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In Case You Noticed All the Recent Comments…

Over the last 18 hours or so, many of my older posts received comments from a blogger called humblesmith. He’s a Christian who believes that the Bible is reliable and was inspired by God. He and I have interacted a number of times over the years, and while we see things very differently, I think we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity.

Several weeks ago, humblesmith emailed me and told me that some time ago I had challenged him to rethink his beliefs and critically examine the evidence against Christianity. So unbeknownst to me, he began researching many of the criticisms that I’ve laid out against it. In his email, he stated that he had come to the end of his study, and he wanted to offer his responses. He was giving me a heads up that he would soon be posting comments on a number of my articles. So that’s what he’s been doing since last night.

I only write this post to make it clear to my regular readers that all these comments are not some kind of spam attack. These are sincere responses from a Christian who had the integrity to consider criticisms I’ve made against his beliefs. I’m going to do my best to pay him the same compliment that he’s paid me by taking his arguments seriously. He and I don’t currently see Christianity the same way, but I do think he’s a good and sincere person. And since he believes that eternity weighs in the balance, I honestly appreciate the care and concern he’s shown for me by offering these arguments. Even if we never ultimately agree, he’s earned my respect.

Of course, I welcome the input of anyone who wants to weigh in on these subjects, but I do hope everyone will treat humblesmith courteously and focus on the arguments, not the individual. Who knows, he may offer some insights we haven’t considered before.

Here is a list of the articles he’s recently commented on:
https://findingtruth.info/2014/06/13/does-the-bible-contain-true-prophecies/#comment-30185
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/15/prophecy-part-1-introductio/#comment-30186
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/16/prophecy-part-2-throne-forever/#comment-30187
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/21/prophecy-part-4-triumphal-entry/#comment-30188
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/18/prophecy-part-3-egypt-rachel/#comment-30189
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/24/prophecy-part-6-tyre/#comment-30190
https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/05/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-1/#comment-30191
https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/11/tyre-by-the-numbers/#comment-30193
https://findingtruth.info/2011/02/25/prophecy-part-7-isaiah-53-and-psalm-22/#comment-30196
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/01/prophecy-part-8-conclusion/#comment-30197
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/04/contradictions-part-2-two-examples/#comment-30198
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/08/contradictions-part-3-brief-examples/#comment-30200
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/09/contradictions-part-4-hares-chewing-the-cud/#comment-30201
https://findingtruth.info/2011/03/10/contradictions-part-5-out-of-egypt/#comment-30202
https://findingtruth.info/2011/04/18/the-problem-of-hell-part-2-logical-issues/#comment-30203
https://findingtruth.info/2011/05/30/a-review-of-lee-strobel-the-problem-of-evil/#comment-30204
https://findingtruth.info/2014/01/10/romans-9-a-divine-and-fickle-dictator/#comment-30205
https://findingtruth.info/2012/02/29/skeptical-bible-study-daniel-chapter-1/#comment-30206

It’s quite a lot, as you can see. This is part of a response I gave to him in one of those last threads:

Hey humblesmith,

Thanks again for taking the time to dig into all of these. It will probably take me a while to fully answer all the comments you’ve left on the various posts. This just happens to be a really busy time for me work-wise, and I want to make sure I consider your points before just spouting off my initial reactions. But I will eventually get around to all of them.

So it might take me a while to go through all of these. Most of them, I haven’t had a chance to read yet. It’s possible that humblesmith might sound condescending in some of these — I don’t know yet. But if he does, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not easy to read a whole bunch of criticisms of your worldview and then offer rebuttals without sometimes sounding short or flippant. I do think he’s a sincere individual, and I think his points deserve sincere consideration.

Thanks in advance to any of you who decide to help me look into these.

103 thoughts on “In Case You Noticed All the Recent Comments…”

  1. I think this is great. One thing I love about you Nate, and this guy already is the willingness to look at all viewpoints and keep an open mind. If only everyone could.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For someone called ‘ Humble,’ he seemed rather full of himself. From what I’ve observed, he seems to take our comments and ask himself, “How can I spin this so it appears to be quite the contrary from what the commenter has espoused?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You could be right, Arch. But I like to give him the benefit of the doubt and try to take his points at face value. I just don’t want to fall into the trap of dismissing someone’s points because of potential personality issues. I’ve found that for me, if I do that, I struggle to remain objective about the arguments.

    Pretty good, Carmen. 🙂 You?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I read two of the Comments and decided not to go further .. and not because I think my ideas would be challenged, it was because I had read much of it before.

    So many Christians say “but that is not us, that is those fundamentalists over there” or some such and yet, if you ask simple questions, we find there is a commonality amongst all of them. For one, who invented Hell? There is no mention of Hell in he OT, so Jesus invented Hell (as he is the author of the NT). (Now we know how Jesus, the prince of peace, differs from the ogre Yahweh.) Why the change in policy, Jesus? Yahweh had a soft focus Sheol, a dull place our souls go when we die. Jesus apparently has been taking funds from the Petroleum Institute as the fires in His creation run continuously. What kind of God would create literally billions of sentient beings merely to consign the vast majority of them to unending torture (emphasis on the unending)?

    So, debate all of the fine points you want; a god who invents Hell and uses it as has been done is a sick fuck and I will have no part of him/her/it.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I looked through a few of his posts and his ‘About’ page. He’s one of those ‘every word is true in the Bible’ fellows and he’s definitely comfortable in his apologist role; I can sense his devout ‘countenance’. I see he has very few female commenters.
    There would be no debate with him – he’s completely immersed in his comforting fantasy.

    All good here Nate!

    Like

  6. Oh, and we got snow yesterday (mixed with rain) – it’s still cold here and I have a furnace fire going. . surely it’ll be warmer soon!

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  7. I applaud your civility, Nate.

    While I believe humblesmith is sincere, I don’t think he’s really taken anything you’ve written to heart. He’s simply offering his counter-arguments and refuting your statements.

    Here’s something he wrote in a recent comment on his own response to one of your articles:

    “Just to be clear, the Bible is in fact error-free, both factually and spiritually.”
    ~ humblesmith in a comment on this article: https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2014/04/30/did-ezekiel-prophesy-correctly-about-tyre-part-1/

    I think we all know what an absolute statement indicates… 😦

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  8. Ah, yes, dear old Humblesmith. Been round the block with him before. So, is he sincere?
    Yeah, probably, just like Adolf.
    Benefit of the doubt? er … no.

    With this fundamentalist Dickhead you are very much on your own, Nate.

    Like

  9. That was worth a chuckle, Ark. . . I believe it’s referred to as ‘hitting the nail on the head’ 🙂

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  10. I’m sorry Nate, but I disagree with you strongly on this one.

    A sincere person seeking a discussion won’t write this:

    “I think you know you are wrong on this,Nate. Do the right thing and pull it.”

    Referring to the article https://findingtruth.info/2014/09/05/an-examination-of-ezekiels-prophecy-of-tyre-part-1/#comment-30191

    No benefit of doubt to be had at least where I’m concern. This is the showing of an extremely conceited person that reeks of pride.

    Certainly I will keep peace. But you are making rest of us look bad lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Nate,

    My compliments to you on this. I appreciate your willingness to discuss.

    I have looked up a few of the comments, and find that his is a different view of christianity and the Bible to mine, so I guess I am somewhere in the middle of the two of you, though I guess closer to his end than yours (at least mostly).

    But I agree with you about not judging his attitude. Attitude looks different depending on where one sits. Just as many christians who hold to their beliefs are accused of many personal failings by atheists (as I am well aware! 🙂 ), they don’t seem to realise that they can come across exactly the same to believers. It’s often just tribalism, and we can easily be blind to the faults of our own tribe.

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to read some of your replies, though I don’t know if I’ll be following every thread! 😦

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  12. “For one, who invented Hell? There is no mention of Hell in he OT, so Jesus invented Hell (as he is the author of the NT). (Now we know how Jesus, the prince of peace, differs from the ogre Yahweh.) Why the change in policy, Jesus?”

    Hi Steve, I can understand your anger, or derision, or whatever emotion you are expressing. Although I am a christian, I agree with much of what you say here. But on this matter in the quote, I think history tells a different story.

    My reading suggests that the idea of hell was thought up by the Jews between the two Testaments. Some thought hell was a place of never-ending punishment, some thought it a place of destruction, and some a place of purging before entering the glorious new age. The word “gehenna” comes from the valley of Hinnom, which was the waste dump for Jerusalem, and used as a picture of some form of judgment in the afterlife.

    So Jesus didn’t invent it, but like many of his teachings, he took an existing teaching or dispute and gave his own twist on it. In this case, he made the point that God’s judgment might fall on those who were self-righteousless expecting it to fall on others. He didn’t support the idea of ongoing punishment.

    Coincidentally I have just written a blog post on this (a href=”https://theway21stcentury.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/three-views-on-hell-and-judgment/”>Three views on hell and judgment) which reflects what a growing number of christians are thinking these days. The view there is one I have held for maybe 30 years.

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  13. I like your approach Nate. You’ve got a lot more patience than I do. 🙂

    I was actually a little bit surprised at some of his comments. His comment about atheists still having a problem of evil showed a complete misunderstanding of the problem. I wouldn’t have expected that from someone who has been doing this so long.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Forgive how late I am to this.

    I am having trouble reconciling your comment that “we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity” with his comments that “the real reason you walked away from the church was…that you personally don’t want to believe”, and that you are “picking passages to hide [your] true motivation”, which is that you “[do] not want to trust Jesus.”

    One of you does not understand what “sincere” means. 🙂

    This kind of accusation of unreasonable skepticism, presumed conclusions, “wanting” to reject God, or some other hidden motive is incredibly commonplace with apologists, and I can’t quite decide why they think it’s an effective way of communicating. How many Christians would listen if you routinely told them they were just pretending to believe in God, or they they were just Christians because they were too scared to cope with reality without a crutch. Not many. It’s an insult masquerading as psychoanalysis.

    But for some reason, apologists – evangelicals, Catholicans, Mormons, JW’s – seem to do this all the time.

    But hey, nothing makes apostates faster than this kind of apologetics, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I am having trouble reconciling your comment that “we’ve both become impressed with one another’s sincerity” with his comments that “the real reason you walked away from the church was…that you personally don’t want to believe”, and that you are “picking passages to hide [your] true motivation”, which is that you “[do] not want to trust Jesus.”

    Touché 🙂

    To tell you the truth, I wrote the post before I had read all his comments, so… maybe I spoke a little too soon?

    It rubs me the wrong way too when people try to assign motives. I’d prefer they just stick to the data, and then we can all learn to accept that sometimes people just see things differently.

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  16. The further I read, the stranger this gets. I initially thought Smith was responding to your work. That is how I interpreted “I had challenged him to rethink his beliefs and critically examine the evidence against Christianity” and “he began researching many of the criticisms….he had come to the end of his study, and he wanted to offer his responses.”

    It turns out, he was just linking to posts he wrote over the course of the last five years. Some of them clearly were not responses to your posts, because they were written before your posts. Others seemed to be generic apologetics responses to common criticisms. I did not see any of his posts that linked to anything you had written.

    So, one of two things is going on here.

    1. Smith may have (in some cases) actually been responding to you, but he never linked to you so that his readers could see the original arguments. This cowardly respond-but-don’t-link tactic is extremely common with apologetics websites. This is possible in a few cases, but other posts clearly are not responding to your criticisms at all. So if he wasn’t reponding you, then….

    2. Smith lied to you about you challenging him to rethink his beliefs, critically examine the evidence, research your criticisms and post his responses. The only “research” he did was to go looking for things he had already written and believed years ago, then posting them in your comments as if they were the product of your challenge and his sincere reevaluation.

    If there is another option, or if I have misread your description, please let me know. But from here, it sure seems like Smith is not conducting himself in good faith.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Ok, one more. I want to show an example of Smith’s apologetics. In this post about the accuracy of the book of Daniel…
    https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/is-daniel-accurate-about-the-attack-of-nebuchadnezzar/

    …Smith cites a criticism that “The tone of Daniel 1 is that of a fictional story.” In response, Smith says…

    First, regarding the tone of the chapter, the literary scholars would disagree. (See here). We will accept the professional opinion of those qualified to make such judgements, namely those whose careers have been in evaluating fiction. According to Lewis and Ordway, the Bible accounts read like that of history, not fiction.

    I don’t really have an opinion on the literary genre of Daniel, and I was curious to know what scholars said about it, so I clicked through. To see what the literary scholars had said. About the literary genre of the Book of Daniel.

    https://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2015/03/30/literary-critics-examine-the-new-testament/

    But it turns out, the “Lewis and Ordway” he referred to were CS Lewis (a scholar of medieval literature) and Holly Ordway (whose PhD is in English). And the post he cited, claiming it showed literary scholars agreed that Daniel should be classified in the historical genre? It was a post quoting Lewis and Ordway’s views of the Gospels and New Testament literature. Not only were their areas of literary expertise well outside the area of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic literature, they were talking about entirely different books!

    Make of that what you will.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. “How many Christians would listen if you routinely told them they were just pretending to believe in God, or they they were just Christians because they were too scared to cope with reality without a crutch. Not many. It’s an insult masquerading as psychoanalysis.”

    Hi Jon, I’m not sure if we’ve “met” each other before, but hello to you.

    I’m interested you say this, because as a christian I get this quite commonly, and spoken with all the confidence that pop psychology can give. I agree with you that imputing motives is pretty much an evidence-free game, and I try to avoid it too. Of course sometimes these accusations may be true, on either side, but the point is that we can’t know, and it is more useful anyway to focus on facts and arguments. After all, a person can have “bad” psychological or spiritual motivations and still be right, and vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Jon,

    It turns out, he was just linking to posts he wrote over the course of the last five years. Some of them clearly were not responses to your posts, because they were written before your posts. Others seemed to be generic apologetics responses to common criticisms.

    As I went through humblemith’s comments and corresponding posts, I was a little thrown off by this, too. Sometimes, I feel like some of my best points weren’t addressed at all.

    Your two possibilities are certainly valid. The only other one I can think of is this:

    3) humblesmith really did thoroughly investigate the points I raised in various posts, and he did it as objectively as he could. In the end, he just felt that the Bible’s case was stronger. And while his research may have uncovered some additional points that would have given additional credence to his position, he felt that his original posts on those issues were convincing enough as they were. Or even if he didn’t find additional evidence, maybe he still felt that his older articles really did answer the issues, even if they hadn’t originally been written as responses to me.

    I don’t know which of the 3 scenarios it really is. I prefer to think it’s the third, but who knows? He and I definitely view the Bible very differently. :/

    Thanks again for the comments, btw. I hope you’ll hang around — I’ve enjoyed reading what you have to say.

    Like

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