Pickin's were slim this month for a few reasons; TWeb was closed for a few days this past month (for renovations plus a memorial) and of course there were some holidays (cough). You can see the full skein here. Platinum collections for 2010 coming soon!

From the Mailbag

Tekton Research Assistant "Punkish" got this fan mail over his review of The Dark Side of Christian History:

On your site, you ruthlessly slammed this effort, and I fail to find value in your agruments.

As an agnostic, I don't start out automatically thinking that some sky fairy is in charge. But rather that evolution biogenesis and the rest of science adequately explains existence on this planet. And that any reasonable adult long ago rejected gods, heavens, hells, unicorns, dragons, and talking snakes.

That said, I believe her attacks of the lack of women's roles in history are indeed valid, and that we do not need to begin with Adam, or any male diety.

Usually I do not read works by "independent researchers" such as this, but your critique was incorrect, from about any logical point of view. And though not a peer reviewed historian, her points are well made, and agree with those other writers of NT who ARE peer reviewed, as well as top evolutionary biologist.

Your diatribe was hugely long, and unnecessarily so.

I'd hope the next time you review a book you could do so in using less ink and from a more intellectual perspective.

As for me, I got this screwy one:

If the Bible is the eternal, inerrant, always correct word of God, why does it need apologetics in the first place. Why does it need someone to "explain away" the factual errors in the first place? If it were perfect, as you allege, it shouldn't need someone to stand around saying "Yes, we know it *seems* to have an error, but if you tilt it slightly, and squint, and accept our lousy logic without critical thinking, then you'll see its actually perfect and lacking in any errors whatsoever.

I referred the dope to a huge article by Glenn Miller. Ten minutes later he responded:

Thank you for admitting that you don't have any actual answer by following logical fallacy with more logical fallacy. When boiled down, the explanation on the link you sent me is basically circular reasoning.

Which, by the way, is part of the lousy logic I mentioned.

I don't believe lousy logic is required. I merely note that it is what you are using in your arguments.

Thank you for replying. Have a nice day. While you only confirmed my belief that Bible apologetics is, as it appears, a mad scramble to justify the incorrect belief that the Bible is inerrant, I certainly don't wish you ill. You are, as always, free to believe any silly notion that creeps into your head, and its obvious that you have done just that.

Here's one from the la la Christian side:

It is websites like yours that get Christianity a bad name. I stumbled accross your site when looking for articles on the emergent church and was sad by what I found. All you seem to want to do is go atheist bashing as if winning an argument is more important than loving your neighbour. Christianity is not about objective truth – truth doesn’t matter. Nor is Christianity is not about theology - it’s about you and about how you can change the world. I’d recommend you read the book Adventures on Missing the Point by Tony Campolo and Brian Mclaren. Brian Mclaren beautifully argues in that book (particularly in his essays on postmodernism and truth) that we should embrace postmodernism and not get too hung up on what somebody believes. We need to create a fresh and new kind of Christianity and people like you are holding the church back. Obviously Brian Mclaren’s arguments are no doubt too subtle and nuanced for you to understand and so instead you have to see the world in black and white unlike the more intelligent amongst us who see it in shades of grey. I don’t want to debate you but at least take a look at some of Brian Mclaren’s work, you’ll find it much better than the fundamentalist authors you keep falling back on.

BTW -- I have read McLaren and Campolo a lot. They're useless for serious scholarship.

The November 2010 John Loftus Collection

John wins a big one this round for recommending the historically inaccurate movie Agora as "food for thought". Apparently no one told him that toxic waste isn't food. His groupie Chuck wins for this follow up comment:

I watched Agora last night per your recommendation and loved it. It was cool that the film-maker showed Hypatia's failed attempts at a theory of celestial movement against the certainty of the religious. Her scholarship led to personal accountability and private inquiry while the religious assertions led to death. That to me demonstrated why I am an atheist. There is no humility in the assertions Holy people make but their piety is a pretense to it. This video sums it up when it says, "God is not good, he was just on our side." Love it.

Of course this realization also led to Apocalyptic theology during the Babylonian Diaspora and laid the groundwork for the thriving death cult we know as Christianity.

Loftus also wins for this whine-whine:

We'll also put an award here for Loftus' twin brother, faithless ax-grinder Thom Stark -- because though he claims to be a Christian, this comment, when asked if he affirms Jesus as Lord, shows that he is as faithless as Loftus is:

Adonai/Kyrios/Dominus is language taken from ancient slave/master societies, language that I think we need to be critical of. It's encultured language. A Calvinist might be able to attribute it to "divine accommodation."

Does Jesus show us who God is and beckon us to follow in his path?

Yes. I affirm that.

You probably won't like it, but fortunately for me you're not my "lord" either.

He also wins for this cockeyed definition of "faith":

“Faith” is what we have when we live our lives as if they were meaningful, and Christianity offers us one language that helps us do that. Like any language, of course, there are different dialects, accents, and vocabularies. Just as with English speakers, some Christians get irony, metaphor, and humor, and others don’t. Moreover, just as languages evolve to adapt to new realities and new knowledge, religions do the same, and rightly so, whether practitioners acknowledge it or not.

Finally, Pitchforkpat gets in here as a Loftus groupie by virtue of this naive comment:

But since sales of Why I Became an Atheist have remained very steady now for over two years, people are obviously NOT disapointed. There is no great marketing or advertising of the book, so sales have been largely by word of mouth.

The Lunchback of Notre Dumb

Nothing this round worth mentioning.

The Rest of the Skeptics

mickiel goes fundy on us:

Free will to Christians is their excuse for God putting people in their hell, because they can " Blame the person, and let God off the hook" for the insanity of eternal hell torture. There is no such thing as free will, no human mind is exempt from outside influences, and God didnot create humans " Knowing how to choose him." The way of God is not in man. Free will is a christian invention, and a darling of their doctrines, because it gives them the teeth to condemn others, and the praise of self to pat themselves on their backs with, because they can claim that they came to God of their own will, own initititve, own decesion, thus removing God from the drawing, and placing themselves as the reason they repented, making christianity a self improvement program.

robertb, on becoming a Christian:

It seems that the only actual requirement is to claim that you are, in fact, a Christian.

I think you can actually believe whatever you think is correct, as based on my experience with the beliefs of various people who call themselves Christians, it does not really seem to matter.

Actually, I think you can basically be an atheist in practice and still consider yourself a Christian, if you wish.

Immature Ticker commenter Sarah Boylen wins for this comment:

[Holding]'s reached the age where bluster can no longer sustain an illusion of achievement and the greatness which should follow. He cannot endure the suffering of education to qualify his pressured megalomania.

It may be large, it may be small but it will be messy. Something soon is going to blow.

YouTube commenter "RagDollFromHell" wins:

so you believe in jesus coming "to take us all home" but you think the mayans have got to be [full of crap]?? if youre going to believe in fantasy why not believe in it all??

Little_monkey, on logic:

It's a possibility, but you know very well what I think of logic. Hitler was logical, so was Stalin and Mao Zedong. You can believe that the Lord of the Ring is true and be perfectly logical within that worldview.

As well as for this:

You wish. Hume destroyed Aquinas with one question: who created God? If the answer is, God is eternal, then the same applies to the universe.

And this:

I know Aristotle ethics by heart. There's nothing but BS in it. Try again.

Laffy_taffy explains respinsibility:

I don't understand the whole christian obsession with "free will". It seems like it is an excuse to explain why their god can't do anything. For example, god can't/won't do such and such because it would interfere with our free will. As it is now, billions of people who believe in another god or no god at all, will be going to spend an eternity in hell. If god supposedly loved everyone, he would make himself known to the world in whatever ways necessary to convince each individual person of his existence. Then we would have the free will to "choose" whether or not to worship an existing god. Or, he could take away free will altogether and make us all robots for a mere 80 years so that we all can spend an eternity in heaven where we can all have free will.

If god can't/won't make himself known to all in whatever way necessary, then screw free will! Who cares about free will when our eternity is at stake! What I want to know, is why a "benevolent" god would not do this? Why not take away all free will and make everyone robots if need be in order for them to have eternal life. What is a measly 80 years of being a robot compared to an eternity of suffering in hell? I have no need for "instant gratification" when we are talking about eternity. If being a robot for 80 years means it would get me an eternity in heaven, then of course I would be a robot. Heck, a world without death and suffering would be heaven on earth. "Free will" is overrated. 80 years is just a pinpoint compared to eternity.

The Christian and Theist Collection

Got this comment on he Ticker, in response to a critique of John Beversluis, in which I remarked on inadequacies in certain Christian teachers:

My, my, my, Mr Holding. You certainly hold the highest of high critical opinion of yourself! Far above such scum of the earth as C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, and Josh McDowell!

Thou art so high, the lowly dirt of dirt such as i (uncapitalized in reverence to You) should gleefully lick the sweat that falls from your armpit! How may i, the underscum of all things, possibly assume the ability to comprehend a single glint of Your magnificent brilliance? i shall read no more, for i must scurry off from Your Great Shining, back to the darkest hole of Holes from whence i slithered.

COME ON, MAN!!!! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? YOU ARE NOT THAT GREAT!

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/religion-and-beliefs/news/article.cfm?c_id=301&objectid=10684299&ref=rss -- Platinum nominee, famous Christian

Wikipedia wins for allowing this into their article on eugenics:

A form of eugenics is even advocated in the Tanakh and Catholic Bible. Taking a wife from outside one's kinsmen was considered tantamount to sin. Despite all the prohibitions concerning sex in Leviticus, marriage with one's first cousin is still permitted.

http://www.postchronicle.com/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi?archive=230&num=331495

This tells a story itself:

In the documentary "I Had an Abortion," third-wave feminist Jennifer Baumgardner interviewed 20 women, including Gloria Steinem, about their decision to terminate their pregnancies. She also made t-shirts bearing the film's title and, as I wrote about with mixed feelings a few years back, she later started selling "I was raped" tees. Just as always, not all feminists or pro-choicers agree with the concept. "Not sure what the #ihadanabortion hashtag is meant to accomplish," one woman tweeted. "Pro-choice is one thing but this just seems needlessly provocative." In response, someone wrote: "Why is saying #ihadanabortion 'provocative?' I had my wisdom teeth out. Is that needlessly provocative? Or 'i had a baby at 15?'No?"

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_one_way_to_mars

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40112145/?gt1=43001

http://www.aolnews.com/nation/article/glenn-beck-slammed-for-horrific-remarks-about-george-soros-and-holocaust/19714077

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/11/11/atheist-advertising-or-evangelizing-the-holiday-ad-blitz-sta/

Poster from considerhumanism.org:

What some believe:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not depend on your own understanding.

What humanists think:

There's all the difference in the world between a belief that one is prepared to defend by quoting evidence and logic and a belief that is supported by nothing more than tradition, authority, or revelation.

You can take that on their authority.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/bill-nye-the-science-guy-usc.html -- award for the audience.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_one_way_to_mars

http://uk.cars.yahoo.com/23112010/36/outrage-school-bus-sex-shop-advert-0.html

http://www.youtube.com/godaimighty

http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/buffalo-bills-stevie-johnson-blames-god -- Famous At-Large Platinum nomination.