Comments Continued…

This is just to continue comments from the Frustrated post. Carry on! 🙂

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885 thoughts on “Comments Continued…”

  1. You have attracted a nice set of comments with your story. One comment was that most atheists were theists first. I don’t think I was, I was baptized and made a full member of a church but shortly thereafter I realized I had been lied to and rejected the whole thing. At no point would I say I had become a “believer” I just was someone who had been told a great many things and hadn’t come to a conclusion yet.

    A possible entre into such discussions is exploring when it was people first realized they believed. (Contrary to popular belief, children do not automatically believe everything they are told.) Getting to talk about a topic that isn’t so loaded at first gives on a more gentle basis for further discussion and provides an offset for out stories of when we realized we either didn’t believe or no longer believed.

    Part of the difficulty here is people know so little about scripture. If the contents of the NT were laid out in the order they were created and a time line of history overlaid, a lot would be much clearer. For example, people read the gospels before they read the letters of Paul, but the gospels were clearly written to provide an historical (seeming) context for the information in Paul’s letters, much as the Pentateuch was written to provide a back story for the claims of a King of Judah (and are still being used as such today).

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  2. Part of the difficulty here is people know so little about scripture.” – I think that’s part of the difficulty everywhere, Steve. I know Christians who are so proud of themselves that they have the Bible so thoroughly memorized that they can rattle off book, chapter and verse, but when I tell them that Gen 1 – the very first chapter of the Bible – wasn’t written until the middle of the 6th century BCE, they call me a liar. They truly believe that Gen 1 was the first book written, and know next to nothing about how the Bible came to be, only what’s in it. Of course what’s in it was highly dependent on how it came to be, as Gen 1 was written with the express intention that it replace Gen 2, as the Priestly Source – Aaronid priests writing in Babylonian captivity – felt that the Levite priests (the Yahwist Source), writing half a millennium earlier in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, had created a god who was too anthropomorphic. Unfortunately for them, they neglected to leave instructions to that effect for the Redactor (editor) who pieced together the Torah like a patchwork quilt a century and a half later, in 400 BCE – he included both tales and let his god sort it out.

    “Matthew,” for example copied 90% of his work from “Mark,” and “Luke,” 60% – this says a lot about the validity of “Matthew” and “Luke,” but if you weren’t aware of how they were written, it might be easy to conclude that one corroborates another – “The Bible says there needs to be two witnesses to an event, and in the Gospels, we have THREE!” – wrong, you have one and two clones.

    I surprised two Jehova’s Witnesses with my knowledge of how the Torah was actually written, to the extent that they never came back. I miss John and Betty —

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  3. Most of the Christians I speak with on the internet are aware of the controversies regarding the authorship of the Pentateuch and the Synoptic problem. I wish this information would shock them and open their eyes to the truth, but, no such luck. They always have a “harmonization” to explain away these problems. What frustrates me the most is Christians who insist that I adopt their worldview before they are willing to discuss the evidence for their central supernatural claim: the Resurrection of Jesus. They want me to accept the existence of their God and the authority of the Bible, a priori, before we begin discussing their evidence for a first century dead man walking out of his grave to teleport in front of his friends into outer space.

    Here is the latest conversation with my orthodox Lutheran friend with whom I am trying to have a conversation regarding his supernatural-based, orthodox Christian belief system:

    Gary:

    1. Why would an eternal, perfect, all-powerful God need to create a universe and little reproductions of himself that he would call “man”? Was he bored?

    2. And if that same God is all-knowing, he knew before he created the universe and created human beings, that man would disobey Him and eat his forbidden fruit, resulting that billions of men, women, and children would experience horrific suffering for thousands of years…but he went ahead and created it anyway.

    Is that the behavior of a loving Heavenly Father or of a sadistic Monster?

    Orthodox Lutheran:

    1. Without God, what basis do you have to make any sort of judgment on anything good or evil?

    2. How do you define good and evil without an objective standard?

    3. Why is suffering bad (or evil)?

    Is this the worldview of a rational person or an irrational one who knocks out the entire foundation for proving or defining anything?

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  4. Re: question #2 — why does “God” have to be the objective standard?

    I notice that, essentially, he doesn’t answer your last question although that’s not surprising. It’s so typical when a non-believer points out the imperfections of the Christian God, the believer simply ignores them and directs the conversation in a slightly different direction.

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  5. “Why is suffering bad (or evil)?”

    This is why Christians cannot condemn the evil behavior of their god in the Old Testament. They have been brainwashed to believe that He is the arbiter of what is good and evil. This is not objective morality. This is the subjective morality of a tyrant.

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  6. How do you define good and evil without an objective standard?” – at some point, likely in the next week or so, I intend writing a guest blog post on that subject on Ark’s site – you might want to keep an eye out for that. Or I may then drop a link.

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  7. One of my family members is now a very liberal Christian universalist—he believes that ALL will believe in Jesus in the end and all will be in heaven. He believes that the god of the OT was evil or nonexistent. He believes that Jesus was not the god of the OT. Jesus would never do what the OT says the OT god did.

    When I point out that Jesus spoke very highly of the OT god and encouraged mankind to worship and obey him (and most Christians believe that Jesus also said that he was the Son of God)..my family member looks at me with a blank stare… “I don’t know how to answer that,” he will say. “But my belief in Jesus is the foundation of my life, so I don’t want to think about the issue you have raised. I choose to ignore it.”

    My family member doesn’t come out and say it, but this is what he is really saying: The comfort and peace of mind that my belief system give me is more important than knowing the truth.

    Very sad.

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  8. Sad, Gary, but this is the mindset of more than your relative.

    The thing that I have wondered about … and others have as well because it’s been mentioned on several blogs — what do these people who expect to make heaven think they’re going to be doing all day? Living as they do now (without “sin,” of course)? The bible talks about worshipping God, but c’mon. Wouldn’t that get old after awhile? Or am I thinking too much in “human” terms?

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  9. Yes, silly, silly you, Nan. You ARE thinking in human terms.

    See, once you are in the Christian heaven you will be perfect, and being perfect means blissfully and joyously—without ceasing—singing words of praise to your loving Lord and Savior…the same loving Lord and Savior who in life threatened to burn you alive for all eternity…if you refused to obey, worship, and sing his praises forever and ever.

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  10. Hi Dave, dunno if you’re still reading this, but I wanted to share something with you (and Nate too I guess).

    I have an internet “friend” who is a Norwegian author and a fairly knowledgable guy. He is a christian but not a Catholic. He referred me to a paper on the Turin Shroud by someone who he said is “a Norwegian expert Atle Ottesen Søvik”. I know nothing more about this expert.

    He has written what I think is a peer-reviewed paper in Norwegian which contains links to many other peer reviewed papers in English. Fortunately, the paper has been translated (hopefully well) and you can see the paper and some other commentary online.

    It looks like a goldmine to me. At first glance (I haven’t read in detail yet) the guy seems fair-minded, and concludes that there are many arguments either way, and there is a lot of biased misinformation. His reference list covers both sides. He thinks the carbon dating is the only strong argument against authenticity while there are several arguments for authenticity. His final conclusion is cautiously in favour.

    I now have a lot more useful information on either side to begin to review when I have time. Hope you find it useful too.

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  11. The bible talks about worshipping God, but c’mon. Wouldn’t that get old after awhile?” – Can anyone fathom what eternity really means? How much church can you sit through?

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  12. Holy Foreskin, Batman!

    Forget about the Shroud of Turin, check out this slice of Church history:

    Foreskin (of Jesus) relics began appearing in Europe during the Middle Ages. The earliest recorded sighting came on December 25, 800, when Charlemagne gave it to Pope Leo III when the latter crowned the former Emperor. Charlemagne claimed that it had been brought to him by an angel while he prayed at the Holy Sepulchre, although a more prosaic report says it was a wedding gift from the Byzantine Empress Irene. Pope Leo III placed it into the Sancta Sanctorum in the Lateran basilica in Rome with other relics.[3] Its authenticity was later considered to be confirmed by a vision of Saint Bridget of Sweden.[4] David Farley says the foreskin was then looted during the Sack of Rome in 1527. The German soldier who stole it was captured in the village of Calcata, 47 km north of Rome, later the same year. Thrown into prison, he hid the jeweled reliquary in his cell, where it remained until its rediscovery in 1557. Many miracles (freak storms and perfumed fog overwhelming the village) are claimed to have followed.[3] Housed in Calcata, it was venerated from that time onwards, with the Church approving the authenticity by offering a ten-year indulgence to pilgrims.[3] Pilgrims, nuns and monks flocked to the church, and “Calcata [became] a must-see destination on the pilgrimage map.” The foreskin was reported stolen by a local priest in 1983.[3]

    According to David Farley, “Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages.”

    –Wikipedia

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  13. “Housed in Calcata, it was venerated from that time onwards, with the Church approving the authenticity by offering a ten-year indulgence to pilgrims.”

    TEN YEARS of sins wiped out for staring at a foreskin!

    The Catholic Church should be ashamed of itself. Pope Francis should shut down the relics trade once and for all…and that includes the relic in Turin.

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  14. Depending on what you read, there were eight, twelve, fourteen, or even 18 different holy foreskins in various European towns during the Middle Ages.” – Thank goodness mine won’t be showing up in a glass box anywhere!

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  15. Gary posted:

    One of my family members is now a very liberal Christian universalist—he believes that ALL will believe in Jesus in the end and all will be in heaven. He believes that the god of the OT was evil or nonexistent. He believes that Jesus was not the god of the OT. Jesus would never do what the OT says the OT god did.

    You know, I think about this kind of thing a good bit, and I’m glad you’ve brought it up. I’m curious to know how the rest of you guys see this. Honestly, a person with the outlook Gary just referred to doesn’t really bother me. I feel the same way about deists, Buddhists, etc.

    Ideally, everyone’s views would adhere as closely to what’s objectively true as possible — and of course, I think atheism and naturalism come closest. But it’s not an ideal world, and people aren’t going to agree. So whenever someone reaches the level of deism or very moderate religious belief, I consider that a win. Such people are usually humanists and believe that all people should have the freedom to live as they please. In other words, aside from the god question, their views line up almost exactly with my own.

    Do the rest of you view it that way too, or do you think that any amount of religion is still something that should be argued against? And I don’t want to imply that I wouldn’t discuss my views with someone who’s moderately religious — just that I don’t really care if I convince them or not. Whereas, I really hope fundamentalists will one day change.

    Thoughts?

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  16. Thanks for those links, unkleE. I’ve been too busy with work (and coaching soccer) lately, so I haven’t gotten far in my investigation yet. But I’m sure these resources will help greatly. Thanks again! 🙂

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  17. Nate,

    Liberal Christians are for the most part, really nice people. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to convince these people of the error of their belief system. But if the subject comes up, this is what I say:

    Your very liberal, very kind, very compassionate yet supernatural belief system gives cover for the fundamentalists. If liberal Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc. would abandon all belief in the supernatural, the fundamentalists would be left flapping in the winds of irrationality. Society would consider them as wacky and socially stigmatized as Hare Krishna and Branch Davidians.

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  18. My definition of a religious fundamentalist: “My faith is the only true Faith, My god is the only true god. People who refuse to believe in and submit to my god are evil. If you do not accept and submit to my Faith, my god will punish you in some painful manner.”

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  19. I shake my head in bemusement, that someone like unklee is still tolerated, with his sycophantic wheedling.
    paraphrase ….”Oh, I am all for evidence and common sense and… and … but this is what the experts say so are you going to deny what all the experts say?”

    And here is with his pseudo -intellectualism debating/supporting the damn Shroud of Turin for the gods’ sake.

    Yes, well, the experts -genuine ones – deny Moses ever existed which pretty much pisses on Christianity’s bonfire.

    Have the intellectual integrity to fully address this, unklee, before you start offering any sort of ”maybes” for the some medieval rag.

    As for Brandon …well, ffs… he is just a complete head-case. The best response to this idiot is.
    🙂

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  20. Hey, Arch, unkE has a bran(d) new post with lots of cool bullet points on what the ”experts” agree about the Resurrection.
    I might even become a believer next week.
    I especially loved this very important point about other biblical resurrections. A clincher, you will agree.

    One big difference Ken. None of them was the son of God. That leads to another big difference. They all were returned to this life, to die again; Jesus rose as the first-born into a new life, never to die again. And so will we if we choose him.

    Really , really hard to fight against this level of common-sense intellectual ‘expert’ evidence.

    Darn; that reminds me! I must remember to renew my Lee Strobel Fan Club membership.

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  21. First of all, I wouldn’t give Unk the satisfaction of visiting his blog.

    Secondly, I’m more than a little confused that such monumental events occurred as a Roman General’s daughter rising from the dead, in addition to Lazarus and finally, Yeshua, that it didn’t make the evening news until 40 years later! “This just in! Forty years ago, the son of a god was raised from the dead! WTF!? Who gave me this copy? He’s fired! Go to commercial —

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  22. Ark brings up a VERY interesting point which I too would love to see UnkleE address:

    The overwhelming majority of archaeologists believe that the Hebrew Patriarchs did not exist; there was no mass Hebrew slavery in Egypt; no 40 years in the Sinai; no Hebrew Conquest of Canaan; no great empires of the Biblical David and Solomon.

    If we trust what the “majority of experts say”, as UnkleE has encouraged us to do regarding the Gospels and the alleged empty tomb, then we would also believe the following:

    1. The Abrahamic covenant is a fiction.
    2. The Passover is a fiction.
    3. The giving of the Law at Sinai is a fiction.
    4. Moses is a fiction.
    5. If Moses is a fiction, then the first five books of the Old Testament are fiction.
    6. If the first five books of the OT are fiction: There was no Adam and Eve; there was no Garden; there was no Fall.

    If there was no Fall. Men do not need a Savior.

    And worse for Christians: Jesus believed all these events happened. He was wrong. Jesus made some whopper mistakes. This is proof that Jesus was not an all-knowing god. Therefore he was not the god of the OT.

    So if Jesus is not the God of the OT but just an ordinary man who falls for ancient legends and tall tales what does that say about the claim that he rose from the dead?

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  23. Like Arch, unkleE’s blog is not one that I visit, but Ark’s comment intrigued me. As I skimmed through the nonsense, I came to the “Conclusion” and almost had to laugh. His points …

    1. “At the very least we may recognise that it isn’t silly to believe that Jesus was resurrected.” Really? Just because the founder of the Secular Web site for the Internet Infidels concluded that a rational person may accept or reject the resurrection … ??? This is a point of reason?

    2. “The greatest challenge to the New Testament accounts of the resurrection can be satisfactorily answered.” Again, because John Wenham (?), an Anglican Bible scholar, concludes that ” plausible harmonisation is possible” … ??? I daresay a few individuals would disagree with Mr. Wenham (and unkleE).

    3. “[A]nyone who believes in Jesus and his God should have no difficulty in accepting that God miraculously raised Jesus.” Well, I should say so! I mean isn’t this the whole idea of Christianity? So what else is new? What about the rest of us?

    4. “Thus christians have good evidence for their belief, and the evidence is challenging to non-believers.” Ain’t that the truth?

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  24. Here is the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus that I have seen given by Christians:

    1. Eyewitness testimony in the four Gospels.
    2. Paul saw a walking/talking resurrected Jesus.
    3. The dramatic change in character of the disciples.
    4. The disciples would not have died for a lie.
    5. The rapid spread of Christianity, facing intense persecution, is evidence of the truth of its supernatural claims.

    Here is my brief response to each one of these points:

    1. We have no proof that the four Gospels were written by eyewitnesses. They are anonymous. The traditional authorship of these books does not appear in Christian writings until the end of the second century. Could a fisherman, a tax collector, and a physician have written these theologically complex texts? Yes. The probability that they did? Very, very low.

    2. In Acts chapter 26 Paul specifically states that his experience on the Damascus Road was a “heavenly vision”. Visions are not reality. Yes, Paul says in I Corinthians 15 that he had “seen the Christ” but he clarifies in Acts chapter 26 that it was only in a vision. Seeing someone in a vision is not evidence of a bodily resurrection.

    3. Yes, Christians soon came to earnestly believe in the Resurrection and boldly spread Jesus’ teachings. But there are many natural explanations for this change in behavior than that a dead man actually walked out of his grave. For instance, a group of the disciples could have seen a man in the distance who looked a lot like Jesus and suddenly that man disappears behind a building, hill, etc.. “He’s alive! Jesus is risen!” And the Resurrection legend begins. This scenario is much more probable than that Jesus really did rise again. So no one lied. No one fabricated the story. The disciples truly believed that Jesus was alive again. And the “full” story is not written down until 65-75 AD by “Mark”. Legends can easily develop within days, let alone decades as in this case. For all we know, every member of the original Eleven disciples could be dead by 65 AD. Who then would still be alive to refute the claims of “Mark”?

    4. We have no historical evidence that even one disciple died refusing to recant seeing a resurrected Jesus. All the martyr stories about the Eleven are based solely on tradition. Yes, Josephus records that Jesus brother, James, was killed. But the question is: for what? Millions of people have been executed for being members of new, radical religious sects. That doesn’t prove that their beliefs are true.

    5. Yes, Christianity spread, but so did Mormonism and Islam. Christians were not systematically persecuted until after most of the original disciples would have died of old age.

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  25. Ark brings up a VERY interesting point which I too would love to see UnkleE address:

    Believe me, this ”horse” has been flogged so much the animal cruelty league, the local knacker’s yard and even the choir invisible gave up waiting for an honest answer.
    Remember, to the True Believer, Yahweh is their by word for ”integrity”

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  26. At least Christian fundamentalists will simply say, “God ‘poofed” it. There is no need for evidence.”

    Moderate and liberal Christians will twist themselves into pretzels to explain all the holes in their belief system. One of the most absurd to me is how many moderate Christians are now saying that Noah’s flood was a regional flood only. It did not cover Mt. Everest by “22 cubits”, just the tallest hills in the Euphrates River Valley?

    So “earth” doesn’t mean “earth”???

    Oh, that’s right. I forgot. Christians are experts in ancient Hebrew and Greek. In these particular verses, you silly skeptics, we should translate the word “earth/world” as referring only to the dirt of the Euphrates River Valley.

    So dear Christians: May we also interpret John 3:16 in the same way:

    “For God so loved the Euphrates River Valley, that he gave his only Begotten Son, that whoso ever in the Euphrates River Valley (only) who believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life”???

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  27. For instance, a group of the disciples could have seen a man in the distance who looked a lot like Jesus and suddenly that man disappears behind a building, hill, etc.. ‘He’s alive! Jesus is risen!’ And the Resurrection legend begins.

    Mark, 16:12 – “After that (after Mary M told the disciples about the empty tomb) he (Jesus) appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
    16:13 – “
    And they went out and told it unto the residue (the rest): neither believed they them.”

    Luke, 24:11 – the women tell the apostles they saw Jesus – “And their words seem to them (the apostles) as idle tales, and they believed them not.

    Luke 24:15 – “And it came to pass, that, while they (Cleopas and an unnamed friend) communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
    24:16 – “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
    24:17-31 – The rest of the story, where he walks home with them, sits down for a meal, breaks the bread, and suddenly their eyes are un-“holden” and they recognize him, at which time he promptly vanishes. Later that evening (Luke 24:33 -51) he transports into a room with all eleven, has a bite to eat, then walks them out toward Bethany, when he suddenly levitates into the sky.

    In John, Mary M stoops down and looks into the tomb where Jesus was laid and sees and chats with angels, then turns to leave —
    John 20:14 – “And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus
    John 24:15 – “Jesus said unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? who seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardner….” And the story continues – 20:19-29, where Jesus teleports into a closed room and chats with the eleven on two separate occasions, even offering to allow his wounds to be touched.

    Which I find especially interesting, in that in John 20:17, when Mary M’s eyes were un-“holden,” and she recognized him, he told her not to touch him: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethern, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

    So somehow, between 20:17 and 20:29, he became touchable. I had always wondered if he was trying to say that he wasn’t entirely solid at this point, which then gave me cause to wonder, if that were the case, why was it necessary for the stone to be rolled away? Couldn’t he have just oozed through the cracks? How much more credible to have rolled back the stone and found the tomb empty, than to have found it empty AFTER the stone had been rolled away?

    And how many times did he actually ascend? Did he ascend (John) between 20:17, chatting with Mary M, and popping into the closed room to offer the apostles a chance to poke around in his body parts? Did he ascend again (Mark, 16:19) from within the closed room, or go outside (Luke, 24:50), on the way to Bethany, to ascend?

    Quite interestingly, “Matthew” has no ascension story, so we can safely assume from that Gospel, that Yeshua is still out there wandering around somewhere.

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  28. Note that on two occasions, Mark, 16:13 and Luke, 24:11 – these apostles, who walked all over Judea (allegedly) with Jesus, who (allegedly) watched him perform miracles, walk on water, and when asked, “Who do you say I am?” proclaimed their belief that he was the Messiah, and the son of Yahewh, when told that he had risen from the dead, didn’t believe him.

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  29. “Note that on two occasions, Mark, 16:13 and Luke, 24:11 – these apostles, who walked all over Judea (allegedly) with Jesus, who (allegedly) watched him perform miracles, walk on water, and when asked, “Who do you say I am?” proclaimed their belief that he was the Messiah, and the son of Yahewh, when told that he had risen from the dead, didn’t believe him.

    This is because the Christian god loves to play hide and seek with his little creation creatures. Instead of flashing a massive message in the sky, or putting a gigantic, neon billboard on the moon to announce the Resurrection of the Son of God…Jesus (the Christian god) disguises himself so that even the people who lived with him night and day for three years, don’t recognize him.

    If you are a loving, benevolent god, and you know that the overwhelming majority of mankind is going to die and go to Hell because they have not “believed” in you, would you really play hide and seek with them or would you do EVERYTHING you could to let them know that you are here on earth and ready and eager to save them from eternal torment??

    It’s such a load of crap, it is amazing that those of us who have escaped this cult did not see it earlier, and amazing that intelligent people like UnkleE, Crown, Brandon still don’t see it.

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  30. Jesus (the Christian god) disguises himself so that even the people who lived with him night and day for three years, don’t recognize him.

    Still, there’s something to be said for that. If you could change your appearance at will, wouldn’t you be tempted to sneak into the girl’s shower after a college basketball game?

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  31. It’s such a load of crap, it is amazing that those of us who have escaped this cult did not see it earlier, and amazing that intelligent people like UnkleE, Crown, Brandon still don’t see it.

    Actually what is amazing is that such people are given free reign/allowed to wheedle their piss-poor arguments onto blog forums as if what they are punting is real, as if the characters and events they wish to discuss have any historical veracity.

    This is a serious problem for those who understand that what these idiots are peddling is garbage for by allowing it they are playing the game according to this indoctrinated, delusional minority.
    It is like listening to a William Lane Craig debate.

    And if you know anything about the way Craig sets up his debates you will see a similar pattern in the way the likes of unklee approach such issues.
    Already the question concerning Moses has drifted away. Will he or any other ”enlightened” chriatian address it?

    Doubtful.

    You can’t expect a rabid dog to play fetch so why on earth would one expect to have a genuine conversation with the likes of Brandon and Unklee?

    They must be obliged to meet criteria set by those who demand the answers to their pathetic drivel, and not allow it to sink to the level they want.

    While the likes of unklee wave his consensus of scholars regarding the veracity of Jesus of Nowhere
    one will always be chasing one’s tail.

    His attitude toward the Exodus and Moses are glaring examples of the hypocrisy and blatant ignorance of such people that refuse to come to terms with what evidence is screaming.

    And to allow someone as obviously mentally unstable as Brandon any leeway is potentially dangerous.

    It is sometimes difficult to know which type of believer is worse. Unklee, for example, has no desire whatsoever to consider non belief and one entertains his ilk at one’s own risk.

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  32. Ark I find your comment, especially on Brandon and Unklee to resonate with my feelings about them. There is no honest conversation to be had with them. They wear an air of intellectualism but spread the same nonsense their grandparents believed without question while all the time claiming we have scholars to back us up and no time ever giving what their opinion is on a given question.
    It gives them opportunities to wave away any direct questions about their childish beliefs and I honestly can’t stand it.

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  33. I am with you Nate. I actually would add that I think too go the other extreme of fundamentalism is almost fundamentalist atheism itself. If you think that you are right about atheism and everyone else needs to be an atheist and think like you. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the importance of everyone becoming more educated and if that happened on its own eventually due to education than fine. I also understand the argument that if those who are not fundamentalists spoke out it might help stop the fundamentalists, but they already are speaking out. Speaking out about murdering people, forcing people to live a certain way, etc but not speaking out about people believing in God at all or believing in things that don’t hurt anyone or don’t require anything being forced on anyone else unwillingly.
    People might always believe in God, and I personally have always tried to keep an open mind. I have watched people 100 percent sure they were right about Christianity, who are now 100 percent sure they are right about atheism. There are certain things I am sure about now because I have facts and proof but when it comes to the things I don’t, I try to keep a very open mind. Unfortunately some don’t and want to live in denial. If it makes them happy as long as it does not hurt someone else, that is their right. I do feel a little sorry for them but maybe they will come around one day, but they won’t by force.

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  34. I disagree, Agremillion. The sooner the belief in the supernatural loses any social respectability, the better for all humanity.

    I believe that UnkleE has this as his agenda here: He knows he is not going to convince any of us to return to Christianity, but by his appeals to the consensus of the “majority of experts” he wants us to concede that believing that a first century dead man rose from the dead and is now King of the Universe is reasonable and an intellectually intelligent and respectable position in 21st century western society.

    UnkleE is trying to give a modern facade of rationality to an irrational, ancient superstition

    I personally do not think we should let him or any other theist get away with it.

    If we do, we are complicit in the superstitious brainwashing of yet another generation of Christian children. These children deserve to know the truth and deserve a worldview based on reason and science, not a worldview based on the whims of invisible gods and devils.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. “Would you willingly lie to your children?” asks Rabbi Adam Chalom, Ph.D. “Would you say this is what happened when you know this is not what happened? There’s an ethical question there.” The lie Rabbi Chalom is referring to is the continued maintenance of the popular belief that the Jewish foundation narrative detailed in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) chronicles actual historical events, when in fact it’s been known among biblical archaeologists for nearly three generations that the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) and the Deuteronomistic History of the Nevi’im (including the books of Joshua, Judges, and Samuel) are no more a literal account of the early history of the Jewish people than J. R. R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings, is a literal account of World War I.”

    Through the exhaustive efforts of biblical archaeologists and scholars we know today that the Jewish origin narrative contained in the Pentateuch is nothing but a geopolitical work of fiction—inventive myth—conceived of in the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, and written to place Judah at the centre of the Jewish world so as to capitalise on a weakened Mamlekhet (Kingdom) Yisra’el after its sacking in 722 BCE.”

    John Zande — https://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/of-course-what-you-say-is-true-but-we-should-not-say-it-publically-13/

    Like

  36. Speaking of Christian children…

    Several times prior to the initial stages of my deconversion from Christianity, reality would briefly poke its head into my supernatural, superstitious Christian worldview, in particular, during events involving the indoctrination of my very young children with Christian teachings.

    One day I and my six year old and my four year old were driving in the car listening to a Christian audiotape of Old Testament stories. This one was on the Flood. After listening for a while, my little children interrupted me and asked, “Why did God drown all the people?”

    “They were evil and sinful,” I explained confidently. “They were so evil that God had to punish them severely.”

    “But did God drown all the little children too? What did they do? Why did God drown the little children?”

    I had no answer.

    My childrens’ innocent, unbrainwashed brains could not comprehend how a “good” God would drown little children. It rattled me. But my indoctrinated, brainwashed mind soon rationalized it away…as much as I could…and I then tried to forget about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. personally do not think we should let him or any other theist get away with it.

    If we do, we are complicit in the superstitious brainwashing of yet another generation of Christian children. These children deserve to know the truth and deserve a worldview based on reason and science, not a worldview based on the whims of invisible gods and devils.

    Thank you! This is exactly why the likes of unklee should never be allowed to get away with his brand of insidious god-belief.
    I have asked him once if he would tolerate his grandchildren being taught Creationism and he said no, so why must anyone be taught that there is enough intellectual evidence to conclude that Jesus likely rose from the dead?
    Such a preposterous attitude is hypocritical and disingenuous in the extreme.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. …what is amazing is that such people are given free reign/allowed to wheedle their piss-poor arguments onto blog forums as if what they are punting is real….” – What’s really frightening, is that idiots just like that are running most of our world’s governments.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. …believing in things that don’t hurt anyone or don’t require anything being forced on anyone else unwillingly” – I don’t know what country you’re from Agremillion, but here in the States, legislators all over the country are trying to get bills passed that would allow religion to be taught in the public schools, to get a voucher program passed to get the Federal government to fund private, religious schools. That may not be “force” with a bullet, but it’s manipulating the law to force religion down the throats of children.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. I found this information this morning which I believe is very interesting regarding our discussions with UnkleE, Josh, Brandon, and Crown:

    The definitions of Hard and Soft Evidence and how they relate to Christianity

    Soft evidence can refer to anything from simple word of mouth or argumentation, to authoritative opinion on a given subject. The highest form of soft evidence tends to be supporting opinions from an authority with certifiable credentials. While random guessing also qualifies as soft evidence, it is generally not worth pursuing given that even the highest form of soft evidence are still just that: soft.

    Soft evidence does still have value, but only in the absence of hard evidence. If there is no supporting hard evidence, then the best available forms of soft evidence should be used in the meantime. A further problem with soft evidence is the appeal to authority. While most of the time an authoritative opinion will be valid, it is not always the case. There is a danger of placing too much faith in an authoritative source, as it is important to remember that even though it is the highest form of soft evidence, it still does not outweigh hard evidence.

    Hard evidence is the product of producing testable predictions, performing controlled experiments, relying on quantifiable data and mathematical models, a high degree of accuracy and objectivity, and generally applying a purer form of the scientific method

    Gary: I assert that the supernatural claims of Christianity are based entirely on soft evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Ideally, everyone’s views would adhere as closely to what’s objectively true as possible — and of course, I think atheism and naturalism come closest. But it’s not an ideal world, and people aren’t going to agree. So whenever someone reaches the level of deism or very moderate religious belief, I consider that a win. Such people are usually humanists and believe that all people should have the freedom to live as they please. In other words, aside from the god question, their views line up almost exactly with my own.

    Do the rest of you view it that way too, or do you think that any amount of religion is still something that should be argued against?

    Hi Nate,

    I think extremism (of all flavors) is what needs to be argued against. We need to learn how to get along even though we may have different opinions. It’s about respecting each other and not forcing other people to think like you.

    Someone today wrote: “There are certain things I am sure about now because I have facts and proof but when it comes to the things I don’t, I try to keep a very open mind.” I think this is a healthy mindset. Science does not have an explanation for everything yet, and until it does, I see no reason why people can’t speculate on whether there may be a hidden mastermind in the background. It just needs to be clear to everyone that this is speculation (belief) and not “turn or burn!”.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Dave,

    Does UnkleE believe that his supernatural belief system is just one of many acceptable and equally valid world views? Does UnkleE believe that there will be ZERO negative consequences to those of us who do not believe in and obey his god?

    If UnkleE’s answer is “yes” to both of these questions, then I agree with you, we should respect UnkleE’s right to believe as he chooses…and leave him alone.

    However, if UnkleE answers “no” or “maybe” to even one of the above questions, his belief system not only merits zero respect, it merits our deepest commitment and unyielding determination to uproot and forever destroy his bigoted and discrimination-inciting belief system.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Gary M, I agree with you completely. What Dave is asking us is to keep an open mind that at some point in history, because it is written in the bible, donkeys talked, fishes were transporters and snakes walked on their twos and talked. No amount of open mindedness is going to make any of these come close to being rational.

    The question of whether there is a great mind behind all this only has a small veneer of rationality because we tend to ignore the history of god belief. A belief that originated in our superstitious and ignorant past. Why is it no one asks for an open mind when dealing with Zeus, Apollo, Juno or Neptune?

    The bible is a Hebrew story. The god in it is the god of Abraham, Jacob[Israel] and Isaac not everyone’s.

    I come from a rich tradition where my ancestors had gods, moved and settled to where we, the Luo, currently occupy. IS there any reason to believe the Hebrew story above the Luo stories? Should the Hebrew story be believed because it is written and in most places has had state sanction? Is there a good reason other than that?
    In my tradition we have a story of a man who shadow was his life line. To injure him, you had to just step on his shadow. Why is this story not believed? is it because it isn’t written?

    Dave and agremillion1 I believe all forms of religion must and should be argued against.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Sometimes I think that atheist and agnostic “nice guys” like Dave forget what this 6,000 year old Hebrew/Christian superstition has done to the world. It’s victims can be counted in the millions.

    It is evil. Plain and simple.

    Let’s get rid of it once and for all.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. It was me that said that earlier Dave although now my name is going to show as Amanda now instead because I have a new profile I am still learning how to use and update it lol And I agree with you Dave. I think it is unrealistic to expect everyone to get on the same page any time soon, maybe one day but maybe never. Plus, how are you going to force everyone? The same way the religions criticized have? Murder, prison, being made a social outcast? If you just leave it at simply arguing that is fine, but that is different from pressuring. I just think of how I have always felt when people try to pressure me or anyone else to believe what they do. Discussion (with some disagreement of course) and education are great and so is speaking up and doing as much as you can morally when it comes to the serious things like anyone’s civil rights or harm being done to anyone whether it is in the name of religion or in the name of Atheism or anything else (some of those things I would personally lay down my life for if I had to), but getting angry or ugly with someone because they don’t believe the same as you makes you the same in so many ways as those you criticize.
    Plus, Science has not, nor do I think it will ever disprove a god. It has disproved parts of all of the major religions, of course just using reason to try to make sense of any of them will do that, but a god altogether it has not. Even if it did and people still wanted to believe I would never be okay with any kind of force or pressure being used to “convert” people to Atheism or deconvert them because it is no different than the awful things done in the name of religion and even when I was religious I was not okay with those either. Plus, people will always believe whatever they want, they may just have to hide it if they are scared enough to.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Amanda I can tell you I have no need to force anyone to agree with me nor imprison anyone for the ideas they hold. If someone is to change their mind, I hope they will do it based on the force of our arguments.
    People don’t believe what they want. People believe to the extent of their convictions.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. And Amanda, when you say science hasn’t disproved god, in what way would science do this when the definition of god changes depending on the theist you are listening to. Others tell you god is us to god being the ground of being and so many other nebulous words. How would a scientist set out to even study this phenomena? Disproving god is left to that branch of science called history. It is to history and anthropology that we must turn to examine gods, their source and why they have been believed, not in the chemistry lab

    Liked by 1 person

  48. “Custom, tradition, and intellectual laziness lead men to follow their religious leaders blindly. Religions have been the sole cause of the bloody wars that have ravaged mankind. Religions have also been resolutely hostile to philosophical speculation and to scientific research. The so-called holy scriptures are worthless and have done more harm than good, whereas the writings of the ancients like Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and Hippocrates have rendered much greater service to humanity.
    — Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyā al-Razi —

    Liked by 1 person

  49. People like Dave, Amanda, and me are just arguing in favor of reason and moderation. I’m happy to tell anyone, regardless of their beliefs, what I believe and why. But the only people I feel a need to convince are those whose faith drives them to negative actions: trying to push their religion into schools or other public institutions, discrimination against the LGBT community and others, denial of science, violence, etc.

    My worldview is pretty straightforward: I think this life is likely the only one we get, so I’m concerned about ideas that lead to negative outcomes (like listed above), but benign ideas and beliefs don’t matter that much to me, because they don’t seem to have any real consequence. If you can think of some, then please correct me.

    Also, I believe that truth tends to rise above all the noise. So when people push false beliefs (even the benign ones), reasonable people will eventually see that those beliefs are false. And if they’re not reasonable people, how can we hope to reach them anyway? That’s why I see no problem with giving such people “a platform.”

    Since it’s the reasonable people I’m trying to reach, I need to think about what will resonate with them. It seems to me that most people just want a discussion to be fair. When I was working my way out of Christianity, sometimes apologists drove me away faster than anyone else because I could see that their arguments weren’t always honest. I worry that we in the atheist community can come across the same way if we aren’t careful. If we try to poke holes in Jesus’ golden rule we’re going to be seen as disingenuous, even if we have decent points, because his general point is not necessarily a bad one. It will seem nit-picky. And if we dismiss the idea of the supernatural or miracles a priori, it will seem like we’re afraid to have an open discussion about them.

    Look, in hindsight, it’s easier for us to see some of the flaws of Christianity — things we may not have noticed when we were believers (for those of us who were). But the reasonable people who are still believers don’t see it that way yet. We don’t have to dismantle every single facet of Christianity, and if we try to, we’ll seem like extremists. I think a middle-of-the-road approach is best, where we try to remain as objective as possible and let the facts fall where they may. Concede the points that can be conceded. Acknowledge that there are still things we don’t yet know or understand. Because then, when we reach points that are solid and unassailable and on which we can not bend, it makes a much greater impact.

    That’s what made the difference for me. And I’ll bet that it was a similar situation for the rest of you too.

    That’s why guys like unkleE don’t really bother me. We disagree on some major issues, and I’ve discussed those with him in the past and will do so in the future. But that doesn’t mean we have to argue about everything, and it doesn’t mean I can’t like him as a person. He is not someone who ignores evidence. His beliefs have changed over time. He’s one of the few people in the world who is willing to discuss things with people who disagree with him. Those are good and admirable qualities. Furthermore, he believes all people, regardless of their beliefs, should be treated equally in society. And when it comes to children, I imagine he believes that they should be taught to think critically above all else. I see no reason why a man with those qualities shouldn’t be my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. I actually meant to say Science and History together have already disproved certain claims of the major religions and my point was that it does not seem Science could ever disprove a god altogether for the reasons you said even if there is no god. And you may not have a need to force people to agree with you but some people on here seem to. Even history can prove any past claims wrong but someone simply believing in a god or creator, or an afterlife at all at this point cannot be done away with by either. I personally hope they never are as I like to hold out hope for something better than what most people have believed in so far or in nothing at all after this. However, I am okay with disproving the parts that are used as an excuse to do horrible things.

    Like

  51. Nate,
    I left that last comment before I read yours. Again, I agree with you. And sorry everyone that I am not doing a good job of actually replying to individual comments and people, but I am still new to actually posting on here regularly with an actual login instead of as a guest. Bear with me lol

    Like

  52. Dave, Does UnkleE believe that his supernatural belief system is just one of many acceptable and equally valid world views? Does UnkleE believe that there will be ZERO negative consequences to those of us who do not believe in and obey his god?

    Gary, UnkleE can answer for himself, but I will say that I have found him to be much more reasonable and open-minded than most Christians I know personally.

    Sometimes I think that atheist and agnostic “nice guys” like Dave forget what this 6,000 year old Hebrew/Christian superstition has done to the world. It’s victims can be counted in the millions.

    I’m aware of the history, but I’m also aware that the religion has evolved. They don’t support slavery anymore, they don’t burn witches and they no longer have an inquisition. Sure, this is a valid argument against the consistency of their religion, but it is not an active, ongoing concern. Besides, I already said that I was against extremism in all of it’s forms.

    I know a lot of Christians in my neighborhood and I can tell you that they will never be persuaded by name-calling or put-downs. What they need to see is reasonable people who have left behind their superstitious baggage and want to discuss things in a friendly manner. If all they see is bitterness and verbal witch hunts they will be turned off immediately.

    Liked by 3 people

  53. I am strongly in favor of tolerance. I would never support any form of retaliation or discrimination against religious people. However, I think it is a mistake to grant respectability to any superstition. That is my point here. UnkleE wants us to concede that his supernatural world view is compatible with reason, logic, and science. It is not. It is just as ridiculous as believing that the Tooth Fairy is the Almighty Empress of the Universe, that we must worship and obey her, and that those who do not will face cosmic retribution in the afterlife.

    We can be friends with people like UnkleE, but we should never let our children think that we consider it reasonable and intelligent to believe that ghosts and ghouls govern their world.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Maybe there’s a difference in the way we’re using the words “respectability,” etc. I can’t think of a time when a nonbeliever here has given the impression that they’re in agreement with a particular religious position. I’ve seen individuals “agree to disagree,” or express how they can see why a person believes a particular thing, or express a willingness to consider something a religious person has put forward. But I don’t see that as accepting a religious tenet or even granting one respectability. Do you agree that there’s a distinction?

    Not trying to be argumentative, btw — just trying to clarify. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  55. I have zero atheist friends. All my social acquaintances and neighbors are (liberal) Christians. I don’t discuss my agnostic belief system with them unless they bring it up. The purpose of this blog is not to discuss the weather and sports. It is to discuss leaving Christianity. If you are Christian and have thin skin, why would you want to read this site…unless you are trying to reconvert ex-Christians or convince a few undecided lurkers that the Christian superstition is not so irrational after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Nate,

    There is a difference between:

    “UnkleE, I believe that your belief system is a discrimination-inciting, irrational superstition, but I defend your right to believe as you choose” vs. “UnkleE, I disagree with you, but your belief system is certainly reasonable and respectable.”

    Liked by 1 person

  57. What they need to see is reasonable people who have left behind their superstitious baggage and want to discuss things in a friendly manner

    Unklee ( as an example) would consider himself eminently reasonable as some find him so.
    Yet I can you right now, most of those that have debated him, here and on his own site ( I do not know if he ventures far afield) will tell you he is condescending and manipulative.
    His presentations are tailored very much like William Lane Craig structures his arguments.

    He, like many who hold similar beliefs, is careful to avoid any sense of overt bias and will hammer on about scholarly consensus til the cows come home, yet when confronted with an even greater consensus for the Pentateuch, for example, carefully sidesteps any direct commitment and/or does not acknowledge it has a bearing on his Christianity.

    While his Reasonable Christianity (sic) acknowledges evolution he also steadfastly believes in the Virgin Birth and miracles.

    In fact, I have yet to see the Exodus issue tackled on his site. ( Or any other Reasonable Christian’s site for that matter)
    Yet, like all Christians, he seems to believe he is in pursuit of truth.
    His reasonable appearance regarding his theology is actually a veneer, and one streaked with hypocrisy.

    He is not alone in this vein – Evangelical Apologist, Mike Licona, for one, was famously ousted from his place of employment for daring to write in his 2010 book that the Raising of the Dead Saints should be not be regarded as a literal physical resurrection.
    He was – crucified – excuse my French – by such notable evangelists as Norman Geisler.

    A ”live and let live” policy is all that is necessary for fundamentalism to thrive.
    Those who have any sort of religious bent they wish to take into the public domain as truth should be obliged to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that what they believe is based upon a foundation of sound, irrefutable evidence.
    Virgin births and Zombies of any description are two cases in point.

    Any takers?

    Otherwise, keep it to oneself, or within the confines of those adults with similar beliefs but most definitely keep it away from kids in any form.

    Liked by 2 people

  58. Gary, I must disagree with you! Note’s blog is about finding truth. If that involves leaving Christianity for some, then so be it. But I firmly believe Nate is more interested in helping others see religion for what it is and then let each person decide what to do with that information.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Gary, I’m glad to hear that you’re in favor of tolerance 🙂

    That is my point here. UnkleE wants us to concede that his supernatural world view is compatible with reason, logic, and science.

    That’s not exactly how I see it. If you’re honest you’d have to admit that science has not yet filled in all the gaps of knowledge that exist. We don’t know why the big bang happened or what if anything came before it. We don’t know how consciousness works. Abiogenesis still needs more work done on it and there are still mysteries within the theory of evolution that need to be solved. So, we are not yet in a position to dismiss the theory of intelligent design just yet IMHO. I agree that it seems like jumping the gun to posit an invisible mind working in the background, but I can also relate to why people think it must be so. I don’t think this deems them worthy of ridicule.

    Liked by 1 person

  60. I was once a Christian on this site trying to understand where Nate was coming from in his conversion because it was such a shock. I was already a pretty Liberal Christian though, I have never been Fundamentalist and even though this site alone did not deconvert me, it had a small part in it. So some Christians are coming here to try and understand Nate, those with an open mind may change theirs over time. Some may be trying to come on here in hopes to convert him back or to convert others, but I often find that a lot of times deep down those people are the most insecure in their beliefs anyways, so whether it is immediate or not, maybe the site will have a positive influence on them in some way, probably more so than them being on here will affect any nonbelievers. Another reason, that being civil and moral about things might help if you do actual care about changing anyone’s opinions.

    Liked by 3 people

  61. And if we dismiss the idea of the supernatural or miracles a priori, it will seem like we’re afraid to have an open discussion about them.” – Yet if we don’t, we lend credibility to them, and enable the believer.

    Liked by 2 people

  62. Sure, unkleE has been condescending at times, but that’s not how he typically comes across. At least, not to me.

    And Nan’s right — I’m more interested in the free exchange of ideas than anything else. I do write against Christianity frequently because I think it’s false and I spent many years under its sway.

    Ark said (about unkleE):

    He, like many who hold similar beliefs, is careful to avoid any sense of overt bias and will hammer on about scholarly consensus til the cows come home, yet when confronted with an even greater consensus for the Pentateuch, for example, carefully sidesteps any direct commitment and/or does not acknowledge it has a bearing on his Christianity.

    Yes, but when this kind of thing happens, it’s apparent to the reasonable people watching from the sidelines, whether the person giving those arguments ever concedes it or not.

    A ”live and let live” policy is all that is necessary for fundamentalism to thrive.

    Actually, I think a “live and let live” policy is the opposite of fundamentalism. Maybe it does give them some cover in that they’re able to say what they think — but they quickly show themselves to be jerks with an outmoded form of thinking. That’s why public opinion tends to shift toward the progressive end of the spectrum as time goes on.

    Those who have any sort of religious bent they wish to take into the public domain as truth should be obliged to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that what they believe is based upon a foundation of sound, irrefutable evidence.

    I tend to agree.

    Like

  63. “And if we dismiss the idea of the supernatural or miracles a priori, it will seem like we’re afraid to have an open discussion about them.” – Yet if we don’t, we lend credibility to them, and enable the believer.

    That’s a good point, arch. I think there’s a fine line in there somewhere, and I don’t pretend to know where it is. But I think any claim fits along a trajectory of believability. If I say I had toast for breakfast, that’s very believable (even though it isn’t true). It also isn’t of much consequence.

    A miracle claim is another thing entirely, and the person making such a claim should recognize that. They should acknowledge that a lot of extremely good evidence is going to be required to show their claim believable. So if someone just makes that claim with no evidence, then it can be dismissed without evidence, just as Hitchens said. But I think there’s a difference when a person claims to have evidence for a miracle. If they present what they think is good evidence, I think we should examine the evidence before rejecting the claim. If we refuse to consider the evidence, then our credibility is diminished among those we’re trying to convince, even if we’re right.

    Liked by 1 person

  64. And sorry everyone that I am not doing a good job of actually replying to individual comments and people” – No, no – do NOT apologize! Every other WP blog I post on has “stacked” comments – the replies appear beneath the original comment. Nate chooses not to use that option, consequently each comment sinks to the bottom and we either quote a passage at the beginning, to indicate which comment we’re replying to, or readers can simply guess. I once forgot that this blog was that way, and just replied directly, without referencing the comment to which I was replying, and was accused of being drunk, as my comments seemed to be random, out of the blue, and reference nothing. Of course I was, but that had nothing to do with it.

    It is NOT you!

    Liked by 4 people

  65. Amanda, I don’t think there is anyone here who would want to force anyone to convert no. Unless you could name any one such person.
    Dave no one is denying

    If you’re honest you’d have to admit that science has not yet filled in all the gaps of knowledge that exist.

    but relying on revelation isn’t going to bring us any closer to the solutions.
    How can you even call intelligence design a theory? What are the hypothesis? How can it be tested? How would we know anything about the designer?

    I agree with Ark and Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

  66. Nate you write
    If they present what they think is good evidence, I think we should examine the evidence before rejecting the claim. If we refuse to consider the evidence, then our credibility is diminished among those we’re trying to convince, even if we’re right.
    and I must ask what type of evidence would this be? If miracles are repeatable that evidence is readily available, can they still be miracles? Or rather to put the question differently, what is your understanding of miracles and what would you consider as evidence of one?

    Like

  67. Yes, but when this kind of thing happens, it’s apparent to the reasonable people watching from the sidelines, whether the person giving those arguments ever concedes it or not.

    Even I was unaware that Moses was not an historical figure until a few years back and I have been an atheist most of my life, thus many people of all stripes might well not realise.

    It would beneficial if unklee would ( pop over and) actually state his position openly, (and without ambiguity).
    I wonder if he would?

    Like

  68. Mak, I think it would depend on the type of claim. I agree with the same objections you would likely raise: how do we know there’s not a natural explanation that we haven’t found yet? etc.

    But most claimed miracles today are rather mundane. Now if I could have witnessed Moses crossing the Red Sea, or watch an amputee regrow a limb, or see a long dead person come back to life, then I’d likely accept those as true miracles. I would certainly consider whatever message is being presented by the person who could do such things.

    Like

  69. UnkleE wants us to concede that his supernatural world view is compatible with reason, logic, and science.” – That’s the same ploy that Brandon [anaivethinker] attempts – they seem to believe that if they can only get us to admit to the possibility that there’s a supernatural world somewhere or scientific laws that somehow supercede our own, then they at least have their foot in the door.

    Liked by 2 people

  70. But what’s wrong with conceding the possibility? To me, it just seems honest. We can’t know that the supernatural doesn’t exist. Instead, we can argue why it’s unlikely, or talk about what “supernatural” even means when discussing reality. We can also talk about the problems with having a mind without a brain, as Howie often brings up. But why claim more than we can demonstrate?

    Liked by 1 person

  71. Actually, I think a “live and let live” policy is the opposite of fundamentalism.

    Not be be too facetious

    And how many children must be abused by the clergy?
    How many must die because of the church’s stance on contraception, abortion etc?
    What about homosexuality?
    And where should we start with Creationism, ID or Islam?

    ”In God we Trust”

    Serious?
    You believe this?

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  72. Even I was unaware that Moses was not an historical figure until a few years back and I have been an atheist most of my life, thus many people of all stripes might well not realise.

    And we should definitely point out things like that. If unkleE (or whomever) never addresses it, then that sort of makes its own point…

    Like

  73. And how many children must be abused by the clergy?
    How many must die because of the church’s stance on contraception, abortion etc?
    What about homosexuality?
    And where should we start with Creationism, ID or Islam?

    ”In God we Trust”

    Serious?
    You believe this?

    Of course not. I’m talking about the kinds of Christians (or followers of any other kind of -ism) who would be just as outraged at those atrocities as we are. We can’t paint them all with the same brush and still be taken seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Amen, Ark.” – Interesting you should say that, GaryM – I just posted this yesterday on another blog, and it might be of interest here:

    Amen/Amun/Amon (several spellings) was an Egyptian god, who was finally combined with the Egyptian god, Ra, and became known as Amen-Ra. The names of Egyptian pharoahs were compound names, much as you will find that Hebrew names are in the original Hebrew, and so, “Tutankhamun,” or as the Egyptians would have phrased it, “Amen-tut-ankh” [the god’s name, out of respect, is placed first], meant “Living Image of Amen.” What most Judeo/Christian theists never realize, is that when they say, “Amen,” they are swearing by the Egyptian god that what they say is true.

    Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. For one thing, Amanda, having to lay out all of their beliefs in a debate – explain them in such great detail that one in the opposite camp will understand them – often expresses the thoughts of the believer to a greater extent than he/she has ever examined them before, and CAN lead to their seeing just how ridiculous they sound to others.

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  76. but relying on revelation isn’t going to bring us any closer to the solutions.

    I agree Mak, especially when the revelation has men’s fingerprints all over it.

    How can you even call intelligence design a theory? What are the hypothesis? How can it be tested?

    The same way I consider naturalism a theory. Not a scientific theory, but more of a worldview theory.

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  77. Dave,

    I have no problem with people who consider the existence of a Creator a possibility. It is a possibility because we have not yet figured out the origin of the universe.

    My issue is with miracle claims. UnkleE wants us to accept his claims of a virgin birth, walking on water, and the resurrection of a first century dead man as reasonable and respectable. They are not. They are no more reasonable and respectable than the belief of some villager in the jungle that his giant gum tree is Lord and Master of the planet.

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  78. Of course not. I’m talking about the kinds of Christians (or followers of any other kind of -ism) who would be just as outraged at those atrocities as we are. We can’t paint them all with the same brush and still be taken seriously.

    Any normal person who be revolted by these actions, yet …. they still continue.
    Whether we accept it or not there is a tacit acceptance.
    It must be pointed out and demonstrated that, all god belief is based upon a foundation of lies
    It is that simple.

    Where one Christian is vehemently intolerant of discrimination against homosexuality for example, they will vehemently defend their right to indoctrinate their children, and others with the belief that someone called Jesus of Nazareth was born to a Virgin and God had the right to slaughter millions in a global flood.

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  79. The problem, Ark, Christians do not see it as indoctrination. They are merely passing on their beliefs. To them, the bible and all they are told from the pulpit is “TRUTH” and as such is an integral part of their life. It would simply be unthinkable not to pass all of this on to their children.

    In a perfect world, parents would allow their children to make their own decisions … in all parts of life. They would offer advice, counsel, pros and cons, and be open to discussion of both sides of the issue. But as we know, this is not the way the cookie crumbles.

    Sad, but true.

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  80. “Amanda, I don’t think there is anyone here who would want to force anyone to convert no. Unless you could name any one such person.”

    Maybe I took some comments on here out of context when people were saying that theists must be stopped. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone on here wants to imprison anyone or murder them or even outcast them for being a believer lol but some Christians do think that and use that an excuse to act like they are persecuted here in the US in that way or that they could be in the near future. I guess I just thought some of the comments here, at the least, can lead to a dangerous way of thinking if that makes sense. Maybe I am just too fresh out of Christianity and still a little sensitive to certain comments lol

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  81. “For one thing, Amanda, having to lay out all of their beliefs in a debate – explain them in such great detail that one in the opposite camp will understand them – often expresses the thoughts of the believer to a greater extent than he/she has ever examined them before, and CAN lead to their seeing just how ridiculous they sound to others.”

    I do agree with you. This is one of the things that actually changed some of my views. I just think there is a fine line between debate and actually guilting or pressuring people or being ugly to them if that make sense. I have no problem with debates, discussion and educating people.

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  82. I have never had a problem with people believing in miracles. For one thing, if there is a God that created everything including us, than it is possible he could do anything. People believing in miracles has a kind of childlike innocence to it, like the time my very small child straight up asked me if mermaids were real and I did not have the heart to tell her no quite yet. I just said I had never seen one. Her response was, “Just because you have not seen something mommy, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” How do you argue with that? Lol However, when these miracles start being used as an excuse for hate, murder and taking people’s rights away it loses its childlike innocence, and or course I have a problem with it at that point.

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  83. If your “nice” superstition is given respectability and is considered reasonable, it is harder to condemn the “bad” superstitions as irrational. I hope for the day when all parents will teach their children that believing that a first century dead man is the Ruler of the Cosmos is just as ridiculous as believing in leprechauns and unicorns.

    We don’t need to be intolerant of the believer as a person, but let’s not give his superstitions any respectability.

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  84. Gary,

    I agree with you about miracle claims. Not because the claims are ridiculous, but because they are believed inconsistently. I say not ridiculous because if we accept the possibility of a creator deity then we can also accept that the deity may have the ability to alter it’s own creation at will (which Amanda just pointed out).

    The problem I see is that if you believe in a miracle claim, and want to remain consistent, you must also believe in every other miraculous claim that has ever been made with the same or greater amount of evidence.

    So, if you accept the resurrection of Jesus miracle based on non-eyewitness accounts and no physical evidence – you should automatically (staying logically consistent) accept every other miracle claim that is based on both eyewitness accounts and non-eyewitness accounts and with or without physical evidence. Also, since the gospels are anonymous and you cannot perform any witness profiling, you must accept the testimony of all miracle claims without much regard for the character of the witness. But that’s not how a typical Christian thinks. When they consider a claim they are only interested in how the claim will effect their doctrine and will choose to accept or reject the claim on this standard alone. This is what needs to be pointed out as contradictory thinking.

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  85. Dave for once we agree on something. If one person is going to claim belief in miracles, they have to be consistent and not only accept the miraculous claims of their religion but must be ready to accept the claims of competing religious beliefs.

    And Gary I don’t think you, Ark or myself are saying we can’t respect unklee, but their beliefs demand no respect whatsoever. All believes have to be examined and if they are worthy of ridiculed to be so ridiculed that they are abandoned by those who hold them.

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  86. @Nan

    The problem, Ark, Christians do not see it as indoctrination.

    I concur, but not all Christians actively indoctrinate, as we would generally understand the term as it applies to what someone such as Nate went through.

    With me, for example it was more cultural rather than hard core theology, thus I came to atheism sooner and easier.

    What we are trying to get at here is the inherent hypocrisy of Reasonable Christians condemning something like Creationism yet maintain support for Jesus and similar nonsense and are thus considered okay.

    They are not.

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  87. I see what you’re saying Ark. And I agree. To my way of thinking, it just boils down to what each individual wants to believe, evidence be damned.

    In unkleE’s case, he likes to point out that he’s “examined the evidence” to form his beliefs. But once again, it’s a matter of pick and choose to find the “evidence” that appeals to him. When others point out facts that don’t fit his worldview, he will say the other person simply hasn’t examined all (or the wrong) evidence.

    And around and around we go.

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  88. I have a theory on why there is disagreement between Christians on what it takes to be “saved” (believing vs. good deeds). I think the original message from Jesus was one of good deeds and a new kingdom on it’s way. Fairly soon, this message ran into the issue of “why should I change my life” and “why should I believe you”. This created a focus on people convincing others of why they should follow the teachings of Jesus. This could also be where the miracle stories came into play. Eventually the most important aspect of becoming “saved” was belief.

    “…for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24, ESV

    In hindsight it does not make much sense to receive judgment based on what you believe about a particular event or person. Now, liberal Christians are shifting back to deeds instead of belief. After all, what would happen to foreigners who died without ever hearing the name Jesus?

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  89. There are only a few theists that I am “ugly” to, and most of them are not on this blog. And believe me, I have no illusions about converting them, just holding them at bay: “Back! Back!” – sort of like you might find yourself saying to The Walking Dead.

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  90. Dear Atheist and Agnostic friends:

    How would you feel about this situation: A member of your family who has two young children is teaching them that leprechauns exist; that leprechauns are present everywhere, we just can’t see them; that these invisible leprechauns have magical powers to help you in times of trouble and can heal you of illnesses; and, when you die, the invisible leprechauns will carry you to their magical land to live a life of unending happiness…IF…you sincerely and faithfully believe in them; if you do your best to do what they say; and if you say special prayers to them.

    Would you tell your family member that his belief system is an acceptable worldview and that it is his right to teach his children whatever he wants to…or would you tell him that he is certifiably nuts and that what he is doing to his children is shameful, ignorant, and immoral?

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  91. Dear Christian:

    If you would say the latter to your family member—that he is nuts—regarding a belief in leprechauns, then why do YOU teach YOUR children that a first century zombie is their Lord and Savior and that they should pray to this invisible zombie whenever they are afraid, sick, or thankful?

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  92. Has anyone seen Portal, the cool Christian from Australia, for a while? He was very active on the blog Kathy began, but I haven’t seen him post in months. Nice kid.

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  93. G’day Nate & Dave,

    Thanks for your kind words about me. Nate, I totally agree with your paragraph which ended with: ” I see no reason why a man with those qualities shouldn’t be my friend.” and I feel the same about you.

    Hi Gary, Arch, Ark, Nan, Makagutu et al,

    It is kind of surreal to be spoken about so much as has occurred on this blog recently. I haven’t read most of the comments (life’s too short!) and I don’t usually reply to such personal comments, but in the hope of continuing the understanding Nate and Dave advocate rather than antipathy, I thought it might help if I responded now.

    I enter discussions of religion on the internet for several reasons – principally to try represent what I believe is the truth, and to get to know other people and learn what they think. (I have met many wonderful people of all different views, on every continent – except Antarctica!) But I find that most discussion of religion is based on “facts” which are not agreed upon by both sides, so I end up spending a lot of time talking about facts and scholarship. If we can’t agree on the basic facts, especially if another person refuses to accept mainstream scholarship, I usually withdraw rather than keep arguing ad infinitum.

    There are lots of other reasons people might discuss on the internet – e.g. to support each other in their shared opinions, to mock people who think differently, to express anger or otherwise vent, or to argue for the sake of argument – but I am not much interested in those reasons. Other people, including people here, are free to do that within whatever limits Nate sets, but I generally won’t choose to engage.

    I’m sorry that people think I have bad motives and am condescending, though I recognise it comes with the territory when a christian ventures onto an atheist blog – so I take it as a reverse sort of compliment. 🙂 If there are particular things I have said that offend you, please mention them and I am happy to either explain or apologise.

    But I feel most of the comments are unjustified. I mostly seem to get up people’s noses when I quote scholars and argue we should follow the consensus of scholarship. This is strange in people who themselves claim to be evidence-based, who sometimes make very definite statements themselves without adequate objective evidence, who more strongly criticise christians for the same things I criticise them for, and who make far more ugly personal statements than I ever do, generally without anyone objecting. I’m not complaining, just pointing things out.

    But I don’t take offence easily, and I’m quite happy to put all that behind me. For those who complain I don’t answer questions, I’m quite happy to answer any question as part of a reasonable discussion – but as I said before, I’m not going to waste my time or yours doing the research to find the facts and then explaining my conclusions from the facts, if those genuine comments are met with mockery, misunderstanding or misrepresentation, or if the other person isn’t really interested in unbiased facts. Why would I bother?

    I recognise that there will always be disagreements about where the best facts come from, and I am willing to discuss that too. I avoid quoting biased christian sources in favour of neutral and expert sources, and I expect non-believers to do the same – we can choose our opinions but we shouldn’t choose our own facts – something I think you guys say to christians often enough but don’t always apply to yourselves. If I have offended anyone there, then I’m sorry, but this matter needs to be raised.

    I don’t know why any of you would particularly want to discuss with me, but if you actually do, let’s agree on some ground rules – basically what Dave and Nate have said. I’m quite willing to discuss anything, but I will challenge poorly-based fact claims and I will withdraw again if the discussion gets unhelpfully personal or ugly.

    I’m easy either way. I can continue as I have, ignoring and generally not even reading many of the comments for the reasons I’ve given, and just discussing with Nate and Dave and others who want a friendly and courteous discussion. Or I can discuss with anyone else who wants to do it like normal friendly human beings. It’s really up to you.

    Thanks Nate for maintaining this discussion forum, thanks for everyone who has read this far. Over to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  94. That should do it.

    I have a bumper sticker that my Christian daughter never takes a close look at – it reads, “I Believe In Good,” but in a Christian redneck state, you get so used to seeing, “I Believe In God,” that the casual observer merely takes for granted that that’s what it says.

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  95. Let’s show how reasonable atheists and agnostics can be and concede the following two claims to Christians:

    1. The “majority of scholars” believe that the tomb (of Jesus) was empty.
    2. The “majority of scholars” believe that very quickly after Jesus’ death, his disciples came to believe that they had “seen” Jesus in some sense.

    If we concede these two claims as not only attested to by the “majority of scholars”, but, go one step further, and concede that these two claims are indisputable historical facts, is it reasonable and rational to conclude that the explanation for these two indisputable historical facts is that the three day old, bloated, decomposing body of a first century Jewish prophet was reanimated by an ancient Hebrew god, walked out of his grave, ate a broiled fish lunch with his fishing buddies, levitated/teleported into outer space from the top of a nearby mountain, and is at this very moment, gazing down at us from his throne on the outer limits of the universe as the Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Powerful King of the Cosmos?

    No.

    It is not reasonable. It is not rational. It is nonsense.

    Liked by 2 people

  96. @ unklee

    I’m quite happy to answer any question as part of a reasonable discussion –

    Excellent!

    Then please address the issue of the Pentateuch and in particular, the Exodus and the character of Moses, for which the overwhelming scholarly and scientific consensus accepts as historical fiction.

    Without Moses there is no Sinai covenant and a this encompass.

    Without the Pentateuch there is no Fall, no sin, and thus, no need for a savior.

    1.How do you justify preaching ”sin”, and what you regard as truth, however tacitly, and the need for ”salvation” through belief in the character, Jesus of Nazareth when the Pentateuch is fiction?

    2.How do you explain the character, Jesus of Nazareth whom you claim is the creator of the universe ,acknowledging the character Moses and Mosaic law and appearing with Moses in the transfiguration?

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  97. Would you tell your family member that his belief system is an acceptable worldview and that it is his right to teach his children whatever he wants to…or would you tell him that he is certifiably nuts and that what he is doing to his children is shameful, ignorant, and immoral?

    If I had the chance to discuss my opinions with this family member, I would certainly share them. My opinion is that no child should be indoctrinated with beliefs as though they were truths. It doesn’t matter whether it is santa claus, jesus, leprechauns or the easter bunny. Children should be allowed to think for themselves, period.

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  98. But I don’t take offence easily, and I’m quite happy to put all that behind me.

    Good for you UnkleE. I do object to all of the ad hominem statements. I look at it this way: If the best someone can do is insult you then all they are really doing is displaying just how shallow they are.

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  99. Hi Ark, thanks for your interest in my views. But there is one little matter to settle first. I made a few things clear:

    “I’m quite happy to answer any question as part of a reasonable discussion – but as I said before, I’m not going to waste my time or yours doing the research to find the facts and then explaining my conclusions from the facts, if those genuine comments are met with mockery, misunderstanding or misrepresentation, or if the other person isn’t really interested in unbiased facts.”

    “I don’t know why any of you would particularly want to discuss with me, but if you actually do, let’s agree on some ground rules – basically what Dave and Nate have said … [not] unhelpfully personal or ugly …. [but] friendly and courteous … like normal friendly human beings.”

    Are you agreeing to totally give up comments that don’t meet these ground rules?

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  100. “Good for you UnkleE. I do object to all of the ad hominem statements. I look at it this way: If the best someone can do is insult you then all they are really doing is displaying just how shallow they are.”

    Thanks again Dave. I agree.How can we say we have rational beliefs if our behaviour shows otherwise?

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  101. Are you agreeing to totally give up comments that don’t meet these ground rules?

    Most certainly, providing you answer truthfully, confronting the questions with honesty and integrity showing no ambiguity and no sidestepping.

    Do this and you have my word.

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  102. @Dave

    Couldn’t Moses still have been a historical figure even if the exodus story was blown out of proportion?

    From reading the biblical narrative, Moses’ sole function is as a Superhero picked by Yahweh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to settle the promised land. And, of course, along the way, climb a mountain, meet Yahweh and pick up a couple of tablets to ensure he now had a better Life Guide than one suggested by either Tony Robbins or Rhonda Byrne.

    He doesn’t even get to enter the promised land but is ”killed off” allowing Joshua to take the reigns and butcher his way across Canaan.

    So just what would be the point of Moses being an historical figure?

    Martin Noth once proposed that he was an amalgamation of Israelite characters but even this hypothesis was eventually rejected.

    Why is it so difficult to think that there were writers in such times who could ”pen” ( chisel?) a fantasy story as good -and certainly as bloodthirsty – as anything Tolkein could have dreamed up?
    But don’t ask me. Direct your question to the millions of Jews and others who now consider him as made up as Bilbo Baggins.

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  103. While we are on the subject….what happened to Kathy?

    Kathy is on twitter, bullying liberals.
    defending cops that kill unarmed black men and defending the sanctity of traditional marriage.

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  104. From reading the biblical narrative, Moses’ sole function is as a Superhero picked by Yahweh to lead the Israelites out of Egypt to settle the promised land.

    Perhaps you’re right. I was thinking about how the story includes so many names, like the family record for Moses and Aaron in Exodus 6. Now that I’m looking back at it, it looks like someone inserted the genealogy afterwards. It actually breaks right into the middle of a conversation and causes Moses to repeat himself almost word-for-word before and after it. The beginning of the story did not include the names of Moses’ parents so perhaps someone else wanted to improve it.

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  105. Unklee I see no problems with your conditions, am just wondering why you think it is necessary to have such a caveat.
    I only have a few questions. Do you believe in miracles because they are in the bible? What do you think of Mo’s journey from Mecca, to Jerusalem to heaven and back aboard a Pegasus? Do you think it is believable? Why not?
    Do you consider the Koran divinely inspired scripture? Why not?

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  106. @ Dave

    When you examine the text critically the obvious truth becomes plain.
    The problem Christians are having accepting this is the obvious devastating impact it has on the character, Jesus of Nazareth.

    I realise we do not know each other from soap, but if you can appreciate that this topic has been raised often enough with unklee and others that the frustration of them avoiding it as much as possible does tend to boil over.

    Once one is prepared to accept that the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction the ”expert” consensus regarding Jesus becomes just a little more difficult to swallow and it soon become apparent that any genuine Old Testament /New Testament scholarly harmonization becomes impossible. Somewhat like the nursery rhyme that ends … and ne’er the twain shall meet.

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  107. Once one is prepared to accept that the Pentateuch is simply historical fiction the ”expert” consensus regarding Jesus becomes just a little more difficult to swallow and it soon become apparent that any genuine Old Testament /New Testament scholarly harmonization becomes impossible. Somewhat like the nursery rhyme that ends … and ne’er the twain shall meet.

    Hey Ark-
    I assume you have, or know of some reputable person who has, used some fictional character or narrative or statement that would provide concise summary or drive home a point to a particular person or group of people. Imagine you use a quote from Shakespeare to drive home a truth about something, or, as many non-Christians I know do, you use a lesson Jesus taught or statement he made to uphold some point on morality you are trying to make. I don’t know if you’ve ever done either, but I know many people who use fictional quotations to make points. If that is acceptable, which I find a hard time believing you’d disagree with, how, then, could Jesus using teachings from the OT that may be either fictional or over-exaggerated be out of the bounds? You seem to be arguing that his use of OT accounts, that might be fictional, nullifies any credence we might have been able to give him. I don’t see that is the case. I know you have many other problems with Christianity and the NT, but I believe Jesus could have legitimately used fictional OT stories (as Christians have long known he did with Job and probably Jonah, for instance) to make a point to his listeners, and that does not necessarily nullify his authority or his existence.

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  108. I’d like to hear the answer to mugatu’s questions.

    I often wonder how people can continue in belief once they’re shown the issues. My belief crumble so quickly after I finally saw them.

    I suspect that there is something inside them that make them think there is something invisible that binds everything in the universe (and beyond?) together. They see everything in existence, and think that something made that order… of course, they must keep from asking why their creator doesnt need creation or design, or they make some special rule for their creator or designer, and fail to consider that if one can invent any new rule or possibility for their invisible “start” or creator, then why cant anyone else do the same, conveniently explaining their position.

    I think they also are compelled by a hope for eternity. maybe even a lack in ability to fathom nothingness or an end ( I think that nothingness is probably best imagined by recalling what it was like before you were born).

    But I also imagine fear, coupled with the above, is a motivator. fear of rejection. fear of being condemned for an honest mistake. fear of being alone, without a cosmic daddy or guardian angel to watch over them. fear of hell.

    of course, to those who claim to have witnessed real miracles, then i can see where that’s compelling, but unless they come with explicit directions or message, how do they know they are attributing it to the right deity? and if they find miracles so compelling, then wouldnt understand why there are those who dont believe without seeing or witnessing any?

    but like nate, i can live with cool people, regardless of their belief. Are they good neighbors, do they at least keep from harming others? I’m down with that, and dont feel the need to force doubt upon them. just like I dont go around telling all children that there is no santa, or like I wouldnt tell a die soldier that his best friend also died, or that he’s not going to make it. We make cocessions in truth all the time, so see no need to force what i think is true on everyone. I’ll discuss it, and am fine with the discussion – and try not to be upset by the result.

    I’m looking for truth and hope others do as well. I can make only myself look deeper, question more honestly. I’ll try not to worry about what others do with their own reflection… although it is chore at times.

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  109. Josh, maybe jesus is a fictional construct created to illustrated how better man can be and should strive to be. maybe it is all just a parable and none of it is literal… or even truly inspired by god,

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  110. William, I am going to run you over for doing such injustice to my name 🙂

    Josh, I don’t think you understand Ark’s question. As an author, I think he can answer for himself, but here we have claims that Jesus was/is god. Why would a god knowing the OT characters were mythical refer to them and even claim to have been with them at the transfiguration unless he meant to deceive and not correct their wrong beliefs? Ark you can correct me if I misunderstand your question.

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  111. Somewhat like the nursery rhyme that ends … and ne’er the twain shall meet” I believe that’s Kipling —

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  112. arch now after you have written

    Kathy is on twitter” – The perfect place for a twit

    I may just have to consider closing my twitter account.
    @william your comment to Josh is so spot on.

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  113. sorry, Makagutu about the name thing. I couldnt resist. every time I see your name I think of Will Farrell’s character on Zoolander…

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  114. I find a hard time believing you’d disagree with, how, then, could Jesus using teachings from the OT that may be either fictional or over-exaggerated be out of the bounds?

    Not answering for Ark, Josh, just voicing my own opinion – when I use Aesop, or Shakespeare, or whomever to illustrate a point, and I have, it’s because everyone I’m addressing KNOWS that the Shakespearean characters are fictional, other wise I would clarify, “As Shakespear said in ‘King Lear’ —” Had Yeshua identified Moses as a fictional character to his audience, I would have had no problem with that. However IF Yeshua had lived, and IF Yeshua had referred to Moses (and there’s no evidence for either), then it would appear that Yeshua believed that Moses was as real as did his audience, which rather lessens his claims of divinity.

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  115. Why would a god knowing the OT characters were mythical refer to them and even claim to have been with them at the transfiguration unless he meant to deceive and not correct their wrong beliefs?

    Maybe he wasn’t primarily concerned with whether they knew Moses was actually a real, historical person? Maybe he was more concerned with overturning their beliefs about who God is rather than arguing history with them?

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  116. Arch-
    I see your point. I don’t’ necessarily agree that, to make his point, he had to identify Moses as a fictional character. I think we often use stories and other types of fiction to make points to people. I’m thinking as a social worker (my job 🙂 communicating things to children or adults who have limited mental capacity, and using a lot of parable and fiction to get across truths about the world they may not understand if I were to engage on a much higher intellectual plane. I don’t see it as out of the question that Jesus simply glossed it over because it didn’t matter whether they believed Moses was a real person or not, it was the point he was making that was important.

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  117. maybe they were real and it just looks like they werent? maybe muhammad and jesus are both right. if you look at it like this or like that..

    or maybe we can imagine an infinit enumber of possibilities for anything, trying to ignore the problems that thing has.

    But the bible is supposedly delivered by a perfect and all powerful and all loving god, who’s often characterized and a good father. yet we must resort to maybes? we have to invent imaginary bridges between discrepancies and contradictions? we are asked to believe things like a man-god raising from the dead and flying into heaven, we’re asked to believe a virgin actually gave birth to a god-child? we’re asked to believe that zombies walked around jerusalem after christ died? we’re asked to believe in so many outlandish things, so many things that are contrary to observable and testable science, contrary to common sense – and all without any supporting evidence except some claims in an old book collection?

    over something so important and so special, what good father presents such a vague and questionable instruction, to the point that it isnt even certain that he is the one who actually gave it?

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  118. Josh, the sermon on the mount is not a teaching about god but rather how they should live their lives. So it doesn’t even come closer to supporting your assertion.
    And Josh, Jesus is reported to have spoken in parables so as not to be understood by the majority. Was it part of the plan that he be intentionally unclear?
    Oh William, I like your questions

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  119. The Christian Resurrection story carries only a trace of respectability and believability based on one single Christian claim: that the tomb of Jesus was guarded round-the-clock by Roman guards, from the moment the stone was rolled in front of the door of the tomb sealing the body of Jesus inside, to the moment the angel came and rolled it away three days later.

    I wonder how many Christians realize that this detail is only mentioned in ONE place in the entire Bible. Paul says nothing about guards (or even a tomb). Mark, the first gospel written, says nothing about guards. So guess who does mention it? I’ll give you a hint: it is the same person who also says that there were two earthquakes (that Mark never mentions) and that dead people came out of their graves and walked the streets of Jerusalem on the same day of Jesus’ alleged resurrection….Matthew! Yes, good ol’ Matthew…the Teller of Tall Tales.

    No other gospel writer mentions this detail.

    Let’s take a look at the facts:

    1. The overwhelming majority of scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written first.
    2. The overwhelming majority of scholars believe that Matthew borrowed up to 70% of Mark to write his own story.
    3. If the Gospel of Matthew was written by the apostle Matthew, an alleged eyewitness, why would an eyewitness need to borrow so much material from an author who the majority of scholars do NOT believe was an eyewitness?
    4. The majority of scholars believe that the original Gospel of Mark ended with the women finding an empty tomb, but no guards, and no post-resurrection appearances.

    So, let’s go back in time. It is sometime in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s AD and Mark’s gospel is floating around the Christian world and no other gospel has yet been written. What are non-Christians, especially Jews, saying about the claims of this Christian book? Well, if Christians are saying that the tomb was empty on Sunday morning, who would most Jews believe were responsible for the tomb being empty? Answer: the disciples took the body to keep alive their claim alive that Jesus was the Messiah. “The disciples stole the body,” said the Jews.

    So how would a tall tale teller like Matthew deal with this problem? Answer: You invent a solution! Isn’t this what we find Christians doing all the time when they are backed into a corner? Ask a moderate or liberal Christian about the Ascension: how could Jesus have made it to heaven ascending at a speed that his disciples could still see him ascend, when we know that even traveling at the speed of light, he would still not have made it to the next closest galaxy, let alone the edge of the universe, and these Christians will invent the concept that Heaven is in “another dimension”. Problem solved! Well, this is what Matthew appears to have done.

    However, Matthew made a mistake. If you read the passage, the Pharisees do not ask Pilate for guards to guard the tomb until the following day! That means that Jesus’ body was unguarded the first night in the tomb! ANYONE could have stolen the body from an unguarded tomb!

    To say that the best explanation for the empty tomb (if the “majority of scholars” are right and there even was a tomb, let alone an empty one) was that a rotting corpse was reanimated by an ancient Canaanite god and walked out of it to levitate into outer space is the LAST of all probable explanations to explain why the body was missing!

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  120. the sermon on the mount is not a teaching about god but rather how they should live their lives. So it doesn’t even come closer to supporting your assertion.

    Wow. I couldn’t disagree more that it doesn’t address misconceptions about the Mosaic Law that was supposedly from God.

    Was it part of the plan that he be intentionally unclear?

    It seems that it was. Jesus was nothing like the Messiah the Jews expected. He is also probably nothing like the Messiah that we today would hope for. As you’ve pointed out, we’d want him to be crystal clear to everyone so there could be no mistake.

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  121. communicating things to children or adults who have limited mental capacity” – Ah, Christians —

    Well if I ever try to convince you that King Lear or Paul Bunyon are real, just to illustrate a point, feel free to call me on it.

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  122. Well if I ever try to convince you that King Lear or Paul Bunyon are real, just to illustrate a point, feel free to call me on it.

    I didn’t say anything about trying to convince anyone that King Lear or Paul Bunyon are real. I’m sorry, Arch, but you are taking what I wrote and blowing it way out of proportion to make your point.

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  123. Guy asks a friend, “How do you like Kipling?
    Friend says, “I don’t know, I never kippled —
    (Pa-dum-pumb!)

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  124. over something so important and so special, what good father presents such a vague and questionable instruction, to the point that it isnt even certain that he is the one who actually gave it?

    william-
    Maybe the important part isn’t “knowing” that it was from God. Maybe the important part is loving each other, treating each other with compassion, trying to bring about a kingdom where all are accepted. Jesus said “I AM the truth, I AM the light, I AM the way”. Maybe he really meant that? Maybe, when we are so bent on believing in Jesus the person of history, we should be more concerned with Jesus as the truth that we are all deserving of love, and the light that scatters evil, and the way that leads to hope for our future?

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  125. 2. The overwhelming majority of scholars believe that Matthew borrowed up to 70% of Mark to write his own story.
    90% (Ehrman)

    3. If the Gospel of Matthew was written by the apostle Matthew, an alleged eyewitness, why would an eyewitness need to borrow so much material from an author who the majority of scholars do NOT believe was an eyewitness?

    Further, when “Matthew” tells of the collection process of Yeshua’s band of Merry Men, he tells how Levi, the tax collector joined the group. “Matthew” is the Greek translation of Levi – why would he speak of himself in the third person? Wouldn’t it add a personal, eye-witness touch, had he simply said, “I”?

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  126. ^ When I write “Maybe, when we are so bent on believing in Jesus the person of history”, by ‘we’ I meant Christians

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  127. Lay two KJV Bibles side by side sometime and open one to Mark, the other to Matthew. It will quickly be seen that often Matthew copied Mark verbatim. He also often exaggerates – if Mark said that Yeshua healed a leper outside a city’s gates, Matthew tells us it was two! There are other examples, as well.

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  128. Or possibly I’m taking something that was already out of proportion and bringing it into focus.

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  129. Josh, I can certainly agree in love and goodness and brotherly kindness.

    i’ve witnessed such things and do see the value and benefit in them.

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  130. it’s just that when you view the bible in light of all other religions, it’s no more believable.

    maybe this, maybe that, could’ve been this or might have meant that…

    is there anything that cannot be “answered” in such a way?

    well, the bible says jesus is real. and jesus seems to think that at least the OT is true, so jesus and the OT must be right. And who would ever imagine to say, “do unto to others what you’d like done to you?” I mean, only a god could have possibly come up with that.

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  131. @ Josh

    Re: Your question.

    Mak did a sterling job of answering. Nothing I could fault, yet I sense you are now trying to find a way to make the bible respectable and maintain a Christian fiction regarding the divinity of the character Jesus of Nazareth?

    How much personal interpretation are you prepared to do to ensure you hold on to your belief that the character Jesus of Nazareth is the god you worship ( assuming you do of course?)

    At what point does the bible simply become open to any interpretation one wants?

    If the Transfiguration is fiction – as how can it not be? – a piece of allegory, then should we not also regard Saul of Tarsus’s vision in a similar light?

    Moses was a fictional character. The Pentateuch is historical fiction.

    This is recognised by all except those who are unaware/ignorant of the archaeology and scholarship
    or are Fundamentalist.

    And the larger issue you did not appear to address – the major ramifications of a fictional Pentateuch. Namely:
    No Garden of Eden, No Fall, No need for of a saviour.

    This now makes the character Jesus of Nazareth either simply human or being a narrative construct, like Moses.

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  132. What Josh is doing drives me absolutely nuts. He is using the classic Christian debate technique described below:

    Ad Hoc is a debating tactic in which an explanation of why a particular thing may be is substituted for an argument as to why it is; since it is therefore not an argument, it is not technically a fallacy, but is usually listed as one because it is a substitution for a valid argument. It is similar in form to moving the goalposts, but protects the argument by adding additional speculative terms rather than changing the meaning of existing ones.

    Users of ad hoc claims generally believe the excuses and rationalisations serve to shore up the original hypothesis, but in fact each additional speculative term weakens it. This is both due to the speculations being based simply on the faith that there might be an explanation, and because each additional term makes the hypothesis weaker according to the principle of parsimony.

    In fiction writing the term “plot spackle” is used to describe the same method, where additional terms are made up to pave over the cracks in a plot. This is also common in Biblical inerrancy arguments, where speculative terms will be added as it becomes clear that the plain text is contradictory or otherwise undesirable. This rather obviously changes the Bible from “inerrant” to “inerrant if you make a great many assumptions in a precise way which follows no logical pattern.”

    Many creationists and woo pushers use ad hoc explanations to magic away evidence that contradicts their underlying beliefs, rather than revising those beliefs.

    Gary: For 2,000 years all Christians have believed that Jesus believed that Moses was a real person accurately described in the Pentateuch, that the Passover in Egypt occurred and that he, Jesus, was the fulfillment of that historical event, and that Jesus was descended from the giant slayer King David. Yet, Josh is his great wisdom, has declared every Christian of Antiquity as uninformed on this point, and asserts that it is now reasonable and rational to believe that Jesus was speaking of these mythical figures metaphorically.

    Ad hoc ad nauseum.

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  133. Arch-
    Maybe. I’m frequently unfocused.

    william, and others-
    I wonder why I get so overzealous in coming to God’s defense. I often find myself boiling down to the point that the way we treat others is of primary importance. I think, sometimes, I react to the implication that people who continue to believe Jesus are somehow less than. I don’t tend to think that’s the case, and that’s maybe why I react. I definitely hold a minority view in believing Jesus was God, but also holding that believing that particular piece of information may not have been the point of his teaching. And, with regard to other religious texts, I think God probably does speak through those texts as well. Though, as with Christian scripture, I believe human involvement always tends to much up the message.

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  134. josh, and I want to be clear that I’m not attacking you. And I firmly agree with you on the importance of love and decency.

    but are you defending god, or are you defending the claims made about god in one particular book?

    it is just a collection of claims about god. they said god did this or that. They merely claimed god said this or that. you don’t believe such claims from other books. You would be right to reject me if i told you that god told me to inform the rest of you that he wants me to write a new edition.

    would you believe me if i added, “don’t believe me? well you aren’t rejecting me, but the Lord himself! as you’ve rejected him, he will reject you from the book of life!”

    no?

    so why does the bible with all it’s problems (or apparent problems, if you prefer), with all it’s confusion and vagueness, become believable on its man written claim that it’s from god? god hasn’t even said that he’d give a book called the bible, himself. It is 100% the claims of PEOPLE.

    They even claim an all powerful god mocks (through Elijah) gods that cant do miracles, claims he used to do miracles himself… he just doesnt any more… but since he used to, and since they’re telling us about them… we should believe what they claim about god…

    right

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  135. Gary, et al-
    I think the “faith that there is an explanation” is the whole point. If you look at nearly any coverage of a mass tragedy, there is almost always overwhelming appeal to some sort of supernatural. People of all kinds and backgrounds are looking for explanations. I believe that God exists, and that Jesus was God. I do not believe he is the God that many people on this site are talking about – the one who would “perfectly” reveal himself to us all, the one who would never allow any person to suffer for any reason whatsoever, etc. The God of the Bible is a God who clearly does allow all people, including “his people”, to suffer great tragedy. Maybe we have truly “made God up” in our own image – that we cannot fathom one who would allow anything bad to happen. Ever. But, that is not the God of the Bible. When you argue against God because of those reasons, you are not appealing to how scripture reveals God. He does not make sure good happens all the time to everyone. He does not intervene in every situation to make sure that everyone believes him. You have made up a God to argue against, one that isn’t revealed in the Bible. Granted, many Christians will argue this is the case, but it is not. God promises to be with us in our tragedy, confusion, and hatred of him. There are so many places in scripture where God is questioned, blamed, sought after with no answer, ridiculed for allowing things to happen, etc. Many of you accuse me of bending the Bible to mean what I want it to mean. And, I’m sure that is probably the case in many areas. I am not perfect, I am hypocritical and confused at times, and I do not adhere to the theory that, if God perfectly revealed himself, I would perfectly understand and explain everything. However, I do believe it is actually many of you who have created a God to tear down, one who does not exist in the Bible. The God revealed in the Bible is, in my opinion, much more hands off than many here argue against. You may not like that God is hands off, and feel that God is morally abhorrent or not worthy of belief because he is hands off. But, you can’t argue that the Bible reveals him as the hands-on God who makes everyone believe and all good things happen, and then say he can’t exist because that’s not the way the world is. God isn’t hands-on. He doesn’t make all good things happen. He lets us make good things happen. And, he lets us muck everything up. He pokes his head in once in a while to remind us what is best, but does not force anything or anyone. The faith is the key, as you said Gary. I can’t prove that any of this is true, and that I have tried to on occasion is my problem of being defensive. The best I have is to hope. To have faith. And, to treat others the best I am able.

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  136. Josh, you are aware that in the same Mathew, Jesus claims he didn’t come to change the law but to fulfill it. It is inconceivable that he would want to contradict Moses.

    Would you as Josh if you wanted to pass a really important message to your present audience and future listeners, how would you do it? Would your preferred method be parables that can be interpreted in whatever manner or directly like as saying do not suffer a witch to live. No ambiguity. It is clear. You see a witch kill her.

    @Ark, sigh- I was afraid I may have misrepresented your question.

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  137. Ark to Josh: I sense you are now trying to find a way to make the bible respectable and maintain a Christian fiction regarding the divinity of the character Jesus of Nazareth? How much personal interpretation are you prepared to do to ensure you hold on to your belief that the character Jesus of Nazareth is the god you worship ( assuming you do of course?)

    Ark, I thought that was a very nice way of putting it. I was starting to wonder the same thing. If the only purpose of Jesus was to remind us to love each other… then perhaps we should just call him a good teacher with some wise sayings and leave it at that. Put his teachings in the library next to Gandhi and Confucius.

    Josh, I think you would come under a lot of fire from mainline Christians for watering things down too much. Although from my perspective it seems like you’re on the right track. You’ve aligned your doctrine with what makes the most sense to you.

    What’s your take on these statements Jesus is said to have made: “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:28 and “I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.” Mark 9:1.

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  138. “The faith is the key, as you said Gary. I can’t prove that any of this is true, and that I have tried to on occasion is my problem of being defensive. The best I have is to hope. To have faith. And, to treat others the best I am able.”

    Thank you for this statement, UnkleE. If only all Christians would say this there would be no need for debate. Belief in a supernatural claim based on faith alone can never be disproved. If Christians want to believe by faith alone that Jesus rose from the dead, that is fine with me.

    It is when Christians claim that they have “evidence” that supports their supernatural claim, that I take issue with. Even more, I take issue with Christians who say that not only do they have non-faith based evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, but, if I and every other human being on planet earth do not believe their supernatural claim and do not obey/worship their supernatural, invisible deity, we will be eternally punished in some fashion. This is the belief that we atheists and agnostics must work diligently to debunk as utter nonsense.

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  139. @ Josh

    Unsurprisingly, when called out for what could be deemed being disingenuous your responses, which I suspect are as much for you own benefit as for others, are long and convoluted, incorporating a degree of personal interpretation, as I mention in my initial response – which you have yet to address.
    Mak has once more highlighted that the gospel writer has the character Jesus of Nazareth claiming he is here to fulfill Mosaic Law.

    Let us be clear.

    As the Pentateuch is historical fiction there could not have been Mosaic Law.
    There could not have been a meeting with Yahweh in the Sinai.
    Thus , Jesus can not possibly be divine or god because the god that he is purported to be – Yahweh – is a piece of historical fiction.

    Are you now able to see the problem?

    This is one reason why apparent intelligent apologists avoid this issue like the fictional historical plagues of Egypt.

    Remember, Marcion wanted to ditch the Old Testament god, but the Church would not have any of it.

    Now we know the Pentateuch is simply a story, there are only two choices.
    Jesus was either just a man or a narrative construct, like Moses.

    Take your pick.

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  140. Oops! Sorry. UnkleE made no such statement. It was Josh. Thank you Josh for your honesty and candor. I hope UnkleE and other Christians on this site will see the wisdom of your last statement.

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  141. Josh, no one is trying to attack your person. Not me.

    But you say in your response we have created a caricature of a god to tear down to pieces. Now the god of the bible is the god of Jacob[Israel], Abraham and Isaac. It is there in so many places and he is hands on. Either stopping the sun for Joshua to go on a killing spree or doing it himself like in Sodom. How have we misrepresented this god?

    But if you believe all this because of faith, fair enough and what we have been saying is let’s be honest. Either it is believed emotionally or there is a rationally good enough reason to believe. There is no need to claim pseudo intellectualism when at bottom it is a matter of faith.

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  142. Unsurprisingly, when called out for what could be deemed being disingenuous your responses, which I suspect are as much for you own benefit as for others, are long and convoluted

    I don’t think what I wrote initially was disingenuous. I still hold that utilizing fictional characters without expressly identifying them as fictional is acceptable. I am, however, trying to back away from doing any sort of proving that Moses was an actual person, or that I can explain what is written about Jesus or what he said, or anything else I might have inferred or said I could back up while trying to make my initial point. I am trying to admit that I am coming from a place of faith that there are explanations, like I mentioned above to Gary. I am not coming from a place where I feel I can demonstrate to you or anyone that what I believe is “the truth”. And, yes, my comments are long and convoluted. That is how I think and what I think. Especially when I’m at work, my responses on here are rather fast and I am only attempting to write out what I’m thinking.

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  143. isnt it interesting that in many of these times, when the faithful or the moved look to god for answers or mercy or thanksgiving, it’s after events that god would have caused or had powers to prevent – earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc.

    isnt also interesting that nearly none of these people can agree on who or what that god is.

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  144. How have we misrepresented this god?

    Hey Mak-
    I don’t know if it was you specifically. But, many here have claimed that God, if he exists, would reveal himself to everyone with no confusion or misunderstanding about who he is. This does not happen in scripture – God does not specifically reveal himself to everyone, nor does he reveal to all in a way that is unmistakeable. Many here have claimed that God, if he exists, would not allow evil, would intervene so that it didn’t happen, and so on. This does not happen in scripture. Whether he appears to intervene at times in scripture, he does not always intervene even in scripture. So, to make that claim is not to make a claim against the God of scripture. I can’t speak to whether God actually stopped the sun in order to facilitate a killing spree, or if he dropped fireballs on Sodom. Whether he did those things or not, arguing against a God who would always intervene, always reveal himself in crystal clear ways, always be saving people from evil and suffering, etc, is to argue against a God that is not revealed in scripture.

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  145. i don’t think that “GOD” is ingrained in us; some inherent propensity to believe or seek a higher power, as if that alone would prove god anyways. But I think seeking an explanation or an answer for things is. I think that “GOD” became teh catch all for the things that were impossible or difficult to find answers for.

    “GOD” created an explanation that did just enough to settle curiosity that itch in the back of the mind that begs to be scratched by an answer.

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  146. You make a very good point, William.

    A plane full of people crashes and everyone on board dies a terrible death, except, one small child survives. Christians exclaim, “Look! Its a miracle! God mercifully saved this little child!” My response is, “No, that is not a miracle. That is chance. If no one ever died in ANY plane crash…THAT would be a miracle!”

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  147. “GOD” created an explanation that did just enough to settle curiosity that itch in the back of the mind that begs to be scratched by an answer.

    And, here we are in 2015 still looking for answers. Maybe we’ll have all the answers some day. But, what happens if, in 4015, we still have a lot of unexplained? The itch will probably always exist. Just my opinion.

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  148. <“No, that is not a miracle. That is chance. If no one ever died in ANY plane crash…THAT would be a miracle!”

    Would it, though? Wouldn’t it just be normal if no one ever died in any plane crash? Then, if one person died, we’d have to find out why just that one person died. Always questions 🙂

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  149. “This does not happen in scripture – God does not specifically reveal himself to everyone, nor does he reveal to all in a way that is unmistakeable.”

    Josh, you were doing so well when you appealed only to faith. In this statement you seem to be asking us to believe in the Christian god, as described in the Christian holy book, because for some reason the Christian holy book should be believed.

    Why?

    Why go to the effort to try and convince William and the rest of us of the true character of the Christian god when you have no evidence for his character or his existence other than your internal, subjective, feelings and intuition…faith as you call it, baseless superstition, as we call it? Until you can prove the Bible to be an historically reliable book whose supernatural claims are unquestioned fact, you should consider ceasing to appeal to this ancient middle-eastern holy book as an authority on truth.

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  150. josh, we recognize that the god of the bible did not reveal himself in such ways or act in such way in the bible. that’s part of the point. that same bible also makes claims about god’s character.

    loving father, full of mercy, perfect, all powerful, wanting all to be saved, wanting none to perish…. yet the actions attributed to this god in this bible, contradict those claimed attributes.

    what loving father, even an imperfect and limited one, would hide himself from his children, then instruct strangers to write his own children letters on his behalf, and giving them a choice; “Because I love you so much, I want you to come live with me and tend to me until i die. If you do this, you will will receive a large inheritance. If you choose not to do this. and thereby reject me, your loving father and the gift i offer, i will torture you unmercifully. Now, you decide. I love you, my darlings?”

    is he a good and loving father because whoever wrote the letter said he was, or is he a bad father because of his actions?

    and really, we dont point these out to criticize the father, to criticize god, but to show one more reason we dont buy the claims the authors of the bible are peddling.

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  151. “And, here we are in 2015 still looking for answers. Maybe we’ll have all the answers some day. But, what happens if, in 4015, we still have a lot of unexplained? The itch will probably always exist. Just my opinion.” – josh

    very true, but also here in 2015 we now know that many of the thing sonce attributed to a deity have very natural, physical and explainable answers. maybe a god or some gods will eventually be proven, but i suspect that we will continue to learn, and that the things we learn to will continue to show more natural, physical and explainable things…

    dont you?

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  152. Why go to the effort to try and convince William and the rest of us of the true character of the Christian god when you have no evidence for his character or his existence

    That was a specific response to Mak. And, I’m not really trying to convince you of his character. I’m just trying to point out that God isn’t presented in scripture in the way that many attack. We can all argue til the cows come home about, if God exists, what his actual character is. I feel I am fairly flexible in using scripture, and not necessarily trying to hold it over peoples’ heads (though, I certainly do sometimes). But, many critics of scripture hold it to the words it uses. If that’s the case, they shouldn’t invent that God is certain ways that he isn’t presented in scripture in order to shoot him down.

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  153. very true, but also here in 2015 we now know that many of the thing sonce attributed to a deity have very natural, physical and explainable answers. maybe a god or some gods will eventually be proven, but i suspect that we will continue to learn, and that the things we learn to will continue to show more natural, physical and explainable things…

    I do agree that we will continue to learn more and more, and likely more and more things will be explainable. However, because they are explainable naturally doesn’t bother my faith. If God created nature, then why wouldn’t pretty much everything be explainable by nature?

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  154. arguing against a God who would always intervene, always reveal himself in crystal clear ways, always be saving people from evil and suffering, etc, is to argue against a God that is not revealed in scripture.

    Most Christians would argue against the Islamic god this way. They’d say “god would never… expect us to kill infidels, reward us with virgins, etc.” and the Muslim could reply “You’re arguing using your own concept of God and not the God that is revealed in the Quran!”

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  155. sure, i get that. once believe it too.

    I may not know the answer to a lot of things, but i know what it’s not.

    I am fairly sure you feel certain that all other religions arent trustworthy and were more than likely created by man….

    we’re in agreement.

    the way you defend Christianity is the same way others defend their faith as well. good fathers dont punish their children for using good sense, or reward them for unfair rejections and attachments.

    unless of course “good” isnt clearly understood.. it could mean something else.

    we could try role reversal, where you explain why you dont believe in dracula or islam, and one of us tries to defend belief on such… i submit that it would look very similar similar to defenses for Christianity.

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  156. Hey Josh,
    The god of the OT is shown to have favourites from the word go. In governance he would be accused of nepotism and abuse of office. Anyone who claims this god is good or anything close has not read the bible beyond Gen 1:1.

    You lose me when you write

    Whether he appears to intervene at times in scripture, he does not always intervene even in scripture.

    What do you mean? That he only appears to intervene but doesn’t intervene?

    Josh, I can’t help this but are saying that this -> I can’t speak to whether God actually stopped the sun in order to facilitate a killing spree, or if he dropped fireballs on Sodom isn’t covered in the faith you spoke of? Really Josh. Just tell me what you think.

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  157. @ Josh.
    You raise the issue of faith once more. In he face of overwhelming evidence regarding the historical fiction of the Pentateuch and its obvious negative impact on the character, Jesus of Nazareth, can you please explain what exactly you have faith in, and what you base this upon?

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  158. News Flash for Christians: Security Blankets do not provide any Security

    I believe that many Christians, maybe Josh, believe the Christian tall tale because it makes them feel good. It provides a sense of security: it gives them meaning and purpose to life. To give up their security blanket would be very frightening for them, therefore they cling desperately to it.

    A child may feel warm, cozy, and secure wrapped up in his favorite “blankie” at night, with his head covered, unable to see the dark shadows in his room. But if something or someone is really there, that security blanket isn’t going to do him a damn bit of good to protect him.

    Its time to give up the security blanket, Josh. Face the world as it is, not as you would like it to be. The truth is not as scary as you fear.

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  159. “While religious beliefs are mostly the result of parental instruction and geographic incidence, there are many subconscious, psychological, sociological and neurobiological factors that cause religious and superstitious beliefs to prosper.

    Religion is mostly caused by social and psychological factors and not by any examining of the evidence or logic behind the beliefs involved. This is why skeptics often find it so hard to bring their scientific knowledge to productive use in arguments with religionists.

    Psychologists, sociologists, ethnographers and scientists tend to view religious beliefs as the result of mostly normal psychological systems being applied in the wrong context. A prime example is the way we get angry with cars and computers, and shout insults at them, or the way we tend to see patterns in random behaviour such as brownian motion (our ‘hyperactive agent detection device’).

    Historical investigators such as William James have found that outstanding religious innovators and leaders have frequently been epileptic, psychotic, suffered from strokes and various mental problems and nervous instability and that this often give them more command in areas of spirituality. Experiments on the Human brain have allowed us to discover many of the specific neuronal networks that can misfire to cause us to have ‘religious’ feelings and experiences.

    Childhood fantasies, including an absence of death and the seemingly all-present, ever-caring and all-knowing parental figures who give us comfort, often become the basis for religious beliefs in adults. This hidden wishful-thinking mechanism feeds our ego (that “someone” cares about everything we do) and gives us consolation from death in the idea of an afterlife. Many strange things we ‘experience’ are cultural (therefore an aspect of upbringing), and once a scientific and critical understanding of them is attained, the beauty of the natural world displaces the appeal of the supernatural.

    Religion, when not considered a byproduct of misapplied cognitive psychology and social factors, is self-inflicted delusion, illusion, smoke and mirrors.”

    http://www.humanreligions.info/causes.html

    The link offers an excellent, and very comprehensive article, including studies and resources, on the causes of religious and superstitious behavior. I quoted an extract of the conclusion.

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  160. is it like a light bulb that someone believes is everlasting?

    like, they flip the switch but nothing comes on… and they just know the problem could be anything except the bulb?

    it’s either the switch or wiring or the socket or even their own perception… as in, maybe the bulb is working in spectrum of light invisible to me?

    nothing you say and no test you perform to show them the light bulb is blown will convince them teh bulb is blown because they know the build cant break, so it must be any other possibility, even it’s imagined.

    A. “look, the light bulb is blown. just replace it.”

    B. “no. cant be the bulb. it’s unbreakable. it will last forever. must be something else.”

    A. “typically this situation would mean the bulb is blown. just replace it and see if that works.”

    B. “no. I know it;s not the bulb. It’s probably the switch. it’s the simplest explanation.”

    A. “it’s not the simplest. the bulb being blown is.”

    B. “not if the bulb cant blow. not if the bulb wont break.”

    A. “I dont think that’s possible.”

    B. “why are you being so arrogant?” the wiring could be shorting.”

    A. “or the bulb may be blown.”

    B. “not a chance. maybe the socket died”

    A. “sockets dont die, but bulbs blow. here, i’ll replace it. If the new bulb produces light, then we’ll know it was a blown bulb.”

    B. “if that happens, all it will prove is that the bulb shines in infrared or some other invisible light. because the bulb cant break. I just know this. let’s replace the switch, socket and wiring – it’s the simplest solution once you allow for the possibility of an eternal and indestructible light bulb. and until you provide that every other potential problem is wrong, you cant disprove my bulb works.”

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  161. Holy Grave Robbers!

    I had never heard of this until today: How many Christians are aware that Jesus’ grave was unguarded AND unsecured the entire night after his crucifixion??? Isn’t that a huge hole in the Christian explanation for the empty tomb?? I would love to hear UnkleE explain this. Notice in this quote from Matthew chapter 27 below that the Pharisees do not ask Pilate for guards to guard the tomb until the next day after Jesus’ crucifixion, and, even though Joseph of Arimethea had rolled a great stone in front of the tomb’s door, he had not SEALED it shut!

    Anyone could have stolen the body during those 12 hours!

    The empty tomb “evidence” for the supernatural reanimation/resurrection of Jesus by Yahweh has a HUGE hole in it!

    “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

    The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[a] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[b] 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.”
    —Matthew 27

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  162. I react to the implication that people who continue to believe Jesus are somehow less than.” – I don’t think that’s the reason that they are considered “less than,” Josh, I think it’s because they are shown fact after fact that major parts of the Bible CANNOT possibly be true, yet STILL they believe. It leaves others wondering what kind of mentality can do that in the face of all of the evidence.

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  163. Remember, Marcion wanted to ditch the Old Testament god, but the Church would not have any of it.

    Ark, I would suspect Josh to be Catholic, and as such, maybe he doesn’t know about Marcion. Marcion was a second-century (100+ AD) scholar and evangelist who claimed to have discovered the true teachings of Christianity in the writings of Paul – that Paul, rather than the band of 12, was the real apostle of Jesus, as he advised all to discard Jewish law.

    Marcion believed that the OT god was an evil god, and that Jesus was the one, true god, who had come to save us from him. He believed that Jesus was not material, that he hadn’t been born of humans, and in fact, had no material body – he only made it look as though he did – and in fact, he didn’t actually need to eat or drink, but only did so, not to arouse suspicion. He further maintained that Jesus didn’t die on the cross – being immaterial and immortal, he couldn’t have – but only APPEARED to die, in order to maintain his cover.

    Sounds crazy doesn’t it? But if Marcion’s followers has won the argument at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, HIS beliefs would be the ones you would be defending today, and not the other group who actually prevailed, ultimately, because Emperor Constantine decided it would be so.

    If you have a belief, Josh, surely, if it is strong enough, it will withstand scrutiny – examine it, study it, see what respected critics of it have to say. Your belief will either strengthen or evaporate – either way, you’re better off.

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  164. I must repeat: Jesus tomb was unguarded and unsecured for over 12 hours during the dark of night!

    With this statement coming from the ONLY source who says anything about there being guards at the tomb at any time during the three days after Jesus death, how can any Christian use “the empty tomb” story as support for the claim that Jesus rose from the dead—when anyone or his grandmother could have stolen the body!

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  165. You notice that Matthew doesn’t say that when the Roman soldiers arrived at the tomb (over 12 hours after the stone had been rolled in front of the tomb) that they rolled the stone back to confirm that the body was still there. All Matthew says is that the Roman guards showed up to the tomb at some point the day after the crucifixion (for all we know they showed up in the late afternoon, making it almost 24 hours since Jesus’ placement in the tomb) and then sealed the tomb. That’s it!

    Jesus body could have been long gone by then. Whoever took the body (Jesus’ disciples, Jesus’ family, grave robbers, who knows who) rolled the stone back in place so as not to alert anyone to the crime of grave robbing, and if the soldiers did not roll the stone away to confirm the presence of a body, but simply sealed the stone. No one would ever know!

    However, on Sunday morning, Jesus followers are running all over Jerusalem saying that Jesus has been raised from the dead and that he ate a broiled fish lunch with them, so the Roman guards break the seal on the tomb to prove the disciples wrong, find no body, and in great fear, flee believing that the body was stolen under their watch!

    This NATURAL explanation to the finding of an empty tomb is MUCH more probable than that a zombie walked out of his tomb to teleport into outer space!

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  166. I’m way behind and this may have been addressed, but Josh, if Jesus were real and divine and he knew that Moses wasn’t a real person, then it does look suspect. After all, if he were divine, his audience was not just the people in front of him but everyone who’s come after, us included. You have to wonder why he would have allowed so many unnecessary stumbling blocks for us today…

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  167. Gary, your. second paragraph is pure speculation. While the scenario is entirely possible, you’re essentially doing the same thing as Christians do.

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  168. I can’t speak to whether God actually stopped the sun in order to facilitate a killing spree

    Sure you can, Josh, because unlike the scientifically-ignorant Bronze Age anonymous authors who wrote of that event, you know that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the sun revolving around the earth. You also know that the earth rotates on it’s axis, something those clowns never dreamed, despite being “inspired” by the god they said created it all, and that it’s that rotation, not the movement of the sun, that is responsible for day, night, and all hours in between, and consequently, there is absolutely nothing about the sun standing still that would have any effect on the length of the day.

    Of course, if you’re looking for wiggle-room, you could say that what they really meant was that the earth stood still. But you must realize that such an event would cause the oceans, people, and anything else that wasn’t tied down, to rush eastward at slightly over 1000 miles per hour.

    So don’t sell yourself short, Josh – you CAN speak to that. There are probably a lot of other things you could speak to as well, if you would just give it some thought.

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  169. This NATURAL explanation to the finding of an empty tomb is MUCH more probable than that a zombie walked out of his tomb to teleport into outer space!

    You’re as happy as a hog in a slop store, aren’t you Gary? But you’re right, that’s definitely an “Aha!” moment!

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  170. “Most certainly, providing you answer truthfully, confronting the questions with honesty and integrity showing no ambiguity and no sidestepping.

    Do this and you have my word.”

    Hi Ark, thanks for that. I can see a few loopholes there – like if you THINK I am not answering truthfully when in fact I am – but I will go ahead in good faith. I can reassure you I have never answered untruthfully as I see it, not have I any fear of any questions so no reason to sidestep, so I hope you don’t make any wrong assumptions about me.

    Most of your questions are about the OT, so I need to outline a few things first.

    1. I like to distinguish between facts and opinion. Facts are based on evidence and while they may not be certain (few things are) they are probable, and all reasonable people should accept them. Opinions may be based on facts, or not, but they are much more personal. All of us have both facts and opinions in our beliefs (= the thoughts in our heads). It is best if we determine facts first and then choose our opinions.

    2. On most issues, I am not expert enough to determine my own facts, but need to rely on experts in that field – think brain surgery, quantum physics, the best way to grow a carrot, or human psychology ….. and history. So if we want to know about the OT, we need to start with expert conclusions – and only determine our opinions after that.

    3. Here’s where we get into difficulties. For there is a wide range of expert conclusions on the OT, and specifically on the Pentateuch – from maximalists like James Hoffmeier to minimalists like Israel Finkelstein, with many in between these “extreme” views. I am interested to note that you (and Arch) always quote the minimalist view, and Finkelstein, as if that and he are the only view or the only possible correct view. (And you also overstate what the minimalist view is.)

    I suggest this is not a fair way to proceed. At the very least, you should acknowledge the range of expert opinion so people understand that, instead of giving a false impression. And for myself, I think it is generally safer to choose experts in the middle of the range, while acknowledging the full range.

    So, I will take notice of both the minimalists or the maximalists, but I will take more notice of more moderate viewpoints like those expressed by William Dever, Yosef Garfinkel and Peter Enns, for example.

    I would be interested to see your explanation and justification for preferring the most extreme view and never explaining to anyone that there is a wide range of other views.

    4. My broad view as a younger christian was influenced by CS Lewis, who was an expert in ancient literature and history, though not specifically in this period. He wrote this:

    “The earliest stratum of the Old Testament contains many truths in a form which I take to be legendary, or even mythical — hanging in the clouds, but gradually the truth condenses, becomes more and more historical. From things like Noah’s ark or the sun standing still upon Ajalon, you come down to the court memoirs of King David. Finally you reach the New Testament and history reigns supreme, and the Truth is incarnate.”

    So I am quite comfortable with that view, and have known about it for maybe 40 years. So now to your questions, which are about both fact and opinion:

    “Then please address the issue of the Pentateuch and in particular, the Exodus and the character of Moses, for which the overwhelming scholarly and scientific consensus accepts as historical fiction.”

    Like I said, you have overstated the consensus. That is one end of the range. I think the consensus on the Exodus & Moses would be more like this (very briefly).

    There is little evidence for anything that long ago, so to most questions we will have to answer “we don’t know”. From a historical viewpoint (and disregarding the OT text), we don’t know anything about any of the characters in the OT story, and we wouldn’t expect to. What we can say is this. No archaeological evidence has been found for the Exodus, the stories read like similar stories from other ANE cultures, and the numbers in the Exodus are clearly impossible (marching 100 abreast, 1m between each row would make a column 6 km long just of the men, more if we assume the count only included males). It is hard if not impossible to fit the Exodus into Egyptian history, and there are only a few possible references to a Hebrew exodus in other sources.

    So, the minimalists say with that little evidence, it’s all fiction (though even Finkelstein agrees that Moses could have been historical, we just don’t know), the maximalists say with that little contrary evidence, we have to go with the text. And those in the middle say (more accurately I suggest) that we just don’t know.

    That is all pretty factual stuff representing the range of views. My own opinion (based on this factual evidence, or the lack of it) is that it doesn’t matter. My christian faith isn’t built on this stuff (my reasons to believe in Jesus, which are quite extensive, don’t ever mention the OT) and I could happily believe any of the range of views. I would probably be least comfortable with the literal view. So my tentative opinion is that all or most of these characters were real people and the exodus did occur, but the stories have been fictionalised to a degree that we can never fully know and which I don’t have to know. It could be history, it could be fiction, I can read it anyway. But I also think that God is revealed through the stories, because God can be revealed through stories, parables, poems, dreams, myths, etc, just as much as through history.

    “Without Moses there is no Sinai covenant and all this encompass.
    Without the Pentateuch there is no Fall, no sin, and thus, no need for a saviour.”

    This is a very strange argument Ark. Let’s illustrate with a parallel. Suppose someone said Abraham is the father of the Jews, and since they believe Abraham didn’t exist, then the Jews don’t exist either. The argument is laughable, but why? Because we have more current information that shows the Jews do indeed exist.

    It is the same here. The reasons to believe in the saviour are based in the NT, which has strong historical evidence.

    Besides that, even if the story of the Sinai covenant is fictionalised, or even totally mythical, that doesn’t in any way logically show that there was no covenant, only that the story we have is not accurate.

    So on both counts that argument has no force and no value to me, though doubtless it would to some christians who hold to the full historical reliability of the OT. You are claiming way more than logic or the evidence allows.

    I think I will stop there, this comment is already too long, and I’ll get to your other two questions in another comment. Thanks.

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  171. Nan,

    My entire point is this: my speculative but natural-based scenario has a much, much, much higher probability of being the explanation of an empty tomb than the Christian supernatural explanation that a zombie and his angels did it.

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  172. “The reasons to believe in the saviour are based in the NT, which has strong historical evidence.”

    “Strong” historical evidence?? Let’s see it.

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  173. What did I say earlier, about unk and Brandon being satisfied with convincing that what they believe in is at least possible? I rest my case.

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  174. It is possible that unicorns and leprechauns exist. That doesn’t mean that it is reasonable and rational to believe they do.

    I just showed above that the empty tomb claim cannot be used as “strong” evidence for the resurrection as there was a significant period of time that the tomb was unguarded and unsecured (if the tomb even existed at all), giving someone the opportunity to steal or move the body.

    Secondly, I and others have shown that there is no “strong” evidence that eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels. Third, I and others have shown that the growth of Christianity is not a unique phenomenon. Mormonism can make the same claim regarding rapid growth of a new faith enduring significant persecution. Fourth, we have no evidence that any alleged eyewitness to the Resurrection during the forty day period after the crucifixion was executed for refusing to recant his or her testimony of talking to and touching a walking/talking dead man.

    Therefore, I predict that UnkleE’s “strong” evidence will consist of a convoluted string of assumptions, second century hearsay, and a recurring appeal to “majority opinion” of New Testament scholars…the majority of whom are fervent believers in this 2,000 year old supernatural tale.

    But let’s see if he even chooses to present his “strong” evidence…

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  175. Gary, that chapter from Mathew has just added a lot of value to a post I had written on the evidence for the resurrection. Thanks.

    @Unklee, I see you have been busy and may still be answering Ark’s questions maybe someday you will get to mine. I am not going to cite any hypothesis or consensus, you see am a man of common sense mainly.
    Now in Deuterenomy we have

    And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to his day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.

    I don’t think we need any scholarship to tell us Moses didn’t jot this part down. So is their a way of knowing which parts he wrote and he didn’t write? And if he wrote the others why tell the creation story twice for example?

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  176. Unklee writes

    My christian faith isn’t built on this stuff (my reasons to believe in Jesus, which are quite extensive, don’t ever mention the OT) and I could happily believe any of the range of views. I would probably be least comfortable with the literal view. So my tentative opinion is that all or most of these characters were real people and the exodus did occur, but the stories have been fictionalised to a degree that we can never fully know and which I don’t have to know. It could be history, it could be fiction, I can read it anyway. But I also think that God is revealed through the stories, because God can be revealed through stories, parables, poems, dreams, myths, etc, just as much as through history.

    A position that would have been consistent with Marcion.

    i, too, is interested in the strong historical evidence for the NT

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  177. Hi Ark, here’s part 2:

    “1.How do you justify preaching ”sin”, and what you regard as truth, however tacitly, and the need for ”salvation” through belief in the character, Jesus of Nazareth when the Pentateuch is fiction?”

    Sin is manifestly obvious in this broken world. I don’t have to “preach it” and I rarely do.

    The justification of believing in Jesus as the truth is the historical basis of the NT and has nothing to do with the Pentateuch. Salvation is part of that package.

    “2.How do you explain the character, Jesus of Nazareth whom you claim is the creator of the universe ,acknowledging the character Moses and Mosaic law and appearing with Moses in the transfiguration?”

    Remember I said we start with the experts and then draw our conclusions.

    Firstly, we don’t know if Moses was a historical character or not, so the question makes an enormous assumption from the start.

    Secondly, the experts tell us that first century Jews felt quite free to adapt old traditions and legends and be quite free in their interpretations. They apparently didn’t see their scriptures as some infallible set of rules as you and some christians do, but as a source to be creatively “mined” for meaning and new ideas. In Acts 7:21-22, 1 Corinthians 10:4, Galatians 3:19, Acts 7:52-53, Hebrews 2:2-3, 2 Timothy 3:8, Jude 9 and 2 Peter 2:5 we see references to events or people or ideas that are not part of the OT but are mostly found in Jewish non scriptural writings and legends.

    So it is quite feasible that Jesus referred to something that was legendary. If he did, whether he knew it was legendary or not I have no idea – after all, Jesus was a man and a man’s brain can only hold a finite amount of information. He even said quite specifically there were some things he didn’t know, and Philippians says he “emptied himself” in coming to earth. So if he built his teaching on local beliefs, I have no issues – it would make less sense to get diverted into a discussion of such peripheral things.

    So this question starts at the wrong place. The right place is to look at what the scholars say about Jesus. Once we understand what they say, we can then ask, in the light of that information, why did Jesus say this?

    So my question back to you is this – as I am willing to recognise the range of scholarly opinion about the Pentateuch and hold to a view that avoids the extremes, are you prepared to do the same for the New Testament and Jesus?

    Thanks.

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  178. “Unklee I see no problems with your conditions, am just wondering why you think it is necessary to have such a caveat.”

    Hi Makagutu, thanks for that. I explained everything in my large comment. Briefly, I choose not to engage with people if discussion becomes unpleasant, futile or fact-denying. I had withdrawn from most discuss here for that reason. But in a somewhat surreal outcome, lots of people here chose to discuss me and my (in their eyes) unwillingness to discuss difficult questions – when in reality it wasn’t the difficulty of the questions but the attitude of the protagonists that I was reacting to. So I explained.

    “Do you believe in miracles because they are in the bible?’

    I believe that miracles are possible because if God exists as I believe, then he can obviously do miracles. But I don’t believe every miracle claim by any means.

    I believe in Jesus’ miracles because there is good historical evidence for them and I believe as the “son of God” he could do them. I believe in some miracles today because there is good medical evidence for them. I am agnostic about many other miracle claims because I don’t see enough evidence to decide.

    “What do you think of Mo’s journey from Mecca, to Jerusalem to heaven and back aboard a Pegasus? Do you think it is believable? Why not?”

    I’ve never read it, only heard people talk about it. Have you ever read it in the Koran? I disbelieve it, probably for the same reasons you do, because I have seen no evidence for it.

    “Do you consider the Koran divinely inspired scripture? Why not?”

    No, probably for the same reason that you don’t, because I don’t see any evidence for it. That doesn’t mean I think it is totally wrong, just not very right.

    Hope than answers your questions. Thanks.

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  179. Marcion actually had quite a large following if history is correct, including churches and wotnot, and it was largely because of him that prompted the church to get its arse into gear and sort out a ”proper” bible.
    So they gave him his money back told him to sod off and later declared him and his brand of Christianity as heresy.
    Now, the real question abut Marcion that is not touched by hardly any scholars as far as I can judge is this:
    Why did Marcion, a devout Christian, not consider Jesus to be a real live human being.
    It also demonstrates that this issue – and others – were not cut and dry by a long chalk; never mind the centuries it took to iron out all the doctrine and reasonably successful campaigns to liquidate all opposition.

    It also demonstrates how powerful the church became to eradicate virtually all inquiry regarding the humanity/ veracity of the character Jesus of Nowhere.

    But once the Ebionites were a non-entity,
    the Marcionites sent packing and the Arians and semi-Arians declared heretics, besides a few attempted liquidations – Cathars etc – it was almost plain sailing after this.
    ”Our version or die. Choose, sinner”
    And most people , especially Christians, are completely ignorant of this.

    Was Jesus-the-human ”made-up”?
    Marcion thought so. And so did plenty of others.
    What do you think?

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  180. I have serious doubts that he ever existed, at least there is no evidence that he did. No one wrote about him during his lifetime, nor for forty years thereafter. I believe that the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem may well have been the catalyst for the rash of Gospels – and the four that are in the NT are not the only ones there were, by far – that began that year and continued well into the next century.

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  181. I concur.
    And I also sense there is a minuscule shift in the scholarly leaning towards the age-old belief that Jesus was an historical figure.
    We shall see …

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  182. @unklee.
    Thanks for the reply

    So my question back to you is this – as I am willing to recognise the range of scholarly opinion about the Pentateuch and hold to a view that avoids the extremes, are you prepared to do the same for the New Testament and Jesus?

    I believe this final paragraph is all that really needs to be addressed to cover both of your replies.

    While I acknowledge it is important to study and consider all expert views in this regard it is also important to consider any and all possible motivation for holding such a view especially if such motivation may be influenced by a person’s religious beliefs or political views, which in context of Israel might be, to some, crucial.

    In this regard, while alternate, more middle of the road proposals have been suggested regarding the Pentateuch the overwhelming, scientific and scholarly view based on what the evidence ( or lack thereof) shows is the one held to be minimalist.

    So, unless sound counter evidence is produced why should anyone choose to buck the expert consensus?

    With regard Moses and the Exodus

    The second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica concludes that the entire Exodus narrative was “dramatically woven out of various strands of tradition… he [Moses] wasn’t a historical character.”

    I am sure it is not necessary to list everything as you have no doubt researched such things as the Settlement Pattern, Kadesh Barnia etc. And of course, no secular Egyptologist regards the biblical tale as anything but myth.
    That being so, what possible role could anyone called Moses have played?

    “There is no archaeological evidence for any of it,” declared renowned Israeli archaeologist and professor of archaeology at Tel Aviv University, Israel Finkelstein. “This is something unexampled in history. They [Judah] wanted to seize control of the territories of the kingdom of Israel and annex them, because, they said, `These territories are actually ours and if you have a minute, we’ll tell you how that’s so. The goal was to create a myth saying that Judah is the centre of the world, of the Israelite way of life, against the background of the reality of the later kingdom.The people of Judah started to market the story of Joshua’s conquest of the land, which was also written in that period, in order to give moral justification to their territorial longings, to the conquest of the territories of Israel.”

    There are myriad of other references ( which I can link if you wish?) but in deference to not drawing this out any longer than necessary this should suffice.

    One final note: If so desired one can use any number of theological gymnastics to explain why the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth would reference the Patriarchs, Mosaic Law, and Moses who featured in the Transfiguration, and still maintain credibility in the eyes of a fellow believer.

    I simply don’t find such an approach holds any integrity.

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  183. And I also sense there is a minuscule shift in the scholarly leaning towards the age-old belief that Jesus was an historical figure.

    I think this is the position of Bert Erhman.

    Hi Unklee,

    You didn’t answer my question. Your knowledge of miracles necessarily comes from the bible. Apart from the biblical claims, what other reason do you have for believing in miracles?

    So you only believe miracles that are attested in scripture? If it was in the Koran you would believe it? I think it is in the Hadith of Buhari.

    You don’t know my reasons for not considering any book not divinely inspired. So what are yours.

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  184. on the resurrection of Jesus, fellows such as William L. Craig hold onto the minimalist position and why? Because the vast amount of evidence is contrary to their position otherwise they wouldn’t be holding on to grass while drowning in the ocean. Why would Unklee want to adopt a middle ground? Does he feel this is the most honest to do or it gives his belief some sense of evidence backing?

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  185. @Mak & Arch.

    I just noticed that this is incorrectly phrased.
    .

    And I also sense there is a minuscule shift in the scholarly leaning towards the age-old belief that Jesus was an historical figure.

    I meant to assert that there is a shift away from the age-old belief that he was an historical character.

    I hope this clears up any misunderstanding?

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  186. Hi Ark, it seems there is only one point I need to address – the choice of scholars.

    “While I acknowledge it is important to study and consider all expert views in this regard it is also important to consider any and all possible motivation for holding such a view especially if such motivation may be influenced by a person’s religious beliefs or political views, which in context of Israel might be, to some, crucial.”

    It is always easy to dispose of evidence one doesn’t like by inferring bias on the part of the scholar. It is a fallacy known as “poisoning the well”. And it can be just as well made against sceptical scholars. The only way to overcome this is to base one’s views on the consensus of scholars, not one of the extremes.

    “In this regard, while alternate, more middle of the road proposals have been suggested regarding the Pentateuch the overwhelming, scientific and scholarly view based on what the evidence ( or lack thereof) shows is the one held to be minimalist.”

    You say this with great certainty but offer no evidence that this is the case. Of course you can quote a minimalist scholar, but someone else can quote am maximalist scholar and the merry-go-round continues.

    So I will offer some reasons to support my contention that you are not fairly representing the facts. Here are a few references:

    William Dever is not a theist (so you can’t pin that rap on him!): “the biblical narratives are indeed ‘stories,’ often fictional and almost always propagandistic, but that here and there they contain some valid historical information”

    From a review of one of Dever’s books: “Dever has cogently described five approaches in use today for reconstructing the history of Israel (p. x). These fall into a continuum, and are so useful in understanding where scholarship is today that they are worth repeating. There are those who assume the Bible is literally true. Second, there are those who hold the Bible as probably true. Third, those who seek out “convergences”between the text and archaeology, without assuming the Bible to be true or false. Fourth are those who assume the Bible is false unless proven otherwise. And fifth are those who reject the Bible and also any other data that agrees with it, since the biblical account is inherently false. Dever himself holds to the third, “convergence” model, and is certainly the best example of its application. In spite of his vociferous opposition to the “Minimalists,” Dever decries the continual production of “rational paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible” (p. 224) and himself considers the Bible to be “historicized myth” (p. 226)”

    Old Testament scholar Peter Enns (this one’s a christian so you can sharpen your axe if you like! 🙂 ) sums up: “Many–I would say most–biblical scholars and historians would say that the biblical narrative echoes real, though distant, historical events.”

    Wikipedia says quite clearly that there is a range of views, much argued over: “most scholars stayed in the middle ground between minimalists and maximalists evaluating the arguments of both schools critically, and since the 1990s, while some of the minimalist arguments have been challenged or rejected, others have been refined and adopted into the mainstream of biblical scholarship”

    This article from National Geographic concerns a later period than the Exodus, but points out the various positions among archaeologists, and the robust discussions between the minimalists and others.

    I could dig out more if it was necessary, but I think it is clear, there really is a range of opinion among scholars, and you haven’t justified your choice to only mention one extreme, and thus you haven’t justified your strong statement as if it were fact.

    You didn’t respond to my question about choosing NT scholars, but the same principles apply.

    I didn’t expect agreement when you asked your questions, but it has been good for us each to show where we get our views from. Thanks.

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  187. I thijnk gary’s point about the tomb is a good one. many christians will even use the guards as “evidence” that no one could have stolen the body – Gary points out that even if the tomb were guarded as matthew claims, the guard shifts didnt start immediately, nor does Matthew say the guards inspected the tomb first to make sure there was a body and that it was the right body.

    Gary’s point was good. If the tomb was guarded like matthew says, there was still time when the tomb was unguarded. and he’s also right in saying that if jesus was truly buried at all, and if the tomb were found empty, that a natural explanation beats any supernatural one.

    when someone loses their keys, nobody’s first thought is “aliens abducted my keys,” or “god stole my keys,” or “leprechauns!” they’s first consider where they last set them, or then maybe someone stole them – anything that makes sense over leaping to supernatural things.

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  188. I suggest that Christians and skeptics agree to this statement: Supernatural events may be possible but of all probable explanations for an event, a supernatural cause is the least probable.

    By agreeing to this statement, we skeptics accept that a resurrection is within the realm of possibilities, and Christians accept that a resurrection is the least likely explanation for why Jesus’ disciples came to believe that he had come back from the dead.

    Therefore, unless Christians can provide extraordinary (hard) evidence for their supernatural claim, we skeptics should not be asked to accept any soft evidence such as hearsay, assumptions, and even expert opinion as evidence for their claim, when there are several or many natural explanations that can also explain the claim.

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  189. And I also sense there is a minuscule shift in the scholarly leaning towards the age-old belief that Jesus was an historical figure.” – Stranger things have happened, there was a time when the Bible was believed to be inerrant.

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  190. Ark – careful what you agree to – I suspect Unk plays chess, when Unkie sets the ground rules, he’s already thinking several moves ahead.

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  191. UnkleE has not addressed this point: It may be true that the “majority of scholars” believe that Jesus’ tomb was empty, but the same cannot be said for WHY the tomb was empty. I challenge UnkleE to assert and provide good supporting evidence that the majority of “historians” believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead or have the integrity to admit that his belief in the reanimation of a first century dead man is based purely on speculation and very soft, not strong, evidence.

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  192. UnkleE is down under and may be asleep. He’ll eventually chime back in.

    in discussions like this, i always hope a prolonged silence is due to them taking the time to think the points over. that is what i try to do, especially when presented with so many good ones.

    it’s not a fight or competition. it’s an exchange of ideas and information, with the intention to let the data and logic lead. doesnt always happen for everyone, but i do try to follow reason and correct stupidity when found on myself instead of shutting my eyes to it, pretending it isnt there.

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  193. Gary, people are sleeping.

    I am not ready to agree to

    I suggest that Christians and skeptics agree to this statement: Supernatural events may be possible but of all probable explanations for an event, a supernatural cause is the least probable.

    especially so because what is supernatural just like what god is has not been defined/ described in a manner that it can be understood.

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  194. Since we don’t know what kind of person the author of Mark was we really can’t say much about the empty tomb story. We don’t know where “Mark” lived or who his first readers were. He could have easily just made it up along with the character Joseph of Arimathea. It was a long time from the event and all of the original followers could have been dead or far away.

    Imagine if I sat down right now and started righting about the life and death of Elvis Presley. With no newspapers, no internet and just oral accounts to go on. 38 years have passed and I have numerous accounts of after-death sightings of Presley. One man says he was visited by Elvis reincarnate and was taught about life and religion. There are accounts of people becoming healed miraculously when an Elvis song comes on in their room. Several Elvis churches have been formed and his followers have a name for themselves: Elvites.. How easy it would be for me to write down the sayings (or songs) of Elvis and include the miracle stories as well. Since I am aware that some people believe Elvis never actually died I would add some details about his death, where he was laid, and who paid for it. Later they found his casket open and empty! A great story! I can’t help it if someone copies me 10 years from now and adds even more details. Elvis and his original groupies are long gone or live far away. Now imagine if the president of my country catches wind of this cult centuries later and makes it a mandatory religion? Elvis would become forever immortalized and no one would know who I am or my role in the process.

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  195. You guys have very creative and active imaginations. Dave, the apologist will present the criterion of embarrassment to show that your Elvis story doesn’t match up to his Jesus story. But I like your story.

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  196. You’re probably right Mak. But sometimes I think he’s just making excuses to avoid setting up and maintaining his own blog. So much easier to hop here and hop there to leave his witticisms.

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  197. Nan, that is a good one and you have given arch another reason to add to his list of arguments against WP” – It’s OK, I’ve long since run out of ink.

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  198. “You didn’t answer my question.”

    I’m sorry Makagutu. I did actually give answers, so I presume you mean that I misunderstood your question. If so, please explain and I’ll try again.

    “Your knowledge of miracles necessarily comes from the bible. Apart from the biblical claims, what other reason do you have for believing in miracles?”

    No that isn’t the case. I actually said something quite different to that. I said I believed based on evidence – historical evidence and medical evidence.

    I base my understanding of the Bible miracles stories, like everything else in the Bible, on what the scholars say (I explain that in my long comment to Arch). The Bible miracles are historical events (or not) that can be assessed historically, and the majority of NT scholars are quite clear that Jesus was known as a miracle worker. The historical evidence for that is good, and it is then a matter of metaphysics whether we accept they actually occurred and how we explain them. Here are a few quotes:

    EP Sanders: “I think we can be fairly certain that initially Jesus’ fame came as a result of healing, especially exorcism.”

    G Stanton: “Few doubt that Jesus possessed unusual gifts as a healer, though of course varied explanations are offered.”

    Maurice Casey and (from memory) Michael Grant believe Jesus did indeed perform healings, but by natural “folk healing”, while others (e.g. NT Wright) believe God healed through him. But the point is that Jesus’ healing miracles are well attested historically and so it is quite reasonable that I accept them as true.

    Likewise I believe some modern day miracles occur because of medical evidence – of which there is plenty.

    “So you only believe miracles that are attested in scripture? If it was in the Koran you would believe it? I think it is in the Hadith of Buhari.”

    No that isn’t the case. I actually said something quite different to that. I said I believed based on evidence – historical evidence and medical evidence.

    “You don’t know my reasons for not considering any book not divinely inspired. So what are yours.”

    No I don’t, but I didn’t mention divine inspiration at all. I mentioned evidence, and I still imagine my reasons for not believing in the Islamic miracles are not very different as yours – i.e. lack of evidence.

    Thanks again.

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  199. The Bible miracles are historical events (or not) that can be assessed historically, and the majority of NT scholars are quite clear that Jesus was known as a miracle worker. The historical evidence for that is good

    But the point is that Jesus’ healing miracles are well attested historically and so it is quite reasonable that I accept them as true.

    Just where is this historical attestation?

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  200. I realize that UnkleE has no intention of responding to me directly, and that is fine, but if he wants anyone here to take him seriously regarding his claim of “strong evidence” for the historicity of the NT , then he better present some “strong” evidence for the sentinel miracle claim of the NT: the Resurrection of Jesus.

    So far I have seen absolutely nada.

    Without “strong” evidence for the Resurrection, who cares about the historicity of the rest of it?? There are miracle workers all over the world today…ask any Pentecostal. Give us your “strong” evidence for the Resurrection, UnkleE, or I for one will consider your position as nothing more than smoke and mirrors to maintain your faith (superstition) in a silly ancient middle eastern legend.

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  201. Unklee, let me put it differently. You have attempted to answer me but I find your answers inadequate or evasive. I will rephrase my questions.

    You are saying you believe in miracles based on evidence. Are you saying you first investigated the evidence for miracles before you believed or you believed then sought reasons to justify your belief? What evidence did you come by in your investigations that we could investigate?

    You say you base your understanding on what scholars say. Have you considered the writings of the scholars who say miracles are antecendently incredible? Do you think they make sense?

    Where is this evidence for Jesus miracles? Are you by chance claiming you believe the author who wrote he changed water into wine? Is this evidence anything than the claims in the bible?

    My reasons for not considering any book divinely inspired is

    1. I have no belief in divines/ deities. It follows they can’t author books
    2. The information contained in the books claiming divine inspiration are so common place that to claim they are not the workings of ordinary men requires suspension of belief in the workings of the human brain, something I assure you, I haven’t done.
    3. How do we tell at what point divine inspiration has stopped and it is now the human mind at work?
    4. The bible’s claim to divine inspiration is found either in the bible or by its peddlers
    5. We now know there were many gospels that didn’t make it to the canon. The gospels for example are anonymous. We have no way of telling what the authors had smoked to come up with such a load of crap, ‘xcuse my language.

    As a side note, are you willing to accept the workings of the Egyptian sorcerers in the time of Moses as miracles? And if this be the case, you should be willing to accept that there are two powers that can perform miracles and we can never be sure really whether it is the devil that healed my aunt or god that healed my dead grandfather?

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  202. Gary, patience brother.
    Unklee started by answering to Ark, then myself, he will get to you after he has answered William. I was hoping though he would get some help, maybe like from Joseph. You guys have asked so many questions and everyday keep expanding them. Even, I, would be overwhelmed.

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  203. There is only ONE miracle that needs evidence. All the others can be performed by a good magician.

    UnkleE knows he has nothing better to prove that this one miracle actually occurred in human history, and not in fantasyland, other than with assumptions and second century hearsay. The truth is, UnkleE believes that a dead first century Jewish prophet walked out his grave for one simple reason:

    He wants to.

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  204. Gary, UnkleE believes in miracles because there is evidence for them and E. P Sanders says there is evidence for them. Which means he believes in miracles not because there is evidence for them but because Sanders believes there is evidence.

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  205. “You have attempted to answer me but I find your answers inadequate or evasive.”

    Hi Makagutu, how are you going? I’m sorry that is how you find my answers. But, strange as it may seem, I am not trying to please you with my answers, I am trying to answer your questions truthfully. How you react to that is something else, though of course I am interested to learn that. 🙂 Have you considered the possibility that your dissatisfaction is because I haven’t answered as you expected or wanted?

    “You are saying you believe in miracles based on evidence. Are you saying you first investigated the evidence for miracles before you believed or you believed then sought reasons to justify your belief?”

    I have been a christian for more than 50 years. I am a very questioning person, so I have been questioning and reviewing my beliefs right through that time. Some beliefs have changed, some haven’t. I don’t recall thinking much about miracles at the start. Biblical miracles were just part of the story which I don’t recall being emphasised all that much, and I wasn’t really aware of any present day miracle claims.

    So I don’t think I can offer you a cut-and-dried sequence of events. I think the historical sequence of events in my own life is relatively unimportant.

    “What evidence did you come by in your investigations that we could investigate?”

    The New Testament miracles need to first be examined by seeing what the scholars write about them, as I have already mentioned. That information would be the basis of a personal choice whether to believe the stories or not, and that choice would be determined in part by our beliefs about Jesus and God, which would presumably lead you and I to different conclusions. Present day miracles must be investigated by reading about them or experiencing them. I have done some investigation, and summarised the stories in Healing miracles and God, and from there you can jump to the individual stories.

    “You say you base your understanding on what scholars say. Have you considered the writings of the scholars who say miracles are antecendently incredible? Do you think they make sense?”

    We need to rely on scholars who are experts in the question we are asking. If we want to know about history (in this case, whether there is good historical evidence for the miracle stories of Jesus) then we go to historians. But if we are asking whether miracles can actually occur, we are asking a question about whether God exists and whether he/she/it could or would do miracles – and those questions are philosophical and theological, and one where there is little consensus.

    “Where is this evidence for Jesus miracles? Are you by chance claiming you believe the author who wrote he changed water into wine? Is this evidence anything than the claims in the bible?”

    I am relying on the conclusions of the historians, which leads me to trust the accounts.

    “My reasons for not considering any book divinely inspired is”

    That’s fair enough. I don’t think divine inspiration is something that can be proved or not. But I haven’t ever mentioned divine inspiration, you have introduced that, so it has played no part in my reasoning here.

    “are you willing to accept the workings of the Egyptian sorcerers in the time of Moses as miracles?”

    The scholars generally don’t believe those stories are historical, so I’m not sure the question helps us much. But if the stories were historical, I would be open-minded about that possibility.

    “And if this be the case, you should be willing to accept that there are two powers that can perform miracles and we can never be sure really whether it is the devil that healed my aunt or god that healed my dead grandfather?”

    I think this is a good thought, and one not many people think of. Yes, I am open to that possibility.

    As a matter of interest, were your aunt and grandfather healed, or did you just use them as hypotheticals?

    Thanks.

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  206. SIDE NOTE:

    Since the comment structure has been brought up a couple of times (and not just on this post) let me address it quickly:

    I love WordPress for many, many reasons, but I’m not a fan of the way comments nest. I think they should operate more like Facebook, where you can nest 1 level deep and a “reply” button sits below every comment. But in WP, even if you limit the nesting to 1 level, the most recent comment won’t have a “reply” button. You can still reply to that level of the thread by clicking the “reply” button of the top comment in that thread. But that’s not immediately obvious, so what happens instead is that people keep starting new threads, even though they’re answering a previous one. Then, when you want to find a conversation you’ve been involved in, it’s almost impossible to figure out where it is. When you turn nesting off, the most recent comments will always be toward the bottom, regardless of who they’re replying to.

    Secondly, there’s not a way to set nesting for individual posts. And since so many of my posts have gone without it, if I turn it on, it tries to nest those old posts. But many of the people who were commenting in those threads used the standard reply form at the bottom of the page instead of clicking “reply” in their email or reader. Therefore, turning on nesting just results in a jumbled mess for all those old posts.

    In other words, I’ve tried it both ways, and I think it’s most user friendly for this site to remain as-is. And honestly, considering the number of comments we get here, it doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem… 😉

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  207. Hey guys,

    A few of you are coming off kind of rude toward unkleE — you may not be aware of that, so I’m just trying to be helpful. Imagine how that could look to an objective bystander reading all of this:

    They see unkleE’s willingness to discuss his views on a blog filled with people who don’t agree with him. That takes a certain amount of courage, which is admirable. Then they see some of us make claims like “unkleE is just doing _____” or “unklE just thinks ______” followed by descriptions of his position that seem to resemble straw men more than anything else. Just comes across as kind of petty.

    Let’s try to keep this civil and respectful. It’s unlikely that he or any of us will actually change our minds about any of this, because we’re all pretty knowledgeable about the existing evidence. So instead of viewing this as a debate that must be won or lost, I prefer to view it as a discussion that will help me understand his position better, and hopefully let him understand mine better as well. I also think that makes much more impact on any lurkers.

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  208. looks like nate is just a closet theist, unkleE lover. nate just things all us atheists are too mean and is just doing what he can now to appease his fictitious god and bosom buddy, unkleE.

    William is just obviously joking.

    Liked by 3 people

  209. @SPG

    That article you posted is insane! And how exactly are they not going to comply? Do they think a ruling in favor of same sex marriage means they would have to marry someone of the same sex? And the comments on the article were even worse. Man, such bigotry…

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  210. revolting against your government is contrary to the NT’s teachings. interesting how they love god’s law so much that they are willing to follow it when it suits them and break it over things they despise… and in some cases over things they want to hide within themselves.

    christians can still worship as they wish. they can even believe homosexuality is sinful. but that’s not good enough for a lot of them. even though they criticize muslim extremists, they would force their brand of Christianity on everyone around them in the name of jesus.

    yes, i much prefer unklee and josh to these extreme douches, who would fight to suppress the freedoms of others, but moan about being persecuted when someone calls them hateful for doing so.

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  211. I think unklee and josh are both examples of kind hearted, well meaning and sincere people. I dont agree with their theology and dont understand how they reconcile the bible’s issues or reason, but I would be comfortable being their neighbors and think they would be examples like that of the good Samaritan.

    I hope they take that as it’s meant, the highest compliment a non-believer could bestow to a believer.

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  212. nothing riles up the extremists like homosex. drives them (as Nate pointed out) “insane”.
    it’s a shame that they give Christianity such a bad name,
    because some Christians are (as William pointed out) “kind hearted, well meaning and sincere”.

    if people want to believe, I don’t have a problem with that,
    it’s the expectation that many have that everyone should tow the line because of their beliefs,
    that’s where the real problem lies.

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  213. UnkleE, nowhere did I say you should please me. I have tried in my responses to keep to your caveats. I said maybe my question was not well framed and as such you answered to a different question.

    Ah so historians may believe miracles happened in the earlier times but at some point just became scarce. I am going to study history!

    Ah far from it. They both died, that was just hypothetical.

    Thanks for taking your time to answer my questions. I will let it rest.

    Well played William.

    Nate, I think, from the time Unklee gave his caveats for answering questions, there has been a lot of civility. It is not being rude or uncivil if from a comment I drew a conclusion. All Unklee need say is that conclusion is erroneous and in what way but to call us uncivil is trying to railroad this discussion so to speak.

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  214. I think much of the disagreement between our camp and unkleE’s comes down to what kind of evidence is good evidence for the miraculous. I’ve read his post on modern day miracles before, and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. And though I haven’t researched those stories as thoroughly as unkleE has, what I’ve read so far hasn’t made me think those events were actual miracles.

    And even if I did believe miracles do occur, I doubt I would believe the miracles stories of the Bible. I just don’t find the gospels or Paul’s writings to be reliable enough to carry that claim. While I don’t know for sure if Jesus ever lived, or if there was an actual empty tomb, or if the disciples who personally knew him came to believe that he came back to life, I can imagine explanations for those things that don’t require the supernatural. Furthermore, I find the theology of Christianity to be too inconsistent to be believable.

    But I understand that some people see it differently.

    What I find interesting is the fact that most Christians don’t know much about the details of these issues. And if they did, I wonder how many of them would still be Christians. What does that say about the quality of their belief? If the Christian god were real, would he still consider them true Christians? Surely he would know the quality of their hearts and know that their belief stems from ignorance rather than knowledge… I just find the moral implications of that interesting.

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  215. The majority of scholars (of the Koran) believe that Mohammad flew on a winged horse to Jerusalem, therefore since the majority of scholars believe this, I should too.

    I am leaving my house at this very moment to go down to the local mosque to convert to Islam. The majority of scholars (of the Koran) say I should.

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  216. mohammad was a real man too. and his body is in the tomb, right where it should be. the true prophet knows that flesh does not reside in heaven, and that the soul is the true man, while the flesh is just a temporary vehicle made for earth.

    it only makes sense that his earthly body be left on earth as mohammad is now tickling and playing magic and D&D with his 70 virgins in heaven… in his spiritual body.

    hang on gary, I’m coming with you.

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  217. Nate,

    UnkleE has made the assertion that the claims of the New Testament have strong historical evidence to support them. He has been asked to back up that claim regarding the most important claim of the NT, the resurrection of the Jewish prophet, Jesus.

    Instead of directly answering that question, he has played the usual Christian game of appealing to assumptions, hearsay, and “scholarly” (Christian) opinion. In the process, he has been condescending, manipulative (debate by my rules or I’m taking my marbles and going home), and obfuscating. In one word, a prick.

    I have no intention of stopping in calling him out for his insulting, condescending behavior and his refusal to answer a simple question. If that makes me a rude asshole, so be it. You will have to ban me from your blog to get me to stop.

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  218. Gary, why do we have to make such ultimatums? UnkleE hasn’t been a prick at all. His comments have been straightforward, and it seems to me that he’s been trying to answer specific questions. He hasn’t “spoken” to Ark in years, but he’s even put that aside in this thread, resulting in a decent, civil conversation between he and Ark.

    Like I said in my last comment, there are some things unkleE views as evidence that the rest of us may not. That doesn’t mean he’s “playing games” or being “condescending” or “manipulative”. If anyone’s been condescending, it’s you. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

    Look, I like you, and I like your contributions to the discussion. And chances are, you may not even realize how negatively some of your comments have come across. It’s easy for us to mock and make jokes about beliefs that we don’t agree with when we’re in a group of like-minded people. But I prefer to keep this blog open and welcoming to Christians, or people of any belief-set. I’m not saying we can’t show emotion, etc. But I just don’t see why we can’t be civil…

    Does that make sense?

    Thanks 🙂

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  219. I am fully aware that some of my comments have been mocking and negative towards UnkleE. That is my intent.. What I am surprised by, Nate, is that you do not see the manipulative behavior of UnkleE. He only agreed to speak with Ark if Ark would first agree to his ground rules. If you don’t abide by UnkleE’s ground rules he stops speaking to you. What UnkleE wants is for all of us to accept that the majority of “historians” (Christian NT scholars) believe that Jesus performed miracles. If he can get us to admit that, then the idea of Jesus performing a BIG miracle, like coming back from the dead, is a reasonable and rational conclusion, and therefore we must accept his first century superstition as a valid 21st century worldview.

    Its baloney. That is what he is attempting to do by not addressing the Resurrection directly. I’m calling his game.

    I make no apologies.

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  220. What UnkleE wants is for all of us to accept that the majority of “historians” (Christian NT scholars) believe that Jesus performed miracles.” – As I’ve said, that is a subversive tactic used by both Unk and Brandon alike – get everyone to accept one small premise, then add a larger one, then a larger still, etc. – suddenly, you’re balancing an inverted pyramid.

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  221. From my bystander view, it appears to me Gary wants unkleE to concede certain things that Gary feels are true/untrue. It’s not going to happen. As unkleE has said, he’s been researching and reading for 50 years. Does anyone think a few comments on a blog are going to change his mind?

    Having said that, I do feel unkleE can be condescending. We had a discussion on my own blog sometime back that I finally had to call to a halt because he continued to discount the research that I had done.

    Nevertheless, I agree with Nate. We need to ask ourselves if we would say the same things if we were talking face-to-face.

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  222. Nate,

    If you look at my conversation with Josh above, once he admitted that his belief system is based on faith and not evidence, I complimented him and gave him respect. That is the difference between you and me. I can respect someone who believes in a superstition if he admits that his belief is based solely on his feelings and intuition (faith), AND, as long as he does not try to threaten others with his faith-based superstition. Keep your superstitions to yourself, and I have no issue with you. However, tell me that you have “strong” evidence for your superstition and I demand you give me that “strong” evidence for me to give your superstition even an ounce of respect. Why? Because if liberals like UnkleE can garner respect for his superstition-based world-view, this gives cover for the fundamentalists to demand respect and acceptance of their supernatural-based worldview.

    I won’t do it!

    By giving UnkleE and his brand of “evidence-based” liberal Christian superstition respect, you are aiding and abetting the fundamentalists. I suggest you stop. If not, I believe that you are complicit in perpetuating the religious discrimination and persecution of millions of people worldwide.

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  223. Nan,

    I have never asked UnkleE to concede that his worldview is false. I have only asked that he present his “strong” evidence for the Christian assertion of a bodily resurrection of a first century Jewish prophet.

    Once he stops obfuscating and presents his “strong” evidence, we can debate it amicably. It is his manipulation, condescending attitude, and game playing that I find offensive.

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  224. I suggest you stop. If not, I believe that you are complicit in perpetuating the religious discrimination and persecution of millions of people worldwide.

    lol, Gary, you do get carried away sometimes. Nate just wants a civil discussion on his blog. Let’s leave it at that. Otherwise we are just distracting from the points.

    The point: Is there enough historical evidence to conclude that valid miracles occurred at the hand of Jesus?

    UnkleE: “The New Testament miracles need to first be examined by seeing what the scholars write about them, as I have already mentioned. That information would be the basis of a personal choice whether to believe the stories or not, and that choice would be determined in part by our beliefs about Jesus and God, which would presumably lead you and I to different conclusions.”

    UnkleE says we should start with what the scholars say. Fair enough. We’ve all done that to one extent or another. We all know the details and the kind of evidence we are dealing with. Does UnkleE have more knowledge on the subject of evidence? That remains to be shown.

    I think the big admission is “and that choice would be determined in part by our beliefs about Jesus and God”. So much for staying neutral. This is no longer a historical discussion, it’s a theological discussion (no surprise to anyone).

    Nate said: “Furthermore, I find the theology of Christianity to be too inconsistent to be believable.”

    This is really what it boils down to. If not for the surrounding theology no one would care about some 1st century miracle claims (about as much as they care about Elvis sightings). What does everyone else think? Should theology count as evidence? Should it be used as the deciding factor? Can anyone agree on what the theology even is? These are the questions inside my head today.

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  225. “lol, Gary, you do get carried away sometimes. Nate just wants a civil discussion on his blog. Let’s leave it at that. Otherwise we are just distracting from the points.”

    It’s not a laughing matter, Dave. By coddling moderate/liberal Christians and their appeals to “evidence” to support their superstitions, we enable fundamentalists like the late Jerry Falwell to garner enough social respectability that the social and foreign policy of a major world power has been dramatically changed. If in the 1970’s, religious supernatural claims had been seen as just as preposterous and foolish as the belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, Jerry Falwell would have been laughed at and ridiculed instead of dictating national policy for a major American political party. The effects of giving respectability to this superstitious religious nonsense is still with us today, here in the US, and across the world.

    Ask the gays and lesbians in Uganda if they think I am “getting carried away” in attacking this superstition-fueled belief system.

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  226. without theology, no one may care, but I suspect even fewer people would believe the claimed miracles were true.

    To me, it seems like UnkleE is saying that scholars believe there was a jesus, and a paul, and matthew, etc and that since the scholars think they were real, and since other real people think they performed miracles and/or we spokesman for god that we can find it all trustworthy.

    I dont agree with that, and I realize it’s paraphrased, if close at all to his position.

    but i think he doesnt apply these across the board. I don think he’s fair in his application of this. just consider other religions, etc.

    I think it is the theology that makes people believe in this god over that god, in this miracle over that miracle, or martyr over martyr, book over book and on and on.

    but what causes some people to believe in something and others not to? I dont know, but unkleE finds the evidence compelling to faith – i find it extremely lacking. unkleE admits he has faith and must make some leaps with it – I think his leaps are too big and generous, but he thinks they’re logical steps based on the evidence we’ve seen.

    we may not be able to agree on much more. and in some ways that’s alright. if he believes it, fine. if this is all the evidence he has, then i feel better about my conclusion.

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  227. unkleE isn’t in uganda and isn’t attacking gays and lesbians.

    he likes scholars and attributes too much to them and makes huge leaps based on what some of them think, but come on, that’s a far cry from persecuting anyone.

    if you feel like unklee is being an underhanded jerk, okay, i wont dispute that; but it’s okay. call him out on it, rise above it, sink to it, whatever.

    I dont think anyone here is persecuting anyone anywhere else. let’s not lump those here in with that lot over the smallest of correlation.

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  228. gary is right.
    I’ve been viewing hatred and violent threats directed towards gays from christians on the internet all day, every day. and I take it very personally.

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  229. William,

    I never said that UnkleE or any other moderate/liberal Christian is persecuting gays,

    What I said is that their continued insistence for the social acceptability, respectability, and rationality of their supernatural claims, serves as cover for fundamentalists to discriminate and commit atrocities in the name of the very same superstition.

    Liked by 1 person

  230. Dave asks, should theology count as evidence? I say no.Theology is the study of the nature of god and in its long history it has given us nothing to go on.
    Nate in trying to give unklee wiggle room misses my point completely and I will demonstrate. I believe there are black holes. If you ask me the evidence for it I will point you to NDT and Hawking. When I asked unklee for his evidence for miracles he said Sanders. How then am I wrong in concluding he believes in miracles because Sanders believes. I could given time do the math for black holes he can’t do the same for miracles.
    And, Gary, when you go to that local mosque, tell them you have many friends coming over.

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  231. @ Gary and others

    Once he stops obfuscating and presents his “strong” evidence, we can debate it amicably.

    unklee is entitled to view such subjects in any way he chooses, including how he views truth and evidence.
    Remember he has god on his side. How can he possibly be wrong?

    In the game of cricket it is often considered better tactics to bat first, simply because the team batting first posts is the first team to post score on the board.
    Now the onus is on the other team to best it.

    What you must realise is that unklee already has a ”score on the board.” The Bible.

    And if you come close to bettering it or ‘bowling him out’ this is what you face.
    This was the last-but-one comment from a commenter called Bernard.
    If you are up to it … read on. 🙂

    I agree that our views differ in important points. I apply scientific methods, while you rely on one source. Let the readers decide which point of view is more convincing… 😉

    http://www.is-there-a-god.info/blog/belief/nazareth-re-visited/

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  232. There is a portion of this discussion I missed. Someone somewhere has the holy foreskin and here unklee is just talking about the shroud. In his position, I would be trying to find the damn piece wherever it could be. It still must have healing powers.
    Those who think the shroud is evidence of something, what happened to their common sense? Who are the living relatives of jeebus who will donate DNA or some god is going to miraculously do this. I think what sometimes passes as research is similar to the ontological argument by Anslem.

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  233. dont you see, this is what they want. us turning on ourselves.

    dont let them do it.

    i’m not really serious, although we are now arguing over arguing instead of really discussing the points.

    i dont really like playing these games.

    the bible is a mess.

    are we discussing tone or theology?

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  234. Sorry, I’ve been away from my computer for a bit.

    I don’t buy the idea that liberal Christianity provides cover for fundamentalist Christianity. I wouldn’t mind hearing some more reasoning as to how that’s happening.

    Gary, I fully understand the passion you have about these issues. But I worry that you’re falling prey to some of the same radicalism that you’re accusing others of. Many Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, but so what? The idea itself isn’t the real problem — it’s the desire to enforce their view at all costs that becomes so problematic. Some of your phrases give off the same level of dogmatism against religion. I agree that the world would likely be a better place without religion, but you can’t bully people into leaving their religion any more than Christians can bully homosexuals out of being gay. It takes time, and it takes tact.

    I think unkleE is wrong in his religious beliefs, and he thinks I’m wrong in my atheism. But we can still agree on a great many things that actually matter — like how a society should function, and how all people regardless of race, gender, sexual persuasion, or creed should be treated fairly and equally. I’m not as certain that you see it that way… Maybe you do. I could be totally misreading you, and I’m sorry if that’s the case. But in your zeal to stamp out a belief system, you seem to be treading on individuals as well.

    You’ve asked unkleE for specific evidence for the resurrection. I think that’s an excellent request. But if he never gives it to you, there’s no need to accuse him of anything or belittle his rationale for holding his beliefs. Objective readers will see that without you pointing it out to them. If he comes back with evidence that he thinks merits belief and you don’t think it’s substantial enough, then discuss that. But don’t accuse him of obfuscation, or ignorance, or dishonesty. Those kinds of accusations just don’t ring true, and they’ll hurt your position in the long run.

    I feel like there’s a lot of “you’re either for us or against us” talk going on right now, and I don’t really understand it. I expect it from fundamentalists, but we’re not fundamentalists, are we?

    Look, when I discuss this stuff with religious people, I’m after two goals. First, I’d love it if they could see that Christianity has a world of problems. I think most people would be happier and more compassionate if they left religion behind. But just as importantly, my second goal is to encourage tolerance. I’m aware that my first goal is not going to succeed most of the time. But the second one has a really good chance of succeeding if the people I’m talking to see that I’m rational, reasonable, and friendly.

    As an example, I strongly encourage everyone to take a few minutes and listen to at least the prologue of the latest episode of This American Life.
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/555/the-incredible-rarity-of-changing-your-mind

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  235. Here is my frustration with a sizable number of Christians, including UnkleE: If I asked someone for evidence for their belief that Germany invaded Russia during the Second World War, that person would give me hard evidence such as German and Russian military transcripts, newspaper reports, corroborating eyewitness testimony from both German and Russian generals, field commanders, and soldiers. They would not give me speculation, assumptions, and the personal opinions of “experts” about what probably happened based on the change in behavior and attitude of the Russian people!

    However, ask a Christian for evidence for their assertion of the historicity of the resurrection of their first century prophet and you will typically get nothing but assumptions, non-contemporaneous hearsay, and the assertion that the opinions of “experts”—who just so happen to share the same supernatural belief system—constitutes “strong” evidence.

    That’s nonsense and should not be given a shred of respectability.

    Liked by 2 people

  236. Sorry, Nate. I still disagree. The sooner that society rejects and laughs at superstition, the sooner it will disappear. Just because the superstition in question is presented in a friendlier, prettier package doesn’t change the fact that it is a superstition.

    Yes, by all means, tolerate the right of people to believe stupid things, but stop giving social respectability to the stupid belief itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  237. The sooner that society rejects and laughs at superstition, the sooner it will disappear. Just because the superstition in question is presented in a friendlier, prettier package doesn’t change the fact that it is a superstition.

    Yes, but how do you think society will get there?

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  238. i dont think nate is saying you should respect their nonsense as much as he’s saying it would be better to respect that they may need time to realize it’s nonsense and that if they never get there, it may be okay in the long run if they can at least be tolerant and force their theology on others as ISIL tries to do with theirs.

    and I dont think nate’s issue is with you calling their position stupid or weak, but rather when you suggest that they’re only presenting such stupid and weak arguments because they’re disingenuous, or lying, or trying to muddy the waters, or some other negative motive.

    I’m guessing he suggests that this is better avoided because he probably doesn’t like or find it helpful when Christians do the same with us.

    so at some point I’m hoping we can understand this simple point and move on.

    poke holes in point, positions and arguments, abstain from slander.

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  239. Here is my frustration with a sizable number of Christians, including UnkleE: If I asked someone for evidence for their belief that Germany invaded Russia during the Second World War, that person would give me hard evidence such as German and Russian military transcripts, newspaper reports, corroborating eyewitness testimony from both German and Russian generals, field commanders, and soldiers. They would not give me speculation, assumptions, and the personal opinions of “experts” about what probably happened based on the change in behavior and attitude of the Russian people!

    However, ask a Christian for evidence for their assertion of the historicity of the resurrection of their first century prophet and you will typically get nothing but assumptions, non-contemporaneous hearsay, and the assertion that the opinions of “experts”—who just so happen to share the same supernatural belief system—constitutes “strong” evidence.

    But you know that the first type of evidence doesn’t exist for Christianity. So why bother even discussing this with Christians like unkleE who aren’t bothered by that fact?

    And to be fair, unkleE does not just point to Christian scholars for his points. And his statement that the consensus of experts should carry quite a bit of weight with those of us who aren’t experts is not a crazy statement. I think potential biases in scholars and other experts should always be considered, but I agree with his main point.

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  240. How will society get there?

    Answer: People do not like being viewed as ignorant and stupid. If the overwhelming majority of educated people in a society begins to view a particular belief as ignorant and stupid, very quickly more and more people will abandon that belief. If that belief is given even some measure of respectability, a sizable percentage of believers will hold onto it even if the evidence stacks up against it.

    I don’t attack Christians personally and say, “You are an ignorant moron” but I do attack their belief system. What I usually say is this: “You have been brainwashed, my friend, to believe that an ancient Canaanite god, invented by goat-herding nomads, rules the cosmos and has life or death power over you. It isn’t true. Open your eyes and look at the evidence.”

    The Emperor who wasn’t wearing any clothes was not convinced of his error by pleasant, amiable, philosophical discussions about the pros and cons of invisible fabric. He was convinced of his error by the blunt truth that he was being a fool.

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  241. But how do you react when someone calls you a fool? Does it make you immediately change your mind about your deeply held beliefs?

    You already know that most Christians hold their beliefs because they don’t know enough information. In other words, they need education. Do you think the best way to educate people is to ridicule them? Is that how we want the school system to educate our children?

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  242. Gary, you must realise that you will NEVER get this from a Christian, and certainly not one as skilled in the theological two step as unklee.

    To submit to such a request will immediately undermine their faith – or personal view of evidence.
    Go read the Nazareth link on his site I posted.

    You know the evidence is simply not there. In fact even the word ”evidence” when used in defense of Christianity is practically an oxymoron.

    Unklee is simply a past-master at bullshit; of constructing an argument in such a way so’s he cannot lose and he has been doing it for years. That doesn’t mean he is right or that he has won ( genuinely made the argument). Far from it. Simply that his position cannot be assailed by fair means or foul.
    Look at the posts on his blog. Many cover the same topic only worded slightly differently – including several about miracles – and the defense is the same. Same scholars quoted almost every time
    ,.
    If it ain’t broke…. right?

    He banned me from his blog. He knows why.

    Personally I cannot fathom why he bothers with Nate. If he is so sure of his position what is his motivation? He certainly has no intention of reconsidering his view. His position has been staunch from the word go.
    I find his approach sycophantic and yes, he does come across as condescending at times.

    But the bloke knows his stuff and what he doesn’t know much of he makes damn sure it is not allowed to derail any argument.

    I know his position is untenable – and if he were honest, so does he.
    But this is religion.
    It hasn’t fazed the Catholics much and it won’t faze unklee.

    Honestly? I think he just likes to play, as if it were a game of chess.
    He is simply a more sophisticated version of a fundamentalist.

    Liked by 1 person

  243. Ok. Enough said about UnkleE. However, I hope everyone will take note of whether or not he ever gets around to presenting his “strong” evidence for the Resurrection claim. Again, if someone wants to believe in supernatural claims by faith, no problem with me. But if your going to claim you have “strong” evidence, but instead of presenting that strong evidence, you build an “inverted pyramid” argument as someone else pointed out, I think you are being disingenuous.

    Put out your evidence and let the chips fall where they may. Why play a game of chess with it?

    Done.

    Liked by 2 people

  244. Nate,

    Please note I used the term “being” a fool. Very intelligent people can at some points in time behave like fools. I never said that UnkleE or anyone else IS a fool.

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  245. “Do you think the best way to educate people is to ridicule them? Is that how we want the school system to educate our children?”

    Would you want your kids’ school teacher to give respectability to a belief that invisible leprechauns are everywhere and that if you misbehave they will punish you? I doubt you would. So why give respectability to a superstition that says, even in the liberal version, that “our superstition is the correct superstition and it would be best for you to accept it?

    Liked by 1 person

  246. Respectability and tolerance are not synonymous. Furthermore, there’s a huge difference between belief in leprechauns and belief in Christianity, if for no other reason than the fact that Christianity is widely believed by many people. It’s the same reason why “shit” is considered foul language, but “blubzerblat” is not. Both are just sounds… but it’s the meaning we attach to them that make all the difference.

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  247. well now maybe we’re back on the same page.

    gary says he’s not slandering people, but their ideas.

    I think we may as well go back to rule of the strong. I’ll just start working out a lot and practice ju jitsu and beat the royal piss out of out everyone – because power achieved is power perceived. then i’ll just tell them what to think.

    i do like the golden rule. i dont always follow it although i try to always begin there. I’ve had dumb ideas before and likely still do. a tactful word reinforced with reason go much further and are much easier to digest… of course that may only be because mary poppins kept telling me medicine is easier to take with sugar, but i still find it true.

    when there are people who wont listen to reason, i can get sarcastic and often rude. i try to work on that, but i do it. and i try to remember that people just may see things differently than i do… it could be because they’re jerks, or lying to themselves, or that I’m lying to myself and dont realize, or maybe it’s because they’re not as smart as me, or i am not as smart as them… I think if we consider all the possibilities, we may not be so hostile.

    it doesnt cease my hostilities though.

    I think unkleE makes illogical leaps in conclusions.

    i think josh stops himself from seeing what’s obvious.

    I try to stop myself from saying those things or further trying to explain or vocalize why i think they see it differently than me… because it really doesnt matter. if they’re doing those things then me making my assumption of that known wont likely change it, and then I stand the risk of looking like a bigger douche.

    and if youre doing so that other people will see it, consider that they may see it with your pointing it out and say “that well spoken and kind fellow utterly destroyed his opponent’s points with ease,” in stead of “that douche had some really good points.”

    and “I was only a douche because he was douche first” sounds childish, and mainly because it is.

    but who knows, gary, you may be right. I’m kinda surprised youre spending this much time arguing for assigning negative motivations to others. I think that’s all nate was getting at.

    and being blunt isnt really a good quality. it’s what people get called jerk for. it’s oklay tp be polite and gentle and tactful. isnt it?

    and you’re not a jerk – which is why i am confused as to why this line of the discussion has drug out this far.

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  248. Personally I cannot fathom why he bothers with Nate. If he is so sure of his position what is his motivation?

    I imagine it’s the same reason I discuss things with him. It’s not so much to change his mind as it is to make sure the audience (who may not be sold one way or the other yet) gets to understand my position.

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  249. nate, i think we;d all appreciate you not using the “B” word.

    I wouldn’t be upset if a teacher held a belief in leprechauns. If my kid asked the teacher what they thought about leprechauns, i wouldn’t mind the teacher answering. I wouldn’t like if the teacher just took the initiative to start spouting said belief again and again and trying to force my kid to agree. I wouldnt like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  250. maybe it’s also the practice. a re-examination of our positions and theirs. making it better. trying to find flaws in theirs and ours and correcting them, readjusting and re-evaluating.

    no one else may change their mind or really care about truth or what the real evidence is or truly suggests, but i do.

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  251. I think it would be interesting if every person who participates on this blog would answer these two questions:

    Do you believe that your worldview is the only correct worldview? And, if other people choose not to believe, accept, and adopt your worldview, do you believe that they will be punished in some manner for not doing so?

    Any Christian who answers no to both questions can hang with me and have a beer any day.

    Liked by 2 people

  252. Do you believe that your worldview is the only correct worldview? And, if other people choose not to believe, accept, and adopt your worldview, do you believe that they will be punished in some manner for not doing so?

    1) Yes, that’s why I believe it. HOWEVER, I also believe that I could be wrong.
    2) Nope.

    Liked by 1 person

  253. Gary, unless I’m missing something, these are loaded questions.

    Nevertheless, I’d have to say:

    (1) Yes, I do believe my worldview is correct. It may not be the only correct one, but it works for me.

    (2) The only way someone will be “punished” for not accepting or adopting my worldview is if they believe the bible. Since I don’t, then IMO, no punishment is forthcoming.

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  254. I too believe that my worldview is correct. But, I also believe that there may be other worldviews that I don’t know about that are also correct, such as that of the Dalai Lama, Buddhist monks, etc. I am open to there being more than one “correct” world view, and, even a better worldview than my own.

    I don’t think that most conservative and even moderate Christians could say that. I don’t think that most of them would be willing to say, “It is certainly possible that the Christian god does not exist. I believe in him simply as a matter of choice.”

    I have no issue with Christian universalists who believe that Jesus was a good man who taught many wonderful humanistic principles, but who also believe that there are other equally valid worldviews and that no one is going to be punished for not agreeing with them.

    I would love to know how many Christians who participate in this discussion would be willing to say that though. (Hint, hint, hint).

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  255. Dear Makagutu:

    Thank you for offering to speak to me by email but I would prefer to converse here on Nate’s blog, on your blog, or my blog. Here’s why:

    I do not know your gender. I am uncomfortable caring on email conversations with women as I am a happily married man whose wife has access to my email account. Just as I would not want her carrying on online conversations with men, I know she feels the same about me carrying on online conversations with women, even if the conversation is strictly about religion.

    Even if you are male, I would still prefer to discuss religion in a public forum as I spend enough time on the internet as it is…I’d rather consolidate my conversations. I hope you understand!

    🙂

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  256. Gary, I understand.
    I am a she he, happily soon to be married- that’s in a jest.
    I wasn’t going to ask we discuss religion in private, though, that I can do here.
    Good day

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  257. Nate asks, how do you react when someone calls you a fool? I wear sack clothes. I weep then I investigate why they thought me a fool then respond to them.
    Gary asks about worldview.
    My worldview encompasses both philosophical and methodological naturalism. Is it right? I think so. Could I be wrong? Yes, I have been wrong many times this might not be the first time.
    Having said that, however, I think any worldview that allows for the existence of some other world beings like gods and angels is wrong. They have their origin in our ignorant past and continuing to hold on to them is evidence that such a person has not moved very far from that savage past.

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  258. And before you run to the nearest mosque, hold it a moment. I think two years or so ago I read a book or articles that question the existence of Mo.

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  259. Does anyone have a quote from Josephus or any other Jewish source that says that Jesus of Nazareth performed miracles? If so, what do scholars say about their authenticity? In other words, are they thought to be authentic or Christian additions/forgeries to the original text?

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  260. Why doesn’t Luke mention any Guards at Jesus’ Tomb?

    Matthew is the only Gospel writer who mentions guards being stationed at Jesus’ tomb to prevent the robbery of the body by Jesus’ disciples. Many Christian apologists use Matthew’s claim to say that with guards at the tomb, the only good explanation for the tomb being empty on Sunday morning is that a resurrection had occurred.

    But why didn’t any other Gospel writer mention this detail, in particular, Luke, who states he thoroughly researched the accounts about Jesus?

    Ex-Christian, John Loftus:

    One of the things I say in my revised WIBA book is that since the gospel of Luke does not mention the guards at the tomb, and since he said in the opening that he had investigated everything and swears that his account is accurate, that therefore the author of that gospel disputes the whole story, probably for the same reasons you shared. That’s one gospel denying the claims of an earlier one.

    …we already know Luke had access to Matthew’s gospel because he repeats it almost word for word in the Greek in a few pericopes. The dependency of later gospels upon previous ones is accepted by a majority of Christian scholars. Luke knew the story of the guards at the tomb and rejected it!

    …Interesting how the centurion at Jesus’ crucifiction (Matt 27:54 – Truly this was the Son of God) could figure out who Jesus was, but the soliders at the tomb who saw angels coming down from the sky etc just take a bribe and are on their way.

    I guess you never send a common solider to do a centurion’s job!

    Liked by 1 person

  261. Gary: “I think it would be interesting if every person who participates on this blog would answer these two questions:”

    I’m all for moving past the discussion about how to have a discussion so count me in 🙂

    Do you believe that your worldview is the only correct worldview?

    I’m agnostic about our origins and any possible deities existing so basically my worldview is “I don’t know.” Yes, I do feel as though this is an honest and correct worldview. Could I be wrong? Sure! Perhaps I actually KNOW the answers to the greatest mysteries of all time and am somehow suppressing that knowledge and tricking myself into thinking that I don’t know. Stranger things have happened.

    And, if other people choose not to believe, accept, and adopt your worldview, do you believe that they will be punished in some manner for not doing so?

    Only if my friend Gary gets a hold of them 🙂 J/K!!

    My answer is no, but I do think we need to be on the lookout for people who think the world is going to end soon and will pretty much trash the planet if allowed to do so. It’s not so much a punishment as it is a natural consequence for neglect.

    Now I have a question for Gary: Do you have a deconversion story posted online anywhere that you would be willing to share?

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  262. The New Testament miracles need to first be examined by seeing what the scholars write about them, as I have already mentioned. – Sorry, Dave (and Nate) – I’m with Gary. The only “scholars” whose testimony I will accept are those who provide eye-witness testimony. Did you see it? If not, keep your opinions to yourself.

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  263. Not Gay here, Paulie, but you want to buy a place next door, I’m thinking we could throw some great backyard barbecues! We’d split the tab on the booze, I didn’t take you to raise!

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  264. So I’m sitting having lunch by the river. The cafe owner is friendly. There is enough shade from the gum trees to keep it cool. An elderly couple is in conversation next to me. You can tell they care about one another. Two friends sit together behind them. behind them is a young mother with two kids. water is calm, the town is buzzing in quiet exchanges. not much is happening, but there is alot happening. People are living. It’s a privilege to be here.

    Liked by 1 person

  265. Dave,

    I’ve just tried three times to post a link to my deconversion story, but for some reason the link won’t post.

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  266. But in your zeal to stamp out a belief system, you seem to be treading on individuals as well.” – Individuals who place themselves in their own harm’s way, by the very position that they choose to hold.

    Liked by 1 person

  267. I’m beginning to sense, Nate, that you are not as far removed from religion as you may think you are.

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  268. He knows why.” – As does anyone who knows you, but I digress. I agree Unk is a chess player, and as such, never makes a move without thinking at least three+ moves ahead. When one accepts his terms, one should brace themselves for a loss.

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  269. If we are going to teach ‘creation science’ as an alternative to evolution, then we should also teach the stork theory as an alternative to biological reproduction.”
    — Judith Hayes —

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  270. Arch,

    that ‘us vs them’ mentality an attitude that tears this world apart. Im thinking that the notion of cleansing the world from “ignorance” by dismissing people who don’t agree with you, is leaning more towards the radical than Nate is. Guess who else has that sort of attitude and runs with it – every violent nationalist and religious cell that has existed. who is the more extreme – the one who accepts humanity and respects them because of shared humanity, even if they disagree….or the guy who will restrict and belittle a belief they disagree with, even if it means attacking the person verbally. Lets follow these two modes of thinking along….Who out of these two people would be more at risk of getting to a point of hurting someone or bombing a school given enough “justfication”? I’m thinking the second guy.

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  271. @Arch.

    “He knows why.” – As does anyone who knows you. When one accepts his terms, one should brace themselves for a loss.

    Haha!

    Contrary to what you believe I was generally civil at all times. 🙂

    Oh, I never, ever consider/ed any interaction with unklee as a ”loss”.
    For me, as with all such dialogue with an indoctrinated Christian – and make no mistake, it is indoctrination, though such folk will likely vehemently deny it and claim you suffer in a similar fashion – I consider it a learning experience. And I learned quite a lot.
    Frustrating on numerous occasions, yes. But this was because I initially harbored the delightful idiocy that fact/truth would triumph over stupidity.

    Well, the facts generally don’t change only belief and I was the one who ended up feeling stupid, while unklee, as are all religious people, remain simply ignorant – some willfully.
    The best one can hope for is that the ‘lurkers’ are able to discern the truth while following the dialogue.
    Like William Lane Craig, unklee is not so naive to believe his arguments will ever convince a non-believer, they are facile, and as cleverly cherry picked as any an soldier on point traversing a minefield.
    At best he will reassure himself with more carefully picked stats etc and have the choir nodding in an I-told-you-so fashion.

    If every major Jewish religious leader came out and publicly announced the entire Torah was made up and the Pope confessed something similar about the New Testament, every other ”Christian” would probably say: ”Hurrah, Satan has been exposed. It’s a miracle. Come Jesus, come.”

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  272. Arch,

    In saying that, I’m not suggesting that your going to blow up a school 🙂

    Hope your going well for you, it’s been awhile

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  273. Hi Nate,

    Thanks again for your support and kind words. I appreciate and agree with most of what you say. I recall how when I first came to this blog we rattled each other’s cages a little (I think I was more pushy than you were) and I had to apologise a couple of times, and so, I recall did you. I certainly never took offence, and I don’t think you did either. Once we understood each other, I think we were able to relax a little and no apologies have been necessary for some time now. I appreciate how you have dealt with a christian coming to an ex-christian’s blog and rarely if ever accusing me of anything, but simply and calmly disagreeing.

    Thanks to William and Dave too.

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  274. “This is no longer a historical discussion, it’s a theological discussion (no surprise to anyone).”

    Hi Dave, thanks for this. I feel we understand each other reasonably well. As I’ve made clear several times, the consensus of scholars can help us understand the facts, or the closest historical study can get to the facts, if we want to know them. Then we can decide how we respond to these facts – with belief, or scepticism, or agnosticism, or further research, or whatever.

    Theology doesn’t count as evidence, they are two different things. But theology can and should be built on evidence, just as atheology should be. My main emphasis here has been to point out how little of the atheology on display here (not including yours and Nate’s and a few others’) is actually built on good evidence. So many of the comments made to me mock or avoid the evidence.

    Obviously I disagree with you and Nate, but at least we can talk because you show me you care about evidence.

    Thanks.

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  275. I re-read Genesis chapter one today. The first time I had read the chapter since my faith crumbled in February this year.

    What struck me was that it made prefect sense if I viewed it as an ancient people trying to explain the world as they saw it. This was like an Epiphany to me.

    For so many years I have read that chapter with the tortured logic of an apologist. I have struggled to reconcile it with the reality of science. But once free of the need to see in divine inspiration I had the freedom to be able to throw off the blinkers and just see it for what it is.

    As an aside, the Biblical Scholar, Peter Enns, has an ongoing series on his blog of what he calls the ‘Ah-ha’ moment. In it he invites various Biblical scholars to outline when they came to the realisation that the traditional view of Biblical inspiration and interpretation could not be sustained.

    Liked by 1 person

  276. Well, it seems like the tumult and the shouting has died for a while. For the second time I have to say it seems a little surreal to have so much talking about me. Like Dave, I would be very pleased to see discussion of issues rather than people.

    It makes me wonder what is going on. It seems to me like several things.

    1. I believe there has been misunderstanding, and sometimes you have assumed I’m saying more than I am. Take NT miracles. I have not said that most scholars believe the miracles occurred. Check back and see. I said that most scholars believe Jesus was known as a healer, some believe he used natural “folk healing”, some that he did genuine miracles and many don’t pass a judgment on that. So I said that the historical evidence for the miracles is good, but the metaphysical issues make it difficult to simply accept the historical evidence. So there is evidence, but each of us will interpret the evidence differently.

    2. It seems like some of you find it difficult to cope with the possibility that a christian might believe what they do because they think it is true and believe there is good evidence for this truth. It seems somehow some of you think that since you feel strongly about it, you must assuredly and obviously be right and no-one sensible could possibly think otherwise. And you don’t want to even think about the possibility that it may not be so. And so I must surely be devious, dishonest, have false motives, etc – but equally obviously you couldn’t possibly suffer from the same weaknesses.

    I feel if you could just come to terms with the fact that I read a lot, I think a lot, I have well-worked out beliefs, and we just happen to disagree, things could be a lot more pleasant.

    Remember, I’m supposed to be the intolerant one, not you, and yet I’ve never said those sorts of things about you. I disagree with you, I point out where my reading indicates you haven’t looked at the evidence, and if I meet a brick wall, I stop. I can cope with you guys without being intolerant or making crazy claims, so maybe you can too?

    3. The other thing that seems to aggravate you is my use of scholars as evidence. I’m not sure why, because we are all supposed to be evidence based, aren’t we? And on topics where we are not expert, we surely need to get our facts from those who are. So why haven’t you joined me in learning what the experts say, and if you think I have quoted them in a biased way, provide the evidence for that accusation? Instead, what we see is almost no evidence provided, just assertions. And a covering up of this lack of evidence on your part with explanations of how I have a sly agenda, and I’m such a tricky customer. I’m so devious, I actually quote experts all the time!

    It is possible to test this out very simply. So since I have been asked questions and challenged, I’m going to do the same.

    #1. Ark, you made a very strong claim that “regarding the Pentateuch the overwhelming, scientific and scholarly view based on what the evidence (or lack thereof) shows is the one held to be minimalist.” I challenged that statement, and provided references and quotes to show that there was a range of views and a lot of good scholars spread across the spectrum of views. You have not responded. So here’s the challenge. Since you say you believe in evidence and I am avoiding it, show that is the case here. Find references to show that what I said and the references I quoted are wrong. Not just statements from minimalists – because for every one of them I can find one by someone else – but find references that show that no competent scholar holds another view, as your strong statement claimed. That’s the challenge. And since Arch has expressed similar views in the past, why not ask him to join you in your refutation?

    #2 Gary, you have been saying a lot of stuff about me, but never really answered the reasons I gave for giving up discussing with you. So here’s a challenge for you. You have said heaps about how harmful christian belief is, “It is evil. Plain and simple.” But you provided no evidence for that statement. You probably think that it is obvious, but can you find good scientific and historical evidence for that statement? Not just an odd rave by someone, but some good meta-studies that summarise the findings of scientists and historians who have studied these things. I believe I can show you overwhelming evidence that your statement is objectively wrong. So there’s the test – are you interested in real solid evidence, or not?

    I have answered questions until it became clear there was no point in going further. Are you guys going to answer this challenge with some real evidence, or are you going to laugh it off?

    You may feel I have been hard here, in which case I am sorry. But as Nate says, I have been willing to discuss and answer questions from a whole host of atheists. Are you willing to do the same? Thanks.

    BTW, I will be away from how for a couple of days, so you have plenty of time to consider. I probably won’t be able to read or respond in that time.

    Liked by 1 person

  277. Hi Peter, it is interesting to read this. In my early christianity (back in the early 1960s), I was taught to believe in a literal Genesis and disbelieve in evolution. The first step for me came about 10 years later when I read Genesis and felt sure it was a folk tale or the like – what would now be known as an aetiological myth. I still thought evolution was unbelievable, but I now thought a literal Genesis was unbelievable too. It was another couple of decades before I came round to accepting the science of evolution, but for that intervening period, I didn’t believe either.

    I am a fan of Peter Enns, He has taught me a lot. His book “Inspiration and Incarnation” is well worth reading, and I’m told “The Bible Tells me so” is good also. For more on evolution, I recommend Denis Lamoureux who has 3 PhDs – in dentistry, evolutionary biology and Old Testament theology. He has done a series of short illustrated talks on interpreting Genesis in the light of evolutionary science, and you can find them here. The following lectures have the same address, but replace the 1 in the URL with 2 etc. Hope you find them interesting.

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  278. Hi unkleE I have ditched totally inerrancy of the Bible as a viable concept. There remains the view put forward by scholars like Enns and Crossan that it is possible to see it as a form of pious fiction. My problem then is how does one differentiate between the human part and any divine inspiration.

    I was reading an article from Paul Davidson’s excellent website on the David and Goliath story:
    https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/the-men-who-killed-goliath-unraveling-the-layers-of-tradition-behind-a-timeless-tale-of-heroism/
    he makes an interesting observation at the end of his article which I will repeat here:

    “For those with a devotional interest in the Bible, the story demonstrates that ancient scribes and religious devotees had no problem filling their scriptures with folktales, myths, and hagiographic legends. It is the modern reader, not the ancient one, who insists that for a book to be sacred, it must be divinely inspired and contain only sober historical facts. “

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  279. “My problem then is how does one differentiate between the human part and any divine inspiration.”

    I don’t think there is a human part and a divine part. It is all human and it is (arguably) all divinely inspired. I think there are two other questions.

    1. Which is historical and which isn’t? For some parts, I don’t see why this matters. For other parts, I think the genre makes things pretty clear.

    2. More importantly, what is being communicated? If God inspired the Bible, what is he saying through different parts of the text? That is only a question for believers, and as a believer I can echo CS Lewis’ trust that God will make important things clear to us if we seek him.

    I think that quote is pretty good.

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  280. Ah the key question ‘If God inspired the Bible’?

    When I see a book that has all the hallmarks of human fallibility and clear evidence of progressive re-writing. I ask myself ‘what would now allow me to believe the Bible is divinely inspired’?

    On Violet’s blog we had even set God a challenge yesterday to heal Violet, then Violet and I would believe again:
    https://thereisnorainasd.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/throwing-off-indoctrination/

    But alas Violet says she is as bad as ever today. I just don’t know anymore what it would take for me to regain a belief in a divine hand behind the Bible? Perhaps the Bible is right about one thing at least – faith itself really is a gift from God.

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  281. #1. Ark, you made a very strong claim that “regarding the Pentateuch the overwhelming, scientific and scholarly view based on what the evidence (or lack thereof) shows is the one held to be minimalist.” I challenged that statement, and provided references and quotes to show that there was a range of views and a lot of good scholars spread across the spectrum of views. You have not responded. So here’s the challenge. Since you say you believe in evidence and I am avoiding it, show that is the case here. Find references to show that what I said and the references I quoted are wrong. Not just statements from minimalists – because for every one of them I can find one by someone else – but find references that show that no competent scholar holds another view, as your strong statement claimed. That’s the challenge. And since Arch has expressed similar views in the past, why not ask him to join you in your refutation?

    I did not say that no competent scholar holds a different view. You, however, are the champion of consensus and the vast majority of competent scholars and archaeologists beleive – based on evidence – it is simply historical fiction. Period.

    I am sure you are aware of Wolpe’s announcement?
    I am equally sure you are aware of Sherman Wine’s response,
    Finkelstein’s view,
    Devers view
    Herzog’s view and a host of others.

    These are simply the vanguard of the minimalist school as well you know.

    I am not going to bother trawling through endless documentation simply to provide an indoctrinated Christian with the overwhelming scholarly and scientific view of the Pentateuch.

    Yes, you are most certainly being disingenuous as there is not a single recognized secular Egyptologist that has produced any evidence, or as far as I am aware will state there is any veracity to the biblical exodus.

    What really makes me laugh is you have access to Wiki ( and all its links and references) and yet you seem to enjoy playing ignorant of the facts.

    Why is that?

    I shall quote Wiki, if this is okay?

    The historicity of the exodus continues to attract popular attention, but most histories of ancient Israel no longer consider information about it recoverable or even relevant to the story of Israel’s emergence.[4]The archeological evidence does not support the story told in the Book of Exodus[5] and most archaeologists have therefore abandoned the investigation of Moses and the Exodus as “a fruitless pursuit”.[6] strong>The opinion of the overwhelming majority of modern biblical scholars is that the exodus story was shaped into its final present form in the post-Exilic period,[7]

    My emphasis.

    Note: one of your favorite words/phrases.- Overwhelming majority of biblical scholars.-

    You have a problem with this? Don’t shoot the messenger.
    Maybe a little humble pie once in while would be good for your constitution?

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  282. you don’t have to go to Uganda to find Christians that call for killing gays” – Looks like the Catholic church is going to be short on priests in Georgia.

    Liked by 1 person

  283. I thought you might like this quote as well ….

    Apart from the well-funded (and fundamentalist) “biblical archaeologists,” we are in fact nearly all “minimalists” now.[3]
    —Philip Davies, “Beyond Labels: What Comes Next?”

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  284. Does anyone have a quote from Josephus” – I don’t see that it matters, as Josephus wasn’t even born until 7 years after Yeshua’s alleged death.

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  285. As far as the Pentateuch and your position as a Christian stand:

    Whether you view the character Jesus of Nazareth as the human version of your creator god, or the Son of God, without Yahweh you have no god.

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  286. leaning more towards the radical than Nate is” – I’d certainly like to think so, but I work with words, not bombs.

    Liked by 1 person

  287. But this was because I initially harbored the delightful idiocy that fact/truth would triumph over stupidity” – If that would ever happen, from wherever would our next generation of politicians come?

    Liked by 1 person

  288. Hope your going well for you, it’s been awhile” – Quite well, and yes, it has – I’ve whiled away the hours sharpening my tongue.

    Liked by 1 person

  289. Or Christian apologists …
    You were included in unklee’s ”challenge” by the way.
    I am gong for dinner in a mo, why not draft something for me to read when I have finished?
    A bit of humour might aid my digestion.

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  290. “So I said that the historical evidence for the miracles is good…”

    Source?

    As I asked above, do we have any contemporaneous Jewish or Roman sources that state that Jesus performed miracles, and, what those miracles were? There are 1,000 of “healers” around the world today, of many different religions, including in western countries, and few of us believe these claims of healings and miracles. If any one can find a Jewish or Roman source that says that Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, fed 5,000 people, healed leprosy and blindness, and raised the dead…please provide the source. Otherwise, claims of Jesus being a healer or no more validation for his divinity that the same claim for the late Oral Roberts.

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  291. @Unklee

    I challenged that statement, and provided references and quotes to show that there was a range of views and a lot of good scholars spread across the spectrum of views.

    I went back to reread your comment in case I missed something from one of the archaeologists you reference.
    You have not, in fact, presented their view here at all,other than to state there is a middle view.
    That is unless it is buried somewhere as I could not find a single quote in your comments from any of the archaeologists you list, and certainly not regarding the Patriarchs and especially not concerning Moses and the Exodus.

    Perhaps you would like to simply paraphrase what these alternative theories are and which are the archaeologists & scholars who hold them and where one might find a peer reviewed article/s; as much for my benefit as for the others reading this thread?
    Thanks.
    Ark

    Liked by 1 person

  292. “It seems like some of you find it difficult to cope with the possibility that a christian might believe what they do because they think it is true and believe there is good evidence for this truth. It seems somehow some of you think that since you feel strongly about it, you must assuredly and obviously be right and no-one sensible could possibly think otherwise. And you don’t want to even think about the possibility that it may not be so. And so I must surely be devious, dishonest, have false motives, etc – but equally obviously you couldn’t possibly suffer from the same weaknesses.”

    Baloney.

    We believe you are wrong because we were once in your place using the same arguments. We have investigated the evidence extensively and have come to the conclusion that the “evidence” for the supernatural claims of Christianity are weak. We have no issue debating the evidence with you. Our issue with you is that you attempt to control the rules of discussion and have yet to answer our central question: What “strong” evidence do you have for the Resurrection?

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  293. “Remember, I’m supposed to be the intolerant one, not you, and yet I’ve never said those sorts of things about you. I disagree with you, I point out where my reading indicates you haven’t looked at the evidence, and if I meet a brick wall, I stop. I can cope with you guys without being intolerant or making crazy claims, so maybe you can too?”

    Really???

    Do you happen to remember your long diatribe on the “Gary Method” for looking at evidence? It was full of sarcasm and innuendo that my approach to evidence is “silly”, which is another word for “stupid”. Numerous other participants in this discussion have said they find you condescending. Conversations do not stay respectful for long when one participant is letting everyone else know that his knowledge and methodology are superior.

    Liked by 2 people

  294. ” The other thing that seems to aggravate you is my use of scholars as evidence. I’m not sure why, because we are all supposed to be evidence based, aren’t we? And on topics where we are not expert, we surely need to get our facts from those who are.”

    Ok. My wife is having to restrain me and is getting out my straight-jacket.

    What?? We have no issue with quoting “scholars”. What we have an issue with is that you fail to see the problem in using the term “the majority of scholars” to support supernatural claims when what you really should say is “the majority of NT scholars, the overwhelming majority of whom are believers….believe such as such.”

    We have no issue with you claiming that most historians believe that Jesus existed, preached an apocalyptic message of repentance, angered the Jews, was crucified, and soon after his death his followers came to believe he had risen from the dead.

    Liked by 1 person

  295. “Ark, you made a very strong claim that “regarding the Pentateuch the overwhelming, scientific and scholarly view based on what the evidence (or lack thereof) shows is the one held to be minimalist.” I challenged that statement, and provided references and quotes to show that there was a range of views and a lot of good scholars spread across the spectrum of views.”

    I challenge UnkleE to deny that the majority of archaeologists, including the majority of Israeli archaeologists, reject as baseless the biblical Hebrew slavery in Egypt, Forty Years in the Sinai, Conquest of Canaan, and the great Kingdoms of David and Solomon.

    Liked by 2 people

  296. “I have answered questions until it became clear there was no point in going further.”

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Where is your “strong” evidence for the central historical claim of the New Testament, the Resurrection. You have NOT answered the question.

    “You have said heaps about how harmful christian belief is, “It is evil. Plain and simple.” But you provided no evidence for that statement. You probably think that it is obvious, but can you find good scientific and historical evidence for that statement? ”

    If you do not believe the veracity of the many, many historical accounts of the mass persecution, mass slaughters, genocides, burning at the stakes, etc. perpetrated in the name of your God there is no point in giving you the web links to the evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  297. ” I was taught to believe in a literal Genesis and disbelieve in evolution. The first step for me came about 10 years later when I read Genesis and felt sure it was a folk tale or the like – what would now be known as an aetiological myth.”

    And I read the Resurrection story and feel sure it too is a folk tale or the like…

    How can UnkleE view one statement by God as myth and another statement by God as historical fact? Based on what objective criteria does he make this distinction? I believe that it is this: once scientific evidence becomes so overwhelming against the literal interpretation of a biblical claim, Christianity dumps the literal interpretation and declares it to be hyperbole, metaphorical, or a folk tale. Of course this means that every Christian apologist, theologian, and bishop/pastor/priest has been deceived for the previous 2,000 years and that modern apologists are so brilliant to see something in the Bible that all these previous apologists missed.

    Liked by 2 people

  298. “More importantly, what is being communicated? If God inspired the Bible, what is he saying through different parts of the text? That is only a question for believers, and as a believer I can echo CS Lewis’ trust that God will make important things clear to us if we seek him.”

    Yes, God has made the Bible very clear to believers, hasn’t he? That is why there are over 30,000 different denominations, sects, and cults of Christianity, each one believing that they alone have the REAL truth; they alone are really in tune with God; they alone speak for God. If we were to give the Holy Spirit a grade for “making things clear” to believers, he would have to receive an F minus. He has failed miserably.

    Liked by 1 person

  299. You were included in unklee’s ”challenge” by the way.” – I saw that, Ark, and considered it, but Nate, whose blog this is, insists that we be civil to Unk, and my distaste for him is such that I find it simpler to comply with that edict by not responding to him at all. Besides, your dinner-time is my lunch-time.

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  300. Plus I have a date this evening that I need to begin getting ready for – my 9-year old granddaughter has invited me to escort her to her school’s Father-Daughter Banquet this evening, and I never disappoint a lady.

    Liked by 3 people

  301. Besides, Gary M says pretty much what I would like to say, with the difference being that I don’t get blamed for it!

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  302. My wife is having to restrain me and is getting out my straight-jacket.” – I’ve had remarkable success with chewing through the straps – just sayin’ —

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  303. This is the first time, Ark, that I’ve watched this Finklestein video, but note that he comes up with the same Ammurite conclusions as I’ve voiced many times, as to the origin of the Hebrews and their god, Amurru (“El Shaddai”), who became “Yahweh” early in Exodus, after Moses married the daughter of Jethro, High priest of the obscure desert god, YHWH’s cult.

    Liked by 2 people

  304. Unklee

    Ark has asked you to detail the evidences of this contrasting archaeological/historical view of the early Jews which you believe in.

    I’d be very interested to hear this as well.

    Principally, can you list the archaeologists (and their institutions) who’s data you are drawing your assumptions on.

    Could you name the major digs and what those findings were.

    Could you then please cite what peer-reviewed papers you’ve read that supports this position, give me an outline of these papers major finding’s, and also please name the journals and publishing date so i can review them myself.

    This would be a great help in understanding where you are coming from.

    I look forward to your reply.

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  305. UnkleE: “I have answered questions until it became clear there was no point in going further. Are you guys going to answer this challenge with some real evidence, or are you going to laugh it off?”

    Are you, UnkleE, going to provide your alleged “strong” evidence for the supernatural claim of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth or are you going to continue to obfuscate? I for one do not intend to respond to even one of your “challenges” until you, to put it bluntly, put up or shut up.

    Liked by 1 person

  306. Before someone jumps on me for being mean to UnkleE…he can continue to say whatever he wants, I’m not telling him to shut up, I just do not intend to engage him until he backs up his assertion of “strong” evidence for the Resurrection. I again believe that UnkleE is playing chess (a game). He is down to his king, a bishop, and a couple of pawns and is maneuvering furiously to prevent being check-mated.

    There is no “strong” evidence for the Resurrection. Why doesn’t he just admit it and we can move on to other subjects. (Notice we HAD moved on to another subject until UnkleE jumped back in and stirred the pot with accusations that our side was not confronting his challenges and not answering his questions. Baloney.)

    Liked by 1 person

  307. Thanks for sharing the Finkelstein video, Arch. It is very good. I read his book which goes into even more detail but the video is a good summary to share with people who still think that Moses was found floating in the bulrushes of the croc-infested Nile.

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  308. “If you want to read it, do a google search: My Deconversion Story in a Nutshell, Escaping Christian Fundamentalism”

    Thanks for sharing this Gary.

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  309. The only problem I had with it, was that Finklestein’s accent is so thick that it’s difficult to understand all that he says.

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  310. The only problem I had with it, was that Finklestein’s accent is so thick that it’s difficult to understand all that he says.

    I don’t think it is Finklestein that is thick. Or maybe you’re just deaf?
    But he sure ain’t no Chris Hitchens,that’s for sure. 😉

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  311. Interesting story, Peter, but I’ve still not heard an explanation from anyone, and I’ve asked several times, as to what Paul/Saul was doing on the road to Damascus in the first place. He was in the employ of the Sanhedrin, as a “witch-hunter,” so to speak, an informant sniffing out those pesky Christians, but the area around the road to Damascus was outside the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin, what business would he have had there?

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  312. Peter’s reference story makes a heckava lot more sense to me than what the bible/Christians say about Paul’s experience. The sentence that stood out to me was: “If that first-century document had been anything other than part of the Bible, [it] would have been a straightforward story.”

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  313. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/atheist-mom-gets-death-threats-over-school-bible-complaints-but-christians-claim-theyre-the-victims/#.VUOgqGJK_CA.facebook

    more Christian death threats.

    time to put Christians in their place and give them the persecution that jeeezzzuuuusss promised them that they would have,
    not their imagined cake decorating persecution they suffer today. 🙂

    gary, I’m behind you 100% regarding unklee.

    arch, you’re the coolest!!!!!!

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  314. this morning when I woke up I turned on my tv and there was some televangelist talking about deconverted Christians. someone he knew that had formerly been a Christian had written a book trying to disprove things in the bible. the preacher went on to say,
    “why would anyone waste their time trying to disprove something that they don’t believe is real, don’t they have anything better to do? why can’t they do something positive with their lives.”
    he then said, “Christians who once knew god and now are non-believers are the most miserable people in the world”

    well at least he didn’t say that they should be killed.
    or maybe he did, I didn’t watch the whole sermon.

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  315. As a brief epilogue, the Father-Daughter Banquet (and Ball) was a smashing success. We fast-danced, we slow-danced, and we did one dance where I stood in place and pivoted while my little red-haired pixie held my hands and ran around me in a circle – I have no idea what that was called, but since no one else was doing it, I guess that made us innovators. It should shortly be sweeping the nation.

    Liked by 5 people

  316. oh Gary, I wasn’t saying that you support persecuting people, i think we all know that.
    I’m 100% in agreement with you about debunking their myth and exposing their lies.

    i, on the other hand, do believe in persecuting them, they do it to me all the time.

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  317. SPG,

    I am very happy to hear that Christian preachers are complaining about ex-Christian efforts to debunk their ancient superstition! It shows we are having an effect. Dear atheist and agnostic friends: Let’s redouble our efforts to put Yahweh into the same grave yard of debunked deities as Zeus, Ra, and Jupiter!

    Liked by 1 person

  318. “Where is the graveyard of dead gods? What lingering mourner waters their mounds?”
    — H. L. Menken —

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  319. I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    ‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
    — Percy Bysshe Shelley,
    1792 – 1822 —

    Liked by 1 person

  320. Fear thee not, faire Nan, for Thor will be with us as long as Marvel makes sequels.
    (Just practicing for the Renaissance Faire I’ll be attending with my grandchildren next Saturday)

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  321. This having to do with absolutely nothing, I was re-reading “The Merchant of Venice this morning, over a glass of fine wine ($12 for a gallon jug!), and ran across this line, regarding Jews converting to Christianity that I found amusing – even more so after the third glass:
    This making Christians will raise the price of hogs….

    Liked by 1 person

  322. Of all the comment on this blog, this ->

    archaeopteryx1
    May 3, 2015 at 11:46 am
    As a brief epilogue, the Father-Daughter Banquet (and Ball) was a smashing success. We fast-danced, we slow-danced, and we did one dance where I stood in place and pivoted while my little red-haired pixie held my hands and ran around me in a circle – I have no idea what that was called, but since no one else was doing it, I guess that made us innovators. It should shortly be sweeping the nation.

    . . . is my favourite. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  323. Makagutu,

    I liked your post on Marcion. I copied and pasted it to my blog (with credit to you), I hope that is ok with you.

    Gary

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  324. Also, Gary, you might want to check into the “Adoptionists,” another Christianity that was around for a couple of hundred years, who believed that Yeshua was fully human, but was “adopted” by Yahweh at his baptism.

    Then check into the Gnostics, who believed that Yeshua was fully human, but in whom the “Christos” entered at his baptism, then left his body on the cross, just prior to his death, basically saying, “Hey, I’m outta here – you’re on your own kid! See you in three days!” resulting in his echoing Isaiah in saying, “My god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    Of course a wise biblical scholar knows that the whole “My god, my god” exclamation was simply another feeble effort to tie Yeshua to Isaiah’s prophecies regarding a Messiah.

    Liked by 1 person

  325. Is it just me or are there a lot of conservative Christians who are control freaks when it comes to having a discussion with skeptics on the claims of Christianity. I presented Matthew 27 to the Christian below, under his article regarding the empty tomb as evidence for the Resurrection. I pointed out to him that there was a possible period of time that the tomb was not guarded. He absolutely refused to even consider it as a possibility. Below is the end of our conversation where he stopped publishing my comments until I would agree to his rules of discussion (Sound familiar??)

    Randy Everist

    Sorry, Gary, that’s not quite right. No Christian philosopher rests his or her case on the Resurrection being the only possible explanation (in any case, I certainly don’t), and the Resurrection isn’t posited as the explanation for the text you’re using; this is why I said you’ve malformed the question. The best explanation of the Matthew 27 text you’ve quoted above is not that the Pharisees, being concerned to make sure the tomb is not empty, instead ignored whether or not it was empty. The best explanation is instead that they checked and it wasn’t. There’s simply no textual evidence to the contrary sufficient to overturn this. Will you grant this? If not, there’s little point to continuing our conversation. I don’t let people bounce from topic to topic, least of all fundamentalist atheists!

    Randy Everist

    Sorry, Gary: I warned you I would not let you bounce from topic to topic. Do you admit the best explanation of the text is that the tomb was not empty? This is your last chance. Have a good day! 🙂

    Randy Everist

    I warned you! Hope you have an awesome day; let me know if you are ever open or have any questions. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  326. Of course a wise biblical scholar knows that the whole “My god, my god” exclamation was simply another feeble effort to tie Yeshua to Isaiah’s prophecies regarding a Messiah.

    And especially Psalm 22

    Liked by 1 person

  327. Yeah, Gary, that kind of crap drives me nuts. “Agree with me or I won’t post your comments!”

    I’m proud to say that I’ve never used content moderation — even when I was a Christian.

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  328. Mak, “Percy died too soon.
    He said ignorance gave birth to the gods, learning will lead to their death”

    Alvin Boyd Kuhn said something similar about Christianity, ““As ignorance was its mother and the source-spring of its world power, it is bound to cherish ignorance as its patron saint and monitor forever, for the breath of knowledge would wither it away.”

    Liked by 1 person

  329. William Dever is not a theist (so you can’t pin that rap on him!)” – I see that your debating style, Unk, doesn’t prohibit you from dealing in half-truths:

    William G. Dever is the son of a fundamentalist preacher. From a small Christian liberal arts college in Tennessee he went to a Protestant theological seminary that exposed him to “critical study” of the Bible, a study that at first he resisted. In 1960 it was on to Harvard and a doctorate in biblical theology. For thirty-five years he worked as an archaeologist, excavating in the Near East, and he is now professor of Near Eastern archaeology and anthropology at the University of Arizona. [This is dated – Dever has since retired and lives with his wife on Malta.]

    While it is true, technically, that Dever is an atheist, having been made so by the lack of evidence uncovered during 35 years of excavations in the Levant, it is impossible to entirely rid oneself of early childhood propagandizing. Dever could well be considered a maximalist, believing that the Bible contains much history, and was in conflict with Finkelstein, a Jewish minimalist working for the Jewish Museum at Tel Aviv, for years, but if you listen carefully to the first Finkelstein video I posted, Finlelstein states that Dever has moved ever closer to the minimalmist position. Possibly you should rethink your use of Dever as a witness for your side. Even without investigating his change of mind, he has always stated his belief that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were fictional characters, and that there was no evidence for a Moses, rendering Yeshua, the “son of god,” clearly lacking knowledge of that fact.

    Liked by 2 people

  330. Arch,

    I suspect that UnkleE, like most liberal Christians today, is a Marcionite: It really doesn’t matter what the OT says, Christianity is all about the red lettered text in the New Testament.

    Liked by 1 person

  331. I sent the following question to Bart Ehrman regarding the Guards at the Tomb claim by Matthew. I’ll let you know what his response is:

    “The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard[t] of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”[u] 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.”

    I agree that that next day started at sundown, but wouldn’t that next day be the Sabbath, and, the Passover? Do you believe that devout Jews would have gone into Pilate’s residence to request guards to guard a tomb on the Passover?

    And even if the guards did come to the tomb that evening, not the next day (in daylight), wouldn’t it still be true that the tomb was unguarded and unsealed for some period of time? Even if the Sanhedrin showed up to Pilate’s door one minute after sunset, it would still take the guards time to get to the tomb. Even if someone only had ten minutes, that is enough time for a couple of grave robbers (or disciples, or Jesus’ family) to move the stone, grab the corpse, and dispose of it…all under the cover of darkness. Yes, one could say that the Sanhedrin left their own guards at the tomb until the Roman guards arrived, but then, what was the point in asking for Roman guards?

    Bottom line: Accepting Matthew’s account as historical, the tomb was not guarded and secured by Roman guards from the moment Joseph of Arimethea rolled the stone in front of the door to the discovery of it empty on Sunday. There was an opportunity for the body to have been stolen, and this is the most probable explanation for an empty tomb than that an ancient Canaanite god had raised a man from the dead. William Lane Craig’s principle argument for the historicity of the Resurrection has a big hole in it.

    One more question on the timing of this event:

    I am not a NT scholar but it seems odd to me for Matthew to have been describing Joseph of Arimethea’s activities of placing Jesus’ body in the tomb and rolling the stone in front of the door in the late afternoon, and then, instead of saying, “Then that evening, the Sanhedrin went before Pilate…” he says, “and the next day the Sanhedrin went before Pilate…”.

    Is that a typical pattern of speech in Matthew or in the NT for describing a sequence of events?

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  332. Although the article is dated 4/5/15, I read of this find a number of years ago. Interestingly, the author states that at most, there could only have been no more than two families in Judea with all three of those names. Sadly, he never tells us where he gets his stats. I have previously demonstrated on other posts that “Jesus” was a fairly common name – even Barabas was named, “Jesus.” You can’t throw a rock in Mexico without hitting a “Maria,” and I would expect there were many in Israel as well, as Jesus himself was surrounded by three of them, and that was just within his own little circle of close acquaintances. Joseph was about as popular a name as John Smith on motel registries.

    Liked by 1 person

  333. Gary, that’s fine with me. You can paste as many times as you wish.

    Hi Ken, good to see you. I like that quote too.

    arch, in supernatural religion, William Cassell’s does show that the author of the Clementine Homilies believed the spirit that was in Adam, Isaac, Jacob, Abraham, Noah, Enoch and Jesus was the same. They are the only true prophets. They, who from the beginning of the world, changing names and forms passes through time.

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  334. Yes. That spirit was the logos. Not equal to god. So to the early fathers, and especially to the writer of the clementine homilies, jesus was not god.

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  335. “I ask myself ‘what would now allow me to believe the Bible is divinely inspired’?”

    Hi Peter. I am saying that that isn’t an important question for anyone who isn’t a believer. I am saying just treat the books of the Bible as any other books written at those times, take what the consensus of scholars tells us and then form a judgment. If your judgment is to reject the reports of Jesus life and teachings, then who cares about it? Only if you, or I, decide the historical evidence is enough does the question of inspiration of the text become an issue, because then we have to decide our response.

    So I think three positions are feasible:

    1. Read Bible as history. Decide can’t believe in jesus. End of story.
    2. Read Bible as history. Decide can believe in Jesus but can’t believe Bible is inspired. This person has belief but only Jesus’ words as determined by the historians have any importance for them.
    3. Read Bible as history. Decide can believe in Jesus and can believe Bible is inspired. This person takes some greater notice of the text, depending on what they think “inspired” means.

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  336. Unklee, you leave out other possibilities, such as ;-

    1. Believe the bible is true. Don’t read it. And pretend to have reasons to belief.
    2. Believe the bible is true, read it and look for rationalizations to justify continued belief
    3. Use the bible as a door stop

    Liked by 2 people

  337. Hi Ark, thanks for your several replies. You seem to think you have defended your position, but I don’t see it. Let’s recap …

    You said the “overwhelming” view of OT scholars is the minimalist position. (You didn’t define “overwhelming”, but perhaps we could say 90%?) I challenged you to demonstrate the truth of that statement.

    Note I didn’t challenge you to show that some famous scholars were minimalists – I agree with that. I didn’t challenge you to show even that 50% of the scholars are minimalists – that may or may not be true for all I know. And I didn’t say I disbelieved the minimalist position and believed the maximalist position, for in answer to a previous question of yours, I said “I think it is generally safer to choose experts in the middle of the range, while acknowledging the full range”.

    No, I asked you to demonstrate the truth that scholarly support for the minimalist position is “overwhelming”.

    You haven’t done that.

    It was simple request, made for a specific purpose. You and other make statements as if the minimalist position is true when I know that in reality it is still much debated, You may not like those who hold a non-minimlaist position, you may wish to denigrate them because you think they are biased, but they still exist. So I wanted to see if you could support your statement with evidence. And so far, although you made a few references, none of them support the “overwhelming” claim.

    You have (now and earlier) shown that Finkelstein and Davies believe the minimalist position is true, but of course, they are minimalists!

    You say: “I am not going to bother trawling through endless documentation simply to provide an indoctrinated Christian with the overwhelming scholarly and scientific view of the Pentateuch.”

    In other words, you are not willing or able to actually justify your statement from evidence.

    You quote Wikipedia, but it doesn’t say what you seem to want it to say. It says that information about the exodus is not recoverable (which is not the same as saying the story is fiction, rather saying that we can’t know either way). When it talks about “overwhelming” it says: “The opinion of the overwhelming majority of modern biblical scholars is that the exodus story was shaped into its final present form in the post-Exilic period” – so it is the date of the final writing of the story where there is “overwhelming” agreement, not the fictitious or otherwise nature of the story. And in the section you didn’t quote Wikipedia says: “How far beyond that [8th C BCE] the tradition might stretch cannot be told: “Presumably an original Exodus story lies hidden somewhere inside all the later revisions and alterations, but centuries of transmission have long obscured its presence, and its substance, accuracy and date are now difficult to determine.”

    So even your own quote doesn’t support your statement, but supports my statement that there is a range of views, and scholars are generally agnostic about the story. Which Wikipedia also supports in my Dever reference. I have even seen a Finkelstein quote that he doesn’t rule out a historical Moses, he just thinks we can’t know anything about him.

    Finally you say: “You have not, in fact, presented their view here at all,other than to state there is a middle view.”

    But that is what I was trying to show – that contrary to your statement, there is indeed a middle view. So you have actually agreed with me here.

    So let me conclude. You asked me some questions about the Pentateuch. I explained that broadly I accept whatever the scholars say, I wouldn’t really care if the minimalists or the maximalists were correct, but I’m inclined towards a midway position. So I am not defending any particular view, just arguing that there is less certainty than you have claimed. I think that is an important point to establish.

    So far you have defended the view that the minimalist view is the true one with some good scholars supporting it, but you haven’t defended your statement that it is the “overwhelming” view, and your references actually support that there is a view less severe than the one you claim is “overwhelming”.

    That was all I set out to do. And I am happy with the outcome. Do you wish to discuss further?

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  338. Hi Gary,

    You have made a few more comments directed at me. The one thing you haven’t done is answer the question I asked. Of course you don’t have to, but it means I will sum up and leave it at that.

    You came to my website and we discussed a lot of stuff. In the end I complained that you ignored evidence, made heaps of statements without any evidence, some of them easily shown to be factually wrong. So we stopped discussing.

    Then when we met on Nate’s blog, we discussed and I found the same thing occurring. Finally I explained (using satire in the hope of making a bigger impression) six common problems I found with your answers, which again led me to feel that discussion with you was a waste of your time and mine.

    (You seem to have been offended by this, for which I am sorry. But your comment this time (May 2, 2015 at 11:59 am) only illustrate what I was saying. You call it a diatribe, but don’t mention that I made six observations about inaccuracy in your comments and gave examples of them – and you have never defended those observations. But even more telling, you say that I called your comments “silly”, which is another word for “stupid” with “silly in quotes inferring that was how I described you.

    But the word “silly” doesn’t appear in that comment of mine! You have again been inaccurate, misrepresenting me.)

    Despite all this, you kept asking me to reply to you on many and various matters. At first I declined, for the reasons I’ve given. Finally, I thought i would try once more, asking you to justify your statement about how harmful christian faith was. I asked this because I already know the answer from history, sociology and psychology. I wanted to see (i) if you would actually attempt to defend your statement by doing some serious search of evidence, and (ii) if you did the search, would you then withdraw the statement once you found out the answer? If you were wiling to search for evidence and change your mind because of it, then I should be willing to answer your questions.

    But you declined to reply on that matter.

    So now you have your answer, I’m sorry. You are free on Nate’s blog to say whatever he allows you to say (though I note you have even tested his tolerance a little). And I am free to comment as much or as little as he allows. But I will continue to choose to ignore and not reply to someone who makes false quotes about me, makes apparently objective statements without evidence and contrary to evidence, and who gives the impression that they don’t care about evidence at all.

    So please feel free to keep asking me questions and demanding I answer them. But if you would really like an answer, please give me some indication that you are willing to stop these practices which are anti-evidence and discussion killers. Answering my recent challenge would be a good place to start.

    Thanks.

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  339. “This would be a great help in understanding where you are coming from.”

    Hi John, I haven’t seen you for a while.

    I have explained my position on this matter several times, but here is a brief summary.

    1. I accept the views of the experts when they are in agreement. If they are not in agreement, I try to find the middle ground between the extremes.

    2. On this matter, there is clearly no consensus, so I am comfortable with any of the views, but I think somewhere between the minimalists and the maximalists seems most defensible.

    3. My disagreement with Ark was never about his view that the minimalists are right, for I have no objection to that view. My disagreement was with his inference that there was basically no other view among respected archaeologists and historians, when manifestly there are other views, as I have demonstrated.

    I have listed some of the archaeologists and historians who hold non-minimalist views – Dever (PhD from Harvard, at University of Arizona and Lycoming College), Kitchen (Uni of Liverpool), Enns (PhD from Harvard, at Eastern Uni), Hoffmeier (PhD Uni of Toronto, currently at Trinity Divinity School), and there are of course many more. You (and others) may say you don’t agree with any of these, you may claim they are all christian s defending their turf if you like (although that statement isn’t correct), but none of that alters the fact that there is a range of views.

    So I can say I haven’t read more than a couple of academic papers and a few books. The matter isn’t highly important to me, so I haven’t given it a lot of attention beyond reading a few books and websites, and checking the current academic situation before I raised the matter.

    I hope that helps you understand where I’m coming from. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  340. “I see that your debating style, Unk, doesn’t prohibit you from dealing in half-truths:”

    Hi Arch, “half truths” is an interesting accusation. I said he was an atheist and you admit he is an atheist. 100% truth!

    If we accept your justification of my statement about Dever only being a half truth – namely that “it is impossible to entirely rid oneself of early childhood propagandizing” – then it is only a “half truth” that most of you guys here are atheists! Anyone here happy to accept that?

    I think we can ignore that little jibe of yours as being a non-truth! 🙂

    “Dever could well be considered a maximalist ….. Finlelstein states that Dever has moved ever closer to the minimalmist position”

    He says quite clearly he is NOT a maximalist. he may well have changed his position a little, but that’s what thoughtful people do when the evidence points that way. I have sen statements about Finkelstein saying he has moved a little away from minimalism, but that also means very little.

    ” Possibly you should rethink your use of Dever as a witness for your side.”

    I think you are under a misapprehension about my views. I don’t have a “side”, and my view is certainly not maximalist as you seem to be inferring. My only point in this was to challenge the view stated confidently by Ark and you that minimalism was [pretty much the only view. That isn’t the case.

    Thanks.

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  341. “Unklee, you leave out other possibilities, such as ;-

    1. Believe the bible is true. Don’t read it. And pretend to have reasons to belief.
    2. Believe the bible is true, read it and look for rationalizations to justify continued belief
    3. Use the bible as a door stop”

    Hi Makagutu, yes you are right, I did omit a few possibilities! I’m sorry, how could I have missed those? 🙂

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  342. Hey Arch ! I’ve been great ! Just a little busy. Good to see you are not letting people here have an easy pass. 🙂

    Thanks Mak !

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  343. So far you have defended the view that the minimalist view is the true one with some good scholars supporting it, but you haven’t defended your statement that it is the “overwhelming” view, and your references actually support that there is a view less severe than the one you claim is “overwhelming”.

    That was all I set out to do. And I am happy with the outcome. Do you wish to discuss further?

    Of course there is a ”view less severe”. I do not recall saying there was not. But the overwhelming majority of scientists & scholars consider Moses, the Exodus and conquest – which you avoided any reference to – to be fiction.

    That you reference Kitchen as one of you ”middle ground” archaeologists and dd not research his credentials is somewhat surprising. One would be forgiven for thinking you do have an agenda in this regard unless this was simply an oversight on your part?

    Wiki:
    Kitchen is an evangelical Christian and has published frequently from that background on questions relating to the Old Testament. His publications in this area have consistently defended the historical books of the Old Testament as an accurate record of events, i.e. as history. Kitchen is an outspoken critic of the documentary hypothesis. He has produced various written works including articles and books upholding this viewpoint. He cites several types of proof for this theory, including that the depictions in the Bible of various historical eras and societies are consistent with historical data on these areas. [6]

    Wiki.
    A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness,[5] and most archaeologists have abandoned the archaeological investigation of Moses and the Exodus as “a fruitless pursuit”.[6] A number of theories have been put forward to account for the origins of the Israelites, and despite differing details they agree on Israel’s Canaanite origins.[26] The culture of the earliest Israelite settlements is Canaanite, their cult-objects are those of the Canaanite god El, the pottery remains in the local Canaanite tradition, and the alphabet used is early Canaanite, and almost the sole marker distinguishing the “Israelite” villages from Canaanite sites is an absence of pig bones, although whether even this is an ethnic marker or is due to other factors remains a matter of dispute.[27]

    Which Finkelstein has explained.

    Are you still going to maintain that the scientific and scholarly opinion in this regard is not overwhelming?

    And that someone like Kenneth Kitchen, an evangelical Christian , is truly representative of genuine archaeology pertaining to this subject?

    Conclusion:

    You may feel I have not demonstrated my position adequately enough regarding ”overwhelming”.
    I believe it is not necessary and the opening sentence of the Wiki quote is evidence enough of this position, and I can assure you John Zande, based upon his extensive research, will likely demonstrate this for you with enough data to make your head spin.

    That you still try to find a way to maintain some facade of biblical credibility is telling, but at the same time a little sad. Albright was the same.

    Unklee, you are quite entitled to your view, truly, and while you may well wish to consider this view helps to maintain the fiction of your belief, which you will promote in any way you see fit, the reality speaks for itself, and especially the relevance of its likely (eventual) impact on Christianity.

    Liked by 1 person

  344. Ark, thanks for continuing to discuss, but really, you continue to misunderstand and misrepresent what I said.

    “That you reference Kitchen as one of you ”middle ground” archaeologists”

    I do not reference him as a middle ground archaeologist, I reference him as a non minimalist archaeologist with some standing – I said that quite clearly. My disagreement with you remains your statement that the overwhelming majority of archaeologists and scholars are minimalists, when this is clearly not true. As I have shown and you continue to not refute.

    “A century of research by archaeologists and Egyptologists has found no evidence which can be directly related to the Exodus captivity and the escape and travels through the wilderness”

    This again irrelevant to what I have disputed with you. I know this is true, and I have already said this is part of my understanding. The fact that there is no evidence of such a long time ago event is suggestive but not anything more. So there are many scholars who disagree with your statement about minimalism.

    Again, you fail to actually address my objection that your statement about the overwhelming support for minimalism is an overstatement.

    “you are quite entitled to your view, truly, and while you may well wish to consider this view helps to maintain the fiction of your belief”

    And a third misrepresentation. I said in answer to your original questions that I didn’t have a particular view on this, though I tended to favour the middle ground, and I said it wasn’t at all important to my belief.

    So that makes three times in one comment when you argue against something that I don’t think, and fail to defend the statement I objected to.

    Why do you continue to do that unless it is because you don’t want to admit that you can’t defend the statement I objected to?

    There is really no point in a discussion if someone refuses to defend their statement and constructs straw men as a diversionary tactic. I’m not saying that is what you are doing, but it is looking like that. Hopefully your next response will address the statement of yours I am contesting. Thanks.

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  345. unkleE, Ark, Arch, et al:

    It seems to me that we’re going down a rabbit hole that doesn’t even deal with what’s important to each side.

    Ark, what you really want to know is why unkleE remains a Christian, despite knowing that there’s probably very little historical core to the OT stories. At least those that predate the separate kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It’s obvious that his beliefs don’t require those stories to be literally true, so you’d like to understand why, right? Isn’t that the main issue you’re getting at here?

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  346. “By the opening of the 20th century the stories of the Creation, Noah’s ark, and the Tower of Babel – in short, chapters 1 to 11 of the Book of Genesis – had become subject to greater scrutiny by scholars, and the starting point for biblical history was regarded as the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and the other Hebrew patriarchs. Then in the 1970s, largely through the publication of two books, Thomas L. Thompson’s The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives and John Van Seters’ Abraham in History and Tradition it became widely accepted that the remaining chapters of Genesis were equally non-historical. At the same time, archaeology and comparative sociology convinced most scholars in the field that there was equally little historical basis to the biblical stories of the Exodus and the Israelite conquest of Canaan.[4]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Minimalism)

    2 points stick out in the wiki paragraph above.

    “it became widely accepted that the remaining chapters of Genesis were equally non-historical.”

    “At the same time, archaeology and comparative sociology convinced most scholars in the field that there was equally little historical basis to the biblical stories of the Exodus and the Israelite conquest of Canaan”

    does widely accepted, most = overwhelming ? I guess it would be subject to interpretation.

    That could be why there are over 50 different versions of the Bible in English alone.

    The fact that Ark and unkleE are exchanging comments, and in a civil manner could ALMOST convince me to believe in a personal God, again. 🙂

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  347. The fact that Ark and unkleE are exchanging comments, and in a civil manner could ALMOST convince me to believe in a personal God, again.

    Haha! I was just thinking the same thing as I read, kc.

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  348. I listened to an hour long lecture by (evangelical Christian) Egyptologist, Hoffmeier. This is the kind of evidence that he would give for the historicity of the Exodus:

    “Look, city X, mentioned in the Biblical story of the Exodus, has recently been unearthed. It existed! This is strong evidence that the story of the Exodus is historical truth!

    How is that any different from a Mormon saying the following:

    Look! Our holy book says that ancient Hebrews sailed the oceans and arrived in North America. Look! North America exists! Therefore the story must be true!

    The “evidence” used by Christians to prop up their House of Cards is absolutely flabbergasting!

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