Should we stop using the word 'supernatural'?

From science we know that conception requires fertilization, not sex. So the only tango required is between an egg and sperm.

It is not a part of the earliest creed, and these have been successively modified to exclude more and more sectors of Christianity. I may not personally have any problem with the virgin birth, but I don’t think that defines Christianity.

Regardless, I hope your not suggesting the salvation depends on agreeing with anything contrary to the evidence. Making such a deal to buy salvation in exchange for ones intellectual integrity has nothing to do with the gospel, and when you add on making God a liar in all the information he sends to us from all His creation then this sounds a little to me like a deal with the devil. Though I would certainly agree that our moral integrity is more important so if that is also part of the purchase price then it is quite a bit more than a little like a deal with the devil. That is what really worries non-Christians most, how easily this can be used to make good people do evil things. That is why it is important to point out that this Gnostic gospel of salvation by believing the right things, let alone by obeying directives someone says is from God without question, isn’t what Jesus and Paul are teaching at all.

OK, but anyway, the sperm is from a male source. :wink:

Interesting, I didn’t know that.

I think more central to Christianity is the resurrection. If we don’t believe in that, it is (at least) harder to say that one is Christian. Or maybe more correctly, the reason we put so much on the Resurrection is that it says that Jesus overcame sin and death (the ultimate death). If he simply suffered at our cruelty, we could honor him anyway, but it becomes something more like the Nordic tales where the evil ultimately triumphs over good. It might be more realistic (particularly when I become pessimistic), but it makes it hard to go on doing good if you know it is for naught. Just give up and do what you can for those you love as long as you can.

I don’t think so. I’ve never believed any of this 6000-year-old earth nonsense (because it is contrary to the evidence), I have no reason to latch onto any of it for my faith (or any other reason), and I cannot see how it could possibly be true. God appears to have granted us a world that can be understood by reason and systematic investigation, How then would this god create light in-route in such a way that it exhibits a perfectly seamless transition between 6000 years ago and the time before and the time after and leave us with an earth and a universe that could only be concluded to be old? Nevertheless, I accept the extremely finite possibility that I might have erred somewhere. It is surely not by any effort on my part to ignore anything I could possibly examine.

I came into the topic of evolution with more of an ID attitude, but as I dug deeper into the topic, I gradually found the notion far less compelling – and not just because they got information entropy completely backward. When I tell other people that they should be careful about looking for God using science, I speak from my own share of hard-knocks lessons. As physicists, we’re driven to seek to understand mechanisms and I wanted to find something here. I didn’t waste a lot of time searching, but I was definitely searching for leads; I wanted that “science”-club. Little by little, I saw that this is not how God works. I don’t know how God does things in the world anymore, I have no idea. However, I guess that is why God is God and we are not.

We can all do evil, Christian and non-Christian. I do not think there is any solid piece of ground we can stand on (rationality, following Jesus, whatever) that offers absolute certainty that we will not do rotten things. What we can do is correct our course when we see that we are wrong. Certainly, listening, thinking and being at some level self-aware helps to avoid the worst of these, but as long as we have to make decisions on this earth, we will also make errors. It also helps to recognize the difference between fact and faith. I think that is our human condition that we have to live with. However, for the times when being strong is right, trusting in God is one of the ways we can do right in this world against all the evil that will try to stop us. There is no answer actually, because we don’t have the God’s eye view of things. All I can say is that quiet time, prayer, reading scripture and fellowship with good people will probably help.

Grace and Peace.

Exactly! And with all those genealogies, the Bible suggests a human biological father doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t say that God is the biological father and that would be rather hard for me to swallow, let alone the idea that God made human male sperm simply appear out of thin air. I mean, how does it make sense for God go through billions of years of evolutionary development to create human DNA and then instead of using any of it just makes it poof into existence just for Jesus? I am not buying any of that gold mine in a swamp.

The fight in that case (see another thread), is over what resurrection actually consists of.

God seems to suggest that real good requires us to stop looking for rewards and to do good for its own sake. And that makes me wonder if God doesn’t see considerable hope in those who are atheist for precisely such a reason. I would consider it a fabulous irony if the atheists are God new chosen people in modern times. But I would agree that Christians have an advantage for seeing the meaning of our choices and actions when nobody is looking and there are no measurable results.

I was referring to Stephen Weinberg’s famous quote, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” I actually disagree with him. It certainly does not take religion. All types of ideology have PROVEN themselves quite capable of this. But my point was that we should guard against religion doing this.

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Since the Bible is not straightforward on evolution, why would the Bible have to adhere to a virgin birth according to “known” evolutionary standards? Shall we speculate on the natural birth of God, or view it as God knows how to manipulate a sperm of God’s own design? It was not the start of a new genetic species, so there is no need to make it out to be more than a single action that did not take more than a few seconds to accomplish.

If the account in Genesis is enough information needed for Moses to pass onto the Hebrews, why not accept a virgin birth as the claim, way before modern science?

It seems to me the Bible goes out of the way to make sure that Jesus was not just a diefied human, but was actually God in the flesh. Perhaps all the genealogies was the path whereby it took evolution to get to a point where such a mutation was viable? I do not see it as making a new human species. That would deprive humans of their ability to choose or reject God.

I doubt atheist will be God’s new chosen people, because that insinuates, they may have a choice in the matter. They may be surprised upon entering heaven, and have a final option to outright reject God in the presence of God though.

I think it does have to take religion as religion can be used in cultic methods to brainwash unsuspecting individuals. Most other ideologies are straight forward, and can be avoided. It may be the spiritual side of religion that makes it more abusive in an unsuspecting way.

Well, it was evidently a debate in the early Church with quite a lot of back and forth. They finally agreed that Jesus was human but added the virgin birth to the mix. It seems to be a little too plainly hard-wired in the gospel of Luke though. Of course, some of that could have been added, but it also puts a bad character on Joseph, as he would have been fornicating and then pretending it wasn’t his. So it might solve the origin problems, but it creates new troubles. Anyway, this is something far beyond what I have the capacity to resolve. Unlike rejecting evolution (which exhibits monumental consequences when antibiotics are used in ignorance and hubris), here it is one guy in the history of the world and an unrepeatable event. If the virgin birth is wrong (and being long in the field I’m in, it sounds hokey), well, so it is. I cannot punt on that one.

Evidently, you have not had to stand up to very powerful peers (being clearly right) and say “you’re wrong” and pay bitterly for it.

I think we Christians will see a different story than we like to think about people who chose the route of atheism, including our own wickedness revealed in such matters. When we stand before the heavenly court, we don’t have corrupt lawyers to hide various aspects of evidence but it will be all there before our faces in front of the heavenly Judge; the mean-minded thoughts, the secretly hidden games, the petty lies we told ourselves, all the platitudes we said as we watched others suffer terribly, all the selfishness we carted around and used on others – everything in the bright heavenly sunlight of our Lord. We’ll probably all realize just how deserving we are of damnation. There, perhaps we’ll see too that atheists did not have in their heads what we thought, and that we have projected our own worst selves on some of them.

On the other hand, one of the things we do understand if we listen enough to scripture is that we are not better. We all would like to think we’re the chosen ones, or maybe we’re a sinner, but not like that clown over there. Those secret sins are with everyone, if we really look at ourselves.

Nevertheless, there is also the problem with a world where evil prevails. (How do we even know what is right in a world where evil ultimately triumphs.) The bible talked about the remnant who will be saved. This problem has always been there that people will follow the crowd. That is not following Jesus, that is simply flowing along with the crowd and rationalizing our own bad behavior away. Nazis flowed with the crowd and some even went to church. It was no better in biblical times than now.

This is maybe the main point of the hymn
when we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be
when we all see Jesus and sing and shout the victory

We all need some confirmation that this wasn’t a hoax, that we did right in the face of a world that went the other way sometimes. Otherwise, it is just foolishness. If evil ultimately wins, doesn’t that mean God is evil? Good cannot be good if evil ultimately triumphs. More reasonable is to say there is no God because we presume God to be about what is good. If there is no God, no meaning, nothing; then revenge (and other antisocial behaviors) are probably the best recourse we will ever have with some people to optimize our own life outcomes. (It would be foolish not to seek the best suboptimal solution in one’s reach in such a world.) Maybe make people pay double for their evil. There are lots of cats-paw ways that can be worked out here in Asia – the people involved will of course know “who”, but our own hand can be invisible … everybody with their Buddhist smile on the front side (till you turn your back).

Sometimes, we must swim upstream because it is right to do. However, we also need the assurance from somewhere that we are doing right. It doesn’t mean we have to have eternal life or some other such reward in the end, but we do need the assurance that we have done what is right. How do we even know what is right if (or when) we are surrounded by a world of Nazis? … Only by listening to (and obeying) the quiet voice of God whispering at the mouth of the cave calling to us.

If some atheists are really making the choice to follow the good, then in effect, they are following Jesus because that is what Jesus wants us to do as disciples. I can sense that sometimes in Buddhist I meet here in Japan. Maybe some of them will discover that Jesus was always with them. (It is not my decision, but God’s.) The fact that the world often really does win means that we are daily given choices, and those choices reveal where our hearts really are. Daily, we’re ask who really matters. So whether we say we believe in God or not, some will aim at the good, and some will do what everyone else does — that almost sounds like a Calvinist.

Grace and Peace

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looks like you really got things going here. Haven’t been here for a while so trying to go back to the beginning of the conversation.
The problem with the term supernatural is its confusion with the term unnatural as most people’s linguistic is not geared for philosophy but for daily living. One could say that the supernatural is to the natural like superglue is to the glue. It is the perfection of nature.
It is better to talk about metaphysics to highlight the separation between the material and the nonmaterial sphere. Logic for example would be accepted as natural as in being accepted as normal in our daily life and most people would not understand why you would refer to it supernatural. To call it metaphysical is more acceptable in daily language use as people can make the difference between physical and not physical whilst natural is more substituted with normal thus any derivation from normal is by definition abnormal.

Once you made the transition to metaphysical in your language you will find it easier to communicate what you want to say. The boiling kettle is the most prominent example as science can explain the physical reason for it to boil but not the metaphysical one. It may even be able to find the physical cause in your action of tripping the switch to initiate the process, but cannot tell you the metaphysical reason, e.g. someone wanting a cup of tea, coffee… Now what is the real reason for the kettle boiling, is it the physical or the metaphysical one?

It becomes interesting when I apply the same thinking to the core element of my Christian belief, e.g. the virgin birth it turns the whole story upside down and gives you a logic understanding of God’s reality instead of an irrational explanation, a miracle as a sign of God to show the power of his word opposed to an act of magic as a form of wishful materialistic thinking.

At a time of military occupation then, and unfortunately still today, pregnancy in the absence of a committed father were a death sentence. is a reminder of that.
and even in our modern culture at least the unborn child in rape cases is worthy the death sentence. And whilst we might be less inclined to kill the mother for having a baby not from the man who she was promised to in marriage or even married to you will have a hard time to explain why you would not want to kill the baby. Oddly, killing the rapist seems to be a taboo subject to those who feel it okay to kill the only person in the equation that is definitely free of sin, e.g. the baby. Here it is helpfull to understand the concept of sin, e.g. the wish of something to exist for you own (human) benefit as opposed to something to exist for the benefit of God.

However it does not have to be so but you can see how difficult it is even in modern times

So if you look at the “miracle part” of Jesus birth, e.g. it’s metaphysical reason it looks to me that at a time 2000 years ago it took a visitation of the holy spirit to go against the tide to decide to raise such a child that your contemporaries would have definitely disposed of as evil together with the mother. If you interpret the story in its “literal” meaning as the word of God becoming flesh and you see that the metaphysical reason for his existence is the word of God, e.g. obedience of Mary and Joseph to love this neighbour as thyselves (one of their own, no narcissism in the word of God) you can understand the miracle, the power of the word of God to turn an act of hate and oppression into a beacon of love and hope. The best part of this “miracle” is that God has given us the power to perform such “signs” ourselves by living God’s word. A nominal virgin birth is a procedure available in any good fertility clinic and even perceived as a human right by those who have a strange concept of human rights. The birth of a child not created by human wish is only available to those blessed by the word of God and more and more becoming ever more unnatural.

It is when you look at those “signs” in the absence of wishful materialistic thinking that you really become hooked for the love and logic of God and understand to reject the explanations of magic for the the truth that those signs represent. It made them far more powerful for me as it brought me so much closer to understanding God as a logician instead of a magician.

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