Okay, so I'm going to not do the mile-long answers this time (just *half* a mile long!) , because a lot of the most important points I'm trying to make are getting looked over because my post was so long. So I'm going to do just a few at a time, as I get time to answer them.
Hello? What on earth has the fact that I recognize evil got to do with the fact that I'm an atheist? My atheism is totally predicated on one simple point: that the probability of the existence of a supernatural being, who breaks all the laws of nature and for whom there is no evidence, is vanishingly small. Nothing else! Don't you think it's a tad arrogant to assume that we get all our moral codes and boundaries from Christianity, which has a only small minority of the world's population as adherents (and most of those pretty casual adherents)?
I already explained a little how atheists can't call anything evil, but I am going into more detail at the bottom of this post. So read on if you want my answer.
"Don't you think it's a tad arrogant to assume that we get all our moral codes and boundaries from Christianity, which has a only small minority of the world's population as adherents?"
No, I don't. Are you a moral relativist? If not, then surely you don't believe that there is more than one truth. It is not arrogant to believe that Christianity is the only truth, in fact I go so far as to say that without Christianity there can be no such thing as truth at all. Define for me truth.Unless you borrow from my worldview, you can't.
Further explanations below.
"The fact that all men believe somewhere in their mind that there is good and evil, that there are absolutes, etc, is proof that they really know in their heart of hearts that the God of the Bible exists. As Romans 1:20 says, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse".""
How can all men believe in the God of the Bible when most of the world's population, during most of the history of humanity, had no knowledge of the bible.
The Bible is a divinely compiled collection of documents that were written over the course of earth history. So even though men didn't have the Bible as we do today, they still had the law of God as given to Adam, and to Abraham, and to Moses, etc, etc. That's also what the prophets were for in Bible times--to exhort and apply the law of God to people who perhaps didn't have access to the actual written word. But all that aside, like the Bible says--all men know that there is a Creator, and they know that that Creator holds them accountable for all of their actions. They may not consciously know it, but that knowledge is ingrained in the 'tablets of their hearts'.
'Fossils (from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up") are the preserved remains or traces of animals (also known as zoolites), plants, and other organisms from the remote past.'
Sure, you can also define it that way. I'm talking about 'fossilization'---the process of a substance being 'fossilized'/petrified. Something turning into a rock in the perfect shape of the original specimen. Most people (even scientists) use the term loosely to refer to the mineralization process, but also of old specimens. The argument between us is how old is old?
"fossil, coming from the Latin fossalis, dug up. Fossa and fossil ultimately stem from the Latin verb fodera, to dig." (from the Anatomy Almanac)
My point was simply that it doesn't take millions of years to preserve an object by fossilization/petrification. If you want to be perfectly accurate with your wording, say petrification.
All of what you say relies on the bible as being more than a set of translations of translations of stories.
And without my relying on the Bible as being the transcendental, infallible word of God, I would have no basis for believing anything at all! I would have no basis for science, or reason, or knowledge.
Let me explain. I've already slightly touched on inductive inference in a previous post. Inductive inference is, in other words, 'the future will be like the past'. For an atheist/evolutionist, who believes that we live in a random universe, it is impossible to know that the future will be like the past. Just because I drop a pencil today and it falls to the floor does not mean that the same thing will happen tomorrow when I drop the pencil. For all you know, it could float upwards. Perhaps it will turn into a dove! We have no way of knowing what the future will be like in an atheistic universe. Thus, there is no point to conduct scientific experiments. Just because in the past an experiment has produced a certain result, does not mean that it will the same result in the future. For all you know, an experiment you have done in the past and which resulted in one thing, could blow the whole laboratory to pieces tomorrow. You have no way of knowing.Just because in the past, the future has been like the past does not mean that that in the future the future will be like the past. You have no way of knowing.
I.e.: Between points T1 and T2, things have always turned out the same, between T2 and T3, between T3 and T4 they have always been the same as in the past, so I'm assuming that between T4 and T5 I will get the same result. But that's assuming in the uniformity of nature, that the future will be like the past. If you don't assume that, then all of the probabilities from the past are just wasted information. Because if we live in a random universe, you can't know that the future will be like the past, and so the fact that the points between T1 and T4 have all been the same is useless data--you can't carry that into the future and try to apply them to T4 and T6. It's utterly worthless info because it is from the past!
The only way that you can conduct intelligent experiments is if you assume that we live in an orderly universe, in the uniformity of nature, and in inductive inference. I have a basis for those things. Christianity is the basis for inductive inference. "Christianity is the transcendental precondition for intelligibility"--without the Christian worldview, you can't know anything at all. But the whole history of science is based upon the assumption that the world is a regular, uniform place, where we can conduct experiments and make judgements on how they will turn out; you can make weather judgements, experimental predictions, you can discover mysteries and decode puzzles. All of those things are based upon the simple assumption that the world is NOT random and accidental, that there is an absolute truth, that there is such a thing as inductive inference. But again, let me be clear: in an atheistic universe, there is no basis for believing in the uniformity of nature. Therefore you must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to reason.
"Giving 'genuine Christians' [whatever those are!] a bad name"
Then think of it this way. When an atheist or a waverer reads your words, is it your responsibility to try to make them think 'Yes, this person makes a good argument, I need to think more about this Christianity stuff?' rather than 'everything this person says is an incoherent and logical mess and so I can't trust a word they say, including anything about Christ'? If don't take any responsibility for it, or you are happy that what you say forces them to think the latter, to my mind you are harming the promotion of Christ's message. Which is not what a 'genuine Christian' should be trying to do.
When an atheist reads my words is it my responsibility to make them think that I have a good argument and that they ought to think more deeply?
Yes and no. Yes, since I do have a responsibility to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15), and I have a responsibility to demonstrate that creationists actually point to observable facts when they make their arguments (see my jellyfish example in a previous post, and I am planning more examples in future posts).
No in the sense that it is not my job to convince people that Christianity is true. I can't. Only God can change a person's heart. I can give evidence upon evidence, rationality upon rationality, philosophical argument upon philosophical argument, and it all fall on deaf ears if the Holy Spirit does not shed light on that person's heart and reveal the truth unto him.
"If don't take any responsibility for it, or you are happy that what you say forces them to think the latter, to my mind you are harming the promotion of Christ's message. Which is not what a 'genuine Christian' should be trying to do."
How am I being illogical? Please be specific. I am seeing a lot of generalizations branding me all sorts of names, but I don't quite see why you all are calling me these things. Be specific, so I can see where I'm being inconsistent or not.
I think that this whole discussion is too general. We are all sitting here talking about how much evidence we have, and yet we don't actually get down and say 'here's a specific situation or problem. Let's dig into this one and leave alone the rest for a time'. Shall we? I think it would be a lot more constructive if we did so. How about those jellyfish? :D
Again, the problem of good and evil.
The problem of evil is this. How could a loving, all-knowing God allow evil in the world? Obviously if he's all good, He would want to stop evil. If He's all-powerful, then He would be able to. So He's either not all good, or He's not all-powerful.
I'm going to repeat what I've said already about this problem, but expound some more.
Without Christianity, there can be no evil, no good. Everything is relative without a Christian worldview. I have a basis for defining evil. But atheists don't. So the only way that you can call some of the laws in the Bible "Evil" is by standing on the very presuppositions that the Bible provides--that there are such things as moral absolutes.
Until you are able to establish a foundation of your own without borrowing from the Christian worldview, you have no basis for judging me or anything else. For you, there is no good and there is no evil. And yet you sit here accusing me of being "amoral", you say that the Bible contains "evil", and you state that there are morals and ethics. Splendid! Now, please stop borrowing those terms from my worldview. In an atheistic worldview, there is no good, no evil, no morals and no ethics. For instance, I'm assuming you would call child abuse wrong. Am I correct?
I'll assume you would. All right, by what standard is it wrong? Because you disapprove of it? Because it causes discomfort to your mind? Because it causes discomfort to the child? What defines good? Majority happiness? What promotes life? What gives you pleasure?
But what about the next guy? While you may call 'good' 'what promotes life', Joe Smith over there might define 'good' 'what gives pleasure to most people". Sally Jones might define it "What evokes public approval". But these three definitions are personal opinions. Three opinions that lead to three whole 'cans of worms'. Take Joe Smith's definition. If "good' is what gives pleasure to most people, then extermination of Aborigines in Australia by white men back in the late 1800's and early 1900's (because they were supposed 'missing links') was good, because there were more white men in England/America who were deriving pleasure from getting rid of the 'primitives' for the benefit of their land and studying their bodies.
Take Sally Jone's definition. If 'good' is 'what evokes public approval', then 'good' varies from people group to people group. What is 'good' for Englishmen is different than what's 'good' for East Indians. Because in the Hindu religion, widow burning evokes public approval.
If what has been said here (I think it was Don Firth who said it) is true, that 'Good is what promotes life', then you're assuming that life is good. But lots of people disagree with that. People who commit suicide obviously don't think that life is good. Therefore, good is relative.
Is there absolute right and wrong?
After all, if there are no absolutes, if 'what's true for you isn't necessarily true for me' . I could pull a gun and shoot you in order to win my argument. Why shouldn't I? Would you protest if I pulled a gun on you during our discussion? If you say "Yes, you shouldn't shoot me," then you obviously believe that there is absolute good and evil (plus, I then win the debate). But if you say "No, it's all relative", then I am completely reasonable to pull the trigger (and hey, I win the debate that way too!).