experiment (yes, it happens in the lab)

If you examine THE evidence? ... with no presuppositions? Funny. Because the Intelligent Design lie was invented by the Discovery Institute, whose mission is to prove that God is behind it all -- i.e. they are starting with a presupposition.

". Evolution has no proof. They have fossils and dating methods that they say is proof, but subjectively they must not truly be proof because if they were truly proof then there would be no intelligent people who believed in creation left"

hahahahhahaa that's a good one! They have thousands of fossils, and dating methods that have been proven... and when they dig where they expect to find certain kinds of fossils based on the theory of evolution, they find them! They have found fish that were able to walk on land, the transitional fossils between the hippo ancestor and the whale, etc.

The fallacy of appeal to authority is no kind of proof especially in this case because you're not appealing to biologists of the modern era, 99% of whom see evolution as the central defining theory of their life's work.

"Evolution has never, in human history, been observed. Their have been many cases of micro-evolution"

Caw! Caw! Caw! You, my friend, are a parrot. You are parroting Ken Ham, which is pretty funny. You obviously don't know that ALL evolution takes place with tiny steps -- i.e., there's no such thing as "macro evolution," so you and the people you parrot are demanding to see something that wouldn't fit the theory of evolution, then claiming that the theory is bunk because the experts haven't provided it. Guess what? That's a dishonest and shameful tactic. You should be ashamed of yourself for mindlessly parroting something so intellectually dishonest.

"3. Evolution goes against the law of entropy." That's just nonsense, again parroting Ken Ham and his ilk. Read this instead: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_entropy Meanwhile, consider these points: A. How can crystals form if entropy governs everything and B. The sun sends radiation energy to the Earth, so the Earth is not a closed system - additional energy is added every day.

" it's more logical to believe that an all powerful God created everything than things evolving"

No, it's not more logical. Consider: A perfect God wouldn't have given us the appendix, the tailbone (and in some people actual tails), goosebumps, and other vestigial traits. These things are only logical in light of evolution.

So.. show me the proof? You have a computer. You can use google. You are literate. You can read a book. Why should random redditors be challenged to prove what you are too lazy and ignorant to discover for yourself? The evidence is not that hard to find. Try reading Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution is True. http://www.amazon.com/Why-Evolution-True-Jerry-Coyne/dp/0143116649

Read up on fossils -- and not in Answers in Genesis or whatever source you parroted in your OP. Read up on how it's been true over and over and over that fossils are found in layers, in exactly the same order everywhere, and that you can predict which fossils you might find in a layer of ground based on evolutionary theory. Note, nobody has EVER found a fossil in a layer where it doesn't belong. A find like that would at the very least shake up one portion of the story that other fossils have told.

Evidence that points to evolution IS proof.

Look up "equivocation." This is a favorite trick of Ken Ham and his ilk. Don't do it! Stop it! Grow up and accept reality! You don't have to equivocate on words like that to learn science - you only have to do it to cling to the creator-god. The bronze age people who made up that story can't be faulted for believing it because they didn't have the scientific method, the technology to study the world like we do, or centuries of scientific findings that have told a much more interesting story.

But you are not a bronze age person, so let go of that fairy tale and embrace the real world.

u/Earthtone_Coalition · 2 pointsr/atheism

A lot of people here have claimed that "there are no unbiased books." This is simply not so, unless it's meant in some facile sense--presenting evidence to support a thesis ought not be interpreted as a bias for that thesis (though the thesis, on its own, may be biased).

Mind you, finding an unbiased book on religion is not so easy. Practically all the New Atheist books are right out, so no Harris, Hitchens, or Dawkins. That's not to say that these aren't fantastic writers, but they obviously wouldn't fall into the category you describe elsewhere of "an agnostic that states all of the beliefs of both sides and arguments for it without pushing towards a particular side."

My recommendations would be as follows:

God is Not One by Stephen Prothero -- This is a book on comparative religion in which the author seeks to demonstrate that the major religions of the world are not all "different paths up the same mountain," as is sometimes expressed to infer that all theists worship the same god. He gives a pretty balanced, if brief, account of the major underlying differences between the world's religions. Informative and interesting, but not particularly profound.

The Case for God by Karen Armstrong -- Here Armstrong examines how religions have changed over time. There's a focus on Christianity and she does a good job of demonstrating the immense changes that the religion has undergone since its inception. Arguing that today's systems of beliefs and views of God are starkly different from those our ancestors, Armstrong makes a strong argument for a return to the Gnostic tradition for those seeking to understand the supernatural. Sadly, she does devote a chapter at the very end of her book (needlessly, I think) to criticizing the New Atheist movement.

The Shadow of a Great Rock by Harold Bloom -- This is simply a literary examination of the King James Bible. No position is taken on the merits of the claims made in the Bible or of individuals who believe these claims. It can be very slow at times, as Bloom painstakingly demonstrates the careful literary decisions made by the authors of the KJV and compares it against contemporary examples like the Geneva and Tyndale Bibles. Obviously, this book is only tangentially related to the topic of religion since it focuses so intently on only one book--having said this, I never really understood or appreciated how people could consider the Bible such a beautiful literary masterpiece until I read this book. Bloom conveys his love of the work (in a purely literary sense--he's Jewish) on every page.

HONORABLE MENTION: The New Oxford Annotated Bible -- It's a study Bible with lots and lots of footnotes and maps and cross-references. Very thorough. It makes everything generally clearer and easier to understand. I can't vouch for a lack bias, since I'm not knowledgeable enough on the topic to discern what parts of the footnotes and introductions are questionable bias on the part of the authors and what's just the straight dope. Further, as with any translation of the Bible, bias may be inherent within the very text itself--though this version does a good job of mitigating that by indicating where and how other translations differ.

u/professional_giraffe · 1 pointr/TrueAtheism

Not long after I went off to college. I'd heard and read all the terrible things in the bible, but my loss of faith actually had to do with really studying the history of religion for the first time, and understanding how humanity's changing understanding of the world and growing sense of morality had influenced every major and minor change in dogma along the way. (Very similar to how I was able to dismiss creation when I learned about evolution in school.) I had already started to become more like a "deist" rather than a "theist" without realizing it, but I also had plenty of "religious experiences" that made me feel a personal relationship with god and kept me from dismissing it completely.

My first real challenge to my belief didn't happen until I investigated a church other than the non-denominational type I'd always been taken to growing up. I did this because my very serious boyfriend at the time was mormon (Who is now my atheist husband ;) and of course wanted to give it an honest look. But naturally I was skeptical. I looked on the internet for information, and to make a looong story short, I knew that it was untrue. (Like, literally plagiarized. Heh, literally...) But in researching one religion, I unknowingly started studying them all, and I encountered a lot of new arguments because of this (and just from being on the internet everyday helped with that too. Reddit was a big influence) and I remember deciding that I could not dismiss his religion or any other without truly looking into my own. So I decided to read arguments against everything I'd been taught, like a scientifically minded person is supposed to want to do.

Like you, I made a reddit post around this time, asking for sources and wanting others to tell me why they made the decision. Still identifying as christian, I didn't even know what information was out there, and what sources would be a best place to start. On that post I was given a link to this video series (edit: also linked by someone else) and when I had finished it I was an atheist. My "official" transition happened in just two hours, but really it made me realize how much I already didn't believe and taught me about a lot of other things about the bible I'd never heard such as the Documentary Hypothesis and the origins of Judaism. It was just my "last straw."

What you should look into next really depends on what might interest you the most or have the biggest impact. Here's a site that lists a ton of relevant books by category. Two I personally would highly recommend: "The God Delusion" which is fairly popular and a great place to start for a comprehensive understanding of the main issues, and "A History of God" is absolutely amazing for understanding the natural evolution of religion.

u/ziddina · 1 pointr/religion

&gt; It can't be proved either way...

Actually, it can be - at least in the case of the Abrahamic religions and their gods.

You'll notice I used the plural term there - godSSSSSS.

There are actually several gods - deities - incorporated into the bible's forms of worship. You won't learn about this from any Watchtower Society literature, because the Watchtower Society's bible "translations" fail to use the oldest manuscripts and information available nowadays. Plus, it's in their interest to keep average Jehovah's Witnesses from knowing that there are several gods incorporated into a supposedly "one" god, in the bible.

First, "Jehovah" is a mistranslation of the YHWH consonants with the vowels of the title "Elohim".

There are two "names" for the Hebrew god, right there. Although if one traces the origins of the name/term "Elohim" back to its CANAANITE roots, one finds that "Elohim" originally was PLURAL, in the Canaanite language &amp; polytheistic belief system.

From: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Canaanite_Religion

&gt;The Canaanite pantheon was conceived as a divine clan, headed by the supreme god El; the gods collectively made up the elohim.

Then there's the Canaanite patriarchal god "EL" - as in Isra-EL, Beth-EL, Samu-EL, Dani-EL, and so on.

The OLDER Canaanite patriarchal god EL is deeply incorporated into the Israelite/Hebrew culture - and the bible itself.

Also, "EL" and YHWH are NOT the same god...

From: http://contradictionsinthebible.com/are-yahweh-and-el-the-same-god/

&gt;First, the name Israel is not a Yahwistic name. El is the name of the deity invoked in the name Israel, which translates: “May El persevere.”2 This suggests that El was seen as the chief god in the formative years of Israel’s religious practices. In fact, the etiological story explaining the origin of the name Israel occurs in Genesis 35:9-15, where Jacob obtains this name through the blessing of El Shaddai, that is “El of the Mountain.”

&gt;Second, there exist numerous parallels and similarities between descriptions and cultic terminology used for El in the Canaanite texts and those used for Yahweh in the biblical sources (see below). At some point, it is ascertained, the cultic worship of Yahweh must have absorbed that of El, through which means Yahweh assimilated both the imagery and epithets once used of El.

And honey, that's just the tip of the iceberg. You may want to check out these two books which come at this information from two different viewpoints:



Which brings me to another part of your comment:

&gt;but I find the argument that someone, an intelligent force, could have created this magnificent world we live in.

Maybe, but it certainly wasn't the all-of-3,000-years-old bible god YHWH.

The very oldest bits of bible verse ever found are barely 3,000 years old.

From: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/01/06/The-Blessing-of-the-Silver-Scrolls.aspx#Article

&gt;Excavations in Jerusalem in 1979–80 by Gabriel Barkay turned up two amulets dating from the late seventh century BC.1 They were found in the fourth of several burial caves he discovered on an escarpment known as Ketef Hinnom, which overlooks the Hinnom Valley (Gehenna) just opposite Mt. Zion. Each amulet contained a rolled-up sheet of silver which, when unrolled, revealed the Priestly Benediction inscribed on them. The exact Hebrew words (translated into English) are:

&gt;May Yahweh bless you and keep you;
May Yahweh cause his face to
Shine upon you and grant you
Peace (Coogan 1995: 45).

&gt;Commented the late archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon:

&gt;"This is now the earliest occurrence of a Biblical text in an extra-Biblical document, significantly predating the earliest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is also the oldest extra-Biblical reference to YHWH, the God of Israel (1987: 124; cf. King and Stager 2001: 306).

Notice that they are celebrating the fact that these bits of scripture date back to slightly AFTER 700 BC...

But there are many, many gods/goddesses/beliefs that are FAR older than the godSSS of the bible.

The Egyptian gods &amp; goddesses are at least 1,000 years OLDER than the oldest Hebrew god[s].

From: http://www.theology101.org/egy/pyt/index.htm

&gt;The Pyramid Texts were funerary inscriptions that were written on the walls of the early Ancient Egyptian pyramids at Sakkara. These date back to the fifth and sixth dynasties, approximately the years 2350-2175 B.C.E. However, because of extensive internal evidence, it is believed that they were composed much earlier, circa 3000 B.C.E. The Pyramid Texts are, therefore, essentially the oldest sacred texts known.

The goddess of the temples of Malta are at least 3,300 years OLDER than the oldest Hebrew god[s]. From: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/132

&gt;The Megalithic Temples of Malta (Ġgantija, Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Skorba, Ta’ Ħaġrat and Tarxien) are prehistoric monumental buildings constructed during the 4th millennium BC and the 3rd millennium BC. They rank amongst the earliest free-standing stone buildings in the world and are remarkable for their diversity of form and decoration.

The deities of the temples at Gobekle Tepe are at least 7,000 years OLDER than the oldest Hebrew god[s]. From: http://gobeklitepe.info/

&gt;Welcome to the presentation of the The World’s First Temple, Gobeklitepe … a pre-historic site, about 15 km away from the city of Sanliurfa, Southeastern Turkiye. What makes Gobeklitepe unique in its class is the date it was built, which is roughly twelve thousand years ago, circa 10,000 BC.

The deities of the artists who made the cave paintings in southern France &amp; Spain are at least 9,000 to 27,000 years OLDER than the oldest Hebrew god[s]. From: http://www.experienceardeche.com/page/the-chauvet-cave/56

&gt;The Chauvet cave is situated next to the famous Pont d'Arc, above the old river bed upon which the Ardèche flowed before the archway opened up and changed its course. It contains a vast array (more than 1000) and unique collection of cave paintings dated between 32,000 - 36,000 years old which makes them some of the oldest cave paintings in the world.

The deities or forms of worship (likely animism, at first) of the aboriginal Australians are at least 36,000 to 73,000 years OLDER than the oldest Hebrew god[s] - depending on which date one chooses for the migration of the archaic Indian or southern Asian populations into Australia. From: http://www.aboriginalculture.com.au/introduction.shtml

&gt;Australia's Aboriginal culture probably represents the oldest surviving culture in the world, with the use of stone tool technology and painting with red ochre pigment dating back over 60,000 years.

Are you beginning to get the picture? Beginning to see how puny &amp; of what recent origin the bible's godSSSS are? But wait, we have one more stop to make on the timeline of human (but not Homo sapien) religions...

Finally, going back to the Acheulean cultures of the Homo erectus, the Berekhat Ram female figurine (possibly a poppet - a small deity figure kept as a charm to ward off evil) dates back at least 230,000 years &amp; may be as old as 700,000 years. From: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/prehistoric/venus-of-berekhat-ram.htm

&gt;The early Stone Age figurine of Berekhat Ram (Birkat Ram), discovered in hills north of Israel, is believed to be one of the oldest pieces of prehistoric sculpture known to archeology. Although initially highly controversial - as some paleontologists preferred to see it more as a product of natural erosion rather than a deliberate human act of creativity - its status now seems more secure following the discovery of a second similar and contemporaneous figurine - the Venus of Tan-Tan, in Morocco.... [bold &amp; italics mine]

&gt;The Venus of Berekhat Ram was created during the Acheulean culture of the Lower Paleolithic period of the old Stone Age, and has been dated to 230,000-700,000 BCE. The reason for the vagueness of its provenance is that it was found sandwiched between two layers of volcanic residue: an upper one dated about 230,000 BCE, and a lower one dated 700,000 BCE. This makes it (along with the effigy of Tan-Tan) the oldest example of mobiliary art ever recorded, and remarkably, it means that it predated Neanderthal man, and was created by an earlier hominid like Homo erectus.

So, the claim that the recently-generated Abrahamic "gods" could have had ANYTHING to do with the origins of the 4.5 billion year old earth &amp; slightly older solar system (let alone the 12.8 billion year old universe) is laughable in the extreme.

[edit to fix stuff!]