Kirsten Powers conversion story makes me sad.

As someone who doesn’t watch Fox News regularly I had never heard of Kirsten Powers. However, I ran across an article on Christian Post today. Detailing this former atheist’s conversion to Christianity. I’m pretty comfortable with my atheism and haven’t heard any arguments in favor of any form of theism that rank anywhere in the vicinity of rationally convincing so I’m always interested in hearing what managed to convert a fellow atheist to theism. I have, to date, always been supremely disappointed in the strength of the arguments and evidence they felt were convincing, and usually find their conversion had a lot more to do with emotions than reason.

Powers’ story is no different, it is not a tale of someone who was convinced by clear logical argumentation, but a story of someone who appears to have been emotionally manipulated by another person and then fell prey to questionable inferences based on scant evidence. Why? Perhaps her reasons for being atheist were emotional to begin with, or perhaps she was just ignorant of both the Christian apologetics and the secular response to them. Of course I could be wrong, I’m only basing my conclusion on what was written in the article, but it was Christian Post article so I think I can assume they tried to portray her conversion in as favorable a light as possible, and she still came out poorly.

It seems her conversion started when she started dating a Christian. She said she had previously stated she would not date a religious person, but she does not explain why she made an exception for this person. She shouldn’t have, in my opinion, because the person she was dating seemed to be a bit of a jerk.

After they dated a few months, her boyfriend called to say he had something important to discuss. When he came over to her New York apartment he looked at her intently and asked, “Do you believe Jesus is your Savior?”

Her heart sank when she heard the question. She thought he might be slightly crazy. “No,” she replied.

“Do you think you could ever believe it?” he asked. Then he told Powers he wanted to get married and felt that she might be the one, but he couldn’t marry a non-believer.

A small bit of dating advice, if a person you are dating tells you they are willing to make a long term commitment but only if you change some massive part of your personality they you should seriously consider telling this person to fuck off. This isn’t to say that people don’t have a right to have standards about what kind of person they want. I have all sorts of standards, including an unwillingness to date religious zealots. What I would not do is start dating someone who is religious and then try to argue them out of their religion in the midst of the relationship. I’ve had religious people show interest in me in the past and I’ve turned them down. However, this guy went further than that, he essentially set an ultimatum for her, convert or we break up. He didn’t put it in such stark terms but that was what he said. From the details we have here, what he did was emotionally manipulative and he should be ashamed of himself.

The emotional manipulation continued and he got her to attend church. She was “shocked and repelled” by the praise music and lax liturgy but loved the pastor because his sermon was intellectually interesting, speaking of art, history and philosophy.  I feel as if this speaks less of the church she went to and says more about the people she was friends with. I have deep intellectual conversations with non-theists all the time. In any case, the fact that the pastor was intelligent doesn’t mean his religious conclusions are the right ones.

The article continues:

As Keller propounded the case for Christ, she began to question her atheism. “He expertly exposed the intellectual weaknesses of a purely secular worldview. I came to realize that even if Christianity wasn’t the real thing, neither was atheism.”

She does not give any examples of the arguments he used to criticize a secular worldview so I can’t actually analyze anything to see if I find his arguments compelling. I don’t find any theistic arguments convincing, though some are better than others so I can’t really conclude whether or not I think this pastor was wrong or REALLY wrong. The way the statement is phrased it makes me think he was probably using various rational sounding arguments like the Cosmological argument, or the Ontological argument. Many of these arguments sound really reasonable to people without a background in philosophy, but have actually have serious problems. The one thing that really bothers me is that she never once mentions any kind of balanced examination of atheist arguments or rebuttals to this pastor’s statements. Did she go out looking for rebuttals to the pastors arguments but then found the rebuttals lacking or did she just accept the pastors arguments? If she picked the latter path then that was intellectually lazy on her part.

Again, I suspect that some of her willingness to accept these arguments stemmed from her desire maintain the romantic relationship she had. I could be wrong about that of course, but the fact that she went to church in the first place lends my interpretation credence. In any case she clearly wants convince us that her conversion happened on intellectual grounds but that argument completely falls apart when we get to her actual conversion.

Then something very unusual happened to Powers on a trip to Taiwan in 2006.

“I woke up in what felt like a strange cross between a dream and reality. Jesus came to me and said, ‘Here I am.’

“It felt so real. I didn’t know what to make of it,” she recalls.  She called her boyfriend the next day, but before she could tell him what happened, he said he had been praying the night before and felt they were supposed to break up.

While she was upset by the break up, she was more “traumatized” by the mystical, mysterious visitation by Jesus. “I tried to write off the experience as misfiring synapses, but I couldn’t shake it,” she notes.

She had a dream and then her boyfriend broke up with her. She says the dream was troubling to her before the break up, but I’ve had dreams that troubled me and then I forgot about them in a day or two. If it hadn’t been for the break up happening at the same time would she still have attributed the same amount of importance to the dream? There is no conclusive way for us, or even for her, to know. I will say two things, making huge life changing choices based on a dream is not logical, and making huge life changing decisions right after a traumatic event like a break up is usually a bad idea. The first should be obvious; the second I have personal experience with.

There is a phenomenon that psychologists have noted when people try to deal with potential cognitive dissonance from their choices.. Say you are in the market to buy a house and you have to pick between two. Once you have picked one, because of the expense and effort that went into the choice, you have a motivation to convince yourself that the one you chose was the better of the options. You will find faults with the other house and ignore or dismiss faults with yours because to acknowledge that your choice might have been wrong is unsettling.

Events like a break up can be emotionally jarring and you will make choices that seem rational in the moment while not actually being rational. If those choices have long term consequences (like changing religious beliefs) you are going to be living with those choices for a long time. The problem is that most of us think of ourselves and fundamentally rational people, so if we make an emotionally motivated choice this conflicts with how we perceive ourselves. (cognitive dissonance) Our reasoning only sees two ways out, acknowledge that we are not fundamentally rational or come up with rationalizations about why our choice was actually rational after all. The second option is obviously the more palatable one, and is made more tempting if the choice you made is still having an effect on your life. A more reasonable approach would be to acknowledge that your psyche contains both rational and emotional aspects, and that, given the right circumstances, emotions can override reason. However, this requires careful analysis of ones own motivations, and that can be difficult, and even emotionally painful.

Powers had already been told he would not marry an unbeliever, and when he broke up with her it is entirely possible that she rationalized a conviction in Christianity because part of her believed this could get them back together. She doesn’t mention whether or not they actually did get back together, but it would hardly matter. Once the choice was made she (like nearly anyone else) would rationalize away the inconsistencies, convincing herself that it was perfectly rational to make major changes to her beliefs due to a dream. This is only my supposition of course, no one, including her quite probably, is capable of knowing exactly what the cognitive path to her belief was. However, In my own personal experiences I had a break up several years ago with a person who was, with the benefit of hindsight, clearly not good for me. I actually did something quite similar to what Powers may have done. I attempted to fix the relationship by promising to make changes to myself to fit what the other person wanted. Those changes would have eventually involved giving up things that were important to me, but I would have done it in the emotional state I was in at the time. It didn’t matter because the other person wasn’t willing to discuss concessions, which in the end was probably for the best.

On her own conversion powers had this to say:

It’s true. It’s completely true. The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.

What I find a bit humorous about this is that sans the part about having no doubt (which I actually think is unhealthy) I could say very much the same thing about my conversion away from Christianity. When I realized that Christianity was most likely not true I was much happier. When I study science, and philosophy, when I make an effort to understand the world around me as it actually is I feel excited. The world looks like a wonderful place that I’m happy to be in. I have no need of overwrought mythologies about original sin and substitutionary atonement to make this world worth living in. The veil has already been lifted off and the world looks great just as it is. I need no fairies at the bottom to see that the garden is beautiful. This is why stories of conversions like the one Powers offers make me sad, because if she had never felt such joy without religion then the secular community she was part of clearly failed her.

This entry was posted in Atheism, Skepticism. Bookmark the permalink.
  • NJKProject144

    FYI Dylan Walker: The following Sep 24-Nov 12, 2006 sermon series by Tim Keller of that Presbyterian Redeemer Church is manifestly those “arguments” which culminated Kirsten Powers intellectual convincing about, and ascribing to, Christianity, and perhaps her clinching (= Holy Spirit “sealing”) 2006 Taiwan experience occurred shortly after that.

    http://www.gospelinlife.com/the-trouble-with-christianity-why-it-s-so-hard-to-believe-it.html

    The following posts & linked resources from my blog on: reasons, arguments, evidencing and also conversion testimonies&experiences for/to Christianity may be of interest to you.

    http://njkproject.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-worldview-of-unbelievers.html
    http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2012/04/responses-to-evilbiblecom-website-claims.html
    http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/response-to-some-skeptics.html

    https://twitter.com/NJKProject/status/559693737149095936
    http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/angus-t-joness-conversion-testimony.html#testimonies

    Btw, in response to your claim that ‘Kirsten’s secular community clearly failed her’, she did say in her testimony that:

    “I sometimes hear Christians talk about how terrible life must be for atheists. But our lives were not terrible. Life actually seemed pretty wonderful, filled with opportunity and good conversation and privilege. I know now that it was not as wonderful as it could have been. But you don’t know what you don’t know. How could I have missed something I didn’t think existed?”

    …She just discovered something (much) better…Indeed (True) Christianity most logically addresses the incontrovertible issues which (most) secularists actually (and disingenuous/indifferently so) just choose to ignore.

    NJK

    • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

      I’m a former fundamentalist Christian, with a degree in religious studies, so I’m not a total ignoramus when it comes to this subject.

      There is always some Christian who claims their version of Christianity logically addresses some issue or another, you have no idea how many times I’ve been told that, but I’ve read quite a bit of apologetics, bother modern and classical and haven’t encountered any reasonable evidence that would convince me Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, is true.

      Accusing me, and others, of either being disingenuous or indifferent to those arguments is just pointless posturing, it doesn’t really present any content that I can analyze. You are welcome to peruse my other posts and engage me with arguments you find compelling, but don’t expect me to spend hours going through links, and listening to pod casts of sermons, you post when I suspect they will be filled with arguments I’ve already read/heard dozens of times before. Particularly when I already spend a great deal of time reading various apolgetics books and arguments.

      As I said you are welcome to debate the topic with me, but if all you have to offer is personal testimonies then you would be wise not to waste your time. I had my own personal conversion experience when I was 17, and I don’t consider personal testimonies to be acceptable evidence for the existence of any deity.

      • NJKProject144

        Fair enough Dylan, i.e., in regards to you engaging arguments you encounter, as indeed seen in your blog writings. So you yourself are not amongst these “most” secularists, -which admittedly is based upon my encounters, and the people at TYT Network (which I see you subscribed to on YouTube), are probably the leaders in this “disingenuity” -as amply documented on my “Unbelievers’s Worldview” blog post.

        In the Skeptics Response link I had given you, I mention the actual/more tangible, thus prime, argument to prove the existence of God, which God Himself challenges people to consider (e.g Isaiah; 46:9-11; 41:21-24; 44:7), and that is predictive Bible prophecy), which are prophecies which have been shown (i.e, from dated Dead Sea Scrolls) to have been given by at least the Second Century B.C. and have accurately predicted the development during Church History right up through 1798 A.D.+. E.g., Dan. 2, 7, 8, 9 & Rev. 2+3, 6, 8+9, 11, 12, 13, 17.

        In that blog post link to the Skeptics, I had asked Darell to answer the evidence from the 70 Week prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27), which they strong armed their way out of addressing (i.e. no longer responding and blocking me from responding).

        So I present to you that greatest of, and actually most objectively so, prophetic evidencing, -particularly in regards to Jesus being who he claimed to be. And mind you, none of His disciples or gospel writers themselves cited that prophecy as a proof, as they did with other Messianic prophecies, yet their accounts, actually in pure happenstance provide all of the historically datable events which show how that prophecy was fulfilled. So, indeed given your background, education and work, I would like to hear what you have to say about that evidence:

        http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2008/07/biblical-interpretation-of-daniels-70.html

        Feel free to ask questions/make comments.

        • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

          I consider prophecy to be among the worst arguments for the existence of any sort of god. (I tend to find pure philosophical arguments like the cosmological argument far better contenders because they at least rely on fairly solid logic, though ultimately unconvincing)

          Let me refer you to a post I actually wrote myself on why I consider prophecy not terribly useful for proving the existence of a god.

          http://www.skeptimusprime.net/2013/07/30/prophecy-is-bad-argument-for-god/

          As far as the book of Daniel, scholars date it’s writing after 300 B.C.E., and a much simpler explanation for any similarities in the gospels is that the writers also knew Daniel and crafted their books accordingly, it’s also possible that prophecy aficionados like yourself are simply seeing things that are not there through the power of rationalization.

          I mean much of your own interpretation of Daniel is based upon your apparent assumptions about when Christ was born, but according to Luke he was born during both Herod the Great’s reign AND Quirinus as governor of Syria, but Herod died nearly a decade before Quirinus became governor of Syria, so who knows when Jesus was born, not to mention the fact that no Census was ever preformed in the way the biblical narrative describes. (I know that apologists have rationalizations for these, and other, contradictions, but they all involve convincing oneself that the passage says something slightly different than what it actually says)

          What I tend to see when it comes to prophecy arguments is rationalization laid upon assumptions, laid upon wishful thinking, all mixed with a heavy dose of shoehorning,(http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Shoehorning) but read the post, I explain why I don’t think prophecy is ever good evidence for a deity no mater the quality.

          • NJKProject144

            Your response and stance would even be a plausible objection to my claim about prophecy, but it had not properly engaged (i.e., factually and/or conclusively disproven) the facts of the matter, as I have related them.

            (1) First of all, as stated in my blog: I, along with many Christians, understand that most Messianic prophecies “understood” and explicitly claimed in the Gospel as having been fulfilled, depend on the Jewish, quite Spiritualizing, “Midrashic” approach. As one Christian commentator (partly) rightly quipped: “If that is the “proofs” that Matthew used to convince the Jews of his day, then no wonder they did not believe.” However the ironic fact of the matter is that Matthew was using the very same Spiritual somewhat subjective) proofing method that they themselves had established and strongly believed it. So I have no problem not considering any of these explicitly claimed Messianic prophecies.

            What I did present however is the 70 weeks (Dan 9:24-27), which, again, no gospel/NT writer made any reference to, yet it still stands as fulfilled in the life, ministry and death for Christ.

            (2) I don’t at all depend on the birth of Christ for the dating in that prophecy, indeed far from it, and quite contrary on others who do based on their mistranslation of Luke 3:23. The understanding as: prior to is indeed syntactically acceptable and thus refers to the 8 B.C. Census. And it does perfectly corroborate with other birth dating details. But the date of Christ’s birth is actually irrelevant. Deal instead with the dates presented as fulfilling proofs there.

            About the book of Daniel, the Qumram Communities’ Dead Sea Scrolls which contained portions of it, were scientifically dated to at least 200 B.C.

            See e.g.
            http://www.harvardhouse.com/Gabriel-to-Daniel_Einstein_Method.htm
            http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2012/07/31/New-Light-on-the-Book-of-Daniel-from-the-Dead-Sea-Scrolls.aspx#Article
            http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=357

            And then, the earliest of the 230 extant Greek manuscripts for the book Revelation is Papyri 47 and is dated to ca. 200’s A.D. The vision and book is understood to have been received and recorded by John in ca. 95 AD.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_47

            So there is satisfactory, even science-backed evidence that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were given long before they were fully fulfilled, pointedly during Church History, i.e., in 538-1798-1843-1844.

            Also Bible prophecy is purposefully “encrypted/signified”, thus concealed/sealed, by God (see Dan 12:4,9-10) all because, as proper theology* reveals, Bible prophecy is not God teling of what He has seen in the future (which actually does not exist), but, as Isa 46:9-11 states, Him telling of what He has planned to accomplish in the Future (cf. Dan 2:21). So for the reason that He does not want unrighteous people to know/understand these key plannings, they are related in symbols**, all of which are actually decodable from already given indication primarily in the rest of the Bible (and secondarily in “God’s other Book” (cf. Rom 1:18ff): Nature).

            * http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-preview-god-all-mighty.html
            ** http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/11/advanced-prophetic-symbology.html

            Given how actually self-evidentiary and objectively clear (especially Historical) Bible prophecy is, I myself give it much more importance than any philosophical. I recommend you take the time to view the explanation of the Dan 7 prophecy which exposes the heretical development of the Roman Catholic Church and its Papacy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3hYEImyr6E&list=PL0B15C8196475FB58&index=8

            The U.S. in Bible Prophecy (=Rev 13:11ff) is another good one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nns01lfrT3o&list=PL0B15C8196475FB58&index=20

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            I don’t know why you are continuing down this road when I’ve already indicated that I think prophecy is a fundamentally flawed means of proving the existence of God. Did you read the post I linked too explaining why even accurate prophecy is not a justification for belief in god?

            Even you acknowledge that the so called prophecies are vague, but then again just like I expect you rationalize the reasons for it’s vagueness, but the larger point is that due to said vagueness you and others can turn those prophecies into almost anything you want, which is why there are so many different interpretations of said prophecies.

            All you are doing is exactly what every other apologist I’ve ever read has done and repeating the same arguments I’ve heard dozens of times before. I’m not surprised by this, but it does always baffle me when people make these arguments like they think it will be the first time I’ve ever heard them.

            So there is satisfactory, even science-backed evidence that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation were given long before they were fully fulfilled, pointedly during Church History, i.e., in 538-1798-1843-1844

            I’m less than impressed with these so called prophecies because the quotes typically mentioned, including yours, are staggeringly vague, much like Nostradamus’ predictions with the benefit of hindsight you can shoehorn a particular interpretation of those passages into fitting some modern events. Just like with cold reading by psychics, the believers fill in the gaps in the psychic’s statements.

            I’ll say it again, I consider prophecy to be the absolute worst of all the arguments for god (well personal revelation might be a bit worse). I have far more respect for the likes of people like Aquinas in their attempts to use philosophical arguments.

          • NJKProject144

            I do understand that you personally feel/think that the interpretation of prophecy is somewhat subjective and arbitrary, and the reason why I am preferring that Biblically prescribe “evidentiary” course into proving God, is because, as with most Christians today, I don’t think you have encountered the “Historicist” method of interpreting prophecy which not only allows the Bible to define what those symbols represent; and not only has the proof of sequitur, transpired and pertinent history, but also involves the overarching Spiritual reason which explains why these prophecies were given in such concealed fashion: Again: as Dan 12:4, 9-10 indicates: to conceal them from the unrighteous, -including spurious/rebellious Believers/Christians.

            I also do not see that it is fair that you cannot engage God/the Bible on its own terms to see whether it is making a valid case, but impose your own terms. When properly engaged and studied out, it is most evident that no man could have made such prophecies. Dan 2 is a perfect example* for even if you (unfactually) believe that it was ‘crafted’ sometime in the 300 A.D., surely no one then would have predicted that the Roman Empire would fall in 476 A.D., and (its Western Section) be divided in 10 major territories, and also that this division would forever endure (=Dan 2:40-43), -even despite medieval attempts at monarchial-marital reunification, as well as the modern loose tangential coalition of the European Union. And it would also have been most treasonous to widely publish such view in 300 A.D., and also “unnecessary”, since the Roman Empire became Christian-tolerant, and effectively Christian, by ca. 313 A.D.

            * https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzqdlH85SqA

            My challenge to you is to show why my claims of accurately, and also timely, as well as (Spiritually) meaningfully, fulfilled prophecies are not really a validating evidence. I myself repeatedly do this with other Christians who claim other (e.g. Dispensationalist) fulfillments for these prophecies.

            I can understand that you prefer a philosophical approach, like I said, I don’t actually see this as leading to something demonstrably conclusive. So I myself have delve much down that road, though you can find some of my writing somewhat along these lines, but much more pragmatically, throughout my “Unbeliever’s Worldview”* I will however refer you instead to others who have done such philosophical engagements in the links in my Skeptics Response post.** Nonetheless if I come across a philosophical claim/argument in your posts which is blatantly factually flawed, then I’ll likely post a comment on it. I am actually not afraid of philosophical arguments. It is just that I don’t see it as worthwhile to debate God in such terms, especially as rightly interpreted/decoded and applied Bible Prophecy does provide a valid evidencing of His Existence and “All Mighty” Power to plan and shape the future.

            * http://njkproject.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-worldview-of-unbelievers.html
            ** http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/response-to-some-skeptics.html

            So seriously, I challenge you to do the same in regards to my evidence from Bible Prophecy, starting with those 70 Weeks (Dan 9:24-27),* as I will be looking to do in regards to your philosophical arguments/objections. I think that would be a fair trade-off given how you and I evidently actually quite similarly disinterestedly feel towards our own preferred approach.

            * http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2008/07/biblical-interpretation-of-daniels-70.html

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            There is a very weird contradiction in your argument. You are simultaneously arguing that the prophecies are written in such a way as to be not understandable by no believers for the sake of security (more on that in a moment) but then arguing that certain passages should be easily recognized as prophetic and not writable by humans. So which is it? if the passages are actually concealed in such a way it should be obvious that said passages will never convince non-believers of anything.

            I don’t think you have encountered the “Historicist” method of interpreting prophecy which not only allows the Bible to define what those symbols represent; and not only has the proof of sequitur, transpired and pertinent history, but also involves the overarching Spiritual reason which explains why these prophecies were given in such concealed fashion

            I suggest looking up what an “ad hoc” or “just so” fallacy is because what you have presented here is an exact example of one.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-so_story

            Yes, it possible that these things are prophecy but are concealed, it’s also possible there are undetectable pixies powering my computer, but I’m not going to believe it til there is evidence for it.

            I also do not see that it is fair that you cannot engage God/the Bible on its own terms to see whether it is making a valid case, but impose your own terms. When properly engaged and studied out, it is most evident that no man could have made such prophecies. Dan 2 is a perfect example* for even if you (unfactually) believe that it was ‘crafted’ sometime in the 300 A.D., surely no one then would have predicted that the Roman Empire would fall in 476 A.D. and (its Western Section) be divided in 10 major territories, and also that this division would forever endure (=Dan 2:40-43)

            Most biblical scholars date the writing to sometime around 300 B.C.E. which is the date I offered earlier, so I’m not sure where you got 300 C.E. from, maybe you just misread what I wrote, but your argument is the perfect example of what I’ve been talking about when people claim some stupendously vague prediction is “clearly” predicting something.

            Loot at the passage you quote

            Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay

            There is absolutely no reason to think that the person who wrote this had any foreknowledge of something going on 700 years after this was penned. Just like Nostradamus or prophecies offered in hundreds of other religious texts you find a more recent event that you can shore horn into the “prophecy” and bam you claim the person was given knowledge of the future, but I bet I could make this prophecy fit plenty of other events. Frankly predicting that a series of kingdoms will rise and then collapse in same general area is rather banal (anyone who knew just a little history could easily predict this, just as easily as I can predict the next winning lottery ticket will have numbers on it), and giving a few incredibly vague details about those kingdoms isn’t much more notable. If this is what passes for something that “no man could have made” I think you may be setting the bar just slightly too low.

            I also do not see that it is fair that you cannot engage God/the Bible on its own terms to see whether it is making a valid case, but impose your own terms.

            I’m not just applying some personal terms for evidence and argument, but objective standards for such things as set out in reasonable standards for epistemology and logic. You can’t prove the bible using only the bible, I’m not interested in being fair, I’m interested in knowing the true claims from the false ones, and your religious beliefs aren’t due some special easier standard of evidence and argument. If the claims cannot meet the same burden of proof I would expect of any other claim then I see no reason to believe it.

            Of course as I’ve already pointed out several times, this is pointless because even if you demonstrated that this was an actual prophecy it wouldn’t cause me to believe in god due to the philosophical issues I pointed out in the post I linked you to. Of course if you don’t care for philosophy then I can see why you haven’t bothered to respond to that particular criticism, but it is a pretty damning point against all prophecy arguments regardless of the religion they come from.

            So seriously, I challenge you to do the same in regards to my evidence from Bible Prophecy, starting with those 70 Weeks (Dan 9:24-27),

            As I’ve already pointed out it would not change my position on the truth of Christianity in the least, but I’m going to remind you of my degree, and years of bible study. I’ve already looked at this and a number of other biblical prophecies. I’m not really interested in retreading stuff I studied in the bible studies I did back in college. I’ve already made my case for why I don’t find this stuff convincing, if you think I’m off my rocker for not taking this stuff more seriously I can’t do much about that, but really I can’t reiterate any more strongly how terrible I find prophecy arguments for all of the reasons I’ve already listed. What would be the point of me retreading bad arguments? Without demonstrating that such arguments are actually good, and that would require demonstrating that there is a logical connection between said prophecies being true and believing in god, which I’m certain can’t be done, there isn’t much point.

            If you really want to continue this conversation, I’d be happy too, perhaps we should do a Google Hangout or something, it might be easier to cover a larger number of topics.

          • NJKProject144

            -For some reason you misunderstood and wrongly conflated what I said and meant. I think it should be easy, and for even a non-believer, to differentiate as to what is a prophecy in the Bible and what is not. The books of Daniel and Revelation, which I am focusing on here are explicitly clear that these are eschatological (e.g. Dan 8:17, 19) prophetic dreams and visions from God (i.e., Dan 2:1, 19; 7:1-2; 8:1-2; 9:20-23ff; 10:1ff; Rev 1:1-3; cf. Num 12:6). It is the CONTENT (caps for emphasis, not shouting), of those dreams and vision which are encrypted to keyed symbols. The issue of Classical Prophecies, such as in Isaiah 40-55, are another topic, and these requires one to be even more Spiritually initiated to be able to see their Spiritual, present day, application. But like I said, these are a more advanced issue.

            The basic reasons why unbelievers, and even Christians can’t make accurate, or any, sense out of Bible prophecy, is because they are not employing God’s method of letting the Bible interpret itself, and also most Christians adhere to Unbiblical teachings which inherently bar them from having proper interpreting insight…and that is actually how they have come to fulfill Bible Prophecy (e.g., About Spiritual Babylon (Rev 17)). If one is ignoring what the Bible says that Historical Babylon was all about, and instead whimsically and arbitrary claims that it is Iraq, then they’ll never have the proper understanding, indeed claiming e.g. that Saddam Hussein was the Antichrist. (Up to a time Christians, pointedly Protestants had the right understandings here, i.e., in the time of the Reformers, but then they deludedly lost their way.)

            What I have presented does not actually qualify as a “just-so” story because these prophecies are (predominantly) looking far into the future, which was long after these prophecies were penned, for their fulfillment, with developments which just could not have been forseen, let alone accurately depicted.

            It is a historical fact that Rome was able to hold a hegemonic empire the longest, for ca. 600 year (168 B.C. to 476 A.D., through it strong military might) That is what Dan 2:40 depicted. Then the clay and iron mixture in the 2 feet and 10 toes represent a mixture of human dealings and that military strength combinedly used to maintain any hegemonic union after that. I don’t have the time to rehash the detailed explanation of these prophecies. (Do see the video presentations that I have referenced).

            -As actually with Bible Prophecy, you can always examine its various parts, and/or just read its detailed (inventing) “manual/text”, to figure out how it works…and how it actually comes to produce that final “clear” picture. God has given the key, code and method for Bible prophecy in His Manual/text: the Bible

            -I actually misspoke about your 300 B.C. date, mainly because, it makes no sense to me to still argue against the prophetic predictiveness of Daniel if you even belief that it was written in the 300’s B.C. (I.e., instead of the Biblically stated date of the 500 B.C.). So I confused your insistence with the claims of others who say that it was merely written in the 300 A.D. And it is rather collective and harmonious testimony of all (Eschatological) prophecies (i.e. in Daniel and Revelation), and not just Dan 2, which provide that trustworthy evidencing. If you have not gone through an entire prophetic seminar, as the “Discover Prophecy” one I referred you to, then you of course won’t begin to see this full picture evidence. E.g., solving a Crime Scene is typically not done from just one piece of evidence, but from all available evidence considered and properly fitted together.

            Again you have the wrong theology about Bible prophecy. It is not someone, or God, “knowing” what will happen in the future, but God decalring what He will effectuate and orchestrate in the future (Dan 2 :21). Big difference. The “knowing” view is quite common in Christianity, but it is just not Biblical. Christians who have the Open Theist view are closer to what the Bible actually teaches on this, but still come up short. As I discussed in this post,* the Bible rather teaches a “ForePlanning’ View.

            * http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2009/10/book-preview-god-all-mighty.html

            Quite seriously, do Dan 2, or better Dan 9:24-27, have “another fulfillment”. Like I said, many Christian already do, but the proof of truth is by what the Bible itself can actually substantiate and not the, really infinite, claims that people can subjectively make. Event Accuracy, Timeliness (for timed prophecies), and also Biblical and Spiritual coherence are the key elements which a claim of actual fulfillment must have. Again most Christians fail such a testing due mainly to underlying faulty theology and/or doctrinal beliefs. Which is why a full prophecy seminar, like the one I referred you to also involves, even mainly firstly, Theological presentations (including about Salvation) and also Doctrinal ones. Only then can most prophecies be properly examined and presented.

            Btw, also demonstrate your “banal” claim now. Given the present and recent history and political situation, with the United States actually being the Prophetic Eschatological “Babylon”* go ahead and make precise predictions about its coming future, as well as, other Countries/Unions which will surpass it in its present world influential hegemony. And mind you, Bible Prophecy actually has much to predict as to what will happen beyond the present Superpower “reign” of the U.S. (E.g. Rev 13:11-18; 16:12-16; 18:1-24) Let’s see if you could jump that supposed “low bar”…E.g., Dan 2:40-43ff certainly did in regards to Rome, the Divided Roman Empire =(Medieval Europe) right through the EU today…

            * http://njkproject.blogspot.com/2011/10/biblical-prophetic-babylon-loud-cry.html

            In regards to your “philosophical” barring, which frankly are straw-manly and closedly circular to me: A psychics actually are influenced by Satan (yet he is limited by God as to what he can or cannot do (e.g. 1 Kgs 22:19-23). “Time-travel” has not provided any verifiable evidence that it is feasible. Again, to not have to wastingly engage all such many false claimings, I again challenge you to go through and entire prophetic seminar and see if, at the end, when you have the full/Big picture, it all does make PERFECT sense. Engaging you in your piecemeal arguments is like trying to argue with a blind person who things that the trunk of the elephant he is holding is the whole elephant itself and thus just refuse to believe the seeing person who is seeing the full elephant and has told him what it actually looks like. The proof of God is not drawn from a single prophecy…though the 70 Weeks is great proof about Jesus Christ. And given what is actually the case in Christianity, I can bet that you have never encounter the Biblically, fully-verifiable interpretation of that Dan 9:24-27 prophecy that I have studied out and presented…and there is indeed much more of such prophetic evidence pieces beyond that.

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            We are simply going around in circles at this point so I suggest letting this go. We clearly have fundamentally different views of reality here, as evidence by the fact that you are making arguments which clearly seem air tight to you but quite frankly just strike me as silly. I don’t want to be insulting but that is how your arguments seem to me, and repeatedly asking me to investigate things which I’ve already looked at and decided is hogwash isn’t really getting us anywhere.

            What I have presented does not actually qualify as a “just-so” story because these prophecies are (predominantly) looking far into the future, which was long after these prophecies were penned, for their fulfillment, with developments which just could not have been forseen, let alone accurately depicted.

            The reason it’s a just so story is that whether you realize it or not you have just shoehorned these prophecies into events after the fact, and as I’ve pointing out several times they actual predictions are incredibly vague, and no amount of you claiming they are really really detailed and accurate does anything to change my opinion here. I know you have been probably trained for years to look at these things a certain way, so it’s hard for you to get out of that mindset and realize that not everyone thinks this way, but I’ve had the exact same arguments with Muslims who are certain that the Quran has details about biology and history and what not that the authors couldn’t have known. Both they and you are reaching far beyond what the actual text says.

            I’m fairly comfortable sticking with my claim of banality because I don’t think that the “prophecies” you offer are as accurate as you actually think.

            Telling me I have the wrong theology is fairly meaningless to me, because on the other end of this is some other Christian who says YOU have the wrong theology, but for the most part I have no independent way of determining which one of you is right.

            Personally I don’t see how your arguments about time would have any bearing on any of these arguments about prophecy, and this is also an area where your ignorance in philosophy kinda shows through. The reason why most theologians argue that God knows the future directly is that in order to be god he must, by definition, exist outside of time, and thus the future isn’t the future to god. I.E. God created all matter, and time is a function of the interrelation of matter so if he created the universe then he created time, further if God exists withing the constraints of time then he isn’t omnipotent.

            Of course existing outside of time does create other problems for theologians, I.E. a being that exists outside of time cannot act because acting implies change which implies movement from one moment to another through time, but the theologians can argue about that.

            In regards to your “philosophical” barring, which frankly are straw-manly and closedly circular to me: A psychics actually are influenced by Satan (yet he is limited by God as to what he can or cannot do (e.g. 1 Kgs 22:19-23). “Time-travel” has not provided any verifiable evidence that it is feasible.

            There is a strawman here but it’s yours not mine. I actually made it clear I don’t believe in either one, and holy crap psychics don’t need satanic powers to do their job because they are all fake. You, whether you admit it or not, have a lot in common with those who believe in psychics because “psychics” use make use of many of the same cognitive biases that lead you to believe in prophecy.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

            In any case, I was not making an argument for either one of those things, my point was that I find the existence of God equally unbelievable and so without some evidence beyond the prophecy itself I have no way of determining which incredibly unlikely thing is actually responsible for the event. Telling me you don’t think time travel is possible doesn’t really deal with my problem, because I don’t think God exists either. Do you better understand my issue now?

            I can bet that you have never encounter the Biblically, fully-verifiable interpretation of that Dan 9:24-27 prophecy that I have studied out and presented

            Everyone thinks they are special, if i had a dollar for every Christian who was certain that they had found an argument I’ve never heard and that is so brilliant I’ll convert the moment I hear it.

            I read lots of books on prophecy when I was a believer, I’ve skimmed your arguments and they aren’t the least bit original or convincing to me. I remember what it’s like to be an evangelist, you really want to believe that you have found the one air tight argument that will convert unbelievers; trust me you haven’t.

          • NJKProject144

            It is indeed true that we are going around in circles pointedly because we have two different approaches to resolving this issue. You through your studies are convinced that this can be done through philosophy; I on the other hand have seen have seen that proper theology perfectly does it for me. However we actually do have a basic common approach, and that is that, at least speaking surely for me, from what I have endeavored to do, rely on a factual basis from which we then build up our distinct approaches, you philosophy, me theology. So that is why I was challenging you to “find” holes in my factual basis of, indeed, accurately, timely, and seriously, (i.e., all pertinent things considered): incontrovertibly fulfilled prophecies, again prime case in point Dan 9:24:27. (And, like I said, in my studies, I necessarily dealt with all of the counter claims of Christians (and Jewish) out there, (which are actually categorized under for methods of interpreting it). So unless you, or someone else has since come up with a new understanding, I factually don’t see that this Biblical Interpretation is, or can be challenged).

            All this to say, and as per you elsewhere professed “tactic” of: ‘(actually), beneficially, “raising” the other side’s argument to its highest level before (trying) to shoot it down’…you have actually not at all shown my factual foundation to be wrong, and therefore, to me, the “theology highrise” which I have built on it is secure and sound. I on the other hand, have to my (unchallenged) satisfaction in my blog work, being working to debunk the factual basis for atheists like yourself. In that other post’s commenting you say that you cannot accept my “God is the source of life” theology, because of your “scientific” studies and knowledge. Well I myself have actually considered that supposed scientific basis in my Creation vs. Evolution studies and have not at all found the Evolution claims to be scientific, let alone factual and true. (I primarily recommend you go through that posted Walter J. Veith series; -former (staunch) Evolution professor btw) So I was (naturally) theologically-speaking from that studied out basis.

            Again I see no point in engaging in theoretical/philosophical discussion if the facts are not first fully verified. Which is why I have been suggesting my approach. And relatedly, taking you up on your claims, which seriously stated just keep being shown to have been vacuous, i.e., not serious, I was going to ask you to also propose how someone, -i.e. a “psychic”, as you had posited, could have accurately predicted the 70 Week prophecy, but you have now also back-peddled out of that claim by stating that you don’t believe psychics could actually do that.

            Relatedly, I understand your problem with the ‘God outside of time’ view [sorry for not quoting your statements btw], and I myself have also written against its validity, even actual necessity. My Biblically studied out view/theology is that God operates in contemporary time (cf. Luke 20:38) and also the future cannot logically/realistically actually “exist”. For it to exist, we would have actually need to have lived out (future) lives, and that is not realistically feasible. Again God merely plans the future, and then when that prophesied time comes, He, if necessary, cooperates with obedient me to carry it out (=Isa 46:9-11)

            In regards to the Christian Right and Dominionism, ironically enough, if it was not for Bible prophecy, I would have probably been just like them in trying to forcefully making America a Christian Theocracy. I however do believe that a Theocratic-based government and country can lawfully exist, indeed as per my (prophetic) New Jerusalem Kingdom Plans, but, as also allowed by God, e.g. with Israel, the constituent people first have to willing ascribe to such a rule (e.g. Exod 24:7-8), and secondly, they can, at any time, freely choose to no longer have such a rule, at their preferred consequential detriment of course, for at best, they then will only be recreating an “America Jr.” and America has actually been God’s object-lesson demonstration of the best that an even predominantly Christian people/nation ultimately ruled by democracy can at best achieved, which according to God’s standard, is nothing righteous.

            In regards to your offer for a public debate, I frankly found this venue “public” enough, though a formal forum would be better indeed than blog post commentings, however given the realities of my work load agenda and work scheduling, I would first have to see what that other venue would entail before I fully agree to it. I would be able to guarantee that it would be a “live” debate, but, if it is a typical postings forum, where I can post my responses when I have the chance, then that would be best for me. I have participated in several forums before, and I have confirmingly seen that what is best is not necessarily quick and “live” responding, but responding after the issue posted have been properly considered and as much as necessary studied. That “deeper” approach actually saves much more time and effort/digital ink than mere ‘off the top of my head” shallow bantering. So I would first like to see the context of what you are proposing. Contrary to what some people have typically assumed from my various writings, I actually do not have the “(extemporaneous) gift of gab” (in good company evidently: 2 Cor 10:10), and I actually much more prefer this because the highest frustration of my research and writing ministry has been in having to correct the ‘fluff” that people, especially preachers, with the “gift of gab” just mindless spew out. So I prefer to have a knack for (first) deeply studying things out…and in just the field of Biblical Studies, there also is indeed much more that needs to be done there.

            So I am opened to discussion, as long as it will primarily be rigorously factual, and not firstly theoretical (=philosophical for you, and thus theological for me). Let’s first examine the facts that actually lay the foundation for our “theories|theologies”. And btw, in the famous Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye Debate, Nye was, to his great credit, most honest enough to admit that his evolutionary theory, still did not provide an answer as to a sourcing origin. And also, quite pertinently here, Ken Ham rightly show that an evolutionary view is merely a theoretical take on the facts which are available and observed by both sides here. And as he and others have soundly shown|substantiated|demonstrated, I have found that the view of Creation found in the Bible actually has provided the best explanation for those observable facts.

            (Btw, sorry for not splitting this response between the two posts here.)

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            I have to be honest, I’ve already explained why I’m not terribly interested in discussing minutia of your specific interpretations of various Bible passages. I’ve read a lot of this stuff and it’s all junk in my opinion.

            How many times did Harold Camping predict the world was going to end? How many other people were certain the bible predicted some thing or another? The entire seventh day Adventist church started over a prediction about the end of the world but did people leave the group when the leader was wrong? Nope, in fact more people joined and he made another prediction which was also wrong.

            My point is that prophecy has zero credibility, You’ll probably say that those people were false prophets who didn’t interpret things correctly, but there are not doubt other Christians who would say you are the false prophet.

            Well I myself have actually considered that supposed scientific basis in my Creation vs. Evolution studiesand have not at all found the Evolution claims to be scientific, let alone factual and true.

            Well the fact is that you are wrong, I’ve read a bit of your writing here and you just have a bad understanding not only of the scientific facts, but of the philosophy of science. Creationism only fits the fact if you, once again, engage in ad hoc reasoning to fit things together.

            And relatedly, taking you up on your claims, which seriously stated just keep being shown to have been vacuous, i.e., not serious, I was going to ask you to also propose how someone, -i.e. a “psychic”, as you had posited, could have accurately predicted the 70 Week prophecy, but you have now also back-peddled out of that claim by stating that you don’t believe psychics could actually do that.

            I didn’t back peddle, If you had bothered to actually read what I wrote initially the you would see that my statements were completely consistent. You know, I’ll debate with anyone pretty regardless of disagreement, and even really try to be friendly about it, but I require two things, be polite and debate in good faith.

            My arguments were serious and I bristle at the implication that I am not making arguments because I believe they are both pertinent and valid.

            I don’t like being called a liar, and I don’t like having people intentionally misrepresent my own statements in order drive some snide remarks. We are done. Call me prickly if you like, but I’m not getting anything out of this conversation and you are spending more time trying to get a rise out of me than trying to engage with my arguments. I’ve had plenty of more intellectually stimulating conversations with theists, and I’m not afraid of serious debates or intellectual critiques of my position, but I’m not convinced you are capable of either at this point.

            Further posts will be deleted.

          • NJKProject144

            In due response, and as an overarching illustration, [and you don’t actually have to publically post this, your (desperate) prerogative…] you saying that you will not engage/examine my factual basis claimed in (historically) fulfilled Bible prophecy would be akin to me saying that: “because you/atheists believe in evolution and claim that the geological layers of the Grand Canyon support those origins theories, then I will just refuse to consider those “facts”. Fact is that, Theistic Creationists have indeed fully considered such claimed supportive facts, and have soundly presented an entirely different scientific model for their presence and formation. You had said that you would do a similar thing with my claims of fulfilled Bible prophecy, but have backed out of that, instead just generalistically claiming, really circularly, that “you don’t believe God exists”. I hope you can see how I myself cannot see this as an objectively fair consideration of my view.

            Such a summarily, indifferently dismissive approach is quite typical from the non-theist side, whereas the theist side is actually the one which is more open-minded and factually-responsible. (Topically pertinent, that is the related basis of Kirsten Powers’ forthcoming book “The Silencing” previewed here).And that is all indicative of people who are actually (despite professions) not confident of their belief and view. Case in point as, evidently being resorted to now… Indeed the typical thing for an atheist to do is to boil things down to a “who cares anyway” dismissal. (Mind you however, as I have also relatedly experienced in my various discussion, this stance and response also exists in the theistic side, and so I am actually compelled to pin all this on one being incapable of actually sounding and factually defending their view, whatever it is.

            Some specific responses
            -Harold Camping did not have a sound Biblical hermeneutic for his interpretation

            -Same thing in key/thematic part the Millerites and not SDA’s who later correct Miller’s hermeneutical error, but their reckon prophetic time was accurate, the believed “Second Coming” Event was not. (Only 5000 people of the 500,000 Millerites and also refusingly so the “leader” William Miller himself, went on to form the SDA Church.)

            -Of course other people have dismissingly claimed that I am a false prophet…but, like you, they have been unable to Biblically substantiate their claim. I am not swayed by mere opinions and claims.

            -I am not claiming to be a Scientific Creationist expert, because I have not myself done my original studies into it, but I have considered both sides of the debate from specialists and experts, and I do find the Creationist view better substantiated, indeed it better fits and explains those “observable facts”.

            -You clearly don’t carefully read what I have written, posted and referred, so don’t expect me to do so in regards to what you write…You have likewise misconstrued much of what I have written, so don’t try to play a victim’s card here. Don’t fool, guilt, nor impress me….Contrary to your probably assumption for Christians, I mandately just don’t owe you, or anyone else, any more than they themselves are willing to invest and do in a discussion. Indeed that would be way too costly for me. I actually don’t need you to believe my view, and really just intended to post that informational reference and quotation about Kirsten Powers, didn’t actually want, nor have time for any further “debating”.

            -I simply said the basis for your philosophies was, in my view, not factually/conclusively/concretely set. You can pridefully/vexatiously extrapolate whatever you want from that…just don’t fault me for it. Your issue is that you think more your capabilities and understanding that what is actually factually provable, e.g. you touting Christian studies competence, when that is factually just not the case. Hopefully you were just oblivious to that, otherwise that itself would be grossly misleading…

            -And what I am actually deliberately doing is indeed factually pop that bubble which you are sheltering your stance in, and that is done by trying to get you to engage head on those facts of the other side which you, and other skeptic/atheists like you indeed just prefer to vacuously dismiss…Now do prove me right that you actually have an underlying problematic “prideful bubble”, one which clearly does not allow you to begin to consider that you could be “factually” wrong. Again, I, documentedly, do not have that blocking issue, as I have no problem engaging the claimed facts (which again is just not the same as (derived) theories/philosophies, of the other side(s)).

          • NJKProject144

            …And just to make factually clear what my “prophetic facts” basis is actually all about: I am presenting you (skeptics/atheists), on one hand the scientific facts that someone, hundreds, even thousands of years before set forth in verifiably dated writings that such and such events would occur in the future, moreover relating how this was a from a revelation from God, and then later, and in specific cases, at the exact time, objective history transpired and was, also objectively recorded, that events which fit the criteria of those predictions did indeed occur.

            So that all are indeed “facts”, on both sides, and bridged together by a claim of Supernatural actions, which needs to be seriously considered, especially by the truly honest/serious person.

          • NJKProject144

            ..btw Dylan, (and as per Pro 26:5), it conversely is for the irrational chief tenet that ‘something can come out of nothing’ that I myself entirely, yet not even summarily, reject the atheistic world view as “junk”, -including its factually/demonstratedly junk/pseudo-“science”…

          • http://www.skeptimusprime.net/ Dylan Walker (Skeptimus Prime)

            Reading comprehension not your strong suite I see.

  • Pingback: Why I, as an ex-Christian, am reluctant to be friends with evangelicals. | Skeptimus Prime()

  • Pingback: Why I, as an ex-Christian, am reluctant to be friends with evangelicals. | Skeptimus Prime()