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From the Mailbag

Here's one of those emails that offers a rare mix of pomposity and comedy:

JPH You have completely revealed your lack of scholarship in your critique of Kuhn's "Lost Light". Further, Christianity will indeed be reborn in spite of you.

Then we had a set from Snotty Persons Inc.:

This is in response to your essay on "Self Esteem". Thank you in advance for your time. I do not care for the term "self-esteem"--self-esteem has too much to do with living up to external standards, or worse yet, to imaginary internal ones. Self-esteem is too easily wounded, and its flip side is guilt. I prefer "ego" "pride" and "individuality".

Have you ever read that little inspirational piece titled "Desiderata"? This was written by a guy named Max Eerdmann who successfully passed it off as a document dated 1610, and found in a Boston church. A glaring anachronism is found in the injunction "Be Yourself". Such a sentiment was alien in the 17th century. Being yourself is a new idea, but contrary to what you and Mr Matzat seem to think, the newness of an idea does not subtract from its value. All ideas were once new ideas. This is called progress. Chemotherapy was a new idea. So was the internet.

Individuality can be traced back to the Enlightenment, for the present purpose. (I am simplifying) Individuality is an idea whose time had come. Maybe some of you hanker to return to a time when you think things were better, or easier, or more christian, but there will be no going back. We are not going back to the 1st century; to the emporer; to the pograms; to the inquistion; to the witchhunts; to slavery.

A wise man once said that "individuality is the primary unit of reality, the ultimate standard of value." (D.R. Forsyth) Better men than you or I have upheld these ideals, and if not for them, neither you nor I would know them.

Sound fairly reasonable? It didn't take him long to become this:

Hi Bob. Been waitin' for me? I can see that I have wounded your self-esteem, but being a xristian, you don't have much to lose. Perhaps you should leave the Western hemisphere and betake yourself to the collectivists you love so much. Bob, it pleases me to no end to hear your hate--your anger is one of the fruits of the spirit, no doubt. Someone like me who has the insides to think his own thoughts and to live his own life, without coming to abortions like you who spend their lives grovelling to a bronze-age war god. Yeah, it pisses you off.

Which brings me, of course, to my next statement. I perused your drivel on damnation and intend to read it slower sometime this afternoon, but it told me all I expected to hear. You and your kind live in fear of your imaginary jewgod, and you expect me to be intimidated by your effiminate tirades? jesus, bob, you must have been howling like a [expletive]. No, bob, I am not an idiot. People like me have the sense to grow up like men and to put away the superstitions of the unwashed towel-heads you love so much.

And about me going to tektonics.........bobby, I would no more go to tektonics than I would go to church. However, if one of your boys would like to engage me one-on-one, fine. I suspect that you have assembled a herd of [expletive] disciples who would not hold my interest for 5 seconds, but go ahead.

bob..........your kind cannot offend me or intimidate me. Your pomposity and pretense may be amusing, but [expletive], you're a xristian. You cannot be frightening. You squandered what little manhood you had when you accepted jesus. I know your kind, because I used to be your kind.

The March 2010 Loftus Collection

The Rational Responders are doing a campaign in which students can trade in their Bibles for pornography. That wins by itself, but Loftus also wins for this comment on it:

I'm in favor of stunts like these even if I won't participate myself. It gets people thinking and talking. Some Christians might ask: "Why is it they think that about my Bible?" This in turn will cause some of them to investigate further.

I wonder if he's running around collecting as many Bibles as he can right now....

Loftus also wins for his horrible debate performance against David Wood, which even had his own atheist fans reaming him. One said, "You're just making atheists look bad." Loftus replied:

So what? I don't care. I never signed up for church again. I left that kind of thing forever. I make MY arguments based on what convinced me to leave the fold and I know what it takes.

And here's another Gold confession:

I conceded the debate in my first few sentences if you paid attention. My whole argument was nothing more nor less than Hume's Stopper. I think that is more than adequate to stop believers dead in their tracks. My goal is to change minds not so much win debates...

Just for the record, here's how one of his fans described his performance:

You were prone to trailing off, mumbling, taking uncomfortable silent pauses, chuckling to yourself, fidgeting and shuffling around, and it's all a bit of a distraction. When you compare your attire and behaviour to that of your opponent, one might assume (incorrect as they may be), that your opponent was perhaps taking the debate more seriously. This was evident in the Q&A, with how much more serious and focused your opponent appeared.

Loftus also wins for this comment:

Robert Price left it [Christianity] because he understood New Testament biblical criticism

And finally, here's one that really goes for irony, and nominates for Platinum:

Why Do My Arguments Not Convince Devout Believers?

I merely offer up good arguments against their faith. That's all I can do. Devout believers (my target audience) won't seriously consider them until such time as they have some sort of crisis in their lives that cannot be adequately explained by a good God. They'll seriously consider them at that time. My arguments are like seeds of doubt ready to sprout if and when they experience that crisis. Since many believers do experience some kind of crisis in their lives there will be a certain percentage of believers who, having been previously exposed to my arguments, will leave their faith at that time. It's a waiting game.

If we read this at face value, Loftus is essentially saying that his arguments are most persuasive when people are in a state of mind that is not calm and rational.

Finally, remember how Loftus said there's too much evil in the world, so God can't exist? Now he says there's too much pleasure in the world -- therefore God can't exist:

So why did God make our sex drive so strong? Why didn't he make the the orgasm less pleasurable? The pleasure of the orgasm is just too strong as it is. We all know this. With an evolutionary hypothesis this is what we'd expect to find, for our sex drive is good for the survival of our species. But under a theistic hypothesis it makes no sense.

If the pleasure of the orgasm was reduced there would be fewer sex crimes, and less infidelity. Or, the orgasm could've been created so as not to be pleasurable at all. God could've made the sex drive to be something of an instinct where we only want to do it when we want children, and then also created our desire to have children periodically. If this is what God had done instead, then with divine commands to populate the world, heterosexual people would only have sex for the purpose of bearing children in fulfillment of his commands, and that's it.

Moreover, the urge for sex seems to be too strong for most of us to overcome it. So why would God create us with this powerful urge and then prohibit it except under one set of conditions, a monogamous lifelong heterosexual married life?

...I'll even bet all this talk about sex will cause some readers to do a search right now for a sex site, even Christians. Say it isn't so. Christian, you search for sex sites. Yet you feel guilty about it. The problem is that any prohibitions that make you feel guilty about this do not come from God.

Seems he's revealed more about himself than about his topic.

The Lunchback of Notre Dumb

Here's one of the usual funnies from the Lunchback...

None are so blind as he who will not see! You don't want to see the facts so I will move on. Just put all of the absurdities and contradictions together and ask yourself if a God would write that way! Even if they are not genuine, the mere appearance of them would not be in a true work sanctioned by a God who wanted to get a clear message to us! Think about it--centuries have past and still you guys are trying to convince of that nothing is wrong with the Bible while conuntless millions have died because they couldn't deciipher the book! Yet, "not willing that any should perish" stands without even the slightest askance view from you Dupes!

And there was this as well:

MORE ABSURDITY FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT He ascended to heaven the same day he arose from the grave.

ABSURDITY: "To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3

First, he ascends on resurrection day and then he comes back and ascends again after forty days! He must have missed telling them something and thought he had better come back again to clarify their mission . Absurd! He could have just used his dad's old technique and talk from the sky or use visions, dreams and angels to do the job instead.

STATEMENT: Jesus ascended on the the first day of his resurrection

CONTRADICTION: Jesus ascended forty days after his resurrection.

CONCLUSION: The Bible lies and is therefore not the infallible Word of God, which could not lie!

Again, you have been duped! That is a definite and unrefutable contradiction! It is absurd, at least!


Once upon a timeless time when there was no time...blah blah blah! Fact is, God did not create time! Man invented time! Did God produce the Sundial, a clock, carbon dating, the calendar? No! Please! You have been duped!

And this:

Joseph, dead? Then how could he have fathered all of those brothers and sisters that Jesus had? Jesus was the first born so the others were younger than 33! Please! BTW, where were they at the critical hours of Cross and Grave? For that matter, where were the aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and disciples? They ALL were conspicuously absent!

I see that you, too, need a reality check:

STATEMENT; "Touch me not: for i am not yet ascended to my Father..." John 20:17

CONTRADICTION: "...And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him." Matthew 28:9


And of course, simple is as simple does:

And just exactly where was God when He did all of this "creating?" After all it does say that "in the beginning God created heaven..." So where was He before he created His home? Where will He go when "heaven and earth shall pass away?"

OK, so let me get this straight:

Once upon a timeless time, before time began, God was nowhere, and while in deep contemplation, discovered that He was bored and decided to do something exciting by creating the universe out of nothing. He Himself, being without a beginning, was intrigued with the idea of creating something from nothing.

First, however, He knew that being a spirit and without a physical body, He had to invent a language so that he could create a universe through the spoken word. Then, all He had to do was say "let there be light " and there would be light. However, since time meant nothing to Him, He decided to take six days to speak the world into existence. Then He realized that it was indeed good that He invented God- Speak because He could communicate with Adam and Eve, whom He quickly instilled the knowledge of the lingo to. Fitting, since they had vocal cords.

However,God quickly showed His sinister side and began to toy with man by creating the Devil and hell and then cursing him with the threat of eternal damnation. He wanted mankind to fear Him and pay homage and grovel, pray to Him and serve Him for the rest of their lives. Even then, man will fail and only a few will be saved, even though God sent His son to die for their sins. That son was not willing that any should perish, however, but he had to knuckle under to the will of his Father, who wanted to damn most of mankind to hell.

In the end, man will disappear from the earth and God will start all over again by offering His wonderful plan of salvation to the Apes!"

Mixed Atheist Nuts

Griggsy strives for coherence:

lilpixie., indeed, for Existence is all, so there can be neither an external cause or matter, whence it comes. Only science can tell us about its transformations, ma'am or sir.

As it takes the law of causality- the presumption of naturalism- for Him to act, He'd be acting then on a natural fact so that He could not be that First Cause, and thus that would not be a referent for Him and thus that adds to ignosticism!

Lord Griggs1947 use to wonder if he could answer theists but once on his computer, he found that that is easy enough: t'is a matter of serendipity that some book of his or some on-line source gives him the needed answers.

Here it is Peter A. Angeles's " The Problem of God: a Short Introduction" but a powerful book. See arguments for God. What else might he teach you? He's such a clever boy!

robertb wins again, for this answer to the question of what it means to "prove something" to him:

To falsify all other possibilities.

Brooks Trubee (aka jimbo) on the Catholic church and child molesting priests:

Does it make sense to you that an organization that was the sole representative of God on earth for around 15 centuries could support such immorality as this?

Jaecp gets a Platinum nomination for TWeb Vet for various inane contributions.

JimL is still in grade school philosophy class:

Yes, I do, are you having difficulty comprehending. Let me make it clearer for you. You are shocked that skeptics could believe that the universe just popped into existence out of nothing,(which of course is not at all what most skeptics think) because that makes absolutely no sense to you. It is not something that agrees with your scientific understanding of nature, "something", just can't come out of "nothing." And yet you have no problem believing yourself that the universe popped into existence out of nothing so long as a God did the popping. And you have no problem believing that an unseen God, even though his nature would need be eternal, came from nothing, but a natural world that you can see, you don't believe could possibly be self existent.

Jaecp offers his history of the canon and so nominates Platinum:

Steve, I'm an atheist, your question about what books I think should be in the bible is pointless. [Darth Ovious] brought up "several separate accounts in regards to Jesus", which naturally entails me mentioning the numerous gospels that weren't voted in by the Roman Catholic equivalent of Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.

The Christian and Theist Collection

AzraelBlack starts us off with a howler:

So instead of following our own interpretation. We should follow a scholars interpretation of the word of God? That's naive.

Sambekzx follows with one of his own:

I've been a guilty participant in the more heated discussions on this wonderful board. I've meditated on my attitudes of the heart and am realizing (hopefully by the Holy Spirit) that even when it comes to doctrinal issues that speak to the core of what we believe, nothing good can come by my desire to convince by the forcefulness of argument. Not only that, but even further, NOTHING MUST come by the forcefulness of my argument because it seeks to steal from God something that is rightfully His -- our repentance.

Gatsby, on what it means to be made in the image of God:

Doug, it also means that we have the same creative capacity that God has. This is something the churches wish to be kept from their congregation because as soon as people know this and accept it, then the church has no hold over its congregations at all and they cannot let that happen, so they teach you a doctrine which you must accept or else your are dammed so to speak in their eyes. Dreadfull really.

gharfish earns one for confusing preterism for the emergent church:

And the people I know who are idealists or preterists tend to believe that the sharing the gospel plan of salvation and effecting subsequent discipleship is important, but (in my observation) generally do not think of this as nearly as important as obeying Jesus' social justice commands.

TruthExists, a supposed Christian, wins for claiming that it is OK for God to use harsh, insulting language (but not us) because God is "above the law."

shunyadragon's still here wherever that is. Told, "The legal argument only asks that the Biblical texts be allowed the same presumptions as any other historic document . . . The legal argument isn't asking for special treatment, it's simply asking for equal treatment. If you think this is somehow unreasonable, well, you're welcome to demonstrate it," he said:

It is unreasonable, because historians consider ALL ancient documents on the same standards and not those that the fundamentalist Christians that consider the Bible to accurate and inerrant. -- At-Large Platinum candidate -- Platinum nominee, Skeptic website -- Bishop Brian Tamaki, Famous Christian Platinum nomination

Screwball to the Discovery Channel for the "Who Framed Jesus?" special, which credited the Gospel of Peter as the "lost fifth gospel."

Screwball to Ray Boltz (former Christian singer turned homosexual who thinks he's still a Christian singer) for writing the song "Don't Tell Me Who to Love" which would be just as apt from the mouth of someone who wanted to marry a goat. Platinum nom for Famous Christian. -- At Large Platinum nomination

Book nomination for 2010 Platinum:

The Super Gospel A Harmony of Ancient Gospels Authored by Robert C. Ferrell

What would the ancient gospels say about Jesus if they were simply allowed to speak for themselves? Discover a fresh, new view of the most central figure in human history by delving into these ancient and mysterious sources. Step into a larger Christian world full of unexpected twists and turns. See what happens when the lines are blurred and the hidden connections are revealed in this most astonishing of documents. Boldly break the rules of theology and scholarship. Transcend the barriers of conventional thought and grasp what lies beyond it. God is speaking to us by His Eternal Word, through which these things can now be known.

About the author: I currently live in Texas with my wife Nancy and my two children, David and Michael. I love traveling, learning new things and reading. As a longtime reader of ancient Christian and Jewish apocryphal literature, I have sought to unravel the hidden mysteries of ancient Christianity by reading the apocryphal literature with the same kind of faith as I do the canonical books. My findings have led me to a rather startling conclusion: that the central mystery of Christianity was lost very early on in the Church Age to be preserved for a later generation who would rediscover it.