My Conversation with @gedgoff (so far)

I haven’t altered the text. I don’t expect the conversation to continue. Happy reading!

  • I’m always amused when the religious assume to know our thoughts and feelings. :) As an atheist, my position has nothing to do with my willingness, or lack thereof, to “submit.” In fact, as a Christian, I was completely willing. My lack of faith is entirely due to the fact that for every claim made of any gods, there’s no evidence. All believers have is logical fallacy.

    Comment by Anton A. Hill | December 2, 2012

    • Anton, I won’t disagree with you that the ‘religious’ can be presumptive and, if not ‘amusing’, at least sometimes bemusing. But it is important to keep in mind that there is quite a huge difference between the merely religious and disciples of Jesus Christ. Seek to hang around and dialogue with the latter.

      You wrote, “My lack of faith is entirely due to the fact that for every claim made of any gods, there’s no evidence. All believers have is logical fallacy.” That is a very inclusive statement, and expresses a lot of faith in your personal belief system. It also says much more about you than it does about God or believers. It is unfortunate that the mere facts of life, love, beauty, your personal sense of right and wrong (whether right or wrong), thought, language, DNA, water, cells, atoms, laughter and untold other wonders don’t provoke you to reconsider your position that there is no evidence for the existence of any god. Maybe they will. In another reply to an earlier post of yours, I mentioned the strength of the eye witness historical record for the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Messiah (Christ). Apparently, you dismiss those eye witness accounts despite the overwhelming evidence for their veracity. Still, in all likelihood you accept without serious question various biographical accounts of other historic figures for which much less reliable documentation exists. The most important historical figure by far is Jesus. That’s the one person you need to be thorough about in determining whether he lived and if what we know about him is true.

      It sounds like you have, at some point in the past, attended a church and considered yourself a Christian. Now you don’t. So, apparently, your previous involvement with church/religion was disappointing/unsatisfying to you. Still, you are on this website discussing, in a sense, religion/Christianity/gods/God, etc, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes the best way to proceed when infiltrating foreign territory is not to make a lot of declarations, but rather to gather information. Without a doubt there are a number of people on this blog site that will be more than happy to answer every honest question you may have about Christianity, or at least point you to where you may find quality information relating to your question.

      I see you as a seeker Anton, and I pray you find truth and life.

      Comment by Ged Goff @gedgoff | December 2, 2012

      • Hi Ged,

        What’s a “disciple of Jesus Christ” and what’s the difference between that and the “merely religious”? Why is the former superior to the latter?

        What do you mean by “belief system”? What does that have to do with my lack of faith? Lack of faith, by definition, is not a belief. If by “belief system,” you mean facts I accept as real, then the term “belief system” isn’t applicable as facts such as gravity, evolution, and relativity aren’t a question of perception or opinion. They’re always true, no matter who observes them or what the observer thinks of them. If by “belief system,” you mean debatable topics such as philosophy and morality, then yes, I hold a number of positions which aren’t necessarily demonstrable; however, my lack of faith in gods is just like my lack of faith in ghosts, demons, vampires, or any other supernatural phenomenon you’d care to throw in there. Until proved, I see no reason to believe in any of those either.

        Everything you mentioned, life, love, beauty, sense of right and wrong, etc., either has already been proved through science or science has already provided an explanation. Let’s take life. First, what is life? Is it an organism that self-replicates? Are crystals life? Is it an organism that’s self-aware? Are animals, then, not life? Is it an organism that has what we call feelings? Animals are out again. I look at it as a bit of a spectrum. There are some organisms whose entire existence seems to be almost exclusively focused on self-replication. Then there are much more complex organisms that have identifiable societies. And for al of it, sciences such as chemistry, biology, and evolutionary biology have proved or explained just about every aspect so as to leave no mystery of how or why life occurs.

        Love, I think, is a much simpler issue. I like the fact that the Greeks had a bunch of words for it because they recognized that there are multiple emotional states and circumstances under which we experience pleasure as it relates to other people and things. And in fact, what modern society considers “love” has changed drastically over the centuries. We tell ourselves nowadays that we should love our parents, our kids, our partners, our friends, but in each of those cases, there are plenty of exceptions. Abused children don’t tend to love their parents. Married couples who once “loved” each other very frequently get divorced. So it’s really sort of a cultural myth that this magical, mysterious thing called “love” even exists.

        The religious assertion that religion and more particularly God provide morality I find truly baffling as the traits that people assign to morality–compassion, self-sacrifice for the greater good, etc.–have all been found among “lower” forms of life. Chimpanzees take care of their elderly, sick, and weak. Vampire bats voluntarily give their own food so that their fellows might eat. And I don’t think I’ve heard of a single documented case in the wild in which a member of a species voluntarily kills a fellow member of the same species. Certainly not over divorce proceedings or a lost job. Nor is there a single case in the animal kingdom in which a member of a species owns another member. That can hardly be said of humans. To the question of what is morality and where does it come from, I think the answer is again quite simple. Morality is a continuum of behavioral guidelines that a society generally agrees provide the maximum amount of benefit to the maximum number of its members. I use vague terms such as “guidelines” and “generally” because we obviously support plenty of grey area depending on the situation.

        I’m so glad you brought up language as I’m a linguist myself. It is a truly amazing thing and I can almost understand how some might consider it miraculous. But it isn’t. It’s a demonstrable, testable, reproducible, and, to some degree, predictable phenomenon as with any other scientific concept. From ancient “click” languages of remote south African tribes to modern French slang, all language operates in the same way. Yes, some languages have more complex vocabulary than others. Yes, some languages have simpler grammar than others. But all languages follow rules, laws, and adapt to their environments just as an organism would. In fact, I’d argue that language is, by necessity, more adaptive to its environment than any organism you could point out. So much so that languages such as Old English, separated by only a few centuries from Modern English, are nearly incomprehensible to modern ears.

        Where did language come from? We don’t fully know. But, as with any other science, just because we don’t know right now doesn’t mean it’s unknowable. Although with language, I feel it may ultimately be unknowable simply because recorded language is a modern invention. Without records, it’s really hard to piece together the past.

        Your premise seems to have been “There are lots of nice things, they’re all mysterious, yet seem to be necessary, therefore a god made them for us,” but with the “mystery” taken out of that and the explanation not relying upon a god, then there’s no reason to include said god into the equation, unless one simply wants to. But desire for a thing doesn’t equal evidence of a thing.

        To answer your sort of unanswered question, no, none of things you’ve mentioned have made me reconsider my lack-of-faith position; they’ve only made me want to know more about science.

        I’ve already covered your points on so-called eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, but I’ll briefly say that no, I don’t trust any alleged historical biographies as being true until proved. This goes for Socrates, Moses, Remus, Romulus, to some degree Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, and yes, the alleged still-living Elvis.

        While I feel I’ve been thorough in my research on the claims made of Jesus, if you can point me to evidence about which I was previously unaware, I’m happy to consider it. Please don’t mention William Lane Craig or Lee Strobel as I’ve heard what they have to say.

        You’re absolutely right. I was once a Christian. I no longer am. You’re wrong, though, that my experience was disappointing/unsatisfying. I loved it, in fact. But as I said initially, all claims my church made had no evidence to support them. The more I explored the church’s claims, the more I found there was no basis for them whatsoever. Not only that, but my parents made absolute claims about the validity of other faiths, including other Christian sects, and I found no basis for their certainty of those claims. For example, I was told that born-again Christians were crazy for taking the Bible literally, but if the Bible is the Word of God, I didn’t see why taking it literally were crazy.

        Yes, I’ve been on this site. Two reasons for that. One, I find religion fascinating. The certainty with which you make your claims is identical to the certainty with which Muslims make their claims, or Mormons make their claims, and yet not one of you has a shred of evidence to back up those claims. You all use the same rationalizations. You all use the same fallacies. Not only that, but each of you is just as certain that those of other faiths are wrong.

        Two, John had made a correlation/causation fallacy (I think) regarding the Higgs Boson, so I was intrigued by that.

        Oo, I’m so glad you invited me to ask questions! :) I have tons, but I won’t dump them all right here. Where’s an appropriate place to ask them?

        Best,

        Anton.

        Comment by Anton A. Hill | December 23, 2012

        • Anton, let me see if I can combine some of your questions with my responses in a dialogue type format:

          Anton: What’s a “disciple of Jesus Christ” and what’s the difference between that and the “merely religious”? Why is the former superior to the latter?
          Ged: A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who has committed their life to Christ, acknowledges Him as their Lord, and seeks to live their life according to the teachings of Christ, in a manner that is pleasing to Christ. As to the difference between a disciple of Christ and the ‘merely religious’, you know there are many different religions (and denominations and/or sects within the various religions), and these various religions, necessarily, cannot all be equal and/or true. Each of the world’s major religions espouses certain essential teachings/beliefs and/or denies certain essential teachings/beliefs of the other religions, so that commitment to one religion has the effect of rejecting the other religions. This is not a problem per se, but rather a necessary consequence of the existence of competing spiritual concepts. Regarding discipleship to Christ and mere religion, sometimes you will hear it said in the Christian community that ‘religion’ is man’s search for God, but Christianity is God’s search for (or outreach to) man.

          Anton: What do you mean by “belief system”?
          Ged: Everyone believes in a variety of things. Everyone exercises faith in a number of ways each day of their lives. The sum total of a person’s beliefs, coupled with what one chooses to put their faith in, combine to form a ‘belief system’ for that person. If a person is unable to reconcile and harmonize various aspects of what they believe and what they have faith in, then that disharmony in their lives may lead to various mental states, from simple unhappiness or confusion, to anger, fear, despair, delusion, neurosis, psychosis, etc.

          Anton: Everything you mentioned, life, love, beauty, sense of right and wrong, etc., either has already been proved through science or science has already provided an explanation.

          Ged: Science is unable to create life. On atheism and naturalistic evolution there is no objective basis for a moral law.

          Anton: So it’s really sort of a cultural myth that this magical, mysterious thing called “love” even exists.

          Ged: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

          Anton: Morality is a continuum of behavioral guidelines that a society generally agrees provide the maximum amount of benefit to the maximum number of its members. I use vague terms such as “guidelines” and “generally” because we obviously support plenty of grey area depending on the situation.

          Ged: Yes, this is where man tends to end up once having rejected God, that is, with subjective morality. Such a system is wholly inferior to what God has provided to man.

          Anton: Where did language come from? We don’t fully know.
          Ged: Man’s language was divided into different tongues at the tower of Babel several thousand years ago. You can read about the reasons for the same in the Bible.

          Anton:To answer your sort of unanswered question, no, none of things you’ve mentioned have made me reconsider my lack-of-faith position; they’ve only made me want to know more about science.

          Ged: True science is a worthy endeavor for anyone – free from prejudice and preconception as to what cannot be a cause for what is. Contrary to what you might believe, many scientists are Christians.

          Anton: …I don’t trust any alleged historical biographies as being true until proved. This goes for Socrates, Moses, Remus, Romulus, to some degree Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, and yes, the alleged still-living Elvis.

          Ged: The Bible rates extremely high in relation to other ancient texts in regard to apparent veracity. If you accept no ancient texts then, yes, it will be difficult for you to gain much knowledge from history.

          Anton: …I feel I’ve been thorough in my research on the claims made of Jesus, if you can point me to evidence about which I was previously unaware, I’m happy to consider it.
          Ged: Have you ever read the Bible from cover to cover with care and thoughtfulness?

          Anton: You’re absolutely right. I was once a Christian. I no longer am…I loved it, in fact. But as I said initially, all claims my church made had no evidence to support them. The more I explored the church’s claims, the more I found there was no basis for them whatsoever. Not only that, but my parents made absolute claims about the validity of other faiths, including other Christian sects, and I found no basis for their certainty of those claims. For example, I was told that born-again Christians were crazy for taking the Bible literally, but if the Bible is the Word of God, I didn’t see why taking it literally were crazy.

          Ged: What church did your parents take you to? It sounds like it was one that did not believe the Bible is literally true, the word of God to man. That’s very unfortunate. I would submit to you that a church that does not believe the Bible, at least in major part, is not a Christian church. Also, being a member of a church that calls itself ‘christian’ does not make one a Christian.

          Anton: The certainty with which you make your claims is identical to the certainty with which Muslims make their claims, or Mormons make their claims, and yet not one of you has a shred of evidence to back up those claims. You all use the same rationalizations. You all use the same fallacies. Not only that, but each of you is just as certain that those of other faiths are wrong.

          Ged: Actually, there are huge differences between the Islam and Christianity, including but not limited to: their teachings, the historicity for their claims, their apparent veracity, and most importantly the change that comes about in the life of a person who becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ and one who becomes a disciple of Allah.

          Ged: I notice that you did not go to a library of your choosing and endeavor to compile a list of 66 books that generally fulfill the characteristics of the Bible that I previously described to you. I can understand that, as it would be an impossible task.

          Merry Christmas to you and yours Anton. I trust 2013 will be a good year for you.
          Ged

          Comment by Ged Goff @gedgoff | December 23, 2012

Hi Ged,

Sorry, but I’m not gonna duplicate your formatting. Before I get started, I have a couple of basic questions which I should’ve already asked.

1. Do you accept the scientific method as the best means by which to discover and understand the universe?
2. Are you concerned with accepting factual information as such even if it contradicts information you’d previously accepted as factual?

It seems I was a bit unclear in my usage of "religious." In general, I use it to mean anyone who believes in a god or gods and any formal or informal doctrines that may follow. By this definition, I agree with your assessment–that there are many religions, etc. It sounds, though, that your definition of a "disciple of Christ" is what I would call a "Christian."

I don’t agree with your premises on "belief" and "faith." While it’s true that there are things that I accept as true, such as that the sun will rise tomorrow, these things aren’t dependent on any kind of doctrine; they’ve been demonstrated. So to say I "believe" that the sun will rise tomorrow, while conversationally sound, isn’t quite accurate as I know that it will rise. As for "faith," if by it you mean something I trust, such as a faith in humanity, then yes, I’m quite faithful. But if by "faith" you mean accepting something as true either without evidence to support that acceptance or with evidence to the contrary of that something, then no, I’m not faithful at all.

So back to the initial comment, that I put a lot of faith in my belief system, this isn’t the case as I don’t have a "system" of belief and I don’t put "faith" in it. I accept reality based on objectively verifiable, falsifiable, testable, reproducible evidence. If a hypothesis lacks such evidence, I reserve my judgment until evidence is provided.

It’s interesting, too, that you’d make such an initial statement as you also have put a lot of faith in your personal belief system. You’re a Christian for a reason. Presumably, something about Christianity convinced you that its claims of reality are factual. I don’t know what that something might’ve been, but whatever it was, it was enough to convince you that Christianity not only is factual, but that any other interpretation of similar concepts is false. I wonder what it was that gained such confidence in you.

To say that science hasn’t created life isn’t entirely true. Per the Miller-Ury experiment, the basic building blocks of life were created.

However, the claim that science hasn’t created life is irrelevant as no one’s ever claimed that it has or should. Science also hasn’t created stars, planets, or black holes, and yet I trust that you accept the conclusions science has derived of them.

That there is or should be a "moral law" is presuppositional. The evidence is that we have societies that have systems which we call "morals." But even within those systems, we have great variation and exceptions. As a society, we say that it’s wrong to kill. And yet we send young people off to wars to kill other young people. We execute criminals. Certainly, we can come up with justifications for these actions, but the fact remains that the "moral law" is that killing is bad and yet it only is so under certain conditions.

What’s the explanation for this evidence? As I already mentioned, societies develop systems of behavior which tend to favor the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people.

But this is already superior to what Yahweh is alleged to have done. The killing of every first-born male child in Egypt is evidence enough. If the goal was to punish Pharaoh for not releasing the Hebrews, why not just punish Pharaoh? There was no need to murder his son, or anyone else’s. All those children were innocent of Pharaoh’s crimes. And yet Yahweh killed them. You may say that all that Yahweh does is just because Yahweh is always just, but then that raises the question of what justice is. And that’s a separate discussion.

I completely agree with you that atheism is not a basis for objective morality; however no one ever said it was. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s all. It makes no claims. It has no further philosophical value. I think what you were implying, however, is that without a fear of a god or a law given by a god, there is no morality. To that, I’d not only cite my above Pharaoh example, but I also cite myself. I’m a moral person because being so is beneficial to me and to my community. No further justification is required. And you’ll find that "naturalistic evolution" by which I think you meant "evolution," supports this. The fact is that groups of organisms are more likely to survive and pass on their genes to the next generation if they work to support each other.

I don’t understand why you quoted John 3:16. Was your point that the concept of love existed when that verse was written down? If so, I’m not denying that. But having a concept doesn’t equal evidence of that concept’s existence. All aspects of "love" that can be attributed to it: compassion, affection, self-sacrifice, have all been explained by science, some right down to the chemicals involved in the brain, or they’ve yet to be determined. But remember what we said about an unknown. Just because it’s currently unknown doesn’t mean it’s unknowable.

You state that "subjective morality" is "wholly inferior to what God has provided to man." Talk about putting a lot of faith in your belief system! 🙂 How so, exactly? And what, specifically? I hear all the time from some Christians that it’s God’s law that gays shouldn’t get married. I hear from a bunch of other Christians that Jesus did away with that law with his arrival. Which is it? And how do we know?

By the way, I don’t wholly support an entirely subjective morality. That’s why I called morality a spectrum. For example, I don’t think we should stone children to death if they misbehave. Deut. 21:18-21. I also don’t think that women should be compelled to marry their rapists. Deut. 22:28-29

The question on language was where it came from, not how it diverged. Your citation of the Tower of Babel is puzzling as its account only explains (part of) language division. We know from DNA evidence (which you cited earlier) that people emerged from Africa in successive waves of migration and spread across the Earth over dozens of millennia. We know from this evidence and from comparative linguistics (the existence of cognates in multiple territories) that the spread of language began probably around at least 50,000 years ago (depending on whom you ask). I say "probably" because, as I said earlier, we don’t have original source documents from this era. The archaeological evidence has shown that the earliest written forms of Hebrew appeared around 6,000 years ago. Before you shout, "Ah ha! That supports creation!" remember that the earliest written forms of Greek also appeared around the same time. Even if we were to assume the Tower of Babel narrative to be true, that wouldn’t explain how fully-formed Greek appeared at exactly the same time as fully-formed Hebrew. Not to mention fully-formed Chinese.

But let’s say the Tower of Babel narrative is true. This means that all language diverged in Babylon as a direct result of man attempting to reach God. But the actual process of language divergence takes much longer, was not localized to that area, and didn’t happen at that time. To the first point, I cite Latin and its descendent Romance languages, which diverged and developed over many centuries, not in one single event. To the second point, I cite the fact that not all language is related to the Mesopotamian Semitic languages. Some languages, like those found in the Native American tribes all across the Americas, are completely unrelated to the Semitic languages. As are all sub-Saharan African languages, all Sino-Tibetan languages, all isolate languages, and so on. To the third point, I re-cite the facts that the DNA record shows human migration as occurring much, much earlier than the Tower of Babel narrative establishes, and not in the area in which the narrative establishes.

The most I could grant your citation is that it explains how some dialects of some Semitic languages diverged in a ridiculously fast amount of time in an area of Mesopotamia, but this still leaves much left to speculation, which is inconceivable considering the source is alleged to be the inerrant, literal Word of God.

Regarding Christian scientists, yes, I’m very aware of their existence; however this proves nothing as to the truth of the supernatural claims of Christianity. For example, while Sir Isaac Newton established many physical laws and was a theologian, he was also an alchemist. And yet I trust you don’t accept alchemy simply because he practiced it. In fact, I trust you don’t accept alchemy as a valid science at all. Why is this? Newton practiced valid science. Why don’t you trust his theories on alchemy? Because his practice of valid science doesn’t automatically grant validity to his pseudoscience. So, too, the existence of Christian scientists who do valid work proves nothing as to their claims of Christianity. Just as it wouldn’t for Muslim scientists. Or Jewish ones. Or Hindu ones. Or atheist ones.

I think, though, that your greater point was that the existence of interesting and complicated things such as life, DNA, and stars supports the notion of a god because they’re complicated and couldn’t have arisen on their own. If this is what you were saying, I’ll simply point out that this is a very tried and true apologetics reliance on an appeal from complexity and an argument from ignorance. While complex things do exist, many of them natural, it’s an a priori assumption to state that they "must have been" created or guided. This claim, like any other positive claim, would have to be proved. Merely stating one’s opinion on the matter doesn’t prove one’s convictions on the matter.

It’s an argument from ignorance because what it means is because we don’t either immediately see or know the cause of something, then that cause must be a god. But not knowing the cause of something doesn’t mean anything other than its cause is unknown. Every single step in science that we’ve taken has started with an unknown. And for every single step that we’ve taken, the answer has been natural. There has never been a time in scientific history in which the cause of something was discovered to be supernatural. The most anyone could’ve said in any alleged supernatural case was either that the answer was, in fact, natural, or we simply didn’t know.

But let’s pretend for a second that the grandeur of existence does prove a god. This speaks nothing to what god or what interpretation of that god. As we’ve already cited, there are multiple faiths in the world. Not all of them can be right. This means that the evidence you consider in support of your interpretation of a god doesn’t convince the average Jew, Muslim, and so on. Neither vice versa. But the fact remains that one group must be right and the others wrong. How is this "rightness" determined? You might cite faith, but remember, they’ll do the same thing.

You keep stating things like the Bible rating highly as an historically accurate document, but you’ve yet to say how. Does it hold facts that have been externally corroborated such as the existence of some historical figures, places, and events? Certainly. I’ve never denied that. But the veracity of the part doesn’t equal the veracity of the whole. And if you think it does, then I wonder if you also believe every supernatural claim made in the Odyssey. There really was a Troy. There really is a Greece. If you think that alleged eyewitness accounts is sufficient evidence, then I wonder why you’re not a Muslim, because they make the same claims of the Koran. If you rely on your faith to tell you what of the Bible is true, then I’d wonder why your faith in the Bible’s claims is any more valid than that of other faiths. That, and if you’re going to believe something based solely on the fact that you want to, I’d wonder why you’re concerned with evidence to begin with.

It’s inaccurate to claim that any ancient text is a valid source of verifiable information. While the Epic of Gilgamesh is clearly a myth, it does grant insight into Mesopotamian culture of the time. So, while I don’t accept the literal details of Gilgamesh to be true, I trust that the picture the narrative gives of the culture is generally true. Also remember that I said I don’t trust any historical biography until it’s proved. Generally, biographies of figures such as Napoleon, Henry VIII, or Hitler are supported by multiple sources of multiple kinds. Collected, these sources provide a relatively reliable picture of the figures in question. Is every last detail said of them literally true? Of course not. People lie. People embellish. People get things wrong. But if the goal is to get a general picture of an historical figure, then obviously the goal, in many cases, can be accomplished.

Biographies of figures such as Moses are unreliable because there are zero extra-biblical sources that support his existence and details of his life. In fact, according to Israel’s leading archaeologist, there’s zero physical evidence that the Hebrews were ever in Egypt. There is, however, evidence that they’d always been in Canaan. If the question is was there a Moses as depicted in the Old Testament/Torah, my answer is I doubt it. If the question is, however, was there a uniting leader of the ancient Hebrews who possibly led them out of some literal or figurative strife and into a new era of prosperity, my answer is very possibly.

To your question of whether I’ve ever read the Bible cover to cover with care and thoughtfulness, I ask have you ever read the Koran cover to cover with care and thoughtfulness? Your question seems to imply that if I were to do so, I’d somehow gain something that I currently lack. You’ll have to explain what that is as I’m obviously only able to assume. But to this, I’d also add that I’ve known plenty of Christians, born-again and not, who have never read the Bible cover to cover. Thus, what’s the purpose of your suggestion? And what do you mean by "care" and "thoughtfulness"? If I were to say "yes" to having read the entire Bible and yet maintained my atheism, you could easily say, "You haven’t read it carefully or thoughtfully enough." If I got some compendium Bible that made every possible footnote and comment and yet maintained my atheism, you could repeat the same claim. To make such suggestions or ask such questions is to presume that your reading of the Bible is the proper one and to that I’d ask how you know that. If I make an erroneous claim of gravity, we could test it. If I make an allegedly erroneous claim of the interpretation of the Bible, how would we test it?

My parents first took me to an Episcopal church, which, I’m sure you’ll agree, is generally accepted to be a "Christian" church. I’m not certain that the Episcopal church teaches that the Bible is literally true. As far as I know, the church teaches that the Bible contains plenty of symbol and allegory. Is the Episcopal church, then, in your eyes, not a real Christian church?

My parents later took me to a Unity church. While it could easily be argued that Unity isn’t a mainstream church, this would still lead us back to the question of what defines a mainstream church. Some churches say to be saved, you must be baptized. Others say that to be saved, all you need to do is accept Jesus. Which is it? And how do we know? Additionally, the Mormon church has millions of members. You may think they’re all wrong, but they might say the same thing about you and neither you nor they can prove the claim.

I wonder what your definition of "Christian" is as if it doesn’t entail being a member of a church, then what does it entail?

I agree that there are huge differences between Islam and Christianity. I should’ve been more clear. What I meant was the certainty with which Muslims make their claims is identical to the certainty with which you make yours. And yet you and they are both 100% certain that the other is wrong.

As to the historicity of Muslim claims, they’re also identical. Islam teaches that there was a historical Mohammed, that he was God’s prophet, that he performed miracles, that he ascended into Heaven. At least one of these points can be objectively verified. I don’t know which Muslim claims you believe are not historically valid, so I can’t comment on that.

I’m not sure what you mean by "apparent veracity" of Muslim claims. A claim is either true or it isn’t. Muslims believe their claims to be true. You don’t. But the opposite position is also true.

You can’t invalidate the change that happens in a Muslim’s life by accepting Allah no more than a Muslim can invalidate the change that happened in your life by accepting Jesus. The Muslim believes (among other things) that Mohammed is Allah’s prophet. Do you have evidence against this?

You’re right that I didn’t go to a library to assess 66 books and compare them to the Bible, but I’ve already stated that I disagree with your premise. You claimed, essentially, that the Bible maintains a consistent message of God’s love for man and man’s salvation through Jesus Christ, but this is your subjective opinion, not an objective fact, and so I can’t comment on it. What did you think of the verses I posted which don’t seem to fall into your characterization of the Bible?

Best,

Anton.

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