Open Conversation Part 1

So I’ve decided to bring the “Kathy” series to an end. However, we’ve had some fun in those threads when the conversation has gone off into interesting tangents, so I’d like to keep that part of it going for anyone who’s interested. These new threads will no longer focus on Kathy or the things we were discussing with her. So thanks for your time, Kathy! Take care.

There are no real rules for these threads. But to kick off the conversation, I’ll go back to the discussion on Paul that a few of us were having. Laurie views Deut 13 as a prophecy about Paul, so why don’t we take a quick look at it?

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

6 “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, 7 some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, 8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. 9 But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. 10 You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 11 And all Israel shall hear and fear and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.

12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you to dwell there, 13 that certain worthless fellows have gone out among you and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, 14 then you shall inquire and make search and ask diligently. And behold, if it be true and certain that such an abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, devoting it to destruction, all who are in it and its cattle, with the edge of the sword. 16 You shall gather all its spoil into the midst of its open square and burn the city and all its spoil with fire, as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It shall be a heap forever. It shall not be built again. 17 None of the devoted things shall stick to your hand, that the Lord may turn from the fierceness of his anger and show you mercy and have compassion on you and multiply you, as he swore to your fathers, 18 if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping all his commandments that I am commanding you today, and doing what is right in the sight of the Lord your God.

I can see how one could apply this to Paul. However, I can also see how Jews could have applied it to Jesus as well, especially if he was claiming divinity for himself. And I’m sure this could have applied to lots of people during Israel’s history. Why should we think it’s pointing to Paul specifically, and why wouldn’t it also apply to Jesus?

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1,090 thoughts on “Open Conversation Part 1”

  1. (Woops I wrote this before seeing the new open conversation. It doesn’t address the prompt, but I’ll post it anyway and come back later!)

    I love Final Fantasy 7, Nate! Favorite RPG hands down.

    Yeah, scholars think Acts was written in defense of Paul since he is the hero of the story. Even if the author of Acts was allegorizing, (i.e., the same way Philo coupled Judaism with Platonic forms) it would still not explain features of Acts that support Paul’s position. For example, Peter’s vision in which he concludes that all foods are kosher. And, at the Jerusalem Council the apostles agree with Paul and decide not to burden the Gentiles with the law. (So, how is it that Paul is any more responsible for Christianity than the 12 apostles?)

    The author of Acts might support an ethnicity-based observance of law, though. The author seems to have an understanding of the doctrine of grace, but does not want to apply it to its logical conclusion as Paul wants to. Paul wants to fulfill Jesus’ vision that the church is one and that requires the full application of the doctrine of grace.

    Historically, the issue of the law was already in question before Jesus and Paul came on the scene. There were both Hellenizing and Judaizing Jews in the diaspora. The law already seemed antiquated in the first century, and this was causing tension in their environments. What Paul did was see Jesus as the solution to this tension, to draw all people to God without the necessity of ethnicity or customs. And, Reformed Judaism born in the nineteenth century has taken steps in this direction as well.

    But, where does the new anti-Paul sect come from? I don’t fully know, but I have been very disappointed with their scholarship. These interpretations of vague prophecy remind me of the idea of rapture or people claiming Obama is the anti-Christ. And, the failure to see that the Jerusalem apostles have no more credibility than Paul when it comes to claiming Jesus is the Messiah or Jesus resurrected or Jesus is divine. Maybe they have more credibility on Jesus’ ministry, but not on the items mentioned and maybe not even the application of Jesus’ teachings which were not always straight-forward but represented the complexities of the world. So, I would speculate that taking Paul out the picture may have delayed what happened, but eventually it would have become as it is. The anti-Paul sect would have to blame the doctrine of grace, then God for giving it, then they would be denying themselves life.

    . . . and now dreaming about escaping Midgar and slaying Emerald weapon. . . Chocobos. . . the death of Aeris which I did not cry upon seeing. 🙂

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  2. portal, I went to gamestop today, they only had portal in a game called “orange box” which had half life 2 portal and another game, but it was $34.00u.s. pre-owned.
    my game budget is 10.00 a month, I got “red dead redemption”, an open world wild west cowboy game, by rockstar that also makes the grand theft auto series. the artwork is gorgeous, so realistic.

    oh, fun fact, my parents named me paul because they wanted me to be just like paul of the buybull. they got their wish, I’m just as big an asshole as he ever was. lol

    I too, have a thorn in my side,

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  3. Oh, I may have shed a tear or two at Aeris’s death… I really didn’t see it coming!

    And have you noticed the “Aeris lives” graffiti in Wreck-It Ralph?

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  4. An open topic thread? Then I will share some random quotes that I found:

    Since the Almighty hath left us with no divine standard by which to judge the works of men be they Divinely Inspired or not, we are left entirely to our own faulty methods, scurrying about like blind mice waiving our scraps of parchment, “Here, this, this one is a note from God!” Indeed, it is utter nonsense to portray we have knowledge of the Divine and claim to know his works. – source unknown

    Another that we can all learn from:

    Once you have become so entrenched in your own arguments that you no longer consider the possibility of being wrong… Be Ashamed! And lower your head. For you have lost the search for truth. – Robert F.

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  5. Seriously Brandon…

    “For example, Peter’s vision in which he concludes that all foods are kosher. And, at the Jerusalem Council the apostles agree with Paul and decide not to burden the Gentiles with the law”

    You err not knowing the scriptures.

    “But, where does the new anti-Paul sect come from? I don’t fully know, but I have been very disappointed with their scholarship. These interpretations of vague prophecy remind me of the idea of rapture or people claiming Obama is the anti-Christ.”

    We can’t discuss these issues because you lack a basic understanding of the scriptures, and it would take me to long to teach you. Like most Christians, the only doctrines you are familiar with are Paul’s.
    These prophecies are only vague to the unlearned. It’s like a Jewish person claiming Isaiah 53 is about Israel and not Mashiach Ben Yoseph.

    If the prophecies I quoted sound vague to you, I have a hard time believing you can understand any biblical prophecy.

    If you think Peter ever ate something unclean, you need to read that chapter again.

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  6. I’m sorry for losing my temper, but it would do you some good to read only the words of your Messiah, and really think about what he says.

    What he doesn’t say is “saved by grace apart from the works of the law”

    Have a good night

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  7. Laurie, I don’t think Brandon is being obtuse — I think he’s asking legitimate questions. Honestly, I think they’re pretty good ones.

    Look, prophecy is vague — it may as well come in a fortune cookie. I mean, just look at how Matthew (mis)uses it. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing you address some of these points more fully. I know it’s time consuming, but it surely doesn’t come as a surprise to you to know that your view of scripture seems unusual to most people.

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  8. I know that’s what they believe now, but it wasn’t always this way. Our is Israel, and He is the anointed one. This is evident, just by reading it.

    Likewise, when Peter had the dream about the sheet, he said “no YHWH, never have I let anything unclean or common touch my lips!” . So all the time after Yahusha rose, Peter kept kosher. The dream was confusing at first, but then he interprets the dream for us. It was not about food, but about the goyim

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  9. I guess I missed what questions he had. After he asked if I had read Paul’s letters, I felt like he was just trying to argue, and that didn’t benefit anyone with Kathy.

    He proposed a different translation of Corinthians 8, but it wasn’t true to the text, and when I tried to discuss it he never replied.

    Can you recap his good points for me and I’ll try to get to it.

    I really am sorry, again.

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  10. Well, let’s just take a couple at a time, to keep this simpler.

    In Acts 15:10, Peter is talking to the other apostles about those who claimed circumcision was necessary for salvation. He says:

    10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

    This sounds as though Peter agrees with Paul that circumcision is not a necessary requirement for salvation. A few verses later, James says this:

    19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.

    So aside from these restrictions, James seems to agree that the rest of the law doesn’t apply to the Gentiles. Then, they say the following about Paul:

    25 it has seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Sounds like high praise.

    Finally, the apostles reiterate their stance toward Gentiles:

    28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

    So, if I understood Brandon correctly, he’s asking why Acts would record these things if Paul was not sanctioned by the apostles and if the Law of Moses was still in effect. Did the apostles really say these things?

    Thanks 🙂

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  11. Should Gentiles Follow Torah?
    Ellen Kavanaugh

    Acts 15:19-22 “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren.”

    Hmmm. This passage seems to show there are only four rules given to Gentiles coming into the faith. While the Torah wasn’t forced on Gentiles all at once, it was understood they would learn it gradually over time, hearing it each week in the synagogues. For that matter, Torah wasn’t forced on Israel in a day either — they too received it over time.

    Acts 15:21 “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

    Christians generally ignore this verse in the passage because the ramifications are obvious: What has Torah being taught each week in synagogues have to do with Gentile believers? Why is it being mentioned here along with the ‘four laws’? Because the Gentiles were to *learn Torah* each week in the synagogues! They are being started off on these four laws so they would have the bare basics to begin fellowshiping with their Jewish brethren and they would learn the rest of Torah each shabbat at synagogue. Only after pointing out the Gentiles would learn Torah weekly “did it please the apostles and elders” (vs 22) to send this letter out to the various churches.

    Acts 15:5-11 “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

    Rather than isolate one verse alone and build on that, one must look at the whole chapter. Only in proper context will the meaning become clear. 1) What group was demanding conversion by circumcision and Torah observance? 2) How was the “Torah of Moshe” defined by the group demanding it? 3) What was the apostle’s response to *this particular group*’s demand and why? 4) What does other scripture teach regarding observance for believers (Gentile and Jewish)? Only after answering these questions can one arrive at what this passage is really teaching.

    It was understood by all the apostles that G-d’s Torah never changed or was replaced. We know this from the teachings of Yeshua — heaven and earth will pass away before one yod or stroke from written Torah will (Matt 5:17,18). We also know that Yeshua considered the “traditions of man” not equal to written Torah, in fact, sometimes the oral tradition violated the written Torah (Mark 7:9). The apostles upheld written Torah but frowned on the legalism of oral law. So who is making the demands in Acts 15:5? The *Pharisees* are. So, Acts 15 is basically dealing with whether Gentiles needed to convert according to Pharisaic tradition; that is, become proselytes to Pharisaic Judaism.

    We know Gentiles could be saved without becoming proselytes — the believing of Cornelius and his family proves this. Cornelius was a G-d-fearer, a ‘ger’/righteous Gentile, one who had believed in the G-d of Israel but had not actually undergone the conversion rituals to become a proselyte. Now, from a 20th century perspective, circumcision may seem to some as only one law out of many in Torah. But from the 1st century perspective, circumcision was the means of making a proselyte. That is why circumcision is being singled out as a demand apart from its inclusion in the Torah. Torah-observance in general isn’t the issue — conversion is. Notice the Pharisaic complaint wasn’t “we demand they eat kosher and keep the Law of Moses” or “we demand they observe the Sabbath and keep the Law of Moses.” Both these would be ridiculously redundant since Law of Moses already included both of these individual laws. No, circumcision is singled out not as merely ‘1 of the 613 laws’ but instead as the means of making a proselyte to Pharisaic Judaism.

    Circumcision had become a conversion ritual by the Pharisees just as baptism is often misused today as a means of “joining a particular church.” If I refuse to be baptised in the Morman church, surely you’d see mine is a rejection of Mormanism — NOT baptism itself! So the apostles reject this Pharisaic demand that Gentiles undergo the Pharisaic circumcision. Theirs was *not* a rejection of circumcision or Torah, but a rejection instead of Pharisaic conversion rituals. The gospel was being received by Gentiles *without* them becoming proselytes — so this conversion by circumcision wasn’t required. Note that G-d “made no distinction between us and them” (Acts 15:9) to show G-d was accepting Gentiles *without* them converting first.

    “Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Acts 15:7-11

    Now Kefa argued against this attempt of the Pharisees to put a yoke on the new believers, a yoke neither they nor their fathers could bear; this yoke is the Pharisaic oral tradition. Yeshua taught:

    “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matt 23:2-4

    Note the warning a few verses later:

    “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” Matt 23:15

    Note that oral tradition is a burden — man attempts to enslave others; but G-d’s Way is freedom. Yeshua proclamed:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach freedom to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18,19 (Isaiah 61:1)

    Liberty is already defined in Ps 119:

    “So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” Ps 119:44,45

    Note What G-d says to His redeemed Israelites:

    “I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” Leviticus 26:13

    G-d didn’t give His Torah only to re-enslave Israel. Torah is freedom. Torah is never a yoke. It is man’s additions to G-d’s laws that are the yoke.

    Now let’s look at the Pharisaic demand that Gentiles keep the Torah of Moshe. To the Pharisees, the “Torah of Moshe” meant both the oral and written law — they consider both parts ‘inspired.’ Pharisees would never word that as “We demand they keep Torah of Moshe and *also our man-made additions to it*.” What group, believing their traditions to be equal to Torah, would disparage their own teachings in this way? So, when the Pharisees say “keep Torah of Moshe” they mean written *and* oral parts — they make no distinction between the two. Yet some argue that because Kefa and James didn’t point out, case by case, why they were rejecting the demands of the Pharisees, that somehow by their silence they were also discounting written Torah. May it never be! It’s far better to realize that Kefa and James were rejecting a religious system of the day (Pharisaic Judaism), a belief system that included some things they agreed with (written Torah) and some things they didn’t (making proselytes – enforcing oral torah). As a more modern example, I reject the teachings of certain Christian denominations — but that doesn’t mean I reject the Holy Bible too just because these denominations also use it in their teachings. The apostolic rejection of Pharisaic Judaism is NOT a rejection of written Torah.

    Acts 15 shows that the early Gentile believers were given four starter laws, and were to learn the rest of Torah each week in the synagogues. Gentile believers were NOT required to formally convert to Pharisaic Judaism because G-d had already accepted them without them becoming proselytes.

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  12. Hope that’s okay! Why reinvent the wheel right.

    Also, Barnabus was the beloved one, not Paul.

    Paul was suspected of teaching against Torah in Acts, and that is why they had him do the Nazarite vow, so people would see that he kept the law.

    In some of his writings it appears that he does keep Torah, he even talks about attending the feasts. But if you study all his works, you will see in the end he was against the true apostles. He called them false in Galatians 2, and 2 Corinthians 11.

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  13. Thanks for posting this, Laurie. It helps me get a better handle on how you’re viewing this.

    A couple of thoughts:

    Your article makes the comparison of Mormon’s baptism and the Pharisees’ reference to circumcision. While I understand the point she’s making, I don’t think the comparisons are really 1-to-1. The Law of Moses does command circumcision, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that when it’s mentioned in this passage it signifies the Pharisees’ incorrect application of the Law. If that’s what Peter and James were driving at, I think they would have been more specific. As it is, Acts has them saying that circumcision and the law are unnecessary burdens on the Gentiles. Perhaps your article is right that this was only meant to be temporary, but nothing like that is spelled out anywhere. Plus, we have the apostles supporting Paul in this passage, and we know from his writings that he no longer considered the Law to be necessary.

    It’s true that Matt 5 says not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away, but it’s important to note that the caveat “until all is accomplished” is also there. What does that mean? Paul would say that “all was accomplished” in Christ’s death, since it was the ultimate sacrifice. The OT system had fulfilled its purpose. The way I see it, this just isn’t a slam dunk either way. It’s too murky.

    Also, I’m not sure that Acts 15:21 is really saying that Gentiles are to continue learning the Torah in synagogues. I think it’s just saying that there have always been Gentiles who were drawn to the “true” God; now, there’s no need to trouble them with the whole law, but with these basic things. I don’t doubt that they intended to give more instructions to the Gentiles than just this — but where are we told what those are?

    And I don’t see how we can say that “beloved” only applies to Barnabas. Let’s look at the verse again:

    to choose men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Paul is included with this group of men. It would be easy to see “beloved” as applying to him, and even “men who have risked their lives…” Grammatically, there’s no indication that he should be left out of this praise. And it’s true that Paul’s own letters hint at a less friendly relationship between himself and the apostles in Jerusalem, but Acts gives no such indication. I’m still having a hard time seeing how Acts can be accepted but Paul rejected…

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  14. Learning YHWH’s Torah was not as easy then as it is today, so to put it all in a letter to the church back then was impossible. They didn’t carry bibles with them like we do today. So to tell them “this is a good place to start, stay away from these things and you’ll do well” was about as much as they could do. Later on when Paul is accused of teaching against Torah, the apostles don’t know what to do other than have him show an outward act of obedience to the law. It is obvious that they were still keeping it.

    The bible is a small book, it doesn’t spell it all out, you have to search it.

    Messiah says heaven and earth will pass away, so all has not been fulfilled.

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  15. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    Here is that verse in context

    According to messiah Paul will be called least in heaven. That doesn’t mean he will be in heaven, but that he will be called least.

    Paul is one that will hear “depart from me, I never knew you” for teaching the negation of the law.

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  16. Paul,

    portal, I went to gamestop today, they only had portal in a game called “orange box” which had half life 2 portal and another game, but it was $34.00u.s. pre-owned.
    my game budget is 10.00 a month, I got “red dead redemption”, an open world wild west cowboy game, by rockstar that also makes the grand theft auto series. the artwork is gorgeous, so realistic.

    Hey Paul, Nice 🙂 The orange box is worth a look I think, its less expensive in Australia, like I think I saw it somewhere for 19 dollars. I’d get it for Portal 2 and Half life, but then again I never got into team fortress.

    yeah RDR is a pretty game, haven’t played a lot of it though.

    Happy gaming 🙂

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  17. Hi Portal,

    I would like to answer the question you posted to Nate.

    A little background – i was born in a Buddhist family and converted to Christianity when I was 18 (when I joined the military) and now I’m an atheist after 10 years in The Lord.

    If I may blow my trumpet, most people think I’m one of the kindest and generous person they have met – including Christians. I am also the most well read and most opinionated individual in my church about current affairs and always provide different angles and perspective to things.

    Seeing how I am more generous than my Buddhist family, and also christian friends, I would say that neither religion is critical in me being generous nor well read in world affairs and the issues of morality and philosophy.

    Maybe I just have a softer heart than most. Maybe it is in my genes. Seeing as how science has indicated that different chemicals can illicit different emotional response, coupled with the fact that there are some studies about some mental defect that prevent pple from feeling empathy, I would think that saying there are people borned nice or borned dickish may be possible.

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  18. Plus, we have the apostles supporting Paul in this passage

    Of course you do – according to the Acts Seminar, those words were written in the early 2nd century, after everyone was dead who could say otherwise, by someone using Paul’s letters as references. I would expect nothing less than a fairy tale showing how Paul and the disciples had group hugs, sang “Kumbaya” and made s’mores.

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  19. Messiah says heaven and earth will pass away, so all has not been fulfilled” – Has no Christian ever wondered, if heaven passes away, what will happen to those who believe they will go there? I think that’s a question I’d like an answer to before I’d sign on for the cruise – too bad a deep thinker like Kathy isn’t here to help us out with that quandary.

    Laurie, RE: “18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    I suspect that those who make the assumption that the Law was done away with are using that exact passage, combined with the words Yeshua was quoted as saying: “It is finished,” i.e., fulfilled, as in John 19:28 & 30.

    You also have to consider the possibility that that was a metaphorical phrase, akin to, “til the cows come home,” a phrase occasionally utilized by one whose cows never actually went walkabout. Or that if all actually IS accomplished, then there’s no need for heaven and earth to pass away. There could be several ways of looking at it.

    In fact, that’s one of the many, MANY problems I have with with the Bible – what supreme being is so egomaniacal that he will give us a mere 70 years, then inspire a book so convoluted that it takes at least the entire 70 to decipher all of its riddles – and imagine those 97% of residents of the Levant who were illiterate! I bought a Weedeater, whose instructions were MUCH simpler than that, left me time for many other things – it would seem that my time is more important to an anonymous writer of Weedeater instructions, than to the skyDaddy who loved me so much that he sent his proxy to be tortured and die.

    The Bible has offered many reasons to fear this creature, but I’ve yet to see one that would inspire love.

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  20. Powers,

    “Maybe I just have a softer heart than most. Maybe it is in my genes. Seeing as how science has indicated that different chemicals can illicit different emotional response, coupled with the fact that there are some studies about some mental defect that prevent pple from feeling empathy, I would think that saying there are people borned nice or borned dickish may be possible.”

    sometimes I wonder if we influence the chemical production in our brains by behavior and activity, etc., or if it’s the type of thing we are helpless against. Personally, without conducting any meaningful research, I think it’s a combination of the two.

    your thoughts?

    as to Portal’s question?

    well, it’s hard to answer. god and the bible were heavy influences and were brought up daily as I was a child. So i am sure I was influenced by them. But as we studied and learned those things, we reinforced them with reason, often saying things like, “and we understand these principles because…” or “we can see why god would say to do this and that because…” and then we’d present our logic as why morality was rational.

    We never sat in wonder or complete disbelief as to why morality was moral – it makes sense. So I think people can be very moral without having faith or without the bible if they study and meditate on good things, and i think we all know of some who have grown up with religion and the bible and a faith in god and the bible who were not as moral or ethical as they should have been.

    The point being, I believe it is instruction, meditation and consistency that lend a person to ethical behavior more than a single book would necessarily.

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  21. In fact, that’s one of the many, MANY problems I have with with the Bible – what supreme being is so egomaniacal that he will give us a mere 70 years, then inspire a book so convoluted that it takes at least the entire 70 to decipher all of its riddles – and imagine those 97% of residents of the Levant who were illiterate! I bought a Weedeater, whose instructions were MUCH simpler than that, left me time for many other things – it would seem that my time is more important to an anonymous writer of Weedeater instructions, than to the skyDaddy who loved me so much that he sent his proxy to be tortured and die.

    Yeah, this is what it always comes down to for me too. Laurie can find some passages to make a really compelling case for her side — and Brandon can do the same thing.

    It really helps to step back and think about who wrote which books (and why). Your point about the Acts Seminar is probably right. Furthermore, I don’t doubt that the writer of Matthew was trying to say that the Law of Moses would last forever, because he seems to push for it quite a bit in his gospel. But the other books have different agendas.

    So for nonbelievers, the state of the Bible actually makes quite a bit of sense. But I think it has to be a bit tougher for those who are trying to make a cohesive message out of the whole thing, and that’s why I’m curious how Laurie takes the passages in Acts that seem so supportive of Paul.

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  22. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the question! First off, I agree with the answers that Powell and William gave.

    I do think that my upbringing had an awful lot to do with my view of morality and ethics. And my parents used Christianity as the basis for those things. If I had grown up in an environment that didn’t stress the importance of morality, I likely wouldn’t have the same character than I do now. However, I think my parents could have still stressed those things without using Christianity as a basis.

    For instance, while my children are still pretty young, they are kind, compassionate, well-behaved kids so far (ages 5 – 11). My wife and I stress the importance of treating other people with respect and dignity — basically, we espouse humanism. And so far, it seems to be working out pretty well.

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  23. Arch and Nate,

    I’m right along there with you both in your comments about the convoluted and difficult to decipher bible. I also think both Laurie and Brandon have made good points. When we also add to Laurie’s points the fact that the Hebrew Scriptures consistently mention how important and perfect God’s laws are and how the mosaic law is to be followed forever, never to be added to or subtracted from then we have ourselves a major dilemma with Paul’s writings as well as other new testament passages. The fact that the early church was dealing with this conundrum seems to bleed out into some parts of the new testament, and there have been many books written about the splinter groups in the early church regarding mosaic law.

    You are both right – the bible makes much more sense when viewed as another work of art that is very human, much like the myriad of scriptures of other religions.

    This all reminds me of what I had told Kathy back in episode #4: the book of James warns that faith without works is dead – if you don’t follow what his God believes is right then you are not truly saved. Merge this together with the difficulties in being able to figure out exactly what this God believes is right (e.g. is the law abolished or not?) and we have a very troubling conundrum. Surely you know that there are many different denominations which believe that everyone except themselves are going to hell because they are the only ones following the correct rules of God. This was one of the toughest things I dealt with as a Christian, and it finally made me realize the futility of Pascal’s wager – no matter which way you chose you still had the worry that you would burn in hell. True assurance of salvation does not really exist unless you just dig your heels in the ground and say “I’m right in my interpretations and all those others are wrong”. Those who believe they are saved are declaring themselves as more capable than all the others in their own deciphering of a puzzling bible. At some point I realized that the unknowable is not worth the worry, because there is no assurance anyway.

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  24. @ Nate,

    The discussion about Paul is very interesting. I’m following along.

    @ Ryan,

    While I was growing up (during my pre-teen years) I don’t remember my parents using Christianity, per se, as a basis for learning morals and ethics. I did know there was a God, but we weren’t brought up with God as a basis for right and wrong. We didn’t go to church and, while there was a Bible in my house it wasn’t cracked open that I know of. We were taught to do what’s right because it was the right thing to do. I’d definitely say looking back on it we were taught humanism. Was that humanism influenced by Christianity? That’s kind of hard to say. It’s been said here over and over the Western Culture and Civilization has it’s roots in Christianity, but if you’ve read any of the Hammurabi Code (which predates the Bible or Christianity) it’s easy to see that other cultures and civilizations had similar ideas about morality and ethics.

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  25. Something that may interest some here, is a little morsel I acquired from Laurie – The Didache.

    I found this quotation from Eusebius particularly interesting – apparently he didn’t hold The Acts in very high regard:

    The Didache is mentioned by Eusebius (c. 324) as the Teachings of the Apostles following the books recognized as canonical:

    “Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles, and also the Apocalypse of John, if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon.”

    (emphasis, mine)

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  26. Hmm – apparently “strong” doesn’t work within Nate’s “blockquote” – probably because he’s a LIBERAL!

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  27. while my children are still pretty young, they are kind, compassionate, well-behaved kids so far (ages 5 – 11). My wife and I stress the importance of treating other people with respect and dignity — basically, we espouse humanism.

    Children Learn What They Live
    By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

    If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
    If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
    If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
    If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
    If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
    If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
    If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
    If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
    If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
    If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
    If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
    If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
    If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
    If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
    If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
    If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
    If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
    If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

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  28. I found this amusing, from A History of Celibacy by E. Abbott, New York, 2000 (not that I’m considering it):
    An early Christian saying from the Middle East:

    ‘With wine and boys around, the monks have no need of the Devil to tempt them’

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  29. … and a master debater. he can go on and on. It’s quite impressive.

    Arch, don’t you ever get tired or ashamed at how much you do it? and you make the rest of us look bad with how well you do it too.

    does it make you feel big doing it the way you do?

    he mostly does it at the computer, and i imagine he works up quite a sweat.

    a cold shower would no doubt do him some good. You’ve earned it, arch, master debater.

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  30. I want to agree with Howie. I think Laurie and brandon both make good points regarding their positions, and each uses scripture to do so.

    Laurie has used a lot and I’ve been thoroughly entertained reading her responses. It does give the bible a good twist ending.

    But like Howie and Nate and others, this only reaffirms the notion that the bible is anything but clear. If a lot of people can argue their differing points effectively about the bible with the bible, then this seems to align with what nate said, that the bible makes mores sense from a nonbeliever’s view point.

    Laurie/Brandon, why and how are each of you so convinced that the bible and your positions on it are correct while all others are wrong?

    Obviously we’re all familiar with the “because the bible says so” argument, so please understand I’m looking for more, as in “why the bible at all?”

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  31. Re: Portal’s question – Do you think you would be as morally or ethically informed, if it wasn’t for your biblical family upbringing?

    For me, there was no “biblical family upbringing.” My mother was pretty much anti-god/religion. Even though she never actually said she was an atheist or anything like that, as I grew older it became obvious that she had no use for church. My dad was a (very) lapsed Catholic. So religion was not part of my upbringing in any way.

    Nonetheless, I was definitely taught ethics and morality, along with a concern for others. In fact, regarding the latter, I often get criticized because some think I’m too concerned about other people’s feelings.

    So, for me, the argument that you can’t be “moral” without god is a bunch of hooey. I think it has a lot to do with the way you’re raised plus your innate personality (genes). Besides, I think we can all cite incidents where the god-fearing person was less “moralistic” than the non-believer (e.g., some political individuals).

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  32. Nice? I’ll be more careful next time arch, wouldn’t want you to think I was trying to compliment you. I originally typed dork, but then I thought calling you the largest male reproductive organ on earth might actually seem like a compliment to you, so I erased, and weirdo was the best I could come up with.

    I was also on my first cup of coffee 😉

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  33. William,

    I never could figure out how a God that changes not, could change so much from the old testament to the new. This is a huge problem. I know my ideas are hard to understand, but they are honest. If you remove Paul, then nothing has changed. According to Torah it is righteousness for you if you keep YHWH’s commandments. I know this idea isn’t as fun as saved by grace, have faith and your in, but that’s what Torah says.

    When Paul says there is non righteous, he is misquoting Torah as usual. I can show you if you’d like, but i know this isn’t really relevant to a non believer. It should however, be relevant to anyone who adheres to Christianity.

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  34. “Laurie/Brandon, why and how are each of you so convinced that the bible and your positions on it are correct while all others are wrong?”

    My previous post was in response to this.

    I am not a biblical scholar, and I have more questions than answers at this point in my life, so to say all others are wrong, would be really quite silly. I will say however, that I am positive Paul was the false apostle that Yahusha warned of in revelations 2. Someday I will create a website dedicated to this issue, but to put it all here on Nates blog would be time consuming, and bore all you atheist to tears!

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  35. I hope that my comment does not come across as curt. But why does it even matter trying to understand the Bible? I think Revelations 19 says it all.

    “15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.

    “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    King of kings and Lord of lords.

    17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, 18 so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”

    19 Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

    21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”

    Who would want to bow down to such a deity? Yahweh or Jesus. If they did, how is that any different than someone with a form of Stockholm syndrome?

    Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”

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  36. I’ve been reading along with interest. I admit I am no scholar of the bible. (In fact, I’ve begun to refer to it as my ‘least favourite fiction’ – you can imagine THAT doesn’t go over well on some of the blogs I comment on). Two years ago, when I started my journey away from religion, I read many of the books Nate has suggested on his site. I also tried – TWICE – to read the bible. I just couldn’t get through it. Now, it hasn’t stopped me from reading what others write about it, and so I have familiarized myself with its stories that way. (plus, I’ve been a life-long church-goer, so there is that). The more I read what others have to say about it, the more I am convinced that it was a book that was written BY men, FOR men. It’s that fact, more than any other, which has completely turned me off to it. I honestly cannot understand why any woman would uphold it as having any kind of moral lesson to convey; to me, it’s a misogynistic text and definitely not any kind of guidebook.

    No doubt, someone will come along to comment on the passages that Victoria has selected – they’ll be able to say, “Oh, well – those verses were taken out of context, they were about a specific .. . yada, yada. . “. Believe me, I’ve read the apologetics’ attempts at taking all the nasty bits out. I just don’t buy it. They are, after all, the words that were written. (or ‘God-breathed’, whatever that means)

    oh, and arch – you’d be interested to know that the poem, “Children Learn What they Live”, is up in many classrooms (still!) that I visit.

    As I’ve said on here before, all eleven of our grandchildren are being brought up in non-religious homes. That poem encapsulates the themes of their parents. I see them (every day) interacting with their kids, modelling kind behaviour, gently suggesting other (more acceptable) ways of expressing themselves, showing them great respect, and never raising their hands to correct them. I think they’re doing a much better job with their children than I did with them. I know, I’m showing my personal bias here, but those grandkids are turning out just fine.

    I really have come to believe that people are good without god.

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  37. I understand where you ladies are coming from, and although I don’t agree, I enjoy reading your comments.

    Revelations is one of my favorite books.

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  38. You know, Laurie, you keep hanging out with us atheists, and you may start to feel a change coming on…

    You’d make arch the happiest guy in the world 😉

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  39. And not only that Laurie, if you de-convert today we’ll throw in a free subscription to Dawkins Monthly.

    (offer not valid in the following states: ME, MA, MT, NV, NH, ND, OR, RI, WA or WY.)

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  40. In regards to the book of Revelation . . . haunted me through and through. I remember pleading with the Lord, please take me with you when you return. Don’t leave me here for the blood bath.

    And please save my family, my friends, my teachers, the whole world . . . and the burden to carry it all. 😦

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  41. Oh my! The book of Revelation brings back many memories. It was that book (or at least the gory parts) that brought on my conversion. Scared the sh __ out of me to read all that stuff about hailstones, earthquakes, bloody rivers, etc., etc.

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  42. LOL!!! 😄 You guys are crazy 😉 almost as crazy as me, keep working on it!

    But I wouldn’t hold your breath on the de-conversion, I wouldn’t want you to pass out!

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  43. I probably have a different view of it than you do Carmen. I believe that the great tribulation has passed, and a lot of this is historical. I’m looking forward to the time of messiah, were he will bring about world peace for a thousand years, and the people on earth will learn his ways. This is not the Christian understanding.
    Most of the revelation is taken out of the Tanakh. I don’t believe in eternal hell fire.

    Yes there is some scary stuff in there though. It is thematically connected to the first exodus , and the prophets tell us that when Messiah comes again he will lead a second and final exodus where he will gather israel and return to Jerusalem. The together they will rebuild the temple and bring about world peace.

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  44. So, Laurie, out of curiosity – how is this different than the ‘End Times’ someone (a Baptist minister) referred to on Noseybook the other day. . .?
    Just so you know, that conversation didn’t go well. . . I pretty much got the, “Well, obviously you cannot discuss this rationally so I’ll just sign off” brush-off. Which translates to, “You don’t agree with me, so this conversation is over”. Remind us of anyone??

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  45. Laurie, I find you refreshing in debate, and thank you for not taking offense to my comments. They are not intended to offend. I have a question, though. Does this world peace require that all submit to your god, and if they don’t off with their heads, so to speak?

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  46. Laurie, when I was doing research and reading for my book, I learned a lot about the early Jews and their beliefs. Foe me, their story has far more validity than the Christian story. However, what I find difficult to understand is how you can accept Jesus as the messiah. Based on what little I know, he did not fit the “requirements” at all.

    Further, you talk about the 1000 year reign. Isn’t that a Christian belief? I don’t remember coming across anything like that in my reading. I do know the orthodox Jewish people still look towards the day when Israel will be restored, but to my knowledge, they don’t expect any kind of tribulation, rapture, or any of that stuff before the “real” messiah is revealed.

    What am I missing?

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  47. Revelations is one of my favorite books.” – Except for the Harry Potter series, me too! But I really prefer NON-fiction —

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  48. You’d make arch the happiest guy in the world” – Don’t tell her that, Nate, it will only strengthen her resistance!

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  49. (offer not valid in the following states: ME, MA, MT, NV, NH, ND, OR, RI, WA or WY.)” – Howie, you left out “Delusion” —

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  50. Whoa! That’s a lot of questions. I am super busy today, but will try to come back to those tonight!
    Noseybook? I don’t know what this is? Can post a link?

    Later guys!

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  51. Laurie, Noseybook – my word for Facebook (some people call it Crackbook) 🙂

    and no pressure! I, too, am very interested in Judaism.

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  52. @Laurie:
    I agree with Nate’s criticism of the article by Kavanaugh, and I want to expand this. Kavanaugh sets before us the hypothesis: “While the Torah wasn’t forced on Gentiles all at once, it was understood that they would learn it gradually over time. . .” Keep in mind this is only a hypothesis, it will require defense. It will require reasoning and evidence.

    “Christians generally ignore [Acts 15:21] because the ramifications are obvious: What has Torah being taught each week in synagogues have to do with Gentile believers?”
    Whether or not God-fearers adopted some version of the law is not necessarily connected to the Jerusalem Council’s decision. Remember, early Christianity was a NEW religion (a cult). Why would they be addressing issues that had already been addressed in the diaspora? Those are OLD questions that had already been decided. So, the fact of God-fearers in the diaspora is completely irrelevant.

    “It was understood by all the apostles that G-d’s Torah never changed or was replaced.”
    As Nate mentioned, Kavanaugh conveniently leaves out Jesus saying, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. . . not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Matt 5:18). What is meant by “fulfill” and when will all be “accomplished”? Was it Jesus’ sacrifice and when the veil of the Temple was torn?

    I find it amusing that Kavanaugh cites Mark 7:9 while failing to mention that only 10 verses later Jesus declares all foods kosher.

    I agree with Kavanaugh’s distinction between oral and written law. But, that does not necessarily equate “we should not trouble those Gentiles” with oral law. Kavanaugh tries to equate these by utilizing the concept that Torah is freedom with a few random prooftexts, but how is this relevant to showing that “we should not trouble those Gentiles” has to do with oral law? The connection is not made. This is ad hoc. It’s much simpler to assume that not troubling the Gentiles meant only giving them a few rules rather than the entire law.

    Ultimately, Kavanaugh fails to support the hypothesis with adequate reasoning and evidence.

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  53. Laurie, I supposed I’m drawn back into this discussion with you. I want to challenge you to question your beliefs just as you do me. I’ll respond here to a few things you said:

    “Paul was suspected of teaching against Torah in Acts, and that is why they had him do the Nazarite vow, so people would see that he kept the law.”
    This is exactly the kind of assertions I have been talking about. It requires evidence to back it up. Please back up your claims with evidence. Look up 1 Cor 9:19-21 and you will have the real reason why Paul took the Nazarite vow (ultimately for the purpose of evangelism).

    “I never could figure out how a God that changes not, could change so much from the old testament to the new. . . If you remove Paul, then nothing has changed.”
    God never changed, civilization itself changed. As new ideas and technologies and political and social realities changed over time, Judaism had to accommodate these realities. For example, without the cultural belief that women who lost their virgins were less valuable, the law that rapists must marry their victims becomes irrelevant. We also see a Hellenistic Judaism develop that accommodated Greek philosophy and ethics that looks curiously like modern Reformed Judaism.

    And, Reformed Judaism and your anti-Paul sect are practicing “Torah” with significant modifications to accommodate modern culture and knowledge. This is a change!

    On the other hand, God never changed the universal moral laws (i.e., do not murder). These laws are as sure as the natural laws. What Christianity did was say that the additional customs (purity laws, dietary laws, circumcision, etc.) are unnecessary because Jesus’ resurrection inaugurated a new age. We are freed from these customs and bound to Christ, these customs are no longer a sign of an Israelite, rather our faith in Christ is the sign of an Israelite. Read Romans 9, we are the continuation of Israel, no longer united by customs and ethnicity, but by faith in Christ.

    Things that don’t change: God, Israel, universal laws
    Things that do change: laws specific to cultural circumstance, cultural customs

    Now, it’s fine if you want to practice Torah if you like, but it’s not a matter of salvation. Peter says we are saved by grace (Acts 15:11). Notice that’s Peter. Peter may well have kept some Jewish customs, but he said that he will be saved by grace.
    -B

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  54. @william:
    “Laurie/Brandon, why and how are each of you so convinced that the bible and your positions on it are correct while all others are wrong?”
    The easier one is my position. I am convinced because I think there is more evidence to support the position that Christians are not required to follow the law except for what addresses universal morality (i.e., do not murder). It’s all about evidence and reason.

    The more difficult one to answer is “why the bible at all?” You mean as opposed to other religions like Buddhism, Islam, Mormonism, etc.? I’m assuming that’s what you mean. Ultimately I have reasons to think that the bible is inspired by God. Not circular reasoning like “because it says so” but actual reasons. It’s a very long conversation from here!

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  55. Peter says we are saved by grace (Acts 15:11). Notice that’s Peter. Peter may well have kept some Jewish customs, but he said that he will be saved by grace.

    Actually, an anonymous author, writing more than half a century after Peter’s death, SAID that Peter says we are saved by grace (Acts 15:11) – let’s stay accurate here.

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  56. I agree arch, but I think Brandon makes a good point. As far as I know, Laurie would agree with him that Acts was written by an individual (the same one who wrote Luke) that was, at least in some respect, divinely inspired. So from that perspective, I’d like to hear what she thinks of this.

    If I understood her position correctly, she was saying that Acts was written to send a covert message against Paul, but I have a really hard time seeing that. If he couldn’t come right out and say that Paul was a fraud, wouldn’t it just be best to not write a letter at all? Because as it stands, Acts supports Paul quite a lot — and when you take out all the stuff about Paul, there’s very little left of value — certainly nothing that adds to what the gospels had already laid out, except maybe the second chapter.

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  57. Brandon, I don’t agree with you or Laurie, but I may be able to help clarify some things. I think you are mixing 2 concepts together which is confusing things: the “saved by grace” issue doesn’t matter really. You already concede that certain parts (what you call universal moral laws) of the laws do not change and are still required even though you don’t believe it is the act of following those laws that save you. So in the same vein, Laurie could believe that the Mosaic law is still required even though she doesn’t believe she is saved by the act of following them (in fact she could call them all universal moral laws if she wants to also).

    Also, I don’t think what Reformed Jews have done really relates to what Laurie is trying to push forth, because there are ultra-orthodox Jews who try to keep every letter of the law except what they are forced by governments to not do. Laurie probably isn’t that ultra orthodox, but I don’t think she has made the changes that the Reformed have either.

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  58. No, I don’t. If it weren’t for my biblical family upbringing, I would never have known that it’s OK to rape virgins, as long as you offer to marry them afterward. I would never have known that I was obligated to stone men to death that pick up sticks on the Sabbath. My entire outlook on life would be different – for example, I might have become a very sarcastic person —

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  59. @Ryan (Portal) – After you chuckle from Arch’s recent comments give this a read:

    It’s related to your question about morality. Here’s a short excerpt from it:

    Since [C.S.] Lewis wrote — and unbeknown to many believers — evolutionary psychologists have developed a plausible account of the moral sense. They say it is in large part natural selection’s way of equipping people to play non-zero-sum games — games that can be win-win if the players cooperate or lose-lose if they don’t.

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  60. I believe that the great tribulation has passed, and a lot of this is historical.

    So do you believe the great tribulation was when the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D.?

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  61. Fascinating article, Howie – I recommended it to others. It made me want to read the author’s book, “The Evolution of God.”

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  62. @carmen

    Two years ago, when I started my journey away from religion, I read many of the books Nate has suggested on his site. I also tried – TWICE – to read the bible. I just couldn’t get through it.

    I’ve read through the Bible a few times, you did not miss much. All of the nice parts are spoon-fed every Sunday at churches everywhere and all of the not-so-nice parts are swept under the communion table.

    At my old church Bible reading was taken very seriously and everyone was expected to read and pray daily. At the new years eve service they would acknowledge everyone who read through the entire Bible that year by asking them to stand. If folks would only read it and ask themselves if it sounds man-made or not I think there would be more de-conversions.

    @NeuroNotes
    Thanks for sharing that passage from Revelation. It’s been a few years since I stopped studying the Bible and I forget just how many ludicrous things it says. The passage from Deuteronomy that Nate posted at the top is another bizarre passage.

    @Brandon

    Ultimately I have reasons to think that the bible is inspired by God. Not circular reasoning like “because it says so” but actual reasons.

    How do you know what the standards are for something being divinely inspired? Where did you get these standards from?

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  63. laurie sez: “The together they will rebuild the temple and bring about world peace.”

    ok, all you athiests out there, this is important.
    we have to do everything in our power to make sure the jews do not rebuild their goddamn temple.
    despite what they tell us,
    they are not god’s “chosen people”.

    the god of the jews is, as you all know, a jealous, murderous, hateful bitch.
    rebuilding the temple will not bring about peace, as laurie suggests,
    it’s going to be more of the samo samo.
    stoning homos
    and NO bacon.

    nate, portal arch:
    red dead redemption is one of the best games I’ve ever played,
    at the general storein Armadillo, the proprietor said:
    “none of our products is made by jews”

    oh. lol. too funny.

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  64. @William

    sometimes I wonder if we influence the chemical production in our brains by behavior and activity, etc., or if it’s the type of thing we are helpless against. Personally, without conducting any meaningful research, I think it’s a combination of the two.

    your thoughts?

    I do think it is a combination of the 2 as well. However, like what you said, there hasn’t been any meaningful research that has established this relationship (or maybe I do not know of any to be exact). I do think we know too little of our body/brain mechanism to fully affirm any claims.

    That being said, if it is proven that we are helpless against our genetic makeup – e.g. someone who gets angry easily due to his natural hormonal imbalance – we will open up a new myriad of morality issues. Do we cut him some slack because he cannot help it? Or we still judge him as a normal human being and with it the stand social repercussion should be meted out?

    Looking at it this way – we do treat people with mental illness with leniency. So much so that people who commit crimes can always fall back on insanity plea such as – kleptomania, irresistible sexual urges, violent tendencies and the latest: affluenza. So do they sin or do not sin? Especially since they are not able to “help themselves”. Religion will be forced to come to terms with this in the future as our scientific understanding of ourselves get better.

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  65. Ultimately I have reasons to think that the bible is inspired by God. Not circular reasoning like “because it says so” but actual reasons.~ Brandon

    How do you know what the standards are for something being divinely inspired? Where did you get these standards from? ~ Dave

    I was wondering this same thing. I’ve asked you this before, I think, Brandon. What criteria makes something divinely inspired?

    I guess it depends on what one means by divinely inspired. Does it mean that people who believed they were being led by a god were inspired to write down what they thought s/he/it was saying? Or does it mean that God said, ‘Here boy, take this down just like I tell you’?

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  66. How do you know what the standards are for something being divinely inspired? Where did you get these standards from?” – good questions, Dave – I’d be interested in the answers to those myself.

    BTW, Dave – watch out for H.A.L., he’s not as user-friendly as he seems —

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  67. There are things I read in the Bible that make me stop and think,

    For example the answer Jesus gave to this question in Luke 20:19-26

    And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them.

    And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.

    And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:

    Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?

    But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?

    Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s.

    And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.

    And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.

    That is a brilliant answer. It makes me think, wow.. there is something more to this.

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  68. “As Nate mentioned, Kavanaugh conveniently leaves out Jesus saying, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. . . not one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Matt 5:18). What is meant by “fulfill” and when will all be “accomplished”? Was it Jesus’ sacrifice and when the veil of the Temple was torn?”

    I know I already said this, but I’ll say it again, you need to read the context. Messiah said not one jot will pass from the law till heaven and earth pass away. This hasn’t happened yet.

    “I find it amusing that Kavanaugh cites Mark 7:9 while failing to mention that only 10 verses later Jesus declares all foods kosher.”

    Messiah, like Peter, never ate anything unclean. Did you go back and read Peter’s dream in context? You should do the same here. I feel like you are not reading my comments, because I answered most of these already.

    “Paul was suspected of teaching against Torah in Acts, and that is why they had him do the Nazarite vow, so people would see that he kept the law.”
    “This is exactly the kind of assertions I have been talking about. It requires evidence to back it up. Please back up your claims with evidence. Look up 1 Cor 9:19-21 and you will have the real reason why Paul took the Nazarite vow (ultimately for the purpose of evangelism).”

    Yes Paul told the Corinthians that he lies to gain converts. I think this is a problem, but we can discuss that later. What you should do is read the context of the verse I posted.

    17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled,[d] and from sexual immorality.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

    Paul Arrested in the Temple
    27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.”

    The council thought this must have been a mistake, how could Paul a Jew that is supposedly doing all these great works for messiah, be preaching against the law? This is why he took the vow, to show that he does keep the law.

    I posted his arrest to show you that like 2 Revelations states, the false apostle is also a liar.

    6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man.

    Was Paul arrested for a belief in the resurrection?

    Below Paul tells Agrippa that he went to Jerusalem and Judea first

    Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

    20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

    Now here he tells the Galatians that he didn’t go to Judea or Jerusalem, and he’s not lying.

    Galatians
    But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

    18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”

    Have you read the first 2 chapters of this book? Do you know why he lied to them, and why he called the true apostles false? Have you read 2 Corinthians 11.

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  69. That is a brilliant answer. It makes me think, wow.. there is something more to this.

    Or simply good writing – there’s no reason to believe that authors of millennia ago, weren’t as creative as they are today.

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  70. fascinating. all of it. because i don’t believe the bible is a product of god, this almost looks like two people arguing over a shape that a cloud is making.

    “It’s a Rabbit!”

    “No, it’s a Duck!”

    each pointing to the same fluffy features of the same cloud.

    My question to both, why believe the bible (any part of it) is from god at all? I think these discussions highlight the ambiguity that exists in this “perfect word of god.” And then there is of course the historical problems, the internal contradictions, and the “prophecies…”

    After seeing the issues for myself, and after seeing how much sense it all makes once you realize it wasn’t from god, I am constantly surprised at why i ever believed in the first place.

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  71. After seeing the issues for myself, and after seeing how much sense it all makes once you realize it wasn’t from god, I am constantly surprised at why i ever believed in the first place.

    Indeed, William.

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  72. I ‘third’ William and Ruth’s observation – and I’m still in amazement that others believe it and then use all that blarney to righteously contend that everyone else should do what the invisible friend’s book tells them to do.

    I mean, really. . . the only sensible reaction to it all is to shake your head in wonder.

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  73. and everyone already does that for every other religion, other than their own…

    what really makes theirs better, or more compelling in its claim of being divine?

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  74. I am constantly surprised at why i ever believed in the first place.

    Because we were lied to. All growing up my parents, sunday school teachers and pastors told me that the Bible was from God. This was presented as FACT not belief. I can’t even count all the different songs I’ve sang reaffirming this “fact”. It is never questioned. The Bible is held up high by the preacher and no one dares to question it’s authority.

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  75. Brandon, I don’t agree with you or Laurie, but I may be able to help clarify some things. ~ Howie

    It is interesting to watch atheists help out with a debate between a Christian and a ____ (Laurie, I’m not sure what to call you).

    That’s why I like reading your blog, Nate.

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  76. Because we were lied to. All growing up my parents, sunday school teachers and pastors told me that the Bible was from God. This was presented as FACT not belief. I can’t even count all the different songs I’ve sang reaffirming this “fact”. It is never questioned. The Bible is held up high by the preacher and no one dares to question it’s authority.

    My Sunday School teachers and pastors presented as fact that the Holy Spirit had perfectly preserved God’s Word, that we could trust it because God had made sure that it was inerrant and infallible. I never questioned it until I listened to a Christian radio program hammering out apologetics on exactly how the Holy Spirit had supposedly preserved the word. They outlined how the Bible was [historically] put together, the Council of Nicea, and how the Holy Spirit had led these men to choose which letters in the NT were inspired by God and which ones were not. They talked about how narrowly the Book of Revelation made the cut and how narrowly some of the other early Christian writings missed the cut. That left a big question mark in my mind and took me on a bit of a journey learning how the Bible was really compiled. Needless to say what these apologists intended to bolster faith in the Bible being reliably God’s word left me puzzled how anyone could believe that it(the NT in particular) was anything short of man-made.

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  77. “Needless to say what these apologists intended to bolster faith in the Bible being reliably God’s word left me puzzled how anyone could believe that it(the NT in particular) was anything short of man-made.”

    Agreed, except I see the OT as being equally as human inspired.

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  78. I do, too, now. At the time, though, learning how the NT was compiled gave me real pause. Obviously I didn’t stop there, but at the time I still thought the OT might be divinely inspired and thus my look into Judaism.

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  79. Ruth,

    My questioning came about in just the opposite way. It wasn’t until I started studying the OT that I began to question, and then it evolved to the NT. I think I had to have my brain shocked first at the horrid immorality in the OT before neural circuitry associated with critical social assessment and negative emotions (not able to see faults) was reactivated. They had been deactivated because of my love for God/Jesus. Something that happens in relationships as well. I’m repeating myself, as I’ve mentioned the neurological studies before. Other studies show that when the brain is shocked, such as someone finding out their partner was having an affair, that can reactivate neural circuitry. “Why didn’t I see that before”. So as more parts of my brain came back online, the more I saw the flaws in the bible.

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  80. Brilliant comments, everyone. I couldn’t agree more. This debate over Paul just emphasizes how confusing and contradictory the Bible is.

    Laurie makes some great points for her position, but the biggest problem I see with it is the god that would put such a plan in place. He has people who are trying to follow him — people who have chosen to serve him over all the other “gods” out there — but instead of simply rewarding these people for putting their faith in him, he decides to “test” them by including writings of a false teacher in with his very own word. How twisted is that? Could any of us treat our children this way?

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  81. “sometimes I wonder if we influence the chemical production in our brains by behavior and activity, etc., or if it’s the type of thing we are helpless against.”

    @Powell Powers

    Yes, studies show that we are influenced, our behavior is influenced by hormones—neurotransmitters. For example, the brain is effected if people are in power for too long, generally over 10 years, and those who pretty much have unfettered power.

    In his book, The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain, Neurologist Ian Robertson writes:

    “Power changes the brain triggering increased testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone and one of its by-products called 3-androstanediol, are addictive, largely because they increase dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens. Cocaine has its effects through this system also, and by hijacking our brain’s reward system, it can give short-term extreme pleasure but leads to long-term addiction, with all that that entails.

    Too much power – and hence too much dopamine – can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others.”

    So, for example, if a husband is given unfettered power over his wife, as promoted in the bible, this increases the probability of domestic abuse. This propensity towards abuse has also been shown in primate studies observing chimps and baboons.

    Regarding your other comments to William, have you see this?

    One thing seems certain to me — the God of Abraham knew nothing about the brain and what can happen when it’s damaged. The God of Abraham (the biblical writers) promoted the very things that lead to brain injuries, brain atrophy and hormonal imbalances, e.g., war, male dominance, devaluing of females, corporal punishment, slavery, etc.

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  82. He has people who are trying to follow him — people who have chosen to serve him over all the other “gods” out there — but instead of simply rewarding these people for putting their faith in him, he decides to “test” them by including writings of a false teacher in with his very own word.

    Not only that, Nate, but 2 Thessalonians 2 says that it is God, himself, who will send a great deception upon the people and that if they are deceived he will condemn them. It is God, himself, who is supposedly holding back “the man of lawlessness”.

    1 And now, brothers and sisters, let us tell you about the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered together to meet him. 2 Please don’t be so easily shaken and troubled by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Even if they claim to have had a vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us, don’t believe them. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say.For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed — the one who brings destruction. 4 He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. 5 Don’t you remember that I told you this when I was with you? 6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them. 11 So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for not believing the truth and for enjoying the evil they do. 13 As for us, we always thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation, a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and by your belief in the truth. 14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on everything we taught you both in person and by letter. 16 May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and in his special favor gave us everlasting comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do and say.

    So the God who doesn’t ‘tempt’ his people is the same God who will send a great deception? He is not content with people following him? So he decides that a better plan is trickery to see which ones really, really love him? And then he’ll condemn people for falling into the trap he set?

    From the outside looking in it’s just…weird.

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  83. video is interesting, but so far I’ve only watched half of it. I am familiar with some of what was said.

    Let me make this clear, I am not advocating these things, but i do have a question regarding some of the things you’ve listed in your last paragraph.

    why would war, male dominance and corporal punishment be bad? I realize that in our modern era, with our modern technologies, we view these things very different that they were viewed hundreds and thousands of years ago, but why aren’t these natural to man in many ways?

    Survival of the fittest, self preservation, alpha male, etc?

    please dont take the questions the wrong way, and i may have to explain further…

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  84. Not to mention, inhumane—cruel.

    Well, yes. I’ve already been chastised about “whining” but if this were anyone besides god almighty we would say this was abuse of power. Why, then, would anyone gleefully go along and just accept this kind of abuse simply because…God?

    In the real world, even if it takes [some of us] a long time, we walk away from people who do this kind of bullshit.

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  85. I can dig it, William – I’m in a discussion on another site about spanking, which the lady claims comes from “the testimony of god”!

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  86. it would be way too generic to simply say, “I dont have issue with spanking,” because I think it depends on a lot of factors.

    Spanking a kid on the bottom is different than spanking a kid on the face or stomach. Spanking a kid on the bottom for accidentally spilling milk is different than spanking a kid on the bottom because the kid keeps trying to pull the TV down on their head or keeps trying to get in the street or something like that.

    and i don’t think that all pain and all discomfort are bad or detrimental.

    Kids are also the only people we put in the corner. If an employer put a bad employee or one who made a mistake in the corner at work, would we find that acceptable behavior or would we think it’s pretty demeaning to treat and adult like a child? almost like putting diapers on an adult.

    I’m not saying everyone should hit their kids, and some should not, but i’m not yet convinced that spanking should all be tossed out. I think it is one tool a parent has, and like most tools, it has a specific purpose and should be used with respect and care, as it can easily be misused.

    am I the lone non-believer here on this?

    —-

    regarding male dominance – I do not think that should be the way it is. In fact, I really like all the comments from everyone here (male and female) and my wife and I are equal partners – which is the way i want it.

    I asked the question about this from a primitive standpoint. Take away our smart phones, email and debt cards, would we resort back to the stronger making the rules? this doesn’t make it right, but is it what we are when you strip us down?

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  87. I never spanked any of my children William, and they’re all responsible, professional adults, living happy, well-adjusted lives – hard to figure, I know, considering who their sire is —

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  88. oh, not at all. I’ve seen several families successfully raise children without ever spanking them.

    I’ve also seen several families successfully raise children while spanking them, but i realize this is in no definitive proof.

    I think children aren’t produced with cookie cutters, but are quite different. Some are more stubborn that others, etc. I do not think that spanking are a one size fits all and it would not make up for parent’s lack of nurture and education, example, and on and on.

    I dont think it’s black and white and I dont think it’s as easy as “spanking = hitting and hitting = bad.” That’s too simplified to accurately portray the reality i think.

    if spanking is bad, why is it bad? I get extremes, so lets talk about this in moderation. If moderate and consistent spanking is bad, why is it bad?

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  89. William, I’ll give that one a go. First of all, I spanked my kids. Yes, hand to diaper-clad bottom if one ran on the road, or wooden spoon on the backside to get their attention. I am not proud that I did that, and of course I can give you all the justification for having done that – I had four babies in six years and my husband was away much of the time. My kids had to mind. I offer this as an explanation, not as an excuse.

    I see now that I was wrong to have done that. The reason? My own kids are bringing their own children up using other methods of discipline – ones that I was leery of at first, but now see to be much more effective and acceptable. Granted, it takes much more time to explain things to a 2 year old, but I see that method as giving that child much more respect as a person and valuing the fact that they cannot be expected to be mini-adults. I observe that my own kids really think about their every act with their own kids; that they always consider that the child does not have the same skill set for dealing with frustration and anxiety. I have come to admire the way they deal with the grandchildren, even though it took awhile for me to see the results. So I guess what I am saying to you is this – I think there are other tools that work as well and don’t involve an unfair power dynamic. Do you see what I mean?

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  90. I view spanking as a quick fix to a complex issue – rather than take the time to discuss the problem with the child and trying to get to the core, spankers apply their version of a “solution,” and move on, which has done nothing for the child, or the original issue.

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  91. Well, when I was a child I was spanked. My parents only did this a handful of times. They never spanked me right away – as in, not when they were angry. They always waited and after the spanking they always explained why I got a spanking and had me tell them in my own words what I had done wrong. Then they always made sure I knew they loved me. I didn’t grow up a bitter, deranged, individual, thinking that violence is the answer. That just wasn’t the lesson I learned.

    Having said that, were I to have children of my own I wouldn’t spank them. I can see that there are other, more effective, ways to handle discipline.

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  92. “why would war, male dominance and corporal punishment be bad?”

    William, I could share hundreds of studies that took me over 10 years to absorb, so I can’t address this question in one comment post.

    For one, war can lead to PTSD and further psychological problems and brain injuries, which can greatly affect behavior. War creates orphans and neglect of their emotional and psychical needs. This can cause pons damage (in brain stem) which can lead to attachment disorders, and toxic stress which releases toxic hormones, changing the brain’s architecture and size. Attachment disorders interfere with an individual’s ability to form appropriate relationships and feel safe and secure.

    “Behaviors observed include poor peer relationships, hyper vigilance, anxiety, destruction to self or others, superficially engaging phoniness, indiscriminate affection with strangers, extreme measures to gain and exert control, lying, extreme anger, manipulation, violence, poor impulse control, lack of conscience, cruelty to animals, and learning delays or disabilities.”

    Regarding corporal punishment, there are vasts amounts of peer reviewed studies showing that corporal punishment on children affects brain development, behavior, and causes toxic stress.

    From Harvard — Center on Developing Child

    “The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation. Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body (especially the brain), with damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.

    Source—developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/key_concepts/toxic_stress_response/

    I also recommend reading the extensive ACE (Adverse Childhood Development) study by the Center for Disease Control. I’m not going to activate the link as I’m posting multiple links and it may go to moderation. Just copy/paste

    —cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childmaltreatment/consequences.html—

    I recommend reading the article “Peace Among Primates” by Robert Salposky, showing that alpha males create toxic environments, (rarely share resources) and the more dominant males you have in a society, the greater the instability. Abnormal sex ratio causes many social ills. Chine is very worried. 119 baby boys are born in China for every 100 girls. Also, when has there ever been peace in the Middle East (the hub of 3 major religions) in the last 7 thousand years?

    In Sapolsky’s article, scroll down to the subtitle “Left behind”

    —greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/peace_among_primates—

    What happened was, as Sapolsky put it, they created a baboon utopia among the Forest Troop baboons, when 1/2 of the alpha males died from tainted meat. Bullying against beta males decreased, and abuse against females decreased as well. Increased “morality”. This is not to dis alpha males, per se, just understanding what can happen when you live in a society that promotes and glorifies alpha males (note media) — cultures that create alpha male gods. As I shared in my comment to Powell, too much power causes a lack of empathy for others and poor decision making. Sound familiar?

    A study was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. Richard Wrangham, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, has been working at field sites in Africa since the 1970s. The researchers examined records from chimpanzee communities in Tanzania, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Uganda.

    They found that lethal attacks (among their own species) seem to be more common in crowded communities with lots of males, suggesting that the violence may be an adaptation that helps in the competition for food and mates.

    This is just scratching the surface, and no, I didn’t take your question in the wrong way. I appreciate these questions. I think we really need to get to the root of our societal ills and for the most part, they are simply not being addressed. Religions, such as the Abrahamic faiths, exacerbate the problem when they are used as a template, especially for modern society.

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  93. Carmen, I understand you perfectly.

    Let me back up, if I may. you make perfect sense too, i just want to clarify a bit more if i can.

    My parents whipped me with belts, switches, wooden spoons, hands and the like. They also took time to explain everything after, before and sometimes during the spankings.

    I do not spank my kids anything like I was spanked and I spank very sparingly. My wife and I take the time to explain and teach as much as we can. We take parenting very seriously. But we have found with our kids that constant reminders and rational explanations do not always sink in – or impact them enough to change their behavior.

    They are not bad kids.

    I was raised to do what my parents said. It wasn’t a nazi house, but they had rules and one of them was to be respectful and to obey. I feel the same way, and while I am not as heavy handed, i still want crisp respect and quick obedience. I’m not a task master, and I spank sparingly – nothing at all like the beatings I received, yet I wouldn’t say that my parents were wrong either. I was a stubborn kid, more so than my siblings, and as a result, i got more spankings.

    I’ve never spanked my kids because it made me feel good, in fact, i never want to do it – just like I don’t like to see my kids get their shots.

    I think spanking are ways to get your kid’s attention very quickly when they arent old enough to fully appreciate reason – especially when reason has been tried or when there isn’t time for a sit down explanation.

    does that make sense?

    and I know this sounds odd, but why is discomfort and pain bad? Again, the extremes are easy to identify, but i’m taking about where the extremes meet.

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  94. “Why, then, would anyone gleefully go along and just accept this kind of abuse simply because…God? In the real world, even if it takes [some of us] a long time, we walk away from people who do this kind of bullshit.”

    Ruth, I agree. That’s why I brought up Stockholm syndrome, because, IMO, anyone who subjects themselves to such abuse (and teachings), or justifies it (remains in that relationship) must be experiencing some form of it.

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  95. Neuronotes, thanks for the links.

    And I’m not an alpha male… uh, I was asking for a friend…

    seriously, though, I am not.

    Good points about war, which brings more questions to my mind, but i wont ask as it would be getting off topic.

    I guess I brought up war as a reaction to extreme injustice – like ISIL invading Iraqi villages, etc. We dont live in a perfect world, so when crazy alpha male drunk D-bags come calling, maybe war is justified, if not necessary in defense.

    But then if we go to the extremes, like we take all our modern conveniences away, and our tribe is running out of food and babies are dying, but the other tribe has food or maybe we’re competing for the same needed resources, wouldn’t we war over that out of a sense of survival? I guess, maybe the point i’m making is more about whether war is always “bad” or just “leave as a last resort”

    but this may be too far off topic too… like drinking urine, no way I’d do that under normal circumstances, but if I were dying of thirst? yeah, disregard the war question.

    I will check out the studies on spanking for sure. I’m very curious to see how the studies were conducted and how they reached their conclusions.

    thanks.

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  96. Absolutely. That’s what I get out of Divine Command Theory. The notion that God is God and as such can do with his creation whatever he pleases, in whatever way he pleases, up to and including genocide simply because he’s God and then has the right to expect gratitude and love in spite of that is actually quite ludicrous.

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  97. I agree that spanking can often work quickly, where other forms of discipline might take more time. My wife and I used to spank our children, but we stopped several years ago. There are several ways in which children misbehave. If one tries to run out into the street, that’s a behavior that needs to be corrected. But does spanking work better in that instance than explanation? No child wants to be hit by a car, and they can understand the reasoning behind being cautious around traffic. If they’re too young to understand that reasoning, then they’re too young to be left that unsupervised near a street anyway.

    If a child hits their sibling, does it make sense to spank them afterward? I’m afraid that may teach them “might makes right” or “only the strongest can hit.”

    If a child is being disrespectful, that’s irritating. But I’m okay with playing the long game on that.

    If a child is being stubborn, that can also be irritating, but is it really an awful thing? We often admire adults who have conviction, and there’s often a subtle line between those two things. I am not always as assertive as I wish I were, and I think some of that might be due to the spankings I had as a child. My parents were not abusive, and I never doubted their love — but I know I reached a point in childhood where I was sometimes too afraid to be honest with them about things. And that carried into my life as an adult as well.

    I really identified a lot with Carmen’s and Arch’s comments on this…

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  98. William,

    Speaking as a parent, I know that it’s possible to raise respectful children without resorting to violence or threats of violence, by modeling the behavior you want them to adopt. Monkey see, monkey do applies here. Want them to be polite? Then be polite to them and others. (That includes not cussing out the SOB who just cut you off in traffic.) Want them to be neat and tidy and put their stuff away? Then show them by being neat and tidy and putting your stuff away…. etc.

    And a number of studies have shown that corporal punishment is detrimental to long-term development: not only does it increase aggressive behaviour in children—it also lowers their IQ.

    Here’s some recommended reading all parents or potential parents:

    Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive Behavior

    Physical punishment of children potentially harmful to their long-term development

    Children Who Are Spanked Have Lower IQs, New Research Finds

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  99. well, everyone is making good points, and I dont disagree. I think many things swing both ways – except for me.

    Stubborn can be bother good and bad depending on it’s manifestation.

    Nate made a good point about being by the street, etc. and I do know that there are many wasy to instill the same things in children without spanking.

    I rarely spank anyways and dont recall the last time I did it, but still, i find it hard to say it is out and out wrong or bad.

    I can relate to nate about spankings making you more timid (my word not his). I dont think i am a timid person, but I can see where others may. I cannot deside if my own personal reservations are from being spanked or being told about hell or being told to make wise decisions.

    Ultimately, I dont think my folks were wrong in spanking me. and they spanked me. It often resemble beatings, which I do not think is at all necessary, i just dont see it as wrong
    .

    Neuronotes, any thoughts on why some soldiers don’t get PTSD and others do? or why some people dont feel like spankings were detrimental and others do?

    Some people exercise a lot. They push their bodies through significant pain and discomfort. Do they suffer the same negative effects as those who are spanked? or is it not the pain that produces these ill effects?

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  100. Ron, thanks for the links. I will read them after reading Neuronotes’.

    Aggression? would competitive sports promote aggression too and are they also bad?

    I and my siblings were all spanked more than other kids i know, but my parents also seemed to take more time in explaining things and setting good example in other areas. We werent violent children.

    Aggressive? maybe in sports. boy risk takers, but not bully-ish at all – quite the opposite.

    I will review the research and compare it with my own.

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  101. RE: “Divine Command Theory” – this, Ruth, was one of Kathy’s primary defenses to our complaints about the savagery of the biblical god.

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  102. Some people exercise a lot. They push their bodies through significant pain and discomfort. Do they suffer the same negative effects as those who are spanked? or is it not the pain that produces these ill effects?

    I don’t think this is the same thing. The pain of pushing your own body to the point of discomfort is a choice. It’s self-inflicted. And, for people who do this, seemingly necessary. It isn’t violent. I’m not a neurologist but I would suggest that it’s the pain inflicted accompanied by the fear of a much bigger, more powerful, authority figure that would produce these ill effects. Like Carmen mentioned, a severe imbalance of power.

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  103. Ruth, okay.

    and I’m not trying to be difficult. I get that some kids may actually fear their parents.

    i did not fear mine and pretty sure mine dont fear me.

    BuT i dont fear my doctor or a nurse either when i get shots or have had surgery. I may have “feared” the event or procedure, but not the administering individual.

    Similarly, i never feared my parents. I didnt want spankings, but i was never surprised when i received one either. and when being beaten with a belt, I knew it would end, i knew my parents loved me, and I, at the time, thought it was what had to be done for my infraction. Did my own mindset change the affects spankings had on me?

    does giving shots to toddlers, who dont understand why they’re getting inoculated, suffer the same adverse affects as those who are spanked? Same question for the kids who get shots or something similar even when they know why they;’re getting them?

    and would this mean that if a kid knew why he was getting a spanking and if he/she didn’t fear their parents, do spankings cease to be detrimental?

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  104. William, thanks for your reply and taking the time to look over the articles. I wanted to leave another article about spanking, as we have significant evidence that it decreases gray matter in the prefrontal cortex. The researchers found harsh corporal punishment, meaning at least one spanking a month for more than three years was linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/23/health/effects-spanking-brain/

    I’m glad you brought up ISIS. I think that is a good example. Taking over territory that is not theirs. They come from a warrior culture and a culture which more males than females, that devalues women and promotes multiple wives. Men can have up to 4 wives. That creates a shortage of females. Disaster waiting to happen. So when there are not enough females, there is an increase in violence. But what does Islam promote? How do they keep them loyal? They tell these guys that if they submit to Allah, that there are 70+ virgins awaiting for them in paradise. A brilliant strategy.

    Yes, I think that war should be a last resort, absolutely I watched a neuroscience lecture not long ago. What they have found is that areas that are constantly warring produce a lot of “tough guys”. That can be inner-city gangs, civil wars, etc. When this behavior goes on generation after generation, women (and girls) end up marrying the tough guys who have warrior genes that get turned on. This, in turn, develops a warrior culture.

    Even when the culture is not lacking in resources, no matter the change, this warrior culture can go on for hundreds of years because it’s not in the genes (induced by environment). The lecture is on Youtube, by neuroscientists James Fallon speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum 2011, if you’re interested. It’s quote fascinating and discussion antisocial behavior, the brains of dictators, as well as some of the major causes of immorality.

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  105. ooh, touche’ nate.

    you got me there. check mate, i guess.

    you know, it really is that old hot or mild, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide thing… or not.

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  106. @ William,

    Like I said earlier, I received what my parents called “whippings” – with belts and switches. Yes, I was afraid that if I didn’t do what my parents said, when they said, I could get a spanking even though that wasn’t their go-to form of discipline. I did know that they loved me, but I was also afraid of their discipline. I’m not even going to say I think that was a bad thing.

    There are a lot of children who are afraid to go to the doctor because of shots they received.

    I do think this largely depends on the child. But how would you know until it’s too late which child might be affected this way? I do think that spanking as a form of discipline, administered in the right way, can be and is effective. But do the benefits outweigh the risks? And who benefits?

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  107. “Neuronotes, any thoughts on why some soldiers don’t get PTSD and others do? or why some people don’t feel like spankings were detrimental and others do?”

    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/why-some-soldiers-develop-ptsd-while-others-dont.html

    “Among these factors, childhood experiences of physical abuse or a pre-Vietnam [or pre-war] psychiatric disorder other than PTSD were strong contributors to PTSD onset. Age also seemed to play an important role: Men who were younger than 25 when they entered the war were seven times more likely to develop PTSD compared to older men. The researchers also found that soldiers who inflicted harm on civilians or prisoners of war were much more likely to develop PTSD.

    The combined data from all three primary factors — combat exposure, prewar vulnerability, and involvement in harming civilians or prisoners — revealed that PTSD syndrome onset reached an estimated 97% for veterans high on all three.”

    ————————-

    As far as children not feeling like spankings were detrimental and others do. They might not consciously feel that way. However, when you read the ACE study from the CDC, you will see that the negative effects might surface in other ways, including disease and early death.

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  108. This really is a pretty controversial topic. I’ve said many times that I got whippings when I was a kid and I turned out alright, so it must not be too bad. 😉

    I think the problem comes in that while my parents and William may have a good approach to what a spanking should be, many people don’t. They don’t know where to draw the line. And then comes the question of who gets to decide where that line is.

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  109. Ruth, I think in practice, we agree.

    I rarely spank and when i do, it’s not impressive, but just at the level where they can feel it. I dont yell or carry one when i’ve done it. I have used it as a last resort.

    But again, i dont view pain and discomfort and inherently bad. This research interests me a great deal though. If it is conclusive, then I want to know that. It would change my entire perception of toughness and ruggedness – things i value, but not to an absurd or obnoxious degree.

    I am one of those though that tends to think people arent as tough as they used to be. Do spanking make people tougher – I have no idea. If spankings are bad, then i guess it doesnt matter.

    there’s a fine line between being a hard ass and a dumb ass.

    just dont tell my folks i said that, or they’d beat me silly.

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  110. Correction on my comment to William: “even when the culture is not lacking in resources, no matter the change, this warrior culture can go on for hundreds of years because it’s now in the genes (induced by environment).

    I initially wrote “not”.

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  111. I am one of those though that tends to think people arent as tough as they used to be. Do spanking make people tougher – I have no idea. If spankings are bad, then i guess it doesnt matter.

    I’m pretty tough. Maybe tougher than is healthy. I don’t know if that correlates to my childhood spankings or not(probably not). I have no idea why I’m that way. Maybe I have a high threshhold for pain? Regardless, pain isn’t usually a good indicator to me that something is wrong.

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  112. William – “There’s fine line between being a hard ass and a dumb ass”.

    I wouldn’t describe you as being either of those!

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  113. incredibly fascinating, Neuro. really.

    Nate, i would stop beating them, except it makes me feel like a big man.

    that was joke, just in case it wasnt clear.

    I dont like being told what to do. If the research is as cut and dry as you say, and if the gov were to put an end to it, i feel like they should do so over time and invest in a “better child rearing campaign” because altering perceptions people have developed though their lifetime and with their religion are hard to overcome.

    but… to the studies…

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  114. Arch wrote: I view spanking as a quick fix to a complex issue – rather than take the time to discuss the problem with the child and trying to get to the core, spankers apply their version of a “solution,” and move on, which has done nothing for the child, or the original issue.

    Not sure I totally agree with you, Arch. Yes, discussion is probably the optimum way to discipline, but each child is different. I had one daughter that I could “talk to,” but the other one? No amount of talking made any difference. She had to “feel” the effects of her misbehavior.

    Now, having said that, I think if a parent is going to spank their child, it’s absolutely imperative that s/he not to do it when they are upset or angry. But this can be the tough part because when the child has pulled some prank that may result in long-term consequences, how can one not be upset or angry?

    I was spanked as a child and I spanked my own children. From my perspective, it didn’t do any damage to any of us. But who knows? Maybe if we were put under a microscope, we would show the signs of what Victoria has referenced.

    Anyway, just thought I would weigh in on the subject, but I do hope we can get back to arguing over Paul and other stuff. 😉

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  115. Correction on my comment to William: “even when the culture is not lacking in resources, no matter the change, this warrior culture can go on for hundreds of years because it’s now in the genes (induced by environment).

    I initially wrote “not”.

    Glad you caught that NeuroVictoria. Was going to ask you about that as I understood it is in the genes.

    Many years ago, when I confronted my parents about spanking my dad was angry and immediately said, ‘It’s nothing compared to what I got.’ We spanked. And then we stopped when I felt I was completely going to fall apart trying to follow James Dobson (barf bucket icon please.)

    Talking about the topic, reading about it . . . I begin to shake. Same thing when we lined up for our spankings en masse. Me first and then the others. Traumatic. Details too personal to share and as I said, makes me shake/tremble. One thing I did was to cry early and my spanking would end. Another sibling, stubborn would not cry and the spankings continued until he broke and that was just as traumatic for the rest of us. I’d be standing there thinking, ‘Cry damn it. It will end.’

    I regret having been spanked and I regret spanking. I know there is great diversity of experience with this topic. I sincerely believe that the risk is not worth taking as each child is unique and we can’t possibly know what the consequences will be with each one. My 0.2 cents Canadian.

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  116. you know, that’s what i like about all this and all of you. We’re discussing a very personal and controversial topic like rational adults.

    We all want what’s best and I value each of your opinions.

    now that you all know I am right, we can get back to paul.

    that was also a joke. as poor as it may have been.

    in time, i think man kind will get better. I’ll read the research and be glad that I didn’t share in Zoe’s experience.

    My parents fury wasnt really fury. they spanked hard and often when we were young, but gradually and purposefully decreased in frequency as we got older, when they felt reason had more of an impact. But brother, they fully believed in spankings. Mother and father both well versed and rehearsed in its finer techniques.

    Of course, my fondness to the blisterings are only because I’m so far removed from them now and likely only frustrate people like zoe.

    zoe, sorry, not my intent to make like of something hurtful to you.

    \Brandon / laurie,

    why the bible? what makes it believable to you?

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  117. “I sincerely believe that the risk is not worth taking as each child is unique and we can’t possibly know what the consequences will be with each one.”

    Zoe, I think you are spot on. Why take the chance. I was spanked as a kid, too. Switches and belts, and hands. I was a good kid, really. But if I saw an injustice, say, my sister or brother was spanked, I would ask my parents why this was necessary. At times I knew they knew I had more awareness than them. Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well, so I’d get spanked for questioning. My dad was in the military, both of my parents were stressed, had a rocky marriage. I think they took it out on us kid. My parents weren’t monsters. They just did what they were taught. Nevertheless, I did battle with depression for much of my youth and into early adulthood. Like you mentioned, each child is unique; why take the chance.

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  118. {{{{Zoe}}}} Why are my eyes watering?!?

    I did a post a long time ago on Mike and Debi Pearl’s book, How to Train Up a Child. In their book they advocate “spanking” children with a length of pvc pipe – babies as young as six months old. It brings the most people to my blog searching for “what size pvc pipe to spank an infant”. Well, that and ‘does demonic possession cause pupils to dilate’ or some variation of it.

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  119. No need to say you are sorry William. Believe it or not, it took courage for me to invest in being vulnerable here. Seems I trust you all. ❤ These conversations are healthy and meaningful. They help us and help others. Not frustrated in the least. Just farther along in the journey now with time to reflect. I would have given anything to have a conversation like this when we were younger.

    Carmen thanks. (((hugs)))

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  120. My parents were young NeuroVictoria. They didn’t have a clue. Much stress. Depression, anxiety, worry, fear, atoning for their sin of getting pregnant with me out of wedlock and the beat goes on. They loved us, love us, they just weren’t equipped. On the outside no one would know. On the inside we all carry our scars.

    And your mention of the genes . . . my dad’s dad left home at age 11 due to domestic violence on his own mother and on him, but when he left, my great-grandfather started in on the next in line. 😦

    There other things we could mention in regards to spanking, I am wondering about a possible blog friend of yours who wrote about the fact that our bottoms are located near our genitals. I think I found him through your blog? Gosh I had never ever thought about that before.

    About how if our parents hit us then others can hit us too which then makes one wonder if we won’t end up vulnerable to abuse down the line from our partners.

    Then considering each child as unique, keep in my their learning differences, and whether disciplining with even the healthiest form of spanking is nothing but violence to a child, confusing them and in turn leading to their being violent right back at you. There’s just so much to consider.

    Ruth (((hugs))).

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  121. “They loved us, love us, they just weren’t equipped. On the outside no one would know. On the inside we all carry our scars.”

    I agree, Zoe. I knew my parents loved us, but I think it gets very confusing for children when physical and emotional pain is inflicted on them by those that love them. Add to the confusion, the influence of an authoritarian religion and a “loving” god who will send you to hell if you don’t follow the rules. Just too much for kids to have to deal with, especially since their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed and they lack critical thinking skills.

    “There other things we could mention in regards to spanking, I am wondering about a possible blog friend of yours who wrote about the fact that our bottoms are located near our genitals.”

    Perhaps it was Jonny, at Leaving Fundamentalism. http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com/ He did a few posts on corporal punishment, and he may have been referencing the extensive research of psychologist Alice Miller who devoted her career to studying child abuse and its long-term effects on the individual and society.

    Zoe, I’m sorry for what you went through. So many of us have been there in varying degrees. It’s hard to talk about this subject because I know there are some truly caring people here who meant well in raising their children the best they knew how. We live in a world that places very little emphasis on educating people about parenthood. Parents have, throughout history, had to wing it and were and still are often influenced by archaic religious books that offer no short-term solutions, and lack understanding about child development.

    Thank you for having the courage to be vulnerable and share so personally.

    *hugs*

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  122. Do they suffer the same negative effects as those who are spanked?” – You tell me, William – are they free to end the pain anytime they wish? I think not, because the one who exercises is making a choice, and choosing to do it to themselves – a child who is hit, has no such choice.

    We laud free thinkers, then beat children until they think as we do.

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  123. does giving shots to toddlers, who dont understand why they’re getting inoculated, suffer the same adverse affects as those who are spanked?
    Yes. As a little child, my sister and I were either very sickly or my Mom was overly cautious, but we were continually being given blood tests or shots of some kind, and let me tell you it DID have an adverse effect. As I grew older, I fought myself to watch as some lab tech found a vein, inserted a needle and drew blood, and have since overcome my fear, but it was there, and it was a struggle – I won’t bore you with the stories. Fortunately, I grew up to be one of those who never gets sick.

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  124. Not Johnny, though it was a young man, younger than Johnny if I remember.

    The young man I remember has a name that starts with a *C* and I think he has a history of abuse, sexual? The point he brought to everyone’s attention was the involuntary sexual arousal that occurs with the rush of blood flow to that area. Along those lines. It was fascinating to me because one of my siblings always pee’d her pants with a spanking, either while waiting her turn/fear or during. In our youth we were spanked on our bare bottoms over our dad’s knees/thighs. Doesn’t take an Einstein to sort through that scenario.

    The other thing is, the dysfunction, confusion etc. I think helps turn many of us toward a religion. Jesus was my salvation. As a young person I knew He loved me because the Bible told me so as I learned via my church songs/lessons. Right? Jesus was a sure foundation for those developing on a cracked foundation. Jesus never spanked me. Thank God for Jesus and thank God for church. Hoping you all follow what I’m getting at here.

    Thanks Victoria.

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  125. I’ve said many times that I got whippings when I was a kid and I turned out alright, so it must not be too bad.

    This is the sentiment most often heard from people who were spanked. I know for a fact that it was the rationale given by my idiot son-in-law when he converted my daughter, who was never spanked a day in her life, from one who refused to allow her children to be spanked, into one who now spanks herself.

    The unanswerable question, is how would you have turned out if you hadn’t been?

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  126. and if the gov were to put an end to it

    Why should the government have to put an end to it, William? Can’t we do it ourselves? If we look to the government for everything, aren’t we just replacing one sky-daddy with another?

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  127. Aggression? would competitive sports promote aggression too and are they also bad?

    I have a personal, private theory – no research to back it up – that those who are best at rough and tumble contact sports, like American football and boxing, are the ones with the most pent-up anger. I base this on high school football players that I have personally observed.

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  128. She had to ‘feel’ the effects of her misbehavior.

    Nan, I’ve never seen the child who couldn’t be reached.

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  129. “The young man I remember has a name that starts with a *C* and I think he has a history of abuse, sexual?”

    Yes, now I remember. That was Cat. Does that ring a bell? I haven’t found that particular comment, but as I recall it was also discussed on Jonny’s blog.

    Here’s an article by a psychologist in your country: See #7

    http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/tenreasons.html

    But I wanted to posted another one of his comments from my blog (not related to spanking) I came across while looking for that particular comment: He’s from the UK.

    “Great post and very close to home. Mum’s side of the family were Roman Catholics and she instilled the fear of God’s wrath from a very early age. I’m not sure if I had an understanding of people’s idea of heaven, but I certainly had the full visuals of a burning hell for all the bad children.

    Fortunately, my early memory of these RC beliefs was that they were probably untrue. Rather than persuade some good behaviour, I learned to mistrust most of what Mum was saying. When it came to the important stuff in childhood, I had already switched off and would never listen to her advice. It usually involved God or his punishment in some form, so it was easy to switch off.

    I was also disturbed by the Old Testament stories of parents sacrificing children or selling them to slavery. We learned some of this at a very early age in Bible class. It made me mistrust my parent’s even more. What used to bother me about Noah’s Ark was how the nasty old man could only take some of the animals and leave the rest to drown. Another one that used to get me was the tragic story of Job in the Old T and how the poor man suffered, but still made excuses for his God.”

    Zoe, I can relate to your last paragraph about Jesus. In saying that, as a child, I wasn’t afraid of Jesus, I was afraid of his father.

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  130. Since William seems to want the government to “do something,” I suggest it hand out an operator’s manual with each newborn.

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  131. I probably need to step away from the computer, too.” – if those of us who make mistakes would apply that solution, this would be a blank page.

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  132. Arch, you seem a little out of sorts today …

    Anyway, you may never have seen a child who couldn’t be reached, but you are not “god” — ya’ know, that guy who sees all, knows all, and is everywhere at once?

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  133. Not sure where you going with this, Arch. This short video is from Harvard — Center on the Developing Child. It describes the need to focus on building the capabilities of caregivers and strengthening the communities that together form the environment of relationships essential to children’s lifelong learning, health, and behavior.

    If we are to see change in the world, it will not come from archaic, authoritarian religious book.

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  134. Secularists Fight Arizona’s Tax-Funded ‘Office of Faith’

    Proponents of secularism in Arizona on Wednesday sent a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer (R) asking that her Office of Faith and Community Partnerships not use public funds to advocate for religiosity.

    Brewer in August issued an executive order creating a Governor’s Office of Faith and Community Partnerships, as well as the Arizona Council on Faith and Community Partnerships. The executive order superseded an earlier order written by Brewer in 2010 that created a task force focused on faith-based community partnerships.

    But unlike the earlier version, the Governor’s Office of Faith and Community Partnerships is allowed to raise and allocate money.

    Atheists and advocates for separation of church and state are critical of the office’s ability to allocate money, and say that the state should not be allowed to use taxpayer money to promote religious content.

    Take one look at Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and if you’ll listen REALLY carefully, you can hear her cackle, “I’ll get you me pretty, and your little dog too!

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  135. “I probably need to step away from the computer, too.” – if those of us who make mistakes would apply that solution, this would be a blank page.”

    Thanks Arch. I’ve made my fair share of them today for sure. I’ll proof, and still my brain sees what I intended to write rather than what I actually wrote.

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  136. Arch, you seem a little out of sorts today …
    Yeah, hearing people say they have to hurt children because they can’t reach them any other way, has that effect on me.

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  137. Not sure where you going with this, Arch.

    Not really going anywhere with it – I got one with my weed-eater, and think it’s only fair I should have gotten one with my kid.

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  138. Gotcha. Well, if you follow the bible’s instruction, you should stone the kids to death for “disrespecting” their parents or use an object and physically beat them into submission, thus sparing their soul from hell. That’s some parent, that’s some “guide” book. It counters all the peer-reviewed research on promoting the well being of the children and brain development. Yet another strike against this god of the bible.

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  139. OK, we understand, Arch. But I/we were at different places in our lives at the time we were doing/receiving the spankings. Speaking for myself, as I’ve grown older and looked back, I would like to think I would have done things differently. But who knows? In any case, it is what it is. All we can do now is hope our kids and grandkids take a different approach.

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  140. Well, with all of that valuable advice fixed firmly in mind, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a bowl of chili! Like most of my dates, only one of us will survive. (“There can be only one!” – Highlander)

    Is it just me, or did anyone else ever wonder why Adrian Paul never played James Bond?

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  141. @Howie,
    Laurie rejects the doctrine of grace, so I’m assuming she thinks practicing Torah will be an important part of the salvation process. Even so, you made a brilliant observation which from your perspective must be highly theoretical. That’s awesome! I agree with you that even if we are saved by grace, that does not necessarily mean God does not want us to practice Torah. So, the real question is, does God indeed want us to practice Torah somehow like the Reformed Jews?

    I think it will depend on which part of the Torah. We all agree on the universal moral law, but anything further will need to be decided. In making this decision I think the most important criterion is inclusion. It seems the anti-Paul sect is acting to exclude and setting up barriers by forcing the Torah customs and rituals on the church. From Paul’s perspective they disregard the work of Christ: “In [Christ’s] flesh he has made [Jews and Gentiles] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.” This is why they have to reject Paul. In the same regard, I think the anti-Paul sect goes against the Jerusalem Council decision to not require Gentiles to observe the law which is a step towards inclusion.

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  142. There may have been practicing Jews in the Christian church even after the Jerusalem Council and on into the fourth century until the Catholic church decided to make everything uniform. But, uniformity is not the same as unity. We can be unified under Christ and practice different customs and even hold variable doctrine and political beliefs according to our consciences. We are still under Christ, working towards building each other up even when we disagree. Anyway, sorry if I’m getting preachy. 🙂

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  143. Even so, you made a brilliant observation which from your perspective must be highly theoretical. That’s awesome!

    THERE’S the old Brandon! I wondered where he had gone.

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  144. @Dave
    “How do you know what the standards are for something being divinely inspired? Where did you get these standards from?”
    You must judge for yourself starting with whether or not you believe that your conscious mind and this universe came into existence on purpose and if the Creator would ever want to interact with creation. Rationality will only be helpful in certain ways because it cannot adjudicate all questions.Then, how can you adjudicate the question of interest? Keep asking it and keep investigating, and maybe something will be compelling. You will have to search for the standard within yourself and it will be challenging and risky.

    @Ruth
    Yes, I did answer this question one time, and I went back and looked at it! I don’t think anyone liked my answer.

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  145. @Laurie
    Before I get into specifics, I still think Acts, especially the Jerusalem Council, is a huge problem for the anti-Paul sect’s requirement for practicing Torah.

    “Messiah said not one jot will pass from the law till heaven and earth pass away.”
    Unfortunately for both of us, Jesus’ statement is not very clear because it entirely depends on what he means by “until all is accomplished”.

    “Messiah, like Peter, never ate anything unclean.”
    Peter was “living like a Gentile” while in Antioch until he feared the circumcision faction (Galatians 2:19). What evidence do you to support that Peter always kept kosher?

    “The council thought this must have been a mistake, how could Paul a Jew that is supposedly doing all these great works for messiah, be preaching against the law? This is why he took the vow, to show that he does keep the law.”
    I’m glad you pressed this issue because it seems to be different than for the purposes of evangelism. So, I think there are two major possibilities. 1) James and the elders wanted Paul to take the vow in order to protect him from imprisonment/punishment, or 2) James and the elders wanted Paul to take the vow because they thought Jewish Christians like Paul ought to observe the customs. Either way they are certainly not implying that all Christians ought to observe the customs because they tell Paul about the letter to the Gentiles with 4 rules. Since this was several years after the Jerusalem Council, why hadn’t they sent out additional rules for Gentiles? Also, note that Peter is missing (maybe he’s trekking to Rome at this time). Peter might have had a different opinion since he was “living like a Gentile” while in Antioch (Galatians 2:19).

    “Was Paul arrested for a belief in the resurrection?”
    The author of Acts seems to want to show that Paul manipulated the council to make them bicker. I think this falls short of false prophecy and false apostleship. I doubt the author would be okay with such an accusation seeing that he esteemed Paul even calling him an apostle in chapter 14 verse 14. I think using Acts against Paul is pretty well inexcusable from a literary standpoint.

    “Below Paul tells Agrippa that he went to Jerusalem and Judea first”
    This is blatantly false, Acts 26:20 clearly states he went to Damascus first.

    “Have you read the first 2 chapters of [Galatians]? Do you know why he lied to them, and why he called the true apostle false? Have you read 2 Corinthians 11?”
    Yes, I’ve read the whole New Testament. What do you mean “called the true apostle false”?

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  146. he unanswerable question, is how would you have turned out if you hadn’t been?

    Well, sure. I’m not advocating spanking and there are a lot of things in my life that might have been different. I’ll never know.

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  147. Yes Victoria, I think his name is Cat.

    Well on the lathe of life Arch there’s no telling how I would have turned out. For me, there were many many more turns than spanking. It truly is unanswerable, as you say.

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  148. Zoe – ‘lathe of life’ — love that line!

    So many unanswered (and perhaps unanswerable) questions in life, eh? But, hey – it keeps us all busy at armchair philosophy. So there IS that! Hope everyone has a great day!

    Here on the east coast of Canada, we have a furnace fire going – yes, really!

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  149. Yes Victoria, I think his name is Cat.” – FWIW, Zoe, Cat’s avatar is blue, and appears to be that the silhouette of a man, seated in what I would call “The Thinker” position.

    Anybody know why silhouette has an “h” in it? Silly Frenchmen —

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  150. Zoe – ‘lathe of life’ — love that line! ” – Absolutely! It conjures the image of a chisel removing scrapings until the desired shape is acquired, implying a painful process. What descriptive imagery so early in the morning.

    Venus and Mars are both out this morning, one on each side of the moon, riding the galactic plane.

    Carmen – at least you didn’t chop all that wood earlier this month for nothing! How’re the Aussies? (Not you, Portal –)

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  151. we have a furnace fire going” – I know you chopped (split) wood, Carmen, but that might have been for the fireplace – does your furnace use wood or oil? I have a lady friend in New Hampshire, to the South of you, who said her furnace oil was running her $700 (US) per month last winter, and I bitched because my electric bill broke a hundred.

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  152. Zoe, it sounds like there’s a very painful story in there somewhere, but it was yours to live, not mine to know. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.

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  153. arch, we have a wood/oil furnace but never turn the oil on unless we’re away (just to keep the water pipes from freezing) – we’re frugal (much better word than CHEAP!! 🙂 Aussies are good. They’re having a great time!

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  154. arch, it must be about 4 ft. because when putting footings in, I know there are strict by-laws and any construction done must follow the ‘rules’ – anything that’s ever done here is around that depth.

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  155. Arch, I suspect you’re right when it comes to those who excel at competitive sports. My question is, is that bad?

    And I don’t want the government to do anything. I mean, I think gov has a role, but i dont want them legislating child rearing or discipline. I mentioned it because I’ve recently read articles where some people are saying it should be illegal and those who spank their kids should face jail time. I disagree with that and was only saying IF the gov were to do something, i hope that it is reserved and implemented in stages.

    i personally think many take it too far and do it far to often. Some parents spank their kids because they’re crying – which seems odd, “I spank ’em and I spank ’em, but they just wont stop crying.” So I certainly get the notion that it’s archaic and ridiculous and harsh, and I may eventually reach a point where i think spanking for any reason and to any degree is bad – i’m just not quite there yet.

    I have spanked my own children very little (and not near as harshly as i was) and am considering whether I will any more at all, but even so, i don’t want to tell other parents how they should raise their own, and I dont like the gov telling me what to do at all. I’m not a libertarian though, so please dont call me one.

    I am curious to make it through all the research to see how it was conducted and what all was taken into account when forming their conclusions. I wonder if all pain or discomfort to any degree is bad. I wonder if there are any redeeming effects in spanking at all. even if it’s only short term, why not implement short term and long term solutions simultaneously?

    I think many people talk about this issue in the extremes; “spanking is good” or “spanking is bad” or “spanking is violence toward children, therefore wrong” or “spanking helps kids.”

    I dont think these generalizations are helpful because when we get in the specific scenarios, anyone can clearly see that spanking a child till they bleed is going too far, or spanking a child because they sneezed is not good by any means.

    And conversely, swatting a child because they keep biting their sister, is not at all the same as punching a child in the stomach. It’s not the same as blistering a child’s butt because they spilled daddy’s bear or got in the way of his football game on TV.

    and I dont like the “it takes more work for parents to explain things to their children and teach them than it does to just spank them.” This is shortsighted because it is only speaking to one type of parenting. And in this approach, spanking your kids and teaching them and explaining things to them is even more work, but I doubt the “more work” would convince a person who thinks spanking is bad, that spanking is now okay. Likewise, saying “not spanking is more work” does little to convince the people who are convinced it does work, will only make them think you’re implying they’re lazy parents, which really may not be the case.

    When I’ve spanked my kids, they’ve never had welts like i did. They weren’t spanked until they cried, as if making them cry were the goal. They dont flinch or hide when I get near them or walk into the room. I never took pleasure in it. I felt like it was the best way to get the results I think are necessary, it was never the only tool I think I have as a parent.

    That being said, I may only feel that way because I’m a monkey, and monkey see, monkey do, after all. If there is zero benefit, and if there are only negative impacts on the kid, then I certainly don’t want to do it. So I’ll have to make my way through all the research. but i’ll need to be convinced.

    and at the same, while anecdotal, my own experiences and observations still are not worthless. Not all of my children have been spanked an equal amount. It’s not because I am unfair, it’s because I know my kids, and I try to pay attention to what motivates them. what works and what does not.

    I’m still learning though. I hope to always be, too.

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  156. William, I can see that you have been giving this topic quite a bit of thought. I have, as well. It seems to me that the crux of the argument about spanking is this – it’s a completely one-sided power dynamic. Parents are bigger, stronger, and have the emotional and physical power to overwhelm kids. In that scenario, it’s just too easy for an adult to abuse – even if that was not the intent. For that reason, I have come to the conclusion that it is just wrong – all spanking.

    And for what it’s worth, William, I think we are all life-long learners and that is as it should be.

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  157. “Messiah said not one jot will pass from the law till heaven and earth pass away.”
    Unfortunately for both of us, Jesus’ statement is not very clear because it entirely depends on what he means by “until all is accomplished”.”

    This is a pretty clear statement Brandon. The law stands as long as the earth is still here. Until all is accomplished, is a reference to the plan of redemption, and the restoration of all things. It is just like it sounds, when this earth is gone, YHWH will create a new earth where there is no sin, no pain and every tear will be wiped away. This is the restoration. The last feast, is the feast of tabernacle where messiah reigns and brings about world peace. This lasts for 1000 years. The wicked are still here, and the judgement hasn’t happened. When this is over then the plan of redemption will be complete, and the 7 feasts fulfilled. Then the new earth

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  158. My question is, is that bad?” – I can’t imagine how running around with all of that pent-up rage and frustration could be anything but.

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  159. “Peter might have had a different opinion since he was “living like a Gentile” while in Antioch (Galatians 2:19).”

    We have already established that Paul lied. This is also a lie. But Paul had a reason for every thing he did. In Galatians, Paul had already been shown to be the false apostle Messiah spoke about. Here is his last ditch effort to show his converts, that it is the twelve that are false and not him. “Before God he’s not lying”

    Take your time and read the first two chapters of Galatians again. Any atheist here could read it, and see what is plain right away. The problem for anyone religious is, you already think you have the truth. Every where you look, your looking to confirm what you already know is true and correct. You have to look at scripture without all that. Galatians is a great place to start, because it really is very clear what he is saying

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  160. You must judge for yourself starting with whether or not you believe that your conscious mind and this universe came into existence on purpose and if the Creator would ever want to interact with creation. Rationality will only be helpful in certain ways because it cannot adjudicate all questions.Then, how can you adjudicate the question of interest? Keep asking it and keep investigating, and maybe something will be compelling. You will have to search for the standard within yourself and it will be challenging and risky.

    Brandon, that’s a very interesting, mysterious answer. So your theory is that if we were created then the creator(s) must have embedded some morsels of truth deep within us? Your method requires a lot of assumptions and it would be hard for me to follow along.

    1. Assume the universe was created
    2. Assume it was done on purpose
    3. Assume a single entity was involved in that creation
    4. Assume this entity wants to create humans
    5. Assume this entity wants to interact in some way with us
    6. Assume this entity gave us some deep truth that we have to find within ourselves
    7. Assume this deep truth will lead us to the Bible

    I have given all of these a lot of thought and investigation and so far I have not found compelling evidence that would support all of these assumptions. Furthermore, I think there is compelling evidence that the Bible is purely man-made. Such as:

    1. Competing doctrines within the Bible (one example is Israelite nationalism [Ezra] vs universalism [Jonah] which is explained pretty well in “The Human Faces of God” by Thom Stark.)

    2. Competing interpretations of the Bible (Despite claims that the Holy Spirit is indwelling Christians and helps them discern the truth from scripture)

    3. Historical and scientific mistakes (hares do not “chew the cud”, Quirinius and Herod)

    4. Ideas that mirror the time period in which they were written (slavery, misogyny, genocide, etc)

    5. The lengthy process of putting different books together into what we now call the Bible.

    6. The fabulous tales of epic proportions that mirror other man-made folklore.

    I could keep going, but you’re probably already aware of all of this and more.

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  161. Laurie, perhaps I am just a cynic but it seems to me that picking out lies in the bible would be akin to picking out pepper from flysh*t. . .

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  162. “The wicked are still here, and the judgement hasn’t happened.”

    Laurie, who are the wicked? Those who exhibited antisocial behavior due to brain damage, or tumors, or childhood trauma, or attachment disorders due to childhood neglect, etc.?

    Or are they the ones who didn’t bow down to your god? Or both?

    Early Brain Damage and Development in Social and Moral Reasoning:
    “Children who experience early damage in the prefrontal cortex never completely develop social or moral reasoning. As adults, even on an intellectual level, they cannot refer to such behavior because they have little concept of it. In contrast, individuals with adult-acquired damage are usually aware of proper social and moral conduct, but are unable to apply such behaviors.”

    http://learn.fi.edu/learn/brain/head.html

    In America, alone, someones sustains a traumatic brain injury ever 15 seconds. Why does it seem like your god is not aware of any of this?

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  163. By the way Brandon, I do believe in grace. The word for grace in Greek is charis, and in Hebrew it is chesed. The difference is, that in the Tanakh, chesed is translated mercy. Israel has always believed that they were saved by grace, but not apart from the works of the law.

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  164. It is just like it sounds, when this earth is gone, YHWH will create a new earth
    Just so I can be sure I understand this, Laurie, what with my limited intellect and all, you’re saying that four and a half billion years from now, after our sun has consumed all of its hydrogen, and begins swelling as it consumes hydrogen’s by-product, helium, until it becomes what is known as a Red Giant star, whose outer layers will extend all the way to the orbit of Mars and will have evaporated the Earth – that your YHWH will then create a new Earth? Any hints in there as to its proposed location? It certainly wouldn’t be wise to put it in orbit around an unstable star.

    And since anything left of whatever we once were will have been totally vaporized – literally atomized – then I guess physical resurrection is out of the question —

    How can an intelligent mind like yours really not see this for the nonsense that it is?

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  165. I don’t think it’s quite that easy, Laurie.

    17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    The problem is that this sentence contains two “until” statements. So what does it mean? Does it mean that “until heaven and earth pass away” and “until all is accomplished” are synonymous? Or is it saying that the law will not pass away until it has been fulfilled (vs 17), using “till heaven and earth pass away” figuratively to show his certainty?

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  166. So you think that because Saddam had a bad childhood he should not be judged for the things he did?

    My husband was seriously abused, and his mother also, by his step father. His biological father left before he was born. The abuse continued for years, and I’m not talking about a black eye here. When my husband was sixteen, and just reached the height of 6’5″, he realized he didn’t have to let this man abuse his family any more. His step dad got 16 staples in the back of his head before they took him to jail.

    My husband had a hard life, his mom worked multiple jobs, and they moved a lot. They were poor.

    Today, he is the most loving and gentle person. He would help anybody! He is a great father. When we came back from Iraq the first time, he had some problems with his temper, but he made a choice. The world is an ugly place, but we all have a choice.

    The thousand years of peace will be for learning about Ya and his love and mercy. Adolf Hitler would still choose to be evil, there will still be bad people.

    Ya judges people based on the knowledge they have. That means the little Muslim girl down the road, who loved people and tried to make this world better, isn’t going to be judged for something she didn’t know. Hitler, is another story.

    If you believe in God, you believe in his mercy and fairness.

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  167. Its both Nate.

    I have to prepare for Shabbat, so I won’t be around till Sunday, but if you want, after that. I’ll show you from the Tanakh that these things go hand in hand.

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  168. @Ruth
    Yes, I did answer this question one time, and I went back and looked at it! I don’t think anyone liked my answer.

    If I recall correctly it was the subjective nature of determining the criteria that left us all a little less than impressed.

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  169. What can I say arch? God didn’t give me your mensa iq, unfortunately. I have to work with what I got.

    How was your date?

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  170. Laurie, I appreciate you taking the time to share information with us. I think your last line, “If you believe in God, you believe in mercy and fairness” is a bit of a dichotomy for me, though. You see, I don’t see how the two correlate. I definitely do not see God as being either merciful OR fair.

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  171. ““My question is, is that bad?” – I can’t imagine how running around with all of that pent-up rage and frustration could be anything but.” – arch

    Maybe you’re right. I’ll ponder it. I guess I don’t view all anger and all frustration as bad. It can be and it can certainly get out of hand and maybe even 98% percent of it is, I’m not sure and wouldn’t fight about it.

    But people are so complex and interesting; everything about them. What motivates them, what tears them down. Some people thrive and excel under pressure, and some do not. Some people may be more prone to frustration and anger, and perhaps football and boxing are good outlets and coping mechanisms for them.

    Males are naturally more aggressive than females. Obviously this must be tempered and I am a fan of self control, but is all aggression bad? I don’t think so. I think most things have a place. Like telling a kid, “I’m disappointed in you.”

    Is that bad? Is that even necessary? It’s not necessary, as the child does not need to hear those words to live and grow. It could be bad, especially if that’s all the parent ever said to their kid. But if a parent said that after their kid pissed in the pickle jar and gave one to his grandmother, thinking it was funny, it may be appropriate to tell him, “I am disappointed in you,” with the obviously implication is that the parent is disappointed that their son would do that thing, and not that the child’s entire life has been a disappointment.

    I’m thinking it all over and reading up on it all.

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  172. nate, i think laurie is saying that they’re saying the same thing. The earth passing away is part of “all things.”

    Laurie, what makes you believe in the OT or any part of the Bible? what there makes you think it’s from god?

    brandon, I’m curious to hear your answer to dave.

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  173. Laurie, your husband was fortunate. Child abuse is the 3rd leading cause of prefrontal cortex damage. Your god created and condoned the very condition that causes antisocial behavior. As noted in the article,

    “70% of children’s brain injuries affect the frontal cortex. Because growth in the brain’s frontal regions continues throughout young adulthood, early injury there can damage formation of the protective myelin insulation around neurons . This can impair their ability to control emotions and inhibit inappropriate behavior. These kids have trouble responding to subtle social cues and planning difficult tasks.”

    You also seem very unaware of Hitler’s childhood. He, too, was brutally abused by his father. Same with Stalin. Count yourself lucky. I suppose it’s the lucky ones who make it to heaven.

    How do you know that Saddam or Hitler didn’t have brain damage, or a tumor in the amydala area affecting impulse that can lead to violence, just like Charles Whitman, in the video I shared with Powell Powers? Your all-knowing god is suppose to know the beginning from the end. That makes your god irresponsible and inhumane, does it not?

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  174. 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

    Reading it plainly I’d have to side with Laurie on this one. He doesn’t say he wants to abolish the law. Sounds like he is supporting it and that the law will stand until all is accomplished. Also, the next verse supports Lauries view:

    “19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

    Isn’t this the part where we pull out all our different translations and compare them and then get out our commentaries and compare those and so on? Good times.. The irony is that we are looking at what someone wrote about what someone said about what someone said …

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  175. I’ve already spoken up against corporeal punishment for children but, FWIW, william, I also believe those who go past the point of “spanking” to abuse are most likely abusive in other ways as well. You could make all the laws in the world against “spanking” and an abusive person wouldn’t abide by it anyway. And even if they did, they’d likely be emotionally or verbally abusive.

    I searched Google on the topic of benefits of spanking since we’ve been discussing it and found this:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/spanking-kids-perform-better-school-helps-successful-study-article-1.457285

    Even timeouts, Dennis says, can have a detrimental effect on kids if imposed when a parent is out of control. “If you give your child a timeout because he or she broke a rule and you want there to be a consequence and you speak calmly, that is one thing,” Dennis says. “But if you are screaming and angry when you give the timeout, it’s not effective.”

    Abuse comes in many forms.

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  176. How was your date?

    The bowl of chili did not survive, however it did attempt a resurrection, which was promptly squelched. I’m thinking tonight – since I don’t have to worry about cooking on Shabbat – barbecued PORK ribs, potato salad and baked beans (with BACON!),

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  177. If you believe in God, you believe in his mercy and fairness.

    How do you explain the [God condoned/God commanded] genocide, slavery, misogyny, etc. in the OT?

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  178. Ruth, i agree. I actually spoke with my brother yesterday (who didnt get as many as i did) and he feels like spanking is better left out. We did agree, however, that many factors go into parenting, and that there are so many ways to make mistakes or to cause any type of harm.

    Just because parent A doesnt spank, doesnt necessarily mean they are better parents that Parent B who does spank. How do they talk to their kids? how do they teach and nurture their kids? what do they punish for, etc?

    anyhow, not trying to belabor any point. It’s on my mind as i sort it out, so I share.

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  179. LOL Arch. You are so naughty. Almost as naughty as me.

    Laurie, I apologize if my comment came across as terse. I expect more from an all-knowing god, who again, caused and condoned the very environments that lead to “wicked”, or in neuropsychological terms, antisocial behavior. His solution is like the barbaric prison solution of the U.S., with over 60 percent having mental illness according to the U.S. Department of Justice.. “Finding Jesus” isn’t going to heal a damaged brain, just like prison will not rehabilitate someone with mental illness.

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  180. “You also seem very unaware of Hitler’s childhood. He, too, was brutally abused by his father. Same with Stalin. Count yourself lucky. I suppose it’s the lucky ones who make it to heaven.”

    I know a bit about Adolf and Stalin, that was my point. Just because they had a bad childhood doesn’t mean they didn’t choose.

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  181. Laurie, that is a very unreasonable and uneducated way to look at it, and is based on little to no understanding of the complexities of the brain damage. Quite frankly, your god is not much different than Hitler or Stalin.

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  182. This blog is like cocaine, a very bad addiction. I really can’t hangout today!

    I don’t believe YHWH created this condition, but yes he did allow it. It was in response to the war in heaven, and ultimately it will bring the restoration.

    If you believe this is all imaginary, why get so riled up about it?

    I really have to go! I must have some chemical defect that makes me check this blog so much!😉

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  183. “I know a bit about Adolf and Stalin, that was my point. Just because they had a bad childhood doesn’t mean they didn’t choose.” – laurie

    true, but i want to say, “doesnt mean that they did either.”

    But what I dont understand is that if hitler and stalin were predestined to be major A holes due to environmental factors, then maybe we’re predestined to be religious or not be religious, making this whole discussion futile… unless of course we’ve all been codntioned and predisposed to waste our talking about things that cant be altered… I realize it’s not quite as simple as this, and I feel like I’m close to creating a black hole.

    BUt I like telling myself that i am in control of myself. I recognize I lean certain ways and that i have predispositions, but i also recognize that I can control many of them. I can choose to act on them or choose to act (or not act) in spite of them, even if i cant choose to not be irritated or whatever.

    I’ve been to war. I havent seen the greatest amount of war terrors, but i’ve seen things. About half the guys i went with either have been diagnosed as having or claim to have PTSD. I do not think that i do. I’m not saying that they can help themselves, i dont know. But what makes a person be able to cope and and move on, while others cannot as easily. Is it genes? is it self reflection? Is it environmental factors? Will my PTSD kick in later in life? Is it a combination of all that and more? at present, and despite that bad things, I view my service as being positive overall. I think I’ve learned and grown a lot in such conditions.

    I am getting way too off topic maybe, but this is where the discussion is taking me.

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  184. That was not in response to brain damage, but evil in the world.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion Victoria! Have a good one!😀

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  185. According to Paul, yes your predestined.

    But I don’t believe in Paul, or the unjust god he serves

    Okay bye! Really this time 😉

    I enjoy reading your thoughts William! We are a bit alike you and I. A bit 😉

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  186. “If you believe this is all imaginary, why get so riled up about it?”

    Because those that believe in this imaginary god make laws, encourage tribalism, create environmental conditions that hinder our evolution as a species, and start wars (in the name of their god) that affect the well being of children, families, and society.

    Laurie, thanks for tolerating my frank questions and comments, and I hope you have a nice weekend. 🙂

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  187. i agree with neuronotes, laurie.

    Asking why we get so riled up about this would be like asking why you get so riled up about paul when you think he’s false.

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  188. Thanks Victoria! I will! Are having a birthday party, for my little one! Fun fun! I hope you have a great weekend too!

    If you were in the neighborhood id invite you! It would be fun to talk!

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  189. @Nate,

    The problem is that this sentence contains two “until” statements. So what does it mean? Does it mean that “until heaven and earth pass away” and “until all is accomplished” are synonymous? Or is it saying that the law will not pass away until it has been fulfilled (vs 17), using “till heaven and earth pass away” figuratively to show his certainty?

    Not sure your thoughts Nate, but I see this passage more as a difficulty for Brandon than for Laurie, but I agree with you it is not at all clear – hence the view that you and I and Arch expressed the other day.

    I also think that this passage when viewed in the light of the very clear focus on God’s perfect law in the Hebrew Scriptures that is expressed many times as everlasting is a big problem for Pauline Christianity. Verses are poorly picked out of context (like Jeremiah’s new covenant passage) to try and make it look copacetic, but I had some major cognitive disoonance over this issue while I was a Christian, given that I had been raised Jewish. But even subtracting that bias of mine, just reading the Hebrew Scriptures makes it very clear that there is an incredible focus on the law that God had given that was called “perfect” and essential – this I believe is very hard to reconcile Paul’s theology with it. Maybe if Paul had gone along with Marcion it would have worked out better.

    I also think the book of James is a bit troubling regarding this whole issue as well, and Martin Luther seems to have agreed, pushing for it (along with several other books) to be removed from canon.

    I also have always been bothered by the Galations “hey guys, really, truly, I promise under God, got my fingers crossed even, I am not lying” passage (yeah, I paraphrased 😉 ). In my experience when someone says “really I’m not lying” they actually are lying.

    In short, while I obviously see big problems with Laurie’s views as well, I think she is expressing ideas that are clearly showing that this is not simple either way, again reminding me of your “non-believer view looks like the most sustainable one”.

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  190. Because he false! That’s why! I think following him is going to have a negative effect on Christianity! I think he is the cause of anti-Semitism! I think he’s responsible for the inquisition or dark ages, and so much more.

    Not yelling, just sayin

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  191. Thanks Howie, you get me! I know you don’t agree, but atleast you understand. Christians don’t read the Tanakh it seems, so they don’t see the issues as clearly. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it seems from my chair! 😉

    Like

  192. I totally agree, Howie. I do think that Matthew 5 is more problematic for Brandon than Laurie; I was just trying to point out that it’s far from clear, either way.

    To me, Laurie’s biggest problem is in explaining why God would allow the NT to be so pro-Paul if he’s a false prophet. Well, that and all the usual problems…

    Like

  193. I’ve been following the conversation between Nate, Laurie, and Brandon. I can see this both ways(which highlights one of the problems with scripture and it’s many possible interpretations). I tend to agree with Howie, that the passage in question bolster’s Laurie’s position moreso than Brandon’s, but I still have a question:

    Why would any of the disciples attempt to covertly expose Paul as a false prophet? Why wouldn’t they just come right out and say it given the gravity of the situation in terms of allowing oneself to be deceived?

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  194. @Laurie,

    You’re welcome – you are right I do get a lot of what you are saying here.

    @Nate:

    To me, Laurie’s biggest problem is in explaining why God would allow the NT to be so pro-Paul if he’s a false prophet.

    Yes, I agree with this as well, although I’m not sure every book in the New Testmament is entirely pro-Paul. I do think Acts is probably the biggest problem, and also it just seems like some of the views are a bit mysteriously hidden which just seems weird and to me unlikely.

    @Ruth,

    Why would any of the disciples attempt to covertly expose Paul as a false prophet? Why wouldn’t they just come right out and say it given the gravity of the situation in terms of allowing oneself to be deceived?

    Yup, I’ve got the exact same question. It looks like to me from a high level view of taking the info from all the books of that time, that there was a bit of infighting going on among several factions and Paul versus the Jerusalem crew were not quite in synch. Perhaps they were trying to work it out, but it wasn’t perfectly smooth. And for all we know editing may have been going on as documents were being copied to support either side. Conjecture yes, but not unlikely given that the redaction curves grow almost exponentially the closer it gets to the original writings (not sure if you’ve seen those curves – very interesting).

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  195. @Howie,

    To add to yours and Ruth’s questions, why would such a god allow for a book, that has become the best-selling and most widely distributed book in the world, the most (supposedly representing the nature and word of this god) and not make know the original writing (if they exist)?

    Like

  196. “Ruth’s link made me think about this.”

    William, that video reminded me of when I was in Catholic school. I had a nun who slapped her students in the face or popped them upside their heads. It was considered perfectly acceptable “discipline” by the Catholic school administration.

    Like

  197. “There is a science which has for its object only incomprehensible things. Unlike all others, it occupies itself but with things unseen. Hobbes calls it ‘the kingdom of darkness.’ In this land all obey laws opposed to those which men acknowledge in the world they inhabit. In this marvelous region light is but darkness, evidence becomes doubtful or false, the impossible becomes credible, reason is an unfaithful guide, and common sense changed into delirium. This science is named Theology, and this Theology is a continual insult to human reason.”
    ~~ Fr. Jean Meslier ~~

    Like

  198. This blog is like cocaine, a very bad addiction. I really can’t hangout today!
    GO! Make your matza balls and anything else you’re having (likely not ham steak with sausage gravy –)

    Like

  199. William, yes indeed.

    Nuns scared the bejesus out of me. I must tell you that I was reminded of you talking to your children when watching the scene where she says “You are such a disappointing pair.”

    Sorry, I mean no disrespect — I couldn’t help mentioning it. 😈

    Like

  200. @Victoria,

    why would such a god allow for a book, that has become the best-selling and most widely distributed book in the world, the most (supposedly representing the nature and word of this god) and not make known the original writing (if they exist)?

    I agree Victoria. I think Paul’s biggest screw up may be even worse than the screw ups that Laurie is alluding to – he had to go ahead say that the god he believed in wasn’t the author of confusion. Pretty big count against his case.

    This is why one of my theories I have about this whole thing is that if there really are gods that exist there are probably a few of them who are sitting around having beer and laughing it up at how they’ve been messing with our minds with all the different religions they’ve helped create. While it sounds funny, and I don’t really believe that, I think that hypothesis solves so many more conundrums that the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing personal God that a lot of mono-theists are trying to sell.

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  201. Theology is a continual insult to human reason.

    It is also a testament to mankind’s creativity and imagination.

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  202. Neuro, RE: “Laurie, that is a very unreasonable and uneducated way to look at it” – probably not the most tactful statement you could have made, had you had hopes of advancing a discussion.

    Laurie, RE: “I know a bit about Adolf and Stalin, that was my point. Just because they had a bad childhood doesn’t mean they didn’t choose.

    I think you’re missing what Neuro is saying – if brain damage via injury or illness (tumor) has in any way weakened or neutralized the center of the brain responsible for rational decisions, then their “choices” couldn’t be said to really BE choices.

    (It’s simple psychology, really – I figure the best way to get you two together is to get you both pissed at me and defending each other – amity = enmity + hazard, with me being the hazard – and since there seems to already be such an inclination in place on both counts, it shouldn’t be that difficult.)

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  203. if there really are gods that exist there are probably a few of them who are sitting around having beer and laughing it up at how they’ve been messing with our minds with all the different religions they’ve helped create.

    Slap a label on that puppy and you’ve got yourself a brand new religion! How about “thegodsaredrunkism”? or perhaps “wearescrewedism”. lol

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  204. “if there really are gods that exist there are probably a few of them who are sitting around having beer and laughing it up at how they’ve been messing with our minds with all the different religions they’ve helped create.”

    Howie, that reminded me of a movie I saw several years back. Can’t remember the name, but the gods were all hanging out together, looking down at humans through a round window, laughing it up.

    Like

  205. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ: “plus you put up with me. 😀

    — and I can tell you, Laurie – that’s no easy task!

    Like

  206. Slap a label on that puppy and you’ve got yourself a brand new religion! How about “thegodsaredrunkism”? or perhaps “wearescrewedism”.

    That’s a great idea! Any converts want to sign up right now? Since the gods drink beer, this religion is totally cool with beer. 😉

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  207. That’s a great idea! Any converts want to sign up right now? Since the gods drink beer, this religion is totally cool with beer. 😉

    I’m down with that! I personally think, though, that mass produced beers are heresy. The beerology has to be correct. Craft beers only!

    Like

  208. Speaking of anti-Semitism, Martin Luther was extremely anti-Semitic – not the best choice, Howie, for an argument from authority. Just sayin’ —

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  209. Oh yes, wine is absolutely part of the whole thing – of course there are goddesses as well, it’s just too long to type, and I thought it was a given that they are in there too. 🙂

    And you better believe it’s Craft beers only – how could you even think otherwise!

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  210. Howie, I can envision a t-shirt for your religion looking like one of those stick figures with a question mark head looking at all the different religious symbols, the tagline could read: “Life is so clear, thank the gods!”

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  211. This is getting better all the time. Maybe we could have a annual convention of the … whatever we decide to call it … and drink to the gods!

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  212. Re: Luther – Oh you are absolutely right Arch, he was one nasty cat. My reference to him wasn’t endearing at all though. It just noted that he saw the contradiction, and a lot of people see him as quite the evangelical.

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  213. Thanks Howie, you get me!” – Girl, would you get away from the computer and back to the kitchen?! You know that when that last ray hits your eye, you can’t turn a tap for the next 24!

    Cliff Klaven here – it’s a little-known fact, that by the time you “see” the sun set, it has already been down for at least two minutes? An optical illusion, involving the bending of light rays and the curvature of the earth, makes it appear that the sun is still above the horizon, when in actuality, it is not.

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  214. If the female version drinks wine, I’ll sign up!

    Now I have the funniest most funny most comical visual in my head of your little avitar dog drunk on wine!

    Like

  215. Speaking of parenting, politics and religion…

    Teaching the Children: Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground

    Wide Gaps over Teaching Faith, Tolerance, Obedience

    As the public grows more politically polarized, differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

    People who express consistently conservative political attitudes across a range of issues are more likely than other ideological groups to rate teaching religious faith as especially important – and the least likely to say the same about teaching tolerance.

    By contrast, people with consistent liberal opinions stand out for the high priority they give to teaching tolerance – and the low priority they attach to teaching religious faith and obedience.

    Related: Families may differ, but they share common values on parenting

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  216. Arch, I already apologized. No need to bring it up again.” – I did not READ your apology until I had already said what I did!

    See what I mean, Laurie? No easy task —

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  217. Nate, I used the link at top of the page that links to a random post you’ve done. I ended up on this post about baptism. It was very interesting. This is from back when you were still a Christian and had a very interesting debate about whether or not baptism was a requirement for salvation.

    This is another perfect example of the inconsistent message the Bible gives on what should be a very important topic: how to become saved! Now that I think of it, it seems many Christians I’ve spoken with have admitted to doubts about whether they were really saved or not. Sometimes a preacher would pound home a message about being sincere, or reallllly believing, or having faith that produces results or something along these lines and it leaves everyone scratching their heads wondering if they were truly saved or not. It’s very sad that so many people have this burden of possibly being lost to hell.

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  218. Now that I think of it, it seems many Christians I’ve spoken with have admitted to doubts about whether they were really saved or not. Sometimes a preacher would pound home a message about being sincere, or reallllly believing, or having faith that produces results or something along these lines and it leaves everyone scratching their heads wondering if they were truly saved or not.

    I was so worried about it I went for a swim twice in the church pool. Once when I was a kid and once as an adult because I was afraid I didn’t understand enough to be saved when I was a kid.

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  219. “This is another perfect example of the inconsistent message the Bible gives on what should be a very important topic: how to become saved!”

    Dave, in my search for “truth” through the years, I joined and became active in several mainstream denominations. Each one claiming to have “the” truth. In my pursuit, I only became more disillusioned. As I’m sure you are aware, there are over 41,000 Christian sects.

    I finally stopped going to church, and studied the bible to try and make sense of the madness. It wasn’t long before I realized that it was just that…madness.

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  220. This is another perfect example of the inconsistent message the Bible gives on what should be a very important topic: how to become saved!

    This resonates with me a tremendous amount Dave. I’ve mentioned this several times on Nate’s blog. I especially mentioned it to Kathy as well as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (not sure if you know him Dave) during the Kathy series, because they both mentioned several times that none of us were ever really saved. The way they talked it was very clear that there is absolutely no way anyone can have assurance of salvation, because you’ll never know whether or not someday you may change your mind after being convinced differently, which is why it’s not worth spending time being concerned with it.

    And yes, as I mentioned previously on this post the James passages about “faith without works” bring up some very tough difficulties regarding knowledge about salvation.

    And you are exactly right that there is considerable debate about the requirements of salvation given all the different interpretations that can come from the relevant passages in the bible.

    The whole idea is a terrible mentally abusive fear tactic. It’s of course a great selling point for religions like Christianity and Islam. No surprise they grew to have so many followers.

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  221. The whole idea is a terrible mentally abusive fear tactic.

    R’amen. I think you and I agreed during that series quite a bit about the precarious nature of salvation. You have the once-saved-always-saved-if-saved crowd and if-you’re-saved-you’ll-wake-up-in-heaven-if-you’re-not-sorry-for-your-luck-club. That first group is split into so many groups and many of them differ on what it actually takes or means to be saved. How do you know which one is the right one? Even if you didn’t change your mind about believing in God, what if you don’t believe in the right version of said God? You could never be sure you were getting it right.

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  222. Precisely Ruth. Pascal’s wager is a total crock. Very likely none of it is real, but if it is then we’re pretty much all screwed – even the ones who may end up getting into some heaven, because a god who would set up a system like that and allow his own imperfect created beings into an eternity of sadness probably isn’t the safest person to be hanging around with.

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  223. This is like a forum instead of a blog . . . in the best of ways.

    A church nearby has a sign up for this weekend.

    Unbelief Destroys
    Faith Builds

    I wonder how Laurie looks at those of us with unbelief. Does our unbelief = wickedness? Does she see us as destroyers?

    I know, Shabbat.

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  224. Unbelief in what? The bible? Jesus? God? The FSM? Allah? Buddha? Mormonism? JW’s?

    The same question goes for Faith … in what? That the grass will grow? That it will rain tomorrow? That my husband will remain faithful?

    Of course, I’m being facetious, but the sign makes about as much sense as the bible. And it’s on a church signboard, no less.

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  225. @Dave —

    I’m glad you got something useful from that old post. That’s one of the reasons I’ve left those in place. The conversations were enjoyable to me back then, and they serve as a good reminder of how I used to think. I like to think that they’re occasionally helpful to people.

    Of course, you’re absolutely right that it’s just another example of how ambiguous the Bible is. You can truly make it say just about anything.

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  226. Guys, as we head into the weekend, I just want to throw out a quick “thanks” to all of you — even the believers who are commenting here.

    When I left Christianity (about 4 years ago, now), I was leaving a community of friends and family. It was hard, and it definitely left a void. You guys have filled that space. And while we don’t get together physically, I definitely feel a real sense of “community” with all of you, and it means a great deal to me. Even when I was a Christian, I couldn’t speak as deeply about these kinds of topics with most people in my congregation, because it didn’t interest them in the same way that it did me.

    So what I’m saying is, it’s nice to have a tribe. Thank you. 🙂

    /mushiness_off

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  227. Unbelief Destroys
    Faith Builds

    “Faith is often the boast of the man who is too lazy to investigate.”
    ~~ F.M. Knowles ~~

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  228. @Nate —
    Even the theists – at least the ones who are left – are pleasant and interested in friendly, open discussion.

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  229. Even the theists – at least the ones who are left – are pleasant and interested in friendly, open discussion.

    Yep. It’s quite nice. 🙂

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  230. Nate, that comment of yours about community was awesome! You’ve got a cool “tribe” here filled with people of several different views which is really cool as far as I’m concerned, and I’m glad that you’ve allowed me to be a part of it.

    And I think things have gone back to a better social dynamic now that those who were not interested in dialogue are gone.

    When I started blogging I had absolutely no idea that I’d make friends online like I have. It’s a pretty cool surprise.

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  231. @Brandon,

    you made a brilliant observation

    Thank you very much, I actually do consider myself quite brilliant. (don’t take that seriously – it’s only written to attempt to make Arch laugh which I’ve only done once in my life and it wasn’t even intentional).

    Yeah, I obviously don’t hold the view I was expressing to you as you can see from my comments earlier today. What I wanted to do though was to try and help explain Laurie’s view a little more because I thought some (not all) of your responses to her didn’t actually apply. For example, while I can’t say I totally understand all her views, it does look like her view of grace was as I had suspected – she worded it today pretty much like the book of James did.

    We all agree on the universal moral law

    You may have just written this without too much thought, because I think you would agree that there is much disagreement among people both within and without Christianity on many points of ethics and morality. And even the Jerusalem council had 4 things that weren’t really what most people categorize as ethics.

    It seems the anti-Paul sect is acting to exclude and setting up barriers

    You may be lumping Laurie in with some particular “anti-Paul sect” that she is not a member of. Her views seem a bit diverse and perhaps even shaped from different sources (although I’m not really sure). You may want to try to listen to what she says rather than assume based on what you’ve read about a certain sect’s views that you have read about. I’ve actually tried the same with you because your views look very diverse as well.

    But, uniformity is not the same as unity. We can be unified under Christ and practice different customs and even hold variable doctrine and political beliefs according to our consciences.

    Unity has always been something that has been very important to me. Most Christian worldviews do not help in unifying humanity as a whole. I think the best denomination that has worked toward unity of all humans has been Unitarian Universalism. They recognize that we’re all going to have very diverse metaphysical or “ultimate” views of the world, and that rather than focussing on making sure others hold the same doctrinal views, the important thing is that we all work together to make the world a better place which is what the vast majority of us all want. People of all worldviews are welcomed and valued in their congregations, and there is no attempt to change doctrinal viewpoints.

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  232. 4 Nan,

    Of course, I’m being facetious, but the sign makes about as much sense as the bible.

    It’s at a church at one of the entrances of our community. Can’t miss is. What’s interesting to me about this is, it also doesn’t make sense on a Calvinist Church sign. Isn’t unbelief in their “God’s” hands?

    4 Arch,

    Good quote.

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  233. “It is also a testament to mankind’s creativity and imagination.” – so is Disneyland

    If Walt Disney had made a movie where almost all of the characters and animals died an awful death and then built a theme park to celebrate this movie…. it would be just like AIG’s ark encounter.

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  234. @Nate,

    Thank you for hosting this little “community”. That is definitely the thing that I miss the most from my days as a Christian. I’ve been on the hunt for a tribe ever since and haven’t quite been able to find one. It’s nice to be able to talk about these things with people who, even the theists [that are left], aren’t hostile to varying opinions.

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  235. Nate, I’d like to thank you as well for hosting this community. I think the “Open Conversation” post is a fantastic idea. Several, if not the majority here are from the South, US. It’s difficult finding community of link-minded in the bible belt because exposure could cost unbelievers their jobs, possibly their marriage, and other repercussions. I suspect there are a lot more people in my area who are questioning, or who are agnostics and atheists but are not making that known. When they are online sharing their doubts — questioning or admitting they are nonbelievers, they generally do so anonymously. As Ruth mentioned, community is something I miss the most from my days as a Christian.

    Christians are taught:

    “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?

    ➡ Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.” (2 Corinthians 6:14,17).

    So it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to figure out that if believers hang out with unbelievers, they fear they will tick off their god. I personally believe that had Paul’s Letters not been included in the bible, the world would be a better place.

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  236. Here’s my confession as to why I’m hanging out here – I just like being around smart people! . . . and I’m hoping it’s gonna rub off! 🙂

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  237. Here are a couple more, Zoe:

    From the Beryl Baptist Church (State unknown): “Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has.

    And from the Victory Tabernacle Holiness Church (again, State unknown): “If ur faith is big enough facts dnt count.” (sic)

    Sorry, your neighborhood church has no monopoly on stupid – “Stupid is, as stupid does.” – Forrest Gump –

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  238. You realize, I trust, Dave, that the Bible’s flood story was plagiarized from an actual Mesopotamian flood, in 2900 BCE, that flooded an area equivalent to three counties, to a depth of 15 cubits (22.5 ft.), when the Euphrates River overflowed its banks. Actual, historical King Ziusudra, of Shurrapak, escaped on a trading barge loaded with cotton, cattle and beer, and a legend was born. A hundred years later, the author of The Epic of Gilgamesh incorporated the story into his literary work, changing the name to King Utinapishtim, and 200 years after that, the Bible’s flood “happened”.

    Spoiler Alert: according to the National Geological Survey, there isn’t enough water on, above or under the earth to cover the globe to a depth of 22.5 feet higher than Mt. Everest, despite, “all of the mountains were covered.” Further, of all of the water there is, 90% is already at sea level.

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  239. You know I like laughs – I think that’s a primary reason why I’ve never been sick a day in my life!

    God enters by a private door into every individual” – that explains why he wants us on our face, with our ass in the air.

    ‘Behold I come quickly’ – Jesus” – I suppose that’s SOME comfort, unless you’re INto that sort of thing!

    If man came from apes why are there still apes?” – that old Ray Comfort saw! For the same reason that dogs came from wolves, yet there are still wolves.

    Jesus said ‘Bring me that ass’” – I can tell you that as a pick-up line in a singles bar, that doesn’t always work —

    A loose tongue gets into tight places.” – I ain’t touchin’ that!

    If god were out there anywhere, he’d fix the Dallas Cowboys!

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  240. You know I like laughs – I think that’s a primary reason why I’ve never been sick a day in my life!
    (Prepare for umpteen links as to what neurotransmitters are responsible for that!)

    Go, Neuro —

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  241. About Paul. You know how we don’t all take the Bible literally anymore . . . the unbelieving we, is it possible that even if there was a Saul/Paul that there is not way to verify if any of his “writings” were indeed his writings?

    For example : Where is it, Corinthians? where it says a woman should not teach . . . is it possible to consider that maybe just maybe Paul did not say that, maybe even said, ‘What? A woman should not teach?’ . . . with the intent that he is questioning others who say they should not teach.

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  242. Nope, I was laughing at your comment to Arch. I saw the grammar but if I commented on that I’d throw myself into the lion’s den. I’d get it two-fold in return. 😀

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  243. @Laurie, Nate, and Howie
    On the Matthew 5:18 passage, I agree that it is more difficult for my position. I do think Jesus was a supporter and practitioner of the law. The key question for Christians to ask is, what does the cross and resurrection means for the law? How does it augment things? Paul thinks that the cross and resurrection make the law unnecessary which is most clearly stated in Ephesians 2. And, the author of Hebrews (which most modern scholars do not think was Paul) also thinks that the cross and the resurrection make the law unnecessary and this is interpreted from the New Covenant prophecy (Hebrews 8). The author of Mark even thought that Jesus had declared all foods kosher. So, there are a variety of witnesses who see Jesus’ authority and work on earth as bringing some sort of New Covenant with God that does not include practicing Torah. Even though these authors had this interpretation, we have to ask what did Jesus himself think? It’s a difficult passage for my position, so I’ll definitely be looking into it more.

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  244. I’d love to get drunk but I find it depressing.” – Me too! Luckily, I only drink when I’m depressed —

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  245. LOL I’ll spare you the explanation.” – you’re in a sparing mood today, maybe I can finally catch a break!

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  246. “just maybe Paul did not say that”

    Zoe, from what I understand, based on writing styles, it is suspected that there were other writers other than Paul.

    ——–

    Will the real Paul stand up?

    “Ehrman reserves most of his scrutiny for the writings of Paul, which make up the bulk of the New Testament. He says that only about half of the New Testament letters attributed to Paul – 7 of 13 – were actually written by him.

    Paul’s remaining books are forgeries, Ehrman says. His proof: inconsistencies in the language, choice of words and blatant contradiction in doctrine.

    For example, Ehrman says the book of Ephesians doesn’t conform to Paul’s distinctive Greek writing style. He says Paul wrote in short, pointed sentences while Ephesians is full of long Greek sentences (the opening sentence of thanksgiving in Ephesians unfurls a sentence that winds through 12 verses, he says).

    “There’s nothing wrong with extremely long sentences in Greek; it just isn’t the way Paul wrote. It’s like Mark Twain and William Faulkner; they both wrote correctly, but you would never mistake the one for the other,” Ehrman writes.

    The scholar also points to a famous passage in 1 Corinthians in which Paul is recorded as saying that women should be “silent” in churches and that “if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.”

    Only three chapters earlier, in the same book, Paul is urging women who pray and prophesy in church to cover their heads with veils, Ehrman says: “If they were allowed to speak in chapter 11, how could they be told not to speak in chapter 14?”

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/13/half-of-new-testament-forged-bible-scholar-says/

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  247. May I suggest, Zoe, that you read Forged, a book by biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman? He suggests that at least 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus were forged letters, intended to appear as though they were written by Paul.

    Often, as one studies the history of the Bible (and other literature of the time, as well), it will be seen that authors who have something they feel is essential to say, will write it, but knowing that no one is going to read anything by “Sam Lipshitz,” will instead sign it by a more famous author’s name, since the message to them, was more important than an author’s credit.

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  248. @Dave

    Sorry I was a bit too vague. Last time I addressed this same question which was several months ago, I found there were so many distracters that I almost shouldn’t have said anything at all. But, that’s good though because I can express my thoughts better (hopefully).

    I don’t think you need to make any assumptions as in an academic discourse or the foundation of a philosophical argument. Nor, do you need to state axioms as in a mathematical proof. This sounds more like presuppositionalism (the idea that you must presuppose God’s existence to have a coherent view of the world) which I’m sure we BOTH reject. I also find the other pillar of apologetics, evidentialism, to be almost as elusive. Think of all those apologists throwing rational arguments at you saying you should believe in God. All arguments are flawed because the human condition is one of imperfect knowledge and there is no escape. Before I go on I would add one more thing: the idea that there is a most rational belief (i.e., about God or politics or something) is a myth. Whatever is viewed as “most rational” is ultimately a construct. The truth is to generate your worldview you will have to make a grand subjective judgment, and that is just part of being human.

    I can see that you have judged the bible to be man-made or at least these arguments are a huge concern for it being divinely inspired. I am sympathetic to this and these things drove me to atheism. Looking back I can see how I got there. Part of the problem is a lack of understanding of the cultural realities of when certain texts were written. But, even when we are generous with culture, there will still appear to be problems with our modern sensibility. I think all of these problems converge on the problem of evil. How you view the problem of evil will influence what you think is “reasonable” and how you see the bible. If you are leaning towards the Judeo-Christian deity cannot exist, then you will see problems as being worse than someone who leans towards the other side. So, I think the deepest question you’ve got to answer is whether or not it’s possible for God to be good. If the answer is no, then you won’t want this deity to exist and any sort of argument against this deity will be more convincing.

    From the beginning of monotheism the problem of evil was central. If you think God’s creative power and intelligence can be inferred from the universe, you still have to wonder where all the evil comes from. The Adam and Eve myth say it is a curse from God. Even if the story is largely allegorical, this may well be a divine truth. But, if you accept this much, you’ve still got to deal with a personal problem of evil as well. It is the question of God’s moral character. That’s what Abraham dealt with. Abraham wasn’t wondering if God existed, rather whether God was trustworthy given the state of the universe.

    Ultimately I’m suggesting to you that to view anything is divinely inspired is a complicated journey and starts deeper than tertiary analyses like “the bible appears man-made”. There are many many more issues that what I just talked about, but it’s getting long at this point, so I’ll stop. I’ll be curious to see your thoughts.

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  249. So you drink all night and don’t get drunk? Interesting.

    I thought I once explained that in an email, possibly not. Of the many, MANY fascinating things I’ve done in my life, I once worked for a time as a bartender in a strip joint Gentleman’s Club (show of hands – who’s surprised?). The bar owner had been the bartender, before he bought the club from the previous owner – he then hired me to tend bar. Surprisingly, he wanted me to drink on the job – he felt that psychologically, it subliminally encouraged customers to drink more if the bartender always had a glass in his hand – who was I to argue?. He taught me to put a small amount in the bottom, for the flavor, and fill the rest with ice and soda, allowing me to drink all night and never really feel it. I still follow his tried and true advice.

    And to be honest – if I MUST – I haven’t had a drink of anything alcoholic in two weeks, and it’ll be yet another week before I’m anywhere near a liquor store – it’s performance art, SweetCheeks —

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  250. I DO know her goats are milk-goats, Nan, as opposed to meat-goats – though I wouldn’t venture a guess as to what they do with the rams. They probably end up smoking on a stone alter somewhere so that her g-d can “smell the sweet savor“.

    Which reminds me, Shazam – sorry, Shabat, will be over in a few hours, she should be back then to respond to all questions with answers straight from the smoking mountain.

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  251. “altar” – clearly spell-check doesn’t check for context, only spelling, which is likely why it’s never called context-check. (heavy sigh)

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  252. Thanks Victoria & Arch. I am familiar with Ehrman. I’ve read Misquoting Jesus and Peter, Paul & Mary Magdaline; The Followers Of Jesus In History And Legend. As well, familiar with his stuff via various blogs. Only a moment to spare right now.

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  253. …presuppositionalism (the idea that you must presuppose God’s existence to have a coherent view of the world) which I’m sure we BOTH reject.” vs “The truth is to generate your worldview you will have to make a grand subjective judgment, and that is just part of being human.

    And exactly how do you feel these differ?

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  254. Hey all, it’s after 9:30 p.m here and I’ve just had a chance to go through all the comments since this a.m. I ask ya – who needs TV? This blog thread is entertainment enough!!
    . .. .big ol’ heathen smile. . .

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  255. Hi Brandon,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond further. I am trying to understand your line of reasoning and right now my understanding is this: Rather than assuming a god exists philosophically, you are saying that IF one did exist we should start by asking ourselves if this god could be considered good given the problem of evil and that this mental exercise will expose any biases we may have. Am I correct so far?

    Well, let’s say for a minute that the problem of evil did not exist. Aren’t we still at a standstill on the question of determining whether some text is divinely inspired or not?

    I’m suggesting to you that we have no way of knowing whether a text is divinely inspired or not. Unless someone here is in direct communication with the deity “out there”, we have no way of knowing what that deity might say. Would this deity contradict itself? Maybe, maybe not. We don’t know. However, we do know a lot about humans and human nature and my statement “the bible appears man-made” is not based on a trivial analysis, but an in-depth analysis. I wonder if you would accept that the burden of proof is on you to show that the books in the bible are anything other than purely man-made. Especially since I would assume that you think all the other texts and scriptures in the world are man-made.

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  256. I ask ya – who needs TV?

    “Days Of Our Lives,” “All My Children” and “As the World Turns” – a virtual trinity of entertainment, with a little “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” thrown in for laughs.

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  257. Ruth

    “Why would any of the disciples attempt to covertly expose Paul as a false prophet? Why wouldn’t they just come right out and say it given the gravity of the situation in terms of allowing oneself to be deceived?”

    Because Paul’s new religion was growing so fast, Luke probably new his book would eventually be destroyed if it didn’t fit in with his theology. When the bible was canonized, some books made the cut and others didn’t. Martin Luther also fought to remove books from the canon. In his 1522 bible he placed James, Jude, Revelation, and Hebrews at the back with a detailed discription of why they were not inspired. Basically because he felt that they went against Paul’s writings.

    If he did come right out and say it, would we still have that book today? Maybe, but not likely.

    Arch, it is called a buck, not a ram, and no we don’t eat them.

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  258. Brandon
    “The key question for Christians to ask is, what does the cross and resurrection means for the law? How does it augment things? Paul thinks that the cross and resurrection make the law unnecessary which is most clearly stated in Ephesians 2. And, the author of Hebrews (which most modern scholars do not think was Paul) also thinks that the cross and the resurrection make the law unnecessary and this is interpreted from the New Covenant prophecy (Hebrews 8).”

    We have been through this, quite painfully I might add, with Kathy already. As much as I hate to beat a dead horse, the plan of redemption for mankind is layed out in the 7 feasts, and had not been finished yet. In fact, it won’t be finished until the 1000 years of peace are over. I can give you scripture to back that up. I can even give you scripture that shows Messiah Will rebuild the temple and continue to offer sacrifices to YHWH during this time. The new covenant has not happened yet. Until everyone knows YHWH and you don’t have to teach your neighbor about him, this hasn’t taken place. After the feasts are fulfilled, the plan of redemption will be finished and the restoration of all things will take place.

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  259. And *has* not been finished.

    I’m kinda surprised that Kathy left?!? Did anyone else think she would continue on to the open discussion?

    Good night all!

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  260. it is called a buck, not a ram, and no we don’t eat them.” – I did not know that goats shared a terminology with deer – I will file that away in my repository of knowledge, or as Victoria tell me, suppository —

    I didn’t suggest you ate them – I rather envisioned you sacrificing them on stone altars, while mumbling some mumbo-jumbo.

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  261. As much as I hate to beat a dead horse” – that’s a lot more fun than you might think!

    Until everyone knows YHWH and you don’t have to teach your neighbor about him, this hasn’t taken place.” – That could take awhile – among the more highly educated, he’s drawing a smaller crowd every year, so I guess the trick is to keep the Catholics overbreeding.

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  262. Did anyone else think she would continue on to the open discussion?

    I thought that possibly she might, but wasn’t surprised that she didn’t. She’d had nearly three months to convince us of something, anything, and she was further from that goal than when she started. Also, she was in over her head in both religion and politics, largely because she declines to read anything that doesn’t agree with her. And lastly, Paul Williams knew things about her she’d rather we never learned.

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  263. And then too, Nate – bless his little pea-pickin’ heart – didn’t exactly invite her to come on down!

    So thanks for your time, Kathy! Take care.” – I have fired people, using almost those exact same words.

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  264. “You realize, I trust, Dave, that the Bible’s flood story was plagiarized from an actual Mesopotamian flood, in 2900 BCE, that flooded an area equivalent to three counties, to a depth of 15 cubits (22.5 ft.), when the Euphrates River overflowed its banks.”

    Arch, if only I had known this years ago when I was still a christian, perhaps I wouldn’t have donated to the ark encounter project. I don’t suppose they’d give me my money back now …

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  265. Good morning everybody!

    Laurie,

    You’ll forgive me for being…ambivalent about this response?

    Because Paul’s new religion was growing so fast, Luke probably new his book would eventually be destroyed if it didn’t fit in with his theology. When the bible was canonized, some books made the cut and others didn’t. Martin Luther also fought to remove books from the canon. In his 1522 bible he placed James, Jude, Revelation, and Hebrews at the back with a detailed discription of why they were not inspired. Basically because he felt that they went against Paul’s writings.

    The author of Acts wasn’t writing a book per se. I don’t get a sense that the author thought his letter to Theophilus, whoever that was, would ever be a part of a broader canon. Perhaps because there was no canon at the time? Are you suggesting that the author saw into the future that there would be a canon? And that this canon would be centered around the teachings of Paul?

    Why would, if Paul was the false prophet, the author not seek to shut the movement down instead of allowing it to grow? There was much disagreement, as has been documented, among early Christians. It wasn’t a cohesive, unified, organization. Why not set the record straight, once and for all?

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  266. I’d also like to know how and why people like Luther considered themselves authorities on what was and wasn’t inspired? He believed that reason could not lead people to God and that the only way you could learn about God was through divine revelation.

    If you look at this through a neurological lens, what Luther was saying was that in order to know God you must deactivate or atrophy most of the neural circuitry in the newest part of your brain.

    I should add, Luther had disdain for the Jews and called them “the Devil’s people”. Like Hitler, he believed they should be slain.

    So Paul believed he had divine revelation and Luther did as well. How do modern day believers discern?

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  267. I don’t suppose they’d give me my money back now …
    I kinda doubt it, Dave – see, that was your problem, even if they’d found it, what do you got? – a bunch of old, rotten wood and fossilized animal manure. Now I donate to the UFO Encounter Project, and when they finally find one, I get free saucer rides and rectal probes – it’s where ALL the smart money’s going —

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  268. Check out the part in Gilgamesh, Dave, where old Utinapishtim disemb-arks and offers a sacrifice – he said that the gods swarmed around it like flies, when they “smelled the sweet savor.” Then check out Gen 8:21: “And the Lord smelled the sweet savor….” – they didn’t even bother to change the wording.

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  269. “I get free saucer rides and rectal probes. .. ” Guffaw!!

    Just WHERE do you get this stuff, arch?

    Oh, MY. . . .hand slap to desk. .. 🙂

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  270. Good morning everybody!” – Bah! Humbug! And most importantly, Bazzfazz!

    …Theophilus, whoever that was</em" – there have been a couple of actual, historical people named Theophilus, but it may also have been metaphorical, as "Theophilus," in Greek, literally means, "friend of god."

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  271. Messiah spoke a lot about the evil shepards who would lead his people away. I believe that at the time this was written Paul’s group was growing pretty rapidly, and could have been concern over his letter being discarded by the enemy. At this point the only people who were going to benefit from his letter, were people following Paul. There was already a lot of discussion over the false apostles at this time. John the revelator recorded that those is Ephesus found out who those false apostles were. Then Paul says “all those in Asia have turned away from me”. Ephesus wad the capital of Asia. So now it makes great sense, that Paul would call the true apostles false brethren in Galatians 2 and 2 Corinthians 11. He was constantly calling attention to HIS new gospel. If anyone preaches a different gospel or a different Jesus’s, let him be accursed.

    Interesting how Paul cursed people, and delivered them to Satan for the tormenting of the flesh. He believed that a messenger of Satan was sent to keep him from being prideful, a thorn in his flesh. So according to Paul, Lucifer works for YHWH.

    Yes, Luther was very anti-Semitic. He got that from Paul, who called his people The mutilators. It was a lot easier to deceive the goyim then the Jews, so he became hostile to his people.

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  272. Messiah spoke a lot about the evil shepards who would lead his people away.”

    Laurie, do you consider us evil? We have no shepherds, and neither do we consider ourselves shepherds, yet we have discussions that have caused people to question their once unquestioned faith in the god of Abraham.

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  273. No! The scriptures ate very symbolic, a wicked shepard is someone who claims to serve YHWH like the Pharisees, but is teaching false doctrine. The same goes for a wolf in sheep’s clothing, looks like a sheep (follower of the Way) but isn’t. A woman represents a church, if its dressed in white (or called the bride) it is describing the true church, and if it is scarlet, it represents the false church (which is most common). This can be seen all through out scripture, but is most prominent in the Revelation.

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  274. Laurie, thanks for your clarification. I am curious though. How do you discern which scriptures are divinely inspired and which are not? And there is this issue with the Pentateuch. Even conservative Rabbis states that they are works of fiction.

    Rabbi David Wolpe:

    “The rejection of the Bible as literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis.”

    Professor Magen Broshi, head Archaeologist at the Israel Museum:

    “I think there is no serious scholar in Israel or in the world who does not accept this position. Archaeologists simply do not take the trouble of bringing their discoveries to public attention.”

    World’s leading biblical archaeologist, Prof. Ze’ev Herzog, states::

    “The patriarchs’ acts are legendary stories. The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.”

    Source

    ———————————

    Another question: I know you don’t believe in hell. But do you believe that someone who doesn’t believe in YHWH or submits to and obeys your god is destine to the same fate as those you label wicked and evil?

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  275. Arch, the ark encounter project is not a search for the ark, it’s ken ham’s project to build a life size ark in kentucky. (I’m embarrassed to admit it now but I used to be a big fan of AIG). Supposedly contributors get their name on a plaque or something. If they ever get it built ill have to sneak on and cross my name out. Your much better off investing in flying saucer rides.

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  276. @Howie:

    You’re certainly right that Christians don’t all agree on what the universal moral law should be. In fact, the biggest issue facing the church today is the question of gay marriage, and there are Christians on both sides. But, even if we disagree about what the law should be, we agree there is a law.

    Looking back I wish I had a better term than “anti-Paul sect” because that does sound like I’m assuming too much about Laurie’s views. It was intended to reference the idea that Paul was false and since this is breaking off of mainstream Christianity it meets the sociological definition of a sect. There’s probably a better way to refer to this specific idea. And, maybe Laurie should be the one to decide what it is instead of me. 🙂

    Unity is really important to me too, and unfortunately Christianity is rife with ugly disputes over doctrine. This was a huge turnoff for me all of my life from being in a fundamentalist home until deconverting and even now. I applaud the peaceful environment that the Unitarian Universalists have created, but it seems the cost is quite significant. At least from my perspective (and I could be wrong) their assembly can never be a substantive confession of faith, so they must drain the essence of religions and make them look like inspirational literature, virtually as fictional novels. Maybe that’s what religions should be if they are all false.

    A confession of faith by nature is a breaking away with the whole of humanity who don’t believe. Some postmodern thinkers have gone as far as to suggest that any truth claim at all is essentially hostile and militating. I happen to think there’s something true about this, but it doesn’t need to change how we view and treat each other. Christians can express ecumenism, interfaith respect, and promote an environment of inquiry and spiritual growth, in other words, without mind control and authoritative decrees. But, here in Murica we tend to hear about the scandals, the hate, the tribalism, the cultures wars, the anti-intellectualism, the petty infighting and so on. I wish this wasn’t the case. No matter how different our beliefs are from other groups, Christians should primarily be governed by love for our neighbors.

    I’m just thinking out loud at this point!

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  277. Laurie, way back before we got on the subject of spanking, I posted a couple of questions for you and I don’t think you ever answered. I could be mistaken as you have posted numerous scriptures and comments about your beliefs, but I don’t feel my particular ones were addressed. I could be mistaken and if so, perhaps you can point me to your answer? Thx.

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  278. Dave, you remember that little window that was on the ark? There was only one on the heavenly blueprints (Gen 6:16), and it was only 1 cubit (18 inches) square, and closed for the majority of the time.

    8:5, “And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.”

    Are you keeping count? They have now been cooped up for eight months, with either two or seven, depending on whom you believe, of every animal in the world.

    8:6, “And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:”

    So if you’re not too busy, let’s talk for a moment about cows.

    Cows munch mostly grass and hay – yet they grow big and hefty. Why? Because of the rumen, the first and largest of a cow’s four stomachs. The rumen holds 160 liters (42 gallons) of food and billions of microbes. These microscopic bacteria and protozoa (single-celled organisms that reproduce by dividing) break down cellulose (plant-wall substance) and fiber into digestible nutrients. “A cow couldn’t live without its microbes,” says animal nutrition expert Dr. Floyd Byers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    But as the microbes digest cellulose, they release methane. The process, called enteric fermentation, occurs in all animals with a rumen (cows, sheep, and goats, for example), and it makes them very gassy.

    “It’s part of their normal digestion process,” says Tom Wirth of the EPA. “When they chew their cud, they regurgitate some food to rechew it, and all this gas comes out.”

    The average cow expels 600 liters – 157 gallons – of methane gas per day, climate researchers report. Let me repeat that, just so I can be sure you understand – one cow – ONE, count ’em, ONE! – produces 157 gallons of methane each day. Assuming a 28-30 day month, let’s go with 28, just to be on the conservative side – over the 9-month, ten-day voyage, one single cow on board would have produced six thousand, eighty-six point forty-seven cubic feet of methane gas! And we know that there were either one or seven pairs of cattle on board. Assuming only one pair – again, to be conservative – that’s still 12,172.947 cubic feet of methane gas, just for the two cows!

    We have no way of knowing how many other species of animals there were on board – by all indications, thousands!

    Now the ark, by this god’s own blueprints (Genesis, 6:15) was three hundred cubits long, by fifty cubits wide, by thirty cubits deep – translated, assuming a cubit to be the standard definition’s eighteen inches, that means the ark was 450 feet long, by 75 feet wide, by 45 feet deep – basically the size of a small ocean liner. Volume-wise (450 X 75 X 45), that amounts to an entire volume of 1,518,750 cubic feet.

    Now the ark would have been built to be water-tight throughout a forty-day (and night) deluge, and water-tight means airtight. That means that it would have taken less than 250 such animals to completely fill the ark with methane gas in less than the time the ark was closed up.

    With only one window, on a boat that large, and it, closed for the entire nine months and ten days – the ark was dark – that was one dark ark. I mean, without a window, in an air-tight ark, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

    But surely they had lanterns, didn’t they? Or at least candles?

    Have you ever heard of a kid holding a lit match near his rear end, to see if the gas in his fart will light? Trust me, it will, but I’ve been assured that the hair will grow back. Methane is one of the most flammable gasses on the planet. Check with your friendly neighborhood meth dealer if you don’t believe me.

    Had I not already known about the other Mesopotamian flood stories, but written hundreds of years earlier, from which this one was clearly copied, the 9-month, 10-day buildup of methane, and the 9-month, 10-day enforced blackout, would have been enough to convince me this story never happened, and if we can’t believe the Bible, well, where would we be?

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  279. @Dave

    “Rather than assuming a god exists philosophically, you are saying that IF one did exist we should start by asking ourselves if this god could be considered good given the problem of evil and that this mental will expose any biases we may have. Am I correct so far?”
    Yes, especially as an ex-Christian, if your deconversion looked anything like mine, arguments like Hitchens’ God is Not Good are powerful. When I did not think God could be good, I did not want to believe and this made me biased against the religious impulse. Suddenly I could see no evidence. Anyhow, I think an ex-Christian must start with thinking it’s at least possible that God is good. Like, how can God order genocide and be good? How can God order gay sex offenders to be stoned? If you can’t even imagine there being theodicy, then the question of divine inspiration is probably irrelevant.

    “Well, let’s say for a minute that the problem of evil did not exist. Aren’t we still at a standstill on the question of determining whether some text is divinely inspired or not?”
    Yes, I agree with you here.

    “. . . we have no way of knowing whether a text is divinely inspired or not.”
    I think this is true. We have no epistemological ground for knowing whether a text is divinely inspired. Neither do we have epistemological ground for knowing why matter, space, and time exist which ought to disturb us! If you’re going to believe anything about these two problems, it will be subjective judgment. You can call it “rational” and it will be rational for you. You might say that your rational analysis suggests the bible is not divinely inspired and your rational analysis of why anything exists is just admitting you don’t know. But, we adopt our rational principles on a subjective basis. There is no objective criterion for determining what is divinely inspired just like there is no objective criterion for determining why things exist. There is a criterion for determining if an Ebola vaccine works, that is simply empirically observing that it works! But, the question of divine inspiration is different.

    “I wonder if you would accept that the burden of proof is on you to show that the books in the bible are anything other than purely man-made.”
    I don’t think you would ever agree with my criteria and you shouldn’t if you are an atheist. For you to think that scripture is divinely inspired you would have to think that God exists and for you to think that God exists, I’m guessing you would need to think that God is good.

    Do you agree with any of this, or do you think I’m way out in left field? 🙂

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  280. @Laurie

    “We have been through this. . .”
    I wasn’t there for this. So, you can show me what you’re talking about. But, it sounds like you are going to have to reject Hebrews on top of Mark, Luke, Acts, the Pauline epistles, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter. Does that not disturb you a little?

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  281. @Laurie,

    I’ve read those Galatians and 2 Corinthians passages a few times in the past few days and I’m not seeing that Paul is really naming the false apostles he is speaking of. It’s hard to tell who they were at all from those passages, and Galations 2:9 and surrounding verses seems to indicate that he is very likely not talking about James, Peter and John (at least those 3 are named in a positive way). The people he was talking about could have been from some other group since there were several splinter groups at that time. How do you know who he is talking about when he says “false apostles” or “false brothers”?

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  282. Laurie,

    “We have been through this, quite painfully I might add, with Kathy already. As much as I hate to beat a dead horse, the plan of redemption for mankind is layed out in the 7 feasts, and had not been finished yet. ”

    Laurie, I’ve been following your debate with Brandon.

    You never adequately answered my question/ point Laurie.. it’s not a “dead horse”.. Your beliefs claim that God had His Son suffer and die on the cross as part the “7 feasts plan”.. His sacrifice was a “step” in that plan. By contrast, Paul is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice IS the plan. You put Jesus in the background, Paul puts Jesus and His love for us in the forefront. You claim that what Jesus did on the cross is not enough to save us.. Paul said that what He did is the ONLY way we can be saved.

    Your beliefs mean people who are saved deserve credit for their salvation.. that it isn’t all owed to Him. Paul is stating that we owe it all to Him. We are not capable of saving ourselves by following the law.. it’s impossible.

    You focus on a few choice scriptures to support your claims about Paul, but you ignore the overall context.. all the other scriptures that don’t support your interpretations of those few.

    Brandon’s been giving you good points, especially this one:

    “The key question for Christians to ask is, what does the cross and resurrection means for the law? How does it augment things? Paul thinks that the cross and resurrection make the law unnecessary which is most clearly stated in Ephesians 2.”

    Jesus isn’t a “step” in the plan. By His own words, He came to fulfill the law.. (the plan).

    Suggesting anything less isn’t reasonable.. it doesn’t come close to explaining how God would allow His Son to suffer.

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  283. I had heard that CocoaPuffs was back:

    Words that Kathy Doesn’t Understand

    1. Objectivity
    2. Proof
    3. Fact
    4. Evidence
    5. Compelling
    6. Debate
    7. Truth
    8. Hearsay
    9. Analogy
    10. Obfuscate
    11. Logical
    12. Context
    13. Circular Reasoning
    14. Bias

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  284. Hey, hey, before this turns into another “Kathy-bashing” session, let’s give her a chance. To her credit, her comment to Laurie was very reasonable and specific.

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  285. Brandon, there were several things in your last comment to Dave that I’d like to discuss in a bit more detail.

    Yes, especially as an ex-Christian, if your deconversion looked anything like mine, arguments like Hitchens’ God is Not Good are powerful. When I did not think God could be good, I did not want to believe and this made me biased against the religious impulse. Suddenly I could see no evidence.

    This was not my experience, though it may have been for others here. For a very long time, I believed in a literal Hell, and my idea of a True Christian ™ didn’t include most people who called themselves one. It was a horrible set of beliefs, and it weighed on me heavily. Yet I still believed it. My deconversion didn’t come from what I wanted to be true, but from seeing that many of the things I had held to be true didn’t have the kind of evidence I’d thought they did.

    In fact, I had pretty much given up the idea that Christianity could be true before the problem of evil really started to resonate with me. And to be honest, the problem of evil doesn’t make me more certain that no god exits — it just makes me more certain that no omnipotent, omnibenevolent god exists.

    Anyhow, I think an ex-Christian must start with thinking it’s at least possible that God is good. Like, how can God order genocide and be good? How can God order gay sex offenders to be stoned? If you can’t even imagine there being theodicy, then the question of divine inspiration is probably irrelevant.

    You may be right about this, but how does one do it? How can we reconcile genocide and the “good” label? It’s said that God is beyond our comprehension, and I’m willing to entertain that notion. But “good” is not beyond my comprehension, nor is “genocide.” I know what those terms mean, and I don’t know of a way to make them fit together without contradiction.

    We have no epistemological ground for knowing whether a text is divinely inspired. Neither do we have epistemological ground for knowing why matter, space, and time exist which ought to disturb us! If you’re going to believe anything about these two problems, it will be subjective judgment. You can call it “rational” and it will be rational for you. You might say that your rational analysis suggests the bible is not divinely inspired and your rational analysis of why anything exists is just admitting you don’t know. But, we adopt our rational principles on a subjective basis. There is no objective criterion for determining what is divinely inspired just like there is no objective criterion for determining why things exist. There is a criterion for determining if an Ebola vaccine works, that is simply empirically observing that it works! But, the question of divine inspiration is different.

    Why is it different? As you say, we can determine if an Ebola vaccine is effective through observation. And through many of these observations we can form a larger, cohesive picture of a particular thing: like the germ theory of disease. While we may not be able to jump from that to the biggest question of all (why is there anything?), there’s still an awful lot in between that we can come to terms with. For instance, most of us here would feel very confident that science will never use “fairies” as an explanation for anything, right? Because in all of the repeatable observations that have been made over the centuries, we’ve established that there’s a natural order to things. There’s no reason for us to think that’s suddenly going to change.

    So when it comes to whether or not we have an inspired text, is it really true that we can’t make any reasonable judgments? We already know what man-made texts look like: ancient ones rely on superstition and magic, they mirror the ethical and moral values of their time (male dominated, ethnocentric), they contain scientific and historical mistakes, they sometimes contradict themselves, etc. However, man-made texts can also be very insightful, inspiring, and revolutionary. So is it unreasonable to look at something like the Bible and conclude that it’s also man-made?

    I agree with you that we have no objective standard to point to and say “this is what a divinely-inspired text looks like.” But we have a limitless supply of texts to look at that were not divinely inspired, and I think that’s a pretty good basis for making a judgment here.

    I don’t imagine that any of these points are revolutionary, so I’m not trying to use them as “gotchas,” just trying to see how you’ve thought through them.

    Thanks 🙂

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  286. @Nate

    “This was not my experience, though it may have been for others here. For a very long time, I believed in a literal Hell, and my idea of a True Christian ™ didn’t include most people who called themselves one. It was a horrible set of beliefs, and it weighed on me heavily. Yet I still believed it. My deconversion didn’t come from what I wanted to be true, but from seeing that many of the things I had held to be true didn’t have the kind of evidence I’d thought they did.

    In fact, I had pretty much given up the idea that Christianity could be true before the problem of evil really started to resonate with me. And to be honest, the problem of evil doesn’t make me more certain that no god exits — it just makes me more certain that no omnipotent, omnibenevolent god exists.”

    What you said resonates a lot with me as well. Problem of evil didn’t really come in until rather late in the game. TBH, problem of evil will not be a problem with Christians at all since they have faith that all things happened for a purpose and ultimately everything will be good. In fact, one of the rationalization i had for the suffering of the world is that there will be bliss in eternity, so whatever suffering you have is just a blink of an eye.

    (just to digress a little bit, I have sometime wondered if God doesn’t care about short-term suffering because of this, as he is too macro. One example is the fact that Jesus said he’ll be back in a little while – but obviously 2000 years later he’s still not back. So perhaps God has no sense of time because he is timeless)

    Anyway, the biggest issue I had is this – bible contradictions. This is a huge problem imo, more so than the problem of evil. If I cannot even trust what God says about himself, how can I trust what he says about the problem of evil?

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  287. Nan,

    Sorry about that, some nights (like tonight) there are so many questions asked that I feel overwhelmed and can’t answer them all. I’m am going to bed, so I can’t quote you scripture right now, but I will give you the short answers to your questions.

    The messiah does fit the bill in every way. I will explain this when I get to Kathy.

    The Jews do expect tribulation. It is prophecied in Isaiah, and Zechariah. I’ll post those scriptures later.

    The Jews don’t believe in a rapture because the Tanakh says the meek will inherit the earth, and YHWH will dwell here on earth with us. It is Paul that says we will be caught up in the air to meet him and so will we ever be with the Lord.

    Sorry for the quick post. Hope that helped some.

    Like

  288. “To her credit, her comment to Laurie was very reasonable and specific.”

    I guess I don’t see it? I’m actually getting pretty frustrated.

    This is the last time I’m going to attempt this. If you don’t understand this time, you’ll have to flip to the begining of your bible and read it yourself. I promise, this huge portion of scripture wasn’t written so it could be thrown away when Paul came along.

    The feasts of YHWH are His anointed times. These were commanded by Him… for us …to keep for as long as this earth is here.

    The feasts are each about Messiah, not one, but all of them. The sacrifice has been completed, but the redemption is not finished yet.

    Hosea tells us that YHWH’s salvation comes to us like the rain, the former and the latter rain. This is a reference to the Holy Feasts of YHWH. The spring feasts (former rain) and the fall feasts (latter rain).

    If salvation was here, and finished, why outs there still sin and sorrow? Now you can answer my questions.

    I’m not cherry picking scripture here. For every verse you can provide that says YHWH’s law will be abolished, I will provide 10 verses that say it won’t.

    Like

  289. Matthew 10:17
    Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues.

    oh, LOL, she always comes back, Kathy is like herpes. you can’t get rid of it.

    nate, and the rest, if you think for one second Kathy is back to get some understanding,
    or to make a valid point, you are sadly mistaken.

    she is only here to disrupt, it’s just a matter of minutes before she starts her nonsense with you all again. I’ve seen this hundreds of times.
    it is her M.O., her trick, her manipulation,
    she does this all of the time.

    don’t fall for it. just ignore her.
    you have already given her a platform via Kathy part 1 thru 5.
    where did that get you?

    Laurie said, ” I guess I don’t see it? I’m actually getting pretty frustrated.”

    right on Luke Warm, that is Kathy’s point, to frustrate, to annoy.
    don’t fall for her trick. that’s what she counts on.
    she’s playing a game with you.
    she orgasms over screwing with the “liberals”.

    portal, arch, nate, loving red dead redemption.
    one of the best games I’ve ever played.

    Like

  290. Kathy @kayms99 · Sep 19

    @greggutfeld @oreillyfactor Gee.. I wonder if she’s a liberal.. #cantstoplibbashing #theydeserveit

    here is empirical evidence of what I’m saying, Kathy’s only motivation is bashing liberals. in her own words on twitter, look for yourself, Kathy sez:

    hashtag, “can’t stop lib bashing”,
    hashtag, “they deserve it.”

    I’ve proven my point, all she want to do is bash you.

    you should all tell this lib basher to go fuck off.

    Like

  291. Paul, I understand your anger and you are certainly enlightening us as to specifics, but c’mon – let’s be civil, eh?

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  292. Carmen, I dont’ believe in being civil to the enemy.
    I’m not going to be polite and make nice to someone that wants to deny me my own “civil rights”

    Kathy compares homosexuality (that would be me and my friends and loved ones) to bestiality and pedophilia,
    soooooo…….indeed she can go “F’ off!”

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  293. Kathy,

    it’s good to hear from you again. I’m glad we have this chance to start over and perhaps have a more cordial and productive discussion.

    you said,

    “You never adequately answered my question/ point Laurie.. it’s not a “dead horse”.. Your beliefs claim that God had His Son suffer and die on the cross as part the “7 feasts plan”.. His sacrifice was a “step” in that plan. By contrast, Paul is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice IS the plan. You put Jesus in the background, Paul puts Jesus and His love for us in the forefront. You claim that what Jesus did on the cross is not enough to save us.. Paul said that what He did is the ONLY way we can be saved.”

    If I may, I think that you and laurie aren’t that far apart.

    You say that jesus’ death is the only step, yet you dont think that every soul that has ever lived and will ever live is going to be saved, correct? You believe that in order to be saved a person must do something, not in order to earn their salvation, but in order to accept god’s grace, correct? If no one had to do anything, then everyone, even infidels like us, would all still go to heaven.

    Sort of like a drowning person reaching out and grabbing the lifeline that was thrown to them. Did the drowning person save themselves? did they earn their salvation from the water? Or were they saved by the people who threw out the lifeline, but in order to be saved by it, the drowning person had to reach for and grab it?

    So, you may say that person grabs the lifeline that god threw you (in the form of jesus’ death) by believing in and acknowledging his divine nature, other christians believe that they grab that line through baptism or whatever else, and laurie (if i am understanding her correctly) is saying that she is saved by grace, through reaching for the lifeline by following the law, etc.

    So to me, I think most people believe there are qualifiers that are needed to obtain god’s grace and mercy and salvation – though none of them claim that by doing what’s required actually “earns” their salvation.

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  294. Paul, I hear you – I honestly do. I also agree that anyone who holds the kind of animosity to LGBTQ people need to go in a certain direction. I just think it’s a tad more civil to say ‘eff’ than spelling it out.

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  295. Hi Brandon,

    As Nate mentioned, I think that making a comparison between the big question of why time, space and matter exist and the Bible is an unfair comparison. We have millions of examples of how human’s think and what humans write and we also have physical copies of the Bible to look at. On the flip side, we don’t get to observe universes starting so we have nothing to compare to.

    So when it comes to whether or not we have an inspired text, is it really true that we can’t make any reasonable judgments? We already know what man-made texts look like: ancient ones rely on superstition and magic, they mirror the ethical and moral values of their time (male dominated, ethnocentric), they contain scientific and historical mistakes, they sometimes contradict themselves, etc. However, man-made texts can also be very insightful, inspiring, and revolutionary. So is it unreasonable to look at something like the Bible and conclude that it’s also man-made? ~ Nate

    Well said Nate.

    Brandon, you sort of sidestepped my question about burden of proof. I understand your theory about a “most rational” belief not existing, but what about something simply being “more rational”?

    If you hear a noise in your house while in bed and it sounds like the footsteps of your dog, wouldn’t it be rational to think that it is your dog? You know what your dog sounds like, just as we know a lot about the writings of men and women. Your mate becomes concerned that a vampire is in the house and wants you to wear a garlic necklace. Is this less rational, more rational or equally rational?

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  296. Carmen, what is the difference?
    if I’m saying eff or fuck, it’s the same thing.
    everyone knows what eff means,
    so just not spelling it out somehow spares your delicate sensitivities?
    oh, how funny.

    after 5 Kathy blogs,
    if anyone hasn’t learned their lesson yet on what Kathy is doing,
    and continues to engage her, that person is an “effing idiot”.

    I do hope that makes it more palatable for you carmen.

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  297. in response to William, Kathy said:
    “I’ve got better more important things to do than play games on this blog with people who choose deliberate ignorance.”

    source: https://findingtruth.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/kathy-part-3/#comment-15750

    seriously you all, are you going to continue this insanity.
    shut her down,
    let her get on with those “more important things”

    she isn’t here to engage in polite discourse, she is here to “eff” with you.

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  298. “after 5 Kathy blogs,
    if anyone hasn’t learned their lesson yet on what Kathy is doing,
    and continues to engage her, that person is an “effing idiot”. – paul

    and you’re an effing idiot like rest of us, or, or we all know what kathy is doing, but we engage her anyways and will try to do so with empathy and try to do so with kindness. And even though she has shown herself previously to be unwilling to actually discuss things rationally and honestly, we choose to present rational and honest discussion to her for many reasons, one of which being that we all hope that one day she’ll be swayed by our chaste conversation.

    We wont be confused if she does not, but this is an exercise in patience and long suffering.

    If she does not come around, then i havent wasted my time. If you feel you’re wasting yours, then you may want to address that.

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  299. as long as her “effing” is in line with the discussion, and so far it is, i dont see a problem.

    But your point is well taken. I really dont mean to come off as short with you, because I certainly see where you’re coming from.

    But we can be more compassionate that she is. we can have mire understating than she has. If it doesnt dawn on her, then it should to others who may not even comment at all. Atheists and non-believers have more christian attributes than a self proclaimed christian. Whether kathy gets that point or not isnt the point.

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  300. @Paul – if that even IS Kathy and not someone commenting, using her name, clearly she’s being coached. Kathy hasn’t the intellectual capacity to compose such a comment, but since we’ve been admonished not to speak our minds, I’ll likely stay out of this one.

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  301. RE: “everyone, even infidels like us, would all still go to heaven” – Would that be the same “heaven,” William, that has to “pass away” before “all is fulfilled”?

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  302. who knows, arch, since we’re discussing make believe it’s easy for anyone make anything up to fill in the gaps.

    I could tell you, “sure,” but someone else would see a different shape in the same cloud and say, “no.”

    but i know you know that. I assume your question was rhetorical, but sometimes I like answering anyways.

    I like your name, by the way. I am fascinated with intermediary species. what knowledge do you have on intermediaries between reptile and mammal? i read a lot about them, but have seen any photos of the actual intermediaries that have supposedly been found.

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  303. I like your name, by the way.” – I chose it deliberately, as a way of saying, “in your face” to those theists why deny evolution on the grounds that there are no intermediate species. Everywhere else (thinkatheist.com, etc.), it simply “archaeopteryx,” and years ago, before I began my own blog, it was on WP as well. I was considering a WP account, and signed up for one as archaeopteryx, but found a format I liked better and went with it. Then, in the past year or so, having had friends on TA who also had their own blogs, WP blogs, I found it necessary to log back in to WP in order to comment on their blogs. Well, with all that time having passed, I must have forgotten the password I used, as WP wouldn’t allow me to log on. I tried applying again, using the same name, but was told that that username was already taken – yeah! by me! So I had to open a new account, under “archaeopteryx1.” You’d think that after the passage of a certain amount of time, without the name ever having been used ANYwhere, it would go back into the public domain, but noooo —

    From “actionbioscience“:

    Jaws to ears: An example of tracking missing links
    Mammals can be traced back to reptilian origins.

    The evolutionary route from reptile to mammal is known in detail. Between the Permian and Triassic periods, mammal-like reptiles evolved from basal forms that were fully reptilian. Through dozens of intermediate steps they evolved into mammals by the Late Triassic, some 225 million years ago. All the steps are evident in fossils: Jaws tell the story of reptile to mammal transition.

    * Step-by-step, palaeontologists can see the switch from peg-like reptilian teeth to the differentiated teeth of mammals (incisors, canines, molars).

    * Step-by-step the complex reptilian jaw, with five separate bones, changes to the mammalian jaw, with only one bone, the dentary.

    * In reptiles, both today and in the past, the jaw joint lies between the articular bone at the back of the lower jaw, and the quadrate bone in the skull.

    * In mammals, on the other hand, the jaw joint is between the dentary and the squamosal element of the skull.

    Most amazing of all is the evolutionary transition to the mammalian middle ear.

    * In reptiles, as in amphibians and fishes, there is a single hearing bone, the stapes, which is simply a straight rod that links the eardrum to the hearing structures of the inner ear and the brain.

    * Mammals, including humans, have three ear ossicles (small bones), the malleus, incus and stapes (or hammer, anvil, and stirrup).

    The evolutionary steps were worked out first in Victorian times by the study of mammal embryos and then the fossils confirmed it: You hear yourself chewing because parts of your hearing structure evolved from reptilian jawbones.

    *The mammalian stapes is the same as that of their ancestors. But the malleus and incus have moved into the middle ear from their former function as the reptilian jaw joint.

    *Life is stranger than fiction: the reptilian lower jaw has been subsumed into the mammalian middle ear to enhance the hearing function.

    *And the fossils show how some Triassic mammal-like reptiles had effectively two jaw joints: the reptilian joint was reduced, and the new dentary-squamosal joint came into play.

    *At a certain point, in the Late Triassic, the reptilian jaw joint had shifted function.

    *We can still detect the legacy of this astonishing transition: when you chew a hamburger, you can hear your jaw movements deep inside your ears.

    Evolutionary transitions are highly predictable.

    Every day, new fossil finds are reported — the first insect, the oldest hominid, the first sauropod dinosaur, an Eocene whale with legs — and so it goes on. The new fossil finds that hit the headlines are all concrete evidence of evolutionary transitions. The fossils are rarely bizarre or unexpected; they fit into the predictions of evolutionary trees. Dinosaurs with feathers and whales with legs are pretty startling discoveries, but biologists were convinced they existed from the predictions of their evolutionary trees.

    Hey – you asked —

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  304. Do you agree with any of this, or do you think I’m way out in left field?

    Brandon, I don’t think you’re way out in left field. We’ve already agreed on some things and you’ve acknowledged that there is no way for us to know whether something is divinely inspired or not. To call the Bible divinely inspired is a subjective choice. Would you agree that many base this decision on a tradition that has been handed down generation to generation? It also appears to be something that a lot of believers just take for granted. “The Bible is a direct revelation from God.” – case closed. I’m not accusing you of this type of reasoning, just wondering if you see this for the majority of Christians.

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  305. Dave, I don’t know about Brandon, but that is exactly the way I see it. Tradition and teaching play a HUGH role in the believer’s outlook on the bible and fosters the belief that it is a “direct revelation.”

    Thus, trying to “discuss’ god and the bible is like banging your head against the wall. For Christians, there just is no other way to look at the world except through the “sacrifice” made by Jesus on the cross. This becomes especially obvious when reading Kathy’s posts.

    I was so into that thinking for 15+ years. And when I read posts by Christians who are trying to defend their beliefs, it is so obvious where their heads are at.

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  306. “Tradition and teaching play a HUGH role in the believer’s outlook on the bible and fosters the belief that it is a “direct revelation.”

    True that, Nan. “Religious experiences” also play a huge role. People who are nonbelievers and have had these experiences tend to attribute them to natural phenomena, which for the most part, can be explained by science. Those indoctrinated by their religion associate it with their god of choice.

    I’ve noticed a pattern among believers. When asked the question “how do you know your holy book is divinely inspired — how do you discern?”, they never seem to have an answer except that their holy book says so. Or they are basing it on “feelings” or their “experiences.”

    Speaking of feelings and experiences, have you seen this video yet?

    How To Convert An Atheist

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  307. thanks, arch. yep, that’s in line with what i’ve read too. I just wasnt sure if anyone has seen pictures of these fossils. Seems like I’ve seen drawings once or twice, but i dont recall ever seeing photos.

    I don’t doubt they’re right, but photos go along way, or can, in convincing others.

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  308. I am constantly amazed, Dave, that when theists say, “Well god said –” that I have to remind them that their god has never said anything, men have said that their god did.

    It’s simple really – in the 21st Century, nearly everyone has either a computer or a TV, or both – my advice to god, just have the Holy Spook infiltrate the airwaves and let us know you’re there – either that, or change your name from “I AM” to “I MAYBE MIGHT BE”!

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  309. I maybe might be…

    that was fantastic

    I’ve said before, I’m sure, that when I was going through my deconversion, it was the realization that god never told me anything that ended up being the deciding factor for me.

    How can one’s faith be in god or any person that they’ve never met, never talked to and never read, but only through hearsay and claims? i suggest that such faith resides solely in the messenger. Faith that the messenger is correct in what they say.

    I think it;s impossible to have a faith in god that the bible requires. “I believe in you… because i believe the guy who told me about you was right…”

    It’s easier to have faith in anne frank because she at least penned her own book. Do you have a personal relationship with Anne Frank? Pray to her and then pray to god – is there any difference?

    I guess Anne Frank would fail Elijah’s test to baal, but then so would the god of the bible.

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  310. OMG! I just finished watching the video. Oh so powerful!!! At the beginning, when he did the thing about “satan,” I actually felt a cold chill run through me. Brainwashing at its best. The only thing that concerned me was that even after he explained everything to Natalie, I wondered if the experience was so “real,” that she would be able to return to her former outlook on the “supernatural.” In any case, I could see his techniques at work throughout the entire experiment and it left little doubt in my mind of the so-called genuineness of the religious experience for most people.

    Thank you, Victoria, for sharing that link!

    Like

  311. Well, Dave, I dunno. That little red guy on my shoulder said it was, but the white one w/wings on my other shoulder said no. Hmmmm.

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  312. Nan, I’m glad you got a chance to watch it. Thank you! It just goes to show you how easily we can be manipulated when certain conditions are present, and you are right, Natalie was so convinced that it probably took her some time to realize what went down. I had a very similar experience (an interhemispheric intrusion) and thank goodness I wasn’t a Christian at the time or I would have certainly associated it with the Christian god. My experience was not caused by the same methods she was subjected to. Nevertheless, we can have these experiences and depending on our cultural conditioning, assume it’s supernatural.

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  313. Laurie,

    “I’m not cherry picking scripture here. For every verse you can provide that says YHWH’s law will be abolished, I will provide 10 verses that say it won’t.”

    You didn’t provide any verses Laurie. Context is key but you don’t provide the actual verses so we can address the actual context.. MOST of the time you don’t provide the actual verses.. you just post your *own* interpretation as “fact”.

    And you didn’t answer my question yet again.. it’s a simple question.. what is the ACTUAL reason that Jesus needed to suffer and die? Your answers imply it’s because of the “7 feasts” of the Torah.. that Jesus’ sacrifice is “symbolic”. That it is fulfillment of the prophecy? of the feasts? What is the meaning behind the 7 feasts? Why is this NECESSARY.. to the point where Jesus had to suffer and die?? That’s the question I’m trying to get an answer to.. what you’ve given me so far doesn’t make sense.

    Paul’s explanation DOES make sense. And his explanation is in line with Jesus’ own words. It’s about our hearts.. not rituals and rules and outward appearances. It’s about the 1st to commandments.. it’s about love. Your beliefs make it about the rules. You don’t seem to be looking beyond to the MEANING of the rules.

    Did you read the article I posted the link to?

    Particularly this section..

    “…In light of this distinction, we need to restrict the topic and ask the question as to whether we are bound to keep the terms of the covenant made with Israel at Sinai or whether there is indeed a *new covenant* that has been effected by means of which we may now draw near to God. In other words, is the life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus merely a means to a *renewed* Siniatic covenant relationship with God, or does it constitute a genuinely new way of being in relationship with Him?”

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  314. I thought laurie is one of the ones who’s provided the most scripture – certainly more than you, kathy.

    but are you saying that nothing is required of people? that all that is required to be saved is jesus dying? so thuink everyone is going to be saved and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it?

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  315. really, why did jesus have to die anyways?

    didnt god supposedly make everything, including all the rules?

    so he made the rule that blood was required to install a testament (Hebrews 9), and he would have been the one that made the rule that everyone would go to hell unless he sacrificed his own son.

    So, he only had to die, because god made it that way… why did he do that?

    why not make different rules where no one “must” die or suffer?

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  316. Well, he’s always struck me as a bit horny…” – Hey, having a forked tongue comes in a lot handier than you’d ever imagine —

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  317. It’s about sin William. It has to be atoned for. What you aren’t understanding is the essence of Who God is. To understand, just start by looking at the universe and all of creation.. that should tell you that it’s far more complicated than you realize… that it might be beyond our full understanding.

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  318. C’mon – you’re saying horny like it’s a BAD thing. . . 🙂” – Give us this day our daily porn —

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  319. You aren’t making this better for yourself, arch. ;D” – Is it possible, Ruth, that we operate under different definitions of better?

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  320. Hey arch, I was referring to the horns on top of the red fella’s head. …don’t know what you’re talking about. . .

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  321. Maybe…

    Blue just didn’t sound better. Then again red doesn’t sound very good either. Perhaps you should see a doctor? I’m sure they make a pill for that.

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  322. So, he only had to die, because god made it that way… why did he do that?
    why not make different rules where no one “must” die or suffer?
    ” – my guess would be that they guys who invented him really weren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree —

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  323. “Pornography is extremely destructive, Arch”.

    I’ll bet that’s where he got that forked tongue suggestion.. . . 🙂

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  324. @Kathy,

    You didn’t provide any verses Laurie. Context is key but you don’t provide the actual verses so we can address the actual context.. MOST of the time you don’t provide the actual verses.. you just post your *own* interpretation as “fact”.

    You are very mistaken on this one. Laurie has made several comments filled with bible verses that at times I was thinking “gee, that was a bit much”. It’s been enough to make me remember it clearly. To her credit she also gives her own thinking and interpretations of them which is important too.

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  325. “It’s about sin William. It has to be atoned for.” – kathy

    well of course, but only because made it that way. It’s a painter saying he painted red because he had to. He “had to” becuase he did.

    And if god had to, what eternal laws are god subject to and who made those? maybe you should spend your time worshiping the really powerful god – the one who isnt subject to laws.

    “What you aren’t understanding is the essence of Who God is. To understand, just start by looking at the universe and all of creation.. that should tell you that it’s far more complicated than you realize… that it might be beyond our full understanding.” – kathy

    do you understand the essence of god?

    if yes, how? because you read what other guys said about god? the same guys who say that they speak for god?

    it looks like you’re saying you understand the essence of god by looking at the universe…. can you explain further?

    but I agree, I think people see things that they cant understand and cant explain, but since people like having answers, they create “god” to answer the unknown. is this what you’re getting at?

    if you’re saying that the complexity of the universe means there was designer and a creator, ten you what i’ll say since we;ve been through this before. I’ll say that if complexity and order means there is a creator, then what created god since he is complex and has order? If you say he is an exception and doesnt need a creator, then i’ll just say. “why cant the universe be that exception?”

    I only asked the initial question because of what you asked Laurie. You’re implying that if she cant explain her position to your liking, then it fails. I’m pointing out that there are things about your position that you cant adequately explain. does that make sense?

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  326. What’s happening here, Howie, is that Kathy is having difficulty stepping outside the box. The religious training she’s had is pretty much all she knows and anything that doesn’t agree with that is beyond her understanding.

    I think many of us would agree that Laurie’s outlook is much different than what we were taught. This is not to say it’s right or wrong. It’s just different from mainstream teachings. However, because most of us have seen the fallacies of the bible, we’re probably in a little better place to look at what she’s offering from a more neutral viewpoint.

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  327. I’m sure you can imagine just how much I would LOVE to respond to that comment, Kathy, but when you first followed us over to this thread, the mandate went out – to paraphrase Thumper’s mother: “If you can’t say anything good about Kathy, don’t say nuthin’ at all!” And since it should be obvious by now that since the first half of “Kathy I,” I’ve been unable to find anything good about you, given the current guidelines – where you’re concerned at least – that has a tendency, believe it or not, to leave me speechless.

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