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  1. Folks, my heart tugs in the other direction. Through science, history, philosophy, prayer and witness of the Holy Spirit, I have to stay a Christian. During the early days of Christianity, many "cult" religions sprung up claiming to be the "truth". The Council of Nicea of 325AD put a stop to these cults because they were getting out of control. When you read the history, it becomes all too similar again. I have tried to become Mormon. I dated a girl I wanted to marry. She was Mormon. An interfaith relationship was no issue for her. I thought it would be the same, but I could not accept raising kids that could be divided based on religion, for a division in the house could more than likely have them rebel against God. She gave me the Book of Mormon and I read it (I admit, not all of it) and the more I tried to believe, the less I could accept it. I tried to make it work. I really did. It just did not feel real to me. I prayed over it. I attended church with her. I went to classes and learned more about why Mormons believe what they do. After a while, I felt I did much more than the average Mormon. Who knows, maybe I just need 60 more years of this journey. I've never seen anyone convince anyone of anything on an internet forum. I wish you all luck in your own spiritual journey.
  2. OK Vort, we agree to disagree (read the link at least, please).
  3. Snow, if I didn't understand the quote I would not have posted it. See here: Reasonable Faith: Q & A with William Lane Craig #198 - Current Cosmology and the Beginning of the Universe Way too technical for me to overlay in this post. The basic gist is this: any universe that comes into existence must have a finite past, as the experiment proved. What scientists and atheists are doing is bumbling around trying to come up with explanations as to how to avoid the singularity/beginning of the universe.
  4. Hi folks, What I am saying is that people of other religious faiths have feelings that make them believe their beliefs are true. As a Christian, I have had 2 experiences in my life that I can not deny was the Holy Spirit. Does this mean my religion is true and yours is not? You see, in the Bible, the Pharisees were arresting the followers of Jesus and they thought they were doing God's will. They claimed that they had spoke to God. Lets not forget the Apostle Paul, a devout persecutor of Christians. He thought he was doing God's will. People of other religions claim a confirmation from within themselves as evidence that their religion is true. Mohammed made claims of visions similar to Joseph Smith's. Regarding the Qur'an he claimed that "this Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than God". Muslims argue that the number of changed lives and cultures by the Qur'an are evidence of its divine origin. Is Islam true? No. Certainly, Mormons do not believe that it is. So, one can be sincere and confident that God has shown them the way and still be mistaken. Mormons are not the only ones to err on this point, myself included. I have been guilty at some point of presenting feelings and spiritual experiences as evidence. Please understand that I dont' want to downplay the authenticity of spiritual experiences--I believe much of it is authentic. All I am saying is that we must look at outside evidence. Ask yourself why you believe what you believe. Are you a product of your culture? Do you believe X because it's all you've known? Pray and think about it.
  5. Alright folks, if you are going to claim that the BoM is reliable then be my guest. I've shown statements made by historical institutions, by ancient literature historians, etc. I feel I've made my point and any more that I write would be futile. I'll defer to the people that study this stuff for a living. Lets be honest, the archaeological record for the BoM is not good. We both have feelings that our religion is true. The biblical view of faith is that it is always a trusting commitment based on known fact. The disciples knew their faith was grounded in truth, not because they had the feeling that it was true but because Jesus had fulfilled his promise to rise from the dead. There are three (3) types of faith: 1) Faith with evidence. This is reasonable faith (e.g., many events in the Bible including Jesus’ Resurrection, historicity, etc). 2) Faith with no evidence, for or against. This is blind faith. 3) Faith in spite of evidence against it. This is stubborn faith. Go where the evidence leads.....the worst thing you can do is stick to something because that's how you were taught or born into.
  6. Often, an atheist would say something like this: "Ok, I agree with your premise that everything that begins to exist has a cause. But, if God exists, then who created God?!" And the atheist thinks he has a slam dunk rebuttal. But, do numbers need to be created? What about sentence propositions? Some things exist out of their own necessity and don't need to be "created". But, remember, if TIME AND MATTER began at the Big Bang, then something that created that lies OUTSIDE of Time. This being has to be all powerful and transcendent.
  7. Christians believe God is not made of physical properties or parts. In layman terms, we believe God is like an abstract number---existing out of its own necessity. God is the transcendent cause of the universe. Since he's like a conscious thought, he "willed" the world into creation. When we discuss "the universe", we are talking about all physical space and matter. All physical space, energy and matter require an absolute beginning. At some finite time in the past, God created the universe. Shown in Genesis 1:1, science, and philosophy (e.g. "Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist") Does that answer your question?
  8. Hi traveler, how did I miss this post??? here are my answers: I've heard of this and the problem is that it does not avert the beginning: You still need to deal with a finite past time. Doesn't matter if there were 11 or 22000000000^10 universes. Same goes for multiverses, etc. As I posted elsewhere in this thread, something of a watershed appears to have been reached in 2003, when three leading scientists Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe that has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannnot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary [see Alexander Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 176. See above comment. Indeed, physicists have proposed scores of alternative models to the Big Bang over the decades, and those that do not have an absolute beginning have been repeatedly shown to be unworkable. The only viable nonstandard models are those that involve an absolute beginning to the universe. That beginning may or may not involve a beginning point. But theories (such as Stephen Hawking's "no boundary" proposal) that do not have a pointlike beginning still have a finite past. It seems like the history of modern cosmology can be seen as a series of failed attempts after one another to avoid the absolute beginning predicted by the BB model. To the layman this is akin to something of " You See! Science is on a constant turnover and keeps contradicting itself!" But, what this shows is that the failed theories only serves to confirm the prediction of the standard Big Bang model--that the universe began to exist at some finite point in the past! Matter and energy has not existed eternally. Three big observational "proofs" for the Big Bang are: Red Shift (Cosmological redshift is seen due to the expansion of the universe, and sufficiently distant light sources [generally more than a few million light years away] show redshift corresponding to the rate of increase of their distance from Earth. Thanks to a Mr. Hubble for observing this), Microwave radiation observed in the 1960s, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Wait, why did you gloss over Genesis 1:1? As stated in a previous thread here, Genesis 1:1 fits perfectly with the absolute beginning over the universe. From the absolute beginning, we then get to verse 2. Agree with you on the rest of your comment with the exception about "many Christian religions" contradicting science. As shown, I believe that the Christian view of creation (God created the universe out of nothing) is more plausible scientifically, theologically, and philosophically. Note: This is only ONE argument I'm making for orthodox Christianity. Other arguments against Mormonism would be the historical and archaeological reliability of the Hebrew Bible, the Trinity, the translation/papyri problem with the Book of Abraham, and Mormon over reliance on inner feelings [since Mormons and I both have feelings that our beliefs are true, external evidence is the only test.]
  9. Hi Jerome, You are not going off topic As having been fascinated by this topic for a few years now, I can say that modern science can not explain what happened before the Big Bang, but we do know this: all time, space, and MATTER came into existence during the Big Bang. The problem and disagreement tends to be in the energy state prior to the Big Bang. Theologically, Philosophically, and currently, Scientifically, there is literally nothing before the Big Bang. The problem with the singularity view (your post), is that it's not feasible due to a recent experiment: "It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176)." At some finite time in our past, the universe was created out of nothing. For matter and energy to have always existed, you will have to deal with an eternal and infinite past--impossible in science and philosophy. For, the only way for something to exist infinite it would have to be an abstract number!
  10. No, Augustine understood it to be ex nihilo and cites Genesis 1:1 as the universe being created out of nothing. Augustine said that if the heavens and earth could speak they would cry out, "We did not make ourselves, we were made by him who abides by eternity." For more reading: The Everything Guide to ... - Kenneth Shouler - Google Books
  11. Well, of course not. Name me one ancient historical text that you feel is 100% accurate.
  12. I'm trying to be sensitive here, but do you all know how HUGE of an implication this is? To throw out historical reliability like this is to throw out ALL OF HISTORY as we know it. I can't accept that because then you will have to be fair to all other religions. Folks, lets be honest here. It is a fact that the Bible is RELIABLE in terms of archaeology. We are not talking about 100% reliable for every detail. We know that the places and events described in it are part of human history--many findings from archaeology have confirmed the historical accuracy of the Bible. Do you seriously want me to list them? Just let wikipedia do it for you. Heck, let the SMithsonian Institute, the most prestigious historical institute in the world tell us. Their Department of Anthropology has an official statement on "The Bible as History". In it they say, ". . . much of the Bible, in particular the historical books of the old testament, are as accurate historical documents as any that we have from antiquity and are in fact more accurate than many of the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, or Greek histories. These Biblical records can be and are used as are other ancient documents in archeological work. For the most part, historical events described took place and the peoples cited really existed." I don't' want to get into a long spiel about the historicity of the Bible. It is well attested and it is critiqued and studied just like any other book of ancient text. Furthermore, we have ancient Roman historians confirming much of the New Testament. Lets keep in mind that we are not talking about accounts of miracles and the supernatural--we are talking about real people, places and historical settings. Even if some of it was contradicted in other findings, so what? I'd expect that to happen in ancient literature when scribes have to copy manuscript after manuscript to preserve them over the centuries. We also may have yet to find the evidence for other stories in the Bible (Noah's ark, etc). But with the BoM, we haven't seen anything. This is what concerns me. The New Testament, especially the writings of Luke, is filled with accurate historical data. So much that archaeologists and historians alike have been impressed. The famous archaeologist and once skeptic Sir William Ramsey wrote, “Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”The classical historian A. N. Sherwin-White writes, “ . . . for Acts the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming . . . any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.” The spade of the archaeologist, the pen of ancient non-Christian historians, and tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts provide evidence that the Bible is a volume which is historically reliable and that its text has been preserved in a pure form. In other words, it is trustworthy. Unfortunately for the Mormon Church, I don't see it in their Scriptures. All I am asking is for us all to think about WHY we believe the things we do. I do not believe we can rely on feelings alone. People of other religions claim a confirmation from within themselves as evidence that their religion is true. Islam makes the same claims and yet Mormons do not regard the Qur’an or Islamic doctrine as being divinely inspired. We need to be reasonable in our faith.
  13. Later, Augustine himself simply declared that God "created heaven and earth out of nothing." See Augustine, Confessions 12.7.
  14. Hi Justice, Thanks for the info. An "analytical transliteration into English?" What do you mean? Hi Justice, Thanks for the info. In Genesis 1:1 : "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Ancient Hebrew had no words for "the universe". When an ancient Hebrew speaker wanted to refer to the universe, he would use the expression "the heavens and the earth" to refer to the universe. This is ex nihilo – out of nothing. So, Genesis 1:1 states in effect that God created the heavens and the earth. Therefore, it implies that God created everything without any pre-existing material. Now, some scholars have tried to deny this fact by translating Genesis 1:1 as a subordinate clause. “When God created the universe in the beginning, the earth was without form and void." which may make it sound like the earth was already there. But, most scholars today recognize this to be a mis-translation of the Hebrew. In the Hebrew, there is a conjuction "AND" between verses 1 and 2. And when you have a dramatic construction like this, what you have is TWO main clauses with the first one providing background information for the second. So, verse 1 states, "In the beginning, God created the ‘universe’". And then in verse 2, the focus radically narrows…"And the earth was without form and void." So, in contrast, with the Greek view, the Hebrew worldview was that matter and energy was NOT eternal and was created at some finite time in the past by God. This was also the world-view of New Testament Christians. The Gospel of John opens with words that were very reminiscent of Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. All things were made through Him, and without him was not anything made. Again, John 1 versus 1 and 3. The doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is also implied in various places in early extra-biblical Jewish literature. And the Church Fathers, while heavily influenced by Greek thought, dug in their heels concerning the doctrine of creation, sturdily insisting on the creation of the universe ex nihilo in opposition to the eternity of matter. Futhermore, we have philosophical (e.g. “All things that exist have a cause”) and scientific evidence (Big Bang theory) that aligns with the orthodox Christian view. Perhaps I am missing something?
  15. HiJolly, thank you for that. Is this then the standard Mormon view? If so, then why are you not an Orthodox Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, etc? Can we not say their religious experiences are just as valid?