Author Topic: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?  (Read 1066 times)

Ahto

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Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« on: December 10, 2016, 08:11:28 AM »
I've recently been debating with my mom about her Christianity, and I've hit kind of a snag. I tried the epistemological approach of "faith is inherently flawed reasoning", but that didn't really go anywhere. She said that she has "something stronger than a feeling" about what's true and what isn't in "spiritual" areas, and that's how she distinguishes truth from fiction when it comes to her faith.

So I decided to take a more direct approach and try to show that the Bible itself is flawed from a moral standpoint. She dismissed this as "oh, that's the Old Testament." Basically saying that the entire reason Jesus was created was to supersede the Old Testament, which is only in the bible "for historical context". I'm not very familiar with the Bible, because it's a horribly boring old book with some of the most stilted wording I've ever seen.

<TL;DR>

So I was hoping that some of my fellow Satanists, more familiar with the Bible than I, could help me find verses in the New Testament that:

  • Explicitly say that the Old Testament laws are still in effect, or the stuff in the Old Testament (especially all the crazy stuff like Eden and Noah's flood) is literally true.
  • Are ethically questionable or conflict with our modern understanding of the world somehow.

Bonus points if Jesus himself says it!

</TL;DR>

Jesus dying on the cross won't work, because she has a rationalization for that. Basically, it was a dramatic gesture to get people's attention on a level that their primitive minds could understand. A way of saying "you don't need to sacrifice animals because I just gave the ultimate sacrifice".

Contradictions in the New Testament won't work, either, because she freely acknowledges that the Bible is a clusterfuck of mistranslations. She just thinks that there's a kernel of truth to it, and that pretty much everything Jesus says in the Bible is still valid.

EDIT: Thank you guys so much for the help! I really appreciate it. :) Editing so I don't bump my own post.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2016, 04:44:16 AM by Ahto »

longtail

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2016, 09:37:57 AM »
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17)


   Unfortunately, Christians always have the option of stating that even the Devil may quote scripture to suit His ends... so debating a person who does not accept evidence based arguments can be pretty fruitless. The bible is full of contradictions and mistranslations, many of them intentionally committed by the later church for political ends. One of my favorites is the verse on "and the virgin shall give birth" in, I think, Isaiah, often cited as the prophecy for the birth of the Messiah... the Hebrew word used is "Ha Aloma", which actually means "young girl" , with no connotations of an intact hymen.
   Here is a link to a book based on the Disputation of Barcelona, which I found to have very useful arguments:
 https://www.amazon.com/The-Disputation/dp/0903829002/ref=sr_1_32?ie=UTF8&qid=1481389273&sr=8-32&keywords=the+disputation

Also :

https://danielmiessler.com/blog/no-jesus-did-not-soften-the-old-testament-in-fact-he-did-the-opposite-and-heres-what-that-means/#gs.Jhw=CvQ

  Cheers!
« Last Edit: December 10, 2016, 10:04:34 AM by longtail »
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beatdaddio

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2016, 09:48:40 AM »
Yeah you will get nowhere by quoting scripture because (a) people who believe something irrational at their core will always believe it and will dismiss "trivialities" that challenge that belief; and (b) there is a long tradition (as longtail mentioned) of them saying the devil can quote scripture to suit his agenda.

Basically you are in a position of trying to convince somebody that gravity doesn't exist, the sun isn't yellow, grass isn't green, rocks aren't hard.  Her belief is as obviously true to her as those other things, and by its nature it cannot be disproven.  You can't prove a negative.

The only thing to do is when she argues for an idea or action based on her faith, argue against it based on yours, which should ideally be a position aligned with the TST tenets--especially the last one.
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longtail

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2016, 10:19:26 AM »
There are a FEW situations where I will still be bothered to have this debate with a believer.... I have had some success in getting younger members of a  proselitysing organisation to start doing some thinking and questioning on their own. Debating a priest can be fun, but will ultimately have no effect. Further, some people have reasons to believe that are based on their economic and social well being, so they will not be at all motivated to believe something different, no matter how persuasive your arguments may be; as beatdaddio states, you are trying to disorder the very foundation on which they stand.
   So, for me, the ethics of "should I have this debate" are based on 1. Whether it will have a chance of being effective,  and 2. Have they put me in a position where my life is being impinged on by their beliefs?   Door to door religionists are fair game in my book...
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BeforeTheThrone

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2016, 08:53:23 PM »
In many denominations of Christianity, it is the majority or even the official (as in the case of Catholicism) belief that the "New Covenant" which came from Jesus superseded the "Old Covenant," consisting of the rules in the Old Testament, in many ways. This view has a pretty strong basis in Scripture, theology, and in Church tradition, so it might be prudent for you to find a different argument.

According to the (perfectly valid) point of view that some or all of the laws of the Old Covenant do not apply anymore, when Jesus says that he has come to "fulfill" the old laws, he does not mean that Christians should continue to follow those rules. He is, in reality, saying that since he has fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, there is no real need for those specific rules anymore. He continuously reaffirms that the purpose of the rules was still valid, but that with the passing of time, the specific rules become obsolete, so it is necessary to act in a way that continues to accomplish that purpose even if it were not still necessary to do that the same way others did thousands of years ago. I have even seen the point of view that the only real commandment Jesus gave was when he told the Apostles to love their neighbors ("A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." -John 13:34, NIV), and that all of the other commandments of the New Covenant, such as the Beatitudes, are simply examples of how one can follow this most important rule.

It is also important to realize that Christian religions do not consist entirely of the Bible, something I find many atheists, and others who argue against Christian beliefs, often forget. There is also tradition present in Christian religions, differing theologies, interpretations of the Bible, etcetera. If the Bible were the entire religion, we wouldn't have nearly as many different denominations of Christianity as we have now. A good example is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which does decide Catholic doctrine. While the Bible verses which deal with the relationship between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant can be interpreted in many different ways, the Catechism states explicitly that the New Covenant is a "perfection" of the Old Covenant, which was inherently imperfect. So while the fundamental purpose of the Old Covenant was not changed, the New Covenant gave a more direct view of why things were the way they were, so that you did not have to worry about memorizing all the little rules if you understood the concepts. And while you may not personally agree with this interpretation of the statements in the Bible, this is the official interpretation within Catholicism.

Additionally, even Rabbinic Judaism (the largest subgroup of Judaism) holds that the laws of the Torah do not apply to Gentiles, so it is not only Christians who make this claim.

The strongest example of a part of the Bible which supports this view off the top of my head is Hebrews 8, especially Hebrews 8:13, NIV: "By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete..." Other discussions of this topic can be found with a simple internet search.

I am sorry if this was not what you wanted to hear, as it seemed from your original posts, but I think that as Satanists, we have to always keep our minds open to the possibility that we are wrong, as we expect others to do. This follows from the fifth tenet of The Satanic Temple, which establishes critical thinking as an important value, and states that we should not deny evidence even if it does not fall in line with what we would like to believe.

As for the idea of debating against faith as a whole, I would question why you feel such a need to "disprove" someone else's beliefs. Although they may not be backing up what they are saying with what we accept as evidence, I do not understand the purpose of debating against someone simply for the purpose of disproving their beliefs, as long as they are not actively harming others. While the tenets of The Satanic Temple DO say that we should follow evidence and reasoning, others may not share that value of ours, and to attempt to force it on them serves no purpose. While I do agree with actively trying to convince others when they may be causing harm to other people, I personally see debate as a tool for me to expose myself to other points of view and test my own conclusions. I feel that this kind of self-testing and personal growth is very important to Satanic imagery.

Ahto

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2016, 05:46:07 AM »
In many denominations of Christianity, it is the majority or even the official (as in the case of Catholicism) belief that the "New Covenant" which came from Jesus superseded the "Old Covenant," consisting of the rules in the Old Testament, in many ways. This view has a pretty strong basis in Scripture, theology, and in Church tradition, so it might be prudent for you to find a different argument.

Oh, wow. For some reason I assumed this was just my mom's rationalization and not an actual position that the Bible supported. I kind of assumed that the different denominations claimed that the Old Covenant was no longer valid for practical reasons, and not because of anything in the Bible specifically. Thank you for pointing that out!

I am sorry if this was not what you wanted to hear, as it seemed from your original posts, but I think that as Satanists, we have to always keep our minds open to the possibility that we are wrong, as we expect others to do. This follows from the fifth tenet of The Satanic Temple, which establishes critical thinking as an important value, and states that we should not deny evidence even if it does not fall in line with what we would like to believe.

Absolutely! Keeping an open mind is often something that I struggle with, so I appreciate you helping show me a different perspective.

As for the idea of debating against faith as a whole, I would question why you feel such a need to "disprove" someone else's beliefs. Although they may not be backing up what they are saying with what we accept as evidence, I do not understand the purpose of debating against someone simply for the purpose of disproving their beliefs, as long as they are not actively harming others. While the tenets of The Satanic Temple DO say that we should follow evidence and reasoning, others may not share that value of ours, and to attempt to force it on them serves no purpose. While I do agree with actively trying to convince others when they may be causing harm to other people, I personally see debate as a tool for me to expose myself to other points of view and test my own conclusions. I feel that this kind of self-testing and personal growth is very important to Satanic imagery.

This is an interesting perspective. To be clear, I'm not antagonizing my mom at all. This is a debate that, as far as I know, we both want to have.

But you really made me think: Why am I doing this? Am I trying to convince my mom to give up her faith? I don't think so. I'm not sure.

I think my original reasons were emotional, which is never a good sign. Ever since I came out as an atheist, she's been treating me with kind of a patronizing sympathy, as if the horrors of the world wounded me until I had to retreat into some weird offshoot of nihilism. And I think the reason I started debating with her was to try to demonstrate that I had rational reasons to be an atheist. But that goal is accomplished, so I guess I should stop now, huh?

Moments of clarity like this should feel good, so I'll be more likely to seek them out in the future. But, honestly, I feel kind of upset with myself. As a rationalist, this is not the correct response to finding out I'm wrong. :/

BeforeTheThrone

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2016, 07:51:51 AM »
I think a lot of people who don't know a lot about Christianity make that assumption, even Christians themselves. Even though most of them know that the Old Covenant is not as directly applicable as it once was, I doubt the average layperson of the Church could explain why. And there are also many different opinions within Christianity, so this is by no means universal. Also, there are many many Christians who do cherry pick from the things Jesus said and the rules in the New Covenant, so it is very easy and understandable to extend that observation to the way the Old Covenant is treated.

Upon reading your original post, I did make some unnecessary and apparently incorrect assumptions about you and about the nature of your debate with your mother. I see way too many anti-theists who think their disbelief makes them superior to religious people, and many of them seem to be drawn to Satanic organizations. I assumed that you were the same, and I do sincerely apologize for that; I will try to avoid that in the future. If you and your mother do both want to have those discussions, then I think it's a really great thing that you two are able to discuss such a topic respectfully, especially if you both learn from it. Again, I am sorry for assuming.

And I don't think it's at all something to feel bad about if you are unhappy to find evidence contrary to what you believe. It is not easy to keep an open mind, and it is normal to feel a few negative emotions at points. I actually admire the way you responded, and acted in spite of feeling upset, which I think is the important part.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 07:53:53 AM by BeforeTheThrone »

samowens84

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2016, 09:32:11 AM »
Personally I think that although there may be some biblical support for separating the old and new testaments, it's still a dodge. It's an implicit admission that the old testament is ethically indefensible. However, assuming the bible deals with real people, at one time these punishments and genocides were carried out on real people, and so I don't think the Christian gets to skate on defending it's ethics. At one time the bible thought it was relevant to kill gays for being gay, cutting off hands for a woman helping their husband in a fight by grabbing the other guy by the dick. They'll probably have a Dodge for that too, saying that before Jesus that the law was a consequence for original sin.

I don't debate christians, because I live in a different reality than they do, and trying to bridge that gap is unpleasant and fruitless. Christianity has never been so irrelevant to my life. I think that acknowledging it as a position to debate with Christians is kind of giving it a privileged exisistential place in my life, and gets in the way of personal fulfillment, thus allowing the Christian to argue that people have an empty hole that God was meant to fill. I fill it with myself, and my life is satisfying enough that I feel beyond the need to debate Christians. I used to feel that way, but I think that deciding to go against the faith was initially traumatic, so I coped with the initial fear I immersed myself in a theological arguments and debated Christians whenever I had a chance. Once I became more secure in my path the fear I initially felt began to subside. I feel a sense of independence by removing myself from the drama of debate, and building myself up instead of trying to take away from other people.

BeforeTheThrone

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2016, 09:56:13 AM »
It is true that, at some point, Yahweh supported those specific rules, according to the Bible. I meant to add to my last post that, if one continues arguing the point, a stronger argument might be that even if those rules are irrelevant now, Yahweh supported them at some point, which they might find harder to excuse.

However, other parts of what you are saying is incorrect. There is no point in the Bible which endorses killing gay people for being gay. Even the verse which is most often cited to support anti-gay actions is grossly misinterpreted. Additionally, there is no "dodge," as you say, saying that the old laws were punishment for original sin. The Jesus of the Gospel, and every Christian argument I have ever seen for the consolation of the Old Covenant, makes it very clear that they do not believe the old laws were wrong, just that the way I which they were applied had run its course and been completed.

This part of theology was not something that was just made up in the modern day as a response to criticisms of the Bible. It has been a part of Christian doctrine for a very long time.

I am glad you have found a philosophy which allows you to let go of the things which hold you back, and makes you feel more independent and fulfilled.

samowens84

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2016, 10:18:21 AM »
Well, just as a point of fact that I have also read plenty of apologies for the old testament, and the argument that I came across was that original sin meant that the only way to be redeemed by ones own work and that was to be perfect under the law, which is impossible, and thus required the need for Jesus to redeem man. That's how I've understood the verse that Jesus came to "fulfill" the law, to be the lamb without blemish that can permanently atone for original sin. I agree that they mean that it's run its course and is complete, and this is I believe is why. As an aside, they have to "believe" that those laws were ok, just completed, but it's an easy position to take when the consequences of those beliefs don't have any personal consequences, and the deaths associated can be safely abstract. I've seen many Christians live in the abstract, like loving everybody. I don't know anyone you've ever met, but many that I've met upon questioning seem to just rehearse that line because they think that believing that way is the benchmark for being a good person. Another example was when I was at a Sunday school at a Presbyterian church they were talking about predestination and the elect. I observed as one Christian had an honest human reaction saying he had no idea why he was elected and his brother wasn't, while another responded to that by burying the problem in abstract theological reasoning about how everyone deserves to go to hell, so it is fair. In my experience, theological reasoning has been a convenient tool to suppress natural existential resistance to Christian theology, which to me is just another example of self violation where Christian thought acts in antagonism toward natural human nature. That to me is another reason I don't engage theology on its own turf, because I tend to view it as a red herring.

To put another way, it's a convenient way to compartmentalize natural disgust and resistance to biblical language by making it abstract. In that way they get to create a separate reality impervious to objection. Creating a reality is the language of power. Within satanism, I have the responsibility to create my own reality in coherence with the natural world as I perceive it, which is why I find it so satisfying. Bottom line I get to pull my own strings, and influence the shape of my world through action, rather than passively accept a reality shape selected for me by tradition. That's how I view the left hand path. There are notions within satanism that were hear before I got here, but they naturally fit me, and don't amount to putting a square peg in a round hole.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 11:15:42 AM by samowens84 »

beatdaddio

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2016, 04:11:45 PM »
I see way too many anti-theists who think their disbelief makes them superior to religious people, and many of them seem to be drawn to Satanic organizations.
Is it the rudeness of such persons that bothers you, or the fact that they have that belief whether they express it or not?

I ask because I am exactly that kind of Satanist myself, someone who feels that faith based beliefs are no different from the superstitions of fearful cave people who think the lightning god is angry with them or their tribe.  Yet at the same time, I have no wish to be rude to anyone generally.  I don't have any interest in going to people's homes and telling them their faith is stupid, nor do I say things like that at parties.
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BeforeTheThrone

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2016, 08:21:10 AM »
I agree wholeheartedly that many Christians do use it that way, and even more that many Christians seem to view the Bible too abstractly, without ever thinking about the human aspect of it. But to dismiss the entire theology of the New Covenant as a cop out disregards those who do truly and fully believe in the Bible, without choosing which parts not to believe, just as much as you believe in Satanism. In fact, a Christian might think it convenient when we are able to respond to criticisms of Satanism. My point is that a person who was just trying to dismiss those things would argue that the Old Testament does not apply, but so would a person who truly believed in their faith. We just don't know which it is without more information about that person, and to claim we do know that about an individual would be baseless, and would run counter to the idea of rational inquiry, because by making assumptions which cause us to not listen to the points of view of others, we would be hindering our own ability to learn.

I see way too many anti-theists who think their disbelief makes them superior to religious people, and many of them seem to be drawn to Satanic organizations.
Is it the rudeness of such persons that bothers you, or the fact that they have that belief whether they express it or not?

I ask because I am exactly that kind of Satanist myself, someone who feels that faith based beliefs are no different from the superstitions of fearful cave people who think the lightning god is angry with them or their tribe.  Yet at the same time, I have no wish to be rude to anyone generally.  I don't have any interest in going to people's homes and telling them their faith is stupid, nor do I say things like that at parties.
I am sorry for not being clearer about this; I have absolutely no problem with atheism, or the belief that there is nothing beyond logic. I believe atheism deserves the same rights and protections as any other religion. It just bothers me when some atheists are very aggressive in the way they try to evangelize people from theistic religions, or take every opportunity to unnecessarily attack theism. I don't even see a problem with productive and respectful debate from which both sides might learn, but there is no reason for hostility towards someone simply for having a different religion. So I personally don't have any problem with the fact that you're an atheist, since it doesn't seem like you're going out of your way to be disrespectful to people who follow other religions.

samowens84

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2016, 08:52:18 AM »
I agree wholeheartedly that many Christians do use it that way, and even more that many Christians seem to view the Bible too abstractly, without ever thinking about the human aspect of it. But to dismiss the entire theology of the New Covenant as a cop out disregards those who do truly and fully believe in the Bible, without choosing which parts not to believe, just as much as you believe in Satanism. In fact, a Christian might think it convenient when we are able to respond to criticisms of Satanism. My point is that a person who was just trying to dismiss those things would argue that the Old Testament does not apply, but so would a person who truly believed in their faith. We just don't know which it is without more information about that person, and to claim we do know that about an individual would be baseless, and would run counter to the idea of rational inquiry, because by making assumptions which cause us to not listen to the points of view of others, we would be hindering our own ability to learn.

I see way too many anti-theists who think their disbelief makes them superior to religious people, and many of them seem to be drawn to Satanic organizations.
Is it the rudeness of such persons that bothers you, or the fact that they have that belief whether they express it or not?

I ask because I am exactly that kind of Satanist myself, someone who feels that faith based beliefs are no different from the superstitions of fearful cave people who think the lightning god is angry with them or their tribe.  Yet at the same time, I have no wish to be rude to anyone generally.  I don't have any interest in going to people's homes and telling them their faith is stupid, nor do I say things like that at parties.
I am sorry for not being clearer about this; I have absolutely no problem with atheism, or the belief that there is nothing beyond logic. I believe atheism deserves the same rights and protections as any other religion. It just bothers me when some atheists are very aggressive in the way they try to evangelize people from theistic religions, or take every opportunity to unnecessarily attack theism. I don't even see a problem with productive and respectful debate from which both sides might learn, but there is no reason for hostility towards someone simply for having a different religion. So I personally don't have any problem with the fact that you're an atheist, since it doesn't seem like you're going out of your way to be disrespectful to people who follow other religions.

I'm really not interested in talking religion with most folks, so I certainly do not go out of my way to "dismiss" other people's points of view. I have found that religion is an individualistic enterprise, and I don't know what existential needs it is serving with any one person. People need to find their own truth. In many ways I cannot abide by the way I've seen some forms of Christianity put a person in an antagonistic relationship with themselves, and waste energy that could have been spent being creative, however I've seen some other people turn it around as a reminder to be accepting of others because they themselves are not all of that. In other words, it gives vent to feelings of inadequacy. But I find I don't know what needs it may serve to a specific individual, so I don't go out of my way to be antagonistic toward anyone else's truth, because as you said, it may just be as real to them as Satanism is to me. I'm content with my truth, and I wish them the best with theirs. Honestly I couldn't care less about converting others, because either you are a satanist, or you're not. Christianity is often about restraining and controlling people to some degree, and I think some people need to be restrained and controlled. You get some Christians who would freely admit that if they weren't they would go around killing people or whatever, and I'm like hey, glad you're a Christian lol.

Benjamin T. Awesome

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2016, 11:35:05 AM »
I've recently been debating with my mom about her Christianity, and I've hit kind of a snag.

The snag is that it's her Christianity, as you say. If she wants to minimize or discard the Old Testament, that's her prerogative. There is no fundamental physical law of the universe that prevents her from doing that.

Alchemist16AD

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Re: Help on debating "the Old Testament doesn't count"?
« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2016, 11:29:37 PM »
I love how they want to throw out the old testament yet the  Jesus quote of him coming to earth is in the old testament. And so is the 10 commandments. . Isaiah 7:14 says: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  And don't forget most Catholics will tell you original  sin is in the old testament. (yet it's not really)

I don't know last time I talked about religion. They asked me why I hated god. I asked them why they hated Thor. He said well I don't believe in Thor. I said well that's how I feel about god.  Or tell them they are on their way to becoming an atheist. All they need to do is over come one more god. lol 
« Last Edit: December 17, 2016, 07:06:29 PM by Alchemist16AD »
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