This exchange stems from interaction I have been having with “articulette” at a post on the website Debunking Christianity.
articulett: Oh I think the men who wrote the bible had as much to benefit from the writings as those who wrote the Book of Mormon, the Quo’ran, and Dianetics.
Mike Gantt: The men who wrote the Bible did not collect royalties, preside over large organizations, or command armies. They typically died as martyrs for their faith, and often by torture. They were men of whom the world was not worthy. I cannot imagine how they could distinguish themselves more.
articulett: In fact, I don’t think the bible is any more divinely inspired than those other books.
Mike Gantt: I recognize that, but I also hope you’ll reconsider.
articulett: The bible endorses slavery and the treatment of women as chattel after all.
Mike Gantt: The Bible doesn’t endorse such things. Rather, it promotes a way of life that begins in the human heart and eventually changes the entire world. Jesus Christ leads in the way of peace – not of violent overthrow of existing civil order.
articulett: Look how the bible has benefited the Vatican!
Mike Gantt: If the Vatican was following the Bible they would have sold all the art, costumes, and buildings and given the money to the poor – and would have done it all in the name of Christ and not the pope.
articulett: The evidence shows that everybody thinks that god thinks like they do: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/
Mike Gantt: Scientific research cannot detect God. Nor can it discern whether a thought in the human brain came from God or some other source. God imparts His thoughts into open human hearts, so, from a researcher’s perspective, all the thoughts are coming from the person.
What I would be concerned about is a person who says that God directs him, but never does anything he doesn’t want to do. When you live a life of love, you are often doing things you do not want to do.
articulett: So tons of of men have claimed to be the humble servant of god while delivering messages that benefit themselves (though I’m sure that many imagine they truly are speaking for god.) It’s much easier to sway people to do things they woudn’t normally do if you can convince them that god wants them to do something… or that their salvation depends upon it.
Mike Gantt: Yes, evil men do these things and the Christ warns us against them.
articulett: And god orders all kinds of horrific things in the bible. He asks Abraham to prove his faith by killing his own son!
Mike Gantt: And once Abraham demonstrated his faith, God said the point had been sufficiently made – calling off the sacrifice. The difference between you and Abraham is that he believed God could raise the dead. Because he knew God had promised him descendants through that son, he was the only human being who could have taken a command like that in stride. Thus he was the only one who ever received such a command.
articulett: I know you really really believe your “woo”, but Tom Cruise believes his just as fervently. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFBZ_uAbxS0He seems as nice, intelligent, and moral as you.
Mike Gantt: I don’t have a “woo,” but the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and L. Ron Hubbard ought to be apparent to anyone.
articulett: His scriptures weren’t responsible for an Inquisition either.
Mike Gantt: People have done evil in the name of God and people have done evil without invoking God. Evil is evil. The Bible doesn’t cause it. On the contrary, it is constantly warning against it. If people truly followed Jesus Christ, they wouldn’t seek a human leader – L. Ron Hubbard, the pope, or anyone else.
articulett: The question is– is there a reason for us to take your opinion of your holy book more seriously than you take believers in those religions and their interpretation of their holy book?
Mike Gantt: Yes. Jesus Christ is the most unique figure in human history, and the Bible, being a collection of dozens of books written by dozens of authors over dozens of centuries, is the most unexpected biography ever written – and it’s a biography of Jesus Christ, most of it written long before He was born.
articulett: Is there any reason for us outsiders to think the bible is divinely inspired rather than entirely the product of men?
Mike Gantt: Yes. It tells a story about how death has been conquered. There is no more important issue for a human being than that.
articulett: Much of it is horrific, incoherent, or contradictory.
Mike Gantt: Focus on reading the parts you understand. Then gradually work your way into the more difficult parts. None of it is horrific or contradictory, and what incoherence owes more to the confused ideas we bring to the Bible than any confusion we find there.
articulett: And if you want to discuss the bible try this thread: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/11/slavery-abolitionism-and-ethics-of.html.
Mike Gantt: I might do that.
articulett: Most of us here were Christians at one time– when you assert your beliefs as truth you come of as a bit crazy to us… the way Tom Cruise probably comes off to ex-Scientologists.
Mike Gantt: Yes, I have noticed that Debunking Christianity is an evangelistic site. John is still a cheerleader. He just switched sides. And many of you applaud when your team scores – or even appears to score.
articulett: There would need to be scientific evidence that some part of consciousness survives death for me to think anyone actually knows something about the subject. As far as the evidence is concerned– no consciousness exists absent a material brain. ( It’s how we know that carrots and rocks and stars aren’t conscious.)
Mike Gantt: You’ll get that tangible confirmation when you die. Fortunately, everyone is going to heaven. Nonetheless, you’ll be far happier if you begin to serve Jesus now than if you wait until then.