As usual, view all of the nominated Screwballs for May 2009 on TheologyWeb.

From the Mailbag

This one came from a fan of the Dr. Yosef ben-Jochanon school, who took special exception to my point that Egyptians were not black, but olive-skinned:

dr ben is was and will always will be true to the fact that you jelious people of eutope and your lieing arab fiendish frend stll are trying to persuade intelligent people that the original hebrew people were are and still will be black the ancient egyptian were still and always will be black olives are green and black

Here's a Rant and Rave worthy of a white sheet:

I've looked at your site for quite some time. I am saddended by the lack of any scientifically empirical evidence you provide against atheism. The anicent Jews and Christians were an incredibly primative civilization with absolutely no scientific knowldge. Even ancient Rome is laughable by modern standards in their understanding of the universe. Its a true wonder why fools like yourself still believe in the existence of an afterlife and some imaginary psychopathic god. If god is so loving I wonder why he ordered the killing of women and children in the land of Cannan by the pathetic Jews? Argue your way out of THAT! I doubt you can. Your god only exists between your ears, just a product of a primative people to afraid to confront the raality of atheism. I spit on your jesus and your bible. Death to god, death to christ, death to christianity!!!!!!!!!!!!! Provide SCIENTIFIC empirical PROOF of gods exitence rather than your pathetic arguments!

The next email quotes my line regarding Dan Barker: "Who is this Dan Barker, anyway? And what authorizes him, particularly, to be a critic of the Bible?" -- and then says:

Hateful disparaging remarks like the one above is what shows what stupid ignorant christian [deleted] you really are!!

I would say anyone who has studied the bible for 20 years and was a minister is completely qualified to critique that hateful contradictory book!!

You would have had NO PROBLEM with him talking about how good the bible is when he was still a christian minister would you have??? You are all hypocrites!

You christians make me sick!!

Studied for 20 years and was a minister, that's enough? OK. Joyce Meyer knows more about the Bible than Dan Barker, then. Sadly, that may actually be true.

Next, an email in from the Say Nothing in as Many Words as Possible Department:

I'm not writing an e-mail to you in hopes of engaging a debate with you on any of the topics or essays or your site. Truthfully I appreciated most of your information. That being said I felt at times that when defending your beliefs you come across as magnaminous to the point that you become the very person you are attempting to squash. Maybe that is the position you wish to take, I continued to fine this method to reduce your overall message. The inclusion of comic strips to drive your point seems awfully childish. I'm sure that means a lot from someone using my current email address but what can I do.

I don't claim any sect of Bible/god/Jesus worship as my own. I chose not to attend a mass at all. I simply believe, and find that faith can be had without someone telling me what to believe every Sunday. I do not sit on either side of the fence in this particular age old argument. The entire idea about who's god is right; Honestly I don't care. What I do find unfortunate is the method with which each side decides to prove their moral superiority and use the same tactics which their opponents use. I don't really know you other than what is on your web site. I know the christians/muslims/jews/whatever in my own world and I find one point to hold true through all of them. Even myself at times, I'm sure, become blinded by my own b.s. at times. At any rate here it is:

Whether or not Jesus existed.

Whether or not there is a God, or whichever name you wish to use in place of that moniker.

The point that is missed is we shouldn't be afraid of each other. We shouldn't hate one another or the world around us. All the Bible or any religious text or sermon before, during or after its creation attempts to convey is "be good to one another". There's a lot of flavor text included, a lot of information that has been debated for some time now but strip all that away and it is one simple message. Be good to one another and you will find everlasting peace. Call me another nut-job, or bible critic or whatever it is you want to label me as. That's the message I'm teaching my son and trying to pass along to friends. Forget the hate you see in the world around you from every side. Forget all the arrogance and greed. Just be happy with yourself and be happy with the people in your world.

But that's just me. Doing my best not to scream at the trees for being there.

I'm not really sure why I felt the need to send this message along to you. It just felt necessary at the time. You don't need to sink to the same levels as people like Flemming. It diminishes your message, or at least it did for me.

Now we have a selection from the Dunning's Disorder Collection:

I've been browsing your site a bit of late, and I can see why advocates of Christianity look up to you. However I see one very obvious flaw in all of your rebuttals.

Every time you enter a debate you do so with a foregoing conclusion, i.e. that Jesus Christ is the son of god, that his teachings are the word of god, and that if you deny this you'll burn in hell for all eternity.

I'd say this safely negates any sort of objectivity and legitimate analysis on your part. What are your thoughts on this?

Here's what I expect you would say if this were a public discourse:

1. That I don't hold a degree in any biblical studies, and hence am "out of my field".

2. You would rattle off the names of half a dozen other bible scholars who agree with you.

3. You would point to the fact that I failed to note any specific debates in my accusation.

4. If possible you would find at least one emotionally charged "zinger" to hurl my way.

5. You would point to one or more previous "debunking" by you or another Christian pundit that alleges to have once and for all answered a challenge of this nature.

But this is all smoke and mirrors. The fact remains that you are a Christian and your interest in rigorously evaluating evidence and arguments is secondary to your need to be faithful to the doctrine.

I know this comes across as pretty harsh. But I'm not sending this email to be a jerk; I just want an honest answer because of the immensely critical nature of the issues you purport to debate in public.

I have a book launch forthcoming in 2009. So your response is an opportunity to weigh in *before* your readers ask you to respond to my work in a public forum - and I can assure you those requests will come in.

If I don't hear back I'll understand. Thanks for your time and have a great week.

When I told him he'd won a Screwbie, and that he was incompetent as an arguer, I got this reply:

You shouldn't presume to know much about me or my arguments. I asked a valid question, and your response was childish bravado and petty attempts to provoke me to anger.

And your efforts to attack my thinking and education... really? You're a glorified librarian who can't answer a simple question without reverting to 5th grade sarcasm.

Your need to hurl insults compels a challenge:

Let's get together IN PERSON and have a long talk about all this. I wager $1,000 you don't have the courage to look another man in the eye and rattle off those sad little insults you hide behind.

I'm ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS about this. $1,000 in cash (more if needed - let me know) if you have the stomach to *try* and belittle me in a personal meeting.

I can clear my schedule at the end of May or the start of June.

You are - at best - a coward and a truly fantastic example of the absolute farce that is Christianity. Your "faith" appears to be nothing more than a way to legitimize your insecurities through smug and judgmental rhetoric.

If you aren't man enough to speak with me in person don't bother with a reply. The frailty of your character is already quite clear.

Unfortunately, I was not able to reply to the challenge, because he immediately blocked my emails. Go figure.

Finally, there was this concerning my debate with Kenny Humphreys of

Dear Bobby Turkel,

I hear you got ripped to shreds by ken on unbelieveable radio. I think Steven Carr sums up your debate best here:

So Christians made Jesus a celebrity. It was Christians who made him known.

Now you must admit, steven has a point. If Jesus really existed then wouldn't we expect non-christians to have made him famous rather than his band of loyal and biased followers. It's not surprising everyone avoided responding to steven's arguments and the thread he started has remained ignored.

We're still waiting for some evidence that christianity wasn't a very skillful fraud...all the arguments on your website show is that Christianity was a very clever fraud.

Better luck in your next debate.

The May 2009 John Loftus Collection
Loftus himself wins again as he posts another positive review of his book by a stooge, and prefaces it by saying:
For people tired of these kinds of posts I'll place the review below. For others like the reviewer herself who are first time visitors to DC and/or never heard of my book, this is for you.

So -- even his own sycophants are tired of his constant shameless self-promotion! He also wins for this bit of Dunning Disorder:

While we can all ponder about this I've offered a good reason to think we at DC know what we're talking about right here. For those Bible thumpers out there who think we're ignorant and incompetent simply because they disagree with us, try listening to what your own Christian professors are saying about us. If we're ignorant and incompetent, then what do you say about them when they recommend and use my book in their college classes?

Meanwhile, Harry "Obscene Phone" McCall does it again:

The Biblical text is clear in that neither Enoch (Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. Genesis 5:24), Elijah (As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 2 Kings 2:11), Jesus and maybe even Moses {(Transfiguration (Matt 17:3 and parallels), in the Jewish work, The Assumption of Moses and its likely New Testament preservations in Acts 7:36 and Jude 8 - 9)} died, but were taken up into Heaven clothes, parasites and all!

While the parasites in the guts of Enoch and Elijah never died, but were translated to Heaven with them, the E. coli parasitic bacterium in the gut of Jesus died and were resurrected back to life by God along with the body of Jesus. Theologically not only are we talking about a single bodily resurrection, but millions of parasitic bacterium E. coli who were also bodily resurrected too…Glory! Praise God!

Commenter Jeff also has something stupid to say:

I think the more important question is: How are we humans supposed to survive in heaven with all that bacteria? If there is no death, that means that the bacteria will live forever. And they can multiply pretty rapidly...So does God shut off their replication mechanisms or will heaven get overrun with bacteria? Such deep theological questions need answers!

Edward T. "I'm Talking and I Can't Shut Up" Babinski, who these days is spending his work time at the Furman library leaving messages on people's blogs, left this on Ben Witherington's blog, on a post that had nothing to do with any of this:

Are there any first person witness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus? Paul mentions something in Galatians but does not describe his experience.

In a court of law you need to have first person accounts from witnesses. We don't have such stories in the Gospels, it's second hand throughout.

Jesus appeared to "so and so." Then let's hear so and so's first hand story.

Finally, Useful Idiot Valerie "Dr. Demento" Tarico plays her usual crybaby glockenspiel:

Recovering fundies spend a fair bit of time reminding each other that just because something got wired into your brain before your critical faculties developed doesn't mean it's true. So of course last week's Pew report about churchgoing and torture approval made the rounds.In case you missed it, Pew released survey data showing that the more frequently someone went to church, the more likely they were to approve of torture. (So much for total depravity on the outside.) I can't link because of profanity....hmmm, wonder if DJ tells his Idiots to ADD profanity so that we won't link there, and create a counter-link on his own blog? But the point is, Tarico just starts with the assumption "torture is always wrong" and hops along from there.

We'll ask her again after the next al-Qaeda attack, eh?

The May 2009 Atheist Collection
SaintWill wins a couple:
But all eyewitness accounts -- and not just eyewitness accounts written 30 years after the fact -- are unreliable.

No, I have an answer, it's just not a happy one. My avoiding it was purely for reasons of social expedience, but if you must know, the truth is that I take almost no stock -- in a philosophically or scientifically rigorous way -- in anything written before the enlightenment.

antieverything provided this gem:

Apologetics originated with Christians. Get used to that ugly truth

JimL is a "thar she blows" for atheism:

Augustine, you have not been following the main point of this argument. The main point is not whether or not their is a God. AP contends that there is a moral law giver and that that moral law giver is the Christian God. He understands now that there is no way that he can defend this argument because the scriptures themselves prove him wrong. The Christian God of the O.T. is not a moral law giver in fact one would have to say that if he is a God at all he is an immoral God. This fact is the reason AP runs away from answering questions, because he doesn't want the truth that he himself is aware of to be revealed to others. that is why I believe that he is a fraud, and anyone who pats him on the back and stands up for him is joining in on the fraud. All one has to do is read Deuteronomy and leviticus to understand that this is not a God with an absolute moral nature. If AP or Sparko want to lead people down that path then they should have intestinal fortitude to explain and defend their position.

yo lunch still vies for Platinum:

Your response is in keeping with your signature statement--you head is in the sand.

I addressed an issue which you duck with a silly photo of an antique instrument of science and COMPLETELY MISSING the point that it is IMPOSSIBLE for Mary and Joseph to have "followed" a star!

Brett Palmer, the manipulative moron who's been dodging around the points in my Exodus logistics article for years, recently issued another reply -- this is typical of his abilities at logic:

I'm puzzled by what Mr. Holding considers to be within or outside his expertise. Since Mr. Holding apparently assisted (and continues to assist) with and host Mr. Hardaway's population calculations for the Hebrew horde of Goshen, I must assume Mr. Holding's expertise is in the field of population statistics or other form of relevant mathematics.

Mose has this to say:

Every religion is a neurosis, true disease is caused by viruses and bacteria, the origin of every true belief in religion comes from a religious experience/ strong hallucinations (psychiatry), there are those retards and a less strong belief that stems from psychological problems/ the psychological problems that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, people who can't cope with the Ultimate reality that life is here one minute and gone the next, obviously they must want to think something. The founders of every religion had psychiatric disorders while all their blind followers had/have weak minded psychological problems, Psychiatric/Mental Disorders is where we nip the problem in the butt. The body is composed of cells, bacteria and viruses attack the body beginning at the skin (outer cells) until it reaches the brain (brain cells), causing people to experience hallucinations, delusions and eventually psychosis The brain defends itself by digging into the memory and the mind's egotistical fantasies making people experience events that don't really happen.

Jimbo (Brooks Trubee) is still at it, and still doesn't get it:

Hey Christians, I walked on water, healed the sick and rose from the dead.

You believe this right? You don't need any special evidence for this claim but can just believe it on "faith," correct?

Nomination to StellaBling, when pointed out that she was using double standards to refute the resurrection:

YES, I am willing to discount all of ancient history

Matthewj1985 deserves mention, out of a discussion on eye-witnesses to the Resurrection and scientific observation:

Tangible and physical are things you can hold in your hand, eye witness accounts can never be tangible or physical unless there is video involved. I stand by the claim that even today in the information age eye witness testamony is by far the least accurate.

Anyone involved in the criminal justice system will agree with me. Also keep in mind stories from newspapers are written within at most, a month of the original incident. I would be very, very skeptical about any story with only first hand accounts that happened even one year ago, let alone up to 50. I mean can you remember what you ate for breakfast 2 months ago today?

Hellboy is noted as a Platinum n00b candidate.

Steven Carr hasn't lost it since he first lost it:

' First is that these weren't brief glimpses experienced by people who didn't personally know Jesus. They were groups of people who knew him intimately, and they spoke with and physically touched "whatever it was." '

More made up things.

No wonder sceptics are not convinced by Christian apologetics. It is valueless, utterly worthless attempts at braggadacio.

Not one person in history has ever written a document claiming he physically touched a resurrected Jesus.

The early Christian converts Paul was writing to scoffed at the very idea of their god choosing to raise corpses.

These people had not been converted by stories of rising corpses because converts believe what converted them or pack in their new found beliefs.

notwhollysane is rightly named:

What I'm saying is that I could make a claim that my cat caused the big bang...your ressurrection claim is no different that my cat claim

Nomination to Dhorpatan for this: He asked a reader to prove scientifically that Jesus was resurrected by asking him to magically turn a spoon into money.

ourben asked our reader for people who refuted the verificationist principle of meaning. When he cited Craig and Plantinga, he replied:

They are buffoons. We both know this.

MasterAtheist claims our reader's arguments have been debunked with facts. When asked to cite facts:

I don't need to cite anything, all your arguments have been debunked over and over and over again, long before you were born. god does not exist; CASE CLOSED.

taabreakage6 exposes our reader:

I understand why you believe in Jesus, and you hope for life after death: because you get chased around school by the other children who want to offer you as a sacrifice to God because you look like a pig. The only reason you're into Christianity is because you've accepted the fact that you'll never have sex in your life.

robtul12, who has never read NT Wright, tells us the truth:

I am not the one who is uniformed you little imp. You cite William Lane Craig, N.T. Wright, Craig Evans and other far right wing bible thumping inerantists as your sources. They are not doing history, they are doing theology. They are on the very far right wing of NT scholarship. They do theology and call it history.

gnomietrout presents the argument from Spiderman:

This is all very interesting but what is the tangential relationship between Jesus Christ & Spiderman? In the divergent sense of the relationship, not the cartoonist nature of both franchises. It's their juxtapositions on ecclesiastical potential I question. Is it fair that one is sanctioned as having verified proof of miracles while the other is relegated to a station lower than mythology? Furthermore; what does Jesus's relationship with Cthulhu have to do with the New Testament comic books?

digitaljez, when asked to look at the Social-Science commentaries:

I am not going to spend time researching a story about a magic man who could walk on water and raise the dead and who thought he was god. That would be silly. Besides, I am too busy compiling a list of unicorn sightings. When asked how he knew it was nonsense before investigating it: The same way that I don't have to pull up my floorboards to know that there are no little people living under them.

Morsecode wins for calling Richard Bauckham a fundamentalist scholar, and AtheistATLARGE wins for saying that believers all know in their heart that Jesus never existed.

The May 2009 Christian Collection
Perfection is not named right for sure:
I can physically contact God every day due to passing certain tests God put to me. God is just like the Bible describes and much more. There are three basic aspects to God. The Father, The Son, and a gentle loving Holy Spirit. They all work as one and yet are individuals as well.

I think I must have initially pleased God by following Jesus' teachings and being very forgiving and kind towards others, and giving plentifully without thought of taking back. Then I began meditating one evening and God started talking to me and giving me visions explaining who he was and where he was residing. Apparently we are all the young souls who have been sent to earth to learn about good and evil, and God sits right next to us all in a kind of spiritual chamber. But at any moment God can reach out of the chamber and put his hand on our shoulder or give us a loving hug. Millions of people experience this physical contact from God every day and they wonder if it is a ghost or a spirit of some kind, but it is actually God who is right there with them and he is just letting them know they are not alone.

I could write forever about God's powers and the things I have witnessed.

I just wanted to let you know that God is very real and can be contacted physically at any time whatsoever.

BurntOffering is still (not) there:

Well as Satan; If I apologize for not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God; to Eve in the beginning; would that make me an apologist?

JamesSager3 relieves us of the need for apologetics:

I can assure you that I know he is real. Jesus is Lord.

This is my big argument I bring to as many tables as possible. I tell people I know God is real, Jesus is Lord.

I know it isn't end all be all for people can just say: I don't believe you.

But I think it is huge. It helps not only non believers, but it helps people who are weak in faith too. They may go: "Hey there's a dude that knows God is real. Maybe I should stop doubting."

I have a second punch to be a combo too. I can say for certainty that the Good News Bible is a legit translation. My dad handed me a Good News Bible after God spoke to me,"Good News".

I don't have anything to follow those combos. The best I can come up with is Isaiah 53 that was written 700 years before Jesus' birth. Its pretty strong and comes from another angle so it is useful. But I don't got any miraculous powers from God like Moses got with his staff. I don't think I really need them though or God would have given me them. I think the Good News Bible is a pretty strong tool. Way back in the day, scripture was not widely available and everyone didn't know how to read. Now its a powerful tool. Everyone can own a copy of the Good News Bible.

What do you think I should add into my arsenal? What are some hard hitting proofs of God I can add for follow up attacks?

JerryChristian goes for Gold:

Let's face it, you're just another angry feminist. I'm certain that somewhere along the line you have been rejected by men and feel some deep down passion to get even. Your man hater side is showing through. It's about time you found out what the true role of a woman is. A truly happy wife is one that is not afraid to submit to her husband as long as he is submitted to God.

Too bad you do not believe in God, because outside of that you will never know what the true role of woman is. So it appears to me you have decided to shroud yourself in ignorance and proclaim yourself to be brilliant.

Thanks be to God you are ain the very minute minority.

Hopefully you will not find a sperm donor so that you can poison the mind of the next generation with your hatred!

And, yes you have my permission to print this or post it. I know you think you have superior intelligence and wish to gloat over your answers. Let me tell you, they show extreme ignorance on your part. However, if you wish to post it for the whole world to rad, go ahead.

Uaz31 helps JamesSager3 out:

Resources? All you need is a concordance and the Bible itself. Don't waste your money on commentaries, the Bible is its own dictionary and reference not what others have said about it.

Don't you believe the Bible is God's word and not commentaries on it? Commentaries tell you what others think, the Bible tells us what God thinks.

Obsidian posts this after being called on his assertion that David was mourning only AFTER his fast in 2 Samuel 12, and that fasting is introduced in the same manner as prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (and after lengthy discussion on his assertion that asceticism is demonic):

I think you and I have a different definition of "mourning," because my definition doesn't necessarily include crying. Regarding the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions offering a sacrifice, and later, he gives his opinion about whether handwashing is required for ceramonial cleanness, and even gives rules about the Jewish sabbath. So just because Jesus mentions something doesn't make me consider it applicable to my life; he was preaching to a bunch of Jews. John the Baptist, likewise, was a Jew, probably a Nazirite, and was living out in the wilderness -- probably symbolic of his message that judgment was soon coming to Israel. They don't have a lot of good restaurants out in the wilderness.

Booksellers told The Daily Telegraph that while it is regarded in most countries as a 'Nazi Bible', in India it is considered a management guide in the mould of Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese".

Sales of the book over the last six months topped 10,000 in New Delhi alone, according to leading stores, who said it appeared to be becoming more popular with every year.

Several said the surge in sales was due to demand from students who see it as a self-improvement and management strategy guide for aspiring business leaders, and who were happy to cite it as an inspiration.

Nomination also for Barnes & Noble online, for listing John Henry Cardinal Newman's autobiography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua under ... wait for it ... Apologetics.

Super mega Screwball to Tim Wise, whom a reader saw on BookTV while flipping through the channels, for equating the Gospel with someone attacking their child, where the only recourse is to kill the assaulter. He goes on to call the Gospel poison and that he was powerless to stop his eldest daughter from starting to believe it (God bless her).

He says he's not a violent person and yet, while he didn't come out and say it explicitly, he insinuates that he would kill the source if he could. He also equated God to the "Great Santa Clause in the Clouds". One would be hard pressed to find some other moronic New Atheist canard that he forgot to mention.

Screwball for Wikipedia and everyone who trusts it:

When Dublin university student Shane Fitzgerald posted a poetic but phony quote on Wikipedia, he said he was testing how our globalized, increasingly Internet-dependent media was upholding accuracy and accountability in an age of instant news....

The sociology major's made-up quote - which he added to the Wikipedia page of Maurice Jarre hours after the French composer's death March 28 - flew straight on to dozens of U.S. blogs and newspaper Web sites in Britain, Australia and India.

They used the fabricated material, Fitzgerald said, even though administrators at the free online encyclopedia quickly caught the quote's lack of attribution and removed it, but not quickly enough to keep some journalists from cutting and pasting it first. - Platinum nominee.

This troper got a good laugh out of the scene in Angels and Demons where Brown reveals that Christianity got the ritual of eating our god (communion) from the Aztecs. Even if Brown wasn't aware of the fact that the Aztecs didn't appear until the 14th century, one would think he'd be familiar with the fact that the Christians in Europe had no contact with American civilizations until late 15th century. Which makes the chronology of the first Christians borrowing this tradition back in the 1st century a bit unlikely, nay? Unless he is also claiming that the Catholics have been hiding their time machine from us all this time...

San Diego County is applying for a group Screwball:

"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the Bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.

"We told them this is not really a religious assembly - this is just a Bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.

A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.

But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.