Time constraints have compelled me to adopt a new format for this feature: From now on, only Email, Gold and Website awards will be featured. To see the rest, feel free to browse the TWeb May 2007 nomination thread. It's sometimes easier anyway because often the Screwballs will come to us.

From the Mailbag

This one came from a leading intellectual in the Skeptical camp:

Dear Thicko,
I have come across some stupid people in my time but someone whose sole answer is "you dweeb" is the bottom of the barrel. I don't think you even have sufficient intelligence to make FSTDT.
Who is the retarded donkey who does your work for you? You obviously are too stupid. I've got scum on my pond that is smarter than you are. Never mind. Jesus loved fools, cretins, idiots, child molesting priests, war mongers, and all other retards under the christian label so the sky fairy will look after you when you die. NOT. What a loon believing in such trash. Wanna buy London Bridge. Going cheap. Only two owners. Ha! Ha!

While this one came from the New Age branch:

I quote from your article Mighty Mithraic Madness:
"It must be remembered that SOME general similarities MUST apply to any religious leader. They must generally be good leaders, do noteworthy feats of goodness and/or supernatural power, establish teachings and traditions, create community rituals, and overcome some forms of evil. These are common elements of the religious life-- NOT objects that require some theory of dependence..."
To follow your reasoning, Christianity is at best an amalgam of various religions through the ages with something new thrown in to make it more marketable.
Or is your argument valid only for religions other than your own?
While you have attempted to put certain "facts" into a different perspective, your condescending tone has robbed your article of much of its credibility. The word "sneer" comes to mind.
Are you a Christian? Because from your article, it is impossible to tell.
You are welcome to respond to my e-mail, but please do so with an open mind. And, contrary to what you might think, I did not write this letter "to let you have it". Quite the opposite.
I wish you a blessed day.

Here's one from the Blissfully Out of Date and Mind Club:

Dear Sir,
Your evidence seems to be that these people are not professional bible scholars so they must be wrong in anything they say. You then give some what ifs and say you have proved something. I think the technique is called arguing from ignorance.
Thomas Paine was a freethinker in the UK in the 19th century and tore the bible to pieces by demonstrating it was laughably wrong. Even before that proving Josephus wrong was said to be like flogging a dead horse.
Your main source of evidence seems to be a mixture of arrogance
and nonsense, with some "it must be right because it's not wrong" thrown in for good measure. Have you found any fools yet who swallow your guff? I mean, if they are gullible to believe AiG and ICR, surely you stand a chance of getting some followers too?
I know a book that needs treating. The bible. It would make good toilet paper but when I read what was on the pages, I think it must have been used already.

There are a lot of members in that club, as it happens:

Greetings,

I just wanted to pass along some reference information regarding your unsubstantial rant over the Piso family's influence on the bible, specifically the Jesus myth and the New Testament.

In your articles, you mention there is no documentation that Calpurnius Piso was a real person, yet he was well known/documented as Caesar's father-n-law. How is it you could not find any of the many resources (credible ones) that document this part of Roman history? (blind bias perhaps) Even Wikipedia, the 'holy encyclopedia scrolls' of online media lists it for a quick read.....with many scholarly reference books for your perusal. LOL.

In all seriousness, there are plenty of reference materials on Josephus/Calpurnius Piso. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_...iso_Caesoninus ....as well as Arrius Calurnis Piso (aka Flavius Josephus) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus ]. See the footnotes on each for references.

Also for example of biblical/religious tamperings, the information on the Association (i.e. The Mysterious force) founded by Agrippa, is easily traced within the manuals and books of high degree masonry. (yes, I know, these can be hard to come by, but they are found with a bit of persistence.)

When he was alive, my step-father was a 33rd degree mason, and had to take his Luciferian oath...as all 33rd degrees must. It ruined his faith and substituted it for another occult belief system, another faulty 'dark force' belief. I'm not saying all freemasons are bad people, or even aware of this oath, but unfortunately, this is still the (unfortunate) active influences of Agrippa's council, The Association, that became mixed with the proper Egyptian freemasonry material within the high degrees (30-33)....as they are of two different historical sources, time periods, and geographical regions.

(Here, I won't even go into the changes Constantine, or William Tyndale made to the bible for KJ's political reasons, the entire Christmas story and it's pagan roots, etc etc. as I'm sure you must already be aware of these tamperings.)

Once this influence became mixed with the Greek and Roman influence, the entire Christian religion became a complete distortion of something that was originally a good intention to bring people to peace within a society. (Which was likely the ONLY original intent....not 'salvation' from fabricated sin or 'evil'...which both are man-made CONCEPTS and perspective of 'agreeable Good), or disagreeable (Evil) 'ethics'. )

It would seem your article, much like the Christian religion, has no substance for being historically accurate, which stands as yet another form of Christian hypocrisy that literally DEFINES the religion itself. Both, the article and the religion, must rely on trying to silence the voice of 'reality' (specifically anyone that challenges or tries to show Christians the proof of the Biblical tamperings and myths), and substitute it for an ongoing delusion that still to date has failed miserably to produce ANY artifacts for the life of Jesus, the apostles, or any significant figure of the NT. Even in the face of such prolific documentation of the Jesus/NT myths and WELL-known Biblical re-workings. It can be said that the fascist movement has more historical merit in trying to silence it's critics, as at least their is actual proof of it's existence and founders. LOL

“Fascism is not in itself a new order of society. It is the future refusing to be born.” - Aneurin Bevan ..... “Fascism is a religious concept” - Benito Mussolini

The Christian religion is a well crafted series of controls on the weak mind, producing a self-sustaining delusion that holds it MUST not be questioned in order to continue. This is why even your pastors and priests tell you the nature of God/Jesus cannot be 'understood' by man, yet ...they obviously claim to since they preach it as 'holy doctrine'. I find it sad that this delusion is so well-rooted in your mind that you cannot even fathom the possibility of your 'holy' bible being tampered with...in spite of the obvious proof. (Perhaps all that praying is simply not working for you??) I pray to Smoochy that one day you will know what it means to REALLY BE FREE...free of the self-sustaining delusion that has wasted so much of your life, and the lives of countless others.

This email is from the Benighted Diversion Department:

I find no discussion of Nietzsche's work in philology in your entry on him. He has done much rigorous analysis of ancient Greek and Roman texts, comparing the terms of past morality with those in present moral discourse. Please read Nietzsche's works in their entirety and revise your entry.

And this, from the Grand Dragons of the KKK (Kooky Krunchy Kommission):

When Jerry Falwell passed away yesterday, wouldn't you have liked to have been the proverbial fly on the wall when he realized that all his so-called "good works" here on Earth had been counted by the Lord "as filthy rags"? Or how about when he realized that joining him at peace with God was Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Sadaam Hussein, John Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe? Or how about when the Lord did not hold it against Jerry when he called the civil rights movement the "civil wrong movement" or when he accused the purple "Teletubby" of being gay because the children's television character had a triangle on his head?

Yes, Rev. Falwell, the founder of the Moral Majority, has undoubtedly now discovered that the only morality God knows is that of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus. The Bible says that Jesus was crucified before the foundations of the Earth. However that occurred in eternity past, that sacrifice was manifested 2,000 years ago at Golgotha.

Contrary to what most encyclopia's say, Jesus was not the founder of a new religion or movement called Christianity. The Gospel is not a movement or a trend. It is God's eternal statement of love, forgiveness, tolerance, and unity for ALL men and human regardless of creed or background. It is for this glorious reason that brother Jerry and all the rest of our brothers and sisters have been cleansed from their separation from God, also known as sin, and will reside in God's heavenly presence always. That would be ALWAYS!

May you open your heart and mind.

Told they had won a Screwbie, they replied:

How ARROGANT to believe you know Jesus better than anyone else... we've been laughing at you for a long, long, time...unfortunately you need to be pitied I'm sure the "Prince of Peace" is happy with George (dubious) Bushwack (another one of "your kind" of Christians) duh, killing in Iraq... don't bother to reply, I already know how you think, and it's soooo sad, I'm ashamed and embarrassed for you and your followers, it puts our country in such a bad light. No wonder other countries hate us so much.

It's so nice when they aim to fire and end up shooting the mirror. A reader offers also this variation of the Nigerian money scam:

Dear Brother/Sister's in Lord Christ Jesus.

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,I am former Mr Humaru Alihu , now Mr Mathew James, I am now a new Christian convert,suffering from long time cancer of the lungs. From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe state.My Wife and our only son was assasinated in a cold blood on the 15th of June 2006.Well my late Wife was very wealthy and after her death, I inherited all her business and wealth ,and now that i am very sick and my only Son is died.

And my personal physician told me that I may not live for more than six months due to the fact that the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe stage, and i am so scared about this, well i know our Lord almighty is in control of everything So, I now decided to divide part of our wealth, by contributing to the development of evangelism in Africa, America, Europe and Asian Countries. This mission which will no doubt be tasking had made me to recenlty relocated to Israel,where I live presently. I selected your church after visiting the website for this purpose and prayed over it and i got your email ID through email online in your Church, So now i am willing to donate the sum of $19.500,000.00 Million US Dollars to your Church/Ministry for the development of Evangelism and also as aids for the less privileged around you.Please note that, this fund is lying in a Security Company in Europe and the company has branches, therefore my lawyer will file an immediate application for the transfer of the money in the name of your ministry.

Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use other than enhancement of evangelism.Lastly, I want you/your ministry to be praying for me as regards my entire life and my health because I have come t! o find out since my spiritual birth lately that wealth acquisition without Jesus Christ in one's life is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die says the keep fit and i will give you the crown of life. May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. If you are interested do reach my Attorney he base in United Kindom-London.

Our reader notes, "If he really visited my church's website and carefully considered who to contact then he should be well aware that I'm not in the position to make financial decisions for my church."

This email was from the Christian Feelgood League:

I find it is great Hypocrisy that suddenly so many are stepping out to say that they find Joel Osteen and other Charismatic pastors false prophets and those who preach "feel good" Christianity.

What law Christian or otherwise states that Christianity has to "scare you, make you feel bad, put fear into you, or berate you? Why would so many see something positive as such a huge negative?

Is it perhaps jealousy? Few make it or succeed as well as Osteen has and others like him. Isn't it hypocrisy to preach loving kindness and forgiveness and salvation while being two faced and running down others publicly?

Hasn't the nit-picking in the Christian Pastorship populous gone way too far?

Isn't defaming others and then asking for money on your website to support your view the biggest hypocrisy of all?

It's ok for a select group of Pastors to judge and put down another group they don't agree with or might be just a tad envious of and then the rest of us are suppose to see this very unchristian act of judging others as "necessary and "right" according to who?

Where are these rules coming from? Certainly not from God or the bible.

I even had his most honorable Rev. Liichow call me "menopausal and insane" because he didn't like what I asked and because I did not agree with him about Joel Osteen. Not a very Christian man Mr. Liichow.

I will gladly listen to any reasonable debate or so called evidence to support your articles if it is intelligent and devoid of name calling and accusation.

This so called movement against what all of you seem to feel are Charismatic leaders is awash with people who seem very hostile, narrow minded and judgmental. Not at all what I would deem "Christian". And certainly this type of attitude is not any I would follow.

I don't believe God looks at anyone and says "this person doesn't deserve my love or any benefit of the doubt", so why are people who are supposed to be Christian leaders passing judgment on so many others and then professing to Christians themselves? Please do explain to me why this isn't the most major form of Hypocrisy and selfish arrogance?

Told of their Screwbie Award, this worthy replied:

Oh my touched a nerve did I? Is childish name calling a consistent theme with your group?? Not very adult but amusing none the less in a very uneducated way.

If your what represents this group of hate mongering, racist Joel Osteen wannabes I'm happy to be excluded.

Were you and your group a society you'd best be known for "eating your young".

Here come the new Hitlers.

Also from the Kooky Christian League, this:

Does any church "deserve the benefit of the doubt" concerning abandonment and distortion of these plain scriptures and subsequent embrace of demonstrably false Copernicanism?: http://www.fixedearth.com/sixty-seven%20references.htm

An award also to the emailer who sent me this:

God Is Not Great By Christopher Hitchens
"If God intended reasonable men and women to worship Him without embarrassment, why did He create Christopher Hitchens? It was a fatal miscalculation. In God Is Not Great, Hitchens not only demonstrates that religion is man-made--and made badly--he laughs the whole monstrosity to rubble. This is a profoundly clever book, addressing the most pressing social issue of our time, by one of the finest writers in the land."

Oooo....scary....waitaminnit....who's the one writing this recommendation?

Sam Harris, author of the New York Times best sellers, The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation

Oh...never mind. Then this from the Atheist Insecurity League:

I love the way that Ferrell Till put you in your place.There is another thing that I have noticed in my years of studying personalities.People that use a middle name do it for a purpose.There is an underlying arrogance about it. You are,as Till put it,a wannaby apologist.You,along with your fake name,are a fake apologist.

People like you need to be exposed.Spouting rediculous claims can be harmful to different types of people that swallow your crap.Others,that choose to suspend logic and reason,can tend to make damaging choices that hurt themselves and others.

Oh well,just wrap yourself in a robe of righteousness and swing the sword of truth.Stand on the pedestal of truth and ignore the criticism from heathens.

By golly,you win the Shadetree Bible Scholar Award.I have never read so much crap put out by so many "scholars"...ever.Your all just such great experts! One things i do say for sure,unless some one is dumb enough to send you money,then you do provide one service....cheap comedy and entertainment.Keep it up please,it's fodder for our amusement.

Hey ,behind you JP...it's JESUS ! Naw,it's just a cloud...but wait,I see the image of Mother Mary in it....call the news station.....aw shucks,it went away.

JP ,do you see how rediculous some of your writings look to people with reason and common sense. Too bad that you such an embarrassment to other Christians.

Also from that quarter:

Do you have a contact email for James Buckner, if he doesn't mind you giving it out? Your answers to his tough questions were not very good or convincing. I am now a skeptic, and agnostic, but was a born again Christian fundamentalist for 39 years. I have a list of my own, and would like to discuss it with him.

And this, from the Meandering Conspiracy Convention:

Greetings,

A friend recommended the above-referenced book. Your review was high on the first page of the Google search results.

Thanks. Based upon your rundown of its contents, I probably won't buy this book, or borrow it from the library.

I've read about many of the things that you report this book deals with.

I can emphasise with your chagrin when faced with people who gleefully line up one reason after another for trashing "religion."

Indeed, why trot out one big gun after another to "disprove Christianity?" Although one can't really prove a negative, it's not that difficult or involved a task to illustrate that Christianity, and the Abrahamic religions in general are horse crap.

The non-sensical debate: "Genesis vs. Darwinian Evolution" is a classic example of "Hobbes choice." And what is the Big Bang other than yet another false "God." "The Big Bang created the heavens and the earth, etc."

The Bible must be true because the Bible says it's so? LOL.

Lack of a background in Biblical research doesn't disqualify one from holding an educated opinion about that book any more than lack of reading all of Sigmund Freud's output precludes one from knowing the man was dealing in pseudo-scientific twaddle. Why spend decades reading and studying complex nonsense just to be able to use the specific jargon of that that particular field to argue that it's rubbish?

'Tis said that the Devil's most sneaky, lowdown trick is when he convinces you he doesn't exist. I tell you he's got an even more reprehensible swindle: it's when he convinces you he's the "Lord your God" (aka JHVH, Maker of Heaven & Earth).

If you'd not been brainwashed as a child, you'd probably retch when you read some of those Old Testament books, which very obviously and in glowing terms describe the works of a negative entity that for all "His" vile and filthy demonic behavior, is just as obviously a second rate spook. After all: what kind of low-rent ragbag of an evil spirit would hang around in a burning bush, or travel on a cheesy pillar of fire? Let alone make his abode in a cheap-ass wooden box in some sleazy tent?

Surely the group that started "it all" simply placed a classified advertised for some down-at-the-heels spiritual slum bum and made "Him" an offer "He" couldn't refuse. To wit: "Youse entertain us with crummy parlor tricks and astonish our pitiful semitic nomad neighbors with similar bogus "miracles" and we'll fill your craw with all the negative energy you can suck up... negative energy generated by a multitude of diverse and loathsome methods, including, but not limited to the following: slicing the genitals of our infant sons on their eighth days or life (if you call that living); perpetration of untold centuries of slave trading, swindles, cultural distortion, nation wreaking and the like; by assuring that war never ceases; and by embedding all of the above in a slimy, smegma-like matrix of sexual guilt." World without end! Amen(hotep)!

So is there an Absolute? A "Causeless Cause of Causes?" That which you call "God?" There probably is, but it's not bloody likely to be an anthropomorphic concoction of that tribe of cutthroats and con artists who gave us "Ten Commandments" replete with 40 percent advertising hype for "Mr. Demono" himself. Very doubtful!

Besides, how can something of truth and value be built upon a foundation of distortion and corruption? How can such harmful nonsense be "reformed."

Alexander's empire fell apart shortly after his death. Rome was eternal, as in eternally corrupt; and in the end, Rome could not conquer Northern Europe. Those merchants and vendors who create the drive for "Empire" were unhappy. Something else was needed. Something new (or perhaps very old). A Trade Religion with which to wash the sheeple's brains! How about we do away with generals and have our Empire overseen by a celibate clergy? Let them have all the women (or even boys) they wish, but their offspring may not inherit. And let those august prelates elect the Emperor!

And so, the Holy Roman Catholic Church was born. You are surely familiar with the rest. It is the world's great misfortune that Northern Europe was cunningly converted to "Christianity."


The Loftus Overkill Collection
Wow. What a month for John Loftus (TWeb's Doubting John). He racked up Gold for all kinds of backwards blog entries, on slavery, the NT use of the OT, bragging that his book was on a "useful" list of a nobody Amazon reader (not wise, considering that this Amazon wacko puts Bart "Chicken Little" Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus and Lost Christianities on his list of "challenging and helpful" books, as well as thinking Dunn actually supports something as radical as he wants to be true), and witch hunts. Loftus embarrassed himself on TWeb, too, with dumb statements like:
Yeah, there was a lot of killing going on (and still is). I think it's due to ignorance on all sides. But at least atheists have an excuse. They are not blindly following the writings of an ancient superstitious barbaric "inspired" book purportedly from God which sanctions these killings.

Loftus whined about the Bible not being clear, too. But for some reason he couldn't explain his own past failure to follow the very clear 7th and 9th commandments. To cap it off -- with an early-earned honorary Platinum Screwbie -- consider these ironic comments:

Now you be the judge as to whether or not Holding is effective as a witness for Jesus, since he continues to inspire me to argue against his faith. Who will be more effective in the long run, him or me? I will have my book in the national bookstores in a few months. Then what? I already have some speaking engagements and debates. Then what? I have the equivalent of a Ph.D. degree. Who has the potential to persuade more people? Me. And you can partially thank Holding for that. In this last exchange I was nominated to be a screwball which is Holding’s thread. Now I don’t doubt there are screwballs out there, but I am not one of them. Then I started arguing my case here, and look how I was treated. Look how Holding treated me. Instead of merely arguing his case he threw all kinds of personal barbs my way which had nothing to do with his case. I responded firmly, yes, and I meant what I said. It’s as if I just attended a conference called, “How to Get Fired Up to Debunk Christianity.” And I am fired up, more than ever.
He has inspired me more, as you just read earlier in this thread. Every time I am nominated to be a screwball I get fired up to do more. He poured gasoline on the flames of my passion. But he doesn't care, does he? If he really cared then he’d be careful. At this point it doesn't matter. I have been on a reading campaign for the last couple of years having to do with Christianity. I am preparing for when my book hits the marketplace in an era when atheist books do well. It will have about 400 pages, even though the self-published book is only 280 pages and already getting great reviews. That's 400 pages. National bookstores. In an era when atheist books do well.
I do not trust Holding, however.

All ironic in light of my uncovering of one of Loftus' biggest lies to date -- and his subsequent lie about reviewing his own book, in this thread.

Loftus' buddies at his blarg win some Gold, too. Matthew Green is getting a start on being a perpetual award winner with his new blarg targeting me, in which he has already made several ironic schoolboy mistakes, such as:

For some of who I consider to be [Holding]'s biggest supporters or staunchest defenders...I would only hope that you folks will chose to mature some day. All I will say to you is I seriously hope that you heed Proverbs 16:18as a sort of warning like the writing of the wall in the Hebrew biblical book of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar fell, as the story goes, and don't think some of you [Holding]ites won't be smitten the same way you love to smite others and that pride will not be your downfall. It can be and I gladly await the day where you folks, like [Holding], get what's coming to you.

I don't know that we'll get what's coming from anyone who confuses Nebuchadnezzar with Belshazzar.

Ed "I'm Talking and I Can't Shut Up" Babinski also wins Gold for this commentary in which he compiles a pro-con list on CS Lewis giving equitable authority to stellars like NT Wright and Francis Collins on one side, and know-nothing idiots like "Biblical Discernment Ministry" and the "Fundamental Baptist Information Service." G old also to DJ's useful idiot #34575, "exapologist", for this response to resolving Jesus' predictions of the end of the age:

(One answer is to) take a preterist interpretation of eschatology: argue that, yep, Jesus did predict that all of that stuff would occur imminently, but that it all has to do with the destruction of the temple, and not the end of the world. This is the hot, sexy view today. For example, all the conservative NT critics like N.T. Wright, Ben Witherington III, etc. take this approach. I don't see any plausibility in this approach, as it seems to me to deny the obvious about what Jesus was saying -- not to mention that the rest of the NT authors assumed that such talk implied the destruction of the Roman Empire (e.g., Revelation, Paul's letters, etc.).

And even one of DJ's newbies, Valerie Tarico, author of another boo hoo I lost my faith job, won Gold for:

May I just say that I find Holding awe-inspiring. I look at his logic and marshalling of evidence, and am reminded how very far down the rabbit hole any of us can go if we start with a set of conclusions and work backwards from there.

He is a humbling reminder of what we all are at risk of becoming. My only protection is to nurture an awareness that my current understanding of reality is just a set of best guesses. I must care more to discover what is true than to show myself right.

We'd like to see Val come on over to TWeb with that New Age best guessing of hers and show me how I "worked backwards," and share her brilliance with us on things like exegesis and honor-shame societies. DJ is too busy just now trying to understand the 7th commandment.

Finally, though not actually part of Loftus' blog, we'll add Chris Hallquist in here as someone who is in DJ's orbit (that would be an "egocentric" model). This is full of screwy comments, like:

The simple truth of the matter is that the general attitude of the New Testament is flatly dogmatic and irrational. This should be obvious to anyone who's read it carefully. An excellent example comes in Galatians 1,where Paul instructs his readers to simply dismiss other theologies (not only other religions, but other versions of Christianity!) even if told to do so by the apostles or even an angel. Unless something is getting seriously lost in translation, which Holding doesn't attempt to argue for a second, this is slam-dunk evidence against early Christians encouraging critical inquiry.
This summer, I hope to find the time to read some of the other books in dispute simply because the material is interesting, and its worth getting right. However, I'm fairly sure which side of the debate will be vindicated. Holding's thesis is heavily dependent on a projection of modern rationalism back into the 1st century, and quick look at the New Testament blows this to shreds. Also, Holding has demonstrated that he simply cannot be trusted to accurately represent his sources.

And elsewhere:

In my recent post on J. P. Holding's disregard for what the Bible actually says, I noted that, Holding's thesis is heavily dependent on a projection of modern rationalism back into the 1st century." I attacked his position from the Biblical record, but it's also worth noting that his assumptions are problematic in light of the history of Christian apologetics. Specifically, everything I've read on Christian apologetics as we know it did not exist before the Enlightenment. Of course, humans have always tried to defend their claims by argument after a fashion, and historians of early Christianity think of "apologists" mainly as writers like Justin Martyr, who first appeared in the second century. However, the goal of these second-century apologists was the reconciliation of Greek philosophy with Christianity. Modern apologetics, with its strong emphasis on historical scholarship, is almost entirely a product of the last few centuries.

Golly....that might not have something to do with the way OPPONENTS went after Christianity, could it?

The Christ Myth Collection
Christ mythers win Gold this time, too. Here, more Gold for the Rook Hawkins gang as they strain mightily to defend Remsberg using poorly edited graphics and "would too, so there" arguments. Gold also for Earl Doherty, for using Acharya S as though a reliable source, and for stupid comments like these:
If there are individual distinctions between the versions of a common story, we can certainly allow that Matthew and Luke would have had no interest in slavishly copying another version; they would have felt no need or desire to provide an exact parallel to some Egyptian myth or Macedonian legend. Who wants to be seen as a blatant plagiarist, in any case? But a parallel works best on the subliminal level, by appealing to things which are familiar, familiar because they have been found effective in the common psychological responses of the time, satisfying to both writer and reader. Matthew and Luke's 'originality' would lie in their patinas of distinctive detail, set into patterns and themes of cultural preference and expectation.

I see the cow eating grass excuse is still alive and kicking. A Screwball Award finally to Ken Humprhreys himself, who whines and cries when someone posts a link to my rebuttal of him in his guestbook:

Unlike "tektonics.org", this is a FREE SPEECH zone. 'James Patrick Holding' (a.k.a. ******l) pollutes his own well. He can string an argument together, but when he lacks an argument (which is quite often) he resorts to every infantile device he can lay his hand on. Judge for yourself, you'll soon see what a hack he is.
The TWeb Dumb Atheist Collection
NickC on TWeb wins Gold for this comment:
No, creating the world while not existing is not a contradiction. If you disagree, then prove it.

Speaking of intellectually challenged TWeb atheists, SteveC wins again, for this:

Here's one of your favourites, if you can use fallacy so loosely, I can do the same with logic. And would you care to explain the genetic fallacy to me, considering that there isn't one!!

And also, for confusing Simon Greenleaf with some other Greenleaf.

The Empty Tomb Collection
The authors of The Empty Tomb recently posted a new website which includes answers to critics. Not necessarily good answers. Gold goes to Theodore Drange for somehow finding something about people hearing about Jesus in the afterlife in this essay I wrote on his entry in the book. Gold also goes to Richard "buxom women prove God doesn't exist" Carrier for many tortured explanations, such as:
Q: You refer to Paul's "infamously low opinion of women, repeatedly insisting that they shut the hell up" (p. 193), citing 1 Corinthians 14:34-35and 1 Tim. 2:11-15(n. 373, p. 231), but I was told that in the first passage Paul was only quoting and rebutting his opponents, while in the second passage he was only saying women cannot dominate men. What about that?

A: This is definitely the weirdest question I have ever gotten about this chapter. Of course, even if correct these claims have nothing to do with my theory. But these claims are absurd. This is what the Greek of 1 Corinthians says:

As in all the churches of the holy, let the women keep quiet in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak, and let them be subdued, as the law also says. But if any want to learn, let them ask their own husband at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in a church. Did the word of God come from you, or to you alone? If anyone thinks he is a prophet or a spiritual man, let him acknowledge that what I write to you is the commandment of the Lord. (1 Cor. 14:33-36)

There is no plausible logical or grammatical basis for thinking 1 Corinthians 14:34-35is a quotation, or anything Paul is arguing against. It is not a question. To the contrary, this is plainly and beyond all reasonable doubt what he is asserting as instructions to the Corinthians (see the parallel construction: 1 Cor. 14:13, 14:26, 14:27, 14:28, 14:29, 14:30, 14:34, 14:35, 14:37). In fact, he says these instructions are the commandments of God (14:37), and not just his own opinions (in contrast to 1 Cor. 7:12& 7:25). He repeatedly uses the imperative (and once uses the indicative of permission, but never the subjunctive or optative), and there is no verb putting any of this in indirect discourse. So this passage can never be understood as a quotation. Nor is any argument against his commandment to be found here.

Many translations render verse 14:36 as "What? Did the Word of God come out from you? Or did it come unto you only?" but the word "What" is not in the Greek. I've also seen some exegetes try to interpret the masculine in 14:36 as a rebuke to men in the church, but the masculine was the inclusive case, and thus could include men and women, and there is no indirect statement here to rebuke anyone for. Instead, with 14:36 Paul is leading into verse 14:37. Paul is saying "Do you claim to be an authority? I'm telling you, these are the commandments of God!" In other words, Paul is being very adamant that verses 14:33-35 are (as with everything that came before them) instructions the Corinthians ought to be following. Though some think there is a contradiction here between this and Paul's insistance that women pray and prophesy under a veil in 1 Corinthians 11:5,he does not say there that this was allowed in church. Here, he is adamant: in church, this was not to be tolerated at all.

So, too, 1 Timothy, which says, "Let a woman learn in silence, in total submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence" (1 Tim. 2:11-12), because Eve led Adam to sin (2:13-15), the implication being that women will lead men to sin if they are allowed to teach or give orders to men, therefore they should shut the hell up and obey their husbands (Col. 3:18,Eph. 5:22-24& 5:33; echoed by Titus 2:3-5& 1 Pet. 3:1-6). So while this clearly does say women must not dominate men, it also says they are to sit in silence and never presume to teach anyone anything. In other words, he is saying they should shut up--unless what they have to say is totally submissive to the will of male authorities.

Q: Couldn't sorcerers just hack off parts and make away with those, instead of stealing the whole body?

A: That is always possible, but not necessarily the case--hence my chapter argues for plausibility, not certainty. But even if we suppose dismemberment, theft remains a relevant theory. For example, removal of the head would be the most valuable act (as papyri attest to the value of the skulls of persons worth questioning), which would, of course, destroy any hope of identifying the body as that of Jesus (Jewish law rejected identifications based on anything other than an intact face: see pp. 158-59 of my chapter on the "Spiritual Body" theory). But hands, feet, blood, and heart are also key ingredients attested in the papyri, and there may have been many other body parts that had valuable uses. So it would still be safer and more efficient to make off with the whole body, and dissect it at liesure (sic) later, to maximize the booty. This would especially be the case for acquiring the heart, and it would be essential for anyone who wanted to acquire as much blood as could be extracted from a corpse, since an ingredient used in some magical inks was "blood from someone who has died by violence" (Papyri Graecae Magicae IV.2208-09 = The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, p. 77). See also next question.

Q: Is it true that spells involving corpses did not require the corpse to be removed from the grave?

A: Yes. I note this fact myself (p. 350), but as I also demonstrate there (pp. 350-51), we still have evidence that bodies and parts were nevertheless removed from graves, and we have reason to expect this happened quite a lot. First, removal would be particularly important for traveling sorcerers who intended to use or reuse the various parts in various spells. Second, suppliers who intended to carve up and sell such booty to sorcerers on the black market would have to remove that booty (see also my answer to the question above). Third, the uniquely Jewish practice of secondary burial would make discovery and disturbance of an enchanted corpse inevitable, and therefore to ensure anything done to a corpse remained permanent, the body simply had to be stolen. Fourth, many spells required that the sorcerer work his magic in the presence of the corpse or body part, which would simply be impossible unless the sorcerer took it to a safe place where the time and commotion required would not risk capture. Hence for the same reason, a sorcerer who wanted to work the same spell on several occasions would need to keep the needed parts with him.

It would also be easier to remain anonymous and disappear in crowded cosmopolitan streets than in rural areas (just as it is easier today for thieves to case and rob homes and cars in cities than in small towns).

Tombs would also be more abundant than graves, and larger (i.e. containing more bodies behind any given door), near major urban centers.

The Dumb Christian Collection
And our last category, starting with TWeb's own "Adam":
Now I have no recourse (even not knowing who you were in the past, so confused am I by so many TWeb name changes) but to add you to my "Dirty Dozen" list of Christian Sociopaths. Well, actually you now make it an even dozen, what with rounding it out by adding in One Following Him based on past performance on Apologetics 301.

Rules for qualifying as a Christian Sociopath are the posting of many entries in Apologetics 301 where Christians should be putting our best feet forward, but which are so repugnant to good sense or common decency that they drive away honest searchers for truth who wander in there and provide food for the militant atheists who like nothing better than to have Fundies and Calvies throw them red meat to devour.

For the record, in alphabetical order, the first ten of my Dirty Dozen are Apologia Phoenix, FlimFlamBoyant, Jason, jordanriver, JPHolding, LilPixieofTerror, Mountain Man, Sparko, Turgonian, and Vigilante. (How do I remember them? I have formed a mnemonic of them in alphabetical order to pray for them daily.)

Then, Mrs. Debbie from teens-4-christ:

All of the rock, etc., has the basic drum beat that is used by the Satan-worshipping tribes of Africa. If you were to study it out you would realize it. Did you know that "rock and roll" got its beginnings from the black African culture? THAT is how the beat was introduced into our current ungodly music - "Christian" rock included.

When Moses and Aaron were on Mt. Sinaii they heard what sounded like war in the camp. Turned out it was "music" - a "music" that typified idol worship - something that was totally against the music they knew as godly. When they came down and saw what was going on they were appalled to see the people dancing sensually in all manner of undress. Where did the people learn of this music? In Egypt when they were in captivity! Hmmm....and where exactly is Egypt?? Wonder of wonders - Africa.

(Just for those of you who will try to condemn me for being racist.........some of my best friends have been black. I have nothing against them. Unfortunately the majority of their race has made a bad name for the ones who take care of their families and work hard.)

And last, Gold for "codehappy," the dimwit who nominated my webcomic, The Annals of Hearthstone, for the Portal of Evil -- this speaks for itself:.

"Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thes. 5:22)

Dear J.P.,

Your Tektoonix site is -- and let's be honest and blunt, here, J.P. -- a furry web comic. If you have ANY IDEA what you're associating yourself with by drawing furry toons, you should be running up and down the hallways screaming bloody murder. The majority of furry comix are not just the "appearance" of evil, they are concentrated extract of evil.

I suppose you've never looked too deeply into the furry fandom, J.P. I encourage you to do your own research. They are, after all, the ones who support your comix. They are your regular readers and your "fans". Please be forewarned: what you discover about "furry" will deeply bother you.

There is also the fact that your cartoons can drive people away from your "other" site, if they think that they're silly or you aren't being serious with your apologetics. These people might otherwise have found useful information to help them defend the faith from skeptics. Yet you stick the cartoons on the front page of Tektonics Minstries and so proudly proclaim that you are allied with the "furries." This seems to me very unfortunate.

I hate to say it, but for those reasons alone, The Annals of Hearthstone has the "appearance of evil".

"Oh," but you say, "there is nothing evil about my cartoon. It is wholesome furry!" That's like saying marijuana is a "wholesome" drug. It leads to worse things. Maybe you haven't drawn any explicit acts in your cartoons. But I've noticed the big breasts and the tight clothes you slap on your furry "girls". Soon, that won't be enough. Soon, to get that electric spine-tingling thrill, you will have to become X-rated. And then come commissions. And then, conventions. And then, complete corruption.

Even if you yourself are innocent, J.P., and you remain innocent, remember that your readers with furry tendencies are tempted by your drawings. Perhaps they are good souls who are struggling to overcome this sickness, and yet your cartoons have opened up old wounds. People can weaken in the face of temptation.

At this point, our psychologically disturbed fundy claims that people will use Sheila Rangslinger, etc to enact personal sexual fantasies and gets too graphic to pass my posting rules. Better watch out guys....Satan's on the move, and he throws a 'rang. I wonder if the perv here has ever read the Song of Solomon? To close:

You're saying, "my cartoon is different! Mine is better! It's okay when I do it!" You are deluding yourself. Furry leads only to madness. We have seen it play out a hundred times before here. The fact that you put your primitive scribbles on the Internet attests to the depths the madness has already sunk into your brain. You already consider yourself a furry artist. In ten years, maybe much sooner, you will be Daveykins Foxfire, J.P. That is not a fate that I would wish on anyone.

Yup. Portal of Evil = home of Losers. I'd better warn Catena Manor, Vicki Fox, and some of the others that they're goin' down the road to hay-ull.

Just what we need after the Rick Warren vs. Sam Harris debate, another "Timmy vs. Jimmy" sparring of the minds.

http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/385522925.html

After ABC ran a story in January about hundreds of atheists videotaping themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, best-selling author Ray Comfort contacted the network and offered to prove God's existence, absolutely, scientifically, without mentioning the Bible or faith. He and Kirk Cameron (co-hosts of an award-winning Christian TV program) challenged the two originators of the "Blasphemy Challenge" to a debate on the existence of God. According to Comfort, he and Cameron (an ex-atheist) are qualified to debate on the subject. Comfort had not only written a book titled "God Doesn't Believe in Atheists", but had spoken at Yale on the subject of atheism, and been flown by American Atheists, Inc., to their 2001 annual convention to be a platform speaker.

Screwballs to the entire Rational Response Squad, Ray Comfort, and Kirk Cameron for their TV debate full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And an extra screwball to the RSS member that couldn't pronounce "megalomaniacal" because she was trying to be dramatic.

http://www.antichurch.org.uk/

From http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=80095

Twelve Women Apostles of Jesus
"Of all the daring things which Jesus did, the most amazing was his sudden announcement on the evening of January 16: "On the morrow we will set apart ten women for the ministering work of the kingdom." At the beginning of the two weeks' period during which the apostles and the evangelists were to be absent from Bethsaida on their furlough, Jesus requested David to summon his parents back to their home and to dispatch messengers calling to Bethsaida ten devout women who had served in the administration of the former encampment and the tented infirmary. These women had all listened to the instruction given the young evangelists, but it had never occurred to either themselves or their teachers that Jesus would dare to commission women to teach the gospel of the kingdom and minister to the sick.

These ten women selected and commissioned by Jesus were: Susanna, the daughter of the former chazan of the Nazareth synagogue; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the steward of Herod Antipas; Elizabeth, the daughter of a wealthy Jew of Tiberias and Sepphoris; Martha, the elder sister of Andrew and Peter; Rachel, the sister-in-law of Jude, the Master's brother in the flesh; Nasanta, the daughter of Elman, the Syrian physician; Milcha, a cousin of the Apostle Thomas; Ruth, the eldest daughter of Matthew Levi; Celta, the daughter of a Roman centurion; and Agaman, a widow of Damascus. Subsequently, Jesus added two other women to this group -- Mary Magdalene and Rebecca, the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea.

Jesus authorized these women to effect their own organization and directed Judas to provide funds for their equipment and for pack animals. The ten elected Susanna as their chief and Joanna as their treasurer. From this time on they furnished their own funds; never again did they draw upon Judas for support. It was most astounding in that day, when women were not even allowed on the main floor of the synagogue (being confined to the women's gallery), to behold them being recognized as authorized teachers of the new gospel of the kingdom. The charge which Jesus gave these ten women as he set them apart for gospel teaching and ministry was the emancipation proclamation which set free all women and for all time; no more was man to look upon woman as his spiritual inferior. This was a decided shock to even the twelve apostles.

Notwithstanding they had many times heard the Master say that "in the kingdom of heaven there is neither rich nor poor, free nor bond, male nor female, all are equally the sons and daughters of God," they were literally stunned when he proposed formally to commission these ten women as religious teachers and even to permit their traveling about with them. The whole country was stirred up by this proceeding, the enemies of Jesus making great capital out of this move, but everywhere the women believers in the good news stood stanchly behind their chosen sisters and voiced no uncertain approval of this tardy acknowledgment of woman's place in religious work. And this liberation of women, giving them due recognition, was practiced by the apostles immediately after the Master's departure, albeit they fell back to the olden customs in subsequent generations. Throughout the early days of the Christian church women teachers and ministers were called deaconesses and were accorded general recognition. But Paul, despite the fact that he conceded all this in theory, never really incorporated it into his own attitude and personally found it difficult to carry out in practice."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX0HbkLyF7E

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F3GmYWjNDI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lzjeq...elated&search=

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/...3_01.asp&wpp=d

http://www.bib-arch.org/hoax/bswbHoaxsubpage.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=31&Issue=1&ArticleID=9&UserID=2

www.earthsgreatestlawsuit.org/index.php

http://www.xelsorsior.com/. On his Faith Statement page, he makes the following claim:

We believe in The Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, along with The Lost Gospels, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His Will for the salvation of men, and the only absolute authority for all Christian belief and practice.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,271039,00.html

http://samgipp.com/GippEssay60.html

http://forchrist-contramundum.blogspot.com/2007/05/one-less-for-rapture.html

Award to Brandon Cotter, CEO and founder, Pure Online (www.pureonline.com), for this comment:

Tactics hits the issues head-on, and helps young men understand how innocent actions turn into addiction. With porn available on iPods, and lust-driven social sites online like Myspace and Facebook, Fred gives real tools that can help any guy win this important battle.

http://www.therealmoses.com

http://www.camp-quest.org/ -- a camp for "freethinkers" where parents can send their kids to be indoctrinated into fundy atheism. That's right, those atheists who accuse us of deriving our religion from our parents now want their kids to develop their irreligion from their parents.

http://undojesus.org/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQaAm8TRmLg