@LAJ Thank you for your reply, this is more interesting discussion than most :)"intent on misreading the Bible" a very nice general dismissal, but lacking substance. Where did I misrepresent what's in the Bible? Pick one and we will discuss it because I assure you I have read the whole thing at least once and done extensive research on many passages. I'm not some random atheist - I'm a former Christian and I was prepared to thoroughly dedicate my life to God at one point in my life.
I note with sadness that you didn't address the link about the immobility of the Earth. Something that disproved the bible 400 years ago. How do you rectify that in your mind? Most Protestants merely excuse it as Catholic nonsense, but as a Catholic you are kind of stuck with it since you believe in apostolic succession it is irrational to believe that something that was so fiercely held could be so wrong. This since fact alone does in the entire biblical structure for me.
"The sections you reference were written hundreds of years after the events mentioned" - The NT books were certainly written far too late to be of any authority. Do you have any solid evidence this was the case for the OT books as well? Best I can tell most of them are completely mythological anyway so I don't really care so much when it was written.
"The point they were making was that God was with them and helping them" - to me this means they lied in order to support their presupposed beliefs.
"Are there factual events in the Bible, Yes" - absolutely, there are factual events in Harry Potter and archaeological evidence supports the existence of London. Some parts of the Bible are even useful Historical records, but many others are not.
"Are there Theological Truths in the Bible? Yes" - how do YOU know? Hindu's believe in their versions of these truths, Jewish people actively deny your versions, Buddhist think you are all crazy and making stuff up. You can't ALL be right. So how do you decide which version of the made-up truth is really true? This is a critically important problem that far too many believers just gloss over. You can't both claim there is absolutely no way to have any evidence and simultaneously expect me to believe you can know which random, made-up nonsense just happens to be true.
"Let me remind you that Atheist regimes have done far worse" - A common misconception used by Christians in their defense but unfortunately not accurate either. I will detail out a number of reasons why.
(1) "you did bad things too" is not an acceptable defense and does not excuse the actions of Church.
(2) There is unfortunately no record of the hundreds of millions of natives that suffered and died as a result of the policies and actions of early Christians throughout the entire world. They directly murdered millions and spread disease and ruined entire civilizations in many cases.
Columbus, Ponce de Leon, Panfilo de Narvaez, Hernan Cortés, Francisco Pizarro... all Christians, all well-known murders and enslavers of uncountable numbers of indigenous people.
Dr. Michael McDonnel wrote in The 'Conquest' of the Americas:
conquistadors regarded plunder, slaves, and tribute as the just desserts for their efforts in forcing pagans to accept Christianity and Spanish rule. After all, the conquistadors did scrupulously adhere to the Spanish law of conquest by reading the requerimiento, which ordered defiant Indians to immediately accept Spanish rule and Christian conversion, or face punishment in a “just war”. The requerimiento announced that “The resultant deaths and damages shall be your fault, and not the monarch’s or mine or the soldiers”. Attending witnesses and a notary usually certified in writing that the requerimiento had been read and ignored by the usually uncomprehending Indians, thus justifying the death and destruction that so often followed.
And if you aren't familiar with the requerimiento: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Requerimiento It was "used to justify the assertion that God, through historical Saint Peter and appointed Papal successors, held authority as ruler over the entire Earth; and that the Inter Caetera Papal Bull, of 4 May 1493 by Pope Alexander VI, conferred title over all the Americas to the Spanish monarchs"
And Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the North American continent - a divine sanction for the near genocide of an entire continent of people.
And looking to the south, Bernal Diaz wrote of the sack of the Aztecs, that “When the Christians were exhausted from war, God saw fit to send the Indians smallpox, and there was great pestilence in the city.”
Now the problem here is that many of these people felt they were doing everyone a favor - they merely expedited their trip to Heaven and spared them much suffering, what's not to love right? This is a horrible way to think, hopefully I don't need to explain why this is unacceptable?
(3) there are ties to the Jesuits in almost every single fascist dictator of the 19th century INCLUDING Hitler, Mussolini, Petain, Franco, Seyss-Inquart, Hans Frank, Tiso, Pavelitch, Degrelle. Hitler EXPLICITLY and repeatedly claimed he was doing God's work and the Vatican was complicit in this tragedy both because of their relative silence on the atrocities they were aware of at a MUCH earlier date than they openly admit to and because of their centuries of direct persecution and hatred of the Jewish people. Hitler was raised a Catholic and claimed to be a Catholic and was never excommunicated - And it was a Jesuit who edited Mein Kampf for Hilter. I've seen some people claim the Chruch didn't need to excommunicate him but the problem with that is the Church DID bother to excommunicate one Nazi Joseph Goebbels, not for murdering millions of Jewish people but for marrying a protestant. You HAVE to know how that looks.
(4) There is simply NOTHING in 'atheism' (which is ONLY a disbelief in a god) that commands someone to murder their fellow man. Your Holy Book contains unquestionable commandments to murder (not just murder, genocide of every man, woman AND Child) - any atheist committing murder does so of their own choice. Now I will grant you that most Christians don't run around killing people today, but we know this wasn't the case in the past from the above notes.
(5) You will please NOTE WELL that ***I*** do not support murderous regimes of ANY flavor, neither secular nor religious. I condemn Stalin's actions equally as I do those of the Holy See where those actions are harmful and hateful to mankind. The DIFFERENCE here is that you still support the Vatican. I find this to be a rather profound difference.
(6) the unquestionable fact is that there are a lot of really bad people out there in the world who do bad things which have NOTHING to do with any belief that either you or I support. I condemn the portion of Christianity which contains commandments to hate, stone to death, genocide, murder and otherwise demonize others in a tribalistic or nationalistic manner. If there was an atheistic regime that said "murder all Christians wherever you find them" wouldn't you find that pretty abhorrent? But when you read this in the Bible you nod approvingly at the Wisdom of god.
You also are forced to believe that it's ok for God to command someone to murder their own child and indeed, that it is the most wonderful action in the world that god would give his 'only begotten son' to be so sacrificed.
(7) many of the deaths attributed to 'atheist regimes' were due to wars and famines. Even your example of the French Revolution commits this fallacy. I do not, I try very hard to separate out the actions of individual bad-faith actors from those committed BY ORDER of the Church itself or are actions justified by the Holy Texts.
As an example, the priest-rapists are bad-faith actors - but the COVER UP by the Church is the fault of the Church. They enabled what happened and I have very little doubt that it goes all the way up to the current Rat at the top. The Catholic church isn't the only ones guilty of this either, there are many other organizations that need to be torn down.
On the other hand, I do not so-much-as even suggest that Christianity should be made 'illegal' or banned. Prohibitions like that are always more harmful than the problem you are trying to solve. I encourage only open, honest debate and education on the FACTS.
"the Catholic Church is the only religion that upholds the dignity of every single human being no matter who or what they are" - oh REALLY? Can you then please explain and justify some of these abhorrent Papal Bulls? http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Papal_Bulls_Jews.htm Does their "dignity" extend to female priests, bishops, and Popes? Why should it be that only a MAN can be the bridge to God? And do you really expect me to buy some ad hoc justification for this?
How many things has the Catholic Church had to apologize for in the past 200 years? And there are a nearly endless list of atrocities as yet unaccounted for. But I will grant you that humanity has managed to shut the Catholic Church down for the most part so they are less of a threat - but their secretive actions with the Jesuits in the 19th century will never be fully accounted for. They are an EVIL organization that needs to be ended for the good of humanity OR they need to come absolutely clean and become an open organization.
"Miracles do happen" - no they don't - not where the light of science shines. There used to be THOUSANDS of miracles claimed at Lourdes. Then a commission was setup to try to validate them and instantly the 'miracle' rate dropped to a trickle. Now this was still in the early 1900's. As medical science has advanced the miracle rate at Lourdes dropped further, and further, and now it's pretty much at zero. Are there ANY even claimed since about 1987? Where did all the miracles go? What you had was millions of visitors who were primed to believe in a miracle and you had massive levels of fraud and confirmation bias. But not a single real miracle, sorry.
"Prayer does work" - no, it really doesn't. Science gave it more than a fair shake and it failed. Again, you have a lot of fraud and confirmation bias and false memory effects.
"I find it pointless" - well, maybe you should consider that we actually have something valid to say? :) I listened to God for many years, I gave it more than a fair shake considering I was indoctrinated into it without my informed consent. It took YEARS from my life to recover and remove the layer upon layer of lies and clouded thinking and half-truths and cognitive bias that had been ingrained into me. And if that seems bitter, you are wrong. I've loved the process of learning, it's just taken a long time :) And what I learned is that Religion is no accident, it has evolved exactly like a virus. At every objection raised it mutates and adapts to new cultural norms. I actually observe it happening sometimes with 'believers', they will invent out of whole cloth new dogma in order to defend their belief. No set of ideas has been more malleable or well adapted to the Human host. It's absolutely brilliant to see how it infects the mind and uses that mind to defend itself.
"Free Will" - there is no evidence of Free Will either except in the compatibalist/computational sense. fMRI studies are rapidly destroying any hope that our consciousness is anything but a by-product of unconscious processes.