It was an unusally slow month for Screwballs, which raises the scary possibility that they're all reproducing in the spring. Those that were left out seem to have been the worst kind that would have had a hard time finding a mate, mainly because they also would have a hard time finding their own legs.

From the Mailbag

More letters than usual this round, which does suggest some folks that have been locked up in their house for too long. This first one speaks well for the school of "don't bother me with the facts":

I recall seeing your article on biblical interpretation.

Recently, I've been studying biblical references from what could be called a critical stance, and I've noticed that one area in which the Bible is its own worst enemy is in its casual use of non contextual absolute constructions, such as:

all, every, any, each, none, no, only, anything, never, ever, nothing, forever, always, eternal, evermore.

These words--taken at face value--don't have anything to do with the "spirit of the times", the cultural "milieu", traditions, mores, customs, or any other so-called "contextual" interpretation.

In a certain sense, these words share something in common with the concept of 'infinity.' The concept of 'infinity', by definition, has no bounds. Neither do the above absolutist words.

'All' doesn't mean 'almost all.' 'Forever' doesn't mean merely a very long time.

Interestingly, some people assert that biblical translators are 'inspired.' If that's the case, and if 'inspired' implies some sort of connection to some superhuman source of enlightenment--even if these absolutist words are not to be taken literally, then the 'inspired' translators would be well advised to inform their readers of such 'facts' so that they can take these words figuratively.

It is self-contradictory for a person to subscribe to the concept of "the priesthood of the believer" and also concurrently assert that to really properly "interpret" the Bible, you have to know Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and you have to be an expert in the science and/or art of exegesis and/or hermeneutics, including being an expert in Ancient Near Eastern history, and everything else. This 2nd assertion also implies that all of the university/seminary professors of exegesis and/or hermeneutics agree with each other on everything. Otherwise, if the "experts" in interpreting the 'true meaning' don't themselves agree, it makes a mockery of the whole idea there is any way of really being certain of the 'true meaning.' If the experts don't agree, how in the hell is an average Joe Blow supposed to figure out what is correct and what is incorrect???!!!

SELF-CONTRADICTIONS: If a person can accept contradictory statements, their brain is not functioning rationally. For example, take the following two statements. All swans are purple. There are yellow swans in Africa. If a person can accept both of those statements as being true, their brain is not functioning rationally. Unfortunately for 'true believer' Christians, there are numerous self-contradictions in the books that are included in the Christian canon of scripture. Example: No person has ever done X. Person A and person B did X. Second example: All people are X (an attributive). Some people are not X (an attributive). The textual references for these are readily available, and I can give them to you if you want.

Here's another from that school, only they're not apostates yet:

Concerning the matter of Mr. L. Ray Smith. Give it up sir. You can't possibly believe reasonably educated and intelligent folks would read your piece and say..."oh!...yeah!...he's certainly disproved Mr. Smith as being way off the mark"....Indeed, you in fact have inadvertantly assisted Mr. Smith in his showing what yourself and others of your ilk are -- unintelligible goobledy-gook that is entirely devoid of grammatical sense and logic. Be a good sportsman and quit before you make yourself look any more foolish.

And then this, from the Department of Thorough Rebuttals -- this, and nothing else, in the message:

Ouch. It must be awfully hard to be right about everything. :)

It must be harder to try to prove someone's not right about something. Then back to the other side of this aisle of nuts:

I never thought I would see the Gospel being attacked on an apologetics site. Dispensational truth is the only way to understand the Bible. Bob wrote an excellent book "The Big Difference between the two Gospels" in which he clearly proves his points. He is right on Baptism and open theism as well. What should I expect in the midst of Apostasy? Just seems there is enough error being taught right now, that Bob Hill of all people is coming under attack. Wow.

And another from the Department of Thorough Rebuttals:

Hey there,

You guys really have built a monument to your heartfelt terror of atheism. I marvel at the amount of time and resources that must have gone into this effort.

It would probably have saved you a lot of time and effort to have resorted to the time honored technique of putting your fingers in your ears and shouting "LALALALALALALALALALALALA!" until the atheists just went away.

May your god bless you for this valiant if pathetic effort. No doubt he is scribbling my name from the "book of life" at this moment in response to this email.

Godspeed my deluded friends!

When told he'd won a Screwball, the response really got the stupidity flowing:

When do I get my "screw ball" award? Will it be posted on the site? I look forward to seeing it. Just please try to quote me correctly.

I really didn't see anything on your site worth "answering" but here's a few comments since you asked. On the matter of contradictions and absurdities in the bible your main defense seems to be that unless a person has demonstrated what you consider to be expert status on several ancient languages, cultures and histories they are unfit to make meaningful criticism of the bible. You of course are to be the judge of these credentials, a sort of argument from authority in reverse.

Unless a person passes this arbitrary threshold their arguments cannot be deemed worthwhile. In deed in another place on your site you say, "Let's face it. Not one person will ever become qualified as an expert in every field of research relevant to Apologetics. A person can spend decades studying only one field alone. Most laypeople will have to rely on experts from time to time to establish a point; even experts in one field of study will appeal to experts in another field. " You are laying the groundwork for plausible deniability of any attack no matter how well researched or reasoned. This is truly inspiring sophistry. It is also patently dishonest.

This game is played all the time by Christians who attempt to dodge the actual words of the bible and dance about in a hop scotch of "the Hebrew word for this means..." and "in ancient Judea this practice was actually..." It must be exhausting to have to play this illogical shell game to justify your silly beliefs.

Most annoying in this charade is the idea that the translations of the bible are so flawed as to render them unworthy as sources since they must constantly be "amended" by true bible scholars such as yourself to "clarify" their true message. This makes the bible a constantly moving target that is whisked out of danger by ersatz sages like you just as the enemy has it in its sights.

Your review of Dan Bakers "Losing Faith in Faith" is what brought me to your dreary little corner of the Internet. You dismiss many of his arguments as being "arguments from outrage". I clicked on the link and was treated to a truly audacious display of moral relativism. This is a curious way for Christians who claim to be stewards of Jehovah's absolute morality to justify infanticide. In deed here were insinuations of hypothetical scenarios (no actual reasons the lord would kill innocent babies were posited) that might justify Ol' Yahweh slaughtering babies at the breast. Shocking to see rigid moral absolutists that call taking a drug to prevent the implantation of a fertilized human egg outright "murder" sneering at those that might find naked infanticide morally objectionable. Kudos for a truly inspiring leap into the jaws of illogic.

Perhaps most entertaining is that you render these pronouncements with truly regal flare and haughty disdain. I'll leave you to your little fiefdom of illogical hubris.

Awaiting my award (and eternal damnation of course from your "loving" god).

The next one is a lesson in learning to read carefully:

Attempt to convince J. P. Holding that Rabbi Gamaliel existed

I am not attempting a proof, but your challenge is an interesting one and sheds light on some important issues in the Mythicist case. This following are my own thoughts on what I take to be an argument along the lines of “if you don’t believe the evidence for Jesus of Nazareth then you shouldn’t believe that Gamaliel existed either”.

First of all you are being disingenuous in saying that it would be difficult to convince you of the real existence of Gamaliel. You clearly consider the book of Acts to be reliable, therefore Gamaliel existed.

Someone apparently doesn't recognize satire when they see it. Now this from the Nanny Nanny Boo Boo League, concerning the DVD "The God Who Wasn't There":

I too am a former fundamentalist Christian who studied the bible for more than nine years under strict guidance from the Pentecostal church of which I belonged. I didn't need anyone with or without an "agenda" to tell me - be them folklorists or atheists - that the bible, without "faith" makes very little sense to a logical person....

I appreciated reading your take on this film; however, I think in criticizing it, you also exposed your own hypocrisy. You appear to have skirted over one of the film's most powerful ascertains: that moderate Christianity makes no sense. You also didn't back up your claims that resources cited in the film are false; but only referred to your previous arguments. In addition, you neglected to provide any evidence that substantiates the Bible as an infallible historical document. You may reassure the faithful, but for those who truly do seek the high road, or are searching for common sense under a wave of opposing arguments and opinions, you aren't helping. I looked to your site for an honest opinion, and what I got from you only further strengthened my belief in the claims made in this film and in the supporting information. I will continue my research without you.

You heard it here: To make him happy, I have to defend points I don't believe in (re moderate Christianity) and rehash all the same arguments I made before. He'll continue his research from bed, thanks.

And If You Can't Sling Webs or Make Lasers With Your Eyes, I'm Staying an Atheist

"autoartist" said this on TWeb lately:

I was thinking about what the Bible says about the Holy Spirit living in the believer's body. This is the part of God, also the power that raised Jesus from the dead. Yet, I have to ask why don't Christians have any power?

They have the same exact struggles as unbelievers, they doubt, they are depressed at times, they have no discipline, ok they might have love but so do unbelievers. You know what I am getting at they have the same exact experiences as unbelievers. Why can't any of you do what Paul and the apostles did in Acts? Hhhm I wonder why?

You know what else I notice they must constantly read Christian self-help books and apologetics books. Why is that? What happened to the power of God, the God that created the universe? Why do you even need such tools, books etc?

That's Why "Will and Grace" is On Every Channel

Keith Rex offered this paranoid post:

There have always been Gay conspiracies to dominate the world. Alexander the Great, The Kaiser, Hitler and countless others. It is probable that all conspiracies are masterminded by small Gay elites, but in the past such conspiracies have been done by small discrete groups of elite Gays and their objectives have been limited to economic and political power and not to change the culture.

But today what we have is unique in all history and that is why it is so hard to recognise it for what it is and what a threat to civilisation it is.

Rather than a small elite of Gays in one country like the Kaiser and his gang or an international collection of connected conspirators like the Masons aspiring to dominate the world by economic or military means we have today a large number of loosely connected cells all over the world with no central authority conspiring to totally change the culture while showing no interest in military or economic power. This is the very reverse of all previous conspiracies.

In part the act like the Communist conspiracy and it is in fact from the failure of the Marxist conspiracy they have sprung. The Marxist were the most successful of all the Gay conspiracies and in the traditional way they had no intention to tolerate universal Gay Culture, but as in the past restrict it as a privilege for the ruling elite. But they managed to plant their cells all over the world - particularly in the Churches.

With the sudden death of the Soviet Union and the loss of Moscow control all these cells were left to their own devices and since all revolutionaries are Gay at heart they soon started to exploit this power the Marxists had bequeathed to them to promote Gay interests. This is how the Gay Revolution hit us in the face with such sudden violence leaving us in a state of confusion.

Of course for centuries Gays have dreamt of a Gay world Utopia and now they think they have it on a platter.

Let Off a Little Steam

"steamer" made his way back to TWeb recently and immediately won a Lifetime Achievement Award for a variety of comments:

Well, the death of Jesus supposedly for "sin" is just as retarded as god saying "hop on one foot" and I'll forgive you. It is completely arbitrary decision by the authors of the bible on what they would consider adequate for forgiveness for a god. The story lacks a logical reason why this is the case.

No the real problem is that Yahweh recognizes that slavery is a bad thing when his people are slaves to Egyptions, but doesn't recognize it as bad when his people take slaves themselves. The problem is that the bible is so contradictory that it forces even decent people like yourself to make idiotic claims that "sometimes slavery is ok".

I see many detestable things they (Israeli and Egyptian slavery) have in common, like loss of personal freedom. Of course since you are a slave to an ancient fairy-tale, critical thinking skills are something of a myth to you, while invisible magic men in the sky are real.


Well that is pretty simple. I can imagine god. You imagine god. What we know is that god can be imaginary. If you were honest, you could admit that this is all you know.

Even if there is a god, this doesn't change. Your god will die with you. What you imagine god to be is not god. What you pretend to relate to is this imagined being.

Since god is imaginary then it is up to you to demonstrate that he is something more. What we do know is that he is at least imagined. Now then, since I think god lives in your head, I can presume that it "knows your thoughts". You cannot be dishonest with this god unless you can be dishonest with yourself? Can people be dishonest with themselves? Absolutely ask anyone with an addiction. Your addicition just happens to be one of self importance, you think you are so special that even the creator of the universe must want your attention. Har!


The trouble with addicts in general is they become more rationalizing than rational. This is true for all Christians apologists that have ever tried to "harmonize" a biblical error.

Be that as it may, addictions generally require some actual benefit in the form of emotional or physical feelings. Why do you god addicts do it? What do you get out of it? I suppose it feels good to think that you're going to heaven, but could you explain the depth of your emotions and the range of these feelings?

That Nerve Pinch Musta Been a Little High

My old nemesis "whoweepsforkirk" gloated over his loss (er, victory) at my hands on another forum:

JP is one of those christian idiots who think he knows something. he has some little talent for verbage and so he is the agreed upon spokesperson for the other dimwits who otherwise would get steamrolled by geniuses holding facts, like me.

every time you kick one of their [edited] using reality, they send you to him because he is like their big brother.

he uses his verbal skills for evil, twisting and bending everything in the usual christian way. he has some education in philosophy and theology, and he can talk a good game.

but the fact is, if you believe in ANY religion, you are a self-deluded idiot to begin with so your level of smarts is restricted right off the bat.

sorry, religious people. some of whom are my friends.

E. T. -- GO HOME!

Special Lifetime Achievement Award goes to TWeb newcoming Fundy Atheist "Biblischism", who claims to have been one of the child actors who wore the E. T. outfit in the movie. Biblischism stained the forum with this exercise in fractured fundy thinking:

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them."

Why the meeting? I thought the Satan and his angels were thrown to Earth for the crime of rebellion. But here they brazenly stand before their Creator to accuse humanity of offenses far less severe than they've commited (in fact, Job had commited none at all being "perfect" [apparently he didn't need Jesus]). God "burns with anger" over Uzzah's trying to stabilize the ark of the covenant but plays this game to titilate and delight the most evil beings in the universe? Huh?

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?"

For the Lord knew not the comings and goings of Satan and his fork-tongued horde

"Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it."

I thought "going to and fro" and "walking up and down" were the same things, actually. Gotta love Satanic redundancy!

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?"

Knowing Satan's background of malevolence, wickedness, and rebellion, what would you think the answer to that question would be? "Yes, I have Lord. Indeed, I'm stumped, because I really wanted to (bleep) with this dude, Job, but he's just too righteous for me!"

It's as if Satan turns this into a lesson on theodicy--but the student is God! How can this ever be believable?

"Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. "

Uh, apparently the answer to this question is "yes." So Job is indeed good only because God has blessed him with providence. Again, Satan schools God here, hence the story's unbelievability.

"And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath [is] in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. "

And the cosmic game begins...

Anyone else here have a problem with this book's believability?

He wins extra mustard on his Screwball for being the first atheist to attack my toon site as well.

They Didn't Even Interview Acharya S!

From comes this comment worthy of gold:

I read in the Swedish TV Guide that a new documentary series about Jesus Christ ("Son of God") would start on BBC Prime and that the first episode would deal with whether or not Jesus Christ was a historical character. I kept thinking before the show started, "Do not bring up Josephus as proof that he existed". What was the first thing they did? They brought up Josephus and claimed that Josephus proved that Jesus had lived and died (and the presenter also mentioned 80 other non-specified "sources").

The next thing they did was to turn to the gospels. The presenter, Jeremy Bowen, said that they "were the best sources for the life etc. of Jesus Christ" and claimed that the writers of the gospels did what he would've done if he was to write a book about World War II: talk to survivors. It also didn't matter that the gospels were written forty years after his death. I then turned the television off.

I think it's highly problematic that a) that the presenter didn't mention the controversies surrounding the passage in Antiquities (not least the fact that early church fathers, such as Chrysostom, didn't mention the highly important passage), but that it was presented as an undisputed fact and b) the gospels are highly internally inconsistent and what evidence are there that the writers spoke with witnesses. Did they travel around Palestine, crossing off potential witnesses? Who was the witness that relayed what had transpired during the meeting of the high priests, for example? And comparing how the existence of the gospels came around with how he would write a book about WWII? WWII is a widely known event, Jesus existence isn't. Contemporary Jewish historians, such as Justus of Tiberia (not far from where Jesus often visited according to the gospels) or Philon, doesn't mention Jesus. Is such a program even worth to be called a "documentary"?

They Know Brain Dead -- They Have Experience

And back on TWeb, "MrFrankZito" wins Gold for one of the usual exercises in calling ancient people stupid and also saying miracles are not possible, well because they're impossible:

The Resurrection is scientifically impossible. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered brain death. Brain death is defined as, "Irreversible brain damage and loss of brain function, as evidenced by cessation of breathing and other vital reflexes, unresponsiveness to stimuli, absence of muscle activity and a flat electroencephalogram for a specific length of time." The key word in all that is "irreversible." Jesus could not have risen from the dead after dozens of hours, because Jesus could not have recovered from brain death. Certainly, no alleged witnesses attested to a brain-dead zombie roaming the streets.

Besides brain death, dead people suffer from other negative symptoms. After dozens of hours of being dead, Jesus would be a corpse with decayed muscles, bloated from gasses, with blisters on his skin, and with millions of dead and useless cells, including dead and useless heart and kidney cells. Again, in that state, Jesus certainly would not be in any condition to roam. One of my major objections to Christianity, thus, is that The Resurrection story is scientifically impossible. Brain death, by definition, is irreversible; thus, upon suffering it, Jesus could not recover from it.

At this point, many Christians will cite “miracles” to explain The Resurrection. That’s inappropriate. One cannot substantiate Unsubstantiated Assertion A by appealing to Unsubstantiated Phenomenon B. In other words, one cannot cite something that’s doubtful in order to explain something that’s doubtful. My classic analogy is this: One cannot cite “Unicorn Jockeys” in order to prove the legitimacy of “Unicorns.” To use one thing to substantiate another thing, a person first must demonstrate that one of the two entities is indeed legitimate. Certainly, The Resurrection is doubtful. Certainly, the concept of a “Miracle” is doubtful. Thus, one may not be used to substantiate the other.

You'd think he'd be surprised to find out that first century Jews were aware of the fact that corpses rot.

Meanwhile, "Todangst" from the forum wins Gold for accusing two of TWeb's best known atheists, John Powell and LakeGeorgeMan, of being closet theists. Then "Provoker" wins Gold for this comment:

I wonder if the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, could be refering to David, Solomon, and the spirit of kingdom resurrection(the spiritual kingdom). David and Solomon were the only two kings to rule over David's kingdom, and after it fell, the gospel was that a messiah would come and resurrect the kingdom of his father David, and those who believe, and commit to, that gospel, have the spirit of the kingdom(are the spiritual kingdom). What do you think?

Likewise, "bigsplit" for these:

First, I understand the conclusions you have drawn about Christianity. Believe it or not some Christians do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Some believe he never really cannot kill the Son of God. Some believe that Jesus was just a man and that he died that day and the accounts of resurrection where added to the original accounts to give the Romans a magical competitor with the Pegan Gods.
As I said some people need magic to have faith others do not. Without the magic tricks you all have admitted that you would not be Christians. As if the message of Jesus would be meaningless unless he could transcend the laws of nature. You have admitted you would not have faith in his truth and would not seek the light of his testimony unless he rose from the little faith is that in the truth. For such do not believe the truth for the truth itself and do not follow the light for the goodness of its glow.....they follow only because of magic tricks. Is that true faith..... Is it true faith to blast an individual who has no faith in the Father and misguidedly professes his unfaithful confession due to the arrogance of some "Christians" need for Jesus to have been a magician? Such do little service to the father as they only seek validation for their beliefs in magic and ignore the need to explain to others the true nature of the truth and the light.

In other words: "Your belief that Jesus physically rose from the dead shows that you have a lack of faith in Christ."

Farrell Till continues to exemplify the Gold standard for comments like these, which came as a reply to my accusation that he engaged in "decontextualization" by ignoring social and background contexts:

There are two points to address here: (1) the claim that I am a "decontextualizer" and (2) the derogatory comment about "Bam Bam Bible college." Anyone who takes the time to compare analytically [Holding]'s articles and mine will surely see that he frequently depends on just citing biblical passages, whereas I usually quote the full contexts of the ones that I use as textual evidence. I quote the full contexts, because I want readers to see that I am not distorting or misapplying any textual evidence I decide to use. On the other hand, he cites--without quoting--mainly because he knows that he is making claims that cannot be supported by whatever he is citing, and he doesn't want his readers to know this. Hence, he tries to hide the broader contextual meanings of his biblical proof by just citing the passages. He wants his readers to think that the Bible must really teach what he is claiming because he periodically cites a scripture or two.

Till still hasn't learned what is meant by "decontextualize". He thinks it means quoting stuff out of context.

Fellow named "atheist1964" had this bit of wacky defining to do:

Definition of atheist from Merriam-Webster site -- "one who believes that there is no deity". If god believes that he/she/it is "The Deity", there is no reason to conclude that god believes in any deity, meaning, no "deity" is above god. From Merriam-Webster, the definition of a deity is: 1 a : the rank or essential nature of a god : DIVINITY b capitalized : GOD 1, SUPREME BEING 2 : a god or goddess 3 : one exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful Therefore, god is an atheist. Or am I drunk with honey-wine?

Jim Meritt, the first Skeptic I ever replied to online (, wins Gold; when I asked if he would be replying to my article he said:

Why waste the time? the blind cannot see no matter how much light you shine on them. And none are so blind as those who refuse to see. You are a waste of time.

I guess I'd run too if I had been so stupid as to cite stuff like Gal. 6:2 vs Gal. 6:5 as a contradiction. But he alos won the Excrement Hits the Portable Fan That Gets Turned Around Award for this letter:

You think you are right. You seem to think it is important. You claim to worship a diety that (you heard claimed) said that it was important. If it is so important and true, you have nothing to worry about, and it should be trivial to prove it to others. Unfortunately, you can't and don't because it isn't. But no matter. Your crutch seems to keep you self-satisfied. I don't happen to agree with you, but your mind is closed. Enjoy yourself.
Hey, Who Gored My Ox?

Scientologist Isaac Hayes (did the voice for Chef from South Park) wins Gold for his double standards. Recieving huge paychecks from episodes making fun of Christianity, Islam, Judaism ect. then proclaiming that he is upset over the show's "intolerance and Bigotry towards religious belief" when an episode is made that makes fun of Scientology: -- The dust-up gained steam last week when Isaac Hayes, a practicing Scientologist who has long been the voice of the character Chef, quit after objecting to a "South Park" episode called "Trapped in the Closet," which lampooned both the religion and Tom Cruise. Soul singer Hayes recently announced he had left the show because of its "intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs".
But co-creator Matt Stone said: "In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslim, Mormons or Jews. "He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show."
You Can't Even Use It If You Don't Like The Cover Art

Stevie "Sun Dog" Carr just can't seem to stop collecting Gold Screwball awards. This from an OP:

'At this point in the canonical 2 Corinthians, two letter fragments have been inserted: a letter of recommendation for Titus (at 8:1-24) and a letter concerning the collection (at 9:1-15).'

This is on page 150 of Social Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul by Bruce J. Malina.

Why does Malina think there have been such large additions to the original text?

The book also says about the Pastoral letters ;.... the letters to Timothy and Titus are fourth-generation Jesus-group documents in the Pauline tradition'

So much for authenticity!

The Context Group also write 'Of these fourteen documents, modern scholars, using philological methods and a critical sense of history, have determined that only seven of these letters are authentic.'

Holding's very favourite scholars totally disagree with his beliefs!

Another Gold also for Richard "Annabelle Ketterling is an Argument for Atheism" Carrier, for his reply to in which, among other idiocies, he rants on about how unreliable oral tradition is compared to written tradition, while from the other side of his mouth ranting about how many interpolations and emendations have been made to the New Testament text because of agendas, carelessness, etc. thus making it unreliable.

Careful Where You Wipe Your Feet!

Gold also to "St. Matthew's Churches" which sent out this letter:

Dear...Someone Connected with This Address,

People just like you are writing to this 55-year-old church, telling us of all types of blessings since this church started praying with them. They are receiving divine help in the form of answered prayer. Some are seeing loved ones saved, and many of them are receiving spiritual, physical and financial blessings of all types - better jobs, raises in salaries, being able to buy and sell homes, buying new cars, and so on. Actually, these dear people are receiving so many blessings that it is impossible to mention them all in a letter. And, as you will read in the enclosed brochure a Sister Garcia used the same type of Bible faith prayer rug that we are sending to you, with this letter, and was blessed with almost $50,000! Now, we must talk to you about something we see, in the Holy Spirit, concerning you and your family's needs.


WE MUST GIVE YOU THIS OPPORTUNITY FIRST... THEN IT MUST GO TO THE HOME OF ANOTHER DEAR FRIEND WHO NEEDS A BLESSING... You, or someone connected with this address, and another dear family are about to be blessed through this unusual, Bible Faith, Church, Prayer Rug, which we are placing in your care for these next 24 important hours. Because of any needs you are facing, we want you to use this Church Prayer Rug first, then we must pass it on to another dear friend of ours who also needs a blessing. As we pray for you and everyone connected with this address, WE FEEL THAT SOMETHING VERY WONDERFUL IS TRYING TO COME TO YOU.

When you use this Faith Church Prayer Rug, go into a room where you can be alone (just God and you). Turn off the television and radio and try to be by yourself when you kneel on this Holy Ghost, Bible Prayer Rug, or spread it over your knees. We want this Church Ministry, Prayer Rug to be touching both of your knees as you pray for the needs you are facing right now. It is going to be like you are kneeling before God All Mighty at the altar inside a great church of blessings. If you need more joy, peace, health, money, a new car, a new house, healing in family communication, or whatever, we, as a very old (55 years) church, want to know about it. Check your prayer needs on page two of this letter. Talk to us. This power you and this church ministry are about to use works!

These next 24 important hours are crucial to you. Timing is important to God. After you kneel on this Church Prayer Rug, or place it over your knees, place it in a Bible, on Philippians 4:19. (If you don't have a Bible, it's okay - just slide it under your side of your bed, for tonight, if you can. If you can't do this, it is okay.) Leave It There No Longer Than Tonight Only! God sees. Then, in the morning it is a must that you get this unusual blessing Church Prayer Rug out of this house and back to us, here at the church's chapel prayer room, in faith. We must also have this letter back, with whatever you need prayer for, printed on page two. You must get this Bible Prayer Rug back to us so we can rush it onto another family that's in need of a blessing. Do this without fail. Please, do not break this flow of power between us.

Notice the face of Jesus on this Church Prayer Rug. When you first look, you will notice that His eyes are closed.. If you relax and continue looking straight into His eyes, you will see His eyes slowly opening, and He will begin looking back at you. Jesus sees your needs (Philippians 4:19). Use this unusual, important, Church Prayer Rug for tonight only.

Let us ask you: Would you like to have God's blessings upon your home, your family and your finances? Say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, I do need Your financial blessings upon me and my family's finances!" Deuteronomy 28:6. Just put a mark by your needs below, telling us that you want prayer. Also, check any other needs you are facing. Pray about sowing a seed gift to the Lord's work. Give God your best seed and believe Him for His best blessing (St. Luke 6:38). Now, go and use this Church, Faith, Prayer Rug. The Lord is watching and waiting. You are about to enter the Holy Spirit of God right here in your home, through this faith exercise. Then, it is a must that you return it for another to use. [checklist below]

And last, Lifetime Achievement Award to John Loftus (Doubting John) for the latest person he invited to join his blog....DUM DEE DUM DUMMMMB....Jason Long:

Provoker also wins the Ignoratio Elenchi Award for this comment:

Since we know that the christ resurrects the kingdom of Israel at the end of the book, and we know that there is no such scriptural doctrine as "the second coming of christ", then whoever is perpetuating the belief that the dead Jesus is "The Christ", would appear to be the anti-christ...don't you agree? I'd be happy to debate the point with anyone:-)

St. Micheal's school ( wins the Bob Jones Happy Funhouse Award for some of the rules it has:

#3 Students discovered using impure language or vulgarities or engaging in impure and indecent discussions or activities, listening to rock music, discussing TV shows or movies in school, will be severely warned after the first offense, suspended for 3 days after a second offense and expelled after a third offense...

We greatly discourage students from viewing television other than the few, wholesome, family programs that come from time to time. We ask parents to please cooperate with this, as well as insuring that student do not listen to rock or country music, or read modern secular magazines or books...

#2. No talking in halls or bathrooms

#3.Buddy system is to be used for individual trips to the bathroom...

FreezeBee wins the Evangelism in Poultry Award for the following:

After Justin Martyr converted, he needed an excuse for his conversion, didn't he? Why did he convert? Well, why did the chicken cross the road?

OMEGA7 recives the Hell's Chamber of Commerce Gratitude Award for the following description:

It is my own personal opinion that God is going to send a Comet to hit the Earth at around the Time of Armageddon, so that the Comet will put Moisture and Dust into the Air after it hits the Earth and cause large Clouds that Blot out the Sun so that, this Scripture may be fulfilled.

Re 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Mt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Then Jesus will come and SAVE the World.

Why will the Earth Wail and Mourn ? Because millions will be killed .

In my opinion, the Comet will cause the Axis to turn and the Earth to Wobble and the Poles to Melt and in that process it will create a New Heavenly outlook and a New Transfigured Earth.

For anyone who has studied the bible for over 35 years like I have would easily know the HELL - GEHENNA - THE LAKE OF FIRE is exacltly that , a Physical Lake of Fire fed by OIL and Gas which is common in the Middle East. Jesus said that the Pharasees would be Cast on the local Garbage Dump where the Garbage and dead bodies were burnt. After Armageddon there will be alot of Dead bodies and Armaments that will have to be burnt. Those who go to the Lake of Fire will be working there throwing in the Garbage. That is it . There will be NO Tormenting of HUMANS just Hot sweaty workers.

Hmm. What say you, Brimstone?

Ed "Bad Breath" Babinski wins the Spin of the Week Award for this comment in a blog:

Even hard nosed J. P. Holding of Tektonics apologetics, who defends every act of suffering and slaughter directed or performed by God in the Bible, admits that he can no longer believe in hell as a place of eternal "torture." Following link to his article and arguments.

He makes it sound like I went through some sort of mental anguish over hell as a place of torture, when all I did was cohere with the literary and agoinistic tenor of the NT era.

Lazy Agnostic wins the Ignore the Cost Award for these comments on Abdul Rahman, the Afghan, who converted from Islam to Christianity and is being threatended with the death penalty:

I heard Albert Mohler say today he hopes the man doesn't recant. In other words, he thinks the man has a duty to sacrifice his life to nutjobs.

Do you really think G_d rejects those who refuse to be martyred? I think anyone who teaches that is a contemptible terrorist.

And that (agreeing with willful martyrdom) makes you a contemptible, believe-it-or-ELSE, bOOgeyman terrorist. You shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a classroom.

Noting a forum member gets the Evolved Turkey Award for using this to argue that a "new feathered compy dino has been found in Germany" though it seems the pictured creature has no feathers.

Ray Fletcher, who is normally not this crazy, wins the Missed Trinitarian Point Award for this:

1 x 1 x 1 x 1= 4 -- You see, this proves that god is made of 4 part.

There were also a lot of wacky websites nominated this month. has a plan to shoot a few diamonds (6 oz) into interstellar space:

If and when they approach other stars in our galaxy or beyond, their brilliance should make them visible to alien telescopes or spacecraft even before they enter the atmosphere of any planets, moons, or other possibly inhabited celestial bodies.

Greelok1: "Flizbin2! Look! What is that brilliant star in the sky?"

Flizbin2: "Why it must be another one of those gospel diamonds from earth! Quick destroy it with the Plutonic Laser Destructo-beam!" for all around wackiness. for, among other things:

It is interesting to note here that the Christian religion has also tried to usurp this holiday by decreeing it the birth of John the Baptist, and declaring it his feast day. Now, other Saints in the Church are only remembered for the day they died (usually in martyrdom) so it is very curious that St. John the Baptist should be the only one recognized on his natal day. Also, the original birth of Christ was moved from late Spring when he was actually born, to December 25 to coincide with the birth of all the other "Sun" Gods. So even the Christian religion has rotated to the Pagan cycle of the Earth, with their births lining right up with our Solstices. The natural cycle, what we call the Wheel of the Year, is evidently highly compelling! where a university professor proudly displays his hate and intolerance of Christianity and Christians every chance he gets, with such comments as:

Yes, I'm hostile to evangelical Christianity, and I think it is a blight upon the earth.

Dennis Diehl, for his article, "Questions Your Pastor Will Hate" found at was so stupid I couldn't even so a toon parody of it. got a thread nomination for comments using a fictional universe (the Bionicle universe) to create an argument against God. gets the Benny Hinn Exellence in Trinitarian Studies for this deft (read: daft) refutation of the Trinity:

Now if the Holy Ghost is a distinct person from the Father, here are two spirits. That the pre-existent Word, the Son, is another person, our opponents contend; and that He has a spirit they will not deny. Here, then, are three spirits - - the Son is a spirit, and the Holy Ghost is a spirit, and both equal in substance and power. Well, now the Son has a spirit, "for God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba, Father." Gal. 4:6. Again, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His." Rom. 8:9 This makes four spirits. God also has a spirit. "The Spirit of God." Gen.1:2 And if the Holy Ghost is equal to the other two persons, then it must have a spirit too. Here are six spirits, and according to our trinitarian brethren, six persons. How absurd!

"Let's see... I have five fingers on my hand. My thumb is a finger, so that makes 6 fingers, and my pinky is a finger so that makes 7. I have seven fingers on each hand." is just filled with screwy stuff, so much so that it's hard to pick the best of the lot.

Free of the sticky trap of the harlot -- Well my friends and detractors I lack the words to express just how good it is to resume this ministry which is of course God's ministry although unfortunately this time my absence was not due to anything as simple as a jail term for defying a protection order on behalf of an abortion clinic but instead my absence is due to a failed love relationship with a woman who claimed to be a Christian (as if! which means I will not be peeking over the Lord's shoulder at the Final Judgment to see if her name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life as the feigned curiosity would only be an irritation to Him) although her definition of "Christian" turned out to be as loose as her moral integrity but then again it is not my place to judge her or her ornamental window-dressed impression of what she thinks a Christian is supposed to be as the Lord will surely take the time out of His busy schedule while He's judging the quick and the dead at the Great White Throne to explain it to her before he spits her lukewarm carcass in the direction of that massive funnel which empties into the never ending fires of HELL. Amen.

However for you younger and less Biblically literate Christians I would propose three ways in which you can determine whether your girlfriend is a True Christian or a harlot in sheep's clothing:

She tells your mother she's excited to be courting you because she will now have a date to the upcoming Creed-impression karaoke night. No amens over this brood of vipers who don attire not unlike the rest of the hedonists and seducers of MTV and VH1 and engage in the vernacular of the same.

She claims that homosexuals are born that way and should be accepted by the Christian community as long as they repent of their wickedness and refrain from engaging in sexual relations with each other.

She reads from one of the new age Bible per-versions like the New American Standard or the New International Version instead of the Authorized 1611 King James translation.

Truth #2: My Message Is Clear And YOU Know It! Amen!

...God is my witness He sent His Son to this depraved earth to be born of a virgin so that His perfect Son could grow up and come to me in a dream and direct me to lead these sinning masses away from the playground of Lucifer and into the Light of His Word which he has given to me to post right here and now so that all who believe and receive this one and only Truth might escape the FIRES OF EVERLASTING HELL and join me in Heaven with God who is clearly a Male along with the ten thousand angels who are all of course females. Amen.

Truth #3: This Ungodly World Is Run By Homosexuals Who Will Not STOP Until All Of Us Even Christians Are Writhing Together Irrespective Of Gender Or Race Or Religion Or Creed Or Nationality Or Sexual Orientation Or Political Affiliation In One Big Homosexual Pile Of Sweating Rutting Naked Homosexual Sinners! Amen.

Homosexuality is a sin because God said it and I believe it and that settles it. Amen. These sick perverted people like the Episcopalians who promote homosexual orgies on top of their altars in front of women and children all want to deceive our children...

Truth #4: There Is Only One True Church And Almost No One Goes To It. Amen.

All churches outside of the 1825 Duck River Association of Baptist Churches are preaching a LIE and will answer for their lies when Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father and judges the nations but especially the Elk River Association of Baptist Churches which knows the truth but professes to believe a lie. Amen.

Truth #7: God Wrote Only One Bible And It Is Of Course The 1611 A.D. Edition Of The King James Version Of The Holy Bible. Amen.

God wrote ONLY ONE BIBLE and the only reason the devil would want to write all of these modern per-versions is so that adulterers and sodomites and liberal Democrats can pretend to be Christians while teaching our children it is okay to read Bibles that claim God is a woman and go to churches that teach them that anal sex is okay as long as you wear a condom.

Truth #10: This Page Is Still Under Construction As I Have A Lot More To Say And So Does God. Amen.

If elected I will support a ban on interracial marriage. While I am not racist I believe that God intends people to marry within their own race. Any and all interracial marriages currently licensed would immediately be annulled. Any children born to said couple would be allowed only to marry with other children of interracial couples.

I believe in a national dress code. If elected the National Dress Code (NDC) will be as follows: * All persons must wear clothing from their neck to three inches below their knees when in public or in the presence of children. * Women MUST wear dresses. Trousers are NOT lady-like and therefore women ought not to wear them. * Jeans are to be banned.

I propose prison reform. This will be as follows: * Prison cells will be made smaller. I would set this to approximately one-half of their average current size. * Prisoners will be kept in their cells 24/7 (i.e. NEVER leaving their cells during incarceration). * Prisoners will only be fed bread and butter. * NO contact with ANY other human being during incarceration. * NO TV or medical care or entertainment of any sort. * NO sunlight will penetrate a prison cell. * Disobedient or rebellious prisoners can be beaten by the guards as punishment. * ANY inmate that attempts to escape will be executed on sight.

When Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven in the year 0 A.D. which means After Death (Acts 1:9) his disciples became apostles and wrote the King James version of the New Testament which was of course because the Old Testament was already written in the King James vernacular and almost all Christians were killed by the Jews then the Romans then the Catholic Church which is why God has judged each of those groups by allowing them to fall into practices which have resulted in AIDS and intravenous drug use. ....I must submit to you the FACT that I have never had an erection as this would clearly constitute lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16) on my part which is a sin I am not about to commit. -- The site has a section that "allows you to find questions posted by other visitors and the answers given by Jesus." Example:

Question: Was Jesus familiar with the concept of reincarnation?

Answer from Jesus: When I walked the earth, there were many groups and sects in Israel that believed in reincarnation. Recent archaeological discoveries have shown that I was affiliated with the Essene community at Quamram. The Essenes believed in reincarnation.

I have told you (see Teachings section) that I traveled to the East and studied and practiced the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. These religions teach reincarnation. Therefore, I think even the most orthodox Christians should be able to accept the idea that Jesus Christ was indeed familiar with the concept of reincarnation.

I can understand why so many people have been confused about the situation with the fig tree, as well as by the overturning of the tables of the money changers, two events that took place very close to each other. The main reason for this confusion is the idolatry of Jesus Christ. However, it does not help that the incident with the fig tree was recorded incompletely by Matthew and Mark.

What actually happened to me was that I was going through a very rapid process of personal transformation and acceleration of consciousness. As a result of this process, I manifested successively higher degrees of Christhood, and this happened so quickly that I did not fully have time to adjust to the increase in my powers. At the same time, I was also faced with many outer challenges, and I was burdened by the density and the darkness of the state of consciousness that dominated planet Earth in those dark days.

The pressures from the outside made it very difficult for me to keep my harmony in all situations. At the same time, my increasing powers meant that whatever I said would instantly become a physical reality. The positive aspect was that when I commanded someone to be raised from the dead or to be healed, it would instantly be made manifest. The not so positive aspect was that if I said something in anger, then that would also manifest almost instantly.

So here we have a situation where I was under great stress and I was hungry. I was expecting the fig tree to provide me with a morning meal, and when it did not do so, I responded with disappointment and anger. The simple reality of the situation is that I lost my harmony and said something that I should never have said. In short, I made a mistake.

So he just was going through "Christ-Puberty". There must have been alot of Pharisees that got turned into snakes and unwashed tombs in first century. for not knowing it's old news, for asking me by email:

Can you reference or link my treatise to your site? It is the most comprehensive debunking article of Christian arguments ever.

...and for using Jack Chick as a reference on Christian Theology. which is similar to which says:

Apollonius of Tyana, he Real Jesus

Original founder of true Essene Christianity, whose precepts originate in Buddhist India and China(Himalayas).

Replaced by Yeshai Beth Halachmee(pseudo-crucified Essene of 4 BC), Jehoshua Ben Pandira(the Jesus of 100 BC) and Christna(the avatar of 3000 BC) by the priests of Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. The New Testament is a distorted account of his life and teacings.

The site also has this kind of fun stuff on it: promoting the "hollow eath" thesis.

Hereoisreal: WEord equals God x God

Letting a=1, b = 2, c = 3, etc, mathematically:

  • God x God x God .................................. . = 47,900,160
  • 70 seven fold x 99 x love........................ . = 47,900,160
  • God x 1260 x love ................................... = 47,900,160
  • 10 % of heaven seven fold x God x God = 47,900,160
  • 704 x 54 x 1260 (Rev 12:6.)................. . = 47,900,160
  • word x (3xGod) ..................................... = 47,900,160
  • 1x2x3x4x5x6x7x8x9x11x12.................. = 47,900,160
  • Jesus said, " I have chosen you 12."
  • word x 2112 (u 12) ............................... = 47,900,160
  • 47,900,160 minus (Jesus x Jesus x one) .......= 47,160,900
  • word = God (54) x G x 0 x d (7 x 15 x 4)
  • word = First ( i ) x Last (14) x 360 over 2
  • word = God x God (John 1:1)
  • word = one (ace) x 1 week (168 hours)
  • word = 90 % of 70 360's (the remainder is 2 1260's)
  • word = first x last x it ( i x [a+m] x i x t )
  • word = 126 (az) x 180 (9 x 20)
  • word = 22,680
  • word = 2/3 of iron ( 9 x18 x 15 x14) (Rev. 12:5)

LakeGeorgeMan: Biblical apologists simply value their literary idolatry more than they do their integrity.

Slavery, genocide, misogyny, bigotry, genital mutilation and child sacrifice all become reasonable things to do within the context of one specific collection of ancient mythology.

It's a perfect display of cult indoctrination and what happens when people worship a book as a god.

Jim Eisele on "The Jesus Seminar": Um, wow. It just sounds to me like you can't handle the truth (yet, at least). The scholarship is solid. Very weak supporting evidence for all of the gigantic claims the Bible makes. Events in question occurred 2000 years ago. Increasing embellishments in the writings over time. All the contradictions and strangeness in the writings. But wait, here's DesertBerean, with his MIGHTY SWORD of preconceived denial (er, notions). Da da da, here rides Christianity into battle. Wait, there's scholarship arriving on the battlefield.

DesertBerean, it ain't gonna happen. The evidence ain't gonna change. My apologies on your current belief system. Really, the pastors ought to be apologizing to you. Oh wait, they're too busy collecting your cash. Too bad for you.

Change isn't easy. Rationalizations and hypocrisy are two ways to avoid it. Shifting the focus of attention is another way. Christians frequently question the motives of non-Christians. Or of different flavor Christians. There is an ego rush to it. In this whole process the truth may very well elude them.

Any liberal (or non-Christian) is "going against God." Cowardly conservatives aren't.

Mordochai benTziyyon: when a MARRIED woman has a baby that she ADMITS is not from her husband, normal rational people would call her a slut, or an "adulteress"---but christians call her "mary" and WORSHIP the worthless mamzer she gave birth to, who grew up into a mean, spiteful, hypocritical, vicious, violent and racist PIG of a man (according to the "gospels")! LOL!!!

XaositectCrayon on the Crusades: B. which time? the time most people identify with is when they were slaughtering people to find some cup

gnosticmary: You are touching on a great truth that is hidden from the awareness of most earthly inmates, steamer! All of the world has been deceived by false gods. This deception is evident in the addiction you are speaking of. In fact it is 'false gods' behind all addictions - drugs, smoking, shopping, anger, sex, fear, and present day religions to name only some.

There is a mutual energetic vamping and feeding shared among the addict and the god causing the addiction, where they become dependent upon one another. This is why some call these false gods vamps, for it is from the energies we produce with our thoughts and feelings that they feed. They then push their victims into activities that will fill them up - an obvious example is what occurs in an arena, whether it be a sports or a religious activity. The crowd is worked up into an emotional frenzy, first feeding itself and then providing ample food for its gods.

peepnklown: Don’t forget the greatest user of Hellenistic mystery cults and Gnostic ideas, PAUL! And by the way, you rock Jane

In regards to Isaiah 7:14 lets forget that the Hebrew not only describes an immediate sign, or a “young woman,” (not a virgin) or a female already pregnant. Let’s forget that the context tells us that the ‘sign’ was for King Ahaz, or that this child is later born in Isaiah 8.

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore, the Lord, of His own, shall give you a sign; behold, the young woman is with child, and she shall bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel.

Now, can someone give me a single verse (I am only asking for ONE) from the Greek scriptures in which Mary calls Jesus Immanuel?

Bagger_Vance: If Hell exists then there can't be choice. In the practical sense a gun to your head obliterates your ability to make a free choice. If a battered wife wishes to end a relationship with her abusive husband and he threatens to bash her head in with a baseball bat if she leaves what choice does she have? What if a individual is held at gunpoint with a choice between following orders or being shot is that a choice? God of the bible is a abusive bat wielding husband that says love me or I'll bash your skull in. These are the "choices" that christians pose. I refuse to be a battered wife shielding my black eye behind glasses while I make excuses for a God that abuses me.

To be free, to really be free you have to be able to choose not to participate without being demolished. If God really loved and wished us to have choice the dichotomy would be different. You could choose b/w God or nothingness or God and being left alone.

PitchforkPat: My question, though, was what sin do you think I might have committed that would warrant eternal, unending suffering. And yes I like cats too, but not in my house since they scratch the furniture and cause me to use the Lords name in vain. Oops eternal damnation for me.

heaven: Abraham walked by faith and not submission.

Chunk: I gave the gospel of Mark a date of around 70ad to 80ad. Only the most fundemental of apologists date it any early than that.

The Pauline epistles are interesting. The make reference to a crucifixtion (at the hands of the Jews), a resurection and the last super. Thats all. They dont speak of anything else written about in the gospels. Therefore, arguing that Jesus was crucified and there were guards outside the tomb etc is all based on the gospels. You cant really use Paul therefore to support your argument.

The non-christian source that tells us Jesus died is still yet to be named. (Because if youre talking about a first century one, it doesnt exist). My point about the gospels telling us Jesus was famous throughout the land, and the fact nobody wrote about him for 50 years is also yet to be counterd.

SpiritWoman: To all whom I have observed opinions on this Thread with respect,

How to begin. In the middle East. All Muslim, Christian, and Judaism began in the land of the birth of Adam as proclaimed in all of their doctrine and spirals out like a spider web in the vortex of time, migration, and evolution of humankind. Judaism, being the Rock/Birth of a God whom all of it's follower's proclaim to be son's and daughters thereof. Each teaching war, slavery, prejudice, aimed at the Infidels/Non-believers. Judaism being the chosen people migrated out of Egypt to escape slavery, only to war with the peoples they stole land from, enslave them, murder their children and women in the name of their God.

Christians, in the name of Jesus Christ, mutilated his message in biblical works to Demonize the Jews and Pagens to justify their wars, murders and slave practices while migrating to the west in the name of God to spread his message as truth and their quest for gold and riches. Muslims, well, it appears to me they adopted all of the above only their quest is still ongoing and has yet to become fruit.

Pentium 4: Do Christians not trust God's plan? If a Christian is dying then it is obviously in God's divine plan and if the divine plan is for them to survive then doctors should not be needed, right? When Christians are simply ill from your everyday virus, why do they seek out a doctor or take medicine (or both)? Where is their God to make them healthy again and where is their trust in their God to make them healthy again? Now, I already know the stock answer but rest assured that the stock answer is the very reason for this thread so think twice before using it.