Revelations is not a book of prophecy.
Debate Rounds (4)
Revelations is not a book of prophecy.
I will be taking the Con/Against stance in this debate. I believe Revelations IS a book of prophecy in which its writings pertain to future events and their fulfillment.
I just recently heard of the stance on the biblical book of Revelations that it is not a book of prophecy, that is, a book predicting (with authority) of future events to come. I do not know how prevalent this view is and I am very curious to see if anyone will pick this debate up. I am skeptical that there is such a view on the book of Revelations that can be held by any Bible-believing level-headed Christians. So if you can, prove me wrong.
One spin I've heard from a friend's friend is that: "It is not a literal book." That I agree on. It is a very symbolic book. The book is arguably the most complex and difficult book to interpret of the books of the Christian bible. But as I understand it, it's being argued that it's not a literal book in the sense that it doesn't hold any legitimacy as a prophetic book.
The reasons I believe it is a difficult book to interpret is that:
1) All books of the Bible must be interpreted with the author, time/date, to whom the book was written and cultural aspects understood and kept in mind. Most theologians seem to agree on these aspects though their nature can incorporate an element of ambiguity being that we were not actually there ourselves.
2) A great portion of the book is John's describing of the visions he received regarding the future. Why the book is difficult to interpret is because John had to use the best words of his language to describe things literally, almost, "out of this world". Not only that but things of the future, if it is indeed a prophetic book. What if John's visions had certain technologies (that may still even yet have to be invented) in them and he was trying to describe them? I think that is pretty likely.
3) God has a flair for creativity and seemingly chooses to hide stuff from us in a way. For example, Luke 10:21 says, "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." The heavy symbolism may be partly due to this aspect of God's character that he hides certain things from us. Certainly he will not hide these things from us forever and we will one day know as He knows, but for now we do not know fully and the book of Revelations exposes the pride of the "wise and learned" because they do not know yet and things are still hidden from them.
Though it is a difficult book to understand and there is a lot of symbolism as well as things with ambiguous meaning, I still think the book is a legitimate prophetic book of the Bible. I take it for granted that this is the convention view of the book as well.
It says directly in Revelations 1:1-3 that it is a prophecy. Rev. 1:3 "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy…" I find that very difficult to side step. http://www.biblegateway.com...
I am interested to see if anyone will take this debate. Please note that I'm no Revelations expert or theologian, but an inquiring mind to a foreign viewpoint.
1. What technically is a prophecy?
the foretelling or prediction of what is to come.
something that is declared by a prophet, esp. a divinely inspired prediction, instruction, or exhortation.
a divinely inspired utterance or revelation: oracular prophecies.
So, in one sense, yes, it is a book that explains future events such as the Parousia. (Second coming of Christ) However, there is no evidence that these events will come true or that they were divinely inspired. It is said that John wrote revelations, but that's all we know. A guy named John "most likely" wrote revelations and it is "claimed" that it is divine prophecy. I could make a prophecy right now that says the world will end in 3 days, but I provide no evidence and there is no proof that it is a divine prophecy. Also, the prophecy is VERY vague. Saying that the world will eventually come to an end is like saying that someday we will die. Also, it says the on the day of the return of Jesus, the heavens will open, he will come down on a cloud, and God will judge the living and dead. Notice how there is no given date on this, so we could be waiting and waiting and waiting forever. The authors most likely did this so that their prophecies and claims to a higher power will never be denied.
2. Why do you believe that revelations is a prophecy that pertains to future events? Is it because you were raised that way and were always taught about "god" and the bible? There are thousands of religions in the world. We are brought into a certain faith by sheer accidence, so what makes us think that we have the correct religion over anyone else? It's because the child's mind is instinctively developed in a way that makes it listen and believe authority. That is why most people are the religion of their parents, the political ideology of their parents, and adopt similar lifestyles to their parents. Also, there is no evidence pointing to one of the thousands of religions over another, so as far as we know, every religion's bible is just a book of wishful thinking. Every bible was written by a certain group of people in a certain time era. The people who wrote it are going to put elements in it that relates to their time period and culture of the people in order to make sense of the world of things they cannot describe. So, in my opinion, bibles are just books, nothing more than that. I don't think revelations pertains to future events because every bible's prophecies are going to be different depending on the culture of the person who wrote in.
3. I agree with you that it is symbolic, not literal. Yes, it is one of the hardest books to interpret because it makes the most extraordinary claims. The Old Testament had some far fetched claims, but it also talked about some factual events that went on in the world. Revelations is purely symbolic and there are no proven facts in it. Since it is agreed among most people that it is symbolic, I think it's fair to say that it doesn't prove the legitimacy of the book. How can you legitimize something that is based solely on symbolism, stories, and future events without proof? You can't.
Now I will address the 3 reasons that you think it's a difficult book to interpret.
1. You said that all books of the Bible must be interpreted with the author, time/date, to whom the book was written and cultural aspects understood and kept in mind. This means that the idea of one God for everyone and the same future for everyone is false. If writings and bibles are influenced by external forces like you mentioned, then that means everyone's take on the future is going to be different. Not all religions believe that Jesus will come again. Many religions don't even recognize God or Jesus at all because they had a different take on religion and fate in their eyes. The Greeks had many Gods such as Aphrodite, Zeus, and Apollo. That is because it was what made the most sense to them and related most to their culture. So, like you said, if the book is affected by the writers' culture, time, and date, that means the story will be different depending on who you ask. And that also means that different people have a different idea of God, creation, and destiny, which means that religions contradict one another, which in turn dismisses the credibility in revelations being a book of prophecy that pertains to future events.
2. Yes, what you said about John is "possible", but it's also possible that they weren't visions. It's possible that he didn't even write it, and it's possible that nothing he said was true, so the fact that it's possible doesn't give revelations credibility as a prophetic book of future events. You also said, "John had to use the best words of his language to describe things literally." Why would he have to if he was inspired by God? If God is truth, and he inspired by God(truth), then why would he need to use the best words of his language? He could have just said what God inspired him to say.
3. You say that God hides certain things from us and that we will find out eventually. Yes, he hides proof of his very own existence. Some people argue that our minds are not great enough to comprehend God. Well, if we were made by an all perfect, and knowing, all powerful, and all loving being, why would we not be worthy? I thought we were in his divine image. Also, the fact that we will eventually know is just another way of the writers keeping us in "faith" forever.If an all knowing God can't even provide a date for his son's return, or sheer proof his existence, then revelations doesn't sound like a divine book to me. It says we are not supposed to test or doubt God, but if God is all knowing, then he must understand that only a fool would follow something without evidence and not even question it.
Lastly, you said, "It says directly in Revelations 1:1-3 that it is a prophecy. Rev. 1:3 "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy…" Well, you can't use the bible as evidence to support the bible. That's like me saying the world will end in 3 days, and I say my source is myself, because I was divinely inspired. It might say it's a prophecy, but that's not surprising because of course they want people to believe that, otherwise, their writings mean nothing if no one believes.
So, my closing statement for this round. Revelations is just a book of wishful thinking that was written by someone who was trying to make sense of the world trough the culture they were raised and the society they were in. It is not a divine book of prophecy that foretells future events.
Another possible reason why the authors did not give a specific date is because it would leave people to rely on faith, which is a consistent theme in the Bible. If a specific date would be revealed then people would most likely become reckless. For example, if the date was not until much much later (which would be likely if a date were have to been given), then people would say, "Well, since it's not going to happen in my lifetime, I can just enjoy myself for now but then still accept Jesus at the end of my life." Or, if the date was soon and close, then people would get excited and try really really hard to be spiritual and what not. But that effort to be spiritual and get one's live in line would be a superficial and forced one, not a genuine act of faith and love for God – which is what God wants.
I appreciated your try to "get to the heart of the matter". I try to do the same thing in debates about religion and faith. However, I have to respectfully say that you've misjudged me. Yes, I did grow up in a Christian home, but I went through a phase of depression from the years of sixteen to seventeen. This caused me to doubt, to question why God would allow me such pain. For awhile I tried to keep my faith in God, believing that there would be a greater "reward" if I stuck it out even when it was hard to. But eventually I resolved to enter into a time of questioning and finding out what I really believe in despite my parents influence. I decided to become my own person, to acquire my own beliefs. So I became a self-professed agnostic for a time, and that allowed for my questioning. But here I am three years later and my faith and personhood has never been stronger. Do I still doubt and question from time to time? Yes. But I have found the truth that theologian A.W. Tozer suggested, "To our questions God has provided answers; not all the answers, certainly, but enough to satisfy our intellects and ravish our hearts." I have found that the true difference between the believing and unbelieving is their desire to find these answers.
-- The Christian Bible can be tracked down through history, not just as "another book of wishful thinking". Personally, I have not been one to enjoy doing such research, but there are many brilliant minds that have confirmed the legitimacy of the Bible through historical research. I could track down the best evidence and research in that category if you wish.
-- Just because something is symbolic or poetic, does that inherently mean that it has no truth or valuable facts to be drawn from it? There are many poems that use metaphors and symbolism that pertain to real life events. Thus, your point that because it's "symbolic" it isn't a legitimate book, is negated.
----The following is the three points on why Revelation is difficult to interpret.---
-- The interpretation of the book if affected by the writers' culture, time and date, but that doesn't mean that the story will necessarily be different depending on who you ask. All it means is that it is important to understand those elements in order to fully understand the book. In addressing the part where you said, "which means that religions contradict one another.."
Just because there is a contradiction of opinion in the world doesn't mean that there is no objective truth to be found among it all. If I asked my colorblind friend what color a red cup was, and he said "blue", but I insisted on telling him it was red, would that make the cup colorless because there was a contradiction of opinion?
In this point I can summarize the first part of what you said as, "anything is possible, so you can't be certain, so you're wrong." This is clearly an impractical way of debating because debating requires that you get somewhere. That's like a Postmodernist's preference for epistemological ambiguity. When you argue from the point of "anything's possible", yeah you decrease your opponent's argument validity, but if you stay true to it, you decrease any validity your argument might have too. That is why it's a largely impractical way to debate.
-- John was inspired by God and I do believe in the inspiration of the scripture of the Bible. However, you are not God when you are inspired by God. God in still using YOU. And in John's case, he saw visions of future events and times. It was still John's eyes that perceived the vision. But it was God that gave John the vision and God who guided John's words when he wrote the book.
--For one, we are not worthy because we are not God. If some other being was on the same level as God, then it would no longer make God God.
Secondly, God doesn't give us confirmation of his existence because he leaves room for us. Consider this quote by Fredrick Buechner, "Not the least of my problems is that I can hardly even imagine what kind of an experience a genuine, self-authenticating religious experience would be. Without somehow destroying the process, how could God reveal himself in a way that would leave no room for doubt? If there were no room for doubt, there would be no room for me."
-- God's son provides proof of his existence. You can't say those two things in the same sentence. If God's son existed and walked this earth, then how is that not "sheer proof of his existence"?
Does it really say that we are not supposed to test or doubt God? Micah 6:1 says, "Listen to what the Lord is saying: ‘Stand up and state your case against me. Let the mountains and the hills be called to witness you complaints." It says in Deuteronomy 6:16, "Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah." But there he is addressing a specific people and time. There, he is advising them against it, advising them that faith is the easier route. This is still true today, faith is the easy route, however, some people are appalled of the notion of such "unquestioning faith". The truth is that faith still is the easier route, but we can question, we can doubt, and we can find answers to those questions. But I'll tell you from experience that it takes a lot of pain, courage, and perseverance to find those answers. Or another Biblical example I can give of questioning is Job. At the end of the story (as you must know it) God said Job did nothing wrong in his questioning and sheer honesty. God welcomes our honesty and questions. Heck, look at the very middle of the Bible, its heart, the Psalms! About sixty-five percent of the Psalms are classifiable as "laments" to God expressing pain, doubts and questions.
-- Commenting on your closing point:
We have to ask the question, "By whose interpretation is the book a book of prophecy?" If we were to carry on in that, this would a debate about the legitimacy of the Bible, not of the book of Revelation, which it is. So I must say in turn that it seems implied that the book can be used to interpret and describe itself given the proposition of this debate. Perhaps that implication was not made clear on my part, if so, I apologize. But I think it seems like a given that the book can be used to describe itself. Am I going to read another book to tell me what Revelation is about? No, I'm going to read it and interpret it for what it says in it.
My closing statement for this round: There are prophecies in the Old Testament, all of which came true and were fulfilled in the New Testament. I imagine that there were a portion of people back then that didn't believe in the prophecies just like my opponent does not believe in the unfulfilled prophecies of the New Testament. But again, I remind you, the Old Testament prophecies WERE fulfilled, and with amazing accuracy.
1. I agree with you in the fact that if they did give a date, people wouldn't rely on faith as much. However, general statements about the possible future are not very credible. I understand the reasons why they might not have mentioned the date. It was either a: like you said, faith would have been forced or phony. b: God did not give them a date. c: the whole thing is false
Whichever one of these 3 possibilities it is, one thing is certain. Other than the book of Revelations existing, we have no other sources or evidence to back it up as a credible holy prophecy. Since Revelations and the entire bible was written by people who were inspired by God, that would mean it is holy. Holy means fullness, purity, divinity, and God like. To different cultures and religions, God and the bible are totally different. Some cultures believe in more than one God, some don't believe in any. Each one has their own view of the future. So how do we go about to discern which one is right? Not all religions can be right, so what d we have to base beliefs on? I use facts, evidence, and observation through experiences I have. Most religions claim they know the future, that their religion is holy and centered around a form of their own divine deity, so what does Revelations offer that makes it any more credible than another source of divine prophecy?
2. I am so sorry if I misjudged you. Please forgive me. I am glad that you question your faith from time to time. It most likely allows you to grow your faith stronger. If someone followed their faith 100% and didn't ever doubt at times, then that would show a lot about their intellect.
-- Just because an intelligent person followed and studied the bible, it doesn't mean that they proved it to be legitimate. Sure there have been many intelligent Christians. (St. Augustine, etc.) There have also been intelligent atheists. (Richard Dawkins, etc) The fact that they are intelligent does not give legitimacy to their beliefs. St. Augustine wrote about God, studied God, and lived God through his faith and actions, he never gave proof of God. Intelligent theologians have based their lives on faith in God. It was their personal choice of lifestyle based on trust in God, not proof.
-- What you said in number 3, I believe helps prove my point. For example, in the boy who cried wolf, it teaches about how lying can get you into trouble. This is a great story to teach kids about the evils of lying. This book pertains to real life events, such as lying being a bad thing. It has literary aspects as well. However, this book is not talking about a real wolf, a real boy, and the village not responding the third time he cried. This book serves only 1 purpose: to teach a lesson. It's purely symbolic. Sure, there is a possibility this could have happened somewhere, just like there's a possibility that the bible events happened. However, neither book is based on substantial evidence. They both teach lessons, they are not credible sources of history or prophecy.
----The following is the three points on why Revelation is difficult to interpret.---
1. You said, "it is important to understand those elements in order to fully understand the book." You can't take every culture in the world into account when interpreting the bible. That would mean you take into account thousands of interpretations. To some, the bible is meaningless. To others, it angers them, because it goes against their own beliefs. My point is, if culture affects opinions on whether revelations is true, which it does, then that means the story is gonna be seen differently depending on who you ask. If the view on the prophecy can be changed, then it is not a credible prophecy, it's a matter of opinion. Which brings me to what you said about opinion. You said, "Just because there is a contradiction of opinion in the world doesn't mean that there is no objective truth to be found among it all." Yes, we are talking about Revelations, and you're right, difference in opinion doesn't mean there is no objective truth. Revelations is an opinion, not evidence or divine prophecy. And just because there might be objective truth, doesn't mean each individual religion is true. And if there is one God, and let's say it's the Christian God, then why are there other religions? Isn't he universal? Some say, "Some people are either unaware of God or worship false Gods." Well who are they to say it's false? Other religions think that you might be worshiping a false God. And this cycle continues. So, where is any truth in all of this? There isn't, it's all faith in your own religion, which doesn't give that religion or the prophecies of that religion any credibility.
2. I did not say "anything is possible, so you can't be certain, so you're wrong." All I said was, " Yes, what you said about John is "possible", but it's also possible that they weren't visions. It's possible that he didn't even write it, and it's possible that nothing he said was true, so the fact that it's possible doesn't give revelations credibility as a prophetic book of future events." My point is that until some credible evidence is shown, there is no way you can believe in something. Otherwise, you could believe in millions of things.
How is that impractical? Does a presidential candidate make claims in debates that have no evidence behind it? I never said anything is possible. I was trying to make a point that Revelations makes wild claims without any support. Yes, many things are possible, but evidence is what gives us truth in those possibilities, and since there is no evidence for Revelations' prophecies to come true, there is currently no truth in any future events described in Revelations.
-- I'm confused on this point. John had a vision, but God gave it to him. John saw the visions himself, but he was being used. God guided the words, but John wrote it down. This makes no sense. Well, I am being inspired by God right now. He is telling me what to write. Ya, that doesn't sound very credible to me.
-- Ok, maybe I'm not worthy to your God, but everyone else isn't worthy to mine. In my bible, it says that the end of the world will be mass chaos and all non believers will be sent to my God's version of hell. You probably don't agree with this, since there is no evidence for this and it goes against Revelations. See, there is no credibility in anything I just said, just like Revelations has no credibility. It's all "faith". Also, God leaving room for us as a way to hide proof of his existence is just another unbacked claim that religion uses to make itself seem more credible. It does not give Revelations any credibility as a prophetic book.
-- You say, "God's son provides proof of his existence" No, Jesus was a man, nothing more, nothing less. Maybe he's the Son of God and maybe what he "inspired" in Revelations is true, but there is no evidence to support him, therefore, I don't. If he can show me some, then I'll believe. Afterall, God is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving. He can find way to show us he's real other than some man claiming he's his son. He's God, he can do anything.
-- You said, "Does it really say that we are not supposed to test or doubt God?" Like I said before, I admire people who doubt faith. It shows they actually have intelligence and don't just follow something without searching for some answers.
You said, "Am I going to read another book to tell me what Revelation is about? No, I'm going to read it and interpret it for what it says in it." Okay, fair enough, but just reading Revelations doesn't support it at all.
The reason I think it's not prophecy is because it has no backup.
I will go over the prophecies in the next round because I'm running out of characters.
I must mention to the viewers that I do not intend to argue in circles or restate myself redundantly, or restate myself redundantly. But, this can sometimes be tempting to do if you feel like your opponent does not address an important point you made. However, I hope to avoid redundancy and simply trust in the viewers that they will observe such points that are neglected and left unchallenged and that those points and what I say will stand for itself.
Note: I am going to be switching my narration to speaking about my opponent in the third person instead of second because I realize this is a more common and accepted way of debating.
1. Here, my opponent has said that "general statements about the future are not very credible." Think about this though. It is most often that specific statements about the future are the least credible and have been the least credible throughout history and even in our present day. From time to time people have somehow latched on to a certain date, being sure that that is the date the world is ending or Jesus is coming back ect. But they have all been wrong; also, they have all been very specific. For a present day example, economists know that the United States economy is most likely going to collapse – it's showing all the initial signs, but what they don't know is exactly when it's going to. In that case as well, it is the general statement that is the most credible and likely, not the least.
In the latter half of this point my opponent reiterates a cycle of questions that appear very consistently as the main body of his arguments. These points generally have this idea, "to different cultures and religions, God and the bible are totally different." It is my perspective that this is an attempt to trivialize truth, as does any postmodern-like belief. I have already said that the point of a debate is to move towards a truth, not away from it. But I also understand that for people to whom truth is relative (postmodernists in particular), the point of a debate may very well be to move away from truth and generalize it all. However, though I understand such a postmodernist agenda, I reject it as either practical or worthy of belief in. I will also note that because these same questions and general points to trivialize truth (to his own agenda selectively of at least reducing the credibility of Revelation) seem to repeat throughout my opponent's arguments, I will give more of my perspective on the same matter throughout this round.
My opponent said, "so what does Revelations offer that makes it any more credible than another source of divine prophecy?" Well, what other sources of divine prophecy are there? Assuming that Christianity is the one true religion and that all the others are made up, why would made up ones claim any sort of authority of prophecy? What I'm getting at is, and I may be corrected as wrong, but what other religions not based on the historical figure of Jesus Christ have prophecies? I would like my opponent to provide the names of these religions and an overview of their prophecies.
2. There is much common ground I can find with my opponent on this point. I may add that I don't only question my faith "from time to time" but rather quite frequently. I believe this is the way to live the Christian life. Did Jesus rebuke "doubting Thomas" for doubting? No. He showed him his hands and the proof. I believe, though it can be difficult, that he will still do the same for us today. If we have the audacity to doubt and to truly seek answers and evidence God will provide it – and he has been for me to this day. (Also see A.W. Tozer quote in 2nd round)
My opponent has said, "Just because an intelligent person followed and studied the bible, it doesn't mean that they proved it to be legitimate." And "It was their personal choice of lifestyle based on trust in God, not proof."
Because an "intelligent" person does any thing does not make it legitimate. But I must add the insight here: No person is purely intellectual. I believe that God created us both rational and emotional beings (even an atheist can see this is true even if they don't accept God created us). Because God created us both rational and emotional beings and he created us for him, we ought to seek to use both sides of us to find him, love him, and know him. The rational side is the reasoning side, the evidence begging side. The emotional side is the side that determines will, bias and resolve. The distinction I wish to make is that being intelligent will only get you half way there with God. My hypothesis of atheists (and I must say I've debated and talked to a handful of them at length on these matters) is that many of them appear intelligent and to have intelligent reasons for their unbelief – but the truth is that they, like all human beings, are both rational and emotional; the clincher is that they have probably overemphasized their rational side while neglecting their emotional side. That is my general take on atheism. Obviously a general take on anything does not serve all cases justice. How an atheist comes to that imbalance between their rationality and emotions is a toss up. The most common I imagine and have observed is that they are hurt early on in life (and especially though not always with anything in relation to religion) and learn to close off their emotional side because they learned it was too painful to embrace.
I firmly believe in using both faith and reason, trust and evidence. I criticize (though also sympathize because I can often imagine what might lead atheists to become how they are) atheists because they seem intellectually dishonest because they are not balanced. They don't often account for the will/emotions/bias side of things. Humans have been made with a will. If you think you don't have a will, bias, or emotions, you are fooling yourself. You are not as rational as you think. But what this ends up doing is making people say they reject God for impersonal intellectual reasons when if you have enough insight you can see that they are merely intellectual smokescreens for personal (and often buried and unaddressed and thus unanswered) emotional pain.
My balanced thesis (if I may have the arrogance to say so) is that so-called "proof" and evidence (evidence, I believe, exists more than proof) will only get you half way there so to speak. The other part is of the will, the emotions. That explains why intelligent people can have very opposite religious views. I believe the band Sum 41's song "So Long Goodbye" puts this idea well:
" Matters of heart are hard to address
Especially when yours is full of emptiness"
And, dare I say it, God is definitely something that is a matter of heart contrary to popular atheistic belief. But, like I've already said, it's a two sided thing. You can't be too willful and emotional (which gets the criticism of the label of "blind faith"), and on the other side, we'd do well not to deceive ourselves that we are purely rational beings (which gets the criticism of "being heartless" or emotionally dishonest and blind).
Final note on this point: This point also covers many common points discussed throughout the debate. Note that I am answering those points, though out of order, by topic rather than the debate's number.
--Three points on why Revelation is difficult to interpret.--
1. My opponent has said, "if culture affects opinions on whether revelations is true, which it does, then that means the story is gonna be seen differently depending on who you ask." I believe this is a misinterpretation of my point. I was explaining that it is necessary to view a book in its historical context to more fully understand it. However, my opponent has confused this with our present day context for the story.
Out of Characters. Will address remaining points next rnd
First of all, you said that I am not addressing an important point of your argument. Could you please point out what I am not addressing? I'm sorry if I didn't address something, so let's fix it asap. :)
1. My opponent says that general statements have often been credible. Fair enough. However, the example you gave about the economist actually proves a point I will make right now. With the economist, he bases his predictions on facts and economic patterns. If the economy is at the highest ever in the history of the country, chances are that it will drop a little bit soon. We know this due to history and patterns. The economist can research these patterns and make a judgment on them. His judgments are usually accepted by people because we know that his predictions are realistic and based on actual reasons why he made that prediction. Revelations, on the other hand, makes claims that defy the laws of physics, have no backing or patterns to observe, and are completely based on some guy named John's writings which he says were inspired by God. A God which no one has ever seen or been able to verify. The economist used facts and reason to make his statements. Revelations does not.
My opponent went on to say that I trivialize truth to push my own agenda. Well, I don't believe I am running away from truth. I am merely trying to bring it out. I want to express my reasons for not believing Revelations is a book of prophecy. And I want to know what truth there is behind his reasons. I don't feel I am altering truth in any way. If so, please show me where I did this.
My opponent said, "what other sources of divine prophecy are there? Assuming that Christianity is the one true religion and that all the others are made up, why would made up ones claim any sort of authority of prophecy?"
Well, God doesn't even have any evidence backing himself, so that means there's no evidence of anything being divine. Different religions CLAIM that their deity is divine, but I have yet to see evidence supporting any of the thousands of religions' claims of divinity. And why would we assume that Christianity is the one true religion? What is different between the Christian religion and the belief of a flying spaghetti monster? They are both claims with no evidence supporting, so what makes Christianity so divine? And these so called "made up" religions my opponent mentioned claim authority because they believe that they are the true religion, just like Christianity thinks they are the true religion.
My opponent wants me to provide the names of these religions who don't base their religion on Jesus like the Christians and an overview of their prophecies.
Hindus (which believe in many Gods) are awaiting the coming of the Kalki Avatar at the end of this present age, Kalki Yuga (Dark or Iron Age). Here are two of their prophecies:
1. People will have their minds weighed down with constant anxiety and fear. This will be due to devastating famines and heavy taxation. The land will not grow food-crops, and the people will always be in fear of impending droughts.
2. mortal beings will become dull-witted, unlucky, voracious, destitute of wealth yet voloptuous, and women, wanton and unchaste.
So, my point: Hinduism (a big religion in some parts of the world such as India) don't base their religion off of Jesus and still have prophecies. I'm assuming you don't believe in Hinduism. So, what ties all this together? All of these religions are based off their own version of prophecies and Gods. No religion has provided adequate evidence, so I see no reason to believe that ANY, including Revelations, are divine prophecies.
My opponent says, "If we have the audacity to doubt and to truly seek answers and evidence God will provide it – and he has been for me to this day".
What evidence? And where, when, what, and how has God provided it? Why would he provide some with evidence and others no evidence? If you really believe he has provided you some, please share.
Now I will address the long paragraph my opponent posted on balance of emotion and intellect. He says that in general, atheists seem to lack the emotion side because they might have been hurt early in life. Well, not in my case. I live in a Christian family, go to a Catholic school, and have been very fortunate through my life. I am not emotionally lacking. And my opponent says that in general, atheists deny God because they use their intellect more than emotions, and that your emotions is what you need for faith. Well, even emotions have to have a reason. If you love your spouse, I would hope you have a logical reason. (Pretty, successful, family oriented, kind, all, etc.) If someone has an emotion, and can't give a reason behind it, then it's pretty meaningless. We have to use intellect over emotions. That is what creates a civilized society.
My opponent went on to say, "My hypothesis of atheists (and I must say I've debated and talked to a handful of them at length on these matters) is that many of them appear intelligent and to have intelligent reasons for their unbelief – but the truth is that they, like all human beings, are both rational and emotional; the clincher is that they have probably overemphasized their rational side while neglecting their emotional side. That is my general take on atheism."
Well, if your take on emotion is: 6000 years ago, an invisible deity created people, put them in a garden with a tree he didn't want them to eat from, then got angered when they ate the apple after being convinced by a talking snake which the deity also allowed in the garden, which caused all of us to sin, then ya, I would say I am proud that I lack emotion if that is your view on it. Not to mention all of the other things that God did like flooding the Earth, asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, destroying cities, threatening people to eternal damnation in hell, and saying that gays and non-believers should be put to death by stone. If that is what "emotion" is, then I prefer intelligence over emotion every day.
My opponent says "However, my opponent has confused this with our present day context for the story."
Could you please tell me how I have confused the context?
Here is Revelations 22:18-19
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
So, this is basically saying non-believers will not share in the tree of life. It doesn't matter whether you lived a life of kindness and care for others and the planet, if you didn't believe this fairy tale, you won't share in the tree of life.
Revelations 20: 13-15
The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
One, it mentions Hades, who, if I recall, is a Greek God mentioned in mythology. The word myth is very appropriate. Two, it says that you will be judged by what you do, and if you aren't accepted, there is a place of fire where you will go for eternity. Is this prophecy? I think not. It sounds like mythology.
My closing statement: None of this "prophecy" sounds logical, pleasant, or practical. There is still no evidence to support it, so I see no reason to accept this as prophecy. And since I don't accept it, it says I will not share from the tree of life, whatever that means. I now turn it over to my opponent. :)
1. If God is real, then there would be no difficulty in making the assertion that he could alter the laws of physics at his command. Moses saw God face to face (Exodus 33:11; Deuteronomy 34:10). And you would miss the whole point of the Bible if you thought that evidence was something of prime importance. The whole story, if you read it not just singling out certain parts of it that align with your personal bias and beliefs, you would find it is about God's love for mankind and his pursuit of them throughout the ages. And I've already explained how if evidence was glaring then faith would be impossible, as well as much of our personality, and thus, love would also be impossible. I believe in the idea expressed in this quote, "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." (Thomas Merton) So God, too, must follow that advice if he is love. In God's case, a lack of certain evidence leaves room for us to be ourselves, leaves room for us to be loved by God. My opponent has mentioned, "If you love your spouse, I would hope you have a logical reason. (Pretty, successful, family oriented, kind, all, etc.)". However, I would say this is a very good example of imperfect human love. God's love is not based on logic, less, human logic. And that is very well exemplified by the whole story of the Bible granted you don't do the singling out and over emphasizing of certain doctrines or passages over others.
We must understand the great freedom God has given us to believe what we want. Does God show up in front of us? He did for one man a long time ago, but that was because Moses had so much faith that whether he saw God or not, it would not change his faith or love for God. God respects our personal choice and freedom, a lot. That is why God does not provide confirming evidence. I don't believe confirming evidence exists for anything. I believe there is evidence pointing towards the truth and faith fills the gap to give us certainty. Imagine if Christianity was the only religion. Probably the most of people would embrace it, but would that make it genuine? That's less likely. So God has also given us the freedom of choice in our belief. There can only be true choice if there are many choices. If a man is alone on a planet with only one other woman, what choice is that? There is only one option for whom to marriage. The point I was making was that we can come up with "evidence" for this and "evidence" for that. Strangely, if you look into it, "evidence" and what intelligent people say often seem to contradict each other no? The point I was making in short about emotion and reason that my opponent did not seem to fully understand is expressed by this quote by Zig Ziglar, "People don't buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons." That is why the opinion of intelligent people often contradicts each other. And again, do I believe in not using evidence? No. I believe evidence is very important, but that it does not have the last say – our choice, will, and decision does (at least for us).
I thank my opponent for providing the prophecies of the Hindu religion.
As far as the point on the context of Revelation – I mean that it's important to view a book in its historical context to interpret it. Sure, people today can believe anything about it, but its context when it was written is more important to understand it for some uses.
The end of my opponent's last post was a prime example of singling out passages to fit one's own bias and purposes rather than reading and understanding the whole. Yes, there are passages of law and destruction in the Bible – but you are not seeking to look, equally emphasize, and understand the overarching meaning. Without there being law or potential destruction (or a lake of fire as my opponent pointed out) there can be no grace, mercy or forgiveness. Unless we are sinners deserving of that destruction, then God's grace, which he wants us to understand and emphasize more than the law and potential destruction we could face, means nothing.
Jesus explains in Matthew 12:31, "So I tell you, every sin and blasphemy can be forgiven - except blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven." Many, as well as you might be, are tempted to view this verse only for the second part of it, saying that God is bad if he can't forgive a certain sin. But it is really actually one of the best verses of the Bible to sum up God's grace, the best of news. It is speaking of the only sin that cannot be forgiven, that means that everything else can be! And, this sin, "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" simply means to reject the Spirit. The only sin that God cannot forgive, because he respects our human free will and personality, choices and preferences is the sin of rejecting Jesus whom we receive the Holy Spirit through. Jesus is not about the good vs. the bad, the moral vs. the moral, he is about the humble and broken vs. the proud and independent. And the proud and independent will always find ways to reject God and cast him in an unfavorable light. But the deeper problem is their pride, or unwillingness to simply love Jesus, not because we have to love him or we go to hell or anything, but because we want to; because we understand how much he has loved us first. That, my friend, is the gospel.
"The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw�€"that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."
It says that Revelations is purely a message given by an angel to only one man, John. The fact that Revelations is based off of one man's "vision" makes the story very unreliable. If hundreds of people were saying they saw this vision, and all the details were right with the visions, then that would give incredible support to the story. Since it was only one man, there are no other sources to back it up. Also, since it was a "vision", there was no way to see whether he was telling the truth or not. If this prophecy actually was true, why would God only tell one person? The most important prophecy ever in the hands of one person is not good logic and doesn't make sense.
My opponent said, "The whole story, if you read it not just singling out certain parts of it that align with your personal bias and beliefs, you would find it is about God's love for mankind and his pursuit of them throughout the ages."
Well, if the bible is absolute truth, (which it would be if it was given to us by an all perfect God) then it wouldn't matter if I singled out parts that aligned with my bias. The parts I single out would have to be true as well. Revelations 22:18-19 clearly states that if anyone alters the words of prophecy or adds to them, they will not share in the tree of life. So, all other religions who don't accept this prophecy or believe in a "false prophecy" will not share in the tree of life. Once again, scare tactics are used in Revelations just like they are in the whole bible.
My opponent said, "And I've already explained how if evidence was glaring then faith would be impossible, as well as much of our personality, and thus, love would also be impossible."
Yes, this is true, because if there was evidence, it wouldn't be faith. However, evidence is more credible than faith and faith is not a reason to legitimize the prophecies of Revelations. I agree with you that love would be impossible without faith in the other person. It is not impossible though to love without faith in God. The difference is that you can experience the other person, but you can't experience God.
My opponent said, "I don't believe confirming evidence exists for anything. I believe there is evidence pointing towards the truth and faith fills the gap to give us certainty."
Yes, there is evidence for certain things, like gravity. If you jump off a ledge, you get pulled down to Earth. If you look at other planets, when asteroids and matter come close to it, they get sucked into the planet. Also, faith can't fill gaps, because faith is loosely based, plus there are many different faiths. If I had faith in Satan, that doesn't mean it fills any gaps.
My opponent said, "Imagine if Christianity was the only religion. Probably the most of people would embrace it, but would that make it genuine? That's less likely. So God has also given us the freedom of choice in our belief. There can only be true choice if there are many choices. If a man is alone on a planet with only one other woman, what choice is that?"
Ok, if God gives us freedom to explore other beliefs, then what is the point of the first commandment? (Thou shall have no other Gods.) Also, if I were to worship Satan, would that be the freedom of choice I have? The reason we have different religions is not because God wanted us to or gave us the choice, it is because different religions were formed by different people with a different take on life and God.
My opponent said, "Unless we are sinners deserving of that destruction, then God's grace, which he wants us to understand and emphasize more than the law and potential destruction we could face, means nothing."
But why do we deserve destruction? We did not choose to come into the world. We did not choose our religion when we were born, and it's not our fault that our brains have the ability to make bad and evil choices. So, why do we need grace?
Your last paragraph on the gospel was very well written. You seem to have a great deal of knowledge on the Christian faith. However, faith doesn't make Revelations true. If you were to study Greek mythology, would you believe it as true? Would you be convinced of Zeus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hades, etc? Probably not because it goes against Christianity. What if they are the ones that are right and you were the one who was worshiping false Gods?
Now I will sum up my main points on why I think Revelations is not a book of prophecy. I thank my opponent very much for this debate.
1. Revelations is given to us by one man named John who made claims of prophecy, but his only source was an angel who only he saw.
2. Revelations uses vague words like "soon". Jesus will return soon.
3. Revelations is purely a personal experience. The Old Testament had historical references because they had other sources than just a vision. Revelations is purely vision. I could have a dream, write it down, and maybe in a few hundred years people will believe it will come true.
4. There are many accounts on the end of the world and prophecy. Revelations provides nothing that distinguishes it from other prophecies. It was written by one man, with no other sources of backing.
5. We already know how the Earth will end. The sun has been burning for a little of 4 billion years, Scientists have estimated the amount of hydrogen left, and say that in about another 4 billion, it will die out. I know this point isn't too credible in disproving Revelations. However, I added it because it shows another piece of evidence in favor of science and how science has shown the past, present, and future of our universe.
6. What was the purpose of God creating? What is the purpose of the second coming and all of these biblical stories? If God is so great, so perfect, and the Supreme Being, how are we supposed to go about and study him? All we have is writings of a few people who claim to know about God. And who decided what should be included in the bible and what shouldn't be? If I wrote something and I claimed it was inspired by God, why wouldn't it be added into the bible?
"On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."
This shows that our only source of this book is from a man's supposed vision that he claimed was given to him by an angel sent from God. If I said I had a vision from Zeus, and he said, "The world will end soon. I will come down on a chariot and site down the non believers with electricity and take with me the believers up to heaven in my palace." Would anyone believe my vision? Probably not. Why not though? It was inspired by Zeus, the TRUE God. If that was my source and argument, then it wouldn't be credible and there would be no reason to believe it. I don't think anyone reading this debate would believe it.
So, as this debate comes to an end, I thank my opponent again, and I thank everyone who is reading.
Revelations is given to us by one man with no sources. There is a huge bias in it towards Christians. It says that the believers will be saved, and the others will not share in the tree of life. Does this sound like divine prophecy or just a book of wishful thinking for those who believe that Christianity is the one true religion? Thank you again, and now I turn it over to the voters.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by twsurber 6 years ago
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