”Alex, have you ever considered being a crisis counselor at a retirement facility.”
Ha. I don’t know about you, but I find no comfort in lies.
”The story I told happened when I was 20 years old. I prefer to think that with age comes wisdom. “I won’t hold your youth and inexperience against you.” (Reagan vs. Mondale)”
For some people it does, but age by itself is no guarantee of anything but age. Wisdom is also not the same thing as knowledge, and with insufficient knowledge it’s pretty easy to commit yourself to conclusions that feel very wise, but are based on a false premise.
”It seems to me that if you can’t explain something with facts and reason, then you tend to dismiss it.”
I did explain it. You remember only good outcomes. If you listed all those lucky breaks along with all the times in your life that things turned out badly, it would put it into perspective.
”There are many mysteries in this world and in life that violate those standards. Several time you said, “lucky”. “Lucky” is not a counter argument. Perhaps, you could add, “I don’t know” to your lexicon.”
I am not the one claiming to know that the supernatural exists, that immaterial souls exist, that angels and demons exist, etc. Physician, heal thyself.
”I would like to recommend a book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshl — two intellectuals, one Muslim, one Christian, colliding.”
There have also been Christians who converted to Islam. Cherry picking cases which comfort you and support your preferred narrative isn’t the same as proving your religion is true. While we’re recommending reading material, I suggest “Who Wrote the Bible?” by R.E. Friedman as well as the works of Bart Ehrman.
”Let’s consider the falling down mountain scene. Probabilities: Take 100 people and let them fall down an icy/snowy slope 100 yards long at a 45 degree angle with granite boulders at the bottom. We only need 98 more — Bear Grylls and I have already had our turn. Would you like to volunteer as one of the 98. Question: how many of the 100 volunteers would walk away unscathed? I would say, one — me.”
I don’t know the answer, which you presume to. It would require an experiment. At any rate, probably you are right that only a small percentage would survive. And because of human cognitive biases, those survivors would all feel as if they were specially protected. Because they happen to be alive to feel that way. That’s called survivorship bias.
I was disappointed that you stop analyzing my narrative at the “chicken hawk”. I’m sorry you did.
Your narrative was repetitive. It was just personal anecdote after personal anecdote, all of them following the same formula of “Look how lucky I was, clearly the only possible explanation is that physics and biology are bullshit, magic is real and the religion I happened to be born into is the only true one”. It’s like Jack Chick tracts in text form. That is not the basis for reasoned belief. It is the sort of thing which only impressed children, or sufficiently childlike adults.
”I think you need more help understanding the Scriptures — your view is just a little skewed.”
From within the maze of funhouse mirrors that is Christian apologetics, reality itself appears skewed. So I am unsurprised you feel that way. Creationists feel I am mistaken about evolution. Flat Earthers feel I am mistaken about the shape of the Earth. Both base their convictions on the same scriptures as you. You are on the same spectrum of wrongness as both groups, just not quite as far gone (that I know of).
”Alex, here is another “lucky” story for you, an actual event — a mystery. Bassam, a young friend of mine currently living in Europe, was a Muslin, atheist, drug addict, and is a Christian — in that order. I met him after 9/11 because I was interested in knowing what people in an Arab country thought of that event. He posted his story on the internet which prompted me to contact him. Another businessman and I sent him a round trip flight ticket to come to California to speak at various groups.
This journey began when he spent time at his uncle’s terrorist training camp in Egypt. “If Allah is so great why doesn’t he just kill our enemy instead of telling me to do it?” This thought remained with him as he rose up in the ranks to become an acquintance of the blind sheik who masterminded the bombing of the World Trade Center the first time.
His father, troubled that he was reading a Bible, reported him to the Egyptian authorities. He was arrested and spent a year in prison — tortured, beaten, shock treatments, dismemberment, isolation (your typical Muslim evangelism). I once asked him how was he able to stand the pain? “Easy,” he said with a smile, “when the pain becomes unbearable, you just pass out.”
At one point he was thrown into a cell full of notorious terrorists. The Egyptian police were expecting them to kill him. When prisoners found out he was there because he became a Christian, they immediately separated themselves from Bassam (similiar to Daniel in the lions den). They knew what the police were going to do to him and did not want guilt by association. Lucky?
Several of these prisoners became Christians over the next few months. After a little bit of time, Bassam became the designated cook for those twenty terrorists.
He was released because of the efforts of Amnesty International, Kansas Senator Brownback, and President Bush. He was told to leave Egypt; there was a death warrant for him if he returned.
Even today, in the country where Bassam currently resides, so does some of his uncles. The possibility of accidently meeting one of them will spur an attempt to kill him. His uncles were responsible for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat — October 6, 1981.
“Lucky” Bassam is a ferocious reader, a philosopher, lecturer, debater of all things Islamic and Christian, and is a writer who speaks several languages. If you want to make contact with him, I can arrange that. He speaks your language. A movie was produced based loosely on his story — Beyond the Sun.
Point: Anyone who becomes a believer in Jesus Christ should expect their faith to be tested. And, it will be. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7
Irrelevant, this is just another personal anecdote which I have no means of verifying, and which follows the same formula as your earlier anecdotes. Adults do not base belief in remarkable claims on secondhand stories. Nothing you have said so far constitutes good reason to believe in the supernatural. It’s the sort of folksy “big fish” stories that convince bumpkins of bigfoot, alien abductions and haunted houses.
Historical Note: Tacitus (c. A.D. 60–120), a Roman historian, has preserved a record of this situation. I quote the following from his Annals (XV.44).
“And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up [i.e., falsely accused] as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called (Lucky — Alex’s word) Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for a moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome…. Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed [to being Christians]; then, on their evidence, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of [their] hatred for the human race. Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.”
The Tacitus records are well documented forgeries by early Christians.
This should not surprise you given the rich history of faith promoting lies in Christian apologetics. Christian archaeologists who claim to have found the remains of Noah’s Ark for example, or fossilized human footprints within dinosaur footprints, or chariot wheels in the red sea, or the various children who were coached by their parents to claim they saw heaven during periods of near death only to later confess that they saw no such thing (“Heaven is for Real” )
Christians gullibly react to the exposure of these hoaxes by saying “alright, so these specific claims were fraudulent, but that does not disprove all such claims” never considering the possibility that Biblical miracles were the same kind of thing, but during a period when no internet or cameras existed, so it was much harder to fact check claims of this nature.
I was told many such faith promoting stories during my private fundamentalist Christian education. I am very familiar with this genre/format. Stories of missionaries spontaneously being able to speak the local language when preaching despite no former training in that language. Stories of encounters with angels, of sightings of dinosaurs in the Congo or recovered plesiosaur remains with minimal decomposition supposedly proving a young Earth.
What they all have in common is that they are unsourced and there is no way to personally check that they are true. This is by design. Listeners are encouraged to take them on faith, and being that the intended audience is already convinced of Christianity, they are strongly inclined to believe stories which reinforce their faith in Christianity, especially if the story is told by a Christian, being that Christians tend to uncritically trust one another’s testimonies.