Whew -- busy month, and that doesn't even include tricks and treats.

From the Mailbag


This email for Tekton from the Control Your Computer Department:

I came across your website http://www.tektonics.org, and would like to propose a link exchange between our sites. Scottsdale Jean Company features Arizona's largest selection of jeans, tops, dresses and casual clothing for men and women. From casual cool to late night sexy, we've got you covered!

Please consider adding our link to your site on your page: http://www.tektonics.org/af/exodline.html.

Here is our linking information: Title: Joe's Jeans Description: The celebrities favorite pair of jeans. URL: http://www.ScottsdaleJC.com

The article is on genealogies in Exodus....is the link for the geneaologies, or for the mention of Levi? Now to more personal email:

Wow, your arrogance is bewildering. For millenia people have been misled by guys like you, creating devils, demons and blind faith into a Lord Of The Ring drama, penned by men, and which you don´t hardly understand yourself. This comment is not personal at any level!

You could trust me on one thing, the demons and vile ideas you created and haunted others with will surely visit you. The same way you can be tortured in a dream you can be tortured in other similar subtle realities. Guess which avenue you´re heading for?

Sow a demon and then you reap it, right?

Well, maybe -- like this one?

So how does it feel to be totally humiliated in front of your retarded Christian friends? I won't be hearing from you again, will I loser? ROFL! Whenever you have my 3 answers let me know. Hahahahaha

And this from a guy who sent me 10 messages with attachments full of junk like the pagan copycat stuff, who I told I'd report him for spamming:

The total collapse of your religion is giving me great satisfaction and making you desperate superstitious losers cry and whine. As usual, as a Christian you state the opposite of what is true. No more truth or you will report me to mommy. Pray to your invisible imaginary daddy too! LMAO!

And another one....

whew

You really do not have a life of any kind huh??

let me just say 2 facts, then you can put down your silly hat and do something useful until you die like all darwinian mammals.......

fact 1 everything you have ever read, in amy language, in any book, anytime......is written by humans (for human reasons)

fact 2 there is no santa claus, no virgin mary, no tooth fairy, no christ and definately NO GOD...

No supernatural being of any stripe exists, nor could exist.......whew

now you are free to read up on evolution and come out of the dark ages.....come on ...put some antiseptic on those knucles,,, swing down to the ground and have a little dignity...

Meanwhile, email from the People With ADD:

how come jesus is born on the same date as Tammuz,Attis,Dionysiuos,Mithras,Horus,Nirmrod,Etc.Etc,Xmas-the Winter solstice,,,,,and all are resurrected on a 3rd day after there death, on the spring solstice/Ishtar Sun-diety day/Easter?,,,man/gods,savior/sun dieties?

I replied:

He isn't. That's all bunk. http://www.tektonics.org/copycat/copycathub.html -- you'll see them all covered there except Nirmod, whoever that is.

And Mr. Attention Span wrote back:

as with most christian sites you won't or can't answer the Question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!all those figures were born on Dec. 25th,,and so the christian world celebrates the birth of there saviors,,,( plural ),,,now answer the Question!!!!!!!!!please,,,explain why christians honor Jesus on the birthdate of Tammmuz,Mithras,etc.and have Jesus dying and resurrecting on the same dates in the spring,,,,do you expect us to follow your "bunk"just cause you say so,,,no more,,,,christianity is being exposed as the fraud it is..

I already know the history of Mithras an Tammuz etc. My question to you was why Jesus' history have him being born and celebrated on the same pagan dates,,,,dying and resurrecting on the same pagan dates?.......is your answer that Jesus connections to those dates are real,,,and the christs that came before him are bogus in regards to those dates;.................I did not spell Nimrods name right , the 1st myth person connected to those dates,,,,,,then about 30 others from every culture till they were all secrenized into Jesus.

There's some people too stupid to help. More from elsewhere:

I have read some of your articles and book reviews. You are without a doubt one of the most hate filled creatures on earth, not to mention arrogant. At lease the people you criticize are honest enough to use real names. I shouldn't be surprised as you do admit to being a 'christian'. Like father, like son!

And this from the Huff N' Puff League:

I read your criticism of Pagan Christ by Tom Harpur. You have convinced me that you are a desperate religious fanatic who fears the truth about your phony religion. Most of your claims are outright lies and you know it. Massey and Kuhn exposed Christianity as a Pagan religion and that is why they have been shunned by Christian "scholars" as if there could really be such a person. You sir, are a liar and a fool. Atheism has already crushed your bogus religion. Get over it liar.

Nudder one:

My name is _____ ______ and since I first came to understand the NT and other early accounts of Jesus, I have been convinced that Jesus' exhortion to know the father is an allegoric refrence to Godama (Buddha). I have written a book on this subject and have concluded that Buddhist legend was Pirated to become the Jesus myth. Please let me know if you would like me to send you a copy.

Thanks for your time.

Thanks for the laugh. Email re the Marcus Borg article I host:

I just read the above article from your website. As you have provided for feedback at this website, I offer you my impression of your writings.

Your writings are a perfect example of " better to say nothing and let people think your are a fool than open your mouth and confirm it". The "Jesus" known and experienced by Marcus Borg and those of us who choose to honour and use the intelligence God gave us, is far more personal and real than that which you have portrayed. Please stay away from critiquing anything that this man or anyone else with similar wisdom or stature, as you are clearly not able to interpret and understand what he has written much less the scriptures. I only pray that your heart is more open than your mind. I do not doubt your faith and belief in our Lord Jesus, but your lack of wisdom and understanding does more disservice to Christ and Christianity than it does good. To read the Bible in the manner you suggest results in a theology based on 1st Century AD writings and is an insult to God and the intelligence He has given to us. The benefit of time, experience, and education, enables us to have a much more full and meaningful understanding of the reality of God as revealed by Christ than any literal interpretation. My experience of God is an ever growing and changing one such that my theology evolves like a blooming rose, not a stagnant frozen form like an imitation flower. Changes and challenges to my faith, only serve to enhance and strength my relationship with God thru Christ. They do not threaten or hurt me. I pray that one day you too my progress from your Kindergarten theology to one that honours the gifts and grace God has given you.

But not all of them were Skeptics, like this one:

The book "Jesus Words Only" by Douglas del Tondo is written by someone who has all of the credentials that you specify on your website for a credible bible commentator. He is an educated Evangelical Christian of many years who has the courage to admit that the epistles of Paul and the rest of the NT present two different gospels.

You can argue that his book is just more of the James vs. Paul debate, but unless you have read this well documented, thoroughly researched, and compelling work, it cannot be dismissed out of hand. He is a trial lawyer who presents his arguments as in a legal brief, and so he forgoes they type of glib and ad hominem attacks that I have seen reading the materials on your website.

Few Christians will have the courage to read "Jesus Words Only," and fewer still will have the courage to consider the possibility that Paul's epistles are non-canonical. Why?

1. The conclusion allows that God has not supernaturally protected the canon from inerrancy, and

2. The most cherished Evangelical belief of Justification by faith alone is cast into serious doubt.

Don't bother wasting time criticizing my email writing skills - rather read the book (with an open mind). If your website does not address the most compelling arguments set forth by Douglas del Tondo, a gaping hole will result through which your own bias will be painfully obvious.

I checked out del Tonto some time ago. He's just your typical whack job like Bercot who does a half-rear-ended job of using the scholarship. Speaking of whack jobs:

I just want to let you know that this book (Don't Know Much About the Bible) revealed a lot to me. I'm amazed that somebody can still believe in the bible's fables when science is clearly proving, on an everyday basis, that everything we have learned before is balony. Wake up my friend. You can't fight reality and win. Accept the fact that the bible is the best invention to manipulate people for the benefit of some.

Then there was this from the wild side:

Are modern day "Laodicean" "Evangelicals" just false religious cults invented a century ago influenced by feminist victorian women and modern feminists with no connection to the historic body of Christ? (Not refering to the RC and eastern orthodox murderous false religious cults with their Constantine Sun god sol invictus/apollo with the solar halo on the heads of their idols with the iron cross of the Nazi's teutonic and Chaldean symbol of the Sun god imbedded in it; along with the blending of mithra mystery cult born in a cave december 25, and naked child porn winged toddlers throughout their cult none other than the daemons of Roman-Greek lust and perversion eros & cupid calling them cherubs (the mighty beings before the throne of God in Ezekiel) etc..).

Sex Rampant in the Church. Shocking. Is this true?

This was followed by a list of anecdotes about Doubting Johns in training. Most I can't post here, but here's a clean sample:

A friend recently sent me an email mentioning widespread sexual activity among Christian youth in their area. She said it even extended as far as casual sex among friends, and that these "Christian" youth insisted they were doing nothing wrong.

This email wins the ADD To Content Award:

I have just looked at your website very briefly. I was trying to find useful information on comparisons of religious beliefs. i found your article offering a critique of "the pagan christ" by tom harpur on your website.(I havent read it and don't have an opinion on its veracity)

However I found your critique inpeniterable, and un-helpful. You could be 100% right but you leave little room for me to decide for myself (which as far as I can tell is your main critique of harpur). As the reader I am forced to sift through a suprising amount of anger, insults and a very self rightous posturing. EVEN IF YOU ARE RIGHT. The effect is my alienation from your opinion. I would think people like me are the ones you are trying to communicate with.

What posiple good is achieved if you end up only convincing people that want to be convinced? people that allready share your outrage? Not much, I think. I would honestly love to know about the topics you write about and I do honestly apriciate all the hard work and passion it takes to research any subject. It would be my privilige to read and think about your paticular position, but I will continue my search for information elswhere, and allow my thoughts to be affected by the measured tones of others.

And last, from the corner of the Christians for 9/11 Conspiracies:

i was reading a bit of your website and i was wondering why you are so hard on l.ray smith. down through the centuries things have be added to and subtracted from the Bible. words have been changed from the orginal greek and hebrew. the catholics have kept things out of the Bible. they have even added to their Bibles. i don't see how in the world a person of today can think the Bible of today is the same Bible of centuries ago. think about it and do some hard praying and searching. there are more and more men of God thinking the same way as l.ray smith. just to name a couple is carlton pearson and gary almarault (sp) and not to mention louis abbott. look up the history of the king james version. old james wanted a Bible with his name of it and he changed things and he was a homosexual.
Random Atheist Lunatics of the Month

A collection of four gathered Gold here. On Tweb, "Boris B." wins for such comments as, "The Bible never reports on any historical events," "Hitler of course was the most Christ like man that ever lived. World domination, anti-Semitism and roasting people who disagree with you are the major tenets of the Christian faith," and his claim that 20% of Americans were atheist -- yet when shown statistics from the CIA book that completely refuted this claim, his response was to claim that the CIA Factbook is a Christian propoganda tool, and he refused to give his sources since we'd just lie about them anyway.

Gold also to Richard Widen, a nutcase on Amaon with whom I have been having a ball over Strobel's newest book. The sample below is typical of him, where we rapped about Marcan priority:

I see no reason to "check some real scholars" because so many 'Christian scholars' are publishing lies in order to lure new victims into the con game. ie, Lee Strobel has an agenda, and it's NOT to tell the truth. It's to HIDE the truth....

IF you would think about Matthew being a copy of Mark (with margin notes written into the text and a genealogy at the front) then you would see how it's the BEST explanation.

And it would allow you to see how the story of Jesus CHANGED over time. How he went from being a man (faith healer and exorcist) to a "fulfillment of prophecy" to a deity.... as Christianity changed from a cult inside Judaism to one seeking new members among the Gentiles raised on Greek mythology and Emperor worship.

John Farrell "I'm Not Bitter At All, Am I?" Till won for this on my name change (edited for language):

Robert Turkel operates a Website for Christian apologists. He bloviates under the pretentious pseudonym of James Patrick (J.P.) Holding. On or about July 16, 2007, Turkel made this fraud complete through a legal name change. For reasons that are probably too painfully stupid for normal people to think about, Turkel supposes that we will all now bow from the ankles and refer to him as Jimbo Pat Holding. Yeah, that'll happen. No, it won't. To us, he'll always be Robert Turkel: Fat-***** *******

Nothing like 73 years of frustration to bring out the sweetness in a fundy atheist! Finally, Brooks Trubee wins the Delayed Awareness Award as he finally posted this on his Holding Hate Site:

Robert Turkel says that he has officially changed his name to JP Holding, which he claims was his birth name.

It takes Brookee about 3 months to process a thought.

The October 2007 John Loftus Collection

As usual, the John Loftus crowd went home this month groaning under the weight of the Gold they collected. One of our group, ApologiaPhoenix, created a new term for one of Loftus' favorite habits -- "Loftusizing," which refers to the use of psychoanalysis in place of argument. Here's an example from Loftus that won Gold, in an entry which should have been titled, "A Deeper Study of the Bible Leads Progressively To Greater Doubt for People of Liminted Intellectual Horsepower":

Of course, at the very top are Christian philosophers, apologists, and theologians who argue, debate and write tomes in defense of Christianity. These thinkers read what the skeptics and "liberals" write and tell those in the "rank and file" what to believe about their writings. These authors stand within some denomination and feel the need to defend the faith to the Christian community they are a part of. Their reputations are at stake, as is their livelihood. They know the arguments against what they believe better than most all other believers. They are keenly aware of the many problems to what they believe and defend. So long as they stay inside the confines of the Campus Crusade for Christ organization, who pays the bills, or a Seminary setting, or a strong denominational tie of some sort, they will remain conservative, or, at least, they will not express very many liberalizing tendencies or doubt. But if they teach at a secular university, receive tenure, or are cut off from the conservative church for one reason or another, you will see them shift to the left almost every time. Some of them change their minds entirely. So I think many of these evangelical apologists are but a stone's throw away from giving in to massive doubt. They are well educated, smart, and they understand the Bible, but it is all done within the confines of the Christian community who support them...it is all done from within.

More Gold for Loftus, this with a Delusions of Grandeur Ribbon on top:

I've hesitated to do this until now, since I regard him as a friend. Dr. Craig answers one question a week here. I had asked him a question about Lessing's ugly broad ditch, which he answered approximately thirteen weeks ago here. Immediately afterward I asked him a follow-up question. So far there has been no response. Maybe he'll get to it. At least I hope so. I issue a public challenge for him to answer it:

"Dr. Craig, thanks for being willing to interact with us like you do here. It's a rare opportunity for which I am grateful.

You answered the "deeper problem" lurking behind my previous question about Lessing's "Ugly Broad Ditch" by arguing the inner witness of the Holy Spirit helps you leap that ditch. So here's a follow up, and I'll try to keep it short.

My question is this one: Would you please specify the propositional content of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit? Plantinga calls the content "the great things of the gospel", and includes the idea that "God exists", "God has forgiven and accepted me", or "God is the author of the Bible." You claim this content assures Christians that they are children of God. But such a notion echoes the poet whom Paul quoted who said, "we are his offspring." (Acts 17:28) You are surely arguing that the inner witness of the third person of the trinity contains more propositional content than that. Shouldn't this witness be more specific about what is meant to be a "child" of the kind of "God" one believes in, how one becomes a child of this God, where one can learn additional information about this God, what he must think of the authority of that source of information, and how he can best interpret it? For instance, to say "God exists" does not say anything about the attributes of this God, and might even be consistent with panentheism. To say "God is the author of the Bible" doesn't say what a believer should think about the specific nature of the Bible, or how to best interpret it.

Abd here's one for history redone when real history doesn't cooperate:

D'Souza claims the Crusades were mostly defensive battles against the invading Muslims by pilgrims who had to pillage for food, and in the process raped and murdered too. What wonderful pilgrims they must have been! The Salem Witch trials only killed 19 or more people. "Few casualties, big brouhaha," D'Souza proudly proclaims (p. 207). Although, he admits that 100,000 witches were either burned or executed during a 300 year period. The Inquisition only killed 2000 people, he boasts, and was directed only at professing Christians. D'Souza totally ignored the terror the church had over the thought life of most everyone their entire lives during these centuries, since most people were in the church. When it comes to the many religious wars and conflicts people fought, D'Souza argues that they were not about religion, but about ethnic tensions, territory and land. He further opines that for the Christian, "the tragedy of violence in the name of religion is thankfully in past." (p. 210).

One big consideration is the big difference in the means people had to commit these crimes. In our modern era we have guns and tanks and bombs. People with guns kill more people than people without them. So I wonder how many more people would've been killed in the past by Christians if they had this arsenal at their disposal? Surely many many more.

Loftus also wins a Gold Hypocrisy Award:

On the lighter side there are a few good skeptical sites that poke fun at those who believe. There is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and this video about them. And there is the Landover Baptist Church with a video of the Pastor speaking at a rally. I'm curious what other sites our readers like, just for fun. Link to them in the comments section below. Are there any funny songs written by skeptics that you like?

Just as long as you don't write any about Loftus, he's okay with it!

Loftus' cohorts win plenty, too. Andrew Atkinson wins just for joining DJ's blog. As well as fantasizing. He needs to read more about the spread of Christianity and Islam in the Third World. Check out his favorite authors list:

  • Anything written by David Hume
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Bertrand Russell
  • Plato
  • Thomas Paine
  • Robert Price
  • J.L. Shellenberg
  • Richard Carrier
  • Micheal Martin
  • John W Loftus
  • Carl Sagan
  • Micheal Shermer
  • Walter Kaufmann
  • and many others.

    Atkinson also wins for the following appraisal of Loftus' book:

    I think your book is the best overall refutation of Christianity written, especially at the popular level. I think your book is superior for multiple reasons.

    1. Its scope and coverage is more exhaustive on issues crucial to Christianity then other books.

    2. You anticipate objections from Christian philosophers and theologians that most skeptics do not, due to their lack of familiarity with the other side.

    3. The book packs so much in such a little space, it has amazing brevity and at the same time brilliantly dismantles many core Christian beliefs and deals with many central issues that are left out of other works

    4.Your familiarity with Christian Theology and philosophy makes you much better at drawing fine and important distinctions that other skeptics miss, due to their lack of expertise in the other side.

    5. The personal Deconversion narrative woven through out the book gives it an informal and personal touch that makes it more fascinating to read than other skeptical books. Plus you are the only skeptical author that I know of that was a highly competent Christian Apologist and Philosopher, this of course is another unique feature.

    6. Your non-abrasive style sets your book apart from many other skeptic books. You wrote the book in such a way as not to polarize the believer. The average believer would be much more likely to read this book than other similar books due to your respectful manner. This I congratulate you on.

    And for the recommended reading he offers, which includes:

    • Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker
    • Atheism: The case Against God by Smith
    • The Case Against Christianity by Martin( This I consider A must read, it has many interesting points.)
    • The Empty Tomb
    • Jesus is Dead, by Robert Price
    • The incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert price
    • The Born Again Skeptics Guide to The Bible [by Ruth Green]
    • The Jesus Puzzle
    • "Challenging the Verdict: A Cross-Examination of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ" by Earl Doherty
    • The Secret Origins of the Bible( Must Read)
    • The God Delusion by Dawkins
    • God is not Great by Hitchens
    • Bible Prophecy Failure or fulfillment?
    • Deconstructing Jesus by Robert Price
    • Gospel Fictions by Randel Helms
    • Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
    • The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by C. Dennis McKinsey
    • Biblical Nonsense: A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians by Jason Long
    • The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
    • The Age of Reason Thomas Pain (MUST READ)
    • Kens Guide to the Bible(This one is funny)
    • The reason driven life by Robert Price
    • Russell On Religion (Brilliant)
    • The Jesus Mysteries Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?
    • The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself
    • The Dark side; How evangelical teachings corrupt love and truth

    Loftus fan Bill Toss also wins:

    Those are some good observations, John. For me, it was when I finally understood the Bible (and it took a long time) that I realized that:

    * if it were true, then all Catholics and Protestants were doomed, along with everyone else, because their religion (Trinitarianism) is openly condemned in the Bible

    * every page of the Bible presumes a patently false view of the world - where a manlike God is in his throne room "up" above the waters above the rigid sky ceiling. (For those who don't know, there is no "up" when you are on the side of a spinning rock).

    Rather than "debunking" I try to educate people on what the Bible really says. Fundamentalism cannot thrive without a cloud of ignorance cast over the Bible.

    I'm not sure which is stupider -- the thing about the Trinity or the thing about there being no "up". Doubting John's useful idiot Brother Crow wins yet again, for a conglomeration of Da Vinci Code scholarship, which contains such bonehead statements as:

    In AD 312, Constantine won control of the Roman Empire at the battle of Milvian Bridge. He attributed his victory to the intervention of Jesus Christ (a shrewd political move) and elevated christianity to favored status in the empire. His motto became "one God, one Lord, one faith, one church, one empire, one emperor."

    Um, no. It was not a "shrewd political move" in the least. Christians were decidedly not your best folks to align with; they didn't have the numbers and they didn't have the social status. He did not "elevate Christianity to favored status" -- he only legalized it. Paganism remained the state religion until the time of Theodosius.

    Brother Crow took this uncritically from http://www.creeds.net/ancient/Nicene_Intro.htm. The creed is also bogus, according to my expert consult in patristics. Let it speak for itself that he didn't consult a serious historical source like Pelikan's history of the church.

    This little history lesson is given to demonstrate a couple of crucial points. Every Sunday morning, literally millions of christians around the world - regardless of theological or denominational stripe - utter these words. However, how many of them know their origin or their meaning, and what they were attempting to create? As a former pastor (who served thousands in a quarter-century of service, I would say less than 10%). A second point is that - even its earliest days - christianity was not a unified or coherent theological system and did not understand its own god. A council of leaders was necessary (which actually was called to address a political purpose) was needed to develop an authoritative position that could be enforced within the faith community and from beyond (in this case, the empire and the sword). Someone needed to tell the poor christian lambs both what they believed, and what they were not to believe. The creed was formed as much to identify the heretics like Arius as it was to promote the doctrine of Christ as God.

    Ironic, given that Eatin' Crow made such a slob of himself with the history of the creed. "Little history lesson" is right, though not the way he intended. As for "unified and coherent" this rather ignores the question of whether either side was correct. The Arian side clearly was not, as anyone familiar with the background (eg, Jewish Widsom theology) would know. In addition, Eatin' Crow's "little history" fails to mention Constantine's later sympathy for the Arian position, and his son's full-scale endorsement of it. "The empire and the sword" cut both ways. Once again, keep in mind that this idiot was a pastor for 25 years. Reality: He's just as dumb now as he was then.

    Brother Crow wins again for this:

    I have another challenge for the christians who dare to visit this site! (see my previous blog for the first challenge).

    A basic Christianity 101 verse is John 14:14 -"Ask anything in My name, and I will do it." Verse 14 is actually a repeat of the previous verse...in other words, Jesus repeats himself...saying "if you ask anything I will do it."

    That particular promise is repeated again in John 16:24 -"Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."

    So - here is the challenge: explain to me what you think is meant by "ask anything and I will do it." And further, explain to me why the promise stated so explicitly in those verses is so often and obviously broken?

    One qualifier: you cannot use the old Whittinghill argument - "God says yes, no, or not now." There is no indication that Jesus gives himself wiggle room like that...he does not say "I might say yes, I might say no, I might say later, dude." The promise says "ask and it will be given to you."

    I say bul****! Prove me wrong.

    Gee, I wonder if Dumb Bell here knows anything about the dramatic orientation of the ancients. He says also:

    I would love to see a challenge where churches invite atheists, agnostics or other free thinkers to visit their congregations and began a reasonable dissertation against Christian faith. I would almost (almost being the operative word here) pay churches for the opportunity to make presentations and open up for question/answer sessions.

    Well, come on over to TWeb then and we'll be glad to take you down to size.

    Psycho-in-training Matthew Green wins plenty of Gold; for being the first to fulfill the prediction that skeptics would take credit for forcing me to change my name:

    Should I write articles or blog posts or even essays critiquing him elsewhere, I may well use his legal name. I don't like using it on here because I don't want it to give him a psychological feeling of triumph. I believe that this is what motivated his name-change. By having changed his name from Robert Turkel to James Patrick Holding, I suspect he's trying to force skeptics to refer to his preferred name and this gives him a feeling of superiority for having conquered his opponents.

    Jason Long wins for his psychoanalysis (as opposed to use of hard data) to argue against Christianity. Loftus has also picked up another Useful Idiot, Caleb Wimble, who wins Gold for this:

    At first, I continued to maintain a tenuous grip on my Christianity, attempting to reconcile all my revelations with my previous beliefs, but the "heresies" to which I was subscribing soon began to add up to the point that my Christian faith was little more than a pathetic skeleton of its former self. I spent a short period of time as an extremely liberal believer, subscribing to a sort of "hyper dispensationalism" regarding the conflicting messages in Scripture.

    All the while, I was quietly crying out for help from my parents and other missionaries in every way I knew how. I could not bring myself to voice my skeptical doubts directly, but I gave a thousand clues in the form of hypothetical questions in conversations. No one ever recognized the warning signs. Every answer I received was utterly unsatisfactory, even from my father - who, I now believe, was beginning to question his faith himself (although this may be merely delusional hope on my own part). No one was capable of addressing the Bible's internal inconsistency; I must have read two dozen Christian books on the subject of its self-contradictions and errors, and not one of them was remotely plausible in any way. The evangelical responses to the problem of pain were no better, as the only answer of any legitimacy was to simply accept that this God was a sadist to the core - if the entire purpose of all creation, after all, is to bring glory (i.e. pleasure) to him, then the obvious logical implication is that he derives pleasure from causing humans pain. Worse still, I found no consistency even within the doctrines of the church; the beliefs of different denominations were so radically removed from one another as to hardly be recognizable as the same religion.

    It was not until a little less than a year ago, at the age of sixteen, that I fully and finally rejected my faith altogether. Above all, I was tired. Tired of trying to defend the indefensible. Tired of attempting to find a reasonable basis for my dying faith. Tired of crying myself to sleep at nights because I could not bring myself to accept that everything I had ever lived for was a lie.

    And so, halfway through my freshman year at a Christian university, I simply let go. I rejected all that I had ever been taught regarding God and the Bible, and embraced reason in full. I now find myself living a lie, desperately awaiting a time when I can emerge from this "atheist closet" in which I find myself trapped. Attending such a university, of course, presents itself as a great frustration, but it can hardly compare with the fear I possess of "coming out" to my family and to my friends. I want nothing more than to be free, to tell them everything and show them who I truly am, but at the same time I love them and have no desire to break their hearts.

    And here I am now. I was recently introduced to this blog via Steve Wells (of the Skeptics Annotated Bible). After spending nearly six hours poring over the site's archives, I concluded that Debunking Christianity was possibly the most intelligent and well-written freethought journal I have ever encountered. Each member of the writing team seems to bring a unique and powerful perspective to the table, and I was even pleasantly surprised to find largely meaningful discussion by both atheist and Christian alike in the "comment" section of each entry - which is, to say the least, a rarity at best in the abysmal depths of the internet.

    So let's see if we have this straight: He read only "two dozen" books; he's only SIXTEEN; he obviously thinks SAB is a viable source, and he thinks DJ's blog is "the most intelligent and well-written freethought journal" he has ever encountered.

    Yep. He's definitely an expert.

    Finally, Loftus' Useful Idiot "Joseph" wins the Gold Individualism Now Award:

    Here's what might work better: God could initiate a personal conversation with every man, woman, and child, tailored to their unique needs and situations. As a Christian, I always wondered why it was that God spoke so very long ago, but didn't bother speaking today. And why did the miracles come to a halt? If the purpose of the signs, wonders, and healings of Jesus and the apostles was to confirm the word of God (Hebrew 2:4), then surely miracles would do the same today. Think of the wonderful PR for God! Think of the victory against skepticism! God could speak through his actions--cleaning up the evil and corruption flooding the world at large.

    And when He's through, God can wipe for you too.

    Scholarship? Never Heard of It.

    Richard Carrier wins Gold for being exposed as a quack when it comes to Biblical Greek: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/10/02/did-christ-have-a-physical-body/carrier He also gets Gold, and maybe Platinum, for this astounding turn. To set it up, he had said:

    Christians are even told, point blank: don't debate (Galatians 5:20-26), even though debate is the lifeblood of critical inquiry.

    I replied:

    Funny, since Carrier once said (before Johnny made dollar signs in his eyes) that he saw "no need" to debate me any more. But Gal. 5:20-26lists fruit of the Spirit and works of the flesh and says nothing at all about debating, unless Carrier thinks it is one of the acts like "revelling," which maybe is how his own debates go in practice.

    Now get this. Carrier replies:

    Even more egregiously, Holding claims Galatians 5:19-26"says nothing at all about debating" even though it has the word "debate" in it (eris), as well as "disagreements" (dichostasiai), and references to the common consequences of both: "factions" and "sectarian divisions" (eritheiai and haireseis), which both essentially meant "taking sides" in a debate.

    UH -- what????

    First of all, as Witherington's Galatians commentary notes, eris is used in the mirror-position of "peace" in the list of fruits of the Spirit, which means that it cannot simply mean an honest discussion of conflicting viewpoints! But here's the real kicker: "Eris" was the name of the Greek goddess of strife who delighted in bloodshed!

    It is so darned funny that a 4 year old watching The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy knows more than Carrier does!

    Chrissy Hallquist wins Gold for a review of Craig's book Reasonable Faith which includes plenty of stale canards, and boners like this:

    Craig also says that "the earliest Christians would have passed on the Jesus tradition with the care and respect for that tradition which was typical of Jewish folk transmission of traditions, which renders analogies drawn from folk literature or 'urban legends' irrelevant."[69] This is a tall claim with minimal support. In nigh every other case where extraordinary claims have been made, even respectable news outlets have been careless and credulous. Can we be so confident in the hypothetical chain of transmission that we are compelled to accept everything that comes out of it, no matter how extraordinary?

    Good old Chrissy. He's so brilliant, he doesn't even NEED to do research on ancient oral transmission practices....

    Finally, Morcova over at ProtestWarrior.com gets Gold for this noobacity:

    .... the christian position on slavery is well stated... it's not a sin, and thus is condoned by chrisitanity.

    He also deserves gold for simultaneously missing the point and getting it at the same time. Our reader said:

    -"Slavery" doesn't always mean what you think it means (with all its negative connotations that you think of).

    -The Hebrews weren't the only ones that had a voluntary aspect, although their system was the best system. And no, don't tell me that the best system is NO "slavery"--since it was entered into voluntarily BY the "slave" (servant), NOT the "owner"--and it was for the purposes of keeping people from starving!

    And he replied:

    If it's voluntary it's not slavery moron.
    Kooky Christian Collection

    On this side of the fence, we have some Gold to deliver. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron plugging their junk-books and cds again, and saying:

    You don't need to be an expert in apologetics. Instead, you'll learn the forgotten biblical principle of bypassing the intellect (the place of argument) and speaking directly to the conscience (the place of the knowledge of right and wrong) - the way Jesus did.

    From the Almighty pope Bro. Randy:

    Can you be saved, and not be a Baptist? Yes. But if you are saved, the Lord will show you the error of the doctrines you are submirged in. You cannot, with a clear conscience, participate in a pagan Roman mass as a Christian. If you are saved, and participate in such a ritual, the Holy Spirit will grieve you!

    This story from someone in apologetics ministry, describing someone who deserves a Screwie:

    One of the guys told me that he used to drive a bus and collect all the kids for a youth group. He said they had singing and Bible teaching at each of the meetings and many of them professed to be Christians but none of the kids were still attending church. He said, "Most of the reason why they left was just their failure to stick to their faith and things like that." I said, "Did you ever give them any of the evidences which show that the Bible can be trusted in what it says? Stuff like I was teaching tonight?" He said, "No, we didn't do anything like that. That stuff has never been a problem for me so we just taught them Bible lessons." I said, "But kids today need to know the evidence that backs up what the Bible says. You were telling them, one day each week, that they should believe what the Bible says. At the same time their schools, five days each week, were teaching them that they should reject everything the Bible says and giving them 'evidences' to back up that position. Can't you see that the kids really had no option but to reject the things you were telling them?" He said, "Yeah, well, I better see what's happening and get on home." He left with nothing at all. Nothing to teach himself, nothing to teach his kids and nothing to teach the youth. How do you get through to people like that?

    Mike Pearl of No Greater Joy parenting miseries strikes again:

    If you have trained properly, this may never happen to your child, but if it does come to this, you are not helpless. The soul of your child needs to be punished. He feels the need to suffer for his misdeeds. What I am telling you is well understood by the most reprobate of modern psychiatrists and psychologists. They call it a "guilt complex." Children and adults in this state of mind often do harm to themselves. Their anger is turned inward because they hate the bad person they know themselves to be. Their soul is crying out for justice to be done to the self. They don't know what is happening, and they will not voluntarily seek punishment, but their soul needs judgment. When your child is in the first throes of this debilitating condition, be kind enough to punish him. Care enough and love enough to pay the emotional sacrifice to give him ten to fifteen licks that will satisfy his need to experience payback.
    As a rule, do not use your hand. Hands are for loving and helping. If an adult swings his or her hand fast enough to cause pain to the surface of the skin, there is a danger of damaging bones and joints. The most painful nerves are just under the surface of the skin. A swift swat with a light, flexible instrument will sting without bruising or causing internal damage. Many people are using a section of ¼ inch plumber's supply line as a spanking instrument. It will fit in your purse or hang around you neck. You can buy them for under $1.00 at Home Depot or any hardware store. They come cheaper by the dozen and can be widely distributed in every room and vehicle. Just the high profile of their accessibility keeps the kids in line.

    Neen273, finally, nominates for Platinum with this:

    In regards to being "blissfully unaware" about Satanic symbolism, I recently found out what the deal is with the 555 prefix used so frequently in movies and TV shows. On another Christian message board somebody brought up that the 2368 ending of the 555 number featured in the Ghostbusters movie is actually the Greek Gemetria of "Jesus Christ" and they were thinking that was really cool and perhaps prophetic in some way.

    I looked it up. That much is true.

    However, I couldn't help wondering if the 555 had any Biblical meaning. You know, like 6 is the number of man, so 666 is the Antichrist. 7 is the number of perfection, so 777 means God. I couldn't find any definitive Biblical meaning for 5.

    Then I looked up 5 and "meaning" as a general idea in Google...and occult websites came up. Apparently, it symbolizes death to them. (Don't know exactly why, didn't really care at that point to read those sites any further to find out.)

    One website claimed that 555-2368 (hate to even type it now) was the most often used number in movies and Tv shows. I don't know if that's true or not, but I did find a list of 10 instances. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more. In addition to Ghostbusters, it was used in the Mel Gibson film "Forever Young" and at the start of every episode of the Rockford Files.

    So every time 555 is used in Hollywood, it is a demonic declaration of death. When 2368 is added, it is a declaration of death to Jesus Christ.

    http://www.blessitt.com/crossinspace/

    Institutional award for Richard Roberts, who is "accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay....She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as 'underage males.'"

    http://www.sciam.com/print_version.cfm?articleID=434D7C62-E7F2-99DF-37CC9814533B90D7

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=1uzY9YV-Kik

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=274

    Award for Joel Osteen:

    Answering his critics, Pastor Joel Osteen says he's not perfect, but the reward he gets from helping to change the lives of his followers is affirmation enough that he is preaching the right message. Then, the popular pastor, who is seen, heard and read by millions across the world, breaks down in tears in his interview with correspondent Byron Pitts. Osteen's interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Oct. 14 (7:30-9:00 PM, ET/7:00-9:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.

    "You know, you get people that want to criticize, 'You're not doing enough of this, enough of that.' Well, we're not perfect," he tells Pitts. "But to have, you know, hundreds of people telling you, 'You changed my life. I haven't been in church in 30 years,' or 'You saved my marriage.' Not me, but God, but they're telling me…," says Osteen, who then buries his head in his hands. "I told you I was a crybaby, but you just feel very rewarded. You feel very humbled," says Osteen of his reaction to his followers' thanks. Click here to watch an excerpt of the interview.

    Osteen's message lacks the fire and brimstone of fundamentalism and eschews doctrinaire interpretation of the Bible. His extremely positive message, delivered to 42,000 attendees each week in his Lakewood church in Houston and in books and speaking tours, is attacked by theologians for being too optimistic and easy. "I think it's a cotton candy gospel," says Dr. Michael Horton, theology professor at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, Calif. "His core message is God is nice, you're nice, be nice….If it were a form of music, I think it would be easy listening," he tells Pitts.

    Osteen says he's just keeping a complicated subject simple. "Sometimes you have to keep it simple and not make it so complicated that people don't understand," he says. "I think you need to talk on the peoples' level, not dumbing it down, but just saying, 'You know what?...I could get up here and try to impress you with Greek words and doctrine.' And there are people that need that. They want to study deeper," he tells Pitts. "But I know what I'm called to do is say, 'I want to help you learn how to forgive today. I want to help you to have the right thoughts today.' Just simple, simple things," says Osteen.

    The strategy has paid off in followers and revenue for Osteen, who came from behind the scenes eight years ago to take over his deceased father's ministry. His Sunday service, seen by 10 million television viewers worldwide, is the most-watched religious service in the world. His books are bestsellers in the U.S. and abroad and are available in 25 languages. In addition to the book revenue, Lakewood Church takes in $43 million a year in collections and followers send another $30 million into his ministry by mail.

    http://www.abarnett.demon.co.uk/atheism/fundy.html

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Hellivision/narnia.htm vies for Platinum with this:

    Lucy Pevensie's character and Mr. Tumnus' character (played by James McAvoy), and their subtle interactions, give the impression of a pedophile trying to lure a little girl into his house. The whole scene is creepy and the spirit of pedophilia is definitely at work in this movie. Tumnus (Pan, a faun) represents the Devil, trying to seduce a young girl. The FACT that Tumnus is modeled after Pan, one of the most sexually perverted gods in witchcraft, doesn't bode well for Walt Disney's intentions. If you doubt what I am saying, you won't by the end of this article. In fact, you are going to be sickened. Furthermore, Tumnus' and his flute have magical powers, just like the Devil. Tumnus puts the little girl to sleep with his music. The next scene shows the little girl waking up and Tumnus crying, claiming that he has done something very bad. The subtle implication is that he sexually molested her. Remember folks, pan is the demonic pagan god of sexual perversion and rape. In fact, most images of pan show him with an erection.

    thermore, the movie encourages little girls to trust strangers. In today's world, Tumnus would be considered a pedophile. No man with a brain would bring a strange little girl alone into his home. The whole atmosphere created by this scene is one of pedophilia. Also notice how innocent and precious Walt Disney makes the little girl look...as if the best is prepared for Satan's delight (a Satanic sacrifice). The whole concept of pan being a good character in NARNIA is Satanic in itself. Pan is widely recognized by witches and Satanists as the god of fertility, an absolute pervert who can't get enough sex. Pan is a pedophile. Please Read, Further Into The Depths of Satan Concerning the sexual perversion of NARNIA.

    http://www.myspace.com/jesusitsjesus

    http://www.kent-hovind.com/quotes/conspiracy.htm

    http://www.hoax-buster.org/

    http://www.blessedquietness.com/journal/housechu/13things.htm

    http://toughanswers.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-can-someone-that-is-saved-be.html

    http://religiouscomics.net/

    Philip Pullman, and the Britain's National Secular Society on the movie being made of Pullman's anti-religion children's book Northern Lights (American title: The Goldern Compass)

    http://anniescostumes.com/biblical.htm

    Freke and Gandy for their newest book: They certainly win one for comparing the gospels to marvel comics. And for the language. (They make your average rebellious teenager sound polite!) And for multiple self-references praising their own books to the hilt. And for the horrid orange cover (in the UK).

    http://www.sheezyart.com/forum/topic/90328/2/

    http://www.balaams-ass.com/journal/homemake/cslewis.htm

    http://www.mwillett.org/atheism/strobel.htm