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BP:

I appreciate your thoughtful posts. I will formulate a thoughtful response to the questions you've raised and get back to you.

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I'm not trying to start another waring thread...see, religion even causes wars in forumns, LOL.

SO I won't fan the flames of it...so if it gets that way, I call the right now, early, to walk away from the fire.

We have gone through these before...and have always come down to faith. Either you have it or you don't. And I'm personally totally happy with that answer, and I accept that some have it, and I sure don't.

ILMF know's for sure the way these threads can become...and I've had my fill of those.

But, I'm always interested in learning something new, new viewpoints and insights.

And by ALL MEANS, if ever I can witness something of the supernatural kind, I'd totally love to be invited to see it.

And FWIW, after reading some about Mother Theresa, I'd hope that the seat next to jesus at the banquet table is reserved for her.

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BP posted:
quote:
We have gone through these before...and have always come down to faith.
It's the object of someone's faith (in my case, Jesus). A person can have all the faith in the world but be sincerely wrong.

You are correct in saying that it is a serious question. Eternal life and death are at stake.

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Ha! I wish you’d have come and flamed the fires on the virtuous woman thread. You could be like the rodeo clown and distract the bulls from me.
edited to add:
Oh, BP, I meant to ask you… as an atheist, do you disregard the spiritual texts because they assume a higher power(s), or do you see hidden truths about human nature in the stories they tell? If you’d like to discuss this off-board, you can reach me at greengablesmb@hotmail.com.
And by now, you should know I won’t be trying to convert you.

[ March 24, 2004, 02:13 PM: Message edited by: greengables ]

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Hi bp22,

What we're talking about--what you're talking about, is belief in God, correct? Not belief in a certain sect of Christianity right? Because I'd be the wrong person to discuss that with; I'm a life-long Catholic. I was talking about belief in God, a Deity, a Creator.

I said "play" because I truly did not believe you could be serious about taking the bible literally re. giving up all material goods as the one way to follow Christ. You don't really believe this, do you? That Christians should spend the preponderance of their time and money on evangelicism. The same Book you quote has God saying "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's". So if you don't believe literally that all believers should don sackcloth and hand out pamphlets on the streetcorner, how is this different from, say, your STBX viewing sex as something other than her literal biblical duty?

That said, I apologize for use of that verb "play", because I can see how you'd find it too light. I'll "spar" with you, then. But bp, methinks thou dost protest too much. You suggested that you had bad experiences within the religion of your youth and in your adult life (as a result of religion)--yours and your W's. To me, that's like getting food poisoning at a sushi bar and putting a good deal of the blame for that E coli on Japan...then holding a grudge against Japan. I am *not* negating your pain. I'm questioning your reasoning. You once believed in God ardently, and now you don't believe in God at all, because of humans' failings. Isn't that a little bit unscientific? The Creator didn't change. You did. You can be an atheist if you wish. I won't try to convert you. You asked for a proof for the existence of God and I offered one.

I don't think what I offered is a false dilemma. Maybe it was. My degree was in the humanities, alas, not the sciences [Roll Eyes] [Roll Eyes]
It's trying to place an argument for a Creator more in the realm of time theory and out of the realm of dogma and hyperbole and scripture, particularly the Bible, which not all theists
hold as sacred text (Muslims, for example).

Again, if time as a measurable construct had a beginning--when the universe was created-- something/someone created it. There is nothing that is made without a maker, right? No product without an artisan? Out of nothing came something. I call the Creator "God", the Prime Mover, Primum Mobile. That is one proof for god.
But again, you don't have to believe. And nothing I can say will convince you. But I don't mind discussing stuff!

jo

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I tried GG....I read the last 20 posts on the thread...and all i could think to say was

THEY ARE NUTS!

And I didn't think that would do much good...although distract the bulls, yeah! LOL

Contrary to popular conception, I don't say things just to stir the pot. Or add fuel to the fire.

My STBX had that view of woman I think...she wanted me to be the man, the leader, and she somewhat submissive and following of me. In a biblical sense. But I don't want that...I want an equal partner, sometimes I want to follow, sometimes I lead. But never do I want to lead all the time....no way.

It's just so "goofy" for me to understand that perception of husband and wife, I don't have anything to say...LOL. My, struck for words...LMAO.

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GG...no, I think the parables in the bible are often great. Human tendancies are the same today as 2000 years ago, and probably will be the same 2000 more in the future. Hence "it still applies today". But I'm all for an analogy or good parable to make a point...or teach a lesson.

jojojo...I take no offense with the word "play". In the past, here, I have been branded as one to attack the believers. I'm just tyring to point out that I'm not doing that, at all, and won't "play" in that sense. No need to spar or anything either...I enjoy talking. Or typing.

Yes, religion has caused me pain. But I think I wrote above, in one of those very lengthy diatribes, that it is NOT my major problem with it.

Rather, my major problem that I no longer have the "need" for religion. As a youth, I saw no other possibilities. I was immersed in it...religion. SO I bought on. But, as a scientist in training at that time, I also questioned it, and failed to believe it "hook line and sinker". In fact, I used to rationalize how they were consistent, the bible and science. Science can't be wrong, in the sense that it is predictable, observed over and over, and it happens. So, to some extent, whether you call it the manifestation of the creators work, or science, it IS REAL.

So, what happened to me, I lost the need for faith. Once I went off to college and was immersed in science, not religion, I could see the light. I could see thee was no need for religion, and I was just holding on to it becuase of the way I was raised. So poof...it was all gone. All that I thought I believed, was realized to be just a story.

Re-read the above...I say this and more there.

I also say that not all religious people follow like sheep, like I did, and my STBX did. I realize that...and that is good.

Now, regarding creation. I'm an astronomer by profession you know, right? So this one is a little close to home. I'm not a theorist, nor a cosmology expert by any means.

And I'll be the very first to say we don't know all the answers, and most certainly I don't know what happened before the universe began...nor do we REALLY KNOW if it did begin or end for certain. It's certainly accepted that the big bang is the general "idea", but it is by no means fully understood. Nobody has been able to fold gravity into the standard model with all the other forces...hence the work with string theory, rolled up dimensions, and all other things my brain doesn't even try to master.

No, as for something coming from nothing. Yes, that happens all the time actual. Vacuum fluctuations. There are times when particles are created out of nothing, a particle and it's antiparticle. They typicall annhilate within a tincy amount of time, but sometimes they don't. Sometimes something will "attract" one of the other particles, and it will live. And the other one lives too. It is a real phenemena. It's really weird. And it happens.

So, yeah, it is possible that the universe somehow came "from nothing". Although I think there's a HUGE lack of understanding in this point...I sure don't understnad. Also, it is not clear if the universe is cyclic, in that it may open and close. And there very well may be multiple universes. And don't ask me what's outside the universe, or inside a black hole. Yeah, we have found black holes, but nobody really knows what's going on inside....

It's wild stuff.

And 100 years ago, we didn't even know galaxies existed...and there was a huge fight over what they were when first found!

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quote:
Originally posted by sufdb:

I have debated with many atheists, they usually just get mad at me because I don't discuss "Christianity", I use their own "logic" to debunk the atheist conclusion...and that just seems to irritate them.

It would be helpful to define ‘atheist.’ If atheism is defined as the belief that “‘God’ does not exist with 100% certainty,” then yes, this would be easy to ‘debunk,’ as much as any such claim that maintains something can be known with 100% certainty.

However, this sounds like a strawman. At least, I personally haven’t communicated with any professed atheist who espouses this caricature of atheism. If atheism is defined more realistically, however, the position is quite strong.

In the scientific method, for example, assuming (and this may be a big assumption) that you accept the validity of this epistemology, one practically assumes that any claim X is not true until sufficient evidence demonstrates otherwise. Note this does not mean that I can claim that X is absolutely untrue. Nor does it mean that I can claim X is likely to be untrue with a known probability. But it does mean that claim X must not be included in our body of knowledge without sufficient evidence.

Thus, if atheism is defined as such: “I may assume that God does not exist without sufficient evidence to the contrary,” the atheist is on firm scientific ground.

I believe most atheists go further and say: “I assume that God does not exist because there is not sufficient evidence to demonstrate otherwise.” Again, to be clear, this statement does not mean that “God does not exist with 100% certainty.” It does mean that, the claim “God exists” will not be included in our current body of scientific knowledge. This position is, of course, currently accurate. Therefore, if atheism is defined as above, it is (scientifically) accurate as well.

A similar rational and strong argument can be constructed without reference to the scientific method.

In my limited experience, most atheists that I have dealt with define their lack of belief this way. Such a position is not only rational but epistemologically (scientifically) required.

Note: to be precise, only specific kinds of claims (scientific hypotheses) can be investigated with the scientific method. One may correctly say that science cannot speak to the veracity of claims that are not scientific hypotheses (claims such as “God exists”). However, as the scientific method requires that we ignore such claims, these claims are assumed to be ‘not true’ in practice.

Peace of God be with you.

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quote:
Originally posted by bp22:
ILMF know's for sure the way these threads can become...and I've had my fill of those.

I'm with you, BP...

I haven't read anything except the first and last pages of this thread - but this from you caught my eye, and I just posted into another "volatile" (albeit non-theologic) thread and just after I did I thought...

"Haven't I had my fill of those?"

BP22, I hope you are doing well

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I remember junior year in college learning about the Casmir effect, a quantum mechanical fluctuation in the vacuum, but it was predicted to exhibit a real effect.

Well, here's how science works. HEre's a link:

http://focus.aps.org/story/v2/st28

So these gals/guys have developed the technology to actually perform these experiements. Notice how in '58 it was done and reported with 100% error! LOL And not until was it '96 when it was performed again....with totally new technology.

So, becuase the THEORY predicts it, it pops out of the mathematics, the same mathematical theory that makes OTHER PREDICTIONS, it is expected to be real and true. But not until it is measured, and verified, is it truely accepted.

Sometimes when the theorist can't quite "close the gap" on understand, the experiment will make suggestions. Often the experiments reveal something totally different! That's when it is really fun.

And if ever the experiement shows it "once", and only "once", and never repeats...it is believed to be "highly skeptical".

Great example is Magentic Monopoles. Maxwell's Equations, which define all Electrcity and Magnetism, tell us there should be no magnetic monopoles. BUT, people look. And according to some theories about cosmology, the first 10^-40 seconds of the universe so, THEY MUST EXIST.

But, they have a tiny effect...kinda like the gravitational attraction between the paperclip and you, vs. the earth and you.

So, people look and devise experiements to find these elusive magnetic monopoles. They are EXTREMELY hard to find.

If they are found, "MAYBE" that will provide some evidence towards the theory of understanding more about cosmology, inflation, etc. A non-detection sets an "upper limit" on their number density, how many there are, and that also helps "guide" the theory.

But never will someone tell you "they exist"...until they are found, again and again.

Now, folks at Stanford in the 70's or so claimed to have found one. It is a infamous part of physics. Was it real? Eh, who knows. Is it called evidence? NOPE.

SO, that is how science is done...

For a really interesting read, look for something on solar neutrino problem...
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/solar_neutrino.html

There you go.

Notice how in 94, when it was written, it was unknown...but people were investigating, becuase it would either lead to new physics, or new understand about stellar theory and nucelosynthesis.

And read near the very end, that yep, the various instruments built to detect the SNU's have provided new evidence, and led to new theories!

So, that is how science works.

It is constantly changing, as we learn more and more. Sure, we can't answer everything today, but that's OK, I can live with that.

To cast my "faith" in something, that someone created us with a flick of his finger, and be happy with that answer, I am personally NOT ever to accept.

And I believe, that having a society that so strongly IS willing to accept, and in fact will condemn those who don't as evil, satanic, and bound to burn in hell, I personally feel that holds our society BACK in its development, it's acceptance, of each other.

No, we sure don't want to live in a cookie cutter stamped world were everyone is the same. Phew. BORING. But imagine a world without religion, without "faith" in something that can't be seen. Imagine if everyone trusted in themselves to understand, to reason, to have confidence in their own abilities.

I don't know...it seems to me that we'd be better off. No condemnation based on "faith", but rather based on a sense of right and wrong, how to live and treat your fellow man.

Sometimes I think it would be great to return to the feudal days, as long as I was a knight, and could fight off the evil hordes trying to pillage those that I protected within my castle walls! LOL I wonder, would I have created running water? The first telescope? Calculus? Machinery? Probably not, I'm not that bright.

And since back them the church was the leader of life, I imagine I would have followed in its lead. Although, just like in my youth, i can only expect that I'd question it, I'd question the taxation, the hereshy, the inquisition. Heck, I probably would have burned at the stake.

Me thinks I'm not one to follow the leader...if the leader doesn't seem to be rooted in what I agree with.

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Slapnuts,

Originally posted by i'm precious:
I just have one questions for all the atheists out there? If I believe in God and He doesn't exist, when I die, what have I lost?

Response quote by slapnuts:
Your sunday mornings, and if you tithe as the Bible says to, 10% of your income.

Slap, you are right. Those are the things I've "lost". But is that really so much? I have given my 10% and not given my 10% and you know what, my standard of living didn't improve when I didn't. It didn't go up when I did.

I know you'll have sarcastic reply and that's ok. What you think about it doesn't matter to me anymore that what I think about it matters to you. Ultimately, we don't have to answer to anyone for anyone except ourselves. If you consider what I say and believe to be moronic or childish or stupid that's ok. If you ever come to the hospital at which I work, I make sure that a smarter and more mature person takes care of you. [Big Grin]

I'm preciuos

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I remember junior year in college learning about the Casmir effect, a quantum mechanical fluctuation in the vacuum, but it was predicted to exhibit a real effect.

Well, here's how science works. HEre's a link:

http://focus.aps.org/story/v2/st28

So these gals/guys have developed the technology to actually perform these experiements. Notice how in '58 it was done and reported with 100% error! LOL And not until was it '96 when it was performed again....with totally new technology.

So, becuase the THEORY predicts it, it pops out of the mathematics, the same mathematical theory that makes OTHER PREDICTIONS, it is expected to be real and true. But not until it is measured, and verified, is it truely accepted.

Sometimes when the theorist can't quite "close the gap" on understand, the experiment will make suggestions. Often the experiments reveal something totally different! That's when it is really fun.

And if ever the experiement shows it "once", and only "once", and never repeats...it is believed to be "highly skeptical".

Great example is Magentic Monopoles. Maxwell's Equations, which define all Electrcity and Magnetism, tell us there should be no magnetic monopoles. BUT, people look. And according to some theories about cosmology, the first 10^-40 seconds of the universe so, THEY MUST EXIST.

But, they have a tiny effect...kinda like the gravitational attraction between the paperclip and you, vs. the earth and you.

So, people look and devise experiements to find these elusive magnetic monopoles. They are EXTREMELY hard to find.

If they are found, "MAYBE" that will provide some evidence towards the theory of understanding more about cosmology, inflation, etc. A non-detection sets an "upper limit" on their number density, how many there are, and that also helps "guide" the theory.

But never will someone tell you "they exist"...until they are found, again and again.

Now, folks at Stanford in the 70's or so claimed to have found one. It is a infamous part of physics. Was it real? Eh, who knows. Is it called evidence? NOPE.

SO, that is how science is done...

For a really interesting read, look for something on solar neutrino problem...
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/solar_neutrino.html

There you go.

Notice how in 94, when it was written, it was unknown...but people were investigating, becuase it would either lead to new physics, or new understand about stellar theory and nucelosynthesis.

And read near the very end, that yep, the various instruments built to detect the SNU's have provided new evidence, and led to new theories!

So, that is how science works.

It is constantly changing, as we learn more and more. Sure, we can't answer everything today, but that's OK, I can live with that.

To cast my "faith" in something, that someone created us with a flick of his finger, and be happy with that answer, I am personally NOT ever to accept.

And I believe, that having a society that so strongly IS willing to accept, and in fact will condemn those who don't as evil, satanic, and bound to burn in hell, I personally feel that holds our society BACK in its development, it's acceptance, of each other.

No, we sure don't want to live in a cookie cutter stamped world were everyone is the same. Phew. BORING. But imagine a world without religion, without "faith" in something that can't be seen. Imagine if everyone trusted in themselves to understand, to reason, to have confidence in their own abilities.

I don't know...it seems to me that we'd be better off. No condemnation based on "faith", but rather based on a sense of right and wrong, how to live and treat your fellow man.

Sometimes I think it would be great to return to the feudal days, as long as I was a knight, and could fight off the evil hordes trying to pillage those that I protected within my castle walls! LOL I wonder, would I have created running water? The first telescope? Calculus? Machinery? Probably not, I'm not that bright.

And since back them the church was the leader of life, I imagine I would have followed in its lead. Although, just like in my youth, i can only expect that I'd question it, I'd question the taxation, the hereshy, the inquisition. Heck, I probably would have burned at the stake.

Me thinks I'm not one to follow the leader...if the leader doesn't seem to be rooted in what I agree with.

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ILMF...I am well, and I hope that you are too.

Now go back and do something REAL in your life and be happy! Stay away from this thread...resist...LOL.

How's your son doing? Hope all has turned out well...I remember some dilema's in the recent past.

Be well, indeed.

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bp most of what you said was about people, and how they behave, had little to do with whether the universe was created or exists by chance.

Belief in God has to start at..... well, the beginning. NOT by observing how people behave in the name of religion.

So start at the beginning bp, are we created, or not, and justify scientifically/mathematically your conclusion. Might also be helpful to list your underlying assumptions to make sure we are on the same page. For example, I "assume" I exist, I could simply be a computer program for all I know, but I have no other means I am aware of to interpret my "real" existence, except the evidence of my senses, and a brain which decodes, and interprets those inputs. "I think, therefore I am". I could instead "assume" (for example) I am just some link in a cosmic conciousness, and have no real, or individual existence...but I have no "evidence" to support such a conjecture, therefore I won't consider it.

Another assumption is that I must make assumptions, this is not an academic exercise. Life is going to continue, it never stops, so every second I am making decisons based on something, and those somethings must have underlying assumptions, whether I am aware of them or not.

To summarize, so far I assume I exist as an independent, self-aware entity, in somekind of "real" universe (my senses tell me this), and that I am "required" to manage my life (make decsions constantly) or I will cease to exist...and this all becomes moot. These two assumptions require me to make a decision regarding the nature of my existence...otherwise I have no basis for making decisions....you with me so far?

I cannot "prove" any of this dimpsasawa, that is why the atheist position that God does not exist because of lack of proof is an ignorant argument, it provides no means of reaching a useful conclusion, but instead gaurantees a conclusion...there are other tools one must apply to resolve this question.

Last assumption (for the moment) is that the answer to the God question is absolutely crucial, your life depends on it.... If God exists, then knowing what that means has to do with our primary genetically encoded mandate, to live (as a species any DNA not so programmed left the gene pool long ago). If God does not exist, then a similar, but slightly different truth is needed to be uncovered so as to provide the foundation upon which we make decisions...again, so we can live.

The difference is this.....of God exists, that suggests potential life outcomes outside of this universe...and may require somewhat difference choices each day. If God does not exist we have only one mandate (again so we live) and that is to make common cause with any and all living organisms in this universe to uncover the means to repeal the law of entropy.

Thx dimpsasawa for your comments re the need to define atheism, I agree, it can vary. In my travels I have not found atheists to be any smarter, or better at logic than Christians, and most really don't know why they are atheists, they haven't done the work, they just chose it (and the notion since can't prove God, that's good enough). I was born and raised in a methodist family, left the church (for the same reasons bp essentially), wandered about for awhile, finally decided I was an atheist for all the usual reasons....a little self-analysis revealed that wasn't really any different than being a Christian, still had no idea of why we are here, or what we should do about it except "rote". So set out to "prove" to myself there isn't any God, and much to my consternation proved there was, guess that is my "born again" experience. Which is what usually happens to any responsible atheist, they get reborn, kicking and screaming, but nonetheless...reborn.

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Hey Sufdb...not sure how to say this, becuase I'm sure I already know what you are going to say, but like I already posted, I reserve the right to walk away. And I think I'm calling that card...

To me, my beliefs are not so philosphical "logic" that you like to write. They are more about the physical facts that I observe, that I measure, that others predict, LOL (I'm no theorist). If you really need to say you exist, and prove that to yourself, than in my mind, you have a desire to tout philosophy. I know someone "great" for you to spar with...LOL...he drives me bonkers. An atheist for sure, but with a touch of desire to intellectualize walking down the street.

I think you need to read again what I wrote. I do NOT base my atheism on the way people live. I base it on science. I base it on the work that I see humankind achieving in development of science, and most importantly, understanding.

Sure, I see the negative impacts of religion. I think everyone can. I don't see the positive, I believe they are a false belief. Is there a benefit to santa claus? I can't really think of any. It's just as easy, and maybe more effective, to tell the kids, if you are naughty, I CAN SEE you being bad, and you WON'T get anything. LOL

I can't prove there is no god. I don't feel a need to do so. I wish there was...I really do. I would love to believe that I would continue on in mind and soul, afer this body dies. Geez, I'd do anything to have that be true. I'd become a vampire to extend my life...if they were real. Heck, I'd sell my soul to satan if I could live forever. But those are all just silly things, none of them are real, not in my mind. It's all just silly talk. Like santa. Tooth fairy.

(Although all things sensual and vampire related are a big turn on! LOL)

Anyways, you will say sufdb that I can't keep up with your logic or something, you already said that previously. I don't care too...LOL. I don't need to.

I'm of the type that wants to see the evidence before I believe things. That always bugged my STBX. She would tell me a story, about so and so, and I would say "I don't believe it" LOL There are many things I won't beelive until I see. And when I see, I will beleive.

Wonderful example....accupucnture. I always thoght it was odd...I never learned about it, figured it was "the occult" from easter religions. well, it made a HUGE IMPACT on my ailing dog one day, as if he was reborn. I was stunned....How could me beliefs have been wrong? Well, I then LEARN something about it...and guess what? Sure, it makes total sense. And a dog is going to be "mind of matter". basically, the treated spots are regions of higher resistivity in the body. Neurlogically, that are "special" points. And apparently stimulating them causes muscles to relax...and relase the tension that is cuasing the pain. Amazing...it works. I'm looking for a horse vet to treat me! LOL

So, I am open to new things, new viewpoints, and most certainly new evidence. But I don't care to philosphize as to whether the Matrix is an accurate portrayal of our existence. I was bummed to learn when I was 12 or so that others had that idea long before me! Even more bummed at 15 to learn that others have suggested the miracles of jesus were alien involvement in our society, a major violation in the prime directive, no doubt, but what a WONDEFUL ANTHROPOLOGICAL STUDY, no?

Geez, I think there can be more evidence stated for the existence of aliens than for the existence of god. LOL maybe someplace in area 51 there really are things locked up?? Who knows.
Doubt it though.

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Hi bp,

I feel the same disgust as you do when you speak of people degrading and berating others in the name of religion. A good friend of mine who elected to become a priest (Roman Catholic) after college can't wear his collar safely in public anymore for fear of his life and safety. He's been verbally attacked loudly, rudely and in public while dining with family and friends, while shopping, and while attending a Knicks game.
Why? In the name of people denouncing his religion and his beliefs because of the actions of some believers (priests). He's the target of diatribes that make the stuff that we've seen on this board seem pale.

I won't denounce atheists. I'll tell a non-believer why I believe and then the choice is a personal one: Free Will, and all that. And I'll take advice from anyone who is here to build better marriages. That was the point of this thread, right? Can we accept non-believers, or non-Christians as worthy participants? For me, yes.

As for your theory of
"imagine a world without religion, without faith in something that can't be seen...imagine if everyone trusted in themselves to understand, to reason, to have confidence in their own abilities... No condemnation based on "faith", but rather based on a sense of right and wrong, how to live and treat your fellow man"
...your belief was shared by Lennon and by Lenin. But even if we all became secular humanists, I fear that something else would divide us and cause us to hate whatever is different: race, ethnicity, height, favorite Ben and Jerry's flavor.

Why? Because we're human. We're flawed. No one is perfect (except, in my dogma, well, you know who...)

In peace,

jo

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Jo, I agree with you...and I think money would be the biggest problem...those who have, those who don't. Maybe that was in my post last night that was lost...

And yes, I even mentioned communism. LOL In theory, it is ideal...of course in practice, it won't work. Some are lazy, some are greedy, and those alone will destroy communism.

I feel very sorry for those priest who are doing good work. It must indeed be tough for them. There's always some bad apples...always. Like you say, it is human, indeed.

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quote:
Originally posted by Hootie:
To place belief in Santa Claus or mermaids and belief in God on the same level is mistaken. The issue is not that we have no good evidence for these mythical entities; rather, we have strong evidence that they do not exist.

On the contrary, just as Jesus was probably a real person, so was Saint Nicholas, who later became known as Santa Claus.

Stories of St Nicholas, told over generations, have evolved into the story of Santa Claus. One particular story that I've read has St Nicholas leaving bags of gold in a 3 sisters stockings to be used as dowry's so that they would not be sold into slavery.

The stories of Jesus were not written by people who had first hand knowledge of him. It is commonly known that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written for something like 70 years after Jesus life.

So while he may or may not have been a historical figure, accounts of his life are historically unreliable because all accounts of him are from secondary sources.

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Luke, as an author of second-hand accounts, seems pretty confident of the facts for his part. He anticipates an objection similar to yours at the beginning of his gospel:

"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught."

Am I reading too much into this when I conclude that:

* "Many" people before Luke had already written down Jesus' acts

* The original sources were contemporaries of Jesus who supplied eyewitness accounts

* Luke undertook writing his history with a critical eye for accuracy

* Luke's audience had been previously informed about Jesus through an oral-history tradition that was still current in his own time

If Luke is telling the truth, he had access to enough first-hand source material to be the envy of many a modern historian. Few ancient historical second-hand accounts are as close to being first-hand accounts as that. It's pretty impressive by any standards. And I haven't even mentioned the modern archaeological research that has upheld the Gospel accounts on formerly contested points. It's pretty interesting sheerly for historical interest, apart from trying to establish the Gospels as religious authorities.

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BP22,

Thanks!
...and thanks for asking - Son's well, I am well, and as well as staying away from possibly "difficult" threads.... I am actually too busy to stir much here myself.

BTW, EXCELLENT post! (re: existence of magnetic monopoles)
Stay encouraged and positive - I am glad you are well

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