> Adam said: "the examples you are giving are all of people who committed
suicide *explicitly*. The Apostles didn't accept suicide: they just stuck
to their guns even when *others* were ready to kill them."
Well, a couple of points...
Firstly, from where do you get your information with regard to the Apostles
and their sacrifice/martyrdom? Is it only from the bible and other overtly
biased Christian sources? Or are there objective sources external to
Christianity? If there are no impartial non-Christian sources to back up
the claims of the Apostles martyrdom, then it would be prudent for any
objective person to view such claims with suspicion, especially given their
Secondly, even if the Apostles sacrifice can be objectively verified, I
don't see how it proves anything with regard to the veracity of Christian
dogma. I would think it highly likely that, because Jim Jones's followers
and the 9/11 hijackers were willing to kill themselves for their beliefs,
they would have most certainly also 'stuck to their guns' with regard to
their beliefs even if others were ready to kill them first. If nothing
else, they proved their belief was unshakable just as much as the Apostles
did. Please understand that I not endorsing or approving of the actions of
either the Jones followers or the hijackers. I judge them both irrational
to the extreme. I am only saying that they have proved the sincerity of
their beliefs as much as anyone can, by making the ultimate sacrifice.
However, this does nothing to convince me that there is anything objectively
true about their beliefs. It only tells me that THEY believed them. The
same holds true of the Apostles.
> A: "Therefore, the sanity of the 9/11 Hijackers was in greater doubt than
those of the Apostles."
I concur that the sanity of the 9/11 Hijackers was... less than optimal. I
think they were, at the very least, very credulous people who were duped by
malevolent others, and probably had at least a touch of malevolency
> A: "if the whole thing of Christ's death and resurrection were a scam,
then the Apostles would have been in on it, the Ground Floor as a matter of
Maybe they were. Both individuals and groups of people make up stuff all
the time to further their causes and beliefs. This would not necessarily
make them bad people, but perhaps merely overzealous with the best of
intentions. The Apostles believed deeply in Jesus, and they would have
surely wanted to keep spreading his teachings even after he was executed.
They could have figured his teachings would carry more weight if people were
told he rose from the dead to 'prove' his link with the divine.
However, for what it's worth, I don't have any reason to believe that the
initial impulse of Christianity (i.e., the life and untimely death of Christ
himself) was a deliberate scam. It is quite possible that a dozen men could
have really believed that they saw what they reported they saw. In addition
to sometimes deliberately falsifying accounts to bolster a cause,
individuals and even groups can sometimes trick themselves into seeing
fantastic things, because they want to see them so badly. Again, the 9/11
hijackers believed deeply enough in their collective version of Islam to
make the ultimate sacrifice, and they were a larger group than the Apostles.
It is carelessly credulous to accept only the word of human beings,
especially BIASED human beings, about purported fantastic events unless they
have very good evidence.
> A: "the only lives that the people in the Bush Administration are willing
to sacrifice for this are the lives of *other* people."
In this matter, we are quite fully agreed. But let us not digress into a
political discussion. We have wandered too far from Stoicism as it is.
> A: "So the 9/11 hijackers were actively committing *suicide*, thus
different from the Apostles."
I don't see how the method and details of the sacrifice matter. Whether one
dies for one's belief at one's own hand, or by the hand of others while
defending one's belief, it still proves the sincerity of that belief, but
ONLY the sincerity of the belief. It does absolutely nothing to prove the
veracity of the belief itself. Only objective, impartial, empirical
evidence can be relied upon for that.
> A: "Now, this does not definitely *prove* that Christianity is true."
Agreed. Not in the least.
> A: "But it provides me with a *heck* of a lot more evidence for that than
I have for the existence of your prized pet Pinky."
Hey! You hurt Pinky's feelings! ;)
So the purported observations of a dozen predisposed men, two thousand years
ago, is enough evidence to believe in fantastic magical phenomenon in your
eyes? Overriding volumes of scientific evidence and just plain common sense
that such things are improbable to the extreme? I still don't understand
how you think this to be reasonable. I doubt I ever will.
> A: "Hey! It's been over 2 years! Do you think there all *still*
Why not? Once you let go of logic, reason and evidence, and start believing
in magic, anything is possible. Those darn laws of physics can be such a
wet blanket sometimes.
> A: "He could have a perfectly good reason for not wanting to appear on 60
minutes that is just way beyond the ability of us limited beings to grasp."
As I have found typical of theists, you fall back on the "He works in
mysterious ways, who are we to question him" position. Can't you just say
you don't know? I'd at least give you points for guilelessness.
We should probably end this thread. I've been down this road before, and
the potholes are starting to have a familiar feel. It has gone on too long,
and we are straying too far from this list's intent anyway. Thank you for
making the effort to help me understand why you believe what you do. Even
though you did not succeed, I do appreciate the effort.