Cygnus' 154 Questions Answered (or Rendered Irrelevant)
Answers to Hiero the Elephant's 154 Stupid Questions
by
Annabelle Ketterling

Sam Gibson! He's one rotten apple, buddy, and he's the kind of guy nice girls like me don't put up with. There's a place where Sam lists over 150 "questions" that a friend of his, named something like Hiero the Elephant, and I put "questions" in quotes because, as Sam says, these aren't exactly "questions" in many cases but "reasons, why Christianity should be abandoned." HA! A lot of these "questions" are "loaded" heavier than Sam probably gets in front of the ABC Liquor on Saturday night before he composes his articles. A lot are just "argument by outrage" in question format, too. Scholarship? Ha! Ain't none of that neither. Some also take for granted the badly-debunked theory of Christianity being stolen from pagan myths. Don't bother wasting your time answering these "questions" for Sam's sake or anyone else's -- he isn't really interested in the answers, and he knows what some of them are, but doesn't like them, and will never like them. But for the sake of our friends out there, I'll provide some answers as far as I can, usually linking to JP's other site; places where Sam's friend asks about "your sect" I will simply take to mean "you" since here on Hearthstone all we have is the Covenant of M'kai, and it hasn't gone sectarian since the beginning. So there, too.

0. If necessary, use this space to explain any unique beliefs your sect has about the nature of your god, heaven, hell, the Bible, the Holy Spirit/Ghost, Satan, etc.

Huh. Since this doesn't explain what beliefs are considered to be "common," how would we explain what is "unique"?

1. Explain why your god's only son had to die so we can go to magic happy land when we croak.

Answered here.

2. Did everyone who died before Jesus died go to Hell? Justify your answer.

Not necessarily, though obviously we don't have a roster of everyone who died before Jesus. There's also the braoder issue of whether those who never hear of Jesus (whether before or after his time on earth) are condemned. As shown in the link for answer #1, all are indeed condemned and require payment for their sin. So what if they never hear the Gospel? Two principles show that salvation is possible for such people:

  1. It is clear from the natural world that God is real (Romans 1-2). Men are without excuse for knowing He is there.
  2. Those who seek, will find (Matthew 7:7//Luke 11:9). Those who seek God will be given whatever information that is needed for them to choose salvation. Perhaps this will involve a special revelation (and this may be supported by anecdotal evidence from the missionary field, of mission subjects who say that they have been given revelations of the impending Gospel message prior to the arrival of missionaries).

The question may now be answered, "What about those before Jesus?" -- there is no difference in the two conditions above. God is timeless and the price paid by Christ was seen and known by Him from eternity.

3. If a Catholic, justify the Inquisition and other persecutions of "heretics" throughout the centuries, concentrating on why the Pelagianists, the Priscillianists, and the Manichaeans were persecuted; if a Protestant, justify the witch trials and the way that Protestants constantly hunted down native Americans until there were so few that the government could simply take their land; if a member of an Eastern Orthodox church, justify the persecutions of the Old Believers after the reforms of the seventeenth century.

I'll take Protestant for 50, Alex. I don't see any historical basis for the implied claim that Protestants, because of their Protestantism, hunted down Native Americans; see #4 below for more on this type of issue. In terms of the witch trials -- the implication is that it was wrong to try and punish witches; the witch trials as a whole seem to have targeted the innocent and have been overblown, and that is where the error of the prosecutors laid. But if there had been people afflicting others with magic, changing the weather, and so forth, then such people did indeed deserve punishment. There is no moral difference between hurting people by supernatural means and hurting them by crashing a plane into their building.

4. Explain why your sect (whether Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox) pursued, tortured, and killed people who were not Christian.

5. Explain why your sect (whether Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox) pursued, tortured, and killed people who were not members of your particular sect.

These questions don't do justice to the complex social forces at work in any given scenario. People pursue, torture and kill others because people are sinners; because people are intolerant bigots who use religion (and politics, and all else) to their own ends. Just look at how Sam tried to twist the arm of "Dr. Math" to get him to say that the Bible was wromg about pi. Every group that has had the power to do so has done this, from the pagans of Rome to the Crusaders to the Muslims and Hindus to the atheistic Communists of the modern day. Ideology becomes not a principle but a tool; if your group has not done this to anyone, it's likely because they've never had enough power to do so. Anyway, if Sam thinks this is a reason to reject Christianity, he's going to have to explain precisely how Christian belief properly understood directly led to the actions in question, and then explain why other groups can't fall victim to the same problem. Pulling out the hankies and crying isn't enough.

6. Explain why I should believe that your god is all-good when the only real information we have about him is the Bible, which clearly describes him as both good and evil. (See Isaiah 30:32, Luke 14:26, Numbers 31:17-18, Matthew 10:34, Amos 3:6, Deuteronomy 18:8, Deuteronomy 20:16, Exodus 20:5, Exodus 32:27, Isaiah 45:7, Psalms 52:5, Luke 22:36, and Jeremiah 18:11 for a small sample of Biblical passages which describe Jehovah as having an evil morality at times).

We'll deal with these by providing answers on each passage. In not one case do these show God to be morally evil, but they do show Him to be just, wrathful towards sinners, and insistent, rightly, upon acknowledgement of His supremacy. In some of these it is not clear why these supposedly show God to be morally evil; these we will place in the first slot. If the intent is to say that God is delivering an unjust punishment, that needs to be explained, not merely pointed at in "argument by outrage" format.

7. Explain why, when racism is clearly wrong, Jesus was clearly a racist (see Mark 7:25-29). NOTE: under no circumstances will I believe the idea that racism is morally acceptable.

See answer here.

8. Explain why, when discrimination against women is clearly wrong, the Bible clearly supports the oppression of women. Answering this question entails refuting 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2:11-15. NOTE: under no circumstances will I believe that discrimination against women solely on the basis of sex is morally acceptable.

See here.

9. Explain why, when slavery is clearly wrong, the Bible clearly supports slavery. Answering this question entails refuting 1 Peter 2:18. NOTE: under no circumstances will I believe that slavery is an acceptable way to run a society.

Glenn Miller has answered this question thoroughly, but I wanted to ask a question: if slavery is "clearly wrong" then why are you selling ourselves into it constantly even today? Does Sam use credit cards? Does he have a mortgage? Has he ever taken out a loan? In principle, there isn't a lot of difference in this kind of slavery and that practiced in your ancient world: You're just a little more sophisticated in how you go about it. The modern American critic who lambastes slavery in the Bible is sodden with images from Alex Haley's Kunta Kinte in pre-Geordi LaForge days; this is not the way slavery worked in your ancient times at all, and that makes a world of difference, the flat statement that "slavery is never acceptable" notwithstanding. If it isn't ever acceptable, then cut up your credit cards and never take out a loan again.

10. Explain why children should submit to their parents' decisions even when those decisions are clearly evil. Answering this question entails refuting Deuteronomy 21:18-21, Proverbs 13:24, and Hebrews 12:7-8.

Maybe it's just the version I'm reading (Do I need "Good News for Sam and His Friend"?) but I don't see where any of these three verses tells a child to submit to a parental decision that is "clearly evil" -- no more than the common principle that you should follow a policeman's orders adheres when he directs you to drive your car over a cliff.

11. Explain why, if your god loves us all, more than half of us are going to Hell after we die. Specifically, refute or explain the following words of Christ, as presented in the New Testament: "Many are called but few are chosen," and "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto salvation, and few there be that find it." If your god loves all of us, couldn't he find a better way?

More than half of us? More like less than a tenth; given ancient infant mortality in your world, your hell won't have that many people in it. But those who do are going to hell because they choose to go and would rather do as they please than obey our Creator and rightful Lord. God is a God of love, but also a God of holiness; in order not to compromise either of these attributes, He sent His Son. The matter is a simple choice; God sent His Son to die for us, all you have to do is accept it -- that's very easy on you; and those who don't hear about this still have options (see above) -- what "better way" does Sam's friend suggest?

12. Explain what type of offense could possibly justify eternal, unbearable torture in Hell; if your sect does not believe in Hell, then refute every passage in the Old and New Testaments which describes Hell (such as 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 and Revelation 20:15). Do not exceed 100 words.

See here -- it is really any offense at all, of any size or shape, that justifies eternal damnation, "torture" (JP doesn't follow that line), etc. -- but I had to ask: Why the 100-word limit? Where would the questions of life, regardless of our orientation, be if we had to limit our responses to 100 words or less? What does Sam's friend think this is, Jeopardy? How can we take anyone seriously who tells us to limit our responses to 100 words, and how much serious interest does this demonstrate in actually having the question answered?

13. Explain how your god can be both just and merciful, when these terms apparently contradict each other.

See #11 above in part -- these traits do not "contradict" one another, but do exist in tension even in human constructs of justice. Satisfying "justice" requires payment for sin. Satisfying "mercy" requires finding another way to pay for that sin other than causing the offender to suffer. That's how Christ has solved this tension.

14. Explain why possession by demons and/or other evil spirits was common during the time of Jesus, but hardly mentioned in the Old Testament, and apparently has been explained completely away today by things such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.

This is an example of a "don't bother answering, I already know" question -- it's already assumed that it's been proven that the NT is full of bunk on this subject, so why bother? Actually, since Sam's friend hasn't really compared occurrences in the OT and NT, nor shown why in context this is a problem (perhaps fewer are mentioned in the OT because no one was able to go around healing then?), and since "offering an explanation" is not the same as explaining something, this is little more than the standard skeptical line dressed up in new clothes. It's too simplistic to deserve an answer.

15. Explain why, if the personality resides in the soul, things like drugs and brain damage can affect someone's personality.

I'm no expert in this sort of thing, but may I suggest that since the brain is the connect-point for the "soul" to the body, that damage to the brain prevents the soul from using the body in the way it intends? Kind of like, if a button on your mouse is damaged, you can press it all you want but it won't work? I'm not an authority on the difference between brain and mind and so on, but neither, it appears, is this fellow. Is the work of people in this field to be simply reduced to one question by an unqualified "debunker"?

16. If heaven is a place where everyone is perfectly happy, then explain how I could be happy in heaven if I had loved ones in Hell.

Just a thought: Where does it say that "heaven is a place where everyone is perfectly happy"? Content, perhaps, and finally satisfied without needing things like television for alleviation of boredom, but where does this "happy" bit come in, other than in comic-book depictions?

17. What is Heaven like?

18. What is Hell like?

Vague and overbroad -- what are they like, in what way? Daily living? Geography? Average rainfall? What?

19. Explain why original sin exists. Why should I be eternally tortured for something that a pair of naked fruit-munching simpletons did in a garden over six thousand years ago? If you believe that children are born stained because they were conceived sexually, explain why I would be punished for something my parents did by your merciful and just god. If this does not apply to your sect, explain why.

Rather than delve into original sin, which JP treats in the link (and he doesn't agree with that view anyway), I'll ask these counter-questions: If there weren't such a thing as original sin anyway, whatever it entails for you, would you personally be "clean" enough not to offend a holy God? If you're worried about innocent babies supposedly going to hell, why aren't you worried about your own condition? Isn't the old "innocent babies in hell" routine an attempt to escape the issue of your own condition rather than a genuine concern for a bunch of babies you don't know and never will know?

20. Explain why getting dunked in or sprinkled with water will prevent me from being eternally tortured for the actions of the naked fruit-munching simpletons mentioned in #19.

It doesn't. See here to see what that's really for.

21. If your god did not want Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, why did he put the tree in the garden of Eden (and at the center, no less)? Was it for shade? If so, why use something so dangerous as a shade tree? If the purpose of the tree was to tempt Adam and Eve, explain why it's OK for your god to engage in a practice that our modern-day courts of law refer to as "entrapment."

Your "modern-day courts of law" have some pretty detailed descriptions of what constitutes "entrapment", and this doesn't fit it, even if the purpose of the Tree was to test/tempt the obedience of the First Couple.

Entrapment as a defense first was brought up in the case of Sorrells vs. United States in the late 1870s. Since then, there has been quite a bit of discussion and definition about it, but it is fully agreed that "entrapment" only occurs when an official intends by actions or words to encourage someone to commit a crime, exercising direct influence upon them in some fashion. To quote the definition from that case: "Entrapment is the conception and planning of an offense by an officer, and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion, or fraud of the officer." Let's illustrate with some practical examples:

  1. A police officer who leaves a bale of marijuana in the street and orders people who see him do it not to touch it or smoke it is not engaged in entrapment.
  2. A police officer who leaves a bale of marijuana in the street and says nothing to anyone about it, but instead waits around to see if anyone picks it up or smokes it, may be engaged in entrapment. This is where the courts have had a lot of discussion, but entrapment is more likely to stick as a defense if the person who ends up committing the crime is not inclined to commit such crimes in the first place or has no record of committing the crime, and yet the officer does something to actively encourage the crime. (I.e., "Hey, wanna smoke some dope?" -- repeated even after refusals!)
  3. On the other hand, "If the accused is found to be predisposed, the defense of entrapment may not prevail." Thus, "sting" operations are not considered to be entrapment.

So which of these fits the Garden situation? The first one does, but of course we would never see any police officer do such a thing anyway! Sam and Co. might see the second as what actually happened, but they would have a hard time justifying that, unless they could prove that God made the Tree of Knowledge thoroughly irresistible, or Himself encouraged them to disobey His command, and we have no indication that that is the case. In fact, if ANYONE is guilty of entrapment in the story, it's the serpent! Sorry, Sam, but the lawyers would laugh this entrapment defense right out of court!

22. Explain why sex, potentially one of the most wonderful, beautiful things in human nature, is considered "bad" by your particular sect. If your sect does not consider sex to be "bad," then refute Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7 (particularly verses 1 and 9), Galatians 5:17, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, James 1:14-15, Matthew 24:38, Luke 17:27, and Revelation 14:4.

Well, no doubt Sam's friend hopes we'll get tired and not bother looking at all of these verses, but I don't mind. Generally, none of these says that "sex is bad" at all, but some do indicate that it can be a distraction from serving the Kingdom of God, which is entirely true -- and if Sammy thinks that titillation is more important than divine service, he's free to live as debased and as indulgent a life as he pleases. (By the way, the ULC, Sam's ordinators, considers sex, along with food and freedom, to be one of the three most important things in life.) A couple of these say not that sex is bad, but that immoral sex is bad, (i.e., fornication, etc.), and a couple don't even mention sex at all, which makes me wonder if it's just our friend's dirty mind reading it into things. At any rate, if Sam's friend wants to explain the virtues of free sex and the like, we'll wait for a full article where it is done. We won't waste our time answering vague generalities.

23. Explain why, if Jesus was perfect, he thought that the end of the world was coming soon, when it has clearly not come yet. See Matthew 16:27-28.

The question tries to tie verses 27 and 28 together, but 28 starts a new line of thought ("Verily...") -- and it refers to the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the sacrificial covenant system. For more on this, see here.

24. Explain why some people (James, Peter, Paul, Thomas, etc.) should get convincing physical proof of miracles, while the rest of us are supposed to take these happenings on faith.

The "happenings" are not to be taken by faith; they appear in historical reports which, outside of your own biases, you have no reason to doubt any more than we would a report of any event from Tacitus. What is taken by "faith" (by the modern definition, which is a bit askew) is the erasure of our sin -- and James, et al. had to take that on faith every bit as much as we do.

25. Why are the stories of the resurrection inconsistent?

See here for the addressing of this issue, and here.

26. If you are a Protestant or a member of an Eastern Orthodox church, explain why you are still using the Catholic Bible, which was formalized by a vote among (supposedly divinely inspired) cardinals and bishops in the fourth century CE, when you disagree with the idea that the Pope, who is higher in the Catholic hierarchy, is divinely inspired; if a Catholic, explain why your church accepts the canonical Bible while rejecting the Apocrypha (do not use the "divinely inspired" argument: Because I am not religious, I will not be able to accept it).

See answers here.

27. If your god is kind and gentle, why do some animals have to eat meat?

Just a thought - why do animals have to eat ANYTHING alive, including plants? Why are we prejudiced against plants here? They have all the same virtues of life as we do; if you say they don't experience pain, does that mean it is OK for animals to eat meat as long as they anesthetize their prey first? (I can see it now: The lion chases down the wildebeest, carrying a syringe filled with sodium pentothal...) I guess you're stuck with eating Rock McMuffins. (For more on this subject seriously, see Glenn Miller's item here. I don't agree with all of it necessarily and can't comment on some of the speculations, but the foundational aspects are agreeable.)

28. If your god is kind and gentle, why did he create parasites?

This is a little beyond my scope, but my friends at Answers in Genesis would probably make the point that parasites are part of the curse of a world we ruined with our sin. Why do weeds grow? To keep you busy -- if you had too much leisure time, you'd be starting all kinds of trouble.

29. If your god wants us to worship him through our own free will, why does he threaten us with Hell? If you have someone threatening you with a punishment, it isn't free will.

It isn't? Then why can people choose to take the punishment? If that's not free will, what is?

30. Why would your god deliberately cause sinners to sin (cf. Romans 9:15-23 and numerous parts of the book of Exodus where Jehovah says, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart."). Are these sinners still responsible for the sins which your god forces them, against their will, to commit? Justify your answer.

In every one of these cases, God was not the first actor -- the sinner was. They sinned first, as they willed and wanted to; God merely cleared the way for them to give in to their own desires. (See more here.)

31. If Jesus did have to die, why did someone (specifically, Judas) have to be damned in order accomplish the death and resurrection of Jesus? Jesus was at least a volunteer for the cross; I doubt that your god asked Judas if he was willing to go to Hell so that the resurrection could be accomplished.

Where is it said that Judas "had to" be damned? I don't see any indication that he couldn't have stuck loyally to Jesus, or repented afterwards. Peter was forgiven his sin of betrayal; why not Judas also if he wanted it?

32. If Judas was willing to go to Hell for humanity (see #31), didn't he make more of a sacrifice than Jesus, who spent only three hours in pain? Shouldn't we then be worshipping Judas?

See here.

33. Why should we accept the words of the gospel writers as truth when they are known to be liars? (See Romans 3:7).

Romans 3:7 says, "Someone might argue, 'If my falsehood enhances God's truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?'" How does this show the writers of the Gospels to be liars? If it refers to every man as a liar in everything, how do we know that Paul was telling the truth, since he too was a man? (For more, see here, Is this verse "anti-intellectual"?)

34. Do you believe that your god is anti-homosexual? If so, explain why he would create homosexuals in the first place. If not, refute or explain away Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27.

Just a note to show this as yet another "begged question" -- it is already assumed that homosexuals are created that way, etc., and so on...

35. Explain why prayer is OK, but spell casting is not, when both amount to the same thing: requesting that a superior supernatural force to intercede in a way that would be impossible according to the normally accepted laws of physics.

The question is wrong from the get-go -- see here. Actually the root issue is whether the supernatural force being petitioned is a valid one.

36. According to the Gospels, from the Christian standpoint, Jesus was the most important person to ever live. From the Roman standpoint, Jesus was a huge pain in the ### because of his political activities. Explain why nothing was written about his life for over thirty years after his death, and nothing except the Gospels was written until the third century CE.

See here.

37. Explain why you believe a person whose life is so poorly documented (see #36) was even ever born.

Poorly documented? The Gospels aren't documentation? But see the linked article above.

38. Define the word "Christ," including references to the pagan origins and meaning of the word.

"Christ" comes from a word meaning "anointed" -- and one could speak generally of one who was "anointed" just as one could speak of one today who was "empowered", whether it means with wind, electricity, demon power, or angel power. The issue is, "anointed with what"? Pagan "origins and meaning" is irrelevant.

39. Explain why Jesus, who was anti-Gentile (see Mark 7:25-29) and anti-sex (see Luke 14:26 and Matthew 19:12), would want to be anointed with oil in a pagan sexual rite after his death (see your definition for #38).

There is no evidence that what is referred to was a "pagan sexual rite". Let Sam's friend provide his documentation. (The verses referred to are answered at other places in this reply.)

40. In light of Matthew 10:34, explain why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.

See here.

41. The name "Jesus" has been anglicized. What was the original (Hebrew) name of Jesus? Where did you get this information? This is a bonus question.

The original Hebrew name is Yeshua, the same as Joshua of the OT. It's in any standard Hebrew concordance and Bible dictionary. The point?

42. Why is it that the life of Jesus was so similar to the lives of pagan Christs, particularly Herakles, Dionysios, and Asklepios?

It isn't. Not even Acharya S included Herakles and Asklepios in her long lists; for Dionysus, see here. If Sam's friend can produce comparison lists for the other two, he needs to do it.

43. If your god requires that people believe in him and follow his orders through their own free will, why do Christians push their views on public policy?

I place this one also as a demonstration: Obviously Sam's friend is less an honest seeker of the truth, and more a political animal annoyed by Christians expressing their constitutional rights to affect the way the country is governed. This is one man that doesn't believe in separation of church and state, as long as it is his church, the church of the self, that's doing the talking.

44. Explain why being a good Christian requires you to push your beliefs on others. If you do not believe that you have to push your views on others (no matter how much this annoys them), explain why you do not believe this despite the fact that the New Testament seems to suggest that you must do this to get to Heaven (for instance, in Matthew 28:19-20).

If the Gospel is true, it is a belief that should be pushed on others. This from the same person who asks why God sends people to hell?

45. Explain why spreading the "truth of Christ" requires you to spread lies about other religions, such as the idea that Wiccans (so-called "white witches") worship the Christian devil. (Incidentally, they don't, and this rumor has been persistently spread by Christians since the second century CE).

I'll give you three guesses as to what this fellow believes. (This is one of several questions on Wiccans.) I don't know what Wiccans worship, or think they worship: Maybe it really is the devil, and they don't realize it; maybe it's dirt and rocks; maybe it's Ronald McDonald. I really don't care, but usually the old boys hoist themselves with their own petard. Nothing serves to damn a false religion better than the words of their own mouths, and Sam's malfeasance with the Biblical text and with history is a case in point. (To say nothing of Wiccans malfeasance with history; as this item from a secular source shows, Christians could not have been spreading this "rumor" since the 2nd century, because the Wiccan religion isn't that old -- and a Wiccan critic of the article even admits as much! At best this is an obfuscation!)

46. At no point in the four Gospels did Jesus claim to be the son of your god. (He said "son of man" quite frequently, and at one point referred to himself as "a son of god," but that was a common Hebrew expression at the time. Someone who was "a son of god" was a Jew. This reflected the Israelites' belief that they were the chosen people of your god. See Job 1:6). Why, then, do you believe that Jesus was divine? If you don't believe that Jesus was divine, then why do you call yourself a Christian?

See here for plenty of divine claims.

47. Given the fact that Jesus did not say anything original (the Golden Rule and the "turn the other cheek" idea were stolen from Buddhism; and the Beatitudes were common in the Jewish devotional literature at the time), why do you see Jesus as such a great thinker/philosopher/ethicist?

Great teachers do not have to be original; they merely have to be great. Where is it said that originality is required to be a great teacher -- how about a teacher who confirms what we know to be great moral standards? And, I challenge Sam's friend to show how the rules above were "stolen" from Buddhism. Let's see the direct line of borrowing rather than just accusations: Evidence for Buddhist missionary work and influence is pretty thin for ancient Palestine. And don't forget the textual evidence that proves that the "theft" wasn't the other way around.

48. When Jesus said, "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also," why do you suppose that most Christians fight for their rights? To put it another way, why don't we, as a country of 85% Christians, let the government abuse us?

See here for a proper interpretation of this passage.

49. Why are so many Christian holidays on the same day as Pagan holidays? Couldn't the early Church fathers have converted pagans only by appealing to their reason and/or faith if Christianity is the true religion?

I don't see that the correspondence of holidays exists anywhere but Christmas and maybe Easter, and don't see how these were efforts at conversions -- I would say they were an effort to keep true believers busy and away from the temptation of those pagan holidays -- yea, in the case of Passover/Easter, a sort of in-your-face, "oh, yeah?" response to the pagan holidays. Take that, Great Mother!

50. Explain how your god can be "just and merciful" in light of Exodus 20:5.

This is already answered above.

51. Do you believe that the Old Testament should be accepted as part of Christian theology? If so, explain how you can worship such a cruel, sadistic ##### (see Numbers 31:17-18, Deuteronomy 20:16, Proverbs 20:30, Amos 3:6, Deuteronomy 13:8, Psalms 3:7, Psalms 52:5, etc.); if not, explain how you can believe that Jesus is the promised savior sent by your god without the messianic prophecies and the ruling rights of the line of David, both of which are in the Old Testament in books such as Isaiah, Zechariah, Daniel, Psalms, etc. (as opposed to, say, believing that Jesus was an irritating nut wandering around saying things that people didn't like much).

Yes, I'm editing out profanity (it's not ladylike, after all). Anyway, we've handled all of these above, except these: Proverbs 20:30 (whose philosophy is explained by Crenshaw's Education in Ancient Israel -- see JP's review of that for details) and Ps. 3:7//Deut. 13:8 (which are merely "arguments by outrage" against a just sentence).

52. Explain why your "just and merciful" god sent bears to kill forty-two children who called his prophet Elisha "baldhead." (See 2 Kings 2:23-24).

See here.

53. If prostitution is wrong, why are there so many examples of it in Genesis? (For instance, Gen 19:8, where Lot offers his daughters to a mob so that his guests can avoid gang rape).

Because people are sinners -- was that so hard? What's the connection here? Presentation of these things doesn't constitute endorsement of them.

54. What is the sin that people committed that is so incredibly bad that your god had to become flesh and die to correct?

All sin is bad, and merely trivializing it does not make it go away or make it better. And again, this person wonders why people go to hell?

55. Are all members of other faiths bad? Are they all damned to Hell? Justify your answer with quotes from the Bible.

56. Are all atheists/agnostics/humanists bad? Are they all damned to Hell? Justify your answer with quotes from the Bible.

Simple enough: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Or does Sam think he's perfect? Maybe so.

57. What was your motive in proselytizing to me?

I'm not, I'm answering these questions to help out other people who think they actually have some meaning.

58. Where is Heaven?

If I give an answer, how will it be disproved? Does Sam have a map?

59. Where is Hell?

Michigan.

60. Why don't animals go to heaven or hell when they die? What makes us so special?

Where does it say that they don't? (As your C. S. Lewis points out, for a mosquito, human hell may be heaven!)

61. Why does Satan try to get peoples' souls?

I'd say because he is doomed and wants to bring down as many of you with him as he can -- it's all he has to live for.

62. Once Satan has someone's soul, what does he do with it?

He doesn't "do" anything with it -- he just revels in the fact that he's (so he thinks) thumbed his nose at the Creator.

63. Is your god perfect? Justify your answer.

Perfect in what way? Morally? Physically? What? ("Morally" is the likeliest issue, but I'm sure not going to summarize something that philosophers have discussed for thousands of years in this context -- nor respect someone who asks questions suggesting that it ought to be!)

64. Where does our soul stay while we are alive?

This is also outside my expertise, but with scientists still unaware of how mind and brain exactly relate, this man expects an answer?

65. Explain how you can believe in Satan when your faith is directly descended from the Jewish faith, when the Jews did not even believe in Satan until they absorbed the Egyptian god Set while they were captives in Egypt.

Yes, I have stopped beating my husband! There is no relation between Set and Satan, and Hiero proves none. Counter-simplicity: Job is the oldest book in the Bible and has Satan around 1900-1500 BC, before the Jews were more than a few family members. Set down, Hiero!

66. Why do evil people often prosper? Justify your answer.

67. Why do good people so often fail to prosper? Justify your answer.

The answer to both of these is, "free will" -- and if you want to know why God doesn't step in an "fix" it for you, look in the mirror, and look at your sin. Should God interfere? Be careful, you might be the first thing He "fixes"!

68. When the end of the world comes, will your god raise our actual bodies, or just our souls? Explain.

See here.

69. Explain why your god lets airplanes with sinless infants on board crash.

The answer to 66/67 isn't enough, right? Because those infants are sinless? True, but their parents and co-riders on the plane are not -- and if God stepped in to save infants any time they were in danger, that would coerce us into belief, would it not? And isn't Hiero against coercion into belief?

70. What is sin, exactly?

See here for definitions.

71. If Jesus is perfect, justify the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 21:17-19, Mark 11:14-20).

See here.

72. Explain why Christians have harassed Wiccans ("white witches") for almost two thousand years now, when the central rule of the Wiccan ethical system is "an it harm no one, do what thou wilt."

See note above on Wiccans -- how can we persecute a sect that hasn't been around? -- and on the witch trials.

73. Explain why Christians (yes, that includes all branches of Christianity) have spread the lie that Jews put Jesus to death when, in actuality, it was the Romans who put Jesus to death. (For a good example of New Testament anti-semetism, see 1 Thessalonians 2:15).

Probably for the same reasons people do stupid things noted in question 4 above. As for 1 Thess., you need to read this -- and learn to spell "semitism".

74. Explain why your god created humans as imperfect, then set his standards so high that no one could possibly live up to them, then punishes us for not living up to his standards. Doesn't this also constitute "entrapment?"

No -- see above on the definition of that. See also here. God would only be unjust if He didn't provide a way out, and he did, via Christ.

75. If we are created in your god's image and likeness (Gen 1:27), how can we also be imperfect?

That's not what being in an "image and likeness" constitutes -- see Chapter 1 of JP's book, The Mormon Defenders for details.

76. Why was it OK for the ancient Israelites to sacrifice animals to their god, while it is wrong for modern religions to sacrifice animals to their gods? Justify your answer.

Because the other gods are false -- simple? Wouldn't you want to know if you were making a huge mistake that could cost you eternal life?

77. Why would your god confuse people? (See 1 Sam 7:10 and Gen 11:9). Isn't life confusing enough already?

Why might riot police throw tear gas into a rowdy crowd? Same answer -- to keep them from doing worse deeds. And personally, I don't find life confusing, what's Hiero's problem?

78. Why would your god cause blindness, deafness, and dumbness? (See Ex 4:11)

"Cause"? The word here is a broad one with many applications -- call, ordain, impute, regard, reward -- the point is that God is sovereign, not that he "causes" these things (though He may let them happen). Besides, in context the reference is to Moses' inability to speak well -- is that some sort of disability?

79. Why would your god want to damn people by making them believe false things? (See 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12).

See here.

80. Should the book of Revelation be taken literally? Explain your answer.

As a whole, no, because it is in the genre of apocalyptic literature of a type that was not taken literally in your first century -- though the symbols stood for something literal. (See here.)

81. Would it be good for men to castrate themselves? Justify your answer, taking Matthew 19:12 into account.

See here.

82. What exactly is faith?

The word pistis means forensic proof. See more here.

83. All of the various Christian sects ignore parts of the Bible, usually because those parts of the Bible are inconvenient. Explain which parts of the Bible your sect ignores, and explain why it is OK to ignore those parts of the Bible.

None I know of, sorry. Maybe the maps?

84. Why did your god allow Satan to do evil things to Job (Job 2:7 etc.)? Wouldn't your god better spend his time punishing unbelievers?

I'm sure He spends plenty of time on that -- and if God is timeless, how can He waste time anyway? (Personally, I think your Job incident was for no other purpose than for establishing an object lesson that would endure for generations to come -- and to set forth Job as an object of emulation.)

85. If Jesus and his father are one (John 10:30), then why does Jesus have to pray (i.e. Matthew 26:39)?

See here then here.

86. Explain your belief in heaven in light of Job 7:9 and Ecclesiastes 9:5.

To understand Eccl., see here. The former reflects Job's opinion which, sorry, isn't necessarily endorsed by the Owner.

87. Christ giving himself up on the cross was a great gesture, true, but wouldn't it have been more sensible for him to continue spreading his message until he died a natural death? Answer this question in light of your answer to question #1.

Beg pardon? The message is still going; but have you been able to live up to the Sermon on the Mount? Actually the best thing would have been for the Jews to accept Christ as Messiah, but they didn't, and that's what gummed up the whole works.

88. What is your interpretation of the temptation of Christ by Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:5-8, Luke 4:5-9)?

In what way? If you mean, "did it literally happen," of course it did.

89. In view of Matthew 6:5-6, shouldn't prayer in public schools be discouraged? Support your answer with scripture quotes.

School prayer may or may not be discouraged, but it won't be on the basis of Matthew 6:5-6, which is an invection against praying for the express purpose of having others notice you, which I really don't think is the purpose of advocating prayer in school one way or the other. Really, if we're going to get political, let's at least understand the historical and social context of what we're quoting.

90. Do you feel that the last words of Christ were significant? If so, why do the four gospels attribute three different sentences to Christ as his last? (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34: "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?"; Luke 23:46: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit"; John 19:30: "It is finished").

See here.

91. Matthew and Mark say that the last words of Christ were, in Hebrew, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" This has traditionally been translated as, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" However, a more accurate translation would be, "My El, My El, why has thou forsaken me?" El is the name of a specific pagan god. Why would Jesus call out to a pagan god at the moment of his death?

I note this one because this question was submitted to Glenn Miller, who gave an answer for it, and who I think could barely keep from laughing! There isn't a single reputable scholar who believes this sort of thing which Sam's friend spits out so uncritically; it comes from the likes of Barbara Walker and books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Anyway, if you're a reader of Glenn's page like I am, and wonder who it was that thought up this ridiculous question in the first place, now you know.

92. A commonly recited litany in many forms of Christianity is "The LORD is my shepherd." (Psalm 23:1). Given the fact that the only reasons that people raise sheep are to rob them of their clothes and to kill them for meat, and the fact that sheep will often follow the shepherd to their destruction, do you think that this is any appropriate image for your god? Justify your answer.

See here.

93. Why is the theory of the big bang any more (or less) likely that the idea that your god created the universe? Justify your answer. NOTE: I admit that science has not explained where the original supercondensed particle came from, but no one has ever explained where your god came from, either.

This is outside my knowledge, but I would reply that the "who caused God" argument applied is considered fairly useless in upper-level philosophical discussions.

94. If your god is everywhere at the same time, and hell is the absence of (or separation from) your god, how can he be omnipresent?

Hell is separation not from what constitutes God's omnipresence, but what constitutes His glory -- which is called His "presence" though it means that in a temporal and visible sense. But really, what is "absent" is relationship with God, and honor before Him -- not His presence as such.

95. In the Genesis story, your god tells Adam and Eve that the day they eat from the tree of knowledge they will surely die (Gen 2:17). The devil tells them that they will not die, but that their eyes would be opened and they would know the difference between good and evil (Gen 3:5). Wasn't Satan telling the truth here? Is your god a liar? Justify your answer in light of Jeremiah 20:7 and Ezekiel 14:9.

Better yet, read this.

Old Lucy was playing the same word games as the Skeptics!

96. If Lucifer is not as powerful as your god, then he cannot possibly be omnipresent. How could he possibly get as many followers as you seem to think he has?

I don't know how many followers Lucifer has, but what does number of followers have to do with omnipresence?

97. The Bible constantly describes your god as male. In view of the fact that your god supposedly created everything, and creation is very much a female function, isn't this at least a little bit absurd? Justify your answer.

Creation is "very much" a female function? Sounds like bigotry against males to me. But God's designation as male is more relational to us than it is an identity thing. Gender transcends merely physical considerations.

98. In light of the Trinity, angels, the Virgin Mary, etc., isn't Christianity polytheistic? If the Trinity is three who are one, why the three names? Justify your answer.

See here.

99. Have you read the entire Bible? If not, how can you be devoted enough to try and convert me to a religion that you don't know that much about? Isn't knowing as much as possible about something necessary to understanding it? Isn't understanding something necessary to being completely devoted to it?

Sure have read it. JP sent a copy over to us.

100. Why is 2 Kings 19 exactly identical to Isaiah 37?

The Kings writer was a compiler of sources -- he clearly used the annals of the royal house, as he clearly says; why should he not have used Isaiah's work? And why is this a problem anyway?

101. Is Jesus's three days in Hell really an ultimate sacrifice, when more than half of humanity going to spend eternity there (see question #11)?

I don't agree Jesus went to hell. See also here.

102. If your sect considers the King James Bible to be the official and/or authoritative translation, justify this in light of the fact that when King James commissioned his translation to be poetic rather than accurate. How can you possibly use an inaccurate translation as your reference for what is/is not the word of your god? If your sect does not use the King James Bible, what translation do they use? Justify the use of that particular translation.

JP studies with sources using the original languages, Hiero -- scholars and stuff. What think ye of that?

103. Assume that I do not believe that Jesus died for my sins, or that if he did, that necessarily means I will go to your heaven. Name one thing that Jesus ever did for me.

He died for you -- your "belief" in the matter doesn't change that -- and that's enough!

104. Before Mary was knocked up by the Holy Spirit/Ghost, she was never asked for her consent. (She was warned; see Luke 1:31). Mary was also asleep when your god knocked her up; this strongly suggests that he didn't want her to protest. Does this mean that Mary was raped by your god? Do you think rape is wrong? Explain.

Funny thing, there were plenty of women who wanted to give birth to the Messiah in that time; and where does it say Mary was asleep? Moreover, isn't rape forced intercourse by definition? Where is that in the text? What version is Hiero reading? An act of creative fiat isn't rape -- and there's no indication Mary had a problem.

I'll throw in this relevant material from the ThinkTank's essay on copycat savior myths:There is not the slightest evidence that either of the verbs involved has ever been used in relation to sexual activity or even more broadly in connection with the conception of a child (cf. Fitzmyer, TS 34 [1973] 569; not eperchesthai but epibainein would be needed to express the notion of coming upon [mounting] sexually [e.g., PhiloDeSom 1.200]). [WBC, in.loc.]

Instead, the verbs express more general notions of God's providence and faithfulness to His promises:
"[T]o come upon," is Septuagintal idiom but is used in connection with the Spirit only at Isa 32:15 where the MT has ("will be poured out"). Acts 1:8 "when the Holy Spirit comes upon you." Since Luke nowhere else refers to the coming of the Spirit in these terms, he is probably drawing attention to the Greek text of Isa 32:15 in both cases: this is the eschatological coming of the Spirit that will cause the wilderness to become a fruitful field. ..."will overshadow," like "will come upon," has probably been influenced by the LXX text of Exod 40:35, perhaps via the transfiguration account (Luke 9:34): Mary's experience is to be compared to the dramatic way in which Gods glory and the cloud marking his presence came down upon the completed tabernacle" [WBC, in.loc.]
"The word for "overshadow" (episkiazo) carries the sense of the holy, powerful presence of God, as in the description of the cloud that "covered" (Heb. sakan; NIV, "settled upon") the tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God (Exod 40:35; cf. Ps 91:4). The word is used in all three accounts of the Transfiguration to describe the overshadowing of the cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34). [EBCNT, in. loc.]

105. According to Luke, Mary knew that she was pregnant with the Messiah. Living in the times she lived in, she must have known the scripture; therefore, she must have known that he would have to suffer horribly during his life. Was it moral for Mary to carry her baby to term, or would it have been more humane for her to have an abortion? Explain.

This is nought but a twist on the same old pro-abortion line -- the folks who want to knock off children of poor families so they won't "suffer." Maybe they want to share some of their wealth or adopt the child instead? (Nah.) Forget it! The only absolute that MIGHT argue for an abortion in the moral hierarchy is to spare the mother's life.

106. If it was foretold that Jesus was to be crucified, and if he knew this, and if he was the son of your god, why did he do everything he could to avoid being crucified? (See, for instance, Matthew 26:39).

See here.

107. If the Holy Spirit/Ghost is the father of Jesus (Luke 1:35), then why is the central figure of your trinity called God the Father?

Here, and in several questions, Sam's bud shows an inability to distinguish between literal, procreative sex and an act of divine creative fiat. Luke 1:35 does not use the word "father" and does not even hint at such a term.

108. Mary and Jehovah were never joined in wedlock. Does it bother you that Jesus is technically a bastard?

By what definition? See 104 above. Creative fiat doesn't seem to fit the definition.

109. The original Hebrew word for the Holy Ghost/Spirit includes the idea that the Holy Spirit/Ghost is female in gender. Isn't this rather silly when you consider the fact that the Holy Ghost/Spirit is actually the father of Jesus (Luke 1:35)?

There is no "Hebrew word" for "Holy Ghost" -- where does Hiero get these factoids? Explanation and documentation?

110. Matthew 28:11-15 contains an account of a conspiracy between the Jews and the Roman soldiers to spread the story that the disciples stole the body of Christ. How could Matthew have known about this, since no Jews or Romans would have admitted to it? If it was such a transparent conspiracy that an outsider could have seen it, why didn't the other three gospels mention it? Why didn't the Roman soldiers get into trouble?

Here's some speculation: One of the Jews (or Romans) realized the eternal jig was up, and spilled the beans, and converted -- and joined the church in Syria where Matthew wrote his Gospel. The Roman soldiers probably did get in trouble.

111. Jews believe that people are basically good people and can work to overcome their sinful tendencies. Most Christian sects, following the teaching of Psalm 51:5, 1 Kings 8:46, Ezekiel 18:4, Isaiah 59:2, and Psalm 143:2, believe that people are completely debased and hopelessly lost in sin, and that only your god can lift us out of this state if he decides to bestow his gift of grace on us? Isn't this an incredibly negative view of people? Isn't Judaism a more mature faith just for this reason?

Which Jews believe this? The only ones I know that do are the "liberal" sort who match with Christian liberals as well -- Orthodox Jews, who are closest to their OT forebears, don't believe such a thing.

112. How do you, as an individual, feel about Psalm 51:5?

Well, let's see: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." It sounds like standard Ancient Near Eastern exaggeration for the purpose of expressing a point: That we're sinners and we express it from even the youngest age; in this case, David expressing the utter depth of his own sin, in light of events with Bathsheba. What's the problem, exactly? Anyone who has a baby knows that their impulses have to be modified and directed lest they become vices in adulthood.

113. What does your sect teach about Psalm 51:5 (and 1 Kings 8:46, etc.), predestination, and similar matters?

In 100 words or less, right? First define "predestination". I believe that God is sovereign, but does not actively stick His hand into everything; sovereignty is also passive. See here.

114. Don't you think that the idea that no matter what we do, we can never be good and righteous without help from your god (Isaiah 64:6) fosters an unnatural and unhealthy dependency on him?

Doesn't this beg the question of whether we ought to?

115. Revelation 22:16 says that Jesus is the "offspring of David." Mary was not descended from David, but Joseph was. Doesn't this mean that Jesus wasn't the son of your god at all, but the (mortal and not divine) son of Joseph?

See here.

116. What would the correct thing to do be if your god gave you a command that was harmful and/or destructive to you? A common argument, which comes from Paul, states that because clay pots don't complain about what the potter does with them, people shouldn't complain about what their maker (supposedly, your god) does with them, but this completely ignores the vitally important argument that clay pots have no sense of self-awareness and cannot think or feel love, pain, anger, etc. If you want to make this argument, you have to deal with this difference.

Here's the difference: Compared to the infinite God and what He requires, our thoughts, feelings, pain, etc are of the same importance as that of a clay pot. If you don't like that, you can go to the discard heap with the rest of the broken pottery. Any questions?

117. What (or who) does your sect believe the number 666 represents? Justify your answer.

I think it represents Nero. Justification here.

118. If your god is "just and merciful," why would he take Solomon's kingdom away from Solomon's son while not punishing Solomon, when it was Solomon himself who committed the sin of idolatry? What did Solomon's son do to deserve punishment? (See 1 Kings 11:12).

All of us do many things to deserve punishment -- no one is innocent, and Rehoboam was no different.

119. Why is Solomon commonly considered to be the paragon of wisdom by many Christians, when he constantly sinned against your god (1 Kings 11:4-10, etc.)? Personally, if I had a god talking to me, I'd do what he said.

And if you believe that, I have land in Atlantis to sell you. See here.

120. Don't you think that an anti-sex position (see question #22) is a rather silly position for your sect to take when the biblical book "Song of Solomon" is a piece of erotic poetry? ****

Sorry, but #22 was wrong from the get-go anyway.

121. Does it bother you that the cross, supposedly a Christian symbol, was actually stolen from the Egyptians? Why or why not? (The Egyptian cross, the ankh, was a male-female symbol similar in concept to the yin-yang. When the Christians stole the ankh from the Egyptians, they removed the female symbol, or yoni, leaving only the masculine symbol-- a subtle way of reinforcing the idea that women are lesser beings).

Oooh, another "have you stopped beating your hsuband" question! Yes, there's that conspiracy to destroy the ancient wisdom again, and it was so clever and diabolical that it even destroyed evidence of itself. I challenge Sam or his friend to find a single reputable scholar of history who believes this. If the Christians stole the cross, then I guess the Persians and Romans stole it, too, because they thought it would make a great shape to crucify people on? (See also a relevant portion of a ThinkTank item here.)

122. How do you explain that Christians are twice as likely to have sadomasochistic tendencies as non-christians?

I'd rather have it explained where Hiero gets these social factoids. Source?

123. What is the incredibly important doctrinal difference that requires the fighting between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland?

Doctrine isn't the issue -- it's Britain holding onto 6 counties in Ireland that don't want to be part of England. Religion is just used as a rallying point (see 4 above).

124. Even if your god did create the universe, why does he want to be worshipped? Is your god an egomaniac?

God knows His place and knows that worship of Him is the only way we will get eternal life. And again -- this man wonders why people are sent to hell?

125. What are your beliefs concerning Wicca? ("white witchcraft"). How much do you know about Wicca?

Nothing much yet, sorry, though some of the bumper stickers they have are funny.

126. What do you think the word "Satanist" means?

Someone who acknowledges the lordship of Satan, whether as a person or as an ideal.

127. How do you explain the fact that the word "blood" occurs over 400 times in the Bible? Isn't this a rather savage way to write a book that is supposed to be at the center of an ethical system?

The word "blood" occurs even more times in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and even more than in medical textbooks. What does a word count have to do with anything?

128. Throughout the Bible, your god commands his followers to wage merciless war on unbelievers (Luke 22:36, Deuteronomy 13:8, Exodus 20:23-25, Deuteronomy 20:16, Matthew 10:34, Numbers 31:17-18, etc). If you are one of his followers, why aren't you out waging merciless war on unbelievers?

Someone is confusing Christianity with Islam. The OT cites order war on a very specific group of people, not all unbelievers. Luke 22:36 has Jesus telling his disciples to buy swords -- for defense. This is an exegesis taken from a gumball machine -- maybe the same one Sam got his ordination papers from.

129. Numbers 23:21 says that your god "has not seen wickedness in Israel." If this is so, explain why your god burned Israelites for complaining (Num 11:1), sent a plague against them for eating the meat he had given them (Num 11:33), why he burned people for using incense (Num 16:35), why he sent a plague against the Israelites who accused Moses of wrongdoing (Num 16:44-49), and why he sent fiery snakes among the Israelites (Num 21:5). Is your god a liar, or was it just more convenient for him to lie at that particular place and time, or what?

Numbers 23:21 is Balaam saying there is no wickedness in Israel, and he's trying to cover his butt for not cursing Israel like Balak wanted.

130. What was it that was so bad about eating an apple that death had to result from that act?

Here we go again -- all sin is an offense against God, and the "so what" approach is not an answer to that.

131. What was it about humanity's torturing and killing of your god's only son that made your god so happy that he again promised eternal life to everyone who believed in him.

See here.

132. How do you explain that Matthew and Luke give different genealogies for Jesus?

See here and here..

133. Matthew says that the prophecy given in Matthew 27:9 was given by Jeremiah. How do you explain that this prophecy was not given by Jeremiah at all, but by Zechariah (in Zech 11:12)?

See here.

134. Matthew says (in Matt 2:21) that Jesus dealt in Nazareth so that he could fulfill a prophecy stating that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Where is this prophecy in the Old Testament?

See here.

135. Matthew says that on the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus was riding on an ass and a colt (Matt 21:7). How do you explain that the original prophecy (Zech 9:9) stated that Jesus would be riding on only one ass, and the other gospel writers place Jesus only on one ass (Mark 11:7, Luke 19:35, and John 12:15)?

See here.

136. In Matthew 1:23, Matthew has the angel say that Jesus would be born of a virgin. However, the prophecy that Matthew is referring to, Isaiah 7:14, uses the Hebrew word almah, which simply means a young woman. It has nothing to do with sexual purity; the Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah. How do you explain this?

See here.

137. Isaiah 7:16 seems to say that before Jesus had reached the age of maturity, both of the Jewish countries would be destroyed. Where is the fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Testament?

Is. 7:16 is not part of the prophecy -- see link above.

138. Matthew 1:23 says that Jesus would be called Immanuel, which means "God with us." Why does no one (not even his parents) call him Immanuel at any point in the New Testament?

"Immanuel" did not have to be a nomenclature to fulfill this prophecy -- it qualified as a description. See here also.

139. How many inconsistencies in the Bible, other than those mentioned in this paper, do you know of? Cite chapter and verse for as many as you have room for.

I know of a bunch of alleged ones -- check JP's Encyclopedia, Hiero.

140. If even the contemplation of sinning is a sin (i.e. "sinning in your heart"; see, for example, Matthew 5:28) and if Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:5-8, Luke 4:5-9), how can you say that Jesus was without sin?

"Contemplation" and "temptation" are not the same thing, even in the English language. See here for more.

141. Does your sect believe that the existence of your god can be established through a formal proof? Why or why not?

Sure, because I've seen that it can be. How's that for a simple answer to a simplified question that has been debated for eons?

142. Pick a famous argument for the existence of your god, then criticize that argument. (Assume I mean for you to use the academic definition of criticize).

143. Pick an argument against the existence of your god. If it is not a famous argument, copy it down here. Criticize this argument. (Assume I mean for you to use the academic definition of the word criticize).

Outside my expertise, sorry.

144. What does your sect think of the government? Read Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13. Now what do you think of the government? If necessary, reconcile the two views.

See here.

145. What is your definition of the word Christian?

The word meant, in its original form, a derisive Roman term, "little Christ" -- one who imitates Christ. These days it has a more freighted meaning having to do with doctrinal correctness. I don't worry about terms, I just concern myself with what is true.

146. Why do you think it is that the ancient Greeks, who had a very liberal sexual morality, had many fewer sex crimes (compared to the population) than the United States, which is 85% Christian?

Hmmm, could it be that that vast Greek bureaucracy just wasn't as competent at recording crimes? Or maybe that there was no official collection of such statistics in ancient Greece? Or that many things we call "crimes" today (including child molestation) were considered A-OK in ancient Greece? And whence this 85% figure? Is someone picking up data from the Bureau of Skewed Statistics? How is "Christian" defined -- as "anyone who sits in a church pew once in a while"? Those who know me know that I'm going to ask for a lot more than this. As it is, these and the other questions posed here as a whole are nought but uninformed rhetoric.

147. If someone accepts Jesus, and is "saved," but then turns away from Jesus, is that person still saved?

If they turn far enough, I don't think so -- see here.

148. Where did your god come from?

God is an Uncaused Cause and did not come from anywhere.

149. What are the requirements for being saved? Some sects says that faith alone is enough; others say that faith without works is dead. The Bible supports both these viewpoints. What does your sect think?

I think you need to read this to understand why you are wrong.

150. If I decide I like the answers to the above questions, where can I get in touch with you? (Give name, address, phone and email if available).

You can't, unless you have a dimensional transporter. Sorry.

151. What is the name of your sect?

"Fred"

152. How is your sect organized?

In a file cabinet on the third floor.

153. How can I get in touch with a priest (minister, etc.) of your sect?

Go outside and yell until someone comes. Thanks for asking!