I bring attention to Al Dexter's essay again because, while it is an excellent primer and a good beginning, his statement that the bible is a farce is not proven from the article.
In fact, he demonstrates by his conclusions that Paul was telling the truth, as far as truth can be proven.
From The God Factory, we can see that:
1.People will believe what they choose to believe
2.They will build religions based on those beliefs
3.Those beliefs will amount to a "factory" that produces over 38,000 versions of God within Christianity, at the last general estimate.
Does that prove Paul wrong? No, in fact, Paul seems to have anticipated exactly that process, and offered a system of thought that would have made Occam proud.
What is this principle of "parsimony" offered by Occam? If two or more(or in this case 38,000) theories are in competition, the one theory that takes all into account, makes sense of them, and fits into a logical framework, will probably be the truth.
Or, as I remember from the fictional character Sherlock Holmes, if we eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, will be the truth.
In eliminating the impossible, the first choice is, does God exist? Whatever views we offer, no matter how capable or complex, the conclusions we reach will only reflect our personal ideas regarding evidence.
We are therefore left with the conclusions above: people will believe what they choose to believe, based on the evidence and experience that formed their beliefs, which further means that it is impossible to determine whether or not there actually is a God.
Based on all likely evidence, therefore, we come to one conclusion whether there is or is not a God: In either case, such existence is not dependent on either our choice or our beliefs.
Whatever "is", simply "is", which leads me to Ayn Rand's basic definition of reality, for "Ex-Android's" benefit. In her book, Philosophy: Who Needs It, Ayn Rand points out that reality consists of two aspects: the metaphysical and the 'man-made'.
The metaphysical, said Rand, simply is. It exists, and we are part of it. The 'man-made', however, consists of human ideas and interpretations as we apply out ideas to reality, and that 'man-made' aspect of reality is always subject to the choices we make as we try to understand it.
We are therefore Left with the conclusion reached by Ayn Rand and with Occam: whatever choices we make in regard to reality, there is no way to test those ideas to prove or disprove the existence of God.
If there is a God, therefore, we are left with the conclusion given by Paul in Romans 8:7. The natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, which will result in exactly the same result as if there is no God at all.
Therefore, in either case, God or no God, we are left with one beginning point: If God exists, his/her/its/their existence cannot be dependent on our choices or beliefs in any meaningful sense.
That, in fact, is what Paul said, and also squares with the statement of Jesus in John 6:44 and Matthew 24:23.
When i realized this back in 1974, my parents each quoted a scripture, quite accidentally, that combined to create an "epiphany' in my own mind. My father quoted from Romans 8:29-30, and my mother quoted from Galatians 3:29.
We know basically what these scriptures say if we're ex-WCG, but what if the two scriptures actually referred to the same phenomenon? What if all those who were "Christ's" were not only the children of the promise, but what if they were also foreknown, predestined, chosen, and called?
In other words, what if this is the deal God made with Abraham:
"Abraham, if you do as I ask, you will have a son. This I guarantee. But you will also have other children, born as Isaac, children that I will specifically foreknow and preselect. Each of these children will be born into this promise I make to you, and each of them will be my special choice, my selection, and you will be the father of all these children by promise, just as you are the father of Isaac by promise".
So, putting Romans 8:29-30 and Galatians 3:29 together, we come up with this conclusion:
If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed(as Isaac was), and heirs according to the promise(as Isaac was), and you will be foreknown(as Isaac was), predestined(as Isaac was), called and chosen(as Isaac was).
Basically this is what Paul said in Galatians 4:28: "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise".
That is Occam at his finest! People can do as they wish, believe as they wish, experiment as they wish, and none of that will alter the deal made between God and Abraham.
In fact, Paul describes that process in Romans 9: 7-22.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called'.
"That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted for the seed".
What promise? "At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son". Paul leaves no doubt as to what "promise" he is referring to.
Verse 11: "For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to the election might stand, not of works but of him that calleth".
From that point, Paul continues to point out that it is simply impossible to become one of those "born of promise" by your own choice. In verses `16-22, Paul goes to great length to show it simply cannot be done.
Further, in Galatians 3:17, Paul points out that the promise came 430 years before the law, so the law, the covenant made with Israel at Sinai, cannot "disannul" it. In other words, the promise stands regardless of the law.
Whoever these "children of the promise" are, their personal choices do not affect the nature of God's deal with Abraham in any way.
What if that is not true? Well, your choices will result in the kind of confusion of religions we see today.
What if it IS true? Same result! Therefore, Occam's razor is satisfied! So is Ayn Rand's philosophy, and all religion is discredited. No necessity of following any person who says "here is Christ".
In either case, God or no God, same result. Prove me wrong.