Dave, thank you for your personal account on religion. It seems to me that you made an attempt to accept Christianity at one point in your life (albeit a young age), which is more than what many atheists I've talked to can say.
I find it interesting that it was the story of Noah's ark that sparked your doubts. Assuming that you grew up in a fundemendalist household that accepts the Old Testament as a literal account, I'm not surprised in the least bit. I think it's important to remember that many Christian churches in the United States, while not endorsing evolution (unlike the Catholic Church), wholeheartedly accept that Genesis is not a literal account of how God created the Earth. Moreover, through studying both scripture and scholarly work, I've come to accept that the Biblical Flood was actually local. An informed reading of Genesis does not permit or require a universal, global flood. On top of that, geology does not support a universal reading. A non-global interpretation does not undermine the lessons learned from the flood account that are pertinent to the life of faith. As a youth pastor once told me, it's vital to remember that the Bible is not a science book.
There are two things I want to make clear so far in this discussion.
1) A reminder that this is not Christianity vs. atheism. While biblical discussion is essential to understand a foundation of our faiths (or lack thereof), those disagreements usually tend to end with precious little getting accomplished. I have a presupposition that the Bible is the Word of God, and your presupposition points to it as being hogwash. By evaluating and dissecting the arguments for theism as well as atheism, I think we can fuel this discussion a lot further. For instance, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (which you've already shown your disdain for, and yet I'm sorry to say is unavoidable) is originally an argument for Islam. The Teleological Argument (my personal favorite) dates back to the very first monotheistic religion. The Moral Law Argument can be used to argue any theistic belief that includes objective moral values. The same thing goes for the Ontological Argument. The only arguments that are exclusive to Christianity that I would ever present to an atheist are Lewis's Trilemma, and the Historical Evidence for Christ's existence as the Son of God.
2) Discussing the theory of evolution seems a bit irrelevant for a couple of reasons. For one, I've already accepted the notion that if molecules-to-man evolution is absolutely true, it does not shake my faith one iota. Molecular biophysicist and theologian at Oxford University Alister McGrath has commonly stated in his lecture that the sheer complexity and chance of Darwinian evolution strengthens the theists argument as much as the atheists. Secondly, I absolutely admit that when it comes to many scientific topics, I am a layman. While I enjoy studying and learning about science, I am a philosophy major first and foremost and I believe that having a 5 page dialogue on evolution will get us nowhere.
I want to go back to the question I asked when finalizing my opening remarks. What evidence would it take for you to change your mind? Are you open to the possibility of "coming back to the dark side" at some point in your life? For instance, for famed British atheist Antony Flew, it was the the incredible complexity of DNA that opened his eyes. Flew stated before he died, “It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” Flew also renounced naturalistic theories of evolution: “It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.”
In Flew’s own words, he simply “had to go where the evidence leads. It seems to me that the case for an Aristotelian God who has the characteristics of power and also intelligence, is now much stronger than it ever was before."
Originally Posted by Dennis Reynolds
Hello fellow American. This you should vote me. I leave power. Good. Thank you. Thank you. If you vote me, I'm hot. Taxes. They'll be lower. Son. The democratic vote for me is right thing to do, Philadelphia. So do.