Ah, summer. The Amentzari are back and we have the full list of June 2008 Screwballs on our TheologyWeb thread here.

From the Mailbag

Some people don't like me out there. I can't imagine why. Maybe they have self-esteem problems. For example:

You are a straw man. You believe that since Jesus said that the world will hate believers for being righteous, it is proof of your righteousness that people hate you. This is circular reasoning from a false premise. You are disliked simply because you practice anti- social communication models; a cyber hit and run. When people respond with striking you back, you hide behind anonymity and a cloak of self- importance.

Your errors: Operating a so-called ministry under a pseudonym; lack of any theological degree or training; lack of association with any recognized Christian organizations; begging for money; self-centered and bombastic site content indicating a belief that you are appointed by God to judge others; assertion of the validity of ideas that are not recognized by ANY recognized religious organization; mean and taking a delight in cruelty.

Sad really. You're suffering in your own hell and I feel sorry for you. The only reason your site appears in a web search is because of your reference to Lloyd's book, which it rather odd. Piggy-backing on a heresy to get attention. Frankly, I never for a moment thought you'd reply to my email. Apparently, you so need the attention of others that you'll reply to anything. It is pointless to wrestle with a pig. Both get dirty and the pig likes it.

That one also wins for being the latest to make the "name mistake". I legally changed my name a year ago -- and some people still haven't got the news. Other people meanwhile are fluffy in other ways. For example:

Dear jphold,

Just imagine if Mary, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who was his confidant, was the author of the gospel of Yohn!

Light, Love, Peace,

Evidence? I asked and they said:

Why don't you ask God? Or even Jesus. There are lots of clues.

This came from the Department of I Can't Answer So I'll Miss the Point:

You wrote,

"Their views are the result of a fallen and sinful human nature, of rampant egotism and arrogance, and nothing more."

That (among other barbs interspersed throughout the essay) is an ad hominem arguement and far from scholarly debate.

I performed a database search and I cannot find any studies published under your name. Which is interesting because another ad hominem attack you launch is.:

G. A. Wells, for example, is a professor of German; Drews was a professor of mathematics; Acharya only has a lower degree in classics; Doherty has some qualifications, but clearly lacks the discipline of a true scholar.

The thing is, these men have more credentials sourced than you can. It may not make them right but it does illuminate your use of faulty logic and, more importantly, raises the question of your scholarship.

Please list all of your published works. I would be interested in seeing where in acadamia you stand since you find yourself in a place to attack other researchers.

Thank you.

Remember I said people still haven't got the news of my name even after a year? Here's another:

Thank you for posting your answers to our questions about Hell. Your answers are turning many to believe in Universal Salvation J Keep up the good work in proving the Victorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind, especially those who believe. Thanks Bob Turkel. I'll put in a good word for you at Southern Baptist regarding your apologetics. You couldn't have done a better job even if you were actually writing an apologetic FOR universalism.

This one came from the Too Much Time On Their Hands Commission:

In your article "Forgiveness in Place: The 'Unforgivable Sin' -- and Who Can Be Forgiven" (by James Patrick Holding), there are some concerns. In one of the opening paragraphs he says the divine Person of the Holy Ghost "is God's active principle in the world...the personified effect of God in the lives of people and in the world." Are you kidding? Is that all that God the Holy Spirit is? Where does the Bible hint of such? You have reduced one of the three Members of the Godhead to a mere "principle"???? Acts 20:28tells us: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." The Holy Ghost is God Almighty which means He is much more than a mere principle. Doesn't it sound grossly new age to reduce God to a principle?

This one was meant for someone else, though, I think:

http://www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm

maybe you could hold an argument here....you know why christians are just so afraid to burn in hell.... they are told to fear, it could block any logic or indication that there are contradictions.....the fact every bible i own is different and says different things, like hung on a cross, nailed to one, hung on a tree and nailed to one... jesus baptized, he didn't.

oh, sorry about my typos, you just weren't important enough for any. while you insult mr.humphrey, oddly enough he has more class and intelligence than you....

he probably didn't need to argue too long with you. it was an easy one... on the holy spirit and such, yeah it's the name that is the problem not the spirit, it's what people feel when they love....if you had to be converted to feel it, i'm sorry...........lol

while you are at it here is another person to argue with. http://www.pocm.info/


The June 2008 John Loftus Collection

John kept his mouth shutter than usual but still managed to collect for items at http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/help-me-convince-my-brother-john.html, http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/why-i-became-atheist.html, and for http://youtube.com/watch?v=q7eXZkksOEk -- yes, he's on YouTube, so now we have to suffer through that ugly mug as well as those gnarly words. Loftus also proudly links to this anti-testimony, which wins a Screwball:

I could go into much detail and stories of my experiences in the Assemblies of God. I'm not here to bash them, but did spend most of my adult life in that fellowship. I left full-time ministry after nine years of service as an associate/youth pastor. That was one of the turning points in my life. My last two ministry positions had left me questioning my call to ministry, and when the last position ended abruptly due to a conflict with the head pastor, I just had nothing left. I called out to God, but received no answer. I would have even accepted the slightest emotional movement or desire to be in ministry again. Instead I felt like a man on a deserted island. The few good ministry friends I had faded away pretty quickly.

From there I started trying to figure out what to do with my life. We attended church less faithfully then in the past (we had always been the Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night+ type of people), and found a church where we could stay in the background. I figured it was just the loss of my "career" that was troubling me. Yet there were many nagging doubts I had pushed to the back of my mind. Was this baptism in the Holy Spirit stuff real? How about miracles? I'd never really seen anything even close to real in my time in the church. How about the inerrancy of the Scriptures? There were so many flaws and questions. I'd seen so many things that made me seriously question if this was real. Could people "filled with the power of the Holy Spirit" really be this cruel? I could go on and on. But I pushed down the doubts and pressed on in my faith.

Eventually, we moved to my wife's hometown and began attending her home church, where our kids also went to the Christian school. Life should really start to come together now, right? Wrong. I was still struggling with depression and finding a point to it all. Then a couple of fairly insignificant events pushed me over the edge. We were trying to sell two rental properties in Minnesota during this terrible housing market. We prayed and had many others praying for God's help. We had sunk tens of thousands of dollars on our credit into fixing them up, and they just wouldn't sell. I finally came to the point of saying, "OK God, if you aren't going to show up and help, I'll just take you out of the equation and do what has to be done." I stopped looking to Him and hoping He'd show up and work His magic. I started making the decisions I needed to make. I felt a sense of relief at that point, but wasn't all that conscious of my "inner" decision.

Then a second event happened at church in an area of ministry I was involved. First, the person who had brought me in to the ministry and was the main reason I was involved was basically asked to leave. Church "politics" type stuff really. Then a couple of months later they said my position was essentially being eliminated and going to be staffed by someone working for the church. Honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal, but I think did turn out to be the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back." I wasn't really mad at anyone in particular, I just thought, "Another great example of God's mighty army in action." Alienating and walking on people are a way of life in the church.

I think that is what opened the floodgate for all my doubts. I had seen Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" and was intrigued. Then I came across a book by Charles Templeton (the "Billy Graham" of Canada who left the faith) called "Farewell to God." These book titles were simply unbelievable to me. Then I opened up Templeton's book and started reading. I couldn't put it down. I started looking through parts of Dawkins book and found myself amazed. It's like I had been in a cave all my adult life, and was finally coming out and seeing a part of the world that I had never seen before.

My "deconversion" came to a head when I sent an email to John Loftus of "Debunking Christianity.blogspot.com". It was an act of desperation at 2 a.m. in the morning. [see http://debunkingchristianity.blogspo...ions-his.html]. I had been browsing his site for days and found so many great articles and so much information I couldn't stop reading. I was really frightened and unsure of what I was doing at that point. John emailed me back and pointed me to some good resources to help me. I bought his book also and began reading it. I started combing through the testimonies and materials online and found so often people were echoing my own fears and doubts. It was like having everything you've staked your life on come crashing down before you.

Yet at the same time, once I really made the decision, there was a huge sense of relief. I didn't have to keep doing mental gymnastics to try to justify all of the crazy things about the bible and church. I didn't have to keep living what had become a lie. At that point, I had lost "buy-in". I would go to church, look around, and think, "are you kidding me"? This is crazy! I would hear things that I used to agree with, and now they sounded as foolish as the ideas of Santa Claus. My mind began to open and I felt a happiness I hadn't experienced in quite a long time. I was excited about life. To explore all that is out there. To not be restricted by an archaic book. To not feel constant guilt for my thoughts or not doing all I could to save a world bound for an eternity in hell. Honestly, the sky was bluer, the grass was greener. I felt a love for my kids I hadn't felt in quite some time. I felt much less judgmental of others. I just felt like a new man.

So: Emotional wreck + lousy Biblical exegesis + exposure to dumb Skeptical sources = deconversion. The formula works again.

Loftus' Useful Idiots also collected some Gold, notably Ed "I'm Talking and I Can't Shut Up" Babinski, who read some old debate between Spinoza and another guy, and said ir was like reading a debate between Spinoza and several Christian apologists, including me. Then he doesn't explain how, but quotes a bunch of stuff from Spinoza's opponent that amounts to "you'll burn in hell, sinner." He props for a book by a guy named Trevor C. Jones on hell:

Rejoicing at the Sight of People Suffering in Hell (Have J.P. Holding, Dave Armstrong, James White, Steve Hays, studied this topic as deeply as TCJ?)

For centuries, Christians believed that the heavenly few would see and even rejoice at the sufferings of hell's multitude. As Paul Johnson [himself a defender of Christianity] admitted in A History of Christianity, "This displeasing notion was advanced and defended with great tenacity over several centuries, and was one of the points Catholics and orthodox Calvinists had in common."

Yawn...Edski, such views have no contact points with the honor-shame dialectic which affects the interpretation of hell-passages, nor do they consider the use of strong image-language in apocalyptic and eschatological contexts.

The idea is still being defended today in Trevor C. Johnson's thesis composed for his master's degree in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in 2004. (Johnson is also a loving and faithful Christian missionary, husband, and parent serving the Lord in a potentially dangerous mission field.)

Isn't that sweet. Edski always resorts to the "he's a good Christian too" defense when he can't offer an actual answer.

I would like some Evangelical Christian apologists on the web to read Johnson's master's thesis which is now online...

Yawn....I'm not going to read 140 pages just to make you giggle, Edski. But really, all *I* need to do is look at Johnson's list of resources. Uh huh. Not one danged source related to contextual interpretation of the NT or to the honor-shame dialectic. But I see he cites Edski's book as a source (whatever the "hell" that has to do with hell -- and he wrongly names Edski as author of it, when he is the editor), uses a lot of outdated crap like the works of Calvin and Clarke's commentary, and can't even spell Norman Geisler's name correctly. I scanned some pages at random and all I found was, "Here's what the Bible says, it clearly means this." This passed as a thesis?

Loftus' Useful Idiot Jason Long, after a long hiatus, also emerges to nominate for Platinum. In what is clearly a fundy atheist attempt to answer my article at http://www.tektonics.org/af/cockcrow.htm; (though he avoids naming me, because he knows I'll kick him to sleep), he says:

If we are to simply brush the textual connotations off as a disparity due to the simplified oral tradition found in seven out of the eight Gospel occurrences, why not just say that the story details themselves are different due to the same shortcomings of oral tradition?

Because, you bigot, they are not "shortcomings" except by your own racist, provincialist standards in which you judge the text bhy modern, Western graphocentric standards.

Mark is internally consistent. Matthew, Luke, and John are internally consistent and consistent among each other. The only problem is that Mark is not consistent with the other three. The simplest answer is that Mark made a simple error.

Wrong. In a predominantly oral society, the simplest answer is that the tradition was modified by Mark to make it easier to remember. Different storytellers, mind you, might modify the same story different ways using different memory techniques. Only a bigot would shout "error" as the first option.

The apologist, on the other hand, would have his audience believe that three of the Gospels are modified and simplified oral traditions that are not fully consistent with the actual events - and that the fourth account is partly affected by oral tradition and partly tampered with after God inspired a perfect record of what actually happened.

No, Jason, once again, this is just YOUR bigoted rendition in which you evaluate it as "tampered with" and in terms of what "inspired" means -- based on your sick, ignorant fundy past.

He readily admits that oral tradition is fallible, played a role in the formation of the current text, and was responsible for crucial details being left out, yet the apologist will not allow the skeptic to use the same reason, the fallibility of oral tradition, to explain the error already in the text

Let me explain it to you slowly, Jason....what you're referring to is NOT an example that fits with what you call "fallibility of oral tradition." The sort of mistake you mean would not create a memorable pattern, but would change Peter into John, or change the cock into an alarm clock, you dip.

To my point that no ancient reader would have thought this was a mistake, Jason pulls out the KKK card all the way:

I hope even the most novice of readers can appreciate the absurdity of such an argument. It does not matter what ancient readers reach as a consensus. What matters is whether the recorded facts are consistent with reality. If they are not, they are in error.
I do not care whether ancient readers would have considered the cock crowing stories contradictory; I care whether we can regard all four as consistent with reality.

Well, Jason, you know what the answer is to, "I don't care"? It's, "Jason Long is a provincialist bigot."

The June 2008 Random Atheist and Heretic Collection

Mike Wright, who is already a Platinum n00b nominee, wins more Gold for calling Alister McGrath a "retarded theologian" (on his blog) and for citing an anagram of McGrath's name as an argument. Here's some more of his wisdumb this month:

Nobody believed that golden plates were hidden in a wood before mormonism so it must be true...it think not. Where id the mormon belief of the golden plates come from? We must also remember that this was a time before TV, nintendo wiis and yhe internet and so people got bored and made up stories of reserected friends for fun.
Well what about robert price - he thinks they ripped of the reserection from pagan myths. now robert price is proberly the top scholar on this subject in the world. As indiana jones is to a good action movie, einstein is to science and mr bean is to comedy Robert Price is to biblical scholarship.

There's also a new Platinum n00b candidate, a Unitarian named 4thdensity, who filled threads with nonsense:

In reading your assessment of the "self-esteem" issue. I think the question has more to do with identity and purpose and our difficulty in relating with that aspect of our lives.

We are inundated with choices in how to manage lives; which in reality is a good thing, although some get lost and paralyzed in the forest of choices.

The ancients felt more of a sense of community and their place in the community than we do now. But today we have more opportunity to express our god-given talents and insights than any other time in history.

Conversely we listen to a mass-media that dictates to us what success looks like and almost imposes into our consciousness how we should feel about ourselves.

I believe when we begin to detach from being dictated to by the media and start expressing our native intelligences and unique expressions then we as a society will feel better about ourselves and each other.

The self esteem movement is real and neccessary. It's about self empowerment and regaining our abilties to think on our own and lead our lives as expressions of God.

Immersing our identites in others is co-dependent and mentally unhealthy, it's self-subjagation. We can identify with our family, friends and others without suppressing who we are individually.

When one can accomplish that then one can truly know who one is...

Self-esteem=identity

I was amused at the xenophobic outrage I saw on the Tektonic site It had a link here so I thought I would hang around for a few laughs...JPHolding if you see this I would love to discuss world views and religion with you...You seem awfully sef-inflated and pompous...

Wouldn't your "collective" of people with low self-esteem and no sense of their individuality be depressing and easily conquered ?

We can't find our Christ presence while immersing ourselves in others. We can serve others, we can admire another's presence in our lives and hear another's truth... but we must maintain our individuality while doing so.

In essense it's what Christ spoke about when he said " know ye' not that ye' are gods"

The greatest spiritual work to be done is inside our own minds, to find our worth and purpose from the inside out...not to be told by another what we should feel or think or how to go about living.

So we as an enlightened society have finally risen above that horrid collectivism into the realm of self-esteem, and in order to find our "Christ presence" we shouldn't attach our identity to anyone else's (say... Christ's...), and Jesus preached individualism through divinization. Okay

Dismissing others thoughts and beliefs as "heresy" or "misinterpretations" according to your beliefs is small minded.

So you think that only your interpretation of the words of Christ are valid; you think only you have studied or meditated on them. You think only you have the truth and anyone that sees things another way is wrong, in error or a heretic.

How fascist of you. It's amazing that you have an issue with learning to love oneself and approaching the Divine with that appreciation. We were formed in the image and likeness of God you know. To love oneself is to love God...

You keep speaking of "collectivism"....isn't that communist ? We'ren't communists atheists ? What is your obsession with "collectivism" ?

Scholarly sources are used by your bunch to try and intimidate. Yet you all ignore experience, God is about experience not scholarly sources. Scholarly sources know nothing of belief or spirit. I know God exists but there is no "scholarly source" that proves it.

That's just another example of Holding-Turkel's obsession, like scholarly sources validate one's beliefs. God-Christ is an experience, scholarly sources can't touch that experience...unless of course you're not looking for God after all. If you simply want to demean and belittle those you disagree with or decide that you don't like...but that's not christian or spiritual...it's ego based non-sense. Go read your "scholarly sources" I'll continue to experience the divine directly.

"fifteen" is also a n00b, but doesn't quite earn a Platinum nomination:

I've read the N.T. Wright article. He's hard on Wright. But there's a difference between personal and impersonal correspondence. I attend an atheist meetup group where we sometimes laugh about what religious people do or think. But I wouldn't do this to a Christian's face. Christians do the same. I went to church recently where atheists were referred to in very unfair ways and somewhat ridiculed. But I didn't take it personally, because I understand that they didn't realize that it wasn't mixed company. They were speaking of atheists in an impersonal way, and people often take more liberties in that type of a situation. Think of racial jokes that blacks might tell amongst themselves that they wouldn't tell in mixed company or vice versa. A critique is more like that. Price would never treat N.T. Wright as you treated Price. If you think he would show me where he has done so. He has a lot of personal interaction with Christians.
Briefly before bed here, mig_killer, I believe Price thinks that Paul, like Peter, is simply a famous name that others often wrote in the place of. Since none of his letters are authentic, and in fact there may be no historical Paul, it's impossible to say what Paul thought of Jesus.
Take Phillipians. It reads kind of like a last will and testament. The mindset is "What would the great man have said on his deathbed." It' has all this dramatic irony. Paul says "Well gosh, I'm not quite sure how this trial will turn out. I'd rather die and be with Christ, but I can't help thinking I'll be spared so that I can minister to you." All the while the reader knows that Paul did die and is so struck by the ironic language. It's an inherently pseudipigraphical genre.
I believe it is in Galatians you have this "Notice these large letters I write with my own hand. This is how you can tell it's authentic from me." This really seems anachronstic. It would be sort of like me going DID YOU NOTICE I'M USING CAPS. If you write with large letters is it really necessary to describe them? Not really. You let the exaggerated letters speak for themselves. But what if you want to pass off an ostensible copy of a Pauline letter that is actually your own original forgery as if it was from Paul. You have to describe the letters because in the ostensible copy you wouldn't actually see the large letters. It makes good sense as a forgery.

I'm not sure if "fifteen" is his age or his IQ. Though not an atheist, "Kaviraj" wins an award too:

Pixie, I don't know if you made any factual errors (or any errors of reasoning). I don't know. But I asked you to "tone it down" for a different reason -- to ensure the survival of dialogue. I know that Price has been mean-spirited to other people on other occasions. But that doesn't mean you have to return the favor to him. I really wanted to see an exchange here :(

Another Christian blockhead who thinks atheists like Price are interested in "dialogue". Gag me with an emergent spoon.

nickcopernicus wins for this:

Sorry, but I did read the entire thread. And you're preaching moral relativism. New covenant, new society, new morals. Out with the old, in with the new. That kind of destroys the whole absolute/objective thing.

Deacon Dumbbell of "Evangelical Realism" also does it again:

There's a widespread principle in Bible study that says "the plain and obvious passages explain the difficult and obscure verses." This principle, known as "letting Scripture interpret Scripture," is a recipe for customized theologies, because each person is going to identify the "plain and obvious" passages in the light of his or her own personal experience, culture, education, personality, philosophy, superstitions, and so on. The Old Testament laws might be plain and obvious to someone who had a strict upbringing, while the faith and mercy passages would seem clearer to someone with a more liberal childhood. Do we interpret God's legal demands in the light of faith, or do we interpret how faith responds in the light of a strict view of what God's Law demands? Different people will reach different answers, based on the personal understandings they bring to their first Scriptural studies.

More importantly, once we've identified which passages are "plain and obvious," those passages become part of our existing understanding, making a new set of passages now "plain and obvious." But again, exactly which passages are now "plain and obvious" depends on the existing understanding of the person reading the Scripture. Each individual, studying the Bible in the light of his or her own background and understanding, builds a complex network of interrelated understandings, each relating back to the personal experience and interpretation that led to it

What's lacking is the kind of self-correcting dialog that takes place when you ask an author what they meant by what they wrote. And even then, verbal dialog does not always clear up the ambiguities, though continued dialog has at least the potential of clearing up misunderstandings. A book alone does not, especially when its authors have been dead for 2,000 years or more, and wrote from a different language, culture, and understanding than readers today.

Christians try to deal with this problem by claiming that the Holy Spirit carries on this dialog, and fulfills the role of correcting misunderstandings. Again, though, that's only the theory. In practice, where we ought to find supernaturally unanimous agreement between Christians on what the correct interpretation of Scripture is, we find instead the commonplace bickerings, dissensions, and politics we would expect to find among uninspired men squabbling to try and establish themselves as the "correct" authorities on what the Bible means.

Ultimately, Christians group together around common personal traits, like cultural background, educational experience, personality type, and other factors that tend to lead similar people to similar interpretations. And each of these groups assumes that they are the ones blessed by the Spirit with the proper interpretation of the Bible. "Those other guys think they're right, but they're really in rebellion against God, who would show them that our interpretation is the correct one, if only they'd submit to His will."

Thus, an abandoned book is not a good tool for God to use to communicate with His children, because it does not actually communicate. Each believer follows whatever interpretation seems right in their own eyes, and thus communicates only with themselves and their own personal idea of what God ought to be saying. What we need-what genuine communication requires-is that God show up in real life to do the communicating, in tangible, visible, objectively-real two-way interaction, so that we know we're communicating with the true God and not just communing with some inner idol.

It's no use pretending that God is "showing up" via some inner, subjective "illumination" of the Bible's intent, especially if you are arguing (as G&T do) that the book is necessary because God is forbidden to use a more direct means of communication. If God could speak directly to men's hearts, that would be better than having a holy book, because then each person would hear the same message from God, and would be able to experience the ongoing dialog that detects and corrects misunderstanding. Obviously, we don't see this happening in real life, which is why G&T have to argue that there's some reason why God can only communicate via an ancient and ambiguous document.

I guess we forgot the "get off your lazy rear end and do your research to find out what it means" option...

Desertphile wins for this:

The book "Salem's Lot" also has THE EXACT SAME EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY as the Bible does when it comes to people rising from the dead. If one accept the Bible's claims, one must also accept "Salem's Lot's" claims if one is to be honest.

Seasanctuary has been getting nuttier lately:

I hope you have a licensing program to only allow Christians who subscribe to your post-Biblical theology of "moral vs civil vs ceremonial law" distinction to read the Old Testament. Perhaps you should make sure they believe the Old Testament is myth whenever convenient?

Until then, Harris' point stands that an extreme-in-faith Christian can easily justify killing people who leave the faith and entice others to do the same. Plenty of Christians today believe science is a big conspiracy against the authority of God's word. Why not similarly reject your nuanced theological distinctions?

After all, the bit about killing apostates has the advantage of being spelled out in the Bible as a divine command. Your method of saying 'Christians, ignore that' is not.

It is also 'potentially very dangerous' for families to be killing their own members for straying from the family religion.

Those Israelites were simply intolerant jerks on par with Muslims killing apostates today.

Sure, if a Christian follows the New Testament teachings to ignore the Jewish religion they'll probably do ok. I still advise removing the Jewish scriptures from Bibles so people don't take such things as god-breathed and suitable for instruction, etc.

Amnouy is his usual self, though:

There are many scholars whose research is slowly chipping away at orthodoxy. ..I could name 10 off the top of my head. Aren't you sorry it's not like the good ol' days when they could have been burnt at the stake?

Education is the only way for superstition to decrease. It is no accident that in the well educated industrialised world religion is becoming ever more irrelevant...the main exception being the US... and the main place it is truly thriving is in the ignorant areas of the world such as Africa.

In Africa one can still see Christianity in all its zealous glory such as witch burning and rampant AIDS because of the Catholic ban on condoms.

ChickenChaser explains why Jesus did not exist:

Further the name Jesus was not common at the time in Galilee or anywhere in Judea... perhaps anywhere in the world... most certainly if the rabbi Jesus of Nazarethn existed - he would not have been known by the name "Jesus" ... Jesus is the distillation of his name over many centuries, shortened, lengthened, changed, misspelled, replaced, etc... In all probability if we assume his name was at least similar to jesus it would have been Yeho-Shua ... The word Jesus is by most accounts a corruption of the Greek Ishous, a greek name for him... later latinized to Iesus... and finally several centuries later - changed to the current version Jesus... probably around the early 17th century, since previous to that the letter J did not exist in the english language...

A dude named Alexander takes Gold for reading my article on the Christ myth and saying:

I could go on Zeitgeist's references page, check out a number of those books and make claims that Jesus was a homosexual manwhore and look every bit as convincing cause I cite references from published work

I don't know, and how am I supposed to know how many authors you reference are actually experts and possessing relevant education and experience is somewhat opinion

I noticed a flaw in this guy's logic

he contradicts himself

in one point he says that one of the Jesus-mythers claims that Pilot was picked because he seemed like the kinda person the jews would pick

not a page later he says Jesus was probably not recorded because he was crucified and that crucified people were the least likely to be mentioned by jews in their historical documents and then took it completely seriously like he just struck logical gold

"The jews would think very lowly of someone crucified so they wouldn't write much about him, makes perfect sense!"

a double standard

it's not the argument over who wrote what, it's an argument that he says he can use "what they probably thought" in his evidence but others can't

Rook Hawkins is up to his usual:

Nothing in the Bible can be accepted as historical. We do not have evidence for very much, and what evidence we do have does not support the Biblical account. I suggest you read the introduction to my book for some bibliographical information, and skim through my blog for additional articles on this subject.

. . . biblical authors seldom thought they were writing history, especially when they were creating plot and utilizing archetypes and eponymous names.

"HisWillness" explains why the Annals reference to Jesus was a forgery:

Classical works are all taken with a grain of salt anyway.

Kakoluqia on "consistent" denial of the existence of Jesus:

What about the consistent [Christ mythers] like me who also for instance deny the existence of Socrates as a real person?

As far as I'm concerned any historical personage with minimal evidence, and that evidence almost entirely dominated by a) things currently known as impossible and b) is also tied to an attempt to establish a world view favoured by the writer didn't exist.

As for these seed arguments, that's a very clunky approach to not really answering the questions. I could argue that stories of thermonuclear war are in fact based on real historical accounts because hey, look, thermonuclear weapons exist! So there's a seed, which means they're based on reality. Wonder Woman is based in reality, because look:

http://www2.ctahr.hawaii.edu/costume/ss/s90.gif

- clichéd stereotypes of femininity in spandex! Seeded!....

Any seed in this or any of the other cases is so far divorced from the accounts of the person that's being queried as to be near irrelevant to the question.

If you ask me was there a disruptive rabbi who potentially had delusions of grandeur at that time and place, the answers yes. But that doesn't equal Jesus until you add in twenty tons of unverifiable, nevermind utterly unprovable, BS.

The June 2008 Christian and Miscellany Collection

David Ben-Ariel wins for this diatribe:

The plain truth is that the pagan pope (Catholics aren't Christian) was a Roman wolf in sheep's clothing, a politician who spoke out of both sides of his mouth. Remember the popes are both a religious leader and head of state.

I confess Pope John Paul II (!!!!) spoke pretty platitudes, and appeared to be different, however we're warned even Satan appears as an angel of light and looks can be deceiving, but the bottom line is he's the same old thing: an unrepentant leader of the Roman Catholic Church that covets the Temple Mount; the representative of a monstrous church that continues to dream of a Crusader-Kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital even if it becomes the world's worst nightmare; a false father figure who abused his innocent appeal to call upon Europe to remember their roots, to revive the unholy Roman Empire that will wreak havoc upon all in the name of their Pax Romana, their counterfeit kingdom of God, that won't hesitate to come to power over the dead bodies of anybody who gets in their way.

Mitch takes some cake:

It is very hard for me to oppose abortion since my theology tells me that aborted children go immediately into the presence of the Lord without having to live in this evil world.

subsamadhi vies for Platinum:

....the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Hawaiians, the Eskimos, the Paiutes, the Gabrielinos, the Chumach, the Aboriginals, the list goes on and on. "It's not my fault" sorry not good enough. Logic would tell me that you have no explanation for the dirty deeds of your "faith".

And...

800,000 native Hawaiians dead

25 million Native Americans dead

100 million Africans dead

Aztecs, Mayans, Africans, Aboriginals, etc.

These are just some of the atrocities committed by people who follow the christian faith in the last couple of centuries. The longest genocide in the history of the world was committed by christians in North America against the Native Americans. I wonder what other kinds of outrageous lies you tell yourself to be able to sleep at night.

Christianity and imperialism go hand in hand throughout history. Who are the people in Iraq right now invading a sovereign nation and plundering it's oil wealth? Is it Buddhists? Why are you the one who is making the demands here? All I read from your end is the arrogant bile from someone who diddles himself with his own circular reasoning. Nothing more.

The American armed forces are directly responsible for the invasion of Iraq. They are overwhelmingly christian. It matters completely, because this whole time you have been giving lip service that your faith is some kind of beacon of goodness in the world, and I am here to tell you that it is most definitely not.

Sure atheists have been murderous and vile. Have I denied that at all? What you need a lesson in is admitting to the misdeeds of your ancestors. I am an atheist, but am I directly responsible for any of the horrible things that some "atheist" dictators did in history? No. But really, were the communists really atheists at all? They weren't even real communists. But I wouldn't expect you to know anything about either topic....

So they killed a bunch of religious people, is that right? The same murderous religious people that we have been going back and forth about? That's what I thought.

Every single word of the bible is fiction. It is a fiction fantasy book. Fiction is a form of lying. It was written by fallable men to keep other fallable men to control their actions. Not only is it a lie, it is a figurative jail sentence. The bible is passed along to people as a punishment. That's all christianity is in the world, just a means of punishing people who don't agree with your view of the world. That's more despicable than anything else I can think of.

Lizard_Valis doesn't get it:

Also Maria Magdalena goes to massage his body on sunday. Why would a corpse who has rotted for three days need to be massage anyway? This shows the man is still alive.

Anoint: to rub over. Why would anyone want to anoint (mesiah) a dead body that has rotted? This shows he is still alive. What is wrong with you?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exb53K2v4pk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e4zgJXPpI4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA7I06fMOuk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqtJ-lYQ1kU

http://youtube.com/watch?v=-vRHzBZiksY&feature=related

http://youtube.com/watch?v=BkwujSKjDuM

http://youtube.com/watch?v=C3ug8jV0xCg&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRT95aEnBes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNaAd2mDY9U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYvjRiun3MA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIacUKjz4xs

http://www.fossilizedcustoms.com/asherah.html

http://www.sheezyart.com/forum/topic/45453/2/#C120013

http://www.sheezyart.com/forum/topic/45453/4/#C120142

http://www.gaychristian101.com/

Award to Todd Bentley, with Platinum nomination http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html Ty Rockwell wins a corollary award, as he thinks Jesus kicked a suffering woman to heal her:

He did what it took. You don't know what he did. The gospels aren't exhaustive. John said all the world couldn't contain the books that could be written about all Jesus did and said. Demons cried out and manifested. People fell at his feet. They pressed up against him in crowds. A sick old lady crawled to touch the hem of his garment. She could have gotten kicked!

The Westboro Baptist Church's open letter to Ellen DeGeneres and George Takei deserves a nomination.

Dear friends,

Now that California has kicked up a foul same-sex marriage stink so rank that it's attracting maggots from all over the world - you two are caterwauling like a tree full of howler monkeys about getting "married" to your own filthy partners in shame.

Well, now, if it's so wonderful, why are you two hiding the time, date and place of those glorious affairs from Westboro Baptist Church? You are glorying in your shame. Phil. 3:19.

God has given you a bully pulpit and a bullhorn by virtue of your celebrity status; but rather than use it to spread a little truth and decency for young America - you are doing the opposite, spreading Satan's filthy lies and immorality. You are bound, irreversibly, for Hell.

WBC wants to use your farcical, unholy "weddings" to counteract your lies with a little Gospel truth. We plan to picket you! Please tell us the date, time, and place of your blasphemous affairs.

"wiseperson" has a website on which he says:

** avoid theology web.com, I thought it was [censored] when I went their anyhow since Jesus said the wise and learned (schooled) would not know the secrets of heaven, they are stuck in their pride right now, they want to moderate a prophet LOL, imagine what they will say to God one day for their very large GRAVISH type of error. I repeat Gravish

** avoid bible.org, the owner is experiencing some jealousy and envy issues, you need to close your accounts, and not go back

**please check out Autism 1, will be adding to this as I go along, I myself know what sinning as a parent can do, recognize your own sinful nature to stop the chain

General screwball for Eric Jon Phelps, which nominates Platinum -- http://www.vaticanassassins.org/nuclear-tsunami.htm The 26 Dec 2004 tsunami was caused by a nuke ordered by the Vatican! )

http://www.vincentsapone.com/writings/bibleissues8.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Chronology_(Fomenko)

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/itn/20080613/tuk-un-should-britain-scrap-royals-dba1618.html

http://unreasonablefaith.com/2008/05/29/a-guide-to-christian-cliches-and-phrases/

The Wiki Bible Project -- http://www.newsweek.com/id/141516

A few times a week, Alastair Haines, a grad student at the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Sydney, sits down with a Greek version of the New Testament and translates a bit of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. Haines doesn't speak Greek, but he can read it. When he's done, he loads his work onto a Wikipedia page as part of the Wiki Bible Project, a take-all-comers effort launched in January to create "an original, open content translation of the Bible's source texts," which by most counts includes about 30,000 manuscripts. Along with Haines, who admits to signing up for duty as a way to put off finishing his dissertation, 21 others have answered Wikipedia's call to "claim a chapter!" The eclectic group includes a liberal Christian living in the United Arab Emirates and a Methodist financial counselor in Texas. Some claim to be formally trained in Biblical Hebrew and classical Greek; others, such as user John Kloosterman, admit to being "without qualifications of any kind." The project will take a few years to complete and require constant refinement, says John Vandenberg, one of project's main administrators. But "that is part of the beauty," he writes. "It's a laissez-faire translation."

This was in a Pew report on religion in America I was reviewing for someone:

More than nine-in-ten adults (92%) say they believe in God or a universal spirit. This includes the vast majority of every major religious tradition, including virtually all Mormon respondents and at least 95% of Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses and members of all three Protestant traditions. Even among those who are not affiliated with a particular religious group, seven-in-ten say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Indeed, more than a fifth of selfdescribed atheists (21%) and more than half of self-described agnostics (55%) say they believe in God or a universal spirit. 8% of those were "absolutely certain" that God or a universal spirit existed.

Proof that atheism makes you stupid!