It Just Fits Together So Well!

puzzle piecesNot long ago, fellow blogger John Zande wrote an excellent post titled “Jesus Christ: Just Not Worth a Sheet of Paper.” It’s actually not as derogatory as the title suggests. Some apologists have suggested that the reason we have no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life is that paper was so expensive. That’s the argument John deals with in his post.

His post is great — you should read it. But what I actually want to write about is one of the comments that someone left on it. Diana of NarrowWayApologetics.com left a lengthy comment that I decided to include here in its entirety. I identified with it a bit. It reminded me of some of the thoughts I used to have as a Christian:

One of the main reasons people believed Paul was because he explained the reason for Jesus coming into the world. His teachings were amazing. They explained how Jesus “fulfilled the law and the prophets.” I wrote this comment in response to John Zande’s comment on my blog last night. Forgive me for posting it here. Just ignore if you don’t want to read it.

“This passage about Jesus fulfilling the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17-20) is one of the main reasons I believe the Gospel message. The incredible ways that Jesus did this are beyond human ability to create. I don’t think any mystery writer could have weaved together the incredible ways Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets.

I know this post is long, so if you want to skip the parts between the dotted lines, I understand. I just wrote it for anyone who might be interested.

———
First of all, there are many ways Jesus fulfilled the law. In fact, believers are constantly astounded by how intricately Jesus fulfilled the law.

One way he fulfilled the law was by fulfilling the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the seventh day of rest that the Jews were commanded to obey. Jesus fulfilled the law of the Sabbath by becoming our rest for us. (Hebrews 4:9-11) He said his burden was light and his yoke was easy. Christians no longer practice the Sabbath. They worship on Sunday, rather than Saturday. They enter into his rest and no longer do religious works for salvation. (They are saved by grace through faith.)

Jesus fulfilled the law when he became the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His death on the cross was similar to the Exodus story, which described the lamb, whose blood would be placed on the doorposts of the home, causing the death angel to pass over that home. (Hebrews 9)

Jesus fulfilled the law when he became the unleavened bread of the Exodus story. Leaven is a symbol of sin and false teaching (1 Cor. 5:6-8, Matt. 16:12). Jesus fulfilled this feast by being sinless and being the TRUTH.

Another way that Jesus fulfilled the law was by becoming a tithe (firstfruits) for us. (Leviticus 23:10) He fulfilled the tithe by becoming the firstfruits from the dead when he was resurrected. (1 Cor. 15:20) Christians are no longer bound by a tithe, instead we are told to be cheerful givers. We are also promised that there will be a resurrection for us because of what Christ did for us.

Jesus fulfilled the law when he became a light to the Gentiles. In the law of Moses, the people were commanded to leave behind the gleanings (or leftovers) of the harvest for the poor and aliens. (Lev. 23:22) This would be fulfilled at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down and the gospel was preached in all languages, offering salvation to all, not just the Jews. (Acts 10:34-35)

These fulfillments of the law were actually the first 4 feasts that would be celebrated every year by the Jews. They would be celebrated according to the seasons. The feasts celebrated during the early rains were the fulfilled at the time of the early church. Three more feasts are waiting to be fulfilled at the end of the age (or at the time of the latter rains). These three feasts are the feast of trumpets (representing the return of Jesus), the feast day of atonement (representing the salvation of the Jews), and the feast of tabernacles (representing the time when we will all be with the Lord).

There are so many other ways in which Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophets. And none of it has to do with Jesus expecting or commanding Christians to obey the law to perfection. It has to do with how it’s impossible for anyone to keep the law. That is why Jesus came. How could any human conceive of a way to have even a made-up, fictional character fulfill all these things? And I’ve barely scratched the surface of the way Jesus accomplished these things.

The greatest concern I feel burdened about is how to convey the magnificence of what I’m trying to explain. He was the manna from heaven. He was the living water. He was the high priest in the order of Melchizedek. He is the “I AM.” He is the Word become flesh. He became a slave for us. (Philippians 2:7) He became a curse for us. He became sin for us, so we could become righteous before God. He offers us mercy because his blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat. All of this is explained in the scriptures.

I haven’t even begun to explain the way Jesus fulfilled the prophets.

——–

The story of Jewish history and the giving of the law is actually a way to PROVE the reality of God’s plan for the salvation of humanity through Jesus Christ. One random fact doesn’t prove anything, but the cumulative effect of ALL the fulfillments makes the Bible a miraculous book. This is why some of the brightest and best minds in the history of the world have loved and received Jesus. It isn’t a decision based on emotion alone, but a decision based on knowledge. And the more I learn, the more I am in awe of what God did and how he accomplished it.”

To say that the story of Jesus was just created by pasting together myths, fictional narratives, sayings, and borrowed phrases (as Ken Humphreys does) is a ridiculous claim because only a Christ could have conceived of a Christ. Who could have created the amazing Jesus portrayed in the Gospels and explained further by Paul?

Of course, I now see that there are several problems with this line of thinking. In 2015, Star Wars Episode 7 is supposed to hit theaters. Will it shock anyone if the movie syncs up perfectly with the previous 6? The thing is, when there is already an established back story, it’s not impossible to construct a narrative that builds upon it. The fact that we as readers see the parallels between the stories of Jesus and events in the Old Testament is not an accident. The authors intended for us to see those parallels, and there’s no reason why they couldn’t have invented them — even if Jesus was a real person.

Matthew is one of the best books to look to for evidence of this. Matthew is the only book that tells of Jesus’ family fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod’s infanticide. Both events, fleeing to Egypt and the infanticide, seem to be inspired by Matthew’s reading of the Old Testament. Hosea 11:1 says, “out of Egypt, I called my son.” Matthew says that this prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus’ family returned after fleeing to Egypt. But when you read the entire chapter of Hosea 11, it’s very evident that the passage has nothing to do with the Messiah, but is simply talking about Israel’s period of captivity in Egypt.

Matthew also claims that Herod’s slaughter of infants in Bethlehem was to fulfill this prophecy:

A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.

But once again, when we read all of Jeremiah 31, this was no prophecy at all. The chapter is talking about Israel’s captivity in Assyria. Nothing else.

The author of Matthew took these passages and used them to add parallels to the story about Jesus’ birth. It didn’t require magic or divine inspiration to do that — it only took knowledge of these passages. Just like the people working on Star Wars 7 don’t need divine intervention to let them know about Darth Vader.

Diana ends her comment by asking who could have created such a compelling story. Who could have created Christ? But why couldn’t we ask this about anyone? Who could have created Darth Vader? He’s quite a compelling character himself. Who could have created someone as magnificent as Santa Claus? Or Paul Bunyan? Or Achilles? Or King Arthur? Just asking this question doesn’t really mean anything. If Jesus never existed, then someone did just create his story. Or if he was a real person, but not divine, then his story was embellished. We have to draw our conclusions about Jesus based on the evidence, including the fact that Matthew seemed to feel the need to create “prophecies” to give Jesus credibility.

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354 thoughts on “It Just Fits Together So Well!”

  1. Nate – as I was reading her comment, I was already preparing, in my head, the answer to her question, “Who could have created the amazing Jesus portrayed in the Gospels and explained further by Paul?” by explaining that any good fiction writer, with a thorough grasp of the Tanak and it’s prophecies, could easily have written the story. One must remember that both Matthew and Luke copied heavily from Mark (and if “Matthew” had actually been Levi, the tax collector, as his Greek name, Matthew, implies, he would have had his own story to tell, and no need to copy from Mark), so only Mark, John and Paul had any significant degree of originality about their work.

    Then I reached the end, and saw that you had already said basically the same thing.

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  2. Hi archaeopteryx1,

    I’m one of the visiting christians to this site, and I’m trying to avoid getting into arguments and negativity. So may I just comment on one aspect of what you say, in the hope that it will generate light and not heat.

    If we accept what the scholars say (and many don’t) then it is likely that Matthew is not composed by one author from one single source. Papias, writing about 120 CE wrote of Matthew:

    “For Matthew composed the logia [sayings] in Hebrew style; but each recorded them as he was able”

    Now scholars debate whether this is trustworthy testimony, but let’s assume for the moment that it was. So the claim is that disciple and eyewitness Matthew wrote down the sayings of Jesus with only limited narrative (note as a tax collector he was probably one of the few disciples who could write) and others recorded/used/translated (apparently these are all possible interpretations of his words) them for their own purposes.

    Then we note that in Matthew’s Gospel, most of the sayings of Jesus are in clumps set among the events (the so-called sermon on the mount in chapters 5-7 is one of these clumps of sayings), which at least looks prima facie like it could indeed have been the sayings that Matthew recorded, compiled together with parts of Mark and parts of some other sources.

    So that reconstruction may not be true, but it is at least plausible and fits the evidence we have. And Maurice Casey in his recent book about Jesus suggests this may have been the case. So it isn’t true that only Mark, John and Paul had any “originality” – both Matthew and Luke have additional material, plus the material which scholars call “Q” and which included some of the sayings material discussed above. (That’s actually at least 6 sources).

    I’m not suggesting that this discussion will change your mind about believing in Jesus, but I think it explains what you are talking about here and shows that there is a quite adequate explanation of the “problems” you find. I hope you will investigate this matter further.

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  3. Actually, unkle, I’ve done a great deal of study, both of the Old Testament and the New, and I’m quite familiar with the “Q” source, “Q,” from the German “quelle” actually meaning, “source,” so I guess in a sense, “Q” source is a bit redundant, much like “Mount Fujiyama.”

    Just as the majority of biblical scholars know that the five Old Testament books labeled, “According to Moses,” were not written by Moses, so all four of the New Testament Gospels were written anonymously – the dates are usually considered circa 72 CE for “pseudo-Mark,” 75 CE for “pseudo-Matthew,” 80-85 CE for “pseudo-Luke,” and 90, to, some sources say as late as 150, for “pseudo-John.” The decision to ascribe the names of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John didn’t occur until much later.

    And as for, “believing in Jesus,” I didn’t say Yeshua never existed, I said that there is no evidence that he ever existed, there IS a difference.

    archaeopteryx

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  4. Hi archaeopteryx1, thanks for your reply. But it has left me a little confused.

    If you know about Q, why did you ignore it in mentioning original sources, and in discussing whether Matthew could have been written, or partially written, by the disciple? Or have I misunderstood your words?

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  5. When you consider the level of education, communication, language and time issues, it seems ridiculous to claim that the Bible is a product of man’s imagination. It just takes too much unsubstantiated faith to believe.

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  6. Spot on. Diana is a funny one; fabulously immersed in her peculiar world which she seems to manage with hefty doses of “nah nah nah i can’t hear you!” I asked her “What was Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s motivation for inventing Batman?” to which she never answered. She simply doesn’t want to address these types of questions. I don’t think she’s insane, but she is willfully ignorant… and quite frankly, i think the latter is worse.

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  7. Jim, I can maybe get what you mean by “education issues,” although we all know there were people back then who were educated enough to read and write, but what do you mean by “language and time issues?”

    Even today, many people in third world countries speak several languages – to the shame of the USA.

    And time? If the bible had been written complete in a single day, or over a single week, by numerous authors from different parts of the world, without computers, internet, phone or wire, then I could see that as being miraculous if it all matched up perfectly. But the bible doesn’t match up perfectly, number one. And two, it was written over a long period time, and that latter authors had been familiar with the previous works – that doesn’t seem miraculous, it seems common place. they had time to read and consider the works before them before they wrote their own books and letters… how’s that miraculous?

    And you said – “It just takes too much unsubstantiated faith to believe.” of what substance is your faith based that is better from other opposing faiths?

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  8. Because my purpose was not to give the entire history of the New Testament in a blog comment, it was to demonstrate the unreliability of the biblical sources, and whether Pseudo-Matthew copied from both Pseudo-Mark and Quelle, or just Psuedo-Mark alone, was irrelevant to that fact that if Pseudo-Matthew had been a disciple, he would have had his own story to tell, from his own perspective, and had no need to copy from anyone.

    Psuedo-John, for example, does away entirely with the whole, “fishers of men” story of the Synoptic Gospels, and tells of how he and brother Jim, as well as Peter and brother Andy, were followers of John the B, and met Yeshua, who was walking along the banks of the Jordan River – and this, from (had it been the REAL John) one of the very sons of Zebedee, whom Yeshua sent running to ManPower for temp help on the fishing boat, when his boys traipsed off to follow an itinerant rabbi. You would think he would know the REAL story, so if he IS the real John, and his meeting with JC at the Jordan was true, then the whole “fishers of men” thing is an obvious fabrication.

    When you have two contradicting stories about the same event, both cannot be true.

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  9. You know, I said the same thing about the Chronicles of Narnia – such a place MUST exist, no human imagination could POSSIBLY invent such a fabulous story! You have no idea how many wardrobes I’ve tried to fit into, but so far, no luck – but someday, SOMEday —

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  10. “Hissssss….Jesus..I am Your Father.”
    “Noooo. It’s not true! Unklee is my father.I have an Australian accent and I can cure leprosy and and sheep.”
    “Jesus, you know it’s true. Your mum, Sheila, wasn’t a virgin, and you hate Fosters lager. Search your feelings. ”
    “No, no, noooo. Unklee, save me, please.”

    (Enter George Lucas off stage left)
    “Er…guys. If I might just have a quiet word,please?”

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  11. Archaeopteryx1,
    Where did you get the information for your dates of authorship? Did you search for accurate dates yourself, or are you just going off of what others believe?

    The evidence suggests a much earlier date for the writing of the New Testament

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  12. I just read something on another blog that fits so well with this discussion (or any other related to the bible, Jesus, hell, etc., etc.)

    The blog writer made this comment: “Everyone seems to be so sure about what they think that they know. Virtually, everyone.” He adds, ” … everyone seems to have an opinion and they are absolutely certain that they are right.” He uses, as an example, the one-time belief that the sun revolved around the earth. While those that believed this were absolutely certain of its truth, it turned out to be an incorrect belief.

    For me, his comment says volumes about what “Diana,” or any other Christian, writes as they attempt to “prove” something about their faith. I admit some non-believers are “sure” their perspective is the right one as well, but in my experiences, many are simply providing food for thought, which I think is always a worthwhile endeavor.

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  13. Largely from Bart Ehrman and Richard Friedman, as well as some other sources I have in my files, and really don’t have time to fish out right now – those two should do, as I’m sure they contain references to still other sources.

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  14. Most everyone who has a belief will only study what fits into that belief, and can not be trusted. It sound awful to say, but it is true. There is a reason people want to believe in a late date, but the data doesn’t support that.

    Just think about this for a second. If you were going to write a book to prove Yeshua was the Messiah, what would be

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  15. The most helpful tool?

    Yeshua prophesied that the temple would be destroyed and in 70ad this happened. Why didn’t anyone think to point this out in their works?

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  16. “If you were going to write a book to prove Yeshua was the Messiah, what would be what would be the most helpful tool?”

    A pen?

    “Yeshua prophesied that the temple would be destroyed and in 70ad this happened. Why didn’t anyone think to point this out in their works?”

    I see where you’re going with this, you’re saying that the temple destruction in 72 CE hadn’t happened yet, and had it, it would have been shown to have been proof of the prophecy.

    I’m speaking off the top of my head here, and have no time presently to properly research your issue, but one reason may well be that the temple had already been destroyed more than once, it was a safe bet. Then too, Yeshua said it would be torn down and raised back up in three days – no one understood at the time that he was referring to himself, rather than the actual temple, but once the realization set in, any destruction of the actual, physical temple was irrelevant.

    Question, Laurie – and I ask this only because I’m rushed for time, I could look it up this evening, if I think of it – in how many of the four Gospels is any prophecy of the temple mentioned? My thought is, that possibly the other anonymous authors were unaware of the alleged prophecy. Just a thought – gotta run!

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  17. Matt 24:1-2:

    1Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

    Mark 13 says the same basic thing. Of course, most scholars believe these books were written after the temple’s destruction…

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  18. Thanks, Nate, for doing my work for me – at the moment, my research is centered on the OT, and sometimes, it’s not easy to switch mental gears when you don’t have a synchronized transmission.

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  19. Wow, so not only did jesus predict the destruction of the temple 40 years before it happened, he also predicted it would only take 3 days to rebuild it. A building that size would usually take… twice as long to build… so accurately predicted only 3 days is impressive… oh, what’s that? It wasnt rebuilt in 3 days… well, 1 out of 2 aint bad… and that part was figurative, while the destruction was literal… anyone can see the simplicity in that.

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  20. This is a detailed prophecy that not one stone would be left upon another and you think they left it out? The prophecy came true you know! The temple burned so hot that the gold melted through the bricks and they were removed one by one to retrieve it. Further more, the Jewis sages kept record that the scarlet cord failed to turn white for the next forty years, the temple doors opened and shut on their own, and the candle went out by itself. The also draw the black stone each year. Why? Why didn’t the day of atonement get accepted after Yeshua?

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  21. Laurie, I’m not clear on most of what you’re referencing.

    I don’t think anyone denies that the temple was destroyed. The question is whether or not it was actually prophesied to begin with.

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  22. Nate,

    I could easily explain to you why this all makes perfect sense. But I am sure it would cause some serious hostility and not many of any would really search out what I am going to say. I would give you my private email if you care to hear it

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  23. I think the earliest, near complete, copy of Mark (which predates Mathew) is around 300AD. Without a preserved original, and with varying texts, it’s hard to use the claim as proof. It could have easily been added later, or as has already been pointed out, could have simply been a coincidence.

    The passage clearly indicates that jesus was referring to his own body rather than the temple, but if this truly is one of those “dual prophecies” then what about rebuilding in 3 days?

    And why wasnt jesus more specific in his prophecy? the more detailed the prophecy, the harder it becomes to claim it wasnt a prophecy. It could have been a five fold prophecy, since the means of destruction and timeline werent given. If the temple gets destroyed again one day, we can all rejoice over another fulfilled prophecy, or we can sit in wonder at the destructive nature of the people living in Palestine, since the temple has been destroyed several times now, and the area has always been in conflict…

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  24. mathew 24 is anything but precise or clear. jesus also describes the end of the world with angels coming down and then adds that the people of that generation wouldn’t pass until it happened, as if he was expecting judgement very soon, not thousands of years later.

    Laurie, it’s just a lot to swallow and involves too much twisting and custom fitting (this is literal here, but figurative there, detailed here, but generic there, etc). When i was a believer mathew 24 didnt make much sense to me. Now that i’m no longer a believer, it actually makes more sense since I dont have to try and make it fit into reality anymore.

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  25. Could it be, Laurie, that the “prophecy” wasn’t written until after the destruction of the temple?

    As for the recordings of those Jewish sages – do you mean like the Jewish sages who wrote the first five books of the Bible? The ones who invented Adam and Eve, a six-day Universe creation, a world-wide flood, a tower to the sky and all of the other fables? Yeah, I’d buy stock in those records.

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  26. Oh, I see Laurie, you must be referring to the prophecy in Matthew 24:34 ‘ “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, til all these things be fulfilled.” (meaning the entire ‘End of Days’ scenario) That happened, didn’t it?

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  27. This generation shall not pass… What does the next verse say? This is about his testimony, not the world.

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  28. Matt 24: 32-34:

    32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

    I don’t see how verse 35 changes verse 34…

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  29. Laurie, I’ve read that chapter a million times when i was a believer and I just reread it. Jesus is lumping it all together. Read the chapter all at once. Read the verses before and all the ones after. I’m tempted to quote the entire chapter as evidence here, but wont since anyone can just open up their bibles and read the chapter.

    I think hat only because the jesus hasnt returned with his angles yet, that people are forced to say it means something other than what it says. “the bible is true and from god, so maybe it means this…” and insert whatever explanation seems to hold the story together, except you can look at the details too closely and you cant question it too much or it all falls apart.

    really, I tried believing the explanations where i was younger, but it really makes more sense you understand that the bible isnt perfect and that it isnt from god.

    And like I’ve said before, faith in the bible isnt faith in god. How could it be? It was written by men. translated by men. given to us by men. explained to us by men. everything about it relies on trusting those men were not only sincere and truthful, but accurate. It’s faith in the claims of man, nothing more. No matter how much we might have imagined our “relationships” with god and jesus – it was random and nameless men who told us about them, not god or jesus themselves…

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  30. I’m not clear as to how you can interpret it that way, the entire chapter deals with the coming end of the world, culminating in the prophecy that all of these events will occur within the lifetimes of his audience, then in the next verse, 35, he reassures his audience that his statements are true, saying that heaven and earth are less permanent than his words.

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  31. Hi archaeopteryx1,

    Like I said at the start, I don’t want to get into an argument, but I would still like to clarify what you originally said. I am referring to these two comments:

    “if “Matthew” had actually been Levi, the tax collector, as his Greek name, Matthew, implies, he would have had his own story to tell, and no need to copy from Mark”

    But of course if you know about Q, then you know that Matthew (or somebody) did indeed have their own “story” to tell – in this case it was mostly sayings from Q and narrative from M.

    “Mark, John and Paul had any significant degree of originality about their work”

    And if you know about Q, then you know that about 45% of Matthew and about 70% of Luke are not from Mark. The Q material is an important fourth source (about 20% of Matthew and Luke), and the new material Luke and Matthew bring in makes up more than 20% of Matthew and half of Luke, making 6 significant sources.

    Were you aware of these things, and if so, don’t they modify your two statements slightly?

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  32. I thought I had made that clear – the subject was the existence of Yeshua, I said there was no valid evidence that he ever existed, and continued by pointing out that even the writers of the four Gospels hadn’t been who they were purported to be, that there was no evidence that any of them ever met Yeshua. So “Q” is no more relevant in terms of Yeshua’s existance, than any of the other four.

    Am I amiss, unkle, unless I provide a complete list of ALL of the people who never met Yeshua? I suppose I could start with a phone book, but I’d really rather not bother.

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  33. UnkleE,

    Are you saying that Matthew could have been the author of one of those 6 sources you mentioned? Is that what you’re driving at?

    Thanks

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  34. To me it makes little difference when the texts were written because its contents are refuted by scientific reality.

    The Bible claims: the earth is fixed and immovable (Joshua 10:12; 1 Chron. 16:30; Ps. 93:1; Ps. 96:10; Ps. 104:5) and rests on pillars (1 Sam. 2:8; Ps. 75:3; Job 9:6)

    Science informs us: the Earth rotates around it’s axis and orbits the sun.

    The Bible claims: the stars will fall from the sky (Isa. 34:4; Mt 24:29; Mk 13:25; Rev. 6:13)

    Science informs us: stars are giant gas furnaces many magnitudes larger than our Earth, and except for our own star (the sun) many, many, many light years away.

    The Bible claims: the heavens have storehouses of hail and snow (Job 38:22), lightning (Job 38:24), and jars of rain water (Job 38:37)

    Science informs us: meteorology explains the causes for these natural phenomena.

    The Bible claims: the earth is flat (Dan. 4:10-11; Mt 4:8; Lk 4:5)

    Science informs us: the Earth is an oblate spheroid.

    The truth claims of Christianity rests upon one — and only one — crucial piece of missing evidence: an actual living, breathing, resurrected messiah.

    Can you present one?

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  35. I am just going to assume you know those verses are figures of speech and that you wouldn’t tell a scientist he was stupid if he said sunset was at 6:18 tonight.

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  36. The scriptures also told us
    The earth is sphere isaiah 40:22
    Incalculable number of stars Jer33:22
    Earth free floats in space job 26:7
    Light moves job 38:19,20
    Air has weight job 28:25
    And so on and so on……
    Way before science figured it out

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  37. To assume those verses to be figures of speech, requires the assumption that the writers of them knew the actual, scientific truth, but chose those “figures of speech” instead – that strikes me as quite illogical.

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  38. The scriptures also told us:

    “The earth is sphere isaiah 40:22” – says the earth is a circle, not a sphere, a flat circle.

    “Incalculable number of stars Jer33:22” – a glimpse into the night sky makes that obvious to anyone.

    “Earth free floats in space job 26:7” – let me quote it exactly: “He (god) stretches out the north over the empty place and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” this is a fictitious, didactic poem, intended to deliver a moral, hardly the venue for announcing scientific knowledge – possibly you can explain, “He stretches out the north over the empty place,” at which time, we can move on to the placement of the earth.

    “Light moves job 38:19,20” – this chapter deals with god basically telling Job that he doesn’t know squat – the actual passage is,
    “19: Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
    “20: that thou should take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldst know the paths to the house thereof.”
    So according to god, light lives somewhere and dark somewhere else, and they commute on a regular basis – anyone can see that light moves by simply removing an object from in front of a light, and watching the light fill in the space that was previously in shadow. But apparently this god was unaware of that.

    “Air has weight job 28:25” – more specifically, “To make the weight for the winds….” – I’m not exactly seeing that that means, air has weight – the right wind can lift heavy objects and tear trees out of the ground, so clearly it has force, would not that which can lift heavy objects, have its own weight? But let’s go a couple of verses back, to 28:24, “For he (god) looketh to the ends of the earth….” – earth is a globe, globes have no ends – so much for “The earth is sphere isaiah 40:22”

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  39. Ha ha ha ha!!!! Okay… You proof text my work and come back with all of that but you give Ron a big fat amen! Seriously! So king Nebuchadnezzar has a dream about a big tree, and that clearly makes the earth flat. You just want to be right no matter what is really true, and that is fine by me! Frankly I am impressed that you looked it up. I don’t agree with you, but that’s okay! 😉

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  40. “I thought I had made that clear …. Am I amiss, unkle”

    Hi archaeopteryx1, I wasn’t questioning you about anything else, just querying the facts related to two of your statements, the two statement I quoted in my last. And it seems to me that those two statements are not quite accurate, as I also outlined in my last comment.

    In the light of the facts which we have both referenced, do you still think those two statements of yours are accurate?

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  41. Laurie – regarding your “spherical earth” theory, I ran across this, from “The Three Story Universe,” by N. F. Gier:

    “The final evidence I draw from rabbinic accounts. In Nachmanides’ commentary on the Torah, he quotes from the ancient rabbis: ‘The heavens were in a fluid form on the first day, and on the second day they solidified.’ Another ancient rabbi said: ‘Let the firmament become like a plate, just as you say in Ex. 39:3.’ Nachmanides himself describes the firmament as ‘an extended substance congealed water separating’ the waters from the waters. Apart from the congealed water thesis, a modern Jewish Bible scholar agrees with this interpretation: ‘raqia’ suggests a firm vault or dome over the earth. According to ancient belief, this vault which held the stars, provided the boundary beyond which the Divine dwelt. As far as I can ascertain, the idea of a spherical earth did not enter Jewish thought until the Middle Ages.”

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  42. “Are you saying that Matthew could have been the author of one of those 6 sources you mentioned? Is that what you’re driving at?”
    Hi Nate, some scholars (e.g. Maurice Casey) think Matthew could have been the author of some or all of the Q material, and I’m inclined to think that may be true, but that isn’t what I’m “driving at”.

    I don’t spend much time these days trying to argue beliefs and opinions – I’m happy to discuss and answer or ask questions, but that’s about it. But I do feel getting the facts right is important, for opinions and beliefs should be based on facts, and discussion can only proceed if we agree on the basic facts.

    archaeopteryx1 made a couple of apparently factual statements that I believe are mistaken, so I asked him about them to see if I had misunderstood. That was all. But it seems the matter may not be that simple, as my next post to him/her will outline.

    Best wishes to you and yours!

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  43. Hi archaeopteryx1,

    As I said to Nate, I’m not trying to make any comment about your conclusions about Jesus and history, just trying to verify if your apparently factual statements accord with the known facts. Let’s just start with one of them:

    “only Mark, John and Paul had any significant degree of originality about their work”

    Now according to the information I looked up, the following are the approximate number of verses in each category (the numbers can vary slightly according to who counts them):

    Mark 678
    Q (non Markan material in Matthew & Luke) 235
    M (specifically Matthew material) 226
    L (specifically Luke material) 577

    This means that Q & M are about a third of Mark and L is about 85% of Mark. I would guess these numbers are all much greater than the number of historical references to Jesus in Paul.

    Do you agree with these numbers? If so, how can you justify the statement above? Surely Q, M & L are significant, non-Markan and original?

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  44. “the entire chapter deals with the coming end of the world, culminating in the prophecy that all of these events will occur within the lifetimes of his audience”

    Hi archaeopteryx1, here I am again, I’m sorry. I don’t necessarily agree with everything Laura says about this chapter – it is a much argued over chapter with many, many different interpretations so that isn’t surprising. But I do think your statement can be questioned.

    At the start of this group of sayings, Jesus says (Matt 24:6,8) “Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. ….. All these are the beginning of birth-pains.” So it is clear that he isn’t only talking about the end, but times well before the end.

    Then in v 14 he says: ” And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

    Now clearly that couldn’t occur quickly. It didn’t occur at least until the 19th century, and possibly not even yet. So again we have this long time period.

    So if we consider the whole passage, it seems clear that fulfilment will be over a long period of time, at least 2 millennia. I personally think most of it applied to the immediate future, but I don’t think we can say that all of it did. And once we say that, a lot of the criticisms made about this passage cannot be sustained. It makes it murkier and less certain, I agree, but as the man in black said, we must “get used to disappointment” 🙂

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  45. “only Mark, John and Paul had any significant degree of originality about their work”

    That’s it?
    You made all of those posts asking if I wanted to retract anything, and went to all of the trouble to find and copy the Matthew, Luke and Q material, and it was all about this statement?
    I can tell you that I certainly have far more going on with my life, than to sit down and count the number of Markan references in Matthew and Luke. I know nothing about the sources of your statements. And it still, as I’ve tried saying on several occasions, has nothing to do with the validity of these anonymous authors, and that was the point of our original conversation, in the event that you’ve lost sight of that.

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  46. @Unklee

    for opinions and beliefs should be based on facts,

    You have got to be kidding, right?
    You are a Christian. Nothing you believe regarding Christianity is based on facts and you have the gall to question out Nate and Archeopteryx over interpretation of Matthew?

    There is only a belief concerning the Q source. No evidence whatsoever.

    The gospel authors are unknown. Period.
    Mark wrote first and Matthew and Luke copied mush of their material.
    Luke trawled Josephus.

    There is no consensus nor evidence regarding this Aramaic source/gospel anywhere.

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  47. “Then in v 14 he says: ‘And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’

    “Now clearly that couldn’t occur quickly. It didn’t occur at least until the 19th century, and possibly not even yet. So again we have this long time period.”

    You’re saying that he was discussing something distant in time, because what he was discussing didn’t happen before the 19th century, whereas I say that what he was discussing didn’t happen before the 19th century, because he was wrong. When people of those times spoke of “all nations,” they referred to the tiny world they knew, with no knowledge of the size of the planet, or for that matter, even that they lived on a planet! Of course you will maintain that he had supernatural knowledge of all nations, of all times, and equally of course, I would not concur.

    In my opinion, had Emperor Constantine not adopted Christianity, it would have died a slow death like the hundreds of other minor religions that were so plentiful in the Middle East.

    I think astrophysicist Neill Degrasse Tyson said it best: “God is a scientific pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes by.” Give it another half-millennium, and the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions will take their rightful places with the other myths of antiquity, which people of the future will read and muse, “What were they thinking –?”

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  48. “You made all of those posts asking if I wanted to retract anything”

    No I made those posts because I was interested in the truth of the matter. You made a statement that I thought wasn’t accurate, and I wanted to check that I understood you correctly, and if I had, to point out the facts. I have done that. There are in fact at least 6 significant sources, not just the 3 you mentioned. I think that is worth knowing. Thank you.

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  49. “You’re saying that he was discussing something distant in time, because what he was discussing didn’t happen before the 19th century, whereas I say that what he was discussing didn’t happen before the 19th century, because he was wrong”

    I wasn’t trying to make a point about whether he was right or wrong – that is something we can each choose our opinion on – but whether you were right or wrong to say the prophecy was that “all of these events will occur within the lifetimes of his audience”.

    Whether you are right about your other comments we can all speculate and have our opinions, but it seems the statement I picked up on was inaccurate – at least you haven’t offered any explanation of how it could be correct i the light of the statements I referred to.

    I’m sorry to be a pain and aggravate you, I tried to be as gentle as I could. But three of your apparently factual statements appear to have been erroneous, and I think in a discussion like this, we need to at least begin with correct facts. I’ll get out of your hair now. Best wishes to you.

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  50. Before finishing my first cup of coffee, I misquoted Tyson – sorry, Neill:
    “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance, that gets smaller and smaller as time goes on.”

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  51. First of all, I mentioned four, not three – Pseudo-Mark, Pseudo-Matthew, Pseudo-Luke and Pseudo-John – I didn’t mention Q because Q was irrelevant to my point. Still, that is only five anonymous sources, not six.

    Can you imagine a court situation, in which an attorney says, “I have five people here as witnesses – now they must remain anonymous, and they most likely didn’t actually witness the events in question, but definitely heard about it from someone who heard about it, whose second cousin Mildred said she witnessed it! We’re not going to have a problem with their credibility, are we Your Honor?”

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  52. RE: “I wasn’t trying to make a point about whether he was right or wrong – that is something we can each choose our opinion on – but whether you were right or wrong to say the prophecy was that ‘all of these events will occur within the lifetimes of his audience’.”

    And I still maintain that I am correct, and that you, in order to make it appear as though your Yeshua did not make a mistake, are interpreting his words to be other than they are.

    I never allow inconsequential things to “aggravate” me, but thank you for your concern.

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  53. “First of all, I mentioned four, not three “

    Your statement was “only Mark, John and Paul had any significant degree of originality about their work” and that is 3. And there are three other significant original sources – Q, M & L, which makes 6.

    That was all I was questioning, and it is beyond dispute. Why not just agree, show that you are willing to follow the evidence, and we can move on?

    “And I still maintain that I am correct, and that you, in order to make it appear as though your Yeshua did not make a mistake, are interpreting his words to be other than they are.”

    So how do you interpret “such things must happen, but the end is still to come. ….. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. …. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” to mean “within the lifetimes of his audience”?

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  54. @ Unklee

    Hi archaeopteryx1,

    I’m one of the visiting christians to this site, and I’m trying to avoid getting into arguments and negativity. So may I just comment on one aspect of what you say, in the hope that it will generate light and not heat.

    Avoid…really?

    And yet you comment even more that I do…..
    Your attempts at being self-effacing are transparent.

    Some might be forgiven for considering you just a little hypocritical, unklee.

    If we accept what the scholars say (and many don’t) then it is likely that Matthew is not composed by one author from one single source. Papias, writing about 120 CE wrote of Matthew:

    “For Matthew composed the logia [sayings] in Hebrew style; but each recorded them as he was able”

    Now scholars debate whether this is trustworthy testimony, but let’s assume for the moment that it was.

    Why must we assume it was?
    What’s the source of Papias? Eusebius.

    Thank you.

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  55. @unklee

    So how do you interpret “such things must happen, but the end is still to come. ….. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. …. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” to mean “within the lifetimes of his audience”?

    Simple….the ”whole world’ of a 1st century Jew would have been about the same size as the Known World. In other words…not that big at all.

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  56. UnkleE,

    Someone may have already addressed this — I haven’t read the latest comments yet — but I wanted to make a caveat to one of the points you brought up.

    You said:

    Then in v 14 he says: ” And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

    Now clearly that couldn’t occur quickly. It didn’t occur at least until the 19th century, and possibly not even yet. So again we have this long time period.

    Jesus could only have meant a long period if he knew how big the earth was. I don’t think he was aware of that. Paul certainly wasn’t:

    First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. — Rom 1:8

    if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. — Col 1:23

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  57. So how do you interpret “such things must happen, but the end is still to come. ….. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. …. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” to mean “within the lifetimes of his audience”?

    I agree with Ark’s response to your question. I’d also add that verse 34 clearly says “all these things”:

    Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

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  58. RE: “So how do you interpret ‘such things must happen, but the end is still to come. ….. All these are the beginning of birth-pains. …. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’ to mean ‘within the lifetimes of his audience’?”

    I don’t, as clearly those statements are so ambiguous as to be impossible to determine any deadline, but this certainly does: Matthew 24:34, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, til all these things be fulfilled.”

    This is what I’m seeing unk, and I’ve run into this tactic before, I made the statement that there is no verifiable evidence that the New Testament character, Yesua, ever actually existed. You have no evidence to support your belief that he did, so the best you can do is nit-pick my statements, in order to find SOMEthing about which to make me wrong, which I see as a deflection tactic.

    If you wish to provide some verifiable evidence that your Yeshua existed, I’ll be more than happy to entertain it, but as far as continuing to support your sycophantic nit-picking, designed to irritate, I fear I have no more time for such indulgences.

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  59. @Nate – are you claiming that the gospel of the kingdom WAS preached in the whole (known) world as a testimony to all nations, and STILL the end didn’t come? SAY it isn’t SO!

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  60. If you wish to provide some verifiable evidence that your Yeshua existed

    To rephrase what I wrote earlier:

    In the end, the only evidence that really matters is an actual, living, breathing, resurrected messiah.

    Can anyone present such a being?

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  61. RE: “In the end, the only evidence that really matters is an actual, living, breathing, resurrected messiah. Can anyone present such a being?”

    Well, not exactly, but some people said they saw him and waited 40 years to write about it (couldn’t find a pencil), does that count?

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  62. someone once said that there had been 500 witnesses… how could anyone deny such eyewitness testimony?

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  63. I am sure posting on this topic is a waste of time, and obviously none of you believe in the scriptures anyway but…. I just want to say that there is as much proof of the Aramaic text as there is for the Greek, and to say otherwise is ignorant.

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  64. @Laurie

    that there is as much proof of the Aramaic text as there is for the Greek, and to say otherwise is ignorant.

    A simple citation would be considered in order here, especially if you have even a modicum of respect for the blog host.

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  65. RE: “I am sure posting on this topic is a waste of time, and obviously none of you believe in the scriptures anyway.”

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but that is certainly true of me. On another site on which I post, a couple of members were discussing what it would take to create some kind of something – they really didn’t even have a word for it – that would teach people empathy, to care for each other, to feel for each other, to treat each other fairly and equitably. As I watched the discussion build, I imagined that this must have been very much like how it was, thousands of years ago, when the Christian religion started, and possibly the Judeo one as well. Make up any kind of story it takes, to make people get along with each other. The motivation is noble, admittedly.

    Personally, if I were to consider doing that, I would start “The Church of Jerry Springer” – he always closed his show with a single commandment, that as far as I can see, is enough to accomplish the purpose for all of us, if we’d but follow it. He says, “Be good to yourselves, and each other.” What more do we need?

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  66. I apologize for my lack of ability here, but I am on a cell phone, and without a computer right now, which is why I have not made a significant contribution to this post. Not sure how to copy a link, but if you want, it is an easy Google away.

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  67. Hi Nate, yeah, it is hard to keep up sometimes, isn’t it?

    “Jesus could only have meant a long period if he knew how big the earth was. I don’t think he was aware of that. “

    Yes, I too don’t think Jesus knew the world was 40,000 kms in circumference, and I don’t think he knew Australia existed and was inhabited. But I don’t think that makes any difference. He surely knew it was at least as big as all the way to Rome, with more outside, and that is enough.

    “I’d also add that verse 34 clearly says “all these things””

    But what was he referring to there? Do you know, or just assuming? Consider:

    1. This likely wasn’t one long discourse, but a collection of sayings, as is clear from the structure of Matthew.
    2. You are approaching this as a scientific 21st century western person, but Jesus didn’t speak in that way. He was a first century Jew; he used figures of speech like metaphor, hyperbole and paradox; he generally spoke cryptically to make people think and keep some things hidden (apparently). One of the biggest mistakes we can make historically is to think anachronistically.
    3. This passage is notoriously difficult, for us at least. It is a brave, and I think foolish, person who makes such confident statements about it.
    4. The immediately preceding verses describe things that generally happened within a lifetime, but also some that appear to be longer term – or are they?

    So where does that leave us? We have a bunch of predictions, more likely warnings, which were in places clear enough that the early christians could take notice of them, but not fully clear, especially to us at this remove. But they seem to apply to various times, places and situations, without always being clear. If you expect them to be detailed prophecies, you’ll find this frustrating – and if you’re an unbeliever you’ll make mileage out of this.

    But if you accept it as warnings which will paint a general picture and become clearer when relevant, there isn’t such a problem. I find these matters part of the reality and fascination of following Jesus, not a reason to doubt. (And this isn’t said for the benefit of this discussion, that has been my view for several decades at least.) Best wishes.

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  68. Hi Uncle E,

    I think this is one of the clear places where I part ways with your kind of conclusions. The passage in Matthew that you are discussing is similar to Mark 13, Luke 21:5-36, Mark 8:34-9:1, Matthew 16:24-28, and Luke 9:23-27. I believe it is definitely fair for a person who researches Christianity to have doubts about it’s veracity given passages such as these.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with Thom Stark, but he is a Christian with an interesting twist on how Christians should interpret the bible. He believes that they should be honest about the difficulties in the bible. In his book “The Human Faces of God” Stark does an extremely thorough analysis of all of these passages. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but here is some of what he writes about these passages:

    I believe the claims Jesus makes in these texts are fairly straightforward, and that there is little wiggle room for differing interpretations. I think in most cases, it’s the unwelcome ramifications of the content of Jesus’ claims that create this sense in the confessing reader that the text simply must mean something other than what it says. But I’m convinced that just about anyone with an open mind to the truth of the matter will see how difficult it is not to come to the conclusion that Jesus was wrong. That is to say, providing we are sufficiently informed about the context out of which Jesus spoke……James Dunn finds it “impossible to deny that Jesus had expressed expectation for the imminent happening of events which did not happen.” Against his own confessional inclinations, Dunn is obliged to admit “that Jesus had entertained hopes which were not fulfilled. There were ‘final’ elements in his expectation which were not realized. Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events.”……In the end, as much as we would like to find one, there seems to be no way to maneuver around the fact that – if we take the gospel portrayals of Jesus to be accurate – Jesus predicted the end of the world would occur within his generation. Yet this fact should hardly be surprising to us, since that is precisely what the New Testament tells us his early followers expected.

    Now I know fully well that Thom Stark and James Dunn are just as human as anyone else and could very well be wrong or could be “overspeaking” or using too much hyperbole in what they say above, but this really isn’t the point.

    The main point for me is that a lot of Christians (and you sometimes do this, although not always) seem to portray agnostics and atheists as being dishonest or unfair in the conclusions they draw about the Christian message. We are portrayed as coming to our conclusions because for some reason it is in our best interest. But that is not why we don’t believe – It is passages like the above as well as many others that Nate and I and others have tried to share that simply make it hard for us to believe that Christianity is truth. My first year after I converted to Christianity I was so sure it was true. After that, as I began to see that the original problems I had before I converted were not being resolved (I had been so sure they would be) and as more and more bible difficulties kept mounting I simply came to the point that I could no longer believe it. I fought so hard for 4 years to try and resolve these things praying “Lord I believe, heal my unbelief” over and over. There were so many things I loved about my Christian experience and I wanted very badly to hold on to it, but my brain just gave out to the many problems that it ran into. I believe this is the case for many nonbelievers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who wouldn’t believe no matter what just because they don’t want to… but again for many I do not believe this is the case.

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  69. Hi Howie, how are you going?

    You will probably be surprised to know I appreciate what you have said, and disagree with very little of it. I have read some of Thom Stark’s stuff, and I think I would be more positive than negative about him. James Dunn ditto. I don’t believe the Bible is inerrant, so I’m not committed to the gospel authors getting everything exactly correct in an inerrant sense, and certainly not that they put everything down in exactly correct order. And while I believe Jesus didn’t make any mistakes, I don’t believe (on his own admission) that he knew everything. So I think you and I can understand each other well on this issue, as we often do.

    ” a lot of Christians (and you sometimes do this, although not always) seem to portray agnostics and atheists as being dishonest or unfair in the conclusions they draw about the Christian message”

    If I have done this, I apologise, because I don’t mean to, and I don’t think that way. I cannot know other people’s motivations, and I try not to infer what I cannot know. I am happy to leave such judgments to God.

    But I think it is I who has been misunderstood, not just by you, but by archaeopteryx1 and others. When I dispute a statement someone makes as if fact, it is because I think they have made a mistake, not because I have a hidden agenda to dispute some larger matter. I think that if a statement is worth making, it is worth getting right. And the resultant discussion is an interesting test.

    On the matter of Matthew 24, I never made the claim that every statement in there was inerrant and verifiable, or anything like it. I simply suggested that some statements made about it were not presenting all the facts. I am aware of the scholarly consensus on the passage, but having studied both OT & NT prophecy, and come to a slightly different understanding of it as a result, I personally think the chapter is consistent, though difficult.

    I therefore appreciate the tone of your comment. I am sorry your “christian experience” wasn’t positive or convincing, and can hope that one day you may see things differently. As I guess you might hope for me! 🙂 Best wishes.

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  70. I agree with some of your points also Howie. Although I would not call myself a christian, I do believe in the “old testament” and Yeshua as the Messiah. I, like unklee understand this text differently, in light of my study of the scriptures. It truly is amazing how each individual can glean something different from the same passage.

    There are several keys (imo) to understanding this text, and the many like it. First off, the apostles never understood what Yeshua was teaching. Why? Because he spoke in parables, seeing they would not see and hearing they would not hear. It might not be so easy to understand. Secondly, when you look at this passage the apostles asked more than one question.

    When will these things be
    What is the sign of your coming
    And the end of this world

    They assumed that this was all one event. Next thing that you will see if you study Messiah is that any time he said, “verily verily I say to you” the text was not what it seemed (I can give examples if needed). So when he said “this generation shall not pass” the topic came in the next verse. “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass”. My words. The topic is his words, his testimony. The generation that witnessed his life passes on his testimony every time we open our bibles.
    Next point, he said nobody knows the day or hour right after. It will be like the days of Noah, unexpected. Read the list of things he said, and it seems clear that this was not going to take place in a short amount of time. Last point. What happened just before the end? The gospel was preached to the whole world. What gospel was that? Was it the gospel of grace? There are two gospels preached in the new testament, the gospel of the kingdom, and Paul’s new gospel of grace. Christianity had preached the gospel of grace to the whole world, but that is not the gospel Yeshua preached.

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  71. Hey Laurie, we are in a lot of agreement! One of the clearest things about the ministry of Jesus is that he rarely gave a straight answer. I too have always noted that they asked several questions, and probably thought they were the same one, but his answer suggests he didn’t. But somehow, not everyone sees this.

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  72. “This is what I’m seeing unk, and I’ve run into this tactic before, I made the statement that there is no verifiable evidence that the New Testament character, Yesua, ever actually existed. You have no evidence to support your belief that he did, so the best you can do is nit-pick my statements, in order to find SOMEthing about which to make me wrong, which I see as a deflection tactic.”

    Hi archaeopteryx1,

    Bingo! you’ve got it wrong again, but don’t worry, everyone gets a prize! 🙂 In fact you probably couldn’t be wronger – even my grammar couldn’t be wronger!

    If you asked anyone here, you’d find that the Jesus never existed idea is one of the topics I most post on. I’m definitely not running from that one! In fact, the others won’t thank you for raising the topic and getting me started! 🙂

    If you want to check out why I think that idea has no legs, you can read Was Jesus a real person? and Is there really a consensus of scholars on historical facts about Jesus?. But if you want to stay comfortable in your illusions, don’t bother.

    Fact is, I was simply interested in the small matter I picked up on. Sorry to spoil your psychologising!

    But since you mention diversionary tactics, maybe now we could get back to the small matter of the number of sources, which you said was 3, but is actually at least 6. Sorry, but I remembered despite everything, but if you delay another 2 years until I turn 70, I’ll probably forget. 🙂

    But don’t worry, I’ll give up on that now, and fade gently into the night. This has been a small test on being evidence-based, and the examiner tells me you will have to sit it again. Best wishes with that. I’m sorry it turned out this way, it could have been friendly chat, but as Mick Jagger said, you can’t always get what you want. Your genial unkle E.

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  73. @Unklee

    One of the clearest things about the ministry of Jesus is that he rarely gave a straight answer.

    Which flies in the face of a benevolent god with the interests of his creation at heart, but sounds just right for a cryptic narrative construct that was the creation of a religio/political group that had
    ulterior motives other that the salvation of humankind.
    Palestinian Freemasons?

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  74. @Unklee

    I think that if a statement is worth making, it is worth getting right. And the resultant discussion is an interesting test.

    The fact that you believe the ”statement” ( Nicene Creed) that Jesus was divine and the Creator of the universe I consider a pile of horse manure.

    However, in the interests of an interesting ‘test’ maybe you would like to qualify the Nicene Creed?
    This would at least demonstrate to your fellow bloggers your credentials regarding your stance re: interpretation of the passages in Matthew currently under discussion.

    Fair’s fair, right?

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  75. Thanks for your replies Uncle E and Laurie.

    Uncle E – I wouldn’t doubt you are misunderstood as well.. I think it is all too common for everyone to be questioned wrongly in tough discussions like religion and politics. Doesn’t make it easy – sorry if I’ve misunderstood you as well.

    Obviously your responses are possibilities as any interpretation is a possibility, but to me when I just read these passages and take them as they read then it looks to me like the writers of the New Testament believed that the end of the world was coming in their generation and that is what they wrote down. This seems to be confirmed when we read Paul’s writings – there are several places where he speaks as if some of the people he is speaking to will be people alive when “the end” comes. Of course for Laurie this is confirmation that Paul is a ravenous wolf. 😉 In some NT writings people are comforted that his return will come even though some have died. And then later documents like 2 Peter try to figure out how to resolve the difficulty of him not returning with the day being a thousand years thing.

    And Uncle E, I also know that you don’t believe the bible to be inerrant. I have also toyed with the idea that parts of the bible could be correct. Obviously a possibility as well.

    The understanding I have of these verses I believe i the plain reading of the text, and Stark also claimes that there are a lot of scholars who agree with this view…. again this doesn’t guarantee their conclusions, but for me I just see it as yet another thing that tips the scales in weighing all the evidence. Unfortunately this kind of stuff is not like math and logic – it’s all open to subjective interpretations.

    I know I and other nonbelievers on this blog say this all too frequently, but for me it is worth repeating: opening up the bible to interpretations which seem to go against the plain reading, and also allowing for some of it to be wrong brings up some problems along with it. First when I hear Christians declare other faiths to be wrong I hear them use very similar arguments like the ones that I and others use against Christianity. I believe they are being fair in their declarations of other religions just as I am trying my best to be fair in my own conclusions. Second, when we allow interpretations or declaring parts wrong then we are relying on our own abilities to decipher what is in and what isn’t or what can get special interpretations and what doesn’t and then we can simply create the religion that we want to see. I see this as happening throughout time as the culture of the day has shaped what Christians believe. And further, given these allowances (interpretations and scripture being wrong in places) I don’t understand why Universalists are given such a hard time by a lot of Christians when they say that all religions somehow create different pathways to the same peak of the mountain where God is. While I have a hard time believing in conscious beings who don’t have physical brains, I can at least see how Universalism would make sense in the light of the way more moderate Christians allow for the kind of hermeneutics they espouse. Many scriptures of many religions can be declared truth with the same exact kind of allowances.

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  76. Howie,
    The reason that I believe Paul is the false apostle of Revelations 2, is actually quite simple. In Acts 1 when Peter was electing the new 12th Apostle, there were three requirements to be part of the ministry.

    1)you had to have walked with Messiah during his ministry
    2)you had to have seen his baptism
    3)you had to have witnessed his resurrection

    Paul did not meet any of these requirements. Further more, Yeshua said there were false apostles claiming to be true apostles, and they were like balaam, teaching to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul allows eating meat sacrificed to idols in 1 corinthians 8. This is a very very brief explanation. If you read every thing that Yeshua said and compare it to Paul, it cannot be reconciled. Paul made countless errors, and lead people away from Torah, which is the Way the Truth and the Life

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  77. Do you see the thematic connection between Paul and Balaam. It is quite striking if you really think about it. There is also a connection to the lying prophet in 1 Kings 13.

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  78. This should be interesting, Ark, as the NT is loaded with references that imply the trinity conclusion reached at the Nicean Conference – a decision that was hotly contested, I might add – was a crock.

    Throughout the Gospels, Yeshua continually states that he would have no power by himself, that all of his power comes from his daddy in heaven – who is he begging, in the Garden of Gethsemane, to, “let this cup pass from me”? Himself? And to whom was he speaking when he said, “My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?”

    Let’s try that out and see how it plays: “Me! Me! Why have I forsaken me?!” Really doesn’t have quite the same ring to it —

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  79. @Laurie – although a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, I too, have always felt that Paul hi-jacked the Christian religion. But somewhat in his defense, you DO know, don’t you, that 1st Timothy, as well as verses 14:34-35 of 1st Corinthians were forged, added to Paul’s letter after it had been written?

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  80. @Laurie – RE: “Do you see the thematic connection between Paul and Balaam.” – I hadn’t noticed that as much as I see a strong thematic connection between Balaam and Shrek, they both had talking donkeys!

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  81. And Peter didn’t write Peter. It makes no difference really. I could write thirty pages on why Paul is false, but most Christians will choose to follow him instead of Yeshua. I am not saying that to be malicious, as I believed he was the greatest apostle for most of my life. But I also believe that Satan has deceived the whole world even the very elect, through the church.

    Just look at Matthew 7. Many will say to him, did we not …………..in your name, and he will say depart from me you whom commit anomia , which is usually translated as lawlessness, but is more accurately translated negation of the law. What’s important to see hear is that he is talking to Christians. Nobody else prophesies in HIS name, and it is through the authority of Paul that we teach the law has been nailed to the cross. The church is teaching the negation of the law, when that is contrary to what Yeshua taught. Yeshua said if you want eternal life keep the commandments. At least that is how it appears to me.

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  82. First of all, Laurie, I have never known you to be malicious – in fact, my Shrek joke was far more malicious than anything you’ve ever said – I agree with you about Paul, but for totally different reasons. You clearly believe in the validity of Satan and Jesus and the whole religious thing, whereas I just see a man, clearly in conflict with himself over his job of persecuting converts to what Hebrew authorities clearly saw as a heresy, with the end result being a three-day bout of hysterical blindness, which you can discuss with any psychologist.

    Being a typical, superstitious, 1st Century Jew, he likely saw his affliction as being god-sent, rather than the result of his own, internal, psychological conflicts, and after deliberating on the problem for three days (during which he couldn’t do much else), he ended his cognitive dissonance by deciding that Yeshua was truly the long-awaited Messiah – voila! Conflict resolved, sight restored – it’s a miracle! Of conflict relolution.

    Clearly he had some issues with the original 11’s approach, or felt he had a stronger conviction, or something – how can anyone know what went through the mind of a 1st Century mentally-deranged person? At any rate, he went off on his own, and prolific writer that he was, he wrote far more than the other 11 combined, in fact, after Paul began his crusade, the others pretty much dropped off the grid, comparatively speaking.

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  83. While that is a very interesting take on what occurred, I don’t really see it that way. First off, there were 12 true apostles not 11 and that would make Paul the 13th apostle with 13 books. Secondly, in the 3 places he recounts his conversion story, they are all very different. In the last one he doesn’t even mention being blind, but he does make a false prophecy in Yeshuas name. Also, in my opinion, just because he wrote more does not make him right. Ellen white is the most printed and published female author ever, but that doesn’t make her claim of prophetess true 😉

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  84. RE: “I don’t really see it that way.” – had you said anything different, I wouldn’t be typing this, I’d be passed out on the floor.

    As a sidenote – I’m not familiar with Ellen White, but I believe – not that it’s relavant – that Danielle Steel is the most-published American author. “But that doesn’t make her claim of prophetess true” – no, of course not, but if you accept Abraham Lincoln’s “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time,” then it stands to reason, that simply based on the law of averages, a ratio between the gullible over the rational – and considering the number of religious people in the world, I’d have to guess that to be a high figure – the more prolific the writer = the wider the audience = the more converts.

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  85. RE: “In the last one he doesn’t even mention being blind, but he does make a false prophecy in Yeshuas name.” – do me a favor, if you would Laurie, I’d like to take a closer look at that, could you save me some time by giving me book, chapter and verse on that? You seem to have it at your fingertips —

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  86. Arch, off the top of my head, I think the three passages that talk about Paul’s conversion are Acts 9, 22, and 26. It may be recounted in one of his epistles as well, but I can’t remember…

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  87. Holy Jumping Through a Hoop!!

    102 comments??? I wish I had as many readers as you, but it seems that folks will follow blogs by intelligent, reasonable, thoughtful non-believers or they’ll follow blogs by intellectually dishonest, frightened believers, but there’s no market for blogs written by intelligent, reasonable, thoughtful believers.

    Whatever.

    Allow me to respond to the blogger from NarrowWayApologetics.com

    @Diana

    Here’s what. I will accept your argument without a fight. You and I will agree that any fair minded person who considers the particulars of Jesus’ birth, life and death in light of the prophesies of the Hebrew Scriptures will have to conclude that the evidence that Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophesies is astonishing.

    The facts of the matter simply cannot be dismissed as coincidence or exaggeration or deceit. Something occurred that is far beyond ‘dumb luck’ and the folks who deny this are simply grabbing at straws.

    Are we OK so far?

    The problem, for me, is that thousands of astonishing things have happened in the long history of this wide world — some are even more astonishing than Jesus’ fulfillment of prophesy. My belief is that NONE of these astonishing things can be explained away as examples of ‘coincidence’; but the fact that something is more than coincidence doesn’t, of force, indicate that the explanation is supernatural or divine. My response to the astonishing is this: “It can’t be luck, it might be God, or it might be something else entirely that we human beings are unable to identify at this stage of our collective development. Maybe the reasons will become clear to us in future generations. Maybe we’ll never make sense of it.”

    Jumping to the conclusion that divine intervention is at work seems like sloppy reasoning to me.

    More importantly, though, I think it is intellectually and spiritually dangerous to put your faith in someone simply because there are things about their lives or their actions that are astonishing.

    I’m not a disciple of Christ because Jesus walked on water (even if he did) nor because he appeared to many witnesses after he died (even if he did) , nor am I a Christian because his mother conceived him as a virgin (even if she did). None of those things prove anything to me. It’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s that I don’t think their veracity even matters. These stories are important because they’re instructive, not because we believe they literally happened.

    I’m a Christian because I believe in the forgiveness of sins. I believe that the single most important thing a person can do in her/his life is to come to understand that her/his that all their wrongdoing is forgiven and — even more importantly — to extend forgiveness to everyone who’s done them wrong. I care much, much more about WHO God is than I care about whether or not he actually exists (put that in your pipe and smoke it!). I believe that the core reality of life, and of the universe is mercy and complete self giving. That’s the core reality of existence and it’s the core revelation of Christianity — so, for me, Christianity it is….

    Paul

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  88. CaptainCatholic- “Here’s what. I will accept your argument without a fight. You and I will agree that any fair minded person who considers the particulars of Jesus’ birth, life and death in light of the prophesies of the Hebrew Scriptures will have to conclude that the evidence that Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophesies is astonishing.”

    I personally do not find those scriptures so astonishing. The new testament was passed down predominantly orally for decades by believers intimately familiar with the Jewish prophecies and who were desperate to give their new religion(Christianity) legitimacy. If you have ever played Chinese whispers then I am sure you know how things can be tacked on and changed from the original truth.

    Then of course we have the Jews, who scripture and prophecy it is actually based upon, who will be the first to tell you that Jesus did not fulfill their messianic prophecy.

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  89. RE: “I’m a Christian because I believe in the forgiveness of sins” – and considering that sin is defined as an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law, I can safely say I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in sin.

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  90. Good thoughts, Paul. Very nicely stated.

    Nate-
    Good to see a new post up! And, over 100 comments again!!! Great blog, very thought-provoking 😉

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  91. And Uncle E, I also know that you don’t believe the bible to be inerrant. I have also toyed with the idea that parts of the bible could be correct. Obviously a possibility as well.”

    I liked this!! 🙂 I think you and I think alike in some ways, we have just come to different conclusions (at present, at any rate).

    Yes, I think it is likely that many of the NT writers thought Jesus would return soon and sort everything out – that’s the assumption that started Matthew 24 after all. But I can’t see the big deal in that. They possibly thought the world was flat and the sun was bigger than Betelgeuse too.

    I think what I am suggesting is indeed a plain reading. I think most comments here bring to the text a number of expectations that are unjustified. If we could approach Matthew 24 and the gospels generally like a visiting alien, I think we would not assume that this discourse is “prophecy” and that prophecy must be as we imagine it to be. We would observe that Jesus often spoke in figures of speech, riddles, parable, etc, often answered questions with questions, and answered different questions than the ones asked of him. (I think there are reasons for this.)

    And so we would maybe get out of it something like what was intended, and not reject so quickly something that maybe wasn’t intended.

    Not sure how universalism came up, but while I’m not a universalist, I wish it were true and I agree with you that universalists shouldn’t give others a hard time. Best wishes.

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  92. I guess that Alzheimers has already begun setting in unk, as I said we would discuss things further when you had some actual evidence that your Yeshua ever existed. You suggested I read a piece entitled, “Is there really a consensus of scholars on historical facts about Jesus?” in which you mentioned Bart Ehrman, but then quoted nothing by him, in a piece that offered a dozen or more statements that Yeshua surely existed, but no evidence to support them.

    In the second piece, “Was Jesus a real person?” – a much better written piece – Mr. Ehrman was actually allowed to speak, and surprisingly, was the only author mentioned who provided any information that might lead one to actually believe he ever lived.

    The piece ended, however, with this, which would seem to sum up the situation nicely:

    Can we know historical truth?
    We cannot directly observe the past, so history can only be known through writings that record what people say happened, and archaeology that supports these writings. Because different writers have different purposes, and because recording the objective truth may not have been among their purposes, historians have to compare the various accounts with each other and with archaeology to determine what is consistent. They try to recognise, and discount, biases in the writings, and use methods to reduce the influence of their own opinions.
    Thus history can only describe what probably happened.

    As for your persistent effort to prove me wrong, if I recall (and I’ve had a number of actually IMPORTANT things come across my plate since then), I said that since, of the four anonymous authors of the Gospels, Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke had copied from Psuedo-Mark, that made Psuedo-Mark, Pseudo-John and Paul the only original stories of all of the biblical authors, or something to that effect. You brought up Quelle (Q), saying that that made a fourth source, then you went further, to say that since Psuedo-Mark and Q contributions to the writings of Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke totaled less, when combined, than 100% of those writings, you insisted that I not only add Q to my list of authors of original stories, i.e., Psuedo-Mark, Pseudo-John and Paul, I must also add Q, and for the small percentages of Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke, not copied from Psuedo-Mark and Q, those two should be added as well, bringing the total to six.

    Hardly. Quelle is believed by many to have been used by Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke, and possibly even by Pseudo-Mark, but that doesn’t make Q a contributor, only a scribe, of whom it is said that possibly he copied some of Yeshua’s sayings, if indeed Yeshua ever existed, hence, I choose not to include him. As for Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke, it has already been established that neither ever knew Yeshua, if he ever existed, they copied from Pseudo-Mark, they copied from Q – who is to say that the rest of what was attributed to them, wasn’t copied from someone else, and even if it weren’t, how reliable could the pieces of work be, of a person about whom it has been established, copied from two separate sources? Which brings us back to 3, or 4 if you count Peter.

    Then too, I have only your word for the percentages you quoted as to how much of their Gospels Pseudo-Matthew and Pseudo-Luke copied, and from whom, and what percentage they actually wrote.

    So I’m kinda gonna have to pass on accepting your word for any of it.
    BTW – if you’re involved in an ingratiation contest, you may have noticed that, surprisingly, Howie actually beat you, just when I thought no one could possibly be more smarmy – sorry.

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  93. Archaeopterxy1,
    Sorry about that, I have been building in the barn. Any how, Nate is correct. Just in case you didn’t see all the discrepancies, I will list the big ones below.

    In one account Saul fell to the ground and the others stood. In another they all fell.
    In one account the men with him heard the voice, and in the other they heard not the voice.
    In one account Yeshua gave him his mission on the road, and the other two it was Ananias in Damascus.
    In acts Paul said he went to Damascus and then Jerusalem and all Judea first, and then to the gentiles. But in Galatians 1:15-20 he swears before God that he is not lying, that he did not go to Jerusalem. Why would he feel the need to say he is not lying as often as he does, if he had not been accused of it?
    The last story he tells king Agrippa that Yeshua gave him his mission right there on the road. No blindness, no scales falling from his eyes, no Ananias or Judas. The interesting thing that happens next is that he tells the king that Yeshua said he would be delivered from the hands of the Jews and from the gentiles to whom I now send you. Shortly there after he declare to see Caesar. Festus says he could have been set free, but since he declared to see Caesar, to Caesar he shall go. Unfortunately for him, that was Nero, who loved to use Christians as light poles in his garden, and Paul was not released, but beheaded some time later.

    As if that wasn’t enough, Yeshua said if any one sees me in the wilderness (which the road to Damascus was the wilderness) go not after them. According to Acts 22:14 and most of Christianity, Paul claimed to SEE the Messiah in the desert. Yeshua said nobody would see him till every eye saw him at his coming. John the Revelator did not see him, he was in vision. But Paul saw him in the desert, in the wilderness.

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  94. Hi archaeopteryx1, thanks for reading my stuff and replying.

    You don’t have to take my word for the number of verses in each source, that info is available everywhere. And I’m not sure what is the conclusion of your discussion of sources, but since Q is about 232 verses, M is about 226 and L is about 577, I still can’t see any reason why you didn’t rate them.

    But where I feel really pissed off is in your awarding Howie the win in the “ingratiation contest”. I have been practicing my smarmy for years now (it’s called politeness where I live), and to be beaten by a mere amateur like Howie is a crushing blow!

    So I’ll leave the discussion field to you, and head off to the smarminess school to do my PhD! 🙂

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  95. Laurie, The disembodied figure that Paul claimed to see did not give Paul his mission while he was on the road to Damascus. The “voice” told him to “enter the city” where he would be told what to do (Acts 9:3-6).

    Also, if you haven’t already noticed, Paul himself says very little in his writings about his experience. Most all of it is laid out in Acts, which was written by (at least some scholars believe) a friend and admirer of Paul. Further, there are three accounts of what happened (Acts: 9:3-19; 22:6-21; 26:12-18). It isn’t until the last version that the reader actually learns the mission that Paul has (supposedly) been given by the phantom voice.

    One other thing. I’m sure you’re aware that Paul’s mystic experience didn’t take place until approximately three years after Jesus had died and made his “heavenly ascent” (some scholars place it as late as six years). Makes you wonder why he waited so long to pay Paul a visit, doesn’t it?

    I totally support your take on Paul. He is surely a wolf in disguise.

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  96. Well Paul must have been really confused! First he gets his mission in town from Ananias, and then later in Acts 26:16 Yeshua tells him to “rise up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a witness and minister of the things you have seen, and the things which I will reveal to you……….” And so on and so forth.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg! It’s nice to know some one else can see this! And why is it so hard to believe, God said he was going to send a false prophet to test us and see if we would keep his commandments! It is a test, the sifting of the wheat from the tares.

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  97. “I really enjoy reading your comments Unkle E! “

    Thanks Laurie. And I enjoy reading yours. Even though we would disagree about some important things, I think we have similar values and agree on a lot.

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  98. @Rocky John,

    OK, OK. Fair’s fair. I gave Diana’s line of reasoning my unconditional acceptance and didn’t use a bit of critical thinking to challenge her conclusions. I really should offer you the same arrangement.

    Very well, you and I will agree that, after Jesus died, the remaining disciples were desperate to justify their decision to keep the band together so they decided to stretch and contort the scriptures every which way until they cobbled together something that might “pass” as evidence that Jesus was the Messiah.

    How, I ask, does that make any difference to me — or to you, for that matter? Desperate times call for desperate measures and people will do whatever needs doing in order to survive. I won’t fault those folks, living so far away and so long ago, for doing what they did. Why should you?

    I’n focused on the fact that Jesus called for repentance and, after he died, the apostles kept on with the job. When they died, their disciples continued the work; and when they died their disciples carried on and so forth. It’s been two thousand years and the Church still calls us to repent. That’s what interests me because that’s what’s important.

    I’m sitting here in my comfortable suburban condo outside of Boston and I’ve organized my life upon the premise that my concerns and my well-being are more important than other people’s. Can we call that selfishness? Selfishness is what I’ve got to repent. The Church calls me to stop putting myself first and to start giving a crap about you and about everyone else — and I’m either going to do that or I’m not going to do that, and whether I do or I don’t is what matters.

    The rest is dust.

    Paul

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  99. No problem Arch! As a woman, sometimes I feel like people should be able to read my mind, and understand my ramblings. But on the good chance that I did a crap job explaining anything, please let me know.

    Unkle, I believe in the Tanach, and I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, what I don’t believe is Paul. I appreciate your kindness, as a lot of Pauline Christians seem to want me to know that I am going to hell. Although they may be really wonderful people, I feel this is a really poor example for someone who claims to worship Ya. So… Yes there are important things that we don’t agree on, but I appreciate your posts none the less! 🙂

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  100. Laurie, I had gathered some of that, but thanks for the clarification. I don’t think I have even met anyone with those views before, and I’d like to hear your story some time, but I think this comment thread is long enough.

    Yes, condemning people to hell is not our place (and I don’t believe in the traditional hell anyway). I think God is a little more tolerant than most christians, and I think following Jesus is the key thing and all the rest may help or hinder, but isn’t central. Hopefully I’ll see you around.

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  101. but there’s no market for blogs written by intelligent, reasonable, thoughtful believers.

    The answer is simple, Paul. Your statement is a contradiction of terms; like Military Intelligence.

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  102. @Paul

    I believe that the core reality of life, and of the universe is mercy and complete self giving. That’s the core reality of existence and it’s the core revelation of Christianity — so, for me, Christianity it is….

    You really must give me the name of your dealer, Paul. Whatever it is you’re smoking is worth it’s weight in Gold.

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  103. Uncle E,

    I’m sure there will be many other opportunities for me to clarify some of the points I made in future posts. Or if you want I can come back here on the weekend when I’ll have more time to clarify.

    There is one suggestion I’d like to make for you that you can take or leave (as with any other things I write here): If you would like not to be misunderstood then you may want to change the whole “This has been a small test on being evidence-based” perspective. It does kind of indicate that you have some hidden agenda or ulterior motive rather than you simply trying to write down the things that you personally believe are facts and then simply allowing others to agree to disagree.

    You may want to keep in mind that getting _anyone_ (no matter what their worldview is) to admit in public that they are wrong on a particular fact is a very tough thing. Especially when the small facts that you might dispute don’t really detract very much from the overall conclusion that the person is trying to express. I don’t believe that just because there are tons of Christians out there who won’t admit to things that I personally believe are facts about evolution implies that the Christian message is wrong. My conclusion about Christianity is based on a lot of other things. Yes, I fully agree with you that it’s important to speak things truly as best we can, but I just think that testing people to see if they are willing to publicly declare they were wrong about facts here and there doesn’t really help to prove anything more than humans can be stubborn and unwilling to be embarrassed or shown to be not trusted publicly, but it seems this is somehow important to you.

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  104. “I just think that testing people to see if they are willing to publicly declare they were wrong about facts here and there doesn’t really help to prove anything more than humans can be stubborn and unwilling to be embarrassed or shown to be not trusted publicly, but it seems this is somehow important to you.”

    Yeah, unk! What Howie said! Shame on you, shame, shame, shame!

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  105. You’re cracking me up Arch – I’m hoping when Unk wakes up he also takes this with some humor. Maybe I got a bit too serious about it.

    But I think Uncle E has this thing where he believes atheists are wrong when they say that they are evidence based versus faith based. And it seems he wants to prove that by showing that atheists make a bunch of mistakes on their facts and won’t admit when they get facts wrong. But again this just proves that we can all be a bit stubborn or wrong at times. The whole faith versus evidence thing is a whole other long discussion. But to me the most telling thing is that religious people very often urge others to “have faith” when forming their beliefs (although Uncle E doesn’t really do this because I personally do feel he leans more toward trying his best to base his beliefs on evidence), but I’ve rarely seen an atheist urge others to “have faith” when forming their beliefs. There is definitely a difference here.

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  106. @Howie – I tried using my best Gomer Pyle voice, I don’t know whether or not it came across in print.

    it seems he wants to prove that by showing that atheists make a bunch of mistakes on their facts and won’t admit when they get facts wrong.

    I caught that early on, and decided I wasn’t playing his game, and as for, “I’m hoping when Unk wakes up he also takes this with some humor.” – I’m sure he will, he seemed to think it was funny when I basically said you outdid him in ingratiating politeness, he bemoaned the fact that he’d lost out to a rank amateur, when he’d been practicing his particular brand of sycophancy for years. I’d have to describe unk much as Douglas Adams did the Earth – “mostly harmless”.

    arch

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  107. Somehow I missed out on that part before – awesome I’ve got a phD in smarmy without even going to school! At least I’ve got the Arch Honorary Degree. 😉

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  108. Ark,
    I read the post you linked to, and I am wondering what issues it is supposed to clear up? I get the feeling that the only evidence for Yeshua’s existence you will accept is a documented birth certificate, social security number, and fine print on file. Really…. Let’s be fair. Yeshua was not Caesar, so he will not have coins with his name, or battles recorded in history. There is however evidence that he was real besides the historical accounts of people that you think are not trustworthy. What people aren’t really being realistic about, is how much evidence should we expect from what most people in his time would have considered an average Joe? In my opinion, an ossuary inscribed with “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus” is good evidence that he did in fact exist, not not the only evidence we have by a long shot. All I am saying is, let’s be fair.

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  109. Not being cranky, just making an observation that could be right or wrong O:-) how’s that for smarmy!

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  110. “a documented birth certificate”

    Personally, I’m betting he was born in Kenya!

    RE:

    “In my opinion, an ossuary inscribed with ‘James son of Joseph brother of Jesus’ is good evidence that he did in fact exist”

    All seriousness aside, do you by any chance have a link for that, Laurie? I recall seeing something about it a long time ago, but I’ve long since forgotten where.

    It means a lot to you, doesn’t it Laurie, to believe that he exists? I can’t make fun of that, even though I don’t personally believe – I recall all too vividly the anguish I felt the first time a kid told me there was no Santa, I wouldn’t want to put anyone else through that.

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  111. Laurie, now I feel terrible because you may beat me out for smarmy when I was just basking in the glory! 😉

    In my opinion, if you want the best analysis of the mythicist position regarding Jesus you’ll have to wait for Richard Carrier’s book to come out next year. But for me others have tried in the past and failed to convince enough scholars (even the very liberal ones). And yes, seriously this doesn’t guarantee it – I don’t say that to be smarmy, I say it because it’s simply the perspective I have. Even if every scholar believed that Jesus never existed that doesn’t guarantee it (and vice versa obviously). Think about how many very smart people believed that the sun revolved around the earth 2500 years ago. If you questioned it then you would have been labelled nutso – but you would have been wrong!

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that we can be fair and reasonable and likely come closer to truth, and there are a lot of things we can have great assurance of using evidence and critical reasoning. When I try my best at this regarding the existence of Jesus I presently lean toward thinking he existed. But it’s also fair to say that when apologists make claims like “his historicity is as sure as the Holocaust”, or “his historicity is as sure as Julius Caesar” then they are not being fair.

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  112. It’s OK, but with all due respect, Sweet Lady, it’s nowhere near the smarmy masterpiece that that one comment of Howie’s, to unkleE, was – I could be wrong, that could well be Howie’s normal polite writing style, but when I read the comment, I cracked up!

    I thought to myself, “this guy has snapped to unkleE’s ingratiating game, and has decided to write a comment SO ingratiating, it’ll put unk to shame –!

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  113. RE: “Think about how many very smart people believed that the sun revolved around the earth 2500 years ago.”

    “The Church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow, than in the church.”
    — Ferdinand Magellan —
    (1480 – 1521)

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  114. Come on Arch, sound to me like you think I operate on blind faith! I am very analytical, and the facts are important to me. I did start to doubt the scriptures for a while when I found out there are some errors, but the more I study it the more it blows me away. It is a literary masterpiece like the world has never seen, a book full of puzzles. And if you figure out how to read it, it tells the most important part of history, history before the world was here. It answers the most important question, not how did we get here, but why are we here in the first place. A question that many THINK they can answer.

    Btw, I never taught my kids about Santa;-)

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  115. It is my normal writing style Arch, and maybe I need to re-think how I write to come across as I want to – I want to be polite but not in an underhanded way. I don’t mind you making fun of it, but if you really believe it then I’m doing something wrong.

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  116. Well, in that case I was wro – not entirely correct, you’re not the delicate flower I supposed you to be. You are of course entitled to your opinion – somewhere, many, many moons ago, I read this, but neglected to get the author, as I didn’t think I’d ever need it: ” Let him (or her) clean better if he can, the windows of his soul, so that he might see the beauty and prospect more clearly.”

    That said, I see the whole Bible, old and new, as a hodge-podge of stories that seem to divide themselves into trying, without any scientific background, to make sense of things, and into trying to control a population and enforce the beliefs of a few who think they know better than anyone, what is best for mankind, much like the Muslims who are trying to gradually bring Sharia law to Europe.

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  117. No, no, Howie, there’s nothing in the world wrong with your writing style, I just mistakenly thought you were making fun of the Man from UnkleE’s sycophancy, that’s all. You’re polite, a knack that for some reason, I never quite managed to acquire. There’s nothing at all wrong with that.

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  118. Arch, I don’t know where to send you? You could try the IAA Israeli antiques authority. Another thing to realize is that while finding Noahs ark and the red sea crossing were great for them, evidence to support Yeshua is not. They are very difficult, and make it hard to get permission for digs, and things of that sort. I expect that there will be a lot more evidence unearthed in the years to come. So keep an open mind and I will always do the same

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  119. I messed that up – shame there’s no way to edit our comments – let me try it again:

    “Let him (or her) clean better if he can, the windows of his soul, that he might see the beauty and prospect of life more clearly.”

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  120. Ark,
    I read the post you linked to, and I am wondering what issues it is supposed to clear up? I get the feeling that the only evidence for Yeshua’s existence you will accept is a documented birth certificate, social security number, and fine print on file. Really…. Let’s be fair. Yeshua was not Caesar, so he will not have coins with his name, or battles recorded in history. There is however evidence that he was real besides the historical accounts of people that you think are not trustworthy. What people aren’t really being realistic about, is how much evidence should we expect from what most people in his time would have considered an average Joe? In my opinion, an ossuary inscribed with “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus” is good evidence that he did in fact exist, not not the only evidence we have by a long shot. All I am saying is, let’s be fair.

    Okay, lets square this away once and for all for all the intransigent blinkered believers out there.

    Maybe there was a smelly little eschatological preacher called Jesus running around Palestine at the turn of the first century. I have no idea. And could care even less. Josephus mentions a couple of Jesuses, maybe one of them was such a bloke?

    But the biblical character; the miracle performing man-god called Jesus of Nazareth who came back from the dead and may or may not have shagged Mary Magdalene and was inserted into history by the likes of Eusebius, Constantine and ratified by everyone’s favorite, Emperor Theodosius, is a narrative construct, a work of pure fiction, and only a myopic, self-serving idiot would consider this character ”real” in any sense of the word.

    I sincerely hope this has cleared up any and all misunderstanding?

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  121. Ohhh, I see. am I just a myopic self serving idiot, for believing in “NT” writings, or does that include anyone that believes in the dead sea crossing, and Noahs ark also?

    I know you were really hoping to have cleared things up with your opinion, but opinions rarely do that here 🙂

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  122. Are you saying, Laurie, that they’ve found something they (whoever they are) are passing off as the ark from that fictitious story, set allegedly in 2348 BCE (according to Arch-Bishop Ussher), of a global flood that covered all of the mountains and 15 cubits (22.5 feet) beyond, an act requiring a volume of water to equal 159.72 quintillion cubic feet, or 1+ sextillion gallons, of which, in, on, under and above the earth, there are only 326 quintillion gallons (National Geological Survey), leaving us c.836.85+ quintillion gallons short – bear in mind that about 90% of the existing H2O is already at, or below, sea level, and sadly, not available for flooding.

    The story was plagiarized from an ACTUAL flood that occurred in Mesopotamia, near the ancient city of Shurrapak in 2900 BCE, at which time, the Euphrates River overflowed its banks, to a depth of – wait for it – 15 cubits (22.5 feet), flooding an area we would, today, find comparable to about three counties. the King of Surrapak (Mesopotamia, at the time, was filled with many, autonomous city-states), Ziusudra, escaped on a trading barge, loaded with cotton, and cattle and beer (oh my!).

    One of the very first actual pieces of fiction ever written, used this event as a centerpiece, “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” the story of a young warrior in search of eternal life – in the story, he seeks out an ancient king, Utinapishtum – the fictionalized version of Ziusudra – who told of his experiences in the flood, brought by the gods. Old Ut sent out ravens and doves, just like someone else we know, and when he finally disemb-arked, he built an altar and sacrificed an animal, “The gods smelled the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor and collected like flies over a sacrifice.

    You’ll never guess what old Yahweh did when Noah built an altar and sacrificed one of the few animals left on the earth: (Gen 8:21) “the Lord smelled the sweet savor“! I guess that must just be a thing that gods do —

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  123. Ahhh, you didn’t know they found the ark? What about the red sea crossing, or Sodom and Gomorrah? It is weird that all cultures seem to share really similar stories isn’t it??? Ha ha ha, sucker! Just kidding! It makes perfect sense really(to me) . Nimrod, Seminarians, and Tammuz were the beginning of paganism, and when the languages were confounded each group had a similar story that evolved with that group. Just my take on it. There is a lot of evidence for the flood, if your not trying to disprove it

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  124. Ohhh, I see. am I just a myopic self serving idiot, for believing in “NT” writings, or does that include anyone that believes in the dead sea crossing, and Noahs ark also?

    I know you were really hoping to have cleared things up with your opinion, but opinions rarely do that here 🙂

    Oh, no. You surely do not believe in the Red Sea crossing. (Moses, and the Exodus) Please say it aint true?

    If you are merely having a bit of fun then super. But if you believe any of this crap then …well yes, you have the cap therefore it must fit.

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  125. @Laurie – far be it from me to call you “myopic,” just because your comment was addressed to Nate, who, to the best of my knowledge has said nothing to you. Ark said something about the NT, and I, about Noah’s barge, so I’m not really clear which of the two of us you’re actually chastising. Perhaps if you’d clarify, one of us could stay for the thrashing, while the other skipped merrily off – I’m rather good at skipping —

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  126. Huh? I honestly don’t know what you are referring to. Ark called me names… Boo hoo:'( and I didn’t say any thing about Nate 🙂

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  127. If by that, Laurie, you mean that there’s plenty of evidence that Noah’s flood story of 2300 BCE was “borrowed” from the real, tri-county flood in Mesopotamia, I would agree. You DO realize of course, that Mesopotamia is modern Iraq, and just a short missile’s flight to Egypt, where archaeologists have uncovered 3000 years worth of tombs, not one trace of flood sediment has ever been found.

    The Southern end of the Dead Sea, home of the legendary cities of Sodom and Gomorroah, is located on the same geological fault line that created the Great Rift valley of Africa – I wish I could load pictures onto this format, I’d show you a map. The area in Palestine is also rich in bitumen, which Egyptians once gathered, to be used in embalming. Bitumen is a black, pliable tar-like substance I could best describe as oil on its way to becoming coal – it is quite flammable, and when blown out of the ground by hot, flaming, natural gas, released by an 8.0 earthquake, could certainly leave the impression of brimstone hail.

    As for the Red Sea crossing, you don’t want to get me started.

    BTW – I DO hope you’re not basing any of your opinions on the “work” of the late Ron Wyatt —

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  128. Ark,
    So I believe in the flood and the red sea crossing. If there is evidence for it, and you are against it because you don’t think God is real, how is it that I am the one who is narrow minded? If you really knew what I believed, I have a hard time thinking you could accuse me of being myopic. What’s the old saying, pot calling the kettle black

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  129. Arch,
    I suppose we could go round and round about this, but because I do not believe in the theory of evolution , we probably won’t get very far. Plus my computer crashed and I am typing on my cell phone

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  130. @ Laurie

    So I believe in the flood and the red sea crossing. If there is evidence for it, and you are against it because you don’t think God is real, how is it that I am the one who is narrow minded?

    I really am not sure whether you are yanking everyones chain here.
    There is no evidence for the Red Sea crossing. No evidence for Moses, the Exodus, the slavery in Egypt, the sojourn in the Sinai, the Invasion and conquest/genocidal campaign of Canaan,
    It is all fiction.
    If you are unaware of archaeologists such as Israel Finkelstein and Zee’v Herzog, to name but two, then I can always supply you with links?

    Please, only fundamental nitwits believe this stuff, And Arch is right in asking you about Ron Wyatt.
    I hope to goodness you are not a follower of this numbskull?

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  131. No I am not a follower of Ron Wyatt. I also am not a follower of Darwin, but I wouldn’t claim all his finds were incorrect.

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  132. Laurie,

    I think Ark and Arch both are making some valid points here. Just to grab a couple for now:

    I thought Ark was spot on when he said that it’s possible there was some preacher guy (and ok, I’ll even agree that he very likely was smelly by my standards 😉 ) who is at the core of the stories in the New Testament. I would even go further to say it’s very likely (although I haven’t really read enough to say exactly how likely – but I’ve given some comparison points in my previous comment). But Ark also has a good point when he says that the writings about him are narrative construct. For me I think that there are some things written that are reliable, but my understanding is that the scholarly consensus is that the gospels contain embellishment about his life – there just isn’t consensus about how much. I’ve even heard Mike Licona (a “Chicago inerrantist” apologist) admit that John changed the date of the crucifixion for theological reasons! And then there seems to be consensus that the birth narratives are legendary stories (I think I’ve even seen Uncle E agree to this). This really is just a start on what is debated on legendary development. How in the world am I supposed to trust that guys who wrote these kinds of things can be trusted with the truth about morality and how to be right with disembodied conscious beings (if I could even get to the point where I think them likely to exist)?

    And Arch’s stuff about the Canaanite conquests being found to be fictional – there is some embarrassing stuff there too. And I don’t say these things because I want there to be no God, I’m just stating what I understand as the conclusions of current research.

    And frankly on the Canaanite conquests anyway, please re-read I Samuel 15:3 and don’t skip over the “children and infants” part. I’m gonna be quite frank here – by the standards that you judge Paul to be a ravenous wolf, the writer of that stuff could very well be declared the same. I want to respect Nate’s blog by declining to use the words that I think properly describe writings like this. 🙂

    In fact given the legendary embellishment alone we could declare all the writers ravenous wolves.

    But I agree with Arch – I just see these things as writings by imperfect ancient humans who were affected by the culture of their day – it isn’t surprising what they wrote given the kind of culture they lived in.

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  133. Yes I agree that if you were to speak to the average Christian and show them all the supposed errors in the new testament, they would probably be dumbfounded. But if you can understand the writings from a Jewish perspective, and you study the original text (even if you don’t) a lot of these issues will disappear. The problem is, we have a bunch of pastors preachers bishop’s and so forth, who are not educated and just regurgitate exactly what they hear. This is why people think Messiah was crucified on a Friday, and born on Christmas.

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  134. Never mind, Laurie, I see what happened – each comment, as they arrive in my email, all say, “in response to Nate:” – I hadn’t noticed that before, and thought that you thought that you were responding to Nate. It’s been a long day, quit pickin’ on me —

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  135. And as for the ravenous wolf, Genesis 49 says it is someone from the tribe of Benjamin and they would kill the prey in the morning and divide spoil in the afternoon. Paul killed the Christians in the beginning and then he divided. He is the cause for the 40,000 different denominations we have today. He says one thing here and another there, and all it has done is divide

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  136. I just found it ironic, that all of the events she itemized just happened to be ones that Wyatt claimed to have investigated, except for his last “discovery,” the ark of the covenant, in a cave, beneath Golgotha Hill, and somehow some of Christ’s blood dripped down through a crack in the rocks, and onto the ark. Despite such a monumental discovery, the bloody ark hasn’t been seen by anyone but the late Wyatt and his helpers, who aren’t talking. The blood, if ever analyzed, should technically contain only XX chromosomes.

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  137. Wait just a minute there arch. Wyatt did not discover the ark, and I believe the red sea crossing had been verified

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  138. Laurie,

    Doesn’t look like we’ll agree on too much… so instead I’m curious to learn what group or denomination believes the stuff that you do. I’ve found others on the internet describing the same things you do about Paul and such. Are you guys just a bunch of disbanded people who agree with each other or is there an organized group who hold to similar things you believe?

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  139. No group, at least not one that I have found. I attend a synagogue, because I believe in Torah, and they gather on Shabbat.

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  140. No, of course he didn’t discover the ark, there never was one, and to the best of my knowledge, the Red Sea crossing has never been verified, and neither has Moses, nor 40 years in the Sinai without leaving as much as a Spam can.

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  141. RE: “I meant Noahs ark. – So did I

    The Yahwist (J) Source: J describes a Human-like god throughout, and has a special interest in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah and individuals connected with its history. J is said to have an extremely eloquent style, and was composed c. 950 BCE, in the Southern Kingdom of Judea, and later incorporated into the Torah, c. 400 BCE.

    The Elohist (E) Source: It is believed that the E Source was composed in Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ephraim) c. 850 BCE, combined with the J Source by an anonymous scribe or scholar, to form “JE” about 750 BCE, and finally incorporated into the Torah c. 400 BCE. The Elohist Source was so called because throughout, it refers to the Bible’s god as, Elohim, meaning, “god,” as opposed to “Yaweh” or “Jehova.” When J and E each recounted a single story, the Redactor included both, sometimes interweaving them.

    The Deuteronomic (D) Code is the name given by academics to the law code within the Book of Deuteronomy, except for the portion discussing the Ethical Decalogue, which is usually treated separately. Deuteronomy is not the work of Moses, as was the traditionally held opinion, it was, in its main parts, written in the seventh century BCE (year 800+), during the reign of Josiah, by the authors of the Deuteronomic (D) Source.

    The Priestly (P) Source: The P, thought to have been created after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of biblical Israel in 722 BCE, essentially takes an Orwellian approach to the Yahwist text and rewrites (or deletes entirely) vast sections that state or imply that man can have a personal relationship with the biblical god without intercession by a priest. Some stories were thought to be created entirely from scratch by the authors of the Priestly (P) Source.

    THE FINAL REDACTION (except for the one where the Hebrew was translated into Greek, and the one where the Hebrew and Greek were translated into Latin, and the one where the Latin was translated into English –) took place approximately 400 BCE. After the Babylonian exile, a priest or priests redacted JE with the Deuteronomic Source, plus other material, including the Priestly Source, to complete the Torah.

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  142. “They did find Noahs ark” – of course, they did, Laurie, they found wood that had been exposed to the elements and to scavengers looking for firewood, for five thousand years – you don’t by any chance sell swamp land in your spare time too, do you?

    Here’s a link for my evidence regarding the ark, now, I’ve shown you mine, you show me yours —

    As for who wrote the Torah, I have several sources, but it’s after midnight here, M’lady, and I intend getting some sleep, so sources for the Documentary Hypothesis will have to wait until tomorrow. To tide you over, if you have a copy and insomnia, you might peruse the Catholic Bible, aka, The New American Bible, specifically the section known as, “How the Bible Came About.”

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  143. Hi Howie, Arch & Laurie, sorry to take so long to get back after the fun and games are almost over, but we had an internet outage, then sleep, then a busy Friday.

    I’m pleased to see the “smarmy” stuff has become a matter of humour rather than seriousness. That’s how I responded from the start, and I still feel it deserves laughs rather than a serious response, so you didn’t need to worry there, Howie. My only query, Arch, is why you saw politeness as “ingratiating” and smarmy? I’m used to having my motivations criticised by online atheists who don’t know me, but why was Howie criticised? Just asking.

    Howie, I appreciate what you said about “This has been a small test on being evidence-based” perspective,and how you said it. I’ll try to explain.

    As one of the few christians on an atheist blog discussion, I am bound to generate some conflict. I vaguely recall from learning about conflict resolution that one of the major causes of conflict are “data errors” – where people are assuming different facts before they even start the discussion. So I tend not to focus on discussing beliefs any more, but try to focus (mostly) on clarifying the underlying facts. If we can’t even agree on the facts, then there is little point in discussing conclusions or beliefs. In that sense, a person’s attitude to factual matters is a test, but I don’t think that ever occurred to me until this discussion.

    The interesting, and sad, thing is that I have found that internet atheists so often don’t want to accept what are basically factual, or expert opinion, matters. For example, you’ll find heaps of atheists who will deny the probable existence of Jesus, or make some very grudging statement like “I suppose there might have been someone named Yeshua, but ….” But there is probably a stronger consensus among historians about a number of facts about Jesus than there is among scientists that evolution occurred or global warming is happening! So why don’t atheists accept the “minimum facts” established by the experts?

    The interesting thing is the reaction to my pressing for an evidence-based approach. You would hope people who claim to be rationalist would either offer good counter evidence, or agree they had not understood correctly, but it almost never happens. Instead I find people try to avoid the issue or obfuscate, or else find some odd maverick study or writer who somehow proves the main body of scientists or historians wrong (again, note the parallel with evolution and global warming). Or else they attack me and my presumed motives by ad hominems – anything it seems, to avoid facing the evidence. It doesn’t worry me – I cut my internet teeth on the ‘Why Won’t God Heal Amputees’ and the ‘Raving Atheists’ forums which are far nastier than Nate’s friendly blog – and so I sometimes keep pressing for an evidence-based response, or sometimes give up to avoid any nastiness.

    Most atheists argue religion shouldn’t be given any special respect (I agree), and that they should ‘call out’ christians for using faith rather than reason. Surely then they cannot object if I press them to live up to their stated ideals?

    I have probably set the cat among the pigeons with this comment, but I think you deserved an answer. You will be able to make your own judgments on the content of any responses. Best wishes.

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  144. @unklee

    The interesting, and sad, thing is that I have found that internet atheists so often don’t want to accept what are basically factual, or expert opinion, matters. For example, you’ll find heaps of atheists who will deny the probable existence of Jesus, or make some very grudging statement like “I suppose there might have been someone named Yeshua, but ….” But there is probably a stronger consensus among historians about a number of facts about Jesus than there is among scientists that evolution occurred or global warming is happening! So why don’t atheists accept the “minimum facts” established by the experts?

    You are a sanctimonious , disingenuous self -serving arse…a sentiment I am willing express where a fair number will be biting their tongues.
    I have absolutely no respect for your approach to these issue as you should be honest enough to state that your faith in this man-god precedes everything else.

    You cherry pick your religion and tip toe around the issues that you know damn well you are unable to provide a rational answer for then run for the cover of your expert consensus, but deftly ignore or sidestep crucial issues.

    That Finkelstein, Herzog and most of the worlds top archaeologists, Egyptologists and other experts in the relevant fields of study, including Christians and the leading Rabbis have clearly demonstrated that Moses the Exodus etc etc is all fiction should be evidence enough for even the most obtuse believer , such as yourself, to acknowledge that once circulated to a worldwide audience,(receptive or otherwise) the ramifications for the Abrahamic religions are colossal.

    Your ”consensus” of experts is worth little regarding the historicity of Yeshua. It is merely an opinion like everyone else and the sources/evidence for study are exactly the same as those available to everyone else, yet those outside your “Golden Circle” are given the brush off because their scholarly opinion does not fit your faith.

    There is no evidence for Nazareth at the time of Jesus and the ‘experts’ you love to trot out make no bones that there are vested interests at heart.

    Bagatti found zip and neither has anyone else to make any conclusive statements for a Jesus of Nazareth in this regard. Besides, the etymology of the word has nothing to do with a town village or ‘city’, and even you are aware of this.

    Study in such fields is progressing all the time and anyone with a internet connection or the willingness to visit a library can find an equal number of highly qualified scholars who will trash your precious biblical Jesus was a real person consensus in a flash.

    If you consider that a relevant degree is the be all and end of this field of study then one need look no further than Richard Carrier.
    Then there is Robert Price and Thomas Thompson.or Atwill or Kenneth Humphries.
    Ken ‘Chief’ has already offered you Spong.
    You are the one who refuse to accept expert opinion. And the current expert opinion states there is NO evidence for the biblical character Jesus of Nazareth.

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  145. Hey Uncle E,

    I totally understand your reply to me. I think some of this is worthy of further discussion but I have an insanely busy workday today and family stuff tonight so I’ll try replying in more detail this weekend.

    As far as Arch, I don’t think he was criticizing me – quite the opposite – I think he thought that I was “throwing back” smarmy attitude to you and playing a game and he got a kick out of what he thought he was seeing in that. He was actually very kind in his response to me when he realized that I was actually making a genuine effort to be polite. To be honest I can’t blame him for thinking I was being “smarmy”. There are times when I make a genuine effort to be polite but I pour it on a bit too much (which I do because on the internet we don’t have the benefit of seeing the body language and voice intonations that would very easily make clear the genuine attitude) and then I can see how it can look disingenuous.

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  146. RE: “My only query, Arch, is why you saw politeness as “ingratiating” and smarmy?” – not politeness in general, only yours – it smacked of manipulation experience that I strongly suspect you have.

    And this, I take it, is an effort to cause an issue between Howie and myself, where there was none:

    I’m used to having my motivations criticised by online atheists who don’t know me, but why was Howie criticised?

    Are you certain those are the only ones? Howie was certainly never criticized by me, nor by anyone else to the best of my knowledge.

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  147. Sorry I’ve been away for a little while.

    In response to the last couple of comments, all we have are opinions. Obviously, each of us feels that our opinion is the *correct* one, but none of us holds the patent on truth. We’re all just doing the best we can.

    When we have these kinds of discussions (which obviously we all enjoy), the audience that really matters is the silent one — the people who are watching this exchange, but not commenting. The rest of us have studied these issues enough that it’s unlikely we’ll change sides. Not to say it can’t happen, but there’s little evidence left of which we’re unaware. Trying to point to a smoking gun as the only piece of evidence that matters and then criticizing anyone who doesn’t accept the same conclusions we’ve come to about that evidence is unfair. Maybe Jesus lived, maybe he didn’t. As Howie, said, the cumulative evidence is such that none of us can say anything definitive about that, no matter how strong our beliefs about it may be. It’s a complex subject bound together with multiple lines of evidence and tons of emotional baggage. Is it any wonder we can’t all agree?

    So let’s please stop badgering one another about who cares about evidence and who doesn’t. It’s my belief that everyone who comments here cares about evidence. Just because someone is a believer does not mean they are unthinking, malicious, blind, stupid, or dishonest. And the same goes for non-believers. If you like, you can peruse my oldest articles and see how much of a fundamentalist believer I was, once upon a time. The one thing I can say about myself is that I have always been a free-thinker, even when I was a believer. I was simply on a journey that took some long detours. Who knows, even now I may not have reached my ultimate destination. And the same could apply to anyone. So let’s please be patient with one another and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

    Let’s assume that everyone here is trying to have an open mind. The second we stop having an open mind and looking for answers is the very moment that we stop caring about truth and start trying to maintain the status quo. May we all never stop searching for answers and never start thinking we’ve found them.

    And finally, let me speak to this part of UnkleE’s comment:

    The interesting thing is the reaction to my pressing for an evidence-based approach. You would hope people who claim to be rationalist would either offer good counter evidence, or agree they had not understood correctly, but it almost never happens. Instead I find people try to avoid the issue or obfuscate, or else find some odd maverick study or writer who somehow proves the main body of scientists or historians wrong (again, note the parallel with evolution and global warming). Or else they attack me and my presumed motives by ad hominems – anything it seems, to avoid facing the evidence. It doesn’t worry me – I cut my internet teeth on the ‘Why Won’t God Heal Amputees’ and the ‘Raving Atheists’ forums which are far nastier than Nate’s friendly blog – and so I sometimes keep pressing for an evidence-based response, or sometimes give up to avoid any nastiness.

    Most atheists argue religion shouldn’t be given any special respect (I agree), and that they should ‘call out’ christians for using faith rather than reason. Surely then they cannot object if I press them to live up to their stated ideals?

    UnkleE, I think you are justified in wanting people to accept and respect evidence. But if you’re expecting those individuals who don’t to own up to their imperfections, you’re going to be disappointed in most cases. Just as I’ll be disappointed if I expect all Christians to be Christ-like.

    If people claim to base their beliefs on evidence, but then show that they disregard it in their comments, then that will be obvious to everyone, even if those people never admit it. So I would encourage you to just not worry about it. Just give them enough rope to hang themselves.

    /rantOff 😉

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  148. Well… I enjoyed chatting with everyone here, but now that my injury is on the mend, the farm is calling and I have much to catch up on! I will visit again soon hopefully!

    Arch, I haven’t forgotten about your last post and after I catch up here, I will be researching that. So if you have time to post a link in the next week or so, I will do the same shortly after! Have a great weekend everyone, and keep searching!

    😉 me

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  149. Damn it Nate, you did it again! I keep searching for stuff that I disagree with you on and it’s hard to find!! What you have said here is incredibly well put and I think it is important. In fact this weekend I’m going to do a blog post regarding blogging styles and stuff like this instead of commenting further here, because I wonder if your readers might not be interested in it.

    You and I are so opinionated you’d think we’d have found a bunch of stuff we disagree on by now. 😉 So far all I’ve found is that you are a little bit more confident in your conclusions than I am.

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  150. @Howie

    Man, I feel the same way! Every time I read one of your posts or comments, it resonates with me completely. Guess that means we must be right! 😉

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  151. Uncle E: if you are not bored with our side topic yet I’d like it if we continue our discussion over at the post I just made on my blog. The end of my post offers a bit of a reply to you. Obviously if anyone else cares they are welcome to join.

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  152. Some sites have a tiny x to the upper right of the comment window, visible only to the author of the comment, that allows the author to delete an unwanted comment – I would delete the above comment if I could, as this is what I intended to post:

    So if you have time to post a link in the next week or so, I will do the same shortly after!

    @Laurie – I breathlessly await yours on Noah’s Ark, to dispute the one I sent you, debunking that myth – once we’ve resolved that issue, we can move on to the Gospel of the NT.

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  153. Nice post Nate. To further support your case, consider apocalyptic conspiracy theorists. They effortless – and intricately – transpose the imagery of Revelation, Daniel, and Matthew onto modern newspaper headlines. They do this in every generation, mapping the apocalyptic figures and events onto contemporary figures and events. They are always astonished at the alignment and the amazing way that the key fits the lock. And of course, they are always wrong. People confect fulfillments in most effortlessly.

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  154. I blogged through Romans a couple of years back and when realizing that Paul was doing this, too, I wondered about the Matthew passage.

    My post about this…

    I was still desperately trying to hold onto inerrancy at the time, so keep that in mind. The idea that it may not be true was totally not on my radar yet.

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  155. @Brisancian — thanks for the comment! And you’re absolutely right, of course.

    @Alice — Thanks for your comment Alice! I read your post, and very much enjoyed it. It’s a great little snapshot of that point in time where you were starting to see things differently, but hadn’t come to terms with them yet. I love things like that — they’re fascinating. I wish I had done that more with this blog. Instead, I just stopped posting for almost 2 years, while I was re-figuring everything out. I still have some emails from that time, but I wish I had chronicled it here as well.

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  156. “If people claim to base their beliefs on evidence, but then show that they disregard it in their comments, then that will be obvious to everyone, even if those people never admit it. So I would encourage you to just not worry about it. Just give them enough rope to hang themselves.”

    Hi Nate, I like what you say here, but if it was that simple, we’d have nothing left to discuss/argue over! It generally doesn’t work out the way you say, unfortunately.

    “So let’s please stop badgering one another about who cares about evidence and who doesn’t.”

    I like this too. But it is almost a staple of atheist thinking that christians care about faith and not evidence, and I have been hit with it too many times to count. And yet you ask me not to “return fire” when I think it is warranted? Do you think “your side” will stop making such claims on this blog? Would it not be better to request people to not make nasty or sly personal comments?

    Nevertheless, I don’t want to aggravate anyone and I respect what you are saying and will do my best to comply.

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  157. @unk, you might consider this to be one of those “nasty or sly personal comments,” but that’s a risk I’m willing to take – I noticed you saying such things as, “I like what you say here, but…” and, “I like this too. But…” – in doublespeak, does, “I like ___, but” mean, “I don’t like”?

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  158. “I would like things to be that way, but unfortunately they often are not.” vs “I like what you say here, but…” and, “I like this too. But…”

    How does that not mean, “I don’t like the way things are?”

    I mean, it’s OK to not like the way things are, but to say you do, then not – isn’t that a tad hypocritical?

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  159. I have been hit with it too many times to count. And yet you ask me not to “return fire” when I think it is warranted? Do you think “your side” will stop making such claims on this blog? Would it not be better to request people to not make nasty or sly personal comments?

    I think this is a fair point. And I’m sorry if my long comment seemed directed solely at you — that’s not how I meant it. I think you get a bad rap from some of these guys sometimes, and I don’t think it’s warranted. I was a Christian long enough to know that you aren’t being dishonest or malicious. You have solid reasons for why you believe what you believe. I respect that, even though my beliefs differ from yours.

    I don’t want to censor what anyone says here (unless I absolutely have to), and I also realize that my own personal standards of how people should communicate are just my own standards — I have to be careful projecting them onto other people. So sometimes things will be said here that I don’t care for or agree with. I’m sorry for that.

    I do still think that the best way to handle it is to simply rise above it. I do think most people know when someone is speaking out of turn, or misusing evidence, or making a bad argument. But I also support each person’s right to stand up for themselves and give as good as they’ve gotten. So please don’t view what I wrote as hard and fast rules for commenting on this blog. It was just an appeal to both sides to not get bogged down in sideline issues.

    By the way, thanks for continuing to stick in here and offer your comments. I think your perspective is very valuable. As I’ve said before, if more Christians were as thoughtful and moderate as you, I’d have fewer issues with the religion.

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  160. @Laurie – I realize you’re probably out mucking out the barn or something, but if you could find a moment, please explain to me this contradiction I noticed today.

    I couldn’t help noticing this in the KJV, near the end of John:

    20:17 “Jesus saith to her (Mary M), Touch me not, for I have not ascended to my Father: but go to my brethern and say unto them. I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”

    I found this strange on two levels – he didn’t “ascend” until quite some time later, and yet, despite the admonition, “Touch me not, for I have not ascended to my Father,” he allowed Thomas to touch him, and even thrust his hand into the spear wound (“Jeez, is that a LUNG? Ewww!”).

    Further, in Matthew 28, Mary M and “the other Mary” were told at the tomb by an “angel” to go tell the others that “he is risen,” and on the way to do so, 28:9, “Jesus met them, saying, All hail, and they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him.”

    So there are two instances of Yeshua allowing himself to be touched before his ascension (how, exactly, does one do it after?), INCLUDING Mary M, in Matthew, after admonishing MM not to touch him, in John.

    What’s up with that? It really doesn’t seem to fit together all that well – I figured that as an authority, you could help me lay that one to rest.

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  161. Arch, I am on my way to bed right now, but tomorrow I will give you a much more in depth answer. For now I will give you a super brief explanation. The biggest issue with the texts in question (imo) is that most people think he was nailed to the stake on Friday and resurrected on Sunday. Both of these assumptions are not correct. To understand what happened here you have to really have a solid understanding of Shavout and the wave sheaf offering. If you really want to know… I will be on in the morning, after mucking out the barn and giving out goat hugs of course;-)

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  162. Laurie, I thoroughly enjoy our little get-togethers, but I’m beginning to wonder if you might be spending a little too much time with the goats – I didn’t say anything about what day the cruci-fiction took place, my comment had to do with, “To Touch or Not To Touch, That Is the Question.”

    You might want to step away from the ammonia for a bit, take deep breaths of fresh air —

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  163. Ha ha ha! I could never spend too much time with them, they are so cute and sweet!

    The whole event is linked, so you have to back up if you want to understand it. Do you really care, or are you just trying to find another nail for the coffin?

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  164. Whose coffin, the Bible’s? From where I stand, that ship has sailed.

    Of course I want to know how theists worm their way out of that contradiction, it’s what I live for, well, that, and one of the compliments from your cornucopia —

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  165. Don’t want to waste time trying to explain something that will obviously not make a difference.

    If you really want to find truth, you have to go more than just surface deep. And that applies to most things today. You have 2 kinds of archeologist, those who are out to disprove the Bible and those who want to prove it. There are 2 kinds of scientists, those who want to prove and those who want to disprove. Under these circumstances you have to double check the work of people who are supposed to be the authority, to make sure they are truly being honest….. With us and themselves.

    I’ll give you an example. Israel Finkelstien is one of the great archeologists of our day, and he is responsible for a huge dig in Megiddo. Then he published a book called the Bible unearthed, or something like that. In his book he offers a proof that the scriptures are just fairy tale, and he says that camels were not domesticated for some time afterwards. Looking into this claim, it is easy to see that this is untrue. Why lie about it? Because they want people to believe what they believe, no matter what the facts really show. Then you look at who funded the dig in Megiddo, and all of sudden things start to make sense.

    Scientist are even worse with the theory of evolution. I do not have any problem with trying to figure out how we got here, but you need to be scientific, and you need to be honest, or your just wasting everybody’s time.

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  166. Laurie, i would suggest there are three types, not two. I think you left out those whose only agenda is to find the truth – although, it will always be debatable as to which category one falls.

    I wanted to make that correction or else one might assume that if someone finds fault with the bible it’s only because they wanted to, and because someone finds truth in the bible it’s only because they wanted to. Obviously this is preschool logic. Not that you’re using preschool logic – just clarifying your assertion.

    Arch, interesting point on the “touch/do not touch” thing. When i finally realized the bible was not a work of god, it all became so much clearer. much of it was confusing and hard to understand because it was just flawed and incorrect. It still amuses me how knowing it’s made up (lack of a better description) makes the bible clearer.

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  167. I am sure you know this applies to all sides in the discussion, right Laurie? I think it’s been shown fairly that there are things that Creationists distort or get wrong. This is unfortunately something we all have to deal with and weed through in our searches.

    Just because we can find mistakes doesn’t declare that everything is wrong or may not even determine motives, although sometimes motives do seem to come clear. I think when inerrantists declare that they affirm the Chicago rules of inerrancy for the bible they are showing a clear bias and motive in their searches. If scientists declare that they affirm the doctrinal statement that “the bible is wrong in everything it writes” then they would also be people I would steer away from in trying to find truth.

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  168. Yes I agree there are the type, but you seldom see the third. I actually considered going back to school for archeology when I realized the problem. But… I am a mother of two amazing girls, home schooling off the grid with 14 goats and 19 chickens…. Where’s the time?

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  169. @Arch,

    I loved your post about “touching.” I had long ago noticed most of this myself and even pointed out some of it in my book. Thing is, no good up-standing Christian is going to debate this with you. Instead, they will intimate that such things are trivial and the REALLY important thing is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

    As we both know, they don’t have the answers so they’re not going near such stuff with a 10-foot pole. OR … they will go into some long-winded answer to try and lead the listener/reader away from the original question and towards an area they feel more comfortable with.

    It reminds me of a discussion I had on my own blog with unkleE about the sleeping disciples while Jesus prayed in the garden. Taken at face value, how could anyone record his prayers if they were all asleep? Of course, believers can’t take it at face value because then there are no answers. Just like “To Touch or Not to Touch.” 😉

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  170. I’m afraid, Laurie, that you may be a little confused about the difference between science and religion – science accumulates facts, then forms an hypothesis, which it then tests, and if successful and repeatable, forms a conclusion, whereas religion begins with a conclusion, then scrambles in its search for facts to support it.

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  171. @ Laurie

    You have 2 kinds of archeologist, those who are out to disprove the Bible and those who want to prove it.

    “[Albright’s] central theses have all been overturned, partly by further advances in Biblical criticism, but mostly by the continuing archaeological research of younger Americans and Israelis to whom he himself gave encouragement and momentum … The irony is that, in the long run, it will have been the newer “secular” archaeology that contributed the most to Biblical studies, not “Biblical archaeology.”[13]
    basically – he failed to find the proof he was looking for.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_F._Albright

    Finkelstein and Herzog have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Moses , the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan are all fiction.
    Their findings (conclusions) after more than a rof a century of work are agreed upon by the consensus of archaeologists and relevant scholars across the globe.
    The implications this has for Judaism, but more so Christianity and Islam is staggering, for if the biblical character of Jesus referenced the Law of Moses etc he was either a fraud or a fiction.
    .
    The less said about Mohamed the better.

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  172. William G. Dever is the son of a fundamentalist preacher. From a small Christian liberal arts college in Tennessee he went to a Protestant theological seminary that exposed him to “critical study” of the Bible, a study that at first, he resisted. In 1960 it was on to Harvard and a doctorate in biblical theology. For thirty-five years he worked as an archaeologist, excavating in the Near East. In his book What Did the Bible Writers Know and When Did They Know It, he tells where scholarship regarding archaeology and the Bible has been in past decades and where it is now. Dr. Dever is no longer a theist, but he writes:

    “While the Hebrew Bible in its present, heavily edited form cannot be taken at face value as history in the modern sense, it nevertheless contains much history.”

    He adds:

    “After a century of exhaustive investigation, all respectable archaeologists have given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob credible ‘historical figures.'”

    He writes of archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as having been “discarded as a fruitless pursuit.” He is not saying that he believes that the biblical Moses never existed. He is talking about what can be gathered from archaeological evidence.

    About the historical Moses he writes:

    “…the overwhelming archaeological evidence today of largely indigenous origins for early Israel leaves no room for an exodus from Egypt or a 40-year pilgrimage through the Sinai wilderness. A Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in southern Transjordan in the mid/late 13th century B.C., where many scholars think the biblical traditions concerning the god Yahweh arose. But archaeology can do nothing to confirm such a figure as a historical personage, much less prove that he was the founder of later Israelite religion.”

    About Leviticus and Numbers he writes that these are,
    “clearly additions to the ‘pre-history’ by very late Priestly editorial hands, preoccupied with notions of ritual purity, themes of the ‘promised land,’ and other literary motifs that most modern readers will scarcely find edifying much less historical.”
    Dever further concludes that,

    “…the whole ‘Exodus-Conquest’ cycle of stories must now be set aside as largely mythical, but in the proper sense of the term ‘myth’: perhaps ‘historical fiction,’ but tales told primarily to validate religious beliefs.”

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  173. @Nan

    It reminds me of a discussion I had on my own blog with unkleE……

    A ”discussion” with unklee? Isn’t this a contradiction of terms, Nan?

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  174. Regarding Dr. Dever’s statement that,

    “A Moses-like figure may have existed somewhere in southern Transjordan in the mid/late 13th century B.C., where many scholars think the biblical traditions concerning the god Yahweh arose.”

    I have my own personal theory, upon which I expand on my website, “in His own image,” but first, a brief history lesson.

    The Sumarians were the first recorded people to have occupied Iraq, or what was then the prime component of Mesopotamia. They had a theocratic civilization with a pantheon of gods, that survived for 4,000 years – let’s see any modern country match that.

    Gradually, a group of Semitic nomads, known collectively as the Akkadians, filtered into Northern Mesopotamia during the third millennium, BC. As they increased in numbers and gathered strength, war broke out between the Akkadians and the various Sumarian city-states and between the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC, the Akkadians gained control of all of Mesopotamia, and Akkadian replaced Sumerian as the language of the land. The famous Akkadian ruler, Sargon (2334–2279 BCE), united the entire area and cleared a passage of all obstacles between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, opening the first safe trade route, then went on to conquer all of the Levant, nearly to Egypt. (Sargon is believed to be the model for the Bible’s “Nimrod.”

    However open trade routes are two-way streets, and between 1700 and 1500 BCE, another group of nomadic Semites known as the Amurrites, so named after their god, Ammuru, split in half, one group remaining nomadic, while the other, like the Akkadians had done centuries earlier, eased into Northern Mesopotamia, settling there and in Southern Assyria without green cards. History repeated itself – Sargon was the last, great Akkadian king, and after his death, Akkadian rule gradually declined, as the Amurrites gained strength, and eventually became the new rulers of Mesopotamia for the next 500 years. The KJV knows these people as the Amorites, and in fact, Mt. Moriah, where Abe allegedly tried to murder Isaac, was named after the Amorites.

    The early period of the Amorites’ rule marks the alleged time of Abraham’s trek from Mesopotamia to Palestine and his introduction to his god, who called himself, “El Shaddai,” the god of the mountain.

    Abraham is said to have come from Ur, which was a large, metropolitan city in Southern Iraq, near the gulf, but there was a smaller town, named “Ur-fa,” which to this day, celebrates itself as the birthplace of Abraham. Abe was said to have traveled from Ur, to settle in Haran, a distance of nearly 700 miles, while Ur-fa is located only 20 miles from Haran – which seems the more logical? Part of Abe’s family, his nephew, Laban, remained in Haran – both Haran and Ur-fa were located in what then was Assyria, home of Amurru – throughout Genesis, Abe’s nephew is known as “Laban the Syrian.” If Laban, Abe’s nephew, was Assyrian, what would that make Abe? Another interesting coincidence lies in the fact that Amurru, god of the Ammurites/Amorites, called himself, “El Shaddai,” the god of the mountain. I contend that whatever tribe of people, represented by the fictional character, Abraham, left Northern Mesopotamia for the Levant, they brought their god, Amurru, with them.

    I maintain that the Hebrews followed the god Amurru, then, after a 400-year gap in Hebrew history, during which pretty much nothing noteworthy happened, they reemerged into history, if one can call the Bible that, when they merged with the Midianites, aka the Kenites, metalworkers of the Southern Levant. The Midianites/Kenites worshipped an obscure desert god they called YHWH – those people were so poor, they couldn’t even afford to buy vowels.

    Early in Exodus, Chapter 3, Moses’ god informed him that his name was Yahweh, but confessed that he was known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel as “El Shaddai.” It is my contention, that at this point, the two “gods” were merged into one, for what would become the Hebrew people.

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  175. Well, sending your girls off to public school, where they could learn about what’s going on with the rest of the world, then inviting us all over for a barbeque and fried chicken banquet, could really free up some time – just sayin’ —

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  176. Ark, I found this, from that link, particularly insightful:

    “Albright was not, however, a biblical literalist; his Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, for example, putting forward the view that the religion of the Israelites had evolved from polytheism to a monotheism that saw God acting in history—a view fully in accordance with the documentary hypothesis and the mainstream opinions of the preceding two centuries of biblical criticism.”

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  177. Christians will try to deflect any discussion – unklee is a perfect example as I have raised this issue with him – about Finkelstein’s work and suggests it does not impact on Jesus or the Christian belief.

    How does one deal with this level of mind-numbing stubbornness?

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  178. I used to post on another site, having nothing to do with religion, under the name, “pg gargleblaster,” and they had an “ignore” button, that when you highlighted someone’s name, and clicked, “ignore,” all of their comments disappeared, sadly they don’t have that here.

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  179. You may (or may not) know, Arkenaten, that the “ten” suffix to an Egyptian name, meant, “lord.” The god, Osiris, had an evil brother, Set, basically, “Loki,” to the Norse, “Thor,” and his personification, as “Lord Set,” or, “Seten,” became the basis, for the biblical Satan.

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  180. Phew…my God Status is not diminished. I was getting a tad worried and wondering which books you had been reading that were different to mine, seeing as I ‘invented’ monotheism and all that and then those miserable bloody Hebrews niked it… 😉

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  181. Arch, thanks for all the great info!

    Laurie, I’d still like to hear if you have some thoughts about the issues surrounding whether or not Jesus could be touched immediately after the resurrection.

    Also, I’ve seen you mention evolution a couple of times, and if you’re interested, I highly recommend Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne and The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Both books talk about different lines of evidence for evolution. Not saying one should accept them without investigation, but I know those two books helped me straighten out some misconceptions I had about evolution.

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  182. Nate,
    Thanks for the research ideas, but Coyne is extremely dishonest in his writings especially in this particular book. He uses things for proof, that have been long discredited, and offers lack of evidence as evidence it’s self. He is completely unscientific. Lucy was rejected in the 80’s by paleoanthropologists, she was nothing more than a fraud. Junk dna and pseudo genes were disproven before he wrote his book. Nobody is arguing micro evolution. He offers no explanation for macro evolution, its all maybe and possibly. Stephen Jay Gould wrote a book called the structure of evolution theory, where he states that abrupt origin is what the fossil record shows. Paleontologists have always recognized the long term stability of species, but evolution requires gradualism.

    Spontaneous generation had been disproven, and if all people like Michael Ruse can say is it happened on the backs of crystals, and aliens must have created and brought us here, then I think we need to look else where.

    Evolution requires billions of years. If dinosaurs were supposed to be extinct 65 million years ago, why have we found a Tyrannosaurus Rex with live tissue. How big was the sun billions of years ago. What about the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics?
    How can something that requires all 11 systems to live, evolve from the bottom up? Science does not support this.

    I am not opposed to science, but evolution is not scientific by any means. In fact it seem really similar to something else. Some one had idea or story and now people search for evidence to substantiate that. The difference is, that a lot of people believe that the scriptures are history, and they study it to test accuracy. Which should be done for all history, because people who are dishonest always seem to change it. Our world lacks honesty and the motivation to find truth. Like Finkelstien, he is not the majority, and things he has written were proven wrong before he wrote them. A lack of evidence, is no evidence at all. The scriptures support an early date, so the fact that he found nothing where he was looking is no evidence at all. His dig was funded by the Rockefeller’s. Surprise surprise! If you don’t believe in God, then you don’t believe in Satan, but the illuminati does.

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  183. “Paleontologists have always recognized the long term stability of species, but evolution requires gradualism.”

    I’m curious, Laurie, as to how Man was able to evolve the wolf into a teacup Chihuahua in less than 30 thousand years through selective breeding, or are you saying there was a Pekingese in the Garden of Eden?

    Schiebinger had negative things to say about “Lucy,” but I’ve yet to find anyone who believes she was a hoax – where did you get that, “Answers In Genesis”?

    PS – are we still on for that Bar-B-Que and chicken fry?

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  184. Arch, you assume that I don’t teach my children about the real world, and that I need to send them to a public school, AND you want me to invite you all over for dinner?

    Btw, I do teach my children about the real world, and they are both brilliant. I also teach them how to use a compass, build a solar still, and make bread from scratch. They love to camp and fish, and they aren’t addicted to sponge Bob.

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  185. I do teach my children about the real world

    Even if that were true, Laurie, and I suspect it isn’t – not that you’re being less than honest, rather that, from what you’ve so far said, your definition of “real world” is likely quite different from that of most others – but they lack the social interaction and activities available to them in a public school, not to mention a different point of view on evolution. Don’t you want them to have choices as to what they believe? Or are you keeping them at home so that they can be spared the inconvenience of having to make choices?

    “You have three choices, my way, my way, or my way!”

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  186. What a difference a / makes! THIS is how it should have read —

    I do teach my children about the real world
    Even if that were true, Laurie, and I suspect it isn’t – not that you’re being less than honest, rather that, from what you’ve so far said, your definition of “real world” is likely quite different from that of most others – but they lack the social interaction and activities available to them in a public school, not to mention a different point of view on evolution. Don’t you want them to have choices as to what they believe? Or are you keeping them at home so that they can be spared the inconvenience of having to make choices?

    “You have three choices, my way, my way, or my way!”

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  187. Yeah, Arch, those little marks (or absence thereof) can sure make a difference. I’ve forgotten them a time or two myself.

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  188. Thanks for the vote of confidence Arch.

    I let my daughter attend kindergarten at a public school for socialization. You know where it got me? No where. They were teaching the alphabet, and she was already reading. She came home from school talking about zombies eating people’s brains, and boy friends, man was I glad she had learned about the real world! I teach her real world things. Facts and proven things of science. An unproven theory is not something I need to teach her about right now, we are learning real things that can be proven. And I don’t keep her from activities with other kids, she takes violin, and will be doing 4-h in the spring. Why are we even discussing this? You are not always right. Do you even have kids?

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  189. BTW, the ancestor of that poodle was a wolf, yet some would say there’s no such thing as evolution. We’ve done in less than 30 thousand years, what the evolution, using a more hit and miss process, takes millions of years to accomplish.

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  190. I raised a son by myself from the time he was six, then four daughters – I doubt there’s a lot you can teach me about childrearing. My son holds two Master’s degrees and three of my daughters are involved with education. They all believe in the theory of evolution, and surprisingly, in the theory of gravity as well.

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  191. “we are learning real things that can be proven.”

    Whew, that’s good to know – I was afraid you were teaching them about religion, but with that statement, I can see they’re safe.

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  192. Where is the half poodle half frog Arch.

    Did I say I could teach you about childrearing? I believe you were the one telling me how to raise my children.

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  193. I wasn’t telling you how to raise your children, you were complaining about not having enough time, between homeschooling your girls and caring for your goats and chickens, and I was advising you as to how you could free up more time with a big banquet and public school – I was only thinking of you —

    As for why there’s no half-poodle/half-frog, or as your buddy, Ray “Banana-Man” Comfort, might ask, a Crocoduck – as you may or may not know, evolution works on heredity and environment, in conjunction with occasional, accidental cell mutations. In any given environment, the organisms with the right heredity, suitable for that environment, live to pass on their genes, while all others die. So far, the environment has not been such that a half-poodle/half-frog or a crocoduck would have a survival advantage over that which is currently in existence. Some might question a mammal with a duck’s beak, but then there’s the platypus.

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  194. Only thinking of me? Ridiculous! Okay, well here is my opinion on the whole matter, and if you will just agree already, we can move on…

    I believe there is a good amount of evidence on both sides, we just choose to put our faith in different ideas. Evolution is still a theory that can not be proven, and there are more questions than answers. Someday it might be something more. The scriptures and a belief in God are similar, everyday we unearth more evidence that the Bible may not be just a story, but tight now it can’t be proven. I believe in YHWY and the Messiah, but that doesn’t make me ignorant or brain washed.

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  195. I wish I could agree – no I don’t, because I know what kind of person it would make me if I did – rephrase, I’m sorry, I can’t agree, because there are mountains of evidence that evolution is true, and as more and more information is unearthed, the more it is proven that the stories of the Bible are fabricated.

    I’ve given you the Documentary Hypothesis, I’ve given you the work of William Dever, you’ve had no significant response, yet you speak of having an open mind. Ignorant means lacking knowledge, and I don’t know what you know or what you don’t, so I can’t speak to that, but I CAN say I do NOT believe you to be unintelligent.

    As for brainwashed, of course you have been, and you’ve likely brainwashed your daughters as well – we are all born atheists, it takes brainwashing to make us otherwise.

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  196. Well if you really want me to load this post full of information that I am sure you could find on your, you are going to have to wait until I get another computer. My phone is very small, and typing on it is not only extremely annoying , but also very time consuming. And no, I am not going to send my kids to public school to free up some spare time ;-).

    And for the record, I am not brain washed. I was raised to believe something, but that is not what I believe now. Life has a small part in molding what we believe, and we have walked different paths, but all have the opportunity to research things from all sides. Have you done that, or are you comfortable believing what you were brainwashed into believing?

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  197. I was questioning my parent’s religion by the time I was six.

    My daughter always wants to phone-text with me too, and I hate it. My hands are too big for those tiny little buttons, so sure, wait til you get to a computer, but if you want me to agree with anything you’re saying, I’m going to have to see some evidence – I said, I’d show you mine, if you’d show me yours, and I showed you mine – evidence, that is —

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  198. Laurie,

    I’d like to offer some input on this comment you made:

    A lack of evidence, is no evidence at all

    What you are saying is true just in the technical wording sense. But you are using this to further suggest that lack of evidence cannot be used to disprove statements, and I would suggest that everyone uses lack of evidence in this way. I know for a fact historians always use this and there is a good reason for it. If we didn’t then we would be forced to accept practically everything that has been written down in time.

    Let me offer a made up example and perhaps it’s a bad one (maybe other people can think of another one). Let’s say 200 years ago, someone wrote down that there were 100 million people who lived in Antarctica back then and that they all found a way to build space-ships and fly away somewhere unknown. Could we feel justified in rejecting this statement? I think the large amount of lack of evidence in this case would be very convincing in disproving the statement, and I believe many people would agree to this.

    Another example is one that Nate has used before: could we feel justified in claiming that Jesus did not come to America to preach as described in the book of Mormon? This is one thing that always struck me as a great example of inconsistency of Christian apologists who use this line of reasoning. I used to always hear Hank Hanegraaff (of Christian Research Institute) say on the radio “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, and then was struck by the inconsistency when he would talk about how the book of Mormon was clearly wrong due to the absence of evidence.

    I think you use similar reasoning in your rejection of evolution – there is not enough evidence for you to believe it.

    And as an aside, I think you may want to be careful talking too strongly about evolution being a farce, because the evidence for evolution is continually growing within several fields of science. So much so that even evangelical Christians are beginning to embrace this fact. Their answer to this is that God was involved in the process of course, but they believe there is enough evidence for evolution. Take a look at http://biologos.org/ to see a long list of evangelical Christians who affirm this.

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  199. What I find amusing, Howie, if that Fundies rejected the Big Bang, for basically the same reasons, until finally the evidence in favor of the BB was so overwhelming that cult leaders, like Billy Graham and Pat Robertson could no longer deny it, then they did an about face and embraced it, but claimed it for religion – goddidit!

    It may take some time, but the same thing will eventually happen to evolution. Should be interesting to see how well Laurie wears an omlette on her face —

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  200. Couldn’t agree more Arch!!! I’ve always said that William Lane Craig loves to use the Big Bang as his incredibly convincing proof for God, but then he questions evolution (although he smartly questions it a bit more quietly nowadays). There does seem to be some inconsistency in the way some apologists treat some solid conclusions of science as truth that proves their point versus other solid conclusions of science as incorrect because it doesn’t seem to help prove their point.

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  201. Howie,
    My point about lack of evidence was directed to Finkelstien. He is searching for proof that the Exodus account never happened, and he is looking in the wrong place. So a lack of evidence means absolutely nothing. Let me give you an example… If I was to look for evidence of Lyudmila Pavlichenko during the time of the first world War, I would not find her, but that doesn’t mean she never existed, it means that I was looking in the wrong place.

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  202. Evolution goes against scientific law, so while the story is neat, it is still unscientific, and will never be proven the way it stands. That does not mean I don’t believe in micro evolution.

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  203. Laurie, you wrote:

    My point about lack of evidence was directed to Finkelstien. He is searching for proof that the Exodus account never happened, and he is looking in the wrong place

    Please accept my apologies for misunderstanding what you wrote (truly not meant to be smarmy). It was just that I have heard this statement a lot before from apologists about lack of evidence not being proof of anything and I wanted to make sure it was clarified. What you had written looked like more of a blanket statement, but I also frequently write so fast that I write things that don’t come out the way I am thinking.

    I don’t know about Finkelstien to respond about him, but I’ve read that old testament scholars do seem to be coming to a consensus that at least some (maybe a lot) of the stories in the old testament are fictional.

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  204. Thanks Howie,
    Arch, do you read my posts? They are not looking in the right time period. The Exodus occurred in 2450 B.C. Back up and you will see that the data fits. Egypt was struck by a natural disaster that caused the collapse of the kingdom near the end of the 6th dynasty, both Jericho and Ai were destroyed 2400 B.C. And they have found the trail of the Israelites and the remains of the encampment

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  205. Howie,
    That was an interesting article, thanks for posting it. There seems to be an enormous amount of things that evolution can’t explain. What happens today when cells mutate? Does it create a different species? Medical science shows that when a cell mutates, the body attacks it and kills it. Cancer is a mutation in your cells that replicates.

    Maybe a frog jumped out of the water and evolved into a cow, but all the other frogs just kept being frogs. But we do not have (at this time) scientific evidence to support that. Frogs produce frogs and cows cows. How did vanilla evolve, and why do butterflies have different colors? We found a Tyrannosaurus that is 3000 years old, how does this fit? Doesn’t the sun shrink each year? It must have been pretty hot here a billion years ago. How does information pass? These are questions that need to be answered. Maybe they will. But right now, it is still a theory. So if I choose to teach my children about science, but not evolution, is that wrong?

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  206. It seems as though few of us can agree on what the scriptures mean. I have recently found a bible translation written by a child that I think we can all agree on for once. I don’t think even unkleE will challenge this ! 🙂 Forgive me if I am being light hearted. Sometimes we all need to take a deep breath and smile.

    In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, “The Lord thy God is one,” but I think He must be a lot older than that.

    Anyway, God said, “Give me a light!” and someone did. Then God made the world.

    He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren’t embarrassed because mirrors hadn’t been invented yet.

    Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden … Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars.

    Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel. Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

    One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

    After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

    Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh’s people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice, bowels, and no cable.

    God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don’t lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor’s stuff.

    Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

    One of Moses’ best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

    After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn’t sound very wise to me.

    After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

    There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don’t have to worry about them.

    After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testa-ment. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, “Close the door! Were you born in a barn?” It would be nice to say, ”As a matter of fact, I was.”)

    During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans. Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

    Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount. But the Democrats and all those other bad guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn’t stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

    Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

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  207. Normally, Laurie, I hang on your every word; I cannot POSSIBLY imagine how I could have missed that from you, unless you wrote it before I began posting here.

    Biblical scholars have no idea when Abraham was born – in researching Abraham, I have found experts guessing dates anywhere from 1750 to 2350 BCE, but none earlier than 2350. Essentially, your theory would call for Moses to have been born a hundred years before his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great- grandfather, Abraham, which creates an improbable time paradox, does AIG have an answer for that?

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  208. AIG? I assume we are not talking about insurance, but what are you talking about? I am sure I am going to regret asking, but obviously we are not on the same page

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  209. “We found a Tyrannosaurus that is 3000 years old.”
    “if I choose to teach my children about science, but not evolution, is that wrong?”

    If you’re teaching your girls about 3,000-year of T Rexes, then yeah, that’s WAY wrong, and when your girls get older and find out the truth, they’re going to lose a lot of faith in everything else you’ve said.

    That’s the problem with homeschooling – in your case, you’ve got to LEARN science before you can TEACH science, and though I DO find you to be quite intelligent, you’d have a difficult time passing any High School Science class, and yet you’re cheating your children by not allowing them to take advantage of teachers who know that they’re teaching.

    As for evolution, you seem to expect an amphibious reptile to suddenly bare a mammalian bovine, and you’re TEACHING CHILDREN? Life began in the water, yet we now have life on the land – I would expect, for that to happen, some creatures would have to evolve that live most of the time in the water, but have the ability to come out on land. The mud skipper, a fish, for example, can come out on land and feed for long periods at a time, before they have to return to the water. There are many fish, such as Betas, who breathe both through their gills, and by holding air, taken from the surface, in a special labyrinth that exists in their heads. And these are modern fish – who knows how many variety of fish that may have evolved, millions of years ago, that would have enabled them to move from the water to the land, fish whose bodies may simply never have been fossilized?

    Please send your children to school, where they can get a REAL education.

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  210. Ignore my last comment, I am tracking.

    Arch, have you not realized yet, that I disagree with most biblical scholars about most everything? Not saying I am right, and everybody else is wrong. Really, I’m not. My ideas and beliefs have changed in the most dramatic way in the last 10 years, and I am sure the more I study the more things will change. But I don’t read the scriptures with a presupposed idea that transposes itself onto every page, like I did when I was a christian.

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  211. If I was there, I would kick you! Do some research Arch. A dinosaur with live tissue is not 65 million years old, as science will tell you

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  212. Have you researched the fossil record Arch? Where do you suppose these huge mass graves came from? And how did mammals from plains, and forests and all sorts of other places, along with fish and sharks end up together? That’s kind of weird?

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  213. AIG = “Answers In Genesis,” you seem not to be familiar with it, but I notice that many of the things you say are amazingly parallel to what one would find on that website.

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  214. Arch, have you not realized yet, that I disagree with most biblical scholars about most everything?

    I guess not, I thought it was just me with whom you disagreed so strenuously – the only biblical scholars I ever see you disagreeing with, are ones who say the Bible didn’t happen the way its authors say it did.

    My ideas and beliefs have changed in the most dramatic way in the last 10 years, and I am sure the more I study the more things will change.

    OK, I can accept that, and maybe back off and take more of a “wait and see” approach before pre-judging you, but with all due respect, I will say that your beliefs seem to be all over the place, making it really hard to figure out exactly WHAT you believe —

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  215. I can hardly respond to a paragraph containing no real information – give me a link that will lead to some evidence, and I may have something to use for a response.

    Have you researched the fossil record Arch?

    I strongly suspect that researching the fossil record means something drastically different for you, than for me.

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  216. “AIG ” yes Arch, I figured that out with the cool little Google box on my phone, which is why I said to disregard my previous comment

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  217. Actually, Laurie, I’m still waiting for your response to my statement that you’re placing Moses nearly a thousand years earlier than all biblical scholars place Abraham.

    And I’ve still gotten no response to my comment about the writing of the OT.

    I notice that if you have no contrary evidence, you tend to change the subject. Have you noticed that?

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  218. You have lost your mind. Did I not tell you that I rarely agree with so called scholars. And what statement about the OT? Maybe I missed it, small screen you know. As for the link, I know I have said this already, but I am not smart enough to figure out how to do that on my cell phone. Don’t you know how to use your search engine?

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  219. This (below), Laurie – did you forget so quickly? Plus you were going to send me a link involving fictitious Noah’s “found” ark. And the 3000-year old T-Rex. Sure, I have Google, but I’m not crazy enough to go hunting a 3000-year old T-Rex, if you say there’s evidence for it, let’s see it.

    The Yahwist (J) Source: J describes a Human-like god throughout, and has a special interest in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah and individuals connected with its history. J is said to have an extremely eloquent style, and was composed c.950 BCE, in the Southern Kingdom of Judea, and later incorporated into the Torah, c.400 BCE.

    The Elohist (E) Source: It is believed that the E Source was composed in Northern Kingdom of Israel c.850 BCE, combined with the J Source by an anonymous scribe or scholar, to form “JE” about 750 BCE, and finally incorporated into the Torah c. 400 BCE. The Elohist Source was so called because throughout, it refers to the Bible’s god as, Elohim, meaning, “god,” as opposed to “Yaweh” or “Jehova.” When J and E each recounted a single story, the Redactor included both, sometimes interweaving them.

    The Deuteronomic (D) Code is the name given by academics to the law code within the Book of Deuteronomy, except for the portion discussing the Ethical Decalogue, which is usually treated separately. Deuteronomy is not the work of Moses, as was the traditionally held opinion, it was, in its main parts, written in the seventh century BCE (year 800+), during the reign of Josiah, by the authors of the Deuteronomic (D) Source.

    The Priestly (P) Source: The P, thought to have been created after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of biblical Israel in 722 BCE, essentially takes an Orwellian approach to the Yahwist text and rewrites (or deletes entirely) vast sections that state or imply that man can have a personal relationship with the biblical god without intercession by a priest. Some stories were thought to be created entirely from scratch by the authors of the Priestly (P) Source.

    THE FINAL REDACTION (except for the one where the Hebrew was translated into Greek, and the one where the Hebrew and Greek were translated into Latin, and the one where the Latin was translated into English –) took place approximately 400 BCE. After the Babylonian exile, a priest or priests redacted JE with the Deuteronomic Source, plus other material, including the Priestly Source, to complete the Torah.

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  220. Sorry I’ve been away the last couple of days. Thanks to everyone for keeping the conversation going.

    Laurie,

    You’re right that Coyne’s understanding of junk DNA in his book is out of date — but that wasn’t the case when he wrote it. He wrote the book in 2009, and I think it was 2011 when strong evidence came out showing that pseudogenes still had important functions:
    This is a Christian site
    This is a scientific paper about it

    It’s interesting information, but I don’t think any scientists have considered it a blow against evolution.

    As to evolution being a theory, that’s true, but as you probably know, a scientific theory is different from the way we use “theory” in every day speech. A scientific theory is an explanation of a collection of facts. It’s not meant to imply uncertainty, though it’s always open for adjustment as new evidence comes in.

    You mentioned 3000 year old tyrranosaurus remains, but I wasn’t able to find anything on that. If you can provide a link (once your pc is back up), that would be great.

    However, I did find the information you were referencing about live tissue from a tyrranosaurus fossil. It even mentioned that creationists were saying it showed dinosaurs didn’t live millions of years ago. But the researcher who found the tissue (and is a Christian), completely disagrees:

    Meanwhile, Schweitzer’s research has been hijacked by “young earth” creationists, who insist that dinosaur soft tissue couldn’t possibly survive millions of years. They claim her discoveries support their belief, based on their interpretation of Genesis, that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Of course, it’s not unusual for a paleontologist to differ with creationists. But when creationists misrepresent Schweitzer’s data, she takes it personally: she describes herself as “a complete and total Christian.”

    and later in the article:

    Geologists have established that the Hell Creek Formation, where B. rex was found, is 68 million years old, and so are the bones buried in it. She’s horrified that some Christians accuse her of hiding the true meaning of her data. “They treat you really bad,” she says. “They twist your words and they manipulate your data.” For her, science and religion represent two different ways of looking at the world; invoking the hand of God to explain natural phenomena breaks the rules of science. After all, she says, what God asks is faith, not evidence.

    You can read more here.

    You also mentioned that the sun would have been so large in its earlier stages that our planet couldn’t be here. But I haven’t found that substantiated anywhere. Consider this article from Cornell U. And here’s a handy image I found to help show the evolution of a star like our sun:

    Look, evolution is not why I stopped being a Christian or believing in a god. But it’s a fact that the current consensus of scientists is that evolution is true. There are always going to be new discoveries that further tweak our understanding of it, but it’s hard to imagine a day where the entire theory will be overturned. Of course, if that day ever comes, then the new consensus of science will be opposed to evolution. Either way, it seems counter-productive to go against scientific consensus.

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  221. I meant to add that evolution doesn’t teach that we should find fossil evidence of cross species like a frog-cow, croco-duck, or giraffe-monkey. The changes are small and gradual, and in fact, the fossil record does support that kind of trajectory. As I understand it, the theory goes like this:

    Imagine that you could pick an individual and line up every one of his ancestors all the way back. If you walked up and down the line, you would see little to no difference between between one individual and the ones to either side of him/her. In fact, you’d only see the kinds of differences that you see between parents and their children.

    If you took one person from that line and compared him/her to a person 10 or 20 spaces back, then you might see more differences between those particular points in the line. If you took one individual and compared him/her to an individual 30,000 places down the line, you might see some striking differences — in fact, you might see a different species altogether.

    This kind of evolution is micro-evolution, which you said you accept. It’s simply spread out over an unimaginable length of time. So no individual from that line ever gave birth to a child that was a different species — you only see the different species when you compare individuals from varying points in that line. So the lines between species would be fuzzy if we could examine every fossil in an unbroken line of ancestry. But of course, we can’t do that. It’s hard to find fossils. When we find different fossils, we typically have gaps of hundreds of generations between them. This is why creationists often claim that we have no transitionary fossils, when in fact, every fossil is transitionary.

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  222. Actually, she’s right – the sun would have been slightly larger during the early days of the young earth, and it is still condensing, as it burns off it’s hydrogen supply – then, and the balance shifts between the remaining hydrogen and the helium produced as a byproduct of hydrogen fusion, the sun will begin to grow, to ultimately engulf the Earth and possibly as far as the orbit of Mars.

    However, the younger, slightly larger sun would not have been as hot, so the sun’s size at the time would not have been a factor in the abiogenesis process.

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  223. I can’t wait for Laurie to get back to me on that Moses thing – I’d be curious as to whether Moses being born before Abraham makes him his own grandpa —

    And I’m sure she’s going to tell me how “Evolution goes against scientific law,” but somehow, creation doesn’t —

    See, I’m keeping a list (checking it twice), Laurie, of all the things you’ve not responded to, and I’ll keep asking until you answer!

    @Nate – you might should have reduced that image to 600 pixels – you probably still can.

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  224. Arch,

    It may sound funny I know but it really is so; I’m my own grandpa. (2 can play at your game although I’m not near as good as you are at it. 😉 )

    Good point about the scientific law thing. Creationists seem to have this kind of view: “the consensus of scientists affirms that there is the law of [fill in the blank – we still don’t know what law Laurie was referencing] so from that consensus we know that this law is true. Even though the consensus of scientists affirms evolution, it looks like it violates this law (even though scientists have responded many times to that critique) so we know that we cannot trust them because they just have a bias against God”. This is a somewhat common trend among creationists – don’t trust the consensus of scientists only when they say things that go against your particular belief about reality. If the consensus of scientists is that reincarnation is not true (just a made up example) then creationists would likely be all over that one.

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  225. I’m also curious about her sources, but I don’t want to disparage her. Like the rest of us, she thinks her beliefs are correct. Though we may disagree, I’ve got to give her credit that she seems to know why she believes what she believes. That’s more than I can say for many people.

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  226. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Laurie, quite the contrary – I dislike anyone who buckles at my first bark, and she doesn’t do that, she stands her ground and I like that. My complaint is that I wonder if her sources are sometimes selected on the grounds of confirmation bias.

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  227. Yeah, I wonder that too. It’s easy to fall into. There are a lot of creationists working double-time to propagate a whole lot of nonsense. Granted, there are non-believers who do the same thing. But to me, it seems especially insidious when religious people do it, since they should be holding themselves to a “higher standard.”

    Norman Geisler is one of the apologists I think about when it comes to that kind of thing. After reading so much material from all sides of the issue, I find it hard to believe that guys like him honestly believe the arguments they put forth. And if someone is only reading points from that side of things, then they aren’t going to know how bad the arguments really are.

    One of the fallacies that people fall into is they think most non-religious scholars and scientists are trying to disprove Christianity and will alter their findings to fit their agenda. I just don’t think that’s the case. When people don’t already believe in something, they don’t tend to put forth tons of energy trying to disprove it. Most of us don’t believe in unicorns, but we don’t waste a lot of time trying to prove they don’t exist.

    Are there some non-religious fanatics that might twist their findings to fit a particular agenda? Sure, there probably are. But they’re going to be the exception, not the rule. And that’s why I think scientific consensus tends to be reliable. I think it goes past agendas.

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  228. Those are good points Nate. I also think it is important to note that about half of scientists believe in some kind of higher power. There is a good deal of religious diversity in the scientific community at large, and yet consensus for evolution is in the high 90’s last I saw.

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  229. Arch, it’s too late to answer your check list tonight, but I will answer your question on Moses, since I have answered it once already. But for the record, if you would read my posts i wouldn’t have to repeat myself so frequently! 😉
    Not every scholar is correct. Not every scientific paper ever written remains accurate. New evidence is being found every day, and we need to be flexible if it doesn’t conform to what we believe to be true and correct. I assume you are getting your dates from Ussher? I do not agree with any of his theological beliefs, and therefore our conclusions on scriptural matters are not inline with each other. It doesn’t change the order of events, it only change the time in which they happened. You may choose to side with him, because you all obviously find my ideas crazy, but archaeology line up perfectly with what I believe. Sorry i lost my phone for a bit. I will try to get back to all your other statements tomorrow evening.

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  230. Yes, you’re right, it is WAY too late, in fact, I was just doing one quick message-check before I put it away for the night. I have an appointment tomorrow, a 150-mile round trip, and will be gone most of the day, what with that and shopping, so don’t think I’m ignoring you if I don’t get back with you before tomorrow evening.

    I will answer your question on Moses, since I have answered it once already.

    If you mean that you told me that Moses left Egypt before Abraham came to the Levant, yes, I do believe you did. I’m still chuckling.

    I assume you are getting your dates from Ussher?

    Not really, got them from Sir John Lightfoot (1602-1675), Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. Of course you know that I believe all of those dates to be false, as the majority of the men named, likely never existed, and if they did, they certainly didn’t live for the incredible lifespans the Bible claims – in fact, the idea for the incredible lifespans are yet another Jewish plagiarization, this time, from the “Sumerian Kings List.” But the problem is that – forget Bishop Ussher and Vice-Chancellor Lightfoot – the Bible maintains that they’re true.

    Goodnight, Laurie! Goodnight, goats! Goodnight, chickens! Goodnight, John-Boy!

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  231. I honestly don’t know why I try to discuss anything with you Arch. I am starting to think, your only purpose is to get my goat…. Ha ha he he he! Yes, I think I am pretty funny lol! 😉

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  232. But you have so MANY! Don’t tell me you’d miss just ONE – I’ve still got a few warm days left, and a Fall Bar-B-Que would be SO appreciated!

    Don’t tell me, let me guess – you’ve named every one of them —

    See, this is why I like you so much, great sense of humor! Your biblical sources, however, are like tuning in to Fox News, to find out what’s REALLY going on in the world.

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  233. Yes all of my goats have names, and they are dairy goats, not meat goats.

    My “biblical sources” come from the Bible, something you clearly know little about. And for your info, I don’t watch the news… Lol 😉

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  234. they are dairy goats, not meat goats.

    As America’s early pioneers used to say, “Meat’s meat!”

    My “biblical sources” come from the Bible

    Oh, come on! You’ve already said you don’t believe much of the Bible, you’ve said you’re not a theist, and you’ve said that Moses existed hundreds of years before the Bible says he did – please don’t throw away all of your credibility now, just when you’re on a roll!

    Please answer my challenges, and almost more importantly, don’t say, “What challenges?”

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  235. Maybe you should go back and read my comments. I may have said that I wasn’t a christian, but I didn’t say that I don’t believe in the scriptures.

    Any ways, if you thought I believed what you believe, than why are you always razzing me?

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  236. Tomorrow I will tell you exactly what I believe, so there won’t be any more confusion. Stop bringing up the Moses thing, apparently it is over your head, and I really hate having to repeat myself.

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  237. I will not only go back and re-read your comments, little lady, I will read them back to you, and show you that you said what I said you said.

    Never said you believed as I do, I don’t believe Moses ever existed, and you believe he existed hundreds of years before Abraham. I maintain the Exodus never happened, and you think it did. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by earthquakes, not god. No Lot, no Abe, no Ike, no Jake, no Joe, no Mose, all fiction. Yet you believe I think as you do? Not so much —

    But it IS 2 am here, so it won’t happen tonight. Again, go hug all of the goats goodnight for me —

    Hugs!

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  238. Stop bringing up the Moses thing, apparently it is over your head

    I have an IQ that qualifies me for MENSA, nothing is over my head that is expressly stated, but your Mohammed Ali, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” form of “Rope-a-dope” throws me, because you will never come out with a definitive statement.

    If you truly are going to tell me, “exactly what I believe, so there won’t be any more confusion,” I would greatly appreciate it. I would do nip-ups in the street, whatever nip-ups are!

    Great big, slobbery goat-kisses —

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  239. Arch, I believe in the Holy scriptures. That does not mean I believe what has been canonized.

    I believe in the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is the Torah.

    I believe that Yeshua was the prophecied redeemer, and the BRANCH.

    I believe that Paul was the fulfillment of Genesis 49, the ravenous wolf, and the false apostle of Revelations 2.

    All of these things can be easily proven, even if you believe it is all just a story, I can show that this conclusion was the authors intent.

    I believe that every word, every place name, every number, was designed for our learning, and is deeper than it outwardly appears.

    This is the most basic explanation I can give you.

    By the way, the scriptures do not give a date for the Exodus. 😉

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  240. Laurie, you simply can’t say that you believe in all of those things and still maintain, as you have, that you’re not a theist – the two concepts are as mutually repellent as poles on a magnet.

    Could you clarify please:

    I believe in the Holy scriptures. That does not mean I believe what has been canonized.

    And which canonization? The Jewish canonization that took place between 400 BCE and 400 CE, that decided which of the zillion “books” floating around the Levant, would be included in the Tanakh? The Catholic canonization, deciding which books would be included in the Bible? Or the Protestant decision to leave out parts of the Catholic Bible when compiling the KJV, such as the books of the Maccabees?

    You say,

    All of these things can be easily proven, even if you believe it is all just a story

    I won’t pursue this issue further (the proof thing), because I have offered you proof that the Torah was not written at the time the events occurred, but hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years later, which you have denied, but not shown proof otherwise – proof that Noah’s flood never happened, which you have not refuted – proof from a respected biblical archaeologist that Abe, Ike and Jake never existed, which you have not refuted – the same archaeologist’s assertion, along with many others, that no evidence of Moses or a 40-year camping trip in the Sinai ever happened, and you have offered no proof to the contrary, so while asking you for proof makes for pleasant conversation, it does nothing in terms of getting to the root of the issue. Expecting actual proof from you has turned into an exercise in futility.

    I realize you’re busy, I really do, but if you have time to make statements, I would think you would have time to add evidence to support them. I think you don’t provide sources, because you know that the validity of those sources will be scrutinized and discredited.

    I’ve said it before – atheists think, theists believe.

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  241. By the way, the scriptures do not give a date for the Exodus.

    I neglected to address that, sorry —

    No, the scriptures don’t give dates for much of anything, and when they do, they’re usually wrong. For example, we assume the year of Yeshua’s birth to be year zero in the Christian calendar, yet Matthew 2 tells us he was born “in the days of Herod, the king,” and we know from ACTUAL history, that Herod died in 4 BCE, which means that if the verse in Matthew were true, and not fabricated by some anonymous author 45-50 years later, Yeshua was 4 in year zero, which would mean that we now live in the year 2009 – does that mean I’m four years younger than I thought I was? Yay!

    The primary method the scriptures use for dating events, was to link them to other things, people, places, events, etc. Apparently those old tent-dwelling nomads didn’t have the greatest of calendars – ever try to hang a calendar on a goat-skin tent wall? Not all the fun it’s cracked up to be.

    Abe, for example, left “Ur of the Chaldees,” yet it’s known historically that the Chaldeans didn’t move into Mesopotamia until sometime after 700 BCE. Whoever wrote that part of Genesis had no clue of the area’s history – he knew the Chaldeans lived there when he was writing, so he assumed they had been there a millennium and a half earlier, when Abe left home.

    I notice that you don’t seem to give a date for the Exodus either, although you’ve hinted that it happened a lot earlier than we think. Care to elaborate? Knowing you, as I’ve come to, probably not.

    It’s an historical fact that at some point in its past, Egypt kicked a band of Canaanites out of their country (no green cards), and there are those who believe that this expulsion provided the idea for the Hebrew exodus. The Bible tells us there were 600,000 men in the march out of Egypt – when you guestimate the quantity of those men’s property – the number of women and children – you come up with a figure of around a million and a half Hebrews, all leaving Egypt, most on foot. How long do you suppose it would take a million and a half people, a large number of them children, many carrying Egyptian loot, to walk across the bed of the Red Sea?

    And what happened to Egypt after this? The population at the time was only about 2 1/2 million people, so the Bible is saying that nearly 2/3 of the entire population of the country disappeared overnight! What happened to the Egyptian economy? I know you’ve said that Egypt covered it up out of embarrassment, but how do you cover up an event that resulted in 2/3 of your country’s population walking out? Nosy neighbors are going to figure it out, and SOMEbody’s going to write about it, sadly, no one did.

    Laurie, you’re simply too intelligent, not to see how illogical it all is!

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  242. I am now fully convinced that you are either

    A) a cheater who didn’t really pass the mensa test, and are not really in the top two percent.

    Or

    B) have in fact not been reading my posts or your own for that matter

    You are really starting to make my blood boil. I am not saying this to be mean, but you smart people can be really dumb sometimes. Your “proof” is nothing more than pure speculation, and opinion.

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  243. That sounded a lot worse than I intended. I am sorry, I was just teasing. 😉

    I am going to a computer though, so I can help you see the light

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  244. hey, it’s alright. we all get riled up sometimes. since you brought it up, do you offer any “proof” for the inspiration (god given-ness) of the bible, or do you take it merely on faith?

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  245. “Your ‘proof’ is nothing more than pure speculation, and opinion.”

    Laurie, Love, you can say THAT, after saying THIS?!!!

    “Arch, I believe in the Holy scriptures. I believe in the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is the Torah. I believe that Yeshua was the prophecied redeemer, and the BRANCH.”

    Those beliefs make “speculation” sound like established fact! And yes, I’ve read all of your comments, in fact, I hang on your every word.

    Oh, and BTW, speaking of proofs, I’m still waiting for yours —

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  246. Now that I have a computer for a moment, things will be a lot easier for me. I hardly think you have been fair in your assessment of me (arch) since you know I have been typing on a phone, and cannot copy, paste, or use links! You have a computer! Use it will ya! I live off grid, so buying a computer when winter is rapidly approaching, is not on the high priority list. I need to conserve power!

    Before I really get into this, we need to be clear on a few things. I am sure you already realize this, but it hasn’t stopped you so far, so we need to clarify. Just because a famous scientist, archaeologist, or theologian says something, DOES NOT make it true. There are tons of debates, from all sides. That’s why using the year zero, or dates for Abraham, or anything else that man deduced or fabricated is off limits. Here is one small example…

    Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, a more honest evolutionist, says the following in his book, “The Structure of Evolutionary Theory” The Structure of Evolutionary Theory

    p. 749 “…the tale itself illustrates the central fact of the fossil record so well–geologically ABRUPT ORIGIN and subsequent extended stasis of most species. Anatomy may fluctuate through time, but the last remnants of a species usually look pretty much like the first representatives. Paleontologists have always recognized the long-term stability of most species, we had become more than a bit ashamed by this strong and literal signal, for the dominant theory or our scientific culture told us to look for the opposite result of gradualism as the primary empirical expression of every biologists favorite subject–evolution itself.”

    p. 750 in 1903 H.F. Cleland wrote the following: “In a section such as that of the Hamilton formation at Cayaga Lake… if the statement natura non facit saltum (=Nature makes no leaps) is granted, one should, with some confidence expect to find many–at least some–evidences of evolution. A careful examination of the fossils of all zones, from the lowest to the highest, failed to reveal any evolutional changes, with the possible exception of Ambocoelia praeumbona (a brachiopod). The species are as distinct or as variable in one portion of the section as in another. Species varied in shape, in size and in surface markings, but the changes were not progressive. The conclusion must be that… the evolution of brachiopods, gastropods and pelecypods either does not take place at all or takes place very seldom, and that it makes little difference how much time elapses so long as the conditions of environment remain unchanged.”

    p. 751 “Evolutionary theory may be a wonderful intellectual frill, but workaday paleontology, until recently used fossils primarily in the immensely useful activity (in mining, mapping, finding oil, etc.) of dating rocks and determining their stratigraphic sequence. These practical paleontologists dared not be wrong in setting their criteria for designating ages and environments. They had to develop the most precise system that empirical recognition could supply for specifying the age of a stratum; they could not let theory dictate a fancy expectation unsupported by observation. If most fossil species changed gradually during their geological lifetimes, biostratigraphers would have codified “stage of evolution” as the primary criterion for dating by fossils. But in fact biostratigraphers treat species as stable entities throughout their documented ranges–because the vast majority so appear in the empirical record.”

    p. 752 “We (Eldrege and Gould) wondered why evolutionary paleontologists have continued to seek, for over a century and almost always in vain, the “insensibly graded series” that Darwin told us to find. Biostratigraphers have known for years that morphological stability, particularly in characters that allow us to recognized species-level taxa, is the rule, not the exception. It is time for evolutionary theory to catch up with empirical paleontology, to confront the phenomenon of evolutionary non-change, and to incorporate it into our theory, rather than simply explain it away.”

    p. 759 “So if stasis could not be explained away as missing information, how could gradualism face this most prominent signal from the fossil record? The most negative of all strategies–a quite unconscious conspiracy of silence–dictated the canonical response of paleontologists to their observation of stasis. Paleontology therefore came to view stasis as just another failure to document evolution. Stasis existed in overwhelming abundance, as every paleontologist always knew. But this primary signal of the fossil record, defined as an absence of data for evolution, only highlighted our frustration–and certainly did not represent anything worth publishing. Paleontology therefore fell into a literally absurd vicious cycle.”

    There are a lot of great minds that people would think of as an authority on this subject or that. They are not all in agreement. A good scientist, archaeologist, or scholar of any type will try to disprove their findings before determining a level of accuracy. Nate, you said “One of the fallacies that people fall into is they think most non-religious scholars and scientists are trying to disprove Christianity and will alter their findings to fit their agenda. I just don’t think that’s the case. When people don’t already believe in something, they don’t tend to put forth tons of energy trying to disprove it. Most of us don’t believe in unicorns, but we don’t waste a lot of time trying to prove they don’t exist.”. When I read this I kind of chuckled to my self. While it sounds good in theory, it is obviously not true. There are plenty of people here that spend a good amount of time trying to talk some sense into Christians or disprove the bible. Why do they care? Why do you?

    My point is, that we could say he said she said all day long, and it doesn’t make that person correct. We need to give a fair look at each side, and know that in most cases they may be swaying the evidence a little, whether intentional or not. It is human nature.

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  247. Now that I can copy and paste, we will see who wears the omlete

    “I notice that you don’t seem to give a date for the Exodus either, although you’ve hinted that it happened a lot earlier than we think. Care to elaborate? Knowing you, as I’ve come to, probably not.”

    Laurie
    October 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm
    Thanks Howie,
    Arch, do you read my posts? They are not looking in the right time period. The Exodus occurred in 2450 B.C. Back up and you will see that the data fits. Egypt was struck by a natural disaster that caused the collapse of the kingdom near the end of the 6th dynasty, both Jericho and Ai were destroyed 2400 B.C. And they have found the trail of the Israelites and the remains of the encampment

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  248. William,
    I do not have any proof that you would likely find suitable, but I do find the scriptures to be more amazing than anything man could have created, especially before the time of computers. Let me give you an example that I gave Nate.

    Here is a list of the descendants of Adam, through is son Seth

    Seth
    Enosh
    Kenan
    Mahalalel
    Jared
    Enoch
    Methuselah
    Lamech
    Noah

    At first glance, it seems to be just a list of names…but every name, place, number, every jot and tittle, is an integrated message system. Everything is thematically connected. It is the story of salvation over and over again, and so much more.

    Seth- appointed
    Enosh- mortal
    Kenan- sorrow
    Mahalalel- the Blessed God
    Jared- came down
    Enoch- teaching
    Methuselah- His death shall bring
    Lamech- Strenght
    Noah- comfort

    Appointed mortal sorrow the Blessed God came down teaching His death shall bring strenght and comfort.

    This is an easy one to see, and does not require a more in-depth understanding of the scriptures, but it is not the only one. Far from it

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  249. First of all, Laurie, yes, I have noticed your mentioning typing on your phone, and of it’s limitations, but since you also mentioned working with your livestock, I had every reason to believe that you were referring to being outside, working, and using your phone – I had no idea you had no computer, and you didn’t mention it.

    OK – you ARE aware I hope that Gould reached most of his conclusions while working with snails. I’m not sure how much they could tell him. However he campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two distinct fields (or “magisteria”) whose authorities do not overlap.

    H.F. Cleland, 1903? You ARE aware that this is 2013? How much have we learned since then?

    Let me explain how evolution works, Laurie – cell mutations happen all of the time, some are beneficial to a member of a species, but most are not and go by the wayside. Those that ARE beneficial, allow the member to live a longer, or better life, and thus be more likely to be able to pass on the genetic mutation to his/her offspring. Sometimes environmental changes cause creatures to change to adapt to the new environment – those that do, survive, while those that don’t, die.

    Environmental and/or geological changes don’t happen every day, they occur haphazardly, as you yourself have seen in tsuanimis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the globe, therefore the necessity to change to adapt to a changing environment also occurs haphazardly. I don’t recall that any of us suggested, even with that example of colored letters, that evolution was continuous and ongoing, but rather on an “as needed” basis.

    Rather than reading hundred-year old textbooks, written by one who never heard of a geiger counter or carbon dating, could I suggest “The Ancestor’s Tale,” by Richard Dawkins?

    Careful though – you just might learn something —

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  250. you completely missed my entire point! I am not going to flood this post with the FACT that there are a lot of different theories in the field, and even evoultionist do not agree with one another. Come on Mensa, don’t pretend you didn’t understand my post.

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  251. Of course, Laurie, I read your posts – how could I not?

    The Exodus occurred in 2450 B.C. Back up and you will see that the data fits. Egypt was struck by a natural disaster that caused the collapse of the kingdom near the end of the 6th dynasty, both Jericho and Ai were destroyed 2400 B.C. And they have found the trail of the Israelites and the remains of the encampment.

    Perhaps – assuming that you read MY posts – you’ll recall that the first time you said that, I asked for your source, for which I’m still waiting.

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  252. Do I really need to help you understand the proper way to research something? Okay, first I would try and pull up all the archaeological finds relating to time and place. Its is usually easier to find the correct information if you search using terms like old kingdom, or 5th dynasty, rather than 2400 BC. You could also search by name. The Pharaoh that I believe was reigning at the time of the exodus was Unas. He died unexpectedly, and although he had a son, he left no heir for the throne. I wonder if they both died somehow?

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  253. I didn’t miss your point at all! Your point was that you’re right and I’m wrong, but just because it’s YOUR point, doesn’t make it true. You chose authors that would stress your point – a process known as Confirmation Bias – no matter how long ago they wrote or that the body of their work dealt primarily with snails. I offered you a book that covers the whole enchilada, now let’s see if you read it, I have.

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  254. No, no, no, no, no – I gave you proof for my claims, you can hardly expect me to look up proof for your wild assertions, that’s your job – you make the claim, you back it up, that’s how it works —

    I think the Bible is a crock, Laurie – no go research until you prove I’m right. Does that make sense to you?

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  255. Laurie,

    I’ve been looking up the meaning of those names and several of them don’t actually seem to match what you’ve written (especially Kenan, Mahalalel, Enoch, and Methusaleh). I’m getting this:

    Red compensation man’s possessions (is) praise of God commanded. Dedicated man of the dart (gets) powerful rest.

    So maybe the first sentence is a clear prophecy about communism and the second is about Phil Taylor finally retiring.

    Seriously though Laurie this reminded me so much of the whole Bill Gates the 3rd thing – do you believe he is the devil because of the sum of the ascii values of his name?

    How about Michael Drosnin’s bible codes – convincing?

    How about the mathematical miracles in the Quran? : http://www.eholyquran.com/Quran/LinksPrime/MathematicalMiraclesOfQuran.htm
    As stated on that website: “Do you think these mathematical relations are accidental? If you think so, it is very unfair, and perhaps you intend to unfairly deny the great truth that Quran is the word of God.”

    There are reasons why these kinds of things are not convincing Laurie. With a bit of effort and maneuvering these kinds of messages can easily be “found” wherever you want them to and then appear magical.

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  256. And waiting —

    Alas, it’s nearly midnight, and I’ve sat in front of the screen all evening, waiting for Laurie and her armload of Exodus evidence (and if you believe that, let’s talk about some Florida swampland –).

    Maybe tomorrow, we’ll learn about the 2450 Exodus, that most biblical scholars place around 1250-1400 BCE, and hopefully, we’ll learn where all of those descendants of Seth found their wives. I’m betting on a cabbage patch —

    ‘Nite Laurie, sleep tight (I know I will, I just bought a bottle of vodka!) and don’t let the bedbugs – well, you know the rest —

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  257. Laurie said:

    Nate, you said “One of the fallacies that people fall into is they think most non-religious scholars and scientists are trying to disprove Christianity and will alter their findings to fit their agenda. I just don’t think that’s the case. When people don’t already believe in something, they don’t tend to put forth tons of energy trying to disprove it. Most of us don’t believe in unicorns, but we don’t waste a lot of time trying to prove they don’t exist.”. When I read this I kind of chuckled to my self. While it sounds good in theory, it is obviously not true. There are plenty of people here that spend a good amount of time trying to talk some sense into Christians or disprove the bible. Why do they care? Why do you?

    Fair point, Laurie. Let me clarify what I was trying to say. Granted, there are plenty of people like me who do spend time trying to argue against something that I already don’t believe in. But I was talking more about scholars and scientists. You know, people whose focus is on something else, like archaeology, biology, astronomy, etc. My focus, admittedly, is religion. But for an anthropologist who’s never really given tons of consideration to religion, there wouldn’t be much incentive to twist their findings to disprove something they already dismiss.

    Now sure, there are probably some scientists who do have an agenda — on both sides: some who want to prove Christianity true, and some who want to prove it false. But I think the vast majority are more interested in simply discovering what’s true. So when you take a look at what all of them have to say, the consensus should be rather bias-free. I think that’s why even many religious people have begun to accept the Big Bang, evolution, etc.

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  258. One more point — this one about evolution:

    The quotes you gave state that all the fossils we’ve found are in stable forms, not transitionary ones. I don’t really believe that’s true, but it makes me wonder if you could describe what a transitory fossil would look like? The truth is, we do find fossils that show a clear progression between species. We don’t have every fossil connecting the different points, but I don’t think any scientists argue that we should have every one. It’s my understanding that most scientists today believe that we have many transitory fossils. So, since you disagree, if you could explain what a transitory fossil would be, that might help get us on the same page.

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  259. If everyone understood what an unlikely thing it is that bones fossilize at all, they would realize how incredible it is that we have ANY fossils to study, much less a perfect, linear progression.

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  260. Thanks, William, I just bookmarked the piece, as I know I’ll find MANY uses for it over time. While the piece is far too long to repost here, and knowing there’s a strong likelihood that the lovely Laurie will not visit the site, as cognitive dissonance can be quite painful I’m told, and inclined to make one’s head occasionally explode, I’ll paste in just a tiny bit, for her benefit, just so she can never say I haven’t done anything for her.

    One frequently cited “hole” in the theory: Creationists claim there are no transitional fossils, aka missing links. Biologists and paleontologists, among others, know this claim is false.

    As key evidence for evolution and species’ gradual change over time, transitional creatures should resemble intermediate species, having skeletal and other body features in common with two distinct groups of animals, such as reptiles and mammals, or fish and amphibians.
    These animals sound wild, but the fossil record — which is far from complete — is full of them nonetheless, as documented by Occidental College geologist Donald Prothero in his book “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” (Columbia University Press, 2007). Prothero discussed those fossils last month at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, along with transitional fossils that were announced since the book was published, including the “fishibian” and the “frogamander.”

    At least hundreds, possibly thousands, of transitional fossils have been found so far by researchers. The exact count is unclear because some lineages of organisms are continuously evolving.

    Sorry, Laurie – no crocoducks yet, but we’re still looking —

    And since I’m sure Laurie wouldn’t mind if I indulged in a bit of self-promotion (and likely would admit to being surprised if I didn’t), I’ll add this:

    The classic fossil of Archaeopteryx, sometimes called the first bird, has a wishbone (fully fused clavicle) which is only found in modern birds and some dinosaurs. But it also shows impressions from feathers on its body, as seen on many of the theropod dinosaurs from which it evolved. Its body, capable of flight or gliding, also had many dinosaur features — teeth (no birds alive today have teeth), a long bony tail (tails on modern birds are entirely feathers, not bony), long hind legs and toes, and a specialized hand with long bony fingers (unlike modern bird wings in which the fingers are fused into a single element), Prothero said.

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  261. Oh, and Laurie, I know you homeschool your girls, and I really DO credit you with having the highest of motives for doing so, but there’s no doubt you’ve filled their poor little heads with biblical myths, do them – not me – a favor, so that when they get older, they don’t stick out like a sucked thumb on a dirty baby (and so they don’t have to hide from the world in the woods on a goat ranch), buy them a copy of Occidental College geologist Donald Prothero’s book, “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” (Columbia University Press, 2007), and let them decide for themselves what they want to believe, with all of the facts available to them.

    I’d buy it for them myself (I love kids, and only wish the best for them!) if I knew where to send it and had your assurance you’d let them read it without any vitriolic disclaimers.

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  262. Howie,

    “I’ve been looking up the meaning of those names and several of them don’t actually seem to match what you’ve written (especially Kenan, Mahalalel, Enoch, and Methusaleh). I’m getting this:”

    I am guessing this was just meant for a laugh, because it would appear that you are an intelligent man. But for those that may not know, ancient Hebrew names are not translated, but transliterated. Unfortunately, the only way to get an accurate picture of the meaning, is to study root word, and have some understanding of Hebrew.

    example…
    The name seth is two hebrew letters שׁ shin, and ת tav. They read right to left, so it would look like this שֵׁת. Taking a closer look at each letter the shin means sharp, press, eat , and two. The tav means mark, sign, signal, or monument. The hebrew name as written above would be pronounced sheyt with the vowel points under the shin. Sheyt is the root word meaning “to set something in place” but could be more accurately translated as “buttocks” The foundation or place where you sit. Seth is not one of the disputed names because Eve clearly states that YHWY has appointed her another offspring. Anyway, my point is that unless you are planning to study hebrew, you are not likely to understand what a name really means, and a study bible, lexicon, or concordance (since these are the common tools that people have) is not going to be much help.

    “How about the mathematical miracles in the Quran? : http://www.eholyquran.com/Quran/LinksPrime/MathematicalMiraclesOfQuran.htm
    As stated on that website: “Do you think these mathematical relations are accidental? If you think so, it is very unfair, and perhaps you intend to unfairly deny the great truth that Quran is the word of God.””

    I believe in YHWH, and I believe in Lucifer. So I believe that Lucifer makes as many counterfeits to the real as he can. I also believe that the scriptures are spiritual, and require spiritual discernment to be properly understood.

    I enjoy conversing with you all, but don’t think you ever really get my point. Like the quote from Stephen Jay Gould. This was not my quote, but a quote from a fellow evolutionist. So you can send him those links, but he is a paleontologist, and I am sure he is aware of the evidence.

    Nate,
    “But I was talking more about scholars and scientists. You know, people whose focus is on something else, like archaeology, biology, astronomy, etc. My focus, admittedly, is religion. But for an anthropologist who’s never really given tons of consideration to religion, there wouldn’t be much incentive to twist their findings to disprove something they already dismiss.”

    Scientist are always bombarded by religion, and i suppose rightly so, they are usually irritated with the concept. So it makes sense they may not like to support information that may look as though it is leaning that way. And as for archaeologists, Israel Finklestien sure wastes a lot of time with it. Have you read any of his books? Books on how the bible is fiction, and how King David and Solomon had only small tribes. I bet he is kicking himself for that one. That’s the thing with archaeology, there are always things being unearthed. Like it or not, these fields are very connected with each other, and very aware of the opposition.

    I thought I was going to have time to post links for you arch, but I have been really swamped. I can’t keep this computer, and posting on here has been a huge distraction for me. I enjoyed everyone though, and will pop back in as time permits. I keep thinking I just mighty start a blog of my own in the winter. Not that it will interest any of you I am sure!

    Shalom!
    Laurie

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  263. wow! i started posting my comment, and have added to it here and there throughout my day. Not ignoring your self promotion arch, just didn’t see it till now. leaving for town, don’t talk about me behind my back!;)

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  264. Laurie, I think the disconnect between most religious and most non-religious has to do with how we view the world. For me, when i was a believer, i believed the story that science, history, archaeology only supported the bible. I believed the story that the bible never contradicted itself. And when i read the bible, it was only to glean the moral and ethical harvest…

    Then, once I realized that it was just untrue that science supported the bible, but that much of if it disagreed with it, and once I began to see the actual contradictions and errors in the bible I stopped believing in it. I just didnt see any real supporting evidence. It was all hope. It was all faith in the claims on human writers – not god, since he had told me nothing himself.

    And many (or “some” if you prefer) scientists/archaeologists will automatically discount supernatural explanations for things or events. Some might say that that shows a bias against religion… and perhaps it does, but surely you can understand why. Much of the things we’ve learned, whether it be gravity, human growth, outer space, etc were one time dismissed as “god did it/does it/whatever it” – and then people, through research and testing discovered physical laws which led them to make accurate predictions…

    Once people began to see that they can understand the world without god and have it work, it became a simple and logical step to part with religion, especially when seeing the errors in the bible (and other religious texts), the similarities between opposing faiths, and the scientific fallacies within the bible (like when jesus said that a seed must die before it would grow).

    And then we get into what faith is better and why? is the whole bible inspired by god or part of it, which parts, etc? It becomes too cumbersome if one thinks about it too long. It begins to look like a game children created and then added extra rules as they played (at least it does to me).

    These people view the world with their eyes open, looking for answers they can see, measure and weigh. And Christians walk by faith, not by sight. But I must say, once I opened my eyes I saw much more clearly.

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  265. I keep thinking I just mighty start a blog of my own in the winter. Not that it will interest any of you I am sure!

    Actually, that’s not true, I would LOVE to come over there and harass you!

    pax vobiscum,
    arch

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  266. leaving for town

    Are we talking horse and buggy here, or what? I’ll admit to curiosity, do you churn your own butter? Seriously, there are SO many lost arts, that if we lost our electricity, as in the TV series, “Revolution,” we wouldn’t know what to do. I’m still good with a bow and arrow, so I wouldn’t starve, but as for churning butter or baking bread, I’d be lost.

    It’s hard to find a woman today that can even cook, much less quilt, churn butter, and hitch up the mule and plow the south 40.

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  267. Hey Laurie,

    Yeah, that was part joke. I was trying to demonstrate how we could read different hidden messages out of the same thing, and then I thought I’d have some fun with it. Didn’t mean it in a bad way and looks like you didn’t take it that way (I hope).

    From the first looks of it 4 of those names didn’t easily translate into what was needed for the proof. Even reading the explanation online from people who supported it made it look like there was some forcing or maneuvering to get the hidden message out of it. These kinds of things are very similar to Michael Drosnin’s Bible Code book. It has been shown that using the same techniques the same kinds of hidden messages can be found in War and Peace.

    My main point is just to explain why it isn’t convincing to me. If that doesn’t work for you that’s cool.

    As far as Lucifer making counterfeits, if we believe there are counterfeits made from bad spirits then I’m afraid we’re stuck with the fact that whatever we choose as the correct scriptures could just as likely be counterfeits as the next guy’s scripture choice. You may think that you’ve got the spiritual discernment to make the correct choice but clearly people of other religions believe that they are the ones that have that spiritual discernment and they believe that you are the one following the counterfeit.

    If you ever start a blog I’d be interested in reading. If you want you can contact me from the contact page of my blog (which I think you can get to by clicking my name) once you get it running. I’ll try to be nice if I comment on it. 🙂

    Enjoy your trip. Arch now has me interested too about whether it’s by horse and buggy. 🙂 It’s not out of the realm of possibility since the Amish certainly do it, and there is some respect I think they deserve for giving up the conveniences that people like me take for granted. (btw, did you think Arch or any of us for that matter could resist talking about you behind your back. 😉 ).

    Later,
    Howie

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  268. your envisioning my buckboard pulled by horses, but the Tibetan yaks are so much better at pulling through 6 feet of snow!

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  269. OK, Laurie, last night, I scanned all 341 comments – don’t tell me I don’t have a life! – and admittedly could not find any reference to a statement I could have sworn you made about attending the Catholic Church for the ceremony – I can only assume it was some other basket case charming lady on another site, but I did run across some strange statements you made, though not in a single comment, leaving me to wonder about your definition of “Christian”:

    “I believe in YHWY and the Messiah
    I believe in YHWH, and I believe in Lucifer
    Although I would not call myself a christian, I do believe in the “old testament” and Yeshua as the Messiah.
    I may have said that I wasn’t a christian, but I didn’t say that I don’t believe in the scriptures.”

    Then there was this statement:

    “laurie says:
    October 21, 2013 at 12:56 am
    Arch, it’s too late to answer your check list tonight, but I will answer your question on Moses, since I have answered it once already.”

    After which, you talked about everything EXCEPT Moses, never referencing him again in that comment!

    But later (another day), there were two, separate statements about Moses:

    The Exodus occurred in 2450 B.C. Back up and you will see that the data fits. Egypt was struck by a natural disaster that caused the collapse of the kingdom near the end of the 6th dynasty, both Jericho and Ai were destroyed 2400 B.C. And they have found the trail of the Israelites and the remains of the encampment

    “Arch, do you read my posts? They are not looking in the right time period. The Exodus occurred in 2450 B.C. Back up and you will see that the data fits. Egypt was struck by a natural disaster that caused the collapse of the kingdom near the end of the 6th dynasty, both Jericho and Ai were destroyed 2400 B.C. And they have found the trail of the Israelites and the remains of the encampment

    But the one thing you DID seem to forget, was the source of your assertion – which you seem to be avoiding like the plague – that Moses lived 1200 years before most biblical scholars say he was alleged to have lived. Though I may have a clue as to why this assertion was made, by whomever made it, that you’re parroting – it has long been established by biblical archaeologists that both Ai and Jericho were LONG gone before the Bible ever said that Joshua attacked them, BUT, if we could just push old Moses back 1200 years, we could make the fiction fit the facts!

    Clever plan, but I’d still like the source, please —

    Oh, and I’m still waiting on evidence regarding the 3000-year old T-Rex, the discovery of the fictional ark of the fictional Noah, and the discovery of the Red Sea crossing, of which you’ve claimed knowledge.

    With great gobs of goat hugs, I remain, your obedient serpent —
    (well, dino-bird, anyway!)

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  270. I have to wonder, as the various disciplines of science continue to make more discoveries that cast an even more unfavorable light on religion, and theists keep bending and twisting the Bible, to try to make it fit established scientific data, will they finally twist it SO FAR out of shape that even the most gullible won’t recognize it?

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  271. Hey John Zande and Finding Truth,

    I just noticed this column over here. I didn’t read all the comments here so forgive me if anybody else made this point.

    When you compare the Old and New Testaments to “Star Wars” or “Twilight” (as another one of my atheist friends did), you miss the point completely–and you actually help to make MY point. And that is that there is a supernatural designer involved in the gospel message.

    It’s not as though there was one author who sat down and wrote the whole Old Testament. It’s a recorded history that was lived out by the Jewish people. (And even if you think the Pentateuch is myth with no archaeological evidence to support it, from the time of the judges on, even Zande admits there is archaeological evidence to support the historicity of the scriptures.) The “story” wasn’t designed by a human being. It was lived out by a people who had no idea how it would all fit together.

    And even if one person wrote the New Testament (I call this person the “mystery writer”) he wouldn’t be starting from scratch and creating a narrative–he would be completing a LIVING narrative–a story that had a definite purpose and plan–which was revealed through the history of the Jewish people–not out of the mind of a man.

    This is much different than having one author, or a group of authors, who merely write a story. The Jewish history was a reality which was used to reveal the supernatural influence of somebody in the universe who wanted the people of this planet to understand that there was a gracious way for them to be justified in the universal court of law.

    The message of the Bible is that there is a planetary system of justice and each of us is hopelessly guilty, yet a messenger was sent–and how can we trust him? Because he would be the one who “fulfilled the law and the prophets.” We can trust this One because he is the culmination of “the hopes and fears of all the years.” (As the famous carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” so eloquently puts it.)

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  272. “…by admitting the message of the Old and New Testaments are like a well-written book, you inadvertently point to a designer.”

    Well, I, for one, Diana, would never admit that – quite the contrary – both “Testaments” are a hodge-podge of contradictions that, if it hadn’t been touted as a route to eternal life, would never have found a publisher.

    As history, it’s an omelet of fact and fiction, and as literature, it’s at best poorly written.

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  273. “…from the time of the judges on,…there is archaeological evidence to support the historicity of the scriptures.The “story” wasn’t designed by a human being. It was lived out by a people who had no idea how it would all fit together.

    While it may be true that “It was lived out by a people,” it was written by a human being with his own agenda, who was free to embellish, add to, detract from, basically as he wished, as not one person in a thousand could even read in those days.

    It was written in the Bible what vast kingdoms David and Solomon had, yet Israeli archaeologist, Finklestein, has found that David’s vast fortress consisted of about four square city blocks. It’s easy to take a little bit of history, and spin fantastic stories around it, but like cotton candy, it’s mostly air – no supernatural authors need apply —

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  274. I have no intention of wasting what little is left of my evening, listing all of those who contributed to writing the Bible, particularly since so many of them wrote anonymously. We have no idea, for example, who comprised the four groups of people who wrote the first five books, known as the Torah, what we DO know, is that it certainly wasn’t Moses.

    A group of anonymous men, writing in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, at Jerusalem, who became in last century as the Yahwist (J) Source, about 950 BCE, wrote parts of what ultimately became the Torah. Another anonymous group, aka the Elohist (E) Source, writing in the Northern Kingdom of Schechem, wrote yet another part c. 750 BCE. A third group, known as the Deuteronomist (D) Source, wrote all of Deuteronomy about 850 BCE, and a fourth unnamed group, known as the Priestly (P) Source, wrote still more, including Genesis 1, while in captivity in Babylon, around 550 BCE. Finally, a further unnamed Redactor, in 400 BCE, pieced it all together like a patchwork quilt.

    No one has ANY idea who wrote the four Gospels – I could go on, but there no real point.

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  275. Diana,

    First of all, thanks for the comments.

    To get to your overall point, it’s possible to create a narrative using any history of any group of people. If you’ve ever read historical fiction, then you’ve seen it done. All it takes is a little bit of imagination to pull some themes from history and tie them together.

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  276. “What human being with his own agenda wrote the Old Testament?”

    A good place to start would be with the Priestly (P) Source, a wacky group of priests in captivity in Babylon, who decided that Israel had been overthrown because its people had grown away from their god (whereas the truth was, that Jerusalem refused to continue paying tribute to Babylonia, which really upset the Babylonians!). So they set about re-writing the earlier books that had, to this point, been written. They decided, for example, that a god who pops down to earth for strolls, “in the cool of the day,” as found in Genesis 2 (which used to be Genesis 1), carries on one-on-one chats with Adam and Eve, and even sews them garments on the Celestial Singer, was WAAY too human a god to accurately portray their Yahweh, so they entirely rewrote the creation fable, creating a more ethereal god, a god more majestic and further removed from humanity – now THAT’S what i would call an agenda! They had intended that their version of the creation fable totally replace the creation fable the Yahwist (J) Source had written, but 150 years later, when the unnamed Redactor finally got around to piecing all of those stories together, decided he didn’t know which version would please his god more, so he left both, contradictory versions in, instead.

    In other instances, in order to “sanitize” the early parts of the Bible, the anonymous Priestly (P) Source, in some cases deleted some parts entirely. If you’ve ever read George Orwell’s 1984, you should have some idea of what they did.

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  277. Diana,

    Here’s a quick example of a spot in the Bible that seems to show evidence of the editing that arch has been talking about.

    In Ezra 1:1-4, we see the following:

    In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:
    “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel— he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

    Now compare this passage with 2 Chronicles 36:22-23:

    Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'”

    These are the last two verses in 2 Chronicles, and they are identical to the first two and a half verses of Ezra. But for some reason, the passage in 2 Chronicles stops mid-thought. “Go up” where? Kind of makes you wonder what state these manuscripts were in that caused them to be edited in such a way. Does 2 Chronicles contain part of Ezra, or does Ezra contain part of 2 Chronicles? Examples like this point toward revision in a work that is supposed to be inspired…

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  278. 2nd Thessalonians is believed by many biblical scholars, not to have been written by Paul, but rather to have been a forgery.

    In the time of Eusebius, many argued that not only was the prose of “John” in Revelations SO different from that of the Gospel of John, that they couldn’t possibly have been written by the same author, and of those, many argued that it was a heretic named Cerinthus, who wrote Revelations, wanting to promote his own view.

    1st Peter is highly suspect among biblical scholars as not having actually been written by the character named Simon Peter, while most experts agree that 2nd Peter definitely was not (see, J. H. Elliot’s Peter, Second Epistle of, Anchor Bible Dictionary). 1st Pete was written by a highly literate, well-educated, Greek-speaking Christian who was intimately familiar with the Jewish Scriptures in their Greek translation, the Septuagint – Peter, or, “Rocky,” as I like to think of him, was a fisherman in a land where barely 3% of the population – primarily the wealthy and upper class – could even read or write.

    Hebrews, Ephesians, 1st & 2nd Timothy, as well as Titus are also highly suspect by biblical scholars, as being forgeries, rather than letters by Paul.

    Were these forgeries, Diana, part of your invisible designer’s grand plan? And how does that work, exactly, in terms of making the book fit together like a seamless, well-written masterwork?

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  279. Well over half, 15 of 27, of the “books” of the New Testament, were letters written by Paul, Diana, a man who never met your Yeshua (his real name, Jesus was only the Greek translation) – can you imagine someone preaching to us today about what John Kennedy’s purpose was, who never met Kennedy, and only knew of him from word-of-mouth sources?

    Sure, the majority of us today can read, and of course we have a number of means of global communication – it’s possible to actually SEE Dr. Martin Luther King get shot, but in those days, unless you were in that upper 3% who could read, if you knew anything, it was because you witnessed it personally, or you heard about it through some long, convoluted, multi-membered game of “telephone,” or “Chinese Whispers,” or however the game is called where you’re from.

    What if that were your 5 o’clock news source? “This is Channel 8 News – today, in the Middle East, Hassan told Omar, who told Fatima, who told American soldier, Diego, who told his Commanding Officer John, who told my producers, who told me, that ground forces in Afghanistan should possibly prepare for a new Taliban offensive – more news on this, as it filters in –”

    Unless I’m mistaken, Diana, Nate believes Yeshua may have actually lived, though he doubts that he was the Superman he was touted to be. I, on the other hand, have serious doubts that he ever existed – literature by Christian sources certainly point to his existence, but one has to question the reliability of testimony given, that advances the witness’ own agenda.

    I’ve yet to find a single neutral source, or better still – one bitterly opposed to Christianity – who will attest to the actual existence of Yeshua.

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