Is Christianity true?
Thanks for posting this debate.
I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, consisting of 66 books, Genesis through Revalation. They are inspired by God, and written down by a number of authors. Some of them knew eachother, but many were seperated by thousands of years. Yet the messages are consistant, the principals are effective and practical, and many prophesies in it have been fufilled accurately. Furthermore, the Bible is historically accurate when contrasted with reliable outside texts contemparary to any given part of it. The witnessed nature of God's character is also consistant throughout the Bible. If the authors were imagining what they wrote, the accounts of God would have far more in common with the evolving and sometimes contradictary “canon” of such episodic fiction as Star Trek, Superman, or Larry Niven's Known Universe series.
Additionally, the account of creation and the Flood of Noah is better substantiated by the evidence I have seen than Old-Earth theories.
In the field of philosophy and government, society functions best if it follows Biblical principals. Deviation from them may lead to a consistant world-view, but ultimately results in societal and individual chaos.
Most importantly, I have seen God's powerful work in my own life. His wrath against injustice, overwhelming forgiveness, and powerful love demonstrated in his provision for my needs and desires.
I have considered atheism, but am not convinced of it's truth.
I realize I haven't gone into much depth on any particular point. But to avoid having too broad a debate with too many subjects, and not enough space to cover them all, why don't you choose a few arguments I made you have the biggest interest in?
“How do you know who wrote the Bible? Merely cause the Bible says so.”
Not merely. Some books of the Bible are written in first person, so we know who claimed to write them. We can then compare what is said in the books with what we know of history outside the Bible.
I don't have room to go through all 66 books, so I'll highlight some major examples. If you want me to defend a particular book I don't get to in this round, I can do so in the next round.
The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible, and considered a single book, divided into five volumes consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Traditionally, Moses has been ascribed as author. Though he never talks in first person, we see from Exodus 17:14, 24:4 and 7, 34:27, Numbers 33:1-2, Deuteronomy 31:9, that he is actively recording the events as they occur. He would have been literate, having been raised in the royal courts of Egypt, so he would have had the skills to write a history book/law book. The author is also knowledgeable about Second Millenium B.C. Customs that were not practiced in the First Millenium, such as a double portion of the inheritence going to the eldest son, and sale of a birthright. That is all evidence that it was written at the time of the Exodus.
Daniel is a book of history and prophesy starting with the exile of Hebrews of royal blood to Babylon in 605 B.C., and going well into Persian rule. It was written in Imperial Aramaic, a common language at the time. Few Greek words are used, an unlikely occurance if it were written at a later date, when Greek was the common language of the Medeterainian. (The Greeks were the next empire to rule the region after the Persians.)
As examples from the gospels and letters to the churches, I will single out Mark and Hebrews. In Mark 13:2, Jesus prophesies that the Temple in Jerusalem will be completely demolished. Hebrews 10:11 talks about animal sacrifice as current daily event. In 70 A.D., the temple was burned and destroyed during the seige of Jerusalem.  If these books had been written at a date later than 70 A.D., Mark would most likely have included a word about the fufillment of the prophesy, and the anonymous author of Hebrews would not have referred to Jewish sacrifices at the temple in the present tense. Therefore the authors must have written the books at an early enough date that they would have been witnesses to Jesus' life on Earth.
“How do you know God is the basis for the Bible? Just because the Bible says certain things doesn't make it true.”
You are correct. If things in the Bible didn't line up with anything else we know to be true, they couldn't be considered reliable. And how can you test the existance of the supernatural? It is, by definition, beyond the natural, so beyond what science can test.
If someone claims to have knowledge of the supernatural, that is a claim of an intersection between the natural and supernatural. (Natural=humans, Supernatural=whatever is claimed to impart the knowledge) These intersections can be tested for accuracy. For example, if you call the psychic hotline, you should usually be able to tell if the person really has supernatural powers by comparing what the stranger says they know about you to what you actually know about yourself, and subtracting what they could have ascertained through non-supernatural means.
Prophecy is the claimed intersection we can test with the Bible. The example of Mark and Hebrews above is a good example. The book of Daniel is also a good example:
In Daniel chapters 7 and 8, Daniel, has confusing visions of a ram, a goat, a bear-like creature, a lion-like creature, and a more powerful creature unlike the others. He does not understand what these are symbols of until he is told.
The succession of great ancient empires in that region can be verified without the use of the Bible. The Babylonian Empire is superceded by the Medo-Persian Empire, the Persians more powerful than the Medes in that alliance. They had three great conquests, Lydia, Babylon, and Egypt. Next the Greeks under Alexander the Great swiftly conquer all the way from Egypt to India. At the height of his power, he dies and is replaced by 4 generals who split the Empire. Later, an unprecedented power, Rome, conquers most of what used to be Greece, and beyond.
In the first vision, a lion with the wings of an eagle is superceded by a lopsided bear which which had 3 ribs in it's mouth, which is superceded by a four-headed, winged leopard. That is then superceded by a creature unlike the others, with more power.
The second vision goes into more detail about the conquering of Persia by Greece under Alexander the Great, which was split up between four generals. (Cassander, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Ptolemy)
In the vision second vision, a two horned ram with one horn bigger than the other is trampled by a one horned goat that's prominent horn breaks off, and is replaced by four horns that go in seperate directions. This isn't just some Nostradomis vagary. The literal interpretation of the second vision is given in great detail starting in 8:15, where specific nations are tied to specific creatures in the visions.
The narrative of the vision does follow history accurately, and is not vague at all about it's subject matter. So there are only a few possibilities.
“What makes the Bible different from [fantastic fiction]? Both are far fetched. Are they not?”
Based on the above evidence, I'd have to say it is strange, but true, unlike Superman, which is written for entertainment and cannot be verified.
Mr.sarcastic forfeited this round.
All arguments extended to the next round.
Mr.sarcastic forfeited this round.
Mr.sarcastic forfeited this round.
I'd like to be in more debates where the other person doesn't forfeit. If you want someone who won't, I'm up for debating.